Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Anzac Biscuits

On the subject of posting recipes for holidays, here's another one of my favourites: The Anzac Biscuit. This was one of the first things I ever taught myself to bake simply because we had everything I needed in the pantry and it was "OMGeasy."

The humble Anzac Biscuit looking a little dressed up
Anzac biscuits are really really popular in Australia and New Zealand, made using rolled oats, flour, desiccated coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, bicarbonate of soda and boiling water. Some teacher I had in primary school taught us that these biscuits were sent by the wives to soldiers abroad because the ingredients do not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during naval transportation and hence have long been linked with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).

Golden Syrup and Butter ready to go into the oven
 Coming from a country where home ovens are in short supply (I have yet to see one), it was only natural that our oven at home never got any use. I think it was also broken though.. so that may have been why.. 

Step 4: Add melted ingredients and dissolved baking soda to dry ingredients and mix to combine. DON'T TASTE TEST IT NOW. THE BAKING SODA TASTE IS GROSS.
That's besides the point. I then took it upon myself to buy an Edmonds Cookbook (a staple in any New Zealand kitchen) and work my way through the simplest recipes and be come a pro -afterall, the oven takes up about a quarter of my kitchen.. It's practically begging to be used.

Step 5: Roll spoonfuls into balls and press onto prepared baking trays, allowing space for biscuits to spread while cooking.
Years later, these delightful cookies are still my favourite thing to make. They are so easy to whip up and are a guaranteed favourite of any unexpected (or expected, I suppose) visitors you might be entertaining.

If you can resist eating them all now, go on to the next stage. You shall be greatly rewarded.

 And as I have recently found out -very easy to jazz up so you look like a total pro baker!

Just crushing up some pistachios
I stole this little trip from Gretchen, the runner up in "NZ's Hottest Home Baker" a show which, for a couple of weeks, had my mouth watering and eyes glued to the tv screen lest I miss any yummy goodies the contestants are baking. 

Step 7: Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan or the microwave and stir until smooth and syrupy.
She loved to put crushed pistachios on anything she could get her hands on and, I have to admit, this act turned the most boring looking biscuits into classy morsels and also added a whole new depth of flavour. 

So go forth and create. And add crushed nuts to everything. Unless you're allergic. Then maybe don't.

ANZAC biscuits (makes 30 depending on size)

Multiply above by 15


1 cup flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut
2 cups rolled oats
125g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp boiling water

Optional coating:
1 cup chocolate chips
25g butter
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, crushed into small pieces
1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped


1. Heat oven to 180°C (160°C fan bake). Line two baking trays with nonstick baking paper. 

2. Place flour, caster sugar, coconut and oats in a bowl and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre.

3. Place butter and golden syrup in a saucepan to melt, or microwave in a bowl to melt. 

4. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Add melted ingredients and dissolved baking soda to dry ingredients and mix to combine.

5. Roll spoonfuls into balls and press onto prepared baking trays, allowing space for biscuits to spread while cooking.

6. Bake for 15 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool, and enjoy!

Or.. If you want them to be a little more special, carry on with the optional coating:
7. Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan or the microwave and stir until smooth and syrupy.

8. Spread one half of each biscuit and quickly sprinkle over your mix of pistachio and cranberries. 

It will be delightful!

P.S. These babies will last for up to a week in an air tight container without tasting soggy and weird.. 

All recipes are on Petitchef

Sunday, April 17, 2011

One a penny, two a penny

So the other day I sat around whinging. I could not fathom how other food bloggers were so organised and managed to bring out delightfully festive treats before the holiday itself while the best I could do was say "oh well" as holiday after holiday passed my by. Afterall, no one wants to eat Christmas cake on New Years.

The first time I realised I should probably post themed food before the date was St. Patrick's Day a few weeks ago. Even while spending days planning a green outfit and a night out with the girls, I had completely forgotten about green food and it wasn't until my inbox was bombarded with green cupcakes and homemade baileys irish cream did I realise I was too late.
"So? Easter's coming up."
All my ingredients in the bread maker

And I realised that Jason was right. Easter was coming up and Hot Cross Buns were a order. And look -it's even before the holiday!

End result

The annoying thing about this recipe is the need for a bread maker or a food processor with dough hooks. Unfortunately, I hadn't fully read the method and stood around like an idiot once I had mixed my wet and ingredients together. Luckily, Jason's mother had one tucked away in her kitchen and totally saved my butt!

A hot cross bun is a sweet, spiced bun made with raisins marked with a cross on top as a symbol of crucifixion. Traditionally made on Good Friday, they are a favourite around Easter and have become so popular now that they are sold throughout the year in disguise as "spiced buns" (no crosses).

Step 6: Turn onto a floured board and divide into 16 portions
 One thing that always puzzled me was batter for the crosses. As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the ingredients list that appeals to me. Why is there no sugar? Can someone please answer me this? 

Step 7: Brush each bun with milk and pipe crosses to each bun.

A quick look through google tells me that you can actually make this without the aid of a breadmaker and I now feel a little silly for panicking. I must admit, though, it made life a lot easier and even gave me time to study while it worked its magic kneading my dough.

Pull it apart, add butter and enjoy

Next time I shall try making them by hand-aka feign weakness and ask Jason to do it. He's great like that.

Hot Cross Buns (makes 16)

Bun Ingredients:

4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp spices – combine your choice of mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg
¼ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp yeast
1 cup milk, warmed
100g butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup mixed dried fruit

Cross Batter:

½ cup flour
1 Tbsp butter
¼ tsp baking powder




1. Blend flour, salt, spices and brown sugar. 2. Stir yeast and milk together, and leave to stand for 15 minutes in a warm place (mixture should be frothy).

3. Beat eggs and softened butter into the yeast mix, then add to blender with dry ingredients.
4. Add dried fruit and blend until mixture is a dough consistency.
5. Place dough into a greased bowl and cover, leaving in a warm area for 1 hour (dough should have doubled in size) -the breadmaker took care of this step for us.
6. Turn onto a floured board and divide into 16 portions, rolling into balls and placing on a greased oven tray. Allow about 1cm between each bun.
7. Brush each bun with milk and pipe crosses (or silly faces) to each bun.
8. Bake at 190 degrees Celsius for 20 – 25 minutes.
9. Brush with sugar glaze before taking the tray out and cooling.

For variation, make chocolate hot cross buns by adding ½ cup cocoa and ½ cup chocolate chips to the classic hot cross bun recipe.1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

All recipes are on Petitchef

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Objective: The purpose of this study is to determine an incremental model which is able to predict the longitudinal profile variance of a stretch of road in any future year given its present condition and influencing variables.

Just kidding.. I'm not actually going to talk about this
Don't worry, I'm not going to make you read about my honours project -I'm merely trying to explain why I've been distracted lately. All the poor 4th year civil engineering students at Auckland University are currently swamped with their literature reviews and, if they're anything like me, they would be having immense trouble A) looking after their drying eyes from reading the millions of e-books and research articles they have to troll through and B) trying to figure out how to write a literature review. Do you think they'd accept a recipe or two from me?

Mango Smoothie -$4.70
So this is how the academics live.

And how do I cope? By feeding myself well. Admittedly, I have only half-heartedly kept to my resolution of making my own lunches to cut down on costs and running off to Strata -the once "post-graduate only" cafe on campus. I wish it was still exclusive.

Berry Smoothie -$4.70
Strata is located on the top floor of the info commons (Auckland Uni) and the best part of my first experiences with this cafe was the fact that it was relatively unknown to the other undergraduates which meant that finding a seat was never a chore and the only people I had to share my eating space with were well educated (I think, anyway..) post graduates, university professors and other sneaky first years who had discovered the only place on campus that served decent coffee. 
And had a really hunky Italian guy who made them. I apologise for the lack of photos of said Italian -he's gone now but trust me, he added to my dining experience.

Banana Smoothie -$4.70
Jason and I are little kids at heart and, as a result, smoothies are always our first choice of drink. We've gone through every one on the menu and, I can tell you, they are AH-MAH-ZING! They are the perfect mix of refreshing and fruitiness with just the right amount of yoghurt.

Eggs Benedict

Now, Strata has a sign on the lower floors of the info commons directing everyone up the elevators to my spacious, secret cove of wonderful food and coffee. Although I'm very happy that Strata is getting some recognition, I can't help feel as if my exclusive club has started recruiting hobos! Hobos that are are taking my lunch time seat!!

Mushrooms on Toast

Luckily for me (and Strata too, I suppose), the great increase of customers has not lowered the quality of their food and they have even brought out a new lunch menu for 2011 which gives me an excuse to um.. do very important research for my blog *ahem*

Big Breakfast

 As well as loving smoothies, we have also learned to enjoy the finer things in life. This means forgoing the freaky fried egg and toast from the downstairs cafeteria and stepping upstairs to poached eggs and grilled ciabatta which brings me to eggs benedict -my favourite breakfast! The grilled ciabatta was a very welcome variation of your average toast and the eggs were perfectly poached.

Eggs Benedict -not a very welcome variation
 Unfortunately, that was where the awesomeness ended. The bottom of my bread was completely burned and the hollandaise sauce was quite lemony. Still better than the cafeteria though -at least the addition of bacon made it better.

The mushrooms on toast and big breakfast were very well received. We are also fans of mushrooms and big portions. The mushroom sauce was creamy and well flavoured while the big breakfast was just awesome -full of everything you love and baked beans (I don't really love baked beans). This is definitely a good start to the day!

Garlic Bread $4.70
One of the things I'm thankful for is the fact that Strata have retained cheap garlic bread on their menu. One of my favourite memories as a poor student was coming up and ordering the cheapest thing, a cup of coffee and enjoy a nice textbook. Now that my job has afforded me a little spending money, I still enjoy a nice plate of perfectly toasted garlic bread while reading research articles -it helps take away the urge to pull my hair out.

Beef Nachos -$12.80
Beef nachos are also a favourite of mine -the prefect dish to share. There is also a vegetarian option but I haven't gotten around to try them yet. The fact that the salsa and mince were seperated confused me a little, however, as if felt as if they didn't belong together -one was cold and one was hot..

The upside is the quantity of cheese. I love cheese.

Chicken Quesidilla -$10.30
Filled with hummus, chicken, spinach and cheese and encased in a floury tortilla, the chicken quesidilla is a very lovely addition to their new lunch menu -you can't really go wrong with chicken and cheese. Jason was very taken with the salsa while I opted for the sour cream side.

Crispy Miso Chicken with Udon Noodles -$12.80
I have saved the best till last. This is, by far, my favourite dish on the new menu. While the chicken is more pan-fried than crispy, it is very juicy and tender on a bed of cold miso noodle salad. And the noodles. Wow! I cannot describe how much I love these noodles. They are lightly tossed in a miso sauce, marinated tofu strips and some sort of pickled vegetable. Look, I fail to find words to describe how amazing this combination is -you'll just have to try it for yourself.

Just to make it clear, we had these dishes over the course of a few weeks -it's OK, we aren't obese, we know how to pace ourselves. If you want to try these amazing dishes for yourself take the elevator up to level 4 at lunch time and follow the massive line. If you don't go to the University of Auckland, come have a visit and pretend you do!

Good luck finding a seat.

All recipes are on Petitchef

Friday, April 8, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

Hello, my sweeties. Sorry for the neglect but you'll forgive me once you try this. 

I promise.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip (CCCDD)

This one's short and sweet. Just like the product. And trust me, it's an instant hit!

About 10 minutes after I had brought them out
I had made the promise of a cookie dough dip weeks and weeks ago when I discovered that my friends owned a mixer -I've always wanted one but could not justify the $300 for something that wouldn't fit into my kitchen. Fortunately, they were very kind and offered my use of their kitchen in exchange for my goods. Goods as in cookies and dip.

Step 2: Making up the caramel
I read about this at How Sweet It Is -where gluttony meets fitness. I must admit, I regularly troll her blog for yummy treats but have never peeked at the "fitness" side so I never have to face the horrible realization that I can't actually eat whatever I want and stay little.. I just hate running, OK?

Step 5: Look a mixer!
 Anyway, this literally took me about 15 minutes to make and serve which makes it the perfect party bite. It did only take 10 minutes to demolish though -but it's OK, I can make some more..

Cookie Dough Dip


1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
225g block of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (feel free to add a little more)
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 Cadbury flake

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add brown sugar and whisk until it dissolves and mixture starts to bubble.
3. Set aside to cool and then whisk in vanilla.
4. Cream together cream cheese and icing sugar until fully mixed.
5. With mixer on low speed, add in caramel mixture (butter and brown sugar mix) until well combined.
6. Fold in chocolate chips 
7. Garnish with crumbled up flake

Serve with fruit, cookies, pretzels or on your fingers. And don't be embarrassed about licking the bowl clean.

All recipes are on Petitchef