It wouldn’t be Christmas without Lebkucken. Years living in Frankfurt fueled my addiction for these wonderful German spiced cookies. You can find a few varieties in the shops here in New Zealand but I decided to make a batch this year at our bakery to see if we could get the New Zealanders hooked too. We still have some in store if you are local and want to try them. And if they don’t all sell…I’ll just have to eat them all myself…oink oink
3 free range eggs
250g soft light brown sugar
250g ground hazelnuts (or a mix or ground hazelnuts and ground almonds)
•25g flaked almonds, crushed
100g candied peel, very finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons lebkucken spice
pinch of salt
For the glaze:
100g icing sugar
2 tablespoons boiling water
100g melted dark chocolate (optional)
Pre heat oven at 150C.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until thick and creamy.
Add the spices, ground hazelnuts, peel and combine.
Transfer mixture to a piping bag. Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Pipe 4cm rounds onto the paper, leaving space in between each biscuit as they will spread slightly. Makes approx 15. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool before glazing with icing mix. You can add a squiggle of chocolate as in the picture of leave them plain.
Normally lebkuchen are baked onto small wafers but since we do not have them here I bake them straight onto baking paper.
This week one of our new chickens laid the smallest chicken egg I have ever seen, well we think it is one of the new chickens. Above is a comparison with one of their regular eggs. If it keeps on laying them that small I might be able to sell them as gourmet eggs to restaurants but it’s likely it is because it is her first egg. Does anyone know? All of our chickens are hulking great Orpingtons but we do have one little chicken who looks a bit like a Bantam but she hasn’t laid since we adopted her and we think she is rather old anyway. It’s nice that our chickens are now laying, having adopted older abandoned chickens we were beginning to think we had acquired new pets and the most expensive free range eggs around with two a week from five hens. Not that we minded, they are very entertaining to watch, very sociable and keep the weeds in the garden down. Below is Beryl, not the best pic of her but at least you can see how big she is and she isn’t even the largest of them.
What better way to enjoy fresh eggs, a nice simple omelet with lots of herbs and some sheep feta. Use any herbs you prefer but lots of them, I used parsley and mint from the garden and coriander but basil would also be good. Then add your favourite cheese, I chose a sharp sheep feta.
Ingredients for one omelet
2 free range eggs
large handful of chopped mixed herbs
a handful of your favourite cheese (I used sheep feta)
Whisk two eggs in a bowl and add the herbs. I did not add any salt since my feta would be adding enough salt but you go with your own preference.
Place a small cast iron or non stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a glug of oil. Let the pan get hot so it sizzles when you put the beaten eggs in, helps to prevent sticking.
Add the herby eggs and cook for a minute or until brown underneath.
Add the cheese and fold one half over.
Turn heat down to low and cook until the centre cooks through, although I like mine a little soft still.
Serve straight in the pan and enjoy!
How delicate are these oyster mushrooms close up?
We started a little project over Christmas which was a small oyster mushroom farm. Perhaps not very exciting for those of you who live near woods and can pick your own under the tree canopies but for us it isn’t so easy to buy exotic mushrooms here that don’t break the bank balance. The kit from Mushroom Gourmet provides the environment to grow them in as well as the spores and you get three flushes from the spores as well as information on how to keep the cultures growing. We are only on the first flush and a third of that provided us with mushrooms on toast for the two of us. I wanted to keep the first tasting simple to really taste the mushrooms but hubby and I are already arguing what we will make next, I fancy a polenta with mushroom and Parmesan topping and hubby wants to make a creamy mushroom pasta. Whoever is first in the kitchen with the next batch of mushrooms will be the winner I say but we will most definitely enjoy both dishes. I might even make a summer sandwich series of them!
The Gourmet Mushroom company also sell Shitake kits which is likely to be next on our project list
These are the mushrooms growing from their farm….bag.
I’ll just manage a quick post before the food bloggers conference on Saturday which is taking up most of my spare time organizing. Did you know we are having our first ever New Zealand food bloggers conference? I’m so excited to be meeting another 25 food bloggers who will be attending the conference who i have followed and chatted with on the blogger-sphere. I’ll let you know how it went once its over and I have a vino in hand and my feet up.
This is my first attempt at Turkish Delight even though it is one of my favourite sweets I have never made it before. When looking for a recipe I found there are two kinds, one you just boil the ingredients like you would jam and the other adds gelatin. I decided to make the one with gelatin, I thought it least likely to fail and would perhaps not go sticky in our humid weather. I have used a recipe from The Good Food Channel but reduce the amount of gelatin since I use agar.
sunflower oil,for greasing
2tsp agar gelatin powder (Pacific Harvest)
255 ml water
4 tsp rose water
450 g caster sugar
3-4 drops red food colouring
2 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
Lightly oil a 20x25cm baking tin.
Mix the gelatine, water and rose water in a large heavy-based pan and add the sugar.
Heat gently until the sugar and gelatine have dissolved, stirring continuously.
Bring to the boil without stirring.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the heat, stir in the food colouring and leave to cool for 2-3 minutes.
Pour the mixture into the oiled tin and leave to set for 24 hours.
Cut into squares.
Mix the cornflour and icing sugar together and toss the Turkish Delight in the mixture.
Store in an airtight container, between layers of greaseproof paper.
After spending the weekend with friends busily sampling all the yummy cakes on offer in New Plymouth cafes and bringing more back for dessert I felt a bit guilty that my friends hubby could not eat them since he is gluten dairy free. Having a background in French pastry, dairy gluten free is not very common to me but when I decided to make a nice lemon shortbread this week I thought I would create a recipe especially for Guy.
This slice starts as a shortbread made from almond meal, rice flour and desiccated coconut which is baked and then topped with a dairy free lemon custard mix and baked again. It’s texture is more like a soft biscuit with lemon topping soaking into the base.
To my buddies in New Plymouth, let me know if you get to make it and enjoy it! I’m going to experiment some more with this biscuit base, perhaps ginger and rhubarb or maybe chocolate?
2oz ground almond meal
2oz rice flour
2oz desiccated coconut
3oz dairy free butter substitute (I use Olivani)
300ml fresh squeezed lemon juice plus zest
3 large eggs
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp coconut thread
Preheat oven to 180C.
Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
Combine the ground almond, rice flour, sugar and dairy free butter together to form a biscuit dough.
Press into lined cake tin.
Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown then remove from oven.
Whisk the 2 tbsp sugar, eggs and lemon juice together and pour over cooked biscuit base.
Sprinkle with coconut thread and bake for a further 20 minutes or until set on top and coconut is golden.
Remove from oven, slice then allow to cool before serving.
I love dates and have been wanting to make this Moroccan style ‘candy’ for a while. It’s not that it is even difficult or time consuming to make, quite the opposite but I always seem to get side tracked by another dish. I used our monthly Sweet New Zealand event as the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl. It’s really just a matter of roasting the walnuts, softening the dates and pressing it into a pan. No Baking, no sugar added, no flour added, no dairy either so one could almost claim it to be rather healthy if you weren’t too concerned about all that fructose in the dates.
So here’s my submission for Octobers Sweet NZ, hosted this month by Sue Couscous & Consciousness who will offer a round up of all the entries at the end of the month, so do pop over to her blog.
600g Pitted Dates
1tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp orange blossom water
1 tsp ground cardamon
Place the walnuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat and roast for a few minutes, shaking the pan to roast both sides. They should brown but not burn. You can do this in an oven too but if I’m not using the oven I don’t like to heat it up just to roast nuts.
Place the dates and 1/4 cup water, cardamon and orange blossom water in a pan over a low heat and simmer until the dates are all soft and the water is absorbed.
Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.
Press half the dates into the base of the tin.
Cover with the walnuts and then press the other half of the dates over the walnuts.
Cover the top layer of dates with sesame seeds.
Place in the fridge to chill then cut into small diamond shapes to serve.
Gluten Free Frangipane, Pear & Walnut Tart
Not surprisingly the highlight of travelling for me is trying new cuisine and produce and of course bringing some back home to enjoy while reminiscing about our adventures. I squirreled a few products home with me from our trip to France, one of them was this green walnut confiture. It’s meant to be spread on bread or toast which I of course I tried but I also had in my mind to make a tart with it which moved to a gluten free tart with a ground almond base. In hindsight the confiture got a bit lost with the ground almond filling and this recipe would work just fine omitting the confiture but sprinkling the top with walnuts or even sliced almonds. You can also try this with other ‘pip’ fruit but I would avoid stone fruit as they may release too much juice into the already moist almond base.
140g castor sugar
140g ground almonds
3 small free range eggs
1 tbsp walnut confiture (optional)
1 large pear, sliced into thin wedges
70g walnuts, chopped
Method – tart filling
Preheat oven to 180C and grease and flour a 24cm loose bottom tart tin.
Make the frangipane filling by creaming the butter & sugar together until light and fluffy.
Gradually beat in the eggs one at a time.
Fold in the ground almonds.
Spread the mixture over the base of the tart tin, it should only come up half way to leave room to rise in the oven.
spread the walnut confiture over the frangipane mix then arrange the pear slices over the confiture. If you don’t have confiture don’t worry it will still be delicious.
Sprinkle chopped walnuts over the sliced pears.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, the frangipane shuold be golden and risen slightly like sponge to touch. The centre of the cake may be more sticky but this is fine, it will set on cooling.
Allow to cool before removing from the tart tin.
Here are few holiday snaps from the Perigord region where we stayed
The season is almost over but finally I managed to bag some fresh chestnuts this weekend at Avondale market. I know most people tend to forage for chestnuts but out at Muriwai we don’t have many Chestnut trees, perhaps they don’t like the sea air?
I have many strong memories of street vendors in the UK and Germany roasting chestnuts and the nutty smell wafting along the high street while out shopping. Holding a bag of hot chestnuts was a welcome relief from the cold winter day if you had forgotten your gloves. Not something I have to worry about now in New Zealand, I no longer own a pair of gloves except for snow boarding gloves taht I might use once a year. Funny how things change, gloves in the Europe are one of those essential winter accessories that you matched to your outfit like a pair of shoes!
I have a lot more chestnuts left after making this cake and have seen a great soup recipe over at Nourish Magazine which I hope to make this weekend.
- 225g 70% bitter chocolate
- 125g unsalted butter
- 5 free-range eggs, separated
- 100g caster sugar
- 50g plain flour or ground almonds
- 150g fresh peeled and roasted chestnuts
- 100ml dark rum
- 50g 70% cacao chocolate, chopped
- 50ml single cream
- Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a 28cm x 18cm rectangular cake or tart tin with parchment paper.
- In a small saucepan bring the rum and fresh peeled and roasted chestnuts to the simmer; remove from the heat and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
- Whilst the chocolate is melting separate the eggs, whisk the whites until fluffy and then gradually add the sugar, continuing to whisk until it reaches a soft peak meringue.
- Stir the soaked chestnuts, rum and egg yolks into the melted chocolate. Fold in the flour or ground almonds
- Fold in the whipped egg whites.
- Spoon the cake mixture into the lined tin . Bake the cake for 15 -20 minutes in the pre-heated oven.
- Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool completely.
- Heat the cream then add the chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth then pour over the cooled cake and smooth across the top of the cake.
I was making a cake last week that required candied orange peel but instead I used zest since I had no peel. It got me thinking about all the oranges we eat and all that lovely peel that gets thrown away. I don’t have this problem with lemons as we use so much lemon zest in our cooking that I more likely to have lots of naked lemons in the fridge. So I decided that oranges would be my fruit of the week and pre peel them, turning the peel into these lovely syrupy bits of rind. The advantage of that was I had ready peeled oranges to eat at work, the downside was, like all food with me if it’s in front of me it gets eaten so I consumed them over 2 days instead of the whole week :o)
Alternately, so you don’t get an orange overload in one day, each orange you eat you could pop the peel into the freezer and when you have enough defrost them and make the syrup. I have already made the most amazing chocolate orange scones with the syrupy peel and plan to make an ice cream at some point. You can also put a few spoons full into a chocolate cake or my brownies here. Or simply spoon over yoghurt or ice cream or jazz up your cereal with some.
- Peel from 5 Oranges
- 1 cup sugar
- 1.5 cups water
- Quarter oranges and remove peel, removing any excess pith. Slice orange peel into strips
- Place peel strips into a pan of water and boil for 3 minutes to remove some bitterness. Other recipes suggest repeating this 3 times but didn’t and find the rind tastes great.
- Drain the boiled water and add the cup of sugar and cup and half of water to the rind and place over a low heat until sugar has dissolved.
- Turn heat up and gently boil until the water reduces by half and has become syrupy.
- Pour into sterilised jars and place lid on while hot.
Happy St Patricks Day! I’d like to say I had made something green for the occasion but truth be know I have been too busy and away in Sydney on business so have not been near the kitchen all week. I did manage to don a green dress today though in honour.
Aren’t these courgettes such darlings, I couldn’t resist buying them from the farmers market when I saw them. It would have been a shame to chop them up too and looses their cuteness so I just sliced them down the middle and fried the flat side on a griddle. I did not cook both sides because they are so small it was sufficient to just cook the one side and it mean they kept their crunch and colour too. I mixed all the dressing ingredients together and poured it over the courgettes while they were warm and served them immediately. They are a perfect side dish for any meat or fish.
Ingredients – Dressing
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon juice
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped