Cook this: iced animal cookies

Last weekend, we celebrated my delicious little niece’s first birthday! Which was totally depressing, because it made me feel so old… but also super exciting, because I love being able to celebrate with everyone 🙂

Because I’m pretty useless with kiddy stuff like games and what not, I got put on cookie duty (yay) and the order was brightly coloured animal cookies.

I’m gonna be honest – I probably had more fun making these than the kids had eating them. They’re actually incredibly easy to make; you just need a fairly steady hand, a bit of patience, and plenty of space to spread everything out in the kitchen… it gets a little messy…

Anyway, having seen how much some bakeries charge for these types of cookies, I thought I’d share how easy they actually are to make with you guys 🙂 For the cookies themselves, something plain and basic like these tea cookies (you obviously don’t need to add the tea leaves in there – leave them out for a plain vanilla cookie) will work perfectly.

For the frosting, there are a few things you’ll need. The first is some writing icing tubes. I just use these from Queen, which are nothing fancy, and available for a few dollars at any supermarket. You may also want some decorations, like sprinkles, sparkles, flowers, etc. Again, all pretty easy to get your hands on in the baking aisle of your local supermarket.

Then, to make the coloured frosting, the easiest thing to do is just DIY royal icing! All you need to do is combine 1 egg white with around 200 – 250g powdered icing sugar. That’s it! With those two little ingredients, I made enough frosting to cover my 2 batches of cookies 2 or 3 times over, so a little goes a long way. Once you’ve made that base mixture, divide it between smaller bowls, which you can colour individually depending on what you need for your cookies. Stir in your coloured food dye, and mix them all in evenly.

Once that’s all done and set up, take a cookie and a tube of writing icing. Outline the cookie with the writing icing, which will act as a guard for the royal icing when you add it later. Let the writing icing dry a little before you move on – you may want to outline a few at a time to give them a chance to dry.

To fill the cookies with the coloured royal icing, add a few drops of water the the icing you’re using, and stir it in. You want the consistency to be runny enough to drip off the spoon, but not so watery it looses colour. Add a little of the icing to the centre of the cookie, and use a small spoon or knife to spread it out to the edges of the writing icing border. Decorate your cookies as you wish, and lay them out to dry for at least a few hours before packing them away to take to party central – the frosting will dry hard, so you’ll be able to carefully stack them up in a container if you need to.

That’s it! So easy! And if you need an excuse to practice, Halloween is just around the corner, so get those pumpkin and cat cookie cutters out 🙂

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Cook this: pork, macadamia, cranberry & sage sausage rolls

I follow what could probably be considered as almost too many food and cooking blogs; too many only in the sense that my eyes are already bigger than my stomach, and I can only cook and eat too so much. One of my favourites though, and one I’ve been following for a few years now, is Honest Cooking – writers from all over the world contribute their recipes and travel experiences and ideas, and it’s just a really great hub of information and food porn. I saw a sausage roll recipe pop up on my dashboard from them the other idea, and it gave me an idea. I couldn’t tell you where this idea came from; it just came to me. Husband had grown some sage in the garden. Which goes beautifully with pork. And cranberries. And macadamias. I don’t know how these ideas grown in my brain, they just do. So I printed out a copy of the recipe I saw and based my sausage rolls on that. You can find the original recipe here, and my version is below!

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Ingredients
• 500g pork mince
• 1 leek, thinly sliced
• 2 tbsp brown sugar
• 150g macadmia nuts, crushed
• 100g dried cranberries, chopped
• 2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
• 1 tbsp mustard
• 3 sheets puff pastry, thawed
• 1 egg yolks
• 2 tsp milk
• 5 tbsp butter, melted
• salt and pepper
• sesame seeds

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line 2 oven trays with non-stick baking paper.
2. In a non-stick fry pan with a drizzle of oil and the brown sugar, saute leeks until caramelised (10 minutes or so) over medium to high heat. If they start to look a little dry, add some water to de-glaze the pan and continue to caramelise. Set aside to cool.
3. In a large mixing bowl, place pork mince, macadamia nuts, cranberries and sage. Add the cooled leeks and combine with your hands.
4. Next, add to the mince the mustard and some salt and pepper. Combine all the ingredients together thoroughly using your hands.
5. To make the egg wash, combine the egg yolk and milk in a small bowl.
6. Put a little cold water in a second small bowl, and in a third small bowl melt the butter. You’ll need all three of these ready for assembly.
7. Cut each thawed puff pastry sheet in half.
8. Place the mince in a log-shape along the centre of each piece of pastry (see below), and carefully roll to secure, sealing the ends with the water.

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9. Cut each log into pieces (I got 6 pieces per log, will all depend on how big or small you want your sausage rolls) and place on baking tray.
10. Brush each sausage roll with melted butter then egg wash, and spinkle with sesame seeds.
11. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp – you may need to rotate the trays so they don’t burn.
12. Remove from the oven and serve.

** They also freeze well – just take them out of the freezer and either microwave or re-heat in a warm (not hot) oven!