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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Thai Red Chicken Curry

Thai food is a winner at any dinnertime. The unusual flavour combinations make this style of food a great variation for families tired of the standard ‘meat and three vege’ dishes that grace so many New Zealand dinner tables!

I’ve been making my Mum’s Thai red curry for several years now so I’ve pretty much got it down pat. Over the years, I’ve tweaked my recipe to make it even tastier. I think I’ve finally hit upon the right combination of ingredients that makes it as good as the red curry that you can get in any Thai restaurant.

This recipe uses very few ingredients so is not complicated at all. I find it is such a great meal to put in the freezer for those weeknights when you get home and you’re a little tired, hungry, irritable, cold…….yes, you get the picture!

Although I tend to use chicken, pork and beef would work just as well. Regardless of the meat choice and side ingredients used, red curry is just so satisfying!

Thai Red Chicken Curry

  • 45 grams butter
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 red pepper
  • 3 tsp red curry paste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 500 grams lean chicken breasts, chopped

Melt the butter slowly in a heated fry pan. Cook the onion, garlic and red pepper. Add the curry paste, cumin and flour. Stir in the chicken stock and simmer until the mixture boils. Add chicken and simmer for approximately 3 minutes so the chicken is heated through.

Take off heat and service with boiled rice. I’m not sure if this is a traditional thing or just something my Mum read/saw in a magazine but like her, I serve mine with a serving of sliced banana mixed roughly with one tablespoon of coconut. This tends to ease the spiciness that comes through from the paste. Sprinkle a small handful of peanuts over the plated curry and voila!

Louise Cake

I’m a little over slice, to be honest. So this will be the last one I will post about for a while. Plus I’ve decided I am going to be slightly more inventive in 2012! Kitchen-wise anyway. I was gifted by my lovely sister a subscription to the award-winning Cuisine magazine for Christmas so I can’t wait to see what treats turn up in my letterbox each month. I’m certainly looking forward to it and for a whole 12 months….exciting!

Now Louise Cake is something that I wasn’t too familiar with pre-December. I always thought it looked very beautiful in all its meringue-laden glory. And we all know that beautiful looking food often takes time to make said food so beautiful.

Well, I surprised myself. This slice is one of the easiest I’ve ever made and it is pretty darn good! Along with Ginger Slice, Louise Cake is another New Zealand favourite consisting of a thin layer of cake topped with raspberry jam, coconut meringue and then baked in the oven. Who’d say no to that?

It was everything I’d imagined and more..thanks to Mr. Simon Holst for the recipe!

Louise Cake

For the base:
100g softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup standard (plain) flour

For the filling:
1/2 cup good-quality raspberry jam (I used Anathoth Raspberry Jam and highly recommend)

For the topping:
2 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup coconut shreds

Heat oven to 160 degrees, with the rack just below the middle of the oven. Line the sides and bottom of a pan about 18x28cm with baking paper, allowing enough extra paper on the sides for lifting the cooked slice out, or spray a 23cm square loose-bottomed pan.

For the base, put the softened butter and sugar in a food processor or large bowl. Separate two eggs, adding the yolks to this mixture (and put the whites in a clean medium-sized bowl to use for the topping). Add the vanilla essence, mix the egg yolks through the softened butter and sugar, then add the two flours and mix again until evenly crumbly. Tip crumbly mixture into prepared pan and press down evenly. Bake for 15 minutes.

For the topping, beat the egg whites and vanilla until frothy, then add the sugar and beat until the tips of peaks turn over when the beater is lifted from them. Then fold half a cup of the coconut evenly through the meringue.

Spread the jam over the warm shortcake. Drop the meringue in spoonfuls on top, then spread evenly with a knife. Sprinkle with the remaining coconut. Bake for about 15 minutes at 160C (150C for fan bake) or until the meringue feels crisp and is evenly and lightly coloured. Cool completely before cutting into pieces.

Caramello Balls

Ah, the classic classy brandy ball. Yum! Although I have quite the soft spot for these, lately I have come across a ball of another kind. The one and only caramello balls! I thought I should credit slash ask my friend before blogging about this recipe. So I did, yesterday, only to find…she pinched it from the fabulous Griffin’s :-)……turns out they have quite a few different recipes and each one illustrated with the type of biscuit featured in the recipe. Nice.

So here is a treat for the weekend! By the time you read this, RWC fever should be well underway in the capital. I, thankfully, have escaped to the Manawatu for the weekend.

Thank you to my friend Steph for this recipe!

Caramello Balls

  • 100g butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 a tin of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed biscuits
  • 1 block caramello chocolate
  • Coconut to roll balls in

Heat a large saucepan on a medium heat. Melt the butter, brown sugar, condensed milk, cocoa and vanilla essence. When this has melted, add the crushed biscuits and leave to cool. I left my mixture for about 15 minutes or so. When cooled, wet your fingers and roll a full teaspoon of mixture around a square of caramello chocolate. Roll the balls in coconut. I think you could use any kind of chocolate in the middle, particularly types with a runny centre. I am yet to try with my favourite chocolate of all time: Whittaker’s Ghana Peppermint. I will be sure to update this post when I do!

Mum’s Apricot Fudge

Fudge is a delicious combination of sugar, butter, milk and flavours like chocolate, vanilla, passion fruit, the list never ends! The tricky part of making fudge is combining these items and cooking them properly.

When it comes to making fudge, I’m not really interested. Let’s be honest here, I kind of lack patience. All that stirring and time spent bent over the stovetop waiting and watching as sugar seems to take foreverrrrr to dissolve.

All that said some people make wonderful fudge! I envy places like a wee shop in Palmerston North called Munchkins. They make all sorts of flavours like cookies and cream, Baileys Irish crème, passionfruit (my favourite) and many others. Do check them out – they are definitely worth a visit next time you’re visiting the Manawatu. Chocoholics rejoice! Look at me; I’m doing a better job of selling the store out of fudge than I am blogging about my delights.

Now we’ve got fudge on the radar, I think apricots are hugely underrated and what a great way to use them. The following recipe is a favourite of mine or my mother’s. Perfect for gifts and much simpler time wise than most fudge recipes.

I have since discovered you can now purchase Munchkins fudge online. Go on, I dare you. You don’t even have to leave the house!

Have a good weekend and enjoy the recipe!

Mum’s Apricot Fudge

  • 1 packet crushed biscuits
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 500g apricots, chopped
  • 200g butter
  • ½ a can of condensed milk
  • Coconut to sprinkle

I recommend using quite a large saucepan for this recipe, just to give you a bit of stirring room! Heat pot over a medium heat and melt the butter, brown sugar and the condensed milk. Chop up the apricots into bite-sized pieces and add to the cooked mixture. Add the crushed biscuits and mix like you’ve never mixed before. Fudge tends to get very thick very quick and you want to try and get this mixture as smooth as you can.

Line a baking tin with greaseproof cooking paper and press the mixture firmly into the tin. Sprinkle with the coconut. I have always thought apricots go really nicely with nuts of most kinds so if you wanted to make this item slightly more nutritious, you could add nuts in with the apricots.

Put the tin into the fridge to set. Fudge doesn’t generally take very long to go hard so no need to make this one well in advance. Fudge also travels particularly well so makes an excellent homemade gift!