Sunday, December 21, 2014

Swiss Schenkeli - Deep Fried Cookies

It's summertime in New Zealand and Christmas is just around the corner. So like most years I've headed back to my hometown to spend this time with my parents. And a visit with them would not be complete without stealing one of their recipes. Not only is my mum an awesome cook, but my dad is a pretty keen baker too. Though I think it's more because he's a pretty keen eater! So today's recipe is actually one from my dad's repertoire.

Schenkeli are a traditional Swiss treat. I'm not sure how I should describe them as calling them a cookie feels wrong as they are soft and cake-like in the middle, but not doughy like a doughnut. I guess they have the taste and texture of a deep-fried cake. With their hint of lemon they are very reminiscent of a lemon cake...just deep fried. They look pretty unassuming but be warned they are completely moreish. Traditionally they would not be made at Christmas, they are made for other festivals. However,  having come from Switzerland to NZ, traditions are bound to be merged or altered. It's all good.

My dad was kind enough to translate his recipe and let me document how he makes them. So here it is. Oh by the way Schenkeli translates to 'Little Thighs' (Swiss baking often has weird names, these being another weird one).



125 g butter, softened
250 g sugar
1 pinch of salt
4 eggs
1 lemon, grated zest only
500 g flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon. kirsch
2 tablespoons cream
Oil for deep-frying


Beat  butter until soft and creamy.
Add sugar, salt and eggs alternately and beat thoroughly.
Add the lemon zest.
Mix flour with the baking powder and then add to mixture along with kirsch and cream.
Mix and add more flour if needed. The dough should be relatively firm.
Wrap in foil and refrigerate for about 1-2 hours.
Divide the dough into portions, shape them into rolls with a diameter of 2 cm and cut them into pieces about 5 cm long. Roll the ends.

Deep fry in vegetable oil at 170 Celsius. Temperature control is important; if the oil is too hot, the inside will not be cooked; if the oil is too cool, a lot of oil will soak into the dough. So just test it out with your first batch. We find 7 minutes is ideal, but this will vary so just use your discretion. Just make sure to fry until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towels.

Makes approx 40.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Marmalade: small quantity, big flavour

I recently was given some oranges, lemons and limes. It was a no brainer that I would then turn them into marmalade. My last jar was just about to run out and it was perfect timing. It was just meant to be.

I thought I'd share this recipe that I came up with because I'm definitely no expert in jam making but this wee combo works well for me every time. It's super easy and quick and makes enough for one decent sized jar. Great if you love marmalade but don't want your shelves stacked with the stuff. Plus it saves you heaps of faffing around. Definite bonus.

This recipe makes approximately enough to fill one 700g jar (or two 350g jars). It's adaptable too, you can alter the types of citrus, or add other ingredients like fresh ginger (I love this and definitely recommend it!). You don't even have to use the brown sugar if you don't have it handy; you can switch it out for white, but I reckon it's worth it as it gives a richer colour and extra taste. Anyway enough rambling, on to the recipe...



500g of whole citrus fruits, (I generally like to use 2 oranges and a lemon and/or  lime)
125g brown sugar
375g white sugar
option: can also add grated fresh ginger, about 25g


Grab your fruits and wash the skins well. Next you need to decide how chunky you want your marmalade and chop the rind up to suit. You can either take the quick way and use a food processor to blitz them up, or you can cut by hand or grate them. Key is you want to get the rinds as small as you would be comfortable eating. Either way just make sure you don't have any giant pieces of rind or fruit. For the marmalade in the picture I chopped by hand, but it's way simpler just to wizz in blender and works well too. If using ginger just grate it up and add with the fruits.

Next, add all the chopped fruits and rinds to a pot along with the sugars. Cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes until the sugar has melted then bring it to the bring it to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Take it off the heat and set it aside for 5 minutes then stir it and pour into a clean jar.

Keep it in the fridge, stays good for up to 6 months or so.

Hint: Remove any seeds as you come across them, they'll often float to the surface during cooking.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Self-Crusting Quiche

Quiche without pastry just sounds so wrong. Pastry is amazing; it just makes everything just taste extra good. Oddly enough though, I've been making my quiche without pastry for years and I find it just as delicious. The key is just to pimp out your filling with tasty flavours. It's definitely my go-to recipe when I realise I haven't got a dinner planned because as far as fillings go, anything goes, even your leftovers or vegetables that are no longer looking so fresh.

I don't really have a set list of filling ingredients as the world's your oyster. Fillings I've used range from pumpkin to sardines. All ingredients just get mixed in a bowl then poured in your cooking dish. Couldn't be too much simpler. For the one in the photo we were running low on food supplies so I just used what we had on hand: 1 x 185g tin of tuna in red thai curry, some chopped silverbeet and a teaspoon each of crushed ginger and garlic. It was awesome!

So to get started here is the base-recipe for the quiche.

Self-Crusting Quiche:

3 eggs
1 tablespoon oil
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup plain flour (can use self raising flour, just omit the baking powder)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup grated cheese
1 onion, finely chopped
Seasonings: use anything you fancy, besides salt and pepper you can use whatever flavours you like: ginger; garlic; spice mixes like Cajun, bbq or Indian, or any herbs or spices of your choice.
Fillings: any veges or proteins of your choosing.(For the quiche in the photo I had added 1 x 185g tin of tuna in red thai curry, chopped silverbeet and a teaspoon each of crushed ginger and garlic. It was simple but delicious.)

Method: Beat the eggs in a large bowl then add the other wet ingredients. Add the flour and baking powder and whisk it together to get rid of any lumps, then mix in the rest of the ingredients.  Pour into a 22cm/9 inch round dish and bake at 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit), for approx 30-40 minutes or until set in the centre.

Makes one 22cm round quiche.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Fig Ice Cream

Making your own ice cream is so rewarding and fun. The world's your oyster when it comes to flavour combinations, and there are different ways to make your ice cream base. For example, some recipes require making a custard-type base using eggs (such as in my pistachio ice cream recipe) and others are more basic like a sherbet using only water and milk. These will offer differing levels of creaminess.

Recently I wanted to experiment with making a creamy ice cream without having to faff about using eggs, basically I wanted to be lazier and also use less ingredients. And here is the result, a rich and creamy ice cream just using sweetened condensed milk and whole milk. I used dried figs and cinnamon as my flavours, which is an amazing combination, but it'd work with millions of other flavours too. I'll definitely be experimenting more with it. Good thing is you don't even need an ice cream machine to get good results, you just need to be aware of a few tips if you're unfamiliar with making handmade ice cream, so I'll be sure to put those with the recipe.



200g dried figs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups whole milk
1 tin of sweetened condensed milk (397g)
(Almond flakes and extra chopped dried figs as optional garnish)


Add the dried figs, cinnamon and half of the milk (2 cups) to a saucepan.
Bring to boil, simmer over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the figs soften.
Remove from heat and let cool. Blend until smooth.
Now add the rest of the milk (2 cups) and sweetened condensed milk.
Whisk well.
Pour into a shallow, freeze-proof container.
Place in freezer, follow instructions below.


To ensure a creamier ice cream, remove the ice cream from the freezer as it just starts to freeze around the edges. Blend or beat the mixture to remove the lumps and incorporate air into it. It's best to do this often until it's too frozen to handle anymore. I tend to do it every hour as it takes my ice cream several hours to set, but your timing might be different. You could skip all of this and just leave it to freeze, but the result will be more icy. Also, handmade ice cream tends to freezer quite hard, so you'll need to let it stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before attempting to serve it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Grape Tartlets

Recently I was given a whole bunch of grapes. Well technically it was several bunches, and was more than I could eat. So, since necessity is the mother of all invention, I decided to try an incorporate them into some baking. So here this tartlet recipe was born.

I decided to use the grapes to make a jam/jelly type thing, then used it to fill some homemade tart cases. The pastry creates a 'buttery biscuit base' similar to shortbread, but the jam is the highlight. I'd make it again just to use on its own as a jam or a dessert sauce. I never knew or expected grape jam to be so good. It's sweet but not overly so and has a smooth tangy grape flavour, reminds me a bit of rhubarb jam in that it's nice and earthy with a mild tartness. If I ever inherit more of those grapes they will end up being bottled for sure. I don't think this recipe would work so well with certain store bought grapes, especially seedless ones, as you want a strong robust flavoured grape, nothing too sweet or watery. I'm not sure of the variety I was given, but you can see them in the pic below. They were ideal.

I'm now really keen to look more into making jams and preserves, I've only ever dabbled in it. However, the amount of sugar you need in a lot of recipes is quite scary. But no worse than store bought stuff I guess. Plus it'd be quite a handy skill to have, especially when there is an abundance of seasonal produce.

Anyway enough rambling, onto the recipe!

(makes approx 42)

2 cups plain flour, plus extra for rolling out dough
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup (225g) salted butter, chilled and cut into small chunks
1/4 teaspoon salt
(note: you can use unsalted butter, just add 3/4 tsp salt instead of 1/4)
1/4 cup ice cold water

4 cups (680g) grapes
4 cardamom pods, crushed
Juice of one lemon (approx 3 tablespoons)
1 cup granulated sugar (I used some mandarin sugar which added extra dimension)
Pinch salt

Make the dough:  Combine flour sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (see the pic).  Add the ice water, a little bit at a time, and mix until the dough holds together. Knead the dough into a ball or two then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Dough keeps well in fridge so you can even prepare it a day or two ahead.

Make the jam: Add the grapes and lemon juice to saucepan. Cook over high heat for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently, you can even mash them with a potato masher or spoon to help grapes release their juices. Next, strain this mixture through a sieve (you should end up with just under 2 cups juice). Return the juice to saucepan over high heat, stir in sugar and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for approx 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool, stir occasionally. Will thicken up even more upon cooling.

Make the tartlets: Remove dough from fridge, use extra flour to dust and roll out to approx 3mm thick. Use an appropriate sized cutter to cut out disks to fit in the bottom of lightly greased muffin or cupcake pans (I use a 9cm cookie cutter).  Fill the dough cases with a bit of jam liquid, for my sized tarts I used 1 heaped teaspoon of jam. Just note: too much jam will result in it bubbling over.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 20-25 min at 190 Celsius (375 Fahrenheit).

Makes 42

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Banana Cupcakes, Lemon Butter Icing

I recently learnt that New Zealand has the highest rate of banana consumption in the world per capita. In my household we contribute to that quite a lot. Thing is, we buy bananas every week but yet we still seem to always leave a couple of them in the fruit bowl to go brown. Guess I could just buy less bananas, but the more tastier solution is to use the overripe ones in some baking or freeze them to use in baking at a later date. It's a regular thing for us, so quite often I wonder if my husband and I have an unspoken rule that we will never eat the last 2 or 3 bananas. Just so we get to eat cake. Yes we are pigs. Cunning pigs.

Usually the brown neglected bananas will end up as a loaf in my favourite go-to recipe, but a few weeks ago I thought I'd try them as cupcakes in a more delicate recipe and with an icing. They are equally as delicious, but lighter and sweeter than the loaf. It's also nice to have icing as a decadent treat, and the lemon is an awesome addition and cuts through the sweetness of the icing. To be honest though as good as this recipe is I think I'll keep it for special occasions, as for my day-to-day cooking I like to keep things simple and quick. So this weeks batch of brown bananas will probably be back in my old faithful loaf. Anyone have any other suggestions for using up old bananas? Or am I destined to be known as the banana loaf lady.

This recipe is an adaptation from one I found online, you can find the original here.



115g butter (approx 1/2 cup)
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (approx 2 medium)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
(note: if you don't have buttermilk just add 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice to 1/2 cup milk, and let it sit for 5 minutes, then use as replacement)

2 cups icing sugar (confectioners' sugar)
1/3 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons mashed ripe banana
1 tablespoon lemon juice (or more)
grated lemon rind, for garnish


In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 180 Celsius/ 375° Fahrenheit for 10-20 minutes (depending on size) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Then, in a bowl, combine the icing ingredients; beat until light and fluffy. Ice the cupcakes as you desire. For mine I piped small swirls and topped with lemon rind for garnish.

Makes 60 mini bite-sized cupcakes (using 4.5cm diameter cupcake papers)
or (according to original recipe) it makes 1 and 1/2 dozen classic sized cupcakes.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chicken Manchurian

Chicken Manchurian is an Indian dish that is a delicious hybrid of Indian and Chinese cuisine. It's a bit like a sweet and sour chicken, but with more oomph. Marinated boneless pieces of chicken are deep fried and then cooked in a tangy ginger-garlic sauce and garnished with lashings of spring onions. It is so good, and a definite must-try. The deep-frying of the chicken can even be simplified by doing it in a wok; you'll only need the oil to be a few centimetres deep to achieve a nice golden fry.

If you've never tried an Indo-Chinese dish before then I definitely urge you to try this, it has a wonderfully different and satisfying taste. It's also a good dish for people who don't like chilli as it's still an amazingly tasty dish even if you omit it.



400g boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

Marinade Ingredients:

1 tsp soy sauce
1 egg-white
3 Tablespoons cornflour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon water

Other Ingredients:

Oil, also needed for deep frying
Couple of spring onions, chopped
1 green capsicum, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic (at least!, feel free to add more)
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon tomato sauce or ketchup
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/2 cup water (you can also use chicken stock, but I find plain water is fine)


In a bowl mix together the chicken pieces and the marinade ingredients (see above). Pop it in fridge to sit for about an hour.

When ready, deep fry the chicken for just a few minutes until golden. Remove and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or other suitable cooking vessel. Add the chopped spring onions (reserve some for garnish), capsicum, chilli, garlic and ginger. Fry for a few minutes. Add the soy sauce, tomato sauce and vinegar. Mix well. Add 2 cups water then bring the mixture to the boil. Now add  the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix together the tablespoon of  cornflour with 1/2 cup of water, then slowly add to wok while stirring. Cook for just a couple of minutes then serve. Garnish with the reserved spring onions. Great served with rice.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Plum and Hazelnut Puff Pastry Tart:

First post of 2014 and it's one of my favourite family recipes. This dish is one we'd have every summer when our plum tree would be so laden down with plums and it'd become a race between us and the blackbirds as to who could eat them the fastest.

So this year as I'm visiting my parents over the summer, I made sure to get in before the birds and collect a giant basket of these gorgeous Black Doris plums and finally put pen to paper and document my mum's recipe.

We usually call it by a Swiss name so I was unsure what to title it in English. It has a puff pastry base and a thin layer of ground hazelnuts on which the plums sit enveloped in a custard. So is that a flan or a tart or or pastry or pie? No idea, alls I know is that it's delicious. And thankfully that's all that really matters.



400g flaky puff pastry
100g hazelnuts, finely ground
approx 23 'black doris' plums
4 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
300ml cream


Preheat oven to 210 Celsius.

Roll out the pastry to fit a roasting tray approx 34cm x 24cm. Needs to come up the sides a couple of centimetres.

Using a fork, prick the base of the pastry several times. This is to stop it puffing up randomly during baking.

Sprinkle the ground hazelnuts evenly on top.

Chop the plums in half, remove the stones, then make another slice 3/4 the way through each half, like so:

Then place the plums in the tray, overlapping them ever so slightly, as in the picture above.

Next, whisk together the eggs, sugar and cream. Mix for a minute or two until the eggs are completely beaten in. Pour the mixture evenly onto the plum tart.

Place in oven preheated to 210 Celsius and bake for approx 30 minutes until the pastry browns and the custard is set. Just jiggle the tray or poke the custard to test if it has set.

Can be served warm or hot. we love to eat it with a sprinkle on cinnamon sugar and a dollop of whipped cream.

Will serve at least 8, depending on choice of serving size. So can serve up to 16.