We all have a secret kitchen shame, don't we? That food that we secretly love that we wouldn't want anyone else to know about, or that kitchen "bad habit" that we try to keep a secret. One passionate foodie I know, whose food and recipes I respect and trust, secretly loves mac 'n' cheese out of a box. Another loves those slices of processed cheese, and yet another loves cheezels.
I have many kitchen secrets, and don't think for one moment that I am completely going to 'fess up and tell all. I am not going to go into great detail about the frankfurters, or the thick slabs of white "Sunday" bread, slathered with butter, then golden syrup, and topped off with a chunk of cheese! Oh no, I'm not going to tell you about that.
But I will tell you this - I am my mother's daughter. For the first 18 years of my life, I watched my mother clear the table after dinner every night, put all the leftovers into little Tupperware containers and put them into the fridge. Even if those leftovers amounted to nothing more than half a potato, a couple of carrot rings, and a tablespoon of peas. This is not a criticism you understand, simply a statement of fact. And in that way that we learn what we see, I am completely incapable of throwing away a leftover - all manner of bits and pieces find there way into bowls and containers, and then on into the fridge. Now this is where things fall down a little. Somehow, while I was taking in every single detail of the stashing and stowing, I never figured out what ever actually happened to all those leftovers after their holiday in the fridge.
The upshot of all that is that all these leftovers find their way into my fridge, but they never find their way out again - the end result being that there are times when a glimpse into the depths of my refrigerator might fool you into thinking I am more scientist than cook - you get the picture? 'Nough said.
All of which is really apropos of nothing, except that in trying to come up with a post this week - something to make for my contribution to Cookbook Sundays and also to Sweet New Zealand - I thought I would first check the contents of the fridge for inspiration. Lo and behold - half a tin of condensed milk. Now I cannot tell you how long that had been there but, unlike all the other science experiments keeping it company, the condensed milk was still in perfect condition.
So with half a tin of condensed milk in hand, some kind of sweet "slicey" kind of thing seemed like the obvious choice. Dipping into that cookbook collection of mine, it being Cookbook Sunday time and all, I plucked out Annabel Langbein's More Taste Than Time, Fast Track Food for Busy People. This is a book that I have had in my collection for many years, and one I used to use regularly, but somehow over the years has been pushed aside for other more recent acquisitions. This was a great book to get familiar with again. Aimed at busy cooks, it is divided into chapters like Breakfast and Brunch, Great Grazing, Sexy Salads, One Pot Hot and more, and makes it really easy to enjoy great food with minimal effort and with a minimum amount of time.
I finally settled on Annabel's recipe for Apricot Coconut Slice as my inspiration, but swapped out apricots for a mixture of figs and crystallised ginger; subbed in some lime juice for lemon juice, since I had a couple of limes languishing in the fruit bowl, and because ginger and lime are such great partners; and replaced a thick layer of lemon icing, with a thin layer of dark chocolate, because ... well, just 'cos. And, anyway, what is not to love about figs and ginger with chocolate?! The bitter chocolate, and the tangy ginger and lime totally cut through the condensed milk, so this is not at all too sweet or rich. It may be a bit of a wallflower in the looks department, but it's the perfect little slice to enjoy with an afternoon coffee or as an after-dinner "finisher".
Do you have a secret kitchen shame? I'd love to know, and of course your secret's safe with me. Now here's the recipe.
Fig, Lime & Ginger Chocolate Slice Recipe
Inspired by a recipe by Annabel Langbein
100g (3.5 oz) butter
1/2 of a 397g (14 oz) tin condensed milk
375g (13 oz) plain sweet biscuits
(I used Arnotts Milk Coffee biscuits)
100g (3.5 oz) dried figs, finely chopped
100g (3.5 oz) crystallised ginger, finely chopped
3/4 cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
200g dark chocolate
(I used Whittaker's Dark Ghana)
Put biscuits into food processor and pulse until crushed into crumbs. Alternatively, put biscuits into a plastic bag and bash the bejeezus out of them until crushed - this is the more satisfying method.
Melt butter and condensed milk in a small pan, then cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly until the two have come together. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, mix together the crushed biscuits, chopped figs and ginger, coconut and lime juice. Add the butter and condensed milk, and mix everything together well.
Press into a 30cm x 24cm (12" x 9") baking tin, pressing everything together well. Refrigerate until set.
Meanwhile, break chocolate into squares and place in a bowl set of a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir the chocolate from time to time until melted. Remove from the heat and pour over the top of the slice base, spreading out to form an even coating. Return to the fridge until set.
I'm sharing this slice this week at Cookbook Sundays, where my friends are delving into their cookbook collections and sharing some of their recipes. Do stop by to see what they're cooking - you might even feel inspired to link up a recipe from one of your own cookbooks.
I am also sharing this post with Sweet New Zealand, a monthly blog event created by the very lovely Alessandra Zecchini, and which this month is hosted by Jemma at Time for a Little Something. This is an opportunity for all Kiwi bloggers (whether you are living in New Zealand or overseas), as well as for non-Kiwi bloggers living in New Zealand, to connect and share some of those sweet treats from your kitchen. So, head on over and share something sweet.