Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Coconut biscuits

A traditional favourite my mother used to bake at Christmas.
Coconut biscuits

300 ml sugar
250g butter
2 eggs
1 cup desiccated coconut
3½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
3½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
Red glacé cherries

  1. Put butter in sun to soften - do not melt it because it will change the texture of your biscuits. Take eggs out to bring to room temperature. 
  2. Cut cherries into eight pieces each - I use about half a packet. 
  3. Prepare the baking sheets. 
  4. Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. 
  5. Beat in the eggs. 
  6. Mix in the coconut. 
  7. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and make into a fairly stiff dough. 
  8. Set the oven to 200° C on the bake function - not fan bake. 
  9. Put dough into cookie press and fill the baking sheet. (One press gives a small biscuit which is ideal around Christmas time when you only want small snacks with all the delightful temptations around. Two presses gives a bigger biscuit with a softer texture, which is the way I like it.) Put a piece of glacé cherry in the middle of each biscuit. 
  10. Bake for about 10 minutes until the edges are a light golden brown. 
  11. While the first batch is baking, prepare the next batch so when you take the biscuits out of the oven the next batch is ready for baking. 
  12. Leave biscuits to cool a bit before placing them onto a cooling rack. 
This quantity of dough makes about 3½ baking sheets if you make the smaller biscuits. 

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Gluten-free coffee and date cake

This gluten- and dairy-free cake is moist, light and easy to make. Best of all is that you don't have to buy special ingredients. 

1 cup pitted dates
Half cup of strong coffee
2 cups of ground almonds
125ml raw sugar
5 eggs, separated
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp baking soda
1tsp each ground ginger and cinnamon
Half tsp nutmeg and ground cardoman
Generous pinch of salt
70g walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 150 C and lightly oil a square 20cm cake tin. Line the base of the tin with baking paper. 
Bring the finely chopped dates and coffee to boil in a small saucepan en simmer for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool. 
Whisk egg yolks, mix in the almonds, sugar, walnuts, vanilla, salt and spices.
Add the baking soda to the dates and mix into the egg and almond mixture. 
Beat the egg whites till soft peaks form and fold into the almond mixture. 
Spoon mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake. 
Let the cake cool completely before removing it from the tin. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Macaroni and cheese

I find the traditional macaroni & cheese, which is made with a cheese sauce, too rich. This version is made with an egg and milk custard which is lighter. It's delicious hot or cold. 

250g macaroni noodles
2 - 3 cups of milk
3 eggs
2 cups grated Edam cheese

Cook the macaroni in plenty of boiling water (add a teaspoon of salt when the water start to boil - and yes, pasta needs to be cooked with salt!).
Beat the eggs and milk with seasoning - a good pinch of salt and lots of pepper. Dried herbs also add further flavour. 
In a greased dish, add half of the macaroni, sprinkle half the cheese over. Repeat with the rest. Pour the egg mixture over. It must cover the pasta. You could top it up with milk if necessary.
Bake at 180 degrees Celsius - fan bake - for 45 minutes. 

Add a cup of chopped ham or leftover meat. 
Chopped celery or mushrooms also works well.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hearty soup

The ultimate in nourishing comfort food, this is the basic recipe for the soup we have from autumn through to spring. It is a meal in one bowl and freeze well. I always make a big pot, keep some in the fridge and freeze the rest.

Cooking and preparation time: 1.5 - 2 hours.

2 onions or leeks
1 kg lean mince meat or chicken breasts/thighs
250g - 500g red split lentils (more lentils makes a thicker soup)
3 large carrots, grated
A wedge of cabbage, finely chopped
Half a head of broccoli, finely chopped
3 stalks of celery, peeled and chopped in small cubes ( include the leaves)
1 tin of tomatoes, any flavour
1 tin of tomato purée 
Seasoning and your favourite combination of spices and herbs

Fry the onions in enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot, over a slow heat until softened. Add spices and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the meat and break up the mince as it fries. Keep the chicken pieces whole and cut them up finely at the end of the cooking.

Add the lentils and enough boiled water to cover to the halfway mark. Add salt and pepper. Boil for 20 minutes. (Chop up the veggies in the mean time. You can use any vegetables in season. I also like to use mushrooms.)
You can see how much vegetables are added to the soup - makes it healthy and tasty!

Add all the chopped vegetables and skim off the foam as it forms. Boil for about 10 -15 minutes.
Here you can see the foam that forms when adding the vegetables.

If you have used chicken, chop it in small pieces. Add the tinned tomatoes and tomato purée. Check your seasoning. Chopped fresh parsley is another good addition at this stage.