Monday, July 18, 2011

Lavender shortbread

A taste of summer... or old ladies with lace handkerchiefs, depending on your associations with lavender! These are gently aromatic rather than over-powering. Elegant and refined, they would not be out of place at a proper English afternoon tea - which is just what I cooked them for today, when a dear family friend in her eighties called round for tea. Leave out the lavender and it's the simplest biscuit recipe in the world. Add in a tablespoon of garam masala or the grated zest of a lemon for a totally different take on them. If you think you're not a baker, then these are a good place to start - even my father can make them - he calls them 2-4-6 biccies (because of the imperial measurements) and is known to make them for grandchildren. From beginning to end they take maximum 20 minutes to make! The only way you can go badly wrong is to overcook them. Keep an eye on them like a hawk after the first 5 minutes - under done is better than over done with these, they go bitter if they get too dark. You are looking for a pale golden colour.

Preheat oven to 180C (170C for fan oven)
Makes 25

2 oz sugar
4 oz soft butter
6 oz plain flour
1 heaped tsp fresh or dried lavender flowers (pull them off the main stem so you have lots of tiny florettes)
More lavender and sugar for sprinkling.

Rub the butter with the sugar by hand or using an electric whisk. Add flour and lavender or other flavouring. Whisk or mix to combine. Then using your hands bring it together into a ball, pushing and kneading it slightly till it is in one big lump.

Lightly flour a clean surface. Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch (5mm) thick with a rolling pin. Cut out using a medium (5cm diametre) round or heart shaped biscuit cutter and place onto a non stick baking sheet.

Bake for 8-10 mins, watching carefully. Remove when pale golden. Sprinkle lightly with a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Remove from baking sheet onto a wire cooling rack. Sprinkle with more lavender to serve.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Mojitos - because it's summer , so it's too hot to be slaving away at a hot stove!

Juice of 5 limes
3 tbsp sugar (could be more, but start with this)
6 large sprigs of mint
200ml white rum
300-500ml soda water (can use sparkling water if necessary)- depending on how strong or long you want 'em
Lots of ice

Put the mint in a measuring jug (keep the leaves on the stalks). Add the sugar and pound for a couple of minutes with a pestle.

Roll and squeeze the juice from the limes, pour it over the minty sugar, and pound another couple of times.

Pour over the rum (you can measure it in the jug).

Top it up to the top of the jug with some of the soda water. Give it a good mix and taste it – now is the time to balance the tones- does it need more lime or sugar?

Fill a bigger jug with ice cubes, add in the mojitos and more soda water to taste.

Taste and adapt, taste and adapt! Taste, taste, taste!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

American Baking Goodies for the rest of us...

i have, I know, let slip once of twice my love of American baking, in fact most of the baking bloggers are American too, which a very happy mama me makes!

But it also causes problems: ingredients. So much of what is avaialble in the US does not exists in Ireland. Whenever I go over to visit family in America (only once every few years) I pack my bag full of American junk food and goodies to bring back!

Well now I have discovered my troubles are over -(they even have a section devoted to all the ingredients mentioned in Nigella Lawson's books!)

I am going to get a shipment of American wonders- peanut butter cups, maple flavour extract, butterscotch morsels, and gold fish crackers for my kiddies. Oooohhhh I'm excited. BUT I still can't track down mint chips for my mint brownies - might have to make my own!


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