A gathering is an easy way of cooking and hosting. It means no pressure, no code of conduct, and everyone – cook included – can actually enjoy themselves.
This collection is a mixture of modern dishes, staple snacks, salads and sides, interesting bakes, and puddings perfect to end a feast with. Nothing overly fussy or complicated, just tasty, pretty plates of food.
Choose from the chapters led by occasion or pick and choose from dishes such as Sloe Gin Braised Venison, Cocoa Nib Brownies and Redcurrant Pavlovas to put on a spread. There are menu ideas to show you how.
Today I’ve got something rather different for all you readers — an extract from a beautiful cookbook by Flora Sheddon, GATHERINGS. I’m months late posting this (it was published in February 2017) but this cookbook really is gorgeous. It takes the effort out of entertaining with a collection of recipes to enjoy cooking and eating.
See below for an extract recipe from the book: Floral Empire Biscuits. Thank you to Hachette Publishers for supplying the extract (photo and recipe).
I don’t think the Empire biscuit is as popular anywhere else as it is in Scotland. They are sold in most wee bakeries – you would struggle to walk more than 500 yards in Glasgow without seeing one for sale.
As a kid I was only in it for the sweetie on the top (I have an uncle who adores Empire biscuits, so this was never an issue), but nowadays I love the whole thing.
This version omits the jelly tot (I can only apologize) in favour of a more floral and slightly prettier theme. It is very much a floral Flora creation.
I would highly recommend making the Strawberry and Elderflower Jam for this recipe, but you can, of course, use whichever berry jam takes your fancy.
Simply make sure it is a fairly thick one so that it won’t come oozing out the sides.
For the biscuits
225g (8oz) plain flour, plus extra
175g (6oz) unsalted butter, cubed
75g (2 ¾ oz) icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon dried elderflowers,
rose petals or lavender (optional)
For the icing
200g (7oz) icing sugar
For the filling and decoration
50g (1 ¾ oz) mixed dried edible flower
petals (I use dried rose, cornflower
and marigold petals)
200g (7oz) raspberry jam or
Strawberry and Elderflower Jam
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
To make the biscuits, blitz the flour, butter, sugar, vanilla and dried flowers in a food processor until a dough forms. Alternatively, rub the butter into the other ingredients and knead by hand until you achieve a dough.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface until it has the thickness of a pound coin. Use a fluted round cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits, then reroll the scraps and repeat. You should get 24–30 biscuits, depending on your size of cutter. Transfer the shapes to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12–15 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden. Leave the biscuits to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. For the icing, mix the sugar with a splash of milk in a bowl until you have a thickish icing – it should be spreadable. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle.
To assemble the biscuits, pipe a circle of the icing on top of half the biscuits. While the icing is still wet, sprinkle with some of the petals. Dollop a teaspoon of jam on the underside of each of the remaining half of the biscuits, then sandwich together with the decorated halves on top.
Allow the icing to set fully. These biscuits are best eaten on the day of making, as the jam tends to soften them after 24 hours. You can, however, bake the biscuits up to 3 days in advance of serving and assemble them in the morning of the day they are required.
Gatherings by Flora Shedden is published by Hachette Australia in hardback at $39.99 and ebook $19.99.
GATHERINGS: Recipes for feasts great and small
Hachette Book Publishers