Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Gingerbread Hearts

Iced gingerbread with royal icing

Another batch of my Iced Ginger Biscuits! Click HERE for my updated recipe. I used Royal Icing for this batch and I am really happy with the final look, sometimes is worth that little extra effort to make your cookies POP! 

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Anzac Biscuits


An Australian & New Zealand classic, ANZAC biscuits have been around since WW1 and it has been claimed that the biscuits were sent by wives of Australian & New Zealand soldiers abroad to the battle fields of World War 1 because the ingredients used do not spoil easily or quickly, making them ideal for naval transportation. I have heard that to make and sell these iconic cookies commercially, there are strict laws in how and what ingredients should make up the biscuits. It also needs to be approved by the Veterans Association in Australia and New Zealand!

I hope you enjoy them and keep them as close to your heart as the Australians & New Zealanders alike. Here is the recipe, adapted from a Australians Women's Weekly cookbook.

INGREDIENTS
  • 190g butter
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda 
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup plain flour
METHOD
  1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Stir butter, syrup and water in a large saucepan over low heat until smooth.
  3. Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients, stir to combine.
  4. Roll large tablespoons of mixture into balls and place them about 5cm apart on trays, flatten slightly.
  5. Bake for 10-12 mins (outer edges should be a golden colour) and allow to cool slightly on trays before transferring onto a wire rack. Serve with cold milk, yum!

*NOTE - Biscuits should still feel soft when they're cooked, they will firm up a little once they are cooled. If you prefer a crunchier cookie, you can leave them the oven for a little longer. 

Friday, 27 November 2015

Quick Pizza Lunch & Flour Tortillas


Four cheese tortilla pizza. Super simple, YUMMY homemade lunch. So far, from one batch we've had a fish tacos and 2 types of pizza but the ideas are endless. I think it would be delicious topped with Nutella and berries too!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons simple baking using desiccated coconut and condensed milk.
They say "Nothing says home like the smell of baking", this couldn't be more true than with the smell of these cloud like coconut treats. Everyone should be able to have a 'homely' smelling home and this recipe is easy enough for even the least experienced home cook!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Melting Moments

Melting Moments; these were my favourites to buy from the ladies at the CWA shop when I was growing up. I tired the following recipe from an Australian's Women's Weekly cookbook and although they aren't as perfect as those ones from my childhood, they're still pretty darn delicious!


Thursday, 29 October 2015

Scones

I really had that I want to bake feeling today as well as some afternoon carb cravings. I did consider making pancakes which was closely followed by a wash of guilt that I shouldn't be eating breakfast food after 10am on a weekday. Scones were the perfect choice and perfect afternoon tea bake!

I've tried a few different recipes for scones but I think this is the best so far. They are quick and easy, especially if you use a food processor to cut the butter into the flour. I was actually surprised how well they turned out. I thought to myself as I was squashing down the dough that I may have over mixed it but I was pleasantly proven wrong when they emerged from the oven.

Friday, 16 October 2015

The Crochet Daffy


I love to crochet little bits and bobs and crochet appliqué, including flowers, is the perfect thing to make when you have a little time to fill or you can't quite be bothered to take on a mammoth blanket. 

Here is the pattern for the Crochet Daffodil that I used on an apron as part of the floral bouquet. It's a little confusing so have patience and practice! I used yellow yarn for a traditional flower, but feel free to use any colour you like.

I have written the pattern in US terms, I used a 3.5mm hook. Choose appropriate hook according of weight of yarn.

Abbreviations:

CH - chain
SC - single crochet
DC - double Crochet
TR - Treble crochet
SL ST - slip stitch


Round 1: CH 2

Round 2: In 2nd CH from hook work 6 SC.

Round 3: CH 3 (counts as first DC of round); working in back loop only of each ST, (2 DC in next SC, DC in next SC) twice, 2 DC in last SC; join in top of beg CH-3. (9 DC total) Finish off.

Round 4: Join yarn with SL ST in any unused loop of round 1. CH 1, 2 SC in same loop; work 2 SC in each remaining loop around. Join with SL ST in beg SC. (12 SC total)

Round 5: CH 4; work (2 TR, CH 4, SL ST) in same stitch as joining, SL ST in next SC; *in next SC work (SL ST, CH 4, 2 TR, CH 4, Sl ST), SL ST in next SC; repeat from * around. Join. (6 petals made) Finish off; weave in yarn ends.



Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Pavlova Meringue Base




A re-run of this classic, not just for Australia Day!

Click HERE for the original post.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Raspberry & Yoghurt Cake


I cannot tell you how happy I am that I decided to bake this cake! It's not often that I find a cake that I really love and would bake over and over again. Once upon a (not-so-long-ago) time I'd only enjoy eating the icing and dwell over the lingering cake beneath. Alas, I have found my love of cake with this fruity, cream cheese frosted beauty. Its quite a dense cake, but very moist. I suspect this is due to the yoghurt? I'm not sure what whipping the egg white really did for this cake but I would do it again despite my lack of faith in the method. I am, after all, just a home baker. This recipe was indeed a Pinterest find and although I was somewhat skeptical of Pinterest after many disappointing bakes, this recipe has reignited my love for the online pin board. 

I found it really difficult to do anything at all really for the first few months of motherhood but it's most definitely getting easier, especially when I'm not worrying about "has she fed enough?", "am I making enough milk?", "has she slept long enough?", or "has she had enough wet nappies". It feels good to do normal things, like bake. And, I hope that Baby N will love to bake with me as she grows. Its such a special thing! 

A few things to follow religiously which I did not:
1 - Allow the cake to cool completely before attempting to decorate. This is really important. it you don't wait the warm cake will malt the icing and the top layer will slide all over the place!
2 - Place the cream cheese buttercream in the fridge to allow it to firm up a little before frosting. 
3 - Take the butter out of the fridge well in advance to allow to warm to room temp.

On to the recipe...

This makes enough for 2 x 6 inch cakes, perfectly proportioned to layer. If you want to make a bigger cake (2 x 8 or 9 inch) just double the recipe. 

Adapted from Kitchen Trial & Error

Ingredients
  • 3 1/2 tbsp butter, room temp
  • 1/2 C caster sugar
  • 2 small eggs, separated (If doubling the recipe, use 3 normal sized eggs)
  • 1 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C natural (Greek) yoghurt
  • 1/2 C frozen raspberries
For the frosting
  • 125g Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 C icing sugar 
  • zest & juice of 2 meyer lemons
  1. Preheat your oven to 175C (165C fan assisted). Line 2x6 inch cake pans with baking paper. I usually put a sheet in, indent the round edges, then cut with scissors. Set aside.
  2. Place the egg whites in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk until medium to stiff peaks form. You can use a stand mixer for this but you may want to keep that clean for the cake batter unless you have 2 attachment bowls.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in 1 egg yolk at a time, mixing between each addition. Sift over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (It should still look rather dry).
  4. Add the yoghurt and mix to combine. Fold in the raspberries followed by the whipped egg whites. Do this carefully so that you don't knock too much air out of the whites.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared tins. 
  6. Bake for 20-25 mins depending on your oven. If you have doubled the recipe for a larger cake, bake for 25-30 mins. The cake is done once a skewer comes out clean and the top bounces back up after being lightly pressed. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese ad butter together until smooth. Add the lemon zest and juice. Stir to combine. 
  8. Add the icing sugar and carefully beat together. If you have a stand mixer, let it mix for about 5-10 minutes to make the frosting extra light and fluffy. Chill the icing slightly to thicken before decorating your cake. *Note, in the photos the icing was not chilled hence the cascading frosting. If you like this look, please feel free to leave your frosting at room temp until your ready to frost the cake. 
I have eaten half of this cake alone in less than 24 hours as afternoon tea, dessert & breakfast. Thats how good it is. 


Sunday, 16 August 2015

Banana Muffins

We had some overripe bananas looking a little sad so i put them to good use and made Banana Muffins. My usual go-to recipe for black skinned bananas is Banana Cake but on this particular day, muffins were on my mind. Easy to eat without having to worry about washing tea plates or slicing a cake. These are exceptionally delicious with a more than generous smear of butter and a hot cup of tea. They age pretty well and enjoyed best on the second day. The moisture from the banana creates the most delicious sticky glaze on top of the muffin.

Being a new Mummy I have come to make myself an opportunist, so when Baby N fell asleep I crept downstairs, baby monitor in hand, to start the bake. Alas, half way through meausuring the wet ingredients Baby N awoke crying and very sensitive. She seems to know as soon as I leave the room, no matter how deeply asleep! So we finished the muffins off together with her snuggled into my chest and me with one hand to bake, commentating for the entertainment of my little doll.

These muffins turned out beautifully, perhaps because they were truely made with love of the mother/daughter kind.

Banana Muffins
Adapted from All Recipes

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 C plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 C white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 C butter melted
  1. Preheat your oven to 175/165C (fan-assisted) and line 2 6x hole muffin/cupcake trays with liners. Mash the banana and melt the butter if you haven't already done so.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder & baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Mix and add the salt. Set aside.
  3. In another larger mixing bowl (or freestanding mixer), combine the egg, mashed banana and cooled melted butter. Once incorporated, add the dry ingredients and fold gently to combine. Take care to ensure you DO NOT over-mix the wet and dry ingredients together as this will result in dry muffins. 
  4. Use an icecream scoop to divide the mixture into the lined tins. 
  5. Bake for 15-25 minutes depending on the size. Mini-muffins will require much less time (about 10-12 mins) while my cupcake size muffins took around 18minutes. They are cooked once the top is light golden brown and the top bounces back after gently being pressed. 
  6. Eat warm from the oven or cooled with a smear of butter.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Macaron Guide


A few notes on Macarons -
If anyone is interested in attempting these delicious morsels, I strongly advise using the Italian Method. I know the French method seems easier but you will more than likely be successful in your first try using the Italian method as it is consistent. I would also INSIST on using an electric scale to measure out all of the ingredients and follow the recipe to the T. You will need a candy thermometer, a free standing mixer as well as disposable piping bags. Here is the a few links I used in my research. 

MACARON PHOTO TUTORIAL - Lilian from Beyond Umami is also great to answer any questions you may have. Her photos of descriptions are also great and helped me a lot in my Macaron research process.

You can do it!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Perfect Pancakes

I have the perfect recipe for pancakes! Honestly, without a doubt this is the best pancake recipe I've found. Every batch turns out perfectly fluffy and delicious, they're even good smeared with butter when cold as a quick snack with tea. A few rules apply here though;

1 - Don't skip the vinegar, I'm certain this cupboard staple is the reason for these pancakes perfect-ness.

2 - Use real butter, no margarine!



Here is the recipe

Ingredients

  • 3/4 C milk
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 C plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp melted butter (plus extra for frying)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  1. Combine the milk and the vinegar together in a large bowl, stir and leave to rest for 3 minutes.
  2. Sift the flour over the milk, then add the baking powder and soda. 
  3. Crack the egg over the mixture followed by the melted butter. 
  4. Use a whisk to combine all of the ingredients.
  5. Heat a pan with a dollop of butter but don't let it burn.
  6. Once the pan is hot enough, use an ice-cream scoop to portion pancake batter. 
  7. Once bubbles begin to rise and pop in batter, flip the pancake and allow it to cook. Pancakes, once cooked, should be a golden colour both sides. 
  8. Serve as you flip, or place cooked pancakes in an ovenproof dish and leave in a warm oven as you make the rest. 
  9. Serve with extra butter, golden syrup, honey or lemon & sugar. 
*Note: I don't tend to butter the pan for each batch, rather just in the beginning or if I'm not using a non-stick pan. Go with your instinct, if you feel the pan is too dry, you can always melt a little more butter. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Key Lime Dessert Pots

Ramadan is over and the third day of Eid has just passed us by. My Eid preps were considerably less this year than last with the new addition to my life taking up all of my time ( I'm quite content with with lifestyle and happy to spend every minute with my little doll!). We planned a dinner party for Eid which we had partially catered. All that was left to prepare was dessert and salad.

I tried 2 new salads, one was a little bit of a fail (dressing needs improvement) and a new mini dessert. I've found that at every event, if there are mini-desserts, people LOVE them! They are always the first dessert to be picked up. So naturally this had to be apart of the menu.

Today I'm sharing my take on the Key Lime 'Pie', albeit a very refined (super-simple) version. The tangy lime cuts through the sweetness just enough. This is a refreshing dessert for these warm summer months!



Ingredients:

  • 2 packets of Walkers Shortbread
  • 2 x 395g condensed milk
  • 1/2 C key lime juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 1/2 C whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  1. Using a food processor or the end of a rolling pin, crush shortbread until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the condensed milk with the lime juice. Once you have beaten it together, the consistency will thicken upon standing. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the cream with the sugar until it forms stiff peaks.
  4. Fold the cream into the milk mixture.
  5. Prepare your mini dessert pots by placing 2 full tsp of the crushed shortbread in the base of each pot. It should make around 20 (depending on the size, it may be more or less). 
  6. Using a large ice-cream scoop, take a large scoop of the milk mixture and dollop on top of the biscuit base. 
  7. Decorate with flaked chocolate or with fine shavings of lime rind. 
  8. Refrigerate and serve chilled. 
*Note: You can add a few drops of green gel food colouring to the milk mixture if you fancy!

Monday, 15 June 2015

30 days of Ramadan

Sunset is the time of breaking the fast each day during Ramadan, Iftar is the name of this much awaited meal. Its tradition to break your fast with dates and water, as was the way of the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) however it is common practice to have other snacks (preferably fried) for after the sunset prayer and before the larger dinner time meal. Here is a round up of 'not your usual samoosa' iftar appetisers!

Cauliflower & Feta Fritters

Mini Chicken & Waffles

Cream Cheese & Chicken Taquitos

Spinach & Feta Puffs

Corn Pancakes/Fritters

Avocado Egg Rolls

Mini Herbed Pommes Anna

Tomato & Mozzarella Tarts

Ramadan Mubarak!















Monday, 27 April 2015

Tummy Soothing Ginger Tea

Okay so it's hardly a 'recipe' but I thought you might benefit from the post anyway. 

The health benefits of ginger are amazing, and once you get used to the taste, this ginger tea takes first place as a heart warming drink. Not only is this drink a calming one, it is also known to reduce the onset of Alzeihmers disease, fight cancer, help IBS, aids in weight loss helps to manage glucose levels, improves circulation and helps with morning sickness. These are just a few and to see a longer, more detailed list click here.

Don't bother with ginger tea sachets in the tea aisle at the supermarket, this drink should be made using fresh ginger. To make 2 cups of ginger tea, cut 3cm chunk from the ginger root and peel the skin. Cut it into smaller pieces and place it in a small saucepan. Add 2 cups (use a mug that you'll drink from) of boiled water (from the kettle) to the saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. The water should become a light golden colour. Serve. 

You can make a larger batch and reheat as needed, however, fresh is always best! If the tea is a little sharp on your throat, you can add some filtered water or if you prefer it on the sweeter side, add honey. You can always up the ginger by adding more ginger root, the above method is really just a guideline. 
Tip: To store your unused ginger: Wrap in paper towel and into a ziplock bag. Place the bag into the fridge until next use.



Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Baby Shower










The baby shower of my dreams! The photos really don't do it justice, the room was even more beautiful when filled with my sweet guests. I have not included photos of myself or the guests for privacy, but I did want to share some photos to give some inspiration to expectant Mummies who are planning their showers. When planning the big event with my Sister in Law, Asma, I was adamant that I didn't want the typical baby shower so instead opted for something chic and minimal. Splashes of pink with the ombre cake, donuts and berry cocktail, pale hue vintage plates, lavender adorned napkins and babies breath blooms surrounded by clouds of white. A little vintage, a little rustic, a little feminine - the perfect shower.

A big big Thank You to my amazing husband and sister in law, who did so much running around, picking up, setting up, heavy lifting, planing, organising and making. Also to Zaynab (Sweet Things) who made me the most precious candy favour table. 

Some tips for a DIY baby shower:
- Plan ahead; I changed my mind so many times about what I wanted (sorry Asma!). Give your pregnant self time for proper thought!
-Make and prepare ahead; anything that doesn't involve food can be made/arranged well in advance. For example the tulle backdrop, bunting, thank you tags and anything decorative can be arranged a week before the shower.
- Venue; If hosting your baby shower at home, do your homework to find the best natural lighting, time of day and area of your home. Be creative with the spaces that you have available. If weather permits you could even have a picnic in the park, or a beach side baby shower! 
- If you would like to know about my shower, or if your in Dubai and need some advice on planning a baby shower please get in touch with me here. 

Details

Ombre Cake - Magnolia Bakery 
Donuts - Jam Bar Dubai
Strawberry Meringues - Carluccios 
Berry Cocktail - Sweet Things Dubai
Candy Favours - Sweet Things Dubai
Cheese Board - Jones The Grocer 

Snow Dipped Marshmallows - Guidelines here
Tulle Backdrop - D.I.Y handmade (tutorial coming soon)
Cake Bunting - D.I.Y handmade (tutorial coming soon)
'Thank You' Candy Bag Tags - Free Printable here

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Iced Ginger Cookies

As part of my baby shower, I made these mildly spiced cookies in the shape of a bottle. The cookie cutter was a little gift from my Mum and I couldn't wait to use it! Unfortunately these little beautifies didn't make it to the desert table, as I love symmetry and this just didn't sit well aesthetically. So alas, Hubbs and I have been slowly making our way through the batch of cookies which I have discovered are best served with my morning cuppa.
INGREDIENTS
  • 125g butter, room temp
  • 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C golden syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 + 3/4 C plain flour
  • 1/4 C self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger (dry)
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
ICING
  • 2 C icing sugar
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • gel food colouring
OR USE ROYAL ICING
  • 2 egg whites, beaten until soft peaks and then gradually add:
  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or bens of 1 vanilla pod
  1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C (fan-assisted). Grease and line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Using a free standing mixer of electric hand held mixer, beat butter, sugar and golden syrup until light and creamy. I usually beat for 5-7 mins. 
  3. Add egg; beat until combined. Sift dry ingredients over butter mixture, mix until just combined then knead dough gently for 1 minute. 
  4. Divide the dough into 2 portions. Roll one portion between 2 sheet of baking paper until 8mm thick. Using a cookie cutter of your choice, cut shapes from dough and place on prepared baking tray. 
  5. Bake for 8-10 mins, just until the edges turn pale golden. Cookies should still be soft and will continue to firm as they cool. You may wish to experiment with your first batch for timings and temperature.
  6. Repeat with remaining dough. 
  7. Make the icing by beating the icing sugar, milk and syrup together in a bowl. It should be thick enough to form an icing border/outline for your cookies. You can then add more milk to thin the flood icing for the centre of your cookie. 
Note: If you can be bothered with all the fuss, ice as neatly as possible without the border! I used a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off to pipe the border onto the cookies and then filled a squeeze bottle with the flood icing for the centres (you could also just use a teaspoon). I then used a toothpick to smooth the icing into the bare corners. It did take a long time and if I make these again just for home, i won't be bothering with the border. Its also a good opportunity to lets your children or niece/nephew help decorate which I'm sure they'd love! Below is a batch I made with my little sister back home in Australia last year, i've made them a few times since and everyone seems to like them! A really good, all-round cookie recipe. 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Passionfruit Pavlova

It would be a lie if I said I made this in commemoration of Australia Day which passed us by just the other day. Although I did *intend* on making a classic Aussie dessert for the big day, my pregnancy laziness got the better of me once again. I did, however, make this the week before with great success! It's the crispy on the outside, marshmallowy centered meringue kind. Definitely not chewy, not teeth shattering hard, just the ideal base for clouds of freshly whipped cream and a drizzle of tangy passionfruit.

Each and every time I've made this meringue, it comes out beautifully! I'm no food scientist but I'm sure this has to do with leaving the base overnight inside the oven as well as the addition of vinegar and corn flour.

Ingredients:

4 egg whites
250g caster sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp corn flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

350ml whipping cream
3 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 fresh passionfruit (or any other fruit of our choice, berries also work really well)


  • Preheat your oven to 160C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper, set aside. Whisk the egg whites with a hand mixer until they form stiff peaks, then whisk in the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until the meringue looks stiff and glossy. Whisk in the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla.
  • Using a silicone spatula, dollop the meringue mixture onto your prepared tray. Use the back of the spatula to form your desired shape. I like to make a a slight 'wall' around the edge of the meringue to hold in the cream better. *Note: most of the time I make a circular meringue, however last time I made an extra large meringue, making it a rectangle. 
  • Place the meringue into the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 130C. Bake for 1 hour and then turn the oven off. Allow the meringue to remain inside the cooling oven to dry out. Preferably make your pavlova base the night before, leaving it inside the oven overnight. 
  • Just before serving, whip the cream with the icing sugar and vanilla. Spread evenly over the meringue base and spoon over passionfruit. 
I served this on large wooden chopping board as I had no other dishes that would accommodate my oversized beauty. I couldn't of planned it better, it was perfectly rustic!