I’ve always thought of black treacle as the bitter cousin of golden syrup, useful only for bonfire toffee (aka treacle toffee) and fruit cake…how wrong I was. I rediscovered its usefulness when trying to come up with a no-cook version of a balsamic reduction for a dish in my book (I’m in constant book promo mode I know, I know) and I’ve been keen to experiment with it further ever since.
So, this week I’m dusting off that little red tin at the back of the cupboard and celebrating the general super duperness of black treacle by using it as a base for a salad dressing and piling it into a new take on a treacle tart in my bonfire night menu.
Another unsung hero of the season is the marrow. My friend Zara, her daughter Florence and I lugged an enormous marrow home from their allotment last week and invented this dip together which forms the basis of my starter.
Marrow Baba Ghanoush
Serve with cheese straws, crisps, crudités or as I did, with little croquettes made from mashed sweet potato or pumpkin.
50g cream cheese
Small bunch of chives
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1) Preheat the oven to 200°c
2) Cut the marrow into large wedges and place on a baking tray, skin side up
3) Drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper
4) Roast for 30-40 minutes or until the marrow is really soft and the skin is caramelised or scorched in patches.
5) When the marrow is well roasted place it in a blender with all of the other ingredients. Blend until smooth.
6) Can be served warm or cold which means you can make it the night before and just pop it in the fridge.
Venison Hot Dogs
I think hot dogs taste better outside on a cold day and they’re easy to hold and eat with a sparkler in your other hand!
To make them super special I’m using venison sausages and a cheeky drizzle of dark chocolate. Trust me it works! To balance out the richness of the hot dogs I’ve made this firework ‘slaw with brightly coloured veggies and a black treacle dressing.
For the firework ‘slaw:
1 carrot, peeled
1/4 red cabbage
1 beetroot, peeled
Small bunch of radishes, leaves and stalks removed
1 teaspoon of black treacle
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper
For the hot dogs:
2 red onions or 4 large shallots
Knob of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
5-6 juniper berries
1 tablespoon of red wine (leaving plenty left in the bottle for serving with dinner)
2 bay leaves
8 venison sausages
8 brioche rolls
100g of dark chocolate (at least 70%)
1) Finely slice the onions or shallots and place in a large frying pan with the butter, oil, juniper berries and bay leaves.
2) Soften gently on a low heat for 15-20 minutes then stir in the red wine.
3) Heat for another minute or so to allow the wine to soak into the onions.
4) Cook the sausages in the oven for about 25-30 mins (as per the packet or your butchers instructions)
5) Melt the chocolate either in a bowl fitted over a pan of simmering water or if you (like me) can’t be bothered with all that; pop the chocolate in an oven proof dish and chuck it in the oven very very briefly (don’t let it burn or you’ll have to start again).
6) Warm the brioche rolls for a couple of minutes in the oven then split them lengthways and stuff in the onions, sausage, dash of English mustard then a very light drizzle of melted chocolate.
To make the accompanying ‘slaw. Stir the black treacle and balsamic vinegar together until well combined. Then whisk in the olive oil a little at a time, season with salt and pepper and set aside. Finely chop or grate the vegetables and toss in the dressing just before serving.
Bonfire Brazil Nut Tart
Dessert has all the flavours of treacle toffee but it’s softened by the buttery brazil nuts (…went a bit Greg Wallace then sorry, can’t help it it’s well yummy!)
200g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
100g cold butter, diced
1 large free-range egg
Cold water to bind
300g golden syrup
300g black treacle
100g fresh breadcrumbs
150g chopped brazil nuts
2 tbsp of whiskey
1) Rub the butter and flour together with your hands until it looks like breadcrumbs.
2) Lightly beat the egg and add it to the flour and butter. Stir in a little cold water too, just a tablespoon or so, just enough to bring it together to a smooth, soft dough.
3) Dust your work surface with flour and then roll out the dough to line a medium sized spring form cake tin or tart case (mine was an 18cm cake tin, which was probably a bit too deep so you might be better with something slightly bigger to make a shallower tart)
4) Chill the pastry in the fridge for 15-20 minutes and preheat the oven to 190°c
5) Blind bake the pastry (line the pastry case with grease proof held down with baking beans) for 15 minutes then (remove the paper and beans) and bake for a bit longer, until starting to turn golden brown.
6) Stir all of the remaining ingredients together and tip into the pastry case.
7) Bake the tart for 30 minutes.
8) Serve with double cream, custard or vanilla ice cream.