Here's the only biscuit recipe you'll need during lockdown

Get cooking with Use It All from Murdoch Books. Picture: Cath Muscat
Get cooking with Use It All from Murdoch Books. Picture: Cath Muscat

Welcome to my lockdown kitchen. I'm not here to tell you what to do. My situation is no doubt very different from your own. I'm rocking lockdown by myself. I enjoy cooking. And eating. I'm able to duck out to the shops for essential items if I need to. I've got a few things growing in my garden. You might be in quarantine, with all the kids, dealing with online learning and partners loitering around the house. Dinner might be a chore. Or you're unable to lock in a delivery time, still. Or, and I hear you, maybe you're just over this whole pandemic. But here's the thing. We all need to eat. And dinner time should be the time of the day where you can put all your troubles aside and reconnect with your people. I'm all for making food the focus of my day, and not the case numbers or vaccination rates. While we're unable to review restaurants, we'll share as many cooking tips and ideas as we can. But we promise no sourdough recipes. That was so 2020. Here's what is working for me.

Baking

I've discovered Sunday baking is a thing in my neighbourhood. And I'm on board. Flour, sugar and butter can solve many a problem. Bake a batch of biscuits and drop some off to a neighbour. Get the kids in the kitchen, it's maths and science in one yummy lesson. Dessert becomes a cake. Dinner becomes a cake. But have you run out of sugar?

Here's the best biscuit recipe for lockdown. Make do. Find Use It All, by Cornersmith's Alex Elliot-Howery and Jaimee Edwards (Murdoch, 2020) and make it your lockdown bible.

Clear out the pantry cookies

550g plain flour (or half flour and half almond meal; half flour desiccated coconut; half flour and half bran; half flour half LSA)

3 tbsp pantry strays (spent coffee grounds, cocoa powder, sesame seeds, chopped sunflower seeds)

1 tbsp spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice)

1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

300g soft butter

250g sugar (brown, raw, caster or a combination of what needs using up)

3 eggs

100g sticky sweetener (molasses, golden syrup, honey, maple syrup)

1/3 cup chopped extras (dried fruit, nuts, sunflower seeds, choc chips) 

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Combine the flour, pantry strays, spice, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder in a bowl.

3. Using a stand mixer or electric beaters, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time until well combined. Add the sweetener and continue to mix on medium speed, then fold the dry ingredients into the creamed butter until just combined. Fold through your choice of chopped extras.

4. Divide the mixture in half and set one portion aside. With the rest, roll into 50g balls and flatten slightly, then arrange on the prepared tray with room to spread.

5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until cooked through but still a little soft, then allow to cool for five minutes on the tray. Set aside to cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

6. Roll the remaining dough into a thick log, wrap well and store in the fridge for up to one week or the freezer for a few months. You can slice straight off the log and bake from frozen.

Makes 24 cookies.

Pantry challenge

What is lurking at the back of your pantry?

What is lurking at the back of your pantry?

Perhaps it's because I'm of a certain age, but I like to be prepared. Remember Y2K? We thought the world was going to end then. But you'll always find canned food, a good supply of baking products, a few different kinds of pasta and rice in my pantry. In the freezer you'll find a selection of meat, chicken thighs, mince; a spare packet of peas; berries; and all the black bananas I've put away over the past year.

So, if there's nothing in the house, there's always something in the house. It's quite good fun trying to figure out what to use next and how to use it.

Got a can of beans and a few staples? Try this Indian kidney bean curry from Ross Dobson's essential lockdown cookbook 3 Ways With ... (Murdoch Books). Sure it was published in 2007. When I interviewed Dobson for his equally magnificent book Australia: The Cookbook in April last year, I did suggest he should update this little one. Try to find a copy and you'll see why.

Cook 1 chopped onion and 1 chopped garlic clove in a splash of vegetable oil for 2-3 minutes so the onion softens. Add 1/2 tsp each ground cumin and chilli powder and stir fry for a minute. Add 400g tinned tomatoes and 500ml of water and boil for 10 minutes. Add 400g tinned kidney beans, rinsed and drained, and a handful of coriander leaves and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with rice, poppadoms and cucumber slices.


This story Welcome to my lockdown kitchen first appeared on The Canberra Times.