Friday, April 23, 2010
This post is a little more serious than usual, because I intend to make ANZAC biscuits. And with those comes the inevitable subject matter of the First World War (WWI). I’m not going to give you a history lesson, mostly because I can’t be bothered and also because most of you that read this already know the details. But for Australians and New Zealanders, this time of the year is weird. For New Zealand, definitely, in this day and age it’s so difficult to reconcile so many deaths with an argument that wasn’t our own, and I can’t help but think of what it may seem like to those multicultural members of New Zealand’s society. Because really, we’re not simply former English colonists now. And yet, whilst I don’t quite understand the motivation, I can’t help but respect and admire those men who did go off to war, and especially those who did not make it back. It makes me think though, about the kind of recognition they get here. Celebrations in New Zealand are so low key – there are quiet, simple dawn parades, and each family remembers their own hero in their own way. The contrast is so striking when compared to things like the American Memorial Day. I like what we do, but you’ve got to wonder if maybe we should do something bigger? I have noticed in the last few years, the trend seems to be heading that way.
That was a bit heavier than I intended. All for an introduction to a very simple biscuit! I’ve made ANZAC biscuits tonnes of times, and really, you can’t beat ‘em. I’m not a fan of oats (much too healthy for my liking), or coconut, but something about these biscuits makes me love them. Incidentally, this is my ANZAC celebration. I don’t really have any family members that I know of who fought in the war, but I’m sure there were some. So this is my way of saying, I-know-you-existed once-upon-a-time-and-hey?-thanks. Also, dipping the bottoms of these in melted chocolate is awesome, so if you want to do that, I’m sure your ancestors would approve. Because people loved chocolate way back then, too. These biscuits are also great with icecream and a bit of caramel sauce. What? Just giving you ideas here, people.
1 Cup plain flour
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup rolled oats
1 Cup fine coconut
125g butter or margarine
2 Tbsp golden syrup
2 Tbsp boiling water
1 tsp baking soda
1. Drag yourself into the kitchen. Realise you have no butter. Bitch loudly and leave the house to get some.
2. Return with the butter, still bitching.
3. Measure out your dry ingredients (minus the baking soda) and chuck them into the pretty blue mixing bowl you happened to buy when you were getting the butter.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter, hot water and golden syrup (I find it’s easier to dissolve the golden syrup in the hot water first), and then finally add the baking soda. Watch it do awesome stuff.
5. Mix the two sets of ingredients together and then eat all the mixture before you cook it. Or not, but you could, because ANZAC mixture is sooo good. Mmm. Also chase your father out of the kitchen with a knife.
6. If you decide not to eat all the mixture, roll it into balls and then squish them out onto your baking tray, but leave a lot of space between the biscuits as they will spread. Thanks to a lovely friend, I have been reminded that I actually forgot to put a cooking temperature and time. Sorry. So.. 180 degrees celcius until very golden.
7. Eat. Chase your father away again. You may use two knives this time.
I don’t want to be cheesy, but I kinda want to say thanks to anybody who fought in a war and stood up for what they believed in. Pretend these biscuits are for you. I am now over being patriotic – see, it doesn’t last for long. I’m also not very good at it.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I can’t decide if I like cheesecake or not – I think my opinion is best summed up fussily by saying I like cheesecakes that aren’t baked, and can take or leave those that are. And really not at all a fan of Japanese cheesecakes (and yes, I’ve had the authentic ones, from Japan). If I eat a cheesecake, I really like to be able to taste the tart sharpness of the cream cheese, and prefer citrus ones to sweet. Probably because the cream cheese is so cloying, I need that sharpness to cut it. I’m so fussy, maybe this is why I generally stick to chocolate – you can’t screw chocolate up.
So anyway, from that, you can probably guess I’m making cheesecake, and most likely of the non-baked, citrus variety. Ten points! Wait, that’s for running over old ladies. Or is that just a New Zealand thing? I think it is. Just to reassure you, it’s just a joke, we don’t really go around violently driving over elderly people. Carrying on!
No Bake Lemon Cheesecake
1 c biscuit crumbs (I used malt biscuits)
50 g butter
1 tbsp gelatine powder
3 tbsp water
250g cream cheese
60g castor sugar
2 large egg yolks
Zest from 2 lemons.
3 – 5 tbsp lemon juice
150ml cream, whipped
1. Find one of your many spring form pans, that your sister in one of her last cleaning binges, relocated to some obscure realm of the kitchen and then neglected to tell you (probably in hopes of you never using it again, and therefore not making another mess ). Then line the bottom with cooking paper.
2. Mix the biscuit crumbs and butter in a bowl, then press firmly into the tin. Into the fridge to set, whilst you make the innards. I mean, ... what do you call it? We’ll stick with innards until my brain starts working. After all, it is only midday as I write this (maybe not as I post it).
3. Mix the gelatine and water together, making sure you combine them properly. Just set aside and forget about it.
4. Cream the cream cheese (hehe – I’m sad) and sugar together.
5. Zest the lemons and separate eggs. Grumble because somebody took apart your awesome zest catchy tool, and you can’t get it back together. Give up and use the normal grater. Then add the zest and separated yolks to the cream cheese mix. It’s already looking more cheesecakeish! Eee.
6. Now do something weird. Remember the gelatine? It’ll look weird now. Anyway. Get a small sauce pan and set up a double boiler, setting the bowl of gelatine stuff on top. Apparently it needs to dissolve again.
7. While that’s happening, squeeze some lemon until you have 3 – 5 tbsp of lemon juice. I like lots of lemon flavour, so... we can guess which way I’m going.
8. When the gelatine is dissolved again, take it off the heat and mix it into the ... innards. It will look quite runny here – but this is why we’ve added gelatine. Then follow with the lemon juice. Set aside for five minutes.
9. Use your five minutes wisely and whip some cream to soft peaks – no over whipping, students!
10. Very gently fold the cream into the rest of the mixture, and marvel at how cool it looks. Resist tasting it, and fail. Make stupid noises.
11. Pour onto the refrigerated base, then shake gently to even it out and cover with glad wrap. Shove it back in the fridge, for at least four hours!
Many hours later, during which I went to work, thought about the cheesecake, did some shoping, thought about the cheesecake, tidied stuff up, and thought about the cheesecake some more.
This cheese cake is delicious. Really tart though - so if you're not a huge fan of citrus, make sure that you don't put a lot of lemon juice in it. My family especially enjoyed it because whilst it may have a high fat content, the sugar in this cheesecake is relatively low. Which makes it pretty good for diabetics (which my mother just happens to be), so it was cool that she could actually enjoy some of my baking for once. Especially awesome with even more fat. I mean whipped cream.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
I’m not a big fan of strawberry; I am obviously much more of a chocolate fan (and I also love semicolons). But when I saw this recipe I just had to try it, and then pass the link onto as many people as possible. I think it may have had something to do with the pastel pink colour; so kitsch and cute. Adore! What? I could totally live in a fifties kitchen. They had dishwashers back then. Sort of. It also helped that nesquik is on special at the supermarket this week; because it’s not really something that I keep in my cupboard. I generally prefer stronger, real flavours. However, if a recipe really takes my fancy, I will (on occasion), use some sort of highly processed something that is no doubt going to preserve my organs and shorten my life.
Strawberry Milkshake White Chocolate Chip Cookies
½ c Nesquik strawberry flavour (I didn't think this was enough - you may want to increase it)
¾ brown sugar
2 – 4 drop red food colouring (I used two – but next time I’d use four)
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 ½ c flour
1 tsp baking soda
8 ounces white chocolate drops.
1. In a big bowl, put your room temperature butter, then the nesquik and brown sugar. Then beat them! With a stick! Actually, beaters of the electric variety would probably work better. For a few minutes, at least, until the mixture is nice and fluffy.
2. Add the eggs and a few drops of red food colours – BE CAREFUL. Food colouring has a mind of its own and is determined to all fly out of the bottle at once. You do not want radioactive red cookies. Kthnxbye.
3. Flour next. Oh, and the vanilla and baking soda, I guess they’re important too. Beat them too. Like they came home drunk and had slept with your best friend, that whore. What? I like stories.
4. Finally, add in the chocolate. The original recipe called for ten ounces, but I am not a fan of more chocolate than cookie, so I took it down to eight ounces, which also happened to be the entire contents of the bag I had bought. Obviously it was meant to be. You can add more, if you like.
On a side note, I left the beater attachments unattended, with the intention of using them to mix in my chocolate pieces. HOWEVER, before I could, my father came along and licked all the mixture off. Then he refused to clean them up, so not only did he inconvenience me, he made more work for me! So unimpressed.
5. Spoon them out to whatever size you like and into the oven at 180 degrees celcius. I rolled mine, just because that is what I’m used to, and I like my biscuits to be tidy. Perfectionist? Of course not. I also prefer mine smaller.
Apparently mine look nothing like the original! Ha, but they are pretty, and less pink (so you might want to add one or two extra drops of red food colours back up on step two). Yummy too. My mother and father both demanded a couple straight out of the oven – and the dog even got in on the action! However, I do find that the strawberry is a bit of an afterthought. It’s there, but only just. If I was to make this recipe again, and I probably won’t because the finished product didn’t make a big enough impact on me, I would go so far as to double the strawberry factor. In future, I’ll stick to just drinking strawberry milk. The cookie texture is great though – nice and light, and with just the right amount of chocolate (if I do say so myself!). The white chocolate definitely suits the delicate flavour profile of the cookie. What the hell? I think it’s time to stop watching the food network.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
I’m back! Can you believe it, so soon after my last post? It’s like the twilight zone. Except without the music and the scariness. Okay, so it’s not at all like the twilight zone. Though I suppose some people may freak out at the shape of the end result of this recipe. Did that make sense? Anyway, I’m going to a meet tomorrow and we’re all rat lovers – so I’m making rat shaped crackers! You can pretend they’re mouse shape, if that makes you feel better. They do have cheese in them, and as far as I’m concerned that should transcend any mouse/rat/rodent phobia you might have, because cheese is wonderful and we should treat it as a god. Bow down to the mightiness that is cheese. You may also eat it.
Quick interlude: Are these not the cutest measuring cups you've ever seen?
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re doing that whole ‘live blogging’ thing again. I really enjoyed it last time, so I’m subjecting you whether you liked it or not. Onwards!
Cheesy Homemade Crackers
1 c flour
4 tbsp butter
8 oz cheese
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 – 4 tbsp water or milk.
1. This recipe is pretty damn simple, so the steps are too. First step? Measure out the flour, butter, salt and ground pepper.
2. Mix those four together loosely with your hands – they’ll form big, buttery clumps.
3. Grate your cheese (any harder cheese that you like, really. I was boring and went for tasty).
4. Throw that into your bowl and add the first one or two tablespoons of liquid and mix in. Using your hands again. I am one of those bakers that hates using my hands for mixing, but I will always, always, always get my hands in for something that is this delicate and butter laden. You should end up with lots of large clumps from all your squeezing . You can add more liquid in here if you like, but I found that I didn’t need to.
5. Make it into one big clump, wrap in glad wrap, then put it in the fridge for at least twenty minutes. I have other things to bake, so it’s staying in there for however long that takes.
6. After enough time, take it out of the fridge. Now comes the hard part. If you’re anything like me, you hate rolling anything pastry-like. I have a trick. You need two large pieces of greased kitchen paper and a heavy rolling pin.
7. Put half of the dough in between the sheets, and put the rest back in the fridge. Now, roll away! This will ensure that it’s easy to get the cut shapes back up and onto your baking tray.
8. Now cut them out, remove, and put on the baking tray.
9. Cook t 180 degrees until lightly golden brown. Aww.
Okay, apparently this mix makes a bazillion crackers. Which is fine if you’re not using a fiddly cutter – so I used the rat-mouse cutter for half the dough, and a simple, scalloped, round one for the rest. Also, they taste like awesome. Please don’t skimp on the salt, because it really does bring out the cheese and they end up with an amazingly deep, rich flavour. Of course, because they’re basically butter and cheese, these crackers are very flaky, which is just how I like my home made crackers. I will definitely have to repeat this one – if only because my mother loves them. When she came home and tried one, she then demanded that I hurry up and make more so she could eat them. I was pretty much thinking the same thing.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
I’m trying something new. It’s called live blogging (god, I’m original). ...Okay, that sounds a little bit ridiculous. But it’s a bit different when it comes to food blogging, as you actually have to complete the activity before you blog. So, by live blogging on a food blog, I mean, I’m writing the steps as I go. So basically, you’re privy to what I’m thinking. Minus the swearing. Of course, I’ll be going back through to add my mandatory pictures and the recipe details.
Just a quick intro to the recipes, as usual. This time it’ll be a little different as ... well, I haven’t made it yet. But they remind me of donuts. All cinnamon and sugary and frosted/glazed. I wish we had decent donut stores in New Zealand. Or maybe I don’t, because I’d then eat way too many donuts.
Anyway, back on task. I’m making these because tomorrow my family and I are going to a family friend’s for an after-church Easter brunch thing. Generally everybody is told not to bring anything, but does anybody really ever listen to that? So we’re taking breakfast sausages, and apparently 4-am snicker doodle mini muffins dipped in caramel frosting. I figured, we might want something sweet to eat with a coffee, but considering brunch is usually such a fulfilling meal, it might be best if it was light, or very small. These, at least, are small. I can’t vouch for light, but given that they’re covered in frosting, I’m going to be they’re not. But they look delicious.
Snicker Doodle Mini Muffins.
1 c + 4 tbsp flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp cinnamon (I use Equagold)
125 grams of butter (also the exact gram weight of an American stick of butter)
½ c sugar
1 tsp vanilla (I use Equagold vanilla paste, so of course I use less – this is a liquid measurement)
½ c + 2 tbsp milk
1. Cream the butter and sugar for forever. Or alternatively, until light and fluffy.
2. Reread the recipe. What? I’ve forgotten it already. Hope like hell you actually have eggs.
3. Find eggs and gleefully crack two into the butter mixture, and combine.
4. Forget that you were supposed to add the vanilla in with the egg, and quickly do that. Also stick your nose in the vanilla paste container and making stupid yummy noises. Things are organised here. Sure they are.
5. Figure out how much flour you have to use, then split it in half and throw that in the bowl. Mix it quickly until it’s only just combined. ‘Cos over mixing sucks. Stupid pokey-topped cupcakes.
6. Follow with half the milk, again only milking half-assedly. I’m making up words now.
7. Finally, add the rest of the flour. Except this time, don’t forget the cinnamon (I have the best stuff – my delicious friend Deb’s sent me some from her parent’s company Equagold) and the baking powder. Mix again with the half-assedness.
8. Again, follow with the milk. Gotta make sure everything is completely combined this time, as it’s the last mix you’ll make, but try to keep it to a minimum. See above rant about cupcake tops.
9. Double check you added everything.
10. Spoon into a mini muffin pan, though I suppose you could use bigger ones, and bake them in a 180 degree celcius oven until cooked (bounce back when gently touched). This recipe is supposed to yield around 45 mini cupcakes, as I doubled the original recipe. But I dunno, I must have some major serving discrepancies with almost every recipe I’ve ever made, because I never end up with the right amount of anything (be it waaay too many, or not enough).
You know, as I’m waiting for the first batch to cook, I’m kind of enjoying this method of blogging. I can see it making regular postings much easier, as there is always that down time in recipes when you’re fluffing around trying to find things, or thinking of particular things. It’s kind of useful to get it all down. Plus, there is that whole in-the-oven time, where there is really only cleaning up to do, so it’s nice to be able to speculate almost immediately. I’d love some feedback on what you think of the new method, so please indulge me.
.. Sometime later: I knew there was a reason I disliked muffins. They’re so friggen hard to get out of the pan, even if said pan is Teflon coated, and you have greased it rather obsessively. Gah! This is why I prefer spring form bakeware – you can take off the sides, and only have to line the bottom of the pan. But once I finally got them out, they look adorable and smell de-vi-ne. I ate one of the failures, and it was delicious.
Also, I ran away and made up a third batch, because I realised... my family, plus friends and their families, on Easter equals a hell of a lot of people. So I needed more food. Ta da! It was super duper quick, which was kinda cool. I was impressed with my faster-than-light baking skills. So yes, you get around 40/45 very mini muffins from the original recipe that I posted.
On a side note; holy crap this post is long. Apparently I think a lot of pointless stuff when I’m baking. It’s like I’ve got my own little television show going on in my head.
½ c brown sugar
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla (liquid measurement again)
½ c icing/confectioners’ sugar.
1. Okay. I now have a bazillion mini cupcakes, and it’s time to frost. So apparently I start by putting the sugar (mmm, brown sugar) and butter in a small sauce pan, on a medium heat and bring to the boil, whilst stirring frequently. Seems easy enough. Boil for about a minute
2. Oh my god. I want to eat it all. As I had to work quickly, the following instructions are written after I finished icing the cakes.
3. Once you bring it to the boil, add in your milk and vanilla and stir quickly. Let it boil for about minute seconds.
4. Biff in your SIFTED icing sugar. Heat over the element/let boil for about another thirty seconds, then get to work.
5. Because this is a glaze, it sets quickly, so you do have to start icing immediately. Good thing? It’s simple as. You literally pick the muffin up, dunk it top first into the icing and then set it aside to set. And it does that in like two seconds.
6. You may need to randomly stir your glaze as it can start to form a crust on the top as it sets, which makes the dunking part a little difficult. Be careful of the hot sugar, too. And take every opportunity to eat it, because it is beyond divine.
I just ate one. Oh dear lord. Holy hell. These are amazing. I don’t think I’ve tasted something so good in a loooong time; the combined muffin and glaze is beyond delicious. Thank you so much amateur foodie for this recipe.