Tuesday, July 30, 2013

You Only Get One - Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

These are my husband's favourite biscuits. We both love the choc/chilli combination, so when I came across this recipe a few year's back on MlovesM blog, I gave it a go almost immediately. From first bite, my husband was obsessed. I've told you before that he takes biscuits to work for lunch - well, this is the biscuit that started it. He would call me from work and claim I hadn't given him any, because he'd eaten them all before lunch time. He would tell everyone that would listen that these were the most amazing biscuit in the entire world, that you'd have one and just constantly want more. That he was torn, between wanting the wholed world to taste them, but wanting to keep them all for himself. So he came up with a compromise - you only get one.

Just before he'd give someone one of these biscuits he'd tell them he was going to give them the best biscuit ever, but you only get one. You will only ever get one. And that's all they ever got. So, if you want more than that, you'd best make them yourself.

These are best baked just until cracking point, that way when they cool, they are slightly fudgy on the inside and crisp on the outside. My husband told me to point out that these biscuits are also one of the few he's ever eaten that are best eaten cold, not warm from the oven. This last batch I made with spelt flour, to increase the nutritional value. I haven't used spelt much before, but have read that you need to be a bit more careful with it, so when mixing the wet and dry, do it gently and stop as soon as it's completely mixed. Taste, texture and cooking-wise, they were identical.

As a disclaimer, I don't necessarily think these are the *best* biscuit in the entire world, but they are in my husband's world and they are pretty delicious!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles
(makes about 24)
1 and 2/3 cups spelt flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I use Cadbury Bournville Cocoa)
1 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup grapeseed (or other neutral) oil
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup pure maple sugar
3 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla

Sugar coating
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 170C

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, bicarb soda, cinnamon, cayenne and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, maple syrup, milk and vanilla. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring gently with a wooden spoon until just combined.

In a small plastic container or jar with a lid, combine the cinnamon and sugar and shake to combine. Your biscuits will be dunked in this, so if you can't use it straight from the container, spread it back out in a shallow dish. I always have a container of cinnamon sugar ready for making these snickerdoodles!

Roll dough into small balls, then gently flatten into discs around the size of the biscuits you want. Gently push one side of the disc into sugar coating. Then place sugar side up onto lined baking trays. They spread a little, so give them room.

Bake until the cookies have spread and are crackly on top, around 9-12 minutes. Cool, then eat!

These also make amazing ice cream sandwiches!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Inventing - Chick Pea Pancakes

Have you ever had that amazing feeling of thinking of something awesome for the first time? You feel like you've made this immense world-changing discovery because for you, it wasn't there, then you thought of it and it was. I've gotten it a few times in my lifetime. Sometimes for almost child-like discoveries of working out how something works without being shown. Sometimes for thinking of a novel way of using an ordinary household item. And sometimes for inventing recipes that blow my mind.

I know the I wouldn't be the first person to make these. I know that they possibly even exist as a traditional dish that's been around for generations. I also know that I invented them. In my world, anyway. In a food-related email discussion (I have a lot of those. A lot), we were talking about chick pea fritters and their awesomeness when I had a lightbulb moment. Chick pea pancakes. Savoury pancakes are already awesome, how about I make them with chick pea flour? I already had a Moroccan stew in the slow cooker that was requiring some form of side when I got home. What would be better than chick pea pancakes to dip in the saucy deliciousness? Armed with just this thought and an off-by-heart pancake recipe (more pikelet than crepe). I thought I would try it for the first time almost identically, minus sugar. I ramped up the baking powder and bicarb to ensure fluffiness with the new flour and voila. They were good. Really good.

This is pretty much going to be my go-to 'bread' recipe for all Middle Eastern and Indian dishes I make from now on, I'd say. My husband says they are like a cross between a pappadum and a paratha. So whilst it's probably not a new dish out there in the big wide world - I invented these. 100% from idea to finished product. And I'm pretty darned proud!


Chick Pea Pancakes
serves 4 as a side
1 cup chick pea flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2  cup water
1 tbsp butter (I actually use olive oil spread)
More butter/spread for frying

Whisk chick pea flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt together to fully combine.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the egg and water, whisk until a smooth batter is obtained.

Melt the butter in a fry pan on a low heat. Pour this into the batter whilst whisking and make sure it is fully incorporated.

Put the pan back on the heat and a minute or so later, pour the batter into the pan for making pancakes to your desired size. The first time I made big ones, the next time I made pikelet size ones.

Fry until bubbles start forming on the surface, around 3 minutes. Then flip over and cook for another 1-2 minutes or lightly golden on the other side.

Store on a plate in a really low oven to stay warm as you repeat the process until all cooked.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Joining Bloglovin

So, a reader requested that I join bloglovin so she could keep up-to-date with my posts now that google reader doesn't work. I'm so not with it, in the world of social media these days! But I will, so that people who want to can keep seeing and reading my blog. Apparently that means adding this line, to show that I am me!

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/9942659/?claim=n7twjrqhdxx">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I hope this helps everyone :)

Jenn xx

Summer dreaming - the Lychaloechee

When I got up this morning, there was ice on my windscreen and a bitter chill in the air. It was minus 0.6C. Two weeks ago, I was enjoying days in the low 30's. Now, well, now it's cold. Meanwhile, my newsfeeds on blogger and pinterest and instagram are full of fruity cocktails and balmy summer nights. So whilst I don't have the fresh watermelon or mango or berries to whip up a delicious summer cocktail, I thought I would console myself a little bit with the first cocktail I ever created - the Lychaloechee.

Being in New York, I really took to all the readily available and amazing Latin restaurants about. We don't have a great deal of Latin cuisine in Perth, although there was somewhat of a Mexican food revolution of late which I heartily support! But something we do have lots of here due to our proximity is good Asian food and good Asian grocers. One of my favourite things to have discovered back in my uni days was Aloe Vera juice. This is now readily available in most supermarkets. It's a sweet, still juice with little floaty bits of goodness in it. I usually get the plain one, but it also comes flavoured or sweetened with honey.

When my husband and I first moved in together, I introduced him to one of my favourite summer fruits - the lychee. Seriously love those little fellas! The texture and sweetness and flavour is just sensational. And in turn, he excitedly brought home a present a short time later - a bottle of Paraiso lychee liqueur. I sampled it by itself and immediately knew what it needed. It's like I could already taste it - aloe juice. I was making a margarita pie at the time, so I had an abundance of limes which would make the perfect kick through the sweetness.

I've experimented with different versions of this, adding a white rum to ramp up to booziness (the liqueur is weak in strength, strong in flavour) or soda water for a bit of spritzy freshness, but I always go back to the original. The tropical lychee and aloe flavour combination is remiscent of summer, and in this presentation, drinkable in winter!

So tonight, I sit in front of the heater, ugg boots on, and sip my Lychaloechee and dream of the balmy nights ahead! Cheers!

1 part Paraiso (or other lychee liqueur)
5 parts aloe vera juice
wheel of lime

Pour the Paraiso and aloe vera juice into a high ball glass, stir well to mix
Lightly squeeze the lime wheels into the glass, then drop in as a garnish

Monday, July 15, 2013

Instagrams of Yumness - Back to Reality Bacon Jam

So I am back from the most amazing food-centric 5 week holiday. The whole impetus behind this foodie holiday came from seeing the post for a cooking retreat being hosted by the wonderful Alejandra from Always Order Dessert - the first blog I ever started following - and thinking how perfect it would be. I described "The Sweet Escape" to my husband who then spent the next day or so convincing me that I should definitely go because it sounded ideal for me. I didn't really need that much arm twisting! From there, the rest of the trip blossomed and there we had it. A spontaneous, amazing and delicious holiday! Check out the recap of how awesome the retreat was here. No doubt over the coming months you'll get more stories from the retreat and from some of the restaurants we dined at in New York and New Orleans. I came back full of inspiration and passion to cook some of the things I tried in various restaurants and research cuisines and ingredients I came across. Not to mention using some of the 11 hot sauces we bought back. But I had to go straight back to work (literally 14 hours after I landed in Perth after 38 hours worth of transit - Eep!) and it all got a bit too hard. For now. But in the meantime, there is this. Bacon Jam.
There was a very strong bacon element to my holiday. We made maple candied bacon on the retreat. I bought some bacon hot chocolate in Atlantic City and was told I had just missed their "Bacon Week". In New York, we saw a queue of thousands of people that went down the block and around the corner. Curious, we asked someone what they were lining up for and were told "Bacon Fest". When we were in New Orleans, we were at a craft cocktail bar and were given a sample of the bacon vodka that they make for their Bloody Marys. And on one of the Sweet Escape excursions, I was discussing this bacon jam with some other participants. (I think mainly inspired by the wine jelly making class with Nancy from Potlicker Kitchen). Remembering that I had a kilo of bacon in the freezer and knowing how versatile the end product is, I thought I'd make a batch to help make easy and tasty dishes while I get back into the routine of real life. It is salty and sweet and smokey and just amazingly delicious. My favourite uses for it include:
With avocado on crackers
Grilled bacon jam and banana sandwiches
Spooned on baked sweet potato
On crackers/mini toasts with camembert
With pancakes/pikelets
On hash browns/potato cakes
Reheat in a pan, add a little oil, spinach and toss through pasta
Eating it with a spoon
This jam is one of my quickest ways for creating Vegetarian Recipes improved by bacon. If you make this, or have made something similar, I'd love to hear how you eat it!

Bacon Jam
1kg bacon
1 large red onion, diced
2 large shallots, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 small jalapenos, minced (or to taste)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup bourbon
Dice the bacon really small. In a large pot/frypan cook bacon until starting to brown and crisp at the edges. My slow cooker base goes on the stove top, if yours does too, just use that - one pot!! You might have to do this in batches if your pot/frypan isn't big enough. Remove cooked bacon to paper-towel lined plate to cool and drain off grease.
Pour all but 1 tablespoon of remaining bacon fat from pot. Turn heat down to low. Add onion, shallots, garlic and chillis. Cook until onions are translucent.
Add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, bourbon and coffee. Bring to the boil, then add in the cooked bacon.
Transfer everything to a slow cooker. Cook on high for 3 hours until jammy and delicious.