I am at a loss to remember where I found this recipe, but it was handwritten on a scrap of paper which mysteriously turned up in my cupboard last week, so rather than throw it out, I tried it out! It could well have stemmed from a binge Pinterest session or some online Scandinavian recipe site, but who knows?!
Whatever it origins, the hungry hordes in my house scoffed the finished product down with gusto. Undoubtedly, a good seal of approval. The biscuits have a lighter texture, akin to a shortbread. In fact, one could easily substitute rice flour if one wanted to avoid wheat!
1 cup Butter ( softened )
2/3 cup Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Almond extract ( can also use vanilla if you don’t have almond)
2 cups Flour
Pinch of Salt
1 tsp Milk or Kefir ( can also use yoghurt)
1/2 cup Raspberry Jam
Preheat oven at 180 degree °C or 350°F
Cream butter and sugar and add the almond or vanilla extract and egg.
Add in salt, flour and milk/kefir and mix gently but well.
Take heaped teaspoons of cookie mix, and roll into a ball shape
Place 2 inches (5 cm) apart on a greased/lined tray.
Press your thumb into the middle of biscuit and fill the cavity with jam.
Bake the biscuits 14- 18 minutes in preheated oven. Cool 1 minute.
If you are pedantic, you can even drizzle a mix of icing sugar, mixed to a liquid with almond essence, over the top of the biscuits, if desired – I don’t do usually this, but you might like to do so.
Do you live in the Northern half of the world? If so, I am thinking you might be preparing for the onslaught of cooler weather. Me, I’ve just finished with all that for a while; in the southern hemisphere it is all about getting the pool toys out of storage and readying the garden for the long, hot summer. It was during our short winter season that I recreated a taste that I had brought back home with me, when I returned from Poland: the Polish national dish, called “Bigos.”
Bigos is a meal based on the Polish sausage, Kielbasa, but any kind of cooked sausage works well if you make your own version. It might be nice to try Chorizo sausage, but I actually used Bratwurst, as that is what I had to hand. It is still a traditional Bigos no matter what meal you use, as Wikipedia states:
“The variety of meats is considered essential for good bigos; its preparation may be a good occasion to clean out one’s freezer and use up leftovers from other meat dishes.”
Making Bigos is a great use of leftovers, especially sausage and cabbage, because unless you like curried sausages, which my other half most decidedly doesn’t, you aren’t left with too many other options with using up leftover bratwurst.
But Bigos IS an option you do have. And what’s more, it’s a very forgiving dish. Being a traditional dish of not only Poland, but also Belarus and Lithuania, it is said that there are as many recipes for Bigos, as there are cooks in Poland!
Traditionally, Bigos would be served at large family gatherings, like Christmas or Easter, but centuries ago, it was more common to cook Bigos in a simply pot over a camp fire, whilst out, “hunting,” hence the term, “Hunter’s Stew.”
Like many stews or casseroles, it has a flavour that improves with subsequent reheating and refrigeration. One can vary the amount of sauerkraut/fresh cabbage and meat ratios used and thicken it with several ingredients such as flour, crumbled rye bread, or even grated raw potato. In Silesian Poland, they add a potato dumpling to thicken the stew prior to serving. [Note to self: I must try that next time!]
This very forgiving flexible, hearty dish is just the ticket for an upcoming cool Autumn/Winter night. It could also be easily made in the slow cooker, ready and waiting for when one arrives home from work, in the evening!
Originally, this recipe came from Allrecipes.com, but I have varied it a great deal and so have reproduced it here.
2 thick slices hickory-smoked bacon
1 large cooked bratwurst, kielbasa other Polish sausage, sliced
250g cubed pork/ham
1-2 cloves garlic, diced
1 onion, diced
2 sticks celery, sliced
2 carrots, diced or other hard vegetables
1 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage – any variety is fine
250g sauerkraut, rinsed and well drained
1/4 cup (60ml) dry red wine- I didn’t have any so I left this out
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper
1 pinch caraway seed, crushed
1 pinch cayenne pepper
50g mushrooms, diced
1 dash hot chilli sauce (optional)
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
2 cups beef/chicken stock
1 tablespoons tinned tomato paste
2/3 cup tinned diced tomatoes
Add the bacon and kielbasa/bratwurst sausage to a large saucepan on medium heat. Cook and stir until the bacon, sausage, pork or ham is lightly browned.
Add the garlic, onion, celery, and saute for several minutes.
Add carrots, mushrooms, cabbage and sauerkraut. Reduce heat to medium, then cook and stir until the carrots are soft; about 10 minutes. Do not let the vegetables brown.
Add the red wine and heat, stirring to loosen all of the bits that are stuck to the bottom. I used a little stock as I had no wine!
Season with the bay leaf, the herbs, paprika, salt, pepper, caraway seeds and cayenne pepper; cook for 1 minute.
Mix in the mushrooms, chili sauce if you wish, Worcestershire sauce, remaining chicken or beef stock, tomato paste and tomatoes. Heat through just until boiling. Cover with a lid.
Simmer on the stove for 1 1/2 hours or Bake in the preheated oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or on low/auto in a slow cooker.
I omitted the use of flour, but if the Bigos has not condensed down to the consistency of a casserole, add 1 -2 tablespoon of cornflour mixed in a little cold water and mix in. Cook for 5- 10 minutes till thickened.
Easy to cook, traditional meals are really worth pondering about during winter.
” Norsk Vafler ” or Waffles from Norway are more like a western style pancake in texture than a western
waffle. And are perfect for a late Sunday breakfast or a mid morning snack, well…. they are nice anytime….
Be warned: whatever you think beforehand, one is never enough!
N.B. (You will need a waffle iron to cook them in the traditional shape seen below)
Summer in Australia means school aged kids are under their parent’s feet at home, yet, paradoxically, many parents actually look forward to School holidays. Why? One reason is that holidays means a slower start to the day, no school run stress, no juvenile screaming they can’t find their hat/maths homework/bus-card, and most significantly, no need to prepare school lunch boxes, each and every morning.
Day after school-term day, many parents over-stress and almost tear their hair out trying to provide a nutritious, yet appealing school lunchbox for their kids, particularly during the high school years. As any parent with teens knows, asking adolescents to consume anything remotely wholesome and not packaged in four layers of plastic or laced with half a salt mine, is tantamount to offering them a piece of buttered cardboard and likely to be received with this enthusiastic response:
So how does home-cooked food, originating from the household pantry or fridge, compete with the highly addictive products of multinational food companies or their derivatives, with the myriad of flavourings, salt and sugar content? How did we get to this situation?
What society thought school lunch should look like –
What teenagers thought school lunch look like –
What parents think school lunches are like –
With the impending start of the school work year, I decided the school lunchbox had to be not only visually appealing, but tasty as well and, it had to tick most of the ‘healthy lunch’ boxes, (no pun intended!) So I studied a few basic muffin recipes and came up with my own savoury muffin that I am confident even the fussiest teen would be hard-pressed to refuse, (and if he/she does, there is always bribery and corruption as Plan ‘B’….)
The real secret to this recipe is that it looks like a sweet cake in appearance, (first duplicitous manoeuvre) and, secondly, it tastes like the junk food on offer at most food outlets, (but is actually good to eat).
Enter the Savoury Muffin to Die for……
The rosemary and sea salt topping really stimulates those adolescent taste-buds and once your teen has shown a positive interest such as, “What’s that you are cooking, Mum?” comments, and eats a few here and there: then and only then might I suggest slowly, (over a few batches), decreasing the amount of sea salt used as topping, to improve the nutrition levels further. Easy does it though: Teen noses and taste buds can easily detect the covert operation you might have in mind.
The list of suggested fillings, is one that you can add as many or as few of these as you have on hand, or in the pantry, without unduly affecting the outcome of the recipe.
Experiment to see which flavors teens like best.
[Makes 12 serves]
2 cups Self Raising Flour
(or 2 cups Plain flour with 4 teaspoons of baking powder added)
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
80 g Butter, melted
1 tablespoon good quality Olive Oil
1 cup Milk ( I use low-fat)
1 slice Ham – diced
1/3 cup grated Zucchini (courgette)
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/3 cup Baby spinach, diced
1/3 cup cooked Pumpkin (roasted or steamed)
1/3 cup Capsicum strips, roasted (can use jarred variety)
80 g Feta cheese ( crumbled)
20 g Feta cheese ( crumbled), extra
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Rosemary
Optional extra or substitute fillings:
1 tablespoon Olives, sliced
1 tablespoon Parsley
1 teaspoon Mint leaves
2 sticks Spring Onions, sliced
1/3 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes
Pineapple Pieces – (drained well)
Pre-heat Oven 200 degrees
Mix Flour and Baking powder in large bowl.
Mix melted Butter, Oil and Egg and Milk in separate bowl.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix gently with a wooden spoon.
Fold in the rest of the ingredients only until just mixed and no lumps of flour remain.
Fill a Muffin pan that has been lined with paper Muffins cases to 2/3 capacity.
Sprinkle Parmesan, extra Feta and a mixture of Rosemary and Sea salt on top.
Bake for 20 minutes or till golden brown on top.
Cool on a wire tray covered with a fresh tea towel to prevent muffins drying out.
These muffins freeze well wrapped individually or in a seal-proof container.
The perfect morning tea or lunch snack for those on the go.
P.S. If you are really daring or have one of those ” I’ll eat anything as long as it’s food,” kind of kids: Round off the lunch box offerings with some hummus, hard-boiled eggs and fruit.
Filling the lunch box give parents ‘Something to Ponder About’
In my husband’s family, it is a tradition to have morning tea. That is, a cup of hot tea with a scone of two with butter or jam. My husband’s paternal grandmother was a brilliant farmhouse cook and used an old wood burning stove – one that was without thermostat or temperature gauge. Yet she cooked everything to perfection, testing the temperature only with the back of her hand. Wouldn’t we all love that skill? Granny Mac was of German heritage, so perhaps her cooking skills came from a background of generations of women cooking in the kitchen? Or perhaps from necessity?
Together with her husband, they owned a dairy farm atop ‘Clear Mountain’, so it is self-evident that there was plenty of fresh cream available. Thus, making scones was a way to supplement the farm’s income and feed Granny Mac’s ten hungry children at morning tea time. This same recipe made the scones served to the State of Queensland’s Governor, as well as many tourists, or day trippers, in the 1950’s, who drove up the steep, Clear Mountain Road, for a weekend picnic. This is that never-fail secret family recipe!
Granny Mac’s Scones
NB. the quantities of ingredients were never measured by the original cook, just estimated. However, for the rest of us, I have provided the following measurements:
2 1/4 cup Self Raising* flour
*(Self raising flour can easily be made by combining 2 teaspoons of baking powder per cup of plain flour and sift well)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup cream
Optional: a good handful of currants/sultanas/chopped dates – my kids love that)
In a large bowl, place all the dry ingredients, (and fruit), and stir to mix thoroughly.
“Cut” the wet ingredients into the mix by stirring thoroughly with the blade of a flat butter knife.
Knead mix a little with extra flour, if needed. (You will want a dough that is smooth enough to handle, but not too dry)
Roll or pat out on a floured board, to 1 inch high (no less)
Cut 6 cm rounds with a scone cutter or as Granny Mac used: a used, empty, small baked beans tin, (cleaned and dried, of course)!
Bake 12 -15 minutes @ 210 degrees on a metal scone tray
Delightful served with butter or jam and cream.
Best eaten while hot, however they do freeze well.
Is there a traditional recipe within your family heritage? Do you still make this food?
Will you keep up this tradition for generations to come?