discovering a simpiler life

discovering a simpiler life

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

grated plum shortbread slice

I love going to our local library and borrowing cookbooks - I read them before bed, I read them over breakfast and although I may not always make much from them all, something about the glossy print and food porn appeals to me.  

Lately my muse has been baking cookbooks and I stumbled across the hairy bikers big book of baking which is packed full with recipes from around Europe. Imagine fruity, cheesy, nutty, bready delights and you will get the picture.

One recipe that intrigued me was their Easy shortbread squares.  It calls for you to make the shortbread dough, split it in half, freeze then grate to create the slice - I had to try it out.  My additions to the recipe are in the brackets.
Easy shortbread slice by the Hairy Bikers - from their big book of baking.
Makes 12 squares
This is a cheat's version of linzer torte - the classic Austrian lattice-topped tart. It's perfect if you're not very confident with pastry and you want a really easy treat as there is no rolling involved - just grating.  Watch your fingers though! You'll need a 20cm loose based square cake tin. (I used just a normal 20cmx20cm square cake tin)

225g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
200g golden caster sugar (I used plain sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
275g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
300g seedless raspberry jam (I used homemade plum jam)
1 tbsp icing sugar ( I didn't use)

  1. Using an electric hand-whisk, beat the butter with the sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolks 1 at a time, then sift the flour and baking pwoder on top.  Beat the dough with a wooden spoon until it is smooth and light, then divide it into 2 equal portions and form them into balls.  Wrap the balls of dough in clingfilm and freeze for 2-3 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170c/fan150c/gas3 1/2.  Grease a 20cm square cake tin with butter and lin the base with baking parchment. (I use cooking spray instead of greasing and line the whole tin).  Put the jam in a small saucepan and warm it over a low heat until fairly runny, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remover a ball of dough from the freezer and coarsely grate it on to a board, making sure it doesn't become too compacted.  Tip the grated dough from the board into the prepared tin and scatter it evenly with your fingertips.  Whatever you do, don't press the dough into the tin - needs to remain in strands.  (this is a work out let me tell you now!! hard graft)
  4. Using a dessert spoon, drizzle the jam over the grated shortbread (I let the jam cool somewhat before doing this), but do not spread it.  Take the other ball of dough out of the freezer and grate it coarsely on to the board. Sprinkle it evenly over the jam, again resisting the temptation to press it down.
  5. Bake the shortbread for 40-50 minutes or until pale golden borown and set, then remove it from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.  Loosen the sides of the shortbread with a round-bladed knife and carefully take it out of the tin. (I just left mine to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then lifted it out using the overhang of the parchment)  Peel off the lining paper if necessary.  Dust the shortbread with sifted icing sugar and cut in into squares to serve.  (I actually didn't even see this when I made it so didn't do it!!)

I'm heading back to flick through it one last time before it's due back as there's so many more recipes I'm keen to try!

Ciao, Jan x 

p.s. I am not being paid nor do I have my arm twisted to say these words about the hairy bikers :)

Sunday, 6 September 2015

very best banana cake muffins ever

I was busy getting our dinner off to a flying start one night last week, when out of the corner of my eye I spied my daughter sitting on the couch with a spoon in her mouth and the tin of milo in her lap...she looked like she was in heaven. The last I'd heard of her she was making a milk milo but obviously she decided to ditch the milk!  I instantly scolded her and got her to put it away.  
When I turned my back, a thought came over me.  Kids aren't allowed to have a binge, they aren't allowed to have a bad day, they aren't allowed to have the poops or sulk, or play hookey or be naughty or yell, or scream in frustration....they really have to be seen as perfect all the time.  I wonder why this has happened? Such pressure for them to live under.
 I turned back around and opened the cupboard and gave her the tin and a spoon and she had the biggest smile on her face.  Truthfully, she probably only had a few big tablespoons worth but it was just wonderful to see her so content with such a simple guilty pleasure.  

Anyway, something that will be eaten, possibly late at night, straight from the freezer, is this recipe for the very best banana cake ever and cook along with the lovely Lorraine from NQN ...ok so I made them into muffins but it helps with portion control :)  It's a strange recipe that has a low cooking temperature and then the muffins/cake is put straight into the freezer to cool.  Have a read of Lorraines post and recipe and tell me you aren't in faux sara lee heaven!!  The batter made 18 muffins and they were baked for 1 hour instead of the 2 hours for the cake. Oh, and be warned that the cream cheese icing is so freakin addictive, it was lucky to make it onto the muffins.  We did have lots of precious licks of the beaters and swipes of the bowl that I'm sure is naughty but oh so nice.

Ciao, Jan x

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

In my kitchen ~ September 2015

Man oh man this year is ticking by, it's that time of the month that we play along with Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts the wonderfully voyeuristic In my kitchen series with a multitude of other food pawn stars enthusiasts from around the world.  Grab a wine or a cuppa, whatever takes your fancy, and take a look at what has been happening here in my kitchen...I'm so excited.....

I am absolutely super duper excited to share with you all, my almost completed, long awaited, new kitchen!!! Now, let me fill you in...just a little over 10 years ago we brought our modest 3 bedroom existing 1950's home.  Over the years we have changed the colour of the house, added a new back sunroom, replaced the mud bottomed garage with a brick concrete man cave haven along with making all of the backyard an edible garden where once only a New Zealand Christmas tree, a gum and a mammoth wild daisy bush abided.  

You'll have to just trust me on this as I stupidly don't have a before photo of the kitchen, but it was hideous but clean and functional. 5 years ago we painted the kitchen that had lime green cupoboards, small tiles, a red feature wall and the others were cream. We made the cupboards a grey/white in 2 tones, changed the handles on the cupboard doors and hid from our visitors the retro wallpapered, chipping, horrid interiors.  Yes, I've become one of those 'beige' people, but when you have lived with lots of weird and wonderful houses that were multicoloured, I want plain and classic.  
I've been blessed with a husband who can.  So a few weekends ago, after weeks and weeks of toil in the mancave, Mr.GW along with a great mate ripped out the old and started the new.
Sorry about the photo quality but I was in the way so had to be can make out the old lime green on the left that was hiding behind some cupboards.

Mr.GW put so much time into this beautiful Tasmanian oak and Victorian ash bench top - it's just gorgeous.  Notice the new double sink? That my kitchen junkie friends is a revelation!! Being able to have a sink of soapy water AND being able to empty something is ah-mazing!!!  We were also extremely lucky to get all of the cabinetry for almost nothing, a slab of beer to be exact as long as it was taken out and taken away from the owner.  
It is second hand but it is as clean as a whistle and you wouldn't even know.  
Mr. GW rebuilt it to fit and ta-dah!! Good as new.

before above and after below...still waiting on a shelf that will house the microwave so it's off the bench top and some where I can put my recipe books and a few other bits and pieces.

We still have a way to go - tiles, a shelf under the cupboards on the left to house the microwave off the bench, doors, dishwasher under the kitchen aid and a paint.  The large draws are fabulous too and have a soft close that closes them for you...seriously, we have become such a precious bunch!! First world problems hey.....I am one happy gluttonous wife and have been cooking my little heart out in there.
Now, it's 2 weeks since I first started this post, and we now have tiles!! You can see the original old tiles above, and new ones below...they originally were a lovely mission brown but we painted them but they would chip and I just hated them so having new tiles is just heaven.  It was Mr. GW's first attempt at tiling and he worked it like a boss.  There is no end to that man's talents, I'm truly the luckiest gluttonous wife I know!

Even though it's not quite finished and it's small and modest, it's my happy place and it's my home.

Thanks so much for stopping by, until next time....
Ciao, Jan x
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