Monday, December 20, 2010

Amaretti Biscuits

My (male) boss at work brought these in one day and I loved them so much I asked for the recipe. Here it is:

Amaretti Biscuits

Beaten egg whites (4), caster sugar (300g), ground almonds (250g), amaretto (a big glug). Fold it together and bake for 15 minutes at 180C.

My version is slightly tweaked. I beat the egg whites with a tsp of cream of tartar to help them stay foamy. Once they formed soft peaks, I added the caster sugar and continued to beat until they were smooth and glossy. Ground almonds were folded in, along with 1 tsp of almond extract as I was out of amaretto. The first batch I baked for 15 minutes but they colored a bit more than I liked, so I adjusted the baking time to 12-13 minutes instead, so the centers of the biscuits are still a bit chewy. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Banana & Chocolate Muffins

I was watching old episodes of Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers on BBC iPlayer when he started making this banana chocolate cake in order to use up old bananas. Hmm, I thought. There were four gross old bananas on the counter that I wanted to turn into something else so I wouldn't have to look at them any more. Perfect. They're a little naughty for breakfast, but what do I care? I don't even eat bananas.

Banana and Chocolate Muffins
Adapted from Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers


175g butter, melted
175g sugar
2 large eggs
4 overripe bananas, mashed
175g flour (I used 75g whole wheat flour and 100g plain flour)
100g semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract (I totally forgot to put this in, oops)


Heat oven to 180C. Beat butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then mix in the bananas. Add the vanilla (if you remember to). Add the flour to this and mix to combine (do not overmix). Fold in the chocolate chips and then spoon into a greased muffin tin. Bake at 180C for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Turkey Noodle Soup

Poor A was feeling under the weather after Thanksgiving. Luckily, I had rescued the carcass of the turkey from J & D's house and I put it to use, making a soup that had A back on his feet in no time at all!

Turkey Noodle Soup


1 turkey carcass
4 star anise
1/4 Sichuan peppercorns
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
200g dried pasta (I used farfalle)


Pick all the turkey meat off the carcass (I ended up with about 2 cups of meat). Break the carcass into pieces small enough to put it in a large pot and cover with water. Add star anise and Sichuan peppercorns to the pot, and bring it to the boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 2 hours. Strain out all the solids and discard, and put the broth back into the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste (be quite generous with the salt, as you're adding vegetables and pasta to this).

Add all of the vegetables to the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. In the meantime, dice all the turkey meat. Add pasta and turkey meat to the pot and cook for another 10 minutes. Taste the pasta for doneness and adjust any seasonings. Serve.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chocolate Cashew Toffee

I've never made candy before but this simple recipe is the perfect place to start. I was looking for something easy to make that would be pretty in gift bags for the holidays, and since I had all the ingredients readily available, I gave this a test run. It passed, and will be included in my secret Santa gift at work next week!

Chocolate Cashew Toffee

Adapted from The Kitchn's Skillet Toffee


1 pound (450g) salted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 handfuls of good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or in chips
200g cashews, toasted (other nuts would probably work well too)


Line the bottom and sides of a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large heavy pot (I used my Dutch oven), melt the butter over medium high heat. As the butter melts, stir in the sugar. Continue stirring constantly and rapidly with a wooden spoon. The mixture should bubble as you stir. Cook until the mixture turns a deep golden brown, taking care not to burn it. (Note: I tried to be clever and made a half batch of this - it was a terrible idea and the toffee burnt very quickly. I think the full amount makes it cook at a speed where it is much easier to get it to come together without burning it.) When it is ready, it should look like a smooth mixture with no separated butter fats, and it will be around 300F. If you take a small amount and put it in cool water, it will harden. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Pour the mixture into the lined baking sheet. Allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then sprinkle the mixture with the chocolate. When the chocolate looks glossy, spread it with an offset cake spatula or a wooden spatula, and sprinkle with the nuts. Gently press the nuts into the chocolate with the palms of your hands.

Cool completely (I stuck mine in the fridge for a while) then break the toffee into chunks.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pierre Herme Macarons

Pierre Hermé, London
Foodhall, Ground Floor, Selfridges
400 Oxford Street

A visit from N and J meant tramping around our old semester abroad neighbourhood, conveniently located next to Selfridges. J was picking up fancy English teas for his parents, while I headed straight for the 
Pierre Hermé counter to try some macarons. They're certainly not cheap - but they are worth it for a treat, and anyway, sometimes you enjoy things that come in limited quantities more, right? Above are a salted caramel, dark chocolate and green tea macaron. Salted caramel blew the others out of the water, and we nibbled away happily. It was the perfect tiny sweet to follow a gargantuan meal at Mangal Ocakbasi - from cheap and cheerful to luxury in no time at all.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Wine Show and Masterchef Live

I admit, I've been a little remiss lately with writing things up - I'm still eating loads of wonderful things but finding the time and willpower to document them is a whole other matter. Anyhoo, I was lucky enough to win a pair of tickets to The Wine Show and Masterchef Live through Unearthed Foods, so P bought a ticket as well and joined me and A for a Sunday full of ridiculous eating and drinking. Many things were consumed, but the outstanding items for me were the sea bass with chorizo dish that Jose Pisarro made at the Campo Viejo Tapas Time stall, and the arancini in the bottom picture which were crisp little rice and cheese bombs that I couldn't get enough of. A really liked some salt-spiked dark chocolate from Cornwall, but it wasn't really to my taste, and we had some decent food at the stalls in the middle of the hall where you bought little coins to exchange for small plates, but like I said - the two pictures above are what I still remember clearly, which says something.