New Recipe Folder and Great-grandma Jozina’s Shortbread

If you love to cook and you’re anything like me, you probably have piles of recipes tucked away in a drawer, waiting to be tried out. I have manilla folders of recipes cut from magazines and scraps of paper with recipes scribbled down from television cooking shows. Often I’ll go to look for one and spend ages trying to find it. I had a recipe book in which I wrote my favourite recipes, but I filled it up a while ago. Recently, while browsing in a bookshop, I saw a lovely vintage-themed recipe folder that I couldn’t resist.

recipe folder

It has dividers that I can decorate with stickers and embellishments, lined pages for writing in, plain pages for pasting in handwritten recipes given to me by other people, and plastic sleeves for slipping in recipes saved from magazines. I also like that it’s a ring binder style so I can add more pages when I need to.

recipe folder

recipe folder 2

Now I just have to work my way through that big pile of recipes and put the ones that turn out nice into my lovely new recipe folder where I can find them easily.

The handwritten shortbread recipe was given to me by my mother, passed down from my great-grandmother, so the recipe has been around for quite some time. Nice to have with a cup of tea or coffee.

Great-grandma Jozina’s Shortbread

8 oz (225g) butter
4 oz (125g) icing sugar
13 oz (375g) plain flour
1 oz (25g) cornflour

Beat butter and icing sugar to a cream. Add flour and cornflour. Knead well.
Roll out to required thickness (¼ – ½ inch).
Cut into squares or fingers. Prick well with fork to stop rising.
Bake about 20 – 30 minutes at 160ºC (320ºF ) Be careful not to overcook underneath.
Cool on wire tray.

shortbread1

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

As usual, at this time of the year, we have an abundance of zucchini in our garden. I have been cooking them in stir fries and fritters and pizzas, making zucchini slice, and baking zucchini blueberry loaves for the freezer.

Yesterday I made a chocolate zucchini cake, which turned out really nice. Although Nick isn’t a big fan of zucchini, he loved the cake and wouldn’t have even known it had zucchini in it if I hadn’t told him. I used the same recipe as my Red Velvet Beetroot cake, but substituted the beetroot for zucchini, and cooked it a little longer.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

250g peeled and grated zucchini
3 eggs, beaten
1¾ cups raw sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
250ml oil (I used olive oil)
1 cup white flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 180º C.
Beat together eggs and sugar. Mix in vanilla, oil, and zucchini until well combined. Add sifted flour, baking powder, and cocoa and mix well. Pour batter into greased or paper-lined cake tin.
Bake for 55 minutes. Spread with frosting when cool.

Chocolate Orange Frosting

60g butter or dairy-free spread
250g icing sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa
grated zest of 1 orange
2 Tablespoons orange juice

Beat all ingredients together until spreadable consistency. Spread over cake.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Raspberry Crumble Slice

One of the things I love about summer is all the lovely berries that are around at this time of year. My favourites are raspberries and blueberries. I enjoy making raspberry jam, using the berries in puddings and muffins and cakes, or adding them to cereal for breakfast. I picked the first of our blueberries yesterday! We have two blueberry bushes, which usually provide us with enough berries for the summer, as well as some for the freezer.

One of my favourite recipes is one that Mum used to make when we were kids. She would bake all her own cakes and biscuits, and we would always have yummy things to eat when we got home from school. Although this recipe is made with raspberry jam, you can use any jam. Sometimes I make it with homemade plum jam, which is just as nice.

Raspberry Crumble

Raspberry Crumble Slice

350g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
70g caster sugar
150g butter or non-dairy spread
1 egg
4 rounded tablespoons raspberry jam (or any other jam)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, then stir in the caster sugar. Rub in the butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and mix in lightly so the mixture is still crumbly. Divide the mixture in half and press half the mixture firmly into the base of a greased or baking paper-lined tin. Mix the cinnamon and jam together and spread over the base. Spread the rest of the crumbs over the jam, leaving the texture rough. Bake at 180ºC for half an hour. Cool in the tin, then cut into squares.

Garden Journal – August

With another winter almost over and spring just around the corner, the gardens and roadsides are coming to life with blossom-covered trees. The tuis adore the nectar they provide at this time of year. Nick took these photos of a tui drinking from the blossom flowers where he is working at the moment.

Tui

Tui

Tui drinking nectar

The bright yellow flowers of the wattle trees have been adding a splash of sunshine to the winter days. I wish we had room for one in our garden. I love the Golden Wattles with their clusters of small pompom flowers that we see when we go for walks.

Golden Wattle

Golden Wattle

The weather is warming up and new growth is emerging, with flowers appearing that have been dormant over the winter months. I’ve been planning what to plant in my garden this year, drawing diagrams, making sure to rotate the crops where I have room, and reading through my companion planting book to make sure not to plant things next to each other which don’t get on. I’ve started a few seeds off inside to get a head start. A little glasshouse is on my wish list, the trouble is finding somewhere in the garden to put one!

I have been keeping a garden journal for a year now. I started last September, at the beginning of spring. It’s interesting to look back over a complete cycle of the seasons and see how the garden changes.

august garden journal

Our broccoli are finally ready for harvesting. I cut the main heads off and and let the plants continue to grow so that they form side-shoots.

broccoli

Broccoli and Mushroom Gratin

1 large head broccoli
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon butter or non-dairy spread
2 tablespoons flour
1½ cups milk (or soya milk or oat milk)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1½ cups grated cheese
2 tablespoons butter or non-dairy spread, melted
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 180º C.

Cut the broccoli into florets and steam until bright green and just tender, about 5 minutes. Place in lightly greased baking dish.

Heat the oil and saute the onion and mushrooms until the onion begins to soften and the mushrooms are lightly browned. Spread mixture over broccoli.

Heat the butter or non-dairy spread in a saucepan. Stir in the flour until smooth, then gradually add the milk, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened. Add the parsley, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of the cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Pour the sauce over the broccoli mixture in the dish.

Stir together the melted butter, breadcrumbs and remaining cheese, and sprinkle over the gratin.

Bake about 20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

broccoli & mushroom gratin

Garden Journal – July

The first of our winter bulbs are blooming. The sweet little snowdrops with their hanging heads of pure white were the first to appear, closely followed by the little double jonquils in the corner of the garden beneath the trees. They look like miniature cream roses and their scent is amazing!

Snowdrops

Snowdrops

Jonquils

Jonquils

Our citrus trees are producing an abundance of fruit this winter. Lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges – infusing the cold winter days with the tangy taste of summer.

Grapefruit & orange trees

Grapefruit & orange trees

garden journal-July

There is nothing nicer on a cold winter’s night than a comforting pudding. Self-saucing puddings are easy to make and can be adapted to different flavours. For this one I used lemons and limes from our trees to give it a nice citrusy flavour. If it doesn’t all get eaten the first night, it is nice cold the next day when the sponge has soaked up the flavours, leaving a little jelly-like  sauce on the bottom.

Lemon and Lime Self-saucing Pudding

50g butter, melted
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Syrup
¾ cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons cornflour
2 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lime juice

Preheat oven to 180ºC.
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg. Stir in zest, citrus juices and milk. Add sifted dry ingredients. Mix well and place into deep, greased baking dish. Mix syrup ingredients together and pour over batter. Bake 30 minutes.

lemon & lime self-saucing pudding

Garden Journal – June

Winter has brought us an interesting mix of weather this month with some rain and cloudy days, interspersed with chilly morning frosts followed by brilliant sunshine that just makes you want to get out in the garden and mingle with nature.

We made a little memorial garden for Cody next to the decking in our backyard, where we see it every time we go outside. We miss her terribly and still feel her presence everywhere. We planted winter flowers – pansies, primroses and dianthus, and I transplanted some forget-me-not seedlings to flower later. The little dog ornament looks so much like Cody!

Cody's Garden

Our wonderful friend, Erica, gave us a tin of  Yates heritage seeds to plant in our garden in memory of Cody. The seeds commemorate 130 years of Yates in New Zealand, and the tin comes with a little booklet telling the story of Arthur Yates, who emigrated to New Zealand from England in 1879. Following in his family’s tradition of seed merchants, he opened the first of his seed shops in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1883.

Inside the tin there are 10 varieties of heritage flower and vegetable seeds – pansies, sunflowers, tomatoes and carrots, to name a few. I can’t wait for spring to come so I can start planting them!

Yates seeds

Garden journal - June

It’s lovely to have herbs in the garden over winter to add to stews and soups, stuffings, breads and vegetable dishes. One of my favourite winter meals is soup and crusty bread. For this vegetable and lentil soup I used seasonal vegetables from one of our local market gardens and garnished it with parsley from our garden. For the herbed cheese bread I used organic goat’s cheese, and rosemary and sage from our garden. You can use whatever seasonal herbs you have in the garden. In the summer it would be nice with basil and oregano. Or if you don’t have herbs growing in the garden, it can just as easily be made with dried herbs.

Herbed Cheese Bread

3 teaspoons dried yeast
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 cups white flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated cheese
½ cup chopped fresh herbs or 1 tablespoon dried herbs
2 tablespoons oil
1¼ cups warm water

To make by hand:
In a large bowl, mix together flour, yeast, sugar, salt, cheese and herbs. Make a well in the centre, then slowly add the oil and water, stirring to form a soft dough, and adding a little extra flour if necessary. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and and knead for 10 minutes until the dough forms a soft ball. Shape into a round and place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour. Knead the dough lightly in the bowl, then shape into a round loaf and place onto a greased baking tray. Leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. Preheat oven to 200º C. Dust bread with a little flour, cut criss crosses into the top, then bake for 30 minutes, covering top during cooking if it starts to burn.

Alternatively, the dough can be made in a breadmaker, then shaped into a round, placed on a baking tray and left to rise as above.

Herbed Cheese Bread

Vegetable and Lentil Soup

400g pumpkin, peeled and chopped
200g potatoes, peeled and chopped
100g broccolli, cut into florets
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons lentils
1 teaspoon curry powder
4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup milk or cream (or soya milk or oat milk)
parsley to garnish

Place first 7 ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer 30 minutes. Puree or blend. Add milk and seasoning to taste. Heat without boiling. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Vegetable and Lentil Soup

Gingerbread Cupcakes

In my novel, Scrappy Cupcake Angels, Jodi enjoys baking cupcakes to take along to the weekly scrapbooking classes at Wattle Lane Keepsakes. Here is another of the recipes that she makes for the women in the group to enjoy when they stop for a coffee break.

Gingerbread Cupcakes

125g softened butter or dairy-free spread
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk (or soya milk or oat milk)
175g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.

Cream together butter, brown sugar and golden syrup. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add sifted dry ingredients, then milk, and mix to combine. Divide mixture between paper cases. Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Let cool, then dust with icing sugar or ice with ginger frosting.

Ginger Frosting

50g softened butter or dairy-free spread
2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons milk (or soya milk or oat milk)

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and sifted icing sugar and ginger. Add milk and beat to spreadable consistency.

Gingerbread Cupcakes