Tag Archives: sweet

Coffee and…Arabian Macaroons!

I’ve been trying to stay away from sweets leading up to Christmas but…you know how it is? Sometimes you just have to go to the pantry and see what’s there. Or not there.

In my case, there was no chocolate, no biscuits, no sweets of any kind except for some dried dates. Yeah, me too.

The trip to the pantry wasn’t a complete waste of time though because I did find some shredded coconut, and that gave me an idea. Diving into my trusty photo album-recipe book(1), I flicked through a stack of recipes I’d found online, or in magazines [back when we still bought them], until I found a recipe for Arabian Macaroons. And wonder of wonders, I had all the ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup coconut [I used dessicated, shredded coconut],
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dates [hah! I used dried, pitted dates],
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts [I used hazelnuts because I didn’t have walnuts],
  • 1/2 cup sugar [I used caster sugar but next time I’ll reduce the quantity to 1/4 of a cup],
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt [I used a very small ‘pinch’],
  • 1 egg, well beaten,
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Original instructions that came with the recipe:

  • Combine coconut, dates, walnuts, sugar and salt; mix well. Blend in egg and vailla extract. Let stand 5 minutes.
  • Drop from teaspoon onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove at once from baking sheet.

My instructions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350f or 170c [fan bake(2)],
  • Line a large baking sheet with baking paper [parchment paper]. No need to grease.
  • Finely chop the dates and hazelnuts [separately!] until they look like large ‘crumbs’,
  • Beat 1 whole egg with the sugar, vanilla extract, and a tiny bit of salt until the mixture forms ‘the ribbon’. In other words, the egg mixture becomes thick enough to hold its shape for a few seconds when dribbled on top of the mix.
  • Fold all the dried ingredients into the egg mixture and allow to stand at room temperature for 5 minutes.
  • Use two spoons to take small quantities of the ‘dough’ and scrape it onto the baking paper. The mix is quite sticky and won’t just ‘drop’. It needs to be scraped out of the spoon.
  • Place the baking sheet in the middle of the oven, and set the timer for about 12 minutes. If your oven is old and temperamental like mine, you will need to check the macaroons at that 12 minute mark to make sure they bake evenly and don’t burn. If you oven is fine, leave for 15 minutes.
  • When golden brown, take the macaroons out of the oven and gently lift them onto a cooling rack. At this point they are still a little soft but they will firm up as they cool.
  • Store in an air-tight container…if you can wait that long. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The finished macaroons will be crunchy on the outside and a little bit chewy on the inside. Honestly, they really are delicious.

Bon appetit!
Meeks

(1) I use those old fashioned photo albums with clear plastic sheets covering each page. I pull the sheet back, stick the recipe on the page and cover with the clear sheet again. Keeps the recipes relatively clean. ๐Ÿ˜‰

(2) Fan bake or fan forced is always a little hotter than the standard oven temperature so if you use those setting, you should drop the temperature a little to compensate.


A song for the Tukti

I haven’t been on Soundcloud for a while, but their algorithms know me too well! This is the first song Soundcloud recommended for me when I logged in. Sweet yet eerie. Perfect for the Tukti. Wow…just wow. ๐Ÿ˜€

cheers,
Meeks


Apples, straight from the tree…or why every garden should have one

The apple you see on that plate is the apple I just picked from my tree. I picked it, buffed it against my shirt and bit into it. Crisp but not ‘rock hard’, juicy and…so sweet the flavour was like an explosion in my mouth!

The apple in question is a Fuji, and Fuji are one of the sweetest of the commercial apples, but my home-grown beauty was a factor of ten sweeter because I didn’t pick it until it was fully ripe. Commercial apples are picked earlier and stored in a cool room to increase their ‘shelf life’ in the supermarket. Convenience and greater profits for the supermarket, a loss for the consumer.

How much of a loss?

I can only guess at the nutritional loss, but I can tell you that my apples taste amazing. And! The land on which they grew has not been sprayed for the 16 years of my stewardship. That’s how long we’ve lived here in Warrandyte. As the block was originally a horse paddock, it’s probably been herbicide and pesticide free for much longer than that. For me though, the bottom line is flavour.

I stopped buying commercial apricots the year my apricot tree had its first crop. The flavour of that warm, sun-ripened fruit took me back to my childhood when my Dad grew a few fruit trees in the back yard. The one I remember even now is the nectarine tree. It was big enough for an eight year old to climb without getting stuck, and I’d sit in its branches, eating nectarines.

In fact, there have been home-grown fruit trees in my life for all but a few years in my twenties when I was renting. There have been fruit trees in the Offspring’s life too, and I remember the look of wonder on a young nephew’s face when he picked a ripe apricot from my tree and tasted it for the first time. These are the moments that can trigger life-long food choices, and those food choices can influence life-long health.

Many schools in Australia have created veggie patches for the kids to tend and taste, which is great, but what about the home garden? How many kids get to go home after school and pick a sun-ripened apple for a snack instead of something that comes in a packet? And what better reason for a kid to go outside into the fresh air than to forage in the garden?

“Oh, we’re too busy to grow fruit!”

“The garden is too small.”

“I don’t have time to look after fruit trees. Just mowing the damn grass is enough.”

“Don’t you have to spray them to stop the bugs and stuff? I don’t want the kids to eat stuff that’s been sprayed.”

The excuses are legion, but I believe the root excuse, the one that no one acknowledges is that modern parents grew up eating only commercial fruit and vegetables so they literally have no idea what ‘real’ fruit tastes like. As a result, they can’t see the value of growing fruit trees.

To those parents I say – “Just give one fruit tree a try.”

My apple tree is small, and it has three different apples grafted onto it. For a while I thought the alpacas had ‘pruned’ one of the grafted branches to death, but it came back, and this year it is covered with so much fruit I’ve had to hold the branches up with ropes! Sadly I can’t remember what variety this rejuvenated graft belongs to.

Anyway, my point is that I did not take care of my apple tree for a long time, but it survived and when I gave it some protection [from the alpacas], and a bit of compost and mulch, it roared back with a truly bumper crop. Just in time for autumn/winter.

Feijoas are easy to grow too. They’re the small, dark green fruit in front of the apples:

Fuji apples and Feijoas

C’mon, parents. You don’t need a lot of space to grow one, single fruit tree, and the benefits will astound you. More importantly, you will see that same look of wonder on your kids’ faces the first time they taste fruit that actually has a flavour. Find a sunny spot and plant a fruit tree. Your kids will be the beneficiaries.

Okay, end foodie rant. Have a great day everyone.

cheers,
Meeks


From disaster to a delicious biscuit

Okay, for my US friends, our biscuits are your cookies so this is a cross between a sweet lemon cakelet and a ‘cookie’. Ta dah….:

lemon biscuit recipe 001

The outside is lovely and crisp, but despite being so thin, the inside remains just a tiny bit soft and chewy:

lemon biscuit recipe 002

Before I write up the recipe I should explain that this started out as a kind of lemon tart cake that went very wrong. Cakes are not my forte, but I suspect the original recipe was at fault as it called for a tart base made from self-raising flour. Into this uncooked tart base went a very nice, cooked lemon filling and the whole lot was supposed to bake in the oven until it turned into a tart.

I don’t have a picture, but my lovely lemon tart turned into something resembling a soufle. It overflowed the baking dish like Vesuvius and made a sweet-smelling mess of my oven. What little I could salvage tasted like lemon toffee cake. I was not happy.

To cut a long story short, I had just enough unsalted butter left over to try the cake part of the recipe as a biscuit, and at last something worked! Here it is.

Ingredients

60 gm unsalted butter

1 cup self-raising flour

1/2 cup caster sugar

the rind of one lemon, finely grated

1 whole egg

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160 C [if using fan-bake] or 180 C if just using the ordinary oven setting [this is a moderate oven].

Line baking trays with baking paper. [You will need more than one tray as the biscuit mix spreads out quite a lot as it bakes so the biscuits have to be spaced fairly wide apart].

Toss the flour, sugar and grated lemon rind together [to spread the lemon flavour evenly]. Add the butter and cut it into small chunks with a knife, mixing into the flour as you go. Once the chunks are small enough, rub the flour mix and butter between your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Lightly beat the egg and add it to the butter mix until you get a fairly smooth ‘paste’.

Spoon heaped teaspoons of the paste onto the trays, leaving at least 2 inches between each one, and place in the oven. Baking time is approx. 10 minutes or until the biscuits are firm in the middle and slightly golden around the edges. Allow to cool on the tray if you can wait that long…-rolls eyes-…we didn’t.

The quantity given should make approximately 24 biscuits which sounds like quite a lot, but they are very moorish. If anyone manages to keep some for more than a few minutes I’d love to know how long they last. ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Sunday,

Meeks

 


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