Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

My Very Own Chocolate Biscuits

September 5, 2015

I love to bake.  I learnt to bake at my mother’s knee as a preschooler.  I know a lot of people that are afraid of making cakes and things because they feel it is an exact science.  I have never had that problem.

However, biscuits are my kryptonite.  I can just never tell when they are done.  Or maybe I am just not patient enough to get all those batches cooked for the right amount of time.  Something.

Until now.

I have even developed my own recipe.

And to top it off they are gluten-free.  Primal-inspired, even.  (I like baking with sugar, I must admit.)

And here it is.  But, remember, I believe in sharing my recipes for love, not money, and I want you to do the same.  As my Mum would tell us, a recipe is never less good by letting someone else enjoy making it. My recipes are covered by the usual copyright.

Chocolatey, Triple-Choc, Choc-Chip Biscuits

(as named by Little Princess)

This makes about 36 – depending on how much dough is eaten before it gets to the oven.

2 cups (about 220g) almond meal
1/4 teaspoon of salt flakes (just a pinch if you are using table salt)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup of butter
3 Tbsp sugar (I use raw caster sugar)
4 Tbsp cocoa
~250g chocolate chips/chunks of your choice (I used 1/2 250g packet of choc chips and 1/2 375g packet of those big white chocolate melts, but you can use whatever you would like, even pieces from a block of chocolate, adjusting the amount you blend them.)

Put everything except the chocolate chips in the blender/food processor and blitz it until it is combined.  It will be a sandy texture, but sticks together when you squeeze it.

Add in chocolate and give it another blitz to mix it up and get the chocolate pieces about the size that you would like.  Remember, mixed chunks are good.

Make into balls about the size of a walnut and squash a little into fat circles on a lined tray.

Bake at 180deg C for about 10-12min.  After about 8 minutes I open the over and give each one a little press with my finger.  This seems to make them a little less puffy and a little more dense.  I might be kidding myself, though!  I am notoriously bad at cooking biscuits – never knowing when they are done.  I have noticed that if you remove these the moment you can smell them in the oven, they are about right – assuming your nose works like mine.

(Share recipes for love, not money.  Rights reserved.)

Lemony Goodness!

August 24, 2014

Possum is 8 years 3 months

Bandicoot is 6 years 1 month

Little Princess is 3 years 7 months

 

We have been away this weekend, to a town just outside our city.  To get there, we needed to drive through some of the small amount of farmland remaining on the outskirts of our city.

And, consequently, past roadside fruit and vege stalls.

I have been working to increase the amount of fresh produce that we eat, so this seemed like a good time to pick up some goodies.

The prize find was a stall about 15km from our home.  The produce looked beautiful and was very affordable.  We bought a tray of oranges – one of the few things Little Princess will eat – and a bucket of lemons.  Just this morning Bandicoot and I had been discussing making lemon squash when we found some cheap lemons.  Providence!

The two little ones have had a wonderful time this afternoon making fresh squeezed orange juice and lemon squash.  And I had so much fun with them that I forgot to take any pictures!

And what delicious lemon squash it was, too.

Here is the recipe:

~300mL fresh squeezed lemon juice (approximately 5 lemons)

2/3 cup white caster sugar

Stir the sugar into the lemon juice until it dissolves.  Mix with water (for lemonade) or soda water (for squash) at the rate of 1/3 cordial to 2/3 water.

Coconut Goo

August 7, 2013

Possum is 7 years 3 months

Bandicoot is 5 years 1 month

Little Princess is 2 years 7 months

 

Things have not been “normal” around here.  Sadly, on the weekend DH’s Dear Father passed away, somewhat unexpectedly.  We have had an upset time.

Formal schoolwork is on the back-burner.

Today I thought I would try something fun for the kids.  When my idea of the zoo was flatly rejected by Possum and Bandicoot (you can’t ride your bike at the zoo), I decided to try this instead:

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Coconut Goo!!

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The recipe is really simple.  I got it from the Creative Playhouse blog.  I will write it here, because it drives me crazy when recipe links disappear over time:

1 cup coconut milk

2 cups cornflour

Yup, that’s it.  Mix it up.  Play with it.  Squeeze it, goop it.  It started slimy and quickly turned into a crumbly dough.  It did that groovy cornflour thing where it is solid, but turns gooey when you squeeze it (okay, so it is probably something a whole lot more scientific to do with saturated solids and fine particle size).

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Gotta love three little ones playing together happily outside.

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Bandicoot made ice flows in Antarctica.  We had to lament the lack of plastic penguins in our home (and not for the first time, either).

Once it got too crumbly for our liking, we decided to add water and make runny, gluey, goo.

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Tee hee hee!  Loads of gooey fun.

It made a terrible mess, but it cleaned up very easily, even from our clothes.  AND it left our skin feeling so soft!

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Eating Christmas Past

November 15, 2012

Possum is 6 years 6 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 4 months

Little Princess is 1 year 20 months (22 months)

40 days until Christmas

Remember Christmas in the Olden Days?  I am referring to that time so long ago – last century in fact – when we were kids and growing up.

What was the menu?  I bet you can tell me!

For us it was as follows:

Roast turkey (the only time of the year that we had turkey)

Roast pork (usually cooked on Christmas Eve after the kids had gone to bed.  What an aroma to go to sleep with – as if we weren’t excited enough!)

Ham – Dad would first carve this Christmas morning and fry pieces of it for breakfast with toast.  We had it for lunch, too.

And roast veges.  Lots and lots of roast veges.  (I am blessed.  There are certain characteristics in my Mum’s family.  We have pretty eyes, our noses enter the room 5 minutes before the rest of our face, champagne runs in our veins and, most importantly in this instance, we are genetically predisposed to baking the BEST baked potatoes.  EVER.)

After that there was Christmas pudding, with sixpences in it, served with whipped cream (another legacy of my Mum’s family), ice cream (for those with Dad’s blood) and custard.  No brandy cream.  Actually, we didn’t do brandy.  RUM was the flavour of Christmas.

Mum made the Christmas pudding in November.  Each person in the family stirred it once.  If you weren’t home when the pudding was made, you were allocated a proxy.

For treats there were nuts.  Lots and lots of nuts.  Often at Christmas we would get nuts in their shells, which seemed like so much fun.

We also had rum-balls, which, often, one or more of us had made.

And Christmas cake.  I never liked Christmas cake.  I am still not a fan.  But I love the ritual.  The cake was started in October.  The fruit was chopped and soaked in rum for a week.  (In those days we had to go to specialty shops in the city to buy the fruit, not just grab it in the supermarket.)  The cake was prepared, a design was made on top of the cake with nuts and glace cherries – this was usually my job –, and then it was baked s-l-o-w-l-y.  Once it came out, it was wrapped, tin and all, in layers of brown paper, layers of newspaper and towels.  It needed to cool slowly, too.  Then the ritual began of turning the precious bundle each week, periodically unwrapping it and sprinkling it with more rum and rewrapping.  No wonder we don’t get cakes that taste like that anymore!

I am not sure if we had mince tarts.  We probably did.  I didn’t like them until I was quite grown, so I don’t really remember them (although I suspect we left them out for Santa.)

In later years, my Mum began to make vanile kipferl.  This didn’t start until I was in high-school.  Even so, she would make vast quantities of them one night in October.  There were tins of them everywhere you turned.  Visitors were always served a plateful.

And Uncle Harry (my Mum’s brother) would always bring us a watermelon.  Not just any watermelon.  They were always HUGE!

So that was Christmas.  We knew what we were having.  We knew when things would be prepared.  It was lovely and special and not completely crazy.

These days it seems we are required to reinvent things every year.  We need to have nibbles for this, fandango salads for that.  We have to have seafood and exotic meats – the traditionals are too dull.  Every year the shops are full of magazines and books bursting with “new traditions”, new recipes, things to confuse us and make us feel inadequate with with our roast turkey and fried ham.

Well not for me.

I have made it a goal this year to GATHER NO RECIPES.  It is true, we have some different traditions to my childhood.  For example, our little family likes to have a Christmas picnic on the beach.  However, we worked out a menu that works really well for this a few years ago, so I am sticking to that.

I don’t need more ways to cook a turkey, different ways to cook the veges, another pudding recipe.  I don’t need more stress wondering if the menu is good enough, trying to follow a recipe that I haven’t used before, trying to track down ingredients, the expense of not knowing quantities or whether we will even like it.

I need Christmas.  I need festivity, but I need it to be fun.  It doesn’t need to be all about food anymore than it needs to be all about presents.  There is enough to do without reinventing the wheel (or reinventing the meal) each year.

They ALL asked for more!!!

March 22, 2012

Possum is 5 years and 10 months old

Bandicoot is 3 years and 8 months old

Little Princess is 1 year and 2 months old (14 months)

 

I had a very surprising experience at dinner tonight.  As I was preparing the meal, I sent a text message to a buddy of mine along the lines of, “Off to prepare a meal that noone will like.”

What had inspired this optimism?  My desire for a creamy chicken curry.

Curry is always a loaded dish in this family.  DH loves curry.  Especially if it is so hot that your skin peels off.  And it must be Indian curry.  I know that “Indian curry” is a very broad description, but he pretty much loves them all.  South East Asian curries, for example, are much further down the list (although quite acceptable for filling that gnawing hole in his tummy.)

Possum will not eat anything “spicy”.  By “spicy” he actually means anything hot – chilli, pepper etc.  (I have in the past, tried to convince him that he doesn’t like cinnamon doughnuts as cinnamon is a spice and they are, thus, spicy food, and he should therefore give them all to his mother, but have not been successful.)

Bandicoot doesn’t mind a tiny bit of heat – unless Possum reminds him that he doesn’t eat anything hot, in which case he will mimic his big brother.

Little Princess doesn’t eat.

And me?  Well, I used to like hot food.  Not as hot as DH likes it, but I quite enjoyed a kick.  Until I completely trained my self as food tester, taster and preparer for the kids.  Now I notice the tiniest strains of chilli before even the kids would notice.  I still love the flavour of chilli, but the heat not so much.

And generally I am not into “Indian curries”.  Again, I used to be.  Unfortunately, I think I ate way to many of them and I just can’t face them anymore.  Pair this with the difficulty of getting them prepared and served without fresh coriander (ie leaves, stems, roots but not the seed – aka cilantro in the US) and it is a bit of a minefield.  (I am allergic to cilantro.  No really.  Yeah, I know.  Weird to be allergic to a non-protein food, but I am.  And so is one of my sisters and, I recently found out, another person I know.  There.  There are three of us.)

I do, however, prefer them to Thai style.  Or maybe, again, there are just so many Thai restaurants around that over time I had my fill.  (No, actually, I have never really been a fan of the Thai style ones, overly.)

Anyway, I digress.

I wanted a nice creamy chicken curry.  Comfort food, not hot curry.  Unfortunately, my much loved Keen’s Curry Powder seems a lot hotter than it used to be.  This means either burning little heads off, or not getting the same amount of flavour.  I also have jars of various curry pastes in the fridge (or should I say, half jars).

What to do?

Well, I was in a bit of a grouchy-pants mood anyway, so I figured I would just use the curry paste and not care if I didn’t like it either.

I found some Mussaman Curry Paste.  Years ago – before kids, before Selwyn – I used to love this stuff.  I would stir fry beef, red capsicum and onion in it and serve it on rice.  These days – meh – take it or leave it.  (Definitely leave a traditional Mussaman Curry.)

This is what I did:

Fried off ~ 5 generous Tbsp of curry paste- this was how much I had left – in oil.  (For reference the recipe on the jar advised 4Tbsp of curry paste to 300g meat.)

Chopped up 2 chicken breasts (about 600g worth) into largish, bite-size pieces.  Tossed them through to sort of brown them a bit, not that you can with the curry paste in there, but you get the idea.

Tossed in 2 onions, chopped into large pieces (my “curry size” pieces.)  Softened them.

Added in 3 small-medium diced potatoes, 4 chopped carrots, a chopped eggplant (next time peel it first so Possum doesn’t notice it in the dish), a similar amount of peanut butter to curry paste, a 375mL tin of condensed milk and 3 Tbsp fish sauce.  I then layered 2 sliced zucchini on top (Possum doesn’t eat zucchini).  I stuck the lid on and let it simmer away for about 1/2 to 1 hour (when we were ready to eat.)

Note:  I used sweetened peanut butter ~aah bliss~  one of those things that I should be against, but I really love.  Otherwise I would have added the spoon of sugar suggested on the jar.  (Or maybe if I thought of it, I would have done so, too.)

Note 2:  I didn’t like the taste of the fish sauce as I was trying to go more for a creamy curry than a SE Asian one.  Not sure what I would use instead, ‘though.

That was it.  Serve with rice.

Possum looked at it and said nervously, “I have had this before and I don’t like it because it is spicy.”

By this time, we were all like little piggies with not just our snouts in the trough, but our trotters, too.  “*snuffle*snuffle* But it isn’t spicy!  Try it!  It looks like it should be, but it isn’t!”

He cautiously took a nibble then proceeded to inhale his entire meal.  Even Little Princess finished her dinner, pointed at her bowl and said, “More, more.”  Wow!

Seconds all round.

Definitely a win.

Spritz Biscuits

December 6, 2011

 

I am not a biscuit baker.  Cakes do not phase me.  Quick breads, muffins, breads, all in my stride.  Biscuits – argh!  They are temperamental things.  You need to watch them so carefully.  Moments too soon out of the oven and they are soft (or runaway if they are gingerbread men), moments too late and they are burnt.  The same with packing them away.  Pack them too soon and they go soft in the tin, too late and they go soft on the cooling rack.

So of course, it makes sense that I bake a myriad of biscuits at this time of year, doesn’t it.

This was tonight’s offering:

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Delicious Swedish Almond Spritz Biscuits.

 

I particularly like these for a number of reasons:

  • We never had a dough-forcer growing up.  I had never even heard of one until I stumbled on a butter cookie recipe that used one.  I was attracted to the recipe in the search because it had the name “spritz” in the title, which is such a cool word.  (So much nicer than the English equivalent of “squirt”, don’t you think?)  Therefore this recipe is testament to my grown up ability to learn new tricks (thank you, You-Tube).
  • They are a Swedish recipe.  I have Swedish ancestry on my Father’s side (and a Swedish surname), but little was passed down.  Most of our Swedish traditions have been re-found.
  • They are a little fancy, but not too fiddly to make.
  • They taste good!

 

When I first discovered dough forcers I found that there were pretty much two types that you can get.  The first is the bells and whistles version that retails at around $70 – $80.  That seemed like a lot of money to me, especially when I didn’t even know if I liked the recipe.

The second type is the $5 – $10 model.  It is plastic.  It has a small barrel so you have to keep refilling it (for which, I have now discovered, a piping bag is ideal.  No, not really overkill at all!).  It can be hard to work, leaving you with a very sore thumb.  And sometimes the end falls off onto the baking tray.  However, it suits me just finely.

Now all that is left is to try and get the timing right for packing them into the bikkie tin.

Second Week of Advent 2011 – Tuesday – Feast of St Nicholas

December 6, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

 

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Waking up to Gold Chocolate Coins!  Happy St Nicholas Day!

Today the Countdown to Christmas Box contained some unusual things.  Things that looked like they belonged in the kitchen.  A packet of Speculaas Biscuits and a packet of marzipan.  Strange, wasn’t it?

Well, being the feast of St Nicholas, we went for a few Dutch treats.

I know I probably could make the Speculaas Biscuits, but our supermarket sells some really yummy ones in the specialty foods section.  And they are even printed with Dutch-style pictures (think windmills and girls in clogs, not Rembrandt.)  I love these, so I was pleased to be able to treat us to a pack today.

Links: Speculaas Spice Mix                     A little about Speculaas

The marzipan was for Letterbanket.  These are very yummy, even if you make them the complete-cheat way that we do.  I am sure that in Holland they have a much more involved recipe than what we do, but this works for us.

I first heard about Letterbanket as a child reading this book:

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(My sister bought me this book one year so that I would finally return her book about Christmas around the World.  I have been fascinated about other cultures and celebrating events throughout the year for as long as I can remember.)

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And when searching for a link for “Letterbanket” I stumbled across this, which is scan of the page from the book!

 

 

 

Anyway, here are some of our endeavours.

IMG_2080 Two gorgeous little chefs, reporting for duty.  (This was a hard photo to take because they were both fighting to stand on the blue chair.  Notice the teddy bear and the shark in Bandicoot’s pocket?)

IMG_2092 Yes, okay, you noticed.  Unless all our names start with the letter “I” (they don’t – none of them do), this isn’t exactly Letterbanket.  Maybe we should have called them Sausagebanket instead!  Either way, they are delicious.

So, would you like to make some?  It is really very easy.

  • Firstly, take your marzipan and roll it into sausages about the width of your thumb.
  • Wrap this in puff pastry (also store-bought)
  • Seal and glaze with a beaten egg
  • Sprinkle with sugar
  • Bake at about 220oC until golden and puffy

Oh, so yummy, I might just sneak anothery.

And seeing as we were all in the kitchen, we tried another recipe.  I hadn’t made these before, but it was written on the same sheet as a favourite of mine.  I think they look lovely and festive.

(Bandicoot has his mouth full there, trying not to show he has been gobbling biscuits!)

Halloween Part 1 – The Food

October 30, 2011

Possum is 5 years 5 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 3 months

Little Princess is 9 months

Halloween is not a big deal here, but as I have said before, I like to mark the passage of the year with various festivals and events, even if only in a small way. 

This year, as well as our tiny pumpkin pots we hang in the window, and the big pumpkin bowl of lollies on the table we also bought a really cute purple windsock with bats on it.

Of course, there were books to read, too, but here are some the of the goodies that we baked, first.

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Whoopie Pies

The recipe is inspired from here.

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Or how about a cobwebby chocolate-pumpkin cheescake?  (I ran out of time to make the crunchy chocolate spiders.) Adapted from here

Oooo!  What’s that peeping in the oven?  Eeek!  They are ghostly meringues!

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(Inspiration here)

Of course, we did have some books to go along with all the food.  The first one is this:

Five Little Pumpkins

I really enjoyed this.  It is the American rhyme about the Five Little Pumpkins.  DH had never heard of it before, so he thought the book was a little silly – looking for the story – until we got to the end.  He then re-read it to the kids and it was lots more fun.

I managed to pick this book up in a $5- sale, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have bothered with a Halloween book otherwise, but I do like it.

Night Animals: Level 1

We read this book again, too.  (I haven’t been able to find it available at any of my usual sources.  I bought it second hand on a home-schooling swap site.)

This book is more Northern Hemisphere oriented (aren’t they all?) but we included discussion about some of our local nocturnal animals (we have two different kinds of possums, a bandicoot, bats etc that visit our yard in the night time.  Not bad for a city, eh?)  Halloween always seems like a good time to talk about these critters.

However, I think that our absolute favourite is this one:

The Pumpkin Patch Parable: The Parable Series

This was one of those books that I had read about other families using, but I had never actually seen it myself.  I wasn’t sure what it would be like, but when it arrived via the postman, I was pleasantly surprised.

Like the previous book, it is not a Halloween book, but it fits nicely with the season, even if pumpkins aren’t really in season here!  It is a lovely story, and each double page spread includes a Bible quotation.  I will definitely be looking at the other books in this series.

 

Soup

July 30, 2011

Today I made Soup. “You mean, ‘soup’”, you say.  No.  I mean Soup.

I am not a fan of soup.  I really don’t get it.  My MIL loves soup.  Oh, I am sure she would deny it.  I am sure she doesn’t even notice.  However, she has a vast repertoire of soups, most without names, and throughout winter at least, lunch and dinner are punctuated between Grace and Main with soup.  Sometimes you even have a choice.

It isn’t that I actively don’t like soup.  (I also like my MIL!)  I just don’t get it.  It really doesn’t do anything for me.

But Soup is different entirely.

Today I made Soup.

My parents used to make Soup.  It was a wonderful weekend food (and aroma) in our home during winter.

It would start the week before.  Mum would boil a chicken.  I never liked the smell of a chicken being boiled, but my heart would start to beat a little faster whenever it happened.  To this day I get a little overly excited at the smell of boiling chicken.  A bit like Pavlov’s Dog, methinks.

A boiling chicken meant two things.

Firstly, we would be getting yummy chicken sandwiches for lunch at school this week.

Secondly, one of the large old peanut jars would soon be sitting in the fridge, filled with hot yellow liquid which would magically divide into golden, gelatinous goop and a hard white layer (later skimmed off).

And what did a jar of stock in the fridge mean?  Next weekend we would be having Soup.

Come Saturday morning, Dad would peel and dice the veges – parsnip, swede, turnip, potato, carrot, celery and onion.  He would chop up the celery leaves (oh, they smell so good!).  He would lightly fry off the onion and then all the goodies would go into the stock pot with a couple of handfuls of barley.  (If we were really lucky, sometimes he would toss in alphabet noodles for a treat.  Can you get alphabet noodles anymore?)  The stock pot would slowly simmer and the aroma would infuse the house.

Aaaah.  The smell of home in winter.

The first serving was Saturday lunch.  By the small bowl served at the start of dinner on Saturday night, the flavour was more developed.  On Sunday, it was served with bread.  And on Sunday night, it was thick and stewy as we finished it off.  Unless of course, we had eaten too much already and it needed to be drastically watered down to go the distance.

As a child, I was sick of Soup by Sunday.  (By then I would even have referred to it merely as ‘soup’).  And sadly, although I loved this Soup, I took it for granted.

As an adult it has an almost spiritual aura about it.  The smells evoke the memories of a happy home, a warmth that was not just from the stock pot, a gathering of family.  I lean over the pot to test the balance of flavours and I think of my brothers and sisters.  I wonder with love what they are doing at that moment.  I remember sharing this with them.  The steam feels like a big hug.

I am delighted today.  My husband and all my children – even the baby just starting “solids” enjoyed Soup.  Hopefully, one day, they will also lean over a pot on bubbling vegetables and think of their loved ones.

I am happy, for today I made Soup.

My Pumpkin Pie Recipe

November 8, 2010

Here is my Pumpkin Pie recipe.  It is a hybrid of several recipes that I found on the internet.  It was shown in these posts – here and here.

FOR THE FILLING:

2 eggs

55 g (1/4 cup) brown sugar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

250 g (1 cup) cooked mashed pumpkin (about 350g uncooked) <- I always roast my big chunk of pumpkin whole, wrapped in foil, in a slow oven until very soft.  Then I scoop out the seeds.  The flesh is nice and mushy, like mashed pumpkin only yummier!

125 ml (1/2 cup) cream

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon of ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt <- I can’t remember if I added this or not

FOR THE PASTRY:

I used a Pampas pastry case, thawed.

Blind bake the pastry case for about 10 minutes – I didn’t even put any weights in it.

To make the filling, beat eggs, sugar and maple syrup in a small bowl with electric beaters until thick. Stir in the pumpkin, cream and spices.

Pour filling into pastry case; bake in moderate oven for about 40 minutes or until filling is set; cool.

I served this with "Maple Cream" – cream and a slurp of maple syrup, whipped together.  Yum, yum.