Sunday, 20 July 2014

Macadamia and white chocolate chip cookies

Macadamia and white chocolate cookies - Steph's Kitchen

It may appear that I am on a macadamia binge since my last recipe (apple and macadamia upside-down pie) also showcased macadamia nuts. This cookie recipe is actually one that I have been making for many years now, and is a good old favourite that never disappoints.

I first started making these cookies when I was in my early twenties. I was baking cookies as Christmas gifts and decided to adapt my Mum's choc-chip cookie recipe as I had been obsessed with the macadamia and white chocolate combination - buying them anytime I came across them at cafes or just out and about.

The recipe is simple, using basic ingredients, and the dough is a great base for you to try your hand at any combination you desire.

Macadamia and white chocolate cookies - Steph's Kitchen

Macadamia and white chocolate chip cookies

Makes 18 medium sized cookies

125g margarine or diary-free spread
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups SR flour
70g white chocolate chips (if going dairy free, swap for a dried fruit like cranberries or sultanas, or vegan chocolate chips such as Sweet William
60g macadamia nuts

Before anything else, pre-heat your oven to 180 C or 350 F.

For this first part, you can use electric beaters but I usually use a wooden spoon. Cream the margarine and sugar in a large bowl until the sugar and butter is well combined. Add the egg, vanilla and salt, mixing until it creates a thick batter.

Now for what makes these cookies so good: the macadamia nuts and chocolate. To smash the macadamia nuts, place them in a small zip-lock bag and use something with a little weight (like a can or mullet) to roughly smash the macadamia nuts. The pieces don't have to be even, simply broken up. If you'd like smaller chunks of nuts keep going until the pieces are the small you would like. I usually give them a little hit or two until the nuts are no longer whole. This way I get big and small pieces in the cookies, which I think makes them even better. Add the nuts and chocolate chips to your mixture and stir through.

Onto the flour.

I think it's best to add a little bit of flour at a time so you can easily incorporate it into the mixture. Using a 1/4 cup, add the flour a little at a time until you create a dough. Towards the end you may need to use your hands to mix in the remainder of the flour. You want the dough to be soft but not wet to the touch. If need be at a little more flour.

Cookie dough - Steph's Kitchen

Take small balls of the dough (about a table tennis ball in size or in Australia a 50 cent piece) and roll into a ball. Flatten slightly in your hand before placing them on a large, greased baking tray (or tray lined with baking paper). Sprinkle each cookie with a little bit of white sugar before placing them in the oven.

Bake the cookies in the oven for 10 - 15 mins until the edges of the cookies are golden in places. This way they stay a little soft inside. If you like them a little more crispy, cook for a couple more minutes until there's a little colour on top as well.

Steph xo

Tray of cookies - Steph's Kitchen

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Apple and macadamia upside-down pie

Apple and macadamia nut upside-down pie - Steph's Kitchen

I love quick and easy sweets.

This upside-pie came about when I went to make my apple and date upside-down pie and I was out of dates. I had already made the pastry so I looked through the pantry hunting for something to go with my sliced apples, the sweet brown sugar and the drizzle of melted butter that goes over the top of the pie before serving (yes, it is as delicious as it sounds!). I spied a bag of honey-roasted macadamias and had a little light bulb moment.

The combination was amazing! The nuttiness of the macadamias is a perfect match with the sweet of the apples.

The best part - it'll be ready in under 30 minutes ...

Apple and macadamia upside-down pie - Steph's Kitchen

Apple and macadamia upside-down pie

Prep and construction, 20mins
Baking time, 25mins

1/3 cup / 76g butter or margarine (I use marg)
1 1/2 cups of SR flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup water

If you don't have time to do the pastry you can also simple use frozen puff pastry cut to the size of your dish.

2/3 cup honey roasted macadamia nuts
2 small or 1 large apple
3 Tbsp brown sugar

Just before serving: 1 Tbsp melted butter, sprinkle of cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 170°C / 338°F

First step, the pastry. In a food processer add the butter, flour and sugar, and blend until it forms fine breadcrumbs. Then slowly add the water while blending, letting your dough turn into one large ball.

Line a 24cm pie dish with baking paper, allowing it to hang over the sides a little (or a lot) so that you can use the over hanging bits to lift the pie out easily later.

Add the macadamia nuts a zip-lock bag, and using something with a little weight, such as a tin or a mug, lightly smash them. How much is up to you. Then core and thinly slice the apple. Now you're ready to put the pie together!

Firstly, sprinkle the brown sugar on the bottom, then the smashed macadamias, followed by slices of the apple. Over lapping the apple is ok, as there is a little more then you need to cover the bottom. Next we'll get started on the top of the pie!

Quickly knead the dough on a floured surface, then roll it out to slightly wider then the width of your pie dish. Place the pastry on top of your filling, pushing it down into the dish, tucking it slightly down the sides so it creates a sort-of lid around the filling. This will allow the apples better while the pie is baking while in the oven. 

Pop in the oven for 25 mins or until golden brown. Once ready, place a dish on top of the pie, turning it upside down so that it sits on the plate. Slowly pull back the baking paper and while still warm drizzle over the melted butter and sprinkle with some cinnamon. 

Serve with icecream or cream, or with custard for dessert


Thursday, 19 June 2014

My blog tour: Blogging, food, and friends I've met along the way

I started blogging almost two years ago to save my Facebook friends from constant food pics and recipes in their news feeds. I'm sure most of them didn't mind (as a lot of them now follow Steph's Kitchen on Facebook) but it became even more difficult when people would ask for recipes and I had to quickly type things out in comments.

At first I just had a Facebook page, with my recipes posted in notes if people cared to check them out. However, I wanted to share more and reach out to more foodies that shared my passion for simple, good food.

And then my blog was born.

As Steph's Kitchen has grown I have met many great and wonderful foodies and fellow bloggers. It's an amazing community! One testament to this is the Foodie Parties you find weekly on blogs and Facebook, which sees so many bloggers from all over the world eager to share their passion for food and links to their cherished recipes.

I was honoured when Katie from Pearls+Girls featured me in her recent blog tour post. For those unfamiliar with this type of post, it allows you to get to know bloggers and their writing process. It also gives me the opportunity to give a much deserved shout-out to three fellow bloggers that I am happy to call friends: Sofia from Frantic in the Kitchen, April from What can I bake?, and Nettie from Moore or Less Cooking. I have more about these lovely ladies below, so keep reading!

About me - Steph's Kitchen

So, what am I currently working on?

I have made it my aim this year to go through my earliest posts and update them to the style I use today. That includes taking more yummy looking pics for you!

Looking over my most popular posts from last year, it is also clear that you guys LOVE easy mid-week recipes that you don't have to put much effort into. And if Pinterest is anything to go by, with my most pinned recipe being my creamy garlic sauce, you guys love simple sauce recipes. So I'm also working on putting pen to paper on easy dinner ideas and sauces that I do in my own kitchen.

How does my work differ from others?

Funny enough, this answer comes from my gorgeous sister Cakey (her affectionate nickname, of course). During a recent chat about recipes she said, "You really go into detail explaining things in your recipes."

I try to write what I would say if you was standing beside me and watching me cook, giving you comments about what to look for when cooking so that you don't have to rely only on simple instructions. This is how I learnt, and I think it's important to have those pointers to look for as instructions and terms can be interpreted differently from person to person.

 Why do I write what I do?

Simply put, I just love food. It's more than just eating, it's about enjoying good food. I blog so that I can share my love of food with you. Because good food is even better shared!

 How does my writing process work?

Unfortunately for me, blogging is not my day job. The simplest way I can explain what I do (and yes, I actually do explain it to people this way a lot) is that I play with colours and words all day. As I work in Melbourne City, I am also away from home almost 12 hours a day.

With such a busy schedule I have to be organised. I collect all my recipes I want to share with you and map them out on a calendar to ensure I keep on track. I then put time aside each weekend to make them up again, checking all my measurements, before taking pictures for you so you aren't just getting my dinner snaps all the time.

Three bloggers I love and admire

Sofia - Frantic in the Kitchen

Sofia from Frantic in the Kitchen has such a love for food, and she has such an amazing food story. I was so excited when I found out that she is a Melbourne gal too, and it didn't take long before we were catching up over coffee about our love of food. As a busy mum, she has a fantastic collection of family recipes to inspire you so it's more than just meat and veg every night.

Recipes to check out: Upside down pear and almond cake, beetroot and beef patties
Follow Frantic in the Kitchen:

April - What can I bake?

April is another great Aussie blogger. Calling Perth (in Western Australia) home, she loves using local produce and fresh ingredients. She also loves to check out great places to eat in the local area, and you'll often find reviews on her blog as well as a great collection of recipes. If you are in Perth you are going to want to check her out especially!

Recipes to check out: Jelly cheesecake, steamed pork dumplings
Follow What Can I Bake?:

Nettie - Moore or Less Cooking

Nettie was one of the first food bloggers I started following on Facebook, relating instantly to her real passion for cooking. She also has a fantastic collection of recipes - both savoury and sweet - and has been active in the blogging community for many years. She is also fantastic at bringing together so many bloggers in the community through link sharing blog posts and foodie parties on her facebook page.

Recipes to check out: Fluffy strawberry lemon cake, easy fettuccini alfredo
Follow Moore or Less Cooking:

Well, that's my blog tour post. I hope you enjoyed learning more about me and how I blog. Make sure you check out the great bloggers mentioned!

Steph xo

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