I am a very big fan of Lynn Bedford Hall, a well known South African cookbook writer who has written over 20 books. I simply love her book ‘Fig Jam and Foxtrot’, which is a ‘cookbook with a difference’. It’s a book set around six fictitious women who live in the fictitious Karoo town of Corriebush. The recipes are diverse and reflect each of the women’s ‘characters’ and heritage and whilst seemingly quite traditional, they have a distinctly modern twist.
They range from ‘Betsie’s’ very traditional South African dishes, to ‘Virginia’s more formal English recipes with a touch of Indian (colonial) influence. We then meet ‘Rosa’, who cooks with love and passion in true Italian style, and included is a recipe called ‘Karoo Bolognese’ which I am dying to try. Enter ‘Olympia’, who is of Greek descent, who brings delicious fresh Mediterranean dishes to the table. Then there is ‘Sylvia’, who is not an established cook and serves up comfort everyday food. And last but not least is ‘Amatilda’, who owns the local coffee shop and brings to the book a selection of easy and delectable homemade treats.
I love the way the six different styles of food are brought together through these six characters, to create a cookbook rich in ‘personality’. Traditional and yet very modern.There are very few cookbooks that can inspire me without one single photograph of the food, and this is book one of them. The cartoonist Tony Grogan does the delightful illustrations.
The ‘farmhouse finger rusks with buttermilk and oats’ is one of my all-time favourite rusk recipes, and I have been meaning to do a post on these. So coming up this winter for sure.
My next three blog posts are inspired by recipes in this book, and I kick off with one of ‘Sylvie’s recipes for Honeyed Ginger biscuits. Ridiculously simple to make, these are the perfect treat if you are a fan of Nutticrust biscuits.
What you need to make these biscuits:
- 250ml (1 cup) cake flour
- 15ml (1 Tbs) ground ginger
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (recipe called for 1 ml – but I wanted a bit more)
- 125ml (1/2 cup) light brown sugar
- 125ml (1/2 cup) wholewheat flour (I used Eureka Mills stone-ground premium flour)
- 125gm soft butter (room temp)
- 5ml bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 15ml (1 Tbs) honey
- 30ml (2 Tbs) hot water
How to make these:
- preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F)
- sift all the flour, spice and salt, adding the leftover wholewheat bits back in
- add the sugar and mix in the butter until you get a crumb-like texture
- in a separate bowl mix the honey, bicarb and water and when it fizzes add it to the mix (mine didn’t in fact fizz at all)
- shape the dough into balls (it was quite dry and only just held together) and arrange spaced out on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking sheet. If I haven’t banged on enough about how awesome silicone baking sheets are, then I will do it again. No mess, no stick, go get one if you haven’t already. The black plastic baking sheets work just as well and can be cut to size. If you don’t have this, then line or double line with baking paper
- Press each dough ball down with a fork – you should get around 20 biscuits. I went slightly bigger, so it’s up to you
- Bake for 18 – 20 minutes until a nice caramel colour and then remove and cool on a rack
I loved the slightly rustic and uneven edges and the nice hard crunchy texture. So crunchy that when you bite into them you can’t hear the TV, or your thoughts. It’s exactly the way I like it.