Archive | April, 2012

The Kreativ Blogger Award

25 Apr

I would like to thank Acorn in the Kitchen for nominating this blog for the Kreativ Blogger award.  It was very unexpected and I was very surprised.  Thanks ever so much. Acorn in the Kitchen is a great blog, especially because it evolves around Spanish food, one of my favourites.  You should definitely check it out!

I would also like to thank both Desi Chick from Kolpana Cuisine and Candy from Lovely Buns for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Both fantastic bloggers and I love reading their posts.  Both are definitely worth a visit.

To carry on with the tradition, 7 things about myself are:

1. I have lived in London for just over 6 years and I love the diversity.
2. My partner is from South Africa and he has introduced me to many things about South African food, including billtong and the Braai!
3. I chose holiday destinations based on their cuisine.
4. My favourite books to read are cookbooks and I have far too many.
5. I have recorded enough cooking shows to last me a lifetime.
6. I replace fresh coriander with fresh parsley, it’s just one of those foods that I just can’t enjoy.
7. I am a little food obsessed (in case you didn’t pick that up) and it’s my favourite topic of conversation.

And to nominate 7 more bloggers:

1. Eat, Play, Love.  I love discovering foods from different countries and this blogger has the same interest.
2. The Smiley Soyabean Absolutely brilliant photos that just make your mouth water.
3. Finger, Fork & Knife Really different recipes and lots of creations I haven’t seen before.
4. Baker on the Rise  Just the blogs title – genius! On the same baking quest as I
5. Hungry Squirrel Cakes  A professional at cake decorating.  Amazing.
6. @ Down Under Only just discovered this blog and the pictures are fantastic.
7. Girl in a Food Frenzy  Again, only just discovered, but anyone who can blog about dim sum will get a vote from me

Apple and Rhubarb crumble

19 Apr

Having lived in England for over 6 years now, I really have embraced the English puddings (desserts).  They are really hearty and hit the spot when it’s cold.  Which is fortunate as it’s cold all the time – especially this week!

I have never cooked rhubarb before, so this was a new experience for me.  I was planning to make homemade custard to serve with the crumble, but I got impatient and lazy and a quick dash to the local shop for prepared custard hit the spot.

I got the recipe from this website

2 large green apples (Bramley apples if you can), cut into cubes
450 gr (approx 4 stalks) rhubarb, cut into bite sized pieces
45 gr soft brown sugar (for the fruit mixture)
3 whole cloves
cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
200 gr plain flour
75 gr butter, cut into small cubes
75 gr soft brown sugar (for the crumble)

Heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F.

Add to a saucepan, the apples, rhubarb, sugar, cloves, cinnamon and enough water to cover half of the fruit.  Bring to the boil and simmer until the fruit is soft, mixing every so often.  This will take 10 – 15 minutes.  Remove the cloves and cinnamon stick, if used.  If there is any excess water, remove from the cooked fruit mixture.

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar and with your fingers rub in the butter until it has all been mixed thoroughly and the flour mixture is slightly yellow.

In a baking pan, add the fruit and then sprinkle on the flour (crumble) mixture.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 40 minutes until lightly brown and cooked through.

Serve with homemade (or bought!) custard, or cream, or vanilla ice-cream.  Enjoy!

Searching for that perfect brownie

12 Apr

I’m into month 4 of my baking attempts and I have only attempted recipes which I thought were straight forward and I would be able to achieve.  I also thought that after a few months of experience, I would have learnt a thing or two and my baking skills would have improved.  Mmmm.

Brownies were on my list as an “easy recipe”.  I have just completed my second attempt which tasted amazing, but looked horrendous.  I haven’t taken a photo of them as they don’t look great at all.

But back to my first batch of brownies  that I tried on the weekend.  I used Nigella’s recipe.  Unfortunately, I forgot everything I learnt so far this year and with my cocky attempt, substituted ingredients and didn’t follow the measurements correctly.  Surely I’ve made this mistake often enough!  Apparently not.  They turned out to be very thin and quite dry.

So, I tried Anne Thornton’s recipe today, as I saw her bake them on the TV.  Unfortunately the first step, creating fudge, isn’t as easy as it looks on TV.  After 20 minutes of stirring, I didn’t get a ball of dough and just carried on.  Looking at other online comments, this isn’t an unusual problem.  These do taste absolutely amazing and really are quite fudgy.  Only issue is that they dried quite hard on top and the bottom stuck to the greaseproof paper, so they fell apart or broke in two.

So I will continue my search for the perfect brownie recipe, or rather, I have already found the perfect brownie recipe and just need to have another go at it.  And I thought making brownies would be very easy….

Homemade Hot Cross Buns

5 Apr

Religious holidays always make me think of home (as I live 20,000 km away) and Easter is no exception.  Good Friday was always breakfast at Mum’s house and Hot Cross Buns was on the menu.  I love Hot Cross Buns and so do the rest of my family.  It’s the one time that you can add butter as thick as cheese slices and not feel guilty.  Well I do anyway.

My sister eats her Hot Cross Buns in a very amusing and time-consuming way.  She hates sultanas and so she painstakingly picks all the sultanas out.  What a mission.  That’s called dedication.

I’ll be travelling to the coast with a few friends this year and decided to bake Hot Cross Buns for the trip.  They are a little time-consuming, but I’ve already sampled one (okay, two) and I am happy to say that they are soooo much better than the bought versions.  Also, if you have a sultana-hater in the family, you can always omit these in a few buns to keep them happy!

This recipe makes 16 buns

For the Buns:
680 gr strong white flour
14 gr dried yeast (2 sachets)
10 gr salt 
100 gr light brown, very fine sugar
80 gr unsalted butter, very soft
15 gr mixed spice (spice mix including cassia, coriander seeds, caraway, nutmeg, ginger and cloves)
175 ml whole milk, warm
175 ml warm water
1 egg
125 gr sultanas (can mix with currants)
zest of 1 orange
For the Cross:
100 gr strong white flour
pinch salt
pinch sugar
25 gr melted butter
125 ml water
For the Bun Wash:
75 ml boiling water
1 tablespoon caster (very fine white) sugar
pinch of mixed spice

 In a very large mixing bowl, add all bun ingredients, except the sultanas and zest.  Mix together.  Pour the mixture onto a floured surface and start kneading.  As you do this, gradually add the sultanas and zest so that you knead these ingredients into the dough.  Take about 15 minutes until the dough is smooth.

Add this dough pack into the mixture bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 – 45 minutes until doubled in size.

Line a very large baking tin (with high sides) with greaseproof paper.

Scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl and cut in half and again until you have 16 even slices of dough.  Roll each of these into a ball and place in baking tray, approximately one finger spaced apart.  Cover again with the same cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 – 50 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190 C / 375 F.

In a small bowl, mix all the bun cross ingredients together.  Whisk them until you have a smooth paste.  Add this to a piping bag with a 1/2 cm nozzle and pipe a cross on each bun once they have risen.

Bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes until golden brown.    Mix the bun wash ingredients together and lightly brush each bun with this wash.  Serve these hot with a little (or in my case a lot) of butter inside.  Enjoy!