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.
Makes about 20 cookies.
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.
Turkish Delight really is one of the easiest sweet treats to make-if you can boil water and measure ingredients you really can’t fail. It can also make an incredibly nice hostess gift and if you’re feeling extra indulgent why not cover a few pieces in chocolate? Yum!
- 500 ml sugar
- 75 ml cornstarch
- 200 ml water
- 40 ml granulated gelatine
- 50 ml warm water
- Pink/Red dye (I used liquid)
- 3 tbs Rosewater
- Spray and Cook
- 3 tbs icing sugar
- 1 tbs cornstarch
- Add the cornflour and sugar to 200 ml boiling water and stir until all the sugar evaporates.
- Dissolve the gelatine powder in 50 ml hot, but not boiling, water and add to the sugar mixture and stir it in.
- Add the rosewater and a few drops of colouring (aim for a medium pink shade).
- Spray a heat proof tin/casserole approximately 16 x 16 cm with the spray and cook before pouring in the mixture.
- Leave to cool before placing in fridge for 4-6 hours until completely set.
- Once set use a smooth sharp knife to cut the turkish delight into equal pieces. Dip the knife into boiling water to make it easier.
- Mix the icing and cornflour together in a plastic container with a lid.
- To loosen the turkish delight place the container in warm water for a few seconds. The edges will start to melt making it easy to lift out. Place immediately into the icing sugar and close the lid and shake until it is completely covered.
- Store it in the fridge.
As Valentine’s day falls on a weekday this year, I thought sharing a quick and easy breakfast to make for your valentine would be ideal. Besides the quicker you’re in the kitchen, the more time you have for thank yous! Nothing beats a pretty muesli stack as its healthy, filling, quick and easy to prepare and can be very pretty. Presentation is key!
- Greek Yogurt
- Fresh Berries (or other seasonal fruit)
- Honey, for serving
Start with a yogurt layer in a clear glass and then alternate with muesli, finishing with muesli and top with fresh berries and a little bit of honey.
Serve with coffee, fresh fruit and your Valentine’s card (or my printable postcards)!
Note that this reads ‘the best’ and not the ‘healthiest’, so this is definitely not for diet days. I know how you take your french toast can be just as personal as how you take your coffee, but in all seriousness I honestly believe that this is the best french toast as it is the closest I have gotten to making doughnuts (excluding fonuts). It is just as crispy and sweet with a similar texture. The cinnamon sugar might also play a minor role in this, but I’ll put it down to my awesome baking skills (not a shred of modesty). The best part of this is that you can disguise it as a breakfast (albeit not a healthy one)!
- 2 eggs
- 3 slices of bread
- 3 tbs oil, for frying
- toweling paper
- cinnamon sugar
- berries, for serving
- Choosing the right ingredients is key to making this. Start with bread that isn’t too fresh. ‘Toaster’ bread generally works best. I’ve found that fresh bread just absorbs too much egg and oil in the frying process. Harder bread will deliver a crispier toast.
- Heat a tbs oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat.
- Break the eggs in a shallow bowl (I use a soup bowl) and whisk.
- When the oil is hot, quickly dip both sides of a slice bread in the egg until completely covered. Don’t leave it soak as it will absorb to much egg and become soggy. Place in the pan. It’s best to do it one at a time to ensure that it doesn’t get crowded.
- Flip halfway through the frying and continue flipping sides until both are golden brown and crispy.
- Place on toweling paper to absorb extra oil.
- Repeat with the other slices.
- It is essential to serve with either cinamon sugar or syrup. I prefer a little bit of both!
- Slightly sour berries are the perfect accompaniment to this sweet dish.
Makes 3 french toasts (Depending on egg sizes, you might be able to make 4)
Please share your ideas on what makes the best french toast, I’d love to know! Mine is definitely geared towards the sweet tooth.
Pizza is one of our favourite family meals and is quite universal as I’ve never met someone who doesn’t like it. For me the ultimate pizza has a thin, crusty base and a lot of melted cheese with some kind of meat and avo. This recipe can easily be adjusted by replacing the roast beef with bacon, parma ham or even chicken and rolling out the dough to your preferred thickness. You can even add more cheese if your so inclined, but this was shortly after the new year so a lighter eat was preferred.
The recipe is ideal for a dinner party as the dough can be made the day before leaving simply the rolling out and arringing the toppings, both personal choices, for when the guests arrive. It is great for a make your own pizza party! Depending on how much meat you add, this can easily feed four people.
- 1 tbs castor sugar
- 2 tsp dried yeast215 ml luke warm water
- 450 g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3tbs olive oil
- Put the sugar and yeast in a bowl and stir in 90 ml of the the water. Make sure the sugar dissolves and leave in a draught-free spot to activate. If the yeast does not bubble and foam in 5 minutes, throw it away and start with new yeast.
- Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the olive oil, remaining water and yeast mixture. Mix the dough until loosely clumped- either by hand or in a mixer.
- Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surace and knead for 8 minutes adding either water or flour as you need to create a soft dough that isn’t sticky to touch.
- Rub the inside of a large bowl with olive oil. Roll the dough into a ball and also cover with olive oil. Place in plastic bowl, cut shallow cross with a sharp knife in the top and cover with cling film. Leave overnight to rise in a cool and draught-free spot.
- Just before baking, punch it down to original size and divide into two equal portions.
- Push the dough down into a thick circle before starting with a rolling pin and create a circle by rolling in all directions. You can also create a tray pizza, shaped rectangular. Roll out as thin as desired, I usually go for about 4-5 mm.
- Sprinkle a baking tray with flour and transfer the dough onto it.
- 6 tbs Basilico Barilla Sauce (or a similar Tomato and Herbs sauce)
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 200 g mozarella, grated
- 10 medium mushrooms, sliced
- 60 g baby tomatoes, sliced
- 6 slices Rare Roast Beef
- 1 avo, sliced
- Rocket leaves for decoration
- Preheat oven to 240C.
- Mix together the Basilico sauce and the tomato paste. Divide the sauce between the two pizzas and spoon onto them, spreading it to the rim.
- Sprinkle mozarella over the pizzas and arrange mushrooms and tomatoes on top.
- Bake each pizza for 8-9 min or until crispy and golden.
- Arrange avo, beef and rocket on top of the pizza just before serving.
- Enjoy while hot!
Makes two large pizzas.
Instead of throwing your away your leftovers this year, why not try one of my favourite recipes that makes the best of a little leftover Champagne? Each of these recipes require less than two cups of sparkling wine and the best part is that it doesn’t even matter if its lost some of its fizz! This really is the one time that it doesn’t matter if you’ve got Champagne, MCC or even simply Sparking Wine-it will still be just as delicious.
- Champagne Trifle: Strawberries, Champagne and macarons… where do I sign up? Seriously this is one of the easies and most impressive desserts. Get the recipe here.
- Grape & Pink Champagne Sorbet: Make the best of summer fruit such as black grapes with this sorbet perfect for cooling off during this hot festive season (Southern Hemisphere). Get the recipe here.
- Champagne Cupcakes: Celebrate the New Year with these whimsical glittery cupcakes with a delicious filling. Get the recipe here.
- Champagne Jello Shots: This is so easy, it doesn’t even require a recipe. Follow gelatine packet instructions and replace water with champagne. Pour into a large square bowl and sprinkle with Hundreds and Thousands before it sets. Cut out once set. Image credit.
- Champagne Float: Empty the freezer of the last bit of ice cream and top it up with a little champagne in a tall glass. This one isn’t as easy on the eye (it gets all milky), but the simplicity and yumminess (yes it is a word!) makes up for all that is lacking. Follow my instructions here. Image credit.
Have you got any go-to recipes for finishing that last bit of champagne? Feel free to share!