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Caprese salad, triple cheese beef lasagne & tiramisu jars with Galbani Cheese

3 May

Caprese salad, triple cheese beef lasagne and individual tiramisu jars – my ultimate Italian-style feast! Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

When it comes to laid-back, festive, scrumptious food that’s packed with flavour, the Italians just know how. I’ve taken a few tips from their most popular traditional cheese-themed recipes to come up with my favourite three-course Italian-inspired feast: an over-the-top caprese salad, triple cheese beef lasagne (made with mozzarella, cheddar and mascarpone) and individual tiramisu cups with chocolate flakes and fresh raspberries. You can assemble the lasagne and tiramisu ahead so that you have more time to spend with your guests – the most important thing when hosting friends and family!

All my recipes serve 8, because they deserve a crowd. If you’re keen on a smaller gathering, just halve the ingredients to serve 4.

And don’t miss my video below – it shows how to make this killer lasagne.

Buon appetito!

My ultimate caprese salad with soft mozzarella, an array of tomatoes, fresh basil, pesto, toasted pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, salt flakes and ground black pepper. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Ultimate caprese salad (serves 8)

  • 3 very big ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • about 400 g smaller tomatoes on the vine
  • a handful baby tomatoes, halved
  • 3 x 125 g Galbani soft white mozzarella, sliced into rounds
  • a handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • 3-4 tablespoons basil pesto
  • extra virgin olive oil, for serving
  • balsamic vinegar, for serving (optional)
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Arrange the tomatoes on a large platter, interleaved with slices of mozzarella. Scatter with basil leaves and pine nuts, then drizzle with pesto (add a little olive oil to the pesto if it is very thick). Serve with olive oil and balsamic on the side, seasoned with salt & pepper. Serve immediately.

Note: The tomatoes will wilt on standing, so this salad is best served straight after assembling.

Triple cheese beef lasagne (made with mascarpone, cheddar and mozzarella). Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Triple cheese beef lasagne (serves 8)

For the beef Bolognese sauce:

  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 1 onion, skinned & finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled & finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 kg lean beef mince
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, stalks removed & finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried origanum)
  • 375 ml (half a bottle) dry red wine
  • 1 beef stock cube dissolved in 250 ml boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cans whole Italian tomatoes, blended to a pulp
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

For the white sauce (béchamel):

  • 80 g (80 ml / 1/3 cup) President Butter
  • 80 ml (1/3/ cup) plain/cake flour
  • 1 liter full cream milk
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • a generous tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 250 g Galbani Mascarpone
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

For assembling:

  • 1 batch Bolognese sauce
  • 1 batch white sauce
  • 500 g fresh/dried pasta sheets
  • 200 g President Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 300 g Galbani Creamy Mozzarella (semi-hard), grated

For the Bolognese sauce: Heat the olive oil in a wide, large pot with a heavy base. Fry the onion, carrot and celery over medium-high heat until soft and lightly brown. Add the garlic and stir. Add the mince and stir, breaking up any lumps and scraping the bottom to loosen any sticky bits. Add the rosemary and thyme. Continue to fry on high heat to brown the meat slightly, then add the red wine, stock, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar and stir well. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 2 hours, stirring every now and then.

For the white sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat, then add the flour and cook for a minute, stirring. Add the milk and stir with a whisk until the mixture becomes smooth and thickens slightly. Add the nutmeg, mustard and mascarpone and season well with salt & pepper. Set aside.

To assemble: Preheat oven to 180 C. In a large rectangular roasting tray or oven dish, start with a thin layer of white sauce, then a layer of pasta sheets (they will swell so don’t fit them too snugly), a layer of meat sauce, more white sauce, a layer of cheddar, etc. Continue and repeat, ending with a layer of white sauce and the grated mozzarella on top. Bake for 45 minutes until golden on top, then let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Note: I sometimes chop my onion, carrot and celery together in a food processor to save time. The cooked lasagne will continue to stabilize on standing, becoming firmer and easier to serve. The assembled lasagne (cooked or uncooked) freezes well – thaw completely before returning to the oven.

Individual jars of tiramisu, made with mascarpone, brandy and some chocolate flakes. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Individual tiramisu cups: (serves 8)

  • 5 XL eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
  • 2 x 250 g Galbani Mascarpone
  • 1 Italian-style sponge finger biscuits (Boudoir/ladyfinger)
  • 375 ml strong coffee, warm
  • 75 ml brandy
  • cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 2-3 chocolate flake bars, for serving
  • fresh raspberries, for serving

Place the egg yolks and caster sugar in a large bowl. Use and electric whisk to mix until it is very thick and creamy. Add the mascarpone and whisk until smooth.
Clean and dry this whisk, then whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff. Add half the egg whites to the mascarpone mixture and fold in with a large spoon, continuing with the second half and folding until you have a smooth, creamy, mousse-like mixture. Set aside.
Working quickly, cut the finger biscuits into thirds, and divide the pieces into 8 groups of 9 pieces each (for 8 cups of 250 ml capacity each). Place the coffee and brandy in a shallow flat bowl, then dip 4 cookie pieces at a time into the coffee mixture, and place them into the bottom of each dessert glass/jar. Top with a dollop of the mascarpone mix, then a sifting of cocoa powder. Top with a second round of 5 dipped biscuit pieces, then place the remaining half of the mascarpone mix into a piping bag and pipe dollops of the mixture at the top of each glass to cover the biscuits. Dust some cocoa powder over the top, then cover with plastic or lids (not touching the mixture) and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
To serve, add some chocolate flakes and berries on top and serve straight from the fridge.

Note: The biscuits need time to soften in the fridge. If you serve them too soon, the cookies will still be tough. The tiramisu cups keep very well in the fridge for up to 3 days and the flavour improves with time.

(This post was created in collaboration with Galbani Cheese.)

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A festive cheese stack with Poetry Stores

27 Dec

An easy, yet impressive cheese stack with fresh berries and honey for dessert and as a centre piece (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Everybody loves a selection of festive cheeses when it comes to entertaining. It can be a generous starter, a light snack or even a classy dessert. In this case, it can also double up as a stunning centrepiece  for your festive table. So easy, yet really impressive.

Invest in a few rounds of beautiful whole cheeses and you’ve got dessert and gifts sorted in one go (wrap chunks of leftovers for your guests on their way home).

Happy entertaining, everyone! Watch the video that I made in collaboration with Poetry Stores:

Wooden boards, black crockery and ornamental candle holders available from Poetry Stores.

Video produced by Skript.tv

Still photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Filmed at Bartinney Wine & Champagne Bar in Stellenbosch.

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Blueberry and almond crostata

22 Dec

Crumbly, gooey blueberry & almond crostata (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A few years ago I posted this recipe for a peach galette. By the way, the French call it a galette, the Italians call it a crostata. Now that I’ve given all the credit to the French previously, I suppose it’s time to give the Italians a turn.

Since the first time that I made this rustic free-form tart, it has become my secret weapon. I’ve made it numerous times with cling peaches, sometimes with nectarines and once with plums. Every single time the result has been magnificent: buttery, flaky pastry enveloping an oozing almond paste centre along with slightly tart and soft fruit on top. It’s a revelation to many who taste it the first time. The simplicity and intensity of it all is just superb. And can you imagine adding a dollop of creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream? The stuff dreams are made of, literally.

Almond paste: (enough for at least 2 crostatas)

  • 100 g (250 ml) ground almonds
  • 250 ml icing sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon almond essence
  • 1 egg white, lightly whisked

Pastry: (makes 2 medium size crostatas)

(Recipe for pastry by Ina Garten)

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 250 g cold butter, diced
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) ice cold water

Filling: (enough for 2 crostatas)

  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • about 1,5 cups fresh blueberries – or use any other seasonal fruit except strawberries and bananas

Method:

For the almond paste: Place all the ingredients except the egg white in a food processor. Add half the egg white and process until it comes together into a ball (add more egg white until you get to the desired consistency, add more icing sugar if your mixture is too sticky). Remove from the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 3 hours. It won’t ever freeze solid because of the sugar content, but it is much easier to handle when it is hard enough to grate.

For the pastry: Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add the icy water all at once while the motor is running. As soon as the dough starts to come together, remove it from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Press into a disk shape, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

To assemble: Pre-heat oven to 220 C. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of about 5 mm. Transfer carefully onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush the top of the pastry with egg, leaving a 3cm border around the edges. Coarsely grate the frozen almond paste all over the brushed egg pastry surface, then cover with blueberries. Fold the edges over carefully, keeping the look of the edges rustic. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack before serving with vanilla ice cream (serve hot or at room temperature).

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A Portuguese Summer Feast with Poetry Stores

29 Nov

Portuguese feast

Piri-piri chicken, roasted sweet potato salad and fig ice cream from the book “My Portuguese Feast” by Mimi Jardim (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

portuguese-feastOne of the most beautiful recipe books on the shelves this festive season is Mimi Jardim’s My Portuguese Feast – Recipes From The Heart, available from Poetry stores. Mimi is a living legend when it comes to Portuguese cooking in SA: she has run her own cooking school for over 50 years and is also a representative of the Nando’s restaurant chain. Her book is a tribute to her years of cooking, teaching, loving, exploring and sharing. “It highlights the flavours and tastes of Portuguese food and showcases the way the Portuguese cook – with their hearts and their souls, and not always in exact proportions!”

Here is a splendid Portuguese summer feast out of Mimi’s book, complete with the most beautiful, brand new Portuguese homeware available from Poetry stores. You will agree that the tableware and linen in the photographs are some of the most beautiful ranges that Poetry has ever stocked and a must for your festive table this season. Happy cooking!

Roasted sweet potato salad

Roasted sweet potato salad with goats cheese and pomegranate seeds (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Roasted sweet potato salad (serves 4)

  • 150 g whole blanched almonds
  • 125 ml olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • 1 kg sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 red onions, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 125 ml orange juice
  • salt & pepper
  • about 100 g baby spinach
  • about 100 g rocket
  • 250 g goats cheese
  • 250 ml pomegranate seeds
  • orange zest, to garnish

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Place the almonds in a roasting pan and drizzle with some of the olive oil and coarse salt. Roast for 5 minutes, turning then2-3 times. Remove from the oven and drain the almonds on paper towel. Reduce oven temp to 180 C. Place the sweet potato in a baking dish, add the red onions, garlic, cinnamon and orange juice and drizzle with a little more of the olive oil. Season to taste and salt and pepper and mix well. Bake for about 40 minutes, stirring twice. Line a salad bowl with baby spinach and rocket. Top with roasted sweet potatoes and pour over any juices from the baking dish. Crumble over the cheese, sprinkle with the roasted almonds and garnish with pomegranate jewels. Drizzle with the last of the olive oil, sprinkle with orange zest and serve.

Portuguese Feast chicken

Raymond’s Piri-piri chicken (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Raymond’s Travelling Piri-Piri Chicken (serves 4-6)

  • 1 medium-sized (1-1,2kg) chicken
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 100 G soft butter
  • whole piri-piri chillies, crushed (use 3-5 for medium and 5-10 for hot)
  • 10 ml lemon juice
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5 ml paprika
  • 12,5 ml olive oil
  • sprigs rosemay and thyme tied together to form a brush

For the sauce:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 20 ml butter (plus 12,5 ml olive oil, optional)
  • piri-piri chillies (or peri-peri sauce) to taste
  • juice of hal a lemon
  • 5 ml chopped parsley

Method:

Rinse and dry the chicken and spatchcock it (cut open through the back and flatten it). Cut slashes into the flesh of the thick parts of the chicken. Make a paste of the remaining ingredients (other than the rosemary and thyme and the sauce ingredients) and rub it over the inside and outside of the chicken. Allow to marinate for 2 hours. Grill of braai the chicken, turning regularly and using the rosemary and thyme brush to baste it with the marinade/paste every time it is turned. Serve with the sauce.

To make the sauce, fry the garlic cloves in the butter. Add the piri-piri chillies or sauce, lemon juice and parsley. Remove the garlic and serve.

Portuguese Feast ice cream

Port, peri-peri & fig ice cream loaf cake with fresh figs and almond slivers (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Peri-Peri, Port & Fig Ice Cream (serves 6-8)

  • 10 moist dried figs
  • 40 g almonds, toasted
  • 60 ml honey, plus extra to garnish
  • 50 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 20 ml port
  • 15 ml Nando’s Hot Peri-Peri Sauce
  • 1 x 2 liter tub soft vanilla ice cream
  • 100 ml chocolate morsels or grated chocolate
  • toasted flaked almonds, to serve
  • ground cinnamon, to serve

Method:

Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and line with plastic wrap. Place in the freezer while you prepare the mixture. Pulse figs and almonds in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Dissolve the honey in the lemon juice, then add the port, peri-peri sauce, figs and almonds. Fold into the ice cream, working quickly so that it doesn’t melt. Fold into the chocolate, pour the mixture into the prepared pan and freeze for 24 hours. Unmould the dessert onto a serving platter. Drizzle it with honey and sprinkle with almonds and cinnamon. Serve immediately.

Get Mimi Jardim’s My Portuguese Feast – Recipes From The Heart, available online from Poetry stores at R385.

All homeware, linen, cutlery, glassware and wooden boards available from Poetry Stores.

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Raspberry Swirl Frozen Cheesecake

4 Nov

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

You might have noticed some brand changes going on with Simonsberg cheese: they’re becoming Président. You’d be happy to know that it’s still the same fantastic products with the same taste inside the packaging.

I recently had the privilege of dreaming up a new recipe with one of the cheeses in the President range. I chose their iconic plain cream cheese (preservative free), because I just love the texture and taste – wonderful in desserts, especially. Dishing up beautiful, creamy, swirly frozen desserts for the upcoming festive season is always a crowd pleaser. Without the trouble of making real ice cream or working with expensive churners, this velvety frozen cheesecake with raspberry jam swirls is easy to whip up, delicious to eat and delivers big on the wow factor.

Top with fresh raspberries and chopped nuts for a show-stopping dessert.

Top with fresh raspberries and chopped nuts for a show-stopping dessert (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Make it in a regular loaf tin brushed with vegetable oil and lined with plastic wrap. A layer of wafer biscuits complete the “ice cream cake” feel and keeps the cake from melting too quickly when you turn it out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (strained)
  • 2 x 230 g tubs Président cream cheese, plain
  • 250 ml Parmalat fresh cream
  • 1/2 cup good quality raspberry jam
  • about 8 wafer biscuits
  • fresh raspberries and chopped nuts, to serve

Method:

  1. Prepare a medium size loaf tin: brush the insides with vegetable oil and line with plastic wrap.
  2. Pour the condensed milk and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Mix with electric beaters until thick and smooth.
  3. Add the cream cheese and mix until smooth.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the cream until just stiff (don’t overmix). Fold the cream into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. Stir the jam well to make it a little runny. Swirl a few teaspoons full of jam on the bottom of the prepared tin, then top with one third of the cheesecake mixture. Repeat with more jam, more mixture, more jam and the last of the mixture.
  6. Arrange the wafer biscuits on top in a neat layer. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
  7. To turn out, remove the top plastic wrap layer, then open up the plastic on the sides. Turn over on a serving plate/board, then tug gently on the plastic to release the cake from the tin. Remove the tin and the plastic and serve in slices with fresh berries and chopped nuts of your choice.

Note: I prefer serving this frozen cheesecake after leaving it on the counter for about 15 minutes to soften slightly.

Président cheese products

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

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Easy salted chocolate fudge with cranberries & nuts

24 Mar

Chocolate, cranberry and almond fudge (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chocolate, cranberry and almond fudge (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

While browsing through December 2014’s Taste Magazine, I came across this decadent recipe for salted chocolate fudge with cinnamon and pecan nuts by Abigail Donnelly. Lesson no.1: Never get rid of last year’s magazines, they can provide you with double the inspiration for another year or three at least.

I decided to add some cranberries for a festive speck of red and the result was spectacular. Lesson no.2: Be creative and you will be rewarded generously.

My advice would be the following: use the best quality dark chocolate with a cocoa quantity of about 70%, otherwise the fudge can become very sweet. Lesson no.3: If you think fudge is too sweet to start off with, this recipe is most definitely not for you.

An interesting thing is that this fudge, unlike regular fudge, tastes better when it’s cold and keeps better shape. I therefore store it in the fridge. One bite and it melts in your mouth with a silky texture straight out of sugar heaven.

I recommend that you serve these at the end of an elegant cocktail party. Cool nuggets of dark delight, easy to pop into your mouth with one bite.

Cut the fudge into squares (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Cut the fudge into squares (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 x 385 g can condensed milk
  • 10 ml ground cinnamon
  •  5 ml vanilla extract
  • 400 g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 45 ml butter
  • flaked sea salt, to taste (I used about 5 ml Maldon salt flakes)
  • 100 g pecan nuts, chopped
  • 80 g dried cranberries

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients (except for the nuts and cranberries) in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, ensuring the water does not touch the bowl. Allow the ingredients to melt, stirring occasionally. When fully melted, add the chopped nuts and cranberries and stir well.
  2. Working quickly, pour into a medium size dish and chill for 4–6 hours, or until firm.
  3. Cut into squares or small bars before serving.

Credits:

Original recipe: Abigail Donnelly, Woolworths Taste Magazine

Recipe adaptation, food preparation, food styling & text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & styling: Tasha Seccombe

This post has also been featured on The Pretty Blog.

 

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Muscovado chocolate truffles

11 Aug

Muscovado chocolate truffles, meltingly soft, slightly bitter and super decadent (photography by Tasha Seccombe).

Muscovado chocolate truffles, meltingly soft, slightly bitter and super decadent (photography by Tasha Seccombe).

This deceptively simple recipe is not for the faint hearted. You think you might know and love a traditional chocolate truffle? Well, this one takes it to another level of decadence.

My previous assistant at the demo KITCHEN, Elsebé Cronjé, shared my passion for beautiful recipes, pictures and food. She often brought new ideas to the table for upcoming menus and shoots, and this recipe is from one of her books: Adventures with Chocolate by Paul A. Young. It’s a dark chocolate truffle that is made with muscovado sugar. The recipe calls for the muscovado to be melted with fresh cream in a saucepan, forming a rich caramel sauce which is then added to chopped dark chocolate.  It is then stirred to create a smooth dark caramel chocolate ganache. Once cooled, you can roll your truffles and coat them in cocoa powder.

Caramel and melted chocolate, rolled into bite-size balls. Need I say more? I think not.

 Ingredients: (recipe by Paul A. Young from Adventures with Chocolate)

  • 100 g muscovado sugar
  • a pinch of salt flakes
  • 250 ml double cream
  • 250 g finest dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Method:

  1. Add the sugar, salt & cream to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring. When the sugar has melted, remove from the heat.
  2. Add the broken chocolate pieces to a small mixing bowl, then pour the warm cream mixture over it and stir until smooth and glossy and melted. Leave to cool, then refrigerate to set.
  3. Using a teaspoon, scoop some of the mixture and roll quickly into balls. Then cover in cocoa powder and set aside.
  4. Store in the refrigerator, but enjoy at room temperature.

Credits:

This post was written by Ilse van der Merwe for The Pretty Blog.

Text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

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Chocolate pineapple pudding with almond & orange

21 Apr

Baked chocolate pineapple pudding with almonds and orange rind, served with dark chocolate sauce & creme fraiche.

Baked chocolate pineapple pudding with almonds and orange rind, served with dark chocolate sauce & creme fraiche.

Last night, the MasterChef SA Celebrity contestants had to cook something using a secret ingredient: pineapple. The team behind the Woolworths #CelebrityChef campaign asked me to also put together a recipe using pineapple.

After considering many different dishes from a pineapple tarte tatin to a pineapple salsa taco to pineapple BBQ sauce ribs, I came up with this rich and decadent pudding using grilled fresh pineapple, chocolate, ground almonds and orange rind. The pudding must be slightly underbaked to ensure a gooey centre. It has a tropical undertone that goes so very well with the richness of dark chocolate. Serve warm with dark chocolate sauce and creme fraiche.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe pineapple
  • 100g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 60 g butter
  • 3/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 XL eggs
  • 2 XL egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 5 ml vanilla extract

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cream

To serve:

  • a dusting of cocoa powder (optional)
  • 250 g creme fraiche (or vanilla ice cream)

Method:

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin off the pineapple and cut into chunks or rounds (I also removed the tough inner core). Grill the chunks in a very hot griddle pan until you get beautifully charred marks on the outside. Put half of the grilled pineapple in a food processor and process to a smooth pulp. Set aside the pulp and the remaining grilled pineapple.
  2. In a small glass bowl, add the chocolate and butter. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir well until smooth and melted. Put aside.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 200 C and grease a deep 23cm heat proof baking dish or skillet.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, almonds, sugar and salt. Mix well with a hand whisk. Now add the eggs, yolks, milk, zest, vanilla, pineapple pulp and melted chocolate mixture. Mix with the whisk until smooth, then pour into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until just undercooked in the centre. Remove from the oven, dust with cocoa powder (optional) and serve warm with grilled pieces of pineapple, chocolate sauce & creme fraiche.
  6. For the chocolate sauce: While the pudding is baking, heat the cream in a tall cup in the microwave until it just starts to boil (about 30 seconds – 1 minute). Add the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth and melted.

Tips:

  • You can also use cheaper commercial dark chocolate for this recipe, but be sure to add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to the batter to ensure a dark pudding.
  • If you’d like to serve this at room temperature as a chocolate tart, bake the pudding for 20 minutes in total, then cool completely. Cool the chocolate sauce as well, then spread the sauce over the pudding as a stylish ganache topping. Slice and serve.
  • I find it easy and fuss-free to melt chocolate in the microwave, but you can also do it in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water (the traditional French way).
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Roasted plum tart

2 Apr

Roasted plums on a creamy zesty filling inside a baked pastry shell (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Roasted plums on a creamy zesty filling inside a baked pastry shell (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

There is nothing more beautiful than a perfectly ripe plum, its silky matt skin dark and red and tender. Inside, the flesh reveals a golden, juicy, tart, fibrous treasure. I could stare at plums for hours – such astonishingly pretty fruit.

This simple tart is easy to make and – with its rustic charm – a dream to look at. The roasted fruit needs some time to cool, so don’t be rushed.

Note: This tart also looks beautiful when assembled in smaller jars. Just substitute the baked pastry for buttery cookie crumbs (200g digestive or tennis biscuits mixed with 80 g melted butter). Just spoon the crumbs into individual 250 ml capacity jars without compressing it. Top with the creamy filling & roasted plums, then refrigerate. Mobile desserts fit for a royal picnic.

For the pastry:

  • 1 ½ cups (250g) cake flour
  • 125g cold butter, chopped in cubes
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon iced water

For the roasted plums:

  • 1 kg ripe, firm plums (halved, pits removed)
  • ¼ cup soft brown sugar
  • juice of 1 orange

For the filling:

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 250 g plain cream cheese

To make the pastry: Place the flour, butter & sugar in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the yolk and pulse again. Now add the iced water and process until it starts to come together in a ball. As soon as it does, remove from the processor, then knead briefly to form a smooth ball. Shape into a disc, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface (about 0,5 cm thick). Transfer to a greased tart tin (about 20-23 cm diameter), then press gently into the corners and trim the top. Line with baking paper, then fill with dry beans or rice. Pre-heat oven to 200 C, then bake for 15 minutes. Remove paper and beans, then bake for another 5-10 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and leave to cool.

To make the roasted plums: Place halved plums on a baking tray (alternate cut-side up and down), then sprinkle with sugar & drizzle with orange juice. Bake at 200 C for 15-20 minutes, then remove and leave to cool. Note: you want the plums to be tender, but not too soft – they must still be in tact.

To make the filling: Using electric beaters, beat the condensed milk with the lemon juice until smooth. Add the cream cheese, then beat until well mixed. Pour into the prepared cooled pastry case, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. When ready to serve, top with cooled roasted plums, then slice and serve.

Note: This assembled tart can be refrigerated and enjoyed within 2 days. The pastry will however be best served on the first day.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog.

Text & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

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Chocolate churros

16 Feb

Mexican-style churros with a spiced chocolate sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Mexican-style churros with a spiced chocolate sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

If you love Spanish or Mexican food, then you probably already know churros. These deep-fried crunchy treats dipped in spiced chocolate sauce are the naughtiest but best way to end a Spanish feast.

I’ve experimented quite a bit with the consistency of the churro dough. With less water, you’ll get a result that holds shape better and can be piped in longer beautiful star-shaped fingers (with a star nozzle). They are crunchy with a small chewy center. With a little more water, the result is less beautiful to look at (slightly shapeless balls), but the texture resembles French canelés – very moist and chewy.

For the photoshoot, we made the churros with a little more water to show you the result. All of us preferred the “ugly” churros to the beautiful ones, but the choice is yours. Same fantastic taste, slightly different texture.

Ingredients for churro dough:

  • 2 cups (250 g) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 200-350 ml boiling water
  • 50 g melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla essence / extract
  • cinnamon sugar for dusting (mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  • about 750 ml canola oil for frying

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 250 g dark chocolate
  • 250 ml fresh cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Method:

  1. For the sauce: Heat the cream over the stovetop in a small saucepan. Cut the chocolate into smaller chunks, then add it with the spices to the cream as soon as it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat immediately and stir for a while until the chocolate has melted completely and you have a smooth sauce. Set aside.
  2. For the churros: Combine dry ingredients for churro dough in a medium sized bowl. Mix all wet ingredients and add it to the dry, mixing well until all is combined. Add more water if necessary to create the desired consistency – the mixture should be able to just hold shape.
  3. Put the dough in a piping bag fitted with star nozzle, then let it rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy based pot to about 180 C, then pipe the churro dough into the oil (about 10 cm long). Fry until golden on both sides, turning them with two forks. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then serve with warm chocolate sauce.

Credits:

Recipe, text & food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe of The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

Black buffet casserole: Courtesy of Le Creuset South Africa.

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