snack

White Chocolate isn't really Chocolate.....

So here's the deal. We all know that white chocolate isn't really chocolate, that it's just cocoa butter with added ingredients which turn it into white chocolate and blah, blah, blah. Although, I'm no chocolate connoisseur, I'm also not a 'Milky Bar Kid!' not that Milky Bars ever purported to being chocolate.  

When my boys were younger, they often tried to convince me to buy them a bar of white chocolate as an after-school treat, claiming that it wasn't even chocolate! How do children even find these facts out at such tender ages? There were days where I would relent under pressure, three against one, so my compromise would be a bar of Lindt white chocolate to share, as long as I was included in the division!

Now we all know that every cook's repertoire has to have a chocolate chip cookie recipe. Everyone claims that theirs is the best cookie recipe, so I'm also going to jump on the bandwagon. Yes I think once you've had my cookies, 'you ain't goin' nowhere.' That's for all you Bob Dylan fans.

White Chocolate Chip & Pistachio cookies

Makes 18 Cookies

  • 200g Plain Flour, sifted

  • 1 tsp Baking Powder

  • 100g Butter, softened

  • 100g Light Brown Muscovado Sugar

  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract 

  • 1 Egg

  • 100g White Chocolate Chips, good quality (I use a bar of Lindt White Chocolate)

  • 85g Pistachio Nuts, shelled and unsalted

method

  • Pre heat the oven to 165 degrees C. (My oven is fan assisted, so a moderate oven).
  • Break up the bar of white chocolate into the smallest pieces you can, (I use a rolling pin), and place them into a large mixing bowl.
  • Chop the pistachio nuts finely and add them to the chocolate in the bowl.
  • Place all the remaining ingredients into the bowl and beat until they are all thoroughly combined. (I use a hand held electric beater).
  • Use two baking trays and cover each with baking parchment.
  • Place 9 mounds of the mixture onto each tray, so 18 in all. Make sure that they are spaced well apart to allow for spreading during cooking. 
  • Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are slightly golden. (They may look underdone, but don't be tempted to leave them in. This is why they have the soft gooey centre).
  • Allow the cookies to cool on a wire rack before serving.

tips

  • You can make any variation of cookie, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, cranberry and pecan, chopped apricot and almond and so on.
  • I often place the cookies in batches of 9 into a cellophane bag and tie up with ribbon to give to my friends. Enjoy the whoops of joy!

Al Fresco

I'm longing to feel the sun on my skin. I want to sit and eat al fresco just as we did six weeks ago when we enjoyed the clement weather during the days leading up to my son's wedding. It actually feels more like October, rather than June. But hey ho, I'm not going to let that dampen my spirits and I'm going full steam ahead with my summertime plans for al fresco dining. The tandoori chicken mini fillets recipe that I posted yesterday can be cooked on the barbecue after marinating overnight. Enjoy sipping your mint, lemon verbena and citrus-infused Pimm's, whilst revelling in wafts of chargrilled chicken. Over the years I have cooked and presented my sons with so many dishes, some being particularly onerous, but there is always an 'ooh' and an 'aah' from them whenever I prepare the easiest accompaniment to any food. My 'anytime guacamole' goes with absolutely anything and I mean anything. In our house it's devoured with my homemade tortilla chips. By that I don't mean that I'm mixing the masa harina to form a dough, (although that isn't too difficult either and is well worth doing for those who are gluten free). I usually buy soft corn and flour tortillas, cut them up into small triangles and deep fry. Allow to cool and store them in an airtight container for several days. For those of you who are carb free, devour this guacamole with your meat, chicken, fish or vegetables. Alternatively, spread onto your toast, put it in your sandwiches or just use it as a dressing for your salads, by loosening it with fat free yoghurt. I'm sure you'll enjoy what in our home is simply referred to as 'guac!'

Guacamole

Serves 4-6

  • 4 ripe Avocados
  • 3 tablespoons of fat free Natural Yoghurt (use sour cream if you want to indulge!)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Lime
  • 2 Tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 Green Chilli, finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons Coriander, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste (I use just under a teaspoon in this recipe)

Method

  • Halve and stone the avocados and scoop the flesh out and place into a bowl.
  • Add the juice of a whole lemon & the juice of a whole lime into the bowl with the avocados.
  • Add all the other ingredients into the bowl and mash the avocados with a fork or a potato masher.
  • Make sure that all the ingredients are well mixed. I prefer to do this by hand rather than in my food processor, because I like the guacamole to have texture. It can however be blended together in a food processor if you want a smooth consistency.

Tips

  • I make and serve my guacamole in a traditional Mexican Molcajete. This is a mortar and the Tejolete is the pestle, which are hand carved from a single piece of basalt rock. It's perfect for crushing spices and making spice blends and I also use it for making homemade pesto.
  • If you want to use the guacamole as a dressing for your salads, I would blitz all the ingredients in a food processor and add another 3 tablespoons of fat free yoghurt to loosen it.