Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Tuesday feels.

So here is a little bit of link love.

I'd like to say this will become a somewhat regular thing where I add links to what I've been reading or watching and any insightful ideas or stories I might have, but truth be told I'm not sure if that'll be the case. But why not add another challenge to my week :)

To start with, I really loved this post which I read on 'The Vanilla Bean blog' that has a quote from Neil Gaiman about making mistakes this year, it's a refreshing way to look at the new year ahead.

This post and this post (dumplings and cheesecake... YUM!) from Amelia at Bon Appetempt made me purchase Ruth Reichl's book, My Kitchen Year from book depository and I can't wait for it to arrive.  You should also watch this video which her husband made of their son(s) - Congrats :)

Last week I discovered Tifforelie's youtube channel. I have been following her on instagram for a while now and when she posted she had a vlog channel on youtube, I couldn't click the link quick enough. It makes me want to pack everything up in the truck and leave yesterday!! I also want to try and make my version of the smores donuts she eats in vlog 2, they look indulgent and decadent mmmm.

pasta | salt sugar and i

On Friday night I made the most delicious dinner for one. It could have definitely fed two but since I was alone on a Friday night I thought I'd treat myself to a huge bowl of delicious baked eggplant, chilli, garlic and prawn pasta, on the couch while watching the end of Vampire Diaries seasons 6 (my guilty pleasure) with a large glass of chilled rose. If I can recreate the pasta it I'll post the recipe here because it was one of those little effort, huge flavour ones we all love.

This week, Luisa from The Wednesday Chef posted some behind the scene snap shots on her blog from her Classic German Baking book which she is working on. I feel like I've been hanging on for every post since she announced she was making one for more news and I have my fingers crossed for a springerle recipe. Springerle are a traditional Christmas cookie (see Luisa's post about them here) and my dad used to talk about having them as a kid so I'd love to bring back a family tradition. Plus everyone needs more cookies at Christmas time right?!

And finally since plums are in season I made the famous plum torte over the weekend with my bestie and I suggest you do too if your on this side of the world and plums are in season. Its easy, delicious and a great excuse for cake, not that we should ever need one.

Until next time x

Friday, 15 January 2016

Mexican Wedding Cakes and bringing in 2016.

A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

Over Christmas and New Years I ate and drank my body weight in food, bubbles and lychee martini's, times about a billion. My clothes feel like they're busting at the zippers and I have an extra layer to keep me warm for these stupid humid days Sydney has had this week. But it's a new year so that means a fresh start. I have a whole list of new years resolutions which I have written down on a scrap piece of paper and stored it in my laptop case in hopes no one will find it and see the long list I have written for myself. I'm am excited for what this year holds but there is a niggle of doubt I keep feeling now and then that I can't shake. What if I get to the end of the year and feel the same as last year which was to be honest... meh.

Mexican Wedding Cakes | salt sugar and i

Last year was a year of meh... I turned 27 and I didn't want to. I flat out wanted to skip it and stay 26 for another year then jump to 28 next year, good plan don't you think? 27 is an ugly number (sorry to everyone else who is also 27), I think I dislike this specific age also because I'm not where I thought I would be at 27. I know I know! Expectations aren't everything but I think it's a hard thing to come to terms with when you think you'll be somewhere and then you arrive at 27 and you are no where near it. But I know 27 isn't that bad in reality, if anything getting to 27 and realising there is more I wanted to do by now has given me a kick up the butt to get a move on. I've made a 'before 30' list.... scary!!

Mexican Wedding Cakes | salt sugar and i

One thing that came of 2015 is that I started enjoying baking and being back in the kitchen again. It could have been because I stole my mums stand mixer don't plan on giving it back or it could also be because I no longer work in a commercial kitchen. Do I miss working in a commercial kitchen? honestly... some days yes but mostly I'm glad thats not me anymore. Will I ever go back? maybe, maybe not but definitely not yet. Do I still love food and cooking? yes and if so, even more than before. Am I ready to find what else is out there? for sure! But what I want this year is not to worry about what I do to pay the bill and try to focus on what I do with my time. I want to live outside more, get my hands a little dirty, not worry about the small things, spend less on things I don't need, be grateful with what I have and enjoy my time with those around me, this world to so big and life is too short.

Mexican Wedding Cakes | salt sugar and i

Ah what a rant!

I originally started writing this post to share these Mexican Wedding Cake biscuits I made for work colleagues as a Christmas gift but seem to have got very side tracked in it being a new years rant and all that sha-bang. I also made these biscuits again the other day because when I first made them I only got to eat one (ok maybe 2) to make sure they were as delicious as Jessica from Sweet Amandine said they were. I adapted the recipe slightly but I think I did her proud. They are little balls of nutty shortbread coated in a thick dusting, actually more of a coating of icing sugar that practically explode when you bite into them. They are nutty and not too sweet. There isn't that much sugar in the biscuit itself but it's when you coat them in icing sugar while they are still warm is where the magic of these cookies happens. It starts to melt into a layer which coats the whole cookie, then you dust them a 2nd time for that pretty white snow-like look. The trick is to not touch them until they are completely cool, I put them int he fridge for 5 min.

Mexican Wedding Cakes | salt sugar and i

The first time I made them with toasted pecans but then when I made them the other day I burnt the pecans in the oven so made them with almonds instead. Both were delicious but I think I'm a pecan girl. I'm wondering if toasted macadamias would also work well, I'll have to give them a go and keep you posted. These make wonderful little gifts and go amazingly well with a cup of tea at about 3pm or really any time of the day, breakfast included.

Life's too short to not make and eat these little morsels of goodness, even if it does mean that the button on my jeans take a little longer to do up.

Here's to 2016 and it being less meh than 2015!!

Mexican Wedding Cakes | salt sugar and i

Mexican Wedding Cakes

makes about 40
(recipe adapted from Sweet Amandine)

225g butter, softened
70g icing sugar (plus approx. 250g extra for the sugar coating)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
250g plain flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
130g toasted and ground pecans (or almonds)

- Beat the butter, 70g icing sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy, scraping the sides down to make sure everything is mixed well together. Then beat in the flour and toasted, ground pecans (or almonds) until well combined.

- Divide the dough in half and form each half into a ball. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minuets or overnight. (If you chill the dough overnight you will need to let it sit at room temp for about 20-30 minuets before you can scoop it, but don't let it get too warm. It should be cold but scoop-able.)

- Preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan forced) or 350F and line a baking tray with baking paper. Then place your 250g of extra icing sugar into a bowl or pie dish.

- Now it's time to get rollin'! Remove one half of the dough from the fridge and using a level tablespoonful of dough for each cookie, roll it into balls using the palms of your hands and arrange them about half an inch apart on your lined baking tray.

- Bake for about 15-17 minutes, until the cookies are a flush darker on top and are golden brown on the bottoms. Cool the cookies for about 5 minuets on the baking sheet then toss them in the icing sugar then place them on a cooking rack. Do this to all the warm cookies then toss them in the icing mixture a second time to give them an extra coating. Repeat with the remaining dough.

- Wait until the icing sugar coated cookies are completely cool before storing (I placed the warm dusted cookies in the fridge for about 5 minutes to set the sugar coating). They will keep for up to a week in an airtight container - if they can last that long!