Anise Biscuits

I’ve been through The Cookbook Guru‘s book of choice for July and August, The Italian Baker by Carol Field, and put in little pieces of paper to bookmark all the recipes I want to try. The hard part is trying to figure out where to start.

I’ll definitely be making some of the wonderful breads and trying out the Biga (Starter Dough), but last night I felt like baking some biscuits.

These biscuits are wonderful.

They’re very much like Savoiardi biscuits. So light and crispy with a hint of aniseed.

They’re  also very easy to make too. Perfect with a hot cup of tea or coffee. Hard to stop at one….

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You’ll need:-

4 eggs

180g castor sugar

5g vanilla extract

grated zest of 1/2 lemon

200g plain flour

pinch of salt

3g baking powder

5-8g aniseed, crushed

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until very thick, about 8-10 minutes. Mix in the vanilla and lemon zest then gently fold in the sifted flour, salt and baking powder. Now stir in the aniseed.

Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a plain 1cm nozzle and pipe 10cm long strips onto a baking paper lined baking tray.

Bake in a pre-heated 190oC oven for 20 minutes then turn the heat down to 160oC and bake for a further 5-8 minutes until lightly browned and crispy.

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Cool on the trays for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Personally I’ll be putting in a little more aniseed next time I make these. But then I love the flavour of aniseed.

Light, crispy and easy to make….sounds good to me…

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Enjoy…

Sauteed Mushrooms on Soft Polenta

“The mind is willing but the flesh is weak”…

That’s what it’s like this morning for me.

My head is saying ‘it’s time to exercise. Get up! Move it! NOW!!!’

But alas here I am, sitting at the computer, looking out the window at the drifting fluffy white clouds and the sun reflecting off the neighbours TV aerial. For now, the laziness wins.

In my defense there are still many hours left of this day so my head will get it’s way. Besides, I need a couple of things from the local supermarket, which happens to be at the end of my usual walking route so exercise  will be done at some time today.

Until that time comes though, I thought I’d share with you what we had for dinner last night…

Sauteed Mushrooms with Soft and Cheesy Polenta

First make the polenta.

You’ll need:

1/2 cup polenta

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1 tsp thyme leaves

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

50g butter – cut into small pieces

a little salt, a little pepper

In a medium saucepan bring to a boil the milk and water then slowly sprinkle in the polenta while whisking continuously. Turn the heat to it’s lowest and let the mixture cook for 30 minutes, stirring often so it doesn’t stick.

Stir in the butter, cheese and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cover and leave to rest while tending to the mushies.

For the Sauteed Mushrooms you’ll need:

300g of whatever mushroom you like (I used swiss browns this time)

50g butter + 1 Tblsp olive oil

2 large garlic cloves – finely grated or crushed

2 tsp thyme leaves

a handful fresh parsley – chopped

a dash of white wine

2-3 Tblsp cream (although I didn’t have any so I used greek style natural yoghurt)

salt and pepper

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In a large fry pan melt the butter with the oil. Add the mushroom and saute for a few minutes until they’re soft then add the garlic and thyme. Cook for a couple more minutes before adding the white wine and cream(yoghurt). Finally stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

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To serve spread some of the polenta on a plate then spoon on the mushrooms and some of the cream sauce.

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Really simple but really tasty.

(I believe it’s now time for that walk…)

Enjoy…

Warm Roast Veg.and Quinoa Salad

I’m pretty sure just about everyone goes through the “What shall we have for dinner tonight?”  scenario all too often.

There we are standing in front of an open fridge, looking at what’s inside. What needs to be used up? What can do with this little bit of whatever? How can I turn that into a satisfying meal?  And the biggest question of all…What does my stomach feel like today???

Well yesterday my stomach felt like some roast veggies.

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I went through the fridge and the pantry and came up with a chunk of pumpkin, some sweet potato, a zucchini and other bits and pieces. So after looking at all these ingredients I got an image in my head and I acted on it…

I chopped up some pumpkin, a couple of potatoes, a zucchini, half an eggplant, a few chunks of sweet potato, a red onion and a tomato. (If I’d had some beetroot that would have gone in too. I wish I’d had some beetroot….oh well…)

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Into a large bowl went all the veg. along with some grated garlic, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a good glug of olive oil. A toss around to coat the veggies in the garlicky goodness then onto a baking tray. A sprinkle of salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, ground cumin and a scattering of fennel seed. Into a hot oven, 230oC for about 30 minutes until veggies are cooked.

While waiting for the veggies to cook I put 1/2 cup of quinoa into a saucepan with 1 and a bit cups of water. I added a little finely sliced onion and a couple of garlic cloves. This was brought to the boil then the heat was turned right down, the lid put on and it was left to gently cook for 20 minutes.

On the serving plate was arranged some baby spinach, a little green and purple kale. Then the quinoa IMG_1818

and finally the roast veggies. A drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and if you like some feta cheese.

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Oh and the left overs make a great lunch…

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Enjoy…

Curried Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup

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Mmmmm….I love sweet potato. I love it sliced thick or thin, cut in large wedges or even just in half longways and drizzled with oil and fennel seeds then baked. It’s a great alternative to mashed potato and I’ve even grated it and used it in cakes. So versatile.

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Or there’s this soup. A lower G.I. version of pumpkin soup.

30g butter + 30g olive oil
1 medium brown onion – diced
1 clove garlic – crushed
1 tsp fennel seeds
1\2 tsp turmeric powder
1\4 tsp curry powder
1 medium potato – diced
2 medium sweet potato – diced
1\4 cup red lentils
3 cups of water or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

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Heat butter and oil in large saucepan over a medium heat then add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, turmeric and curry powder and cook for about a minute.

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Throw in the potato, sweet potato and lentils. Top up with the water, bring to the boil then lower heat, cover saucepan and allow to simmer away happily for about 30 minutes or until the potato and lentils are soft.
Season with salt and pepper.
You could eat it as is or purée in a blender or food processor.
Serve with a dollop of natural or Greek style yoghurt and some warm buttered bread.
Perfect for a cool Autumn evening.

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Please enjoy…

Shanklish – A Lebanese Herby Yoghurt Cheese.

This is an amazing cheese. I remember not liking it so much when I was really young because of all the herbs and chilli coating the outside, but I definitely grew to love it and at the moment can’t seem to get enough of it.

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I did some research this morning with my mum and found it’s made from heating yoghurt to a certain temperature and then straining it through a cheese cloth  for several days. Once most of the liquid has drained, herbs and chilli powder are mixed in. Then you roll it into balls and roll the balls into another mix of herbs and chilli. It’s then left to dry for a few more days.

Aaahhh too long so for now I’ll just buy it from my local Lebanese green grocer who has a fridge full of different cheeses. I  will, however, one day attempt to make it.

Shanklish has a very crumbly consistency and is usually served mixed with tomato, onion and olive oil. Even writing about it makes me hungry for it…

The other week I was trying to figure out what to make for our traditional Fun Food Friday and came up with Shanklish Bruschetta. It was a hit…

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And really easy…

All you need is:-

1 ripe tomato – diced

1/4 small red onion – finely diced

a few fresh basil leaves – finely chopped

a little fresh parsley – finely chopped

a generous glug of excellent extra virgin olive oil

some freshly ground black pepper

some crumbled Shanklish Cheese

A few slices of your favourite bread (or in this case what was available late on a Friday evening)

1 clove of garlic – peeled

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Mix everything but the shanklish in a bowl until combined then add the cheese and gently stir it through. You don’t want to over mix and cause the cheese to break down too much or you’ll end up with a mush…you want small chunks of cheese…

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Grill or toast your bread then gently rub the garlic clove over the surface (as little or much as you like)

Arrange on a serving plate then spoon the cheese mix over the top making sure not to waste any of the yummy dressing left at the bottom of the bowl.

Serve…

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Sooo Goooood…..

Enjoy…

Berry And Almond Yoghurt Cake

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It would seem I had my bake on this weekend.

After a visit to the wonderful Ramsgate Organic Markets (near Brighton-Le-Sands in Sydney) on Saturday morning, I baked 2 dozen Hot Cross Buns, then on Sunday a Berry Almond Cake and a humongous crusty Italian loaf, all of which ended up at mum and dads for our usual Sunday family feast.

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Though I didn’t end up tasting the cake I was told it was ‘the best cake ever’ so I thought I’d share…

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Berry And Almond Yoghurt Cake

150g butter – cut into cubes

155g castor sugar

2 eggs

10g vanilla extract

250g plain flour

15g baking powder

200g plain Greek style yoghurt

100g fresh blueberries

100g fresh raspberries

85g flaked almonds

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Preheat oven to 180oC. Butter a 19cm square cake tin and line with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar, using an electric beater or stand mixer, until light and fluffy. In a small bowl lightly whisk the eggs and vanilla then very slowly add to the butter mix being sure to scape down the sides a couple of times. This should take a couple of minutes, you don’t want to rush this part or the mix will split.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and add half to the butter mix along with half the yoghurt. Stir until just combined then add the rest of the flour and yoghurt and a few berries and stir until combined. Try not to over mix it.

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Spoon into baking tin and smooth the surface. Scatter with the almonds and remaining berries and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Take out of the oven and leave it to cool in the tin for 20 – 30 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve as is or with a spoonful of yoghurt.

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Enjoy…

Spinach on the Side

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I haven’t made this side dish in ages which is a shame considering how much we enjoy it. With the spinach looking super fresh this morning at the green grocers, I couldn’t resist.

This can be made with baby spinach and if you like add some pine nuts.

You’ll need:-

1 Tblsp olive oil

A good knob of butter

2-3 cloves garlic – thinly sliced

1/4 cup flaked almonds

1 bunch English spinach – washed and roughly chopped

In a large fry pan melt the butter in the oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and almonds and sauté until golden brown.

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Throw in the spinach and lightly toss until wilted. Season with a little salt and pepper.

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That’s it.

I served it with baked salmon fillets that I marinaded in garlic, ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce along with baked sweet potato and fennel seeds.

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It was a great combination. The left over sweet potato made an excellent addition to garden salad for the lunch the next day.

Enjoy…