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ANZAC Biscuits 2018

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55B6B95B-BA83-4195-9AF4-3C4B727731C6I haven’t made ANZAC biscuits for a couple of years so I thought it was time to get out the oats and start baking!

I came across this recipe from my one of my favourite recipe sites Queen Fine Foods. It’s a kind of ANZAC biscuit recipe – however it doesn’t have coconut or golden syrup but it does have nuts. I’m very happy about that inclusion as I am a total nut freak!

The link to the original recipe is here.

I changed a few things in my version  – substituting macadamias for pecans and adding another current favourite ingredient, malt.  I added some sour cherries to some of the biscuits too. Finally I put some of the bikkies together with ginger buttercream to make a pretty substantial cream biscuit sandwich!

So I ended up with a few different ANZAC style biscuits ready for ANZAC day – but they didn’t last that long. There are however a few left for the big day  tomorrow.

Ingredients

150g plain flour

90g rolled oats

160g brown sugar

1 tsp sea salt

60g macadamias, chopped

150g butter

1 tsp Queen vanilla bean paste

1 tbls malt (Saunders Malt is good)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tbsp boiling water

1 heaped tbls sour cherries (or raisins or cranberries) to add to half the mixture

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Melt the butter, vanilla and malt together in a medium saucepan or microwave carefully.

Stir the bicarbonate of soda and boiling water together in a small bowl, and then add to the butter. The mixture will foam up.

Quickly add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and stir together with a spoon.

At this point you can mix in the sour cherries to half the mixture if you like.

Take tablespoons of the mixture and roll them into walnut sized balls. Place them on the baking trays, leaving lots of room between them to allow for spreading.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until dark golden brown. The biscuits will have spread and will be very soft. Leave them to cool on the trays for at least five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool properly.

To make the ginger buttercream sandwiches, cream 50g butter with 100g icung sugar and 1/2 tsp ground ginger. Loosen with a splash of milk if the buttercream is to stiff. Spoon or pipe the buttercream onto a few of the biscuits and then place more biscuits on top to finish the sandwiches.

That amount of buttercream gave me 3 sandwiches. Just make a larger amount of buttercream if you want more sandwiches.

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Nutty Praline Slice

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I love nuts! I will put them in all kinds of recipes, sweet and savoury, just to get that lovely crunch when you bite into something yummy.

I made this Nutty Praline Slice when I had some left over sweet pastry and lots of hazelnuts. I made some hazelnut praline as a topping, and incorporated hazelnut praline paste into the slice.

Ingredients 

Sweet Pastry Base

200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

60g icing sugar

Pinch of salt

130g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

1 free range egg yolk

10ml water

Hazelnut Praline Filling

60g butter

60g caster sugar

50g praline paste*

35g plain flour

Lemon Icing

Juice of half a lemon

Enough icing sugar to make a runny icing

Hazelnut Praline  

3 tbls caster sugar

75g hazelnuts

Method

To make the pastry, put the flour, icing sugar and salt into a food processor. Add the butter and lemon zest, then pulse a few times, until the mixture is the consistency of fresh breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg yolk and water, then add to the mix. Process once more, just until the dough comes together, then tip on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough into a ball, wrap in cling wrap and press gently into a flattish disc. Put the dough in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven (fan-forced) to 160 degrees C. Grease and line with baking paper a 27cm x 17cm baking tin.

Roll out the pastry into a rectangle and ease into the baking tin.

To make the hazelnut praline filling, blitz the butter and caster sugar in a food processor, add the praline paste, then add the flour and pulse until the mixture come together into a smooth filling.

Spread the filling on top of the pastry base, smoothing the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven until the filling and the shortbread underneath is cooked.

Leave in the tin until cool.

For the lemon icing, mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to make a runny icing. Spread or drizzle the lemon icing over the slice.

For the praline, spread the nuts onto a piece of baking paper on baking tray. Put the caster sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy based frying pan. Carefully melt the sugar over a medium heat, being careful not to stir the sugar or it will crystalize. Once the sugar has melted and turned a tea colour, carefully pour the hot toffee over the nuts and allow to set. Once set, bash the praline into small pieces.

Scatter the crushed praline over the top of the slice, and cut into squares to serve.

*You can buy hazelnut praline paste from specialist food supply stores. I actually had to buy the praline paste in Melbourne, not sure why I couldn’t get it in Sydney!

I know it’s readily available in the UK from Callebaut.

You can also make your own – I found this recipe works well: https://snapguide.com/guides/make-hazelnut-praline-paste/

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Macadamia White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The search for cookie Nirvana continues! So close and yet so far…But the journey is so much fun and so yummy!

This recipe comes from Queen Fine Foods, makers of lots of lovely flavourings including classic vanilla. I’ve been baking with Queen vanilla all my life.

These cookies are right up there in my search. They are nice and fat and very satisfying. Readers of others of my cookie recipes may remember that I’m looking for substance not splat! That’s fat cookies not thin ones.

The baking powder gives these cookies a bit more substance, plus there seemed to be quite a lot of flour in the mix making it quite stiff.

And I really like the chunks of white chocolate in the cookies instead of chocolate bits.

Here is the recipe from Queen Fine Foods, with a couple of my tweaks:

Ingredients

125g butter at room temperature

110g brown sugar

55g caster sugar

2 tsp Queen Cinnamon Baking Paste

1 tsp Queen Natural Organic Vanilla Extract

1 large free-range egg

300g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

180g white chocolate, coarsely chopped

120g macadamias, coarsely chopped*

Method

Preheat oven to 160 C degrees fan-forced. Line two large baking trays with baking paper.

Put the butter, sugar, Cinnamon Baking Paste and Vanilla Extract in a food processor and process until pale and creamy. Add the egg and blitz until well combined.

Add the flour and baking powder to the butter/sugar mixture and blitz for until just combined. Stir in the  chocolate and macadamias and mix with a big spoon. You don’t want to process the chocolate and macadamias as they will just go crumbly.

Roll slightly heaped tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls and place about a few centimetres  apart on each baking  tray. Use fingertips to flatten each ball to about 1cm thick and 6cm in diameter.

Bake in the preheated oven, swapping the trays halfway through baking, for 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through. I prefer to cook each tray one at a time, I think it makes for a batter bake.

Cool cookies on the trays.

* I used salted macadamias. The original recipe says unsalted, but I’m a huge fan of salted nuts in cookies and trybakes.

Red Lentil Vegetable Dahl

I am describing myself these days as a “flexitarian”, as I support the philosophy of vegetarianism and try to follow its precepts, at least for some of the time. I am finding that I am becoming more and more interested in vegetarian cooking, as well as really enjoying eating meat free. I regard my forays into vegetarian cooking as an ongoing project!

My Saturday morning trip to Orange Grove Market often results in the acquisition of some delicious Indian fare from a couple of market stalls. One of these stalls makes a great red lentil dahl – so delicious! So I thought it was about time I made my own.

I found this recipe from Vegan Sparkles and made it with a few tweaks. The link to the original recipe is here. My main variation was adding water as well as stock to the recipe, as the dahl really needed the extra liquid.

It’s super easy to make, looks colourful and enticing, is both vegetarian and vegan and best of all – tastes great!

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil

½  onion, finely chopped

1 cup sweet potato, chopped into cubes

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 tsp mustard seeds (black or yellow)

¾ tsp ground cayenne pepper

1½ tsp ground cumin

1½ tsp ground turmeric

1½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp ground coriander

1 clove garlic, chopped

1½ cups dried red lentils

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cups water

1 tsp honey

1 cup grated and pulped carrot

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup baby spinach leaves

½ tsp nigella seeds

Method

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion and sweet potato and fry gently until onion is soft. Add ginger, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, cumin, turmeric, garam masala  coriander and garlic to the pan, and cook, while stirring, until mustard seeds begin to pop.

Add the lentils, stock and water and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the honey. Put the carrot pulp, broccoli  and cherry tomatoes into the dahl and simmer for another 15 minutes.

The dahl will be cooked and somewhat reduced. If it’s looks a little too dry, add more water, or if it’s too liquidey, reduce down a bit more.

Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the spinach leaves until they are just wilted. Scatter the nigella seeds just before serving over the dish. They will give an interesting black fleck to the dish!


					

Easter Rocky Road!

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This post is a bit of fun for Easter. I wanted to make a chocolatey creation as a change from traditional Easter eggs.

Rocky Road is always great if you want to throw a few delicious ingredients into some melted chocolate – nuts, marshmallows, glacé fruit all work well.

My Easter Rocky Road is pretty simple –  you can add pretty much what you feel like at the time!

Here’s what I did.

Easter Rocky Road 

Melt a 200g block of dark chocolate and a 200g block + half a block of white chocolate. Pour into a tin lined with foil, dark on one side and white on the other. Leave a little of each chocolate for splattering.

Using a skewer, run some pink food colouring through the white chocolate.

Place as many as you like of the following in the melted chocolate – pink and white marshmallows, Smarties or M and Ms, mini Easter eggs.

I scattered some freeze-dried raspberry powder over the Rocky Road too.

Splatter or drizzle the left-over dark chocolate on the white side and the white chocolate on the dark side.

That’s about it! Have fun and be creative!

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Plum Muffins

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1720FAD7-FD24-44B8-9585-17636C82AAC5 I’m still celebrating late summer fruit in Sydney. Berries are still good, especially raspberries which are plump and juicy, and well priced. But the standouts for me are the last of the stone fruit – peaches and nectarines, and gorgeous super sweet plums of all colours.

So here is a recipe which celebrates plums, baked in the muffin mixture and also as plum pieces on top of each muffin.

The basic recipe is Matt Stone’s from his book The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste, adapted here using smaller quantities and of course the star ingredient, plums!

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs

140g raw sugar

1 Granny Smith apple unpeeled and grated

1 plum, diced

75ml vegetable oil

10-12 pecans, chopped (optional)

150g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp salt

3 plums of various colours, cut into segments, to decorate

A few pecan halves, to decorate (optional)

Method

Whisk the eggs together in a large mixing bowl and when  the mixture is foamy, slowly pour in the sugar. Keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size.

Whisk in the apple, diced plum and oil. Stir in the chopped pecans, if using. Use a spatula to gently fold in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger  and salt.

The mixture can be baked straight away but Matt suggests leaving it in the fridge overnight. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. Even leaving the mixture for a few hours in the fridge is beneficial.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan-forced, 180 degrees C non fan-forced.

Grease a standard muffin tin and line 6 holes with squares of baking paper. Spoon in the muffin mixture, adding as many plum segments as you like on top to decorate, and pecan halves, if using.

Put the muffin tin in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Check the muffins at 15 minutes and every 5 minutes from there, using a skewer to check if cooked. From my experience, in my oven, they take about 20 minutes.

Remove the muffins from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Remove them from the tin and place on a wire rack. I leave the baking paper on as the muffins are easier to store.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Great on their own, as they are so moist, but also good with butter, or Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of honey!

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Jamie Oliver’s Sticky Teriyaki Eggplant (Aubergine)

I’m cooking quite a few recipes  from Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients at the moment. I love the simplicity of just a few basic ingredients.

There are a wealth of good recipes in the book which are pretty easy to prepare and don’t require a store cupboard full of ingredients.

Sticky Teriyaki Eggplant (read Aubergine in Jamie’s original British recipe), is unbelievably easy to make, low in calories and most importantly, very delicious!

As a dedicated foodie I love eating! Sometimes it’s necessary to undergo a little judicious calorie management, so at the moment I am embracing Weight Watchers, an organisation I can speak highly of, with its sensible food plans and non-judgmental mentors. A big shout-out to Wendy at WW in Rozelle and the city!

So it was with delight that I realised that this lovely recipe was very calorie friendly, as well as being delicious.

I made one tiny addition to the ingredients – the sticky sauce was quite strong , so I added a little brown sugar. This worked a treat and I think gave the sauce more of an Asian sweet/salty taste. For Jamie’s original, just leave out!

And if you count the ingredients it’s 7, but who is actually counting?

Ingredients

1 large eggplant (aubergine)
4 spring onions
1 fresh red chilli
20g unsalted peanuts + a few extra for scattering
1 tbls olive oil
2 tbls teriyaki sauce
1 tsp brown sugar (optional – my addition)

Method

Put a 26cm non-stick frying pan on a high heat and pour in 250mls of water.

Halve the eggplant lengthways, quickly slash the skin of each half a few times and place skin side up in the pan, then season with sea salt and black pepper.

Cover and cook for l0 minutes, or until it boils dry and begins to sizzle (listen for the change in sound).

Meanwhile, trim the spring onions. Cut the whites into 3cm lengths at an angle and put aside.

Deseed the chilli and finely slice Iengthways with the green part of the spring onions. Place both in a bowl of ice-cold water and put aside to crisp up.

When the eggplant starts to sizzle, add l tablespoon of olive oil, the white spring onions and the peanuts to the pan, stirring regularly.

After 2 minutes, add a splash of water, drizzle in the teriyaki, stir in the brown sugar and reduce to a medium heat.

Turn the eggplant, jiggle the pan and let it get sticky for a few minutes, then serve sprinkled with the drained green spring onions and chilli and a few peanuts scattered over the dish.

 

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