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Monday, 13 June 2011

Brown Butter and Lemon (And lots of thinking)

HULLO! Finally I have time to blog as often as I like because I'M DONE! I have FINALLY completed my LAST EXAM EVER!! I am so over-joyed....sleeping in till midday, bumming around watching TV all day, cooking 24/7, SHOPPING (not that this habit was kicked while studying...)!! Ahhh whoever says holidays get boring can take a hike. Although the fun stops in 3 weeks when I start full-time placement.....oh well, can't have too much of a good thing or I'd just be an overweight couch-potato with a crap-load of clothes. And nail polish.

While I was studying for my last exam, every so often I would get distracted and just blog-surf - mostly food blogs since studying meal-plan prescriptions and nutritional advice can make you hungry - and I would find all these cool things to make, but then i wouldn't have any time to make them. So, i saved them all and decided to make as much as i could before placement starts. So the first thing I decided I wanted to make was something sweet (big surprise =P).

Whilst blog-surfing I always find awesome new blogs I can follow that become regular favourites. One particular one that stood out was Heather's Dish. Apart from the awesome food-porn pictures that made me drool, the recipes she posts look so delish! There's a mix of sweet, savoury, healthy and down-right artery-clogging-but-oh-so-delicious guilty pleasures there, each and every one I feel tempted to make myself. I love her blog because while she posts these awesome recipes, it's more the way she came about making each dish, the little snippets of her life that she throws in there as well that make it so enjoyable to read and follow. I love how her focus is on living a healthy lifestyle while still enjoying the things she loves. And I love the honesty, it just makes you feel human. I often feel that I get side-tracked and pressured into thinking that every aspect of my life has to reflect the profession I have chosen to build a career in, and I often feel guilty if I don't live by it to a T. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for leading a healthy lifestyle, eating well and keeping active like everyone should be. But sometimes I'm led to think my passion for cooking and eating food that may not necessarily be classed as 'healthy' overrides my ability as a dietitian. There are pressures that come with such a career, as people see you as a role model for 'healthyness' and that's where the self-doubt comes in.

But, to know that there are people out there who are healthy and have values and passions that are similar to mine makes me feel like maybe the fact that I like to have a burger and fries for lunch instead of a salad isn't so bad. It doesn't impact on my capabilities as a dietitian, and doesn't mean that I don't believe in eating healthy and living healthy. I love Heather's blog because it makes me remind myself that this, my career and what it encompasses, isn't all consuming, and isn't supposed to be a chore - it's all about balance. I'm only human after all =).

PHEW! Sorry for the soliloquy, if I'm left alone too long this is what happens in my mind. SO, back to my baking adventure! One of the recipes that I found on Heather's blog immediately caught my eye, maybe because I was craving something like it at the time.

I apologise, I don't have the super-fantastic ability to make food look awesome either by presentation or photography, but I can tell you they taste bloody good =D. Again, more drool-worthy pics can be found by clicking the link to the original recipe on Heather's awesome blog below. And unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the cooking process because my camera ran out of battery just as I was browning the butter =(. But I'll do my best with descriptions!

These are Brown Butter Sugar Cookies with Lemon Buttercream! They are so delicious, the brown butter adds a different, rich taste to the cookies and the lemon buttercream isn't too overpowering. The perfect balance between sweet and sour.

Brown Butter Sugar Cookies with Lemon Buttercream
Recipe adapted from Heather's Dish

1 and a 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda (bicarb powder)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter + 4 Tbsp at room temp (the 4 tbsp are for the buttercream - I used margarine because I'm used to the taste, more so than butter)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powder sugar (icing sugar/mixture)
Zest and juice from 1 lemon

1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F)

2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat brown the butter by letting it bubble, and stir constantly. You'll know when it's done when the butter literally turns brown - this can happen quickly so that's why you keep it on medium-low heat, and keep an eye on it! I let mine get to the colour of dark brown sugar then I took it off the heat.

3. Pour immediately into a cold bowl. This is important - you need to let it cool and NOT pour it directly in the next step or you could potentially cook the eggs with the heat. And i'm sure I don't need to tell you this is not a good idea =P.

4. Cream together the brown butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. You may need to refrigerate the batter at this point if it's really sloppy - it can be hard to work with if its too sloppy, so keep it in the fridge for 30 mins if you feel the need to.

5. Roll into 1 tsp balls and bake for 8-10 minutes (mine took 15, but they were a bit hard - it all depends on your oven!), until the edges are sightly brown. Let them cool completely before adding the frosting.

For the frosting - Beat together the 4 tbsp of butter/margarine with the 1 cup of powdered sugar. Add the lemon zest and 1/2 the juice. If the icing is spreadable don't add any more juice. ONLY add more if you feel the buttercream is a bit too stiff. 

NB: I only added 1/2 the zest AND 1/2 the juice to my buttercream because that seemed to be the right amount for my taste - you may feel otherwise =). But add both in small bits and taste as you go so that you achieve the right amount you desire.

Mmm squishy buttercream

Hope you enjoyed reading!

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