Category: Cookie recipe

‘JERUSALEM’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sam Tamimi book review

Have you ever been to Jerusalem? It’s an amazing city full of diversity and amazing sights, scenes, sounds and smells. Being Jewish I’ve been a few times and even though it’s the original ‘old city’ it always seems different each time I go. I have really, really fond memories of Jerusalem from when I went there with my family for the first time when I was 15 to when I was traveling with Tim during our gap year. When I first picked up this book all those memories came flooding back.Flicking through the pages has made me desperate to go back…. very soon!

The authors of this book are Yotam Ottolenghi who is from Jewish West side of Jerusalem and Sami Tamimi who’s from the Muslim West. They grew up there as kids and didn’t meet until years later in London when they set up the Ottolenghi deli (and there’s also a restaurant now) The cultural influence of this great city has such an impact on their recipes that this book is literally bursting with flavor.

I love the city shots

As well as all the great recipes here there are tons of atmospheric photos of markets and food sellers. Piles and piles of fresh fruits and vegetable. I love the shot of the hand written sign above a Falafel shop that reads in English and Arabic ‘I HAVE GOOD FALAFEL’  I mean say it like it is or what? It’s touches like this that make this book so beautiful. There’s tons of who, what, where and why for each section and mentions of both Jewish and Muslim traditions. I love that. The fact that these recipes and food combinations have been handed down over generations, carried on through families.

So what will you find inside this book?

In a word. EVERYTHING. If you’re vegetarian then it’s a must. If you’re a meat lover, then it’s a must. In fact if you like flavor then this book is a must!

Introduction: 

Jerusalem food, The passion in the air, The recipes, A comment about ownership & history

VEGETABLES 

Roasted sweet potatoes & fresh figs

At home Tim and I make what we call Israeli salad. It’s basically tomatoes, cucumber and onion all chopped up into very small cubes, drenched in olive oil, with a touch of salt and pepper all mixed up. It’s amazingly simple and totally delicious. If you take this kind of simplistic ‘throw it all together’ approach that’s what you get in this chapter, but so much more sophisticated. It’s all about knowing what to put together and boy do these guys do it well! Roasted sweet potato and fresh figs, Broad bean Kuku, even the simple mixed bean salad made my mouth water.

This is one big, jam packed section that I would eat from every evening. It’s also worth mentioning the Latkes. Who can resist a Latke?

PULSES & GRAINS

My family went to Israel for our first holiday abroad when my brother had his bar mitzvah. One of the big memories from the holiday (apart from my brother going down to breakfast first thing in the morning and then again for second breakfast when everyone else got up) was that every street corner had a falafel stand on it. I had falafel at practically every stand! I got completely addicted to them. Why am I telling you this? Well, guess what the first recipe in this chapter is? Yep. Falafel!

Whether it’s chicpeas, rice, pasta or couscous there’ s plenty of choice in this chapter. The thing about this book is that it has an amazing array of herbs and spices to flavor the most basic of foods. The Basmati & wild rice with chickpeas, currants & herbs looks amazing. The hummus…. don’t get me started on the hummus, and couscous with tomato and onion are so easy to make. Some I could eat as a snack (ie devour when no one is looking) but I am sure they are meant to be shared!

SOUPS

Watercress & chickpea soup with rose water & ras hanout

I love the soup chapter as it’s got so many unusual flavors. Who else could come up with  burnt aubergine & mograbieh soup? (Mograbieh is a type of large couscous by the way) there’s a meatball soup, pistachio soup and a seafood and fennel soup (slightly not Kosher but Tim loved the look of this) but the best soup has to be the proper Clear Chicken soup with knaidlach (aka Jewish Penicillin) Knaidlach are like dumplings and when we were little we nick named them knaidlebums and the name has stuck ever since. This soup is very easy to make and really does make you feel better when you are ill. I swear by it!

STUFFED

No, not a sign that you have eaten too much food from this book and need to loosen your belt buckle, this is all about stuffed foods and literally anything goes. I didn’t know you could stuff a carrot! I thought it was all about cabbage leaves! Not in this book. How does Lamb-stuffed quince with pomegranate & coriander grab you? Or how about stuffed onions, stuffed Romano peppers or stuffed potatoes?

MEAT

There are lots of easy recipes here that you can pop in the oven and leave to enhance. Roasted chicken with clementines and arak is on my to do list (especially for our next dinner party!) If you like chicken then there’s definitely something here for you. The meatball and Kofta b’siniyah look mouthwateringly good as does the lamb shwarma.

FISH

We eat a lot of fish in our house and as I’m no cook (Tim’s the cook. I can bake!) so it’s really good to get some fresh flavour ideas on our regular favs. Pan fried sea bream with harissa & rose, cod cakes in tomato sauce, Marinated sweet and sour fish, I could go on and on.

SAVORY PASTRIES

Red pepper & baked egg galette

I’m addicted to eggs. There I said it. I love them and could eat them every day (in fact I nearly do) so when I saw this red pepper & baked egg galette I knew it was love at first sight. I mean what’s not to love? puff pastry+ peppers +topped with a perfect egg! This chapter is all about the mouthwatering flavour of herb pies and Burekas. Nom, nom, nom!

SWEETS & DESSERTS

Mutabbaq

The first page in this chapter opens with Sweet filo cigars with all the sweet honey just oozing out, then moves swiftly onto sweet cheese. I love savory and sweet together and the Mutabbaq looks so mouthwatering. There’s also recipes for cakes, rice pudding, crumble, spice cookies (which I have the recipe for and will be sharing with you tomorrow) as well as yeasted cakes.

Chocolate Krantz Cake

CONDIMENTS

It’s really good to be given so many great condiment recipes. I’ve always wanted to add tahini sauce to my falafel and now I can. There are also yoghurt with cucumber recipes as well as countless picked options.

So in all, I love this book. It seems so perfect for this time of year when it’s cold and windy outside and you want a warm and full flavour dish to keep you toasty and satisfied on the inside.

It would definitely make great Christmas/Channuka present. Smiles all round I think.

You can buy it on Amazon.com by clicking on the link here-  Jerusalem– or on book image below

EmmaMT

Peggy Porschen’s ‘Boutique Baking’ book review

PEGGY PORSCHEN'S BOUTIQUE BAKINGPeggy Porschen

I’ve been a big fan of Peggy Porschen for ages. I met her at the launch of the Hobby Craft magazine a few years ago. She had done a beautiful feature on how to decorate these cute cookies. She’s really lovely. Very quietly spoken and so passionate about cakes. We could have talked icing for hours!

At the launch I showed her some of the pictures of my cakes (they were really dodgy photos on my phone!) and she was so complimentary. She asked if I wanted to come along to one of her cookie masterclasses that she was doing that weekend. She had one place left! Obviously I jumped at the chance! It was a Halloween themed class (which I am pretty into as my birthday is on Halloween!) We made pumpkin, cat, and ghost cookies. I learnt tons that day.  Peggy made it look so easy but let me tell you it’s not!

Peggy’s been baking cakes for years and is one of the biggest cake guru’s in the country! She even sells her wedding cakes at Fortnum & Masons!!! She opened a cake shop just over a year ago in Belgravia, in the heart of London which is a huge success. In the basement she does classes. I can’t recommend them enough! Check out the website here!

The book

Her latest book is inspired by the cakes and cookies that are sold in Peggy’s shop.  As with her previous books the cakes and designs are beautiful, seasonal and would make fantastic gifts. There are loads of recipes and step by step shots on how to create the decorations and effects. So what’s in it?

The contents

Sweet treats

These are so cute. Mini Meringue kisses, Morello Cherry Bakewell tarts with the cutest cherry decorations on top, ice cream cake pops, Peggy’s signature macarons, Mini cinnamon donuts (I adore these!!) I’ve tried to make donuts in the past and they turned out to be greasy blobs so I’ll definitely be giving these a go.

PEGGY PORSCHEN'S BOUTIQUE BAKING- Morello cherry Bakewell Tarts

Beautiful biscuits

Just when you thought you couldn’t do anything new with biscuits Peggy comes up with a whole host of goodies, from stencilled decorations to moulded flower toppers.  The teaspoon chocolate biscuits are really lovely. I also love the sound of the mulled wine stars.  Deelish!

PEGGY PORSCHEN'S BOUTIQUE BAKING- tea spoon

Cupcake heaven

With these flavours who can go wrong? Banoffee, sticky toffee, black forest, strawberry and champagne, Lemon and raspberry, vanilla chiffon, chocolate heaven and Cosmo (yep – like the cocktail!)  Each one has the perfect frosting and all are easy to make and look great.

Lucious layer cakes

I’ve used many of Peggy’s recipes from her previous cake books but these are something else! I love the way the cakes are layered and then cut open so you can see how tempting they are once ready to be served. The summer berry cake uses jam in the buttercream which is such a great idea. It gives the cake a pretty colour and looks like it would taste amazing. The chocolate on the Tipsy Orange Truffle cake looks so perfectly flat! How does she do it? There’s also a dark truffle cake and white chocolate passion cake as well as a glorious victoria cake complete with shell and swirl detailing.

PEGGY PORSCHEN'S BOUTIQUE BAKING- Tipsy orange truffle cake

Classic cakes & Bakes

There’s a great choice here with Neapolitan marble cake, Chocolate hazelnut Torte, Triple berry cheesecake, Luxury fruit cake, Mini eggnog kugelhopfs and the Raspberry & Rose dome cake which looks amazing and is the kind of cake decorating I can only aspire to.

PEGGY PORSCHEN'S BOUTIQUE BAKING- Raspberry and Rose dome cake

Delicious drinks

I was surprised to see drink recipes in the book, but then again there must be loads sold at the cake shop! They look so pretty. I think the pink lemonade and Minteani are first on my ‘to try’ list but they’re followed closely by summer berry ice tea and home made hot chocolate. I reckon you can stand a spoon up in that!

PEGGY PORSCHEN'S BOUTIQUE BAKING- HOT CHOCOLATE

The icing on the cake

This is where you learn how to make daisies, blossom, chrysanthemums as well as other pretty details from icing. You’ll also see steps on how to decorate cup cakes, assemble layer cakes, how to use Royal Icing and making a paper piping bag.

There’s also an Acknowledgements page and a Suppliers page.

This book is serious eye candy. Not only are the recipes mouth watering, but the way they look is just beautiful. They’re the kind of cakes that I would love to take round to a friend’s house for a party. They look as good as they taste and there’s so much to choose from. Peggy’s books just get better and better.  It’s a great buy!

enjoy!

You can buyPeggy Porschen’s ‘Boutique Baking’ book, Published by Quadrille on Amazon.com by clicking on the image below.

 

The only Double Chocolate Cookie recipe you’ll ever need!

Chocolate cookies

Cookie stack chocolate cookie recipe


I love chocolate cookies. I mean I LOOOVVVVEEE them! But, I’m fussy! They have to be dark chocolate (milk chocolate in a cookie? No way! Well not for me anyhow) and they have to be soft, melt in the mouth and just plain yummarge!
This recipe is for the best double chocolate chip cookies you will ever make. I’ve made them many times and even when they go wrong (like when I burnt the melting chocolate and just left it out of the ingredients) they still taste great. But with the melted chocolate included they are divine!

The last time I made them I was in a bit of a strop. I’d had a particularly stressful day. It was half term, my girls had trashed practically the whole house and the snowman I was making for an up and coming shoot was flopping big time which was making me really stressed out!
When I’m stressed I crave chocolate more than ever, so I decided to hit two stones with one bird (before you say it- I know, I always say that the wrong way round. I think it’s funny!) To chill out and relax I bake. It’s a simple remedy. Baking and creating something cheers me up and if it’s chocolate I get my sugar rush too! My sister popped round that evening and said I should be in a strop more often if it meant more cookies like this!

so, onto the recipe

The Ingredients for Double chocolate cookies

Makes around 20

  • 400g dark chocolate
  • 110g butter – at room temperature
  • 130g light brown sugar
  • 1 egg (medium)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda

How to make double chocolate cookies

Preheat your oven to 170 C ( Fan 150C) Gas 3. Line a baking tray or two with grease proof paper and pop them in the fridge. This prevents the cookies baking too quickly on the bottom.

Melt chocolate for chocolate cookiesTake 150g of the chocolate and melt it in a heat proof bowl placed over boiling water. Make sure that the boiling water doesn’t touch the bowl or the chocolate will burn (trust me on this! Been there. Done that!) Once melted set aside to cool a little.

Chopped chocolate chunks
Roughly chop the remaining chocolate. You can use chocolate chips but the oozing won’t be quite as big!

butter and sugar for chocolate cookies
Mix the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

Add egg
Add the egg and mix again adding spoonful of flour if it starts to separate. Add the vanilla essence.


Stir in the flour, bicarbonate of soda  and cocoa powder.

mix in the chocolate
Add the melted chocolate and stir through. Mix in the roughly chopped chocolate pieces.

Let them cool
Use a  dessert spoon to measure out equal measurements of dough (it will be a bit sticky) and roll it into a ball, place it on the baking sheet, leaving space for spreading between each one. Flatten slightly with your fingers.

Let them cool
Pop them in the oven for 10 minutes and not a second longer. Then place them on a rack to cool down.

Mmmm. Oozing chocolate cookie!
Now this is where it all goes wrong for me! All that roughly chopped chocolate is all melted and gooey and if you break a cookie in half it should be too moist for you to be able to resist eating it. I have normally eaten a few before they have cooled down completely. This is my favorite time to eat them. Fresh out of the oven!
They will last a day or two in an air tight container but I think they taste best eaten on the day of baking. They stay moist even once they have cooled down completely.

Who can resist gooey chocolate like this? Not me!

enjoy!

My one stop shop for Christmas recipes is…..

Woman and Home’s

‘Feel Good Food magazine’

Now, you might think that I am biased about this particular magazine as not only did I work for Woman and Home for nine years, and I know the food team at Feel Good Food (or FGF as we call it!) and I also write the table setting pages for each issue, but I’m not biased at all!

As you may know I am Jewish and as Tim is Christian so I get to celebrate all the religions festivals for both sides of our families. It’s the fact that I eat a practically vegetarian diet ( as I keep Kosher) and am always on the lookout for new cakes and cookies to bake makes this quarterly mag like food porn.

The Food Team

The Food team at Woman & Home are Jane Curran and Rebecca Smith and they are my food guru’s. I used to sit opposite Jane in the Woman & Home offices and I would throw all sorts of baking queries at her and she could fire back the most complicated response in an instant. I was always impressed. Their recipes are seriously impressive, yet easy to follow and very impressive for a dinner party.

Bex is the foodie behind the food blog truefoodie.com. I love reading this as it’s like she’s still sitting next to me in the office and we are chatting about food like we always used to. Bex’s brownies are the best I have ever tasted. I’m taking them to the New Year’s eve party we are going to this year. She taught me about adding a little salt in chocolate recipes. “Salt!” I thought. But try it. Just add a pinch.You’ll never look back!

Her most recent post is about getting the timing right for your Christmas dinner – turkey and all. I’m so glad I am the baker in my house and not the cook, but check out her advice here.

Feel Good Food Magazine

Feel Good Food Magazine

Whenever a new issue of FGF came out I would read it on the train home. Just to warn you, this is not the magazine to read on a train when you are hungry! It will make your mouth water.  I always want to make the veggie options as they are always proper meals. None of that tasteless nut loaf rubbish here.

From this issue I’m making  the Vegetable potato pie which is packed full of sweet potatoes (which I love) my fav veggies and all sorts of great flavours  (a must for any veggie meal)

Feel Good Food Magazine

I love how these ‘Home made gifts’ are packaged up. These truffles look melt in the mouth! (actually I know that they are as I’ve eaten Jane’s truffles before!)

Feel Good Food Magazine

I asked Tim what I should take to his parents for Christmas day this year. I wanted to make the roulade ( as I’ve never made one before and I love them) but he reminded me that his dad likes to make one (from a FGF recipe from a few years ago) so I should make this layered chocolate cake instead. He loves Chocolate cake. The recipe states that it will keep in the fridge for 3 days. Yeah right! This will be scoffed in one sitting at the MT household if me and Tim have anything to do with it!

So, if you are stuck for the perfect recipe and still need some inspiration this is the only mag you’ll need. I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s inside. There’s over 101 recipes in here! It’s available in supermarkets, news agents , but I always pick mine up in M&S.

Enjoy!

Extra Chocolatey Christmas Pudding Cookies

The perfect Christmas cookie gift

My good friend Kathryn is popping over today with gifts for the girls. She is one of my oldest friends and always buys them a gift for Christmas. She’s so generous. We always buy her a birthday present (her birthday is in January – it’s one of those funny set ups) but I thought it would be lovely to give her some home made Christmas cookies as a little treat when she comes for lunch today. I know she loves chocolate. I mean who doesn’t? I decided to make extra chocolatey cookies and give them a Christmas touch. These cookies are pretty quick and easy to make, but they do need to be left over night to harden.  

Ingredients

Makes around 30 biscuits (enough to give and to ‘test’)

  • 200g unsalted butter- at room temperature
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 egg – at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • Green and red sugar paste for the holly

To make the biscuits

  • Heat your oven to 160° and line a baking sheet with baking paper.Put all the ingredients into the bowl
  • Place all the ingredients into a bowl in one go and mix until just blended, then use your hands to form a soft dough.
  • This mixture is quite sticky so it needs to chill in the fridge for at least an hour or you’ll end up with a sticky mess! Wrap the dough in cling film first so it doesn’t dry out.Wrap and chill the dough
  • When you are ready to roll out the dough, take a little out of the fridge at a time so it doesn’t get too warm and handle it as little as possible. Also, try not to use too much flour when rolling out as it will remain on the baked biscuits. I used a 2 ½ inch circle cutter to create the round cookies and used spacers to ensure each cookie was the same size. Pop them in the oven for 12 minutes or when the edges start to go darker.Cut out the circle cookies
  • Leave to cool completely on a wire rack once baked.Leave the cookies to cool off

To decorate the chocolate cookies

  • Roll out a small amount of green icing and use a holly leaf cutter (available at Cake craft world.com or hobbycraft shops) to cut out 1, 2 or 3 leaves for each cookie. Set aside to dry a little, then roll out tiny balls of red sugarpaste. When you have enough press the bottom of the leaves together to secure. Add the berries to the base. If they don’t stick use a tiny amount of water or edible glue to position them.Cut out holly and roll the berries
  • Set aside to dry for 10 minutes or so, so you‘ll be able to handle them when you want to put them on the cookies. It’s a good idea to place some baking paper on the plate so the sugarpaste doesn’t get stuck.The holly
  • For the top of the Christmas pudding melt the white chocolate in the microwave in a non metallic bowl. I blast it for 30 seconds at a time so it doesn’t burn. Stir between each session till there are no lumps. I have a new toy (more on that next week) it’s a Lekue decopen which is a silicon icing tool. It’s perfect for holding hot melted chocolate without burning your hands and allows me to control where I ‘ice’. You can easily use a plastic icing bag with a nozzle though. If you don’t have either you could use a small spoon but it might take a bit of patience to do it that way!  Create an outline of the dribbling icing at the top of each pudding  then fill in the space with the chocolate.Melt the chocolateAdd the white chocolate topping
  • You can simply add the holly at this stage as the cookies look really cute. But for a ‘death by chocolate cookie’ melt the dark chocolate and create the bottom half of the pudding in the same way as the top. Then add the holly and leave to dry overnightReady to serve

Top tip: When adding the melted chocolate remember that it has a tendency to run so don’t ‘ice’ too close to the edge of the cookie or it will dribble off the side of the cookie and you won’t want to give it as a gift – you’ll have to eat it yourself!!! Wrapped up cookies

Enjoy!

 

Christmas tree cookies- The quick and easy way

Christmas Tree cookiesThe cookie gift of giving

This weekend the girls are going to a Christmas party for the whole of Year One. I offered to make some cookies for the big event- this is our first Chrimbo party of the season so my first baking session (there are lots more planned!) I decided that as I need to make 40 cookies I needed to have a plan that would be really easy. In all they took in about 2 hours to make. Not bad for so many!

To make the Christmas tree cookies

You will need

1 x Vanilla cookie dough (see here for recipe to make around 30 cookies)

Rolling pin

Spacing sticks

icing sugar to dust

sugarpaste in green

cookie cutter

new damp sponge / damp kitchen roll will do

Spatula / cookie lift

To make the cookies
Cut out the Christmas tree cookie

Roll out the dough between two spacing sticks to ensure that each cookie is exactly the same. Cut out as many trees as you can. Avoid over kneading the dough as it makes the texture tough.

The more cool the dough is, the less the cookie will spread when being baked. Load up the baking trays and pop them in the fridge for a while if the dough has become too soft.

Vanilla cookies straight out of the oven

Then bake the cookies until the edges start to brown and your whole kitchen smells like vanilla. Around 12-15 minutes. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

To ice the cookies, roll out a thin layer of green sugarpaste(about 3-5mm thick) Use the same tree cookie cutter to cut out each piece of sugarpaste. If the dough was cold going into the oven the cookies shouldn’t have spread too much and the green tree shaped icing will fit on top perfectly. To make sure that the icing stays put place it on a new damp sponge or dampen a piece of kitchen paper. Don’t let the sugarpaste get soggy.

Lay the sugarpaste on a Christmas tree cookie

Position the sugarpaste over the cookie. It may need a bit of tweaking to make it fit but it’s malleable at this stage and can be made to fit quite easily. Smooth down any icing that goes over the edge of the cookie as once it has dried it will be brittle and will break off.

 Smooth the icing with the palm of your hand

Once in position smooth the sugarpaste with the palm of your hand then set aside to harden up a little. I leave them overnight.

Decorating the Christmas tree cookies

There are so many options when it comes to what you can then do to decorate these Christmas tree cookies. I did a load of different ideas but the world is your oyster.

What you'll need

I made up a small amount of royal icing to make the balls and sprinkles stick. I used my new toy, the Leuke Decomax icing kit (more to come on that later) silver and pearl balls, red edible glitter and multicoloured sprinkles.

ice lines for the decorations

I iced lines of royal icing across the tree.

silver or multi colour decs!

Diagonal lines worked much better than straight ones!

Add the Sprinkles to the Christmas tree cookies

Then I added the sprinkles. These ones were from the supermarket and looked so much better than I expected.

The glitter worked well too but made a lot of mess! Once dry I had to dust off in between the lines of glitter with a paint brush.

Add the balls

Individual dots of icing were great for holding the silver balls in place. On some I made the dots of royal icing bigger, added a ball and then added sprinkles on top. These were my favorite ones!

I had to do these when my daughters weren’t around or I wouldn’t have got a look in! It is so much fun to do.

Once you have finished decorating the cookies leave them overnight to dry, then bag them up in cellophane bags with festive ribbons. They make the perfect personal Christmas gift.

I can’t wait to take these to the party on Saturday!

What are you baking for gifts this Christmas? I’d love to know.

Christmas tree cookies

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