Real vegetarian food, served in an imaginary world...

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Fantasy Veggie Dinner Guest - RUPERT BROOKE

In honour of Remembrance Day, Rupert Brooke receives the latest invitation to eat at Zelda's table. 
It is more of an afternoon tea than a dinner, in keeping with the idea of Brooke sitting in his pyjamas in the fields around Grantchester.
Many lost their lives in the terrible conflict which tore Europe apart between 1914 and 1918. Many brilliant people wrote about it, fought in it and died in it, but popular culture continually nominates two poets as the ultimate symbols of that poignant loss of youth (and life). Wilfred Owen is considered the realist, the one who experienced guns, mud and shellshock. Rupert Brooke is the idealist, the one who died before he knew the horror of war.
  
Described in contemporary accounts as an 'Adonis', he was intellectually gifted, but in the years leading up to World War I, his biggest concerns seemed to be love-related.
Brooke was not unique for willingly giving up the life of a relaxed intellectual (because so may did) but, his early death from sepsis on the way to Gallipoli - though spared the battle - made him an almost mythical figure.
One patriotic sonnet is most associated with his thoughts on going to war before the horrors of war were fully recognised: 
Yet, let's invite him to enjoy something which references one of his best-loved poems, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester, written before anyone knew of what was to come, in 1912. 
 
And is there honey still for tea? 
 
Yes, there is...
Zelda has chosen two tea-time treats: Honey Flapjacks and Poppy Seed Rolls.
 
The first uses this much-loved ingredient:

HONEY FLAPJACKS 

225g butter, cut into chunks
75gcaster sugar
4tbsp honey
350g porridge oats


Place the oats in a large bowl. 
Grease and line the tin. 
Place the butter, sugar and honey in a pan.
Melt all together over a low heat, stirring gently until you have a smooth mixture. 
Add the butter mixture to the oats and stir to combine. 
Pour into the tin and use a palette knife or spatula to make it level. 
Cook at 180˚C/ Gas 6 for about 20 minutes until lightly golden. 
Allow to cool in the tin for a while, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cut into 12 pieces.

Will keep for about three days in a sealed container.

The second can be spread with honey but is also topped with poppy seeds, a poignant symbol of which Brooke would have been blessedly unaware:
 
POPPY SEED ROLLS 

300g strong white flour
1tsp salt
1tsp dried yeast
15g butter, cut into small chunks
40ml milk
160ml lukewarm water

1tbsp milk
1tsp sugar
2tbsp black poppy seeds

Place the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl.
Add the butter and rub it in with fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Warm the milk.
Add to the water.
Pour into the bowl and mix all together well to make a soft dough.
Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth. 
Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave for about an hour until it doubles in size. 
Knockback, knead again and divide in four.
Place each piece on an oiled baking tray and leave for another hour until doubled in size again. 
Bake at 220˚C/ Gas 7 for 10-15 minutes until golden. 
Mix the extra milk with the sugar. 
Take rolls from the oven. Brush with the glaze and sprinkle the poppy seeds over the top. 
Replace in oven for an extra 5 minutes, the place on rack to cool.
Serve with butter and, of course, honey.

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