Archive for the 'Food' Category

The Elusive Perfect Shortbread – Oat and Vanilla Shortbread Cookies

One thing I thoroughly enjoyed about the UK was their love of puddings and desserts. Even though I’m usually quite loyal to my US baking roots, the Brits have some really, really good options. From basic custard, to Bakewell tart, on down the line to something as supposedly simple as trifle. I embraced it entirely while I was there, and I miss it dearly (and that’s another post!). But one thing that I have been trying to get right as long as I’ve known Paul, is the Scottish staple of shortbread.

I never really knew what shortbread was until I met Paul.  And after he introduced me to it, I have to say I wasn’t impressed. I mean, who wants plain old shortbread when you can have a chocolate chip cookie? Or a chocolate cookie with white chocolate chips, or… To each his own, I suppose.  But, like most things (husbands included) shortbread grows on you. It’s the texture – and possible the amount of butter and sugar – involved. And now, I like to make shortbread, not simply because my husband loves shortbread, but also because it’s a very simple thing, and when done well, is a very extraordinary thing.  And I’ve tried recipe after recipe, hoping that I’ll find one that he’ll turn around and say “This is it. This is the shortbread of my dreams.” 

Oatmeal shortbread ready to go in the ovenI know this is a fool’s errand. I know full well that he’ll like (and eat) whatever shortbread I make, even if I’ve burned it black or turned out raw dough. The perfect shortbread recipe for me, is elusive. But, I can try, and so I must forge on and try even more. I’ve rarely made the same recipe twice. Most recently the best shortbread recipe I’ve tried is Delia’s, and I’ve been using it regularly. That is to say, I’ve made it four times. But this time I’ve tried something new – Rachel Allen’s turn on the classic shortbread recipe. This one has oats in it – and I like oats. This recipe, while it made Paul happy, was pretty much a self-centered exercise. Oats AND shortbread? Who could ask more? I suggested it to him, asking: “You’ll like that, won’t you, Paul?”

I made it up on a Friday evening – only took about 15 minutes to mix up. I forgot about it on Saturday and after a night or two in the fridge, this was a perfect surprise biscuit for a Sunday afternoon. Oh these? I whipped these up JUST for you! 🙂

200g soft butter

100g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla

200g flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

100g porridge oats

Beat flour and sugar till light and fluffy, then add in vanilla, flour to form a cookie dough. Mix in oats and roll into a log to cut into cookies. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden – mine took about 20 minutes.

All we need now is some tartan!

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And then there was cake…

Paul’s birthday has come and gone, but it seems we’re still celebrating here in the Rudders household. Not only did the old man in the house get the robot he’s been pining over (now I just need to sit back and wait for him to build my robot butler…), but he got a special meal and birthday cake tonight.

I made him the Perfect Party Cake, from Dorie Greenspan’s book. And boy was it yummy. It also meant I got to you use my lovely cake stand that I got for my birthday last year.

Dorie Greenspan\'s Perfect Party Cake

It was lovely. So lovely in fact, that the birthday boy had two, rather large pieces. At this rate, there won’t be any for him to have tomorrow.

Perfect Party Cake, cut

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Oh dear…

It’s empty. 🙁 Perhaps someone can send me another care package?

Empty Turtle box

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Christmas Care Package

It was with a lot of pleasure I received a care package from the States earlier this week. In it was all sorts of things, such as caribou and venison jerky, some photographs of my parents’ Christmas decoration, and packages of hickory nuts and black walnuts – these of which I will highlight later this week. Nearly best of all, though, were two items my parents mailed along – turtles and tablemats.Turtles and tablemats

My mother quilted this beautiful tablemat for my living room tables. There were two of them in the package, and now I’m just waiting patiently for one for my coffee table. And a runner for my dining room table. No pressure, mom. None at all. 😆

You can also see the lovely, gorgeous, yummy box of turtles that was sent along. The best part about these is the fact that Paul doesn’t like nuts in his chocolate, so this box of wonderful chocolate, pecans and caramel goodies is ALL MINE! I’m wondering how long I can make a pound of chocolates last…

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Pumpkin Cupcakes

Pumpkin pie is a staple in our house – when I was growing up, and also now that I’m here in the UK with Paul. I couldn’t imagine a fall without at least one pumpkin pie, and luckily, Paul likes it as much as I do, so there’s never any complaint when I opt to make it.

Recently, however, I’ve been hungry for other types of pumpkin food. I don’t know why. I’ve craving cake, cookies, bread and even pumpkin pie cheesecake – which I’ve never even tasted! Usually I associate hankerings for food with homesickness and it’s settled by making something from my mother’s kitchen. However, I don’t remember my mom making anything other than pumpkin pie, apart from the occasional cookie. So, to satisfy my craving, I turned to the web, and found a recipe for pumpkin cupcakes from Martha Stewart. I then used a butter and cream cheese icing I found on this website here, which also used the cake recipe I had found!

Were they gorgeous? Oh yes, they were! They were very moist and delicious. The icing was also very tasty, although a little runny.

Pumpkin cupcakes

I had small, fairy cake cases, so this recipe made tons. It was with enjoyment Paul and I were able to take these in to share at work, with plenty left over at home to comfort us!

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