It was just one of those Irish days....a dark, grey, unmerciful downpour one minute and bright glorious sunshine the next, continuing intermittently for the entire day. I love days like this as they provide the perfect excuse not to leave the house at all and to hunker indoors with a steaming cup of tea and brewing up a half-notion of creating something wonderful in the kitchen for a few hours. There was nothing else for it but to delve deep into the cookery book shelf and see what was to be found. And what a little treasure I did find. My cookery book from when I was a child. My mother gave my brother and I a different one each (I hope he still has his) and leafing through the pages was like being 7 years old again. I must have read and re-read and made every recipe in this book when I was a child as reading them all again today, I knew every groovy seventies recipe by heart.
Today called for a tea-time treat, although not an old fashioned one from my seventies childhood like coconut cones, castle puddings or flapjacks. As nostalgic as the book made me, there was not one thing that I actually fancied eating!
Today was a day for something simple yet a little more sophisticated, so the boys and I made vanilla shortbread. I have several shortbread recipes, snipped and clipped from various sources, but this one by Nigella is faultless in its ease of execution - it needs no alteration and absolutely anyone can make it. It is also delicious and so much better than anything you will buy in the shops.
You will need:
200g plain flour
100g icing sugar
200g soft unsalted butter
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
vanilla caster sugar for decoration
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
You will need 1 flat baking sheet or Swiss roll tin.
This beautiful bunch of vanilla pods was a present from my mother from France this summer and I have been looking for any excuse to use it. I love the soft, waxy feel of it and the smell when you split them open is unforgettable.
To extract the vanilla seeds, split one vanilla pod in two and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife.