cooking

peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips and sea salt

peanut-butter-choc-chip-sea-salt-cookies-philippa-moore

I don’t know what it is about the taste of peanut butter, but it has an almost Proustian effect on me.

As a child, I rejected every other sandwich filling for my school lunchbox. In fact, I rejected sandwiches most of the time - they were dull in taste and vomit-inducing in texture, the opposite of everything I wanted and believed food to be. So for most of primary school, my usual lunch was a bag of carrot sticks and peanut butter on crackers. Peanut butter became a familiar, quotidian taste and I found it far from exciting. Once I was old enough to make my own lunch for school, peanut butter was off the menu. I’d had enough to last a lifetime, or so I thought.

But as an adult, I’ve found tasting peanut butter again quite ambrosial. I love it on apple slices, on toast, in stir-fries, in smoothies or even by the spoonful.

Peanut butter also makes a divine and, with the addition of a sprinkle of sea salt, very adult biscuit. But the method is so simple a child could make them (with a little supervision). I find making biscuits such a faff that I was determined to make these in one bowl/pan. Success.

Be warned, these are incredibly addictive.

Peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips and sea salt

150g smooth peanut butter (I like Bega Just Nuts or Pic)
125g unsalted butter
65g rice malt syrup
125g brown sugar
1 egg
Splash of vanilla extract
100g dessicated coconut
270g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
120g dark chocolate chips
Sea salt flakes, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180 C (fan-forced). Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Place the peanut butter, butter and rice malt syrup in a large saucepan (you will use this to make the whole mixture, so make sure it’s a big saucepan) over low heat. Stir occasionally until just melted. Turn off heat.

Add the brown sugar, egg and vanilla, and beat well until combined.

Add the coconut, flour and bicarb soda and stir to combine.

FInally, add the chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed through the mixture.

Using a teaspoon and your hands, roll into balls of a size to your liking (just be consistent!) and place evenly spaced on the trays. Once all the mixture is used, use a fork to flatten the dough balls slightly.

Sprinkle the tops with a little sea salt (only a little - we’re not going for a hundreds and thousands look! Just a flake will do. Be restrained and judicious here). You could also put a few more choc chips on top (as I did).

Bake in the oven for roughly 8 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown. For goodness sake set a timer, otherwise you’ll pull a groin muscle running to the oven to rescue them.

Allow to cool slightly on the trays, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. You can eat them warm(ish) but I think they’re at their best cool. They are “crisp yet fluffy”, as Tom described them.

Perfect with a cup of tea or (I imagine) crumbled over some vanilla ice cream.

hearty sweet potato and brown rice soup

hearty-sweet-potato-and-brown-rice-soup-philippa-moore

I’m writing this with my thickest sweater on, wrapped in a dressing gown and wearing fingerless gloves to type. Am I in London? No, I’m in Hobart, as the last days of autumn have begun to blur into winter.

Tom and I have just moved to a house on the fringe of the city - a house built between the wars, so roughly 100 years old, with lots of original features but not the most modern heating. It will be trial and error to see how we go keeping warm in this place over the winter! The one thing UK winters have going for them is the pretty standard central heating of homes and offices. I had forgotten how airy houses in Australia are - because they have to be, otherwise you would suffocate in the warmer weather! So the upside is that, in theory, this house will be a haven of coolness in the summer.

Back to soup. It’s all I want to eat at the moment, something warm and nourishing. I saw an ad for Australian sweet potatoes on Instagram with an interesting sounding soup, and as I had one in the fridge to use up, I glanced at my pantry shelves and recreated what I saw in the image. Thick and hearty, and full of goodness, it was just what we wanted on a four degree evening, alongside some toasted sourdough from Imago, my new favourite local bakery.

Hearty sweet potato and brown rice soup

1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped finely
1 medium piece of fresh ginger, crushed or chopped finely
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3 large stalks silverbeet (chard), chopped
3 stalks celery (including leaves), chopped
1 tablespoon of your favourite curry powder (more if you like it spicy)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chilli flakes
1 cup red lentils
1 cup brown rice
2 litres vegetable stock (you may need more as the soup cooks and thickens)
1 can coconut milk
Spinach and parsley, as much as you want, to stir in at the end
Lemon juice, to taste, to stir in at the end
Coriander pesto, to serve (optional)

Drizzle a little olive or coconut oil in a large stockpot and place on medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for a few minutes until softened and fragrant. Add the vegetables, curry powder and cayenne pepper and stir to get everything coated and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add some water if it starts catching or browning too quickly.

Add the lentils and brown rice, stirring so they are distributed evenly. Then add the stock and coconut milk, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Make sure everything is fully covered with liquid to spare, add more stock if you need to (or just rinse out the coconut milk can with water, I usually do). Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, place the lid on top and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the rice and lentils are cooked. You might need to add some more stock at this stage if you prefer your soup “soupier”!

Once you’re happy the rice and lentils are cooked (and the sweet potato of course, but if the grains are cooked then the vegetables will be too!), add some spinach and parsley to finish, and some fresh lemon juice. Stir well to wilt the greens and distribute the fresh flavour of the lemon. Taste and add salt and pepper if liked.

Ladle into bowls and serve either as is or with a dollop of delicious coriander pesto (I buy mine from Hill Street Grocer - it’s one of my many food obsessions) and some toasted sourdough or pitta bread alongside.

Just the thing to get you through the wintry nights!

moroccan chickpea and lentil soup

moroccan-chickpea-and-lentil-soup-philippa-moore

This soup was a great favourite of mine in my Weight Watchers days - I made it again recently and to my delight, it is still excellent. And perfect for those nights where the air is freezing, you can smell chimney smoke and rotting leaves, and hear next-door’s dogs howling at the moon.


Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Soup

2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons turmeric
4 teaspoons Masterfoods Moroccan Seasoning (or a spicier Moroccan souk seasoning, my favourite is this one from Gerwurzhaus)
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
2 x 420g cans chickpeas, drained
2 large or 3 medium carrots, diced
1 large or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 large red capsicum, chopped
1 sweet potato (or large white potato), chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
Vegetable stock (or water), to cover
Fresh coriander to serve, if desired

Coat a stockpot with cooking spray. Saute onion, garlic and ginger until soft. Add a bit of stock if it starts to stick.

Add carrots, capsicum, sweet potato and zucchini (a note on the vegetables: this combination is not set in stone. It works brilliantly with any vegetables so use up whatever you’ve got). Mix well, then add the red lentils and chickpeas. Add the spices. Stir well to coat everything evenly.

Cook for about a minute, until everything is fragrant and combined thoroughly. Add enough stock to cover. Stir well. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Come back to check on the soup every 15 minutes or so. Lentils will absorb the liquid as they cook, so you may need to add more stock or water during the cooking time, depending how thick you want the soup.

After 30 minutes, check the lentils to see if they are tender. If they are, the soup is ready. If not, cook for a further 10 minutes before checking again.

A note on the spices: some Moroccan seasonings can be quite mild so taste the soup as you go and add more if you want. I prefer a kick!

Either serve the soup as it is, or puree roughly with a hand-held blender to break up the bigger chunks of carrot and capsicum.

Serve immediately, or freeze in containers. Makes enough for 8 serves.

This is one of the most comforting things in the world to eat when it’s cold outside.

nan's anzac biscuits

Last year’s batch, made in London, to Nan’s original recipe!

Last year’s batch, made in London, to Nan’s original recipe!

This is the only recipe I have ever used for Anzac biscuits. They are just the way I like them and remember them from childhood - slightly soft and chewy!  Tom loves them too because they taste like his childhood favourite, flapjack!

Nan's ANZAC biscuits

Makes about 40 (I usually double the recipe!)

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
3/4 cup coconut [if you don't have this use an extra 3/4 cup oats]
3/4 cup sugar (brown, raw or white)
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
125g butter, melted
2 tablespoons golden syrup (I often use rice malt if that’s all I have)

Mix all dry ingredients. Dissolve bicarb soda in boiling water and add to melted butter and golden syrup. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Place in teaspoonfuls on a greased tray.  I roll them into balls in my hands first, which really does remind me of making these as a kid! 

Bake in a moderately slow oven (160 C, 325 F) for 15 minutes.  If you want harder biscuits cook for a few minutes longer.  Let them cool and then store in an airtight container.

They last a long time - they were originally designed to be sent to troops overseas so they had to travel well and not go off for months and months - but in this house they last as long as my and Tom's willpower allows!

Happy ANZAC Day - lest we forget.

best-ever chocolate chip cookies

I do understand why people eat raw cookie dough - this stuff is the bomb!

I do understand why people eat raw cookie dough - this stuff is the bomb!

I recently rediscovered these cookies. I hadn’t made them for years - I guessed around 2010 and, thanks to magic of blog archives, it turned out I was right! But the other week, I noticed a few half-empty bags of chocolate chips in my parents’ pantry and my mind travelled back to these cookies, which I first discovered via a now-offline blog in 2005 and which were always my contribution to staff morning teas when I lived and worked in Melbourne. I only had to make and bring them in once to have people clamouring for more. They really are that good.

And you might wonder at the addition of rolled oats - it might seem like the equivalent of having a salad at McDonalds but trust me, they are a non-negotiable part of these cookies. Don’t leave them out!

Everyone loves these cookies. Try them and you’ll see!

Best-ever chocolate chip cookies

2 and 1/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (note: I love salt in sweet things. I up this to 2-3 teaspoons, but that's just me. And I use Maldon sea salt)
1 cup butter (2 sticks/220g)
3/4 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips (I used a mixture of white and milk for this particular batch as that’s what we had but prefer dark)
1 cup rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 190 C (350 F). Line several baking trays with baking paper.

Put the butter, vanilla and sugars in a bowl and beat until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until creamy and fluffy.

Add 1 cup of the flour and fold in. Then add the rest of the flour, the baking soda and salt. It will look very thick and you'll think you need to add water or something, but don't! It will all be fine! Keep stirring!

Once all the flour is mixed in, add the oats and choc chips, again a bit at a time. Stir through thoroughly.

Use two teaspoons to spoon the mixture into small dollops on to the baking trays. You'll probably be able to get 12 on a normal baking sheet. Make sure you leave lots of room in between them, as they spread out when baking.

When your trays are all loaded, put them in the oven and bake for 10-11 minutes or until they look golden on top.

Remove from the oven and cool slightly before removing from trays. Then spoon remaining mixture back on to the trays as before, put back in the oven, etc. until all the mixture is gone.

It takes me about 7 trays to use all the mixture.

Depending on the size of your dollops, you can get up to 80 cookies from this - I usually average around 65.

Allow the cookies to cool. You’ll need a will of iron to resist them while they’re warm, but it’s worth it - they’re a bit too soft when warm. When cool and firm, you will have cookie heaven.

Enjoy!

best-ever-chocolate-chip-cookies-2