Category — Includes a recipe!

Our Anzac baby 2

April 25, 2017

 

The sun has set on another Anzac Day, the day New Zealanders and Australians commemorate those who served in wars. It is a public holiday and always rather special – even aside from the important acknowledgment of our forces and our country’s current peace – it is the beginning of autumn, often a bright, bluebird kind of a day, close to Easter and the last public holiday for some time. The meaning and beauty of the day lends itself to family catch-ups, walks, feeling grateful and baking. But five years ago someone made this day significantly more special for us.

 

 

B2 was born before dawn, in time to see the sun rise, in a manner that is just like her: on time and textbook perfect. B2 is a stickler for rules. She’s also the only one of my births that went to some kind of plan and didn’t require assistance, as B2 hardly ever requires assistance. I still remember my sleepless, post-birth elation, staring at this perfect being – smooth, flawless skin and rosebud lips, bundled up like a glowworm. B2 was the baby of the family for some time but we should have known she wasn’t destined to stay that way with her resolute independence, huge roar and ceaseless curiosity. She was born in the year of the dragon and has lived up to that creature too – both fierce and shiny, full of fire and magic; something you can’t help but stare at. I cannot wait to see the life she leads. For now she’s off to school and not half-excited about it. She’s been begging for homework for months, literally climbing the walls (well, the columns in the hallways, shimmies up them with her feet like a monkey) when we drop big sister off to her classroom and is busting to join the ranks of the big girls in the playground at lunchtime. I really hope she thrives there. I hope they are prepared for handling her particular brand of firework.

 

 

In honour of our joyful, full-of-life, always singing / giggling / roaring Anzac baby and because they happen to be the best version of an Anzac biscuit I have ever eaten, I am sharing this recipe for Anzac squares. These biscuits are caramel and oat, crunch and chew, in exactly the right balance. The trick, in my opinion, is the addition of walnuts, which don’t often feature in an Anzac biscuit but, quite frankly SHOULD. I’m sure you’ll agree after you taste them. They give the biscuit an edge. A complex, resin-y, tannin-y, all-round-pleasing kind of an edge.  Drizzling your squares with chocolate is entirely optional and I won’t judge you for doing so. Share these with your babies and the ones that are no longer babies, those that are lurching off on their own new adventures.

 

 

Anzac Squares

Ingredients

1 cup flour

1 cup coconut

2 cups rolled oats

120g walnuts, chopped

pinch of salt

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

230g butter

4 tsp golden syrup

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla paste / essence

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees / 350 fahrenheit and line a shallow baking tin (approx 30cm x 45cm)

Combine flour, coconut, rolled oats, salt and walnuts in a large bowl. Add the sugars and mix well.

Put the butter, golden syrup, sifted baking soda in a saucepan and melt gently together over a medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to froth. Pour into dry ingredients and add vanilla paste / essence.

Stir until well combined and then press mixture evenly into your shallow baking tin.

Bake for 10 minutes and then rotate the tin. Bake for a further 5 – 10 minutes until it is golden brown.

Cut into squares while it is still hot. Cool till warm before transferring to a container and storing airtight. Will last up to a month, if they are not all devoured within 24 hours. Can be drizzled with melted chocolate, if you are that way inclined.

Makes 40+ squares

 

With love,

Hannah

In: Food, From Hannah, Includes a recipe!, Seasonal, Sweet Little Something

Bran Muffins, not Cardboard. 0

April 12, 2017

We are currently waging a fibre battle. I’m calling it that because somehow not calling it a vegetable or nuts-and-seeds battle is simpler, like breaking the issue down makes it easier to….uh…swallow. The issue is that Little e has decided to join the ranks of other five-year-olds who eschew all things fibrous, which of course includes vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds (basically the best part of food! I keep yelling in my head). It’s not that we were surprised–we’d read the books and had warnings from the internet and real live parents. It happens. But happening with our until-now omnivorous, mostly vegetarian, raw-fish-loving girl? (The sushi is still a safe bet, thank god). Fibre help me.

 

 

We’ve been having talks about the microbiome and how it can starve if it doesn’t get the fibre it needs. I’ve bought plush bacteria to help her visualise and we’ve looked at videos of magnified microbes online. It’s all very interesting to her…until there’s broccoli or bell pepper on her plate.

So I took a deep breath last week and tried a recipe I haven’t made in a while, but that, I recalled, did a good job of making a large dose of fibre taste delicious.

Remember bran muffins? Or maybe you eat them regularly? I will admit, they are the muffin I always avoid at the coffee shop. Mostly that’s because I’m more attracted to blueberry or raspberry or banana chocolate, but it’s also because bran muffins can be bad interpretations of sweetened and baked cardboard, am I right? It just seems much more likely to have a bad bran muffin experience than most other muffin experiences.

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In: Food, From Ria, Includes a recipe!, Kids and Parenting

Ultimate white chocolate frosting 0

April 4, 2017

 

 

Some time ago I discovered and posted the very best, ultimate chocolate frosting recipe. It’s a recipe I go back to over and over again. Divinely smooth and fudgey, not too sweet, perfectly chocolate-y. But it was time to change it up and devise an ivory version. I had made a chocolate cake for St Patricks Day (and the visit of my husband’s brother, also named Patrick) and decided it needed a froth-on-the-top-of-a-Guinness look. Plus, I have a family full of white chocolate lovers, who were dying to sink their little fingers into some overly abundant frosting.

 

This recipe is minimally edited from the first recipe but includes some cheats I’ve learned from making Ultimate Chocolate Frosting several times. Er, okay, maybe dozens of times? All in the name of research of course…

 

 

 

* * * * *

 

Ultimate White Chocolate Frosting

 

Ingredients
85 grams unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
120 grams of good quality white chocolate (make sure it contains cocoa butter! I use Whittakers)
1 tsp vanilla extract
140 grams icing sugar
140 grams creme fraiche (approximately 1/2 a tub)

 

Method

Melt butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, in ten second bursts, checking and stirring each time.
Once the mixture is smooth and melted, remove bowl and add the vanilla extract. Whisk to incorporate and then add the icing sugar a quarter at a time, whisking to incorporate (the mixture will look grainy, but don’t worry, it’ll all come together!)
Add the crème fraîche and continue whisking until the frosting is shiny and smooth.

 

* * * * *

 

There you have it. A very easy white chocolate frosting to please your devoted masses. If you really want to get fancy you could top it with berries – fresh or freeze-dried, or citrus slices – candied or dehydrated or even sugared, toasted nuts if you are using it to top a carrot or banana cake. I employed a small helper to pick the flowering rosemary from our front garden and sprinkled the tiny, purple blossoms all over. You could take a similar approach with lavender or other edible blooms.

 

 

With love,

Hannah

In: Food, From Hannah, Includes a recipe!

The Little Cookie that Could. And Does. 2

March 15, 2017

 

This is the story of a little cookie that looked humble and unassuming, but was actually a buttery, chocolatey killer in disguise.

I’m serious. This cookie has committed manslaughter. It has slaughtered my man for any other cookie. Every time I make them they disappear at a frightening speed, and now that DH has two cookie-lover-apprentices in the house, things are only getting worse.

There’s nothing to these, which is why they are so good. (I mean bad.) They’re basically a chocolate shortbread, but that makes them sound boring or something from a grandma’s tea table. (I love tea with grandmas, really.) The ingredients list has only eight things, and they’re simple.

But the result isn’t simple. The result is slightly crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle, with slightly bitter dark chocolate that’s buttery at the end. And the salt on the top somehow balances out the background sweet note. It’s amazing how something so easy and basic can provide so much enjoyment. And so many adjectives.

 

 

One last note that Little e would want me to mention: because these have no eggs, it’s fine to eat the raw dough. Which is what she calls them. The ones-that-don’t-have-eggs-so-I-can-eat-the-dough cookies. Also known as…

 

Salted Dark Chocolate Biscuits

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe that can be found here or here

 

Ingredients

300g flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp table salt

35 g cocoa powder

250g softened butter

120 sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Sea salt or kosher salt for finishing

 

Preheat the oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment, or grease with butter. Whisk or sieve together the flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa in a bowl. Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) until pale and fluffy, then add the vanilla. Then turn the mixer down to the lowest speed and add the flour mixture. It will take a moment for the flour to be incorporated, but don’t worry, it will all combine into a dark, solid dough. Pinch off bits that you then roll between your palms and place on the cookie sheet; we make them slightly smaller than golf balls. They don’t spread much, so about two inches between them is fine. Once the trays are full, take a fork and press down on the balls, then sprinkle with a little sea or kosher salt.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating the trays around halfway. The cookies don’t darken when they’re ready, but when they are slightly firm and can be gently lifted up to find the bottom not raw anymore, they’re done. They’ll harden up as they cool. Leave on the trays for five minutes, then transfer with a spatula to a rack. These are best at room temperature and on the first day, but will last about three days in an airtight container.

 

XO

Ria

 

 

 

In: Food, From Ria, Includes a recipe!, Kids and Parenting

Chocolate Cheesecake…sort of 3

March 1, 2017

Here’s the thing: I generally don’t like recipes that announce they are something–cheesecake, say–and then swiftly reveal that they aren’t. I just don’t like the misrepresentation. Call it what it is! Don’t dash my hopes! Grrr.

Ahem. So here’s the thing. I’ve been making this cheesecake lately. Only it’s not cheesecake. It has no cheese, no eggs, no normal-cheesecake-crust. It’s one of those really healthy, no-sugar, whole food, good fats desserts.

 

 

And it’s really good.

You might actually think it has cream cheese, or at least something more than what it does have, to create that texture. It’s gluten-free and raw. It’s rich but not cloying. It’s fudgy.

 

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In: Food, From Ria, Includes a recipe!