Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween cupcakes & cookies

Even though Halloween is not big in NZ, I always love to make something for the occasion. This year I bought a pumpkin cookie cutter and made these cookies from Taste. I was busy talking to my husband as I made them and I actually think that I left out half a cup of flour. The mixture was still easy to work with and roll out, but on the oven tray, even after freezing the un-baked shapes (which I often do as it helps to keep the shape of the biscuits when they bake) they spread on the tray.

I was a bit distraught and then had an idea – as the cookies came out I re-pressed my cutter down and got perfect shaped pumpkin cookies. I took the cookies down to my niece and nephew in Christchurch in the weekend.

When I made the chocolate & coconut cupcakes I had some leftover mixture, so I made these little mini cupcakes using Halloween cupcake wrappers (you can just see the jack o'lanterns on the wrappers in the photo below) and some Halloween confetti that I got from Millys. They are simply iced with chocolate ganache. I need to get a bit more adventurous with my cake decorating I think! Hopefully the trick or treaters will be happy with these!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

cupcakes and meatloaf

Last night I quickly made these cupcakes for a marketing thing at work. I was in a rush so used a new recipe for a melt and mix coconut and chocolate cake from the Donna Hay chocolate book. I iced them with chocolate ganache and sprinkled them with silver cachous. They are pretty simple but look quite cute.

Had a yummy dinner last night. I made a meatloaf using this recipe from Cuisine. Sometimes you just feel like something simple like meatloaf, potato and vegetables! I didn’t make the mushroom sauce (got home from work quite late) but it was really yummy with the roast beetroot, a rocket salad and agria potatoes which I thinly sliced, sprinkled with sea salt, drizzled with oil, layered and microwaved for 10 minutes. I then put them in the oven for about 10 minutes which crisped up the top a bit. I had intended on making potato gratin but time was pretty short and this actually worked out quite well. I love roast beetroot (organic from the Takapuna market!). I drizzled the beetroot with some balsamic drizzle from Telegraph Hill. This stuff is fabulous! It has the balsamic flavour but isn’t as acidic. It is great used as a salad dressing as well. I think everyone should have some of this in their cupboard.

Friday, October 26, 2007

First bbq of the year!

In the weekend we had our first bbq. Two of my sisters were here, as well as the new boyfriend of one of them, so of course while it was “just a bbq” I still had to make a dessert to impress!!

The bbq itself was fairly basic – Steak marinated in a mixture of coriander, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice and chilli powder. To go with this I made a yummy roast kumara salad (organic kumara from the Takapuna market roasted in a mix of spices including cumin and coriander, then served at room temperature with lemon zest, flat leaf parsley and crumbled feta) and a green salad with avocado and toasted almonds. I like to keep my green salads pretty simple. I’m not big on having hundreds of chopped up little things in them – I usually just serve some baby spinach or rocket with toasted almonds and a nice vinaigrette. My sister had brought some lovely bread as well.

Pudding was yummy though. Individual chocolate pavlovas with raspberries inside, lots of whipped cream on top and some new seasons strawberries. I followed the recipe in Annabel Langbein’s latest book. She is one of my favourite cook book authors. Her recipes are simple but sophisticated. These pavs were great. Just a normal pavlova mixture, but then with melted dark chocolate swirled through and some frozen raspberries put in a hole in the middle with more egg mixture on top. They turned out my favourite way – crisp on the outside but gooey in the middle. They were a success! I would definitely make these again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

a basket of wee treats

One of my Mum’s best friends, Lenore, had a special birthday this week and Mum asked me if I would mind doing a basket of “wee treats” for her. I used to do gift baskets quite frequently, so it was quite exciting to put one together again. I am a prolific jam and relish maker, so always have quite a bit on stock. For Lenore I selected blueberry and apple jam and rosewater and almond marmalade. Then I did some baking.

One of my specialties has always been chocolate truffles – secret recipe! So I made some baileys and milk chocolate truffles, dipped in deliciously rich dark chocolate. Other combinations I have made include: white chocolate and baileys, white chocolate and rose, white chocolate and cassis and dark chocolate and rum, but the baileys truffles always seem to be the most popular.

The next item in the gift basket was parmesan biscuits. I love these and they are so easy to make (recipe is below). The texture of these biscuits is divine – quite short and crumbly and almost melt in the mouth which is pretty impressive for a savoury biscuit! They are great on a cheese board, delicious with blue cheese and quince paste and have that savoury appeal that makes you want to eat more and more of them! I sometimes make them and freeze half the mixture into a log and keep it in the freezer. You can then slice and bake them from frozen and they only take about 12 minutes to cook.

And last but not least, these little tea cup and tea pot biscuits. I must say, I was so delighted with how these turned out!!! My icing is still not perfect, but I think it is getting better. I was so pleased with these, I couldn’t stop looking at them! I hope that Lenore loves them too.

This is the card I made her to go with the gift basket.

Adapted from Maire Claire Food & Drink

125g butter
½ c grated cheddar cheese
½ c grated parmesan cheese
150g flour
1 tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp salt

· Pulse all ingredients in food processor until the mixture starts to come together
· Tip onto bench and roll into a log. Wrap in glad wrap and chill for about 30 minutes
· Slice into biscuits and bake at 180deg for about 12-14 minutes
. Cool on trays

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

re-creating caramel slice

My youngest sister, Hayley, came up from the Hawkes Bay to stay in the weekend. Her favourite thing is caramel slice and I usually make some for her – chocolate shortcake base with caramel and then chocolate topping. But this time she told me that there is a café in Hastings that sells caramel slice that she adores and she bought a piece up with her for me to re-create.

To be honest I didn’t think that the one Hayley wanted me to make was as nice as the caramel slice that I usually make. It was a bit like tan square, but chocolate, and it almost tasted like it wasn’t cooked through properly. The chocolate taste was a little insipid – I like a more pronounced chocolate flavour.

The one that I made is above. I actually preferred my one! It is a little more chocolatey than the original and not quite as sugary. The caramel is really yummy – quite gooey and rich! The recipe I created is below:

Tammy’s chocolate caramel slice


160g butter
1 c sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 egg
2 c flour
¼ c cocoa
1 ½ tsp baking powder

· Soften butter until almost melted and then cream with sugar. Add golden syrup and then egg.
· Stir in rest of ingredients.
· Press half the mixture into a lined 23cm square tin. Pour over caramel (see below) and then patch rolled out pieces of the remaining dough over the top to cover.
· Bake at 170 deg for about 20 minutes


Melt together 1 400g tin condensed milk, ½ c brown sugar, 2 tbsp golden syrup and 50g butter, stirring until thick

Friday, October 19, 2007

supporting breast cancer awareness month

As I have mentioned before, I no longer make wee treats to sell, I only make them as gifts. Although I did make Christmas cakes last year (not sure whether I will this year). However, I have decided this year to do something I did a couple of years ago to support breast cancer awareness month and that is breast cancer ribbon shaped shortbread. I have taken orders and all proceeds are going to the breast cancer research foundation.

These ones are dipped in pink chocolate. I think they look cute.

Thursday night dinner is often a quick meal – for some reason, when it gets to Thursday I want to make something that is relatively effortless. Last nights dinner involved two eggplant that were languishing in the bottom of the fridge. I love eggplant. In fact I love all vegetables other than swede and yams.

With the eggplant I made pasta alla norma loosely following the recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Italy book. Instead of frying the eggplant, I baked it in the oven. I usually do this when I cook eggplant as it doesn’t need as much oil. In fact sometimes, I spray it with olive oil spray rather than brushing it with oil. The rest of the sauce was two cans of whole tomatoes (delmaine are my favourite brand), some Sicilian oregano (This is quite different to the dusty oregano that you buy from the supermarket – it smells a lot fresher and pungent – a bit like the wild thyme smell round the hills of central Otago. I got mine from Nosh), lots of basil and garlic and I think the key ingredient was about a tbsp of white wine vinegar. I also added a pinch of sugar as I do with most tomato dishes I make – it seems to take that rough edge off the tomatoes. I stirred the sauce through the pasta and served with feta sprinkled on top – nice and easy and quite tasty for a Thursday night!

Looking forward to lots of cooking over the long weekend!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fabulous produce from Takapuna markets

I always thought that the Takapuna market was a bit junky, until I read in cuisine about a stall where Natalia Schamroth gets organic baby leeks from. As soon as I read that I made it my mission to go early the next Sunday morning and have been going almost every second week since then. I tend to go about 7am before I come home and go for my run, as it is not so busy then and I get first pick at the produce available. The market is held every Sunday morning in the car park on Anzac St.

I tend to stick with the organic produce stalls, although there are lots of market gardeners there as well. I have my 4 favourite stalls and always go to these, maybe picking up something else of interest along the way. Buying at the market means that we tend to eat more in season, which is something I am becoming increasingly conscious of.

I love the baby leeks, baby sweet kumara, rainbow chard and smoked garlic that are not readily available from my usual fruit and vegetable shop. This week I got some even more exciting things – some fabulous home made Turkish bread, garlic shoots – which apparently you use in the same way that you use garlic, some sweet peas for the vase I have on the window by my kitchen sink and some fennel which I used on Sunday night in a dish with cannelini beans served with fish and tapenade.

Last night for dinner I made a recipe from Taste magazine – free range chicken breasts baked on a rice pilaf with smoked paprika, green olives and kidney beans. Honestly, I would only buy free range chicken now – it tastes so much better and is so tender!! Although, in saying that, I still find chicken breast a bit bland. I served it with my rainbow chard from the market, cooked my favourite way – lightly sautéed in a pan with some garlic until just wilted. It was yummy actually - I really enjoyed the smokiness of the smoked paprika as a contrast to the saltines of the olives!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

spring cupcakes

Just about the only flowers left in our garden after my husband did a big clean up in the weekend, was a small bunch of violets. They were too cute not to use for something, so I crystallised them with egg white and sugar and used them as the decoration on these cupcakes.
For the cakes I used the recipe for Victorian sponge from the Peggy Porschen book. Last year I had bought some violet syrup at the Hastings farmers market and so used some of this to flavour the cakes.

The flavouring isn’t very strong though and they do taste pretty plain, but a delicious plain – very light and melting in your mouth. The icing went a bit more vivid than I intended, but the effect is quite cute with the little purple cupcake wrappers. I took these into work for morning tea.

Dinner last night was pork scallopine (havoc pork of course!) filled with cheese and asparagus served with polenta and parmesan potato wedges (both recipes from Dish magazine) and extra roast asparagus on the side. I made a sauce to go with it using Cyclops natural yoghurt instead of the crème fraiche specified in the recipe, wholegrain mustard and lemon juice. To make the pork scallopine I used pork schnitzel, sprinkled with grated cheese and then wrapped around a spear of asparagus. I only had a small bite of the pork but it was a surprisingly quick week day dinner meal and very tasty.

Monday, October 15, 2007

spring flowers & wee treats

Over the weekend I had another wee practice of my biscuit icing skills. The results are the tulips above. I think that they look lovely and spring like. I also tried to pipe some little icing flowers – what a disaster!! My first attempt was actually quite good. But it was all downhill from there! I think that I may need to go to a cake decorating class! I did try one at a local high school a few years ago, but only lasted one night – I thought that the teacher was a bit nana- ish. I may have to try again and a bit more open minded!! :0)

On Saturday night we met up with friend’s for dinner in the viaduct. It was one of our friend’s birthday, and I made her these biscuits.

They are Jaffa biscuits from an old Donna Hay magazine – really just a variation on shortbread with some orange zest added and then dipped in chocolate. You can see my wee treats label a bit more clearly in the photo. I finally read the instructions for my camera – I think my photography is getting a little better as a result!

Friday, October 12, 2007

more cards

Here are two more cards I made earlier in the week. I love the wee girls who look like they are off to school – this will be a good one for my niece when she turns 5 next year.

No cooking last night, as we were at a function, so dinner was take away sushi. My latest cuisine magazine arrived though, which is always exciting! Looking forward to a good read of that over the weekend!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

new books and more meatballs

This is the time of year when all the new cook books start to appear on the shelves in time for Christmas. And I am an extremely impatient person!!! So, as soon as I know that there is a new cook book out by a favourite author, I have to buy it immediately – even though I often live to regret my haste as the price comes down prior to Christmas! Two of my favourite celebrity chefs have just released new books – Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie at Home” and Nigella’s “Nigella Express”. I bought them both from Amazon UK and they arrived last week. Very exciting!!

They are both now sitting beside my bed waiting to be feasted upon! I have read right through Jamie and I think that this is his best book to date. There are a lot of vegetable based recipes and as vegetables are my favourite thing, this is great!!!! The book is incredibly inspiring and is even inspiring me to have a small vegetable plot at our new house (this is in 12-18 months time when it is actually finished!!

Nigella looks fab too. One of my favourite books is still How to be Domestic Goddess. But the thing I really love about Nigella is her writing style! Even when the recipes are pretty basic, she has a certain style about her that makes reading them highly entertaining – you feel like she is your friend and is speaking to you! It might be a stretch to call some of these “recipes” as a lot of the recipes are pretty basic, but Nigella has style!

I will report progress on any recipes cooked from these two new books!! And I am also coveting a few other new books too – Holiday by Bill Granger which is out in a month or so and Global Baker by Dean Brettschneider, sue out later this month. I wish I could wait to ask for these for Christmas presents, but I just can’t do it!!

Last night for dinner it was my weekly Dish challenge. I was wanting to make a recipe from issue 11 that was spiced lamb with a side of Indian spiced spinach with yoghurt and chick peas. Yesterday morning, before I rushed off to an early morning meeting at work, I hunted through the freezer for some lamb, but to no avail. So instead, I got out some beef mince and I made meatballs adding the same spices that I was meant to be rubbing the lamb with (curry powder, ground coriander and smoked paprika). I also added in some chopped fresh coriander.

The spinach dish was divine. Onions, red peppers and garlic slowly cooked, then with ground coriander, curry powder, tumeric, cinnamon and tomato paste added, spinach wilted and then 1 cup natural yoghurt and a can of drained chickpeas. Yum! I served the whole dish with some basmati rice.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

birthday macaroons

I made these little macaroons as a birthday gift for one of my staff members. It was my miscellaneous foodie magazines challenge for the week. The recipe came from Taste magazine. The reason why I made them is because I had some leftover chocolate ganache in the fridge which I wanted to use up. This seemed to be a good way of doing it. The macaroons turned out quite well. I piped them out using a large round nozzle – only complaint is that they are a bit peaked on the top. Also, I was in a bit of a rush (had just been out for dinner with my in-laws), so I made them a bit larger than I would have liked. They taste great though and were quick and easy to make. I liked the thread coconut as it gave them a bit more texture.

I am still pretty hopeless with taking photos, but this is what they looked like all packaged up - you can't see my wee treats by Tammy label very clearly! That will have to wait for another post!

Macaroons with ganache

2 egg whites
2/3 c castor sugar
1.5c thread coconut
1tsp vanilla extract*


· Beat eggwhites until soft peaks form
· Gradually beat in sugar until the mixture is very thick. Carefully stir in the vanilla and coconut
· Spoon or pipe onto baking trays and bake at 180 for about 13-15 minutes. Cool on the tray and then join together with chocolate ganache

*Just a note on vanilla. When I am baking I always use good quality vanilla (unless it is just in muffins that are in the freezer for my husband’s lunches!). At the moment I am using a fabulous vanilla called Heilala vanilla which comes from Tauranga. It is a fairly new product, but it is divine and comes in the most gorgeous little bottle! Well worth hunting down.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

cooking for the in-laws

I am sure that there is a small part in all of us, no matter how long you have been married for, that wants to impress their in laws!! I have been with my husband for over ten years, but whenever his parents come to stay, Yes, I do want to impress them with my cooking prowess!!!

So to impress my in-laws who are up for a couple of nights, last night I decided to cook my prized havoc pork loin roast. If you haven’t tried havoc pork, you are missing out on a treat! This is meat that tastes like meat – it is the most delicious free range pork, reared in Waimate in the South Island. You can order the meat by mail order and it is so worth it! The bacon is divine – real bacon, none of that watery stuff. I am not a huge pork fan, but it is my husband’s favourite meat and now he wouldn’t have anything but havoc!

The pork was by all accounts delicious (I didn’t have any given my quasi vegetarian stance!). I stuffed it with rosemary and chopped garlic and then roasted it on a bed of sliced agria potatoes (inspired by Ruth Pretty’s recipe for pork roasted on trivet potatoes from this book). Agria potatoes are in my book the best for roasting! They are a beautiful yellow colour and crisp up deliciously on the outside, but with a nice fluffy interior. Lots of asparagus and also an apple and brandy sauce (also inspired by this book) were the accompaniments. The apple sauce was so yummy – a touch of flaky sea salt bringing out the flavour of the apples and making it taste a bit more savoury.

It is pudding that is photographed above. It is a quince paste and golden syrup tart using this Julie Le Clerc recipe. It was nice, but I am not sure that I would make it again. I think that I need to get a deeper tart tin as well, as there was too much filling for the size of my tart base. I used a Donna Hay recipe for the pastry. It was a pretty basic flour, sugar, butter and water mix as I didn’t want anything too rich, figuring that the filling was pretty sweet! I guess my complaint with this tart was that the golden syrup was too overpowering – you couldn’t taste the quince paste and the quince paste was my whole reason for making it!! I love quinces and each year make jam, jelly, paste or something similar. I think this tart would be better with the proportions of quince paste to golden syrup reversed.

Anyway, I think that the in-laws were suitably impressed!

Monday, October 8, 2007

A taste of Spring

Saturday night was one of the rare occasions when we had nothing social on. It was a gorgeous spring day and I really felt like something spring like for dinner. I had bought some fresh broad beans at the market and they inspired the whole meal! I read through a number of books looking for innovative ideas where broad beans could be the star of the meal, and I found one in one of my Jamie Oliver books. The salad is pictured above and was basically blanched broad beans with a dressing of peas mushed up with garlic, lemon juice, parmesan cheese and good evo, then grilled streaky bacon and toasted almonds scattered over the top. It was delicious! As you may be able to tell, part of good food to me is great texture! I loved the mouthfuls of creamy peas and beans with crispy salty bacon and crunchy almonds!

To go with it, another taste of Spring – scallops marinated in some olive oil and thyme, wrapped in streaky bacon and pan fried. To go with this I made some bread. I love making bread – the taste of some lovely home made fresh bread is far superior to anything you can buy in the shops. It is quite exciting as well to see the dough rise and the smell of the bread baking is fabulous! I used a recipe from the Donna Hay Fast Food which is one of the Marie Claire books. I made the dough into a flat bread, scattering the top with olives and chopped basil and drizzled with evo. It was the perfect thing to mop up the dressing of the salad.

I also did a spot of baking on Saturday afternoon, as my in-laws came to stay yesterday and being the dutiful daughter-in-law, I always like to have something in the tins! I made my old favourite chocolate chippie biscuits and also a really yummy banana and date loaf (another Donna Hay recipe from issue 29 of her magazine). I still make my Nana’s recipe for chocolate chip biscuits, as it always seems to give me the best texture.

Nana’s chocolate chip biscuits

4 oz butter (about 100g)
2 tbsp sugar (I use a house hold tbsp like Nana did, rather than my measuring spoons)
2 tbsp condensed milk
1 c flour
1 tsp b powder
about ½ c chocolate chips

· Beat together butter and sugar and then beat in condensed milk.
· Mix in rest of ingredients
· Roll into balls and flatten with a fork; bake at about 160 for 15-20 minutes

I like mine to be quite pale. Sometimes I use a mixture of ground almonds and flour and use milk chocolate melts for something different. Perfect with a glass of milk!!!

PS IF anyone can give me some tips on focussing my camera better it would be much appreciated!!! :0)

Friday, October 5, 2007

spiced cookies with milk chocolate

This week the recipe I made from cuisine is spiced cookies with milk chocolate, which I made for our friend, Gav, who is a plummer – he helped us out last week when we had a burst pipe in our 1970s, about to be re-built home. The idea of the recipe is that the cookies are meant to resemble churros. I love churros! The best churros that I have tasted were not in Spain, but at the Engine Room in Northcote Point. Imagine long crisp, but fluffy on the inside, doughnuts dipped into what is basically dark chocolate melted with cream! Divine!!

The recipe for the biscuits included cocoa nibs- not something that I had in the cupboard! I considered adding grated chocolate instead, but was too lazy. If I made these again, I think I would add the grated chocolate as to be honest the biscuits are quite bland (sorry Gav!). The recipe also said to mix the spices (cinnamon, cardamom and star anise) with castor sugar and sprinkle over the hot cookies – as you would dip a hot doughnut in cinnamon sugar. Given that I didn’t have the cocoa nibs I decided to add the spices to the cookie mix and then sprinkle over plain sugar. This worked quite well, giving the cookies a slight spicy taste. The thing that makes these cookies is definitely the milk chocolate – they would be quite boring without it! I also like the pretty shape from piping the mixture. Click here to see the recipe for these cookies.

While they make a pretty gift, I prefer real churros to the biscuit variety!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tapas at La Zeppa

A couple of nights ago I met up with some girlfriends at a Tapas Bar behind Victoria Park market called La Zeppa. It was a really fun night – lots of talking and catching up, but also some wonderful food! Tapas is a great way of being able to try lots of delicious morsels without having to eat off other people’s plates and without getting diner envy (ie when you go to a restaurant and the dinner of the person beside you looks far more appealing than your own!!). La Zeppa had a great selection of tapas – a good mix of cold and hot and also sweet. Also, as there were four of us dining, it was perfect, as each dish had four items on it.

We chose a selection of 8 different tapas, mixing things up between hot and cold, vegetarian, venison, duck, and chicken and then finished off with two selections of sweet tapas. The service was excellent and I was also impressed that all wines were available by the glass which is great when you are dining after work and a glass or maybe two is all you want (well, all you should have!!!).

All of the tapas were delicious, but the stand outs for me were the salted olives (these had the texture of roast olives), the smoked snapper & pernod dip served with grilled flatbread (the snapper gave the dip a very delicate flavour), the chorizo, caramelised onion and sage risotto balls (some of the best I have tasted – beautifully seasoned, with a crisp exterior and creamy interior), tomato & basil polenta chips with aioli (once again I think it is the texture thing – crisp polenta chips and creamy aioli!) and last but not least the peking duck pancakes with hoisin sauce. Actually, that is almost everything! The food was great!

Even though we were quite full by then, we ordered two dessert tapas to share – one was tiaramisu wontons with mocha anglaise (I wasn’t such a fan of these) and the other was filo cigars filled with dates and dark chocolate with a side of mascarpone – delicious!

La Zeppa is definitely a great place to got to try some really yummy food and have a good catch up with friends after work!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

celebration cupcakes

Baking is an obsession for me in a general sense, but even more specificly, cup cakes are a real obsession! I love books with cup cakes, web sites with cup cakes, cup cake wrappers and making cup cakes. The only thing that annoys me about cup cakes is when people call them muffins! I always have to bite my tongue not to correct them. I am not sure if they are trying to make themselves feel better by calling them muffins not cup cakes (muffin kind of has a healthier connotation!) or whether they just don’t get the difference! Either way, that is one of my pet peeves!

As well as my recent focus on decorating cookies, I have had an equal focus on creating cute looking cup cakes. I tend to make them to take to work, as where else is there such a large group of people happy to devour a sweet little morsel? I find it really good to have a book to look at to get ideas, and I have a couple that I really want to recommend - one is the Australian Womens Weekly book entitled “Cupcakes” and the other is “The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Book”. (I haven’t figured out yet how to give you a link from my site to another site, but have a look at . There are also heaps of cool sites – just google cup cakes!

My husband and I have just bought a house by the beach which we are going to be re-building. We are at the design stage, but of course the most important part for me is the kitchen!! And I am going to have a scullery!!!! Anyway, we met with the kitchen designer and one thing I had to tell her is that I need special space for my cookie cutters and cup cake wrappers. Because, yes, I have copious amounts of cup cake wrappers that I have collected over the years (I even bought some home from Japan 4 years ago and Wales 3 years ago!!!).

Yesterday was 12 months since I became a partner of my firm. To celebrate, what did I do? I made cup cakes and brought them in for morning tea. That is them pictured above – they looked better in real life! The recipe was from the AWW book mentioned above and was basically a simple lemon cake, topped with cream cheese icing and sprinkled with purple sugar.

Monday, October 1, 2007

cute dresses

Over the weekend I practiced my cookie decorating skills with these cute little dresses and shoes. The results are a little wobbly, but all in all, I am pretty pleased with what I created! The recipe that I used for these cut out biscuits is one from a Donna Hay magazine from a few years ago. However, the last few times I have made cut out biscuits I have used a firm shortbread recipe using icing sugar rather than castor sugar (After years of making shortbread with icing sugar, flour and butter, the last few years I have used a recipe using flour, castor sugar, rice flour, cornflour and butter which I think gives a nicer texture, but is too buttery for icing shapes!). I like the firmer texture of the shortbread for the cut out biscuits as the biscuits don’t tend to soften as much once iced.

Looking forward to lots more practising icing my biscuits! Practice will hopefully make perfect!!

Not quite vegetarian

I don’t really like meat very much and sometimes think I could be semi-vegetarian (I love fish and could not give that up!), but one weakness I do have which might sound disgusting, is things made with mince! Whether it be pork mince, beef mince or lamb mince, I am usually a fan. Although in saying that one thing I really don’t like is what in my family we called mince stew! The kind of mince that you brown, and cook with onions and mixed vegetables and serve with black sauce and mashed potatoes. The kind you have reheated on toast for breakfast the next day. That kind of mince does nothing for me. But things like meatballs, meatloaf, bolognaise, chilli con carne etc, I love!

Last night I made lamb mince meatballs and they were delicious. I mixed the meat with Moroccan style flavours – garlic, ground cumin and coriander and fresh coriander, some breadcrumbs, an egg yolk and of course salt and pepper. They were really yummy. I served them with a salad made using ebly wheat (kind of like barley) mixed with toasted pinenuts, red peppers diced and cooked in a little oil, the zest and juice of a lemon and lots of chopped flat leaf parsley. We had some pan fried organic red chard that I bought from the Takapuna markets in the morning on the side (actually the Takapuna market will definitely be mentioned in another post!). A dollop of leftover romesco sauce on the side and it was a yummy meal (if not very vegetarian!!). Leftovers are for lunch today.