Monday, August 30, 2010

Spitzbuebe (Jam cookies)

This is another recipe taken from my mother's Swiss cookbook. I remember her making these a few times when I was a very small child, but this was the first time I'd attempted to make them myself. I found the key to it was keeping the dough cool in the fridge so it was easier to work with, as I guess is the case with most shortbread type cookies. So I didn't cut them out all in one go; I cut them out in batches while keeping the rest of the dough cool in the fridge. They can be a bit fiddly and time-consuming, but the end result is an adorable and tasty cookie that would make a perfect gift. Btw "Spitzbuebe" means a naughty rascal of a boy. Odd name for such a cute cookie.

  • 250g margarine or butter, softened
  • 140g sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (caster sugar that has been sitting in a jar with a couple of vanilla bean pods)
  • 350g flour


Cream the margarine and the first amount of sugar.

Add the egg white, salt, vanilla sugar and flour. Mix well then set aside in fridge for an hour or two.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface and cut out circles. Cut smaller hearts (or other shapes) into half of the circles. These will later be used as the 'lids'.

Bake for 8-10 minutes at 180 Celsius and leave to cool.

Sieve icing sugar over the 'lids'.

Fill them with berry jam that has been warmed and sieved to remove any seeds.

Makes approx 65 complete cookies in total (cookies being approx 4cm in diameter).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tamarind and Chilli Beef Stir-Fry

It makes my mouth water just thinking about this dish. The sweet tang of the tamarind and the heat of the chilli, such a perfect combo. I really love recipes like this where you can cook them up in no time, and the simple ingredients create flavours that have the irony of being complex yet balanced, and of course - utterly delicious.

  • 400g beef schnitzel, rump steak, or any cut suitable for stir-frying.
  • 1 tsp brown sugar.
  • 2 tsp coriander powder.
  • A few tablespoons of tamarind water (soak a little tamarind pulp in boiling water, use the cooled strained water).
  • Salt and pepper.
  • 4 tablespoons of red chilli paste (use less if you can't handle the heat).
  • 4 shallots, crushed to a paste.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed.
  • A handful of vegetables of your choice.
  • Juice of half a lemon.


Slice the beef (against the grain) into thin strips.

Combine the sugar, coriander, tamarind water, salt and pepper. Mix this in with the beef and let it marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Heat some oil in a wok (or pan) and brown the meat until cooked through. Remove the beef and set aside, leaving the oil and juices in the wok.

Add the chilli, shallots and garlic to the wok. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes.

Return the meat to the wok along with the veges of your choice, stir well.

Squeeze lemon juice on top, and serve.

Makes approx 4 servings.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rosemary Biscuits

These biscuits are so simple in both ingredients and method; they are effortlessly delicious. They have all the satisfaction of a crumbly shortbread, but have the added bonus of a yummy flavour hit of rosemary.  If you have never tried rosemary in sweet baking before then you should definitely try these, you might become a convert like me. I find them perfect to munch on while enjoying a herbal tea.

  • 55g sugar
  • 115 butter, softened
  • 170g flour
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary


Mix the sugar, butter and flour until combined. It is easiest to use your hands.

Knead in the rosemary until a nice smooth ball of dough is formed.

Let the dough rest in the fridge for 15-30 minutes.

Roll out the dough 5mm thick and cut out the biscuits. I like to use mini cookie cutters.

Set out on a greased or lined baking tray, leaving a small space between each.

Bake at 180 Celsius for 10-15 minutes until they start to go lightly golden.

Makes a small batch: approx 40 mini cookies, or approx 15 'regular' sized cookies.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pizza Napolitana

When I was a kid our home-made pizzas would often have tinned spaghetti as a main topping. Mum would create them on a Sunday night and we'd all hunker down in the lounge and munch on them while watching Our World (a nz nature doco show). Now although we all thought this was truly delicious, every now and then my mum would also whip out her 'Swiss' pizza recipe. Now this, was the ultimate. This was also my first introduction to what an authentic pizza should be like. It even made me grow to love anchovies, mmm anchovies. So here is the the translation of the original recipe for this yummy thin-crust pizza.

Note: I love to add other stuff like mushrooms, and my mum didn't use mozzarella (was probably impossible to find back then) so feel free to use other things you prefer, however, I'll never skip the anchovy. Don't skip the anchovy. Did you know I like anchovy?


250ml milk (lukewarm)
1 and 1/2 tsp active dried yeast
375g flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tablespoons oil
80g butter
8-9 tomatoes (sliced)
200g mozzarella
1 tin anchovies
a handful of black olives (chop or leave whole)
2 onions, sliced into thin rings
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon oregano
6 tablespoons olive oil


Warm 50ml of the milk to a lukewarm temperature, then dissolve the yeast in it.

Mix the flour, salt and herbs in a large bowl; form a hollow in the middle and pour in the oil.

Heat the remaining 200ml of the milk and melt the butter in it, then add this to the flour mixture along with the yeasty milk.

Stir everything together and then knead by hand for a few minutes.

Cover and let it double in size in a warm place.

Divide the dough in 2. Roll, or pat, them out on a lightly floured surface until they are half a centimetre thick. Ideally it will make two 20 cm round pizzas.

Place the pizzas on a tray or tin etc. Layer with sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, anchovies, olives and onions, and scatter on the herbs. Let them rise again for a little bit.

Drizzle with olive oil before baking at a moderate temperature, about 190 Celsius is ideal for this amount of toppings and should take 15-20 minutes.

Btw feel free to prepare the pizzas in advance, especially if you want to serve several at a time. Just cook them briefly and take them out of the oven when they are still pale and set them aside. Then later on bake when you want them, heat them until they become golden brown, should only take a few minutes.

Makes 2

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte (Blackforest Cake)

My boyfriend's birthday was coming up so I asked him what kind of cake he'd like, his response was swift: a blackforest cake. I was a little intimidated to try it but I'd seen my dad make one a few times (he's a huge fan of them too). So I contacted my dad and asked him to send me his recipe (which was all in Swiss-German). I was still unsure whether I could handle it, and was looking at other chocolate cake recipes...that was until I received a parcel in the mail, from my parents, containing the recipe and most of the ingredients I would need to make it. Side note: my parents are awesome. After a lot of fun attempting to translate the recipe I ended up making the cake and it turned out to be a success and the boyfriend loved did I.

The Cake:

  • 120g margarine or softened butter
  • 120g sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons kirsch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 120g almonds, peeled and ground
  • 120g dark chocolate, grated finely
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
  • 120g flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 6 egg whites, beaten 'til stiff
  • 1 pinch salt

Beat the margarine/butter, sugar and egg yolks until foamy.

Fold in the kirsch, water, almonds, chocolate and vanilla sugar.

Sieve in the flour and baking powder and add salt, mix lightly then fold in the beaten egg whites.

Bake in a 25cm tin for 50 minutes at 175 Celsius.

When cool, slice the cake twice horizontally to create three equal layers of cake.

The Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon kirsch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 3 sheets of gelatine
  • 500ml cream
  • 700g sour cherries, drained


Mix the kirsch and water and drizzle it over the three layers.

Dissolve the gelatine according to the directions on packet, then fold it into the beaten cream, coat the two bases leaving some cream for decoration.

Distribute the cherries on the two layers, then place the two layers on top of each other then place 'lid' on top.

Coat the entire cake in cream and decorate how you wish. I chose to melt some of the leftover dark chocolate and smear teaspoonful sized blobs on greaseproof paper to create some shards to place around the edges and top. I then just grated some milk chocolate on top.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Spicy Kumara Strudel

If you were to sit a plate of roasted vegetables in front of me, I'd skip all the other veges and go straight for the kumara. So i thought I'd create a dish that incorporates them in a different way, but still embraces the yummy chunky goodness of a roasted kumara. I guess it also reflects my Swiss-German and Indian connections. I love how the pastry on the inside of the strudel takes on a soft pasta-like texture, not at all chewy like you might expect. I used an orange kumara because I love the vivid colour, but any kumara, or even solely using potato would also work nicely.



50g butter, cubed
200g high-grade flour
pinch of salt
100ml cold water


2 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed/finely chopped
1 Tbsp crushed/grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
400g (approx one large) orange kumara, peeled and cubed
100g (approx one small) potato, peeled and cubed
100ml hot vegetable or chicken stock
salt to taste

  • Bring the oil to a medium heat and fry the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, chilli powder and curry leaves until aromatic (just a minute or so).
  • Add the onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, kumara and potato. Sauté for a couple minutes more then add the hot stock and cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Remove lid and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed. Salt to taste and set aside to cool.
  • To make the pastry:

    • mix the butter, flour and salt in a bowl, using your fingers to rub in the butter. Add the water and work it into a soft dough. Wrap in food-wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 Celcius
  • On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough as thinly as you can.
  • Spread the cold filling over the dough then start folding the pastry over the mixture to form a large roll. Stop halfway to fold in the edges as if you were making a giant spring roll.
  • Place the roll on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake for approx 50 minutes.
Serves  at least 4

Monday, August 02, 2010

Ladysmith Cake

Ladysmith Cake is apparently a Kiwi invention, and it appears in so many vintage recipe books so I assume it is (or at least was) rather popular, but to be honest I had never had it until this year. Here's a great version that was taken from a recipe book published way back in 1940; (credit for the recipe goes to Mrs Hugh Carswell).

edit: I've recently discovered it was named to celebrate the lifting of a four-month siege of the South African town of Ladysmith in February 1900, during the Boer War.

The cake itself has a yummy subtle spiciness to it, and is so light and soft. I also love how the walnuts become lovely and toasted at the top, combined with the jam in the centre, this is a beautiful combination of textures and flavours. It has now become one of my "go-to" cake recipes, an awesome addition to any afternoon tea.


185g butter
185g sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs
185 g flour
1 Tbsp cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
4 Tbsp jam (any berry jam is ideal, raspberry, strawberry, or my favourite; blackcurrant)
1/4 cup (50g) chopped walnuts


Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius and grease or line a cake tin (the original recipe refers to an 18cm square cake tin as being ideal, but I use a 20cm round tin.)

Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the vanilla, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Fold in the flour, cornflour and baking powder. Scoop half the mixture into a separate bowl, sift the spices on top, fold them through, then spread evenly into the cake tin.

Spoon the jam onto the spicy cake mixture and carefully spread as evenly as possible, then top with remaining plain cake mixture.

Sprinkle with walnuts.

Bake for 50-60 minutes.

Kheema Bhurjee

Kheema Bhurjee roughly translates to "mince fry-up", but as it is an Indian dish you know it's going to pack more punch than the simple name may imply. Btw fresh coriander would also be a great addition along with the mint. So chuck some in if you have it. Coriander is out of season here at the mo, and I refuse to pay ridiculous prices for it so I skip it. Still tastes awesome.


1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon garlic, crushed/finely chopped
1 Tablespoon ginger, crushed/grated
3/4 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
100g (about 3/4 cup) peas, thawed if frozen
200g (about 3) tomatoes, chopped
350g minced lamb
1 Tablespoon fresh mint
1 red chilli, chopped
salt, to taste


Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a pan, add the onions and fry on moderate heat for about 10 minutes until they are golden brown.

Add the cumin seeds and bay leaves, fry for a minute 'til the seeds are toasted.

Add the ginger, garlic, chilli powder, turmeric, ground coriander, peas and tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the lamb, stir-fry for 10-15 minutes.

Stir in the mint and red chilli. Season with salt. Stir-fry for a couple minutes more.

Traditionally this is served with sliced bread or soft bread rolls, however it's still nice with rice.

Peachee Scones

Recently my friend got me hooked on a carbonated peach drink called Peachee, made by Bundaberg. Now while it's best to drink the stuff to get the full force of flavour, I started to toy with the idea of using it in a scone mixture. I'd always heard about using lemonade in a scone mix but had never bothered with it, but my bottle of Peachee was calling me to try it out. Verdict: great success. Instead of using cream I decided to use a half half mixture of yoghurt and buttermilk. The resulting dough was very sticky, but I was still able to work with it, so if you try this recipe don't be too alarmed by the seemingly sloppy mess, it will reward you with delightfully soft scones.

  • 3 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup peach yoghurt (or nectarine or anything in a similar vein)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup Peachee
  • Lemon curd for filling


Preheat your oven to 220 Celsius.

Sift the flour into a large bowl then add the wet ingredients.
Mix briefly to form a dough. Don't worry if it's a bit sticky, but if you are really worried just add more flour.

Tip out onto a floured bench and roll or pat it out til dough is 2-3cm thick.
Cut with a floured cutter or cut into squares.

Place the scones on a prepared tray, be sure to place them close together to help them rise.

Brush the tops with milk and b
ake for 10-15 minutes. Split them and spread with lashings of lemon curd.