Thursday, 27 September 2007

Muffin Tops

Muffin Top - This new expression perfectly describes the loose fat that sticks out over a pair of low-slung jeans, as per Collins English Dictionary in the ninth edition published in June 2007.

Before you wonder why I am on about muffin tops, I baked a batch of muffins yesterday, all of which had perfect tops.

The reason I love muffins, is that there are no rules as to the flavours you can make.

I have a basic recipe which I change, depending on what I have on hand.

Muffin Top Muffins
2 Eggs
240ml of Milk
120ml Oil
200g Sugar
375g Flour
4 tsp of Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 180°C. Muffins bake for about 25 mins.

In one bowl mix all the wet ingredients together. And in another bowl mix all sifted dry ingredients together.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir roughly. You must not beat until it is smooth.

The fun part of making muffins is that you can add anything to the mix after it is combined.
Last night I did the following flavours :
Strawberry and Choc-Chip
Choc Chip and Walnut

I always use paper cups in the tins - it makes cleaning the pan easier. Fill the cups and bake for 25mins.

I found some very funny expressions that have been added to the English language. They say you should learn a new word everyday, and then find a way to use it. These should prove fun -

Cankle - A thickened area between the calf and ankle in an overweight person, obscuring where one ends and the other begins.

Hairdryer Treatment - The practice of shouting at someone at close quarters in order to express one's displeasure at something he or she has done.

Budgie smugglers - Men's close-fitting swimming trunks.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

To Good Health

Good health is something we take for granted, just like youth.

My love for cooking is closely followed by my passion for nutrition and fitness.

I thought I would share some of my health tips, which are easy to follow and definitely help. I do not claim to know all the answers, neither am I a super model or anything close to skinny. I only want to share my tips, which have worked for me. My only reference is that I have remained a relatively constant weight for 20 years.

1. Don't eat after diner.
I mostly have my evening meal before 7pm, after which time I don't eat or drink anything other than water. While there are obviously exceptions to this rule, I try to keep them as few as possible.

2. Eat Breakfast
Always have a healthy breakfast.

3. Eat Fruit
I try as much as possible to have at least 3 fruits a day.

4. Drink Water
I don't like water, but I always have a 500ml bottle of water on my desk. I make sure that I always finish at least 2 before I leave work. At home I have another 500ml bottle which I also make sure I finish 2 before going to sleep. This way I always know I have consumed 2 litres of water that day.

5. Get some Exercise
This was and still is the hardest part for me. Four years ago I decided I wanted to get fit. I started running with the under 10 cross country team. I use the word "running" very loosely. I would run 20 metres and then walk, but soon I started to run on my own and within 18 months I completed my first ½ marathon!!

6. Cut back on Sugar
  • 3 teaspoons of sugar contain 48 calories.
  • Cutting out this sugar from your daily diet saves 17,520 calories, per year.
  • 17,520 calories per year is the equivalent of 5 pounds of weight.
Giving it up is not an option to me, but I choose my battles.

I hope that you can try at least one of my top tips and see if it makes any difference to your health and perhaps even your waist line. The biggest thing for me is balance. I can't eat everything I like all the time and hope to be healthy or a reasonable weight. Save on the small things and the big things will take care of themselves.

To end off here is a picture of the most beautiful sister in the world

Friday, 21 September 2007

Peri Peri Nice

Some foods get very bad press. Most of the time it is because they are badly prepared. Chicken livers are one of those foods.

I was at the chicken counter yesterday and saw they had fresh livers, so I reached over and took two punnets. A young boy (about 13 years old) was standing next to me and asked what they were. "Chicken Livers" I said, his answer shocked me - "Oh Sick!!!". I guess his mother won't be giving him livers any time soon.

I serve this very simply with brown bread. No fuss food.

Peri Peri Chicken Livers

500g Fresh Chicken Livers ( Cleaned)
1 tsp Peri Peri
1 tsp Dried Chili
1 tsp Paprika
60ml Tomato Paste
1 tsp Fresh Garlic
1 tsp Sugar
Salt and Pepper

Fry the Chicken Livers until the are browned - Watch out for the spitting.
Add all the other ingredients fry for a minute.
Add about 1 cup of water and turn down the heat.
Leave to cook for about 15- 20 mins. (I don't like my livers pink)
Top up the water so you have a descent amount of sauce.

Serve with brown bread
I wish you all a lovely weekend. As Monday is a holiday I will not be here, but I hope that I will have the time to make something special to show you on Tuesday.

Markwin as the Wild Cat mascot in the school play on Wednesday Night

Thursday, 20 September 2007

What Would You Miss???

If you left the country you were living in for some foreign shore what would you miss the most?

I asked my sister Janice, who now lives in Australia, this question and was surprised how long her answer was. You can just imagine how a Parisian would miss real croissants, an Italian would feel lost without a descent espresso from the corner coffee shop or an Australian without Tim- Tams and Vegemite.

While Janice was very excited that they had found a South African shop, which stocks local favorites, it is not the same as being able to walk into any corner cafe and buy products you grew up with. Not to mention the extra costs involved.

If I had to leave, these are some of the things I would hate to do without. Many of these products are available wherever you find South Africans, but can only be bought with careful planning and lots of money.

Mrs Balls Chutney.
This thick, brown, sweet and spicy chutney is a staple at any braai, where you serve broerewors. I always have a 1kg bottle in my fridge, which I use all the time.
A real favorite is my Mayonnaise and Chutney Chicken, which I will share with you soon. It is so easy, and is especially good if you are catering for large groups. I served this at wedding I catered for last year, for 120 people, everyone wanted seconds of the chicken!!

Biltong and Droëwors
Biltong is a kind of dried meat that originated in South Africa. Many kinds of flesh can be used to make it, ranging from beef through game meats to fillets of ostrich from commercial farms. It is typically made from raw fillets of meat cut into strips following the grain of the muscle, or flat pieces sliced across the grain.
Droëwors is a popular South African snack food , made by drying the traditional, spiced boerewors sausage. Droëwors is unusual among dried meats, in being dried quickly in warm, dry conditions, unlike traditional Italian cured Salami, which are dried slowly in relatively cold and humid conditions.

These are crisp whole-wheat biscuits. While they often form a staple in South African weight-loss plans, they really aren't that slimming eaten in large amounts, three biscuits are the same as 1 slice of whole-wheat bread . They are terribly moreish (probably why they don't work when I am trying to shed some pounds), and while they team up well with just about anything, they are just as good plain.

Cook Sisters
I don't eat these very often, but when I do I can't stop until I've had far too many. They are terribly sweet, you could drink a cup of sugar syrup and be left with the same sick feeling. The texture of these crispy plaited doughnuts soaked in a thick, slightly gingered syrup, leaves you with a very special sick feeling. I wish I could explain it better, but you have to bite into one to understand what the taste is.

These are a few of the things I would miss about home, not to mention the people, the beauty, the culture.

To end off I thought I would share a few funny questions from foreigners.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you will have to learn to speak it first

Q: I want to walk from Durban to Cape Town - can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only two thousand kilometres take lots of water...

Q: Can you tell me the regions in South Africa where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.

My favorite -
Q: Are there supermarkets in Cape Town and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilisation of vegan hunter-gatherers. Milk is illegal

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Fish Cakes

I have had a craving for fish for the last few weeks. Living at the coast one would imagine that this is a craving which should be easily satisfied. Well it's actually not. Fresh fish is now a luxury, right up there with fillet steak.

Yesterday I decided to throw caution and money to the wind and buy the best looking fresh fish fillets I could find. To my horror the only fish they had was minced hake and frozen angelfish. This resulted in some very quick thinking on my part. FISH CAKES!

I bought ½Kg of minced hake and set off home rather disappointed that we weren't having the grilled fillets I was hoping for.

My fish cakes are dead easy, and although they weren't my first choice, they did turn out very good.

Fish Cakes
500g Minced Hake
1 Onion finely Chopped
1 tsp Chili Flakes ( you can reduce this amount)
1 desert spoon Mayonnaise
1 teaspoon finely grated Lemon Zest
1 table spoon Lemon Juice
1 Egg
Breadcrumbs (Optional)

Put everything (except the breadcrumbs) into a bowl and mix together well.
Cover and place in the fridge for an hour.
Take bowl from the fridge, form into cakes and roll in either flour or breadcrumbs.
Place on a plate and freeze for at least ½ hour.

Warm a little oil in a pan and fry the fish cakes until golden brown and firm to the touch.

Serve with wedge of lemon.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Proudly South African Week

Yesterday saw the start of Proudly South African Week. What is Proudly South African? I quote from their website :

Proudly South African is an exciting campaign to promote South African companies, products and services which are helping to create jobs and economic growth in our country.
Proudly South African is the way for every South African to do something concrete to support job creation, and help build our young nation.

I love things like this that promote our country and the wonderful things which we have to offer.
Now I know the jokes about you're in South Africa when striking workers show how angry they are by dancing. But despite all the trouble, you can still get together have a braai and watch your rugby team beat the English!

To celebrate this wonderful week, which ends on the 24th of September on Heritage Day (also National Braai Day), we had a practice run last night.

I made my Potato Salad. I know that every family has their own special potato salad and I admit that served in your home it is the best there is. But if you come to my house this is what you will get.

Rose's Potato Salad

I had some lovely new potatoes (as many as needed), so I didn't bother to peel them - my life is
far to short. You can use any variety you like, peel them or not whatever takes you fancy.
At least 1 egg per 2 people
1 Onion - finely chopped
1 Pickled Gherkin - finely chopped
Mayonnaise - enough to coat the potatoes, but not drown them
1 heaped teaspoon of wholegrain mustard
salt and pepper.

Boil the potatoes and the eggs. Don't over boil the potatoes, they must be cooked but not mashed. Egg to be hard boiled.

Cut the potatoes while still hot into bite size chunks, depending on your bites this can vary. Cut the eggs the same way, reserving one yolk for garnish.

Toss the onion, gherkin, potato and eggs in a bowl.
In a separate small bowl mix the mayo, mustard, salt and pepper together. Spoon over the hot potatoes and carefully toss until everything has a light coating of sauce.

Garnish with the one yolk you saved and a little paprika.

Of course the salad is only the side attraction. The centre piece was Boerewors and Lamb Chops (or Tjops depending who you speaking to), and just a few smoked Pork Rashers.

The boerewors is eaten on a roll with Mrs Balls.
Mrs Balls is another story itself, together with Provitas and Maltabella - the story goes together, definitely not eaten together!!!

Hope you enjoy my plate as much as I did.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Wonderful Weekends

I had a wonderful weekend. At present it would seem that I am living in Super Sport (Which is the local Sport Channel), yet I will admit watching South Africa beat the English twice in one weekend was rather nice.

On Saturday morning we made a trip to the Old Biscuit Mill.
Every Saturday morning they have the Neighbourgoods Market. What a pleasure it is to walk through a market where you get to meet the people who grow and make the things they sell. Everyone is so passionate about what they are selling, you just have to buy. It is busy, but that really makes it festive. With makeshift tables (old doors) and chairs (hay bales and crates) where you can sit and eat your latest discovery. Everything is fresh, most things are organic and made with so much love, you just know that it has to be good.

I bought some potatoes from a farmer that is growing overseas varieties, which you just can't buy anywhere else. I bought a bag of Asperges and Maris Peer. I had a few Asperges simply boiled with some organic herb dressing and olive oil on Saturday for diner - absolute heaven.

Second on my shopping spree was the most divine homemade Turkish Delight. Turkish Delight is a very sweet candy. It is very addictive. Anyone who tastes it will eat it until they die. They will do anything to obtain the candy. They will sell their soul and love ones to obtain Turkish Delight. Well I didn't sell my soul - yet!!!

I must say that is is probably not necessary to actually buy food while you are there, as everyone has tasters at their stalls, but all the nibbling made me a little hungry. I finally settled on a Steak Shawarma. It was really delicious. I need a new word for fresh, as I am sure I have used it far too many times already, but that is exactly what everything was - crispy and fresh - no oil dripping and greasy hands. Every bite had some meat and salads in a fresh (again) pita.

Other than this wonderful trip on Saturday the rest of the weekend was spent enjoying some really great cricket and rugby.

I am very energised after a great weekend and even had great run this morning. If every Monday was this great, I could have one every week!!!

Thirty-five is when you finally get your head together and your body starts falling apart.
-Caryn Leschen

Friday, 14 September 2007


Having a day off in the middle of the week is something I could get very used to. Getting out of bed late, taking my time over my morning coffee - it was heaven.

After a slow start to my day, I sat with my cook books and started looking for what I would make for diner. I wanted to make something really special, something that looks like you spent hours cooking, but didn't.

My decision didn't take that long. Once I saw the picture, I knew what it was going to be - PAELLA.

After scanning the recipe list I knew this was going to be easy.

My Paella recipe is a combination of things we like and I could easily get my hands on.

A South African's Paella - Enough for 4 People

Olive Oil for frying
1 Spanish Chorizo Sausage - Sliced
1 Large Skinless boneless Chicken Breast - cubed
1 cup of Calamari rings
12 Small prawns
4 Large Prawns
1 Red Pepper - Sliced and seeds removed
12 French Green Beans
1 Large Onion - Finely Chopped
2 Fresh Chilies - Finely Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves - Finely Chopped
1 Big Pinch of Saffron
1 Teaspoon smoked Paprika
1½ cups of Long Grain Rice
3 cups Fish Stock (you can use water or chicken stock)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Use a pan with a lid, big enough to hold all of the ingredients.
Warm your pan with a little Olive oil.
Fry the chorizo and the chicken until the are browned, set aside.
In the same pan fry the onions until golden and soft. (You might have to add a little more oil before this step)
Add the red pepper.
Put the chicken and chorizo back into the pan.
Add the garlic and chili, and fry for 2 mins.
Add the paprika, salt and pepper and the rice and make sure the rice is coated in oil (Add a little more oil if it looks too dry).
Add the Stock and stir everything together.

Put the lid on the pan and place in the oven at 180°C for 15 - 20 mins.

Remove from the oven, add the sea food and the beans and bake for another 8 - 10 mins, until rice has absorbed the liquid and seafood is cooked.

I let it rest for 5 minutes, with the lid on before serving. I served mine with a wedge of lemon.

This is the result.
I wish you all a wonderful weekend. I have a trip to the Old Biscuit Mill planned for Saturday morning, and will show you the pictures on Monday.

I leave you with a very good bumper sticker -
Forbidden fruits create many jams

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

So long farewell, auf weidersehen good-bye

Okay, so perhaps I do have a thing for the Sound of Music! I grew up listening to the record (no not the CD). I also had a part as an extra in the school musical - Sound of Music.

But the goodbye today is to my slow cooker. Last night was the farewell to my trusty friend, who makes the most delicious stews and soups the whole way through winter. He never lets me down, no matter how haphazardly I throw the ingredients in.

My farewell diner was lamb knuckle stew, with dumplings. Rich and meaty, with a hint of spice.

Dumplings are one of the things that takes me straight back to my childhood. Mom used to make them as a special treat with braised lamb. I don't really care if I don't get any meat on my plate, so long as I got my 3 dumplings!!!!

So here is my dumpling recipe (technically it's my Mom's).
This is something that warms your tummy on a cold rainy night.

1 desert spoon of soft Butter
200ml of Flour

10ml of Baking Powder

1 Egg yolk
Salt and Pepper
Enough lukewarm water to blend .
If you want a modern twist, you can add some fresh Herbs too.

Mix the first 5 ingredients (and the herbs if you using) Then add enough water so the spoon slowly falls over, see on the left.
Work out all the flour lumps.

Place spoonfuls of the batter on top of your stew.
Try leaving a small space between each one. Then close the lid tightly and don't open for 10min.

When they are done, it is time to serve. You have these lovely soft clouds floating on your stew. These really don't keep well, so you must only make them just before you are ready to dish up.
My son is now a full convert to these, which means I have to share.

So that is my farewell to my slow-cooker. It will now sit on the top shelf in the kitchen watching me make salads and stir-fries until next year when winter comes knocking on the door again.

I won't write tomorrow, as I have the day off for Roshashana. I will be using the time productively to make something sweet with the box of strawberries I got yesterday from the farm.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

These are a Few of my Favorite Things

You are forgiven if you think you have stumbled onto the set of the Sound of Music.

Every cook has a few ingredients in their kitchen they would not do without. While I admit that if I was on a desert island , these probably wouldn't feature, but never the less I do enjoy using them.

My first favorite thing - and these are in no special order is OLIVE OIL.

You get so many kinds, Extra Virgin, Virgin, Cold Pressed, cheap imports, expensive imports the list is endless.
South Africa's Olive Oil industry is still very new, in comparison to Europe, but the quality of the produce is outstanding. Now before you think it is just some patriotic "hubble-bubble", there is proof to this.
Morgenster’s most recent award for its Oil came in just before the close of 2006 in the form of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil being selected as one of the Top 15 Olive Oils in the world (out of 3000 tasted!) and the award for the Best Blended Olive Oil in the world. And Willow Creek in the Nuy Valley won a coveted Grand Mention Diploma at the Leone d'Oro dei Mastri Oleari olive oil awards in Perugia, Italy in 2005, putting the oil on a par with the best in the world.

My favorite oil is Toorwater. This is liquid gold. It has a fresh peppery taste. Completely natural and unrefined. Whether you are cooking with it or pouring it over a salad, it never fails to impress.
The best recipe I have is so simple.
Take a chicken breast and flatten it. It must be flat because the cooking time must be short.
Heat a pan and when it is hot add a good glug of Toorwater Olive Oil.
Put the chicken breast in and let is start to turn golden brown.
Turn over and squeeze the juice of ½ a fresh lemon in the pan.
Turn off the heat and leave for 3 mins.
To serve, just drizzle with more olive oil and a little lemon.

The second thing I love to use is Sunny Hunny. This is the kind of honey that makes Pooh Bear weak at the knees.
It is a fynbos honey, harvested in the Southern Cape.
Can you beat hot fresh white bread with lashings of butter and honey or glazed carrots with honey and caraway seeds? I think not!!!

While the first two favorites are local, my third is Spanish.
Hot Smoked Paprika. The intense colour and flavour is wonderful.
Before I found this product, I didn't know what paprika was supposed to taste like. You just can't substitute the cheap stuff. Rub a whole chicken with olive oil, paprika and salt, put a ½ a lemon in the cavity and roast. Yummy Yummy.

And these are a few of my favorite things. I am sure if you could get your hands on these you would agree.

Have a wonderful day. Make lots of tasty food and please share them with us. I would love to try some of your favorite things.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Fudge It

Eating fudge is a very personal experience for me. I love to sit and take small bites and allow it to melt in my mouth. It is best enjoyed with a hot beverage.

Up until a few months ago, fudge was something that I stayed away from making. After numerous failed attempts at other people's "anyone can make this" fudge, I gave up.

Fifteen years later I took to plunge, as part of a school project for Markwin. I am so happy I did. Although we only got a C+ for the project, the fudge was delicious.

My recipe comes out of The Complete South African Cookbook .

Make sure you have about 40 -45 mins free time for this.

Fudge (makes about 1kg - this is not much when you find how delicious it is. It also lasts a while in a sealed container, hidden in the back of your wardrobe!!!)

800g of Sugar

250g of Butter ( I only use butter, not marg) 250ml Milk
1 Can
Condensed Milk
10ml Vanilla Essence

Firstly get the baking tray ready. Line your large baking tray with tin foil, and spray well with non-stick spray.

In a large pot add the Sugar, Butter and Milk and heat until sugar is melted, stirring all the time.
Add the Condensed Milk.

Bring to a medium heat and let it bubble.
This is the time consuming part - STAND and STIR.
Do not leave the stove.
Just stand and stir.

I always use my candy thermometer. When it reaches 240°F, I do the cold water soft ball test. If I am happy I have reached setting point, I add the essence ( I have also tried coffee essence) and stir it very well.
Pour the fudge into the baking tray, you must work quickly. Try to get it level on top and lightly bang it on the counter top, to get rid of any bubbles.
It will cool very fast, and once that starts to happen, don't mess with it any more.
You have to cut it when it is about half way set. Just keep an eye on it, and test the edge with a knife. It should go through, without sticking to the knife. If it is sticking, wait 2 or 3 mins and try again.

The result is fantastic. It makes a great gift.
I have a large bottle in the kitchen, ready for any fudge emergency which might arise in the home.

Friday, 7 September 2007


Important things in life all involve family. I am very blessed to have a family that loves and cares about me. Knowing that there are people all around the world that have an interest in what is happening in my life makes all the trouble seem insignificant.

I have Aunts, Uncles, cousins and a sister that are spread right round the globe. Keeping in contact is sometimes very difficult. Computers are fast becoming the only way to see who is doing what and where.

I love to get to my computer and see a cousin or aunt from 10000 miles away has written me a letter to see how I am and tell me about the hatches and matches.

My challenge to you for the weekend - Find a family member who you haven't spoken to in ages and catch up.

This weekend is going to be one that makes those long, cold wet days in Cape Town pale into insignificance. Clear crisp days with no wind.

I wish you all a beautiful weekend and I hope you find that aunt or cousin and catch up and discover how important it is for families to have each other, no matter how far apart you are.

Today is the start of the Rugby World Cup. This will form a very important part of our family life for the next 5 weeks. My blood is green, and I will be supporting our boys as they
"Bring it Home".

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Balance Balance Balance

In life you need balance. You can't live on Chocolate cake and Strawberries and Ice Cream, although it would be nice.

My love for food and cooking is only half of my passion. The other side is health and nutrition. I am constantly looking for ways to incorporate healthy food into our family diet.

I will admit that my family would love it if we always had pizza and chocolate cake for dinner, but I know that they still need something better. So I try to make their favorites, just using good ingredients, and they get what they like and I feel good knowing that it is relatively healthy.

I am sure you all are aware of how expensive take out foods are, not to mention the fat content, so I thought I would include one idea to have the enjoyment of take outs without breaking the bank or the belt buckle.

A firm favorite in my home is pizza, and 3 large pizzas will cost at least R150. Last year I made it my mission to make the perfect thin crust pizza. And I will say that with the help of 2 of the world's best (and brutally honest) food critics I have success.

I admit that buying ready made bases are easy, but I have not yet found one that is even close to something that you get in a real Italian restaurant. Most pizza's I have made with these are more like open grilled cheese sandwiches. You also have no idea what they put into them to make them last that long in the freezer.

Saving time and money, while still making good quality food is something I embrace. But in saying this I have to share these wise words : " "Cost, quality and speed: pick two". This is a very true expression when making pizza. I choose cost and quality when making my pizza.

So lets start with the base.

My base recipe is simple, and by far the easiest I have seen.

To make 6 large thin crust pizzas

600g of Bread Flour. ( I use the Italian 00 flour, but normal white bread flour works perfectly)
10g packet of Yeast (I only use the Instant Yeast)
10-15ml of Salt (Don't cut this too much, bases without enough salt are terrible)
100ml of GOOD Olive Oil (I only use Frans Lamprecht's Toorwater Olive Oil)
Warm Water (Can't tell you how much, as it changes with every batch, but to start have at least 350ml ready)

Put the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and start mixing. If you are lucky enough to have a mixer with a dough hook, this is a definite plus. Add the warm water until you can get a nice firm dough. You have to knead it until it is smooth and the bowl is clean, this takes me about 10 mins with my machine. Cover the bowl in cling film and wrap in a small blanket - now go have a nap, watch the rugby or both.

When you are ready to start making your pizza, first turn your oven on the hottest setting you have, just note you don't want too much heat coming from the top, this will brown the cheese before the base is crisp. If your grill element does come on, make sure you have a baking tray between the cooking bases and the grill. I have 2 terracotta floor tiles which I warm in the oven. If you don't, just put your baking sheet in to heat up. I would advise you "invest" in tiles.

Each base uses 100g of dough.

Flour your work surface well and start rolling. My family like their pizza's very thin, but you can roll them as thick as you wish.

I then take the HOT tiles out the oven. Dust tile with flour ( the flour should turn brown) and place the base on the tile.
Spread the tomato base sauce on (see below), then add whatever toppings you fancy and finish with lots of cheese (or a little - shame poor you). On my first attempt I tried to "load" the base on the counter and then transfer it to the tile - This totally didn't work. I could not pick up it up without the whole thing folding in on itself.

Put pizza in the oven and within 15 - 20 mins you have a great pizza.

My tomato sauce base is even easier than the base -
One can of tomatoes
30ml of Basil Pesto
Salt and Pepper

Puree all these together until totally smooth, I just love my Breville for this.
Making it this way is a personal preference. I found that when I cooked the tomato sauce it was too oily.

I always make enough dough for 6 bases ( which for us is 2 meals). The remaining ½ is placed in sealed plastic bag in the freezer. Next time I just take the frozen dough out the freezer, and within 6 hours (at room temperature) it is perfect to use for your next batch.

Spend a little time on trying this, and you will have your family begging you every Saturday night for pizza.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Fool Proof Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake is always a hit at any occasion. I love it best as a late Saturday breakfast with coffee. This cake really does make a good first impression, as it rises beautifully. It also does not disappoint in the taste test.

The one thing I have learnt about baking cakes from scratch, is you must not be in a hurry to mix everything together and bang it in the oven. If you are in a rush - get a box cake. I think that Ina Paarman Chocolate Cake is the best I have tried.

This recipe started out as a Rooibos Tea Chocolate Cake, but you can make it with plain hot water or strong coffee. I make it with the tea, and don't worry for those who HATE rooibos, you don't taste the rooibos, it just makes this cake packed with antioxidant goodness.

Rooibos Chocolate Cake

Rooibos Tea Chocolate Cake

250ml boiling water
2 rooibos tea bags (this is what you can either substitute or leave out)
125ml cocoa powder
125ml oil
4 extra large eggs, separated
300g (375ml) sugar
5ml vanilla essence
240g (500ml) cake flour
15ml baking powder
2ml salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Bowl number 1
Pour the boiling water over the tea bags and leave to steep until very strong.
Stir in the cocoa powder, vanilla essence and oil until smooth. Make sure you have NO cocoa lumps.

Bowl number 2 (this bowl must be big enough to take the entire cake mixture)
Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and creamy. (This is one of things you should not rush).
Sift the flour and the baking powder and the salt together in to the egg sugar.
Pour the contents of bowl number one into bowl number 2. That is the cocoa, tea, oil mix into the egg, sugar, flour bowl. Beat well - again don't rush this step.

Bowl number 3
Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks.

Take of the egg whites and fold it into bowl number two, the cake mixture. Once it is mixed together, add ½ the remaining egg whites and fold in again, and then the remainder. Mix together until well blended. Don't beat it to death, but remember : you are the boss - mix with confidence.

Pour into your cake tins (***try to divide it equally - see confession below), which you have greased (I always use Spray and Cook) and line the bottom with grease proof paper (just in case). This is a "belt and braces" step, but you only have to have one cake stick to the bottom of the pan to be a convert.

Bake for 30 minutes, and test with skewer. Remove from the oven, let the tins cool for 2 minutes then take out of the tins and cook on a rack.

Simple Icing
100g of soft butter
250ml of SIFTED icing sugar ( you have to sift it)
½ cup of cocoa (I like it to be really dark)
enough milk to mix together

Put the butter in the bowl and mix until creamy
Sift in the icing sugar and the cocoa
Start stirring carefully.
As it comes together start mixing in the milk SLOWLY ( if you are making a coffee cake, use strong coffee instead of milk) a little at a time, until you have a smooth mixture that can hold itself up.

Putting it all together.

Put the bottom layer on your plate, spread some of your icing on the top of the cake. Work carefully.
Place the top layer on and put the remaining icing on the top of you cake.
Garnish with whatever you like. I used some cherries.

*** Confession : You will notice that my cake has 3 layers. I had to do this because I was not a very good judge when dividing between the 2 cake tins, so the one ½ was very big.

I hope you enjoy this. While it might seem like lots of work, I did warn you that when making cakes from scratch you have to take your time, but the result is something you will be very proud of.

I thought you were trying to get into shape?
I am. The shape I've selected is a triangle.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

The Man is 13!!!

Markwin is 13. What a weekend. Pity the weather didn't turn out as good as we had hoped, but plan B wasn't a disaster.

Our original plan to go to Cool Runnings (the toboggan track) was washed away, by a light spring rain. So we headed to Grand West to try our luck. They have an ice rink and soon had 5 boys kitted out ready to hit the ice (this turned out more literal than we had hoped).

My darling son has never been short of confidence and seemed to remember that in a previous life he was the talented half of Torvill and Dean. Unfortunately, something in his conversion into Markwin, seemed to have affected his skating ability. The poor boy flew across the ice at full speed and landed rather uncomfortably face down. He now has a huge bruise on his right cheek to remember his birthday by.

After finding their skating legs, it would seem that fun was had by all. I even had a go on the ice - 20 years on from my last icecapade. Let's just say that I managed to go forward and stay upright for most of the time, although I do have some very mysterious bruises.

We had a lovely Sunday lunch on the actual birthday (Sunday the 2nd)- Roast chicken and vegetables, followed by fresh strawberries and ice cream.
You can see from the picture, everyone enjoyed the pudding the best.

I am so proud of Markwin. He really is growing up to be a wonderful man, and will make some lucky girl a very good husband - just as soon as he can find someone who likes picking dirty clothes up off the floor.

Markwin is now a fully qualified driver - as he often tells me while driving with me. As you can see he has all the equipment to prove it.
lives by the expression :

"Don't panic, I learnt to drive on my play station"

In closing I have to show you how beautiful my jasmine is looking - as a celebration of spring.

Be sure to check tomorrow for my
Fool Proof Chocolate Cake.

Jeremiah 17: 7-8

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water."

It is not your business to succeed, but to do what is right : when you have done so, the rest lies with God.
C.S. Lewis

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