Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I am a big fan of hot apple crumble with vanilla ice cream. It has that tart, creamy, crunchy thing going on and I love the contrast between the hot pie and the cold ice cream. The thing is, I’m not a fan of just plain apples so I usually have pears in my fruit basket and I always have frozen berries in the freezer as they are perfect to perk up a smoothie and are a great last minute dessert fail safe. So this is how my pear and berry crumble came about… you can use many different combinations of fruit and top it off with crumble. They just need to be fruits which lend themselves to being cooked.
Apples, pears, peaches, plums, rhubarb and berries are good tried and tested fruits which work well in pies. So be creative and come up with your own combinations. If the fruit is very tart add sugar, if it’s very sweet add less sugar and perhaps a squeeze of lemon juice. Tinned fruits work really well in pies and are great to have in the cupboard for when you need to whip up a last minute dessert or tea time treat.
I hate throwing food out so if I have allot of fruit fast approach its expiry date, a fruit crumble is often a good way to use it and a great excuse for a spontaneous dessert!
The recipe for this fruit crumble was for a dinner party I had last week and I experiment with the crumble part of a recipe I found in a cook book by Sonia Cabano called Easy, Simple and Delicious (a winner). I did modified it a bit but the addition of flaked almonds and ginger spice as she recommended was awesome.
I love the crazy way the blue berries turned my pears psychedelic purple!
Pear and berry crumble
Serves 6 (4 in my house)
1 x large (820g) tin of pears (drained) or 10 fresh pears, peeled, cored and sliced
200g of fresh or frozen berries (I used raspberries and blueberries)
½ cup of oats
50g of flaked almonds
½ cup of nutty wheat
½ cup of castor sugar
½ tsp of cinnamon
½ tsp of ground ginger
¼ tsp of salt
125g of butter
Pre heat your oven to 160C˚ and place the wrack in the middle of the oven.
Spread the fruit out into the bottom of a pie or casserole dish small enough to allow the pie to be at least 5 – 4cm thick.
Combine all the ingredients (except the fruit) in a mixing bowl. Using your finger tips rub the butter with the dry ingredients until they have formed light crumbs.
Spoon the crumbs lightly over the fruit and bake for about 25 minutes until the crumble is golden and crispy.
Serve with whipped cream, custard or ice cream.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I’m on a bit of a comfort food mission at the moment. Think it’s the change of seasons and hopefully the change of pace which will go with it. Slower more leisurely cooking, richer flavours, spices and roasts. I love roasts…mmm! Okay, now I’m getting carried away as I’m not blogging about roasts today, but I can’t help fantasising about the roasts I will be preparing and naturally blogging about soon…
Back on track now, the dish I am blogging about today is for me to the mid week meal what the roast is to a Sunday. In our home it’s called Eggs Provencal and is a recipe my Mom got from an Elizabeth David cook book on traditional Italian cookery. She added mashed potato to the recipe and the rest is history! I’ve been hooked my whole life.
It is a perfectly balances meal with all the elements of veg, starch and protein as well as tangy, creamy and sticky textures and flavours. It’s what my Mom cooks for me when she knows I need nurturing. It’s what I cook for myself when I need a midweek comfort food fix without the guilt of pizza.
And for those of you who think eggs are should strictly be reserved for breakfast dishes or baking need to realise that this is a very Anglo-Saxon perspective. Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian cooking uses eggs as the protein part of their main meals far more often than they would serve eggs at breakfast. So take it from me, this recipe is a winner!
Eggs Provencal a la Mama
For the mash
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
75g of butter
½ - 1 cup of milk
1 tsp of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
For the tomato concasse
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp of oil
6 large tomatoes, finely chopped
½ Tbsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt
Fresh or dried herbs (e.g. basil, oregano, thyme, parsley)
4 jumbo free range eggs, poached
Boil the potatoes in salted water, until just done. Check this by spearing the potato with a knife. Drain the potatoes, add the butter and mash with a potato masher until fluffy and no lumps. Add the milk, salt and pepper and mash until smooth and creamy. You can decide what consistency you like your mash to be and add more or less milk.
Heat the oil in a pan on medium high heat. Fry the onion and garlic until it turns glassy. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer until it forms a nice saucy texture, the cooking time will vary here according to the water content of your tomatoes. Add the sugar, spices and herbs and simmer for a minute or two until the flavours have combined.
I have added two helpful links for poaching eggs below:
I however don’t add vinegar as I don’t like the way it makes the eggs taste but this can lead to the eggs being a bit ‘all over the place’. Try the vinegar method first and you can experiment once you are more familiar with the technique.
Layer the mash, concasse and eggs in a serving dish or plate individually and top with grated parmesan.
Monday, March 28, 2011
My family has recently grown by two very cute super naughty grey kittens who have taken over our house and already have us firmly wrapped around their tiny paws.
On Saturday we invited kitten godmother Annika to redeem her birthday pamper day - fresh berry and mango fruit salad in the bath, body exfoliation and masque, girly chatter, tandem full body massage (with a little help from the kittens), chilled bubbles and lunch, followed by 4 episodes of Vampire Diaries tucked in bed with the kittens and another bottle of bubbly. With Annika being a self confessed pasta-holic and autumn in the air, the lunch menu was easily chosen.
I found dried chanterelle mushrooms at Pick n Pay added fresh portobellini mushrooms, crème fraiche and parmesan… it was hard to go wrong with this combo. Even the little carnivores agreed that this was an unbeatable meal.
In the recipe below I’m going to tell you exactly what I did on Saturday but naturally you can use any combination of fresh, dried or wild mushrooms you enjoy. If, however, you get the chance to eat fresh or dried chanterelles take it from me… they are awesome!
Chantarelle and Portobellini Mushroom Pasta
500g pasta of choice, cooked and drained
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
250g portobellini mushrooms, sliced
¼ tsp of all spice
¼ tsp of cumin
½ tsp of fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp soya sauce
2 tsp of whole grain mustard
40g of dried chanterelle mushrooms, rehydrated with a cup of boiling water
250g crème fraiche
½ tsp of salt
1 cup of finely grated parmesan or alternative hard Italian cheese
I think it’s best to leave dried mushrooms rehydrating for a good few hours if possible, so they are not too stringy or chewy. The water they are soaking in is packed full of mushroom flavour, so try to incorporate it into your sauce. If this is not an option add it to your pasta water along with plenty of salt to give your pasta good flavour from the start.
Heat the oil in a large thick bottomed pan on medium high heat, add the onions, garlic and fresh mushrooms and fry until the onions start colouring. Add the spices and soya sauce and fry until the moisture has evaporate and the mushrooms are starting to fry.
Add the water the chanterelles have been soaking in and chop up the chanterelles before adding them to the pan. Add the mustard and crème fraiche. Allow this to simmer for 5 minutes. If the sauce is too runny allow it to simmer until the right consistency is achieved. It should be a thin sauce but should not be watery. Salt to taste.
Add the cooked pasta to the pan and combine. Dish up and top with lots of grated parmesan.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
600g lean beef goulash cubes
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp turmeric
1 cup of beef stock
1 cup of carrots, grated
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp of soya sauce
1 Tbsp of flour
½ cup of milk
1 Tbsp sugar/xylitol (or to taste)
1 red, yellow or orange pepper, deseeded and chopped into chunky squares
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
My parents popped past yesterday midmorning for a quick visit to meet my new kittens (sooooo cute) and I wanted to offer them something with their coffee. I didn’t feel like leaving the house to shop so needed to make something with what I had.
The result was pretty good. I like the combination of fruit, cheese and nuts and luckily I had all three. I combined apple, cheddar and walnuts with a very simple nutty wheat muffin dough and ended up with a relatively healthy, tasty, breakfast muffin which was quick to prepare and was a very welcome midmorning tea snack. Adam and I polished the rest for breakfast this morning.
Apple Cheddar and Walnut Muffins
Makes 12 medium muffins
¼ cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of milk
1/3 cup of sugar (brown if you have)
2 cups of whole wheat flour or nutty wheat flour
2 ½ tsp of baking powder
½ tsp of salt
1 ½ cups of strong cheddar cheese, diced into small cubes
1 cup of apple, peeled and diced into small cubes
½ cup of walnuts (or pecan nuts), chopped
Preheat your oven to 180C˚ and place the wrack in the middle. Grease a regular 12 muffin tin.
Whisk together egg, oil, milk and sugar. Sift in the flour (the nutty wheat bits will stay in the sieve, just add them afterwards), baking powder and salt and stir until well combined. Fold in the cheese, apples and walnuts.
Fill the muffin moulds almost to the top as they will not rise very much. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Allow them to cool slightly before unmolding them. Best eaten warm. I like serving them with grated cheese, honey and butter on the side for your guests to add if they like.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
A dear Italian friend of mine and awesome cook taught me many years ago how to do this super simple and simply delicious, melt in your mouth fillet. It is a dish all my friends have recreated and I still get phone calls at odd times, asking for reminders on how to prepare it.
At first it seems like an unlikely combination to mix meat with vinegar but the sweet tanginess of the balsamic really compliments the flavour and its effect on the texture is awesome. Melt in your mouth like you cannot believe.
The secret is to keep the fillet as rare as possible as the acidity of the vinegar cooks it further and to get your oven or braai as hot as possible to build up a nice crust on the meat. It also lasts really well in the fridge and tastes phenomenal cold the next day.
800g of trimmed beef fillet
125ml of olive oil
125m of balsamic vinegar
30 - 40 fresh rosemary leaves, bruised
Marinate your fillet in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and bruised rosemary leaves. Place the fillet in a snug container so the marinade can cover it and turn it every so often if you remember. I like to leave it for about 2 hours or so but longer is also fine.
When you are ready to cook the meat preheat your oven (or braai) on to top heat, as hot as you can get it. Remove the fillet from the marinade, place it on a baking tray and into the oven, reserving the marinade.
Grill the meat for about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the fillet. Remove it from the oven and slice it into slices of about 1 – 2cm thickness. Arrange the slices onto a serving platter and pour the reserved marinade generously over the hot meat, return it to the oven for a further 5 minutes. You can then grind some salt and pepper over the top and serve immediately. The vinegar continues cooking the meat and gives a tenderness and flavour that is truly memorable.
Summer serving suggestion: crispy Mediterranean potatoes and rocket salad
Winter serving suggestion: Dijon mustard mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
So I came to my senses and instead of baking a cake I baked bread. Eating a slice of bread just out the oven with butter, is just about as satisfying to me as eating a slice of cake. My mom always used to bake us fabulous bread when we were kids and I used her seed loaf recipe as the inspiration for mine.
I have modified it a bit by adding my ever faithful omega seed mix and my new craze Maca Powder both of which I think give this loaf great flavour and an added ‘health’ fix.
The great thing about this bread recipe is that it is really easy, with no kneading. Just mix, prove and bake.
I bought a silicone bread mould as I have been enjoying baking in silicone but this is one mould which is not better than a regular tin. If you fill the mould to capacity it sags badly in the middle giving the loaf a rather odd shape.
This recipe should be pretty easy to teach your housekeeper to make for your family, so you can have fresh bread as often as you need it.
Whole wheat seed loaf
Makes one loaf in a 23 x 13 x 8cm bread tin
1 cup pearl barley, soaked for at least 1 hour in 1 cup of boiling water
1 cup of mixed omega seeds, lightly toasted
2 1/2 cups of stone ground whole wheat flour (or nutty wheat)
1 sachet instant yeast
1 Tbsp of brown sugar
4 Tbsp Maca Powder (totally optional)
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water
Oil or spray ‘n cook for the pan
Mix all dry ingredients – add water slowly with the soaked cracked wheat and the water it soaked in.
The mixture must not be too sloppy or too solid. Stir well until the gluten starts forming. Add oil, if using.
Oil the bread tin and pour the mixture in. Place in a warm spot (I find the oven perfect, I just warm it a very little, then turn it off and leave the door open) for about ½ an hour – the bread should have doubled in size. Do not bump or disturb it at this stage or it will collapse.
Put into the oven and turn it to 180C˚ and bake for about 50mins or until brown, crisp and giving a hollow sound when tapped.
Take out of the oven, leave for 5mins then gently shake it out of the tin and let it cool on a wire rack until quite cool.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I’m neither a cake fan nor a sweets fiend but today all I can think of is the chocolate cake I trained yesterday. I am blaming my hormones for this mess, as no other cake will do. I am feeling overwhelming compelled to bake it again, for myself this time… I have been trying to find a good excuses… who’s birthday is it, who is feeling down and needs cheering up… I can’t bake an entire cake for a two person household just on a whim, can I?
If you live in Cape Town and can give me a perfect excuse to bake it, I’ll personally deliver you a slice tomorrow. Promise.
One of the things which I think may have made the difference to this cake it that I used only the best ingredients I could find. Lindt 70% chocolate, NoMU cocoa and vanilla paste, Lurpak butter. The chocolate flavour is crazy intense but the texture is still so light and fluffy. Man, that’s some good cake.
Devil’s food cake
Serves 8 - 10
125g of dark or milk chocolate, broken up
¼ cup of cocoa powder
1 cup of boiling water
¾ cup of all white bread flour
¾ cup plain cake flour
1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp of salt
250g of butter
1 cup of dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
½ cup of sour cream or crème fraiche
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate fudge icing
¼ cup of sugar
½ cup of milk
50ml of cream
125ml of dark or milk chocolate, broken up
Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees. Combine the chopped chocolate and cocoa in a bowl, pour over the boiling water and whisk until smooth. Sift your dry ingredients together.
Beat the butter until soft and then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs to the mixture one by one beating in between to combine. Add the cream and vanilla.
Then add half the dry ingredients followed by half the chocolate mixture and then repeat until all is just combined. Don’t over beat.
Pour into a greased cake tin scrapping the batter more towards the sides of the cake tin and bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until a skewer placed in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool before turning the cake out and allow the cake to be completely cool before icing.
For the icing, simmer the sugar and milk in a small sauce pan until it reduces to half and is thickening slightly. Then remove it from the heat, add the cream and chocolate and allow it to melt. Stir it with a whisk until smooth and silky. Pour the icing in the centre of the cooled cake and smoothed it with the back of a spoon until it just starts oozing over the edges of the cake.