Spice Cookies

So… Hey. It’s been, 3 years? since I’ve written a post for this? Crap, that’s no good. Sorry about that. I haven’t really been cooking because my Mum’s really tight with the grocery budget; I’m actually paying for a lot of the ingredients myself now. I’m 19 by the way, in can’t you can’t tell.

Anyway… I found this really interesting cookie recipe in Ottoloenghi and Tamimi’s Jerusalem. It’s a really beautiful book, if you’ve yet to see it.

I thought it’d be fun to blog my second time making it owing to the fact it was for my Grandma’s birthday, but, I only had half the ingredients on hand and couldn’t be f#*%ed going to the supermarket – Yes. Even for my Grandma…

Since I made a couple substitutions, I’ve included a link to the original recipe as well. It’s got American measurements which may be of help! – http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spice-cookies-51115800

If you do make this, let me know. It was a fun challenge which I’m sure you’d enjoy too. You can also make them really cute with glacé cherries, candied peel, crystallised ginger. and since their flavour’s fairly complex, and moreish, you can really steal show at a shared lunch – send your kid along to primary school with this and everyone will think you very posh, even if you do drive that Nissan Tida.


Spice cookiesfullsizerender-2

125g of cranberries/sultanas/glacé cherries/apricots…
2 tbsp brandy/bourbon/rum
150g plain flour and 100g ground almonds
1 heaped tbsp cacao powder
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp each ground cinnamon, allspice/cloves, ginger and nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
150g dark chocolate, crushed in blender
125g soft butter/coconut oil – I used 1/3 butter, 2/3 coconut
125g brown/caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp grated lemon/lime peel
½ tsp grated orange/mandarin peel
½ an egg – sorry about this

To finish:

  • Make a glaze with – 3 tbsp lemon juice &160g icing sugar
  • Sprinkle over a tbsp of fine-chopped candied citrus peel, glacé cherries
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Saturate the dried fruit in bourbon for 10 minutes, even overnight. Mix together the dry ingredients (excluding sugar), and dark chocolate in a food processor. Turn out to a bowl.
  2. Process the butter, sugar, vanilla and zest ’til lightly aerated – About 1 minute. With it running, ease in the egg and then the dry ingredients and fruit. Pulse ’til combined.
  3. Turn out to a bowl and roll it to a ball shape. Divide into about 20 balls and handle lightly – I have a lot of practise in this. Set onto a couple trays (greased or lined with paper), spacing widely apart.
  4. Bake for between 12-20 minutes – until the top firms up but the centre’s still a little soft. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks and drizzle over the glaze while still warm – coating the biscuit with a thin, translucent layer. Decorate with of candied peel and either serve or leave in the fridge. They’re best within 5 days.


Need a gluten-free alternative? My Grandma has Coeliacs, so for hers, instead of flour, I used 250g of almonds – ground in a food processor. You then make it the same, except line a cake tin instead and firmly press the dough into it. Bake for 12-20 mins – still slightly soft in the centre – glaze and drizzle more bourbon over the top.

Alternatively, you could use almond or gluten free flour – though you may have to play around with the ingredients to disguise the rice flavour, e.g. adding more butter.




Step by step






  • Grated whole nutmeg – Mind your fingers! I nearly lost one


  • Crushing the chocolate











New Herb and Veg Discoveries – Thai Basil

Thai Basil
Thai basil is one of those lovely aromatic and exotic herbs that you only hear people like Nigella Lawson talking about. It’s as easy to grow as regular basil, is delicious in salads and makes a nice addition to your everyday kitchen garden. Article will appear here soon….

New vegetable discoveries – beetroot

I would say that beetroot has to be one of the best vegetables out there. It is fantastic for your health, for its delicious taste and like many of the marvels of nature, it turns your wee pink.
I have only recently decided that I like beetroot and am very glad I did, it can be served with or in a multiple of things, like salad, sandwiches, to accompany roasts or (and this is my personal preference) served on its own with a sizeable lump of blue vein cheese and maybe a sprinkling of sesame seeds for interest. You will find the last recipe below.

As many beetroots as needed
Maple syrup (from trees not chemicals)
balsamic vinegar
scattering of sesame seeds

Pour the vinegar and maple syrup (about 9 tbsp of each) into an accomodating glass or metal oven dish, add the beetroots whole, you will not need to do anything to them, and cover with a sheet of tin foil. Put in an oven at about 180 degrees celsius / 350 degrees fahrenheit and slowly roast for a few hours till they’re terribly tender to the touch. It’s also a good idea to check on them every other hour and baste in the sticky syrup. When done, serve with blue vein cheese (I recommend Mainland special reserve blue or Galaxy blue vein, for NZ readers) and maybe a scattering of sesame seeds which is optional.

If you have any other ideas of what else you could do with them then do not hesitate to comment at the bottom of this page and constructive feedback for this blog would be welcome.

Below are a few other interesting recipes for beetroot which you might like to add to your
repertoire –

An interesting balsamic baked beetroot recipe from Gordon Ramsay; I would like to note that its accompanying picture is very bad – http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2199/balsamic-beetroot-with-roquefort

A beetroot chutney. – http://allrecipes.com.au/recipe/601/beetroot-chutney.aspx

Beetroot flavoured hummous which looks good – http://allrecipes.com.au/recipe/985/beetroot-hummus.aspx

Beetroot and steak sandwich with honey and mustard dressing – http://www.lovebeetroot.co.uk/recipes/detail.asp?ItemID=326

Next time – Thai basil, not actually a vegetable though so it might have to be called new fresh-herb discoveries. I think I might try to think of a better name. How does herbs from my garden sound?

New vegetable discoveries – Butternut

(The “New Vegetable Discoveries” column will appear fortnightly on the about sean’s food blog so be sure to look out for it!)
Butternut squash

Recently my Granddad discovered a lovely vegetable called buttternut and in my opinion it beats pumpkin by ten-fold. It’s sweet yet not overly so, it’s soft and not too chewy and for me it was an entirely new taste experience. We recently roasted it in the oven with a bit of red onion and some harissa paste smeared on it which was absolutely delicious, the particular harissa recipe in question being from Diana Henry in her cookbook Salt, Sugar, Smoke which I will soon be reviewing. We have also roasted it in the oven with potatoes in a bit of olive oil which also had very good results, but if you haven’t tried butternut before then make sure you pick some up next time you’re food shopping. And if you make it all the time then how do you do it?

Below is a link to the harissa paste recipe we used which is excellent on chicken thighs as well. Try this recipe and you’ll fall in love with it.


Next vegetable – Beetroot