Chocaroon Layer Cake.

I’ve had a few days off – you might have noticed. So here’s an update.

On Friday night we had the rest of the Store cupboard chickpea curry.

Store cupboard curry

Store cupboard curry.

On Saturday night I made Slow cooker Macaroni and Cheese and added one of the massive saveloys from the freezer.

Saturday night.

Saturday night.

And last night I cooked up a marinated asado beef roast from Aldi with roast potato and pumpkin and frozen peas. It was yummy.

Roast dinner Chez Moi.

Roast dinner, Chez Moi.

Today I made another of my Mother’s recipe collection. A Chocaroon Layer Cake. It hasn’t been tasted yet (it’s still cooling) but, my golly gosh it smells good!

Chocaroon Layer Cake.

Chocaroon Layer Cake.

If it tastes as good as it smells, I’ll post the recipe as soon as I get through the existing backlog…

Update: It’s amazeballs. Like, literally.

Chocaroon Layer Cake.

Chocaroon Layer Cake.

Then I made these “carrot cake” balls for The Boy. They need work, I think.

We had pork dumplings from the freezer for lunch.

I also have had a bean chilli bubbling away in the slow cooker for most of the day. However, it had far too much liquid in it not so long ago.

Chilli Overboard!

Chilli Overboard!

I could have thickened it up with some cornflour and served it over rice, but I decided to make a cornbread cobbler instead. This will soak up the liquid and add a carbohydrate.

And, indeed it has, lo!

Chilli cobbler

Chilli cobbler.

Life is still pretty good.

Mañana todos.

Apple and Oat Bars

Stay calm and eat Apple and Oat Bars...

Last night, The Boy declared – out of the blue – that I should do a muesli (granola) bar recipe. Because school goes back next week or something and this could be useful to people.

I think he just wanted muesli bars.

I also think he could have told me before I did the fortnight’s shopping and could stock up on the expensive stuff that goes into these snacks.

So, I compromised. I’m good at that.

I made these little Apple and Oat Bars from stuff I already had and which – most likely – you already have too. Because that is how we roll in the Budget Bounty kitchen.

Simple AND good-for-you-ish.

Simple AND good-for-you-ish.

The recipe for these came from one of the first cookbooks I ever bought for my now massive collection. It’s called Good Cooking by the people at Good Housekeeping and was published way back in 1988. Which is why I have changed one of the ingredients from margarine to butter…

It’s a recipe that literally takes only minutes to put together and which you could quite easily do with smaller versions of yourself HELPING.  Ahem.

You will need some butter, some honey, some brown sugar, some rolled oats and an apple or two. Also a bowl, a baking tin and a microwave proof jug and spatula.  Sound complicated?

After setting your oven to 190°C get out a set of scales and your microwave proof jug. Into your jug measure your butter, brown sugar and honey, like so:

Melt these things together.

Melt these things together.

Heat them for 1 minute at a time at 80% power until the butter is melted. You can do this in a saucepan on the stove, if you wish.

While it is melting, measure the oats into a medium sized mixing bowl and line a baking tin with parchment. The original recipe called for an 18 cm/7 inch square cake tin.

Pour your now liquid ingredients into the oats and mix well.

Add the wet to the dry. Stir.

Add the wet to the dry. Stir.

Press half this mixture into the base of your tin. Do NOT do what I did and use a silicon tray. You want the oats to crisp up and they just get soggy if you follow my example. Honestly.

Press half your oats into something that isn't silicon and is preferably metal...

Press half your oats into something that isn’t silicon and is preferably metal…

Now get a large cooking apple (around 250 g worth), peel it and slice it thinly.  Arrange the apple slices in overlapping rows to cover the oat base.

Cover your base with overlapping slices of apple.

Cover your base with overlapping slices of apple.

Sprinkle your slices with cinnamon. I was cooking for an adult who likes it, so I also used ground ginger on mine.

Sprinkle with your choice of spice.

Sprinkle with your choice of spice.

Top with the rest of the oats, press down firmly and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.

Cut it into portions while still hot and in the pan. Leave in the tin to cool. You want your butter and honey to set before you try to move anything, or it will all fall apart.

Elevenses, Anyone?

Elevenses, Anyone?

Store in an airtight container somewhere cool. Wrap in cling film and send as part of a school lunch, serve as an after school snack or use to accompany a much deserved cuppa.

Easy. Affordable. Tasty.

Apple and Oat Bars

  • Servings: 12 -15
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

100 g/4 oz butter

60 g/2½ oz brown sugar

2 tbsp honey

225 g/8 oz rolled oats

1 large cooking apple (250 g/9 oz) peeled, cored and thinly sliced

ground cinnamon.

Method

Heat oven to 190°C/ 375°F.

Lightly grease or line an 18 cm/ 7 inch square shallow baking tin.

In a microwave proof jug or bowl, combine the first three ingredients and heat at 80% power for 1 minute intervals until melted. Stir together. This may be done in a small saucepan on the stove top if wished.

Measure the oats into a medium-sized bowl. Pour liquid ingredients over the oats and mix well.

Divide the mixture in two and press half into the base of your prepared tin.

Arrange the sliced apple over the top of the oats in overlapping rows.

Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Top with the remaining oats and press down gently.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

Cut into slices while still hot and then leave in the tin until cool.

Variations:

  • For a gluten-free version, substitute a gluten free muesli or granola mix for the rolled oats.
  • Try using different spices for variety. A Pumpkin Pie spice mix might be just the thing for you.
  • Sprinkle a handful of sultanas over with the cinnamon.
  • Add a scattering of choc chips over the apple for a special treat.

 

Caraway and Lemon Biscotti

Grind the caraway seeds in a pestle and mortar.

These are among my personal favourite biscotti. (If you would like a primer on biscotti, then please click here: Biscotti 101)

I created these by adapting a recipe I found in a book compellingly entitled Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favourites, which I believe I bought in a Barnes and Noble store in Baltimore, Maryland, sometime in 2006.

It was originally a recipe for Anise and Lemon Biscotti, but I didn’t have any Aniseeds, and didn’t want to go buy some, so I substituted caraway seeds instead.

I also found the dough was too dry at the end of mixing it. However I’d had to zest a lemon for the recipe, so I juiced that and mixed the juice into the dough.

It was a triumph. A little piece of citrusy heaven. Trust me. If you like lemon-flavoured anything, then you’ll love these.

They are among the most requested in my Christmas Collection and now I share them with you.

They are the perfect thing to enjoy a quiet moment with a cuppa before going back to being an adult.

Start by sifting the plain flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together into a bowl.

Sift the dry ingredients together.

Sift the dry ingredients together.

Then add the zest of a lemon or two. You’ll need around 2 tablespoonfuls.

Now you’ll need to grind your caraway seeds the best that you can. Use either a pestle and mortar or a small electric coffee grinder you use solely for this purpose.

Grind the caraway seeds in a pestle and mortar.

Grind the caraway seeds in a pestle and mortar.

Add them to your flour mix, stir through and set aside.

Add your zest and seeds and stir together.

Add your zest and seeds and stir together.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat together 2 whole eggs and 1 egg white.

eggs!

Eggs!

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir to achieve a smooth dough.

If you manage to do that with just the eggs, then you have my congratulations.

If not, then juice the lemons that you have zested and add the strained juice to your dough – little by little – until it all comes together.

Be careful not to make it too wet...

Be careful not to make it too wet…

Line an oven tray with baking paper. Using a spatula and floured hands, scoop half the dough out of the bowl and onto one side of the baking sheet. Repeat on the other side.

Shape as best you can into logs. Remember that they will spread as they bake, so try to keep the inner edges at least 6 inches apart.

It's a messy job, but someone has to do it.

It’s a messy job, but someone has to do it.

Bake at 180°C/350°F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top of each log is firm.

(This is the perfect time to wash your mixing bowl and other utensils.)

Remove to a wire rack until cool enough to handle – around 15 mins. Reduce your oven to 150°C/325°F.

The lovely lemon tinge from the juice sets these biscotti apart.

The lovely lemon tinge from the juice sets these biscotti apart.

Now is the time to cut them into 1.5 cm/½ inch thick slices with a serrated knife.

Then, place them back onto the baking sheet, cut side down.

Traditionally biscotti are cut on the diagonal.

Traditionally biscotti are cut on the diagonal.

Bake for a further 15 minutes. Remove to cool on racks.

They will firm up on standing, so don’t be concerned if they still seem soft in the middle.

Ah. Bliss.

Caraway and Lemon Biscotti

  • Servings: approx 36 biscotti
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

2 cups plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 cup sugar

2 whole eggs

1 egg white

1 tbsp caraway seeds, ground

1 tbsp freshly grated lemon peel (zest)

Strained juice of lemon (reserved)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F. Line a baking sheet with paper and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

Add the lemon zest and ground caraway seeds.

In a small bowl, lightly beat together the whole eggs and egg white.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir to form a smooth dough. Add lemon juice as required to achieve the correct consistency.

Using floured hands and a spatula, scoop half the dough into a log shape on one side of the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough on the other side – spacing the logs at least 6 inches apart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top of each log is firm.

Remove with a long spatula to a wire rack and cool for 10 to 15 mins.

Reduce the heat of the oven to 150°C/325°F.

Using a serrated knife, cut each log on the diagonal into ½ inch slices.

Place slices back onto the lined baking trays, cut side down and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Remove and cool on racks.

These biscotti will continue to harden as they cool.

Will keep for several weeks, stored in an airtight container.

Coconut Almond Biscotti

Coconut Almond biscotti

It has been  pointed out to me ever so gently, that I haven’t yet finished my series on biscotti (I got sick and then preserving took precedence…) so here we go.

This is a very simple recipe that packs a big punch in both visual impact and taste terms. The only downside to it is that it can be quite pricey due to its use of whole, blanched almonds.

So, feel free to use slivered or flaked almonds if they are more within your price range. The flavour will be the same, it just will look a little different and have a slightly less “robust” texture.

Coconut Almond biscotti

Coconut Almond biscotti

This is an extremely unfussy recipe. It’s so easy that, if you blink, you’ll miss it. So pay attention.

Turn your oven on to preheat to 180°C/ 350°F.

In a medium-sized bowl mix together your caster sugar, eggs  and some finely grated orange rind (zest).

Start your biscotti with this

Start your biscotti with this

You can do this by hand with a wire balloon whisk or use an electric mixer if you have one.

It will look like this after mixing.

It will look like this after mixing.

However, the dough is about to get heavy. So, using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix in your flours, desiccated (shredded) coconut and almonds.

Add your dry ingredients all at once.

Add your dry ingredients all at once.

Stir well.

And you're done.

And you’re done.

That’s it. Hard, wasn’t it?

Line a baking tray with paper and divide your dough into two portions. With floured hands, roll each portion into a 20cm log and place on the tray.

Be aware that they will spread a little, so don’t place them smack bang next to each other! Also, don’t stress over the shape, just do the best you can.

The dough is not soft and quite easy to handle.

The dough is not soft and quite easy to handle.

Now pop them in the oven for 35 minutes, or until slightly browned. Wash up your measuring and mixing things while this is going on and then hunt out: a trivet, another baking tray, a cutting board and serrated knife – make sure it’s a serrated knife, or it will all end in tears – and a cooling rack.

First baking done.

First baking done.

When it looks like this, take it out of the oven and set aside for 15 minutes or so to cool a little. You won’t want to cut them fresh from the oven or they will crumble under your knife (see above warning about tears).

Turn your oven down to 160°C/325°F.  Most of the cooking is done, from now on you’ll just be trying to dry them out.

When the logs are cool to the touch, using the aforementioned serrated knife, cut them into 1cm  or ¼ inch thick slices. Traditionally this is done slightly on the diagonal, but you don’t have to do it this way.

Cut your logs into slices

Cut your logs into slices.

Place the slices flat onto a lined baking tray and pop them back into the oven for 10 mins, then take them out, turn them over and put them back in for another 10 mins.

Bake for a second time.

Bake for a second time.

If you would like them slightly darker, then bake them longer. Be prepared for your kitchen to smell like paradise.

Allow them to cool on the trays. Basically by the time the second batch is at the halfway point, the biscotti on the first tray should be cool enough to move to a rack. This will free up your tray for any left over slices.

Serve dunked into something hot: coffee, tea, hot chocolate.

Try not to eat them all at once.

Coconut Almond Biscotti

  • Servings: makes 30
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 cup (220g) caster sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp finely grated orange rind or zest

1 1/3 cups (200g) plain flour

½ cup (50g) SR flour

2/3 cups (50g) desiccated (shredded) coconut

1 cup (160g) blanched almonds

Method

Preheat oven to moderate. 180°C/ 350°F.

In a medium bowl, beat together sifted caster sugar, orange rind and eggs.

Add sifted flours, coconut and nuts and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon to form a sticky dough.

Divide dough into two portions.

Using floured hands, roll/shape each portion into a 20cm/ 10 inch log and place on a lined oven tray.

Bake for around 35 minutes or until slightly browned; cool on the tray for 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven heat to moderately slow, 160°C/325°F.

Using a serrated (bread)knife, cut the logs into diagonal slices 1 cm/¼ inch thick.

Place the slices flat onto lined baking trays and return to the oven for around 25 minutes, or until dry and crisp.

Turn halfway through baking.

Cool on tray.

Christmas biscotti platter

Christmas is the time of year I start baking hard, thick, crunchy, chunky, seemingly inedible biscuits and giving large amounts of them to my friends.

No. I’m not mad.

Christmas biscotti platter

Christmas biscotti platter

Biscotti is an Italian word that shows the origin of the English word ‘biscuit.’ Basically it means cooked twice, like rusks or zwieback (also meaning cooked twice), which is why the American use of the word continues to confuse me…

Moving on from etymology, these things are wonderful. Really truly.

They started out in the dim, dark pages of history as a way of making food travel-proof. Dry out your bread and it won’t go mouldy. Simple. Think, ships’ biscuits and Horatio Hornblower. Which means you can make them now and happily eat them in a month’s time.

Biscotti came into my life about 8 years ago and, from then on, I just wanted to share the joy.

A thick, sticky dough is mixed, shaped into logs, baked in a moderately hot oven for a bit, allowed to cool, cut into thick slices (about ½ an inch thick), baked in a slightly cooler oven for a second time until thoroughly dried out and then kept in an air-tight container until dunked into a warm beverage – usually coffee, but tea and hot chocolate rock too – and then delighted in tremendously.

first baking...

first baking…

Italian friends tell me that they also work well dipped in a glass of vin santo …

They usually contain nuts, like whole blanched almonds, hazelnuts or pistachios, dried fruit, like cranberries and, sometimes, coconut. They are also quite low in fat as most recipes contain neither butter nor oil. They do contain lots of flour and quite a bit of sugar though, so don’t go thinking of them as anything resembling a health food.

That said, a biscotto is not something you would inhale in the way you might a sweet biscuit or cookie, so you are less likely to start scoffing them down in large quantities. One will usually be sufficient.

There are endless variations. It all depends on your imagination and your knife.

To make biscotti you need a good, serrated knife.

Now, that's a knife...

Now, that’s a knife…

If you don’t have one, then tears will be the inevitable outcome. I speak from experience.

You are baking something so that it will be crunchy; if you then try slicing that it will simply disintegrate into (delicious) crumbs under your blade. That is bad.

A serrated knife is the only thing that will save your biscuits and your sanity.

Slicing biscotti

Slicing biscotti

Get one. That is all.

Once your biscotti are thoroughly baked and cooled, they will keep for Aeons in an airtight container.

Really!

Well, quite a number of weeks anyway.

Which is why they make such great Christmas gifts.

I figure that most of the people I know already have all the ‘stuff’ they could possibly need and don’t really need to find the space for yet another knick knack they don’t really like. Probably they will be overloaded with sweet biscuits/cookies, cakes and chocolates as well.

Managing mass biscotti baking like this on a budget can be quite doable. The flour and sugar is something that I already have in store, but I buy a bit extra. Then, in the months leading up to baking, I add one packet of special ingredients to my shopping each fortnight. A packet of blanched almonds one week, a packet of crystallised ginger the next shopping week and so forth. Then, in the week before I start to bake, I buy 2 dozen eggs and I’m set to go.

Second baking

Second baking

I make a different batch (recipe) of biscotti for each person on my Christmas run. So, if I’m wanting to give them to 5 different people, I make 5 different types of biscotti. Then I divvy them up, wrap in cellophane and deliver on Christmas Eve or roundabouts.

Because they store so well, I can easily make a different batch each day for a week instead of having one huge baking day. They all go into a large Tupperware Cake Taker until it’s time for them to leave the premises.

Big box of bikkies

Big box of bikkies

They are easy to mix and shape, but take a lot of time to bake. If you are suffering through one of the sweltering hot versions of the Australian Christmas Season, then do this late at night with all the doors and windows open.

I’ve recently moved away from my friends and can’t give them biscotti this year, so I shall share some of the recipes with them on here instead. 😥

There will be quite a few biscotti posts to come….

Biscotti recipes on Budget Bounty:
Caraway and Lemon Biscotti
Coconut Almond Biscotti
Orange Ginger Biscotti

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Crumble

Scatter your apples with craisins for one variation

It’s cold here.

Technically, we’ve just hit the first day of Spring. It’s still cold though. And wet. And grey. And generally miserable.

A wet footpath

Gray Day

Weather like this demands something along the line of comfort food, and this pretty much ticks that box – along with the boxes for affordability, ease of preparation, wholesome ingredients and the ability to double as breakfast should it ever be necessary.

Let us pray that it is necessary…and often.

While I am all for foods that are prepared from scratch, I don’t think that this is one that has to be – in the strictest sense of the term. Because, sure, you could buy some apples and peel and cook them and then go on and make the crumble topping and bake it – and more power to you if you do.

However, I like to do one of these pretty much every week during the bleaker autumn/winter days and even don’t have the dedication to this that would require the peeling of so many apples. I don’t peel things unless it is absolutely necessary. Ever.

So, I use tinned pie apples. They’re readily available, rarely cost much more than the unpeeled ingredients and when the contents of the can are listed as ‘100% sliced apples’ then there is very little to complain about.

Pie Apple tin label saying it contains 100% apples

100% apples

Open a can, empty contents into baking dish, top with crumble, cook, serve.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl

Fab.

However – and there had to be one of those, donchaknow – this is not a low sugar ingredient. Neither is it a low GI one. This dish will affect your blood glucose levels and possibly in ways you had never even considered. Go easy on the serving sizes; make it in a long, shallow dish so that the ratio of oat-filled topping to apple sub-strata is higher. Your insulin levels will be steadier and your children (and significant others) will be less likely to have that sugar high we all dread.

Serve it hot or cold with ice-cream or Greek yoghurt, try it with custard, eat it on its own….

Apple Crumble

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 x 800g tin Pie Apples

1 cup flour

125 g butter

½ cup rolled oats

½ cup coconut

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Method:

Heat oven to 180°C/ 375°F.

Place apples in a shallow glass baking dish.

Put all your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Melt butter in the microwave. Add to dry ingredients and mix through until well combined and crumbly.

Scatter over the top of the fruit and bake in the oven for 50 minutes.

 

Scatter your apples with craisins for one variation

Scatter your apples with craisins for one variation

Variations:

Try adding slivered almonds or chunks of Macadamia nuts to the crumble topping.

Try also, scattering dried fruit like sultanas or craisins among the apple, diced dried apricot can be an absolute hit used like this.

For a sweeter variation, add some dark choc chips/milk choc chips/caramel choc chips to the apple mixture or just scatter them over the top of it before adding the crumble mix.

I wouldn’t advise putting them in the crumble itself to avoid scorching them in the oven.

You can, of course just add chunks of whatever chocolate you prefer, it doesn’t have to be in chip form!

Eat slowly, with a small spoon for maximum savourousity*.

(*Actual word that I just made up.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anzac Biscuits

Anzac biscuits are pretty much a part of every Australian child’s culinary vocabulary. We’ve all had them and we’ve pretty much all made them.

Some are woeful, some are good and some are extraordinary. It really just depends on the cook and the preference of the muncher.

These biscuits are so-called because they were sent to the ANZACs in their Turkish trenches nearly a century ago. As such, they were needed to last during long storage on sea voyages and in less than optimal food storage conditions in the war zone.

A tin full of freshly baked Anzac Biscuits

A treasure trove of Anzac Biscuits

This meant they were often rock hard. My brother famously christened my mother’s as “Bathroom Floor Biscuits” because he said they needed to be smashed on the tiles in order to eat them!

(He wasn’t wrong.)

Thankfully things have changed. We no longer bake the life out of them for a start.

This is the recipe that I use for Anzac biscuits, it came originally from The Australian Womens Weekly’s The Basic Cookbook and I’ve been using it for over 20 years. It works.

Make them with your kids today.

Just remember that these are biscuits and not cookies. They will be crunchy all the way through, and not chewy in the middle.

If you don’t have, or can’t get, Golden Syrup (you poor, poor thing!) you can substitute honey or corn syrup at a pinch…

A bowl of Anzac Biscuit mix before it's divided into biscuits

Anzac Biscuits in the bowl

Anzac Biscuits

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats (not minute oats)

1 cup plain flour

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

½ cup desiccated/shredded coconut

125 g butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 tablespoon water

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.

Method:

Heat oven to 160°C/325°F (Moderately slow.)

Lightly grease or line several baking trays.

Combine oats, sifted flour and sugar together in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, combine butter, golden syrup and water and stir over low heat until butter is melted. (This step may be done in a microwave oven.)

Stir in soda.

Add mixture to dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Place rounded teaspoonfuls of mixture onto trays 5 cm or two inches apart. These biscuits will spread!

Bake for about 20 mins or until biscuits feel slightly firm.

Cool on trays.

Anzac Biscuits cooling on a rack after baking

Try not to eat them all at once

Also, don’t panic if your biscuits lose bits as you transfer them from the trays. Save all these little crumbs of oaty, golden-syrupy goodness and store in an air tight container. They are excellent scattered over plain Greek yoghurt or ice-cream. Trust me on this.

Some years ago Heidi Swanson did a piece on Anzac “Cookies” on her fabulous site 101 Cookbooks, where she talked about them being a type of flapjack. Unfortunately, the post appears to have been reworked and this info has gone. However, she has posted a variation using the addition of orange zest and orange blossom water which looks almost worth forgiving her for calling them cookies…

Let me know how you go with this fine old Aussie tradition, or if your family does a different version. My grandmother always added ground ginger to hers…

Enjoy!

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