Cook this: crispy salted sage, toasted hazelnut & cacao nibs cookies 

I was making dinner last week, a good old fashioned winter warmer pumpkin soup, with barley, mushroom, sage and toasted hazelnuts, and it was all smelling incredible in the kitchen – particularly the hazelnuts toasting in the oven and the sage being cooked up with the mushrooms. I’m not sure how my brain got from those “that all smells so good” thoughts to “I should put them in cookies,” but it did.

So, I did.

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I had my Melbourne Breakfast tea infused cookies in mind to try this one, and I used the same recipe – only difference was I infused the butter with sage and added some toasted hazelnuts. Here’s the changed version for this recipe..

Ingredients (makes lots of cookies)
– 100g butter, melted, plus a little extra for cooking the sage
– 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh sage
– salt
– 100g brown sugar
– 1 egg
– 200g plain flour
– 1 tbsp toasted cacao nibs
– 2 tbsp toasted, crushed hazelnuts

Method
1. Heat a small saucepan over low heat, add a little butter (enough to coat the pan lightly) and half the sage leaves. Sprinkle a little salt over the sage and cook for a minute or two, until just crispy. Transfer to a plate to cool, then crumble with your fingers.

2. Finely chop the remaining sage and stir in both the fresh and the crispy sage into the melted butter. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge until JUST set (depending on your fridge, anywhere between 45min – an hour and a half, so keep an eye on it!)

3. Beat the softened butter (soft, NOT melted!) and the brown sugar on medium/high speed with an electric mixer for around 3 – 5min, or until really smooth, lighter in colour and creamy.

4. Add in the egg and keep beating until totally combined and smooth (another minute or so).

5. Sift in the flour and add the cacao nibs and hazelnuts, mix well until a thick dough comes together (you may want to use your hands to really bring it together) – roll that big clump of dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and sit it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 170˚C and line a big baking tray (or 2 smaller ones) with non-stick paper.

7. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out on a floured board or between two sheets of non-stick baking paper (I find it easier that way) to a thickness you’re happy with (they’re your cookies so make them as thick or thin as you like! Thinner cookies will have a bit more of a crunch to them, thicker ones will have a bit of a softer “bite” which is what I prefer!).

8. Cut cookies out of whatever shape or size you want – I went with snowflakes, given that it’s the start of winter here in Melbourne!

8. Lay them on the tray (they won’t expand so you can put them fairly close together), and bake for 12 – 15 minutes, or until they are just getting a light golden edge.

9. Let them cool for a few minutes on the tray, then transfer them to a cooling rack.

 

Totally random, but it all worked really well together! I’ve heard that lemon, thyme and lavender make a really lovely combination, too, so I wouldn’t mind trying that out, and I have an inkling that rosemary and cacao nibs would be alright as well…. Any other suggestions along these lines??

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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!