25 August 2017

Knäckebröd Pizza

Lundulph has become seriously addicted to Swedish crispbread and he's quite right, it is very tasty. And like many Swedes who live abroad, we as well as all our guests from Sweden bring packets and packets of crispbread. And on one of the packet, there was a recipe idea of using a round of crispbread as a pizza base. We almost missed it, because it was in such a small font, we thought it might be the ingredients and nutritional listing.

IMG_5404

One thing to note is that many of the Swedish crispbreads have one side on which the bread was baked and which is reasonably flat. Then there is the other side, which has deep holes in it - this is the Sunday side. Monday to Saturday, you butter the flat side, but on Sunday you butter the Sunday side, so you get more butter. Not sure how true this is, but I like it either way.

Ingredients

1 round of crispbread
100 g fiery chilli pesto
1 handful of sweetcorn
1 handful of canned mushrooms
½ roast pepper cut into small thin strips
thinly sliced pepperoni
black olives

IMG_5398 IMG_5399
IMG_5400 IMG_5401

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C and place a large piece of baking paper on an oven rack and place the crispbread round on it with the Sunday side up.
  2. Spread the pesto over the round going all the way to the edges.
  3. Sprinkle the sweetcorn, mushrooms and roast peppers, then cover everything with the pepperoni. Finish with a few olives.
  4. Bake in the oven until the pepperoni slices shrink, but before they start looking dry, then remove, cut and eat.

In the baking, the crispbread soaks up some of the liquid and fat from the toppings and goes a bit chewy yet doesn't disintegrate and one round is just about right for two people. Very easy and tasty.

Lundulph says it's not as nice as real pizza, but was nice enough.

Also, in the photo of the ready pizza, it looks like the edges have been blackened - this is the pesto that went black, I baked it for a touch too long. I did better in the second one I did, but didn't take a photo of it.

16 August 2017

Cinnamon Pear Cake

During one of my rummagings through my recipe collection, I came across this recipe, which I carefully set aside for when pears would be in season and I could harvest some of the lovely pears of Lundulph's parents' tree.

IMG_5395

Ingredients

Batter
1½ tsp baking powder
3½ dl plain flour
150 g unsalted butter at room temperature
2 dl caster sugar
3 large eggs
½ dl plain yoghurt

Filling
1 dl dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly ground cardamom
2 firm but sweet pears

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 175 °C. Butter and flour a large gugelhupf cake tin (25 cm diameter).
  2. Stir together the baking powder and flour in a bowl.
  3. In another, larger bowl, cream together butter and sugar, then whisk until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk in to incorporate fully before adding the next.
  5. Sift the flour mixture into the batter and add the yoghurt and stir through to mix thoroughly.
  6. Spoon carefully into the gugelhupf tin, making sure it's evenly distributed and level.
    IMG_5391
  7. In a small bowl, stir together the muscovado sugar, cinnamon and cardamom.
  8. Wash and peel the pears, trim the stalk and cut into four wedges. Remove the seed core. If the pieces are too long, trim the thin parts to make them roughly the same length as the depth of the batter.
  9. Roll each pear piece into the muscovado mixture and push into the cake batter, space the 8 wedges evenly. The pears can stick out a cm or two above the surface.
    IMG_5392
  10. Sprinkle any leftover muscovado mixture on top of the cake.
    IMG_5393
  11. Bake the cake in the oven for 45 minutes, check with a skewer if it's ready before removing, but careful not to pierce a pear.
    IMG_5394
  12. Remove from the oven and let cool down a bit in the tin before turning out onto a cooling rack, but still leaving the tin over it.
  13. The cake can be lightly dusted with icing sugar when serving.

This is a really tasty cake, I ended up making it twice in quick succession. There are two tricky bits to it - choosing suitable pears, that are sweet, but reasonably firm and not too juicy and pushing the pears in so that they'll end up in the middle of each slice of cake. I didn't succeed on either of these. The first cake had pears that weren't quite ripe enough, so there was a crunch to them and not much flavour. The second cake used riper pears, but this resulted in them going quite mushy in the bake, so I need to do more research on pears suitable for baking. And I also failed on the second point:

IMG_5397

Lundulph wanted to have a stronger pear flavour too, but all in all, very tasty.

5 August 2017

Vietnamese Salad Rolls

We recently went to Australia and while at Brisbane Airport early in the morning of our return, Lundulph and I went our separate ways to hunt for breakfast. The food court we were in, didn't seem to cater much for breakfast. While Lundulph ended up queueing at three different food outlets just to put together something in the vicinity of a sandwich and a tea, I marched straight to the corner where the Vietnamese street food outlet was located and bought a lovely looking roll thingy with tofu and greens and opted for a spicy Hoisin sauce to go with it.

IMG_5389 IMG_5390

This turned out to be a revelation and a flood of ideas in my head for various fillings. So nice and fresh and filling and no guilty feelings of gobbling an unhealthy item!

Therefore, I set off for my two nearest supermarkets and their "special ingredients" sections, only to find disappointment - there was no rice paper to be found. Luckily there are a couple of Asian food markets in my nearest town, so as the heat wave kicked off in the South East of England, I armed myself with a Frappucino and went in search of rice paper. I struck gold in the second of the two shops and bought two packets, just to be on the safe side.

I'd also bought several fresh herbs that I like - basil, tarragon, dill, mint and chives. And a packet of stir-fry veg because it's a good mix of things and cut at the right size; some ready cooked and peeled king prawns for Lundulph and halloumi for myself. I'd also been to my local Pick-Your-Own and brought home a back of broad beans. So I searched on google about how to fold the rolls and got to work, following one of the many the instructions available.

After de-podding the broad beans, I fried them with a little butter and salt. I cut the halloumi into slices and fried in the same pan as the broad beans, then cut into strips and had everything else ready. Using my large pie dish, I half-filled it with room-temperature water. Using a large chopping board as base, I dampened the surface about the size of one of the rice paper rounds. I then dipped one of the rounds into the pie dish and "massaged" it a bit to get it pliable - this took only a few seconds. Then quickly onto the damp circle on the chopping board, line up a selection of the broad beans, stir-fry veg and herbs, then fold. For Lundulph, I lined up 3 prawns on per roll, and for me a couple of halloumi sticks for me. Then a couple of chives before completing the final fold of each roll.

It's good to work reasonably fast in putting the rolls together, or the rice paper wrappers will tear I found, so no photos of the folding process. I also found that the rolls would happily stick together, so I tried to keep them in one row only and not touching too much. I covered them with cling film and kept in the fridge until lunch. Lundulph and I ate 4 rolls each and Lundulph was surprised at how filling they were. At which point I realised that they were also very low carb, since I'd not used any rice or noodles inside. This of course made it difficult to dip and we ended up using tea spoons to drizzle sauce instead.

For dipping, I'd bought a ginger-chilli sauce and a Hoisin sauce and we also tried a satay sauce as well. Lundulph liked the ginger-chilli sauce best, while the Hoisin worked best for my spring rolls with the salty halloumi. We tried the satay sauce, but weren't too impressed with it in this instance.

Some further googling has revealed a lot of other ideas for rice paper wrappers that I'd love to try.

30 July 2017

Georgian Inspired Coconut Macaroons

During my Sister Bip's visit this year, we went to the beautiful estate of Petworth. We've visited before, but only the park. This time we planned ahead and went early, so were also able to go into the house as well. Most interesting for me were the kitchens, which were set up the way they were in the Georgian era and there were a number of ladies dressed up and demonstrating various activities that would have been done then. Very exciting, because they were baking different biscuits and were also giving out recipes, so I quickly grabbed one.

IMG_5388

From the four recipes, the one I had all the ingredients for was the coconut macaroons, so that's the one I made to take into work the following day. So it was quite good that although the recipe stated it would make 24, I got 36 of these.

Ingredients

4 large egg whites
115 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
&188; tsp salt
170 g desiccated coconut
100 g dark chocolate for decoration

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C and line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites, sugar, vanilla extract and salt to stiff peaks stage of a meringue.
  3. Carefully fold in the coconut to distribute it evenly within the meringue.
  4. Using two tablespoons, make quenelles of about 3 cm length and place onto the baking sheets, allowing some 5 cm space between them.
  5. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until they go golden on top and look dry on the surface.
  6. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, the carefully transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
  7. When all macaroons have cooled completely, melt the dark chocolate. It's not necessary to temper the choclate.
  8. Place in a small piping bag, cut a tiny hole then pipe over all the macaroons and let set.
  9. Store the macaroons in an airtight container, layered between pieces of baking paper.

These turned out very similar to the Swedish coconut tops I've made before, but a variant without yolks. However, these were very sticky. Tasty none the less and although the chocolate wasn't in the recipe leaflet, it did make them even nicer.

I actually piped the mixture, but this didn't work very well, as the meringue reverted back to liquid and separated somewhat, so the macaroons became runnier towards the end. I've added a note about this at the bottom on the leaflet with an exclamation mark. I've also written to use a silicone mat rather than baking paper. I do have one, but I don't think I've ever used it, I'll need to see if I can find it.

IMG_5384

Lundulph and I shared one of these, the rest I packed up and took to work on my first day of my new job. They were popular despite their stickiness and Lundulph was a bit sad that there weren't any left over for him.

21 July 2017

Rhubarb Harvest

After much procrastination about what to do with this year's rhubarb harvest, I finally got some motivation for it when I was asked to bake a cake for a barbecue we'd been invited to in late July. After searching for some ideas on decorations on the internet, I decided to go for this one. Unfortunately I didn't opt to follow the actual recipe, just for the look at the top of the cake.
IMG_5379

For the filling, I wanted to do something with jelly. Now I'm really not confident about using gelatine, I usually get it wrong and this time my Sister Bip insisted that I make it vegetarian friendly, so we bought agar flakes to try out.

The cake itself was my usual sponge recipe:

Ingredients

50 g unsalted butter
3 dl plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
2 dl caster sugar
1 dl single cream

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 175 °C and butter and four a springform cake tin of 20 cm diameter.
  2. Melt the butter on low heat and leave to cool.
  3. Sift together the flour and baking powder.
  4. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until very pale and fluffy.
  5. Slowly whisk in the flour, alternating with the cream.
  6. Finally fold in the melted butter, then pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for about 35 minutes.

As it would be a large party, I made two of these, where I sliced a couple of rhubarb stalks lengthwise and placed on top of one of the cakes and sprinkled some caster sugar before baking it.
P7201300

Once both cakes were baked, I started on the rhubarb. I chose this recipe from the BBC, it seemed nice and simple.

Ingredients

750 g rhubarb stalks
150 g caster sugar
1 dl orange juice
4 dl water
agar flakes

Method

  1. Trim, wash and dice the rhubarb stalks. Prepare a sieve with double layers of cheese cloth inside it and stand over a bowl.
  2. Place the rhubarb in a thick-bottomed saucepan together with the sugar, orange juice and water and bring to the boil.
  3. Simmer for 10 minutes, then strain the mixture, making sure it's all dripped through. You may have to help a bit with a spoon to push it through. Do not discard the remaining rhubarb.
  4. Measure up the amount of liquid from the rhubarb and work out how many tablespoons of agar flakes are required to set it.
  5. I wanted two layers of rhubarb jelly, so I divided the liquid into two and made one at a time, following the instructions on the agar flake packet and then pouring into a shallow dish of the right diameter for the cake. I lined it with cling film, to make sure I'd be able to get it out.
  6. The agar flakes set quite quickly, compared to gelatine, but still allowed enough time to do everything without rushing.

I think the rhubarb jelly set a bit too hard. The packet said to increase the amount of flakes somewhat if setting acidic fruit and I thought rhubarb would be acidic, so I followed this recommendation. What I should have done is to experiment first and make adjustments. But I skipped this because I wasn't sure I'd have enough rhubarb liquid for the two layers.

For the middle filling of the cake, I wanted to use custard, again inspired by the rhubarb tea cake. But I decided to buy ready made fresh custard, rather than make my own. This was quite runny, so I added some agar flakes to set it, but it seems I didn't add enough or they didn't dissolve well or something, because I didn't get the consistency I was aiming for. I wasn't able to find any useful guidance on the internet either.

To make sure the cake wasn't too dry, I made a light sugar syrup.

Ingredients

1¼ parts caster sugar
2 parts water

Method

  1. Place the sugar and water in a thick-bottomed pan and bring to the boil on low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Simmer for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and leave to cool

I cut each of the two cakes in half and as I built up the layers, I brushed a little syrup. Sadly I was worried I'd over-do it and ended up not using enough, so it wasn't noticeable and was quite dry. Must remember to be braver. The term for this is "imbibing" and that should give some indication of the amounts required.

So, bottom sponge, then a layer of the rhubarb jelly, then a second sponge, then the custard, then a third sponge, then another rhubarb jelly, then finally the decorated top sponge.
IMG_5378

Sadly the rhubarbs got engulfed during the baking, possibly I should have made them thinner and a bit shorter so they could rise along with the cake surface. I think they got stuck together, so the sponge just rose around them.

Overall the cake didn't look too pretty and didn't taste too nice either, mostly down to the dryness and the texture of the parts. But I think the idea was sound overall.

Now for the remaining squeezed out rhubarb pulp - I had a packet of filo pastry in the freezer and I wanted to try and make what Lundulph terms Rhubarbnik (to match the Bulgarian pumpkin pie tikvenik). And I had custard to spare too.

So I cut the filo pastry into rectangular strips and piped some rhubarb pulp and some custard, then rolled up, brushed with butter and baked until golden brown.

IMG_5380 IMG_5381
IMG_5382

These turned out very nice, but again the custard was just too thin and I couldn't be bothered to try and thicken it either, so it oozed out sadly. I think that perhaps wrapping like samosas might work better here. Or I could have just added more rhubarb to the pulp and made jam again, that usually goes down well.

25 June 2017

A Different Aubergine Dip

Often when I'm bored, I'll look for recipes and I came across this one, which seemed very intriguing. Besides, Lundulph always states that aubergines are his favourite purple vegetable, so I set about to make it.

P6251258

Like many of the people commenting on this recipe, the main surprise is the boiling of the aubergines. And although I opted for the standard type of aubergines from the supermarket, after boiling, the texture seemed along the right lines and they were very easy to peel. I was wondering if this could be an alternative to baking/roasting them for kyopoolu.

I cut the aubergines in chunks, added the remaining ingredients and blended. Yes, the original recipe state to do everything in a pestle and mortar, but I don't have a large one and it's ceramic and unglazed, so would have soaked up a lot of the liquid and probably ruined everything else I'd choose to put in it ever after.

P6251259

It certainly looks a bit like kyopoolu, doesn't it? But, what struck me was the blandness of the dish, even after letting the flavours develop overnight in the fridge. It could well be because I used European type of aubergines, it could well be that I used the generic supermarket chillies. But it was not nice to eat at all and I was very sad about it, because it did sound nice. I mentioned the boiling of aubergines to my Mum and she didn't think this was a good or interesting idea at all. She turned out to be right in this instance. I may try this another time with the correct ingredients, but I might just stick with my pepper roaster and get the smoky flavour that I so like.

21 June 2017

Shredded Beef

This is something I've wanted to do for a long time, but never got round to. However, during my last escapade to Costco, I picked up some very nice looking flank steak with the vague intent of doing something slow cooked like a guyvetch. But when I found this recipe, that vague intent took form into a plan.

Lundulph is not a big fan of tacos or burritos, but with my recent escapade into Vietnamese street food, I have a plan for the shredded beef already.

A note on the ingredients. The original recipe states 1.5 kg of meat, I had just over 800 g, so was going to halve all other amounts. But I didn't write down the halved amounts, which resulted in making the full amount of sauce. This is not a bad thing.

Ingredients

Spice mixture
1.5 tbsp chipotle flakes
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Other ingredients
1 - 1.5 kg beef suitable for slow cooking
3 large cloves of garlic
1 large onion
1 ¾ dl orange juice
2 tbsp lemon juice
400 g can crushed tomatoes
5 dl beef stock (3 Oxo cubes)
2 - 3 tbsp grapeseed oil

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients for the spice mixture in a mortar and pestle and stir through to mix well and also grind things down to roughly the same size.
  2. Cut the beef into large chunks (about the size of a hand) if needed and pat dry with kitchen paper.
  3. Sprinkle the meat with about half of the spice mixture, pat to get them well coated and get the spices to stick.
  4. Peel the garlic and onion and dice. Prepare the beef stock if using stock cubes.
  5. Put the oil in a casserole dish and heat on high, then brown all the meat, in batches if needed so as not to crowd it and set aside.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and add a bit more oil, if it looks dry. Add the garlic and onion, stir well, scraping the bottom of the casserole to get the flavour from the beef. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, to soften the onion.
  7. Add the orange and lemon juices, the crushed tomatoes and beef stock along with the remaining spice mixture and stir through to combine.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 160 °C and add the beef back into the casserole. It should be mostly covered by the liquid, if not, add a little water.
  9. Bring the stew to a boil, cover the casserole and put in the oven for 2 h.
  10. After 2 h, check if the beef is tender enough to pull apart with a fork, if not, let it cook for a further 30 min and check again. Repeat until the beef is shreddable.
  11. When the beef is done, carefully remove from the cooking liquid and shred with a couple of forks while it's still hot.
  12. Carefully blend the cooking juices to make smooth, then simmer without lid to reduce to the desired consistency.
  13. Mix the shredded beef and sauce as required, but keep separate for storage/freezing.

This recipe was surprisingly easy and having ready-made shredded beef in advance is quite a bonus, Lundulph had it as his protein ingredient in his salad on the same night I made it, then had some with ratatouille for lunch the following day, along with some of the sauce, prior to blending and reducing. Now that sauce has some kick to it from the chipotle flakes, I got tears in my eyes after a couple of spoonfuls of my ratatouille, not to mention my traditional coughing and spluttering on the first mouthful of spicy hot food, which I very rarely manage to dodge.

So, a good place to stop is after shredding the beef. I was sorely tempted to just leave it in chunks, but suspected it would be more difficult to shred, once it had cooled down, so shredded it straight away. I've yet to blend the sauce and I'm not sure it needs to be reduced and thickened any further, perhaps this makes more sense if I'd added extra water for the slow cook. I've also yet to freeze this dish. The original recipe recommends keeping beef and sauce apart to avoid the beef going soggy and I think this is a good idea, so I'll stick with that.

The sauce was certainly a good add-on to my usual ratatouille, which this time also benefitted from some broad beans, which I got from my local Pick-Your-Own.

My main plan with the shredded beef is to use it in Vietnamese Salad Rolls for Midsummer's Eve, which is tomorrow.

I'm most pleased with finally trying out chipotle chillies. Though I'm sure I've eaten dishes with chipotle chillies, but I've never used them . When I bought them from the shop, I also took the opportunity to buy a jar of ancho chilli flakes as well, they are different too, so I'll need to try and use them at some point as well. I did open both jars to compare the aromas, both were very nice.

Finally I realise I've forgotten to take a photo of this yummy dish, I'll have to try and remember to do this next time, it's definitely a repeat.

19 March 2017

Palmiers

This is one very lazy pastry that I've wanted to try out for a long time. It is listed in my book "277 types of cakes" and I decided to give it a try, though with ready-made puff pastry.

Sadly the instructions on shaping the pastry were very confusing to say the least and the end result was far from the expected. Edible none the less, but I changed my approach for the second sheet of puff pastry and had much better results.

IMG_5288

  1. Regardless if making your own puff pastry or using shop-bought, it'll need to be rolled out to about 3 mm thickness, while still kept cold. Roll out to a rectangle or a square, depending on the starting shape, keeping the edges and corners as sharp and straight as possible.
  2. Now sprinkle granulated sugar over the pastry surface, then very gently roll the rolling pin over it, just enough to get the sugar to stick to the pastry, but do not push into it.
  3. Carefully turn over the pastry and repeat - sprinkle granulated sugar and gently roll the rolling pin over it.
  4. Now for the folding. I found this website showing how to fold, and is pretty much what I did for the second puff pastry sheet.
  5. When the pastry has been folded it needs to be chilled in the fridge again to stiffen up, perhaps for an hour or so, depending on how thick it became after folding.
  6. When the pastry has chilled, pre-heat the oven to 220 °C (not fan). Line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper.
  7. Take the pastry out of the fridge and using a very sharp knife, slice at about 5 mm thickness and place with the cut side down on the lined baking sheets. Don't be tempted to pace them too closely together, they will expand sideways, so leave lots of space between them.
  8. Bake until they start getting golden brown, then remove and carefully transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Some ovens might not bake too evenly, in which case you may need to carefully flip them half-way through baking.
  9. These are best served on the same day as they are baked, and must be stored in an airtight container, so they don't pick up moisture from the air and go soft.

The really fatal mistake I made with the first puff pastry sheet was that I rolled the sugar into the pastry. This almost completely destroyed the lamination and the palmiers didn't expand the way they're supposed to. Instead they became like regular biscuits in a weird shape. Here is what it looked like:
IMG_5267
Really not nice at all. Luckily my family aren't too fussy, and gobbled them up, because they were tasty.

Searching for ideas on this, it seems that mixing the sugar with cinnamon or cocoa will give interesting patterns and adding some finely chopped nuts on the inside would work well too.

I also have some vague memories of watching one of Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa shows, where she made palmiers up to the point of baking. She then stacked them, I think with baking paper in between and froze, ready to be baked from frozen. A very nice idea, that I need to try out.

A further thought is also that the palmiers don't have to be sweet, they could be made with grated cheese instead, another idea to try out.

12 March 2017

Nettle Soup

Spring is coming in big strides now and the few spare hours I have at week-ends when it's daylight is to experience some despair in that I stand no chance of getting on top of all the weeds. But I have my special favourites that do get priority - the rhubarb bed is one of them and as I cleared them out, I noticed that there were a lot of nettles around, so decided to try my hand at nettle soup.

IMG_5285

A quick browse, combined with not having potatoes in the house, made me settle for this one, which turned out pretty well, after some adjustments of my own.

Thus armed with a very thick plastic bag and my thick leather gloves (very good for brambles!), I wandered through the farthest and shadiest corners of the garden and took off all the nettle tips and a few of the smaller leaves. Volume-wise, I'd say I had about 3 litres of the stuff, per weight, I barely reached 200 g. But there was no injury involved anywhere.

Ingredients

4 tbsp pearl barley
200 g nettles - tips and tender top leaves only
1 medium onion
30 g butter
1 handful of wild garlic
1 tbsp chopped parsley
25 g chives
600 ml chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

To serve
Swedish meatballs
Labneh or strained Greek yoghurt

Method

  1. Measure up the pearl barley in a small saucepan, add plenty of water and set to cook as per instructions on the packet.
  2. Wash the nettles thoroughly, then steam for about 10 minutes until they have wilted, but still remain dark green.
  3. Peel and dice the onion coarsely, then melt the butter in a frying pan, let it start going golden, then add the onion.
  4. Stir the onion to get it coated with the butter, then turn down the heat and let fry gently until it goes translucent. Stir occasionally.
  5. Transfer the nettles into a deep casserole, add the garlic, parsley and chives. Pour over the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Remove the casserole from the heat and carefully blend the nettle soup until smooth. Season to taste.
  7. When the pearl barley is ready, drain it well, then stir into the smooth soup along with the fried onions.
  8. Serve with a topping of your choice, like Swedish meatballs and labneh or strained Greek yogurt.
IMG_5287

This turned out quite nice, even if it was a quite un-appetising dark green. I did make one mistake in adding a whole litre of stock, rather than 600 ml and this made the soup too thin for my liking. It combined very nicely with Swedish meatballs and a couple of spoons of the labneh I made the other day. I think more wild garlic would be good too.

12 February 2017

Butter cookies

It's been ages since I've cooked anything new to put on the blog. The long Christmas break I was expecting didn't turn out as long and my to-do list is now shifting to later and later in the year.

IMG_5257

But I have a new job and I'm still working out a routine for everything. I've also picked up two new hobbies - knitting and crocheting. My Sister Bib got me started over the holidays, she's been crocheting for years. I now have several projects on the go, with Lundulph smiling bemused and wondering how long this fad will last.

I also want to start taking something to work, my new colleagues take turns in bringing cakes in to the team meetings. I pushed in last week and brought in some Swedish cinnamon buns, which did go down a treat and a couple of colleagues even asked for the recipe. Following on this success and feeling the urge to use my cookie press, I did a quick search on the internet and found this recipe for butter cookies, which seemed rather good. Here, the amounts converted to metric.

Ingredients

6.32 dl plain flour
¼ tsp salt
227 g butter at room temperature
2.37 dl white caster sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
sprinkles and icing for decoration

Method

  1. Place 2 - 3 baking sheets in the freezer to chill.
  2. In a bowl, stir together the flour and salt.
  3. In another large bowl, cream together the butter and caster sugar until fluffy.
  4. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract.
  5. Stir in the flour/salt mixture, just enough to combine.
  6. Form the dough into a ball and wrap in cling film, then place in the fridge for 1 h to chill.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C and prepare the cookie press with the pattern of your choice.
  8. Take the dough out of the fridge and fill the cookie press.
  9. Take a chilled sheet from the freezer and stamp it full of cookies. Do not use baking paper or grease the sheet or the cookies won't stick.
  10. Bake in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes until golden brown, then remove and immediately transfer to a cooling rack and replace the sheet in the freezer.
  11. Repeat with the other chilled trays until the dough has been used up.
  12. Decorate with icing and sprinkles of your choice - some sprinkles can be done before baking, some after, in which case they'll require icing to stick.