biscuits for the masses

from my dear friend SJ

500g butter

1 1/4 cups caster sugar

400g sweetened condensed milk

5 cups self raising flour

3 x packs choc bits (can use milk, white & dark)

Preheat oven to 180’C

In a VERY large bowl cream butter, sugar and condensed milk in an electric mixer until light and creamy in texture

Add sifted flour and choc bits and mix until well combined – do this by hand, is a good workout!

Roll into 1 tbsp balls

Place on prepared trays and flatten slightly with fork, leaving room for spreading

Bake for 14-16 mins or until light and golden. Stand for 5 mins before transferring onto a wire rack.

Store well and freeze really well too!!

caramel salmon

Not cheap. Salmon is not cheap. But sitting on the back deck, eating the sticky salmon, jasmine rice soaked in the syrup with a squeeze of lime, what a treat!

This recipe is that it takes next to no time to make. Put the rice on and then start the Caramel Salmon. By the time the rice is cooked so is the salmon. Very straight forward. Do make sure you have plenty of limes so everyone can have some wedges on their plates. It needs the lime to cut through the sweetness. I added some sliced spring onions and coriander to freshen it up a little too.

caramel salmon

(from Bill Grangers book ‘Every Day’)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
800g salmon fillets, with skin, cut into large cubes
1 red onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lime juice

to serve
steamed rice
lime wedges

In a large frying pan add the oil and cook the salmon in 2 batches over a high heat. Cook a minute or two on each side until lightly browned then remove.

Add a little extra oil if need be and turn the heat down to medium. Cook the sliced onion and garlic until soft then add the dark soy sauce, sugar and fish sauce. Return the salmon to the pan and cook for a minute or so, or until the sauce is dark and syrupy. Grind black pepper over the top and add the lime juice.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice and lime wedges.

(slightly adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery ‘Cake Days’ book)

3 large eggs
300ml vegetable oil
300g brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
300g peeled and grated zucchini
100g walnuts, roughly chopped (plus extra for decorating)

yoghurt cinnamon icing

160g unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (plus extra for decorating)
500g icing sugar
50g Greek yoghurt

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Grease and line the base of three 20cm round cake tins.

In a mixmaster whisk together the eggs, oil, brown sugar and vanilla essence until all combined.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb and spices together. With mixer on low speed add half the dry ingredients and mix together then add the other half. Add the grated zucchini and chopped walnuts and mix together.

Divide the cake batter up between the three tins and bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until golden on the top and cooked through. Leave them in the tin for a few minutes then tip out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing place the butter, cinnamon and icing sugar in the mixmaster and whisk is fully incorporated. Add in the yoghurt and mix on low speed until combined and then turn up the speed and continue to whisk until light and fluffy.

To ice the cake, dob a little icing on the cake plate. Centre the first cake on the plate then spoon over a few tablespoons of the icing and smooth it out. Top with the second cake and add another few tablespoons of icing and smooth out. Add the final cake and ice the sides and the top of cake. Dust with a little extra cinnamon and arrange some caramelised walnuts on the top if you like.

weetbix balls

I would recommend making a double batch especially if you are leaving the cooking to children. We chopped up a big block of milk chocolate and mixed it in along with about 1/3 cup of sultanas. You can play around with extra additions.

weetbix lemon balls

10 weetbix, crushed
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup sultanas (I go half and half with chocolate chips)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
tin of condensed milk
extra desiccated coconut to coat

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Roll tablespoons of the mixture into a ball. Roll these in a plate of extra desiccated coconut.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container. Best made the day before.

pancakes

Crepes and pancakes are my speciality. Maybe because I make them every week not because I have a particular gifting. I have gone through so many recipes. I thought I had a favourite and then Julie Goodwin launched a cookbook with the best pancake recipe. It trumped all the other pancake recipes in my repertoire.

Now this is the base pancake recipe I make whenever we want a fluffy, thick pancake. I use a different recipe for the thin French crepe. I still can’t decide which I like better – crepe or pancake. Either way I use a proper crepe pan which I bought a few years back from here. It really makes a huge difference especially when I am churning out enough pancakes to feed six or sometimes more. I also use the crepe pan to make tortillas or any sort of flat bread.

Just a side note – I don’t always have buttermilk on hand so I just squeeze some lemon into the milk.

buttermilk pancakes

1 cup (150 g) self-raising flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 cup (55 g) caster sugar
1 1/4 cups (310 ml) buttermilk
1 egg
Olive oil cooking spray

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre. Whisk the buttermilk and egg together, and stir gently into the flour mixture.

Heat a frying pan over medium-low heat and spray with oil. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and swirl. Cook for 2 minutes or until bubbles form on the surface. Turn and cook a further 1 minute, or until cooked through.

chicken salad

1 cold BBQ chicken, meat pulled off the bone and roughly chopped up
5 bacon rashers, chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (or a few finely chopped spring onions)
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
4 tablespoons mayonnaise (homemade is the best otherwise whole egg mayo)
1 small bunch of chives, finely chopped
cos lettuce, roughly torn up
cumber, sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a pan, fry the bacon until crisp then place on a paper towel to cool. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, bacon, red onion, capsicum, mayonnaise and chives. Season with some salt and pepper.

Arrange the lettuce in a portable container along with the cucumber. Tip the chicken salad over the top and it is ready to get transported. When you are ready to serve just give everything a light toss and serve with crusty bread or use sliced bread to make a fantastic chicken and lettuce sandwich.

spicy bean stew with sausages

from TeaforSix (slightly adapted from The River Cottage Family Cookbook)

3 tablespoons olive oil
8 good pork sausages
1 brown onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 small tin of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 small tins of whole peeled tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

I found it helpful to measure out the spices and the brown sugar and pop them in a zip lock bag ready to be thrown in the stew. It cuts down the need to pack and transport lots of jars and measuring spoons.

Start by frying the sausages in a big pot with the olive oil until brown. Then remove them and cover with foil. Fry the onion gently until soft and then add the garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add the sugar and spices and the tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon or potato masher then add the sausages and beans. Season well and let everything come up to a gentle simmer then pop the lid on and leave to cook for an hour or more, stirring from time to time.

Serve with baked potatoes or some bread to dunk in.