Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

Oaty Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sultanas

In Baking, Biscuits/Cookies on May 27, 2012 at 5:27 am

I’m afraid this is yet another baking themed post – but hey, at least it’s not ANOTHER muffin recipe, right? I’m just so busy at the moment and feel guilty spending time preparing elaborate meals (like gnocchi) yet baking somehow still seems justified – it doesn’t take long and you can do something else while it is in the oven. Plus it’s much easier to share with others than a full on meal! Cake seems somehow more naughty than muffins, quick breads or cookies, hence why I have avoided cake thus far.

Today was a dreary day and I didn’t much feel like doing my hieroglyphics translation for class, nor my research essay plan for honours, so cookies were a good reward for getting through it! Well, my hieroglyphics translation anyway, essay plan will have to wait until tomorrow. The cookies were deliciously chewy and not overly sweet. This recipe was adapted from a recipe in my trusty old ‘Comfort Food.’

115 g butter

115 g/ 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (I used Chelsea’s dark cane sugar, mmmmm)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

4-6 tbsp milk (I had to add a bit extra, so don’t be afraid to)

1 tsp vanilla essence

150 g/ 1 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

115 g/ 1 generous cup rolled oats

175 g chocolate chips (not sure how many I used, I just emptied about 3/4 – 1/2 250g bag of chocolate chips)

115 g/ 1 cup pecan nuts, chopped – though I used 1 cup sultanas instead

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs, milk and vanilla essence. Beat thoroughly.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt, stir in until well mixed. Fold in the rolled oats, chocolate chips and chopped pecan nuts – or in my case, sultanas.

Chill the mixture for at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease two baking trays – or just use one and bake the cookies in two batches, like me.

Using two teaspoons, place mounds well apart on the trays and flatten with a spoon or a fork. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are just colouring, then cool on wire racks.

Blueberry Bread

In Baking, Bread, Cake on May 25, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Lately I’ve been feeling the urge to devote more time to developing my own recipes – or rather, more developed adaptations to recipes. Maybe when I get more time when the semester ends. However, in the meantime – here’s another post about what I whipped up this morning for breakfast/morning tea. My father is coming and he’s a sucker for blueberries, so I made this on the off chance that he’d feeling like indulging. I found the recipe on this site, though I didn’t bother to add the lemon glaze at the end because I was lazy. And honestly, I don’t think it really needed it – though I’m sure it would be a delicious alternative. Check out the link above for the original recipe. The only thing really worth noting is that I used frozen blueberries instead of fresh, and that I thought their tip about flouring them before adding to the mixture was very clever – I’ll definitely do that in future blueberry baking.

I was also a bit lazy about photographing it – I’d had a few slices before doing so, so I didn’t want to add any butter or topping for the photos, otherwise I’d be compelled to eat more! But it’s sweet (though not too sweet) so I’d suggest some plain old butter or margarine is all it needs!

Anyway, in a month or so’s time – expect more self directed recipes. I’m sure as my stress levels increase, so will the amount of time I will spend dissipating them with cooking!

Pumpkin Gnocchi

In Egg, Main meals, Pasta on May 23, 2012 at 3:44 am

Making gnocchi is something I’ve been wanting to try for a while now. I’ve been wary of it in the past. As a teenager, my mum implanted this idea in my head that gnocchi were nasty and rubbery – not worth bothering about at all! But ever since I rekindled my interest in food and started reading food blogs, I noticed that gnocchi seemed to be quite popular. Then a few months ago when I got Jo Seagar’s Italia and saw her lovely rustic gnocchi, I knew the time had come – it was just a matter of when. My friend Theresa coming around for dinner (and my friend Amanda tomorrow) gave me the perfect excuse. Interestingly, I didn’t end up following Jo’s recipe but instead opted for a recipe I found on a blog I only recently discovered, Happyolks. The recipe is accompanied with a video and lovely photos – so you should definitely check it out! I went with this recipe simply because I had a pumpkin to use up, and liked the sound of pumpkin gnocchi rather than potato – though Jo offers a recipe for olive gnocchi that I just might need to try as well.

Anyway, the tips offered in the Happyolks recipe are good ones.  I think this was definitely a case of KNOW YOUR PUMPKIN. I actually used a mixture of two – the 99c quarter pumpkin from Pak’n’Save and half a butternut squash that I stole from Emma. I wasn’t really sure how much the two would make; at first I thought I would have too little, but I think in the end I had too much! I also probably didn’t have a fine enough sieve, because my pumpkin was still very moist and I couldn’t seem to get rid of the moisture. As a result, I had to add quite a bit more than the 2 cups of flour that the recipe suggests. However, the most difficult thing I found about the whole process was cutting the gnocchi to a uniform size! I’m sure there is a more efficient way than the way I did it; grabbing handfuls of dough, rolling into long sausages and cutting into sections of 1 inch with a ruler next to, cutting them down when they seemed to big as my dough sausages weren’t always that even. Anyway, if anyone has any tips about how to make this aspect of the process easier, do share!

I definitely have issues with cutting things to a uniform size. I’ve always been an eyeball it type of girl and that was a little counter productive in this case. The whole process took rather a long time, but in a very pleasant way. I managed to eat about a quarter of my gnocchi as I was cooking them so by the time it came to serve them I wasn’t all that hungry! Oops.

I served them with a basic buttery sauce, following the suggestion of the original recipe. Basically it was just a bit of olive oil and butter (I didn’t fuss about quantities) with a generous amount of washed thyme, cooked in the sauce to give it a bit of flavour. I then tossed the gnocchi in the butter until it was well coated and topped with grated parmesan. It was definitely a winning recipe for a cold winter’s night!

I was also worried about how the gnocchi would look once photographed. It’s true, gnocchi are not the mostly beautiful looking things to look at – but still, I highly recommend you all try them. Invest in the time – the recipe makes enough for several meals/servings, depending on how many are eating it. It is also something easily prepared in advance. They taste delicious – not at all rubbery and nasty like my mum led me to believe. Shame on you, Mum! I’ve been converted to a gnocchi fan.

Cornbread with Cheese & Chillies

In Baking, Bread, Cheese on May 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Today I woke up with a craving for cornbread – or rather, I’ve had the craving for a while and today was my very delayed gratification. I also had some red chillies sitting around in my fridge drawer, so when I saw the ‘Tex Mex style’ variant on my bread book’s cornbread recipe, I was sold. I didn’t have a proper cast iron skillet to cook it (in my dreams) but I made do with my trusty black ceramic dish – which gave it a lovely round shape for cutting into delicious spicy chunks. I served mine with Olivani and tomato relish for a bit of extra bite – YUM.

30 g butter, melted

150 g fine cornmeal or maize meal

150g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp caster sugar or granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs, beaten

150 ml buttermilk

150 ml milk

2 jalapeno chillies, deseeded and chopped

125 g grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius/425 Farenheit. Prepare a 23 cm skillet according to skillet instructions (or if you are me, your ceramic round dish).

Stir the cornmeal, flour. baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt together in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Make a well in the centre. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk and milk in a separate bowl and add melted butter.

Pour wet mixture into dry ingredients, use spatula to fold in until combined. Try not to overmix as this can make the bread heavy! Add the cheese and the chillies.

Spoon the batter into prepared skillet or dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen (I think mine needed a bit longer than this). Leave to cool briefly on a wire rack, then cut into wedges and serve warm.