Coconut Whispers

A month or so ago I bought what has become one of my all-time favourite recipe books, Ladies, a Plate. This book, written by New Zealand author Alexa Johnston, is jam-packed full of traditional home baking. It gives a fantastic insight into New Zealand baking classics (some of which I did not know) over the years.

Alexa’s interest in old-fashioned recipes began with her mothers copies of the New Zealand Women’s Institutes Home Cookery Book and the League of Mothers Cookery Book, as well as a number of church fundraising cookbooks. She also collects a large number of community recipe books.

The thing I love most is that each recipe comes with a tale, along with a wonderful full-page photograph. At the back of the book is a list of all the places these recipes were sourced from and I’d love to get a hold of some of the originals. Some of the cookbook titles just make you smile..

These biscuits are small and simple. They don’t require expensive ingredients and they don’t take long to make. They are extremely easy, light, and moorish. You can use dessicated coconut, as stated in the recipe, but the only coconut I had on hand was coconut thread and it worked just as well. This is coming from someone who loves the texture of cocunut, so perhaps stick with the dessicated stuff if you’re not so keen.

Her book is full of words of wisdom and helpful hints for successful home baking. Alexa also states and I have to agree:

A cup of tea without a biscuit is a missed opportunity.

On that note…

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Coconut Whispers

  • 55 grams butter, softened
  • 115 grams white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 150 grams dessicated coconut

Cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Mix in the egg and the vanilla. Using a spoon, stir through the coconut.

Place teaspoonfuls of dough onto trays lined with baking paper, leaving space for spreading, and flatten slightly with a wet fork. Bake in a pre-heated 160 degree oven for 25 minutes or until golden, and cool the biscuits on the paper on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

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Lest We Forget – ANZAC Biscuits

They went with songs to the battle, they were young. 
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

It is April and Anzac Day is nearly upon us.

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance here in New Zealand, and in Australia. Both countries commemorate it on 25th of April every year to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli.

I decided to mark this day by baking some traditional Anzac biscuits, or “crispies” as they used to be known! This recipe has long been associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps established in World War I. As the story goes, wives, mothers and girlfriends sent the biscuits to soldiers abroad. The ingredients did not spoil easily and kept extremely well during transportation, which was sometimes up to 2 months!

At first the biscuits were called Soldiers’ Biscuits, but after the landing on Gallipoli, they were renamed ANZAC Biscuits. You may notice the lack of eggs to bind the ANZAC biscuit mixture together. Because of the war, many of the poultry farmers had joined the services; therefore, little wee eggs were very scarce.

I remember Anzac biscuits being one of the first recipes I learnt to cook as a child. They were a firm family favourite in my family and still are. Easy to make and they taste great!

Lest we forget.

ANZAC Biscuits
Makes 15 

  • 1 cup plain flour, sifted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 3/4 cup dessicated coconut
  • 125 grams butter
  • 4 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 4 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt the butter and golden syrup together in the microwave or on the stovetop. Dissolve the baking soda in hot water, then add to the butter and syrup mixture. Add foaming mixture to dry ingredients and combine thoroughly. Mixture should be firm enough to roll into a ball on a teaspoon. If not, you may have to add a little bit more flour! Place balls on tray and press each gently with a fork.

The biscuits like to spread as they bake so be careful not to place them too close together on the tray. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes at 150 degrees, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven. Allow the Anzac biscuits to cool on the tray for a few minutes.

Homemade Hamburgers

Every now and then I go over to the Healthy Food Guide and grab a recipe for dinner. They have hundred of recipes that are healthy, low-cost (using few ingredients) and easy!

As a kiwi, I enjoy an outdoor barbecue every now and then! And like most, I also enjoy creating a homemade hamburger! Seems awfully simple and not entire worthy of a blog post, but helpful none the less.

Homemade Hamburgers
Serves 6

  • 500 grams beef mince
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic or onion salt (I used regular cooking salt)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

Place the beef mince, carrot, onion, salt and rolled oats into a bowl. Mix with clean hands and divide into 6 lots. Press each lot into a saucer to make a patty, or shape patty with your hands. At this stage place all 6 patties on a plate and pre-cook in the microwave for around 5 minutes. This really speeds up the cooking process!

Now if you’ve got yourself a beautiful sunny evening, you can use the BBQ to cook these. I didn’t so I sprayed a frying pan. Put patties in and fry, turning, until cooked. Remember to turn down the heat if you find they are cooking too fast.

Split buns in half. Grill until golden. Spread with tomato sauce. To put hamburgers together, place cooked meat patty on top of sauce, then tomato slices on top, then lettuce and other salad ingredients of your choice! Put lid on top and serve. Yummy.

Bacon and Egg Pie

Most New Zealander’s I know love a slice of bacon and egg pie. I wouldn’t call this so much a recipe as I would an assemblage. There is nothing too challenging about making a bacon and egg pie and you probably won’t ever need this recipe. It does however hold a strong place in my heart so to me, belongs on my blog.

This recipe makes for a really quick and easy lunch or light meal. Combined with a nice salad, you have your self a pretty delicious meal.  My Mum would actually be horrified I am even sharing this recipe because it is literally make and bake.

I used the very easy store-bought puff pastry (Mum would also be horrified at this) but the flaky pastry recipe in the Edmonds Cookery book is pretty easy so if you have a bit of time..

I don’t really have too much more to say about this! Enjoy.

Bacon and Egg Pie

  • 400 gram packet of store-bought flaky puff pastry
  • 200 gram packet of shoulder bacon
  • 5 medium-sized eggs
  • Salt and pepper

Roll out half the puff pastry on a floured board until you have yourself a lovely rectangle. Lift off the board and shape into a sprayed oven dish. Line the dish with strips of the bacon so the pastry is evenly covered. Crack 5 eggs over the bacon and break up the yolks with a knife. Roll out the second half of the puff pastry and lay over the pie.

Bake at 180 degrees for approximately 45 minutes.

Kiwi Chocolate Afghan Biscuits

Home-baked chocolate afghans are nothing new, or flash for that matter. However, they are particularly yummy and seem to go perfectly with a hot drink on a cold day (like today, if you’re in Wellington!). To me they really belong in that “comfort food” category, right next to the ANZAC biscuit…

Afghan cookies are chunky, crunchy and slightly crumbly. And just like the kiwi ANZAC biscuit, Afghans require only a handful of ingredients so they are very easy to make.

The biscuits on their own are not very sweet so the icing is definitely needed and unless you have some extreme allergy to nuts..don’t forget to decorate with a wee walnut. Alternatively you could sprinkle with coconut. Delicious.

Kiwi Chocolate Afghan Biscuits

  • 200 grams butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cornflakes, crushed
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsps cocoa
  • 1-2 Tbsp boiling water

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease or line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a large bowl beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Sift in flour and cocoa, stir thoroughly with the butter mixture until combined before stirring in the cornflakes.

Place heaped teaspoonfuls onto baking tray, squeeze mixture together gently if necessary then press lightly with a fork. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before icing.

Mix the icing sugar, butter and 1 Tbsp boiling water at a time until combined, adding more hot water if necessary until icing is a spreadable consistency. Ice biscuits and top with half a walnut.