Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Poached pears, almond brittle & salted caramel


I do love this time of year the nights are drawing in, the clocks have changed which I have to say is not so simple with two little kiddies and the forced 5am start pretty draining.  However with so many  festivities to look forward to and the build up to Christmas, I really do love getting cosy in the winter.  I mean what's not to love... hearty stews, mulled wine, lazy Sunday roasts, twinkling lights and soft woolly things... 

I'm also always torn with what to blog about as readers in the Southern Hemisphere are getting ready for summer.  So as I sit here with a glass of Baileys on ice (don't mind if I do) all my friends and family in South Africa are gathering for BBQ's and salads.  With this in mind I plan to recap a few of my favourite recipes I discovered this summer so do look out for them in future posts, there are some real winners such as prawn and avo sushi salad and chocolate and raspberry fridge cake. 

As for this pear cake, well there is a little story behind this creation.  My initial concept was to make a delicate seasonal dessert using pears seeing as they are in abundance at the moment.  The idea was to coat the poached pears with salted caramel sauce and almond brittle.  Sounds good right.  Well, when it came to plating up the dessert the photos just didn't do it any justice and flavours just seemed a little lost.   I had  some leftover vanilla sponge cake in the freezer from my kids party which I quickly defrosted and layered with the pears, fresh cream, brittle and sauce....OMG a combination made in heaven.....



You will need:
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 100g whole almonds
Put sugar and almonds in a pan and the sugar will start to melt.  Take off the heat once all the sugar has dissolved and pour onto a lined tray with baking paper.  Allow to cool.  It will become hard and brittle.  Crush with a pestle and mortar.
Salted caramel sauce
  • 80ml water
  • 250g sugar
  • 120ml double thick cream
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • pinch of good quality sea salt
Place the sugar and water in a pan and bring to boil, make sure all the sugar has dissolved.  Take off the heat, pour in the cream and whisk in the butter and salt.  If its a little runny, place it in the fridge or freezer and allow to set once cooled.
Sponge cake
  • 100g butter melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 180g flour
  • 1/4 + 1 1/2 Tbs milk warmed
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • vanilla essence
Grease two baking tins.  Beat eggs and sugar till thick and creamy, approx. 7 mins.  Whisk in butter and milk.  Stir in flour and baking powder.  Bake at 180 degrees for 30 mins. 
Poached pears
  • 3 Pears
  • cinnamon
  • 3 Tbs sugar
Peel the pears carefully leaving the stalk on.  Place in a pan and cover with boling water.  Bring to boil, add sugar and cinnamon and allow to poach for approx. 20 mins.  Take pears out, allow to cool and slice for cake.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Spicy mango salsa in tortilla cups

I stumbled upon these at a recent wellness day I attended.  It was packed with everything girly.  I'm talking beauty, fashion, gifts, cakes and cooking of course.

I have the lady demonstrating her gadgets to thank for this recipe.  She was working with a hand held food processor, a pretty versatile little thing.  Which as it turns out I had sitting in my cupboard all along, which I had never used.  I guess my qualm with the gadget was it only cut things one way...which for me was unacceptable as I feel sometimes food needs to be prepared differently in order to give it a little 'jenesequa'.  However for this recipe its the perfect tool for the job.  Since rediscovering it, I now use it for chopping herbs, onions and lots more and its the one gadget I can't live without (that is because I don't have an electrical food processor). Take a look at it here.

As for the tortilla cups, they are revolutionary, I love them.  Ideal for kids.  I fill them with all sorts of fillings for my 3 year old.  She loves them with cottage cheese, cherry tomatoes and ham and would love this salsa without the chilli of course.

They also make great canap├ęs or snacks and I've been waiting to host the next dinner party to fill them with all sorts of deliciousness (mascarpone and fig preserve).

You will need:

  • 4 Tortilla wraps
  • 5 vine ripen plum tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 chilli
  • a few sprigs of Coriander
  • 1 ripe mango
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
Tortilla cups
1) Cut a cross in each tortilla creating 4 little squares out of each tortilla.  I cut all the round edges straight.

2) Place the small square tortilla in a muffin tray and push down to create the cup.  Place in the pre-heated oven 180 degrees for 5 - 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them as they don't need long as burn easily.

Spicy Mango Salsa
1) Using a food processor or knife finely chop the onion, mango, tomatoes and chilli together.

2) Chop a few sprigs of coriander and add them to the salsa

3) Season with salt and pepper and a tablespoon of vinegar and spoon into your tortilla cups.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

balsamic roasted tomatoes and chorizo lasagne

As I sit here blogging about a light summery deconstructed lasagne, I can't help think I should be uploading a warm stew with this 'wonderful' weather we've been experiencing of late.  The truth is, it is Spring, it is going to get warmer, and when it does this is a simple dish to pull out the bag.
I roasted the tomatoes with rosemary in balsamic vinegar and to be honest you could just leave the dish as vegetarian dish with just that, it's yum, or add some fried chorizo for a real twist. 
I'm a big fan of simple that looks impressive, and this is just that!


You will need:
  • lasagne sheets
  • packet of mini plum/cherry tomatoes
  • chorizo
  • balsamic vinegar
  • sprig of Rosemary
  • bunch of fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan
1) Place tomatoes, rosemary, chorizo in a dish.  Pour over the balsamic vinegar just to coat each tomato and roast in pre-heated oven 180degrees for approx. 15-20 mins or until the tomatoes start to burst.
2) Place lasagne sheets in a pot of boiling water and cook for approx. 7 mins or until soft and flimsy.  You will need a big pot to ensure the sheets don't stick together, keep moving them around and separating if needs be.
3) Place cooked lasagne sheet on a place and form a S shape, layer with roasted tomatoes and chorizo in between each layer.  Grate some parmesan over and season to taste.
4) Pour any left over juices from the roast dish over the pasta and serve with a chilled glass of white wine.


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

tomato and marinated fennel salad

This came about by pure luck.  I was raiding the fridge for some lunch inspiration today.  I had intended on making a tuna salad when I came across these beautiful heirloom tomatoes.  I didn't buy them so it was a lovely surprise.  They obviously found their way back after a weekend away with friends where we each took turns cooking a meal.  Somehow they were packed in my bags.  I love the fact they were.  They were so pretty I had to get out my camera.  I sliced them up and mixed them with a fennel bulb which I marinated in vinegar.  It was a combination perfect for summer.  I wanted to add another element of colour so grated some radishes with little pink tufts of flavour.  The radish and the fennel are a match made in heaven. 



  • Assorted tomatoes
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 3 spring onions
  • 4 grated radishes
  • feta cheese
  • white wine vinegar
  • olive oil
1) Slice the fennel and pour vinegar over so that it just covers the fennel, season with salt and pepper and leave for 30 mins.
2) Slice the tomatoes, spring onions, and sprinkle over the crumbled feta and radishes.  Add  the fennel.
3)  Season with olive oil and the remaining vinegar from the fennel.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

vintage sugar rose

It's edible.  It's sweet.  It's pretty and yes, my first attempt at a sugar rose.  A little amateur I know but I have to say I do love it.  I love the subtle shades of pink and the overall vintage style but I especially loved creating it.  I attended a vintage rose workshop last night, 3 whole hours may I add, but what a therapeutic and enjoyable evening. 

Working with sugar paste is something very new to me and certainly has its challenges.  It dries really fast so you have to work quickly, which is part of the thrill I guess.  I have found a new hobby.  I can't wait to head down the flower market for some real inspiration and learn to make more.

Workshops and other cake classes are held by the lovely and very talented Lorynne Heynes of Petite Pantry.  You contact her here and for more inspiration check out her Facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/petitepantry

Lorynne also has an online shop where you can buy all the tools required to make this rose or any other unique cake related supplies.  I'm talking clear lace embellished crystal lollies or edible icing sheets with vintage prints - AMAZING.  Definitely worth a visit...  http://www.cakecraftbristol.co.uk/


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

rainbow beetroot salad with honey sesame seed yoghurt dressing

Pink and Golden Beetroots tossed with bulgur wheat & toasted pumpkin seeds  

I made it.  I love it.  Its delicious.  But not really sure what else to say about it... other than its much prettier in real life. My pics just don't do it justice.  Definitely one to keep up your sleeve when entertaining.
I got my hands on some beautiful rainbow beets from the local village market.  I love it when I find 'artisan' veg.  I get such a kick out of using extraordinary things.  These pink stripy beets are much prettier raw (and I have a killer raw beet salad for another day), and the golden ones well they just throw your taste buds out as so easily mistaken for something else.  Roasting them is best, I just wrap them in foil, skin and all and roast in oven till soft (approx. 45 mins). 
The honeyed sesame  seed yoghurt dressing and lots of fresh lemon juice takes this salad to the next level but its the roasted pumpkin seeds that give it a real wow factor.  Its really good!

You will need

4 - 5 assorted beetroots (2 golden, 2 pink and 1 dark red)
6 radishes finely sliced
1 cup bulgur wheat
1 cup water
few leaves of rocket
few sprigs coriander
handful of pumpkin seeds

For the dressing:
1 1/2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
3 tbsp low fat yoghurt
lemon juice
garlic clove crushed
1 tsp runny honey
a little water to thin it out


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

chorizo beer bread (in a tin)

It's been a wee while lovelies but we are alive and kicking, and happy to be back. 
To say I've missed my cooking would be an understatement and with two kiddies now bringing new challenges I still struggle to find the time but I couldn't wait any longer.  I felt it was time.  Time to start blogging, cooking, baking, photographing and thought I would give it a whirl with these little bad boys.  
This post is dedicated to a very wise old lass and one of my dearest and oldest friends who sent me a pic and I had to get the recipe so thank you Mrs Warren T.
Why in the past did home-made bread seem so daunting...and I thought my mom's Ciabatta recipe was easy but this takes EASY to another level. Makes me wonder why my husband was so insistent on putting that bread machine on our wedding registry which has probably made about five guest appearances.

I love the fact that this recipe comes from South Africa and that you can have fresh bread on the table in half an hour, with no kneading and a bottle of beer.

I added different flavours to create four different mini breads, Chorizo, sun-kissed tomatoes, mozzarella and rosemary.
I reckon it would also make great 'braai broodjies' (BBQ bread) where you stuff the dough with cheese and place on the BBQ.

You will need:
1 bottle of beer
500g self raising flour
1 teaspoon of salt

Whatever you would like to add for flavour (Chorizo, mozzarella, sun-kissed tomatoes, olives, cheddar cheese, rosemary, pesto)


1) It's as simple as mix flour, beer and salt together to form a dough which is a little sticky.

2) Divide into four, mix in different flavours and place into greased tins.  Spray and cook works well to grease the tins as the edges can be a little sharp.

3) Bake in preheated oven 180degrees for 30 mins.

Note: the tins can be a little tricky to get the bread out of, but you can use any tin to bake in.