Springerle German biscuits

 

Every Christmas, for many years now, I have been baking these traditional Springerle German biscuits. They date back as far as the 14th century (I just Googled it – I haven’t been making them that whole time.). The original old recipe flavours this biscuit with anise extract but we are not big fans of that taste so I add vanilla extract instead. The vanilla gives these biscuits a delicious flavour. The name Springerle refers to the “spring” in the dough as it rises up so nicely.

Traditional Springerle biscuits

I bought my German Springerle roller online years ago and I really love it. It is wooden and has images of flowers and birds. I also really like that it prints onto the pastry in squares so it makes cutting them up to put on the tray really easy. When I roll it onto the dough I always roll the dough our with a normal rolling pin, then lightly flour the dough and press evenly with my Springerle roller using my hands on the roller itself. I don’t use the handles because I find I can’t distribute the pressure as evenly. You can also find Springerle boards instead of rollers. If you don’t have either of these, you could just cut shapes out of your dough. They will work just as well.

Springerle German biscuits

Springerle German biscuits

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 3 3/4 cups icing sugar (confectioners' sugar)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups Plain flour (sifted) - note, you may need to add more to get the consistency of the dough right. I just start with 4 cups and add more if I need to.
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light with an electric mixer on high speed.
  2. Reduce speed and add the vanilla extract and icing sugar. Continue beating a medium speed until well combined.
  3. Sift together the flour and baking powder; stir into the egg mixture. The dough will be stiff.
  4. Tip dough out onto lightly floured board. Knead until smooth.
  5. Roll dough out to 1 cm thickness. Lightly flour the dough surface.
  6. Imprint with a springerle roller and cut apart. Place biscuits onto a lined baking sheet and let rest uncovered overnight.
  7. The next day, preheat oven to 175 deg C (350 deg F).
  8. Bake biscuits for 7-10 minutes. (They will rise up underneath)
http://trinamichellehouse.com/springerle-german-biscuits/

You will see that the recipe requires that you leave the cut biscuit dough uncovered on the trays overnight. This is a weird instruction but I always do it and I think it’s the secret to a good Springerle biscuit.

Springerle cookies

These Springerle German biscuits make lovely gifts for friends or the kid’s teachers. They are a bit special and unique.

You don’t have to be German to give these a try! (You could even experiment with different flavours. I’m sure orange extract or cinnamon would also work – although I haven’t tried it – we love the vanilla). Make these as something special this Christmas. They might just become a new traditional baking treat in your house.

Trina xx

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Couscous minestrone soup

For Meatless Monday this week I made Couscous minestrone soup. It was a rushed day. I had been working, then picked up my girls from school. I dropped one off at her after school job, and then took the other one to an Orthodontics appointment. We got home later than usual and I didn’t have much time to cook dinner. So this recipe was the perfect solution.

Minestrone soup on the stove

A while ago I had seen a TV show we have here called The Cook’s Pantry.  A recipe they demonstrated on the show was this one for Couscous Minestrone Soup. Of course their recipe is full of brands that sponsor the show, but still, it was full of ingredients that I keep on hand and are familiar with (even if the brands weren’t all the same).

I changed the recipe very slightly. The one written below is almost the same as the original but without the brand names they use on the TV show.

You can find the original recipe over at The Cook’s Pantry website. Here is my modified recipe:

Couscous minestrone soup

COUSCOUS MINESTRONE SOUP

SERVING SIZE:

4 people

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tins of cherry tomatoes
  • 500ml vegetable stock (made up from a powder or homemade)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced small
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs Olive Oil
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Parmesan cheese, to serve
  • Sourdough, to serve

 

METHOD :

  • Put a large pot over stove. Pour in olive oil, and start to fry off carrot, onion and celery.
  • Add zucchini to the pot, stirring through. Fry for 3-4 minutes, or until vegetables are softened but not browned.
  • Once vegetables have softened, pour in tinned tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and vegetable stock. Stir through so ingredients are well combined. Bring pot to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cooking for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. (TIP: The smaller you chop the veggies the quicker it will cook.)
  • Pour couscous into pot and cook for 2 minutes, or until couscous has cooked. Take pot off heat.
  • Mix half parsley through soup.
  • Serve with Parmesan and fresh parsley sprinkled over the top and toasted sourdough bread on the side.

Couscous minestrone soup at table

I like the addition of Worcestershire sauce. I add this instead of salt (the stock adds enough salt in my opinion) and it gives it a lovely flavour. Worcestershire sauce is added to my bolognese sauce too.

Those of you living in countries where it is getting colder might like to give this recipe a try. It’s a great one for the winter months and was on the table very quickly (I chopped my veggies pretty small!).  We have had a bit of a cold snap here in Melbourne, Australia, over the last week, so salads have been shelved while I sneak in the last soup nights we’ll probably enjoy for a few months.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

Trina xx

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Boiled chocolate raspberry cake

It was my birthday this week and so I made a big boiled chocolate raspberry cake to take in to work. It’s office policy!

This recipe makes a nice big cake and it’s really delicious without being too rich. The addition of fresh strawberries on the top also help to soften the blow. I cut mine into sixteen generous slices.

Chocolate cake in the office

Chocolate cake slices

My favourite thing about this cake is it’s texture. It is really moist and dense but not too heavy when you eat it. I decided to cover it with a whipped chocolate ganache (it’s like a chocolate mousse) but normal chocolate icing is still really good. This cake feeds a crowd really well, but you can halve the recipe if you don’t want a cake quite as big (just remember to shorten the baking time if you do this). I also really like the way this cake cuts so cleanly. It’s an easy one to slice up, so you won’t be dreading that job.

Boiled chocolate and raspberry cake

If you are going to make this boiled chocolate raspberry cake, it does require a bit of forethought. I like to boil the butter, sugar cocoa and water the night before so that it is completely cool going into the mixture. You don’t have to do it that early, but as long as the liquid component has completely cooled before using. Otherwise the result is not as good.

Here is the delicious recipe:

Boiled chocolate raspberry cake

Boiled chocolate raspberry cake

Ingredients

  • 250g butter
  • 4 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 3 cups self raising flour
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • Fresh strawberries to serve
    Whipped chocolate ganache
  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Place butter, cocoa, sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir to dissolve sugar, then cool completely (I like to leave mine overnight).
  2. Add remaining ingredients (add frozen raspberries last), mix well and pour mixture into a well greased and lined 24cm diameter springform tin.
  3. Bake in 180°C oven for around 1 1/2 hours, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  4. Cool in tin 10 minutes, then remove sides and turn out onto a rack (remove base) to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, make the ganache.
    Whipped chocolate ganache
  1. Put chocolate in food processor and pulverise chocolate until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Heat cream in a jug in the microwave to boiling point (I do 1 minute on HIGH).
  3. With food processor running, pour hot cream in on the chocolate in a steady stream.
  4. Process for a few seconds until smooth.
  5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or while cake cools....can be an hour or so) until cold (but don't leave it too long or it will be too stiff).
  6. Add vanilla and beat on low speed in an electric mixer for about 5 minutes, until soft peaks form.
  7. Cover cake with ganache then store covered in fridge until required.
  8. I serve cake topped with sliced fresh strawberries.
http://trinamichellehouse.com/boiled-chocolate-raspberry-cake/

It was warm weather over here in Melbourne, so storing this cake in the fridge was a good option.

By the end of the day, this cake was completely all gone! If you need to make a large cake for an occasion, this one is a winner!

It’s a great option for your Christmas parties and gatherings. Give it a try and let us know how you like it.

Trina xx

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sweet potato & feta rolls

For Meatless Monday dinner this week I made these delicious sweet potato and feta rolls. They are like sausage rolls but obviously without the “sausage”. They were really yummy and I think you will want to make them too. These rolls are really easy to whip up and have a delicious flavour. I think the feta makes them super tasty.

Sweet potato and feta rolls

I was inspired by this Gluten-free, egg-free version in the latest Coles magazine. You can find that recipe over here.

I made up my own version with what I had on hand. It is not gluten-free or egg-free but our family don’t have those dietary requirements.

Here is my version:

Sweet potato & feta rolls

Sweet potato & feta rolls

Ingredients

  • 3 small sweet potatoes, chopped in to small chunks
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 bunch of spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 400g chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 100g feta, crumbled
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 deg C.
  2. Line baking trays with baking paper.
  3. Cook sweet potato in pot of boiling water until soft.
  4. Drain sweet potato and mash with potato masher. Set aside to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, heat oil in small pan and cook the onion, garlic, turmeric and cumin until onion is soft and spices are fragrant.
  6. Add the spinach to the pan and let it wilt.
  7. Once spinach is wilted, add the mixture to a bowl along with chickpeas, feta and sweet potato.
  8. Mix to combine.
  9. Cut each piece of pastry in half and shape the mixture into logs along the pastry strips.
  10. Roll up the pastry to enclose the filling.
  11. Cut into small slices and place on prepared tray.
  12. Brush with beaten egg.
  13. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
http://trinamichellehouse.com/sweet-potato-feta-rolls/

These sweet potato and feta rolls would make a delicious lunch and can be eaten cold the next day in the school lunch or teamed with a great salad for a bigger meal. I made a brown rice salad to eat with these rolls this week. I roasted some broccoli and cauliflower with tomatoes too and added that to the rice along with some nuts and seeds. For the dressing I mixed up some balsamic vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice. This simple salad is the perfect compliment to the rolls, but you can add anything you like.

Another great accompaniment salad is my TMH Broccoli and Apple Salad. Get the recipe from over here.

If you are having a party, these sweet potato and feta rolls would be an ideal finger food. Serve with a tomato chutney and your guests will think you are amazing. You can make them ahead of time and freeze them until required. Then simply reheat in the oven.

sweet potato & feta rolls

Give these rolls a go at your place. Make them for a Christmas gathering or for a really yummy lunch or even team it with a salad and have it for “Meatless Monday” like we did!

Trina xx

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

“The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield

I have just finished reading “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield and I LOVED IT! This book had me hooked right from the start and I didn’t want it to end.

"The Thirteenth Tale"

It is about a young woman called Margaret Lea. Margaret works with her father in his quiet little book store, Lea’s Antiquarian Booksellers near Cambridge, England. Over the years, Margaret has discovered that she enjoys reading almanacs and old diaries and piecing together history to write biographies of people who were once notable for something but have since been forgotten. Another thing, Margaret is a twin. She was born joined to her twin but her twin did not survive the separation. Her parents never talk about it but Margaret has a scar down her side to prove that it is true. She feels the loss of her twin every day.

Book quote

One evening, Margaret receives a letter from England’s most popular current author, Vida Winter. Vida has a story to tell. The media have tried to get her story in the past, but she would not divulge the truth. Finally, now that her life is nearing an end, she is ready to tell her story. For real this time. And she would like Margaret to be the one to hear it and record it. Vida’s letter was inviting Margaret to come to her house in Yorkshire and stay with her until the story has been told.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

After much thought and consideration, Margaret takes Vida up on her offer and goes to stay with her and starts to hear Vida’s story. They sit together in Vida’s extensive library in her huge house and Margaret hears the story. When she returns to her room she writes it all down and ponders the twists and turns of Vida’s life.

"The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield novel

As the story evolves, things are not what they seem. Margaret starts to question her assumptions and as a reader, I realised that I had also made some assumptions.

Vida understands the bond of twins and Margaret is intrigued with this part of Vida’s story in particular. I don’t want to spoil it for you so I will stop telling you any more about the story.

I love the way this book had me thinking and excited about reading the next chapter.

The Thirteenth Tale review

If you can get your hands on this book, READ IT!!

Trina xx

Print Friendly, PDF & Email