Edible Christmas Treats – Macadamia and Pecan Shortbread

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Every year, I like to give friends homemade treats. I gather recipes from various sources throughout the year (okay, mostly from the ‘edible Christmas presents’ blog posts that pop up at the end of the year) and experiment with them. I have the staples, the tried and true recipes that make an appearance every year, but I also like to try new things. This is what I tried this year.
 
M&P Shortbread

This shortbread is delicious, so much so I found it hard to stop eating last year. This year, I made only enough for the gifts I planned to give – there’s enough delicious naughty things around this time of year without adding this more-ish treat.
 
recipe from The Australian Women’s Weekly Christmas Collection

Ingredients:
250g butter, softened
1/2 cup caster (superfine) sugar
2 tspns vanilla extract
2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup finely chopped macadamias
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tbsn caster sugar, extra

Preheat oven to 160C (325F). Line two oven trays with baking paper.

Beat butter, sugar and extract with electric beater until light and fluffy. Stir in sifted flours and nuts. Press mixture together. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and knead gently until smooth.

Divide dough in half and press into each tin or, if desired, shape into circles and pinch the edges into a frill. Sprinkle with extra sugar.

Bake for approx 20mins. Cool and then cut as desired.
 

 
 

Edible Christmas Treats – Hazelnut Crunch Chocolates

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Every year, I like to give friends homemade treats. I gather recipes from various sources throughout the year (okay, mostly from the ‘edible Christmas presents’ blog posts that pop up at the end of the year) and experiment with them. I have the staples, the tried and true recipes that make an appearance every year, but I also like to try new things. This is what I tried this year.
 
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This recipe I pilfered ages ago from a Tupperware party. The Tupperware lady had us make these chocolates that mimic well known branded chocolates (rhymes with berrero focher) and I’ve been making them ever since.
 
375g chocolate melts
100g copha (vegetable shortening)
1/2 cup puffed rice (branded cereal rhymes with bice rubbles)
1/2 cup crushed nuts
hazelnut spread
whole hazelnuts

ice trays

Melt chocolate and copha together. Add puffed rice and crushed nuts. Mix well.

Spoon mixture into ice trays until half full. Add hazelnut spread to center of each and place a hazelnut on top. Cover with chocolate mix.

Chill in refrigerator or freezer.
 

 
 

Edible Christmas Treats – Bacon Jam

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Every year, I like to give friends homemade treats. I gather recipes from various sources throughout the year (okay, mostly from the ‘edible Christmas presents’ blog posts that pop up at the end of the year) and experiment with them. I have the staples, the tried and true recipes that make an appearance every year, but I also like to try new things. This is what I tried this year.
 
baconjam

I made this mainly for a Canadian friend who LOVES her bacon. As the recipe also incorporates maple syrup, how could I resist?

recipe from YumSugar
 
Ingredients
500g smoked bacon
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons sriracha, plus more to taste
1 cup coffee
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste
1/4 cup maple syrup, preferably grade B
Freshly cracked black pepper

Slice the bacon into 2cm strips then cook in batches until it’s lightly browned and just starting to crisp. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft and translucent, 10-12 minutes.

Return the bacon to the pan. Add the brown sugar, sriracha, coffee, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup. Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and allow to simmer, stirring every now and then to prevent sticking until it has a thick, jam-like consistency and a deep, rich brown color (approx 3-4 hours).

Allow to cool and then transfer to a food processor. Pulse for several seconds to finely chop and blend the jam. Allow the solids to settle and then skim off any fate. Season to taste with additional vinegar, sriracha and salt.

Serve at room temperature with crackers, crostini, or on a burger.
 

 
 

Edible Christmas Treats – Cashew and Salted Caramels

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Every year, I like to give friends homemade treats. I gather recipes from various sources throughout the year (okay, mostly from the ‘edible Christmas presents’ blog posts that pop up at the end of the year) and experiment with them. I have the staples, the tried and true recipes that make an appearance every year, but I also like to try new things. This is what I tried this year.
 
CashewSaltedCaramels

I decided on this recipe due to the current caramel and salt trend sweeping the nation. The combination isn’t new but it seems to have really taken hold here in Oz this year.
 
recipe from The Australian Women’s Weekly Christmas Collection

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups caster (superfine) sugar
1 1/2 cups thickened (heavy) cream
1/4 cup glucose syrup
1 1/2 cups unsalted cashews
2 teaspoons sea salt

Line a baking pan with baking paper. I used a square tray about 20cm x 20cm. Also, neat trick with baking paper I learned from Jamie Oliver is to cut off the required amount, scrunch into a ball and then dunk in some water. This will make the paper extremely pliable and able to fit any shape. Nifty, hey?

Stir sugar, cream and glucose in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and keep boiling uncovered until the mixture reaches 120C (248F). If you don’t have a candy thermometer, there are nifty ways to tell if the mixture is ready. I have a candy thermometer but I have no idea where it is so used the old fashioned method. It worked out a treat – you can totally see when the mixture is ready, btw.

Add nuts and half the salt but don’t stir (um, whoops. Totally stirred. Oh well, the world doesn’t end if you stir, so don’t fret, peeps.) Pour caramel into prepared pan and sprinkle with remaining salt. Allow to cool.

Use a warm knife to cut caramel into pieces.

You can store the caramels between layers of baking paper in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to a week.
 

Next up -> BACON JAM

 
 

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays to all. I wish you a wonderful holiday season, full of fun and frivolity and eating good times. Tonight, I’m enacting a Christmas tradition with friends – watching the Christmakkuh episode of The OC and stuffing our faces with homemade mince pies.

Enjoy mightily.
signaturekisses
 
 
 

Gastronomic Indulgence: Vue de Monde

Vue de Monde experience Easter weekend
 
Over the Easter break, I went to Melbourne with family. It was a lovely three days, filled with shopping and walking and, of course, eating. Eating a lot. I’m a big fan of eating, especially when it’s an “experience”.

This time round, we certainly had that. I insisted upon Vue de Monde, a fancy pants restaurant in the heart of Melbourne. I’d seen head chef and owner, Shannon Bennett, on the telly and just adored his laid back, ocker cooking style. A classically trained French chef and one of the best in the world, Bennett won me over by taking a humble potato, julienning the hell out of it, assembling it in a mould with cream and butter, cooking it and then pronouncing it a ‘fancy roast potato’. LOVE.

So off we trotted to Vue de Monde on Good Friday. Three hours later, we were close to pain as we stumbled out into the crisp Melbourne night. It was delish, peeps. The service was impeccable, the decor astounding and the food…oh, the food. We got the seven course degustation menu, along with snacks as soon as we were ushered to our table and petit fours to cap the evening.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s the photos I took, posted on the tumblr and the instagram. Enjoy, salivate and if you have a spare dollar or two, visit Vue de Monde! It’s a once in a lifetime experience, that’s for sure 🙂

 
 
 

Quick update from the salty word mine

Hey peeps!

The writing is going quite well, so I thought I’d check in:

  • Roman Man – 8 (very crap) chapters. First draft 65-ish% done.
  • WTF 2: The Reckoning – Just over 1000 very rough words. Currently in banter mode. I do love banter mode (and not banger mode, as I just tried to write. Although, banger mode does have its time and place)
  • Duchess & Tutor – Stalled, but percolating

 
In other news, edits on ROUGH DIAMOND are almost complete, and we’re on track for a September release date. I hope to have some more info real soon!

Also, have you seen that TEACH ME is available all over the place in PRINT?? Check out TEACH ME‘s page for linkage and the like.

Finally, this weekend I’m headed off to Sydney for an historical fashion exhibit. Looks to be some awesomesauce things on offer!

Right, that’s about it, peeps! Stay tuned on the blog for blog hops and interviews and stuff, such as:

Cassandra
xx

Six Sentence Sunday – Silk pt 6

UPDATED: Six Sentence Sunday is here! Thanks to the lovely Six Sentence Sunday people, and all those who visit and comment.

First up, sorry for the break in transmission, peeps, I don’t know where my brain was at. The lure of those cocktails must have been strong. However, now I’m back and here’s six sentences from Silk!

Slowly, hesitantly, his lips met hers, brushed once, twice.

Pleasure rushed through her, sharp and bright. Never had it been like this. All the boys she’d kissed, the men she’d teased, none had made her feel as she did now. Emotion swelled, until it felt her heart was too large for her chest and would encompass all of her, occupy her totally with this feeling for him. For Thomas.

If you would like to read some other wonderful six sentences, click on the picture below to be taken to the list.

Thanks, peeps! I promise next week I’ll be on the ball 😀

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Hi peeps!

Well, I left the house without completing my Six Sentence Sunday post because I’m a silly duffer. I will update with my six sentences asap!

In the mean time, here’s a picture of the cabaret show and cocktails I’m neglecting you all for:

Lucky Seven

Hey peeps,

I’ve been tagged by the wonderful Victoria Blisse to participate in Lucky Seven* Thanks, Victoria!

So, here’s how it works: Go to page 7 or 77 of your latest work. Read down to the seventh line and then post online the next seven lines or sentences. Then head off and tag seven more writers.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to highlight Silk, the work in progress I’ve been teasing in some of my Six Sentence Sunday posts. Silk is the tale of Thomas, a promising barrister and newly minted Member of Parliament, and Nicola, a lady who just can’t seem to keep away from scandal. They’ve known each other for most of their lives, though they have been apart for some of that time. Here, Nicola pens a letter to Thomas from half a world away:

Bombay, India, 8 November 1842

Dear Thomas,

I am so very sorry for the passing of Lord Harry and Lady Millicent. I cannot even begin to fathom how you must feel. I wish I were with you, dear friend, to give you any comfort or whatever you might require of me.

Know my thoughts are with you, and should I be able, I would rush across the lands and space between us to be by your side.

All my love,

Nicola

So now, I tag seven writers…Hmm…

Okay, Lucy Clark, Tamara Gill, Jessica E Subject, Barbara Sheridan, Astrid Cooper, V. S. Morgan, Ashlynn Monroe – You’ve been officially tagged!

 
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*You know, Lucky Seven just makes me think of Lucky Number Slevin (called The Wrong Man in Oz), a film by Paul McGuigan starring Josh Hartnett and Bruce Willis. I LOVE this film. It’s super fantastic. Also, FYI, Paul McGuigan directed four of the six episodes of Sherlock. His style is so distinctive and brilliant, and I just think his collaboration with Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss is the bestest.

Writing is fun

This is what I tell myself constantly. Writing is Fun! It’s exciting! It in no way is hard and work-like! You love it to pieces! Seriously!

Sometimes, this even works.

It’s weird that something that gives me so much pleasure can also be such a chore. Once I get in to it, writing can completely take over, such that hours pass and I don’t even realise that much time has elapsed. However, getting to that point is just. So. Difficult. There is so much else to do. I reckon the washing needs to be done. Shouldn’t I clean the bathroom? Maybe I should check the internet again.

However, I’m happy to report today was spent in successful pursuit of writing fun. I wrote quite a bit, so yay me! I’m trundling along nicely on Secret Squirrel project (70% of first draft done, peeps!) and I’m on track to finish it by the end of January. Huzzah!

Other stuff that is happening in my life – I will be going to Sovereign Hill soon! The last time I went was some years ago, but this time it ties in almost perfectly with Secret Squirrel Project (and that’s a bit of a hint right there!). I’ll enjoy hanging out in Old Timey Ballarat, panning for gold and dying candles a lovely shade of brown. I won’t spend too much on all the fun times – at least, I say that now. I’m certain this will all change when I get there! Also, I might be able to sneak over to Daylesford for a bit. I’ve never been, but am quite keen to check out it’s serenity.

Apart from that, not much else is happening. Just trundling along, writing and planning the trip. January is a bit of a lull before the excitement of February (have you heard? TEACH ME is totally going to be released then!).

What are you peeps up to?

xx