Category Archives: Comfort food

Biscotti: a quick treat for afternoon tea and good Christmas gift idea

Coffee Biscotti

Coffee Biscotti

I made this Coffee Biscotti yesterday afternoon because I was feeling grumpy.  Yes, you heard me, I bake for therapy! There are not many things, that relax me as much as the sound of my Kenwood  Chef mixing and the smell of freshly baked goods that fill my kitchen.  I instantly start to breathe slower and feel better while I am mixing one or another treat.

This Coffee Biscotti is really fast to put together and really tasty.  It is truly one of those recipes that I am very sure cannot flop even if you want  it to.  I substituted a few things to work with what I had in the house.  Feel free to make it your own…

Coffee Biscotti

Coffee Biscotti

I am seriously contemplating to whip up a batch or two of this for Christmas and to give them away as a small gift.  I have truly found that friends really appreciate something that has been lovingly made by yourself.  So if you are looking for something that will take less than an hour to make and that will not cost you an arm and a leg, try this Biscotti recipe.

Coffee Biscotti

Coffee Biscotti

This will take you about fifteen minutes to prepare and a further hour to finish baking.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cake flour
  • 2 Tbsps granulated coffee
  • 1t cinnamon ( I substituted this wit a Chai Spice mix that I buy from our local farm market)
  • 1/2 t bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 baking powder
  • 1 t freshly ground pink himalayan salt
  • 1 cup soft dark brown sugar
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 70 g whole pecan nuts (I roasted mine but that’s optional)
  • 30 g slivered almonds (also toasted)

Note: feel free to substitute with your favourite nuts or whatever you have available.

Method:
  1. Preheat your oven to 180° C
  2. Mix the flour, coffee, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk the eggs until light and add to the flour mixture to create a dough.
  4. Add the nuts and bring together in a ball.  Don’t be alarmed if it seems sticky.
  5. Halve the dough and bake two rolls on a baking sheet.  Press down to make it slightly flat.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes and let it cool down before slicing into 2 cm slices.
  7. Place flat on a baking sheet and bake for another 10 minutes before turning over and baking on the other side for another 10 minutes.
  8. Drizzle with white chocolate if you wish.

Enjoy at tea time with a cup of your favourite tea..

What to do when you are playing hookey from school? Sugar Biscuits of course!

Sugar biscuits

Sugar biscuits

The  academic year for our children ended on the 30th of November.  It is therefore optional to attend, until school closes on Friday for our Summer holidays.  There is something very sneaky- feeling about not having to attend to school, even if it is still legal, and with the blessing of your teacher, while some of the other learners are still going (Us, Afrikaners have  a saying: “Shame nê” – which literally means I feel sorry for you).  We have been trying to catch-up with play dates these past few days of playing hookey, resulting in going to a movie and having some of the childrens’ friends over.

This morning we decided to make some  sugar cookies for the holidays and to decorate them.  I had three lovely little helpers and this is what they did on this fine sunny SA-day!

Sugar biscuits

Sugar biscuits

I was really amazed with the amount of creativity each one of them came up with.  Watching them create each little art work, made me reach for my camera.


  
 The result was colourful and very festive as you can see for yourself…

  
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 I placed out a few bowls of glaze icing, sprinkles and other ready-bought-decorations on our patio table, not too much ado….  Just a little mixture of icing sugar and water with gel-colorant.

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Yes, tasting was done and yes, this little one ended up on a sugar- high 


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Luckily, this Mom saved some cookies that she wants to try and decorate with proper Royal Icing tomorrow… although I feel a little intimidated by all the talent that surrounds me apparently…..

Apple Cake with Earl Grey Apples

I don’t know exactly how it happened but somehow I ended up with three bags of apples in my refrigerator.  Luckily I have children that love apples and eat them as a staple.  Now who am I to complain if they want to keep the doctor away?

Although I also like nibbling on these crunchy lovelies, woman can’t live of fruit alone… That is why I was quite exited when I stumbled onto this recipe in an old Ideas Magazine’s little extra booklet.  This  is definitely one of my favourites I have ever made and I am therefore dying to show it off to all of you!

Apple cake with Earl Grey apples

Apple cake with Earl Grey apples

The cake is beautifully moist with little pieces of apple every here and there and  of-course the must-have cinnamon adds a lovely homely feel to it.  The cherry on …. or rather the apple on the cake, and show-stopper, is definitely the delicate, citrussy, Earl -Grey-Apples.  Trust me this is heaven on a plate!

Apple cake with Earl Grey apples

Apple cake with Earl Grey apples

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of soft butter
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 10 ml grated lemon zest
  • 1t vanilla essence
  • 1 cup natural low-fat yoghurt
  • one Granny Smith apple peeled and diced
  • 260 g cake flour
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t bicarbonate of soda
  • 5 ml baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 170° c
  2. Grease and line a 20 cm round cake tin.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar until light   and fluffy
  4. Add the lemon zest and vanilla
  5. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until mixture is light and fluffy
  6. Add the yoghurt and beat very slowly to mix in
  7. Stir in the apple
  8. Sift together all dry ingredients and fold into the butter mixture.
  9. Spoon into cake tin and bake for 50 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean
  10. Cool down and decorate with glace icing and Earl Grey apples

Glace Icing:

  • 1 cup of icing sugar
  • a little water
  • zest of the rest of the lemon
  1. Just add enough water to get a runny consistency and pour over the cake.
  2. Top with lemon zest

Earl Grey Apples:

  • 1 1/2 cup of water
  • 4 Earl Grey teabags
  • 250 ml castor sugar
  • 2 Pink Lady apples
  1. Bring water to a simmer together with the teabags for  5 minutes.
  2. Remove tea bags
  3. Add sugar
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes until reduced and a syrup has formed
  5. Cut the apples into thin slices and place in syrup, remove from stove
  6. Leave for at least 1/2 an hour
  7. Place onto cake just before serving

Enjoy with your favourite cup of tea.

Apple cake with Earl Grey apples

Apple cake with Earl Grey apples

Wild Mushroom Risotto and a Reward for the Notsoskinnycook

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Wild Mushroom Risotto

I am happy to report to all my dear readers that I am still on holiday getting well rested and also eating very well.  I am also very happy and proud to announce that I have been awarded the Versatile Blogger award by Jennifer who writes a beautiful blog called the Foodery.  Thank you very much Jennifer.  Yay!!!

Here are the rules of the Versatile Blogger Award:

Thank the award giver(s) and link back to them in your post

– Share 7 things about yourself

– Pass this award along to 15 or 20 bloggers you read and admire

– Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award
Now one of the rules for receiving this award states that you need to share seven things about yourself…. I must admit I am not all that interesting but I will give it my best shot:

  1. I am a Christian that loves God very much and believes that everything I am and have in my life is through His grace alone.
  2. I have a kitchen gadget fetish…I can spend hours in the kitchen department of stores, checking out different kitchen tools 🙂
  3. Besides cooking and blogging I am also a potter-er who loves to create beautiful  ceramics.
  4. I not only love to read cooking books but also devour novels by the stacks
  5. I have been married to my dear husband for ten years now and not a day goes by without me thinking how lucky I am.
  6. My favorite meal is definitely a  bowl of freshly made pasta, finished by a hot chocolate pudding.
  7. I love a good glass of red wine

I would also like to nominate the following fellow bloggers for this award:

Heidi who writes a blog called Lightly Crunchy

Heidi and her family lives on a beautiful farm and is really encouraging us to live a simpler life, being more self-efficient by creating a lot of our products that we use every day ourselves.  She has a great sense of humor and spoils her readers with beautiful photos of her creations and family.

My second nomination goes to Anastasia, the writer of a blog called While Chasing Kids

This is a photo of her Cherry Galette.  Now does this not just look delectable?  Do yourself a favor and drop by for her mouth-watering dishes and oh- so- gorgeous photos.

Lastly you have to go and peek in at Shari’s My fancy Pantry

Pan Seared Scallops With Sweet Pea, Tarragon and Lemon Risotto

Shari will awe you with all her unique ingredients, recipes and photos, so please visit her beautiful blog.

So dear readers expand your horizons and go and visit these girls….  oh yes, and cook this Wild mushroom Risotto!

When I saw Rachel Allen do a version of this recipe last night on the homechannel  I simply knew I had to make this.  I was even lucky enough to find fresh wild mushrooms at our local supermarket this morning.

I have to admit that I have never cooked risotto myself before, so this was a first for me.  Don’t fear all first- time- risotto- cookers it is really easy!  Hubby took a few photos so you will be able to do this all by yourself at home!  You will be rewarded with a creamy comforting risotto full of buttery flavor.  Absolutely, definitely worth the effort!

You will need:

  • 1.5 l of chicken stock
  • 200g fresh wild mushrooms sliced
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 Tbsps butter
  • 3 Tbsps olive oil
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 500g Arborio Rice
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper freshly ground

Here is how to:

  1. Bring the stock to a boil
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and sweat the onions with some salt until soft.  Add in the mushroom and cook until soft.
Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto: Add in the risotto and stir through.

3. Add the risotto rice and stir for one minute.  Add the cup of wine .

4. Add the stock, about 200 ml at a time, and stir in allowing the rice to absorb it, continue adding it in like this until all the  stock has been stirred in and absorbed.  This will take about 40 minutes.  If you run out of stock just add a little boiled water until the rice is cooked through.

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

5. When the rice has been cooked through it will have a beautiful creamy consistency and it will be soft.  Taste after about 35 minutes to make determine whether it has been cooked through.  Adjust the taste with salt and pepper to taste.  Lastly add the  parmesan cheese and stir through.

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

6.  Remove from heat and enjoy with your favorite glass of wine.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Easy Cuppa Pudding for Vacations

Easy cuppa pudding

Easy cuppa pudding

Well, as most of my dear readers will know by now we are currently on those few rare, but very precious, days of the year namely vacation.   I really find that these times just bind our family spontaneously together.  As I am typing away I’m listening to my beautiful kids laugh and giggle at their dad kicking a rugby ball.  A child’s laughter must be one of the most enjoyable sounds on all the earth.  There are times when I wish I could capture the sounds thereof with all the joy and carefreeness for years to come when they will grow into adults and have to weather the world.  Oh!  If I could just teach them to always laugh like a five year old.  The sky seems to be limitless and there is nothing that can’t be fixed by dad and a cable-tie and the best cure for falling down and hurting yourself seems to be one of mom’s cookies.

My daughter and I have also been spending some time together yesterday.  We made these very easy, very sweet but delicious puddings:

Easy cuppa pudding

Easy cuppa pudding

These guys are really easy to make as they require very little baking utensils.  This could therefore be whipped up in the simplest of kitchens even by little hands.  I found the recipe in one of my favorite foodie magazines Sarie Kos June/July 2012 edition and we adapted it ever so slightly.  They tasted great out of the oven with a sweet apricot flavor and a sauce that caramelized on top.

Cuppa Pudding

Cuppa Pudding

Ingredients: 

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup of cake flour
  • 1 t of baking powder (the original recipe called for 11/2 t  Bicarbonate of soda which is dissolved in the milk)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 free range eggs whisked
  • 1 cup apricot jam
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° c
  2. Butter 4 enamel cups
  3. Mix the flour and baking powder
  4. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs
  5. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and mix in the milk and the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Spoon into the enamel cups and place on a baking tray.  Bake for 45 minutes
  7. When in doubt if the puddings has been baked through do a skewer test

Sauce:

  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg whisked

Mix all of the above and pour over the puddings when they are done baking.  Place back into the oven and bake for another 20 minutes untill the sauce has thickened and caramelized.  Serve piping hot.      

Cuppa Pudding

Cuppa Pudding

 

Easy cuppa pudding

Easy cuppa pudding

 

Rustic One Pan Chicken Roast

One Pan Chicken

One Pan Chicken Roast

As I am sitting here I am happy to announce that we have been blessed with a holiday at one of the most beautiful parts of South-Africa, Kwazulu, Natal.  It has been quite cool in the rest of our otherwise sunny country, but fortunately we have not felt too much of the cold snap here at the South-coast.  Lucky us!  Since we have arrived yesterday morning we have only seen blue skies and sunshine resulting in some swimming and picnicking on the beach.

This is the life!

This is the life!

Our evenings have been slightly cooler and therefore I have felt the need for my warm pajamas and some comfort food.  I have to admit that I  have been in a serious holiday mood since arriving and did not feel like slaving away in the kitchen.  So this afternoon I decided to make a simple but delicious roast for us.  The great taste lies in the plain but good quality ingredients.  Also, I decided to not make too much of a to do, and kept the veggies chunky, not peeling the butternut but roasting it with the peel which added to the rustic feel of the dish.  The good old garlic also got to keep its skin on, roasting sweet and soft, perfect to spread on a chunky piece if ciabatta.  Because this is roasted at a high temperature the skin of the chicken becomes crispy enveloping the hot steamy flesh! Yum!

One Pan Chicken Roast

One Pan Chicken Roast

I am also not just the not so skinny cook , I am also the little bit of lazy, hasty cook and this dish will be done in less than 45 minutes!  Just enough time to go and take a stroll down the beach and work up an appetite or if you are not on holiday it will be enough time to bathe the kids and set the table…

Well then  Bon Appetit….

This will feed your family of 4 and maybe leave you with some left overs for a sandwich.

One Pan Chicken Roast

One Pan Chicken Roast

Ingredients:

  • About 1kg chicken pieces
  • 1/2 butternut chopped chunky and lengthwise (leave the peal on)
  • 1 sweet red pepper cut into chunky pieces
  • 1 onion chopped into chunky pieces
  • 6 large garlic cloves (resist the urge to peel!)
  • few sprigs of thyme, and origanum
  • 1/4 cup lemon infused olive oil (unflavored, extra virgin oil of good quality will also do just fine)
  • freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220º C

Place all of the above ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix together.  Transfer to a roasting pan and season with freshly ground salt and pepper.  Roast for about 40 minutes until the chicken is golden, the skin is crispy and veggies has caramelized.  Serve with a rustic ciabatta bread.

One Pan Chicken Roast

One Pan Chicken Roast

Beef Shawarma with Peanut-Butter-Hummus

Beef Shawarma

Beef Shawarma

After the whole Monday buzz I am usually not in the mood to spend a lot of time in the kitchen to produce a tasty dinner.  This Monday was no exception.  After having to do an extra trip to the dentist today for my seven-year old daughter I was só not in the mood for cooking and barely  had anything planned.  Luckily I had some unfrozen steak at hand and as I was craving a good shawarma  for quite some time now, I decided to put it to good use!  Yes,  I know about meatless Monday and all that, but spare a thought for the mom who just did not have enough time to go all out on the vegetarian meal!

Beef Shawarma

Beef Shawarma

Anyhow, I am not having one ounce of regret as this was really super tasty!  I made my own hummus but substituted the tahini with some peanut butter(yes, that is what I had in my pantry at five this afternoon) and it was absolutely delicious! It is the first time I got my children to eat hummus! I think it is because the peanut butter tends to lend a much less intense flavor than the tahini! It is really creamy and smooth with a mild garlicky flavor.  I also used some lemon infused olive oil which added more lemony undertones to the hummus.   Furthermore, I made up my own Moroccan spice mix to flavor the meat, which I had quite a bit left of so placed it in a glass jar for later use.  I have recently discovered that if you roast cumin seeds till they are smokey and then grind them down with a mortar and pestle they reward you with the loveliest nutty aroma!  You can of course just use already ground cumin but I promise it is worth the trouble to roast them first! Also do serve with some tzatziki.  All the flavors blend to a lovely harmony.

Hummus

Hummus

Anyhow I really whipped this up in less than three quarter’s of an hour!   This served 2 adults and 2 kids.

Recipe:

You will need: 

  • 4-5 pita breads
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped cucumber
  • some chopped lettuce
  • 1/2 avo chopped
  • 4 Tbsps sprouts

Hummus:

  • 1 can of chic peas
  • 1 garlic clove peeled
  • 3 big Tbsps peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsps lemon infused olive oil
  • 1/2 small lemon juice squeezed
  • 1 good pinch of salt (I used a chilly and garlic flavored salt)
  • 3 Tbsps Greek yogurt
  • 2 t of cumin seeds (roast them by placing them in a pan and heating  the pan until the seeds get smokey and have a nutty flavor,  then remove them and place them in a heavy mortar and pestle and grind fine)
  1. Place all of the above in a food processor and process until smooth
Steak:
  1. 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  2. 2 t cumin seeds (roasted as above)
  3. 1 t turmeric powder
  4. 1/2 t paprika
  5. 1/2 t  flavored salt 
  6. 1 Tbsp of lemon infused olive oil
  7. 600g thinly cut steak strips
Mix all the spices and salt together in a mortar and pestle by grinding them down.  Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and season meat according to taste, (don’t over season) and fry until the meat strips are brown and cooked through.  Remove from heat
Tzatziki:
  • 1  good hand full of chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cucumber
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients together
To Compile:
Heat pita bread for 30 seconds each in the microwave and gently cut open at top.  (I usually drip a drop of water in a plastic sandwich bag and place the bread in so that it would not dry out while microwaving it in the bag.)  Fill with all of the above by first smearing the pita with the hummus, spooning in the veg, meat and tzatziki.
Enjoy!
Beef Shawarma

Beef Shawarma


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