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Preview: wee treats by tammy

wee treats by tammy

memoirs of a passionate cook

Updated: 2017-09-13T22:16:59.227+12:00


Little and Friday Shortbread


It was my aunt’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. She lives in Dunedin and is extremely hard to buy for, so I decided to send her some baking. I wanted something fairly robust, but also something fairly plain, as I know she doesn’t like rich things. I decided to make her shortbread, as I do have fond memories of her making mountains and mountains of shortbread when I was little, and as she is now wheelchair bound, I know that baking is something she doesn’t get to do.

Rather than use my standard recipe, I decided to try something new and was interested to make something from the Little and Friday cookbook (for those of you who havent been there, you must go!!! The food is the best café food in Auckland!). Luckily there is a shortbread recipe in the book. It looked like a very traditional, short, crumbly shortbread which is exactly what I was after. The method was a little different than I usually use to make shortbread – whizzing the butter into the dry ingredients rather than creaming the butter and sugar and adding the flour. Rather than getting out the foodprocessor (is anyone else too lazy to wash their food processor?), I decided to pop the sugar and flour into the bowl with cubed, softened butter and then beat it with my handbeaters until crumbly, and then pull the mixture together. This worked, but I did find the dough quite crumbly (almost like there wasn’t enough butter in it – but that could have been the bit stuck to the beaters!) and hard to roll out. The biscuits, once baked, were nice and crisp though, and crumbly to the bite but not to the touch.

I used vanilla sugar rather than castor sugar and vanilla paste. This gave the biscuits a lovely little black fleck through them and an intense vanilla flavour. You can also add a tsp of vanilla paste if you don’t have any vanilla sugar on hand. I also cooked my shortbread at a lower temperature for longer (the original recipe said 15 minutes at 180) as I like shortbread which is pale in colour. You will also see in the photo that my shortbread isnt at all regular in shape – mostly because my ruler was downstairs and I was too lazy to run down to get it! Gosh, laziness seems to be quite a theme throughout this post!

Shortbread (adapted from Little and Friday)
1 ½ c flour
1/3 c vanilla caster sugar
150g butter (room temperature)
• Combine the dry ingredients, then beat the cubed butter into the dry ingredients with a hand beater until crumbly
• Bring the dough together with your hands
• Press the dough into a rough square and then slice it up into rectangles.
• Prick with a fork, sprinkle with caster sugar and bake in the oven at 165c for about 20-25 minutes until cooked.

Cola Cupcakes


These cupcakes are coca cola cupcakes. Not something I would usually make, but my sister and I are baking our way through Cake Days and this recipe was next on the agenda. These cakes have cola syrup in both the cake batter and the icing. We don’t have cola syrup at home, but a while ago I bought a soda stream for work and we had some cola syrup there, so I borrowed a couple of tablespoons! The soda stream is actually a great thing to have a work. I don’t drink tea or coffee, but used to drink more diet coke than was good for me (one or two cans a day). I decided to quit the coke, and soon realised that it was the cold, fizziness that I liked rather than the taste, so plain soda water made in the soda stream does the trick for me!

These cakes were nice, not a strong coke flavour – quite subtle in fact. I topped the cakes with little cola bottle lollies which looked quite cute. I don’t think I would rush out to buy cola syrup just to make these cakes, but if you do have a bottle of syrup at home, these are definitely worth trying.

Cola Cupcakes (from Cake Days)

80g butter
280g caster sugar

240g plain flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tbsp cola syrup

240ml whole milk

2 large eggs

- Using a handheld electric whisk, combine the butter, sugar, flour and baking powder on a low speed until mixed together well with a breadcrumb like texture.

- In a jug place the milk, cola syrup and eggs. Whisk by hand.

- Pour 3/4 of the milk/cola mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together on a low speed. Turn up to medium speed and add the remaining milk mixture, whisking until a smooth batter.

- Divide the batter between your paper cake cases, filling about 2/3 full. Place in the oven and bake at 180c for 18-20 minutes. When cold, ice with the following icing

500g icing sugar

160g unsalted butter, softened

2tbsp cola syrup

50ml whole milk

- Beat together the butter and icing sugar on a low speed with your electric whisk until no large lumps are left and you have a powdery mixture. Stir together the milk and cola syrup then pour this into the butter and icing sugar whilst beating slowly. Increase the speed to high and whisk until fluffy

Cupcakes for Harry


When you have a two year old, sometimes you just want to bake a really plain cupcake, something which will satisfy an un-jaded palate. Unlike lots of children who just eat the icing, Harry loves to eat the whole cupcake. I’m not talking about a mini cupcake either, but a full adult sized one. The weekend before last we went to the Bluebell Cakery and Harry ate a whole vanilla cupcake. Last Saturday we went to Farro and he ate a whole lemon cupcake. He loves them.

He also loves baking and decorating them. He helps me mix the mixture, standing on a chair with his little Thomas the tank engine apron on, and then when they are baked and cooled, he loves to decorate them. This photo is of some vanilla cupcakes we made a few weeks ago and Harry decorated for his friends, Aisling and John. Yes, they are a bit gender biased! Harry has so much fun putting the sprinkles on top of the cupcakes, even though sometimes Mummy has to keep turning the cupcakes so that there is an even spread of sprinkles on them!

These cupcakes are vanilla cupcakes from the Hummingbird Cakes book. I love the cupcake recipes from that book as they are so simple, not creaming of butter and sugar – you beat the butter into the flour and sugar which is nice and easy. I think the key to making delicious vanilla cupcakes is to use really good quality vanilla. I use Heilala. You can find the recipe for the vanilla cupcakes here.

Double chocolate cookies


Thank you for all your lovely comments re: Hayley’s wedding cakes. I will post the recipe in another post, so keep reading! Unfortunately my blog posting has been a little more sporadic than I was hoping when I got back into it – work and home are both very busy, but bear with me, as I will try to post at least once, if not twice a week. All your comments are definitely encouraging, so please keep them coming.

I made these cookies a couple of weeks ago. I had pulled the recipe out of a Donna Hay magazine a good couple of years ago. I love chocolate dipped cookies and thought that the white contrast on the dark chocolate cookie looked particularly striking. These were really easy to make as well, basically being a melt and mix recipe, and you don’t even need to roll the dough out, just roll into a log, chill, slice and bake. You can’t get easier than that.

I tried the new cadbury melts for this recipe and they were fabulous. They are a little more expensive than the other nestle ones, but they taste like real chocolate. I particularly liked the white chocolate ones as they tasted like white chocolate rather than compound chocolate. I cant wait to try to the milk chocolate ones.

Double chocolate cookies (from Donna Hay magazine)

60g butter
100g dark chocolate
½ c brown sugar
1 c plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa, sifted
½ tsp baking powder
1 egg
200g white chocolate, melted

• Melt the butter and dark chocolate together (I do this in the microwave)
• Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa and baking powder in a large bowl, add the egg and chocolate mixture and stir to make a smooth dough.
• Turn out dough, roll into a log and wrap in gladwrap and put in the freezer for 30 minutes
• Slice into 5mm thick rounds and place on a tray and bake at 180c for 10-12 minutes
• Allow to cool and then dip half of each cookie in the melted white chocolate. Leave to set

Wedding Cakes for Hayley



My youngest sister got married in early January. About six months before the wedding she asked if I would like to make the wedding cakes. Yes, that’s right, the wedding cakes. Instead of having one cake, they had a smaller cake on each table which served as pudding as well as the centrepiece on each table.

I said yes, kind of tentatively, not sure where I would find the time and not at all confident that what I would create would be very good. I did some recipe testing and a little bit of practising – but not really enough to make sure that my cakes would be perfect. I also wasn’t sure how I would bake twelve wedding cakes so that they would be fresh and also, be able to transport them from Auckland to Christchurch. I am fortunate that I have two ovens, so could get three cakes baking at a time, but I wasn’t sure about carrying 12 cakes down on the plane. We were also going to Christchurch for Christmas, two weeks before the date of the wedding, so freezing my cake recipe was also part of the testing.

In the end, I came up with a plan. I would make six cakes the night before we flew to Christchurch. I was sure that I would be able to manage six cakes, a nappy bag, handbag and an almost two year old on the plane with the help of my husband. I would then make the other six cakes at Mum and Dad’s, perhaps three on the day before Christmas and three on boxing day. I would then wrap the cakes and freeze them in another sister’s freezer, take them out the day before the wedding early in the morning, and then decorate them at my sister’s friend’s house which was close to the wedding venue.

My plan worked. The only real hiccup was when we were flying to Christchurch on the afternoon of December 23, we were about to start flying over the south island, when the captain came across the loud speaker regretting to inform us that there had been another major earthquake in Christchurch. At that point safe transport of the cakes was the last thing on my mind. But thankfully after a five hour diversion in Wellington airport, the earthquake, while huge, wasn’t as deadly as the 4 September and 22 February ones and we did make it to Christchurch that evening. The cakes made it too. All in one piece.

The cakes were chocolate cake – a fabulous recipe which freezes well and stays incredibly moist. Even though every wedding cake had been frozen, defrosted the day before the wedding, three days after the wedding the leftover cake was still moist. The icing was cream cheese icing. The combination served with whipped cream and fresh berries was stunning.


And lastly, a photo of Harry giving the bride a horseshoe 

Catching up with Dorie



Every morning Harry has a slice of toast, cut into three soldiers. On one he has just peanut butter, on one vegemite and the third, peanut butter and jam. The jam of choice lately has been cherry jam. I decided to bake some biscuits that he would love, which incorporate two of his favourite toast spreads – peanut butter and jam.

For those of you who were regular readers of my blog in my Before Harry days, you will remember the weekly “Tuesdays with Dorie” where I joined a group of other bloggers baking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s “from my home to yours”. There are about 20 recipes in that book that I have yet to complete and the Kid’s Thumbprint cookies were one of these. These are peanut butter cookies, rolled into balls, and then an indent is made with your thumb. The indent is filled after the cookies are baked. I knew Harry would love these, and he did, so I can see these will become a regular in our house.


I did mine a little differently. I indented the cookies with the end of a wooden spoon (dip it in flour after every few indents to make sure it doesn’t stick to the cookie dough). I also put the jam in before I baked the cookies, as I didn’t want the jam to slide out of the cookies. I wasn’t very generous with the jam, as jam can bubble up in the baking process and make the cookies look untidy. I made half the cookies peanut butter and jam and with the other half, I pushed a dark chocolate melt into each cookie as they came out of the oven and then popped them back in the oven for a minute to let the chocolate set. These ones were my favourite and I bet they would taste even nicer with a milk chocolate melt pushed in. The other thing I didn’t do that the recipe says to, is roll the cookies in chopped peanuts before baking. I thought that may be a bit much for a two year old.


These cookies were a success and you can find the recipe here.

Crafty Gifts



In the weekend we went down to Hawkes Bay for my sister's partner's 40th birthday. My parents and one of my other sisters and her husband were up from Christchurch as well, so it was nice to have some family time a well as spend some time in the lovely Hawkes Bay.

I made these little "40" shortbread cookies for the birthday boy. I use the recipe for Paula's shortbread from "ladies, a plate" when I am making shortbread which I want to decorate. The icing sugar version of shortbread works really well when you want the cookies to hold their shape. I use royal icing as my icing to stick the sprinkles too, as it sets lovely and hard and also has a slight shine to it which comes through in the cookies.


The little Donald Duck tag is one that I made myself. My latest hobby is making little gift tags and books from old books which are past their best. I couldn't bring myself to cut up a book which is still readable, but there are a fair amount around when you start looking that have ripped pages, children's scribbles in them, etc. I've been collecting old golden books for some time and love making my little tags. I have even put some on Felt for sale, but I really just love making them to use and also give away to my friends and family. They are perfect for putting on a little home made gift.


A book club Treat


Book club was at my house this week. I love my book club. We've got a fantastic group of girls, we have lots of fun and read some great books. The latest book I read was "still alice" by Lisa Genova. What a fabulous book! I thoroughly recommend it if you haven't read it.

We have our book club at a different member's house every 6 or 8 weeks, and one of the highlights (other than the great company and great books) is supper. We have a book club of fabulous cooks, so supper is always a treat. This time I turned to Julie le Clerc's cake book. If you haven't seen this book, you should track it down. It's a wonderful collection of delicious cakes and all the recipes I have tried so far have worked perfectly (fingers crossed!). For book club I chose the rhubarb and coconut citrus syrup cake. I hadn't made it before, but it looked like a nice, easy recipe that I would be able to make quickly after work, while getting Harry his dinner.

This was the perfect cake in all regards. Super easy to make, sliced like a dream and absolutely delicious with a dollop of whipped cream. I imagine it would keep well - I didn't get the opportunity to find out as the next day my husband ate what wasn't eaten at book club.

The trick with syrup cakes is to pour a hot syrup over a cold cake or a cold syrup over a hot cake. I knew my cake was going to be warm when I poured the syrup over it, so I just made my syrup warm and decided to make it more of a drizzle than a syrup. I actually heated it in the microwave while my cake was cooking, warming it enough to dissolve the sugar, but not enough to make it really syrupy. I also didn't add as much water to the drizzle as the recipe said.

I will definitely make this cake again. You could use other fruits if you didn't like rhubarb - blueberries or raspberries would be great, as would plums.


Rhubarb and coconut cake with citrus drizzle (from Julie le Clerc's favourite cakes)

200g butter
1 c castor sugar
4 eggs
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 C coconut
350g rhubarb, sliced into 2cm pieces

- cream butter and sugar then add eggs, one at a time
- stir in flour and baking powder, then coconut and rhubarb
- spoon into a lined 22cm round cake tin and bake at 180c for 60-70 minutes
- when cold pour over the following hot syrup

Shredded zest and juice of two lemons and three limes
1 c sugar
1/2 c water

- combine ingredients in a small pot, stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved and then turn up heat and simmer for fine minutes until syrupy.

Delicious Banana Loaf



Just recently there have been a swag of beautiful new cook books published. One that I was waiting for is Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen. I have been a fan of Peggy’s for some time, admiring her gorgeous cake decorating. This book focuses more on baking and less on decorating (although the way she presents her baked treats is just amazing!). It is a beautifully presented book, and I couldn’t wait to try some of the recipes.

I started with a less challenging recipe, this one for banana loaf. I had two bananas languishing in the fruit bowl, so a good opportunity to use them up. I’m not usually one for icing my banana loaves, but the icing in the photo in the book looked so appealing, I decided to. This recipe, as with most loaf recipes, was very easy to make. I like the fact that it had both walnuts and chocolate chips added to it. I find banana loaf a bit bland without some additions. I used some gorgeous fresh walnuts which I bought at the Hastings famers market at Easter and had stored in my freezer. Chopped finely they add some wonderful texture to the load and a lovely flavour.

The icing on the load is delicious. A cream cheese icing with the addition of some frozen banana pulp. I was a bit nervous that it may go a yucky brown colour, as mashed banana does if you don’t add something like lemon juice, but it didn’t. I wonder if that was because the banana pulp was frozen first? I used a banana which had been in the freezer for months. Often when we have a yucky looking banana in the bowl, I throw it in the freezer for future use. They are perfect for baking with.

I would definitely make this loaf again and also using the icing – it would be a delicious icing for banana cake or cupcakes. I’m looking forward to making some more things from Boutique Baking.

Also, thank you all for your lovely comments - it' the fact that people are reading my blog which is what makes me want to keep doing it. Leaving comments is the only way I know you are reading :0)

Banana Loaf (from Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen)

100g butter
200g sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
300g mashed bananas (I used two large bananas)
180g flour
1 tsp baking powder
60g chocolate chips
80g walnuts, chopped

• Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs, one at a time.
• Beat in the banana and then on a low speed mix in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Lastly stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts by hand.
• Pour into a lined loaf tin and bake at 180c for 50-60 minutes
• When cold, icing with the following icing:
100g cream cheese
100g butter
250g icing sugar
25g frozen banana (defrosted)

• Cream cream cheese and butter
• Beat in icing sugar and then banana. Continue beating until smoothe.

Back in action


After a long blogging hiatus, I have decided to start blogging again. I can't promise that I will be as regular as I was BH (before Harry!), but I will be aiming to blog at least twice a week. I have continued baking the last two years, but not a lot of things that I would consider inspirational. However, just recently my passion for cake and cookies decorating (amateurish as it is!) has returned. To keep me blogging though, please leave lots of comments - I love to get them and that is really what inspires me.

My youngest sister is also a fanatic baker. She and I have been baking our way through the fabulous book, Cake Days, and just recently decided to also bake and decorate our way through Celebration Cupcakes, a book by a new zealander, Tamara Jane. The challenge is to not just bake the cupcakes, but also attempt to decorate the cakes in the same way as in the book.

The first recipe we chose (chosen by our mum) is for these chocolate vegan cupcakes. The recipe was chosen completely for what the finished product looked like, rather than the fact that the cakes are vegan. I've been fascinated by the photo of these gorgeous looking cupcakes since I was given the book last year. The intense purple of the icing was so gorgeous and I loved the flowers on top. My version isn't as stunning as that in the book, but I must say I was pretty pleased with my attempt. A word of warning though, I wouldn't eat the icing as the amount of purple food colouring I had to add to get that deep purple colour was frightening! My flowers need a bit of work, but hopefully with some practice, I will improve.

The cakes themselves are delicious. Mine weren't truly vegan as I did use cows milk, not having the recommended rice milk to hand. These would be a great recipe to use if you felt like baking but had run out of eggs and butter. They are also very easy to make and keep well.

Vegan chocolate cupcakes (from celebration cupcakes by Tamara Jane)

240ml rice milk (i used cows milk)
1 tsp white vinegar
150g castor sugar
80ml vegetable oil (I used rice bran)
1 tsp vanilla
120g flour
1/2 tsp b soda
1/2 tsp b powder
40g cocoa

- combine milk and vinegar and set aside for five minutes to curdle
- add the sugar, oil and vanilla to the milk mixture and whisk until well combined
- sift together the dry ingredients and then add in two batches to the liquid
- spoon into twelve cupcake cases and bake at 180c for 20 minutes
- when cold ice with butter icing and to make it truly vegan, make with something like olivio

Missing in Action


Hi everyone

I've had a few e-mails lately about my blog, making sure I am ok. I am great - thanks everyone :0) I am just really busy. Work is busy, Harry keeps me busy and just lately blogging is just another thing to do! So, while I may come back to it some day soon, at the moment I am having a wee break to refresh!

Tammy :0)

Quick and Easy Home Made Gifts


Harry had a very busy Sunday a couple of weeks ago as we had been invited to a second birthday party in the morning and a first birthday in the afternoon. In my pre Harry days I would have spent ages decorating little biscuits for my friends children, but with time being a bit more precious, these easy but still cute shortbread cookies were the quick version of decorated cookies.

A set of number shaped cutters are a great thing to have on hand to make quick and easy birthday gifts. These cookies were obviously for the two year old’s present. I simply made the shortbread in the number 2 shapes, whipped up a batch of royal icing (I whisk an egg white until frothy and then whisk in the desired amount of icing sugar – this kind of icing is less runny than glace icing and also sets to a nice thick consistency) and sprinkled over “boy” coloured sprinkles. The one year old party was for a girl and I made Number 1 shaped cookies and sprinkled them with pink sprinkles. In the past I have also made these for adult presents (a bag of 5s and 0s for a 50 year old, 3s and 0s for a thirty year old etc. Even just decorating the cookies with coloured icing gives some impact.

FFwD - Hachis Parmentier


This week’s FFwD recipe is Hachis Parmentier. If there was no photo of the recipe in the book, I would have gathered from the name of the recipe that it is some kind of hash, and that is one way of describing this recipe. Dorie describes it as a French version of Shepherds Pie. The full recipe, which my sister made, takes a long time as it involves making your own beef broth and cooking basically a casserole before topping it with a cheesy potato mash. I made the quick version which is made with mince, and I am glad I did as my sister said she felt like she did a lot for what is essentially a fancy shepherds pie. I am sure Hayley’s hachis had a much greater depth of flavour than mine. I actually added more tomato paste to my meat mixture to give it a bit more depth. I am not a lover of shepherds pie or mashed potato, but I did think that the grated cheese through the potato and scattered over the top was a nice touch. See what the other FFwDers thought here.

Cupcakes, At Last!


Last week book club was at my house, so for the first time in a long time, I made cupcakes. For my birthday at the start of the year, one of my good friends gave me the hummingbird bakery cook book. It is a lovely book full of delicious cakes, cupcakes, muffins etc but I had only ever made cookies from it. I had a look through it and found this recipe for peaches and cream cupcakes. They sounded delicious and also easy as they used a drained tin of peaches rather than fresh peaches.

The other thing I liked about the recipe is that it only had one egg and only 40g of butter. So many cupcake recipes have huge quantities of butter and numerous eggs, so not only was the recipe easy, it was also economical and fairly low in fat. Instead of making a buttercream icing, I topped the cakes with swirls of whipped cream. I love using whipped cream to top cupcakes, as I love cream far more than icing and it negates the need to serve some cream alongside the cakes. I made the cakes in pretty blue cupcake cases and topped them with little silver balls and blue flowers which I made a while ago. I think they looked really elegant and my book club friends enjoyed them too.


Peaches and Cream Cupcakes (from the Hummingbird Bakery cook book)

120g flour
140g sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
40g softened butter
120ml milk
1 egg
400g tin peaches, drained

• Combine flour, sugar and baking powder, then mixing in the softened butter using a cake mixer
• Combine the egg and milk and then gradually add to the dry ingredients. Mix to combine
• Place two slices of peach in each of 12 cupcake cases. Divide the cake mixture between the cases and bake at 170c for 20-25 minutes

TWD - Caramel Pumpkin Pie


Short but sweet post today. TWD recipe is Caramel Pumpkin Pie and was chosen by Janelle of Mortensen Family Memoirs. Pumpkin Pie is not big in NZ and I think this is only the second time I have made it. I thought this pie was ok. I didn’t really love the highly caramelised flavour of the pie. I prefer my caramel to be on the sweeter, creamier side rather than the highly sugared almost burnt caramel flavour. I halved the recipe and made two mini pies, and cooked the rest of the pie filling in a small ramekin for my gluten free mum who was up staying over the weekend. Mum hadn’t tried pumpkin pie before and loved it. See if the other TWDers enjoyed it here.

FFwD - Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup


This week’s FFwD recipe is Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. Goodness, this was a hard recipe to photograph nicely! The soup almost has Thai flavours without the curry paste. It’s a coconut milk based recipe with fish sauce to season, chicken gently poached in the soup and noodles. There were also a myriad of things you cold flavour the soup with - I was a bit boring and just used lime juice.

The soup was nice – probably nicer the next day once all the flavours had had a good chance to meld together. I think if I made it again I would make the curry paste version just to give it a bit more depth of flavour. Check out the other FFwDers’ versions here.

Improvising for Harry


When I am cooking dinner for my husband and I like to think of ways I can make a version of what we are having for Harry. Last week I made us a basmati rice, eggplant and lamb mince dish which had Moroccan flavours. It was obviously too spicy for Harry and also I don’t salt his food, and I found this dish needed a reasonable amount of salt to bring out the flavour. So after browning the mince with a little garlic, I put some in a different pot for Harry and added some rice and frozen peas. I cooked this mixture until the rice was cooked through.

Now by itself, this was pretty bland as you can imagine. I thought of adding tomatoes, but Harry has quite sensitive cheeks and I don’t want to give him anything too acidic until he is a little older. So, instead, I grated some cheese and stirred this through the mince mixture. I also added a cube of mashed pumpkin from the freezer. This mince and rice dish actually turned into a very tasty little dish. Harry loved it – it was a bit like risotto. And no, I didn’t let him eat it with his hands as the photo suggests –once again, trying to capture a little of Harry, he was too quick for me and had his hand in the bowl before I knew where I was. But I always have a wet cloth at the ready for times like those. My mum always says when we were kids she walked round with a hairbrush in one hand and a face cloth in the other – I think I will be the same!

TWD - Fold Over Pear Torte


This week’s TWD recipe was chosen by my good blogging friend Gaye of Laws of the Kitchen. I was interested to see what Gaye would pick and she chose the Fold Over Pear Torte. Gaye said she chose it because there is no photo in the book and she was curious as to what it would look like. Reading through the recipe I must say it wasn’t one that I would pick first, but once it was made, it was so delicious I would definitely make it again!

I ended up making this torte on Sunday afternoon. As it would be just my husband and me eating it, I quartered the recipe and made it in a little 10cm round cake tin. Because of the size of my tin and the amount of pastry I had, my torte ended up looking like a pie. The crust is Dorie’s good for anything pie crust and it is delicious. In this case it was used to line a spring form tin and then was filled with a mixture of chopped pears, dried apricots and walnuts – I subbed flaked almonds for the walnuts. The fruit was then topped with a custard flavoured with vanilla and almond essence, the pie crust folded over the top and the torte baked.

We ate the torte warm out of the oven. It would have been wonderful with whipped cream, but we ate it with no accompaniment as we did the dishes after we put Harry to bed. Yum! Thanks Gaye for choosing something I may not have otherwise made! See what the other TWDers thought here.

The Elusive Metro Chocolate Chip Cookie


Many years ago I tried a chocolate chip cookie in a café called Metro in Christchurch. It was the best chocolate chip cookie I had tasted – large chunks of chocolate, a texture that I guess is not crisp or chewy but is almost cakey, and large, oversized cookies. I remember at the time trying to re-create the metro cookie and I got pretty close – I even rang them at one stage to see if they would part with the recipe, but no luck!

Well, for her birthday I gave my sister a subscription to the foodtown magazine and she rang me a couple of weeks ago to say that a reader had written in requesting metro’s chocolate chip cookie recipe and they had printed it!! Hayley sent me through the recipe and it seems that the secret ingredient is not ground almonds as I had thought, but caramelised condensed milk. Now, I would never have guessed this, as whenever I have used caramelised condensed milk in cookies, I have ended up with quite soft cookies. Also, the cookies have a much higher ratio of flour than my usual recipe and less baking powder. The mixture is quite dry, but persevere with mixing that flour in. Nevertheless I faithfully used the recipe and I had them – the elusive metro chocolate chip cookie! This is one of the best. I also think that milk chocolate goes well in these cookies – usually I prefer dark chunks, but try milk chocolate in these.

Metro Chocolate Chip Cookies

250g butter
½ c sugar
2 tbsp caramelised condensed milk
3 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ c milk chocolate buttons

• Cream butter, sugar and caramelised condensed milk
• Stir in flour, baking powder and lastly the chocolate
• Form large balls of dough and press down lightly with a fork
• Bake at 170c for 15-18 minutes or until golden and firm

FF - Gerard's Mustard Tart


Today’s French Friday recipe is Gerard’s Mustard Tart. This is a leek and carrot tart with a custard filling with two types of mustard in it – Dijon mustard and wholegrain mustard. I always have both those mustards in the fridge and buy the Maille brand which is French. Maille mustards are fairly mild, so there wasn’t too much kick from the mustard.

I had some tomatoes at home, so substituted those for the carrots. Dorie’s recipe said to pour the custard into the tart shell and then arrange the vegetables on top. I did that, but if I was making the tart again, I would put the vegetables in and then pour the custard over the top. My leeks browned quite a lot and I think this was because I had more leek than I needed.

This was a yummy tart though. The home made shortcrust pastry is a winner and as we love mustard, the mustard filling was very yummy. See what the other FFwDers thought here.

Semolina for Harry



I love childhood puddings (custard, tapioca, semolina etc) so it has been a pleasure to start making these puddings for Harry. Semolina has always been a favourite of mine and it must be years since I had it, but when you make it in the microwave, it is such a quick and easy pudding to make. It is also really stable, so you can make some today and then keep it in the fridge for a couple of days.

To make enough for two servings (when combined with fruit), put 125ml full fat milk, 2 tbsp semolina, ½ tsp sugar (or to taste) and ½ tsp vanilla into a microwave proof jug and stir. Microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir. The semolina pudding may need another 20-30 seconds to thicken it up a bit. Let it cool and then stir through your fruit of choice. You could have the semolina plain, but I like the idea of naturally sweetening it with a bit of fruit, and it also means that your baby is getting the goodness of the fruit as well.

Last week I mixed peaches and apple into semolina. This week I made pineapple semolina, by putting a drained can of pineapple pieces in the food processor and processing to the desired consistency (a little bit chunky for Harry at 8 months). I then stirred about three tablespoons of this and three tablespoons of pureed apple through the semolina. Harry absolutely loved it and so did I! I could easily eat this for my lunch too.

TWD - Double Apple Bundt Cake


This week’s TWD recipe is Double Apple Bundt Cake and was chosen by Lynne of Honey Muffin. I made this on Saturday when we had my husband’s brother, his wife, her son and his friend staying with us. We had it for pudding after eating fresh snapper my husband had caught in the afternoon (delicious!!).

This cake was amazing. Everyone went back for seconds. It had a real apple flavour, but because it used grated apple instead of chunks of apple, it was much nicer on the palate. I must confess, I don’t know what apple butter is, which is one of the ingredients. I’ts not something we have in NZ and I can only imagine that it is a bit like lemon curd. So I did a substitution of apple jelly, using an apple jelly I had made quite a few years ago, but never used. Perhaps that was the secret ingredient to this delicious, moist cake. I drizzled over a lemon drizzle made simply with icing sugar and lemon juice. We had it with whipped cream. Perfect!

See what the other TWDers thought here.

French Fridays - Gougeres


Today is the first day of a new challenge called French Fridays with Dorie and I, with a large number of others round the world (including my sister who I have convinced to participate) will be cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s latest book, At my French Table. Each week a new recipe will be selected and I will be cooking it and blogging about it on Fridays. The book is a beautiful book and full of lots of lovely recipes that I cant wait to cook.

The first month’s recipes have been chosen by Dorie herself and today’s recipe is Gougeres, the first recipe in the book. Gougeres are light, savoury choux pastries. They are made using the choux pastry method of boiling butter and water, adding flour and cooking the paste, then beating in eggs and in this case, finally cheese. My sister is staying with us at the moment and we made these together on Wednesday night. They are delicious warm from the oven and would be the perfect thing to have as a pre-dinner nibble with drinks. Hayley and I finished them just before bed time and we ate a couple each and then I popped the rest in the freezer. I will re-heat them in the oven another time when we have people over for drinks.

See what the other FF participants thought of gougeres here.

Baby Food


My Mum has been saying to me for a while that she bets a lot of my blog readers would be interested in the food I make Harry. I said I think most of my readers are more into the baking side of things than the baby side of things, but I was talking to one of my good friends last week who has two gorgeous little girls and she said she thinks that people would be interested in ideas for baby food. So I have decided to do the odd post about food for babies.

Baking has always been my thing, but since Harry started on solids, I have found that I have a real love of and interest in food for babies. It is very exciting that he is almost 8 months, as a whole new world of food opens as he is able to have cooked milk from then. I actually introduced it a couple of weeks ago, as Harry is off the plunket scale in terms of weight and height, so as he is the size of a one year old, I figured two weeks early would be fine (and in the old days when I was a baby, babies drank whole milk at 6 months old and I am fine!).

There are two recipes I want to share. First is a very easy custard recipe. Tinned baby custard is actually yucky when you compare it to the home made version and the home made version is incredibly quick to make! All you do is combine 125ml of full fat milk in a small microwave jug with 2 tsp corn flour, ½ tsp vanilla, 1 egg yolk and I add ½ tsp sugar. Microwave on high for 1 minute, stir and then microwave again in 10 second bursts until the custard is thick. I then add some pureed fruit to give more sweetness and substance. This is delicious! Pureed pear is particularly nice.

The second recipe I made up in the weekend and is a chicken and cous cous concoction. I put ¼ c cous cous to soak in 1/3 c boiling water, covered and then set aside. I then softened ¼ onion, chopped in a little butter and then added 2 diced free range chicken thighs and browned them. Peel and chop a large kumara (sweet potato) and add to your pot. Cover with water and the juice of an orange and simmer until the kumara is cooked through. Blend the whole lot in a food processor until you get the desired consistency and then mix in your cous cous. It is surprising how tasty this is even without salt. I freeze the mixture in cubes and then bring them out when I need to. I also cook and blend green vegetables, freeze them in ice cubes and then bring out a cube of the required green vegetable to mix with my meat and starch base. Harry loves it!!

Please let me know if this post interested you – and credit to my gorgeous hand model Harry (excuse the blurriness though, as I had to take the photo quickly before he swiped the camera and the container of food!!)

TWD - Tarte Fine


This week’s TWD recipe is Tarte Fine and was chosen by Leslie of Lethally Delicious. In the book Dorie says that a tarte fine is also known as apple pizza in the States and it is essentially finely sliced apples baked on a flaky pastry base. This isn’t a recipe that I would have chosen to make as while I love apple pie, I love the shortcrust pastry version – but I am not really a lover of flaky pastry.

I actually made this recipe in a hurry last night. I had bought the flaky pastry in the weekend but for some reason didn’t get round to making the tart. I had bought a roll of ready rolled pastry, but then forgot to defrost it, so I ended up putting it in the microwave which I know is a huge no no when it comes to pastry, but it didn’t seem to have any real detrimental effect. I made the variation of the tart and instead of using an egg wash, I brushed the apples with melted butter and sprinkled over sugar. Even though I was sceptical as to whether I would like this tart or not, it was the perfect speedy dessert (it probably took 5 minutes in total to prepare), it was actually delicious with vanilla ice cream. See if the other TWDers enjoyed it here.