For someone who likes making list, I am surprisingly bad at meal planning. I guess it boils down to simply making and taking the time for it. I used to be quite good at it as a student- mostly because I had to be (I didn’t have a car to drive to the grocery store). So depending on which way you look at it, I might be the best or the worst person to offer advice on the subject. Either way here goes!
Ryno’s birthday was nearly a month ago already and I am only getting around to share the special cake I made for him now. That is how behind on blogging schedule I am! But better late than never! I copped out and bought a box cake because I actually like this particular one and it is quite affordable. I just add one extra egg.
Any vanilia sponge cake recipe should work though!
I made two layers of vanilla cake and a whole lotta buttercream icing that I flavoured caramel. Inbetween the two layers I put some homemade toffee sauce. I used this recipe which actually tastes great with just about anything!
I finished it off by garnishing with caramel popcorn, which was a great addition! I would just advise you to leave it off until right before you eat it. Or you can create a nice little challenge for yourself. Hint: it involves eating an entire cake in one day!
I’ve never been particularly health-conscious so when given the option between white or rye for instance, I’ve always gone with what I most crave. Lately however I’ve been hunting and curating more healthy-ish recipes as I try to be more conscious of what I put into my body. Whilst a burger would probably never be considered healthy, the orange chicken definitely is and eating it on a bun is just one of many ways you can enjoy it. So here follows one of my favourite recipes and it is definitely a crowd pleaser!
- 2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
- Juice of 1 Orange
- 4-pack skinless chicken breasts
- Ground pepper
- 1/2 Cucumber
- 2 Tbls Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Tsp Sugar
- 4 Ciabatta Buns
- Dijon Mustard
- Salad dressing or tangy mayonaisse
- Combine the orange juice and chopped garlic in a large shallow bowl.
- Thinly slice the chicken breasts. This seemed impossible to me until I saw someone else do it, now it is one of the easiest things in the world. You’ll have to work with a sharp serrated knife and then simply apply pressure on each breast with the palm of your hand as you start slowly slicing into it. You should be able to slice each breast into three or four layers.
- Marinade the chicken breast in the orange and garlic and give it a good grinding of pepper.
- Wash and peel the cucmber into thin slices. A cheese slicer works well for this. Then marinade it in the balsamic and sugar dressing.
- Heat up a non-stick pan with a little oil and try to first drain all the orange marinade into the pan. As soon the mixture starts browning you can add the chicken. Remove from pan as soon as it has turned a delicious shade of caramel.
- Dress your bun with the mustard, mayo and cucumber before adding the chicken on top.
- Dig in!
P.S. I also really enjoy this as a salad. Just add some rocket and avocado.
Both my cousin and I love baking, so on a recent visit we decided to attempt macarons. She had never had much success with them and I could also do with some practice. Despite the fact that we learned the importance of the bicarb, our somewhat sad looking macarons tasted heavenly!
- 90 g almond powder, sifted
- 100 g Castor sugar
- 10 g high quality cocoa powder
- Pinch of Bicarbonate Soda
- 2 egg whites
- 50 g Castor Sugar
- 55 g butter, room temperature
- 100 g icing sugar
- 20 g cocoa powder
- 2 large eggs
- 20 g dark chocolate, melted
- 1 tbs vanilla extract
- Prepare your baking tray. Line it with baking paper and spray it with non-stick spray.
- Sift together the almond meal, cocoa powder and icing sugar, at least twice.
- Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and then add the Bicarbonate soda and castor sugar.
- Beat until hard peaks form and then gently fold in the almond meal and icing sugar mixture as well as your flavouring and colourant.
- Pipe out a few round macaron shells on your prepared tray. Try spacing it equally and to stick to one size. We pencilled out some circles on the other side of the paper which made it easier.
- Give the baking tray a gentle whack on the kitchen counter underneath all rows of macarons.
- Set the oven to 160C and leave the macarons outside whilst the oven preheats, for about half an hour.
- Bake for 6 min on one side and turn around before baking for another 6 min on the other side.
- Place on wire rack to cool before filling it.
- Beat the butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder together.
- Add the eggs one by one.
- Melt the chocolate and add it to the mixture.
- Beat until it becomes light and fuffy.
- Finally, assemble your macaron shells by piping a fair amount of icing on one side of the macaron. There should be more than enough to go around and have a few taste testers!
I love a good tea-time biscuit and this one is particularly decadent. There isn’t much I can say about the taste other than WOW! Imagine a good shortbread biscuit enrobed in chocolate meeting a delicious helping of fudgy-caramel. ‘Nuff said!
I wouldn’t say it is ideal for everyday simply because of the butter and sugar content, but boy I wouldn’t mind having it on the daily otherwise! Whilst only twelve biscuits does sound like very little, I can promise that you only need one at a time to satisfy even the most severe sweet tooth (which would be me!). This would be ideal for a high-tea or when you simply want to treat yourself.
- 250 g butter, softened
- 160 g castor sugar
- 300 g flour
- 150 g cornflour
- 300 g chocolate, melted
- 1 x 385 g tin condensed milk
- 3 tablespoons golden syrup
- 60 g butter
To make the shortbread:
- Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Fold in the flour and cornflour and roll into a 6 cm sausage.
- Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. Here you can learn from my mistake. Be patient or you won’t get perfectly round biscuits!
- Preheat oven to 160 degrees.
- Slice the sausage into 4 mm-thick slices and place slices on a lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 – 15 min and set aside to cool.
- In a medium, thick bottomed pot simmer the condensed milk, syrup and butter gently for about 5 min or caramel coloured. Remember to stir all the time.
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl and dip each biscuit halfway in the chocolate before placing on a tray to set.
- Once set, sandwich two together with the caramel and enjoy.
Makes roughly 12 biscuits.
If you follow this blog regularly, you’ll have noticed that I reserve a special place in my heart (in my stomach) for Italian cuisine. Naturally Biscotti, something between a rusk and a biscuit, is one of my favourite treats. This is the ultimate indulgent snack for winter. It is sweet, filling and ideal for dipping into coffee. The best part is how easy it is to make as you literally just throw it all together and mix before baking.
- 100 g almonds, diced
- 100 g milk chocolate chips or diced milk chocolate slab
- 430 g flour
- 15 ml baking powder
- 300 g castor sugar
- 5 ml cinnamon
- 4 eggs
- 45 ml butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 160C and prepare a baking tray with baking paper.
- Sift together all the dry ingredients and add the almonds and chocolate.
- Beat the eggs and butter in a separate bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Mix until it forms a big piece of dough
- Divide into two pieces and press and roll it out into two long ‘french loaf’-type shapes.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and leave to cool completely.
- Slice thin slices of biscotti (approximately 5 mm) with a sharp knife.
- Spread out on baking tray and bake for a further 20 minutes or until crispy at 60C.
- Let it cool and serve with coffee.
I love a good flaky milk tart so it should come as no surprise that these Portuguese custard tarts have a special place in my heart. There is no better reward after biting through the flaky butter pastry than the rich, creamy custard filling. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water! Traditionally you do need to use a cook’s blowtorch to caramelise the icing sugar but I’ve managed to get away with the oven grill.
- 200g all butter puff pastry
- 4 egg yolks
- 75g caster sugar
- 50g plain flour
- Vanilla extract
- 300ml full cream milk
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 200*C and prepare a small muffin case with spray and cook.
- Roll out the puff pastry according to packet instructions and cut twelve circles slightly larger than the muffin base. Do allow for some shrinkage. Carefully place each cutout in the pan.
- Line with baking paper and bake for 15 minutes with baking beans or rice if you don’t have any.
- Remove the baking beans and paper and bake the cases for a further 5 minutes.
- Whisk the egg yolks, caster sugar, flour and vanilla extract together in a heat proof bowl.
- Bring the milk to the boil and then whisk it into the egg mixture. Pour it back into the pot and bring to the boil whilst whisking.
- Remove it from the heat once it starts boiling and pour into a cool bowl. Dot with butter and allow to cool.
- Once cooled, mix well and spoon the mixture into the pastry cases. Dust with icing sugar and then caramelise the tops with a cook’s blowtorch or grill in the oven (keep a watchful eye on your precious bites as they burn easily).
- Devour once the custard has cooled to avoid burning the roof of your mouth.
I love chocolate chip cookies, but it’s pretty difficult to find some store bought ones that are perfect. I hate it when it tastes of margarine or isn’t crispy enough. Seeing as they don’t stock FOX biscuits in SA anymore (their choc chip is the best), I decided to try and recreate them. I was slightly disappointed in Woolworths’ ‘Chocolate chips’ (as they clearly took the name a bit literally), but they were still satisfactory. I just prefer larger chunks of chocolate, so next time I’ll hunt down the real thing.
- 1 1/8 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 100 g butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips (dark & milk)
- Preheat the oven to 180*C and prepare a baking sheet with baking paper and Spray & Cook.
- Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
- Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Add the egg and mix it in.
- Combine the flour,choc chips and butter mixture in an electric mixer or rub it in.
- Once it resembles wet sea sand, start compressing it into a ball.
- Divide into equal sized balls and press flat in the palm of you hands and arrange on baking tray.
- Bake for about 15 min or until golden brown before letting cool on a wire rack.
As far as food trends go I generally gravitate towards the sweeter ones. Luckily this is also a fool proof recipe. The best way to describe Dutch Babies would be as a cross between a crepe and an omelet as they’re super light and airy yet filling. It is ideal for a winter brunch served with loads of berries and lemon peel.
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 flour, sifted
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 2 tbs butter
- icing sugar, for dusting
- Preheat an over proof pan or cast iron skillet in the oven to 220C.
- Whisk eggs in a large bowl and stir in the milk.
- Gradually whisk in the flour and cinnamon.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and melt butter. Spread with a brush all over.
- Pour batter in the skillet whilst still hot and return to the oven.
- Bake for approximately 10 min or until golden and puffed.
- Remove from the oven, dust with icing and serve piping hot. Enjoy quickly!
This can be either an appetizer or light summer snack depending on how much you serve. Crayfish is one of my favourite seafoods but it can be really expensive due to South Africa’s restrictive fishing laws, so this is a much more cost effective alternative using smoked haddock. The seafood mayonnaise and colour definitely adds to its association with crayfish, but the smokey flavour elevates it.
- 2 Frozen Smoked Haddock fillets
- 2 Lemons
- 2 tbs Butter
- 4 tbs Mayonnaise (tangy ones work very well)
- 2 tbs Tomato sauce
- Butter Lettuce
- Place the smoked haddock on a piece of tin foil with a squeeze of lemon and the knobs of butter and seal the foil.
- Bake it in the oven on 180*C for 20 minutes before removing and allowing to cool.
- Mix the mayonnaise, tomato sauce and a teaspoon of lemon juice to create a seafood mayonnaise. Add more sauce if needed.
- Remove the skin and flock the haddock before mixing it in with the sauce.
- Serve on a bed of butter lettuce and finish with a crackle of black pepper.
Makes 4 small servings.