Friday, December 28, 2012

COOKING: More Christmas Goodies!

I tried a new recipe for the Almond Crescents...... they were an absolute triumph and tasted very much like the ones "mum used to make". I am yet to go through my late mothers recipe books.... many of them are written in one of three languages!!

These are the Lemon Polenta cookies. I was a little dubious of the use of polenta in cookies..... they were OK but not great.... so I won't be making them again.

Nut Clusters. These are gluten free and really good. When cold they are brushed with dark chocolate on the underside. These are made on request of my friends.

Finally - Hedgehog slice and the same mix was tipped into small patty cases. These are also Gluten Free as I used gluten free shortbread in the ingredients list.

This platter came with us when we went to my sister-in-laws for Christmas Day Lunch. The numerous kids LOVED it (and big kids too).

This was nothing to do with me..... but it was one of the desserts on offer at that Christmas Day Lunch. It was so pretty I had to photograph it. It was an ice-cream cake with frozen chocolate sponge and two layers of creamy gelato. I was TOTALLY AWESTRUCK with the pink layer (it was Turkish Delight flavoured) and I could have eaten a litre just of it. This green layer was mint and it had chocolate frosting with fresh raspberries and flaked chocolate. The hands in the picture belong to my husband's (naughty) niece. She was busy trying to take all credit for making it - when her sister-in-law actually made it. 

This is my table setting for the final "Christmas" event on my calendar.... dinner on Boxing Day for four. My good friend Lynn has all family in the UK..... so I like to throw a formal dinner for her. I invite my brother over to make it a nice easy four. 

Another Christmas over...... and I can put my feet up a bit now. Whew!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

COOKING: Almond Bread

I love Christmas baking. It reminds me of my late mother and happy childhood memories of preparing the "Christmas Biscuits" prior to Santa coming. For my brother, sister and I - it was the beginning of the big school break (Yay!) and always a task we did together as a family. Well - except for my father - he didn't do "kitchen stuff".

As for me - my weakness is Almond Bread. I love how it is thin and crisp and just tastes so good. My first attempts at it were an absolute flop.... enough to scare me off for years before trying agin. Now I have found the PERFECT recipe - which is almost foolproof. I say almost - as I did make an error one year and it turned out much harder than it should be. I now know that when baking the loaves initially, it is better to over cook rather than undercook them.

For the recipe (it is on CLICK HERE TO THE LINK.

Grease and line two loaf tins. NB: I've doubled the recipe.

Separate the eggs and start your mixer.

Once the egg whites are thick, then rain in the sugar and make sure the sugar is all dissolved.

Have your flour and almonds ready.

Drop them in and fold to combine.

Make sure you have no flour pockets.

Place mixture into loaf tin/s. I added some dried cranberries to the second loaf for extra festive cheer.

Bake at 160C or 325F for 40 - 50 minutes. Mine took closer to 60. Make sure skewer comes out clean.

Wrap in foil and leave in fridge for 1-2 days. Find your sharpest (I like a serrated knife for this) knife.

Slice as thin as you can while still getting the "whole" slice.

Place onto lined trays and place in a slow oven 120C or 250F for about 45 minutes, until dried out.

Cool completely before storing in airtight containers. Will keep for 3-4 months. I package it into little cellophane bags and tie them with curling ribbon to give as gifts.

A sight for sore eyes!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

CRAFTS: Antique Buffet Restoration

Those of you who follow this blog will know that I am fond of saving wooden furniture from ending up in landfill ...... Look what I found in the garage of my parents-in-law when we had the dubious task of clearing the house and garage prior to sale.

As usual... I forgot to take a complete "before photo" - this photo shows the top and sides beginning to be sanded.

I hate sanding - lucky for me my husband did the "lion share" this time.

Everyone looked at me as if I had bought the ticket to the "funny farm" when I put my hand up and said "I'll have it!!" Even my husband. He said that this cupboard was always in the back of the garage - holding tools, paints and poisons.... he cannot remember it even being in the house first!

To be honest - I noticed the beautiful drawer handles first..... and then I was in love. I am particularly fond of ornate handles and such.

You could tell it has been exposed to many years of cold winters and hot summers.... the wood had split in a number of areas and needed filling.

Sanded and cleaned ready for stain and varnish. We gave up on the split and wobbly top - and my husband replaced the top entirely.

I love the invention of a combined stain and varnish!!

We deliberately did not sand off everything - I like the look of some background left behind ....

YAY!! All finished and in situ in my office.

I gotta say - I am so in love with this piece.

And I love that I have somewhere to put my mosaic supplies and my sewing machine and toolbox!