Sunday, November 3, 2013

Bonfire Night Goodies To Make And Eat


By Vyctoria Hart

It wasn't easy growing up goth in England in the '80s and '90s. We'd see all these American films, like E.T. and Hocus Pocus, that'd make Halloween look like so much fun. But when we dressed up and headed out we would be lucky to get an old piece of hard candy covered in fluff. More often we'd be ignored or sworn at by the neighbours. Halloween is a bigger industry here nowadays but it's really just an excuse for adults to get drunk one weekend near the day itself, it's still pretty rare to see trick'or'treaters on the streets.



Why this lack of interest in one of the most fun nights of the year? Well, it's very close to one of our own beloved holidays.

Remember, remember
The fifth of November, 
The Gunpowder treason and plot; 
I know of no reason 
Why the Gunpowder treason 
Should ever be forgot! 
    

If you're not from the UK or Commonwealth, then chances are that you're only familiar with Guy Fawkes Night from the Alan Moore graphic novel "V for Vendetta" or it's movie adaptation.

In 1605 a plot was uncovered in London to blow up the Houses of Parliament and the King. Guido Fawkes was found with the explosives and executed for the crime. Every year since the British have celebrated by burning effigies, letting off fireworks and stuffing themselves with tasty food.

Whilst the celebration is no longer enforced by law, events are now usually organised by local government bodies, making them safer and removing the political/religious elements that made the celebrations problematic in the past. Sadly this has also lead to the decline of some of the traditional homemade foods that used to make Guy Fawkes Night a special treat.

Since American traditions and flavours are becoming more common here (this was the first year we got Pumpkin Spice Lattes at the local Starbucks) I thought it might be nice to do a little cultural exchange and share with you some of the traditional flavours of Britain.


Sweet



Parkin
This a sticky spicy cake that's perfect with a hot mug of tea. It freezes well but can last up to two weeks in a tin (if you can resist it that long!).

85g black treacle/molasses
200g golden/corn syrup
200g butter or margarine
85g soft brown sugar
100g medium oatmeal
250g self raising flour
1 tbsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
4 tbsp milk

*Heat oven to 160 degrees C/320 degrees F Line a 9" square cake tin, or a large loaf tin, with baking parchment.
*Melt the treacle, syrup, butter and sugar together in a pan over a gentle heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
*Mix together the oatmeal, flour and spices in a large bowl, then stir in the syrup mixture. Beat together the egg and milk and add to the mixture. 
*Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 50 mins to an hour, until the cake feels firm and crusty on top. A skewer pushed into the cake should come out clean.
*Lift out of tin and allow to cool in the parchment. This cake gets better if you wait a few days before eating.  

Bonfire toffee
Please note you will need a sugar thermometer for this recipe and it may not be suitable for young children to help make. You can follow the recipe below to make a sheet of toffee and break it into chunks, but here its traditional to pour the mixture into small foil cupcake cases and add a popsicle stick as it cools to make a bonfire toffee lollypop. 

450g dark brown sugar
125ml/4 fl oz hot water 
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
115g golden/corn syrup
115g black treacle/molasses

* line a 8"x12" tin with non-stick parchment, and grease well with oil.
*add sugar and water to a heavy bottom pan and allow sugar to dissolve over a gentle heat. DO NOT STIR, tip the pan if you need to move the mixture around.
*weigh out the rest of the ingredients into a well greased jug. Once the sugar is dissolved pour the rest of the ingredients into the pan and add the thermometer. Try to avoid stirring the mixture to much.
*bring to the boil and keep boiling until mixture reaches 140 degrees C/270 degrees F. DO NOT LEAVE THE STOVE UNATTENDED. Once this temperature is reached, turn off the heat and pour the mixture into your tin to cool. 
*once completely cool break up the toffee with a hammer or rolling pin. This is a lot less messy if you put it into a bag first!

Cinder toffee
Cinder toffee is also known as honeycomb, it's lighter and easier to chew that bonfire toffee, and it's lovely mixed into ice cream or yogurt. 

5 tbsp golden/corn syrup
200g caster/superfine sugar
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda, here in the US)

*grease an 8" square tin with butter. 
*Mix together the syrup and sugar in a DEEP pan and stir over gentle heat until melted. Try to avoid bubbles forming before the sugar is completely dissolved.
*turn up the heat slightly and simmer for a short time until the mixture has become amber caramel. Remove immediately from the heat and beat in the bicarb with a wooden spoon. This will cause the mixture to foam, hence the need for a deep pan. Make sure there are no lumps of bicarb remaining and pour the mixture into the square tin. BEWARE THIS IS VERY HOT!
*leave to cool. The mixture will continue to bubble for sometime, this is normal. Try not the disturb the pan as this may knock out some of the air. 
*once cool, break into chunks, or crumble and store in a jar for use as a dessert topping.

Savoury

The UK is sadly not famous for its native cuisine. It's not that our food is bad, its generally that we're bad at naming food, so no one else wants to try it in the first place!

Toad-in-the-Hole
I guarantee this recipe is 100% toad free. Well, it is if you buy your sausages from a reputable supplier. This recipe is unlikely to work with hot dogs or frankenfurter type sausages, use breakfast sausages instead.

4 good quality sausages

The Batter (this is also known as Yorkshire pudding and is amazing on it's own as well.)
   4 tbsp plain flour
   1/2 tsp salt
   2 beaten eggs
   275ml milk
   2-3 tbsp vegetable oil or goose fat

*Sieve the flour and and salt into a large bowl. May a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and gradually add the beaten eggs. Whisk in the milk until the batter has the consistency of single cream. Leave to stand for at least an hour, 3-4 hours if you have time. 
*Preheat the oven to 220c/425f/gas 7. Fry the sausages until browned on the outside.
*Put the oil or fat into a large deep sided oven tin and put into the oven until smoking hot. Give the batter a good stir and then quickly pour into the tin. This will sizzle and spit a bit! Drop in the sausages (even spaced but away from the edges) and return the pan to the oven. 
*Bake for 30 minutes until mix has risen into a glorious golden dish shaped cloud (it's normal for the edges to rise more than the middle). Serve with thick gravy and winter vegetables.

Rarebit
This is a simple Welsh recipe for a tasty and quick warming snack. You can vary this a lot by adding precooked meat/fish, switching the mustard for another sauce, or by change the vegetables for tomato or spinach. This serves 8.

Sliced bread
200g grated/shredded cheese
1 beaten egg
2 chopped scallions/spring onions
1 tsp Dijon mustard

*toast the bread under a grill until golden on one side. 
* Mix the remaining ingredients and spread over the untoasted side of the bread.
*return to the grill until cheese is bubbly and golden. Serve immediately. 


Baked potatoes
If you're being authentic and having a bonfire, the baked potatoes are a great post-fire snack to warm you up and soak up any booze you might have indulged in (please not play with fireworks whilst inebriated!).

*poke holes in your potatoes with a fork all over, smear with butter and wrap in two layers of tinfoil. 
*bury them in the embers of the bonfire and they should be ready in about an hour. 
*serve with baked beans and shredded/grated cheese.

Mum and Cat Mum Vyctoria Hart is based in the Yorkshire in the North of England, Vyctoria specializes in steampunk, science fiction and alternative illustration. She has provided images for a number of novels and paper-based roleplay games, as well as designing fabrics, t-shirts and greetings cards. You can find her work at Phantoms-Siren.com You can also check out some of her work on RedBubble, Folksy, DeviantArt and Spoonflower. And of course, you can read her words here at I Feel Delicious!

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