rye chocolate chunk cookies

30 May 2016

When you keep reading how fabulous Tara O'Bradys' chocolate chip cookies are, eventually you have to succumb to temptation and try them yourself.

I'm on a bit of a rye flour craze at the moment so I swapped out some of the plain flour in the recipe for rye flour. I'm also a big fan of pecans so into the cookie dough they went as well.

As this a melt and mix recipe, it takes no time to put together.

I'm a big fan of resting the dough overnight so I scooped out the dough the day before I baked the cookies. I baked half the batch one day and froze the remaining cookie dough to bake another day as we had a morning tea at work later that week.

Here's the recipe for you for Basic, Great Chocolate Chip Cookies - from Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady (Ten Speed Press).

Makes about 38 cookies

1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, chopped
3¼ cups (415 g) all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons medium-grain kosher salt
1½ cups (320 g) packed light brown sugar
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 ounces (340 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
75 g coarsely chopped pecans
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat an oven to 360°F (180°C). Line 2 heavy baking sheets or sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan over the lowest heat possible, melt the butter. There should be no sizzle, crackling, or pops; let the butter ooze into liquid, without boiling, so minimal moisture is lost. Stir regularly, until the butter is almost completely melted. (This is a good time to chop the chocolate.)

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. Set aside.

Pour the melted butter into a large bowl and whisk in the sugars. The mixture may look like it will seize, but it will relax with a few seconds of stirring. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking briskly after each addition, but only to combine. Stir in the vanilla. Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to stir in the dry ingredients. Once mostly blended, fold the chocolate and pecans into the dough until the remaining flour is incorporated, and the dough no longer looks dusty. Bring any stray ingredients up from the bottom of the bowl. Do not overmix.

If the dough seems warm or looks overly glossy, refrigerate for 5 minutes. Then roll into balls using 3 tablespoons of dough for each. Arrange on the prepared pans, leaving 3 inches (7.5 cm) in between each. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired. Bake until the tops are cracked and lightly golden, yet the cookies are still soft at the centre, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking. Leave the cookies on the sheet pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Continue shaping and baking cookies with the remaining dough, making sure to use a cold sheet pan for each batch.

The cookies can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

If you have the patience, hold the dough in the fridge overnight and for up to a few days before baking, portioned in scoops and covered. Ageing the dough allows for the flour to better absorb the liquids. The flavour will become deeply caramelized and nuanced, and the cookies will have more colour, but slightly less spread. I usually bake one tray for immediate gratification, and keep the rest for later demand.

Thin and Crunchy Variation: For a thinner, crunchy-through-and-through cookie, use 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons (390 g) flour.

Shiny and Crisp Variation: For a shinier cookie with a crisp surface and edge, decrease the brown sugar to 1¼ cups (265 g) packed light brown sugar and increase the granulated sugar to ¾ cup (150 g).

Whole Wheat Variation: Some or all of the all-purpose flour can be replaced with whole wheat or rye. It will, of course, change the texture and look of the finished cookie, but is worthy of a try.

Nutty Variation: This amount of dough can accommodate ¾ cup (75 g) chopped walnuts or pecans.

To make ahead, shape the dough in scoops or logs, wrap tightly, then seal in bags, and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Frozen scoops can be baked without defrosting, while logs should be held in the fridge until soft enough to slice. Reduce the oven temperature to 330°F (165°C) and increase the baking time as needed.

I've just eaten the last of these cookies and they were just as good if not better a week later. Mmm, I think I might need to whip up another batch.

Bye for now,


plate 2 plate - red lentil hummus

23 May 2016

Hi Every-one,

it's time for another Plate 2 Plate post where Juliana and I make, style and photograph the same recipe. This time Juliana chose Heidi Swanson's red lentil hummus recipe. I eat hummus all the time but rarely make it and if I do make it, I admit to using tinned chick peas. I was intrigued by the recipe and wondered how the red lentil hummus would taste. Apart from the black sesame seeds I had all the other ingredients in my pantry.

It looks like Juliana did as well.

The first thing I noticed when I opened Juliana's files were how different her red lentils looked compared to mine. 

Juliana used what we'd call yellow split peas in Australia and it might explain why our finished hummus looked so different. Here's Juliana's hummus, looking well just like hummus should.

Here's how the two finished products looked side by side. Juliana's in is on the left; my effort is on the right.

My batch was a bit of a disaster. 

My red lentil hummus was quite grainy and watery and looked more like a sauce than hummus. The recipe made a huge amount and while I like hummus, I decided against making another batch.

Inspired by my copy of 'Falafel for Breakfast' I decided to prepare a Middle Eastern feast. As well as the hummus I made some za-atar bread; an Israeli chopped salad and some tasty beef kofta. I filled the bread with the salad and the kofta and drizzled over the red lentil hummus/sauce. Together it tasted great!

Here's the recipe for you from NEAR & FAR: RECIPES INSPIRED BY HOME AND TRAVEL by Heidi Swanson

Red Lentil Hummus
2 ½ cups cooked red lentils (see Note)
2 medium cloves garlic
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
⅔ cup (160 ml) tahini
¾ tsp fine-grain sea salt
2 to 3 tablespoons whey, kefir, or warm water
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
Extra-virgin olive oil, toasted sesame oil, minced chives, and/or chive blossoms, to serve

Start by adding the cooked lentils and garlic to a food processor and pulsing for at least a minute, scraping the paste from the corners once or twice along the way.

Add the lemon juice, tahini, and sea salt. Blend again, another minute or so. Don’t skimp on the blending time, but stop if the beans form a doughy ball inside the processor. At this point start adding the whey a splash at a time. Blend, blend, blend, until the hummus is smooth and light, aerated and creamy.

Taste, and adjust to your liking—adding more lemon juice or salt, if needed. Serve topped with the black sesame seeds, and preferably, a good amount olive oil, a few drops of toasted sesame oil, lots of chives and chive blossoms.

Note: Rinse 1½ cups (9 oz or 255 g) dried red lentils well and place in a saucepan with 1¾ cups (415 ml) of water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender, roughly 15 minutes.

Thanks once again to Juliana for continuing to make Plate 2 Plate happen.

See you all again next week.

Bye for now,


pita bread

16 May 2016

For those of you with sharp eyes you may have noticed a change or two on the blog. It has a new name for a start, Delicious Bites, and it also has a fresh new look. Many thanks to Maira for the design.

I do hope you like the changes. The blog has a recipe page and a new feature, a print button, to make it easier to locate and print out the recipes. I've been working on this redesign since February so it's been a bit of a labour of love. It's not complete yet as I still have to relabel some of the posts and make a few minor tweaks. I've also joined instagram though there isn't much to see at this stage as my latest purchase, a little tablet, is only a few hours old.

Now onto this week's recipe. When it comes to making bread, I've been having a bit of a battle with my new oven and so far the oven is winning. I've worked out the best way to make pizza in my oven so I figured I'd be able to make some flat breads.

A few months ago I bought a copy of 'Falafel for Breakfast' by Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley. The recipe book has been much thumbed since I bought the book but I've only just started cooking from it.

Last weekend I made a Middle Eastern spread for lunch. I made three recipes from the book and this recipe for pita/za'atar bread was the first thing I made. I quickly demolished these flatbreads and have just made another batch.

I made a half batch of the dough and topped 2 of the pitas breads with za'atar and olive oil.

pita bread photo blog-3_zpsk49ew9as.jpg

Here's the recipe for you f
rom Falafel for Breakfast by Michael Rantissi and Kristy FrawleyFor all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C. My oven is quite slow, so I baked the pita breads at 200°C.

Pita Bread – makes eight, 

500g strong bread flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
1x 7g dry yeast sachet
1 tbs sea salt flakes
2 ½ tbs extra virgin olive oil
350 ml warm water

Pita bread
Put the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Make a well in the centre and slowly add the olive oil. Using your hands, combine the flour and oil. Gradually add the warm water until the dough is a little sticky (you may not need to use all of it). The dough will come together when you start kneading it.

Dust a work surface with flour and knead the dough for 3–4 minutes, until it forms a nice smooth consistency.

Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a damp tea towel (dish towel) or plastic wrap with a few holes pricked in it. Leave in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball (or whatever shape you like). Dust the work surface with extra flour, place the 8 balls of dough on it and cover with the damp tea towel or plastic wrap with holes to rise again for 30 minutes.

Roll out each ball of dough into a circle about 5 mm thick, or whatever thickness you like. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.

Put the dough circles on the baking tray (you may need to cook them in batches) and bake for 10–15 minutes, or until a light colour. Allow to cool on a tea towel (dish towel) and use within 1–2 days.

Za’atar bread
8 tbs za’atar
150 ml good-quality olive oil

To make za-atar bread, once you’ve rolled the balls of dough into rounds and set them aside to rest for 20 minutes, preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Put the za’atar and olive oil in a bowl. Mix to combine.

Gently stamp your fingers into the dough rounds, making little valleys just deep enough so the za’atar oil won’t roll off the dough. (Don’t press too hard as you want the dough to remain aerated.) Spoon the za’atar oil over the dough.

Put the dough circles on the baking tray (you may need to cook them in batches) and bake for 10–15 minutes, or until a light colour. Allow to cool on a tea towel (dish towel) and use within 1–2 days.

pita bread photo blog-10_zpsikevxmdk.jpg

For my lunch, I filled the pita with hummus, beef kofta and salad. The following day for a delicious snack I dipped the toasted za'atar bread into the hummus.

I hope you enjoyed your weekend. I'll be back next week with this month's Plate 2 Plate post.

Bye for now,


mandarin cake with yoghurt icing

9 May 2016

A few weeks back, I saw a picture of a mandarin cake with yoghurt icing on shewhoeats instagram feed. It's Mandarin season in Sydney so inspired by the photos, I adapted this lemon cake recipe to make a mandarin cake and modified a Donna Hay recipe for the yoghurt icing. 

I took the cake into work and it was pretty good but I wanted to see if I could make the cake even better. I remade it during the weekend baking it in a loaf tin. I added an extra egg to the batter and changed the proportions a little. I think the second version was much better so much so that I'm keeping it all to myself.

For the first version I browned the butter before making the cake. The uncooked batter tasted amazing but I could barely taste the browned butter in the baked version so for the second cake, I just melted the butter. If you do want to make the brown butter version allow an 10-20g extra butter as you'll need to discard the solids created during the browning process.

The not too sweet tangy yoghurt icing is the perfect topping for this cake.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C. To make a large bundt cake or 23 cm cake just double all the ingredients but bake for the same length of time.

Mandarin Yoghurt Cake 
½ cup plus 1 tbs caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tbl finely grated mandarin rind (2 large mandarins)
100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1¼ cups self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
⅓ cup Greek yoghurt
¼ cup mandarin juice

For the icing
100g Greek yoghurt
60g softened cream cheese
⅓ cup icing sugar, sifted

The night before, place the yoghurt for the icing in a muslin lined sieve. Set the sieve over a large bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 180°C (conventional). Grease and line a small loaf or 16 cm cake tin with baking paper or you could use a small bundt tin.

In a large bowl, combine the caster sugar, the eggs and the grated mandarin rind. Gradually add the butter and mix thoroughly. Sift the flour with the baking powder and the pinch of salt and stir into the egg mixture in thirds, alternately with the yoghurt and the mandarin juice. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes. The top should be golden and when tested, a skewer comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack.

In a bowl cream the softened cream cheese with the sifted icing sugar. Stir the prepared yoghurt into the icing sugar mixture. Mix well and using a palette knife, ice the cake. 

Store the cake in the fridge but remember to bring the cake to room temperature for maximum flavour. I hope you get the chance to make this cake because it's pretty quick and easy to put together and very tasty.

See you all again next week,


buttermilk pancakes - sunday special

2 May 2016

During the Easter break a friend invited me over for brunch and served up a massive pile of ricotta hotcakes topped with Greek yoghurt, bananas and raspberries. 

Inspired by my friends pancakes I tried this recipe for buttermilk pancakes from Cooks Illustrated.

While making the pancakes I was busy baking a cake while also styling and photographing some cookies so my mind was not really on the job. I forgot to add the melted butter to the batter which I later found in the microwave but added an extra egg. Some how they still managed to turn out okay and I scoffed 4 of them for my breakfast.

Now that Passover is finally over I've returned to the kitchen with a vengeance. Yesterday I baked a cake; made a loaf of bread and made another batch of buttermilk pancakes but on this occasion I followed the recipe. If you look closely at the images below you can see the difference between the 2 batches. The pancakes on the right were made using the correct recipe whilst the pancakes on the left were my distracted batch. Yesterday's pancakes rose at least twice as high.

Here's the recipe I used, slightly adapted for an Australian tablespoon.  For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Cooks Illustrated Best Buttermilk Pancakes - makes about 16 pancakes

2 cups plain flour
1½ tbs sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
¼ cup sour cream (I used Greek yoghurt)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1-2 tbs oil

Preheat oven to 90°C/200°F. Spray a wire rack with cooking spray and set it inside a rimmed baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a second bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream or yoghurt, eggs and melted butter. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Gently stir until just combined. The batter should be lumpy with a few streaks of flour. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes.

Heat a tsp of oil in a 12-inch non-stick pan over medium heat until shimmering. Using paper towels carefully wipe out oil leaving a thin film of oil on the bottom and sides of pan. Using a ¼ cup measure, portion the batter into the pan in 4 places. Cook until the edges are set; first side is golden brown and bubbles on the surface are just beginning to break, 2-3 minutes. Using a thin wide spatula flip the pancakes and continue to cook until second side is golden brown and cooked 1-2 minutes longer. Repeat with remaining batter, using remaining oil as necessary. Serve pancakes immediately or transfer to wire rack in preheated oven.

Here they are topped with Greek yoghurt, banana and raspberries and doused with maple syrup. For dessert I topped the pancakes with some oven roasted fruit and yoghurt and drizzled with maple syrup, they were equally delicious.

Maybe you could surprise your Mum with a pancake breakfast for Mother's Day.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekends. See you all again next Monday.

Until then,

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