It’s not that my Da will object to a drop of red wine if offered but, truth be told, it wouldn’t be his first choice of beverage. And he certainly wouldn’t be doing any sniffing or swirling of the wine before taking a generous swallow and pronouncing whether he thought it a nice drop or not. Still, we each enjoy our tipples in our own way and, if I were to be completely honest, part of the reason for bringing bottles of red when I visit home is that I get to enjoy them too.
As far as food goes, my Da is a plain eater and has gotten pickier in his old age – spuds and chops, brown bread and cheddar cheese, apple crumble and apple stewed – these are mainstays of his diet. That and his own peculiar take on breakfast. There is, therefore, little point in me bringing fancy foods home to mark Father’s Day, or any other day, for that matter.
You, on the other hand, might like to do just that and, if so, read on.
To mark Father’s Day, which is coming up on June 19th, the distributors of Wyndham Estate are providing me with a hamper of fine food and wine for a (very) lucky spud reader.
If you’re curious as to why Wyndham Estate are keen to mark this particular occasion, their founder George Wyndham, who planted Australia’s first commercial shiraz vineyard in 1830, is regarded as the father of Australian shiraz, which seems like a good enough reason to me.
As to the hamper, it contains oils, vinegars, chocolates, preserves and more – to the value of €500 (now there’s fancy for ya) – and (naturally enough) it includes some of Wyndham Estate’s flagship wine, their Bin 555 Shiraz.
To enter, just leave a comment below. It’s open to anyone with an address in the Republic of Ireland, though you do need to be over 18, what with the wine and all. You’ll also have to promise to drink it responsibly and to share it with your Da if you’re still lucky enough to have him around. I’ll leave this open until midday GMT on Wednesday 15th and then pick a winner from the proverbial hat.
Update: And the hamper goes to… Yvette Harte, who, no doubt, will be enjoying some fine eats and drinks for some time to come. Congratulations to her!
One of the things that my Da did unfailingly when I was a child was to sample and praise every baked good that I ever made, both the good and the bad, as well as the jaw-breakingly awful. I had an obsession with ginger, so he gamely ate the gingerbread, ginger cake and ginger biscuits that I would produce with regularity.
Ginger is still one of my most favourite ingredients, though I probably use it more often in savoury dishes now than sweet. In honour of my sweet-toothed Da, however, I thought I would revisit old ground and make ginger biscuits, ones which should not, I hope, cause him to break any of his false teeth.
I adapted this recipe from one for cracked-surface crunchy gingersnaps which Shirley Corriher includes in her mighty book of baking know-how, Bakewise. I’ve replaced the molasses with honey and changed the spicing to add lemon and cayenne to the ginger. They spread quite a bit during baking and, for me, turned out much more ginger chew that ginger snap, though adding honey, among other things, can have that effect.
If your dough seems very moist and ends up spreading more than you’d like, try adding a little extra flour to the mix next time. Individual flours vary in the amount of protein they contain and hence in the amount of liquid they can absorb, so you may need to tweak this according to the flour you use.
- 350g granulated sugar plus extra for coating
- 170g unsalted butter
- 3 tblsp honey
- 1 large egg
- 300g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 0.5 tsp salt
- 3.5 tsp gnd ginger
- 0.25 tsp cayenne pepper
- grated zest of 2 small or one large lemon
You’ll also need:
- One or two large baking sheets (around 30cm x 40cm) and, if you have it, some baking parchment to line them.
- Beat the sugar and butter together until fluffy, using a stand mixer, food processor or by hand.
- Add the honey and beat to blend in well, then add the egg and beat to just blend in.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cayenne and lemon zest. Add this to the sugar and butter mixture and mix until it just comes together as a dough. Cover and chill the dough for at least an hour or (even better) overnight.
- When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 180C and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place about 3 tblsp of granulated sugar in a small bowl. Scoop tablespoonfuls of the dough, roll into approx. 3cm balls and then roll each ball in the sugar. Place on the baking sheet about 5cm apart. You’ll need about half of the dough to fill one large baking sheet, so either use two baking sheets or (preferably) bake in two batches.
- Bake until lightly golden and the edges are beginning to darken, about 10 minutes, but do check them earlier.
- Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. If re-using the baking sheet for the second batch, cool it off under cold water before re-lining with parchment paper and filling the tin for round two.
- Enjoy these for the sweet treats that they are or perhaps use them as part of a dessert, along with vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit.
- There are lots of possible variations, but one that particularly appeals to me is replacing the lemon zest with orange zest and perhaps adding a few finely chopped hazelnuts to the mix
- Makes about 40 gingery biscuits.