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…

01111

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!

New Zealand Lolly Log Cake

Lolly cake or lolly log (as some might know it) in New Zealand is a national institution. It is such a kiwi favourite.

It is found absolutely everywhere here and I would go as far as saying it even makes the  list of my favourite sweet treats. This is the type of food item you’d probably expect to see in every New Zealand bakery, corner dairy, or even your local service station, nationwide. I almost think it is unique to New Zealand as  I have yet to find any reference to its existence that can’t be traced back to a New Zealander’s blog.

It is an uncooked recipe and uses two main ingredients: biscuits and lollies – what could be better?! The mixture is usually pressed into a log shape and rolled in coconut, and then refrigerated until set and sliced up. Sadly I can’t credit anything more than the back of a packet of Pascall Fruit Puff’s for this delightful recipe. Enjoy!

New Zealand Lolly Log Cake
Makes 15 slices

  • 1 packet malt biscuits, crumbs
  • 1 packet fruit puffs or eskimos
  • 100 grams butter
  • 1/2 can condensed milk
  • Coconut

Warm the butter and the condensed milk in the microwave.  Add the biscuit crumbs and either a packet of eskimos or fruit puffs (cut into pieces).  Stir mixture well.  Form the mixture into a log shape or into small balls.  Roll in Coconut.  Put into the fridge for approximately 4 hours.  Once set, cut the log into slices and serve.

Old-Fashioned Sausage Rolls

Sausage rolls – they’re usually a little touch n’ go, aren’t they.

It is fairly rare that I’d go to a cafe to eat a sausage roll these days, but while I’m here I might as well give a little shout out to one of the quaintest little cafes in the Hawkes Bay. That cafe is The Paper Mulberry and you should definitely go there if you are passing through and in need of a cuppa. These guys make great sausage rolls, and fabulous coffee! Either way, you’ll find it well worth slowing down and pulling in.

But if you’re not up that way, check out this recipe.  Although this is only my second ever homemade sausage roll experience, they taste pretty good! Much better than the very first time I attempted a sausage roll which were the days of Home Economics at intermediate school, I was 11. This recipe is based on one I found in The Healthy Food Guide magazine and includes a vegetable or two so probably a bit healthier than your average sausage roll!

They make a great snack, lunch or party food and you can decide how big or small you want them to be. I do have one tip though: make sure you have heaps of tomato sauce or nice chutney to go with them. They really are quite delicious straight out of the oven! Next time though, I think I will experiment with the flavours a bit more. I just discovered a recipe that uses caramelised onions and blue cheese! Amen to that, so watch this space!

Old-Fashioned Sausage Rolls

  • 3 sheets ready-rolled reduced-fat puff pastry
  • 500 grams trim pork mince
  • 2 slices wholemeal bread, made into crumbs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium kumara, grated
  • 2 courgette, grated
  • 1 tbsp bran
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato sauce, be generous
  • water, to seal pastry
  • 1/4 cup trim milk, for glazing

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. In a bowl, combine the fresh breadcrumbs, herbs, salt, bran flakes, onion, meat, grated kumara, grated courgettes and the sauces. If you have a processor, chop the onion, add the slices of bread and pulse to crumbs, then add all the rest of the ingredients and mix in the processor.

Lay out the pastry on a floured bench. Scoop out the meat mixture and place a ‘sausage’ of mixture along the middle of each strip. Brush one edge of the strip with water, roll the pastry over and seal it together to form a long roll.

Cut into approximately eight sausage rolls depending on how big you’d like them. Place the rolls seam side down on a greased tray. Slash the top of each sausage roll once or twice with a serrated knife to allow steam to escape, then brush each one lightly with milk. You could then sprinkle with a few sesame seeds or poppy seeds or perhaps, sprinkle with a small amount of grated cheese. Clearly I forgot this step! 😦

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until dark golden. Serve with tomato sauce or a nice chutney for dipping.

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.

Deliciously Sticky Hot Cross Buns

Well, it is Easter Sunday in New Zealand so Happy Easter. I do hope you’ve spent the better part of today munching down on some tasty chocolate, alongside family and friends!

Although hot cross buns are a traditional Good Friday treat, I made these buns last night and they are seriously tasty! I told myself I shouldn’t but when they came out of the oven at 10-something pm I cut  a bun open, spread it with creamy butter and gobbled it down….right then and there. Then I went in for another. But hey, it’s Easter. We can do that at Easter. Kind of.

There is just something I love about hot cross buns! They are perfect fresh, freeze well and are fabulous toasted. Happy cooking!

Sticky Hot Cross Buns
Makes 15

For the buns:

  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 4 cups white flour
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup mixed fruit (I used a simple combination of sultanas and currants)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

 For the crosses:

  • 1 tbsp butter, chilled
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp cold water
For the glaze:
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup boiling water

Pour milk and water into a bowl. Stir in sugar, and sprinkle over yeast. Set aside for approximately 5 minutes or until yeast mixture is nice and frothy.

Using a larger bowl, mix together flours, extra sugar and salt. Rub in butter, add fruit and spice. Make a well in the centre, pour in yeast liquid plus egg, mix thoroughly, dough should be slightly sticky – a little more warm liquid may need to be added. It could be up to an extra 1/4 cup.

Turn onto a lightly floured bench and knead for 10 minutes. Return dough to a warm, greased bowl, leave in a warm place to double in bulk – this will take roughly 1 hour. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured bench, and knead 2-3 minutes.

To shape buns, divide the dough into 15 pieces and roll into balls. Place onto a lightly greased tray, one finger width apart. Return to a warm place to double in bulk for approximately 60 minutes.

Right, you are now ready to place the crosses on the buns. Rub 1 tablespoon  of chilled butter into 1/4 cup flour then mix to a soft dough, using 2 tablespoons of cold water. Roll out on a floured board and cut into appropriate lengths. Place carefully onto risen buns just before they go into the oven.

Bake at 220 degrees for 8-10 minutes. To make the sticky glaze,  mix 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with 1/4 cup boiling water. Microwave for 2-3 minutes and brush on the hot buns. Deliciously sticky and gooooood!!


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.