Christmas Cookies

I made these reindeer cookies recently for a Christmas dinner that I helped to host. They were a pretty big hit with the party-folk and disappeared in no time. They’re just a simple (but delicious) sugar cookie with royal icing for the outline and red nose. I made these last year and used red smarties instead for the nose which worked just as well, but I couldn’t be bothered buying and sifting through them. The cookie cutter is actually a moose which came in a set from Ikea, but I reckon it looks enough like a reindeer.

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Published in: on December 23, 2011 at 12:09 am  Comments (2)  
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Buttermilk Pancakes with Mapled Walnuts

These are the pancakes from my childhood. I’ve tried several different recipes over the years but I keep coming back to this version. They are soft, fluffy and not at all eggy like some tend to be. My favourite way to eat these is with a nice strawberry jam and whipped cream. When I was younger they were almost always eaten with sugar and lemon juice, a classic combination.

This time I thought I’d try something different and use walnuts, which I currently have an abundance of. I candied the nuts in a maple based syrup and just poured that over the pancakes. The flavours were good but the whole thing was just crying out for a scoop of icecream. Bananas would also go exceptionally well with this, but I’m not that rich!

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Published in: on September 4, 2011 at 10:21 pm  Comments (4)  
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Curried Pasta Salad

This is a very simple and easy to make pasta salad with a tangy light curry flavour. I just used what I had in the fridge, which was red capsicum, purple heirloom carrots, spring onions and corriander. You can use anything you want to give it a little freshness and crunch. Snow peas, celery and cherry tomatoes are all good.

To make dressing for 500g of pasta, combine:

  • 1/2 cup locally-sourced olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp good quality curry powder

Toss together with cold pasta and finely sliced vegetables. You may wish to double the quantity of dressing or halve the pasta for a stronger flavour. The flavours will improve the second day. Store covered in the fridge to prevent drying out.

Published in: on September 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm  Comments (2)  
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Mocha Walnut Slice

These have been a family favourite for many years. They’re moist and fudgey like a brownie, but not overly sweet or chocolatey. I like to pack them full of walnuts; which have a soft texture for a nut and complement the flavour of mocha well. It also makes them a little better for you so you can eat twice as many, yes?

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Published in: on September 3, 2011 at 9:07 pm  Comments (4)  
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Apple & Custard Pastries

I’ve had green apples in the fridge for about a month, and have been feeling guilty about not using them. Today I was thinking about making apple and cinnamon sticky buns, but I was out of butter and didn’t fancy another trip to the supermarket. I was ready to give up on this dream when I spotted some puff pastry in the freezer and decided to experiment.

I love green apples. They are so fresh tasting (and looking) with firm white flesh that stays crisp many weeks after you buy them. Granny Smiths are perfect for cooking with and hold their shape well.

For the pastries I peeled and chopped a couple of apples, which I couldn’t resist photographing.

Then I caramelised them with brown sugar and margarine (I would have used butter if I had it).

I made a super thick custard just using custard powder and milk, and added sugar to sweeten.

I spread some custard on a floured sheet of puff pastry and topped with apple. Then I rolled it up and sliced it into scrolls. It was an extremely messy process, hence the lack of photos. I baked them on lined trays at about 200C for 15 minutes or so.

They taste pretty good I think. Muffy came home and ate about all of them and didn’t throw up after. That usually means success with Muffy.

Dusted with sugar and served with cream

Published in: on May 19, 2011 at 2:03 am  Comments (6)  
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Sugar Cookies

I wanted to bake something for two friends for their birthdays, and these are sort of my go-to gift cookies. They are perfect for cut-outs because they hold their shape whilst baking. Plus they taste deliciously buttery and crumbly.

I had a moment of inspiration and decided to make scrabble tile cookies for Sarah with the letters Z and Q iced onto them. This has special significance to her because it is the name of the little production company she created (ZQ Productions), which came from the two highest scoring letters in the game of Scrabble – both worth 10 points each. There is a whole deeper story behind it but I won’t get into that.

For Genevieve I made squirrels iced in pink and baby blue, but I forgot to snap pics!

Sugar Cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 250g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to a moderate-low temperature, around 160C (fan forced).

Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes, add the egg and vanilla, and beat until smooth and creamy.

Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Add to the butter mixture and stir until a ball begins to form.

Knead together on a floured surface to an even consistency. Roll out between two pieces of baking paper to pencil thickness. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Cut out shapes from the chilled dough and place onto an oiled or lined tray with a little space between each. If the dough gets too soft or warm put it back in the fridge for a few minutes; this will help the cookies keep their shape.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until a light golden brown appears around the edges. They will harden up quite a bit when they cool so don’t be too concerned if they’re a bit soft coming out of the oven. Cool on a wire rack once they’re hard enough to move.

The cookies in the picture above are a bit thicker than I would usually do them and took about 12-14 minutes.

For the scrabble cookies I rolled out some pre-bought white fondant (hard icing, a bit like marzipan) very thin and covered each cookie with it. I used royal icing to pipe the letters with a ziplock bag – I need to get a real piping bag! Royal icing dries hard and dry so it’s perfect for cookies or anything that needs to hold it’s shape really well. It is usually made with icing sugar and egg whites (or egg powder/meringue powder) but I don’t like to use raw egg whites in unrefrigerated products and egg powder is hard to find, so I use a substitute. It’s called Pavlova Magic and it comes in an egg shaped container; you will probably find it with pudding mixes, jelly and custard powder type things. I use this royal icing recipe – the link has lots of useful information too. It’s a simple recipe though so I’ll re-type it here.

Royal Icing

Makes about 3 cups

  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Pavlova Magic or other egg powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence or other flavouring
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • colouring (liquid, powder or paste)

Add the water gradually to the other ingredients. If you are using a liquid colouring you may need less water so keep this in mind. Beat with an electric mixer until very glossy and stiff peaks form. To get the consistency you are after add more water, or more icing sugar.

Published in: on May 14, 2011 at 4:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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Two-Tiered Jellies

We had a couple of packets of jelly in our pantry just sitting around begging to be used, so I put these together. I’m a fan of the newish JellyLite range which has interesting flavours like cranberry & raspberry, dark cherry, pink grapefruit or peach & apricot. My hatred for everything ‘lite’ aside, they are pretty good. For these I used orange & mango with port wine and a few berries. Nothing special, but zig-zag martini glasses make everything more fun.

I have made my own jelly flavours before using various citrus fruits, juices and tea; some successful, most not. One that I did like a lot was ruby grapefruit and mint which I should try again sometime, when grapefruits are in season.

Published in: on May 6, 2011 at 6:30 pm  Comments (2)