pikelets
Cakes, Community, Food, Motivational

Picky about Pikelets – Anzac Day Traditions

Princess Would it be crass to say that I am the Queen of Pikelets?

Well, I’ve said it, so if I am crass, it is because these Pikelets have won awards for many years at the Royal National Show. Seriously!  If the reactions of others are anything to go by, they really are impressive, well, as much as a pikelet can be, I suppose.  I have always kept my recipe a closely guarded secret, but today being April 25, Anzac Day; a significant, almost sacred national day for Australians and New Zealanders, (that you can read more about here), I’ve decided to spread the love that only an Aussie pikelet can do, and share this recipe with you!!

pikelets

Pikelets are very definitely entrenched as a home bake favourite in the vernacular Australian and New Zealand cuisine and are much better than the much touted Anzac biscuits, [find that recipe here] -an oh so popular wartime ‘cookie’ that entered Australian and New Zealand folklore as one of our few traditions that are uniquely our own, but today – today it is all about Pikelets!

Meanwhile, some of you are probably thinking: ” Just, what ARE Pikelets?” Right? Continue reading “Picky about Pikelets – Anzac Day Traditions”

Food

Need a Chocolate Fix? – Chewy Chocolate Slice

Need a chocolate fix in a hurry?

My quick and simple recipe can give you that hit of chocolate you are seeking! And the dark chocolate means there is added health benefits. Dark chocolate aids in preventing heart disease and, is loaded with minerals – read 7 health benefits of chocolate here. After all, we can do with a little indulgence, at times.

And chocolate is good for our mood, isn’t it?

Chewy Chocolate Slice

Chewy Chocolate Slice

1 23 cups sugar

34 cup butter, melted

(you can use margarine too, but I prefer the natural qualities of butter)

2 tablespoons water

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 13 cups flour

34 cup Baking Cocoa

12 teaspoon baking powder

14 teaspoon salt

Optional: – (to increase decadence and flavour!)

1/2 cup dark cooking chocolate, coarsely chopped (I like to chop this into chunky choc chip sized pieces and grate a little, to sprinkle over the top of the mix as well)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 ° C and grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan ( I line the pan with baking paper as well).
  2. Combine sugar, butter, and water in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract.
  4. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; stir into the sugar mixture.
  5. Fold in chopped dark chocolate
  6. Spread into prepared baking pan.
  7. Sprinkle grated chocolate on top ( optional)
  8. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
  9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into bars.

Chocolate indulgence is Something I often Ponder About

Cakes, Food

Christmas Cookie Recipe – One Batch, Five Different Cookies

Adhering to time-honored Christmas traditions means cooking at least seven different types of biscuits or cookies, for the ‘Juletide’ feast. In today’s fast paced lifestyle, time-poor families need a shortcut if they are to maintain these customs. It was a mere  error or perhaps, serendipity that created an opportunity for such a discovery in my kitchen. This recipe makes at least four, if not five, different types of cookies, from the one mix,  thereby reducing the workload in the kitchen. [See recipe below.]

Xmas cookies

The Rationale or Explanation:

I am used to being the sole cook in my kitchen, yet Christmas is always frenetic. There is more people in the house, more to do, more excited conversation, more spontaneity, and thus ever more distractions. This is not conducive to concentrating on the task at hand: i.e. to make seven varieties of cookies following several recipes at once. Add to that another increased layer of difficulty:the recipes are hand-written by me in my marginally legible handwriting similar to that you would find on a Doctor’s prescription! So, it should come as no surprise that I stuffed up and missed adding an extra cup of flour to the basic recipe for Jam drops.

The result was Jam drops that were flat as a pancake, looking more like a Brandy snap that had a blood spattered head injury! Embarrassing to put on the Christmas table, to say the least. (Yet, ironically, it was these same cast-offs, which my food- fussy husband gobbled up, well before I had a chance to photograph them). So with a little skill they could still be presented as an edible Christmas treat!

Upon further analysis of this major cooking mishap, I realized I had omitted a second cup of flour, from the recipe and that the rest of the, as yet uncooked mix, could definitely be salvaged.  Thus I added, the missing cup of flour and cooked a second tray-ful, (which hubby didn’t like as much, so were available to photograph).

After which, I thought, well, why stop there? Thus I added white chocolate chips, cooked a third tray, and then added cocoa and cooked a fourth and final tray.  Now more than half the xmas cookie baking is done. Thank goodness for serendipity!

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Recipe Tray 1 (makes one full baking tray of biscuits)

Jam Snaps

1  1/4 cup butter

3/4 cup  castor or fine white sugar

2 eggs

1   1/4 cups Self-raising flour

N.B. (Self raising flour = Plain Flour with 1 Tsp Baking powder per 1 cup Plain flour)

1/2 cup jam

Cream  butter and sugar together in a bowl.

Add eggs and beat well.

Gradually add flour, mixing thoroughly each time.

Drop teaspoonfuls of mix on a greased/lined baking sheet, 5 – 10 cm apart ( these cookies spread significantly)*

Wet your thumb and press into each biscuit, creating a dent. Drop a small dollop of jam in each one. (about 1/4 teaspoonful is fine)

Bake for 10 minutes in a moderate 180 degree celsius (375 F) oven, or until browned. Cool on wire tray

*Only spoon out enough for one tray of cookies, and save the rest for making Recipe 2, see below.

 

Recipe 2 (makes one full baking tray of biscuits)

JAM DROPS

Gradually Add 1 full cup of Self Raising Flour to the existing Mix and stir thoroughly.

N.B. (Self raising flour = Plain Flour with 1 Tsp Baking powder per 1 cup Plain flour)

*Drop teaspoonfuls of mix on a greased/lined baking sheet, 5 – 10 cm apart

Wet your thumb and press into each biscuit, creating a dent.

Drop a small dollop of jam in each one. (about 1/4 teaspoonful is fine)

Bake for 15 minutes in a moderate 180 degree Celsius (375 F) oven, or until browned. Cool on wire tray.

*Only spoon out enough for one baking sheet of cookies, and save the rest for making Recipe 3, see below.

 

Recipe 3 (makes one full baking tray of biscuits)

White chocolate chip Cookies

Into the existing mix,

Add:

50 g white chocolate chips and mix thoroughly

Drop teaspoonfuls of mix on a greased lined baking sheet

Cook 15 minutes in moderate 180 degree Celsius (375 F) oven or til browned

Cool on wire tray

*Only spoon out enough for one tray of cookies, and save the rest for making recipe 4, see below.

Recipe 4 (makes one full baking tray of biscuits)

Chocolate cookies with chocolate chip *

Leftover Mix from Above

Add 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and mix thoroughly **

Drop teaspoonfuls of mix on  a greased lined baking sheet

Cook 15 minutes in moderate 180 degree Celsius (375 F) oven or til browned

Cool on a wire tray

** This mix could also be made with only 2 tablespoons cocoa stirred through lightly with the result being a marbled cookie, making a fifth variety of cookie!!

Now that is 5 cookies done and dusted. Two to go….

Cooking Tip:

If you live, as I do in a humid environment, and your home-baked biscuits, once cooked, tend to go too soft too quickly, here is a solution: Pop them in a 180 degree C (375 F) oven for five minutes and then turn the oven off, leaving them in the oven to cool for a further 10 – 15 minutes, in the oven, and voilà: crispy cookies, that will last well into Christmas.

 

Merry Christmas Everyone from Something to Ponder About

xmasCollages5

 

 

 

Cakes, Community, Food

12 Days of Christmas – Danish Pebernødder

Another Christmas recipe from the wonderful blog of My Danish Kitchen.

I tried this recipe the morning. Apart from the usual problem of getting biscuits to brown in this new oven, I altered the recipe by adding some perlsukker ( pearl sugar chips) on the top for my husband who has both a sweet tooth and an aversion to edible items not previously seen! I think I am on a winner.

Here is the fruit of my efforts:

Pebernødder

Cakes, Community, Food

Chocolate Brownies – so Quick and Easy ‘No-Nuts’ Recipe

This is a very easy recipe,  one you really can’t muck it up, even if you add the ingredients together in the wrong order. It takes around an hour from start to finish, including time for cooling out of the oven.

No icing is required and the kids and parents at the Playgroup gobbled it up furiously. A good sign, no doubt. It is even a recipe children could make so very easily. In fact, next time I will make it AT playgroup!

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Ingredients

125 g butter, melted

1 1/2 cups caster sugar, (or fine white sugar)

1/2 cup cocoa

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup Plain All-Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon Baking powder

1 cup White Choc bits

Method

Pre- heat oven 170 degrees celsius or equivalent, and grease and / or line a lamington tray 8″ x 10″ with baking paper.

1. Melt the butter (I use the microwave on med high for 1 minute or so)

2. Combine the castor sugar and cocoa and salt in a large bowl

3. Add the eggs and vanilla together and add to sugar and cocoa mix.

4. Stir in the melted butter, (which by now has cooled a little and won’t cook the eggs!)

5. Fold through the combined flour and baking powder, and finally the choc bits.

6. Spread into the lamington / slice pan evenly.

7. Bake 170°  for 25 – 30 minutes.

8. Cool a little and slice into rectangles for serving.

The best thing is this slice is sweet enough, there is no need whatsoever to ice it, however, a dusting of vanilla sugar looks divine for presentation purposes. ( and no nuts, so great for kids with allergies!) Something for those with a sweet tooth to ponder about.

Cakes, Food

Blueberry Muffins with Brown sugar

Blueberry muffins with fresh blueberries
Blueberry muffins with fresh blueberries

We must take advantage of blueberries when they are in season, and if you live in my corner of Australia, that is right now. They are cheap as chips and so good for you, protecting against diseases and ageing, as well as helping to metabolise carbohydrates, proteins and fats, which is excellent if you are wanting to loose weight. See below:

Thus, I will share with you my recipe using brown sugar and a little butter. Nutritious, easy on the waistline, simple and quick to make, and very few dishes to wash up. That is the kind of recipe I like to ponder about.

BLUEBERRY MUFFIN RECIPE

2 cups Plain flour ( this means general all purpose flour)blog pictures 002

3 teaspoons of Baking powder

3 Tablespoons of Brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup milk

1/4 cup ( 55 grams) melted butter

1 punnet fresh blueberries (that is around 125 g)

1 tablespoon brown sugar, (extra)blog pictures 004

Method:

Mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl.

Melt butter in separate bowl, let cool slightly, then add milk and egg and mix well.

Add wet and dry ingredients together and stir gently for 30 seconds, or until well mixed.

Gently fold in blueberries. Don’t fuss too much. You don’t want to smash them like at Cold Rock.

Fill muffin cases 2/3 with mixture. Sprinkle brown sugar on top of each muffin and press down lightly.

A 12 muffin baking tray requires a moderate oven (190 degrees) for 12 – 15 minutes.

Test them close to the end of the cooking time to see if they bounce back when lightly pressed.

This is a good sign to say that they are cooked through.

Enjoy with a dob of sour cream or cream. ( if you are not counting calories, or course)

Makes 12 Muffins

blog pictures 005

Blueberries nutrition facts

From: http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/blueberries.html

Sweet, juicy blueberries are rich in pro-anthocyanin natural pigment anti-oxidants.

These tiny, round blue-purple berries have long been attributed to the longevity

and wellness of indigenous natives living in the subarctic regions in the Northern hemisphere.

  • Blueberries are very low in calories. 100 g fresh berries provide only 57 calories. However, they possess notable health benefiting plant-nutrients such as soluble dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and pigment anti-oxidants that contribute immensely towards optimum health and wellness.
  • Blueberries are among the highest anti-oxidant value fruits. In addition, these berries have other flavonoid anti-oxidants such as carotene-β, lutein and zea-xanthin.
  • Altogether, the phyto-chemical compounds in the blueberry help rid off harmful oxygen-derived free radicals from the body, and thereby, protect the human body against cancers, aging, degenerative diseases, and infections.
  • Further, research studies suggest that chlorogenic acid in these berries help lower blood sugar levels and control blood-glucose levels in type-II diabetes mellitus condition.
  • Fresh berries contain a small amount of vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E. Altogether these vitamins work as potent anti-oxidants, which help limit free radical mediated injury to the body.
  • The berries also contain a small amount of B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine, folates and pantothenic acid. It contains very good amounts of vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and folic acid. These vitamins are acting as co-factors help the body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
  • Furthermore, they contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, iron and zinc. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required for the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.
Food

Make Your Own Cake and Cookie/Biscuit Mixes, and save money…

You can easily make good quality cake mixes on your own in a food processor, or by hand, if you relish rubbing in butter to flour (can you tell I don’t?).Buying larger bags of flour and sugar, in order to make up a few batches of cake mix will also save money in the long run, as you can access cheaper prices for buying in bulk.  Think how much each individual box of cake mix costs and I think you could save at least 2/3 of this price. So in effect, 3 for the price of 1! Gotta be good value!
How to do it:

Measure ingredients accurately and place mixes into plastic bags: large zip lock bags are good. Seal and store in the fridge or freezer for 3 months. The can be made up immediately they are taken out of the fridge. It will take a little longer to mix them straight from the fridge, than if the ingredients were at room temperature, but you can allow a few minutes to prepare pans, trays etc. whilst waiting for the mix to acclimatize, if you find it works better at room temperature.

NON -SPECIFIC CAKE MIX
1 1/2 cups Self raising flour

NB: {for the non-Australians: Self raising flour is the equivalent of 1 cup of plain or all purpose flour mixed with 2 teaspoons of Baking powder sifted and mixed thoroughly}

3/4 cup  (180 g) castor sugar

2 tablespoons skim milk powder

125 g ( 4 0z) butter

Combine sifted flour, sugar and milk powder in bowl of food processor, fitted with metal blade, add chopped cold butter. Process 10 to 20 seconds until butter is evenly distributed in dry ingredients. Seal and store or continue to make a cake….

To Make Cake:

Place cake mix into small basin of electric mixer,

Add:

2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 cup water, beat on low speed until ingredients are combined.

Increase speed to  medium, beat until mixture is changed in colour and smooth. There should  not be any lumps in the mixture; if there are, beat until they have disappeared. Spread mixture evenly into well-greased  20 cm Round, Bundt  or Ring tin, or a 28 cm X 18 cm ( 11 in  X7 in) lamington tin.

Bake in moderate oven 30 minutes befor turning on to wire rack to cool.

3 VARIATIONS:

Orange Cake

2 teaspoons grated orange rind can be added with the water and eggs; omit vanilla. Top cake with Orange glace icing when cold.

Coffee

Dissolve 1 tablespoon instant coffee with  1/4 cup boiling water, and make up to 1/2 cup water with cold water, leave to cool before using.

Use this in place of the 1/2 cup water in original recipe.

Top with glace icing of your choice, or coffee icing.

Chocolate:

Sift 1/3 cup cocoa into small basin, gradually blend in 2/3 cup water, stir till smooth. Use in place of water in original recipe.

(The extra water is needed in this recipe to absorb the cocoa.) Top with chocolate icing.

COOKING TIMES

This quantity of cake mix can be cooked in other sized tins: here is a guide to thier sizes and cooking times:

20 cm (*8 inch) ring tin – 35 minutes

2 x 25 cm x 8 cm (10 in x 3 in) bar tins – 30 minutes

20 cm x 10 cm (8in x 4 in) loaf tin – 50 minutes

23 cm x 12 cm (9in x 5 in) loaf tin  – 50 minutes

25 cm x 15 cm (10in x 6 in) – 45 minutes

ICING

Vanilla Glace Icing

1  1/2 cups icing sugar

2 teaspoons melted butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons milk, approximately

Stir icing sugar into small heatproof bowl, stir in butter, vanilla and enough milk to make a thick paste. Stand basin over hot water, stir constantly until icing is of spreading consistency. Spread over cold cake with spatula.

Variations:

Orange Glace Icing: Use 2 tablespoons strained orange juice in place of milk and omit vanilla.

Coffee Icing: Sift 2 teaspoons instant coffee owder with icing sugar. If granular instant coffee is used, heat the milk and dissolve the coffee in the milk.

Chocolate Glace Icing: Sift 2 tablespoons cocoa with the icing sugar, you will need about 3 tablespoons milk to bring mixture to a paste-like consistency.

BISCUIT/COOKIE   Pre – MIX

1  1/4 cups self raising flour (or 1  1/4 cup all purpose or plain flour and 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder)

1 tablespoon skim milk powder

1/3 cup castor sugar

1/3 cup coconut

125 g (4 oz) butter

Sift flour milk and sugar, place in bowl of food processor which has been fitted with metal blade; add coconut, and choped cold butter. Process 10 – 20 seconds or until butter is evenly distributed through dry ingredients. Seal and store for up to 3 months in fridge or freezer.

To make biscuits/cookies:

Place biscuit mix into basin, add 3 tablespoons water, beat with wooden spoon until mixture comes together. Mixture should be quite stiff. Roll teaspoonsfuls of mixture in to balls, place 5 cm (2 in) apart on lightly greased oven trays, flatten biscuits with a fork which has been dipped in flour, or top biscuits with almonds, cherries or choc bits. Bake in moderate oven 10 – 15minutes or until golden brown. Place on wire racks to cool. Makes 20 cookies/biscuits.
If you are planning a fund raiser, something to ponder about is making the mixes well beforehand ,so that you can bake without lengthy preparation on the day of sale. No doubt about it, freshly baked home baked treasts will sell like hot cakes!!