Friday, 13 December 2013

Soft Ginger Cookies

I don't think I've mentioned it before on this here blog, but for a couple of years I've been attempting to participate in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, only for my plans to be foiled by some sort of obstacle, which, despite all beign my own fault, had caused many an evening of despair.

This year, however, was different. As soon as I got an email saying it was coming soon, I set up daily reminder emails (desperate times call for desperate measures), which by no means stopped me from leaving it until midnight on the last day, but did end up working! And so I found myself, amid the stress of beginning a new school year (teachers to impress! folders to buy!) searching for a delicious, christmassy but not tooo christmassy for early December, cookie recipe to bake.

These are the ones I chose, based on a Joy of Baking recipe, and I'm very glad I did. They're delicious and a really nice texture, somewhere between a softer gingerbread and a rock-hard gingernut (it's not my recipe anyway so I'm not going to count this as self-flattery). They're also dead-easy, which was a priority because YEAR ELEVEN (ahhh it scares me just to say it!).

I packaged them up prettily (and securely) as I could, and then totally forgot to photograph them in their boxes which sucks a little :( But you can glimpse the cute little IKEA bags I put them in a photo Erika took of them when they arrived here.

They were sent to Erika from Erika Rax, Faaiza from Modest Munchies and Fatima from Fati's Recipes, and fingers crossed they all arrived ok!

I received cookies too, and I can't in words explain the excitement I felt, sweltering hot after the walk home from the train after school, to see not one but two (!!!) parcels sitting on my door step just for me! Then, just when I'd forgotten, the last ones came, and it happened all over again. My cookies were these scrumptious Peanut Butter Choc-Chip cookies from Cassie, these delicious Espresso meringues with Chocolate and Almond and some amazing Double Choc Cookies with Hazelnuts from Fatima. I loved them all (as did my family, who I have begrudgingly shared with)!

Soft Ginger Cookies
Adapted from:

1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (210 grams) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) liquid molasses
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups (345 grams) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
200g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
1 cup (200 grams) brown sugar (for covering the cookie balls before baking)

1. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 - 3 minutes). Add the molasses, egg whites, and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
2. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until well combined. Add the crystallised ginger and stir until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
3. Cover the batter with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 60 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350˚F) . Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place about 1 cup (200 grams) of white granulated sugar in a medium sized bowl.
5. When the dough has chilled sufficiently, roll into 1 inch (2.5 cm) balls. Then roll the balls of dough into the sugar, coating them thoroughly. Place on the baking sheet, spacing about 5cm (2 inches) apart and, with the bottom of a glass, flatten the cookies slightly.
6. Bake for about 8 - 10 minutes or until the cookies are firm but are still a little soft in the centers. (The longer the cookies bake, the more crisp they will be.) Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Enjoy! I'm off to have a morning coffee and cookie, but how will I ever decide which one?
Mia :)

P.S. What time is it? Summertime! Yup, school's finally out for the summer down under and so (hopefully) you'll be hearing a bit more from me in the next 6 weeks. I can't wait!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Pasta Omelette

For me, lunch is rarely an elaborate meal. During the week, I'll pack myself lunch- leftovers or a sandwich or maybe a salad if I'm feeling inspired- but I tend to leave it until the moment before I go to bed, when I'm tired and exhausted and certainly won't be found researching recipes or experimenting in the kitchen. You would think I'd learn, you really would, but it just gets worse and worse as I go on, until it's the morning and I'm about to miss my train and I end up with a muesli bar and an apple because there's not even time to open the fridge.

Then the weekend begins, usually with plans of fresh baked bread rolls or a slow morning spent labouring over a delicious hot meal. Then I realise it's actually 3:30 PM on Saturday and I'm starving, so it's usually leftover home-made pizza or a quick wrap and those grand plans go out the window. Last Sunday, however, I somehow got my act together with a good 1/2 hour until total starvation, and so I grabbed the first cookbook I saw and got to work.

The book was "Meat Free Mondays" by Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney, which I adore- I cook from it every now and again but Mum cooks a dinner from the book weekly, a meal I always eagerly anticipate. The book has a vegetarian menu plan for every Monday of the year, organised by season, and each day usually has breakfast, lunch, dinner, a side and a dessert. This was a lunch from the spring section, and it's exactly the kind of recipe the book advertises itself as containing- quick, seasonal, achievable vegetarian food.

The recipe struck me as bizarre at first, but when I thought about it I realised that it was pretty similar to lots of meals I love- it's practically a cross between an omelette and macaroni and cheese, and it's really delicious. They described 'slicing' it like a cake, however mine was a little too soft for that, but it was fine served just as regular pasta out of a bowl. Next time, like in almost everything, I think a little baby spinach would be a good addition, but it was perfectly tasty with just the tomatoes and would go with almost any vegetable you have on hand.

Spaghetti Omelette
Source: "Meat Free Mondays" by Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney

3 eggs
150g spaghetti
 60g butter
3 Tbsp freshly grated vegetarian parmesan*
3 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley
5 ripe tomatoes, roughly diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
2. Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water. Drain, return to the pan, and quickly stir in 35g of the butter, the parmesan and the parsley, then add to the bowl with the eggs and stir to coat spaghetti
3. Preheat the grill. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan, and, when foaming, add half the egg and spaghetti mixture and spread level
4. Top with the tomato and then cover with the remaining spaghetti mixture. Cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until almost set
5. Transfer to a hot grill for a further 3-4 minutes until golden. Scoop onto plates and enjoy! Serves 3

Mia :)

*Many cheese contain rennet. Some rennets contain meat, but most cheeses should specify the origin of the particular rennet they used

Chocolate Nut Smoothie

This is the best smoothie I have ever tasted. Ever. Enough said.

Sugar Free Chocolate Nut Smoothie

German chocolate cake smoothie
1/4 cup cold water
3/4 cup organic coconut milk
2 Tbs cacao powder
6 almonds
1/2 frozen banana
3 medjool dates, pitted
1/2 tsp pure vanilla essence
Handful of ice
  1. Whizz until smooth.
  2. Pour and enjoy!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Wholemeal Tomato and Herb Focaccia

Today I posted over at Teenage Cakeland! It was lots of fun getting to post somewhere else for a change, and the focaccia was a real hit with all the family (even the dog, who jumped up on the table and stole two, TWO slices while I was out of the room for approximately one fifteenth of a second!)

To check it out, go here:

Mia :)

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Wholemeal Apple Hot Cross Buns

This week is super duper exciting; easter, for one, but (more importantly) my birthday! I'm not normally too insanely enthusiastic for birthdays, but this year with the added perk of it being on good friday (=first day of a 4 day weekend) I can't help myself! So if I've mentioned my birthday to you approximately 4 bajillion times in the last month, I do apologise.

But even if you haven't got a birthday coming up, there's plenty to get excited about easter-wise! Long weekend aside, there's all that chocolate! Today I did a mini 'kris kringle'  thing with some friends at school where we all got each other chocolate and boy! was it fun! I've been happily muching away on my eggs all day, and I carefully saved my little bunnies for later (though the 30 degree heat uhhh... helped with that). And even without chocolate, there's hot cross buns to look forward too!

This was my first time making hot cross buns, and it was super duper easy. In the middle of their rise I suddenly decided to meet a friend for impromptu lunch and shopping, and they still turned out, so I think you could pretty-much put this recipe under the 'never-fail' category. The apple was lovely on it's own, but if you wanted to add other dried fruit for a more traditional or completely unique bun, why not?! The only change that I'll make next time is I think I'll use a different cross mixture- I just combined flour and water but they were a bit pale for my liking, so there's no cross recipe included here but I think any icing or even melted chocolate would be wonderful! Otherwise though, these were perfect. And surprisingly healthy actually- there's only a little honey and they're wholemeal too! So I don't know about you, but intend to use these to counteract all the chocolate ;)

Mia x

Wholemeal Apple Hot Cross Buns
Based on:

220g whole-wheat flour
50 g rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried yeast
125 ml (1/2 cup) milk
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract or 1/2 of paste
60 ml (1/4 cup) macadamia nut oil or olive oil
2 free range / organic egg, lightly beaten
1 apple, diced

1. Put the apple in a bowl, then microwave for 30 seconds to a minute to soften it slightly. Mix the wholemeal flour, oats, cinnamon, yeast and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl.
2. Warm the milk, vanilla and honey in the microwave just a little until just slightly warm, then pour into the mixing bowl along with 1 of the eggs and the oil.
3. Mix the dough for about 6 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Add the apple and mix through.
4. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth or glad wrap and leave the dough to double in size in a warm place for about 1 hour.
5. Knock back the dough and tip in onto your  working bench. Knead a little then shape into 10-12 rolls. Preheat your oven to 160 C. Cover lightly and allow to rise for another 30 minutes or until double in size.
6. Brush lightly with the second egg and bake for 20 minutes until golden. Cool, then if you like pipe a cross made from icing or chocolate on top. Enjoy! Makes 10-12 hot cross buns
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