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Ginger and Pepper Biscuits

I found this recipe when I was flicking through a cook book by Allyson Gofton, a chef who used to be a familiar face on New Zealand television. The combination of ginger and pepper sounded interesting, and I decided to give them a try. The result was a crisp and moreish biscuit (that’s cookie to you Americans) that goes perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee. I’ll definitely be making this recipe again.

Ginger Pepper Biscuits

Ginger and Pepper Biscuits

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

4 teaspoons ground ginger

3/4 teaspoons mixed spice

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

250 grams (8 ounces/1/2 pound) butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup of golden syrup or treacle

2 Tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon vinegar (I only had spiced vinegar in the cupboard so that’s what I used)

extra sugar for sprinkling

Instructions:

1. Heat the oven to 180C (350F)

2. Line two baking trays with baking paper

3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and creamy then add the egg, golden syrup, fresh ginger and vinegar.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, mixed spice and cayenne pepper into the mixture, combine and chill the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes.

5. Place the additional sugar in a small bowl.

6. Roll biscuits into teaspoonful size balls and roll in the sugar bowl. Flatten a fraction and finish the flattening with a fork.

7. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

8. Cool before storing in an airtight tin.

Shelley’s notes:

1. Ms. Gofton also suggests coating half the cooked biscuits with dark chocolate or pressing a piece of crystallized ginger or a hazelnut in the top of each biscuit before you cook them. You could also sandwich them together with frosting if you wanted to.

2. The biscuits are very gingery and have a slight “bite”. Hubby liked them as much as me.

Review: A History of Food in 100 Recipes

AHistoryofFood

Back Cover Copy:

A riveting narrative history of food as seen through 100 recipes, from ancient Egyptian bread to modernist cuisine.

We all love to eat, and most people have a favorite ingredient or dish. But how many of us know where our much-loved recipes come from, who invented them, and how they were originally cooked? In A HISTORY OF FOOD IN 100 RECIPES, culinary expert and BBC television personality William Sitwell explores the fascinating history of cuisine from the first cookbook to the first cupcake, from the invention of the sandwich to the rise of food television. A book you can read straight through and also use in the kitchen, A HISTORY OF FOOD IN 100 RECIPES is a perfect gift for any food lover who has ever wondered about the origins of the methods and recipes we now take for granted.

 

Review:

A History of Food in 100 Recipes by William Sitwell

I’m a sucker for any book on the history of food since I love to cook and the origin of the recipes fascinates me.

The recipes in this book range from ancient ones for bread to more modern offerings like Asian salads, Steamed salmon with couscous and Fairy cakes. The earlier recipes are not recipes as we know them, and I wouldn’t recommend trying them even if you could source the ingredients, but they’re interesting none the less. Mr. Sitwell tells us stories of the past and the people who influenced food and wrote recipe books. We learn of the first known use of the recipes, the available equipment, and the interesting social details that give us a clear picture of the past. The book is written in a chatty manner with dry humor. It’s a book meant to be taken in small bites rather than read in one or two long gulps.

I enjoyed reading A History of Food very much and know I will refer to it often. The more modern recipes are ones I will make—in fact I’ve tried a couple already. I found this book interesting and learned lots of things I hadn’t previously known. A History of Food is the perfect book to give to a keen foodie as a birthday, Christmas or surprise gift. Highly recommended.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase A History of Food in 100 Recipes

Recipe Review: Fix-It and Forget-It Vegetable Soups, Stews and Chilis by Phyllis Pellman Good

Fix It and Forget It Vegetarian Soups, Stews and Chilis

Today I’m reviewing a vegetarian cook book.

Blurb:

Fifty scrumptious and savory soup recipes for any season

These time-tested, easy-to-manage recipes for soups of all flavors have one thing in common: loads of healthy vegetables. Whether you’re looking for a hearty supper or a light weekday lunch, Fix-It and Forget-It Vegetarian Soups offers delicious choices to make in your slow cooker or on your stovetop, such as:

Vegan Chili·      Corn Chowder·      Homemade Vegetable Soup·      Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

And much more!

Review:

As the title suggests, this book contains a collection of vegetarian recipes for soups, stews and chilis. The recipes are from home cooks and most of them are perfect to cook in a crockpot/slow cooker.

What I liked about this book:

1. The recipes give an indication of preparation and cooking times.

2. The ingredients were all things I’d find in my fridge or pantry.

3. As a New Zealander I often find American recipes use measurements that I need to convert. This book is easy to follow with no maths required. Measurements used are cups and spoons.

4. The recipes were appealing. I’d be happy to try most of them, and they weren’t overly complicated.

5. They’re mostly recipes that can be made ahead and are perfect for busy cooks.

6. It’s a vegetarian cook book!

What I didn’t like about this book:

1. The title suggests that there are soups, stews and chilli recipes. While this is true, the majority of the recipes are for soup with only about four chilli recipes and one or two stews.

2. Not every recipe has a photo to go with it. I think that most cooks like a photo so that they can compare their final dish with the one in the recipe book. At least that’s what I do when I’m cooking. I like to think that my dish turns out just like the one in the book.

Conclusion:

This is a handy and inexpensive book to have in your cooking library. It would be a great gift for a busy parent or maybe a student who flats and doesn’t have much time to make nutritious dishes. It would also be excellent for a beginner cook since the instructions are clear and concise.

Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Fix-It and Forget-it Vegetable Soups, Stews and Chilis

Making the Perfect Scone

When I was a child my mother made a lot of scones. Since we lived in the country, it wasn’t easy to run out to buy a loaf of bread. Whenever we ran out of bread, mostly during the weekends when we were eating her out of house and home, she’d whip up a batch of scones. I remember cheese scones, warm from the oven, slathered with butter and date or sultana scones heaped with jam and whipped cream. My mum made excellent scones.

In the past I’ve tried making scones, with mixed results. Although the ingredients are basic, they’re tricky to make.

Here are some tips I’ve discovered along the way:

1. Work quickly and don’t over handle your scone dough.

2. Pre-heat the oven. Scones should be cooked in a super hot oven.

3. Most scone recipes tell you to rub in the butter. I find it easier and quicker to grate the butter into the dry ingredients.

4. The dough should be on the moist side rather than dry.

5. New Zealand cook, Alison Holst suggests that if you have problems with your scones, don’t make plain ones where every imperfection is evident. Try pinwheel scones or twist-type scones.

Cranberry Scones

Cranberry Scones

Ingredients:

3 cups plain flour

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

50g butter/ .44 stick butter

1 + 1/2 cups of milk

Method:

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Grate in the butter. Add the milk and mix quickly without overmixing (most important!). Place on a floured board and roll lightly until about 15mm (3/4 inch) thick. Cut into squares or use a cutter to cut out rounds.

Bake in a hot oven pre-heated to 230C (450F) for 10 minutes.

Makes around 16 scones

Cranberry Scones

Shelley’s Notes

1. I added cranberries to my scones – around 1/2 cup. You can add sultanas, chopped dates or add cheese to make savory scones.

2. I cut my scones a little bigger and ended up with 14.

3. I served my scones with cherry jam and thick Greek yoghurt I’d made. Normally, I’d go for jam and whipped cream.

4. If you have trouble with scones try this recipe-Date and Orange scones-with cream and Sprite. It’s pretty fail proof.

Cranberry Scones

Are you a scone fan? Is there a recipe from your childhood that you like to make?

Key Lime Pie on a Stick

One of the great things about travel is getting to try new and unfamiliar foods. Before we arrived in Florida people told us that we must have some Key Lime Pie. Everyone had a lot to say about where to get the best pie, and we knew proper Key Lime Pie wasn’t bright green. It should be a creamy color and not full of green food coloring as some of the pies are, especially for tourists.

While we were wandering down a road in Key West I saw a sign for Key Lime Pie on a Stick.

“Let’s buy one,” I said to my husband.

Key Lime Pie on Stick

And yes, I know you won’t have any idea what it looked like since we only thought of a photo when we were almost finished eating the Key Lime Pie on a Stick. I can tell you that it was delicious. Key Lime Pie on a Stick is, as the name suggests, a piece of Key Lime Pie dipped in a thick layer of chocolate. The pie itself is tart and very limey, sort of catch your breath tart but definitely delicious.

The secret is the special Key Limes, which are smaller than the limes you’re probably familiar with.

Once we arrived home I decided to try my hand at a Key Lime Pie, using the limes off our own tree. After searching for recipes I decided on Jamie Oliver’s recipe.

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

To make the crust:

• 12 digestive biscuits
• 45g caster sugar (1 oz)
• 135g melted butter (1/2 cup)

Crush the biscuits, add the sugar and the butter. Press mixture into a greased pie tin. Spread up the sides of the tin too. Bake for 10 minutes at 175 C/ 350 F or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven to cool.

To make the filling:

• 4 egg yolks
• 400ml condensed milk – this is one tin in New Zealand
• 6 Tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 5 limes)
• Lime zest (optional), to serve

Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add the condensed milk. Mix in the lime juice and pour the mixture into the baked pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes and cool. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Decorate with grated lime zest and whipped cream if desired.

Shelley’s Notes:

1. I added lime zest and some of the flesh of the lime to my pie filling to make it sharper.

2. When you’re cooking the base, make sure you don’t use a spring form tin because butter will leak out the bottom. I speak with the voice of experience. My oven was a mess!

3. This pie was delicious, although not as sharp to the palate as the original Key Lime Pie.

Key Lime Pie Slice

Have you tried Key Lime Pie before? Do you like to try new and unfamiliar foods?

Vegetarian Recipe: Carrot and Mushroom Loaf

Last week I mentioned a surplus of carrots in our vegetable plot. Some of them had turned woody, although they were fine when grated. Right, I thought. It’s time to make a carrot and mushroom loaf. As it happened we had visitors for dinner. They were all carnivores, but they enjoyed a slice of loaf on the side. This recipe comes from Alison Holst’s Meals Without Meat book, which is a good basic reference for beginners.

Carrot and Mushroom Loaf

My loaf differs in that I added extra mushrooms. I love mushrooms in everything!

Carrot and Mushroom Loaf

Ingredients:

1 medium onion

1 – 2 cloves garlic

2 Tablespoons oil

a good handful of mushrooms (200 grams) I used about 12 button mushrooms

1 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

black pepper

3 cups grated carrot

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs (I used fresh since that’s all I had on hand)

1/2 cup grated cheese

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

Topping:

2 Tablespoons dry breadcrumbs (used fresh again)

2 Tablespoons grated cheese

paprika

Method:

  1. Chop the onion and garlic finely and cook in the oil until soft.
  2. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until softened.
  3. Place these in a bowl and add the basil, thyme, salt, pepper, grated carrot, breadcrumbs, grated cheese.
  4. Beat the eggs and milk together and add to bowl. Mix well.
  5. Place in a well greased tin and smooth out. I usually line my tin with baking paper.
  6. Sprinkle the topping ingredients – breadcrumbs, cheese and paprika – on top of loaf.
  7. Cover tin with foil and bake at 180C (350F) for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 30 minutes.

Notes:

  1. I used fresh bread crumbs rather than dried ones and it didn’t seem to matter.
  2. My oven cooks quickly so I didn’t cook my loaf as long as the recipe said. The cooked loaf should be firm in the center when pressed with your fingers.
  3. I served my loaf with green vegetables and a baked potato.
  4. This loaf also tastes good cold and served with salad.
  5. This is an excellent recipe for disguising vegetables when trying to please fussy eaters! Winking smile
Comfort Food Recipe — Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

This week the weather has been cool here in New Zealand, and when I checked out the contents of our fridge, I decided to turn to comfort food – vegetarian shepherd’s pie.

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives.” ~ Oscar Wilde

This recipe comes from Alison Holst’s Meals Without Meat and I’ve given it my own twist.

Recipe:

Filling

2 large onions

2 Tablespoons of butter or oil

1 red or green capsicum

8 button mushrooms. (I used some brown mushrooms too)

3 Tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vegetable stock

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon paprika

2 Tablespoon chopped parsley

1 teaspoon soya sauce

1 1/2 water

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 can of kidney beans 440 grams

Topping

6 potatoes medium size

2 Tablespoons butter

1 cup grated cheese

milk

1. Peel the potatoes and boil in salted water. Once cooked drain, add butter, a dash of milk and mash. Add half of the grated cheese.

2. Dice the onions and slice the mushrooms and fry in the oil/butter until golden brown. Add the sliced capsicum then add the flour. Stir until the flour has browned slightly. Add the stock, basil, oregano, paprika, parsley and soya sauce. Add the water and tomato paste and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Add the kidney beans. Check the seasoning and add salt to taste. Place in a baking dish.

3. Spread the mashed potato over the top and sprinkle on the remaining cheese.

4. Cook in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes at 180 C/350 F. The top should be golden brown.

5. Serve with green vegetables such as brussel sprouts, beans, peas or broccoli and a nice glass of wine Winking smile

What comfort foods do you turn to when the weather turns cool?

Yummy Date & Orange Scones

Our local reality show, Nestle Hottest Home Baker has captured my attention, and I sit glued to the set each week to watch the on screen action. My favorite baker has been voted off the show, so I’ve had to shift my allegiance. I chose one of the contestant’s recipes to make for my March test recipe. They turned out really well and were delicious.

Ingredients:

Scone Ingredients

1 cup dates chopped
Zest of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 oranges
1 Cinnamon Stick
A little sugar

Place these ingredients into a pot, melt and cook until it goes thick and caramelises. Note – my oranges didn’t have much juice, so I used some orange juice we had in the fridge. I added a little at a time until the dates sucked it up and I had a lovely thick mixture. Cool mixture.

4 cups self-raising flour
300ml cream (half a pint)
¼ cup sugar
1 can lemonade (Sprite)
½ tsp salt
Cinnamon sugar (make your own by mixing a few teaspoons of sugar with a little cinnamon)

Place flour and salt in a bowl. Add the date mixture and mix. Pour in cream and lemonade. Mix all ingredients into a smooth dough in a bowl. Tip out onto floured bench and cut out or shape. I just used a sharp knife and cut rough squares. Place scones just touching each other on tray. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 220 degrees Celsius (425 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15-20 mins until starting to colour pale golden. Place on a tea towel on a wire rack.

Shelley’s notes: I used a fan bake oven, which cooks quicker. My scones were ready after ten minutes of cooking. My mix was quite damp and sticky. I sprinkled just enough flour on it for me to pat it into shape and cut into smaller squares.

The recipe is a hybrid of Chelsea Sugar & Good Taste Australia & Courtney from Nestle Hottest Home Baker.

Date & Orange Scones

This is the final product. I ate them warm with raspberry jam or a little butter. You could use jam and whipped cream as a topping or your favorite jam or jelly. I froze the leftovers, and they tasted just as good heated a little in the microwave after I’d thawed them out. My March recipe was a big success.