Blue Ribbon Bread is made for me!

20 March 2014 in Uncategorized

I was very fortunate to win Blue Ribbon’s kitchen makeover competition on Facebook recently with my Mushroom Strata recipe.

My Mushroom Strata stylishly presented by Executive Chef Riaan Gould who judged the five finalists.

My Mushroom Strata stylishly presented by Executive Chef Riaan Gould who judged the five finalists.

The prize was a R25 000 kitchen makeover, I had to choice of putting the money towards a new kitchen or opting for a voucher to buy appliances. It was a no-brainer for me, so I got to spend all that dosh with Yuppiechef, it was really hard trying to choose…..NOT! :)

Then Blue Ribbon broke the news that they would be delivering all my goodies and making a video to be shown on social media *GULP*

It’s not everyday you have one of these in your driveway…

BR3

 Then the unloading began and my kitchen started to fill up…

kitchenI can’t tell you how exciting it was, the three ladies that helped make the day so much fun….

Ashleigh Kondonis, Anne Daniels & photographer Minette Van Der Walt

Ashleigh Kondonis, Anne Daniels & photographer Minette Van Der Walt

As you might expect, I have been busy playing with all my new toys and I promise there will be posts forthcoming.

If you would like to see the video that Blue Ribbon made in my home and see me unpacking my goodies then click here Himself even makes a cameo appearance!

Follow their Facebook page and keep an eye out for their competitions.

Thank you again Blue Ribbon.

Cherry Brandy Brownies

6 February 2014 in Baking, Desserts, Easy to prepare

Hi there……long time no see!

Hopefully my mojo is back to stay cos Himself was bemoaning the fact that the quality of his food has declined since I took my blogging break. Cheek of the man! ;)

These are grown-up brownies, I made them for Christmas Eve and they have quickly become a family favourite. You need to buy yourself some glace cherries or if you’re feeling flush then some maraschino ones. Then you need to soak the cherries in brandy (or spirit of your choice) for at least a week beforehand.

 

Brandy soaked cherries (see above) as many as you like hic!

180g butter

160g dark chocolate

1 TBS of the liquid from the soaked cherries

175g castor sugar

3 extra large eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

110g cake flour

1/4 tsp salt

I used this particular chocolate because our local supermarket was selling it at R4 a bar, bargain!  just use as good a quality chocolate as you can.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and grease a suitable dish/pan (I used my new Le Creuset baking pan which is 23 x 23 cm and bakes like a dream)

Using a thick bottomed pan, melt the butter and the chocolate over a gentle heat, put aside to cool.

In a large bowl beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla and the cherry liquid until combined.

Add the cooled choc mix to the egg mixture a little at a time, then add the flour and the salt.

Arrange the cherries in your dish, I use 2/3 of them, pour over the brownie mix and put the rest of the cherries on the top.

Bake for 25 minutes

 

These brownies are really good, they have a nice fudgy texture and the booze soaked fruit is just the cherry on top! :)

 

Steamed Ginger Pudding

6 August 2013 in Easy to prepare, Economical

My mojo was last seen cavorting with the fairies at the bottom of my garden and so I decided that instead of staring blankly at the ingredients parking-off in my kitchen, I would try out  recipes from some of the lovely cookbooks that I have been fortunate enough to win.

First up, I choose Jane-Anne Hobb’s book Scrumptious, not because I know her, nor because of the tempting array of things to cook, no, it was because I happened to have all the ingredients for her Steamed Ginger Pudding in the house! :) Another bonus was that I got to use some of the preserved ginger that I made, interestingly I am still getting traffic and comments on that post. Click on the photo to be taken to the recipe, much cheaper than buying it.

As there are only the two of us, I decided to halve the quantities of Jane-Anne’s recipe but otherwise I didn’t deviate from the original as shown here.

Steamed Ginger Pudding

100ml golden syrup

4 Tbsp (60ml) finely chopped preserved ginger

1 Tbsp (15ml) syrup from the ginger jar

juice of 1 large lemon

200g butter, softened

11/3 cups (330ml)  white sugar

4 extra large eggs

11/3 cups (330ml) cake flour

5 tsp (25ml) ground ginger

11/2 tsp (7.5ml) baking powder

a pinch of salt

a little milk (see recipe)

2 Tbsp (30ml) very finely grated lemon zest

Put a large heavy-bottomed pan on the heat, with enough water to come halfway up your buttered pudding bowl, which should  have a capacity of about 1.5 litres. Cut a circle of foil big enough to cover the bowl and overlap  the edges by at least 5cm. Make a generous pleat in the circle of foil to allow for expansion, and – for ease of lifting the pudding from its water bath – make a ‘handle’ using a double length of string attached on either side to the string securing the foil (see pic further down).

Pour the golden syrup into the pudding bowl and add the ginger pieces, the ginger syrup and squeeze over the lemon juice, but do not stir. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer put the butter and sugar together and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, beat between each addition. Sift over the flour, ginger, baking powder and salt. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mix adding just enough milk to achieve a soft dropping consistency. Stir in the lemon zest.

Carefully pour in the batter into the pudding bowl, don’t fill to the brim, there should be at least 2 cm clearance. Cover with the foil and tie with kitchen string.

Put the bowl into the pan of boiling water, cover with a lid. Cook, keeping the water at a gentle burbling boil for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until the surface is puffed and firm to the touch.

Top up the pan with water as necessary. run a knife around the edges of the pudding  to loosen it, then invert it onto a heated plate.

This pudding is best as it comes out the of the pot, but you can steam it in advance, set it aside to cool and then reheat it, unopened, in the same pot of water for about 15 minutes.

  

Predictably Himself scoffed most of this pudding and has asked that I make it again! I liked the slighly acidic bite the lemon gave it and the crunch of those little golden nuggets of ginger…..oh sh*t I sound like Nigella! :)

Serve with custard, cream or ice cream….

 

My Cook-Off at The Taste of Durban

31 July 2013 in Taste of Durban

As I mentioned in my last post, I was a winner in a Dstv competition to cook-off against 2 others at The Taste of Durban last Saturday night. Not only that, Himself and I were to stay at The Suncoast Towers for two nights, have free entrance to 3 sessions of the show, enjoy the hospitality at the Dstv tent and be given crowns (the currency at the show) to spend!

The show started on Friday night, the weather was balmy and there was such a good vibe. I participated in the Pick n Pay Canape/Wine pairing.

This was so much fun, the instructing Chef was like an energiser bunny, you really had to concentrate to keep up!

We were very grateful that we had special passes to the Dstv hospitality tent, which was great for taking a break and when Himself got bored, he could park off in front of the big tv and enjoy a free beer, which he maintains tastes so much better! :)

Of course whilst I was enjoying all the different stands and foods, the fact that I had to cook in front of an audience on Saturday night was much on my mind….I tell you doll!

 

Photo Steve Yelseth/Taste of Durban

That evening we all  met in the  Dstv tent and Justine Drake (editor of Pick n Pay’s Fresh Living magazine) told us what we would be cooking, we were allowed to taste the dish and then we had 45 minutes to google/phone-a-friend to figure out the process.  We would be cooking Prawn Cakes from Freedom Cafe.

Photo from Freedom Cafe Facebook page

I was pretty sure that there was no potato in the Prawn Cakes and when I saw the ingredients I knew I was correct.  We were to be judged on  taste and technique. I opted to lightly cook the fish and the prawns before forming into cakes and frying them until they were brown on both sides. The other two contestants decided to mix the raw ingredients into cakes, it turns out that Freedom Cafe do cook the fish and the prawns first.

The judges were Justine Drake and Lucy Makewicz from Freedom Cafe. Sadly they deemed my cakes to be overcooked and Tozi (next to me) won the trip to Taste of London 2014. I didn’t come away empty handed as I received a R1000.00 Pick n Pay voucher and a bottle of champers that didn’t touch sides let me tell you! :)

I’d like to thank Dstv, Pick n Pay/Fresh Living and Taste of Durban for a fabulous weekend!

Two easy winter recipes and some exciting news!

25 July 2013 in Easy to prepare, Taste of Durban

Everybody loses their mojo now and then, I think mine’s run off with the missing socks, hence the lack of posts from me lately. I have been cooking, but mostly my easy old favourites like my yummy oxtail and my Chinese style chicken soup. Click on the photograph to be taken to the recipe.

Early on Monday morning I had a call from Dstv to tell me that I was a finalist in a competition to win a trip for two to The Taste of London 2014.  (Food24 Editor Caro was there this year click here to see her photographs)

Tomorrow Himself and I will be off to The Taste of Durban, where on Saturday evening I will compete against two other finalists in a cook off. Apparently we will have to replicate a dish from one of the chefs and will be judged on taste and technical ability…..my nerves!

We will be staying at The Suncoast Towers for the weekend and will be at the show Friday evening and virtually all of Saturday, I can’t wait.

So cross fingers, hold thumbs and send positive thoughts my way!

Taste of Durban

Return of the Bread Maker…..

16 July 2013 in Baking, Easy to prepare, Economical

Hands up those of you who haven’t used your bread machines in a long, long time?

Raise your arm if you threw in the towel after yet another loaf of dense bread,so heavy you could use it as a door-stop?

I can answer yes to all-of-the-above, which is appalling considering my friend Kerry lugged my machine all the way from England for me (they were much cheaper over there, back in the day). Mine has been languishing in a cupboard in my laundry…….until we went for lunch with our friends Micheal and Pieter. Micheal served a lovely crusty bread with his homemade roasted tomato soup. If it hadn’t been for the shape I would have been convinced it had been baked in the oven!

Needless to say, I left their place clutching the recipe and the very next day I dusted off my machine and made a loaf – sadly, it wasn’t anything like his :(

It transpired I was using the wrong flour (duh) and he forgot to mention that he didn’t use the milk powder! The next attempt was perfect and I’ve made it 3 times since. Fluffy and light with a smashing crust, it’s the best bread I have ever made in my bread maker!

 

Hint – I like to use Spray & Cook on the paddle in the container to make removal of the bread easier.

Put the following ingredients into the bread maker in this order:

2 tsp dried instant yeast

350g white bread flour – sifted

1 tsp sugar

1 TBSP soft tub margarine

1 tsp salt

2 TBSP sesame seeds

125ml plain yogurt

150ml warm water

I set my machine to dark crust and the basic programme of 3 hours.

When your machine indicates the bread is ready remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Using oven gloves to hold the container remove and place on a rack to cool, if you leave the bread in the container you won’t get such a good crust.

 Nothing nicer than fresh bread and real butter!

Abingdon Wine Estate

4 July 2013 in Review, Sous Chef South Africa

I was very fortunate recently to win a competition through Wedgewood who produce mouth-wateringly good nougat in the Natal Midlands…yes Belinda,  wateringly  really is a word! :)

Gilly Walters started this flourishing family business from her home kitchen, you can read their interesting story here.

You can also click here  to browse her lovely recipes using nougat.

I love the sepia images on their packaging.

I received a fabulous hamper of their hand made products which we flattened in record time and the other part of the prize was a wine tasting and lunch for two at Abingdon Wine Estate.

It was a perfect sunny winters day as we headed off to the Midlands, the Midlands Meander offers the day tripper a marvelous assortment of things to do, products to see and places to eat.

 Arrival at Abingdon is along a tree-lined driveway which is beautiful whatever the season.

We were greeted by the owners Ian and Jane Smorthwaite in the cosy bar/wine tasting area.

I loved the quirky old cash register which they actually use.

Abingdon is the only wine estate in Kwa Zulu Natal, Ian admits that many people were skeptical of  his endeavor to establish his vines here,  don’t you love it when people succeed in the face of adversity?! He took us through their excellent range of wines, one of which is a very palatable  Chardonnay, yes, this ABC girl (anything but Chardonnay) actually liked it!

You can eat in the dining area adjacent to the bar or outside under the trees, we opted for the latter, ordering a mezze platter for two and a bottle of their delicious Blanc de Noir.

There was a nice assortment of desserts, all at R35. Himself ordered a boozy Van der Hum Creme Brulee and I had an assortment of Nougat (Wedgewood of course!) Italian Kisses and Chocolate Brownies.

I can think of nothing better than spending a relaxing lunch with delicious food and wine under the African skies! Thank you Wedgewood and Abingdon, we really enjoyed the prizes.

You can contact Abingdon on 033 2344335 or jane@abingdonestate.co.za

*Cheese image on 1st collage was imported from the internet.

Spring rolls without the guilt!

3 June 2013 in Chinese, Easy to prepare, Economical

I shall lean closer to the screen so you can see the word ‘SUCKER’ stamped on my forehead. Princess Gilly (29) doesn’t live with us, but she does pass our house every day on her way to work, and one of us rushes out with her daily take-a-way. There’s usually yoghurt, fruit, something sweet like a cupcake/muffin and her lunch…..which cannot include bread.

I have become quite inventive and as such, have stopped eating quite so much bread myself. This cheese and grated veggie slice is a favourite.

Her Highness is getting a couple of these tomorrow.

I spotted the rice paper wraps in my local supermarket and decided to give them a go at the weekend, Himself and I thoroughly enjoyed them, you have to have them with the dipping sauce though, which isn’t quite so guilt free. OK I lied with the title….sous me!

They are so easy to prepare, you can use virtually any ingredient you fancy, I used some beef fillet and a variety of veggies. We enjoyed these for lunch but they would also make a great starter. I haven’t given exact quantities as it depends on how many rolls you are making, but I made 5 with the fillings I had.

First make the dipping sauce so that it can cool…

Dipping Sauce

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup vinegar

1 tsp grated garlic

1 tsp grated ginger

2 TBS fish sauce

2 TBS sweet chilli sauce

1 TBS fresh lemon juice

Put the sugar, water and vinegar in a thick bottomed saucepan.

Bring to a boil and turn the heat down a little so it’s still boiling but more of a rolling boil for another 5 minutes.

Take off the heat and add the fish sauce, garlic, ginger and chilli sauce, simmer for a couple of minutes, remove from heat and add the lemon juice.

Cool and put in the fridge where it will thicken, I made half this amount for the two of us and there is still half left to give you an idea of quantity.

The Rolls

Fresh green sprouts thinly sliced

Baby corn sliced into slivers

Fresh bean sprouts

Julienne of carrots and celery

Spring onions chopped into 4cm lengths

Snap Peas chopped finely at an angle

Thinly sliced cooked beef fillet (you could also use cooked chicken or prawns)

You need a bowl wider than the wrappers filled with warm water and a damp tea towel.

Take a wrapper and leave it in the water for about 30 seconds, remove it and place it at the edge of the tea towel and fold the towel to cover it, leave for at least another 30 seconds. Repeat with a second wrapper and so on, it’s important to keep it covered so it doesn’t dry out.

Take the wrapper and keep it on the towel (if you put it on the counter it will stick, trust me)

Place your ingredients on the wrapper as shown below, as you can see I kept everything in a line to make for easier rolling.

Roll as tightly as you can till about halfway then turn in the sides and continue rolling.

The roll will keep it’s shape, the spring onion tie is for effect only.

If you prefer your rolls deep fried, and let’s face it,  who doesn’t? then here are two options for you. The traditional deep fried way or using a Philips Air Fryer, which is a healthier version. Click on the photo to be taken to the recipe.

Spring rolls, deep fried and airfryer cooked

Meat and potato pies made from leftovers

28 May 2013 in Budget Beater, Cheap and cheerful, Easy to prepare, Economical

As there are only two of us I often have the dilemma of leftovers, Himself loves pies and these are so easy to make and a little meat goes a long way.

 You could also use leftover roast chicken, you can add veggies the list is endless. All you need is approximately….

200g cooked meat cubed (I had leftover beef pot roast)

A couple of cooked potatoes diced

Some cooked diced onion

Leftover gravy

Seasoning

Pastry

250ml cake flour

125mls butter or hard margarine such as Stork

Pinch of salt

Iced water

Egg-wash for brushing over pies (1 egg mixed with a dash of milk)

I make my pastry in my Kenwood mixer, but you could use a food processor or make it by rubbing the fat into the flour with your hands.

Place butter, flour and salt into a bowl.

Rub (mix) them together until they resemble breadcrumbs.

With the machine still running add the iced water gradually until you achieve a dough.

Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to rest.

Mix the meat, onion and potatoes with a little of the gravy, you don’t want it too wet.

I use my pie maker to make circles of pastry (cheap and available at most plastic shops) but you can easily cut round a side plate or a saucer depending on what size you want.

Place some of the mix on one side of the circle of pastry and fold over, remember to brush the edge of the pastry with water to ensure the pastry sticks. Use your fingers or a fork to crimp the edges together.

Brush with egg wash and place on a greased baking tray.

Bake until golden and crisp @ 180c

Makes 6 pies

 Serve with gravy.

 

World Baking Day – Rustic Nut Pie

20 May 2013 in Baking

Not being the most proficient baker I decided I was going to pass on World Baking Day, but being of weak character I allowed myself to be persuaded by my friend Chantelle to join the fun, and I am glad I did. After much perusal of the 100 different recipes number 1 being the easiest and 100 being the most difficult, I decided on a South African recipe by Monique Davis.

Rustic Nut Tart (click to be taken to the recipe)

Instead of walnuts and hazelnuts I used pecans and macadamia nuts, otherwise I stuck to the recipe.  I was very pleased with the resultant tart and we ate it with some homemade vanilla inc cream. Himself and I both agreed that there were too many nuts and when I make it again I will certainly cut down on the amount, the pastry was particularly good, I’ve never used cream in a pastry before.

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