Category Archives: Baking

Vegan, Gluten Free, No-Bake Apricot Slice

piha-2Last week I went on the second “Girl’s Road Trip” with my BFF. Last year we went to Napier which is on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island. So this year we decided to go to the west coast…..Raglan. Everyone I spoke to said that there was nothing to Raglan but a few shops and surfing, so we were on a mission to prove them wrong!

Well, we can confirm that there is definitely more to Raglan than just surfing…..in the 4 days we were there we went shopping in the various lovely boutique shops, visited a local glass lampworking artist, had our tarot cards read, visited Bridal Veil Falls, rode horses on the beach, went to local markets and my friend went for a surfing lesson……

So, the following Friday BFF phones me and says she’s got this great plan…..her hubby is away, so she’ll come pick me up, drive me and her four year old child for an hour to a beach that is forecasted to have great surf…and I can mind said child while she practises her newly acquired skills. I’m obviously a soft touch because I agreed to get up early on a Saturday morning and postpone all the things that I had planned for the day.

We arrive at notorious Piha beach on Auckland’s west coast – it is rated as New Zealand’s most dangerous beach because of its strong rips and therefore high number of rescues and sadly, deaths. Fortunately (as far as I was concerned), BFF was told that the surf was up so much that morning that even the experienced surfers weren’t out. So, change of plan……cup of coffee and cake in the local café and a walk along the beach to look at the massive crashing waves.

captureTo accompany her coffee, BFF ordered a vegan, gluten-free, raw apricot and coconut slice. I nicked a piece to try…YUM! So, when I finally got home that day, I immediately googled for recipes and found one that I had all the ingredient for. It only took about 15 minutes to make and is a yummy guilt free snack. I see that the website also had a Mango and Coconut version, which I might try next time.

You can find the recipes here.

Afghan Biscuits

AfghanSince I’m a New Zealander, eating Afghan biscuits was a pretty normal experience growing up.  I’d never really given the biscuit much thought; I’ve made dozens of them over the years, and eaten plenty too.  Today I actually Googled “Afghan” and was surprised to discover that it is a New Zealand ‘invented’ biscuit.

According to Wikipedia:

An Afghan biscuit is a traditional New Zealand biscuit made from flour, butter, cornflakes, sugar and cocoa powder, topped with chocolate icing and a half walnut. The recipe has a high proportion of butter, and relatively low sugar, and no leavening (rising agent), giving it a soft, dense and rich texture, with crunchiness from the cornflakes, rather than from a high sugar content. The high butter content gives a soft melt-in-the-mouth texture, and the sweetness of the icing offsets the low sugar and the cocoa bitterness.

I’ve always used the recipe in the Edmond’s Cookery book, but today I used a different recipe that did actually have baking powder in it; so it seems that some recipes do have a rising agent in them.  They are quite quick and easy to make (assuming you like creaming butter and sugar) and kids love them!

Afghans

Ingredients

  • 200gm butter
  • ½ C sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 C plain flour
  • 2 T cocoa
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 ½ C crushed cornflakes (lightly crushed before measuring)

Preheat oven to 180oC. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy, then add the vanilla. Mix in the flour, cocoa and baking powder, then stir in the cornflakes.

Place heaped teaspoonful’s of mixture onto the baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before icing.

 Icing

  • 60gm butter
  • 4 T boiling water
  • 1 ½ C icing sugar
  • ¼ C cocoa
  • Walnut halves to decorate

To make the icing, melt the butter in the boiling water then mix in the cocoa and icing sugar until smooth. Spread over the cooled biscuits and top with a walnut half.

 

 

ANZAC Biscuits

ANZAC BiscuitsWhat else would you make on ANZAC Day?  I looked in a couple of recipe books and they all seem to have the same ingredients, just different quantities.  They are REALLY quick and easy to make so a great option for kids.

I followed this recipe, except that the version I had didn’t include the raisins and almonds.

UPDATE:  I found another recipe that I now prefer.  It’s got twice as much Oats and so doesn’t spread as thin as the other recipe.  Just a personal choice really 🙂  I also threw in some sultanas which worked out great!

For those of you who don’t what ANZAC Day is about for New Zealand, Anzac Day occurs on 25 April. It commemorates all New Zealanders killed in war and also honours returned servicemen and women.

Lest we ForgetThe date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. The aim was to capture the Dardanelles, the gateway to the Bosphorus and the Black Sea. At the end of the campaign, Gallipoli was still held by its Turkish defenders.

Thousands lost their lives in the Gallipoli campaign: 87,000 Turks, 44,000 men from France and the British Empire, including 8500 Australians.  Among the dead were 2779 New Zealanders, about a fifth of those who served on Gallipoli.

My Great Grandfather’s first cousin, William Copland (a.k.a. William Thaxter) was killed 8th August 1915, aged 31, in Chunuk Bair, Gallipoli, Turkey.

 

 

Rhubarb Pie

20150228_184237My rhubarb patch has been going crazy these past few weeks!  Maybe the combination of the heat, humidity and odd rain shower is just what it like the most.  Oh, and the sheep pellets that hubby puts down.  He wanted to put more pellets down so I said I’d pick a bunch of stalks so that he could at least see where he was putting the pellets.  I’d already frozen the last bunch I’d picked so figured I really should do something with this batch.  I’ve been battling a head cold the past week so felt like something ‘homely’ that reminded me of my mother who lives too far away to delivery such treats to my front door.

It has to be said that the food that always reminds me of my mother is roast chicken and rhubarb pie.  It’s just simply one of those meals that was a staple in my childhood.  The fact that my mother makes the BEST pastry probably help!  Needless to say, I felt like making a pie; something I haven’t done in years.

I normally follow my mother’s pastry recipe, which doesn’t have any egg in it.  It’s a simple butter/flour recipe, but I decided to try something different this time.  Below is the recipe I used for the pastry:

Pastry

300g plain flour
2 Tbsp caster sugar
180g cold butter, cut into cubes
1 egg
1 or 2 Tbsp water, if needed

Place the flour, sugar and butter in a kitchen whizz and blitz until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add the egg, and blend to form a soft dough.  Add water if needed.  Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

I don’t know how much filling I made….enough that looked like it would fill the pie dish?  I had an apple in the fruit bowl so I peeled and chopped that and threw it in too.  You can read my earlier post to see how to cook the rhubarb here.

Roll two-thirds of the pastry out to line your pie dish (I used a 23cm one).  I pre-lined the dish with baking paper.  Blind bake for about 15 minutes at 180oC or until pastry is almost cooked.  Roll the remaining pastry out into a square and cut 1cm lengths.  Fill pie with filling and then lay the lengths of pastry on top.  Brush with a little milk, and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar.  Return to the oven for 20 minutes, till the pastry is golden.

Yum!  Serve with ice-cream, cream or custard.  This pie is delicious hot or cold.

 

 

Torching of a different kind

Creme BruleeNormally when I am using a torch, it’s one that is burning at nearly 3000deg, and I’m using it to melt glass.  But not today.

Over the Christmas holidays I bought a SCANPAN Chef’s Blow Torch & Creme Brulee Set and today I finally used it.  I used the recipe that came with the set, but substituted Lime with Lemon.  This is the first time I’ve made a Brulee and unfortunately things didn’t quite go to plan; namely that I over beat my eggs.  Instead of making them “soft and creamy” I whipped them to be “soft and fluffy”.  Essentially they had too much air in them.  Luckily it wasn’t a complete disaster and the custard turned out smooth and yummy…it just had a ‘bubbly’ skin on the top which I scrapped off.

Creme Brulee TorchWhen it came to using the torch to make the hard caramel on top I just used caster sugar since I didn’t have the types of sugar in the recipe.  My first attempt burnt our trial Brulee (luckily we had one!).  Since it was just a trial one I pulled off the burnt caramel and I gave it another go.  It was a bit of fun, and I will get to show off my new skill this evening when we have dinner and dessert with our neighbours!

Rhubarb and Orange Slice

Rhubarb and Orange sliceWith Summer on it’s way my rhubarb patch is in full swing!  Yay!  I had some oranges in the fruit bowl so decided to whip up a yummy rhubarb and orange slice.  It’s a delicious combination!

Rhubarb and Orange Slice

Ingredients

130gm butter softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 eggs beaten
Zest of 1 Orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cornflour
200g rhubarb finely diced rhubarb (about 1cm)

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 deg C (350 deg F). Grease and line a 23cm square cake tin.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, beating after each one
  • Beat in the vanilla and zest
  • Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix in until mixture is smooth.
  • Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and smooth out flat with a palette knife.
  • Toss cornflour with the rhubarb and scatter over the top of the batter. Lightly press the rhubarb into the mixture.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until firm and golden brown. Leave to cool slightly then turn out to cool on a wire rack.

Delicious Home Made Muesli

MuesliThis might sound a bit weird, but over Winter I have been eating Muesli for lunch at work.  I try to take my lunch to work most days and had been getting a bit bored with what I was putting together (considering I’m not a morning person).  I had recently made some of my own muesli so started taking some in a little container, with another larger container with natural Greek yoghurt and some honey in it.  I mix the two together for a quick healthy lunch.

Below is how I make the muesli.  I don’t really measure everything, so just use the measurements as a guideline.  I toast half of the dry ingredients, but that is optional (or you could toast all of it).  I get most of the below from the bulk section in the supermarket, so check out what else your local store has that you might find yummy to add.

  • 4 C Wholemeal Oats
  • ½ C Cocoanut Thread
  • ½ C Pumpkin seeds
  • ½ C Sunflower seeds
  • 1 C Bran
  • ¼ – ½ C Currants
  • ¼ – ½ C Raisins
  • ¼ – ½ C Sultanas
  • ¼ – ½ C Dried Cranberries
  • 6 x Dried Apricots, chopped
  • 3 x Dried Nectarines, chopped
  • 3 x Dried Peaches, chopped

Put half of the first five ingredients into a roasting dish and bake in the oven at 100degC for 45-60 minutes.  When cooled, mixed in with the remaining ingredients.