Archive Page 2

Orange & coconut shortbread cookies

My brain was gifted to me in marble-form. For most of my childhood I carried the full collection of marbles, taking different ones out to suit the situation. (And, at times, they would get stuck in the bag and refuse to come out. Usually when my brother was trying to convince me I was an alien.)

However, I strongly suspect that when I reached adulthood my marble-container became perforated, and one or two began to fall out. There has been a substantial amount of rattling in there, but when I come to use particular ones they are nowhere to be found.
I find myself forgetting the simple things, like how I got home from work (sober, I promise). Or, if I did indeed send that letter to the client like I said I would. Or the time I broke a flat-mate’s expensive glass and convinced him that he did it when he was drunk. Or what I gave Frank last year for his birthday.

At first it was frustrating to realise that I’ve lost a couple of marbles, but I am comforted to know it’s a family thing. (;), only kidding family!) One day I am fully expecting to lift up the couch cushions and find those little marbles waiting for me, or perhaps Frank will slip on a couple while getting out of bed…

One day when I was having a quick search for my marbles, I remembered Frank had requested I make him some biscuits. So I had a quick look in my recipe books, and found this easy and delicious recipe. The dough feels beautifully silky when you roll them, and they look like slightly flat marbles when they come out! Be careful though, they are incredibly morish…

Coconut & orange shortbread biscuits – recipe adapted from AWW’s “Mix” book

250g butter, softened
Scant cup icing sugar
1 ½ cups plain flour
2 tbsp rice flour
2 tbsp corn flour
½ cup almond meal
½ cup desiccated coconut
2 tbsp orange juice
½ tsp orange blossom water (optional)

Preheat oven to 150C/130C fan-forced and line two baking trays with baking paper
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy.

Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until dough is formed.

Shape level tablespoons of mixture into balls and place 3cm apart on the baking tray. Flatten with a fork.

Bake for 25 mins or until firm. Leave to stand on the tray for 5 mins, and then place on a wire rack to cool.
Cover with additional sifted icing sugar if you choose.

Mountanous walks & Turkey stir-fry!

On weekends I enjoy practicing impressions of my favourite vegetable on the couch. This, in turn, means I am not much of a walker. (Seriously, do you see any potatoes walking the streets?) With my new diet, I am more eager to get a little breeze in my hair, but before January Frank needed a giant-potato-sized crowbar to get me off the couch.

The fact that I am not much of a walker was never kept a secret from Frank. The giant sighs when a walk was suggested definitely indicated that. Despite this, he insisted on walking when we went on holidays – we walked the entire length of Istanbul, we walked Stockholm (in snow), and we walked Copenhagen (in sub-zero winds). But as Australia is such a big place, when we came here for our first visit we drove almost everywhere. *yay!*

One day on this holiday, Frank asked if I was interested in checking out the beach and “going for a little walk”. As we were in the sunshine, and I was mildly distracted, I agreed to it. Naively I asked if I need to bring my trainers, or if thongs/flip-flip flops will do. And his answer was “ah, maybe bring your trainers just in case”.

And when we arrived at the little walk the realisation hit me: Frank is great at keeping a straight face!!  I stared up at a mountain and gasped, we were at Tomaree Head.  With a 161 metre high summit, it wasn’t what I classified as a “little walk”! Needless to say, we got to the summit with the maximum amount of whining, sulking, and reluctance; and I never let him live it down. The views from the top are amazing though, so it made the whole effort worthwhile.

I liken my diet to that fateful trip to Tomaree Head. It is a long, hard slog; and I am whining and sulking all the way, (cue mini violin of pity) but in the end the whole effort will be worthwhile. So, with the maximum amount of whining and sulking, I have adapted my cooking to exclude all the allergens. As I am not allowed beef mince, I made the below recipe with turkey. It tastes surprisingly good despite being healthy, so if you’re looking for something that is full of flavour but not many calories this is the dish to try…

Spicy turkey mince – a Lollcakes original
Serves 4 normal appetites, or 3 big ones

225g rice noodles
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 red chilli
500g turkey Mince
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh chicken stock
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used organic tamari as it is wheat-free)
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 tablespoon water
1 cup grated courgette
1 cup grated carrot
Handful coriander, chopped finely
Shredded red onion, for garnish

Cook noodles according to packet instructions
Heat oil in wok over a medium heat; add onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and lightly sauté for 1 minute.

Add turkey mince and increase heat to high. Cook turkey for 8 minutes till brown and toss frequently.
Reduce heat to medium and add to the turkey the carrots, stock and soy sauce.

Stir to combine and thicken with blended cornflour and water. Allow liquid to gently simmer and thicken slightly. Stir through the courgette and coriander.
To serve, divide hot noodles into serving bowls and top with cooked turkey mince and onion.

Gingerbread biscuits

My nickname isn’t Piglet for nothing. Despite the fact that my mom thinks I look exactly like him (all I need is the pointy ears apparently), I think my appetite had more influence on my name. In London, the department I worked in was known for the amount of treats in the communal area.  There was always chocolate on the shelf, and people used to hang around the door at tea time to see what we had that day.

My line manager at the time, Bockers, (who I am proud to say is a very dear friend) used to bring in treats that his wonderful wife made. Her speciality was gingerbread biscuits. Her gingerbread biscuits were so delicious that Bockers and I almost came to blows many times in order to get the last biscuit.  Her biscuits were literally like a ray of sunshine, one of the few reasons I was flying out of my seat in excitement.
It got so bad in the office that Bockers would sneak the biscuits into the communal area, I would spy them out the corner of my eye, and we would run up and snatch them as fast as we could. We ended up counting how many the other person had and arguing that the last one was ours.

Bockers is one of those people who would be classified as an anchor in people’s lives. He is the eye in his friends’ internal storms, and he is the one that turns your frown upside down. He and his wife brought me a lot of joy during my time over there, and I thought I’d attempt to do the same to my team over here. The recipe is easy to follow, and (if you like ginger) the results are delicious. I hope they bring the people in your life as much joy!

Gingerbread biscuits – recipe courtesey of Catherine Richmond, thanks Catherine!

350g Plain Flour
Up to 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
100g of butter/margarine
175g of soft light brown sugar
1 egg
4 tablespoons of golden syrup

Pre-heat oven to 190C
Put the flour, ginger and soda into a bowl and rub in the butter.

Add the sugar and stir in the syrup and egg to make a firm dough. (don’t be afraid to get your hands in at this point)

Roll out dough to about 5mm thick and cut out your shapes.

Bake for 10-15 minutes (make sure you leave plenty of space between each shape on the baking tray because they grow!)

 

My nickname isn’t Piglet for nothing. Despite the fact that my mom thinks I look exactly like him (all I need is the pointy ears apparently), I think my appetite had more influence on my name. In London, the department I worked in was known for the amount of treats in the communal area.  There was always chocolate on the shelf, and people used to hang around the door at tea time to see what we had that day.

 

My line manager at the time, Bockers, (who I am proud to say is a very dear friend) used to bring in treats that his wonderful wife made. Her speciality was gingerbread biscuits. Her gingerbread biscuits were so delicious that Bockers and I almost came to blows many times in order to get the last biscuit.  Her biscuits were literally like a ray of sunshine, one of the few reasons I was flying out of my seat in excitement.

It got so bad in the office that Bockers would sneak the biscuits into the communal area, I would spy them out the corner of my eye, and we would run up and snatch them as fast as we could. We ended up counting how many the other person had and arguing that the last one was ours.

 

Bockers is one of those people who would be classified as an anchor in people’s lives. He is the eye in his friends’ internal storms, and he is the one that turns your frown upside down. He and his wife brought me a lot of joy during my time over there, and I thought I’d attempt to do the same to my team over here. The recipe is easy to follow, and (if you like ginger) the results are delicious. I hope they bring the people in your life as much joy!

 

Gingerbread biscuits – recipe courtesey of Catherine Richmond, thanks Catherine!

 

350g Plain Flour

Up to 1 teaspoon of ground ginger

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

100g of butter/margarine

175g of soft light brown sugar

1 egg

4 tablespoons of golden syrup

 

Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees centigrade (gas mark 5)

Put the flour, ginger and soda into a bowl and rub in the butter.  Add the sugar and stir in the syrup and egg to make a firm dough.

Roll out dough to about 5mm thick and cut out your shapes.

 

Bake for 10-15 minutes    (make sure you leave plenty of space between each shape on the baking tray because they grow!)

 

Portuguese-style kebabs

Please stop me if I’ve told you this before, but I cannot sing. And, I cannot dance. (Unless you consider dancing like a cardboard cut-out/a parent from the 40’s good dancing). This second revelation may or may not have come as a surprise to my dancing teacher, who bravely attempted to teach me modern dancing until I was eighteen.

Despite the fact that I danced for most of my younger years, I am completely inflexible. When I was sixteen my physiotherapist told me his grandfather was more flexible than me. If I drop something in the morning when I’ve just gotten out of bed, I have to leave it for Frank to pick up.

After Frank told me that my inflexibility will only get worse as I get older (to which I responded “can it get any worse??”) I decided to take up yoga at the local gym. Not only does it help with flexibility, but it allows you to calm yourself for the hour you are doing it. But sadly, I am not calm! When I first started the yoga teacher looked at me in horror and pretended I wasn’t there, hoping I would give up and move on. But it has made me more eager to eventually touch my toes without bending my legs (I have never been able to. Ever.) so I’ve signed on to a smaller class at my work. It starts on Tuesday so I’ll let you know if the new teacher weeps at the sight of me!

My homework on this diet is to relax. Hence the added “benefit” of yoga. But the hobby that relaxes me the most is baking, which I haven’t been able to do. So, just to be in the kitchen doing something, I whipped up these diet-friendly chicken kebabs. You can make them as spicy (or not) as you like, and the marinade keeps them deliciously tender. They can be cooked in the oven, but we did them on the barbeque to give them some extra flavour. I hope you enjoy them!

Portuguese-style kebabs – adapted from AWW’s ‘Slow cooking’ recipe book
Makes 12 skewers

12 wooden skewers, soaked for 30 mins in water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp grated lemon rind
1/3 cup lemon juice
4 fresh small thai chillies (I used 1 big red chilli as I was making it for kids)
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp fresh thyme
1 red capsicum
4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks

Blend or process 2 tbsp of the oil, garlic, lemon rind, lemon juice, chillies, paprika and thyme until smooth.

Pour into a large bowl and mix with tomato paste and final tbsp of oil.

Add chicken chunks and toss into marinade. Leave in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, or overnight.

Cut red capsicum into similar sized chunks to chicken, and thread chicken and capsicum onto skewers.

Frank, mid-skewer..

BBQ until cooked, or bake in oven at 180C for 35-40 mins, turning once.
Serve with a salad, and some polenta fries if you can stop everyone from eating them first!

Healthy-ish lemon & poppy-seed muffins

As many a wise person said, music is the soundtrack to our souls. It’s funny how a piece of music, or a set of lyrics, just brings back a memory that you forgot was still there. For some people it could be a smell that brings back a memory, or incites a rush of feeling, but for me it is definitely music. (Although smells of baking are like giant hugs when you walk into the kitchen)

I sit typing this in our spare bedroom, with headphones on to mask the sound Frank’s virtual Grand Prix going wild on the xBox. (And of course it isn’t a real-virtual-Grand-Prix without deafening car revving!) I just grabbed our shared music player, and the first song to play is Bernard Fanning’s Thril is Gone from his Tea & Sympathy album. I didn’t know much about Bernard Fanning before I met Frank, having only heard one of his band Powderfinger’s songs back in South Africa. His voice is amazing, and his solo album just brings back the memories of Frank and I planning our move down-under. I can almost feel that excitement now, the idea of having a blank slate and being able to make the life we wanted out of the move.

Sitting in the Pig Palace over a year later (and after a weekend of family visits) I consider myself very lucky. I miss my family and friends terribly, but I have gained a second family here. I am also happy to say that friends are friends despite the distance or the busy-ness of our lives, and it is uplifting to know how many generous souls I have the fortune of knowing.

Anyway, enough of the soppy-ness for now. Since I’ve been on this (traumatising, torturous, cruel) diet I’ve been buying a lot more treats. I see delicious chocolates, and think “I really want them”, but since I can’t have them the next best thing is to buy them for Frank! I realise it isn’t the smartest thing to do, as one of these days I WILL actually get up in the middle of the night, eat all the chocolate in the fridge, eat all the sugar and sugar-containing products in the cupboard, and have Frank find me in the morning lying in a pool of ants. But alas I choose to torture myself this way.

As we had Frank’s family over for brunch today, I decided to whip up a batch of healthy-ish lemon & poppy-seed muffins. The recipe is really straight-forward, and is done in around 35 mins including cooking and prep. (But not dishes, that is Frank’s job…) If you feel like a nice quick snack for breakfast or tea, I would recommend them. Warm, with butter, and a delicious cup of coffee… ooh, coffee…*sob*

Lemon & poppy-seed muffins – from Australian Womens Weekly ‘Mix’ recipe book
(muffins can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days or frozen for 2 months)

1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1 1/2 cup white self-raising flour
90g cold butter, chopped
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have it, use 1 1/4 cup milk and 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice)
1 egg, beaten lightly
2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp poppy seeds

Pre-heat oven to 180C, 160C fan-forced. Grease a 12-hole muffin pan, or insert baking cups.

Sift flours into a large bowl. Rub in butter with fingertips.

Stir in sugar, buttermilk and egg. (do not over-mix, mixture should be lumpy.

Gently stir in lemon rind and poppy seeds and spoon mixture into pan holes.

Bake muffins about 20 mins. Stand in the pan for 5 mins before popping onto a wire rack to cool.

Hello again! *she says sheepishly*

I am so sorry for my 3-month-long unannounced hiatus from blogging everyone! Christmas was jam-packed with family, and the New year was filled with resolutions. And on similar lines to a resolution, I have been put on a strict diet by my naturopath to control my long-term stomach issues. Lucky for me the diet isn’t long-term, but it IS the reason why I am been absent for the last three months.

As I’m sure you can imagine, life just lost a bit of its gloss being on a boring diet of vegetables and meat and little else. But  the end is nigh, and in three weeks I’ll be let loose on the myriad of chocolate bunnies and hot-cross buns out for Easter! (It’s been so bad that Frank caught me licking my lips while watching a McDonald’s advert. So bad that the biscuit tin at work whispers my name every time I walk past. So bad that I jammed a whole muffin into my mouth last week before anyone could see me and almost choked on it…)

I also haven’t been able to bring myself to read anyone else’s fabulous blog, as their pictures and recipes just make me want to weep from longing. So Lorraine, Anna, Honey & Soy and everyone else I follow; I’m sorry for being neglectful but it won’t be for any longer!

Tomorrow I will showcase the first of three weeks’ worth of healthy recipes. And after the diet is over (and I have eaten my bodyweight in chocolate and baked goods) I’ll be re-joining the Daring Challenges, and enjoying the freedom of eating sugar again!

So, for now, I wish you all a wonderful chocolate-filled (have I mentioned chocolate yet? I miss chocolate. Did you know that? I really do. Chocolate…) weekend.

Happy chocolate-eating!

x Chocolate Cook Piglet

December Daring Bakers challenge: stollen wreath!

I was very excited when I read what December’s Daring Bakers challenge was! I’ve been wanting to make stollen for a long time now, and I even had all the ingredients in the cupboard. I had spied a recipe in the latest BBC Food magazine, but Penny’s recipe seemed more simple and straight-forward so I couldn’t wait to give it a try!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Stollen is a delicious German Christmas ‘bread’ that is packed with all the same goodies as a Christmas cake. It keeps beautifully fresh and is wonderful toasted with a little butter. The bread takes a little effort and planning, but it is totally worth it. This recipe made a large-looking wreath, but it did not last a week in the Pig Palace! I will definitely be making this one again, very soon. Merry Christmas everyone!

 

Stollen Wreath

Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people
Ingredients

¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.

Put the raisins in a small bowl, and soak in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests. Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.
The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly.

Storage
The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar: Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and one month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

 


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