Walnut Shortbreads

032copy

I pre-empted this post last week.  These biscuits are the result of a search I did in Eat Your Books.  I restricted my search to baking, then to walnuts and these guys popped up… and I am glad they did.

In my Widow’s Kisses post, I  said they were a jackpot.  There were three reasons for that statement.  Firstly, they taste great.  Secondly, they were made in the food processor, therefore, only took a few minutes to put together.  Thirdly, and most importantly, you pipe them rather than shape them.

I bet you are wondering why the piping won the most important guernsey.

When biscuits are made in our house, we have demarcation lines.  I make the dough and Maus shapes the biscuits.  This is not because Maus loves to shape biscuits but, rather, I don’t like the oily feel of the dough on my hands and Maus doesn’t like my laissez-faire approach to shaping.  Maus likes her biscuits nthe same size and shape, something which is impossible for a person with an untidy mind like mine to achieve.  I would get bored after the third biscuit.

As you can imagine, it takes Maus quite a while to form a tray of biscuits but I dare not complain.  It might be my job next batch if I did.

By the time Maus realised I was making biscuits, I had piped all these guys onto the tray.  I am no piper.  I just piped away with gay abandon – plonk, plonk, plonk and, before I knew it, had a tray of biscuits, each one looking roughly similar to its mate.  I am quite proud of my efforts.

Damien advised that you can freeze the uncooked shortbreads and then bake them just as you want to serve them if you are looking for extra freshness.

This recipe is from French by Damien Pignolet.

Ingredients:

  • 150g walnuts
  • 150g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 100g pure icing sugar
  • a small pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour, sifted
  • icing sugar for dusting

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 160°C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place the walnuts and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process to a coarse texture.
  3. Add the sugar and salt and continue processing until smooth.
  4. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and pulse for 15 seconds
  5. Add the flour and pulse until just combined.  Damien advises that overworking the dough will spoil the texture.
  6. Use a piping bag with a wide nozzle to pipe the shortbreads onto the prepared baking tray.  Leave a bit of space between each biscuit to allow them to spread as they bake.
  7. Refrigerate for, at least, 30 minutes (or freeze for later) before baking.  [I forgot to do this and they turned out fine.]
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on the tray.
  9. Serve dusted with icing sugar.

In My Kitchen – February 2016

083copy

In my kitchen:

Are cherry tomatoes…  Of course, it was inevitable.  Initially, I let one self-seed and all these tomatoes are from that plant.

I planted two Roma tomato seeds and, when they didn’t sprout, I planted another three but they didn’t sprout either so it’s just cherry tomatoes this year.

I was determined to have only one cherry tomato plant but a seedling came up where I had planted a Roma tomato seed and I had high hopes it would be a Roma – I let it live.  By the time I worked out it wasn’t, it was too late.  It was already huge.  Soon, this guy will be producing, too.

I am doing my best to control them but, geez, it’s hard.  When the one I had decided could live was young, I pruned all the shoots to about 30 cm from the ground and tied all the lateral shoots to the meshing.  You wouldn’t know now.  It is just a tangled mess like last year.

004copy

In my kitchen:

Well, under the house, are bundles of onions.  Actually, I have three bundles but I couldn’t get good photos of the other two.  The bundles were accompanied by a background of buckets, piping, wheelbarrows, etc. so one photo will have to suffice.  As you can see from this bundle, I have a mixture of red, white and brown onions.  My favourite thing about growing onions is that you don’t have to eat them all at once.  It is such a good feeling to go downstairs and pick an onion from the bunch whenever I need one.

035copy

In my kitchen:

Is most of this year’s crop of garlic.  It was not the best year for garlic.  The birds ate about two thirds of the cloves I put in and then what was left did not develop into very large heads.  Still, along with what is in the freezer, this lot may just last us the year.

049copy

In my kitchen:

Is rhubarb and loads of it.  This photo doesn’t really indicate how big the pile was.  Believe me, it was huge.  I stored it over night in a large bin bag.

I asked a friend earlier in the season whether she would want rhubarb when it went mad later in the season.  She indicated that she loved rhubarb and would really like some.  So where was she when I picked this bin bag full of the stuff?  On holidays in bloody New Zealand, that’s where. :(

As a consequence, I had to give Maus a talking to.  I reminded her that I planted the rhubarb for her and I reminded her that, before I bought the crowns, I made her promise she would eat all that I grew.  So now she must follow through with her promises.  He! He!

022copyIn my kitchen:

Is a beetroot.  There were three, in fact, but this guy was the most photogenic.  I only took a photo of him so I could talk about two beetroot I picked a couple of weeks ago.  They were huge. One was pretty close to 3 kilos!!.  I should have taken a photo of them.  I didn’t because I was sure they would be all woody and disgusting and big is not often beautiful.  But, when I cut into the big one, I was surprised.  It was all nice and red and juicy.  I used 900g of it to make some of Rick Stein’s infamous beetroot chutney.  I put the balance into a big pot of dog food.  The other one I gave to Maus’ brother to juice.  He drinks lots of raw vegetable juices.  I  haven’t heard whether that one was as good.

The beetroot I am picking is covered by the tomatoes.  That is why some are huge.  I have just missed them.

008copy

In my kitchen:

Are 12 jars of preserved rhubarb.  This is the result of that huge pile of rhubarb.

Also, in my kitchen:

Are 4 jars of passata.  They are the product of some of the tomatoes in the top photo.   I also made a huge pot of Bolognaise with them.

Cherry tomatoes are great for passata.  I throw a handful, at a time, into a food processor and process until their skins are broken.  Next, I put them into a large pot and simmer them for a while.  Then into an electric mouli they go (you must get one, they are fab.).  I re-boil the resultant juice until it is the consistency I like.

Finally, I put the passata into 500 mil jars with ½ tsp salt and a 15 mil tablespoon of lemon juice and then process the jars in boiling water for 35 minutes.  I will be doing this a lot in the coming months.

079copy

In my kitchen:

Are 6 jars of beetroot chutney I made with part of that huge beetroot I was telling you about.  The recipe actually made 12 jars – the other 6 are in Perth.  This is our favourite chutney recipe.  If you have some spare beetroot, I highly recommend it.

070copy

In my kitchen:

Is some corn relish.  As with everything else in the vegie patch, the corn ripened all at once.    I made seven jars – the other three are also in Perth.

017copyIn my kitchen:

Is this great chocolate mould tray.  My sister, Juanita, gave it to me.  I think it was a re-gift.  Someone gave it to her and she doesn’t make chocolates.  I haven’t done much  tempering lately.  I think Maus’ observation that she did not think it was the hobby for me (I make way too much mess for her liking) has put me off.  In any event, I am trying to eat less chocolate.  I do still have a big bag of chocolate challets in the pantry so, maybe, when it gets a bit cooler, I will give tempering another bash.  If I can’t make nice chocolates with such a great mould, I never will.

060copy

It was my birthday in January so you’d think I’d be flush with new cookbooks and kitchen paraphernalia.  Alas, no!!  I think all my friends and sisters think I have enough (or too much) stuff In My Kitchen.  But Maus, the darling that she is, did not let me down.  She saw these cute silicon trivets and bought them as a gift from one of my gorgeous Bichons.  I am sure she bought them just because they are my colours but they are turning out to be very useful.   They are great because they are not very bulky so they can be left on the bench without being intrusive.  Then, when you want to put a pot down, one is sure to be near by.  I think she got them from Woolworths – they come in other colours.

063copy

My sister, Juanita, who has sworn she won’t buy me anything more for my kitchen, inadvertently bought me two kitchen items for my birthday.  I mentioned to her that I needed pouring bowls in which to make my soap.  Juanita bought me this gorgeous Chasseur bowl/jug.  But it is way too nice to be out in the shed with all my soap paraphernalia so I have it in the kitchen.

066copy

Juanita also bought me this bowl for my soap making.  It came with the whisk, spatula and the silicon brush.  I did use this bowl ONCE for soap making but, when I checked on the oil in the microwave, I noticed the bowl was hotter than the oil.  I put the oil into another bowl and checked out the bottom of this bowl.  It is not suitable for microwave so its no good for soaping.  Yippee!  Another bowl for my kitchen.

The bowl is a  Rosti Mepal.  The Danish company Rosti and the Dutch company Mepal merged in 1993 to form Rosti Mepal.  I have had several Rosti bowls for about thirty five years and they look as good as new. If this bowl is as good as those, it will see me out in bowls.  It won’t be going in the microwave again.  

If you would like to see what is happening in other bloggers’ kitchens this month, visit Maureen at Orgasmic Chef.  Maureen hosts  In My Kitchen each month.

 

 

Widow’s kisses or Grown-ups’ meringues

015copy

We needed biscuits and we needed biscuits badly.  I go through stages where I don’t make anything sweet because “I’m too fat” or “They are bad for us” or a similar wimpish  reason.  I don’t know why I refrain.  When there is nothing sweet in the house, we just go on a rampage searching here and there for anything remotely sweet.  We have even been known to eat cooking chocolate when things were desperate. Continue reading

Chilli chicken with snake bean salad and a chilli coconut milk dressing

046copy

Now that I have decided on a theme for this blog, I am on a roll.

Next to ripen in the vegie patch were the snake beans and, as with everything else, they came with a vengeance.  One day there weren’t any and the next day there was a bucket load.  I decided to grow them because, in previous years, I had noticed a number of bloggers having success with snake beans.  It turns out they are as easy to grow as all other beans and are particularly tasty.

I am really enjoying them.  We had this dish one night and a fish curry the next and I am thinking I may add them to a Thai green chicken curry later in the week.

This recipe has been adapted from Flavours by Donna Hay.  The original recipe states it will serve four.  I quartered the chicken and kept everything else the same and it was the perfect quantity for Maus and me.  If you prefer more chicken and less vegetable per person, feel free to increase the chicken.  The quantities would then serve three or four.

Maus, the critical one, said this dish tasted much better than it looks in the photo.  I don’t think the photo is too bad but she is right in that this was particularly tasty and the photo is not particularly special.

The chilli coconut dressing is really delightful.  I highly recommend it.  It would work with a large variety of salad ingredients and go with any manner of dishes.  Chilli prawns, for one, spring to mind.

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

Chicken:

  • 1 tbs* oil
  • 1 large red chilli, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp lime rind, grated (you could use lemon)
  • 1 tbs* sugar
  • 1 chicken breast fillet (if the chicken breast is small or you have a big meat eater in the house, feel free to increase the amount of chicken)

Salad:

  • 100g baby spinach leaves
  • 300g snake beans, trimmed

Chilli coconut milk dressing:

  • 1 large red chilli, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped
  • 3 tbs* lime (or lemon) juice
  • 1 tbs* fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar

*These are 20 mil tablespoons.

Method:

Chicken:

  1. Heat oil in pan over medium heat.  Add the chilli, rind and sugar and cook for one minute.
  2. Add the chicken and cook until done to your liking then set aside.The first time I made this recipe, I followed the above instructions but found the sugar burnt.  This time, I put the chilli and rind in first then added the chicken.  When the chicken was nearly done, I added the sugar and a tablespoon of water.  This worked perfectly.  It made a lovely, sticky coating to the chicken without burning the sugar.Alternatively, you could easily fry the chicken until nearly done then add about ¼ cup sweet chilli sauce and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked and coated in the sauce.

Salad:

Blanch the beans for 2-3 minutes then refresh in cold water.

Dressing:

Put all the ingredients into a screw-topped jar and shake to combine.

To serve:

Place the spinach leaves on the plates, then add the snake beans.  Top with the chicken and spoon the dressing over the salad.

Has the latest craze got you?

016copy

It started innocently enough.

Once a year, at Christmas time, I catch up with my old school chums, Alyson and Jane.  We invariably exchange small gifts.  This year, Alyson gave me Animorphia (an Extreme Colouring and Search Challenge) by Kerby Rosaines.  When I opened the book, Alyson explained that colouring books were all the rage.  I wasn’t oblivious to the colouring book phenomenon.  Maus’ niece, Sharmila, had mentioned several months ago that she had one with Indian designs and loved it so much, she had bought one for her brother and dad.  The conversation had piqued my interest, but nothing more. Continue reading

The fires and announcing a new record

040copy

We came down to Bridgetown today.

I am sure everyone in Australia is aware of the horrid bush fires that are raging in the South West of Western Australia.  They have affected me deeply.  The fires are raging in an area we know intimately.  We drive past those towns once a week on our way to or from Bridgetown.  We buy fish and chips at the local shops when trying to avoid road house food.  We know Harvey and Waroona and Cookenup and Yarloop which, sadly, is no more. Continue reading