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year-one-mag:

We’ve already posted a recipe this month, but it’s National Baking Week so we decided to take on a challenge. That’s right, we’ve been making

MACAROONS

You will need:

  • 125g ground almonds
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 75g caster sugar
  • food colouring

… and for the filling:

  • 150g icing sugar
  • 50g butter
  • flavouring (we used vanilla extract and coffee)

1. First prepare your baking sheets - draw circles of 3-4cm diameter (we drew around a roll of electrical tape!), with enough space between for your macaroons to expand. Use a thick pen that will be visible from the other side - the mixture will pick up any markings on the paper.
2. Mix together the ground almonds and icing sugar in a bowl.
3. Separate your eggs (try this) and whisk the whites in another bowl until they form soft peaks. Add the caster sugar in 3 or 4 portions, whisking well in between each, until you have a smooth glossy mixture.
4. Time to add your colour! We went for red and purple, so we separated the egg white mixture into two bowls before adding the colouring. Mix well.
5. Add your coloured mixture to the almond mixture (don’t forget to split the almond mixture in half if you’ve used two colours like we did!) Use a spatula to fold the mixtures together, until you have a thick smooth consistency.
6. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag (we just used a sandwich bag with the corner cut off) and pipe into the circles on your baking sheet. MAKE SURE you use the pen-less side!
7. Leave the macaroons at room temperature for about 20 minutes - in the meantime pre-heat the oven to 160. Your macaroons are ready to go in when they’ve become firm, and you can touch the top without the mixture sticking to your finger.
8. Bake for 10-15 minutes (10 for a smaller macaroon, 15 if they’re slightly bigger). When they’ve risen and are firm and dry on the top, they’re done. Cool on a wire rack, then use a palette knife to get them off the baking paper. 
9. For the filling, mix icing sugar and softened butter, then add a flavouring. We split the mixture in two, adding vanilla essence to one batch and a few drops of strong coffee to the other. Spread the filling on the underside of one macaroon and sandwich it together with another one.

So there we have it - macaroons. Not the easiest thing we’ve ever baked, but a lot easier than we were expecting (especially for our first try!) Our attempts were hardly the smooth little globes of perfection you can buy in fancy bakeries, but hey. Thankfully we prefer the homemade look - and they taste just as good! 

Potato and Mushroom Bake 

There are few dishes that give you that home comfort feeling like a great potato bake and this one, which I recently served with a Prime Rib Roast andMelanzanewas such a huge hit I am being forced to make it again… very soon Just gotta love it when people enjoy your food! (makes enough for 6 people) Use an ove dish that is about 30cmx20cmx8cm high or similar

The three dishes for the meal required a bit of planning because they were all done in the oven so prepare the melanzane first and into the oven, prepare the potato bake next and then leave them in the oven until almost cooked. Then remove them and pop the prime rib in the oven high up in the oven leaving the second rack on the bottom. When you are about 1/2 an hour from serving, pop the potato bake and the melanzane back into the oven.

What you need

  • 5 Medium potatoes sliced thinly
  • 2 medium onions sliced thinly
  • 1 punnet button mushrooms sliced
  • 2 x 250ml fresh cream
  • 1 packet dry cream of mushroom soup
  • Pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Good cheddar cheese for the topping

The process

  1. Place a layer of potato, then onion, then mushrooms, then about 1/3 of the mushroom soup, repeat until the dish is 3/4 full (should be 3 layers.
  2. Now pour the cream over the top and cover with a layer of cheese.
  3. Pop into the oven on 180 to 200 Celsius for 40 minutes or so and the top is golden brown and bubbling. Check that the potato is cooked through by poking with a knife.

This is seriously delicious for a braai, as a vegetable with a roast or just because you want something that reminds you of home if you are in a far flung place away from home.

missminifer:

Roasted squash with garlic mushrooms and sage butter
I wanted to make a topping or sauce for gnocchi that wasn’t tomato based, and found variations of this recipe online. I think Nigel Slater has a similar recipe for lasagna with layers of squash and mushrooms. It looked rather autumnal in the pan, and went beautifully with the hot gnocchi and sage butter (photograph to follow). 
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missminifer:

Roasted squash with garlic mushrooms and sage butter

I wanted to make a topping or sauce for gnocchi that wasn’t tomato based, and found variations of this recipe online. I think Nigel Slater has a similar recipe for lasagna with layers of squash and mushrooms. It looked rather autumnal in the pan, and went beautifully with the hot gnocchi and sage butter (photograph to follow). 

Quick Cheese Muffins 

Man these are so easy and so delicious you will not be able to wait for them to cool. The great thing about these is that they take just 10 minutes in the oven so if you are having people over just pop them in the oven a few minutes before they arrive and you will treat them to warm fresh cheese muffins. (makes 12)

I also like these with plenty of butter and a something sweet so you will usually find them smothered in marmalade or a jam of some description if they are on my plate. Give these a try, the family will love you no matter what…

What you need

  • 120g sifted flour (1 cup sifted flour)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 150g grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder (don’t leave this out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 185ml milk

The process

  1. Heat your oven to 200 Celsius and butter a muffin tin.
  2. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and mustard powder together into a bowl and then add the cheese and give it a quick turn with a spoon.
  3. Whisk the egg lightly with a fork to break it up and add to the milk, then add it to the flour mixture and give it a good mix to distribute the cheese evenly and make a consistent batter.
  4. Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for 10 minutes.

TIPS: It really doesn’t get much simpler than that folks and they are very delicious. They will also keep in the fridge for a few days ready for work or school. Try the banana bread as well if you are in baking mode.

Chocolate mousse

In the past I have had a few chocolate mousse disasters but this recipe from a 1995 Bryanston high school recipe book I came across in the market some time ago turned out beautifully.  It’s really simple and needs to be made at least 2 hours before serving.. perfect. I made the chocolate mousse without alcohol but you can add you favorite liqueur to fancy it up a bit. (makes 6-8 ramekins)

What you need

  • 3 eggs separated
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 125ml fresh cream
  • pinch of salt
  • (Optional 1 tablespoon of kahlua, brandy, amaretto or Baileys)

The process

  1. Place a small pot of water on the stove to boil then place a glass bowl over the water but not touching it and melt the chocolate.
  2. In a large bowl add the catser sugar and the egg yolks then use an electric beater to beat the mixture until it is thick and creamy.
  3. Add the melted chocolate ensuring you get it all by using a baking spatula to clean the bowl. Beat again until well blended.
  4. In a separate bowl whip the cream until stiff, add to the chocolate mixture and fold in using a metal spoon. Don’t mix it, just fold it in gently until evenly distributed.
  5. Now take another bowl and add the egg whites and pinch of salt. Beat with your electric beater (be sure to clean the beaters) until stiff.
  6. Add to the chocolate mixture and fold in with a metal spoon until colour is uniform. If you are using alcohol, this is the stage you add it, together with the beaten egg whites.
  7. Spoon into cups or ramekins and chill in the fridge for a few hours. It will need at least 2 hours to set well.

TIPs : You can grate over a bit more chocolate or add a mint sprig, a dollop of cream… you get the idea. Truly one of the easiest and nicest tasting chocolate mousse recipes I have tried.

Coffee and chocolate froth
This has got to be one of the easiest desserts to make and is so versatile you just have to try it. Make it with Enrista’s 3 in 1 coffee of chocolate for Coffee froth or chocolate froth or a combination of the two. You can have it as it is or dress it up with whipped cream and fruit and a few chocolate shavings but the froth is awesome. Imagine an aerated creamy jelly, just try it you will love it. Makes enough for 8-10 people depending on how you dress it up.
What you need
1 380g tin Evaporated milk
2 sachets clear unflavoured gelatine (look in the jelly section for Sheridans)
2 strong Enrista 3 in one coffee
2 Enrista hot chocolate
The process
The first thing you need to do is pop the tin of evaporated milk into the fridge to chill. Pop it in, in the morning for when you are ready, you want it to be nice and cold.
Get 2 serving bowls for the 2 different flavours.
Take 2 small mixing bowls and add 200ml hot water from the kettle and melt the 2 coffee sachets in one and the two chocolate sachets in the other. Mix it up with a spoon to ensure that the contents are completely dissolved. Then add a sachet of the gelatine to each and mix to dissolve.
Now place the two bowls in a cool place to cool. Don’t put them in the fridge, we don’t want the jelatine to set, we want it to cool. In winter it takes about 10 minutes.
Once it’s cooled add the cold evaporated milk to a large bowl and with your electric beater, beat the hell out of it for about 5 minutes until it has increased in volume about 4 times and is fairly thick.
Now put half of the cold cream into another mixing bowl and add the cooled chocolate mixture, beat it well for another minute or so and then transfer into a serving bowl, do the same with the coffee and then pop them into the fridge for about 10 minutes to set.
That’s it, simple and delicious, not too sweet and a texture unlike anything you have tried.
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Coffee and chocolate froth

This has got to be one of the easiest desserts to make and is so versatile you just have to try it. Make it with Enrista’s 3 in 1 coffee of chocolate for Coffee froth or chocolate froth or a combination of the two. You can have it as it is or dress it up with whipped cream and fruit and a few chocolate shavings but the froth is awesome. Imagine an aerated creamy jelly, just try it you will love it. Makes enough for 8-10 people depending on how you dress it up.

What you need

  • 1 380g tin Evaporated milk
  • 2 sachets clear unflavoured gelatine (look in the jelly section for Sheridans)
  • 2 strong Enrista 3 in one coffee
  • 2 Enrista hot chocolate

The process

  1. The first thing you need to do is pop the tin of evaporated milk into the fridge to chill. Pop it in, in the morning for when you are ready, you want it to be nice and cold.
  2. Get 2 serving bowls for the 2 different flavours.
  3. Take 2 small mixing bowls and add 200ml hot water from the kettle and melt the 2 coffee sachets in one and the two chocolate sachets in the other. Mix it up with a spoon to ensure that the contents are completely dissolved. Then add a sachet of the gelatine to each and mix to dissolve.
  4. Now place the two bowls in a cool place to cool. Don’t put them in the fridge, we don’t want the jelatine to set, we want it to cool. In winter it takes about 10 minutes.
  5. Once it’s cooled add the cold evaporated milk to a large bowl and with your electric beater, beat the hell out of it for about 5 minutes until it has increased in volume about 4 times and is fairly thick.
  6. Now put half of the cold cream into another mixing bowl and add the cooled chocolate mixture, beat it well for another minute or so and then transfer into a serving bowl, do the same with the coffee and then pop them into the fridge for about 10 minutes to set.

That’s it, simple and delicious, not too sweet and a texture unlike anything you have tried.

Warm cherry sauce

Cherry sauce came to mind when recentlybeing asked for some suggestions for a birthday party. This is fantastic and really simple dessert idea that is a winner every time and is so simple to prepare for just a few people or a huge crowd. It can also be used as an accompaniment with duck or pork by simply leaving out the cinnamon and letting the sauce reduce further. (for 4 desserts)

What you need

  • 1 400g tin cherries
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon/ 1 cinnamon stick
  • Good ice cream

The process

  1. Add the cherries with all of their juices straight from the tin into a pot on a high heat.
  2. Bring the sauce to almost boiling, reduce the heat, add cinnamon and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes or so to warm through thoroughly.
  3. If you like a thick sauce for your dessert or are serving with duck or pork, just let it simmer for a few more minutes to reduce slightly and thicken.
  4. Spoon over the ice cream and you are done.
  5. Remember to go out and buy really good ice cream, it makes such a massive difference. Another tip is to take the ice cream out of thye frezzer and put it in the fridge about an hour before you serve, this lets it soften up ever so slightly.
  6. If you like this you will love the Eton Mess recipe
  7. Served with the roast pork belly it is amazing. It is also really good if you add tinned pineapple pieces to it for a dessert sauce.

TOP 10 Incredible Food Facts

Food is something we interact with on a daily basis – frequently, in fact. There are many very obscure facts about food that are fascinating and definitely worthy of knowing. So, at the behest of Juggz, here is a nice trivia list about food.

10. Coffee

The Fact: The most expensive coffee in the world comes from civet poop

Kopi Luwak are coffee beans that come from Civet (a cat sized mammal) poo. The animals gorge on only the finest ripe berries, and excrete the partially-digested beans, which are then harvested for sale. Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world, selling for between $120 and $600 USD per pound, and is sold mainly in Japan and the United States, but it is increasingly becoming available elsewhere. My question is: who the hell discovered that it tasted good?

9. Feast

The Fact: The largest food item on a menu is roast camel

The camel is stuffed with a sheep’s carcass, which is stuffed with chickens, which are stuffed with fish, which are stuffed with eggs. This feast is sometimes featured in Bedouin weddings.

8. Bugs

The Fact: The FDA allows you to sell bugs and rodent hair for consumption

The FDA allows an average of 30 or more insect fragments, and one or more rodent hairs, per 100 grams of peanut butter. I will certainly think twice before buying my next jar!

7. Soup

The Fact: The first soup was made of hippopotamus

The earliest archeological evidence for the consumption of soup dates back to 6000 BC, and it was hippopotamus soup!

6. Refried Beans

The Fact: Refried beans are only fried once

The reason for this misconception is a translation error. The originals are frijoles refritos which actually means “well fried beans” – not re-fried.

5. Worcestershire Sauce

The Fact: Worcestershire sauce is made from dissolved fish

Worcestershire sauce, the popular English sauce, is made from dissolved anchovies. The anchovies are soaked in vinegar until they have completely melted. The sauce contains the bones and all.

4. Popsicle

The Fact: The Popsicle was invented by an 11 year who kept it secret for 18 years.

The inventor was Frank Epperson who, in 1905, left a mixture of powdered soda and water out on the porch, which contained a stir stick. That night, temperatures in San Francisco reached record low temperature. When he woke the next morning, he discovered that it had frozen to the stir stick, creating a fruit flavored ice treat that he named the epsicle. 18 years later he patented it and called it the Popsicle.

3. Microwaves

The Fact: Microwave cooking was discovered accidentally, when a chocolate bar melted in someone’s pocket

This is very true and very scary – imagine what it was doing to his leg! The fact is, Percy LeBaron Spencer of the Raytheon Company was walking past a radar tube and he noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket melted. He then tested popcorn in front of the tube (surely turning up the power and standing out of the beam), and it quickly popped all over the room. He is (obviously) known as the inventor of the Microwave oven.

2. Peanuts

The Fact: Dynamite is made with peanuts

Peanut oil can be processed to produce glycerol, which can be used to make nitroglycerin, one of the constituents of dynamite. Note however, there are other processes that can be used to make dynamite without using peanuts at all.

1. Coconut Water

The Fact: Coconut water can be used (in emergencies) as a substitute for blood plasma.

The reason for this is that coconut water (the water found in coconuts – not to be confused with coconut milk, which comes from the flesh of the coconut) is sterile and has an ideal pH level. Coconut water is liquid endosperm – it surrounds the embryo and provides nutrition. 

Truly A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

(Source: listverse.com)

Creamy chicken lasagna 

Lasagna has become one of my favorite dishes this winter and this is a really nice variation. You can add cream for a really rich sauce. (Good for 6 people)

What you need

  • Olive oil and butter for frying
  • 750g cooked and sliced chicken breasts
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 cup pasta marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup cheddar grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 boxes par cooked lasagna sheets
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The process

  1. In a frying pan with some olive oil and a little butter, cook the onions until soft and add the garlic.
  2. Add the cooked chicken and salt and pepper to taste. You can add the chicken breasts uncooked at this stage and cook until white.
  3. Now add the pasta marinara sauce or similar tomato sauce of your choice and about 125ml cream if you need real comfort food.
  4. Your pasta should be boiled for about 7 minutes before you begin constructing the lasagna.
  5. Butter a baking dish well and put 1 layer of pasta on the bottom, then a layer of the chicken sauce mixture and sprinkle over a layer of cheese.
  6. Repeat until you reach the top of the dish and finish with a layer of pasta, Top with the remaining cheese and set in a 180 Celsius oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned in places.

YUM!

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