Sunday, 20 March 2011

Simple soup and cakey cashew cookies

Sylvia has some strange ideas about the world. She loves pockets but thinks they are any opening in her clothes where she can stuff some trinket - any trouser legs, cleavage or waistband will do. She loves to ask me "have oo got a pocket?" and usually has something to put in it.

Anyone in a pram is a "baby" even if bigger than her. Any female is a little girl. I don't know what women at tram stops think when Sylvia says "dere's a liddle giiiiiirl". (She must be a contender for the longest vowels entry in the Guiness Book of Records).

She also loves "sugar" on her cereal. Not the sweet granules that you and I know. Her concept of sugar is any finely ground cereal either at the bottom of the packet or which she crumbles. She loves to sprinkle "sugar" over her bowl of cornflakes and mini wheats.

I wonder where she gets this idea of sugar. Neither E nor I sprinkle sugar over our cereal. In fact I try and keep the sugar in her food to a minimum. I don't always succeed but I do my best. This week, for example, I made some choc chip cookies that were high in protein and low in added sugar. The main sweetness comes from the choc chips because the small amount of maple syrup I added to the batter don't make it terribly sweet.

The biscuits were a batch of cashew choc chips cookies that I found on Kim's Affairs of Living, though hers were a bit more fancy. The recipe is quite similiar to the GF peanut butter choc chip cookies that I made last year. The cashew version were cakey while my peanut butter version was chewy. The main difference, apart from using cashew nut butter rather than peanut butter, was that I used 2 tablespoons of maple syrup rather than a cup of brown sugar.

It leads me to ask was it just the lack of sugar that made such a difference to the texture. I once made a cake and forgot to add sugar. When I remembered to add the sugar to the batter I was surprised at just how much the texture changed. I probably prefer the peanut butter chewiness but I quite enjoyed the cakey cashew cookies. I was surprised how nut butter and egg can replicate the texture of butter, flour and egg.

While E wasn't so keen on these biscuits, Sylvia and I have been enjoying them for snacks. I feel like they give her a little protein boost, even if she needs some choc chips to wash the nutrients down. Though she still needs to learn that you must put them in your mouth rather than crumbling them over the couch for maximum benefit. Grrrr! The bikkies also gave me a tad extra protein because I made them on a night that I made soup.

The simple tomato soup comes from the lovely Lucy of Nourish Me. I have had my eye on it for a long time. The time to make it finally came this week with our kitchen being quite minimal due to renovations. It smelled amazing and smoky as it cooked but needed a little seasoning at the end. I have come a long way from days of disliking eating tomatoes by themselves.

I also added creme fraiche rather than yoghurt at the end simply due to the novelty of finding it in the supermarket, and I added basil because my mum gave me some. Lucy sieved her soup and I appreciate why she did it but I don't even know where the sieve is. (You can see I value my hand held blender far more than a sieve when packing up kitchen implements.) I think sieving would make a more velvety texture but even so it was a lovely simple soup. Below is what I did.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Sydney - a gaytime and some lessons
This time three years ago: Mulligatawny and dubious traditions

Simple Tomato Soup
Adapted from Nourish Me
serves 2 people as a main
  • 1kg of tomatoes, about 7-8 good sized tomatoes, chopped
  • glug of olive oil
  • glug of good whisky (I used E's Talisker but don't tell his dad)
  • shake of chilli powder, smoked paprika
  • salt to taste
  • 125 cream fraiche
  • handful basil
Place chopped tomatoes, olive oil and whisky in a large saucepan and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes. I found that this gave the kitchen a wonderful smoky aroma. Season lightly with chilli powder, smoked paprika and salt. Stir in creme fraiche and basil. Blend with a hand held blender. Sieve if desired for a smoother soup.

Cashew Choc Chip Cookies
adapted from Affairs of Living
  • 1 cup smooth cashew butter
  • 2 eggs (Kim used duck eggs but mine were plain old chicken eggs)
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup, or other natural liquid sweetener like honey or brown rice syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • shake of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cashews, lightly toasted (I didn't use)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180 C or 350F and line baking trays with baking paper or grease.

In a large bowl, use a spoon to cream together cashew butter, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and baking soda. Check sweetness is ok. Stir in egg until smooth. Add cashews (if using) and chocolate chips and stir until just combined.

Spoon tablespoonfuls of batter onto prepared trays. Mine didn't spread so the shape I dropped onto the cookie sheet was the shape that ended up in the cookies. Bake for 10-13 minutes until golden brown (mine looked like meringues - I presume because there wasn't much sugar in the batter). Kim says she baked hers until they didn't seem so soft so maybe if I had baked mine longer the texture might have been a bit more chewy.

Cool a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Lasts well for 3 days.

On the Stereo:
Back to Basics: Billy Bragg


  1. Oooh, I know I'd love these cookies, as I'm not into super-sweet things and, well, you know how I feel about nut butters and chocolate ;) How funny that Sylvia has all these ideas and habits that seem to just emerge spontaneously! Kinda exciting too :)

  2. Well, now I know Sylvia and I have something in common because I used to sprinkle the leftover powdered ceral from the bottom of hte box into my bowl as well! The cookies sound good and are very much like my GF cashew chocolate chip cookies on my blog, except I don't use eggs, obviously. I wonder if the texture is due to the eggs, since mine are rather crisp/crumbly. Lucy's soup sounds wonderful--sometimes simple flavors are the best, aren't they?

  3. Love the cashew nut cookies - they sound delicious. It is certainly coming into soup weather, and the rich red of this tomato version is very appealing.

  4. She's growing up so quickly...amazing how fast it all happens, really.

    So pleased you liked the soup (and your secret 'bout the whisky's safe with me - it really does add something gorgeous to the whole, no?) XX

  5. Your Sylvia is soooo cute! And the basil is gorgeous- I am dreaming of the basil I will be planting and harvesting in a few months.

  6. I think it's the melting of the sugar once it gets hot into that viscous liquid that alters the texture of baked goods...that's why all of those artificial sweeteners make the texture of baked goods super weird.

    I love the sound of these cookies nonetheless! And Sylvia sounds adorable.

  7. Lol - Sylvia sounds so sweet! I wouldn;t mind being called a little girl these days teehee. Loving the sound of the cookies, both the cashew and peanut butter versions.

  8. oh that soup...yum! With the cooler weather approaching I am starting to crave soups!

  9. I do adore the Sylvia stories! I feel like I know her already and that she is a very determined but charming little girl! :D

  10. Sylvia sounds like a total angel. It's funny how kids develop such habits. I used to hate red meats and eggs when I was a little girl. It was only later that I realized that my mom didn't eat as much meats and eggs when she was pregnant with me.

    I see that you added whiskey to your soup? I hope you didn't feed Sylvia that!

  11. Thanks Hannah - yes funny to see her habits emerging - and I think you would like these but I expected them to have more of the creaminess of cashews - though I guess cakes don't have the creaminess of butter!

    Thanks Ricki - I never liked the powder at the bottom of the cereal box - but I can see the fun in sprinkling it. I have tried your cashew choc chip cookies but very early in blogging so I would be curious to try them again now. Kim said hers were crisp with a chewy inside so I wonder if I should have cooked them longer

    Thanks Cakelaw - yes soup weather is on the way - and such a simple warming supper

    Thanks Lucy - the aroma was amazing because it was quite smoky and I can only think it came from the whisky - this was before I added any smoked paprika - must make it again and sieve it

    Thanks Nupur - enjoy your basil - I forgot to ask my mum if she bought it or grew it - but I love having it about for cooking

    thanks Joanne - I've never thought about melted sugar altering the texture when heated but it must have some effect - though even in uncooked batter it has an effect which I guess there is a scientific explanation for

    Thanks Chele - I am sure you are a little girl to Sylvia - nut butters in cookies seems like such a great idea!

    Thanks Lisa - I am craving any home cooked food while our renovation is on but I am sure a big pot of soup will be one of the first things in the kitchen when it is back to normal

    Thanks Lorraine - you are so right about sylvia - very determined when it comes to what she will eat and very charming when she gives us a cuggle

    Thanks Kalya - interesting - I didn't like egg and wasn't so keen on red meats as a child - never quite understood why, whereas my dislike of milk is something I share with my mum and Sylvia and seems like it might be genetic - I felt quite free to add whisky to the soup because I knew Sylvia wouldn't touch it - too busy scoffing bikkies :-)

  12. The Sylvia tales are simply priceless Johanna. I think you had better get her a "little girl" apron. She's going to be a natural as the "sugar" crumbs are just the beginning, lol.

    When my kids were little I use to make them chocolate chip cookies with carob. They didn't know the difference until they were in their teens!

    I'm not sure about this but I think when you use liquid sugar as opposed to granulated sugar, white or brown, you need to adjust the liquid in the recipe. But, don't quote me on that.

    That said, your cookies sound yummy and that tomato soup sounds like a heavenly winner!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  13. I'd completely forgotten about how lovely homemade tomato soup is. Thanks for the reminder!

  14. I'm really intrigued by those cookies! I've never seen anything like them before. They sound like a really great snack though with all the protein.


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