2008

It’s been a rough year and for weeks now I’ve been highly excited about ringing in 2009 and saying good riddance to 2008.    So much so, in fact, that I was rather taken aback when the below collage of this year’s blog pictures made me smile so much. 

Lesson learnt:  don’t let the grim blot out the great.  :)

 

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookie

Busy. 

With fun stuff though.

Made biscuits.

Crap photo.

Great cookies.

Trust me.

White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies (adapted from Ottolenghi)

100g salted butter, room temperature

1 tspn vanilla essence

60g caster sugar

60g soft brown sugar

1 egg, beaten slightly

80g plain flour

1/2 tpsn baking powder

1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda

100g finely ground oatmeal

75g white chocolate, chopped into small pieces

100g dried cranberries

  • Cream together the butter and sugars and vanilla.  Add the egg little by little and combine gently.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarb into the creamed sugar and butter.  Add the oatmeal and chocolate and cranberries and stir until just combined.
  • Chill the mixture in the fridge for at least 1 hour.  Pre-heat the oven to 170 oC
  • Roll into gobstopper sized balls and place onto baking paper lined trays at least 5 cm apart.
  • Bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes until golden.  Cool on a baking tray.

* This recipe makes at least 30 cookies.  Dough keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days.

Root Vegetable Crisps

Bah.  Not amused.  I have a sore throat. 

I could grumble and moan for some time about how unhappy I am about this but I have to admit there is a slight bright side:  I have an excuse to eat one of my very favourite foods.    Crisps!

I know that many people suffering from sore throats crave cooling, soothing ice-cream to ease their pain but I don’t.  Scratchy foods make me feel better.  Dry toast, crackers, cereal and, most of all,  rough salty crisps.

The following root vegetable crisps are a little healthier than the average potato chip for not only are they made from a colourful selection of different vegetables, they are also oven-baked. 

That means I can eat more, right?  ;)

Root Vegetable Crisps

Selection of root vegetables (I’ve used carrots, parsnips, beetroot and turnip)

Vegetable oil (I used sunflower)

Salt

  • Pre-heat oven to 200 oC.
  • Unless you are a sushi chef, you’ll need to use a mandoline to very finely slice the vegetables – length-ways for long vegggie, width-ways for rounded ones.
  • Spray or brush the vegetables with the oil and lay out on baking sheets.
  • Bake in the oven for 15-10 minutes until golden, turning halfway through. 
  • Remove from oven and spread out on a rack.  Crisps will crisp up as they cool.
  • Sprinkle with salt to serve.

Lanttulaatikko

My final festive Scandinavian dish for this year is lanttulaatikko.  This Finnish recipe takes the humble turnip (what you folks might call swede or rutabaga) and turns it into a rich, creamy, bubbling baked dish of yumminess.

As with most Christmas vegetable dishes, lanttulaatikko could never claim to be in anyway healthy but I quite like the idea that vegetables go a bit wild at this time of the year and naughtily dress themselves up in honey and butter and cream.   

In fact, I’ve spoke to some turnips and it seems that for eleven months of the year they feel they are thought of as nutritious but dull - nothing to get excited about.  They understand this and respect their position in the vegetable world but come December, these grubby roots want to let themselves go and be transformed into wickedly silky, sexy side-dishes that have diners groaning for more.  

And if that comes at a calorific cost, well, both the turnips and I are absolutely fine with that.  This month, anyway.

Lanttulaatikko

(serves 4 as a side-dish)

1 large Scottish turnip (i.e. rutabaga or swede – the yellow fleshed one)

150ml cream (single, double or crème fraîche)

1 egg

1/2 tspn nutmeg

Seasoning

2 tblspns soft butter (plus a little extra)

1 tblspn honey

  • Peel the turnip and cut into 2cm wide chunks.  Just cover in salted water and boil until completely tender.  Drain.
  • Mash the turnip well and push through a potato ricer or a sieve. 
  • Combine the cream, butter, honey, nutmeg and egg.  Add to the turnip and mix well.  Season to taste.
  • Add turnip mixture to a small casserole dish, level off with a fork and dot with butter.
  • Bake in a 180oC pre-heated oven for 40 minutes until golden and crisp on top.

Piparkakut

There’s something rather restorative about gingery biscuits, don’t you think?  Their aromatic spices, warm sweetness and golden hues are the perfect antidote to dark days and biting winds. 

Pretty sure the Finns agree with me as one can find the following piparkakut (ginger cookies) almost everywhere in Finland at this time of the year.  They go terribly well with a warming glass of Glögi but aren’t too shabby with a simple cup of tea either.  :)

This is my entry for Susan’s fabulous Eat Christmas Cookies event.

Piparkakut (Finnish Ginger Snaps) 

(make a lot)

125g golden syrup

2 tspn cinammon

2 tspn ground ginger

1 tspn ground cloves

Rind of 1 orange, finely chopped

150g salted butter

150g sugar

1 egg

1 tspn bicarbonate of soda

500g plain flour

  • Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and stir well to combine.
  • In a small pan, bring syrup and spices to a boil.  Add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and stir well.
  • Sift in the flour and bicarb and mix into a dough.
  • Leave somewhere cool for at least 12 hours (no longer than 48 hours).
  • Pre-heat the oven to 250oC.
  • Split the dough into quarters and roll out very thinly (approx. 2mm).  Cut with a cookie cutter and place on a baking tray.
  • Bake for 5 -6 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Keep away from cheeky pups.