Sunday, June 19, 2011

Aunty Mel Biscuits

So I don't know if I even mentioned it on the blog, but I went to visit interstate family members in January, and that was pretty rad. I tried to explain my gigantor extended family in December and did a fairly shocking job of it, so to put it simply:
- Big cousin's 21st in Sydney on New Years Eve
- Levi and I took her little sister to Melbourne with us because her parents were going to come over here for my uncle's birthday
- Little Sister Cousin is the same age as Godsister Cousin, who is obviously the daughter of my extraordinary godmother/aunty/all-around cool dude, Aunty Mel.
- Did lots of shopping.

Aunty Mel gave us these biscuits while we were in Melbourne and they were so amazing I took a photo of them. Here they are.

Don't they look delicious? If you answered yes, you are correct. You know what is the best thing about these biscuits? The recipe makes about 100. I'm not even being hyperbolic. I made these biscuits in March, and I just used up the last frozen roll of dough this morning. The dough freezes really well, and not being someone who actually buys biscuits regularly, it was nice to know I had something ready for when Mum and Dad come over, or to take to Grandma's, or whenever I wanted something sweet. I'm not going to lie, I probably averaged an entire log of mixture that was eaten straight from the freezer. Grab a log, unwrap the top, cut a chunk off, eat. I'm such a student.

Oh hey, bag of potatoes and green tea sitting in the background. What up. The tea is Buddha's Tears, if you are playing along at home, and is amazing.

Makes 100
Total time commitment: 20 minutes 
Recipe from Aunty Mel

500g butter
1 cup sugar
400g condensed milk
5 cups flour

1. If you want biscuits soon, preheat the oven to 180C, otherwise you can freeze the dough for a later date. Soften the butter.

2. Cream together butter, sugar and condensed milk.

3. Slowly add flour. If you want to add anything (AM recommendations: choc chips, or coconut and cherries), do it now.

4. Divide into five or so lumps and roll into logs. Roll up the logs in cling wrap, and refrigerate (for now) or freeze (for later). Refrigerating the mixture for five minutes or so makes it easier to work with.

5. Remove your dough from the fridge/freezer. Make sure the oven is at least on, if not preheated, I often let it heat up as I prepare the dough. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

6. Cut off 1cm-ish pieces of dough and roll in your hand until they are malleable. I had to roll the dough then flatten it to warm up the stubborn centre part of the dough-ball, do whatever you need to. If you want to make flat biscuits, flatten the ball with a fork on the baking tray.
For jam-drop biscuits, press a dent into the centre with your thumb and fill with a little jam (too much and it overflows and burns and hurts your tongue when you eat them straight out of the oven).
I've also made these with a sliver of almond pressed into the top and they were good.
Bake until golden but not browned.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: White Chocolate Cheesecakes

So I had a bit of a falling-out with Daring Bakers, mainly that I was struggling to fit everything in with my increasingly hectic life. I know, life's hard. So what did I do to fill the void? Joined another recipe club! This one is the Secret Recipe Club, and every month you are assigned another member's blog to bake something from. Exciting!

I was assigned to Lizzy's blog, That Skinny Chick Can Bake!. If these cheesecakes are anything to go by, she certainly can :) I've actually bookmarked a whole bunch of recipes from her site because it was such a dilemma only picking one. I highly recommend popping over there to check out her stuff.

I haven't edited the recipe much, except substituting Nabisco's Famous Wafers (because I have never seen them before, ever, thanks Australia) for Oreos, removing the Frangelico (because unfortunately, I no longer have mum and dad's alcohol cupboard at my baking disposal) and scaling the recipe down to only use one packet of cream cheese.

The improvised wrappers are squares of baking paper because, in true procrasti-baking style, I had already started the mixture before I realised I had no muffin tins. They didn't look as adorable but they still tasted great!

Thank you Lizzy, you've gotten me through a very stressful study week with these cheesecakes :P

Makes 18
Total time commitment: 
Adapted from That Skinny Chick Can Bake!

One packet of Oreos (150g)
30g butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp sugar
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
65g white chocolate, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg, at room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a mini muffin tray.

2. Crush the Oreos and combine with the melted butter and sugar. I may have tasted some at this step, and it might be delicious.

3. Divide the Oreo mixture equally between the muffin holder papers (exam-addled brain, I apologise) and press down into each paper to form a base. Pop them out of the way for a while.

4. In a mixing bowl, and using your electric mixer or some serious elbow grease, mix the cream cheese for about 30 seconds. Add sugar and mix for 30 seconds, then add chocolate and vanilla and mix another 30 seconds. Finally, add the egg and beat until just combined.

5. Spoon the cheesecake filling on top of each chocolate crust, and bake for 12 - 15 minutes until puffed but not golden. Leave to cool, and then refrigerate or freeze, making sure the cheesecakes are covered.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Apple Crumble

Winter is making me want dessert. I don't know how it does that. Its all cold (yes yes I think 19 degrees is cold) and I want to just go to bed early and get up late and eat lots of food.

That makes it sound like I want to be a bear.

I did buy two apple crumbles before I finally got around to asking mum for the recipe (and her buying me this gorgeous little baking dish for $10 on sale at a cute cafe), and I prefer this one. Also its so easy to make that I probably shouldn't have wasted $6 a pop on frozen apple crumbles. Apples are expensive right now, I'm sure its justifiable, but not after you've learnt this recipe.


Serves 4-6 (depending on how conservative you are with your dessert servings)
Total time commitment: 10 minutes, plus cooking time
Recipe from my mama

4 apples
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
90g butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Place them in a microwaveable dish, sprinkle some water on the top, and microwave for 2 minutes until soft.

2. If your microwaveable dish is also oven-proof, great! If not, relocate those apples to an ovenproof dish.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine all of the other ingredients. It doesn't have to be smooth, because its crumble topping. If you eat some, I won't judge you. I used to make bowls of this and eat it when I was at home by myself because thats how I roll.

4. Put the crumble topping on top of the apples and put it in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the crumble topping has browned.

5. I would serve this immediately with ice cream, but it does keep in the fridge for at least 24 hours. We've never had one survive longer than that.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Penne alla Vodka

My friend Sian, who is one of the most delightful people ever, posted this on her blog a year ago and its taken me this long to get around to making it. I'd had it once before from a restaurant, and I remember enjoying it, so I figured it couldn't go too badly.
Aside from not mixing it very well, so I occasionally had a big vodka-y bit of pasta that made me choke a little, it was really delicious and I will make it again, vodka permitting. Although I wouldn't put it past me to buy vodka specifically for cooking this. Pasta + cream + parmesan = the best. Siany's recipe was vegetarian, but I googled around a bit and people seem to like putting bacon in it, so I settled for chorizo because it was on special and I was not disappointed.

The second time I ate it (leftovers for lunch the next day) I used regular cheese instead of parmesan, and it was delightful.

Serves four
Total time commitment: 30 minutes
Recipe from Monster Girl Writes

1 onion
400g can diced tomatoes
Herbs (Sian recommends oregano and basil)
200g penne
Olive oil
2 Tbsp thickened cream
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup vodka
Parmesan or another form of cheese
Chorizo (optional)

1. Put water for the pasta on to boil. Heat the oil and garlic in a pan, finely dice the onion and cook until golden.

2. Add pasta to boiling water. Meanwhile, add the can of diced tomatoes and herbs to the onion mixture, and cook until heated through. This should take about ten minutes, roughly the same time it will take for your pasta to be al dente (fancy way to say cooked but chewy).

3. If you're using chorizo, start cutting this up and frying it now while you drain the pasta, because the part of the stove you just cooked the pasta on is still hot so you won't waste time heating a third thingy. We're all about technical terms in this kitchen.

4. Return the drained pasta to the pan and stir through the butter so the pasta is coated. Add the vodka to the pasta and mix, then add the tomatoey, creamy sauce. Combine everything, serve into bowls, and top with parmesan or other cheese and chorizo, if you're being that kind of awesome.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Roast Beetroot

I'm going to be entirely straight with you, I wouldn't have posted this if it didn't look like some crazy marble painting in the enamel dish. Mum made me roast beetroots once during my vegetarian phase and when I expressed some sort of interest in making them again, she gave me the enamel dish and four beetroots and sent me on my way with a Maggie Beer method.

I'm sure these would be great as a side dish, I had them in pasta with cream cheese (I'm 99% sure. It was something creamy but not cream; it was also about six weeks ago and my mind has since been filled with verb conjugations) and that was great. As long as you're careful, its not quite the mammoth task I'd built it up to in my head.

EDIT: I think it was actually aioli, not cream cheese. I don't like cream cheese enough to have had it lying around in my fridge after a trip home, and I just saw the aioli in my fridge and was like "OH YES THAT". 

Serves 4
Total time commitment: 10 minutes active, 40 minutes cooking
Recipe from Maggie's Harvest by Maggie Beer

4 beetroots
Olive oil
(its recommended you do this in an enamel pan, I've never done it without one so I don't know if it would work or what happens)

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Cut the stalky bit from your beetroot 2-3cm above the beetroot, otherwise they will bleed and your whole kitchen will be dyed pink. Gently rinse the beetroot.

2. Place the beetroots in the baking dish and drizzle with olive oil and about 2tsp water.

3. Cover with alfoil and bake for 40 minutes.

4. When beetroots have cooled, gently rub off the skin. I would recommend wearing rubber gloves for this, thankfully I have a lemon tree outside that I could pinch some lemons from to get the nice pink colour out of my hands before I dyed the kitchen but it was touch-and-go (or rather, don't touch and go, AMIRITE) for a while.

5. Cut and serve however you would like!