Category Archives: Recipes

Cookie Karma

11th December 2013

Christmas feels like the best time of year to top up your good karma, and reinforce those feelings of positivity towards others.  I stumbled across The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap by chance, and immediately fell for the concept.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013

Here’s what happens: you donate $4 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, who are a non-profit organisation raising funds for paediatric cancer research.  Then, the lovely hosts of the scheme (Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen) send you 3 participating food bloggers for you to post cookies to.  You send each of your matches a dozen cookies, and you in turn will receive a dozen cookies from 3 different people.  Then everybody blogs…!

What I like about the idea is – firstly, you’re supporting a fantastic cause, secondly, there’s cookies involved, and thirdly – it works because everybody does their part.  Which is how I come to the karma thing… it feels kind of great to send off fresh cookies into the unknown, for others to enjoy.  And it also feels great when you start getting them back.

Cookie Karma…see?

So, with a mouthful of crumbs (because I’m still making my way through the ones I received), here is my recipe.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cookie Stack

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cookies

To make a dozen, you will need:

  • 170g plain flour
  • 110g unsalted, melted butter
  • 100g dark brown soft sugar
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla essence
  • a pinch of salt
  • a dash of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 large egg
  • a generous handful of raspberries
  • white chocolate chips, or chopped up white chocolate

Fresh Raspberries

White Chocolate Bar

I spent a Sunday afternoon happily baking away my batches of this recipe, with some mulled wine and the SATC box set keeping A and I company in the house.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Get your oven preheated to about 180°C, and then weigh out and sieve together the flour, bicarb and salt
  • Cream together the 2 types of sugar and the melted butter

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  • Beat in the vanilla essence and egg

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  • Mix in the dry ingredients

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  • And then stir in the chocolate and raspberries slowly, by hand

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  • Line a baking tray with parchment, and then drop the cookie dough on to it in blobs about the size of golf balls.  Leave lots of room between the blobs, because they’ll grow (more than in this photo I think!)

Cookie Dough

  • Bake them in the oven for 12-14 minutes, before removing and allowing to cool on a wire tray

Don’t cook them for too long, as good cookies need to have a bit of chew and a bit of crunch.  Actually, I felt that some of mine were a bit ‘cakey’, and needed to be slightly smaller.

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I packaged the cookies up into Paperchase boxes, with sparkly tissue paper, and sent them on their way.  Because they’re sweet, I think they taste best with a nice old fashioned cuppa tea.

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My cookies went to Emma, Mehrunnisa and Pat – and I’ve enjoyed reading their blogs since.

So, I hear you ask, what was I lucky enough to be sent?

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Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with string… YES.  What could be better in this technological day and age than a package tied up with string?  

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Chocolate Chip Truffle cookies from Nazia at This Baker Girl Blogs – have a look at her recipe – genius!  I am definitely making these bad boys soon.

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Beautifully packaged and scrummy Cardamom and Cinnamon Spiced Shortbread from Gill at Tales of Pigling Bland.

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Dark Chocolate, Orange and Hazlenut cookies from Sophie at The Cake Hunter.  The smell of these cookies alone… wow.  They were delicious.  (And she’s just had a baby, so must be the most efficient lady on the planet).

I’ve been having a slightly hectic time at work recently, and discovering the blogs I hadn’t read before and reading the friendly notes (and eating the cookies) really cheered me up.  I’ll definitely be joining in again next year!

P.S. Daddy I told you it wasn’t a cookie Ponzi scheme :)

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Give It Some Welly!

23rd October 2013

Beef and pastry – two of the best ingredients in any menu.  I hosted a dinner party recently, and decided to ‘give it some welly’ (see what I did there?!).  I had never made Beef Wellington before, but it seemed like a fun challenge (and I really fancied beef and pastry).

But before I explain the main course, let me show you the starter.  O and I got inspiration for this one at a restaurant we visited in Thailand, and have been meaning to make it for a while.  I will not claim the credit, he did all the work on this course!

Stuffed Tomato

It’s a stuffed tomato, served with the ‘lid’ on.  So, we bought one beef tomato per person, sliced the tops off, and then O got to work scooping out the insides.  These are then chopped and mixed with mozzarella, basil and seasoning in a bowl, before being spooned back in to the hollowed out tomatoes.

Tomato with filling

Lids are placed on top, and then we reduced some balsamic vinegar on the stove to decorate for serving.  The tomatoes look very pleasing when they’re brought to the table – I think this would work with other fillings as well (maybe goats cheese and pepper?).

Stuffed tomatoes

Starters munched, onto the Wellington.  I’d prepared this in the afternoon, so popped it into the oven as we were serving the starter.  It needed about 25 minutes in a hot oven to cook to medium rare. 

Firstly, you need to buy some really good beef fillet.  This should be from a butcher or the meat counter in a supermarket (be warned, it is a bit pricey…).  Around 1kg should serve six people well, but if you can afford more, buy more – you’ll want seconds!

I precooked the fillet (brushed with olive oil) for 15-20 minutes, and then put it in the fridge to chill.  While it’s cooling, throw a load of chestnut mushrooms into the food processor and chop them till they’re quite fine.  These are then pan fried with butter, oil, thyme and white wine to make the ‘duxelles’.  

Use cling film to wrap the fillet in prosciutto ham, with a layer of duxelles between the ham and the beef.  The duxelles keeps the beef moist, and the ham will help to prevent the pastry becoming soggy. 

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When the beef is wrapped, put it back in the fridge to chill (wrapped in cling film still), while you roll out a sheet of puff pastry.  You then need to place the fillet on the pastry sheet, and brush the whole lot down with egg yolk.  Lay another sheet of pastry over the top, and seal by pressing a spoon around the edges.

Trim the pastry and then decorate the Wellington with the excess, before brushing more egg yolk over everything.

Beef Wellington ready for the oven

I blobbed the remaining bits of pastry around the tray, because I know people always like extra pastry…

The Wellington can be chilled like this for up to 24 hours before you put it back in the oven.

Cooked Beef Wellington

To my blogging shame, I was too excited with the result and forgot to take a photo of the beef when I’d carved the Wellington into slices.  But I can say following reviews that it looked (and tasted) pretty good!

As a side dish, I served an Ottolenghi dish I’d been recommended by K – sweet potato gratin.  You can find the recipe on that link.  I will hands down be making this again – minimal prep (especially if you can slice the potatoes with a food processor), and so, so delicious.  The short story is, you roast sweet potatoes, sage, garlic and cream in the oven and create something magical.

Ottonlenghi Sweet Potato Gratin

As you can see, the finished gratin will make a big impact (the colour is lovely).

Pudding was raspberry pavlova, washed down with Amarula.  We were joined after supper by some neighbours across the road who spotted us dancing through the window.  (A little strange, but why not?)  So we danced the night away…

Raspberry Pavlova

Raspberry Pavlova

What are your go-to dinner party recipes?

Mango & Prawn Thai Noodles

11th September 2013

Here’s a dishy little recipe I cooked up when I was craving Thai food the other day.  It’s super quick, easy and makes the kitchen smell fantastic.  

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I sort of threw this together, so quantities and ingredients can be altered depending on what you have available.

What I used:

  • Thai green curry paste
  • Shallots
  • Coconut milk
  • Fish sauce
  • Mango
  • Tomato
  • Prawns
  • Medium soft noodles

I think that a stick of lemon-grass would be a good addition, but I didn’t have any to hand.

Roughly chop the tomatoes and shallots.

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Cook the shallots with a couple of teaspoons of the curry paste in a large frying pan until they’re soft.

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Slowly add the coconut milk (and some coconut cream if you have it), along with a dash of fish sauce and seasoning to your taste.  Keep the sauce moving until it has a smooth creamy consistency.

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Then throw in the tomatoes and simmer.

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Chop up a yummy, juicy mango.

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And then add this as well, followed by the prawns.  The tomato and mango will make the sauce lovely and sweet.

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Let it all heat through, and finally add the noodles.  Cook the noodles in the sauce for a couple of minutes at most, and then take the pan off the heat.

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It’s ready! Can’t have taken more than 20 minutes.  I ate mine from my favourite hedgehog bowl (what else) and the rest went into tupperware in the fridge.

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P.S. A confession.  This is what I snacked on while I was cooking.

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