Thursday, September 22, 2011

Flower Cookies

On Thursday it was my 18th birthday! It has been a wonderful week filled with lots off different celebrations.  On Tuesday I went to the beach with family friends, on Wednesday my family and I went to a French restaurant, and on Thursday I went clubbing for the first time with my friends! I recieved a lot of Paris themed presents and cooking themed presents; which is so lovely and I'm really grateful for.  Among them, was this new cookie tray my mother bought me.  It was a tray with 12 flower-shaped indents. I was really intriguied to see if the flower shape would work well. So today, I've taken a slow day of baking and resting (in light of last nights adventure) in order to test out this tray.  In the end, the cookies turned out really beautiful and the details showed up well.  I used a vanilla butter biscuit recipe (found here) and covered them with a glaze; the recipe for which is below.

Ingredients for Glaze
half of 1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1-2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place icing sugar in bowl.  Add liquid ingredients.  Using a whisk, stir together until smooth.  Place a cooling rack over your sink.  Dip cookies in the glaze and them put them on the tray.  I like to put it over the sink as it's less messy.  Chill in fridge before serving.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chicken Pilaf

This is one of my favourite dinner recipes.  It's so quick, and so healthy, and oh so delicious because of the variety of spices used.  I was lucky enough to have this cooked for me at a friend's house, and I simply had to have the recipe because it was so good.  I love the hint of cinnamon and cumin, among other spices, in this dish. I like to imagine it as a waffling sent from the far corners of Morocco..

olive oil
600g chicken breast, diced
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 red capsicum, sliced and diced
1 onion
2 -3 cups sliced mushrooms
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground corriander
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
800mL chicken stock, hot
300mL lite coconut milk
2 zucchinis, diced
700g pumpkin, cubed
1 small floret cauliflower, chopped relatively finely
+ fresh corriander, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large fry pan on medium-high.  Cook chicken in pan until it has lost its pink rawness; and is just starting to turn slightly golden or brown.  Add onion, garlic, red capiscum and stir until soft.  Add mushrooms and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Now add all the spices along with the rice and stir through well.  Once evenly distributed, pour in the hot stock and the coconut milk.  Bring to the boil, then cover, and reduce heat to allow everything to simmer for 10 - 15 minutes; or until rice is cooked and majority of liquid is absorbed.  Stir occassionally.  Meanwhile, I like to steam all of the other veggies in the microwave.  I do it in batches of course - the pumpkin first which usually requires more cooking time, then the cauliflower, then the zucchini.  Ensure they are completely cooked before adding them to the pilaf which should now be ready (ie. the rice cooked).  Stir the veggies through, along with the fresh chopped corriander.  Serve!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Oops!...and some Whoopies!

Okay, time for a big apology! Oops! In fact, major oops! I have totally abadonned my blog for the past 8 weeks! But, I have a decent excuse.  I have started back at University.  And I have changed my uni course.  I am now studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in French and majoring in Religious Studies, as well as a Bachelor of Secondary Education.  All that will allow me, in 4 years time, to become a high school teacher! But, don't think that for the next 4 years I will be off-and-on this blog.  I am totally renewing my committment here. 

I am really loving university.  I love my subjects and also my campus is just gorgeous.  They have a bookstore there! I joined their discount club straight away because I just knew that I would be going there during my study breaks to browse the cookbook section.  In fact, it was just this week that I bought my first book from there.  Wanna know what I got? A Whoopie book.  That's right, I've finally sucumb to the whoopie cooking craze.  It's just getting popular here in Australia. I've sighted a few cafés (around uni) that are selling whoopies.  Although, there are still many of my friends that don't know what a whoopie is.  For anyone who doesn't know, it's a cross between a cake and a cookie.  Really delicious! If you haven't tried this American craze, then go do it now! Start with this basic recipe below. For those of you whoopie experts, please recommend me your favourite whoopie flavour or recipe! Much appreciated!

90g unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup milk

Ingredients for Buttercream
125g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
+ sprinkles


Preheat oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and line 2 baking trays.  Beat together butter and sugar until pale and creamy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat well. With mixer on low speed, add flour and milk alternatively in 2 batches each.  Beat on low speed for roughly 2 minutes or until well combined.  Use 2cm plain nozzle to pipe 3cm by 2.5cm rounds on the trays.  Leave 5cm space between each mound (allow for spreading in oven).  Bake for 8 minutes, swapping trays around after 6 minutes; or until light golden and just firm to touch.  Cool on trays.  Meanwhile beat together the soft butter for buttercream with the icing sugar.  Use a plain nozzle to pipe onto a cooled- whoopie.  Sandwich with another whoopie. Shake sprinkles, over a bowl, around the edge of the whoopie; aiming for the buttercream-filled slit.  Serve.

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