The Best French Toast

the best french toast 1 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)!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 slices of bread
  • 3 tbs oil, for frying
  • toweling paper
  • cinnamon sugar
  • syrup
  • berries, for servingthe best french toast 3

Methode:

  1. 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.
  2. Heat a tbs oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat.
  3. Break the eggs in a shallow bowl (I use a soup bowl) and whisk.
  4. 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.
  5. Flip halfway through the frying and continue flipping sides until both are golden brown and crispy.
  6. Place on toweling paper to absorb extra oil.
  7. Repeat with the other slices.
  8. It is essential to serve with either cinamon sugar or syrup. I prefer a little bit of both!
  9. Slightly sour berries are the perfect accompaniment to this sweet dish.

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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.

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Roast Beef, Avo and Rocket Pizza and Dough Recipe

100_7047Pizza 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.

Pizza dough

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs castor sugar
  • 2 tsp dried yeast215 ml luke warm water
  • 450 g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3tbs olive oil

Methode:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Just before baking, punch it down to original size and divide into two equal portions.
  6. 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.
  7. Sprinkle a baking tray with flour and transfer the dough onto it.

Toppings

Ingredients:

  • 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

Methode:

  1. Preheat oven to 240C.
  2. 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.
  3. Sprinkle mozarella over the pizzas and arrange mushrooms and tomatoes on top.
  4. Bake each pizza for 8-9 min or until crispy and golden.
  5. Arrange avo, beef and rocket on top of the pizza just before serving.
  6. Enjoy while hot!

Makes two large pizzas.

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5 Ideas for Leftover Champagne

champagneImage: annstreetstudio

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 ideas

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Champagne Cupcakes: Celebrate the New Year with these whimsical glittery cupcakes with a delicious filling. Get the recipe here.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 hereImage credit.

Have you got any go-to recipes for finishing that last bit of champagne? Feel free to share!

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Panforte Recipe

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Panforte meaning ‘strong bread’  is a dense, fruity loaf also known as Siena cake. The traditional spices and festive candied fruit makes it a great non-alcoholic alternative to Christmas Cake, even though it can be enjoyed year long. It is perfect to serve with coffee or dessert wine.

Ingredients:

  • 110g almonds (raw and unsalted)
  • 60g macadamia nuts  (raw and unsalted)
  • 30g brazil nuts (raw and unsalted)
  • 20g pecan nuts (raw and unsalted)
  • 125g glazed cherries, chopped
  • 100g candied pineapple, chopped
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground coriander
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 1/4 t grated nutmeg
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 150 g sugar
  • 4 tbs honey
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • icing sugar, for dusting

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Method:

  1. Prepare a square 20cm x 20cm dish by lining it with baking paper and spraying it with spray and cook. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
  2. Toast all the nuts under a hot grill, turning them so they brown on all sides. Be careful not to burn as this makes them bitter.
  3. Sift together all the spices and flour and mix in the nuts, zest and candied fruit in a heat-proof bowl.
  4. Melt the sugar, honey and butter in a saucepan and cook the syrup until it reaches 120°C on a sugar thermometer, or a little of it dropped into cold water forms a soft ball when moulded between your fingers.
  5. Pour the hot syrup into the nut mixture and mix fast before it begins to stiffen too much.
  6. Pour it into the prepared dish, smooth the surface and bake for 35 min. Time this carefully as you won’t be able to observe any change in the cake once its ready to be removed.
  7. Cool slightly in the tin before removing and placing on a cooling rack to cool completely. Slice while hot.
  8. Dust the top heavily with icing sugar.

Store in a airtight container in a cool place and it will last for weeks.

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Lemon Granita

20131026_102839 - CopyI love a refreshing, non-alcoholic drink that I can whip up with minimal effort using only the ingredients I have in my cupboard. This sophisticated slush-puppy fits the bill and was just what I needed to cool down on this very hot weekend in Cape Town. If you don’t know what a granita is, it can best be described as that wonderful state in between a lemonade and sorbet. I am already dreaming up other variations on this classic Italian drink, such as strawberry granita.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 L water
  • 185 ml sugar
  • 250 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 lemon zest

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Method:

  1. Heat the water on the stove and dissolve all the sugar.
  2. Once cooled, add the lemon juice and zest.
  3. Place in deep freeze and freeze solid, stirring every two hours until frozen.
  4. Place in fridge one hour before serving and then scrape and poke with a fork until it resembles crushed ice. It is very important to leave it in the fridge, as this makes it easier to break into pieces without it simply melting.
  5. Serve immediately.

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Strawberry Macarons Recipe

100_6399 editedInspired by all those lovely Pinterest images, I decided to try my hand at macarons. Notoriously tricky to bake, I have to admit my first batch isn’t perfect. I wished that the colour had been darker and a sweeter filling would have been more to my taste. Whilst the process wasn’t as intricate as I had thought it would be, there are a few lessons I learned and tips that I can share.

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Ingredients for macaron:

  • 100 g Almond meal, sifted
  • 120 g Icing Sugar
  • Pinch of Cream of Tartar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 50 g Castor Sugar
  • 2 ml food  colouring

Ingredients for filling:

  • 125 g Cream Cheese
  • 50 g Icing Sugar
  • 3 Strawberries, macerated

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Method:

1. Prepare your baking tray by lining it with baking paper and spray it with non-stick spray.

2. Sift together the almond meal and icing sugar, at least twice.

TIP: Don’t force any almond meal through the sift, rather leave larger pieces behind. I forced some pieces through which should’ve been left out and it does make a big difference in the texture. Rather use less almond meal than larger pieces.

3. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and then add the Cream of Tartar and castor sugar.

4. Beat until hard peaks form and then gently fold in the almond meal and icing sugar mixture as well as your flavouring and colourant.

TIP: Colour it darker than you normally would as it loses a lot of the colour in the baking process.

5. Pipe out a few round shaped macaron shells on your prepared tray. Try spacing it equally and to stick to one size.

TIP: Using baking paper with a grid print is a easy way to space your macarons and to match their size. Flatten any ends created by the piping process with a spoon as it might not fall flat on its own.

6. Give the baking tray a gentle whack on the kitchen counter underneath all rows of macarons.

REASON: Whacking it releases any trapped air through a small bubble that pops. Failing to do this might result in the cracking of your shells.

7. Set the oven to 160C and leave the macarons outside whilst the oven preheats, for about half an hour.

REASON: Leaving the shells out to harden allows your macarons to create those “feat” on the bottom, whilst the shell should be smooth.

8. Bake for 6 min on one side and turn around before baking for another 6 min on the other side.

REASON: Most ovens are warmer at the back than near the door. Remember that you want it to be crispy on the outside but slightly moist on the inside.

9. Place on wire rack to cool before filling it.

10. Mix together the icing, cream cheese and strawberries. Spread equally on half of the macaron shells and top with a second shell.

TIP: Pair macaron shells beforehand as it is easier to find a matching size before the filling is added.

100_6381Other flavour combinations I think would be great:

  • Coffee flavoured shells filled with caramel
  • Lavender flavoured shells filled with buttercream icing
  • Lemon flavoured shells with lemon curd filling
  • Orange flavoured shells with dark chocolate filling
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Halfway Homemade Chicken Pie

20130831_185914This is a great recipe as it is super quick and really fool proof. I think it is the perfect comfort food for when the temperature drops.

Ingredients:

  • Roast Chicken
  • 1 Tsp Oil
  • 1 Carrot, diced
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1 Leek, sliced
  • Knorr Cream of Chicken Packet of Soup
  • Ready Rolled Puff Pastry
  • 1 Egg, beaten

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Remove the skin from the chicken and flake the meat. Place in pie dish.
  3. In a deep frying pan, heat the oil and add the carrot, onion and leek. Stir untill slightly browned and turn down heat.
  4. According to packet instructions, pour the powder into a heat proof jar and add a small amount of boiled water to make a paste. Add the remaining boiled water and stir continuously.
  5. Pour the soup into the frying pan and heat until thickened. Remove from heat and mix with chicken.
  6.  Roll the puff pastry out on a floured surface. Be careful not to overwork the pastry as it is very sensitive. Cut to size of your pie dish.
  7. Brush the inside rim of your pie dish with egg and place pastry on top. Gently press the pastry to the side of the dish with a fork.
  8. Brush the entire pastry with egg. Press a few small holes in the center of pastry for stream to escape. This is also the time to add decorations and remember to brush them with egg as well.
  9. Bake in the oven for 25-30 min or until golden brown.
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Simple Winter Salad with Pear,Cranberries and Pecan Nuts

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I am quite boring when it comes to salad, so this was very daring for me. I usually stick to greens with tomato and avocado, but this new combination might be even better. The sweet pear and cranberries are great paired with the rocket and baby spinach. The pecan nuts add a little unexpected crispiness. It is a great option for those warmer winter days which I am definitely craving right now.

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Ingredients:

  • Rocket
  • Baby Spinach
  • Watercress
  • 1 Forel Pear, peeled and sliced
  • A handful of Pecan Nuts, chopped
  • A handful of Dried Cranberries

Combine in a small salad bowl and enjoy!

 

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Chocolate Soufflé

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Souffles have a reputation for being exceedingly difficult to make, but I promise that this recipe is fool proof. I made this a couple of weekends ago and it was just what was needed to keep the cold at bay. Similar to a chocolate mousse, a soufflé feels light and airy with the only difference being that a soufflé is served hot instead of cold. It is the hot air which gives a soufflé the ability to rise and as soon as the hot air escapes, it will collapse.

The recipe consists of two parts: a custard or crème pâtissière, which can be made up to 2 days ahead of time, and whipped egg whites.

Crème Pâtissière Ingredients:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 60 g castor sugar
  • 20 g plain flour
  • 280 ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod or 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 7 g butter

Method:

  1. Whisk together the egg yolks and half the sugar until pale and creamy. Sift in the cornflour and flour and mix together well.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the milk, remaining sugar and vanilla pod.
  3. Bring it just to the boil and then slowly strain it over the egg mixture, stirring continuously.
  4. Pour it back into the saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring. It might be lumpy at first, but it will become smoother as you stir.
  5. Boil for 2 min and then stir in the butter.
  6. If you plan on storing this, leave it to cool before covering with plastic wrap and storing in the fridge.

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Soufflé Ingredients:

  • Non-stick Baking Spray
  • 80 g castor sugar
  • Crème Pâtissière
  • 45 g Cocoa Powder
  • 40 g dark chocolate, melted
  • 6 egg whites
  • 3 tbsp castor sugar
  • icing sugar, for decorating

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 190 °C.
  2. Prepare 8 ramekins by spraying them with non-stick spray and then fill them with castor sugar, tilting the ramekin from side to side to ensure that the entire inside is covered. Gently tip any excess sugar out of the ramekin. This will ensure that the souffle doesn’t stick to the sides of the ramekin as it begins to rise. Place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.
  3. If you let the Crème Pâtissière cool down, heat it up in a double boiler, stirring. Add the cocoa powder and melted chocolate and mix well. Remove from heat.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the sugar, until firm soft peaks form. (Don’t create stiff peaks, which are only suitable for hard meringues.)
  5. Stir in half the egg whites in the Crème Pâtissière to loosen it. Gently fold the remaining egg whites in in a figure 8 motion.
  6. Once you’re sure that its well mixed, fill the ramekins about 3/4.
  7. Place the dishes on the hot tray and bake for 15-18 min. They should be well risen and wobble when tapped. A test skewer should come out clean.
  8. Serve immediately, dusted with icing sugar.

 

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Granola & Fruit Breakfast Tart

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I love tarts (especially chocolate ones) and combined with fruit, yoghurt and granola I’ve created a tart that I can enjoy regularly without all the guilt that comes with a dessert tart. I think it  would be great to serve at a brunch as the tart shells can be made well in advance and it looks great. I’d love to make a berry tart when summer comes, but you can use almost any fruit that’s in season. I used a few strawberries and a clementine but it would be great if you add pineapple and pears to that.

100_5770Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp syrup
  • Greek Yoghurt
  • Variety of fresh fruit100_5765

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C and spray two small tart pans.
  2. Mix together the oats, raisins, sugar and flour in a small bowl.
  3. Melt the butter and add the syrup stirring until all is mixed.
  4. Mix the butter with the oats until everything is covered.
  5. Divide the dough evenly between the two pans and gently press it into the sides of the pan. Once you’ve done the sides, press the remaining dough evenly in the bottom of the pan.
  6. Place in fridge until the oven is ready. Bake for 10-12 min or until dark golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  8. Serve with yoghurt and a variety of fresh fruit. Don’t bother with honey as the granola will be sweet enough.

Makes 2 small tarts.

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