Tag Archives: cookies

Sunny-lemony ricotta cookies, because we cannot live on bread alone

ricotta-cake-cookie-04

January came with an avalanche of green juice blogging. Even this wee blog, untrendy as it is, got with the zeitgeist and talked about bird seed bread, kale, Burmese salads, and accidental trendiness healthiness.

Then, I bought far too much ricotta. For the past week, our diet has been full of ricotta-laced pesto and ricotta mustard tarts (the tarts adapted from the great Dorie herself). And these ricotta cookies.

These cookies were light, cake-like and fluffy. I added as much lemon zest and lemon juice as I dared, with a fat pinch of crushed lavender buds. And the taste? Creamy and primly sweet from the ricotta and castor (granulated) sugar, but thanks to the lemon zest and lavender, each cookie was a sparkling, sunny mouthful.

Compared to the excesses of December – such as the darkly spiced Sri Lankan Christmas cake lurking in some of the photos – these lemony ricotta cookies seemed positively fresh and sober. Like calisthenics early morning yoga.

ricotta-cake-cookie-01

Continue reading

Advertisements

Life in the popcorn lane: popcorn, chocolate chip, brown butter cookies

popcorn-cookies-02

As you would have seen on many blogs, it’s December, Christmas is on its way. A period of holiday cheer, seasonal madness, and a kitchen covered in sticky flour-y patches.

I have started planning for The Christmas Lunch, trying to balance the preferences of two families. There’s the anti-Turkey matriarch, the other matriarch who likes Turkey With All The Trimmings, someone who likes an early lunch followed by a stroll on the sunburnt beach, and another who enjoys nothing more than a late night post-pudding egg nog.

I can’t do anything about the time of Christmas lunch, but I think I’ve written a menu that will keep both sides happy, ish, esp when prefaced by a couple of happy, festive cocktails. Whew!! For a moment, Christmas on a deserted island (with a Christmas tree, and reindeers) seemed just a tad appealing. 🙂

This is when I turned to something child-like in its simplicity, and universally happy-making.

These cookies, stuffed to the brim with buttered popcorn, dark chocolate chip, and brown butter.

Think: buttered popcorn with salty, crunchy bits, dark, dark chocolate chunks, extra flecks of chunky sea salt, brought to you by a soft, chewy, sweet cookie dough.

popcorn-cookies-03

Continue reading

Is it a cookie? brownie? double chocolate dog bones?

double-choc-cookie-brownies-03

I have been on a roll with this oversized cookie thing. First there was a giant cookie, now we have a cookie slab. A double chocolate cookie-brownie slab. Come to think of it, a gluten-free double chocolate cookie-brownie slab.

Half of the slab became brownie-like slices, and the other half – I had  a dog bone-shaped cookie cutter, so there were double chocolate dog bones.

Woof.

double-choc-cookie-brownies-07

In the evening, Mr Gander and I had this exchange:

Mr Gander: what’s this?

Me: A giant cookie slab. Or cookie slab. As a cookie, it’s giant; but as a slab, it’s merely normal sized.

Mr Gander: and these?

Me: Dog bone cookie cut-out things.

Mr Gander: … …

(ps, he ate them anyway)

These were made from the recipe for double chocolate cookies, as part of this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) assignment. I made this recipe using a mix of gluten free flours, following the ratio of 60% starch (I used potato starch and white rice flour), 40% whole grain (I used quinoa, brown rice and corn flour) from Gluten Free Girl. I also used more 85% chocolate, because I like my chocolate dark and cookies giant. 

The resulting cookie slab was a super-intense chocolate hit, dense, almost toothsome, not unlike drinking a doppio (double shot espresso) from the original Campos cafe. Best enjoyed in small bites with equally strong tea or coffee, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If made with more milk chocolate, it would become a perfect companion to a glass of cold milk too. The recipe only uses a small amount of flour, with a huge quantity of chocolate, so I don’t think the GF flours affected the texture much, unless it made the cookies slab a little bit more crumbly.

double-choc-cookie-brownies-01

Continue reading

Cookies plus fun: chocolate, sprinkles, and giantness

cookies-06a

Cookies almost need no introduction. Small package of cheerfulness that fit into one hand(ful), in varieties of soft, crunchy, chewy. If you’re like me, you can always find room for just one more.

I haven’t baked that many cookies for this blog. There always seems to be another more exotic and/or more challenging recipe to try, and new techniques to learn. But this week, it felt like a time for cookies. Just cookies.

Maybe it’s because I had been planning a dinner party menu for 11-12 people all week. There are so many ideas whizzing around my head, it’s hard to focus one idea and build a menu around it. Dan Hong’s mapo tofu, David Thompson’s laksa from scratch, that amazing macaroni pie from The Leopard, or fesenjan? What about nibbles? Should I make bread? Make pasta? And dessert??

cookies-05a

In the middle of this food ideas whirlpool, Mr Gander asked me to bake something for a meeting at his work. No wonder I turned to something simple, foolproof, something that says ‘happy place’.

Like Celia (of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial)’s Perfect Gooey Cookie Slab.

When I first read about the cookie slab on Celia’s blog, her description stuck in my mind: “the disproportionately high chocolate content vis-à-vis flour results in a crisp wafery crust over a molten and butterscotchy centre (which sets firm by the following day).” Swoon.

Instead of a slab, I tried making a giant cookie, and covered it in hundreds and thousands (sprinkles). Compared to some recent projects, this was a cinch to make. Into the oven the cookie dough went, and began to spread and grow…

Continue reading

Blue Mountains before bushfires, and the simplest granola cookies

blackheath-03

(Recipe for granola cookies at the end of this post)

Blue Mountains, part of our Great Dividing Range and the stuff of pioneering Australian stories. It’s particularly famous for the Three Sisters – a rock formation that attracts all kinds of tourists to the town of Katoomba. Since it is a 1-2 hour drive or a train ride out of Sydney, it has long been a place for Sydneysiders to spend a weekend, a few days or even weeks, unwinding, remembering a slower pace of life.

It is also one of the places that are in danger from bushfires every year, during the annual October to March ‘bushfire season’.

This year, the bushfires have started early around Sydney and in the Blue Mountains. Thursday afternoon saw Sydney’s famous blue sky turn an ominous orange-yellow from the smoke – even this morning, our cityscape looked unnaturally sepia, as though we woke up in the world of Instagram. A colleague who has a house in the lower Blue Mountains is at home soaking their house with water, and having the rural fire service doing back burning just outside of their backyard. Gulp. Anyone who has driven around rural Australia has probably seen the hectares of black tree stumps, running over hills and down into valleys to the edges of rivers, and also hectares of living trees with trunks and branches blackened by fire.

But after each fire, the bush regenerates – and some plants have evolved to do so. The black stumps grow green shoots, seeds sprout; flowers tempt insects and animals back. Our plants may not have the softest petals, or the most ornamental leaves, but you’ve got to give them kudos for being tough enough to survive our sunburnt country, with droughts and flooding rains – and fires.

The photos in this post are from the Blue Mountains, taken just before bushfire season. The area isn’t yet affected by bushfires, and I hope it will be unscathed this year.

blackheath-04

We spent the first weekend of this month in Blackheath, a town nestled into the quieter back half of the Blue Mountains. It was a long, three-day weekend, and we spent most of it walking around tracks in the surrounding bushland, catching up around bottles of red wine, and eating good food.

The bush around Blackheath wowed me, again. This is such a quintessential “Australian” landscape with bleached colours and too-harsh sun. 

blackheath-07

Once our eyes adjusted to the brightness around us, I found layers of textures, patterns and contours all around us. Walking on ridges, we saw trees silhouetted against the empty space and bright, blue sky. The cicadas were out in full force. On the way back, we saw so many cicada shells – almost looking like jewelled brooches – clinging to a bushfire-blacked tree.

blackheath-08blackheath-06

Continue reading

Making ma’amoul, a Syrian recipe for semolina and date cookies

maamoul-01

Do you have a Christmas tradition (or traditions for other religious or secular holidays)? Would you like to have celebrations that involve little crumbly, buttery semolina cookies filled with date butter, or sugared walnuts or pistachios, and scented with orange blossom water?

Yep, me too.

We made ma’amoul (also spelled mamool, mamoul or maamoul) in a cooking class in the Almond Bar, Sydney. I had heard about these cookies being made for Easter celebrations in Lebanon, and remembered eating them in Syria. Chef Sharon Salloum (whose family is from Syria) said her mum made lots of these cookies for Christmas too – I guess these are celebratory kinda cookies. Once you’ve had one, you’d be looking for more reasons to celebrate too.

The recipe we used comes from the new Almond Bar cookbook. The pastry starts with a mix of semolina, ghee (clarified butter) and sugar, rested, then kneaded with orange blossom water, milk, mahlab and yeast. Then, balls of dough are wrapped around balls of date filling, shaped in a specially made wooden mould, and baked until light brown. Other common fillings are walnuts, or pistachios, chopped finely and mixed with sugar. Be still my beating heart.

maamoul-02

The resulting cookies are melt-on-the-tongue soft, yet crumbly. After the richness of the ghee, comes the fragrance of orange blossom water and the hint of something from the mahlab. Then, the more intense hit of fruity sweetness from the date filling. Then, it’s gone and you find yourself reaching for another one.

Continue reading

Eurovision! brioche pockets, blinged-up cookies

brioche-pockets1eurovision-cookies1

Can you believe it’s 30 years of Eurovision song contest?

Eurovision has a surprisingly large fan base in Australia, probably since we fell in love with ABBA way back when. These days, our multicultural broadcaster SBS despatches two commentators to the host city, dedicated to living, breathing, and relaying every sparkle, tassel, costume reveal, key change (intentional or otherwise) and pyrotechnics from the extravaganza. It’s almost like Tour de France season. We even got a mention from the presenter Petra Mede this year, *squeal*.

Some fans in Australia are pretty seriously committed. A previous Australian commentator got in trouble with some fans when he made fun of the show. (Really? They don’t find it mesmerising-funny that Cesar from Romania was channeling Dracula, and then broke out in a magnificent falsetto?)

On Sunday night, when Eurovision was broadcast on Australian TV, we were at an Eurovision party dressed up to the crazy nines. I was dressed as one of the Russian grandmothers or babushkas from last year. Anyone remember them? They brought out trays of cookies from an oven while singing on stage! My costume of course included a tray of freshly baked cookies – food as costume, wowza.

It’s not a proper Eurovision party without a smorgasbord of dishes from the contestant countries. Someone brought Portuguese chicken, which was technically not permitted because Portugal didn’t enter this year’s contest, but we ate the chicken anyway. I had two food entries: savoury brioche pockets, which was this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) assignment, and blinged up chocolate chip peanut butter cookies, which was part of my babushka costume.

Continue reading