Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Coconut Cranberry Chewy Cookies

After having made loads of white chocolate and spicy cookies recently, I felt it was time for a change. I looked in my cupboards full to the brim with various lovely ingredients, and the coconut was jumping out at me. Not sure why, I haven't even had a Bounty recently, but the coconut was definitely calling. "Use me", "Pick me", "You know you want to" (Yes, sometimes ingredients talk to me. Yes, I am weird and in need of professional help.)

So, What goes beautifully with tropical tasting coconut? The tart bite of a cranberry, and something else... It needed something else. So while trawling the net in search of a recipe that would speak to me as the coconut had done, I came across one for coconut, cranberry chews. This recipe did call for orange zest, a slight problem as I had no oranges in the house at the time. However, in a sort of ode to the cosmopolitan, I though lime would go just as well, if not better. I do generally have limes in the house due to my love of a certain Brazilian cocktail called the capirhina which calls for fresh lime juice (maybe I should include my capirhina recipe as well for those feeling daring today).

So, in went a lovely heaped tablespoon of lime zest and a good squeeze of juice for good measure. And voila, beautiful, creamy, cranberry bejewelled, lime zest speckled, gorgeous dough.

Baking the cookies I tried 2 methods. Rolling the dough into balls and dipping in coconut before baking. And rolling into balls and then slightly flattening them before coconut dipping and baking. Personally, I preferred the rolled and baked versions over the flattened ones as they came out plumper and chewier, whereas the flattened versions had crispy edges and weren't quite so moist. But thats a personal preference, so feel free to roll, flatten, fatten, and bake in any way that you choose.


Coconut Cranberry Chewy Cookies


About 1 1/2 cups (3/4 lb.) butter, at room temperature
2  cups  sugar
1  tablespoon grated lime (or orange) orange peel
2  teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/4  cups  all-purpose flour
1  teaspoon baking powder
1/4  teaspoon salt
1 1/2  cups dried cranberries
1 1/2  cups dessicated coconut


In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat 1 1/2 cups butter, sugar, orange peel, and vanilla until smooth.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture, stir to mix, then beat on low speed until dough comes together, about 5 minutes. Mix in cranberries and coconut.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on buttered 12- by 15-inch baking sheets.

Bake at 350° until cookie edges just begin to brown, 8 to 11 minutes (shorter baking time will yield a chewier cookie; longer baking time will yield a crispier cookie). If baking two sheets at once in one oven, switch their positions halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then use a wide spatula to transfer to racks to cool completely.

My Brazilian Capirinha
Warning: This cocktail packs a punch!

Juice of 1 juicy lime (reserve the squeezed lime remnants)
2 heaped teaspoons golden caster sugar (or more, depends on your taste. But not less)
1 to 1.5 shot glasses of cacacha (its strong stuff, start with 1 if you haven't had it before)
loads of crushed ice

Mix, either with a cocktail shaker, or the old fashioned way with a teaspoon, the cacacha, lime juice and sugar. Mix it really well until all the sugar is dissolved. Then throw in a couple of pieces of lime (either the squeezed ones or new, fresh ones) and top to the brim and beyond with loads of crushed ice.


Orignal From: Coconut Cranberry Chewy Cookies

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Bread, with a kick

So, banana bread. Hardly glamourous or difficult or impressive. But this banana bread. Wow,

Its special.

Its amazing.

People in my office raced each other to the kitchen to battle for the last piece. There was almost a real battle.

There is certainly a lot of banana in this bread, so in a way it almost feels virtuous. Being called bread helps too. But honestly, its  just a wonderful cake in loaf form.

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Monday, 14 February 2011

Soba & Tempura

The February 2011 Daring Cooks' challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including,, and

I was very excited to read this challenge - I have never even thought about making tempura before and I probably never would have were it not for this challenge. I don't often make anything deep fried but I am game for anything when it comes to the daring cooks, so when I got home from work last Monday I filled my pot with one and a half bottles of oil and jumped straight in.

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Thursday, 10 February 2011

Macaroni Cheese & Tingle

I don't make Macaroni cheese very often. Partly because vast amounts of rich, creamy cheese sauce is not condusive to maintaining one's waistline, and partly because it just seems like a food that one should be making for one's children. And as I don't have any of those, I can't use them as an excuse for simple, sumptuous, indulgent comfort food. Last weekend however, I just had a feeling that it was time. Time to break out the cheese grater and copious amounts of cheddar and gruyere, and make an unreasonably huge pot of Macaroni Cheese. 

I also have a slight issue with Britain's take on macaroni.  There is something not quite right about it. It seems cut short in its growing process somehow (I know macaroni does not grow on trees by the way, I'm being figurative). Its stunted. And thin. And somewhat unsatisfying. I grew up in Johannesburg and good old South African macaroni is a good 3cm long, and plumps up beautifully when cooked. It is unfortunate that I did not appreciate South African macaroni when I was growing up - I always felt cheated when my mom handed us macaroni bolognaise instead of spaghetti - a lot more fun to eat and just much more appealing to a child than macaroni. And its SPAGHETTI bolognaise mom, not macaroni bologanise! Her argument that she could make a box of macaroni go a lot further than a box of spaghetti when feeding her hoard of 4 hungry children held absolutely no weight with me. Sorry Mom.

There is something quite theraputic about grating cheese. Maybe I'm just weird, but I'd rather grate by hand tan use the grater attachment for my food processor. A fact that baffles the man in my life. He just cannot comprehend why I would rather take 5 or 10 minutes to grate my blocks of cheese manually when I could do it in about 30 seconds if I used the machine. Maybe it has something to do with an ingrained need to feel like I am working for and earning my food in some way. Who knows.

A white sauce is like a blank canvas, just begging to be coloured with cayenne, cheddar and cardamom. And this one is rich, velvety and stunningly sinful, with a teriffic tingle left on the tongue by the Cayenne. Serve it with a pile of crispy green salad to break through the richness, and delight in simple tastes reminiscent of your childhood. Or, if your mom never exposed you to macaroni cheese, discover it and enjoy.

 Martha Stewart's Creamy Mac-and-Cheese
From Smitten Kitchen

This is half the original recipe, and I can't say I have ever had enough mouths to feed to make the full amount, but should you feel the need to double it, please do go ahead.

Serves 6

55g unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
3 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn/cut into small pieces
2¾ cups milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for pasta water
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2¼ cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Gruyère
500g bag macaroni

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 15g butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 40g butter in a thick bottom saucepan over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 1½ cups cheddar cheese, and ¾ cup Gruyère. Set the cheese sauce aside.

5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 6 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining ¾ cup cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup Gruyère, and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve. 

Orignal From: Macaroni Cheese & Tingle

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Spicy and sweet, with a tingle

For almost 2 weeks I have had a recipe for chewy ginger chocolate biscuits teasing me, taunting me, begging me to transform it from drab, black words on white paper, into sweet, spicy, aromatic reality. After a busy week of work and social activities,  I got home at about 9pm on Friday night, and even though a part of me longed to flop down on the sofa and not move until bedtime, I went straight into the kitchen and whipped the flour, butter, sugar and spices out of the cupboard.

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Saturday, 5 February 2011

Not nuts about dough

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious

I am actually months late in posting this entry. Truth be told, I wrote it when it was due, but due to some rather turbulent personal reasons I did not managed to finish it. Until now. I hate neglecting my blog, although it feels like I haev been away for ages. Which for the most part is pretty true. Heating up Innocent Veg pots does not count as cooking. My baking muscles are wasting away and I miss my kitchen. Among other things. Anyway, this is a food blog and I digress...

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