Thursday, September 29

Sweet NZ....a Chocolate Biscuit by any other name.....

Let me start by saying I don’t know why this biscuit is called an Afghan. Extensive research (i.e. me surfing numerous websites when I should have been working) has proved fruitless, except that maybe Afghan rolls off the tongue a little easier than Yummy Chocolate Cornflake Biscuit with a Walnut on Top? Whatever you want to call them they are simply a great sweet treat.
Easy to whip up (I made these while cooking dinner), universally adored , they are like the sweet version of a sausage roll,you wont win prizes for originality, but sometimes originality is over rated. I'll have another biscuit while I think about it........

The homemade version is a million time better than brought, even the fancy ones. Such a simple recipe, but it does require a couple of things. Use real butter. Use good dark cocoa. Don’t use sweetened cornflakes.

Ok, enough of my bossiness, on with the show…..

This recipe is courtesy of the Edmonds Cookbook, I have tried others, but I like this one best

Afghan Biscuits
200gr butter, softened (I use unsalted, and add a pinch of salt)
75gr sugar
175gr plain flour
25 gr cocoa
50 gr cornflakes

Pre heat the oven to 180C/350F

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter & sugar until light & fluffy. I do this in my Kitchen Aid but a hand held beater also works fine..

With the beater speed on slow add the sifted flour & cocoa, and beat until combined.

Lastly add the cornflakes, beating in until they are just combined, but not crushed to nothing
Put teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto a greased baking tray & cook for 12-15 minutes. They will still be soft when you take them out of the oven, but crisp up on cooling.
Ice with the following mixture, and top with a walnut (obviously optional, but traditional) You may notice I have used Pecans instead, I still have no idea what I did with the bag of walnuts I thought I had in the freezer....

1 ½ cups icing sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
½ tsp butter
Boiling water

Mix together the icing sugar & cocoa. Pour approx ¼ cup of boiling water over your knob of butter & let melt. Add the water to the icing sugar cocoa mixture, stirring until you have a thick spreadable icing. The butter adds a slight sheen to the icing.

The result is quite short, with a slightly crumbly texture. The actual biscuit is not overly sweet, but the icing more than compensates. Two of my sisters also make Afghans, one makes a biscuity version, another a slightly more cake type variation, they actually had an “afghan off” to decide which was best. Really. Obviously I was Geneva in these proceedings, I actually think my version is the best, but we won’t tell them that……

This is my entry into Sweet NZ this month, which I am really happy with, cant wait to see what everyone else has entered:) Check out Alli over at Pease Pudding who is hosting this months event.

Monday, September 26

A weekend project........

Just a quick post, I thought I would share with you the fruits of Saturdays labour, the Kitty cushion!

I have never really got my head (or fingers) around sewing, in fact I was banned by my Intermediate School sewing teaching from using the sewing machines after I broke five needles in a row. I suspect it was a faulty batch, but I was relegated to hand sewing table (all boys). This would not have been quite so bad but I had muddled up cm and inches when cutting out my pin cushion. It was supposed to fit snuggling around your wrist; mine was enormous and could have doubled as a chair cushion , it took flipping ages to sew.

Anyway, after 20 odd years I felt ready to face my sewing demons, and here is my first project. The pattern came from the brilliant Amy Butler, and is free to download. The instructions are clear and a quick trip to Spotlight furnished me with everything required.

There is nothing to encourage confidence like finishing something; I think it is a very cute cushion, and only took about four hours (at beginner snail pace) from start to finish.Tommy & Tuppence are not so sure, they do however like the look of the button eyes (my own addition, not on the original pattern) for potential chewing, so I sewed them on double tight………

Back to food, I have made Afghan biscuits for this months Sweet NZ challenge, which I will post tonight, another playlunch favourite……..

How was your weekend?

PS: While I was in Spotlight, staring at a massive wall of fabric with that glazed look of the truly overwhelmed, a woman trotted over looking equally perplexed and asked me “if I was a quilter”? I quietly informed her if there was a person in the store less qualified to ask for assistance they would be riding in a baby buggy, but I was about to ring my Mum for help so could I pass on a question? She declined & wandered off to find someone else more worthy………I suspect she is wandering still

Monday, September 19

New bits & bobs........and a Supperclub

After a traumatic few days technology wise (something boring to do with a modem thingi, resulting in no Internet, grrrr) I am back online, and wanted to share a few new things with you.

I have added a new page On My Cookbook Shelf, sharing the food & cookery books I love, and why. It was a tweet from the lovely Millie Mirepoix asking about cookbook recommendations that got me thinking. All day, when I should have been thinking about spreadsheets & Trust accounts..........mmmmmm.
I am well into triple figures now, and thought instead of continuing to purchase, I would take another look at the books I have. Which lasted all of three days until the new River Cottage Everyday Vege arrived....anyway, if you are thinking about another purchase, have a read, you may come accross something new. Or completly disagree with me! I have added three so far, and will continue to update until I run out of books.............which is unlikely

Also take a look at my Lovely Things page, for some rather fabulous girls in snappy outfits........

And finally, the super talented Alli over at Pease Pudding is having a Supperclub on Saturday 24 September, email her for more info! I have been lucky enough to eat Chez Allison, oh my goodness you are in for a treat at her Secret Supperclub, just dont say I told you ok?

Sunday, September 11

Favourite biscuits and a rugby treat.........

After a glorious mild Spring day, we are back to rain & wind, perfect baking weather. So I thought I would make an old favourite of mine. Not the most glam treat for sure, these don't have the classic appeal of a macaron , or the flash of a whoopie pie, but they can be whipped up in no time, and with no nervous breakdown involved....
Great tin fillers, sweet, spicy & full of fruit,  I have used cranberries & sultanas in this version, but raisins, current or mixed fruit would also be fine. Mum used to make these for our "playlunch" (morning tea) when we were kids, they are super easy to make, sturdy, stay fresh for days & one batch makes approx 25 biscuits, an important consideration in a family of seven!
I think the recipe may have come from the NZ Woman's Weekly, it was written on a bit of paper, then years ago transferred into my recipe book, so became Mum's Fruit Drop Biscuits.

Mum's Fruit Drop Biscuits

2 cups/300 gr plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
175 gr butter, at room temperature
1 cup/200 gr brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sultanas/mixed fruit/cranberries or raisins

Pre heat the oven to 180C/350F

Sift together the flour, salt, soda & spices. Meanwhile beat together your butter & brown sugar, until pale & fluffy. I use a Kitchen Aid, but a handheld beater or a wooden spoon would also work. Add the eggs one at a time until they are well mixed in, then add the vanilla.
Stir in the flour mixture, then the dried fruit, I use a wooden spoon for this.
Cover and put into the fridge for 20-30 minutes so the mixture firms up.
Put teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking tray and cook for 12-15 minutes, they will spread slightly, and should be pale gold. The kitchen will smell wonderful. Cool on wire racks then fill your tins (sorry, but I just love that phrase, makes me feel so competant....)

For those of you reading this outside of New Zealand, the Rugby World Cup is currently being held here, and the country has gone Rugby Obsessive (even more so than usual). In a spectacular piece of blagging we managed to get tickets to a Corporate Box for the Opening Ceremony on Friday at Eden Park, and what a show it was! Completely fabulous, I am now ruined for the cheap seats forever. This is very unfortunate as we have brought tickets for the Semi-finals (the cheapest ones possible. They are so high up in the stands I fully expect to be given an oxygen mask & parachute on arrival) Oh well, it was nice to see how the other half lives for once, and I got to meet Tana Umaga, who is totally charming and didn't seem to mind watching the first half of the game sitting next to me instead of someone knowledgeable.....

I stopped scoffing the free food & booze long enough to take a picture, what a view!

I went to the cinema last night for my friend Yummy Mummy's birthday, sadly I was allowed to select the film, and boy did I get it WRONG!  The Priest in 3D, I am praying you don't make the same mistake & fork out $20 for this load of tripe.
I was seduced by the thought of the delicious Paul Bettany in 3D, but even a gratuitous naked ab shot was not enough to make it worthwhile. The highlight was probably me jumping two foot in my seat & spraying popcorn all over myself. It  really itches when it goes down your top. The guy next to me was at least trying not to laugh too loudly, unlike madam next to me.....