Reminiscing about Vi, my lovely Scottish neighbour in Toronto, and our shared passion for shortbread, I had to bake some immediately (of course). This is a proper Scottish shortbread recipe. No shortcuts, no compromises on taste, and with the requisite amount of full-fat, cow-derived butter.

  • butter, 2 sticks, softened (best quality)
  • plain flour, 2 cups (best quality)
  • cornflour, 1 cup
  • sugar, superfine, 1/2 cup
  • salt, 1/2 tsp
  1. Cream the butter in a food processor
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and process till it comes together
  4. Remove the dough from the processsor, shape into rounds and refrigerate 15 mins
  5. Then, roll out the dough, cut into whatever shape you like, leaving the shortbread at a thickness of about 1 cm
  6. Use a fork to prick the shortbread, allowing it to rise evenly
  7. Bake in a preheated 420F (200C) oven for about 15 mins, watching so they don’t brown
  8. Allow to cool and store in a biscuit tin
  9. Don’t eat all at once 😉

(All text and photos or images are copyright protected. Please do not reprint any stories, recipes or photographs without the author’s permission.)


February 2, 2009. Tags: , . Baked Goods, British, Cookies. 2 comments.

Easy as (Banoffee) Pie

There are three things about cooking that I enjoy – the doing of it, the satisfaction of seeing the end product and the vicarious pleasure of having everyone else eat it with gusto.

What better way to start off the new year than with a luscious, sweet banoffee pie. Easily put together (after the toffee is made), it vanishes quicker than you can say ‘Banof..’

  • heavy cream, 1 cup
  • sugar, 2-3 tbsp
  • vanilla, 3/4 tsp
  • condensed milk, 2 cans
  • readymade graham pie crust, 1
  • bananas, ripe, 3-4
  1. First, cover the two cans of condensed milk in a pan with boiling water and boil for two hours, topping up with fresh boiled water as needed. This is the easy, clean and miraculous way of making toffee
  2. The safer alternative (in case you have a dud can or are worried about one) is to open the cans and pour the cream into a baking receptacle, cover with foil and bake at 180C for an hour or till caramelized (you will know when the milk’s colour has turned a caramel golden brown
  3. Then, assemble the pie: Slice the bananas directly onto the graham crust
  4. Once cool, open the cans of toffee and pour over the bananas
  5. Whip the cream till almost stiff, add vanilla and sugar, continue whipping till stiff
  6. Plop over the toffee and smooth it or decorate as you please
  7. For a final touch, grate some dark chocolate directly onto the cream
  8. Refrigerate till needed

Happy new year!

(All text and photos or images are copyright protected. Please do not reprint any stories, recipes or photographs without the author’s permission.)

January 2, 2009. Tags: , , , . Baked Goods, British, Desserts, Kids Cuisine. Leave a comment.

Mince Pies

This is the second fiddly recipe in a row but I couldn’t hold back – homemade mince pies are ever so yummy. I present a mini version because mincemeat is rather rich and they look sweet this way. These are a British festive offering, and the word ‘meat’ is reflective of the fact that traditionally, the filling contained suet, or raw beef or mutton fat.

Here, I don’t use any fat at all in the filling (because I clean forgot the butter!) but it has turned out beautifully. Many mince pie recipes use raisins, apples and spices but I include other flavours that I adore (citrus elements, ginger, dates, almonds, molasses). I omit the traditional rum because Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year are almost upon us – I won’t need the liquor to help these babies mature. In any case, they won’t last more than a day in this household!

For the filling:

  • raisins, 350g
  • Granny Smith apples, 2, skinned and grated
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • rind of same orange, chopped and cooked in simple syrup for ten minutes
  • candied lemon peel, 100g
  • candied red cherries, handful of, chopped
  • dried apricots, 80g, chopped
  • dates, 100g, chopped
  • ginger, fresh and grated, 3 tsp
  • brown sugar, 3/4 cup
  • molasses, 2 tbsp
  • orange juice, 3/4 cup
  • sliced almonds, 1/4 to 1/2 cup
  • ground cinnamon, 2-4 tsp
  • ground nutmeg, 2-3 tsp
  • butter, 50g (or not as the case may be)
  • rum, 2-3 tbsp (optional)
  1. Bung them all into a large pan and cook for about 25 mins, stirring occasionally
  2. The filling is done when the peels, apricot and raisins are soft and plumped up and everything has come together in a sticky, glossy mass
  3. Preheat the oven to 425F or 190C

For the pastry:

  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 220-240g cold butter, cubed
  • cold water, as needed
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour and salt and pulse a few times
  2. Add the cubed butter and pulse till it resembles fine breadcrumbs
  3. Slowly add water by tablespoonfuls till pastry comes together
  4. Remove from processor and pat by hand into three or four discs, encase in plastic wrap and allow to rest in fridge for 10-20 minutes
  5. Remove the discs from the fridge and roll out on a floured clean surface till thin and pliable. I hardly needed flour as this dough isn’t sticky
  6. Use round, metal pastry cutters to cut out circles
  7. Place these in a greased (mini) tart pan
  8. Fill with mincemeat, then cut out stars or whatever shape you like for the tops
  9. Brush with egg, sprinkle with sugar crystals (the bigger the more attractive)
  10. Bake for 15 minutes till golden or slightly brown at the edges
  11. Hide them from the family if necessary!

(All text and photos or images are copyright protected. Please do not reprint any stories, recipes or photographs without the author’s permission.)

December 20, 2008. Tags: , . Baked Goods, British, Desserts, Festive, winter. Leave a comment.

Cottage Pie

It’s been a hectic month, thanks to the hothouse of germs known as school and that other seasonal treat, winter. The children coped well, with their hardy constitutions and squirrel-like optimism, but I, stricken by the same bugs, needed to be propped up with advil, honeyed teas and a good wrapping of goosefeathers before I could face the Canadian outdoors 😉

Here’s a twist on Cottage Pie, comforting and morish on a frigid day. It makes for tasty leftovers too. Substitute minced lamb instead of beef for a Shepherd’s Pie 😀

Cottage Pie

  • Extra-lean minced beef, 1.2 kg (or two regular-sized packets)
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into small cubes
  • 2 medium carrots, cubed
  • 1 courgette, cut into attractive quarters
  • 3/4 tbsp cummin, ground
  • 3/4 tbsp mixed curry powder
  • handful of parsley or corriander, chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 small can condensed mushroom soup, low-fat

  • Substitution possibilities: instead of cummin and curry powder, try a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg and add more chopped herbs for aroma. You could boost the veggie factor with florets of broccoli too. The soup may be omitted.

    Preparing the meat:

  1. Saute the onions till soft, add celery, garlic, cook till fragrant and soft.
  2. Add carrots and cook for a few minutes, add cummin and curry powder, mix them well into the veg and allow the aroma to come through.
  3. Add the meat, mix well, add tomato paste, stir.
  4. Add soup and a can of water and the zucchini.
  5. Adjust seasoning (add pepper, salt to taste, even chilli flakes for extra zing).
  6. Cook till meat is done – possibly 20-30 minutes.

For the mash topping:

  • 3 large floury potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • milk, as needed
  • butter, as needed
  • optional additions: touch of cream, salt and pepper

  1. For the potato topping, mash the cooked potato with some butter and milk. For 3 potatoes, I add about 2 tbsp butter and quite a bit of 1% milk with a dash of salt, which works well.
  2. Prepare the topping: grate a mix of cheeses. I use parmesan and cheddar, enough to sprinkle a layer over the top of the mashed potato.
  3. Assemble your pie. Place the minced beef layer in a casserole dish, line it with foil to save some cleanup time. Add the mashed potato on top, you could smooth it or place it spoon by spoon, leaving the potato in peaks on top of the meat. Sprinkle the cheese on top.
  4. At this stage, the pie can be covered in foil and kept in the fridge till you need it later in the day or the next day.
  5. Bake in 180C oven for 25 mins if the meat was recently prepared and still hot. Bake possibly 50-60 mins if pre-prepared and refrigerated.

Mmmmm… enjoy!

November 28, 2007. Tags: , . British, Dinners, Mains, winter. 4 comments.

« Previous Page