Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers - A Valentino Cake for February

Well, it is that time of the month again – time to reveal the Daring Bakers challenge for February. The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
They have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

A chocolate valentine cake sounded particularly exciting and also appropriate given that Valentines Day is in February. And as for ice cream, with having been in the smaller kitchen of our rented flat this summer, I haven’t used my ice cream maker as much as I think I will in future summers, so it was good to be able to use that as well.

The instructions for the chocolate cake were to use your favourite chocolate as this is essentially what the cake would end of tasting like. My favourite eating chocolate is actually dairy milk, but even though the instructions said you could use that, I think milk chocolate can be a bit too sweet in baking. So I ended up using Whittakers 72% chocolate. I also scaled the recipe back to 1/5th and made the cake in two small brioche moulds. With most of our kitchen gear packed up I haven’t got anything larger than a 6 inch round cake pan out and also, we didn’t need to be eating a whole cake!!

I really really love chocolate but I actually found the cake to be a bit strong for me. I wonder if it was because of the darkness of my chocolate. Maybe about 60% would have been not so strong. The cake is a flourless cake and is basically just melted chocolate butter, eggs and sugar. It is very much something you would have for pudding. That’s why the ice-cream went perfectly with it.

I didn’t make either of the ice-cream recipes offered in the challenge and instead used a David Lebowitz recipe for Philadelphia ice-cream. Philadelphia style ice-cream is really easy to make as you don’t have to make a custard before. In fact there are no eggs in at all – just cream, milk, sugar and flavouring – in this case, vanilla. I used half cream and half milk (low fat milk actually) and I was surprised by how creamy the ice-cream was for something that was relatively low in fat. I will definitely make this style again.

All in all this was a fun challenge to make, but for me it wasn’t overly challenging. See what the other Daring Bakers thought here.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Pretty Cookies

Just a short post today. I made these cookies for my girlfriend’s wee girl for her 4th birthday. I love the pretty feminine colours and I was so pleased with how they turned out.

Thursday night dinner is often something quick and easy and one of my stand by Thursday night dinners is a simple frittata/quiche. The basic method is the same – put all the add ins into the bottom of a ceramic dish which has been sprayed with olive oil spray (I use an oval emile henry ceramic dish) and then pour over 6 eggs which have been lightly beaten with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over some grated cheese and bake for about 20-25 minutes at 200c fanbake. Last night my add ins were chopped ham, cherry tomatoes, basil leaves and crumbled feta, but you could put in anything you like – leftover roast vegetables, asparagus, canned or smoked salmon, add some pesto to the eggs – the possibilities are endless!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A childhood favourite

When I was in Christchurch a couple of weeks ago Mum and I were talking about chocolate coconut clusters, which are biscuits (cookies) which used to appear in the iconic Edmonds cook book. I remember making them when I was young. The latest versions of the Edmonds cook book don’t have the recipe, so I posted on foodlovers to see if anyone could give me the recipe – which someone kindly did.

I made the clusters earlier in the week and they were just how I remembered them. They are quite large cookies (you could make them smaller but I think part of the appeal is their size) and are essentially two softish coconut and chocolate cookies joined together with chocolate butter cream. I added more cocoa and less milk. It must be childhood nostalgia which makes me like them, as they are not the kind of cookie I would usually go for – I prefer crisper more shortbready type cookies like shortbread, yo-yos and chocolate chip cookies made with condensed milk.

This recipe just makes a small batch, so you don’t get a lot of cookies due to joining them together. You wouldn’t need to join them together, but then you couldn’t call them clusters if they were single!

Chocolate Coconut Clusters (adapted from the old Edmonds cook book)

75g butter
75g sugar
1 egg
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 c coconut
2 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp milk

· Cream the sugar and butter and then beat in the egg.
· Stir in the dry ingredients and lastly the milk
· Roll into balls and flatten with a fork
· Bake at 180c for 15 minutes
Once cold joint together with chocolate butter cream icing

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Raspberry Brownie

We had a work picnic in the weekend. We had to bring either a sweet thing or a salad. I, of course, opted for a sweet treat. Brownie is something that most people like and it normally always gets eaten, so I decided to make brownie. For a change I adapted a recipe for cherry brownie to make raspberry brownies. The result was a deliciously moist brownie with lovely dark raspberries scattered throughout.

The original recipe specified creaming the butter and sugar, then adding the melted chocolate and dry ingredients. I have used that method once before and found the brownie to be more cake like. So, I used my usual method of melting the butter and chocolate together, then beating the eggs and sugar together and combining the two. I think melting the butter helps to give that gooey texture which I love in brownies. I really loved my adaptation of this recipe and will make it again.

On Monday night I started my sewing classes!! Just at the local college, but it is really great as there were women of all abilities there – you take whatever project you want to make and the teacher gives everyone the help they need. My first project is a summer dressing gown for me. I have bought a really pretty pink floral fabric with a contrasting pale green print. I want it to look like one of the robes you get in Isabel Harris. I thought it was a good thing to make first (actually I did make aprons for my niece and nephew which worked out quite well), as there are no button holes or zips to put in.

Before I went to the class I quickly made some dinner for my husband – a bacon and pea pasta dish. Very quick and easy, I cooked some bacon, adding some frozen peas once it was browned. Added a little cream at the end, tossed through pasta and sprinkled with lots of parmesan. Very easy, but tasty!

Fudgey Raspberry Brownie

220g butter
200g dark chocolate
300g sugar
4 large eggs
60g flour
60g cocoa (I used dutched cocoa)
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp vanilla
1 c frozen raspberries

· Melt chocolate and butter together and set aside to cool
· Beat sugar and eggs until thick and ribbony
· Beat chocolate mix into egg mix then gently stir in the dry ingredients and vanills
· Stir through raspberries
· Pour into lined 23cm square tin and bake at 170c for 35-45 minutes or until a thin knife inserted comes out a little sticky and there is no wobble left
Cool and then cut into squares

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TWD - Caramel Crunch Bars

This week’s TWD recipe was chosen by Whitney of What’s Left on the Table and is caramel crunch bars. There is a photo of this recipe in the book and I have often looked at it, thinking how delicious these bars look.

When looking through other TWDers comments, I saw that a few people said that they thought the slice was too thin and next time they would make it in a smaller tin. I like my slices to be more thick than thin so I used a 23cm square tin. The base is a shortbread type base, studded with chocolate chunks – I used bittersweet, but Dorie said you could use milk if you prefer. I love milk chocolate but I often find it to be too sweet in baking.

The topping is melted chocolate with toffee bits sprinkled over the top. Now, I did have a prized packet of toffee bits (you cant get them in NZ) but they were so delicious, even though I used most of them to make cookies, I actually ate the rest straight from the bag! So I got some werthers original toffees and roughly cut them – I think putting them in the food processor would have been a good idea too.

Dorie suggested eating this slice with ice –cream – like making ice-cream sandwiches from them. I think that would work well if you made the slice in a larger pan and had thinner slices. I loved my thicker slices just as they were. In fact I loved this recipe and I can see it becoming a firm favourite!! See if the other TWDers liked it as much as I did here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Old Bananas

After a weekend away in Christchurch, there were two very sad looking bananas in the bottom of the fruit bowl (as well as some well past their best kiwifruit which went straight in the bin). When this happens, I usually make them into muffins, or pop them into the freezer to use another day. But last night I decided to make some little banana cupcakes for the tradesman on site – Yes, not just the builders. We now have electricians, plumbers, gib fixers, block layers, painters and plasterers all on site!!

I based my cakes on a recipe I had clipped from the newspaper a few years ago (I cant even credit the original writer as I don’t know who it was it was that long ago), for a four spice banana cake. I substituted a few of the ingredients and scaled the recipe down a bit to make 16 cupcakes, so actually it is more my own recipe than the original. I topped the cakes with cream cheese icing.

The cake is a very moist and soft banana cake with lots of spice in it to make it more interesting. It makes quite a few cupcakes and you could even leave them un-iced for a slightly healthier lunch box treat. I rolled the edges in some yellow sprinkles which looked kind of cute, or you could pile the icing high into lovely swirls (I didn’t really think that the tradesmen would be into that!).

Four Spice Banana Cupcakes

125g butter
1 c sugar
2 eggs
½ c natural yoghurt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 c flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp each ground cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and allspice

· Cream butter and sugar and then add eggs, one at a time
· Combine mashed banana and yoghurt and fold in alternately with the dry ingredients to the butter mixture
· Spoon into cupcake cases and bake at 180c for 18-20 minutes or until a thin knife blade comes out clean
Once cooled ice with cream cheese icing

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bits and Pieces

My law firm is one of the leading firms in the franchise area in New Zealand and so for a networking event my business partner asked me to make these cookies saying that we are the No 1 franchise firm! The idea was good, but not that much fun when I over-filled my piping bag and had icing just everywhere, while I was trying to make dinner and get myself organised for book club at the same time! They looked kind of cute in the end.

I also wanted to share these two things – the first is a dishcloth knitted by my Grandma. My friend, Jenny, gave me some knitted dish cloths for Christmas – they are fabulous. Mum thought that would be something good for Grandma to knit, so I bought this lovely variegated cotton and grandma knitted this up in moss stitch. The cotton is lovely and soft and moss stitch is one of my favourite knitting stitches.

Secondly, my blog friend, Morven, sent me this lovely birthday present which was so very kind of her! I love the paper napkins – anything with cupcakes on it is a hit and I have a real thing about pretty napkins – I love them! The wooden tart tamper was made by Morven’s farther-in-law. It is beautifully crafted – the wood is so lovely and smooth. I cant wait to use it! Thanks Morven, you are a real sweetie!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Old fashioned favourites

I love pikelets and have fond memories of my Nana making them when I was small. Pikelets are like mini pancakes, but are lighter and so much nicer than pancakes! It is really easy to whip up a batch of pikelets and they are perfect with whipped cream and jam (of course, I don’t like jam, but they are good with just cream too!).

My favourite way to eat pikelets is hot, straight from the pan, with butter on them. I also quite like them cold with peanut butter on them! I made the pictured pikelets from a recipe in my favourite baking book, Ladies, A Plate. The piklets were just perfect (as is everything that I have made from that book!).

Another recipe I have recently tried from Ladies, A Plate is Josette’s shortbread. There are three variations of shortbread in the book, one using icing sugar, one using castor sugar and rice flour and one using custard powder. Josette’s shortbread is the custard powder version. The custard powder made a really nice change. The shortbread was lovely and crisp. Shortbread is always easy to make, but this was particularly easy, as you rolled the dough into logs, chilled and then sliced and baked. You could even keep cookie dough logs in the freezer and slice and bake as requested to make sure you have freshly baked cookies always. I love shortbread and this is a recipe I will try again.

Pikelets (from Ladies, A Plate)

1 egg
30g sugar
170ml milk
125g flour
1 tsp baking powder
15g butter melted with 25g golden syrup

· Whisk egg and sugar together, then whisk in milk, dry ingredients and lastly the butter and golden syrup
· Heat a pan and use a little butter on a paper towel to grease
· Drop spoonfuls of mixture into the pan. When the tops start to bubble, flip over and cook for a few minutes on the other side.
Keep warm under a tea towel.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

TWD - Devil's Food White Out Cake

This week’s TWD recipe is Devil’s Food White Out Cake chosen by Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater. I made this cake down in Christchurch and we ate it on Sunday night at a family dinner.

The photo does not do this cake justice – actually the plate I put it on had a lipped edge, so it looks like a big pudding instead of a cake. This cake was absolutely delicious. It was a simple chocolate cake, baked in two round cakes tins, then cut into 4 layers, three of them being sandwiched together to form the cake, the fourth being crumbed and used to coat the top and sides of the cake. Actually, it was just meant to be the sides of the cake, but I didn’t take a photo of what the cake was meant to look like with me and so did the top as well. One of the most delicious things about this cake was the chopped chocolate which was stirred through the cake batter before baking – it meant that when you ate the cake you were treated with these little lumps of chocolate. So yummy!

The cake was sandwiched together and covered with a meringue style frosting. Seeing as I wasn’t baking in my own kitchen and to be honest, I just love whipped cream, I actually used whipped cream to layer the cake and cover it. I think the cream was perfect – the cake itself was quite sponge like, so it was like a beautiful chocolate sponge with whipped cream. It also meant that the cake wasn’t too sweet – sometimes I find those real sugary frostings just a bit sweet.

My whole family loved this cake. It was a real treat but actually quite simple to prepare. It would make a great birthday cake. See if the other TWDers loved it as much as I did, here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Belated Valentines Cookies

We have been away over the weekend – down at the Coast to Coast which my brother in law was competing in. We had a great weekend. I made these Valentines day cookies to take down with us. They are shortbread decorated quite simply with fondant cut outs.

I also need to belatedly thank Gaye of Laws of the Kitchen for these two awards she has given me. I am meant to be passing these awards onto others, but will have to do that another day when I get more time. But, a huge thank you to Gaye – I really enjoy her blog and feel a real affinity with her given that we are both lawyers!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

And more cakes.....

This has been another week of cakes. A friend asked me to make a cake for her daughter’s 21st this week. Actually, I ended up making two cakes – one for the actual birthday for the family to have and one for the party later this week.

Rachel’s favourite flowers are frangipani and her Mum asked if I could incorporate that into the cakes. She also likes pink. I hadn’t made frangipanis before, but I worked out how to do it and I was quite pleased with the results. The only bummer is that the humidity has been terrible and so my fondant did sweat a little. I was pretty pleased with the cakes though and I hope Rachel liked them.

The cakes were my usual confetti cakes chocolate cake recipe. This time though one of the cakes sunk a little in the middle. I wondered if it was the humidity or maybe that I just didn’t cook it for long enough. I actually e-mailed confetti cakes in New York to see what they thought, and the responded almost immediately!!!! I was so excited, as they are very famous cake makers and in New York for goodness sake, so I didn’t really expect a reply. If you haven’t already, check out their website and also their books (I have both – they are awesome!!!).

Last night for dinner we had chicken breasts. I stuffed under the skin with a mix of cottage cheese, garlic, salt and pepper and basil and then roasted them for about 18 minutes at 180. To go with it, we had roast kumara and patty pan courgettes which I sliced and pan fried with garlic, pine nuts and a squirt of lemon juice at the end. Very tasty and easy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

TWD - Floating Islands

This week’s TWD recipe was chosen by Shari of Whisk, A Food Blog and is Floating Islands. This is a recipe that I have often looked at books but have never been inspired to make. The recipe is a French one and is effectively poached meringues sitting in a pool of custard. I am not sure what it is about this recipe that I have never wanted to make it, as I love custard and I also love meringues. Anyway, this week was my opportunity to try something I would not have made, but for TWD.

I made these on Friday – it was a public holiday here and a very hot day. I had no trouble with the custard. I actually made it using calci trim milk which is a reduced fat, high calcium milk, and it worked fine. I then made the meringues and poached them. I am not sure what I did wrong here. Maybe my milk was too hot? Because a couple of my meringues did more than lightly poach – they were like poached eggs! Maybe I poached them for too long.

The second thing that went wrong was that after putting my meringues on a lined tray, I put them in the fridge where they sat precariously on the top shelf balancing on relish and other bottles. My husband was clearing up from dinner, went to put something in the fridge and the tray of meringues slid out and landed on the floor. Thankfully I had just made this dessert for us and didn’t have guests waiting or anything like that!! I quickly picked up the two salvageable ones (after a bit of yelling at my husband about why did he have to open the fridge door when surely he must have known that I had meringues balancing on a relish jar lid!!) and popped them into the bowl of custard, made the toffee and drizzled it on the top.

My first instinct was right – I ended up eating all the custard, but neither of us ate the meringue. I just didn’t get it. Give me a lovely crisp oven baked meringue and a separate bowl of custard any day of the week. On a good note, it was good to try something different and I had never done the toffee drizzle thing before – I really liked that part of the pudding.

See if the other TWDers enjoyed this more than me here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cookie Carnival - February

Yesterday was one of the hottest of the summer I think. It was just beautiful! We spent the afternoon at Cheltenham beach, me reading and my husband watching the Louis Vuitton sailing regatta in the harbour. Bliss!!! But in the morning I did get the chance to make this month’s cookie carnival recipe which is chocolate fudge cookies with toffee and dried cherries. How wonderful do they sound!! I thought these would be something the builders would really enjoy. Well, my husband and I enjoyed them a lot as well!

These are excellent cookies – they have the perfect combination of fudginess with crispness. I used dutched cocoa to make them lovely and dark and they also have chocolate chips in them. The toffee contribution is toffee chips – we cant get toffee chips in New Zealand, but when the lovely Sarah sent me over some peanut butter chips from the States she also sent me a bag of Heath’s toffee chips. I hadn’t opened them up until yesterday – thankfully as I probably would have eaten the whole bag before being able to bake with them. The bag I have are combined with milk chocolate and are absolutely divine!! I was so pleased to be able to make these cookies with the real thing!

I used the “razz” dried cherries that you find in the bulk bins of the supermarket. I actually think that these are cherries dried in some sort of juice. They have a delicious tangy taste and almost taste like lollies. I cut the cherries in half to make them a better size for the cookies.

We loved these cookies and I will definitely be making them again. Seeing as I wont be able to get toffee chips in the future, I figured I could make my own toffee and pulverise it to get a kind of similar effect.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Delicious Wee Treat

I have had a couple of birthday treats to make this week. The first one I made was this white chocolate and cranberry coconut ice. Gosh, this was a real treat! Coconut ice made from cream cheese, white chocolate and dried cranberries. I would definitely make this again. The recipe is a Julie Le Clerc one that I pulled out of a NZ Womens Weekly at some stage. Coconut is not something I would chose to buy at the school fair, but it is one of those things that you kind of just have to have a piece.

Well, this white chocolate coconut ice far exceeds the usual sugary school fair stuff. It is actually even nicer than the other coconut ice recipe I have made in the past using condensed milk. In fact for my sister’s wedding I made orange coconut ice hearts as the take home gift for the guests – orange was the colour of the bridesmaid’s dress (I was the bridesmaid) – this sounds a bit garish but it was actually a gorgeous autumnal orange. If I made this coconut ice again (which I think I definitely would) I think I would leave the craisins out. Probably only because I don’t like dried fruit – although I can stomach a craisin. This fudge is very soft and needs to be kept in the fridge.

White Chocolate and Cranberry Coconut Ice (Julie Le Clerc)

250g cream cheese
3 c icing sugar
250g white chocolate, melted and cooled
1 ¼ c coconut
¾ c craisins
pink or red food colouring

· Beat cream cheese until smooth, then beat in icing sugar
· Beat in melted chocolate and then coconut and craisins
· Spread half the mixture into a lined 20cm square tin’
· Tint the remaining half pink and then spread over the top of the white layer
Refrigerate until set and cut into pieces

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Birthday Cake #2

Last week I blogged about the first of my cakes I made myself for my birthday. This is the second which I brought in as part of my work birthday morning tea shout. I was inspired by a photo in one of my Peggy Porschen books to create this cake. Once again it was a yummy chocolate cake covered in green fondant (which I coloured a little too brightly, but it was ok) and little daisies which I made. I think the effect is simple but still quite lovely.

The rest of my morning tea shout had a bit of a “Southland” flavour (I am originally a Southlander). Morning tea shouts are funny things, because that time in the morning most people really just want something savoury like a sausage roll! But, not being big on sausage roll, I made cheese rolls, which are a real Southland iconic food. Cheese rolls are slices of bread spread thick with a mixture of grated cheese, evaporated milk and a packet of onion soup mix, melted together and thickened, rolled up (like a piece of sushi) and toasted. They are delicious. We used to have them all the time as kids and I often make them now and freeze them in zip lock bags (they fit 5 to a medium sized bag) for lunches over the winter.

The other things I made for the birthday shout were pikelets (more about those next week) with whipped cream and raspberry jam and a platter with blue cheese, crackers, grapes and my own home made quince paste. The cake was the real highlight though. Very yummy, especially with a big dollop of whipped cream!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

You want Pies with That - Literary Pie

This month’s You Want Pies With That theme was chosen by one of my favourite bloggers, Mary of The Food Librarian. Quite naturally, Mary’s theme is Literary Pies. I am an avid reader, so the decision was difficult, only because of the range of my reading material over the years. Mary also mentioned that we would get bonus points if we have visited the library in the past year – well, I belong to two book clubs and probably go to the library at least every 3 weeks. At the moment I am reading Paula Radcliffe’s autobiography, trying to keep myself motivated while battling this injury!

Anyway, after much deliberation, I delved back into my childhood, when my favourite books were Trixie Beldon books. I am the only person I know who has the whole series. I loved them so much that the covers are falling off many of them as I would re-read them so many times. I loved the adventures of Trixie, her friend Honey Wheeler and their respective brothers. I had Trixie and Honey cut out dolls as well – cut out dolls were my thing and I loved them so much more than my Daisy doll and Barbie doll. Trixie was an amateur detective and her and her friends would solve all sorts of mysteries. I quite fancied myself as a detective (I guess being a lawyer is kind of like that!), so I loved Trixie’s adventures.

One of Trixie’s mysteries was called Mystery on the Mississippi. So, my pie for the month is my take on a Mississippi mud pie. It is not truly authentic, but it tasted pretty good!!! I used Dorie Greenspan’s shortbcrust pastry for the base (a half recipe) and then made a fudgey chocolate filling. I then topped the little pies once cold with a layer of ganache. These were really good with natural yoghurt. I made 4 individual tarts and did have quite a bit of filling left over, which I baked in a pudding dish – it tasted delicious as a fudgey pudding. You could try halving the filling again, but I think the quantity may get to be too small to work with. Check out the other literary pies here.

My Mississippi Mud Pie Filling

35g dark chocolate (I used Whittakers 70% cocoa)
1/3 c brown sugar
25g butter
½ c sugar
1/3 c milk
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 whole eggs and one egg yolk

· Melt together the chocolate, butter, sugars, milk and golden syrup until combined and the sugar has dissolved. Cool a little and then beat in the eggs one at a time and then the yolk
· Chill completely
· Pour into blind baked tart cases and bake @ 180c until set (about 25 minutes)
Once cold, top with a spread of ganache made by melting cream and chocolate together (I use a ratio of 2:1 chocolate to cream – I heat the cream in the microwave for about 40 seconds, pour over the chocolate and stir until smooth).

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

TWD - World Peace Cookies

I must confess that this was not the first time I have made Dorie’s world peace cookies, chosen by Jessica of Cookbookhabit for this week’s TWD recipe. These delicious cookies are one of my new favourites. They are so easy to make and are so yummy!

The finished cookies have the texture I love best – crisp but with an ever, ever so slight chew – the kind where the cookie gets a bit stuck in your teeth if you know what I mean! The addition of ½ a teaspoon of fleur de sel gives that je ne sais quoi, that unless you were in the know as to the ingredient list, there is a delicious taste that you can’t quite put your finger on. The other two times I have made these cookies I have made them with regular cocoa, but this time I made them with dutched cocoa which made them even more richer and delicious. I have also made them using peanut butter chips instead of chocolate chips. You can’t get peanut butter chips in NZ, but Sarah, a fellow foodlover, kindly sent me over a packet from the states. I have used them all now – having eaten most of the packet rather than putting them into baking as they are so delicious!

The cookies use an easy slice and bake method. I love these cookies and know that I will continue to make them frequently. See if the other TWDers loved them as much as me.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chocolate Buzzy Bees

These little bees are actually a by-product of a birthday treat. Yesterday was my brother in law’s birthday, so I made him some chocolate shortbread (replacing 1/3c flour with 1/3 c cocoa) for his birthday. I had quite a bit of left over yellow royal icing and so thought about using it up on little bee shaped cookies to send to my niece and nephew with their Dad’s present. I think that they turned out quite cute.

I just cut the shortbread for Brent into simple circles and then did a yellow icing swirl on them. Quite simple but quite effective, I think. I quite like chocolate shortbread for its chocolatey crispness. Shortbread is definitely one of my favourite biscuits.

Last night for dinner we had bbqed pork sausages from Salumeria who do beautiful gourmet sausages. To go with them I made a potato salad (little jersey bennes with chopped red pepper, basil, capers, anchovies and egg with red wine vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette) and a baby spinach and broccoli salad with a simple vinaigrette using avocado oil. I havent used broccoli in a salad before and I really liked it – I don’t really like completely raw broccoli, so I blanched it and then refreshed it in cold water to keep the vibrant green. I also made a very simple tomato sauce from Dish magazine which went well with the sausages, by simmering a can of crushed tomatoes (I always buy Delmaine) with 2 cloves of chopped garlic, the zest and juice of half a lemon, half a teaspoon of ground coriander and 1/ tsp each of ground cloves and cinnamon, for about 20 minutes until thickened. This was so tasty! I have got leftovers which I am having for lunch today with some canned tuna.