Best Ever Anzac Biscuits

Or at least that’s what my bowl tells me…

Anzac Biscuits

And actually I’ve modified this recipe to make them even better.

I couldn’t quite bring myself to add so!much!sugar, so I normally reduce the cup of sugar to 3/4 of a cup (every little bit helps). And unless you like them extra crispy, cooking for 20 minutes in my oven is far far too long. At 160 degrees in a non-fan-forced oven, my biscuits take about 15 minutes (it’s about 12 minutes in a fan-forced oven). If you have two trays, set the time for 10 minutes, and then swap them over for the final five. You’ll notice that there are no directions for the size of the biscuit dough balls (gasp!). A generous dessert spoon of dough makes an approximately 1 inch ball,  which in turn makes a biscuit that is generous but not excessive (remember – you can always eat more than one!)

Anzac Biscuits Anzac Biscuits Anzac BIscuits

To be fair I am not such an Anzac Biscuit connoisseur to be able to define these as Best Ever. However I often have all the ingredients on hand, which means whipping up a batch for unexpected visitors is very quick and easy, and they never last long.

Note to Self: Sushi Rice

Vegetarian Sushi

I like making sushi (mostly vegetarian, rarely authentic, often pretty),  but I can never remember, what proportion of rice to water to sushi sushi seasoning  you need, and I never remember how many sushi rolls (maki) you get out of a given amount of rice.   So for reference, here are notes from when I made sushi last weekend.

1. Thoroughly rinse your rice with clean cold water to remove extra starch, until water runs clear.

2. Add rice to a saucepan with water (1.5 cups water for every cup of rice), and cover with a lid.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and cook (covered)  until water is absorbed – 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Once cooked, spread rice out in a shallow, non-metallic tray and sprinkle sushi seasoning* over the top – just over 1/2 a cup for 3 cups of cooked rice (3 tablespoons per cup of cooked rice).  Stir in with a non-metallic spoon.  At this point,  you are also supposed to fan the rice to cool, although I didn’t.

4. Once the rice is cool, make sushi!

1 cup uncooked sushi rice makes 3 cups cooked.  I cooked 1.5 cups of rice, hence making 4.5 cups cooked rice.  From this I was able to make  3 ‘big’ sushi maki (i.e. using a whole nori sheet each), and 2 ‘small’ maki, using a half nori sheet. At 8 pieces of sushi per roll, that’s 40 pieces all up.

Protip: Keep a small cup of water close by, to wet your fingers. Wet fingers are the best way to keep the sushi rice from sticking over your fingers.  A bit of water is also very useful for sticking down wayward nori too :-)

This was my first opportunity to use the sushi mould I was given for Christmas last year, and so I decided to try out heart shaped sushi! I love the idea, but execution still needs work – in particular I think my hearts lost shape because they needed something more solid in the middle than grated carrot  and bean sprouts.  As ever,  I think my most beautiful sushi are the ones with the beautifully green and round asparagus. (They taste good too.)

Vegetarian Sushi

Vegetarian Sushi

*Some people might be asking at this point why I haven’t provided a recipe for the sushi seasoning. This is because I buy it pre-prepared :-P

Bread and Butter

No Knead Bread

So I’ve been making Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread most weekends for 6 or so weeks. I’m not actually sure that we’ve bought bread since I started making it. This weekend’s batch was pronounced the Best!Bread!Evah! by the BF, and I’m not sure if the superiority of this weekend’s loaf is down to some random variable, or the fact that this is first time I’ve use my (new!) digital scales to weigh out the ingredients by mass, rather than measure by volume ( e.g., 400 g of flour, rather than 3 cups). I guess I will have to make some next week and see if I can reproduce this weekend’s results…

Which brings me to the subject of butter. Ever since we ate the Best Butter Ever in France (purchased from some convenience store near our apartment, so nothing super special), I’ve be researching why butter here in Australia is… not the Best Butter Ever. I first wondered if it was the salt content – european butter is generally salt free. But even the unsalted butter here doesn’t have the sweetness of the butter we had in France. Then I found this article,  which explains that up to 10% of Australian butter is frozen, which turns rancid when mixed with fresh butter. Oddly enough this hasn’t stopped me from buying ‘normal’ butter for baking,  but I’ve been trialing more exotic butters for my bread. To date, Girgar Butter has been the best substitute, though still not 100% the same. There are a couple of specialty food places around that do stock the proper French cultured butter too. I’d like to try them,  although that requires planning and breaking my normal shopping routines.  (If only I could buy it online!!)

No Knead Bread  No Knead Bread

Mini Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecakes

Baked Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecakes

I made these mini chocolate and raspberry cheesecakes by adapting this slice recipe from Taste.com. The biscuit layer is made the same way, with a teaspoon or so of the mixture packed into the bottom of 24 cupcake liners (which I stood into mini cupcake trays).  I folded the chocolate into the cheesecake filling, but not the raspberries, and then dolloped the cheesecake filling into each cupcake liner, followed by a raspberry centred in the middle of each. You can make about 24 mini cheese cakes using half the mixture, which was enough for my entertaining purposes,  so I used the rest to make a slice in a loaf tin. The cupcakes took about half the baking time suggested, though I’d recommend you just keep checking them. It was delicious both ways :-)

Pasta Porn

Fresh Egg Pasta Fresh Egg Pasta Fresh Egg Pasta

So we brought out the pasta making machine today, after a long break, and within 30 minutes we had sheets and sheets of fettuccine drying on the kitchen bench. Again, I cannot stress enough that fresh pasta is significantly better tasting than dried pasta, and it is *very* straight forward to make, particularly if you have a pasta machine! (To be fair, I wouldn’t bother without one!). It also stores well – either dried in the pantry or frozen in the freezer (funny that). In both cases, you just pop it in boiling water when you want to eat it. It only takes a few minutes to cook through.

Fresh Egg Pasta

I’ve blogged the main recipe I use for pasta before. Today we swapped out the optional oil with about 2 tbsp of finely chopped basil. (We had also to add a tbsp or two of water to get the dough to come together).

Fresh Egg Pasta (Dough)

Recipe: Ginger Rice Pudding

Ginger Rice Pudding

So a few weeks ago we accidentally bought 2L milk, when we had an unopened 2L milk in the fridge.  (The main use  for milk in our house is the BF’s cereal so it’s quite easy for us to use less then 2L in any given week. 4L of milk is a LOT of milk for us!).  So I went trawling for dessert recipes which used a substantial amount of mil (2L ideally), for which I had all the other ingredients already. Fairly quickly I came across this recipe for Milk Rice Pudding:  milk (check), aborio rice (check), vanilla, sugar and cinnamon (check, check and check), rind of a lemon… (um… no).  However, we had bought a really lovely piece of fresh young ginger yesterday – the sort you don’t see too often, with really thin translucent skin that comes off really really easily.  So I decided to swap out the lemon rind and cinnamon for ginger. The result pudding is super easy to make, creamy (despite only having 2% fat milk in it), and has a ginger bite that reminds me of nothing more than Arnott’s Ginger Snap Biscuits. It’s very moreish.

Ginger
Ingredients
1.8 L 2% fat (Hilo) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp grated ginger
3/4 cup of sugar
250 g arborio rice

Place milk, vanilla, ginger and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over medium-high heat, stirring fairly frequently.  Stir in rice, then reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 40-50 minutes or until rice is cooked and thickened slightly. The mixture will still be quite wet at this stage. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature (it thickens up considerably during this time). I reckon you could eat it warm, after it has cooled for 30 minutes or so. However, we followed the original recipe to the end and refrigerate for 3+ hours or until chilled. We ate ours plain,  but I think stewed apples or pears would go particularly well.

Recipe: Portuguese Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde

So way back in January 2010,  I went to Lisbon.  I stayed in a reasonable, but most excellent hostel, and went to some fairly nice restaurants. I think I spent more on food per day than I did my accommodation! On my first evening I didn’t stray too far from the hostel, and dined early.  For mains I picked rabbit (which was delicious and came with chips!), and I decided to somewhat splashout by having  an entry as well. I picked caldo verde. I had no idea what was, or that it was a traditional Portuguese dish  (I think I knew it was a soup from the menu). The main reason I picked it because it was cheap (3 or 4 euro from memory).  But oh it was delicious – a hearty (but not stodgy) green soup with spicy sausage.  I had it a couple more times during my trip (pretty much at every opportunity!) and came away with the vow to make it myself. When I got home I looked up wikipedia and a few recipes, and saved them, and then did nothing… until a couple of weeks ago when I realised that I had all the ingredients (and most specifically chorizo and kale) – without even trying!

And so I made it. I pretty much following this recipe, though I amped up the chorizo (two sausages instead of one), and used kale as my green. I also was a bit concerned about the paprika oil.  Was it swirled into the pot?  In individual bowls? What if I was just going to eat it ALL BY MYSELF**? So I decided to just mix in the paprika late in the cooking phase, without worrying about the oil  (perhaps I will add the paprika earlier in the future).

Someone asked me if my caldo verde tasted like the one I had in Lisbon, but to be honest I can’t remember exactly what it tasted like.  But it certainly felt the same – warming, spicy and wholesome.

**Not quite, but close