Oatmeal cake with pears and chocolate chips

Oatmeal cake

A perfect pear. It’s such a nice phrase, and such a rare and wonderful object to find in real life. There’s something so hopeful about waiting for a pear to ripen. You buy a few hard, golden green unblemished boscs. You put them somewhere safe and you wait for that one day that they’ll be perfect. Not mushy, not hard, just sweet and yielding. But there’s no guarantee they’ll be sweet once they ripen! You don’t know! They could be mealy and bland. And the wait for them to ripen is like marking the passage of time – they change before your eyes, almost as you watch! In my house it’s a very rare pear that makes it to perfection without insult and abuse. They’re dropped, they’re played with, somebody sneaks little bites and then puts it back when they realize it’s not ripe. Somehow I miss the fleeting moment of perfection. And I have bruised, scratched, soft and overripe pears. Which is exactly why pear cake was invented!

This cake has ground oats inside, to give a nice oaty flavor and texture, and rolled oats on top for crispy crunchiness. It has cardamom, which is a mysterious but lovely flavor, and very nice with pears. It’s a nice cake to have with coffee in the morning, but it’s sweet and special enough to have with a glass of wine after dinner. Maybe with some ice cream or lightly whipped cream. It’s very quick to put together.

Here’s Big Youth with Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. Time is running and passing, and you better get it right this time, but wait…there is a next time! If you miss the moment of ripeness – bake a cake!!
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Vegetarian Haggis

vegetarian haggis

I know, I know – I missed Burns’ Night. I seem to be missing everything lately! I put it all into a big pile somewhere in my mind, and then I forget about it till it’s too late. Well, it’s never too late for vegetarian haggis! This dish would be delicious whatever you called it. (Possibly more delicious if you didn’t conjure pictures of actual haggis!!) It is comprised of french lentils, roasted mushrooms, oatmeal, nuts, herbs & spices and a dash of whisky. I’ve baked it inside of pastry before (surprise! surprise!). But my all-time favorite way to eat it is baked inside of big beautiful chard leaves. I think it looks pretty, and the chard adds a lovely flavor as it holds everything together. I first had vegetarian haggis on my honeymoon in Edinburgh – out of a can! It was surprisingly tasty. This is my recreation of that canned delight, but it also happens to be a collection of many of my favorite foods. I put butter and cheese in mine, but you could easily leave those out, and then you’d have vegan haggis.

Here’s The Gourds with I Ate the Haggis (thanks, TFD!)
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mushroom walnut dumplings

mushroom walnut dumplings

Inside: Roasted mushrooms, walnuts, parsley and cheese. Outside: a biscuit-like crust made with whole wheat flour, toasted oats, rosemary, black pepper and buttermilk. I called these dumplings because of their shape, but it might be more accurate to call them stuffed biscuits. They’re not soft and flaky, like anything made with paté brisée. They’re a little heartier-tasting, so they’re nice with soup or something saucy. Or even a sauce! Like the herbed walnut sauce, perhaps. Each bite has subtle flavors of baked rosemary and black pepper, and you can pick them up and eat them with your hands! Always a bonus.

Here’s Big Joe Williams with King Biscuit Stomp
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Oatmeal pepper crackers

oatmeal-pepper crackers

I had mentioned that a pastry crust should be so delicious on its own that you can make it into crackers. Well, I had some oatmeal-peppercorn crust leftover, so I did just that! Light and crispy – worth mixing up a whole batch of dough just for these.

Here’s Johnny Flynn’s Leftovers, to listen to as you make them.
Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit – Leftovers
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