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Showing posts from October, 2011

Mexican Wedding Biscuits

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When the Spanish explorers found the Americas they also found many different new foods that, when brought back to Europe, revolutionised the way food was being cooked. Tomatoes, corn and avocados are just some of the foods brought back from the New World to Europe.

At the same time some European recipes have found their way to the New World. The recipe for these nutty shortbread cookies has arabic origins which passed into culinary tradition in Europe, thanks to the Moors. The recipe was then adapted in Mexico to include pecan nuts, which are native to the Americas. Pecans grow on trees and are acorn-shaped. They have a similar taste to walnuts, and in fact the name they were originally given by the Spanish – nogales – translates as “walnut tree”. These delicious cookies are saved for special occasions, like weddings or even Christmas.

Ingredients
250g butter, softened
½ cup caster sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 tsps water
2 cups plain flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
½ cup pure…

Sofritto

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When I was 12 years old both my parents were workers. My sister and I would arrive home from high school, and we would have three or four hours alone in the house before Mum and Dad arrived home. My parents weren't the kind of people to wait on their kids hand and foot. Instead, there were jobs to do, and woe be tide the child who did not do them. There were three key jobs - washing up the breakfast dishes in the afternoon, cooking the dinner and drying up the dishes after dinner.

My sister and I would take turns week on week for each job (although I must say I got out of drying up the dinner dishes for as much of my teenage years as I possibly could). We worked it so that we cooked the dinner for a week one week, and swapped to do the breakfast dishes the following week. This provision of dinner for my family from the tender of 12 is where I really learned my chops as a cook. And there is one meal I cooked every week without fail - spaghetti bolonese.

In the 1980s we had t…