Archive for the ‘Nut’ Category


Home Made Muesli bars

January 20, 2011

I have been on a bit of a baking sabbatical. Well perhaps I should rephrase, a bit of a blogging about baking sabbatical. I’ve been churning out biscotti still, and muffins for the Husband to munch on. And, made some lemon meringue (which I will blog about eventually) with some leftover whites from the icecream I made. But, I guess what I’m saying is that I haven’t been photographing and noting it. I’ve been baking to supply food, not to try things, or assess them. But, to give someone (usually the Husband) something to eat.

Last night, I wanted to do something though. I made caramel icecream, muesli bars and brownies. I thought I’d start with the bars – the icecream likely will never make an apperance (consumed very quickly by the Husband) but the brownies will.

This is probably the best recipe I’ve come across for Muesli bars. The Husband quite likes to take Muesli bars to work and I’ve tried many different recipes over the months trying to find the one I think is most suitable. I don’t want to give in and buy him pre-made ones out of an aisle in the shopping centre. Meh!

So with some tweeking and some changing from a variety of recipes I’ve used. I came up with the following.

Home-made muesli bars

125g butter
75g firmly packed brown sugar
135g rolled oats
75g self-raising flour
135g trail mix (or fruit & nut mix, or a nut & seed mix)

Preheat oven to 180°C and greace a slice pan and line with one piece of baking paper.
Stir butter and sugar in saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Take off the heat and add in the remaining ingredients.
Press the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for about 35 minutes or until golden.
Cool in the pan. Cut into bars (I usually cut them whilst they’re still warm to touch so that they’re not crunchy and breakable then)


Banana Bread

August 6, 2010

Banana Bread from Crust and Crumb oh so yummy, but oh so bad for you!

The BIL has called this butter bread! it’s bad for you on a whole number of levels. The sugar content is enormous!

I am going to have to try it with different combinations, because the commentary suggests replacing the banana with grated zucchini or carrots or raisin or blueberry. And, it does allow for different amounts of sugars. I’ve only made it in the original banana bread version and I’ve not played with the sugar content but I will. I’ve also done it with walnuts and without walnuts, love it best with walnuts. There is a suggestion that one replaces the nuts with chocolate or a combination of the two…ideas ideas….

What I love about banana bread and similar is that they are moist, and quick and simple. They are tender tender goodness due to the butter!!!! oh the mouth watering-ness of it all. The other good thing about this is that you can make the batter days in advance and keep it in the fridge (for up to 3 days) or freeze it (for up to 1month) its really just great.

Banana Bread

3.5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1.5t baking powder
1/4t baking soda
3/4t salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1.5 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2t vanilla extract
1.25 cup buttermilk
2.5 cups mashed banana
1.5 cups walnuts

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into a mixing bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer (with paddle) cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes). Mix in the eggs, 1 at a time. then mix in the vanilla. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Mix in one third of the flour mix, then one third of the buttermilk, then one third of the bananas and repeat. Mix until the flour is absorbed and batter is smooth. Stir in the walnuts if using, just till evenly dispersed. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease two 4×8 inch loaf pans. Fill the pans two-thirds full. Bake for about 45 minutes then reduced the heat to 170C and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let the loaves cool in th pan for about 10 minutes then turn out and let them cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

IT is a bit late, but I am pretty pleased to have this delicious bad-ness to celebrate 1 whole year of me blogging now…albeit sporadically


Almond Soba Noodles

July 14, 2010

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

It was a great challenge indeed, my instinctual leanings were towards sweet things, but then they always are. And, whilst that was an optional extra for the challenge I wanted to stretch myself. And, then my first thought was of course satay, but that doesn’t stretch me, I’ve done that before plenty of times. It’s a favourite dish for the Husband (especially in the form of a satay chicken pie…go figure). I liked some of the recipes on offer, especially the Chicken with Pecan Cream & Mushrooms but having provided a plethora of pasta dishes to the Husband of late I thought I’d go more noodley!

Having a huge stash of Almonds in my house ready for Cantuccio baking at all times I went there! I did an almond butter with soba noodle dish, I need to work on my photography and naming skills! Taste though? I think I got that!

Almond Butter

1 cup whole natural almonds, roasted
1/8 tsp. salt

In food processor with metal blade in place, grind almonds and salt until paste begins to form, I added about 1T of vegetable oil to mine as well.

Almond Soba Noodles

½ cup almond butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
8 tablespoons hot water
Dried soba noodles
150g good quality steak – diced
Baby Carrots
Green capsicum
Chilli Flakes
1 tablespoon Oyster Sauce

Mix Almond Butter with lemon juice and water, until quite fluid.
Cook the soba in rapidly boiling salted water just until tender, then drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain.
Caramelise the onions, remove from pan. Pan fry the steak quickly then add in the capsicum, carrots and oyster sauce and chilli flakes.
In a large bowl combine the noodles with the almond mixture. Toss briefly before adding the meat mixture, tossing to fully combine. Serve.


Olive Oil Muffin

May 1, 2010

The latest in my delving into Giada’s Kitchen – New Italian Favourites I am going a bit “gung-ho” at the moment.

Only problem….well it speaks for itself, I’m not really sure what happened with the picture! I could have sworn that it was all good. But apparently not so good hey – which is a shame because it’s got a nice flavour.

It was an Olive Oil Muffin. Which is interesting because I expected there to be more of an underlying flavour of the olive oil, however, the overpowering flavour was that of the citrus zests and the almonds. There was only a very subtle aftertaste of olive oil, which just hit the back of your palette as you swallowed.

The muffin itself was basically a bit cake like in consistency and it was deliciously moist and delicate. I loved it! I think I could have eaten the entire batch to myself. It didn’t go down so well with everyone, my SIL wasn’t a fan it’s hard to tell with MIL & FIL who will eat things they don’t like just to be polite. The Husband? Well he said that he’d prefer it if I made a small change.

That change is that I would make to the whole thing would be I would definitely use the slivered almonds that the original recipe called for. The whole ones were a bit too much – but I went with what was on hand because I was having people over and wanted to try something from the book to do it. So it was a quick case of toasting whole ones and making do!

Olive Oil Muffins

1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
2t baking powder
½ t salt
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2t grated orange zest
2t grated lemon zest
2T balsamic vinegar
2T whole milk
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup almonds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 180C
In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder and salt. Use a mixer to beat the sugar, eggs and zests until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vinegar and milk then gradually beat in the oil. Add the flour mix and stir by hand until just blended.
Add the almonds, then stir until just combined.
Fill the the muffin tin almost to the top. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Transfer to a rack and cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then take out and cool for another 5 minutes. Then serve warm.



May 1, 2010

It has been awhile, it really has and yet it’s not one of those things that you forget about. It’s not like some things, where the memory seems to be so much better than the reality when you finally experience it again. The simple enjoyment that you get from heading into the kitchen grabbing the kitchen aid, tying on an apron and getting started. That enjoyment remains the same no matter how long you stay away.

I have fallen back into old habits, after a long hard day at work, when I’m so tired all I seem to be able to manage is to snap at the Husband (poor man) I head into the kitchen and after half an hour I’m “normal”. My method of communication reverts back to the way it should be and I feel I can be nice to the man who’s boundless patience puts up with my tired grumpiness all of the time (bless his cotton socks).

I have decided to take a bit of a different approach to my kitchen experiences though, I was doing Flavour of the Month and I probably will do it again sometime. But looking back I noticed a pattern forming. A sweet pattern! And I really am trying to be a bit more health conscious since returning from my travels, and unfortunately for me that means a lot less sugar in my diet – if I want to function without migraines at the very least. So I thought I’d try to do a bit more of the savoury side of cooking.

I love to bake (ergo – grabbing kitchen aid) but I do like to cook as well. It’s the art of creating something in the kitchen that soothes me. In mind with that I decided to delve into Giada’s Kitchen – New Italian Favourites as my muse so to speak.

There are 106 recipes, and I plan to do them all. I have no time limit on this I have time I am more than certain that I will have the inclination to bake/cook the lovely things found within. And, I will admit that yes, the reason I chose it simply was because I had such fun eating in Italy I didn’t want it to stop completely. I’ve never been shy in saying that Italian food is my favourite cuisine in the entire world!

So – first cab off the rank was actually first recipe in the book. Fresh Tomato & Goat Cheese Strata with Herb Oil. It’s a simple dish really, with a strong flavour that I quite enjoyed. I hoped fervently that the husband would enjoy it just as much as I, since he has been regaling everyone with tales of the cheese delights he experienced overseas, alas, Goat Cheese doesn’t seem to do it for him. Strong in a bad way were his words. I’m sure I could sub in a soft feta or even a ricotta and he’d enjoy it so perhaps next time?

Fresh Tomato & Goat Cheese Strata with Herb Oil

Goat Cheese Filling

(half-ish recipe)
125g goat cheese, at room temperature
1/8 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt and pepper
½ cup walnut pieces
2 ripe tomatoes cored and sliced

Herb Oil

(full recipe – the leftovers can keep for a day or two and drizzled on a variety of things)
¾ cup fresh mint leaves
¾ cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

To make the filling, combine the goat cheese and cream in a medium bowl and beat together using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Season with salt & pepper.
To make the herb oil, combine the herbs in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop them. With the machine running, add the oil in a slow stream and process until very smooth visible flecks of herbs remaining and season.
Toast the walnuts and then allow too cool slightly.
Get yourself a slice of good crusty bread; place some of the goat cheese filling on this, topped with a slice of tomato, then a bit more of the goat cheese. Drizzle with the herb oil and sprinkle walnuts over the top.
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April 26, 2010

I have been neglecting my blog and my cooking since I got back. It’s terrible of me. Mostly because I needed to avoid baking after all the eating I did whilst I was away. But I can’t really stay out of my kitchen forever, it calls me. Especially when you have stressful moments at work, not stressful I hate my job moments, but stressful sad moments that require moments of self-care when you return home.

Whilst in Florence we were conned into buying some biscotti in the market place, we were given some Vin Santo to go with it as we were told this was the traditional way of eating the biscotti. We did not mind being conned because it was delicious and we couldn’t stop eating it! Once we headed down to Rome, we thought we’d be able to easily replace it. We found a great bakery just around the corner from where we were staying and got our hands on some biscotti.

Only of course it wasn’t the same! It was different! We were reminded that biscotti is just biscuit and can be anything really! We enjoyed the biscuits we got but they weren’t what we were looking for. So we got our hands on some Cantuccio! And there we go. We got it right! It wasn’t as sweet as the biscotti we got, and not as moist – must drier, and great to go with cups of coffee or hot chocolate.
It was all over when we got back to Australia, there is “biscotti” around the place, but I’d never liked it prior to going to Italy. We held out for awhile, before my husband started to ask about it again, missing it and wanting it again. So I had to go and find a recipe, I couldn’t resist it, I had to have it as well. Soon enough I found a recipe and it was perfect!

I’ve made 4 batches since finding this recipe, with a couple of adaptations (such as replacing almonds with macadamia and introducing almond meal) and whilst we have enjoyed them all the pure remains our favourite!


• 2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 t baking powder
• 1/2 t cinnamon
• 1/4 t salt
• 1-1/2 cup whole, blanched almonds
• 3 large eggs
• 1 T vanilla extract
• 1.2 t almond extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and stir. Add the almonds and mix well.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla extract.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. The dough will be dry.
5. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and begin gathering it together. Knead it for a few minutes and you will see that it will slowly come together into a firm dough. Keep some flour handy in case it sticks.
6. Divide the dough in half and shape it into two 12-inch logs. Transfer the logs to a baking sheet lined with parchment.
7. Bake for 30 minutes. The logs will rise a bit and will be golden and lightly brown on the bottom.
8. Transfer the logs to a wire rack and let cool completely.
9. Once cool, slice the logs, on the diagonal, into quarter-inch slices. Lay the slices, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
10. Bake for an additional 10 or 15 minutes, or until the cantuccini are dry and lightly golden.
11. Let cool completely. Cantuccini can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.
12. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cream Puffs in Venice.


Flavour Mixture!

December 19, 2009

I have been a bit slack with my Flavour of the Month Essential Christmas Cookbook I actually thought I’d been doing ok, I thought I’d been baking and making a lot. But, I went a bit all out to begin with and suddenly have dropped off.

And, now…I’ve sustained an injury and am not allowed to walk until Christmas really. It’s an issue! But anyway, I can write about the things I have done still – I’m not stopped from doing that.
I am going to do a bit of a bulk post though, minus recipes – I feel a bit slack with that, but there is pain associated with my above injury. And, well I am slowly sipping my peppermint laced hot chocolate and watching Top Gear at the same time, so I am a little distracted.

First off is the Raised Pork Pie delightfully tasty! I could’ve devoured the whole thing too myself, the sage with the apples were delightful. Of course it’s not surprising to say the least that these worked well with Pork. It’s a quintessential combination isn’t it? However, as you can see……my pastry failed! Oh how it failed. Texture and taste wise it was good, but it wouldn’t hold its form, and it just fell to pieces as it cooked? Pastry continues to bother me!

Next up is the Raspberry Miroire I made this for a family gathering, minus the white bark on the outside. It was well received, I was a little worried about the texture but it actually turned out very well. My SIL was the person who I was concerned about in relation to this texture thing, and she enjoyed it so must’ve been ok yea? I had to pass on the recipe to the Husband’s aunt the next day so it worked out! And didn’t really take a good photo, because there was not really a lot of time for me to fiddle around between it being ready and it being taken to be eaten!

Then the Spicy Nuts were a hit with my grandmother, she loves nuts (as long as there were no hazelnuts) and she devoured them in half a moment. The original recipe just called for pecan, cashew and almonds but I just used a natural nut mix that included macadamias and walnuts as well. These are actually her favourite nuts so I really needed to include them didn’t I! I also, did not have any garlic powder so I substituted it with nutmeg, it worked well.

Finally Roast Sirloin with Mustard Sauce….saved the best for last! Oh my word it was divine! Perhaps it was the good quality meat I happened to get my hands on? Well it probably helped, but the recipe would’ve had something to do with it definitely! Oh it was moist and juicy and so perfect for the food to celebrate my 4th year wedding anniversary! I should actually stipulate that I didn’t make the mustard sauce, because I didn’t use a 1.5kg roast sirloin, I used 2 pieces of sirloin that I covered liberally with the mustard, honey and garlic mix they used as the crust. Oh it was good! My mouth waters as I remember it. Will have to do it again soon I think, and maybe take better photo’s because I was so busy wanting to eat it this time!