Friday 30 December 2011

CC Lebkuchen

As the year draws to a close, I am very pleased to present you with Lebkuchen for the last in my year of the Cookbook Challenge.  I will reflect on the challenge at the end of the post but firstly let's talk bikkies.  These lebkuchen were excellent and made great gifts.  My only hesitation in posting them was that I wanted to try them with chocolate but we have so much rich food about the house leftover from Christmas that I can't justify any more baking right now. 

The chocolate lebkuchen will have to wait until next year.  It's a shame because I just know I would love them.  One of my favourite biscuits that I bought on my travels in Germany and have since found at speciality shops in Melbourne is chocolate covered gingerbread.  I like them even better than the thinly iced lebkuchen.  I planned to use a chocolate glaze such as the one suggested in the book (see pics in book above) but I have since seen that Homemade by Fleur covered hers with melted chocolate.  This makes more sense as I was concerned that the glaze would not set enough to store the biscuits.

Meanwhile I loved these biscuits.  Sylvia and I made two batches of biscuits for gifts.  Chocolate cut out cookies and Lebkuchen.  It was interesting to compare the two.  The chocolate biscuits were full of butter, made very soft dough and melted in the mouth.  The lebkuchen were more sturdy and equally delicious.  They had far less butter and were quite easy to work with once they had been in the fridge for 4 hours.

I was glad to leave the dough in the fridge until Sylvia was in bed.  She helped with getting the two batches of dough together but she was in a rascally mood.  She tasted cocoa (and cried at the taste), knocked an open jar of flour to the floor, and got Dolly's green dolly stuck in an empty spice jar.  It was far easier to cut out and bake the biscuits without her.  Much as I love her helping making gifts.

The biscuits were being made for Sylvia's child care workers who have looked after her all year.  I had planned to make them earlier so we could ice them but ran out of time.  The lebkuchen for the gift packs were uniced.  (To package, I put them in labelled ziplock bags inside the green bags that we decorated with lots of stickers.)  

One of Sylvia's carers was particularly delighted with the gift because it reminded her of spending weeks baking Christmas gifts with her mum when young.  We also packaged some for one of E's colleagues. 

The next day I thought it would be fun for Sylvia to help decorate the remaining biscuits.  She loved it.  To keep it simple we chose a colour for each biscuit and she sprinkled it after I iced it.  Somehow she ended up with a blue smile.  The icing gave them a wee lift but I think the combination of spices and citrus was the real genius of these bikkies.  On the first day they were a bit dry but they softened and took on that love dense gingerbread texture after a few days.  Simply scrumptious.

Back to the Cookbook Challenge.  I was quite tentative in joining this group which challenged us to cook from any cookbook using a different theme each fortnight.  I am delighted to have completed all 26 of the challenges.  I have recorded what I have cooked on my Cookbook Challenge page.

When I look back over the range of dishes I have cooked I am very grateful to the challenge for pushing me to try recipes that might otherwise have remained forgotten in the depths of my bookshelves.  I am just sad that the content on the community site has been removed and it seems that the challenge will not happen next year.

However I am sure there will be new challenges next year.  And I hope there might be some chocolate covered lebkucken.  Meanwhile I hope to squeeze in one more post next year if I can find time in between haggis and the tattoo.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Nut roast parcels and potato snowmen
This time two years ago: Christmas Day panforte and more
This time three years ago: Christmas, Leftovers and Vegan Mayonnaise
This time four years ago: Christmas dinner for two

From Annie Rigg's Christmas Cooking with Kids
Made about 42
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp treacle
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 75g dark brown sugar
  • zest of half an orange
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • generous grating of nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • pinch salt
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • icing or melted chocolate for frosting biscuits
  • sprinkles to decorate
Heat honey, treacle, butter, brown sugar and zests in a medium saucepan.  Stir until butter is melted and everything is well combined.  Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, place flour, spices, salt and almonds in a large bowl.  Add melted butter mixture and egg.  Stir until a ball of dough forms.  Briefly knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth.  Wrap in clingfilm and refridgerate for 4 hours.

When you are ready to cut biscuits, preheat oven to 180 C (350 F) and line 2 to 3 oven trays with baking paper.  Roll out dough on a floured surface until it is about 0.5cm thick.  Cut shapes with biscuit cutters and transfer onto prepared trays.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown (I found mine were quite well cooked after 15 minutes).  Cool on a wire tray.

When cool, either ice with a plain icing (I think I used about 1 cup icing sugar, a knob of butter and a bit of hot water - it needs to be quite thin) or melted chocolate and sprinkles.

On the stereo
Music to watch the girls go by: Various Artists

Thursday 29 December 2011

Christmas day presents and pudding

Christmas day arrived this year with a feeling of relief that all the baking and presents were sorted.  It has been a busy year.  Yet we got there.  By morning the presents were wrapped under the tree and the pudding was at my parent's place waiting to be boiled.  Let me tell you a little about the gifts before I indulge in my annual reflections on why my pudding wasn't perfect.

Sylvia was very pleased when she woke up to find an oven from Santa under the tree.  She was just as pleased to find he had eaten his mince pie.  It was small enough for her to drag into her bedroom to start cooking.  I think she might have stayed there all day if not for Christmas breakfast at home and a drive to my parents place for lunch.  Before lunch we opened presents.

Sylvia spent the days before Christmas pondering what Dolly might get for Christmas.  Maybe a dummy?  Well there was no dummy but there was a "cradle".  (We knew it as a car basket when I was young but these days it is also known as a baby capsule.)  Dolly now has to go everywhere in her cradle.  Sylvia was also delighted with her nappy change bag, a Tiny Clanger, a new doll called Baby B, a rechargeable torch, a handbag, a tea set, books, clothes and a Toy Story DVD.

E and I were every bit as spoilt as Sylvia.  There was lot of food in our parcels this year.  Chocolates, biscuits, mince tarts, wine and royal family tea.  Books, DVDs, CDs, calendars, an apron, a Christmas tree plate and a Prince William and Kate tea towel.  And check out that disco dude scrubbing brush!

My most vexing Christmas present was a DVD of The Trip (the Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden show).  I bought it for E about a week before the ABC announced they would be screening it just before Christmas.  I then forgot to wrap it and remembered it on Boxing Day.  Fortunately E had checked the TV guides when he had considered buying it for me or we would have two copies!  The most unexpected experience was sending presents on the same day - one package got to Edinburgh Scotland in half the time it took another package to get to Orange NSW!

Meanwhile in Geelong, lunch was a red and silver affair.  My mum chose these colours for a stylish table setting.  I was very impressed at my dad's handiwork in fastening the ribbons to the candles.  My sister liked the setting so much that she took it home for her in-laws Christmas dinner later in the day. 

For Christmas lunch I had nut roast with cranberry sauce, roast veg and peas.  Dessert was Christmas pudding with custard as is traditional.  Plus pavlova and caramel tart for the non-traditionalists.  I made the pudding using a recipe I have been making for a few years.  Each year I learn more about making it and this year was no exception.

The first problem I faced this year was the dried figs.  I bought them at a small retailer and suspect they had sat around a bit long because they were so dry that they had a slight crunchy edge.  Mum had heard someone suggest that leaving the dried fruit soaking in alcohol for a week made a wonderful Christmas cake.  So I left the fruit soaking for about 4 days and by then the figs had softened.  As the fruit soaked up the liquid, I added quite a bit more booze and orange juice.  This made for a very soft pudding and I think it could have benefited from some more flour.

The other problem was my usual problem of getting a nice flour crust on the pudding that soaked up the flavour of the pudding.  Last year my crust was too thick.  So I eased off on the flour this year. 

I didn't put the cloth in the washing machine to wring it out - instead I hung it on the line until it started raining.  I sifted flour onto the cloth and sprayed it with water to make sure it kept on the cloth.  I took the cloth off the pudding about 2 hours after it was cooked but it still stuck to the cloth.  However I was pleased that far less pudding was left on the cloth than in previous years. 

The pudding flavours were intense with fruit and booze but it was a very soft one, even with my mum leaving it to dry out in the oven a little before serving it.  It is so rich that it really is only a once a year pudding.  Meanwhile the search for the perfect pudding crust continues.

Once the presents were unwrapped and the food eaten, Christmas day was relaxed.  Outside was backyard cricket, cartwheels and E strumming his ukelele.  Inside some little girls were playing with their new Nintendo DS.  Maddy played with her new claymation film set and my dad was digging out his old records for his new turntable.  He found some old 78s, including the one I put on the stereo below which used to belong to his father.  In the evening we watched the Queens Speech and a Noel Coward telemovie, Easy Virtue.

On Boxing Day morning, E and I went to see the Adventures of Tintin at the cinema.  The film was good fun and a joy to look at with its stunning scenery and retro 1930s period details.  We then caught up with my aunts and uncles at my parents place.  Lunch was a buffet of leftovers, salads and lots of desserts - summer pudding, panforte, caramel tart, jelly slice, doughnut biscuits and fruit. 

We finally got home that evening to find that hail storms had passed by our place on Christmas Night and left holes in the cubby hut roof.  Just as well Santa missed the storms.

On the Stereo:
"I'm looking for a Sweetheart" sung by Miss May Loveday and Mr Ernest Pike with orchestral accompaniment (on a Zonophone record)

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Cranberry nut rolls for Christmas brunch

It has been a good year for baking bread.  Just as well, given that I have less time to go to fancy bakeries to buy bread.  The more bread that I bake, the less content I am to buy any old loaf.  For Christmas morning, I decided I would bake a special loaf.  Then I remembered Kari's Cranberry Rolls, which although vegan, seemed perfect for my Christmas morning tradition of posh cheese on toast.

She filled her rolls with cranberries but I used a mixture of cranberries and walnuts like the original recipe.  I love walnuts and didn't want the bread to be too sweet.  When I made this decision, I had forgotten I needed the nuts for my Christmas nut roast.  It meant an emergency dash to the supermarket on my bike.  Kari used a dough hook but I found it easy enough to knead the rolls by hand and this is the method I have written up below.  I was pleased to be able to use an egg to glaze the rolls and then put it into the roast so there was no waste.  Christmas eve was busy and at one stage I had to suggest E take Sylvia for a walk and take his time.  I was relieved to get the rolls made by dinner time.

I wanted to make sure we had a fancy Christmas breakfast this year.  So often I aim for a nice breakfast but we are so distracted that I hardly sit down and never have time to set the table.  So on Christmas Eve, as well as preparing the rolls, I set the table before heading off to bed.  It meant that once we had opened our presents on Christmas morning, we could sit down to eat with a table cloth (a Christmas present from Jim and Sally a few years back) and some of our festive tableware.
The rolls were delicious.  Not only were they great on Christmas morning with a slice of jarlsberg cheese and a lick of cranberry sauce, but we also had them with chestnut soup on Christmas Eve and took some to my mum and dad's place later so that we could snack on them in the evening with the leftover nut roast.

We had a lovely Christmas day.  I will return to tell you more about the day soon.  Meanwhile, I want to thank everyone for the lovely Christmas wishes that I have received in comments and to send these rolls to Susan for YeastSpotting.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Cinnamon Stars for Christmas
This time two years ago: Glögi by the tree
This time three years ago: Festive profiteroles with salad
This time four years ago: Christmas truffles and fruit salad

Cranberry nut rolls
Makes 12-16 rolls
Adapted from Bon Appetit via Tracey and Kari

1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk*
2 tbsp oil
1 egg*
1 cup dried cranberries
extra flour for kneading
olive oil for rolls
eggwash for baking*

Dry fry the walnuts in a small frying pan.

Mix together the flour, brown sugar, yeast and salt.  Stir in the milk, oil, egg, cranberries and walnuts.  It will make a sticky mixture.  I let mine sit for about 5-10 minutes while I had something to eat. 

Knead on a floured board until smooth and supple, adding flour as you go.  Tracey suggested you might need about an extra 1/2 cup of flour.  I think I kneaded for about 4-6 minutes.

Scrap the edges of the mixing bowl and then place the dough in there, covered with a dry tea towel, for about 1-2 hours or until risen.  This will vary according to how warm the dough is.  It was 30 C when I baked ours and the dough was risen after about 1 hour but with rushing about after Sylvia it took me about 1 1/2 hours to get to it.

Return dough to lightly floured board and knead briefly.  Use a sharp serrated knife to cut dough into 12 to 16 pieces, depending on how big you want the buns.  (I made 16).

Lightly knead each piece and roll on the board under your palm until smooth(ish).  Drip a little oil in your mixing bowl and when each ball is ready, dip in a little oil and use your hands to roll the ball so it is completely covered in oil - there should be just enough oil to make it glossy but no more.  Place oiled balls on a lightly greased tray (or a tray sprinkled with cornmeal) with some room to expand.

Cover with dry tea towel and leave for about 1 1/2 hours or until risen to 1 1/2 size.  I think mine too a little less time.  While rolls are rising, preheat oven to 200 C.  When rolls are risen, glaze with eggwash and bake for 15-20 minutes (I let mine bake for 20 minutes) or until golden brown.

* Update December 2016: I made these vegan this year.  I used 1 tbsp chia seeds soaked for 5 minutes in 3 tbsp water instead of the egg.  I used soy milk instead of the milk.  When I first made these I substituted 1/2 cup of sour cream for the milk so I guess I could also add a squeeze of lemon juice to curdle the milk.  I didn't glaze the buns because I forgot to cover with oil until they had risen quite a bit but if I hadn't I would brush with soy milk.  They were really good.

On the Stereo:
Elvis Christmas Peace (Daily Mail on Sunday freebie): Elvis Presley

Saturday 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve reflections and a chestnut soup

Christmas eve!  It has been busy. I've made nut roast, cranberry nut buns and chestnut soup.  Presents have been wrapped with the help of our sticky tape dynamo, Sylvia, and more are yet to be done.  We've been sitting watching Carols by Candlelight on the telly with some festive punch.  The tree is lit with coloured lights.  I am taking a moment to get this post done while Sylvia helps E with present wrapping.  Here are a few random photos and thoughts from Christmas this year.

Brandy Raisin Macarons at Cacao at the GPO
Some bizarre sightings of Santa Claus this year
  • Santa on a jetski salt and pepper shakers - see in a shop
  • Santa in sleigh being pulled by a dinosaur in a local garden- heard on radio
  • Santa breathing dragon's breath in Hong Kong display - relayed to me by my friend
And it seems that cars are now believing themselves to be Santa's reindeer.  This year has seen the new phenomena of people attaching reindeer antlers to their cars.

Melbourne Town Hall
Why do we have to queue and pay to see Santa in Melbourne's major department stores in the city.  Sylvia is not old enough to want a photo with a strange man with a beard but she would have enjoyed seeing Santa.  But I will not pay and queue for the sight!  Where is the spirit of Christmas?

Santa climbing the Eiffel Tower on our tree
I love our Christmas trees but others do it differently - some alternative Christmas trees I have come across:

Miss Marples tearoom, Sassafras
Among all the joy, spare a thought for the sadness Christmas brings.  The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has made international news.  However, there have been some notable sad news that have more meaning for me:
  • Ian "Molly" Meldrum has been in a coma after falling from a ladder while preparing the house for a Christmas party.  My best wishes for his health.  He brought so much music and enthusiastic into my childhood.
  • George Whitman died last week.  He resurrected the English Language bookstore, Shakespeare and Company in Paris after Sylvia Beach's first incarnation closed.  I visited the store on my first trip to Paris and was offered accommodation there.  Unfortunately at the time I was too naive to realise it was a genuine offer.
  • Bruce Ruxton, former RSL president, died this week.  He was no role model for me with his right wing views but he was always there with a news bite through so much of my childhood.

For each high profile death and sadness, there are many of us with our own private griefs.  I know of those among fellow bloggers and others in my life who will face this Christmas lacking someone or even something that matters deeply.  Or there are those like "vegan alone at Christmas".  My thoughts go out to everyone whose Christmas isn't the jolly merry event that the media likes to portray.

Dinner tonight was a relaxed affair of Celery and Chestnut Soup (recipe below) and Cranberry Nut Buns (recipe to come - thanks Kari).   It is similar to other chestnut soups I have made - velvety and flavoursome.  I was relieved by the end of the day that it was simple and quick.  I had already been the shops twice - used up my walnuts intended for the nut roast when I made the buns and I also used up sour cream so I got inventive and served it with brandy cream.  Surprisingly this sweet cream worked but is not essential.  I am sending the soup to Ricki for her Holiday edition of Wellness Weekends.
Here is a nativity scene from Melbourne's city square.  Nothing fancy yet the kids loved it.  Sylvia has been very excited by Christmas and especially baby Jesus.  I've seen her running around the kitchen yelling, "I want Jesus", because she was impatient about getting the Jesus figure out on the advent calendar.  You can see below how much dolly loved it too.  She sat in the highchair this morning to view the calendar.

We have had a couple of hot days over the last few days.  Sylvia got out her woollie hat yesterday before we went swimming.  In fact it was so hot that her a new plastic sparkly hat half-melted in the hot car while we were doing our supermarket shopping.  Tonight we have had a thunderstorm but it has dissipated quickly.  I am not sure we have seen the last of it but the weather is forecast to be 30 C tomorrow.

Sylvia now asleep.  All the presents are wrapped.  A mince pie is left out for Santa.  The table is set for breakfast tomorrow morning.  I wish everyone a merry Christmas, a great feast and a happy and safe holiday.

Celery and Chestnut Soup
Adapted from The Great Big Vegetable Challenge
serves 4-6

1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-4 garlic cloves, crushed
4-6 celery sticks, sliced
1 carrot peeled and chopped
400g tin of chestnuts
2 medium potatoes, chopped
1 tsp salt flakes
3 cups stock
juice of 1/2 an orange
freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons brandy cream, or yoghurt (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan (I used a stockpot).  Gradually add onion, garlic, celery, and carrot as you chop them.  Gently sweat until softened.  Add chestnuts, potatoes, salt and stock.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Puree with a hand held blender.  Add orange juice and pepper to taste.  Serve with brandy cream or yoghurt as desired.

On the Stereo:
Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Novelty Records of All Time, Volume VI: Christmas

Friday 23 December 2011

Rocky road

I tried making vegetarian marshmallow (from a packet) at home for the first time this year.  It was very soft and when I tried a little rocky road with the remains, it melted and was a mess.  I was wary when I found Dandies vegan marshmallows at Radical Grocery but excited too.  Another chance at rocky road.  I had particularly fancied trying Lorraine's Rocky Road with Turkish Delight and cranberries.
Just as well Lorraine had lured me with the hint of eastern promise.  I also came across a rocky road recipe with raspberry liquorice.  I wanted to use it, but it is not gluten free and I had decided to take some down to my family.  I considered raspberry jubes but they have gelatine in the end returned to turkish delight which was both gf and veg*n.

I also added shredded coconut which I love and chopped almonds for the nutty factor.  I would have used chunky nuts if not for choking risk with kids.  Peanuts were out because Sylvia is allergic.  Seems it is not easy to make a traditional rocky road with my family.  Doesn't mean it can't be delicious. I was relieved the that Dandies didn't disintegrate in the melted chocolate like the Angel Food marshmallow.  But they set quickly and got "rocky" rather more quickly than I expected.

I made the rocky road on Saturday night.  It was fairly quick.  Sunday morning we headed off to a birthday party for Sylvia's neighbour.  It was at Coburg kidzone play centre and I was really impressed with their flexibility in catering for dietary restrictions.  The amazing Vanilla and Carob Castle Cake was made by a friend, Catherine of Cate's Cates who has posted the recipe.  Isn't it just what every kids wants on their birthday!

We went home and stopped long enough to chop up the rocky road.  Then we headed down to my parents' place in Geelong to help decorate their Christmas tree.  It was the usual scene.  The tinsel was missing and we have to put on lights, tinsel, decorations in that order.  Luckily it was found before we had to do something drastic like change our traditions.  My mum was the grumpy onlooker.  My dad got out the ladder and chairs so we could reach the higher branches.  Sylvia and her cousins had fun hanging the decorations on the tree, but lost interest before it was all done.

We had a simple bbq lunch but had lots of chocolate goodies for afternoon tea.  As well as my rocky road, mum had made GF brownies and GF hedgehog.  She had also made some ginger beer that had the most impressive fizz when anyone opened a bottle as my dad found out.  (E had to take one of the bottles she gave us into the backyard and wait for it to finish fizzing.)

Finally I decided to take some of the rocky road and pieces of the Chocolate and Fig Fruitcake to work for some festive treats.  Most people enjoyed them, especially my colleague who took a piece of each to have for later because he was caught up with other stuff.  I am really pleased to have finally made some rocky road.  It isn't easy to buy the dandies as I don't get to Radical Grocery too often but I am sure I will be making it again some time.

I have more Christmas photos (hey I have a new camera!) that I hope to share tomorrow.  Meanwhile here is one of Sylvia's new toys bought for her by her father.  Dracula, or as he is known, "Drac" not only had eyes with a scary glow but also a scary laugh.  Sylvia loves him though her friend over the road found him scary.  Oh dear! 

Scary toys aside, it is Christmas craziness here.  I am now off to make fruit mince for panforte.  More baking will follow tomorrow.  E has just rushed to the post office to collect a parcel before it closes so we are looking forward to listening to Dr Demented Christmas hits.  We are also planning to watch Peppa Pigs Christmas DVD tonight now that I have been back to the ABC Shop to get the security tag removed.  Then some wrapping of presents tonight.  Hope you are enjoying this Christmas and have a relaxing break ahead of you.

I am sending the Rocky Road to Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes for her bookmarked recipes.  I also highly recommend you check out her NCR Festive Photos for some more seasonal cheer.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Potluck Tofu Chocolate Ice Cream
This time two years ago: Back home with festive flapjacks
This time three years ago: Coconut ice is very very nice
This time four years ago: Christmas Snowflake Biscuits

Rocky Road with Turkish Delight and Coconut
Adapted from Not Quite Nigella

283 g marshmallow (I used dandies - not home made angel foods)
250g turkish delight, chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut (not dessicated)
1/2 cup slivered almonds, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries(I forgot)
400g dark chocolate (mine was 50% cocoa solids)

Prepare all ingredients except chocolate.  Line a 20cm square tin with baking paper.  Gently melt chocolate (I did this in the microwave - I think it only took me about 1 minute and quite a bit of stirring so that a lot of the chocolate melted out of the microwave and didn't get too hot).  Pour chocolate over remaining ingredients and gently stir.  Pour into prepared tin - work quickly as it doesn't take long to firm up.  Let set in fridge until hard.  Slice into squares.  We kept ours in the fridge but I think it could be kept at room temperature if you are not in the heat of summer.

On the stereo:
Images: the best of Jean Michel Jarre

Thursday 22 December 2011

Blogging Catch Up - breads, raw brownies, cheezly pizza and more

End of year is time for trying to get our life, our house and/or our blog in order before a new year is upon us.  Last night a draft post disappeared in frustrating circumstances.  I decided instead to gather some photos and recipes that I had good intentions to write about but they had fallen by the wayside.
Granary Bread from Mealtime Meltdown.  
I was all prepared to post about this, weeks after I made it in early November.  Then I accidently deleted my version of the recipe.  So I think it is best to just go to the original recipe.  The only change I remember making was to add a couple of tablespoons of malt syrup because I don't have granary flour.  It was nubbly and flavoursome.  I hope I will make it again and write more about it.  It was great with brie and tomato.

Vegemite Chips
Coming up with new ideas for crisp flavours is either desperate work or a huge amount of fun.  Either way, this is an inspired idea.  It works as novelty but I am not sure how much it would work as everyday.  I would love to see some spin offs of my favourite vegemite flavour combinations - vegemite and cheese, vegemite and tomato, vegemite and walnuts!

Raw Brownies from Wayfaring Chocolate
I've had two stabs at the beloved brownies from Hannah.  The first time they were too dry because I used the wrong dates.  The second time in late October was better.  I could sort of understand the chewy brownie base but the topping was too sweet.  I want to try again with maple syrup.  E thought it would be better microwaved.  My problem with keeping them in the freezer was that I just kept forgetting about them and they were sadly neglected.

Cheezly Mozzarella on pizza
I bought some vegan mozzarella cheese recently out of curiosity.  It was actually really good sprinkled over pizza with tomato sauce, mushrooms and red pepper.  It was a lot softer than regular mozzarella, nor so stringy.  What I liked best was that it was a lot lighter.  E also liked it thought I think he would prefer real cheese.

Chocolate cut out biscuits that I have made before
I have raved about these before.  These bikkies are great and look so cute I wanted to share them.  They have so much butter that the mixture needs a good amount of time in the fridge but the biscuits melt in the mouth once cooked.  They also fall apart easily if you use the snowflake biscuit cutters.  We used them for gifts this year.

Sun-dried tomato bread from Dan Lepard
I am not sure why I never posted this bread.  Possibly because I served it with a forgettable soup and it got sullied with the same memories.  Or maybe I just felt the photos didn't do it justice.  It was quite good but as I made it back in June, I don't remember it so well.  I did enjoy the orange hue and chunks of sun dried tomato.