Archive for August, 2010

Lemon tart with a twist

Do you know how I know I’m getting old(er)? I shout at the tv. I used to laugh at my parents when they shouted at the tv or sang really loudly to the radio, dismissing it as something that happens in old age, but now I am finding myself doing exactly the same thing. And I still see myself as young! (Granted, my parents certainly were when I caught them singing, but I didn’t see it like that when I was a kid)

I think we’ll always see ourselves as 20, or 25, or even 16. I insist that I will always be a 13-year-old in a however-many-years-old body. I will always laugh at cartoons, I will always wear fun pyjamas, and I will always enjoy birthdays. Although in all other ways I age: I now complain about the school kids on the train, I feel the need to discipline other people’s kids when they misbehave, and I find myself saying to Frank all the time that “back in my day, these things wouldn’t happen” about some news story or another.

One fantastic thing about being older is that I can bake what I want. And I’m still finding this a novely after many years! One of my favorite things to eat is lemon tart, I am a big fan of anything lemony. As I had a lot of cream and delicious farm-fresh eggs in the fridge I thought it was the perfect time to make my favorite dessert. I’m still not great with the pastry as I seem to burn the edges, but despite that the tart was rather tasty. I mixed in the pulp of two passionfruit to make it summery, and it went down very well at work and at home!

Lemon and passionfruit tart – from AWW’s “old-fashioned desserts”

250g plain flour
2 tablespoon icing sugar
pinch of salt
150g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
2-3 tablespoons iced water
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
pulp of 1 passionfruit
¾ cup castor sugar
1 cup cream
5 eggs

Place sifted flour, icing sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process briefly. Add butter and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and a bit of the water and process until mixture comes together in a clump, adding more water if necessary.Place the mixture onto the bench and flatten into a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.

Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan forced.Remove from the fridge and roll out to fit a 28cm fluted tart tin with a removable base. Press into the tin with pastry overhanging the edge. Prick the base of the pastry and cover with a sheet of baking paper. Line with baking beads or rice. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the beads and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

look at the beautiful orange colour of the yolks!

Beat together the lemon juice, sugar and cream. Add the eggs one at a time. Strain mixture through a fine sieve. Pour into cooled tart shell. Bake for 25 minutes or until filling is set on the outside, but still a little bit wobbly in the centre. Allow the tart to cool completely.Serve a slice dusted with icing sugar with a dollop of crème fraîche.

Sausage and mash, South African style

It’s always slightly nerve-wracking when you start dating someone, when you start to discover the things they like and the things the don’t like. And what happens if they love something you dislike? Or they think you’re weird for owning a onesie? Or worst of all, they don’t like baked goods?

One of my friends doesn’t like any chocolate except white chocolate, he hates vinegar (in his own words, if Cindy Crawford asked him for a kiss after eating salt & vinegar chips he would shove her and run) and doesn’t eat too many vegetables. And as much as I love him as a friend, he would drive me nuts if I ever had to cook for him.

When I first met Frank I was interested to see whether he would like the same things I do. In South Africa we eat a farm-style spiced beef sausage called boerewors. It is a part of all braais (barbeques) and is one of the first things South Africans away from home will request (and the first thing we miss). Needless to say, if Frank didn’t like boerewors it would be like disliking a part of my history. *dramatic* One day in London we passed a South African stall that made boerewors rolls (boerewors on a long roll with fried onions and tomato sauce) and I suggested that Frank try one. Once he had one bite he was hooked! And so was I… 😉

When we were shopping last month Frank discovered an Aussie company that makes boerewors like the stuff you get at home. He was practically hopping on the spot! It tastes delicious, and we buy it once a week for dinner. As I seem to be making South African food lately I thought I’d share this one with you. If you have a South African shop in your area, or a Woolworths if you live in Australia, give it a try. You won’t be disappointed!

I baked my boerewors as we don’t have a coal barbeque. South Africans will be very disappointed to read that, but it’s the best I can do. I teamed it with sweet potato mash as the sausage is very rich and the sweet potato works well with the spices. Topped off with a batch of steamed veggies, it makes a lovely mid-week meal.

Boerewors and sweet potato mash – a lollcakes original

1 pack farm-style sausage/boerewors
2 sweet potatoes
pinch ginger
pinch cinnamon
salt to taste
pinch chilli flakes
25ml butter
50ml milk
vegetables or salad to serve

Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan-forced, place boerewors on a tray. DO NOT prick the skin, it keeps the moisture in the sausage.

Cook boerewors for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. While the boerewors is cooking, chop the sweet potatoes into small cubes and boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Mash with the rest of the ingredients, and serve with the sausage and vegetables/salad.

Honey cake with honeyed almond crunch

When I lived in London I used to confuse everyone by saying it felt like Christmas when the sun started shining and the days became spring-like. Coming from the Southern Hemisphere I love hot Christmases, and the thought of summer gets me hopping about like a small child.

Sydney has been putting on a wonderful show of spring lately. We have been lucky enough to have two wonderful weeks of sunshine and fairly warm weather while it is still technically winter.  On Friday I got the fuzzy “yay, summer and Christmas are coming!” excitement, and realized with utter joy that this year will be my first proper hot Christmas for 6 years. (We moved here just before last Christmas, but we had only just landed and it still felt like a holiday so I didn’t get the Christmas build-up…)

As Sydney and I have had our good and bad times over the last couple of months, I thought I would regale you with some of the reasons I love Sydney/Australia:

  • The weather is proper. It is hot in summer, cold in winter, and utterly wonderful in between. You get a chance to appreciate both the cold and the heat as you experience extremes (ish) of both
  • There are so many different places in Australia to see, and each is like a different country
  • The food in Sydney, and in Australia, is of very high quality
  • The Australian culture is fantastic. (Despite my recent discovery that Australians don’t like South Africans very much…)
  • Australians work hard and play hard. I enjoy the playing part the most, the working part takes a little getting used to
  • Outside of Sydney working hours, the people are relaxed and friendly. (Although sometimes a little too close for comfort)
  • We have a cute little home for a fraction of the rent we paid in the UK
  • I have been able to get into food blogging, and get involved in food blogging, which is something important in my life
  • I learned how to dive! YAY!
  • Our Christmases are hot. Often rainy, but hot.

As I am feeling all spring-like at the moment, I decided I would make a delicious loaf to celebrate the wonderful Sydney weather. Frank loves honey, and although I’m not the biggest fan, I thought I would give this recipe a go. It turned out rather tasty in the end!

Honey cake with honeyed almond crunch – recipe from the BBC Good Food website

175g slightly salted butter , softened, plus extra for greasing
85g clear honey, plus 4 tbsp for drizzling and extra to serve
85g caster sugar
85g ground almonds
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
100ml natural yogurt
2 large eggs , one separated, plus 1 extra egg white
85g flaked almonds

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin and line with a strip of baking parchment that overhangs each end – this will help you lift the cake out when it is cooked.

Put the butter, honey, caster sugar, ground almonds, flour, baking powder, bicarb and yogurt into a large mixing bowl. Put the egg whites into another small bowl. Put the yolk and remaining whole egg in with all the other ingredients.

Whisk the whites until stiff, then put your electric beater into the other bowl of ingredients and beat until just smooth. Stir in a third of the whites, then gently fold in the rest with a wooden spoon. Tip the mix into the prepared tin, scatter over the flaked almonds and bake for 55 mins on the middle-lower shelf of the oven until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven. Quickly drizzle with 2 tbsp honey and scatter with a small pinch of fine salt. Put back in the oven for 5 mins more. Remove from the oven, drizzle with 2 more tbsp honey, then cool in the tin on a wire rack. Release stuck almonds from around the edge with a knife; then, using the parchment overhangs, carefully lift the cake from the tin. Eat in slices, drizzled with a little extra honey if you like.

Traditional Malva pudding

Traditions play a big part in our lives. Each family has their own traditions that are handed down to the next generation, and the same with every country.

When I lived at home we always ate dinner at the table. My mom insisted as it gave us a chance to talk about our days. This has been passed on to me, and I now make Frank eat dinner at the table instead of in front of the tv. (Much to his horror…) Another tradition my mom and I have is to say “love you lots” to each other at the end of every conversation. I said it so many times that I said it to a friend on the phone one day by mistake! It was a great tradition to let each other know that we care, even if I may have said it to randoms by mistake every now and again.

Frank’s family has started a new tradition which I love. The tradition is for the whole family to go away for a weekend once a year, and instead of buying each other gifts the money goes towards the house we rent. This year’s family weekend was last weekend, and we went to Berry. We stayed in a fabulously quirky house and spent the weekend relaxing and catching up. To make catering easier each couple took two meals to cook over the weekend. And since it was a traditional weekend, I decided to make a traditional South African dessert as one of our meals. I got the recipe from my line manager, who got it from an old Aunt back home, and it tastes just like I remember!

According to Wikipedia, ‘Malva Pudding is a sweet pudding of Dutch origin, usually served hot with custard and/or ice-cream. It is made with apricot jam and has a spongy caramelized texture. It is often found on the dessert menu of South African restaurants.It is of distinct Cape Dutch origin with many unique additions which may differ from one area to the next’. All I know is that it is South African, and it is delicious!

Malva Pudding – recipe origin unknown


Cake

1 cup sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp apricot jam
1 cup flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp margarine
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup milk

Sauce
1 cup whipping cream (not whipped)
1 tbsp butter
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup hot water
5ml vanilla extract

Beat the egg and sugar well in a mixer. Add the jam, sift flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. Melt the butter add the lemon juice and milk. Add liquids to egg mixture alternately with the flour. Beat well and bake in a covered dish 180C for 45 minute to 1 hour.

Melt together the ingredients for the sauce and pour over the pudding as it comes out of the oven. Pop back in and bake for 20 mins, until sauce has caramelized. Serve with ice-cream or cream if you wish!

Chocolate ganache cupcakes

I have long-since accepted the fact that I am a giant kid, and always will be. My favorite joke is a horse walks into a bar and the barman says “why the long face?”, I have fluorescent-pink pyjamas with monkey faces on them, and I introduce myself as an ass-istant accountant quite frequently. (I am also in hysterics when people used the word stool, I just can’t help myself) I suspect this is why Frank and I get on so well.

my special cupcake money-box

One of the important things Frank taught me (that my brother tried for years to teach me, but I was too young to pick up the lesson) is how to laugh at myself. Or, how to not be embarrassed in public. When we went shopping, Frank would disappear down an isle while I was still talking to him, and I would turn around with a leg of lamb and ask the stranger behind me if he/she thinks we should have this for dinner. At first I was embarrassed, but over time I realized that if I can’t beat him I’ll join him!

On a trip to Dan Murphy’s the other month they were playing cracking eighties songs over the radio. And this is when I discovered that Frank gets slightly embarrassed when I dance in the aisles! (Although between you and me, I think it is my dancing, and not dancing in general, that gets him embarrassed) He also thought it was funny to put the wine in the front seat so I couldn’t get in. So I sat in the back and made him chauffeur me home.

As I am a giant kid, I cannot let a birthday go by unnoticed. We get lovely cakes at work for our birthdays, but I’m so used to making something that I have decided to make chocolate cupcakes for my line manager’s birthday. I have never made cupcakes with ganache, so below is my first attempt. Everyone loved them!

Chocolate ganache cupcakes – recipe from “Cupcake Magic” by Kate Shirazi

1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup margarine, softened
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
200ml thickened cream
200g good quality dark chocolate

Break chocolate up in a medium bowl. Warm cream on the stove until almost boiling, then pour over chocolate and leave to melt for 10 mins. Stir until smooth and pop in the fridge to cool.

Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan-forced, and line a 12-hole muffin tin. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and castor sugar into a large bowl. Add in margarine, eggs and milk; and beat until light and fluffy. Divide mixture between 12 muffin cases, and bake for 20 mins until the tops are firm. Remove from the pan and let cool.

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Once cool, spread ganache over cakes. Decorate as you wish!

Tasty cinnamon schnecken

Frank and I consider ourselves lovers of the German language. Since before I can remember we’ve been saying ‘no’ in German instead of English (causing my niece to ask Frank: “what does nein mean?” quite frequently) and often call each other schweinehund. (Pig-dog. Apparently this is incredibly insulting when said to a German person, but we mean it in an affectionate way. The same way my old boss calls me Numbnuts) I can understand a small amount of written German, Frank loves German beer, and I work for a German company. Germany is also one of those beautiful European countries that most of the UK hasn’t considered visiting yet, but that I have visited more than any other country. So I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when I found a recipe for German pastries!

Until I went back and looked at the recipe this morning, I thought that these amazing little pastries were called schenken. And despite knowing that a pig in German is a schwein, I was convinced that a boar in German is a schenken. So I sat for ages wondering why these scrolls would be called boars even though Nigella said they were called snails. Turns out my German isn’t as good as I thought, and there is no such thing as schenken! But it certainly makes sense why these pastries are called snails…

Frank was out on Saturday, so I spent the day in the kitchen. When he got home the schnecken were bubbling away in the oven. Having smelled cinnamony goodness and looked at me with a query I told him I was baking schnecken. To which he responded: “ah, delicious” without even seeing what was in there. I had to ask, “do you know what schnecken are?”, and true to form Frank answered “no, but it sounds delicious!”. (When he was told they are snails he looked less than pleased, but loved them when they came out and landed in his belly!)

This recipe was fantastically simple and straight-forward. The dough takes awhile to rise, but other than that the recipe was quick and rather delicious! I used pistachios and raisins as I didn’t have walnuts, so I think you can substitute until your heart’s content!

Schnecken recipe – from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’

Dough:
3 1/3 cups bread flour
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 packet dry yeast (7g)
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
2 large eggs

Syrup:
½ cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons demerrera sugar
4 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons golden syrup
1 cup walnuts or pecans

Glaze:
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk

Filling:
3 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup castor sugar
¼ cup demerrera sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Melt the butter in the milk; use a microwave and measuring cup for ease. Beat in the eggs and stir into the dry ingredients to make dough. Knead for 10 minutes, or 5 minutes with a dough hook. When it’s springy and satiny, form it into a ball, put into an oiled bowl, turn to coat and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Using an electric mixer, start on the syrup: beat the butter until soft and smooth, and add the sugar, still beating. Beat in the maple syrup and golden syrup. Divide the mixture among a 12-cup muffin pan. Top with walnuts or pecans, about a tablespoon for each cup.

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. When the dough is ready, knock it back, knead once or twice and then roll out to a large rectangle, approximately 30 by 60 cms, with the long side nearest you.
Beat the egg and the milk in a small bowl; glaze the dough, using a pastry brush to paint, or just your fingers.

Mix the filling ingredients in a little bowl and sprinkle onto the dough. Now, roll up the long side and away from you, carefully but firmly, keeping a firm sausage shape. Cut into 12 even slices, and lie each slice spiral-swirly cut side up, on top of the nuts and syrup in the muffin pan.

Leave to rise for 20 minutes. When they’re risen and puffy, put into the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, by which time they should be golden and cooked: crisp in parts, voluptuously gooey in others. Place a parchment-paper-lined roasting pan or baking sheet on top and turn the whole thing the other way up. You will need oven mitts and a degree of caution to do this. Remove the muffin tray and dislodge any nuts that are still stuck in it, adding them, along with any residual syrup, to the upturned buns.

Frank doing the risky bits for me...

August Daring Cook’s challenge – pierogi!

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

“This is what the Daring cook’s challenge is all about!” I exclaimed on 17th July when I logged in from the alternative Pig Palace office (my Google phone, on the bed) and saw what the August challenge was. Sadly I didn’t even know pierogi existed, but the lovely hosts changed that in a flash! I obsessed for days on what fillings I was going to  make, and went out to buy the pierogi press straight away. (I tried making ravioli without a guide and they looked weird to say the least.) Initially I thought I would make non-traditional fillings, but my gorgeous Polish friend Mrs Currin is coming to stay with us in December, so I wanted to practice the traditional ones to make for her. In the end I decided to try four different fillings and give the challenge a proper go!

True to form, this challenge was really fun, and Frank enjoyed scoffing the results. (To quote Frank after eating my second batch: “these meat ones are blo*dy amazing!”) I’ve already put this one in the recipe file, and will be adding it to my repertoire of dishes. I love dumplings of any sort, and I’m rather chuffed that I can now make some delicious ones at home!

Aussie pierogi

For the additional challenge the hosts suggested we create unique fillings to represent our own country. As many traditional South African dishes are too liquid to put in a dumpling, I decided to do something Australian. An ode to my new home! And since my brother (and most non-Australians) assume that we always eat “shrimps on the barbie” here, I thought a prawn and chilli stuffing for my boiled Aussie dumplings would be best. Not wanting to serve a dinner with no vegetables I stir-fried some veg and served the dumplings on top with stir-fry sauce. Definitely different!

chocolate pierogi

The hosts suggested making dessert dumplings, so I thought I’d make some to follow after the prawns. I filled them with chocolate chunks, and fried them after boiling them. They were served with ice-cream, and were perfect after a light meal!

beef pierogi

Finally I thought I’d try my hand at making some of the traditional fillings suggested by the hosts. I made a third batch and filled them alternately with beef and potato, and fried all the dumplings. The potato dumplings were rather bland despite the cheese (and sneaky chilli), but the beef ones were delicious!

potato pierogi

The pierogi dough was easy to make, especially if you’ve made pasta before, but rather hard to roll out. I recommend lots and lots of flour on your rolling surface! All in all the challenge was fantastic and I can’t wait to make pierogi again. And Frank can’t wait to eat them…

Pierogi (makes 4 generous servings, around 30 dumplings) – from the hosts

Dough:
2 to 2 1/2 cups (300 to 375 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
About 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water

Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little lukewarm at a time (in my situation 1/2 cup was enough). Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. You’re aiming for soft dough. Let it rest 20 minutes.On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly (1/8” or about 3 millimeters) cut with a 2-inch (5 cm) round or glass (personally I used 4-inch/10 cm cutter as it makes nice size pierogi – this way I got around 30 of them and 1 full, heaped teaspoon of filling is perfect for that size).

Spoon a portion (teaspoon will be the best) of the filling into the middle of each circle.

Fold dough in half and pinch edges together. Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in the pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Return to the boil and reduce heat. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more ( usually about 5 minutes). Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi from the water.

Potato and cheese filling:
4 – 5 boiled potatoes
4 table spoons butter (60 g) or olive oil (60 ml)
50 ml (3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) milk
1 egg white (from medium egg)
about 120 ml (½ cup) farmers’ cheese (any unripened cheese like Indian Paneer)

salt and pepper

Meat and cabbage filling:
200 g (7 oz) cooked meat (minced or cut very finely)
500 g white cabbage (chopped and simmered in a little bit of water, until soft)
1 onion (diced and fried)
1 whole medium egg
1 tablespoon (15g) butter
dry breadcrumbs (add as much to hold the filling together, about 2 tablespoons)

salt and pepper

Prawn filling:
10 prawns, raw
1 chilli
1 clove garlic
small knob ginger
1/2 an onion
1/2 cup coriander
Combine all in a food processor and process until mince-like in texture. Fry until cooked and leave to cool. Add back into the food processor with a whole egg and combine.

Chocolate filling:
50g chocolate, cut into small chunks
6 tbsp cream cheese
1 egg white
Mix ingredients together and fill


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