Archives for category: Baking

The beloved mother of one of my dearest friends passed away yesterday evening. It was expected for the past week but so sad. What was amazing was that she left on the date of her cherished late husband’s birthday. Their deep love had sustained them and their families for a long long time and she never seemed the same after he passed. I’m thinking of them together again.

Here is a picture of her and my friend at the Joyous-Crocodile wedding in February 2012.

Tomorrow Joyous and I will travel to the city to spend some time with my friend, and her boys who are two of my god-sons and are 10 years and 3 months old.

In Maori culture it’s traditional to take food whenever you visit someone, at this time it’s particularly important as the whanau (family) will be hosting many many visitors as people come to pay their respects.

This dear friend of mine is loved very much not only by us two but also by Joyous’ brother. So to remind her of his love, (he is presently at home in the Caribbean), and our love for her, I have baked a batch of Caribbean themed cookies.

The recipe is actually adapted from an old kids recipe book that I had as a child, although I never remember baking these biscuits (aka cookies) back then. They are now a firm favourite with the wife, especially since I thought to add the lime.

Coconut Lime Cookies

Ingredients:

100g butter

1 C sugar (I use raw sugar)

1 egg

1 C flour

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

Approximately half a lime (zest and juice)

2 C coconut thread

Method:

Cream butter and sugar, then add the egg and beat together.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together then sift them into the wet mixture.

Add the lime zest and juice. I buy limes when they are in season then freeze them. To use, take the frozen lime and micro plane it all, ( skin, pith and flesh), into the mixture.

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Stir it together with a fork, try not to over mix. This will be quite a thick mixture already.

Add the coconut thread (yes two cups is the right amount!), then stir it all together gently. It will be very stiff.

Roll teaspoon sized amounts of dough between your palms to form small balls and place approximately 4cm apart on a baking tray, preferably lined with baking paper. Do not press flat.

(This photograph is of a tiny tray for our teeny oven, you should get a lot more on a tray and not need to make 3 batches!)

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Bake for approximately 8-12 minutes in an oven which has been preheated to 180 degrees celsius. (My oven has no temperature gauge, so it’s a matter of watching them until they are just turning golden brown.)

For chewy cookies remove when they first go golden coloured, for crisp ones leave them a minute or two longer. They are delicious either way.

Allow to cool on a rack then store in an airtight container. I have no idea how long they might last as they always go in the first 2 days in our household.

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Kitchenalia notes:

Small flour sieve purchased from the Matakana Op Shop in 2012. Flour tin (largest of 3 matching vegetable tins), purchased from a street market in K’Road in 1995 (yes I’ve been schlepping them from house to house to house to house since I was about 18 years old). Teeny speckled baking tray luckily came with our teeny oven that doesn’t fit hardly any other baking dishes. Perfect metal spatula bought from a Matakana ‘Top Market’ vintage stall in 2012 (purchase inspired by years of using a matching one of my mothers as a child).

…And all things nice…It’s a girl!

Joyous and I are very happy with our new arrival – an English Mastiff, Shar Pei x puppy.

She’s called Fidél (meaning ‘loyal’ in French / Patois), and is a sweet wee girl.

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So in celebration of two weeks of having her I decided to bake something that included sugar and spice and all things nice. (Actually that’s totally an excuse, I just felt like making something yummy for the wife and I.)

A long while ago I wrote about the delicious apple pie my wife made. (I freely admit it’s been a long while since I wrote any thing on here!)

Here’s an adaption of that pie, adding rhubarb fresh from our soggy winter garden and leaving out the usual raisins.

The original recipe was from the delicious cookbook- Momma Cherri’s Soul in a Bowl by Charita Jones.

Spiced Apple & Rhubarb Pie

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(Supposedly serves 6-8, or 2 people every night for a week!)

Ingredients:

6 stalks of rhubarb
Approximately 4-6 (preferably) green apples (enough to be about 2/3 apples to 1/3 rhubarb)
115g butter
75g soft brown sugar
75g sugar (I used raw but original recipe called for caster)
1 Tbsp cornflour
2-3 cinnamon sticks or 1-2 tsps cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
2 sheets of sweet short pastry (sometimes Joyous makes pastry but we think store brought pastry is just fine)

Method:

Cut the rhubarb into evenly sized pieces.

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Core the apples, leave skins on. I usually slice into thick slices but as I was using the rhubarb this time I cut them into similar sized pieces. (I’d probably leave the rhubarb a bit larger next time it doesn’t cook down quite so much.)

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Put them into a pot and add all of the other ingredients (except the pastry duh).

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The three key ingredients are the cinnamon sticks, freshly grated nutmeg and the vanilla extract, best quality makes a big difference. We use Doria’s special stash of St Lucian cinnamon bark and nutmegs.

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Put the pot on a low heat and let the butter slowly melt, stir it together to ensure the cornflour mixes in well. I cook it down till the consistency looks right for a pie…but overcooked this batch, (distracted by Miss 8 Weeks), so the rhubarb turned to mush. Never mind, it’s delicious mush. But next time I’d cook it for a shorter time.

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Line the pie tin with baking paper then lay in the first sheet of pastry, cutting the edges to line right up the sides.

Pour in the wet mixture and use the other sheet to cover the top of the pie.

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(As my mixture was quite dangerously near the top of the pie I cut some extra paper and tucked it down between the tin and the existing paper to prevent it from overflowing during cooking. Or you could simply put it on a tray.)

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Place in an oven preheated to 190 degrees Celsius, (so says the original recipe, my oven has no temperature gauge so I just watch it closely). Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

Serve with fresh pouring cream, vanilla ice cream or au naturale.

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Vintage kitchenalia notes:

Blue spotted ‘Grimwades of Stoke on Kent’ plate (1 of 2) purchased for $2 from a car boot sale in 2013.

Pie dish purchased from a garage sale (yard sale) circa 2010.

Pale green ‘Crown Lynn NZ’ desert bowl, one of a set of 12 pieces for $10 purchased at the Red Cross Glen Eden op shop in 2013. Silver desert fork (one of a boxed set of six) purchased at a Mt Albert church fair circa 2009.

My love and I went to the local farmers market this morning and purchased some fantastic locally grown, spray free / organic fruit & vegetables and free range eggs. On the way home we called in to some friends who gave us a giant cray. So we’ve pre cooked that and are ready to make either a gumbo (my pick), or crayfish mornay. Joyous’ brother made bread today, so that’s Sunday lunch sorted.

The market haul included:
Free range eggs (& a freakishly giant hen egg that lovely Judy popped in for free), kumara (sweet potatoes), peruperu Maori potatoes, coriander (cilantro), limes, pears, avocados, pumpkin (a Provence variety…I’m thinking risotto), kale & chillies. Plus a few roses from the people that we got our wedding ones from.

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Excitingly for me, we also visited the local Opportunity Shop (charity shop), where I bought this awesome vintage Swiss biscuit maker (forcer). It’s appropriately made in the town of Lessobo hehe.

I saw it there on Easter weekend but didn’t know what it was. Then perusing my trusty 50’s Edmonds cookbook last week, I saw one pictured. To my surprise it was still at the shop today.

The wife sweetly said I could buy it, (being well familiar with my love of vintage kitchenalia) and I got it for about $5, thinking it was likely to be missing lots of parts. (The ‘about’ $5 is because I picked up a few other bits and pieces as well!) But when I looked it up online I was stoked to see it’s only missing one small piping attachment for making teeny lines. So yay! An early birthday present for me.

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You can use them for making biscuits (cookies), piping icing and making cute meringues. Oh and piping mashed potato, but I don’t see myself doing that.

Tomorrow I’m thinking of making prettily piped Melting Moments, with a zesty lime filling. Yum yum.

Ohh and finally, the friends who gave us the crayfish let me take some cuttings of their gorgeous hibiscus. I’ve potted them up and put them in our glass house. Hope they grow as the flowers are stunning!

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(Hand included for scale.)

Here’s some pictures of the stalls we shopped at today in the farmers market & a couple we like to shop at, plus our fav local coffee haunt that’s conveniently located near the market. (I’ll make them into a proper slideshow tomorrow as I can’t do that from my phone.)

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Here in Aotearoa (New Zealand), it’s feijoa season. These little guava-ish delights are a staple autumnal crop and most kiwi backyard has a tree or two. They give abundant crops year after year and you can easily gather a supermarket bag full every day if you have a decent sized tree. I’ve heard that in the US, (California?), they are called Pineapple Guava’s. Anyone there know of them?

Here at our little organic rural utopia we have approximately 10-12 trees. So every year we have to scramble to come up with new ways to use them.

Last year Joyous & I made the following:
Feijoa Loaf
Feijoa & Date Ginger Loaf
Feijoa & Ginger Ice Cream
Feijoa & Date & Chilli Chutney
Indian Spice Feijoa Chutney
Preserved Feijoas & Apples
Feijoa Syrup
Dehydrated Feijoas

The following recipe is from a great local foodie site and I’ve just slightly adapted it to our tastes. The only time consuming thing is that you have to cool down the syrup after boiling before you add the egg. So you need to prepare it well before you want to cook it. I just realized today that if you are in a hurry, a good way to get round that would be to use something like Organ ‘No-Egg’ substitute. Or, you could try adding an egg sized amount of mashed banana instead of the egg. I just made the syrup yesterday then put it aside and finished it today.

Another option, if you can’t find feijoas is to use pears or kiwifruit instead.

Autumnal Feijoa Ginger Loaf

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Ingredients:

1 C Feijoa (peeled & diced)
1/3 C Sultanas
1/2 C Dates
50g Butter
150g Brown Sugar
250ml Boiling Water
1 inch knob of Fresh Ginger

2 C Flour (make the cups heaped as you want 270g)
1 Tbsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda

1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

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Method:

Peel and dice the feijoa (I left them in quite big chunks but dice them more finely if you prefer). Put them in a small pot with the chopped up dates, sultanas, butter and brown sugar. Zest in (or finely grate) a good amount of fresh ginger. Gently bring it to the boil then simmer on low for 5 mins.

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Then allow it cool right down.

Sift the flour, ground ginger, baking powder and soda together into a large mixing bowl. Stir well to mix in the soda & powder.

Add more zested ginger to the wet mixture if you want it to be quite spicy. Beat the egg and vanilla in a cup and add them to wet mixture as well, stir, then pour it into the dry ingredients.

Mix well to combine but do not over do it as you want it to be nice and light.

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Pour it into a loaf tin lined with baking paper, crumpling it up first makes it easier to get it sitting right in the tin (thanks for the hint ScarletRosita!).

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Bake for approximately 45 minutes at 180 celcius (350 Fahrenheit). If you have an unreliable oven like me and it cooks on the top first before the centre is done, cover it with foil after 15 mins. But leave the oven closed for the first 15 mins or it may not raise properly.

Test it with a skewer to see when it’s ready. Leave in the tin for at least 10mins to cool, covered with a clean tea towel.

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Serve just as it is, or hot with feijoa ice cream, or spread with some butter if you wish, although it’s very moist so you won’t need it.

Goes perfectly with a chaise lounge, your lover, a cup of Earl Grey tea, some autumn sunshine and a good book.

Yesterday I made my love one of her favourite sweet treats…a very old school Kiwi kids recipe. We call them Honey Rice Bubble Bickies. I wasn’t going to post it here as I figure the NZers amongst you are probably starting to get bored of me posting recipes that you already know. However I had the recipe requested by some US friends, so I will post it after all.

The wife and I have been having a hard week, and so to show her a little bit of love I decided to make her a batch as a surprise. The recipe only takes 3 mins of actual cooking, so it’s easy to prepare if she pops out for a wee while.

Yesterday afternoon she left me sitting on the couch in the sun reading blogs on my phone, and went off to do some writing, which I knew meant I had at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. When she returned from writing she found me in exactly the same position, in the sun, playing on my phone.

Little did she know that I’d been up, made a batch, done all the dishes, put them away again, aired the house (as the delicious honey caramel smell is obvious), put them in the tin I always use, cut love heart paper dividers, placed the full tin back up on the shelf, rechecked for any evidence, then planted self back on couch with one minute to spare before she arrived back.

So here’s my recipe for my go-to Sweets for my sweet, Sugar for my honey…

Honey Rice Bubble Bickies

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Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons of honey
125g butter
125g brown sugar
4 Cups rice bubbles

 

Method:

Put honey, preferably Manuka, into a medium sized or smallish pot (you don’t want too much surface area). Add butter. I like salted butter for that slightly salt/sweet taste. Also add the brown sugar.

Melt gently over a low heat then bring to boil. Once boiling turn the heat down to simmer but high enough to keep the bubbles forming but not bursting. This bit is the important bit! As soon as the mixture begins to boil, press start on a timer set for 3 minutes. Boil it too high or any longer and it will make the biscuit too crunchy. Too short or not hot enough and the biscuit won’t set just right.

While it boils, quickly measure 4 Cups of rice bubbles into a bowl and get a spatula ready. Also get a flat dish, approximately 20cm across and line it with greaseproof paper. It might be a good idea to get this all ready before you start heating the mixture.

The second you hear the timer go, turn off heat and tip the hot mixture into the rice bubbles and stir it in immediately. Use the spatula to get the last of the honey goodness out of the pot, seriously, you don’t want to miss a smidgen of it!

Stir well then tip into the dish, press down firmly with the back of the spatula, then cut with a knife after about 5mins once it has set slightly. Don’t leave it too long.

Air out the house as the delicious smell will be a dead giveaway.

Then fill a tin and hide it in full view on the shelf so your sweetie doesn’t know anything different. That way you can bust it out to surprise them at an opportune moment.

Perfect with coffee or a spicy tea. Oh, and kids quite like it too!

 

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Hidden very carefully

 

Notes on storing: Keep it airtight and cool if you live somewhere hot, so the butter doesn’t go rancid. Put paper in between the layers to avoid it all sticking together.

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Love comes in layers

Sorry for the lack of updates. We’ve had terrible internet problems and I have not been able to use internet at home, so this blog has suffered.

I’ve been taking some photos as we cook, so I have a few ideas up my sleeve for future posts, but if you could request a recipe… would it be for something sweet or savoury?

Definitely coming up soon will be the recipe for an amazing Spicy Apple Pie recipe that the wife adapted from a few different recipes last week. I didn’t take any photos though so we will have to make it again. But shhhhh don’t tell the family that or they will want to share.

PS – the title of this post has the Bad Babysitter song running through my head. Thank goodness she doesn’t have a cooking blog. (Not entirely suitable for work / children although I don’t remember any actual swearing or nudity – the wife is on a work call behind me so I can’t preview it…you’ll just have to be brave.)

Nearly every NZ’er has an Edmonds Cookbook. It’s the classic ‘going flatting’ gift that your mother or aunt or nana gives you. (Flatting is what my American readers would call getting an apartment I guess).

I grew up baking from this book. It contains all the Kiwiana classics such as Chocolate Afghans, Scones, Pavlova, Sponge Cake etc. I just stick to the baking from it though as the old versions also include some classic examples of cuisine such as Aspic Salad and Mock Chicken. (The book has had 57 reprints so the more modern ones don’t have all the same old recipes.)

The copy of the book that I use is extremely well used. I think it is the only thing I was given when my much loved (but tyrannical to everyone else) Great-Grandmother died. She was in her 80’s and named Beebee as she believed she was too fabulous to be named grandma when my mother was born in the 1950’s. I believe this book is from the same era, but it arrived without a cover so I don’t know its publication date.

She loved to bake and taught me to make perfect pikelets, fabulous scones…and today’s recipe…banana cake.

Now I realise this is pretty standard fare for us Kiwi’s, but for those who don’t live in NZ, this turns out  a perfect airy banana cake every time.

The recipe calls for it to be baked in two flat ‘sandwich tins’ (and traditionally it was sandwiched together with whipped cream but I always make it in a ring tin. I prefer to ice it with a tart lemon icing, but some people prefer chocolate icing.

However, I baked them yesterday as cup cakes for a very sad reason. A wee 1 year old boy from our small local community, was run over in his driveway and died last weekend. His Mum was one of the stall holders at our local Indie Craft Market, so the market organisers ran a cake stall to raise funds for his family. I thought cupcakes was the best option as they could be sold individually. So these were:

Banana Cupcakes with Lemon Icing & Love.

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Ingredients and Method:

I’m going to cheat here and post a picture of the well-loved recipe here. Please don’t judge me, I have had this book since I was 10 and I guess it’s at least 60 years old. I’ll add notes on any small changes I make under the accompanying photographs.

It’s easiest to use an electric beater to cream the butter and sugar. I use Tiffany. She has been with me since I left home at 16. Since I already had the Edmonds book, my Mum gave me an electric mixer instead.  I still can’t believe she’s still going. (Tiffany, not my mum.) She’s my longest serving female cooking companion. And a cheap one at around $20 for the original investment!

Trusty Tiffany

Trusty Tiffany

I’m sure you know to use over ripe bananas to get the best texture and flavour. And I’m sure I don’t even need to say Free-range eggs do I now? You can make a respectable version using No-Egg (Organ is my brand of choice), and / or a margarine / olive oil type margarine. But butter is best if you aren’t vegan or dairy free.

Good NZ butter, free-range eggs & over ripe bananas

Good NZ butter, free-range eggs & over ripe bananas

I use Tiffany to beat in the eggs and banana and then set her aside to put her beaters up for a well earned rest.

A tip in relation to the milk (and yes soy milk works fine), when you measure the 2 tablespoons, add a little extra as you’ll lose some as it heats. Pictured below.

Adding about one extra teaspoons worth of milk

Adding about one extra teaspoons worth of milk

When you stir the baking soda into the milk, ensure it’s really well mixed into the milk, then gently fold it into the batter. Some people’s banana cake tastes baking soda-y and I guess they don’t mix it in well enough. But that said, don’t over mix or it will lose some of its lightness.

Folding. Gently.

Folding. Gently.

My lazy version of mixing the flour and baking powder together is to roughly stir the powder into the flour whilst it’s in the measuring cup, then sift straight into the bowl. Too much of  a hoha (annoyance) to mix into another bowl then sift into the mixing bowl.

My favourite sieve, only holds one cup but it's so cute :-)

My favourite sieve, only holds one cup  at a time but it’s so cute 🙂

Mix the batter with a spatula or wooden spoon. Make sure it’s 100% combined, but do the minimum you need to so it stays light.

Mixing gently...

Mixing gently…

Then either put in teaspoon lots into greased patty pan type ‘tins’, or put into a greased (and I usually put a wax paper ring in the bottom to avoid tears later), or follow the recipe and put it into two sandwich tins. This makes one 20cm ring tin, or 24 baby muffin / cup cakes plus some extra that I made into two small cakes for Joyous and I. Don’t overfill the holes! Just one teaspoon in each.

Batter up

Batter up

Bake as per instructions. You can tell this is an old recipe book as NZ hasn’t used Fahrenheit since the 70’s, so for you metric people – that’s about 180 C. A skewer in the top centre of the cake will tell you when it’s cooked. I prefer ever so slightly undercooked and just leave it in the pan for a around 10 minutes covered with a clean tea towel. It’s a fine line, gooey in the middle is BAD. Over cooked is blah. This cake should be moist and light.

Icing:

I used a basic icing of approx 2 C icing sugar (powdered sugar for the US readers), a good squeeze of a large juicy lemon and about 1 desert spoon of soft butter. It’s really a matter of mixing it till it looks right, and adding the lemon to taste. I like mine tart (so actually added 2 good squeezes of lemon juice.)

Sift the icing sugar first, not essential but makes sure there are no lumpy bits. Really I just wanted to use another photo of my sieve.

So pretty

Sifting prettily

Combine all ingredients and mix with a fork till stiff enough to hold together, but runny enough to spread easily.

A fork in unmixed icing

A fork in unmixed icing

A fork in mixed icing

A fork in mixed icing

I find it easiest to spoon the icing onto the cupcakes, then use a knife frequently dipped into a glass of warm water to smooth out the icing. Then I used my micro-plane to add zest to the top of the iced cupcakes and added organic edible cornflowers from our garden for colour.

And….voila!

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Ready to enjoy

Her velvety hot chilli chocolate seduced me, cornmeal porridge comforted me, hot peppers thrilled me, uses of bay, nutmeg and plantain intrigued me…
My obvious and enthusiastic appreciation for her cooking made her want to please me even more, I licked my fingers and she smiled…
I baked cakes and treats, showering her with sweet sugar loving…

I bake with precision, she creates with abandon…Together we make love with food.

When we first fell in love we quickly realized we were communicating that love through food.

That first flush of love was regularly fed and continued to grow. Now we are married and hoping to be feeding a baby sometime soon.

We’ve settled into an easy rhythm of nurturing each other, and feeding each other is still an intrinsic way of showing how we feel. As well as cooking for each other, we cook for friends and family and share recipes too. We’ll be posting about the delicious organic fruit and vegetables we grow or source locally too.

We hope you like our recipes and enjoy this insight into how we make love with food..

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