Friday, 9 December 2016

Fudgy Snowflake Biscuits

Can't believe we're nearly ten days into December
How time flies
not at supersonic speed,
but fast enough....

I do dread the coming of winter
not my favourite time of year.
But, as the days get shorter and colder,
I find myself spending more and more time in my warm kitchen.
It would be silly not to!

Anyways, on a more festive note
 I made these biscuits for MrD to bring over to the office.
They're easy enough to make; only 7 ingredients,
but incredibly moreish
A taste I could only describe as brownies impersonating biscuits
vice versa

Fudgy Snowflake Biscuits

8 oz butter, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 cups self-raising flour
(or plain flour, if you don't want your biscuits to spread too much)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180C
Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl.
Add in the egg. Beat well into the creamy mixture,

 Sift the flour, cocoa and salt into the bowl, then mix together to make a soft dough. 
Shape the dough into a disc, wrap and chill for 1 hour.

 Dust the dough all over with a little flour, 
then roll it between two large sheets of baking parchment, to 1/4 inch thickness. 
Remove the top layer of the paper, stamp shapes with a snowflake cutter, 
and carefully lift to the lined sheets using a palette knife.

Bake for 7 minutes. 
Cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then lift the cookies onto a wire rack and cool completely. 

To decorate:
Pipe snowflake patterns using royal icing, then leave to dry. 
Keep in an airtight container for up to a week.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Pineapple Fried Rice

Pineapple Fried Rice

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 red pepper, diced
3 Asian shallots, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red chili, finely chopped
2 cups cooked long-grain white rice, cooled
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce 
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tsp sugar
1tsp turmeric powder
1 12 cups chopped fresh pineapple 
For garnishing:
12 cup dry-roasted cashews
fresh coriander leaves, chopped
2 large eggs, beaten
Crumble the cold rice between your fingers to separate the grains, 
and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok. 
Add the onion and stir-fry until fragrant. 
Add garlic, pepper and chili and fry for about 1 - 2 minutes.
Then add the rice and toss for 2 to 3 minutes over high heat, 
then add the pineapple and turmeric powder, and fry 2 to 3 minutes more. 
Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice and sugar, and toss 
until ingredients are well combined and rice is heated thoroughly. 
 Remove from the heat and transfer onto a serving platter, 
or if using fresh pineapple, fill each half of prepared pineapple with warm rice 
and garnish with thinly sliced omelette, cashews and coriander leaves


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Thai Green Curry Paste

Thai Green Curry Paste

6 bird's eye chillies (remove seeds for a milder taste)
10 green chillies
1 small knob of galangal
1 small knob of fresh turmeric
4 lemongrass, chopped
kaffir lime zest from 1 lime 
a handful fresh coriander (preferably with roots intact)
1 bunch spring onions
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp shrimp paste
nam pla and lime juice, to taste

Pound the paste ingredients one by one in a pestle and mortar, 
making sure each is well incorporated before adding the next. 
You can use a food processor, but you won't get quite such good results.  
Spoon into a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

To make the curry, simply stir in paste into simmering coconut milk.
Add your favourite meat and vegetables.
Adjust the seasonings by adding more nam pla, lime juice and palm sugar.
Simmer until cooked through, then lastly, stir in the Thai sweet basil leaves.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

The last of this season's apples

Our house came with three semi-mature apple trees of unknown variety.
Not exactly an orchard, I know... 
Of the three, one in particular, produces apples with a faint rose-like fragrance
and creamy blush pink flesh.
It is the most prolific fruit bearer of the lot.

After giving most of the fruits away to friendly homes (and a few odd birds)
we still ended up with loads more.
We are not apple lovers.
None of us would consider apples as our fruit of choice -
if ever, we're stranded on a desert island.
On the other hand, apples as a dessert are another story...
we would happily wolf down the lot in the blink of an eye!

So, here's my 2-ways of turning our apples from the garden into delectable desserts
both using the same homemade shortcrust pastry -
Good old-fashioned Apple Pie
Tart Tatin

Shortcrust Pastry

1 cup flour
2 tsp caster sugar
90g cold butter, grated
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cold water

Sift the flour and sugar into a bowl.
Make a well in the centre and place butter, egg yolk and water
Mix quickly with a fork to form a dough
Roll in a plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour before using.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Harissa & Olive Bread

Comfort Carb

Before we get to the recipe,
let me tell you why I've not been
keeping up with the updates lately...
To be honest, I just run out of things to say!
My life has gotten into a rut, to put it bluntly.
Looks like I need to find me something new to do before I go mental 

Meanwhile, back to the mundane subject of the weather:
we're experiencing a spell of sub-zero weather
I don't really mind the cold as long as it's not windy or wet.
And considering the sun's shining
It's really not bad at all
I'm just hoping the persistent ground frost would not kill my plants
that's all I ask

Harissa & Olive Bread

500g strong white flour, plus extra for kneading
1 tsp salt
1 x 7g sachet of instant yeast
320ml cool water
4 dessert spoon olive oil, plus extra for kneading
3 tbsp harissa
3/4 cup green olives, coarsely chopped

Place the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Add the oil and 240ml of water.

Using your hands, mix the ingredients together. 
Gradually add the remaining water (you may not need it all),
until all the flour leaves the side of the bowl
and you have a soft, rough dough.

Pour a little oil onto a clean work surface. 
Sit the dough on the oil and begin to knead. 
Do this for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and silky. 
Once the correct consistency is achieved, place the dough into a clean, oiled bowl. 
Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size.

Once risen, place the dough onto a floured surface. 
Knock the dough back by folding it in on itself repeatedly. 
Do this until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth.
Flatten the dough into a rectangle.

Spread the harissa and chopped olives mixture over the surface.
Roll the dough like a Swiss roll so that you have a smooth top with a seam along the base. 
Place it in a loaf tin with the seam at the bottom.
Cover and leave to prove until doubled in size.

 Bake in a preheated oven 220C for 25 minutes.
Reduce the temperature to 180C and bake for further 15 minutes