Monday, 31 October 2011

(I'm a) Sewing Machine!

That's right. You heard it here first. Pinnies and Poppy Seeds has officially begun making adorable, chic, bake-tastic pinnies! I felt inspired after perusing the web and feeling super disappointed that I couldn't really find anything I liked. There are tons of people and businesses selling aprons, but..and I mean no they think people don't care how they look in the kitchen?! Or...maybe I'm just a nutter who thinks my kitchen is a catwalk! Oooh goodness me, is it time for a little one-to-one with myself? Surely not! I know there are fabulous women out there aching for cute aprons to make them feel like the true domestic goddesses they really are! So, I've endeavoured to put my sewing machine to work making pinnies that would make Nigella proud! (Does anyone else want to be Nigella Lawson as much as me?).

So, here's my first attempt at the kind of pinnie that I think makes the perfect partner to my little shortbread cookies. What do you think?

Is anyone else goin' to town with their sewing machine?? What are some of the goodies you're making up? Let me know in the comments section!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Want to know what I'm cookin' right now?

Fact: I am a tech failure. Everything I do is basically a close-your-eyes-cross-your-fingers kinda thing! Not the most efficient method by any means, but I get by. So, after my mom kept asking me why she wasn't getting updates of my new posts I set about trying to figure that out. After countless 'help me!''s to Google (and by the way, LOTS of other people are just as clueless as me!!), I think I've managed to figure it out. It's always better to know you're in like company, isn't it?  So, I think I've added the right subscription button so that now you can get updates via email! It's just to the right...go on, take a look...I know you're dying to know exactly what I'm doing the second I do it. So sign up!!!


P.S. If this doesn't actually work...I might cry a little. Then beg someone techy to help me. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 23 October 2011


After making about 40 bazillion dozen shortbread cookies in the last month or so, I felt like my foodie morale needed a little bit of a boost. I normally make fresh bread for The Handsome Hunter and me, using a Rachel Allen recipe from her book 'Bake'. I find her recipes really easy to follow and have extremely consistent results. I use her recipe for White Yeast Bread:  

2tsp caster sugar
425ml warm water
2 1/2 tsp dried yeast
750g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp salt
40g butter or 4 tbsp olive oil ( I prefer to use olive oil, I think the flavour really comes through in the bread)

*this will make 2 loaves, or place on a sheet pan if you're having a dinner party to make one large, beautiful free-hand loaf.

Call me lazy, but having kneaded dough by hand as well as in the Kitchen Aid using the dough hook, I don't really find any difference in the end result if you use an electric mixer. However, I do like to start the whole process in a bowl using my hands. This way, you can be sure all the ingredients are incorporated evenly before setting it to knead. Once the dough comes together, I transfer it to my Kitchen Aid and on a medium-low speed, I let it knead itself for about 5-7 min. Depending on how humid/cold/hot the weather is, I stop the mixer and check the dough for it's springiness. If it doesn't seem to bounce back as fervently as it should, I'll pop it back in the mixer or just give it a good whack by hand for another minute or two. Sometimes it's good to finish it off by hand as it's easier to tell when it's done and ready to chill out and rise. 

Cover it up with cling film and set to the side (somewhere not ice cold is always a good option!) and let rise for a few hours, until it has at least doubled in size. tip: I try to make this bread after I've cooked something in the over for dinner. Once the oven has been off for a little while, the residual heat is the perfect place to put this little doughy bowl of love to rise. Of course, if it's to warm to stick your hand in a touch the racks, then it's too hot! 

Once it's biiiiiig and fluffy, poke it a few times if you want...go on, you know you want to!...punch it back and pull it away from the sides of the bowl. Knead it for another few minutes and then let it set to the side while the oven preheats to 220C. Shape the dough however you want. I always just go for a normal tin loaf (it's easier to cut up for sandwiches, toasting, etc. I brush  mine with a little water and sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or just plain rock salt (it looks lovely when it comes out of the oven). Let it rise again until it has doubled in size. by this time, the over should be hot and ready to go! Bake for 15 minutes at 220C and then turn the oven down to 200C for another 25 minutes. 

Get out the butter!!!!!!

In my previous post, I made some almond paste. I got some really good ideas, especially from VIMWAC who suggested Christmas Cake, for ways to use it and I can't wait to try them out! In the meantime, I made a tart from a recipe I found on Two Tarts. I  substituted apples for nectarines because, well, I just did...and it came out pretty darn good if I do say so myself! 
Happy Baking!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Will You Pay Me $5 to Eat Paste?

Well, almond paste...not, like...white glue paste. That would be gross. Although, when I was little, I did love putting glue on my hands and letting it dry and then peeling it I alone? Should I be embarrassed now? I really hope someone else used to get the same bizarre pleasure out of wasting elementary school reserves of white glue. Moving on! So Almond paste, turns out it's really, really super easy to make yourself! I was inspired after reading a post on Two Tarts and thought, 'if they can do it, so can I!'. First, you need to blanch and peel the almonds to get rid of their little brown coats...
It's so simple, 1 or 2 minutes tops in boiling water, lay out on a sheet pan to cool, and then with your fingers, pinch them out of their skins. They come out very easily.
Next, blitz them in the food processor for a good couple of minutes until they are super, finely chopped. Then, add in the sugar (I added some almond extract as well) and egg whites to bind and pulse until it comes together in a ball
Store tightly wrapped in cling film and keep in the refrigerator!

I used this almond paste in an Almond Shortbread (which I'll post later). The Almond and Chocolate Shortbread I made originally didn't have the punchy almond flavour I was hoping for, so I thought I'd try using almond paste instead of chopped almonds and almond oil in the cookie.

But now I have all this extra almond paste...what should I do with it?? Any suggestions? Post them in the comment section below. Hopefully I can try out a yummy, almond-y something very soon!

Happy Baking!


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Fact: food tastes better if one wears a fabulous pinnie.

I've been using, abusing, and rotating my 3 fabulous pinnies for a few years now and I think it's time I adopted another into the Hunter household. I find joy in buying things if I can a) feel close to the maker/purveyor of that product (not in a creepy way! in a product origins kinda way!!) and b) feel like I'm contributing to a quality product. If you haven't been able to tell already, I have a complete and unhealthy obsession with all things artisan. Especially because I hope to be there myself one day! Fingers crossed!
Retro APRON I Love Lucy black polka dot sexy hostess apron vintage inspired
I Love Lucy Retro Apron from Lover Dovers Clothing, on Etsy
Right, I've been perusing the web and have found a few super cute sites where people are making fabulous pinnies. And in honour of the upcoming holidays: Halloween and eh hem...Thanksgiving, here a few delightful places I think you should check out. How are people so talented?!

Lover Dovers Clothing, Etsy - for you

Corakids, Etsy - for the wee bairns!

Happy Shopping!


Monday, 10 October 2011

Get out your knits and's Fall!

Fall is definitely in the air (although, in Edinburgh it feels suspiciously like Winter)...hey ho! While waiting, yet again, for a delivery which never came - oh how I want to scream and curse the courier right now! - I managed to crank out a few batches of shortbread. The main recipe I couldn't wait to try was a Pumpkin Spice Shortbread. How perfect for Fall...deep orange from the pumpkin, lots of warm ginger, spicy cinnamon and lovely mouth is watering just thinking about them! I bet your saying 'But you don't have to salivate, they're in your kitchen right now! Eat, woman!'. You'd almost be right. Except for the small, tiny fact that the fall inspired shortbread cookies I made earlier came out tougher than the rubber on my Fry boots. You could've built the pyramids with them! In fact, if you know anyone looking for pumpkin coloured building material, I'm your girl! Sad to say, they won't be seeing the light of day. Not even a pumpkin pie spiced white chocolate drizzle could save them. Can't win 'em all!

However, I did make a batch of Pecan Praline Shortbread that came out heavenly! I was so happy with the result. The above picture are the pecans that I decided to candy first and then blitz in the food processor to then mix through the shortbread dough. The pecans remind me of my grandma, Mag. She is one of my cooking inspirations. For as long as I can remember, she was in the kitchen making something delicious: melted cheddar on toast with thick slices of tomatos, mushrooms with gorgonzola, parsley and garlic, English toffee, chocolate chip cookies, and candied pecans at Christmas. I never asked her for the recipe and haven't ever made them until now. Food can be so emotionally powerful, and I loved thinking about her while making these cookies.

Pecans, right....ok, so I blitzed them in the food processor so that every teeny tiny bite of shortbread would be perfectly confettied with pecans. If only I had a bowl of vanilla ice cream right now...oh me, oh my! What you don't see here are the 5 minutes before the blitzing when I was giving one pecan to the food processor, one to me, one to the processor, two to was like sacrificial baking. Keeps me happy. It's fine, I have my leggings on today! Where was I? Pecans! Right, so I combined the pecans with the other ingredients and let the dough rest for a bit so it firmed up. Popped those babies in the oven and presto!

The Handsome Hunter is watching football, Izzy is all curled up at my feet and I'm snuggled up on the couch with my tartan wool blanket. Yep, come on in Fall...we've been expecting you.


Sunday, 9 October 2011

Lemon makes everything better!

Having a very, very lazy Sunday (isn't that the only way to spend Sundays?). The Handsome Hunter and I will be heading out to find some delicious lunch situation very soon. But to keep the ball rolling, I've been trying out some different things with the Poppy Seed Shortbread recipe and settled on a Lemon and Poppy Seed one that I think is a winner.

Happy Sunday!

Monday, 3 October 2011

A day of guilty pleasures!

the stars of the show!
Today was, how can I say....amazing! I'm not ashamed to say that I have quite a few guilty pleasures. Although, I think that after maybe 2 or 3, it's stops being 'guilty pleasures' and is just plain gluttony. I've come to terms with it. So my day of pure bliss included catching up on The Bachelor UK (don't judge, you know you want to watch it!), scrolled through some property websites only looking at the most expensive houses (a girl can dream!), cleaning out my closet, and in between all that....shortbread!

I always make sure to stop and smell the roses. It's important to always appreciate the little things, ya know?? Except today was literally about smelling the roses. And man did I sniff those babies! I was trying to find the perfect rose to use in my Rose Water and Sugar Shortbread. I was doing a little research about using roses in cooking and turns out that the lighter in colour the flower the more sweet and fruity the flavour. The darker the petals are the stronger in flavour and scent the flower is. So, I opted for one of my favourite rose colours to have (hint, hint Handsome Hunter!!)'s a peachy pink rose, fading from a light peach at the base up to the tips of the rose which look like they've been dipped in a beautiful pale pink paint. They are lovely in a vase and equally lovely in a cookie. A good tip, even with just arranging flowers, is to always peel the outermost layers off. They tend to get damaged and bruised and taking off 2 or 3 of the outer petals will make the flower look super fresh. The same applies for using flowers in food.

I realise the front, main petal has a big whopping bruise on it. Don't be like me, throw that one out!

I took about a dozen petals, rolled them up tight like a little floral cigar and used kitchen scissors to snip them into beautiful little confetti. Rose confetti....ahhh....beautiful. With a splash of rosewater added in, I worked the dough until it was all combined and then refrigerated for about an hour to let everything set. Once baked and fresh out of the oven, I smothered the little gems in sugar. The flavour is so delicate and light. You know that it's there but it still let's the butter in the shortbread have all the glory. Try using rose petals next time you make a salad or if you're in the mood for something more exotic and Moroccan, throw them into a lamb tagine. I think you'll be surprised just how much it adds to a dish. Plus, it's super classy. And that's the mother-effin' truth. :)