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.

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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 😛

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

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)

Ravioli et al

I always forget how much better fresh pasta is than it’s dried counter parts – and really doesn’t take that long.  We made some on the weekend,  using the recipe below,  but substituting some of the plain oil with some sun dried cherry tomatoes and the oil that they’re preserved in.  It gave the past a lovely colour.  We made some fettuccine and lasagna sheets, and brought out the ravioli making machine for only the second time ever (I’ve probably had it 14 odd years) for some stuffed pasta.  It worked ok,  but to be honest I think it’s just as easy to make them by hand ( though cranking them out is kinda fun!)

Pasta Pasta Pasta

Egg Pasta Dough
3 cups bread flour
4 eggs
1 tsp salt (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil (optional)

Sift the flour onto a smooth work surface. Hollow out a well in the top of the mound like a volcano.  Crack the eggs into the well and add salt and oil if desired. Gradually combine with the surrounding flour until all combined. Knead the dough with the heel of your hand, adding more flour if the dough is sticky.  Knead for 5-10 minutes, or use your pasta machine on the widest setting to knead it, by passing it through the rollers until smooth.  (I use the pasta machine – seems much more efficient!!)

Pasta Pasta

Final note:  the most useful book I have on pasta  I bought from Target from the bargain book bin – ‘Pasta:  Sauces and Fillings for All Shapes and Sizes’ by Constance Jones.  (1993 paperback – seems to be out of print now)