takaka ginger crunch

30 Jan 2013

When I was searching for Ginger Crunch recipes, I found this one for Takaka Ginger Crunch

This recipe was quite different as it included oats and was topped with a ginger butter cream icing.

One of the girls described the finished product as Anzac Biscuits with icing, which she felt was a definite improvement on the original.

Here are the 2 biscuits side by side so you can see the difference.

I definitely preferred the original Edmonds Ginger Crunch so now I'm wondering how the Takaka Ginger Crunch would taste topped with the icing from the Edmonds Ginger Crunch recipe? I'm sure I'll get round to trying that combination one day. Maybe for Anzac Day?

Here's the recipe for you - makes 24
Takaka Ginger Crunch
Ginger Crunch Base
150g/5 oz butter
2 Tbsp golden syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
1½ cups rolled oats
3/4 cup plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp ground ginger

Ginger Crunch Icing
150g/5 oz softened butter
1½ cups icing sugar
4 Tbsp golden syrup
6 tsp ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 inch) slice tin with baking paper.

To make the base, put the butter, golden syrup and brown sugar into a medium-large saucepan and stir over a low heat until melted. Remove from the heat and add all the dry ingredients to the saucepan. Mix thoroughly. Press into the prepared slice tin and bake for 15-20 minutes. Mark into squares while still warm.

Make the icing by mixing the softened butter with the sugar, syrup and ginger. Stir until very smooth. Spread the icing over the cooled base and decorate with a fork. When completely cold, cut through the icing and separate the squares.

I'm off to a meeting so I better fly. See you all again next week,


edmonds ginger crunch

28 Jan 2013

I've always liked ginger and if you look back through the blog you'll notice my quest for the perfect ginger biscuit. You'll also know I really like David Lebovitz so when he mentioned ginger crunch on his blog a few weeks ago, I had to give it a try. It's a traditional New Zealand recipe, one I'd not tried before. Would it be my perfect ginger biscuit?

I found 2 recipes for Ginger Crunch on the internet and when I looked in my pantry I had all the ingredients for both. I made a half batch of each recipe, purely for research purposes of course!

I'll share the classic New Zealand Edmonds Cookery Book recipe with you today but if you come back in another few days I'll share the other recipe with you. I thought the quantity of icing seemed a bit meagre, so I doubled up on the icing. Please note, you have to follow the instructions exactly. When it says to cut the crunch into squares while still warm, please take that advice. I was distracted and by the time I cut the crunch, it was cold and so crunchy it tended to shatter. That's okay though because the shattered pieces are for the cook.

Here's the recipe for you.
Edmonds Ginger Crunch
Cookie base
125g unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (100 gms) caster sugar
1½ cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ teaspoons ground dried ginger

Icing (this is double the original quantity)
150 gms unsalted butter
4 tablespoons golden syrup
1½ cups icing sugar
1 tablespoon ground dried ginger

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Line a 20 x 30 cm slice tin with baking paper.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and 1½ teaspoons ginger. In a small bowl or using a food processor, cream the butter with the sugar until very light and fluffy. Mix the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture until well-combined. The texture will be like sand.

Press the dough into the prepared pan and flatten the surface. Bake for 20 minutes or until its light golden brown. Five minutes before the base is cooked, make the icing by heating the butter and golden syrup in a small pan, then mix in the icing sugar and ginger, stirring until smooth.

Pour the warm icing over the hot base and spread evenly. Let the slice sit for about 20 to 30 minutes, then remove from the pan and slice while still slightly warm.

The biscuits are sweet, crunchy, gingery and addictive. I gave a piece of Ginger Crunch to Kerry, one of my Kiwi patients, who said it tasted just like his Grandma used to make and you can't get better than that.

I'm back home from a very soggy weekend in Brisbane. I hope all my QLD readers haven't been too badly affected by the weekend storms.

See you all again on Wednesday.


mini passionfruit pavlovas

23 Jan 2013

When I was planning my Australia Day menu, I chose dessert first 'cos who could go past mini passionfruit pavlovas? There is controversy over the origin of the pavlova with both the Kiwis and the Aussies claiming it as their own. Whether it was a Kiwi or an Australian chef who first came up with the idea of a cream and fruit topped meringue in honour of Anna Pavlova, it was a brilliant idea. 

A pavlova should be crisp and crunchy on the outside with a fluffy marshmallow like centre. The key to a perfect pavlova is drying out the meringue in a very low oven. Now those of you who follow my blog, know I’ve had problems with my oven for the past year. If I turn the oven down low, the gas goes out and it’s put me off making meringues for more than a year. A few months ago the gas pipes to the building were renewed and the oven is definitely hotter than it used to be. Despite all that I was willing to give these mini pavlovas a try.

I did a test run last weekend. The oven kept going out but I found if I could keep the oven alight for 15 - 20 minutes then kept the meringues in the turned off oven for another hour or so, I could get a decent pavlova.

I made the pavlovas on Saturday night and let them sit in the turned off oven overnight. When I checked them on Sunday morning, they were covered in ants so I had to make a third batch.

Pavlovas are really sweet so they’re usually topped with unsweetened cream and something tart like passionfruit pulp, strawberries or kiwi fruit. As its passionfruit season here, I decided to go with the classic passionfruit topping. I read a Bill Granger recipe which suggested adding a teaspoon of passionfruit juice to the whipped cream, which I did. It’s a genius move as it adds a slightly sour note to the cream.

Here's the recipe for you. I do hope you try them.
Mini Passionfruit Pavlovas (makes 4)
2 egg whites
½ cup caster sugar
½ teaspoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons cornflour (corn starch)
¼ teaspoon vanilla essence

1 cup cream, lightly whipped
4 passionfruit
Icing sugar

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time until all the sugar has been added. The mixture should be very white, thick and glossy. Gently fold in the vanilla essence, vinegar and cornflour.

Spoon the meringue into 4 small rounds building up the sides so the meringue is about 2.5 cm/1 inch high. This is to make sure you get a nice marshmallow centre.

Lower the oven temperature to 120°C/250°F before placing the pavlovas in the oven. Bake for 1-1¼ hours or until the meringues are very lightly coloured and the tops are dry. Turn the oven off and leave the pavlovas in the turned off oven to cool.

When the pavlovas are cool, gently remove them from the tray and place on a cooling rack. The centres of the pavlovas will sink a little as they cool. Store the pavlovas in an airtight container until they’re needed.

About an hour before serving, sprinkle the pavlovas with icing sugar then top with whipped cream and the passionfruit pulp.

The cornflour and vinegar help achieve the marshmallowy centre but you can leave them out if you wish. If you want to make one 7 inch pavlova, just double the pavlova ingredients and keep the cooking time the same.

I'm heading to Brisbane for the Long Weekend so see you all again on Monday.


australia day bbq

21 Jan 2013

Australia Day is celebrated on January 26 and because this year Australia Day falls on a Saturday, we've been given a Long Weekend. It's a tradition to celebrate the day with a BBQ and nothing is more Australian than lamb.

I was going to make a watermelon, mint and feta salad last weekend but the watermelon I bought was a bit disappointing. As this salad only has a few ingredients - watermelon, feta cheese, Spanish onion, fresh mint and red wine vinegar - they have to be the best you can find. On Friday I bought another watermelon and planned to try again. I came home to find the latest Donna Hay magazine and what should be inside - a suggestion for the same salad! Too funny. I didn't really use a recipe but this recipe from the Jamie Oliver magazine gives you some ideas for quantities. Just drizzle the salad with red wine vinegar instead of olive oil

Growing up, lamb cutlets were always a favourite. They are really expensive these days, so I've not eaten them in an age. I decided to throw caution to the wind and bought a few. I decided to go Greek style to match the watermelon salad and marinated the cutlets in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and added few sprigs of oregano. I did a test run during the week and they were very tasty so I might be preparing them this way again in the very near future. I like my lamb pink so I only cooked the cutlets for 1½ minutes each side, then rested them for a minute before serving.

I finished off the meal with some crunchy potatoes. I make these all the time. I put a tablespoon of olive oil in a baking tray that I've preheated for 10 minutes in a hot oven. I par cook the potatoes, then place them in the sizzling oil. Every 20 minutes I turn the potatoes and if I need to, I might give them a spray with olive oil. The potatoes take about 45-60 minutes to cook and they're ready when they're crunchy and golden. Don't forget to season them before serving. They're also delicious served with a squeeze of lemon and topped with oregano.

I'll be back Wednesday with dessert. I wonder of you can guess what I made?

See you all then,


oven roasted tomato and capsicum soup

16 Jan 2013

Australia has been sweltering this summer with 40ºC temperatures. My usual recipes doesn't appeal in the heat so I've been trying out a few new things. 

As it's summer in Sydney, tomatoes are at their peak. I was going to make oven roasted tomato soup but the capsicums looked so nice, I added one to the mix.  

It's a fairly simple soup - just oven roasted vegetables pureed with some stock. Oven roasting vegetables really intensifies their flavour and as I'm an early bird, I roasted these veggies in the morning before the heat of the day.

As it was so hot last weekend, I couldn't bear the thought of hot soup so I served the soup chilled. I shredded some basil, stirred it through the soup and and it was delicious. 

In winter it would be lovely with some small pasta cooked in the soup, lightened with a dash of milk or cream then topped with grated parmesan cheese before serving.

Here's the recipe for you.
Oven Roasted Tomato and Capsicum Soup (serves 4)
printable recipe
1 kg vine ripened tomatoes 

1 large red capsicum
2-3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 large brown onion
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper
2 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Half the tomatoes and quarter the capsicum. Place the tomatoes cut side up onto a lightly oiled baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Tuck the garlic cloves and capsicum around the tomatoes and place the tray in the oven. Roast the vegetables for about 45 minutes or until the edges of the capsicum are blackened.

Allow the vegetables to cool a little before peeling the skins from the capsicum, the tomatoes and the garlic. Roughly chop the vegetables and set aside.
Peel and coarsely chop the onion. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan and gently fry the onion until softened but not coloured. Add the roughly chopped tomatoes, capsicum and garlic to the pan with the stock. Bring the soup to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer the soup for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to blend.

Remove the pan from the heat and puree the soup using a stick blender. I left the soup with a few chunky pieces of tomato for some texture. Season to taste before serving. If serving the soup cold, coarsely shred some basil and add to the soup just before serving.

See you all again next week,



shopshoot - brook farm general store

14 Jan 2013

Before I flew to New York last year, I arranged to do a few shopshoots. The third and last in the series was Brook Farm General Store in Williamsburg. Brook Farm General Store is described by it's owners as a modern interpretation of the traditional general stores of New York City. If you’ve ever visited Labour and Wait a gorgeous store I visited in London in 2011, you’ll know exactly what they mean.

Brook Farm General Store is located in Williamsburg and I have to say I found its South 6th Street location a little hard to find. I walked around in circles for a while before eventually admitting defeat and asking for directions in the drug store. Whoever says New Yorkers aren’t helpful are clearly wrong because when I asked for help, I was given very clear directions and 10 minutes later found the shop nestled in a small street just under the Williamsburg Bridge.

I was greeted by Philippa, one of the owners, and she let me snap away to my heart's content. The shop is filled with light, a perfect way to highlight the wares on display.

True to the owners' word, there was a little bit of everything on display in the store. I found goods for the kitchen and items for pets. There were things for the office and things for the home like lights, brushes, enamelware, rugs and throws. 

Brook Farm General Store stocks brands I recognised such as Riess Enamel ware, Falcon ware and Opinel in addition to items from their own in house brand, Tourne. 

Aren't the rubber duckies gorgeous? Of course I had to go home with something, but with so many lovely things in the store, it was hard to make a decision. In the end, a box of Opinel French knives came home with me, tucked carefully into my luggage. If you look carefully, you might spy one of the knives on the blog during the next few weeks.

Next time you’re in Brooklyn, you can find Brook Farm General Store at 75 South 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211, United States Phone: (718) 388-8642. If you’re not in town, they have a great online shopping site that you can find here. 

2016 Edit - Brook Farm General Store has moved. They can now be found here

10 Main Street
(in the Parrish Mews, just next to Rowdy Hall)
East Hampton, NY 11937
(631) 604 6088

I'll be back again on Wednesday with some summer food suggestions.

See you all then,


shopshoot - paper boat press

9 Jan 2013

paper boat press is the brain child of Kylie Johnson, poet and ceramicist. I just love Kylie, so when she told me of her plans to open a bricks and mortar shop in addition to her online shop, I was excited. I was excited for her because I knew the hard work involved in achieving one of her dreams. I was also excited because I knew it would be a place of loveliness. 

Paper boat press is housed in an old shop in the Brisbane suburb of Ashgrove. As I was going to be in Brisbane for Christmas, we made plans to meet at the shop for a cup of tea and a cookie. You can’t miss the corner store with its striking red door and colourful pennants. The shop was decked out in its Christmas finery, each window filled with Christmas trees.  

What's in the store? Well all the paper boat press products you've come to know and love - Christmas birds and stars, quote tags, note books and pencils and of course, Kylie's poetry books.

Kylie also has some new products in the shop, a sample of which came home with me in a little carry bag. 

Paper boat press washi tape and some new notebook designs. 

The cloud is one of Kylie's signature pieces. 

A reinterpretation of flying ducks. 

Some tired Christmas shoppers.

If you’d like to see more of Kylie’s store, paper boat press is located at 60 Ashgrove Crescent, Ashgrove Brisbane and is open Wednesday to Friday from 10.00 to 4.00 p.m and Saturday from 10.00 to 2.00 p.m. I challenge you to walk away from the shop without a little something from paper boat press.

Have a great weekend. I'll see you all again next week,

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