Tuesday 23 February 2016

Ginger Walnut Fudge with Coffee Icing

With temperatures hovering in the 30s in Christchurch last week, the last thing anyone has really wanted to do is turn the oven on. We've all been baking outside the house, let alone in it. So with this in mind, I turned to the cute little book I picked up at a Vintage Market a few weeks ago, for some unbaked inspiration.

I'm not sure when it was published as it doesn't have a date, but it is full of loads of old fashioned fudgy recipes to try out. Here is a modified take on their Ginger Square. I've converted the weights to metric for you. 

Ginger Walnut Fudge with Coffee Icing

115g butter
half a cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons condensed milk
250g crushed wine biscuits
half a cup crystallized ginger
1 cup walnut pieces
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Melt the butter, brown sugar and condensed milk together. 

Crush the biscuits in the food processor. Once finely crumbed, add the ginger and walnuts and pulse until they are broken up but not crushed. 

Pour the crumb mixture into the melted butter mix and fold together. 

Press into a lined slice tin and refrigerate until hardened. 

Coffee Icing

3 tablespoons condensed milk
1 tablespoon softened butter
1 shot of espresso coffee
about 2 cups of icing sugar

Blend the condensed milk and butter together. Stir in the hot espresso, followed by the icing sugar. Blend to a smooth paste and spread onto the chilled fudge slice. 

Cut up into small squares once the icing is set. Store in an airtight container. 

Happy baking!

Saturday 6 February 2016

Oat, Nut and Seed Chocolate Chip Biscuit Recipe

Our little blossom used to be such an adventurous eater. Now, as an over opinionated nearly-7 year old, she has all sorts of ideas about what she likes and what she doesn't. Every weekend I ask the family what biscuit or slice they might like for lunch boxes for the coming week, and ever weekend she says 'Chocolate chip biscuits'. Boredom and wanting to improve the overall nutritional value has led me on an adventure of reinvention of this humble biscuit. This week's incarnation is a nut and seed version that's dairy and egg free. If you are looking for a biscuit more like your Granny might make this is not the one, and you might like to try the more traditional version

Oat, Nut and Seed Chocolate Chip Biscuits

125g coconut oil
200g honey
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons warm water
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup coconut flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
half a cup walnuts 
half a cup sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180 deg. C. Bake setting. 

Place the coconut oil and honey into a small saucepan and melt together. Don't overheat; it it only just needs to melt. Set aside to cool. 

In a food processor, blend the oats until they form a fine meal. 

Add the walnuts and sunflower seeds and briefly process again until they are chopped, but still retail some chunks. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl, and add the coconut and wholemeal flours, and the cinnamon. 

Dissolve the soda in the warm water and stir it into the cooled honey and coconut oil. 
Add the liquid ingredients into the oat and flour mixture and stir to combine. 

Lastly stir in the chocolate chips. It is essential that the oil and honey are cool, or else they will start to cook the flours and melt the chocolate chips once they are added. 

Using a soup spoon, take teaspoon lots and place them on a lined baking tray. 

Flatter the biscuits a little, then bake for 8 to 10 minutes. 

These biscuits keep well and are a perfect brain food snack for school and work. 

Happy baking!

Saturday 30 January 2016

a skulk of foxes

I've made some cute new little Fox cushions! These ones are juveniles, and three-quarters the size of the originals. 

These little foxes are looking for a new home. So if you would like to adopt one, they are waiting for you at Where the Fox Lives at The Tannery in Woolston, Christchurch. 

Saturday 23 January 2016

A new twist on an old favourite - Wholemeal and Chia Chocolate Chip Biscuits

In an effort to make more of the everyday things I bake more nutritious I've been substituting in wholemeal ingredients along with added nuts and seeds where I can. Wholemeal flour adds a new dimension to baked goods with its nutty flavour and added bite. One of my other favourite additions is chia seeds. Chia is versatile, tasty and easily added to so many recipes for an instant protein, texture and flavour boost. Here's my new take on the Chocolate Chip Biscuit. The children will hardly even notice they are healthier. This recipe makes a good double tray of biscuits, so there will be plenty to share around. 

Wholemeal and Chia Chocolate Chip Biscuits

200g butter
150g brown sugar
300g wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips
3 tablespoons chis seeds

Preheat the oven to 175deg. C and line a large baking tray.

Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. 

Add the wholemeal flour, baking powder, chocolate chips and chia seeds and stir to combine. 

The mixture will appear crumbly, but should hold together when pressed. 

Press and roll tablespoon lots into balls and arrange on the lined tray. 

Flatten each ball, then bake for 10 to 12 minutes. 

Allow to cool on the tray as the biscuits will be very soft straight from the oven. 

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Delicious Chocolate Sponge with fresh fruit and cream

Back in my teens I used to make this sponge all the time. With the hens on the farm there was always plenty of eggs to be used. That was nearly 30 years ago now, but the recipe is still as good as ever. I'm really not sure where the recipe came from originally; probably one of the 1070's farming womens' publications. It's easy to make and always goes down well with a crowd. Use whatever summer fruit is available to make this delicious cake for dessert or afternoon tea.

My family still farm the same land, and thanks to my mother's care and attention there is always plenty of eggs in the hen house. Looking after the chickens is one of our Little Blossom's favourite farm chores. 

Chocolate Sponge with fresh fruit and cream

6 eggs - separated
300g caster sugar
200g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons butter
4 heaped teaspoons cocoa powder
6 tablespoons warm water

For the filling:
2 cups cream
4 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence 
2 cups fresh raspberries - if fresh is unavailable, jam will do the trick. 
an extra 2 to 3 cups fresh seasonal fruit

Preheat the oven to 180deg. C. Line a 18 x 25cm or similar sized baking tin with baking paper. 

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add approximately half the sugar, a tablespoon at a time and beat until the mixture holds firm peaks. 

In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar until they are pale and doubled in volume. 

Don't add the sugar to the yolks until you are ready to beat them or lumps of yolk will form around the sugar. 

Place the water, cocoa and butter into a small saucepan and heat gently until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Allow to cool. 

Fold the yolk mixture into the beaten egg whites. Now fold the cooled cocoa mixture into the eggs. Double sift the flour and baking powder and gently fold it into the egg mixture.

Pour the sponge mixture into the prepared baking tin. 

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the sponge is well risen and bounces back when pressed. 

Allow the sponge to cool in the tin, then turn it out and remove the baking paper. Using a large serrated knife cut the sponge length-ways into two pieces. 

Beat the cream and icing sugar to soft peaks. Add the vanilla essence. 

Mash the first measure of raspberries and spread them on the bottom layer of sponge. 

Cover with cream and sprinkle with whole raspberries. 

Place the top layer of sponge on top and cover with the remaining cream. Arrange the extra fruit on top and serve!  

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Tasty Green Pea, Mint and White Bean Hummus

The next time you have guests coming around, try serving this healthy and tasty Pea, Mint and White Bean Hummus. It's delicious, super easy to make and great for the summer season when peas are plentiful and fresh. Having said that, this dip is just as easily made from frozen peas. An oversupply of cooked peas left over from Christmas lunch first inspired this recipe. 

Green Pea, Mint and White Bean Hummus

3 cups cooked peas
2 cloves garlic
the juice of 2 lemons
a 390g can of butter beans  
a handful of mint leaves
two thirds of a cup of olive oil
a teaspoon of salt 
ground pepper

Drain the can of white beans and wash them well under cold running water. Shake off the excess water and leave to drain while gathering the other ingredients. 

Place the beans, peeled garlic cloves, 2 cups of the peas, the mint leaves and the lemon juice into a large food processor. 

Add half the olive oil and process. Keep adding the remaining oil until a smooth, soft consistency is achieved. 

Now add the remaining cup of peas and the salt and pepper. Process briefly, the aim is to retain some bigger pea chunks in order to give the spread more texture. 

Check the seasoning and adjust as required.

Transfer the spread to a serving dish and drizzle with a little more olive oil before serving with crackers, lovely sliced french bread or a selection of sliced vege sticks. 

The spread will keep for a few days in a sealed container in the fridge. 

Eat it in the morning on a lovely piece of toasted wholemeal bread. 

Happy cooking xxx

Thursday 7 January 2016

Tasty Buckwheat and Silverbeet Salad

We've been enjoying a few days at the farm. The weather has been nice and there's been time to poke around the garden for things to cook with. Given the slower start to the growing season up in the high country, and being the resourceful soul I like to think I am, I've been plucking small leaves from the gone-to-seed silverbeet and using them for salads. Silverbeet is such an underrated vege. I think, as small children, many of us have been a bit put off silverbeet by being fed too many well overcooked examples at our grandmother's table: something we ate out of duty, before woofing down the roast meat and looking forward to pudding. Not only is it super tasty served raw, but it grows very easily in the garden throughout the year; it's hardy enough to withstand the hardest frost, and quickly perks up when the weather warms up. 

The other interesting component of this salad is the buckwheat. Buckwheat is actually no relation of wheat. It belongs to the rhubarb family and unlike wheat, contain no gluten at all. It's starchy and nutty, quick to cook, and makes a great carbohydrate addition to any salad. I've again taken advantage of all the parsley in the garden and dressed the salad with my favourite Green Dressing.  If you want to make the dressing gluten free, use wine vinegar instead of malt.  

Buckwheat and Silverbeet Salad with Green Dressing

1 cup uncooked buckwheat
3 to 4 good handfuls of small silverbeet leaves
1 red capsicum
2 spring onions
1 recipe of Green Dressing with a half teaspoon of ground cumin added.

Rinse the buckwheat in plenty of cold water. Place it and 3 cups of water into a large pot and bring to the boil. 

Turn down and cook, covered for 15 to 20 minutes. Try a couple of grains, they should be soft in the middle, but not mushy. 

Drain the buckwheat, then set aside to cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients. 

Thoroughly wash and dry the silverbeet. 

Roll it together and slice thinly. 

Slice the capsicum into small strips, then into small dice. 

Finely slice the spring onions. 

Prepare the dressing - you wont need to whole amount - the unused portion will keep for at least a week in the fridge. 

Fluff the buckwheat with a fork, then place all the ingredients into a bowl and combine with as much dressing as you might like. The buckwheat soaks up quite a lot of dressing, so don't be shy about adding more if required. 

Happy, and healthy cooking everyone xx