18 November 2010


About a week or so ago I was in the mood for filling the biscuit tin so turned to the guru of domestic cooking, Nigella Lawson, for inspiration.  This recipe, from How to be a Domestic Goddess, was chosen largely because of the name.  It just sounds so ridiculous, so the resulting food must be fabulous, right?  Well, the biscuits that resulted were plentiful and damned tasty, though not without some tweaking for next time (see note below).  I altered the recipe slightly (adding chocolate chips), to meet the tastes of the intended eaters, and suspect other variations would work equally well, perhaps a handful of crushed up pistachios or almonds would be nice, or coconut.  Anyhoo, without further talking on my part, here it is, snickerdoodles, the most fun-sounding cookie I've come across in ages! 

250 g flour
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (I used mixed spice)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
125 g butter
100 g caster sugar (plus 2 extra tbsp)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
dash milk
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
  2. Combine together flour, nutmeg, baking powder and salt.  Set aside momentarily.
  3. In large bowl cream butter and 100 g sugar together until light and pale, then beat in egg and vanilla.
  4. Stir in set-aside dry ingredients and chocolate chips until you have a smooth mixture.  I found mine was too dry and crumbled, so I added a dash of milk here, to help it bind together. 
  5. Roll out walnut-sized balls, roll in mixture of sugar and cinnamon, and place on lined or greased baking tray.  Don't squash down - they're more like little biscuity cakes than the typical flat biscuit.  
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden-brown.  Makes about 32 (I think I got 40 out of this batch).  
NB: These tasted really good, like little cinnamon doughnuts, but were very crumbly in texture.  Nice for dunking but possibly a bit dry for the majority of peoples' taste in biscuits.  I'm going to make these again, but next time will see how they turn out if flattened a little, to make them crisp, rather than crumbly.  We'll see... 

04 November 2010


There's just nothing like a bit of procrastibaking when studying for exams (or indeed when one ought to be doing almost anything that one would rather not be doing).  So you can imagine how pleased I was on Tuesday afternoon (with exam looming on Wednesday morning) to be able to convince myself that it really was imperative that I bake a cake for a friend's birthday.  Realistically I doubt she would've given a hoot had we turned up bearing cake or not, but the excuse worked for me. 

Last Sunday, when baking Alistair's pear and ginger birthday cake, our oven's element blew up, necessitating a trip down the street, to bake the cake in a friend's mum's oven (one of the innumerable handy things about small towns).  While I was there she gave me this recipe, for a very speedy chocolate cake/sponge (I guess it depends on how well you beat it).  Anyhoo, I gave it a shot on Tuesday, for Cath's birthday, and it turned out pretty well.  I'm not a massive chocolate cake fan and I liked it.  The others, who are chocolate cake fans, all appeared to like it to.  So here it is - super easy and pretty well foolproof.  I like the whole 'bung everything into a bowl' idea too - go the Waikato Ladies' Golf Association (from whose cookbook it came)! 

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp soft butter
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp cocoa
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp baking powder
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.  Line/grease 20cm round cake tin (or equivilant).
  2. Beat all ingredients together for 3 minutes.
  3. Pour into tin and bake for 20-30 minutes. 
  4. Ice or dust with icing sugar.

Hungry and Frozen: sunshine is a friend of mine...

Hungry and Frozen: sunshine is a friend of mine...

01 November 2010

cast your votes!

In Ancient Greece votes were cast by scratching the initials of the candidates onto mussel shells.  Nowadays things are done a trifle differently, but that doesn't mean there ain't no use for the mussel...  

I'm allergic to shellfish, so it's pretty rare that I blog about anything shellfishy 'cause, to be honest, I just don't cook it.  But last night KB prepared a mussel appetiser for his parents which, I have to be honest, for the first time made me wish I could eat those little molluscs.  It looked so tasty!  Grilled mussels, in half-shell, with a fresh and light topping.  He smashed together a 2cm knob of ginger root with a handful of coriander leaves and the zest of a lemon (use a morter and pestle, or just chop it all up real fine).  This was sprinkled onto the mussels which, having been steamed open and one half of shell discarded, were sitting diligently on an oven tray.  Some parmasan cheese lightly grated on top, a drizzle of oil (really light) and grill for a couple of minutes (don't overdo or they'll be rubbery).  
I think the thing I liked most about this dish (limited, seeing as I couldn't taste it) was the way it looked.  The bright colours of the lemon zest and the coriander, against the pearly white of the mussel shell, and the darker green of the outer shell.  If you're a shellfish fiend I suggest you head to your local supy and get in the kitchen, 'cause this was a winner. 

the apple's grandaddy

I love it when someone sees a recipe they like and ask me to try it.  It means I get to try something new, and there's going to be someone waiting and wanting to eat it.  Bang up combo, that is.  Yesterday I made, with significant help from KB, a birthday cake for his dad.  Pear and ginger cake.  Not a cake I would've gravitated to, had it not been suggested, but one that I'm very glad I've made.  It was so yum.  Not too sweet, nice and tender, not too crumbly but not doughy either.  And easy to make, with no overly weird ingredients.  The only thing we had to buy specially was a couple of pears.  Will definitely be making this baby again, next time am going to try it with apple and rhubarb.  The pear was great, so will be interesting to see how apple/rhubarb is. 

185 g butter, softened                                      FOR SYRUP:
3/4 cup castor sugar                                                          50 g butter
2 eggs                                                                                   1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large pears (we used packham)                                    1 tsp ground ginger
2 cups self-raising flour                                                     1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp ground ginger (heaped!)                                          1/2 cup water
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
juice of half a lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line 20 cm round cake tin with baking paper/grease sides.
  2. Mix together butter and sugar until pale and creamy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Peel, core and slice pears. 
  4. Sift in flour and ginger.  Add milk, vanilla, pear and mix well. 
  5. Spoon into cake tin, bake for 1 hour, or until inserted skewer comes out clean. 
  6. Cool in tin for about 10 minutes, then remove to and cool on cake rack. 
  7. For syrup put all ingredients into saucepan, melt butter and bring to boil.  Boil briefly, remove from heat.  Serve warm drizzled over cake.