I love todays 'instant on' world but idealism of the 70's housewife remains....so in my spare time I crafternoon tea. http://about.me/vanessathomps/
Ask me anything
March 10, 2013
The last few months have been wonderful. I am settling in well to San Francisco and following through on my mantra of going to a new suburb/destination store every weekend. It has been so much fun exploring but suffice it to say, my blog really has suffered! After a wonderful hike through the Tilden Regional Park (up the hill from Berkeley) I felt inspired to come home and make something healthful to satisfy my need for sustenance. Over the past few weeks I have been reading through the petite kitchen blog and found some wonderful recipes. It is great to see recipes from home and now that I have been in the US for a while, I am getting used to what ingredients are in abundance and what I need to substitute in the kiwi recipes. These cookies were originally lemon pecan cookies but I had limes and almond butter so it made for a nice substitution.
just under 1 cup wholemeal flour (you could use almond meal for gluten free)
4 tbsp organic almond butter (you can use any type of nut butter)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
4 tbsp honey
zest of 1 lime
juice of half a lime
1/2 tsp baking soda
a pinch of sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease a baking tray with coconut oil or line with baking paper.
In a food processor add flour, almond butter, honey, shredded coconut, rind, lime juice, baking soda and a pinch of salt. Process until a dough like texture is achieved. You may need to scrape down the sides a little.
Using your hands (I like to dip them in to water a little to prevent from sticking) form small balls and place them on to the baking paper, a couple of centimeters apart as they expand a little.
Using a fork (you can also dip this in water to prevent from sticking) press down on each ball to flatten in half.
Place in to the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes or until nice and golden on the outside. Leave to cool completely.
Makes around 25 cookies, they keep for around 3-4 days in an airtight container.
For my first US christmas, I went all out to make sure it was white. Winging across to Denver on christmas eve I was launched into festivities with food, fun and family. The christmas eve gathering was big with nearly twenty so much bigger than my usual family gatherings. It was brilliant, we had a laugh with the grandparents, watched some VHS footage from the 90’s and all jostled for position in the white elephant. To top off the evening it snowed!
When thinking about embarking on my christmas adventure, I was acutely aware that I really wanted to make a contribution by making a cake. Based on my recent vegan, no sugar ways, I wanted to make an effort to replicate nanas xmas cake with a few substitutions. We ate the cake on xmas morning and as fruit cake is not a normal tradition, I was happy to have introduced something new to the family in the holiday season.
Nanas woolies cake
1kg dried fruit chopped (four packets of trader joe’s dried sultanas, cranberries and blueberries)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup brandy (nana uses sherry)
Zest of lemon
200gm vegan butter (earth balance)
3/4 cup agave sweetener
1 tsp organic vanilla essence
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 300degF and line a 23’ springform tin with parchment paper.
Put fruit, zest, walnuts and brandy in a bowl, cover and leave in the fridge. Overnight is best. Cream butter and agave. Add eggs one at a time. Stir in remaining ingredients. Decorate with fruit and nuts.
Bake for an hour or longer if needed.
Thank you to the Stines family for a wonderful ‘White’ christmas!
Being Christmas party season it is always great to attend christmas parties, reflect on the year that was, remember moments that you shared with old or new friends and look forward to the new year. This years work Christmas function is catered but there happens to be a dessert competition!
One of my favourite things about the parties is always the food. While it is lovely to eat at wonderful restaurants (i was lucky enough to go to cotogna yesterday) there is nothing better than the satisfaction of contributing something you have made yourself. After a long and busy day, I knew there wasnt an option for me to buy a dessert for the work christmas party. I mozied off to Trader Joes in the hope that there was a pre prepared graham cracker base and I would just simply whip up chocolate filling and plonk it in. No such luck.
Armed with graham crackers and a full suite ingredients, i set out to make a vegan, no sugar pie. I think about the combination of words I just used but I swear this pie is worth it.
Graham Cracker Base
2/3 of a box of graham crackers (about 9oz)
4 Tablespoons vegan margarine (Like Earth Balance)
3 Tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
Combine all ingredients; press over bottom and up sides of 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes.
3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup agave syrup
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
raspberries for garnish
In a small saucepan off the heat, combine 1 cup of almond milk with the cornstarch. Whisk together until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Put on the heat while whisking lightly, add peanut butter and agave and combine. Whisk in the remaining almond milk and cocoa powder. The cocoa will be clumpy at first, but will cook down during the process.
Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat to low and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture has reached a pudding like consistency and add vanilla extract. Pour the pudding into the cooled pie crust and lightly tap the sides of the pan to release any air bubbles. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Cover pudding pie with a piece of parchment paper to prevent film from forming. Cool for 10 more minutes at room temperature.
Move to refrigerator and chill for at least 3 hours, even better, over night!
After three months in a suitcase I have FINALLY got myself an apartment in San Francisco. To be honest it is all a bit surreal right now as I started to find comfort in living lean and portable and from homes to hotels. Now that I am starting to explore my new city and my new neighborhood has twigged some influences of the food culture. The one that stands out the most is the Steve Jobs vegan influence. Wholefoods is the bourgeois everything organic and interesting store but there are also a whole set of local vegan slash organic providers that supply to the local marts. I got a few bits for the vegan carrot cake from my local mayflower market and other than the fact that they have a great range of everything, they are just a nice bunch of people.
Please excuse the pic as the cake was in my bag on its way to dinner at my colleagues place. She kindly offered I stay over as we both had to take an all day call at 5.30am (yikes)
Vegan Carrot Cake
1 1/2 cups standard flour (you could use whole spelt flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (actually just a bit more)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used a little more)
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
3/4 cup Walnuts
Pre-heat oven to 330degF and line your cake tin. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices into a large bowl; use a whisk to stir well.
In another bowl combine the olive oil, maple syrup, almond milk, vanilla, whisk until emulsified and stir in the grated carrots (I added a few more carrots and it was all ok). The recipe also calls for a dash of salt here but the cake was a little salty so I left it off.
Then pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. Fold in Walnuts and then pour into your cake tin. Note that it won’t rise like a normal flour cake so if it is all the way to the top that is fine :)
Place in oven and bake for an hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool a little before transferring to a wire to cool completely.
Dont forget the glaze…. My lovely hosts whipped up a glaze as topping that went particularly well with the cake.
A shot Rye Whiskey
1 cup Confectioners Sugar
squeeze of Lemon
enough water to make a syrup
Place all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer off until slightly thickening.
Pour the glaze generously over the cake and sprinkle with extra walnuts if you have them!
I have broken a promise I made to myself to write in my blog at least once a month. August was spent in what my soon to be new home, the US. From the fall I will be there on a more permanent basis but for now I am back and forth visiting, scoping out the neighborhood and meeting colleagues I will soon be working with. During the month, I exchanged blogging about food and my surroundings to just taking it in and figuring out what the transition will be like. When I settle back in to my new home I have no doubt that there will be plenty of things to blog about, especially since my blog idol Heidi from 101 cookbooks lives in the city I am moving too.
During my stay I did manage to whip up some cookies after being inspired by snacking on a snickerdoodle. Wow cinnamon in a shortbread style cookie is totally yummy but I had a craving for chocolate chip cookies…Hitting up the all recipes app “best chocolate cookies” popped up. The sceptic that I am made me think they were a bit full of it but with a description of crisp edges, chewy middles and a stack of great user ratings go a long way so I tried it. They weren’t quite verbatim ”best chocolate cookies” but they were still pretty awesome.
Best ever cookies, with a few extras
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and chocolate chips. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.
You don’t live in a city for the weather, well that’s what my friends in Melbourne tell me.
The most european of Australian cities, I always love to visit Melbourne as it just exudes culture and the people are so welcoming. It helps that some of my best friends in the world live there too. With the weekend weather turning atrocious coupled with my new found ‘sensitivity’ of the cold weather, we decided to venture out only to provide a feast at home and spend the afternoon inside in the warm. A trip to the South Melbourne market was in order.
I have fond memories of a Melbourne soujourn a few years ago when I first encountered the wonders of the south Melbourne market. At the bottom left corner, there is a wholesome Greek deli with a cheese room. That’s right a cheese room. My favourite memory is the small Greek lady with diamontie glasses chit chatting away about all her favourite cheeses…and she was still there! My friends wandered off in search of the meat, ham and salmon and I sought out the cheese lady. Low and behold, she was still there. Smiling ear to ear and eager to take me into the cheese room for another dose. I felt like a Havarti, i asked her favourite and said ‘ill take it’. She offered me a slice, although I already implicitly trusted her judgement. Divine.
After a good grazing lunch session through all of our market wares, we started on part 2 of the afternoon. Well Dave did actually, Cheats Sticky Toffee Puddings. He used a trusty Donna Hay recipe but we added a figs courtesy of the market.
100g chopped Dates, we added fig for texture
2/3 cup boiling water
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
30g softened butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cups self raising flour
Preheat oven to 160 deg.
Place Dates, figs and baking soda in a bowl and set aside for 10 min. Process the date mix until smooth.
Add butter, sugar, egg and flour and process until smooth. Pour mix into 4 well-greased 1-cup (250ml) ovenproof bowls or small pudding basins and place on a baking tray. Bake for 25 min or until skewer comes out clean.
We ate the puddings warm with natural yoghurt - Yummy, thanks Dave!
Baking always tastes better when there is an occasion. This occasion was not a particularly pleasant one, with a good friend of mine breaking a limb that needs surgery. With a request for baked goods and the thought of surgery tugging at the ol’ heartstrings I decided to bake a much loved favourite - ANZAC biscuits. A yummy and fitting tribute to a trooper!
This recipe is one of my favourites and comes from 'Grans Kitchen' - recipes from the notebooks of Dulcie May Booker. This book has a collection of old style kiwi classic baking with other things like Cornish Pasties and Peanut Brownies. I halved the recipe here as the batch is quite large.
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup plain flour
Just under 1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 tablespoon golden syrup
1/2 tablespoon boiling water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a saucepan gently melt the butter then add the golden syrup and heat, stirring until thoroughly combined. Place baking soda in a cup then pour the boiling water over. Pour this foaming mixture into the warm butter/golden syrup mix and stir - it should get foamy.
Add the wet to the dry ingredients, stirring with a fork to combine. This particular mix was quite crumbly. When forming the biscuits use a scooped hand place enough mix in your hand to make a mound and squeeze together.
Place handfuls of mix on an oven tray lined with baking paper, this batch made 10 biscuits.
Bake at about 190 degC (again with oven and no temperature gauge) and when they’re brown they’re done - about 12 min.
NB* He hasn’t tried them yet so will wait for the verdict tomorrow - Good Luck in surgery G!
After a trip home to Nu Zullund I was feeling rather refreshed, so much so that I have gathered back some of my quirky creativity in the umbrella skirt eco bag as well as picking up some quality NZ spirits in Stolen Rum, from duty free on my way through.
The Stolen Rum was a bit of a must have and is a pretty great story, two good kiwi blokes looking for something to fill in their time (other than playing tennis of course) and thought why not make rum. If you don’t know about it definitely check it out. I have to say it is pretty yummy with ginger beer and the friend of mine who introduced me to it will attest to that!
Aside from that , I am at the other end of two shortened weeks. It feels rather good to have so much of a break but I am itching to be productive both at work and with creative projects. This has lead to two outcomes, one starting to read an enveloping and productive non-fiction book and the other being creative in the kitchen. Kitchen creativity was sparked by reading a Stephanie Alexander contribution to the Sunday life newspaper insert.
1 quantity shortcrust pastry, I made the pastry using a Jamie Oliver recipe from his American roadtrip cookbook.
½ cup smooth fig jam, warmed.
250g freshly shelled walnuts
250g caster sugar, I used a combunation of caster, raw and dark brown sugar and whizzed them together in the food processor.
4 free-range eggs, separated
100g softened Unsalted butter
2 tbsp whipping cream, I just used full cream milk
100ml rum, hmm I was a bit over zealous here…
100g best-quality dark chocolate
30g unsalted butter
Roll out pastry and line a 28cm loose-bottomed flan tin. Chill for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 200ºC. Line the pastry case with aluminium foil and fill with baking weights, dried beans or chick peas. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove weights and foil and brush base of tart with jam. Reset oven to 180ºC.
For filling, process walnuts until quite fine. Beat together sugar and egg yolks until thick and pale. Add ground walnuts, softened butter, cream and rum. In a clean, dry bowl whisk egg whites until soft peaks form, then gently fold into nut mixture. Pour filling into tart shell. Bake for 45 minutes until filling is golden and feels springy when touched lightly with the palm of your hand. Remove tart from oven and leave to cool before icing.
For icing, place a bowl over a saucepan of hot water over medium heat (the bottom of the bowl must not touch the water). Add chocolate and butter and allow to melt. Stir until smooth. Pour over cold tart, tilting so mixture flows evenly.
Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.
- Peg Bracken
Peg Bracken was a great believer in making things easier for working women in the 60’s and it seems far more relevant now than ever before. Coming up to Christmas and the summer holiday period seems to be busier than ever as you are wrapping things up work for the year, crossing I’s and dotting T’s as well as saying thank you to everyone for their work over the past 12 months at xmas parties and functions and dealing with family travel plans. All that being said, knowing that christmas and the break that comes along with that is on its way is always a great feeling.
I love to give gifts that I know I have put a bit of time and effort into and Christmas is great because is a time when you are allowed to give give gifts and you don’t feel a little strange for giving gifts during the year outside a birthday. My 2010 new years resolution was to learn how to make condiments, starting easy with plum jam I moved into an array of jams, relishes and chutney’s things like, feijoa and ginger jam, tamarillo jam, kiwifruit jam, pumpkin and paprika chutney, eggplant chutney, topping the year off with fruit mince. Having been severely disappointed with the fruit mince, my 2011 xmas was a journey to make the best darn fruit mince I could and share it as part of my christmas gift.
During my christmas shopping excursions I had been looking through any recipe books I came across for an interesting fruit mince recipe. There was only one condition, it had to have figs in it. Dried figs are just so totally yummy and I got into loving them so much when working with a dear friend of mine who would snack on them while I would be munching back some sort of bad for me chocolate bar. After having tried them on their own i was hooked and what a great way to get you out of a ‘bad’ chocolate habit. Continuing my hunt for the ultimate recipe, i had been looking around online at a few blogs and posts and just wasn’t finding the right fit. Meeting up with a friend at the local bookshop cafe I managed to take a look at a retro Australian Women’s Weekly recipe book and there it was, Fig fruit mince. Under full disclosure here, i did something that was not really kosher and took an iPhone snap of the ingredients list. My conscience was in jeopardy but I felt this situation compared to when you only want to buy one song on iTunes but not the whole album. In this case, I just wanted the fig recipe and not the rest of the forty nine dollar book. Here is my version of said recipe, I also doubled the batch as I got a bit excited at the Harris Farm bulk bins and got a very large amount of ingredients.
Fig Fruit Mince
150g Dried Fig
65g Dried Cranberries
40g Mixed Peel
55g Glace Ginger
60g Glace Peach, I used Paw Paw instead
1 medium (150g) Granny Smith Apple, peeled and grated
110g firmly packed brown sugar, I used dark brown
2 TBsp Fig Jam, I used a combination of Rose Jam and Orange Marmalade
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
2 TBsp Orange Juice
1 Cinnamon Stick, snapped in half
1 tsp mixed spice, I used ground cloves and nutmeg
100ml Cognac, I started at 100ml and got a bit more liberal
Chop all dried ingredients finely and place into a large bowl, mixing the fruit together at every addition of new fruit. After the first two lots of dried fruit to go in the bowl, I added the grated apple and continued to stir after every new fruit addition. I got a bit liberal on a few things like fig and put a bit more, as well as ginger and of course cognac. I let the mix sit covered on the bench overnight adding more cognac just before I went to bed, ready to take on Mince Pies the following day. You will hear more about those soon….