SC “Foccacia” Bread

It’s safe to say, my slow cooker is doing my belly no favours.
Having said that, omnomnomnomnom! I know my next adventure was meant to be chicken, but damn you SC. Damn you.

My friend, Laura Flozzles, was telling me about this delicious bread she had made in her SC yesterday – it was simple and sounded delicious and then of course she proceeded to eat it and tell me just how good it was and I thought stuff it. I’m damn well making one of my own.

Using the base recipe that she and so many others have, I added cheese, bacon and garlic powder and crossed my fingers.

Slow Cooked “Foccacia” Bread
Serves many, but maybe only 1 or 2

Ingredients:
3 cups self raising flour
2 cups warm water
1/2 tsp salt

Add whatever else you like – add some to the mix and save some for the top.
This variation:
5 rashers bacon, chopped (fat removed) and pan fried
2 cups (or there abouts) of grated tasty cheese
2 tbs garlic powder

Method:
Line your slow cooker bowl with baking paper – you can spray this if you like (I didn’t).
In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and garlic powder together. Add water, stirring with spoon/flat-bladed knife.
Add in 3/4 of the bacon  and 1/2-3/4 of the grated cheese and mix together well.
Pour into lined cooker bowl.
Sprinkle remaining cheese and bacon on top.
Lay a tea towel over the top of your cooker bowl and pop the lid on. Turn cooker onto high and cook for 1 and a 1/2 hours.
Once cooked, slide under the grill on high for as long as it takes to brown and crunchy up the topping.

Stand back and admire the simplicity of your awesomeness.

 

Nutrition: Bacon is the most important food group known to man. Cheese comes from cows, cows eat grass, grass is nature and nature is beautiful?

 

SC chs bcn bread 3

SC chs bcn bread 2

SC chs bcn bread

SC chs bcn bread 4

 

Tips:

– I know I usually say woah, too much salt but no. This needs more salt. Or more bacon, I’m undecided at this point. I suggest using at least a whole teaspoon of salt.
– Crushed garlic may work just as well as garlic powder, I would just use it sparingly..
– 1.5 hours wasn’t long enough. Although my knife was clean when I stabbed it, it was still a little too soft. I would push it up to 1hr 45mins next time, maybe even 2 hours.
– Sift the flour. I’m not a believer of sifting flour but I think I should have, this probably would have created the “foccacia” texture.
– You can do so many variations of this, just put in everything and anything you love. Onions, herbs, pineapple, sun-dried tomatoes…you could also do a sweet version, replacing salt with sugar, etc. Sultanas, raisins (if you’re that way inclined) choc bits, fruit?

Thoughts:

Yep. Pretty amazeballs.
As I mentioned, not being cooked quite as long as it should have, it was a little too soft which I don’t mind in cakes but isn’t right for bread. Having said that, the mix contained cheese, maybe once it’s cooled right down that softness will not be so evident. (Yes, I had to taste it two minutes after it was done, okay.)
Definitely needed more salt. Definitely needed the flour sifted.

Repeat Offender?

Yes please.
My next variation I will fry off some onions (thank you Flozzles), use cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and some herbs..maybe rosemary or thyme. And of course bacon.
This was so easy to make, you need absolutely zero cooking skills. Would go nicely with soups and stuff.
Have you made this before and if so, what variations did you use?
SHARE THEM WITH ME and I will be your friend.

 

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Slow Cook FTW

I’m not new to the slow cooking thing, but I must admit that I’ve only ever used my slow cooker for stews and that has been a whole…five times?

My friend is currently on a slow cooking marathon (because she is crazy like that) and introduced me to a group on Facebook, full of people just like her – crazy slow cookers!
I was amazed at the things people are cooking in their crock pots – cakes, pies, quiches, spaghetti, lasagna and the list goes on. I thought damn. I’m clearly limiting myself by just using mine twice a year for stew.

So I pulled it out – it was a smaller cooker, Home Collection brand – and thought I would try making some cinnamon scrolls.
The scrolls were wicked – the slow cooker, not so much.
I don’t know if it’s just the Home Collection brand, but the ceramic bowl seemed to have absorbed some serious stench from previous cooking, my house smelled like I’d like set a bag of dog crap on fire >.>

Thankfully the scrolls didn’t absorb the stench, but needless to say..the cooker is now resting in piece and awaiting its final adventure to the rubbish tip.

I went out and bought another because reasons.
I picked up this 6L Kambrook cooker from Big W, for $58:

 

slow cooker

I was after a Sunbeam, but I didn’t want to wait (or drive a million miles to get one) but this one is doing fine 😀

 

So, first test for my new toy – Pulled Pork.
I’ve always wanted to make this. Every time I’ve eaten it, I’ve never been disappointed.

I took the recipe below from a random Google search which landed me here at 100 Days of Real Food. Seemed like a good a place to start!

 

Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot
SERVES: 6 – 8
INGREDIENTS
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt (if desired, you can cut back on the salt by only using 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if desired, you can cut back on the pepper by only using ½ teaspoon of cayenne)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 3 to 3 ½ pounds pork shoulder, cut in half
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together the first six ingredients (all of the spices) with a fork.
  2. Pour in the honey, vinegar, and olive oil and stir to form a paste.
  3. Place the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top it with the 2 pieces of pork and then pour the honey paste over all sides of the pork pieces. It’s okay if some of it (or a lot of it) just drips down to the bottom.
  4. Turn the slow cooker on to low and cook for 7 to 8 hours or until the meat is tender enough to be easily shredded with a fork.
  5. Serve warm with fixings like homemade cole slaw and cornbread.

 

 Nutrition: If you follow the above to the letter, there’s way too much salt. But pork is nutritious and tasty and it’s made in the same place that bacon is.

Pulled Pork 3Pre-Cooked

 

Pulled Pork 2

 

Pulled Pork

Seriously, how gorgeous does that look?!

Tips:

– Do NOT use 2 tablespoons of salt, don’t even use 1. I recommend no more than half a tablespoon – I used 1 when I made this and it was way too much for my liking.
– Use a full cup of honey.
– Slice the onion into quarters.

Thoughts:

Aside from the salty, this was amazing. The pork fell apart as I tried to take it out of the cooker (the second picture shows just a part of the entire shoulder roast). I definitely recommend a shoulder piece of meat – I removed the string net before cooking. I also left the skin on – I figured the fat would dribble and help keep everything moist. Pretty sure I was right.
The meat was so soft and moist, it fell apart with no effort. It smelled amazing.

Taste? I liked it…but it wasn’t perfect. Maybe I haven’t eaten enough pulled pork? What I was dreaming of was that luscious pork flavour without all the rest, I guess. Sometimes when I cook a pork roast, the end of the roast comes out like pulled pork and melts in your mouth – that’s what I was looking for.
Next time I do this, I plan on doing it without anything – just the roast on its own. Maybe an apple or two for good measure.

Repeat Offender?
Heck yes. I doubt I will ever cook a roast pork in the oven again. I am going to remix this until I find the perfect variation and then keep the recipe all to myself 😉

Next slow cooking adventure will be chicken!

Justified

Happy New  Year! Here’s to a smashing 2014 😀

After what I like to call the ‘Big Christmas Bake-Off’, I usually have leftover things in my pantry that have to go asap.
In June last year, we decided to call it quits on sugar as best as we possibly could. There were two main reasons for this: a) Fructose is truly AWFUL for your body and b) better eating.
It wasn’t as hard as it sounds, funnily enough we weren’t huge sugar eaters to begin with but when we did eat it, we ate a lot.

Anyway, so with the new year comes revolutions  resolutions as per usual. We accomplished so much last year, this year we are really knuckling down on our health.
Back to the perfunctory clearing of the pantry, I had a bucket load of choc-chips that needed using and with the new regime being implemented on Monday 6th January, they had to go. But I hate waste!

I decided to make cookies. I went on the hunt for the best choc chip cookie recipe (which we all know is easier said than done) and I believe I have found it.
All props go to Food 4 Thought (who have an abundance of recipes). I will share the recipe here for the people who are too lazy to click the link XD

Chocolate Chip Cookies – (recipe from The Australian Women’s Weekly Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits – adapted by Fiona at Food 4 Thought)
(makes about 35)

Ingredients
125g unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
150g dark chocolate chips

Preparation
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Cream together butter, both sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add lightly beaten egg gradually, beating well after each addition.  Mix in sifted flour and salt.  Add chocolate chips and mix well to distribute throughout dough.

Shape teaspoonfuls of mixture into small balls, place on a lined oven tray allowing room to spread slightly.  Bake in oven for 10 – 12 minutes, until just golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Nutrition: Chocolate! Sorry, there’s nothing nutritious about these unless you include taste.

cookies 2

cookies

Tips:
– Normally when I make cookies, they bleed into each other. When a recipe says a teaspoon size ball, DO IT. I actually followed this for once and had no mess!
– Because I had so many choc chips to use, I doubled the above ingredients and literally made 80 or so. I used Cadbury Choc Chips.
– Try cutting the sugar down a bit, these are really super sweet. Next time I will try eliminating the sugar (I used caster sugar) and sticking with the brown sugar. Or perhaps halving each sugar.
– Make sure you let them sit on the tray when you take them out of the oven, for at least a couple of minutes because they will be soft. This will let them set further.
– I cooked them for exactly 12 minutes @ 180 degrees (c)

Thoughts:
Just as Fiona @ Food 4 Thought did, I ate tested two or three of these straight from the oven and then another couple once they were cooled.
Honestly? The best choc chip cookies, homemade, that I’ve ever eaten. They were crunchy/firm on the outside and chewy and soft in the middle. This recipe shall go into the folder that I keep for naughty days.

Repeat Offender?
Yes, if we were on a regular sugar consumption. No doubt I will be making these for others though!

Only one problem left now – can we eat this many cookies in 48 hours?

Quinoa – Food of the Health Gods

As mentioned in one of those other posts down there somewhere -waves haphazardly- the health food kick was and has started.

So the second, I suppose if you include Fattoush as being healthy (which I do 90%) recipe Id like to share is a favourite in my household as well, but it’s really good for you. And super tasty. And simple to prepare.

What is Quinoa? Quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wah) is (according to Google)

Noun
  1. A goosefoot (Chenopodium quinoa) found in the Andes, where it was widely cultivated for its edible starchy seeds before the introduction…
  2. The grainlike seeds of this plant, used as food and in the production of alcoholic drinks.

It reminds me of semolina..kind of, in looks when its uncooked. It actually looks like un-coloured hundreds and thousands.

It has a nutty flavour I guess, I’ve honestly never had it on its own so I cant really say. Maybe I will try it..like that…some day >.>
It is gluten-free and very high in protein, fibre, phosphorous, magnesium and iron as well being a source of calcium. This is what it makes it a super food!

I’d love to try out some more quinoa recipes, I will be on a mission to do so in the coming weeks 😀

Poached Chicken, Broccolini & Pesto Quinoa (gluten-free)
(Delicious Magazine, Issue June 2012 Page 94 – recipe by Phoebe Wood)
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 cup (200gms) quinoa
1 1/2 cups (375ml) gluten-free chicken stock
4 x 170gm chicken breast fillets
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (35gms) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tbs lemon juice
1/3 cup (90gms) gluten-free pesto
1 bunch broccolini, trimmed, blanched

1. Place quinoa and stock into a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes until tender.
Remove from heat and stand, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
2. Meanwhile, place chicken in a pan of simmering, salted water. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, then remove from heat, cover and stand for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.
Remove from liquid.
3. Heat 1 tbs oil in a small pan over high heat. Add pepitas and season, then cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until golden.
4. Shred the chicken and toss in a large bowl with lemon juice and remaining 1 tbs oil.
Season, then add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Nutrition: Obviously high in protein and healthy stuff. 

Quinoa & Poached Chicken 1    Quinoa & Poached Chicken 2

Quinoa & Poached Chicken 3
Tips:
– You don’t have to make this according to the gluten-free ingredients – I’ve honestly never made it that way. Just use normal chicken stock (I’m a tight-ass and use stock cubes) and a normal pesto – I recommend Barilla.
– If your supermarket doesn’t have any broccolini in store, just use broccoli – I’ve done this a couple of times.
– When I made this last night, I used beef stock cause I didn’t realise I’d run out of chicken stock – and it tasted NO different!
– When shredding the chicken, use a couple of forks if it’s still hot – it’s a good idea to let it cool down a bit so you can shred it better with your fingers.
– Use your hands to mix it all together, it works the pesto in better that way. You can also use a bit more than the recommended dose, I tend to use at least half a cup. But be mindful, the mixture may be hot.

Thoughts:
I cooked this when I first received that issue of Delicious. Eric LOVES it. You know they love it when they say to you every week, how about that chicken quinoa thingy?
It’s quite filling, so don’t be deceived – left overs can be heated up so don’t be afraid to put it away. This is a great alternative to a pasta dish and it gives you that same mmm satisfied, comfort food feeling without being bad!

Repeat Offender?
Already is. I went through a stage of it being once a week, but it’s better as a fortnightly or even monthly meal because even good things can get a little boring!

The Best Chocolate Cake. In The World. Ever.

It was raining. I wanted cake ALL day. I had no icing so after a quick dash to the shop, I was ready to go – but what cake would I make?
Chocolate, of course. I really wanted chocolate cake.

I was still on my mission to find THE best chocolate cake, after all. And after many years of searching, I honestly believe I have found it.

How did I find it, you ask?
Well.

I turned to Google, as I do for just about everything, and keyed in those words, ‘Best Chocolate Cake Recipe’ just as I have done many times before.
I opened a few tabs and after 30 minutes of (impatient) searching, had a look at what I had opened. THREE of these tabs had the very same recipe contained within, all tried with minor changes, but all with the same title and referring back to each other in some way.
I thought gee. That cant be a coincidence, can it? Could this really be THE best chocolate cake recipe?

Let me share with you this marvellous recipe, with my own minor tweaks.

The Best Chocolate Cake
(found at I Am Baker, Lulu The Baker & Bronnie Bakes, shown here with my tweaks)

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
1 3/4 caster sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 vegetable oil (I used extra light olive oil)
2 extra large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (I used Moccona Instant)

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/356°F. Grease and line a large (mine was 13″ x 9″) cake pan (or two smaller 8″ cake pans).
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt into the bowl and mix until combined.
3. In another bowl, combined the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.
4. Using an electric mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. With the mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine.
Pour the mixture into prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife or skewer inserted comes out clean.
5. Cool in pan for 30 minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack to cool completely (if desired).

Nutrition: Chocolate >.<

Best Chocolate Cake 1   Best Chocolate Cake 2

Best Chocolate Cake 3   Best Chocolate Cake 4

Best Chocolate Cake 5

Tips:
– Choose a thin or slightly runnier than usual icing. This cake is so soft that a standard icing pulls it apart. You can see I chose the wrong kind of icing >.>
– In the large pan, 40 minutes was bang on perfect.
– As mentioned above, I used Olive oil (as I had no other on hand) and it was fine – I would probably recommend the extra light though, just so that the flavour doesn’t overpower the chocolate!
– Don’t skimp on the coffee. I saw someone recommended a substitute which I’m sure would work fine. Next time I will test this theory with something I have in my pantry called Ecco which is an ‘Instant cereal beverage naturally free of caffeine’ and calls itself ‘The caffeine free drink for modern families’ LOL (I’m only lolling because this was always in my pantry as a child, as our house was a caffeine-free zone, but that makes this drink very much NOT modern, in my opinion XD)

Thoughts:
-wipes crumbs from face- Oh dear. Honestly? THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE. EVER. IN THE WORLD. EVER.
It’s so soft! SOOOOOOOOO soft! And..tasty. And. Wow. This reminds me very much of a cake my mum used to make when I was a child, probably the same chocolate cake recipe she still uses (why dont I have that one? GOOD QUESTION.) I love the replacing of butter with oil in a cake, it comes out so much more moist and keeps without drying quickly.
Seriously, if you need a go-to chocolate cake recipe like I did, you have found it. Bake it today and tell me I was lying!

Repeat Offender?
I’m not even going to dignify this question with a response -continues nomming-

Australia Day – Food, Of course!

Australia Day was/is January 26th. This year it fell on a Saturday, so the public holiday fell on the Monday (28th) making it a lovely long weekend!

Although I am of mixed Islander/Australian decent, I was born and raised here and I’m as Aussie as they come particularly when it comes to Australian tradition.
I also like to put my own special mix into things because lets face it, sometimes tradition can be boring.

This year, I decided we would eat lamb as per tradition (we had some lovely lamb sausages), but would accompany that with a massive bowl of Fattoush.

What is Fattoush? No, it is not a fat toosh -wiggles butt-

Fattoush is a traditional Lebanese bread salad. In Australia we have a huge Lebanese community, I will admit that I was only introduced to proper, good Lebanese cuisine when I moved to Sydney (where I believe the biggest Lebanese community is?) by my better half. He was raised with a Lebanese babysitter who fattened him up on oh so tasty dishes such as Fattoush, Tabouli,  Kibbeh and Kofta.

In this house, Fattoush is like…chocolate cake.

I did a brief survey of a few of my many international friends and found that none of them had heard of these dishes. So I thought I would share this with you!

Fattoush

Ingredients
2 large pieces of pitta bread
1 tbs olive oil
2 Lebanese cucumbers, sliced thinly
3-4 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly
3 green onions (shallots), sliced thinly
1 medium green capsicum, chopped finely
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh baby rocket leaves
2 tbs olive oil, extra
1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed

1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C/356°F.
Brush pitta bread both sides with olive oil and place on an oven tray side by side. Toast these in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until theyre crispy.
Set aside to cool.
2. In a large bowl, combine cucumber, tomato, opnion, capsicum, mint and parsley.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine extra olive oil with the lemon juice and the garlic and sit aside until ready to serve.
4. Just before serving, break up pitta bread into small pieces. Add bread to the salad, and then drizzle with the oil/lemon combo (use it all).
5. Toss and let sit for a minute or two, then serve.

Nutrition: Aside from the pitta bread, this dish is ALL gold. A little Pitta never hurt anyone!

Fattoush

Tips:
– I like to keep my tomato on the chunky side, Im not a fan of super thinly sliced tomato. It gets mushy too quickly and this salad is all about texture and chunk. I pretty much cut it all chunky, except for the shallots.
– Dont be shy with the lemon juice – I tend to use closer to a third of a cup. Also, dont be shy with the garlic – I LOVE garlic (thankfully, so does Eric) and I always use 2-3 cloves in this dish.
– The pitta bread doesnt need to be in small pieces, just grab it and snap and crumble away. Bigger pieces are great for scooping.
– Eat it ALL up. This doesnt keep well due to the bread (no one likes soggy bread). You can adjust the quantities of the ingredients accordingly.

Thoughts:
The first time I had this, my eyes popped out of my head. The rocket is the hero of this dish, in my opinion – I mean, of course the crunchy pitta bread is a WINNER, but the flavour of the rocket sets everything else off.
When we have this, the meat on our plates tends to be forgotten until the end because the Fattoush is just so damn good. Its true om-nom-nom food.
I only ever serve this with a basic meat – sausages or a some grilled chicken breast. Its too filling!

Repeat Offender?
What do you think?! LOL Four years and counting. If I ever end up on death row with one last meal, this will be the first thing I ask for!

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Of course, no Australia Day would be complete without a traditional Aussie treat. At Christmas time, the Pavlova is the sweet tradition but at this time of the year, we tend to go in search for cakey goodness.

Again, after asking many of my friends if they had heard of this, they all failed the test and answered with a no. So allow me to introduce, Lamingtons!

I remember when I was a kid, they would always have Lamington Drives for fund raising stuff in school, etc. Lamingtons were always present at school fetes as well.

Lamingtons were said to have been invented here, and Im quite certain we have enough proof of that, but of course some other country always tries to steal our thunder XD
Note: I have to share this with you as it is a hilarious statement (taken from the Wiki): Ironically Lord Lamington was believed to have hated the dessert cakes that had been named in his honour, referring to them as “those bloody poofy woolly biscuits”.

Lamingtons
(taken from the January/February 2013 edition of the free Coles Magazine)

Ingredients
125g unsalted butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups sifted self-raising flour
3/4 cup milk

Icing

2 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
20g butter
3/4 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cups dessicated coconut
1 1/4 cups shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/356°F. Grease and line a 20cm square cake pan with baking paper.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and caster sugar together until pale and creamy.
Add vanilla essence and beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Fold through the flour and milk alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Pour into prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
Cook for 30-35 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
4. To make the icing, sifter together the icing sugar and the cocoa powder in a bowl. Add the butter and boiling water and stir until smooth.
5. Cut cake into 16 squares. Place the coconut into a bowl and lightly mix them together.
6. Working with one square at a time, use 2 spoons to hold cake and dip into icing mixture, coat all over allowing the excess to drip off, then place in coconut and turn to coat all over.
Place lamington on a wire rack to set. Repeat with remaining cake pieces.

Nutrition: Cmon. Don’t make me lie to you.

Lamington 1 Lamington 2 Lamington 3

Lamington 4  Lamington 5

Lamington 7  Lamington 6

Lamington 8

Lamington 9

Lamington 10

 

Tips:
– You will need patience. I don’t have much of that, but what I did have available for the day, I saved up for the moment of dipping and rolling.
– The icing mixture may seem too thin – don’t worry, its not. Don’t make the mistake I did by adding more icing sugar >.> If its too thick, the cake will begin to fall apart.
– Roll each piece well in the coconut, the more the merrier. This helps with the icing setting.
– I didn’t trust the cake to not ooze through (or something!) the wire rack, so I sat mine on top baking paper on the rack. They set totally fine this way, and my rack stayed clean (less washing up!).
– You can serve these cut in the middle, spread with jam and cream – I’ve never been fond of that version. They get too sickly. You could also add a touch of lemon juice to the mixture for a light lemony flavour.
– Put these in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour before serving them, so that the icing sets nicely.

Thoughts:
Oh, man. These were GOOD. Its actually been quite some time since I ate a lamington, and these were the bomb-diggity. The cake was PERFECTLY fluffy and golden and the icing was firm. If you’re really clever, you can do two of these in a sitting but be warned, you may be left feeling like a glutton!

Repeat Offender:
Definitely, but I’m trying to make it like a twice a year repeat offender >.>

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – Part III

Monday  (17th) was D-Day. I HAD to get this task completed otherwise it would have been all for nowt. Delivery was Tuesday. No time to waste!

I dont know how chefs/bakers do it. That much time on your feet, day after day, cooking….ARGH.
Not to mention the urge to run far, far away from food in general. Actually, that may be a  cure for fatness…perhaps I should look into that further?

So it was oven baking day and the night before I had whispered a few feeble words with regards to the weather being cold so that my house wouldn’t over heat.
Obviously, in Australia its Summer time right now and the last thing you want to be doing is running an oven in an already heating up house. Not fun. And guess what? It was cold and somewhat miserable. I was in luck!

Day Three – The Finale
Shortbread & Cookies 

Shortbread (Scotland)
(www.taste.com.au/recipes/553/shortbread+scotland)

Ingredients
250g butter, softened
1 cup pure icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1/4 cup cornflour
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tbs white sugar

1. Line 2 flat baking trays with baking paper. Draw an 18cm circle in the centre of each sheet of baking paper.
Turn paper over so that marking is face down.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, icing sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Sift flour and cornflour over butter mixture. Stir until a soft dough forms.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth.
3. Divide dough in half. Gently press each piece into a 10cm (diameter) disc. Place shortbread discs on baking trays.
Using circles on paper as a guide, gently press shortbread out with your fingers to form a 1.5cm thick, 18cm (diameter) round.
4. Pinch the edge of each round to form a frill. Score 8 triangles in each shortbread round (do nut cut through dough). Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until firm.
5. Preheat oven to 160°C. Brush shortbread with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes, swapping trays after 15 minutes, or until shortbread is light golden and firm to the touch.
Allow to cool completely on trays. To serve, use a sharp knife to cut through markings.

Nutrition: Apparently none. Although, butter is from cows and is therefore healthy?

Shortbread uncooked  shortbread cooked

Tips:
– It seems tedious to follow the directions exactly, what with the drawing of circles and blah blah yawn >.> I actually have a perfect round circle burnt lightly into my breadboard…so I placed my baking paper over the top and use it as a guide. Voila!
– Use a salty butter – I found this was missing that smidgen of salt.
– Use caster sugar instead of plain old white sugar, its finer and prettier.

Thoughts:
As above, I swear this was missing salt. The texture was perfect, the base flavour was there…it just didn’t have that thing that shortbread is sposed to have. And the only thing I can think of is that.
I’m going to make another batch this week so I will test my theory and update.

Repeat Offender?
Why yes. This is actually the second time I’ve made this recipe, unfortunately I didn’t bother to make notes the last time so I had to eat it again to remember!
Eric looooves shortbread. Like, loves it more than he loves me. So I am bound to continue to find the right recipe – if you have one, send it to meeeeee.

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Honey Jumble Biscuits
(www.taste.com.au/recipes/22917/honey+jumble+biscuits)

Ingredients
60g butter, chopped
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp milk

Icing
1 egg white
1 1/2 cups pure icing sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
Pink food colouring

1. Combine butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until butter has melted. Bring to the boil. Remove from heat.
Set aside for 10 minutes.
2. Sift flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, mixed spice and cloves over butter mixture. Add milk. Stir to combine. Cover. Set aside for 1 hour or until mixture has cooled and thickened.
3. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly.
Divide dough into quarters. Roll 1 portion into a 25cm-long log shape. Cut into 5cm-long pieces. Place on prepared trays, leaving room for spreading.
Using a wooden spoon, flatten each piece of dough until 5mm-thick. Repeat with remaining dough portions. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden. Stand on tray for 10 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Make icing Using: a whisk, beat egg white in a bowl until foaming. Gradually beat in icing sugar until combined. Stir in lemon juice.
Spoon half the mixture into another bowl. Tint pink with food colouring. Spread half of the biscuits with pink icing. Spread remaining biscuits with white icing.
Set aside for 30 minutes or until set. Serve.

Nutrition: Eggs..are healthy!

  Honey Jumbles raw  Honey Jumbles raw on tray

Honey Jumbles white icing  Honey Jumbles pink icing  Honey Jumbles cooked

Honey Jumbles white iced

Honey Jumbles pink iced

Tips:
– Don’t over cook!
– Less colouring is more (LOL – I never learn)

Thoughts:
These made me sad. I LOVE gingerbread. It’s the one thing I love about Christmas the most when it comes to food. I don’t know if it was me? Or the recipe? I have to blame the recipe. But it was very sad.

Repeat Offender?
Unfortunately, no. Boo! They were hard. And not nice and crunchy hard, just hard. Like stale hard. And then a bit chewy in places. And just plain old WEIRD and SAD.
I’m still trying to get over this one.

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Spiced Ginger Cookies
(Super Food Ideas, Issue August 2012 Page 77)

Makes 40
Prep 25 minutes
Cook 18 minutes (plus cooling time)

Ingredients
170g butter, softened
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup golden syrup
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup raw caster sugar
2 tbs sliced glace ginger – I omitted this

1. Preheat oven to 170°C/150°C fan-forced. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and golden syrup. Beat until combined. Sift flour, bicarb, ginger and cinnamon over butter mixture.
Using a wooden spoon, stir until combined and a soft dough forms.
3. Place raw caster sugar in a shallow dish. Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Roll balls in sugar to coat evenly. Place on prepared trays, 5cm apart, to allow room for spreading.
4. Using the palm of your hand, flatten slightly. Lightly press 1 piece of ginger into the top of each cookie. Bake for 15-18 minutes, swapping trays halfway, or until light golden.
Cool on trays for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve

Nutrition: (each) 416kj; 3.7g fat; 2.3g saturated fat; 1g protein; 15.9g carbs; 0.3g fibre; 16mg cholesterol; 105mg sodium

spiced ginger plain deco3 uncooked  spiced ginger plain deco2 uncooked

spiced ginger plain deco3  spiced ginger plain deco2

spiced ginger plain deco1  spiced ginger plain cooked

Tips:
– Cook to cooking time.
– Use whatever you want on top – I did! Actually, I had these neat jars of mixed decorations that Woolies had and hadn’t used them so I thought Id give them a whirl.
– The dough is really fluffy and light and a little sticky, use the spoon method to create the balls and drop them a few at a time into the dish with the sugar. Then just give them a quick toss through and remove.

Thoughts:
This recipe was quite good. It was a little bit fiddly rolling the dough in sugar. They came out quite chewy, which I’m not opposed to at all but..I was hoping for a biscuit biscuit.

Repeat Offender?
Maybe. Eric isn’t a fan of ginger like I am. I may just see how I feel next year XD

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Rainbow Cookies
(Super Food Ideas, Issue August 2012 Page 77)

Makes 48
Prep 25 minutes
Cook 15 minutes (plus cooling time)

Ingredients
250g butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g packet chocolate freckles

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until well combined.
3. Siftr flour and baking powder over butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir until combined. Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls.
Place on prepared trays, 2 cm apart, to allow room for spreading. Press 1 freckle into the top of each cookie to form a 4.5cm round. Bake for 12-15 minutes, swapping trays halfway, or until light golden.
Cool on trays for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve.

Nutrition: (each) 488kg; 5.3g fat; 3.4g saturated fat; 1.4g protein; 16g carbs; 0.3g fibre; 21mg cholesterol; 56mg sodium.

Rainbow Cookies raw

Rainbow cookies single cooked  Rainbow cookies cooked

Tips:
– Well, obviously. Space them out better than I did! I don’t mind though, my mother always made cookies that merged like these ones XD
– You could change out the freckles for anything you like, really.

Thoughts:
These slightly crunchy, chewy and just all round nice. The recipe was simple to follow and the prep was easy.

Repeat Offender?
Sure. If I’m feeling like lazy cookies! I don’t actually bake cookies often. Christmas seems to be the only time.
Eric liked them, and that’s always a good sign, yeah?

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You can imagine by this stage, I was freaking exhausted.

My feet were killing me. I was covered in flour and icing sugar. My kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it. And I still had to wrap and hamper it all up!
Thankfully, that was the sitting down part.

finished hamper

 

Ah.
Seriously, I’m glad tha’ts all over.
Will I do it again? Ask Martha in November, 2013 (bitch!)