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Supper for the saints

14 October 2016


I HAVE just got back from New York, which was in the grip of elec­tion fever. Our Episcopalian cousins do take the seasons ser­iously, and are strong on the “canvass” where con­gregations pledge their giving for the year ahead. All Saints’-tide is a clear fixture in that, calling us to bear wit­ness and be gener­ous in our own lives, and inspires these recipes.
The current rage in North Amer­ica seems to be Cauliflower steaks; so here is an attempt with Indian fla­vours and a look to resemble the heavenly crown of glory.

1 large head of cauliflower
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon each ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, and paprika
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 and line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Lop off the woody end of the stalk and place the cauliflower head up on a chopping board. Slice off the edges left and right (no more than ? inch, or ½cm); then, with a long sharp cook’s knife, slice the “block” into four long pieces, to re­­semble flat steaks. Ar­­range them apart on the baking sheet.
Mix the oil and ground spices and apply this to the steaks, leaving about a third of this oil for later. Season and place everything in the oven. After 20 minutes, pull them out, turn over carefully, brush over the remaining spice-oil and sprinkle over the caraway seeds. Return to the oven for 20 minutes more. They are ready once coloured and brown.
The idea that saints are “people who let the light through” is obvious in stained glass. Are they not also like jewels in the crown? The pom­egranate seeds in these Allsaints sponges try to capture that. It is essen­ti­ally a financier recipe, the light and springy French delight that features browned beurre-noisette butter to give a nutty edge and bring out the almonds. Pom­egranate mo­­lasses is in most supermarkets, and gives an extra dimension.

100g (3.5 oz) unsalted butter
60g (2 oz) flour
60g (2 oz) ground almonds
150g (5 oz) light brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
5 egg whites
1 dessertspoon pomegranate molasses
1 pomegranate (seeds)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and butter a 12-hole bun tin. Melt the butter slowly until it just turns brown and begins to smell nutty. Remove from the heat im­­med­iately. Mix together the dry in­­gredi­ents, stir in the egg whites and molasses, and then add the butter
a trickle at a time to incorporate every­­­thing. Leave to rest in the fridge for an hour or so. Pour the batter mixture into the tin.
Halve the pomegranate, and bash each half on the back with a spoon — above a bowl to catch the seeds. Distribute these evenly among the bun batters, and bake for 15-20 min­­utes, till firm. Cool on a wire rack, and enjoy with tea, coffee, or even cream or custard as a pudding.

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