Kitchen Love

Having had our new kitchen installed over the last week, I can now appreciate the love affair this nation has with DIY. We designed the kitchen we wanted, and knew would work for us, so to have it materialise after much hard work and money spent is so so exciting. I don’t know what to do with all the bench space. I’m in love with our brushed stainless steel benches, on which I can plonk down boiling hot pots without a care in the world. I have a dishwasher, for the first time in about 6 years. I’m a happy kitchen magpie. 

Last night, craving something sweet to eat after enjoying the minestrone my sister had made me, I decided to make some shortbread. I went to my recipe file, full of scrappy bits of paper with recipes jotted down from various sources, and found an old bank statement with a basic shortbread recipe on the back. No source given, silly me, and I hadn’t even named oven temp etc, but of course with shortbread you always keep the oven on a steady low and never overcook. Thought I’d perk it up a bit by adding a Middle Eastern flavour, so here’s my recipe:

Hazelnut & Orange Flower Shortbread

250g butter, slightly softened

4 heaped Tbsp icing sugar

1 cup flour

1 cup cornflour

Pinch salt

1/2 cup toasted, skinned hazelnuts, roughly chopped

1 Tbsp orange flower water

Beat the butter and icing sugar until pale and creamy. Sift in flours and salt and combine. Stir through hazelnuts and orange flower water and inhale the heady scent.

Tip out dough onto clean work surface and knead gently for a few minutes. Roll into two logs so as to fit in the fridge, and chill for 20 minutes.

Slice chilled logs into pieces an inch or so thick (or thinner if you like a crispier biscuit) and arrange on baking tray. Bake at 160 degrees celsius for 20 to 30 minutes until cooked but not golden.

Cool and dust with icing sugar or leave unadorned. 

These fragrant biscuits are excellent served with cardamom-spiced Arabic coffee – strong, sweetened with plenty of sugar, cooked on the stovetop and served in dainty wee cups or glasses.

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