Tag Archives: cream

Nigella’s rum & raisin banana bread

3 Mar

Toasted slices of banana bread, topped with thick cream and berry coulis (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

For one of our monthly food shoots last year at Tasha‘s house in Elgin, she greeted us with the seducing smell of something exotic yet strangely familiar. It was a loaf of freshly baked banana bread with added rum and sultanas. It was so moist and delicious that I had to ask for the recipe.

Tasha found it in Nigella‘s “How to be a Domestic Goddess”, but changed it slightly to include desiccated coconut instead of walnuts, and salted butter instead of unsalted. This is honestly one of the best recipes for banana bread that I have tasted, and I can strongly recommend it. Nigella says on her website that you can add some cocoa powder and chocolate chips, which would make it darker and even more heavenly. But the choice is yours.

I love serving this bread thickly sliced topped with double cream (or clotted cream or mascarpone) and some kind of berry coulis or good quality runny berry jam. It is an excellent choice for breakfast in bed for your lover on Valentines Day or on a romantic weekend, might I add. Decadent, indulgent, utterly delicious.

I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary on the 14th of February this year. I’m a very, very lucky girl to be married to Schalk. He is kind, honest, an amazing father, and the best friend I could ever wish for. Did I mention he is tall, dark and dangerously handsome? Here’s to many more breakfasts in bed for the two of us!

Freshly baked rum and raisin banana bread (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Ingredients:

  • 100 g sultanas or raisins (both work very well, but I prefer sultanas)
  • 75 ml dark rum
  • 175 g cake flour
  • 30 ml baking powder
  • 2.5 ml bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 2.5 ml salt
  • 30 g (125 ml) desiccated coconut
  • 125 g salted butter (melted)
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 small ripe bananas (or 3 large, about 300 g mashed banana)
  • 5 ml vanilla extract

Method:

  1. An hour before you start baking, place the sultanas/raisins and rum in a small saucepan and heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat immediately, cover with a lid, and leave to soak for an hour.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 170 C.
  3. Sift all the dry ingredients together and add the coconut.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the melted butter and sugar. Now beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the bananas, sultanas with rum, and vanilla. Don’t worry if it looks like the mixture has “split”.
  5. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, and stir well after each bit.
  6. Pour into a loaf tine of about 23 x 13 x 7 cm (9 x 5 x 3 inches) and bake in the middle of your oven for 50-60 minutes. The outside should be a nutty brown colour.
  7. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin.

Tip: You can also make beautifully soft muffins from the same recipe, just bake them for about 20-25 minutes.

 

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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Cheat’s “macarons” with jam and cream

4 Sep

Cheat’s macarons, filled with cream and jam (Photography by Tasha Seccombe)

There is a universal love all over the world for cake with cream and jam; it’s an age-old trend. You’ll find it in the form of swiss rolls, cream cakes, cupcakes, whoopie pies, scones and cookies – it’s just one of those combos that work.

These soft little cookies were made from regular cupcake batter, piped onto a lined baking sheet, then filled with a swirl of jam and cream. And yes, they resemble French macarons. But they are so much easier to make than macarons, with none of the frustration or effort!

You can also fill these treats with caramel or your favourite version of butter icing. They are delicate, yet really simple – perfect for a special teatime treat.

Ingredients for batter:

  • 125 g cake flour
  • 125 g butter (soft)
  • 125 g sugar
  • 5 ml baking powder
  • 2.5 ml baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 ml vanilla essence
  • 30 ml milk

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients except the milk in a food processor, then process for about 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides, then process again. With the motor running, add the milk, then process for another 30 seconds until the mixture becomes very silky and smooth.
  3. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a relatively small nozzle, then pipe the batter in circles of about 2-3cm in diameter, leaving enough space inbetween for rising.
  4. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 5-8 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. They should be firm and lightly straw coloured, but not brown.
  5. Remove the cookies from the oven, then carefully transfer them with a spatula to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat this process to use up all the batter.

Ingredients for the jam and cream swirl filling:

  • about 1/2 cup berry jam (I used black currant jam)
  • 250 ml cream
  • icing sugar for dusting

Method:

  1. If the jam you are using is quite chunky, use a stick blender and a tall cup to process it to a smooth pulp. This will make it easier to pipe.
  2. Whisk the cream in a separate mixing bowl until just stiff (but not too stiff), then gently stir in the smooth jam – it doesn’t have to be mixed completely.
  3. Transfer the cream and jam mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle of your choice, then pipe the mixture on the inside of the cooled cookies. Use more cookies to close them up like little sandwiches. Dust with icing sugar, then serve.

PS: You can also just use thick cream or cream cheese and chunky jam to spread it onto the cookies with a knife – the 2 separate layers also look quite beautiful!

Cheat’s macarons (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

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Spaghetti with roasted cauliflower, blue cheese and walnuts

9 Jul

Spaghetti with a rich sauce of roasted cauliflower, blue cheese and walnuts (photographed by Tasha Seccombe)

This dish was born out of a shameless craving for the taste of parmesan-roasted cauliflower, rich blue cheese and toasted walnuts. Not an everyday combo, I know. It could have also gone in a different direction (maybe a salad with baby spinach leaves, watercress, finely julienned cucumber, and the mentioned ingredients), but this time it became a super decadent pasta.

The trick is to cut the cauliflower into very small florets – about the size of your thumb, or smaller. I sprinkle the pieces with finely grated parmesan cheese, then roast them in a 200 C oven for about 15 minutes until they start to turn golden brown on the edges – it creates an amazing nutty flavour. I then blend half of the roasted florets to a smooth pulp with stock, and mix it with cream and blue cheese. Mix this sauce through the cooked spaghetti, then serve it topped with more roasted cauliflower en toasted walnuts.

I like to eat spaghetti with very rich sauces, because I like the mouth-feel of slurping the strands while some of the creamy sauce remain on my lips. Definitely not a dish for a first date, yet decadent enough for an anniversary dinner!

This pasta dish is best served immediately, as the pasta absorbs quite a lot of the sauce on standing, and thus can become dry. Make sure everyone’s seated before you’re ready to finish the sauce and mix it with the pasta – it makes a huge difference!

Ingredients:

  • 250 g cauliflower head
  • about 30 ml olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 250 ml chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 250 ml cream
  • 100 g blue cheese
  • 500 g spaghetti
  • 50 g walnuts, roughly chopped and toasted in a dry pan

Method:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200 C.
  2. Cut the cauliflower head into small florets (about the size of your thumb or smaller), then sprinkle with parmesan cheese and season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cauliflower start to turn golden brown on the edges.
  3. Remove the roasted cauliflower from the oven, then place half of it in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the hot stock, then blend with a stick blender until you get a smooth soup-like consistency. If the mixture is too thick, add more stock or water, then mix again. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, heat the cream to boiling point. Crumble the blue cheese into the hot cream, then turn down the heat to very low and stir until melted. Now add the smooth cauliflower puree and stir well. Set aside.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, then cook the spaghetti for about 7-8 minutes until al dente. Drain, then coat well with the sauce (I like to toss it in the warm pasta-cooking pot).
  6. Dish up the sauce-coated spaghetti, then top with the remaining roasted florets and some roasted chopped walnuts. Serve immediately.

 

Credits:

This post was written especially for The Pretty Blog.

Recipe, text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius and Tasha Seccombe.

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Buttermilk pancakes with caramelised bananas, cream and salted pistachios

5 Jul

Fresh pancakes with caramelised bananas, cream and pistachios (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

We’ve officially hit the middle of the year, and that means an icy winter ahead of us. The cold weather certainly makes us all long for the smell of warm, comforting winter foods. But there are few things more comforting than the smell of freshly made pancakes.

This is my favourite recipe for deluxe buttermilk pancakes, from Phillippa Cheifitz’s book Lazy Days. If you don’t have buttermilk in your fridge, just use full cream milk mixed with 15 ml lemon juice. But I have to say that the buttermilk just adds a luxuriously soft finish to the pancakes.

There’s nothing wrong with cinnamon sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a traditional pancake fix (Phillippa likes to spread her pancakes with homemade apricot jam!), but in this case I topped them with caramelized bananas, covered in a brown sugar and butter sauce. To make these even more deadly, I prefer to drizzle them with double thick cream and a sprinkling of roughly chopped salted pistachio nuts. Sweet, salty and crunchy, yet delicately soft and gooey.

I can have this for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. So bring on the icy weather – I’ll bring the pancakes!

Ingredients for buttermilk pancakes: (country pancakes, recipe by Phillippa Cheifitz)

Makes about 12 pancakes. Batter will keep in the fridge, covered, for a few days.

  •  6 XL eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 30 ml sugar
  • 375 ml (1  1/2 cups) cake flour, sifted
  • 500 ml buttermilk (or use full cream milk mixed with 15 ml lemon juice)
  • 30 ml melted butter (or canola oil)
  • canola oil for frying

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then whisk/beat together until smooth. Allow to stand for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Place a medium size pan over medium heat, then use a heat proof basting brush to lightly coat with oil.
  3. When the pan is hot enough, add a ladle full of batter to the pan, swirling it around to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 1-2 minutes until golden brown, then flip over using a spatula to brown the other side. Note: If your batter looks too thick, add some cold water and mix well before adding another ladle to the pan.
  4. Stack the pancakes on top of each other, then make the topping.

Ingredients for caramelised banana topping: (enough for about 4 people)

  • 60 g (about 1/4 cup) butter
  • 2 x ripe, firm bananas, sliced into chunks diagonally
  • 1/4 cup soft brown sugar
  • 30 ml cream
  • double thick cream for serving (or whipped cream, or clotted cream, or mascarpone)
  • about 50 g salted pistachios, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Over medium-high heat, melt the butter in a medium sized pan, then add the banana slices. Fry for about 1 minute, turning once.
  2. Remove the bananas from the pan,  then add the brown sugar and cream to the remaining butter in the pan. Stir until the sugar has melted and the sauce is thick (not too dark) – add a touch more cream or butter if necessary. Remove from the heat as soon as it looks ready, and return the bananas to the pan. Swirl gently.

To assemble:

  1. Fold each pancake into quarters and arrange on a plate (about 2 per person).
  2. Top with the caramelized bananas and sauce, then drizzle with thick cream and sprinkle with some chopped pistachios. Serve at once.

Credits:

This post was written especially for The Pretty Blog.

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

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius and Tasha Seccombe.

 

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Angel cake with white chocolate ganache and banana cream

19 Feb

Angel cake with white chocolate ganache and banana cream filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

This Valentines Day will mark the 1 year anniversary of working with the fabulous food team from The Pretty Blog, Nicola and Tasha. I wrote my first post for TPB exactly one year ago for a dark chocolate tart with fresh berries, and we felt so exhilarated with the results of our very first picture!

But more importantly, this year on the 14th of February I’ll also be celebrating my 9th wedding anniversary. So many things great things have happened in my life over the past year, and I am so very thankful for the overwhelming support and love from my family! One year ago, I was still struggling to get to grips with my choice to make a complete career change from the music management industry to the food industry as a writer and recipe developer. Things weren’t always easy and I (we) had to make a lot of sacrifices. One year later, I am so excited about where I’m heading, with extremely exciting projects lined up for 2013 and 2014. But the biggest thing that I have learnt over the past year, is how important my husband and my little daughter are to me, and how very lucky I am to have them both in my life.

If there was ever an angel, it is my husband, Schalk. We have been together for 13 years, and he has been my absolute rock. These days it is very rare to find a love that is so complete and so full of joy, friendship and adventure. I love him even more today than the day we got married.

Ingredients for angel cake:

  • 175 g cake flour
  • 15 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml cream of tartar
  • 2 ml salt
  • 45 g cornflour
  • 12 XL egg whites
  • 315 g caster sugar
  • 2 ml almond essence

Ingredients for white chocolate ganache:

  • 160 g white chocolate (I used 2 x 80g slabs of Nestlé Milky Bar)
  • 150 ml fresh cream

Ingredients for banana cream filling:

  •  250 ml cream
  • 15 ml caster sugar
  • 5 ml vanilla essence (or 2 ml vanilla extract)
  • 1 banana, mashed

Method for angel cake:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt and cornflour.
  3. In another large mixing bowl, beat/whisk egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the caster sugar while whisking continuously, until you reach medium peak stage (between soft peaks and stiff peaks). Add the almond essence and whisk for a few seconds.
  4. Add dry ingredients to egg whites, then fold in gently with a metal spoon until the mixture is smooth. Pour into an ungreased 24 cm loose bottomed angel cake pan or ring pan (I used a normal loose bottomed cake pan and placed a drinking glass in the middle to create the distinctive angel cake hole).
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes until done, then remove from the oven and leave in the pan to cool for 5-10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack. Cool completely.

Method for white chocolate ganache:

  1. Break chocolate into small blocks into a glass mixing bowl.
  2. On the stove top in a small sauce pan, bring the cream to a boil, then quickly remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Leave to melt for 2-3 minutes, then stir gently until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to the desired consistency while filling the cake with the banana cream (I love a slightly more spreadable ganache, but you can also drizzle it over the cake white it is still a bit warm and slightly runny).

Method for banana cream:

  1. In a mixing bowl, add the cream, sugar and vanilla. Whip the mixture with a whisk or electric beaters, until it is stiff enough to hold shape (don’t over-beat!)
  2. Add the mashed banana, then fold it into the cream. Use a sharp knife to cut the cake horizontally in 2 layers, then fill generously with the banana cream and carefully put the top layer back in place. Then spread/drizzle the top with the white chocolate ganache.

PS: I used Heilie Pienaar’s recipe for angel cake from her new book “The Ultimate Snowflake Collection”. She used a passion fruit glaze icing for her cake, but I prefer to top mine with a decadent white chocolate ganache and fill it with a banana cream filling.

PPS: This cake is best the next day, but the banana cream have a tendency to turn dark after 24 hours. My advice would be to make the cake ahead (the previous day), store it in an airtight container, then fill and ice the cake a few hours before serving.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius and Tasha Seccombe.

Plate: Poetry

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Cheat’s mango ice cream

22 Nov

Cheat’s mango ice-cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I grew up in a house where vanilla ice cream was freely available – we had it for dessert almost every single day, with my Mom’s homemade chocolate sauce. It was great, but I got so used to ice cream that I never really thought of it as something special. Until I got older and discovered proper Italian ice cream from artisan parlours like Lecce Il Gelato and Cold Gold Ice Cream.

Today I’ve turned into a complete ice cream snob. I only eat the good stuff. OK, I still appreciate the charm of a cheap, old fashioned soft serve at the beach on a hot summers day, but I’ll drive the extra mile to get the “extra dark chocolate” flavour from Lecce Il Gelato. Yum.

That said, I haven’t really tried my hand at making ice cream before, seeing that it’s an artform in its own right. I also don’t have the right tools, because ice cream churners can be quite expensive. So I couldn’t help but feel a bit confused when I saw Donna Hay make her “cheat’s ice cream” on tv as part of her “Fast, Fresh, Simple” series. She simply used frozen fruit and cream, and whipped up a perfectly textured soft serve from scratch in a minute. I had to try it.

I used freshly frozen mango pieces and fresh cream, and sweetened it with a bit of extra caster sugar. It worked like a dream, and it couldn’t be easier. All you need is a basic food processor and a normal freezer (deep freeze) – no churning, no time, no tricks.

This is my version of cheat’s mango ice cream, based on Donna’s recipe. Donna also use fresh banana in her recipe, but I like the basic mango flavour all on its own. After all, the mango is the King of the fruit family, in my books.

Ingredients:

  • 400 g mango flesh, sliced and completely frozen
  • 250 ml fresh cream
  • 50 g caster sugar (optional, adjust to taste)

Method:

In the bowl of a food processor, add the frozen fruit, cream and sugar. Process until smooth – it takes about 30 seconds to 1 minute. The texture should be a smooth “soft serve” consistency, and can be eaten straight away.  But if you prefer a harder ice cream, pour ice cream into a plastic container and freeze for another 3-4 hours or overnight.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Nicola Pretorius

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Jane-Anne’s frozen lemon cream dessert

22 Oct

Frozen lemon cream dessert with seasonal fruit and amaretti biscuits

My dear friend and fellow blogger Jane-Anne Hobbs recently published a cookbook called “Scrumptious: Food for Family and Friends“. Jane-Anne is a seasoned food writer and recipe developer, and loves to entertain at her breathtaking home in Hout Bay.

If you haven’t seen this beautiful book, do yourself a favour and get your hands on it. It is a joy to see such magnificent work come from someone in our local food community. Jane-Anne is not a “celebrity chef”, she’s a self-trained intelligent cook with a born understanding of flavours. Her recipes are honest and they really work for entertaining and wowing a crowd. I have tried quite a few of the recipes in her new book, and they have all been winners. One of my absolute favourite is “Mike’s Youvetsi” – a simple Greek lamb dish made with fresh tomatoes and orzo (flat, rice-shaped pasta) – absolutely packed with flavour.

A great choice for a Summer dessert is Jane-Anne’s Frozen Lemon Cream with Summer Berries. This dessert is based on the basic recipe for a South African cottage cheese fridge tart, with added seasonal fruit (fresh or frozen). It is so beautiful to look at, and so easy to make. The best thing about it is that you can make it a few days ahead of your big party, and remove it from the deep freeze right before serving – like ice cream. No stress, no fuss, just delicious homemade creamy lemon delight. Perfect for a really hot, South African summer’s day.

Ingredients: (serves 8)

  •  2 x 385 g tins condensed milk
  • finely grated zest and juice of 3 medium lemons (or 2 large)
  • 500 ml fresh cream
  • 350 g mixed frozen berries (I also added some fresh seasonal fruit, like grapes and oranges)
  • 12 Italian Amaretti biscuits, roughly crumbled

For the topping:

  • 1 cup frozen berries (or a mixture of fresh and frozen, or fresh seasonal fruit of your choice)
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

  1. Add condensed milk, lemon rind and lemon juice in a large bowl. With an electric beater, beat on low speed for 1 minute.
  2. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until stiff, then fold the cream into the lemon mixture. Set the mixture aside to thicken for 10 minutes.
  3. Partially thaw the frozen berries for 15 minutes in a colander. In the meantime, line a large loaf pan with cling wrap, pressing it well into the corners (wet the pan first to make the clingfilm stick).
  4. Spread 1/3 of the cream mixture on the bottom of the pan, then top with half of the berries. Now sprinkle with half of the biscuits, then top with another 1/3 of the cream mixture.
  5. Top with other half of berries, then with remaining biscuits, and then top with the last 1/3 of the cream mixture. Smooth top with a spatula then cover the top with a layer of cling wrap. Freeze for 6-7 hours, or preferably overnight.
  6. When ready to serve, peel off the top layer of clingwrap, then invert the pan on a chilled serving platter to unmould. Peel off the rest of the clingfilm, then top with the remaining berries and/or seasonal fruit. Dust with icing sugar, then take to the table immediately to slice and serve. Serve with berry coulis, if preferred.

 

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe.

Recipe: From the book “Scrumptious: Food for Family & Friends” by Jane-Anne Hobbs

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Nicola Pretorius

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Pavlova with pears, hazelnuts, orange and dark chocolate

17 Sep

I’m ready to shake off the last of Winter’s icy weather with a cross-over dessert: a pavlova with pears, hazelnuts, orange rind and a decadent dark chocolate sauce. This combination hints at some of Winter’s favourite food elements, but takes it to a completely new level with a light and fluffy meringue base that is usually associated with summer berries and al fresco dining.

The wonderful thing about this dessert is that you can make it any time of year – all the ingredients are usually handy on your pantry shelf! I’ve served it at the height of Summer as a Christmas lunch dessert, and also in the middle of Winter as a decadent ending to a hearty lamb potjie dinner. It’s a real crowd pleaser and a great alternative to the usual!

Tip: Bake the pavlova base the previous night, just before you go to bed. Then let it cool overnight in the oven without opening the door. Remove the next day and keep in an airtight container until just after your main meal (or cover carefully with a plastic bag). Top with cream and other toppings, then serve  immediately with extra sauce on the side.

Ingredients:

  • 6 x extra large egg whites
  • 500 g castor sugar (extra fine sugar)
  • 3 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence (or scraped seeds of a vanilla pod)
  • 250 ml cream, softly whipped
  • 1 can of pears in syrup, sliced into quarters (or poached pears in syrup)
  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 100 g hazelnuts, toasted in a dry pan and cooled
  • rind of half an orange, finely grated or scraped in thin strands
  • Method:
    1. Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
    2. Whisk egg whites in a big, clean bowl (with an electric whisk) until stiff peaks form.
    3. Gradually add castor sugar to egg whites, small amounts at a time, untill fully incorporated and the mixture is stiff and glossy.
    4. Add vinegar, cornstarch and vanilla and whisk until thoroughly mixed.
    5. On a big oven pan lined with baking paper, shape pavlova mixture into a round shape and flatten the top, very much like a cake (draw a circle on your baking paper if necessary). The mixture will rise a bit to the sides, so leave enough space.
    6. Bake in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes, then turn down heat to 120 degrees Celsius and bake for another hour.
    7. Turn oven off, and leave to cool overnight without opening the oven door.
    8. Remove pavlova from the oven the next morning, and keep in an airtight container until ready to use.
    9. Remove baking paper from bottom of pavlova and carefully put it on a serving dish (it will have a few cracks, but it is supposed to look like that!)
    10. Strain pears from syrup, and reserve 100 ml of syrup. Heat reserved syrup to boiling point, remove from heat, then pour over chocolate (broken into chunks) in another bowl. Leave to melt, then stir until smooth and cooled.
    11. Place pavlova on a serving dish. Cover with freshly whipped cream and arrange pears and hazelnuts on top. Sprinkle with orange rind, then drizzle with some chocolate sauce. Slice and serve immediately, with the rest of the sauce on the side.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox. Recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Nicola Pretorius

 

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Banana and vanilla cream eclairs with nutella

2 Apr

My ultimate banana eclair with vanilla cream and Nutella (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

Sometimes you need to throw caution to the wind. In food terms, that would mean: ignore the kilojoules, and go for pure pleasure. These long eclairs (or choux buns, as they are also referred to) are filled with slices of fresh banana and sweetened vanilla-pod cream, then topped with pure Nutella spread straight from the jar. It is the stuff childhood dreams are made of.

I am a huge fan of Limnos Bakers – a patisserie chain throughout the Cape Town Metropolitan area. They make one of the best (my favourite) banana eclairs ever: a long choux bun filled with banana mousse and fresh cream, topped with banana fondant. It is so delicious my mouth is watering as I’m typing.

Generally speaking, many people struggle to bake eclairs. Somehow, they have gained a reputation as a tricky customer. With a few handy tips, you won’t have to fear these beauties anymore:

  1. Don’t let the water and butter mixture boil before the butter has completely melted (otherwise the liquid will reduce).
  2. Always use large eggs at room temperature – not medium, not extra large, not jumbo.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, taking care to fully incorporate each one before adding the next.
  4. Don’t overbeat the mixture. Beat it until the eggs are fully incorporated and the mixture is just glossy.

I use the recipe for choux paste out of Larousse Gastronomique – my food bible. It is simple and classic.

Ingredients for choux paste: (makes about 40 small buns or 20 large buns)

  • 250 ml (1 cup) water
  • large pinch of salt
  • 2 t (10 ml) sugar
  • 65 g butter, cut into small pieces
  • 250 ml (125 g) flour
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature

Method:

  1. Add water, salt, sugar and butter to a small saucepan. Heat gently until the butter melts, then bring to the boil.
  2. As soon as the butter starts to boil, take the pan off the heat, then add the flour all at once and cook the paste until it thickens, stirring with a wooden spoon. It takes about a minute for the mixture to form a ball. Do not overcook the mixture or beat it too vigorously as it will become greasy.
  3. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time (do it by hand with a wooden spoon or with a stand mixer using the  beater attachment), continuing until each one is fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Use a piping bag to pipe long buns on a greased/lined baking sheet, leaving enough space between them for swelling. (or use a spoon to drop balls of paste on the baking sheet)
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 180 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes (smaller buns will only take 10-15 minutes). The buns should be golden brown.
  6. Transfer cooked choux pastries to a wire rack to cool and slit them open to allow steam to escape. This will allow the steam to escape, and keep them crisp on the outside while moist on the inside.

Fillings and toppings:

  • 250 ml cream
  • 2 t sugar
  • seeds of one vanilla pod
  • 3-4 fresh bananas, sliced lengthways
  • 1 jar of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread
  1. Whisk the cream with the vanilla and sugar untill stiff. Fill the pastries with a slice of banana and some vanilla cream.
  2. Heat the Nutella carefully in the microwave for a few seconds, untill slightly more runny and easier to spread. Be careful not to overheat, as it will split! It happened to me for this shoot! Don’t worry too much, you can add a little water at a time and stir the Nutella well to form a slightly more runny chocolate sauce, which also works well as a topping.

Sweet dreams everyone!

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Pictures: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

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Ultimate chicken liver pâté with brandy and cream

26 Mar

Smooth chicken liver paté with brandy, butter, cream and thyme (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

Liver is a strange subject: either you love it or you don’t. I love it, my husband doesn’t. My parents love it, my siblings don’t. My 1-year-old  daughter surprisingly loves it! (she’s always been an adventurous eater like her mom)

I remember the first time I ever ate liver was in 1995: a chicken liver starter on basmati rice at the legendary Rustic Café (now closed) in Stellenbosch. It was served in a rich, spicy gravy, and was so wonderfully comforting that I couldn’t get enough. I also loved the spicy chicken liver salad at Julian’s Coffee Shop (now called something else), back in the days when I was still waitressing there as a student. Wonderful pan-fried chicken livers in a spicy sauce served on fresh greens and tomatoes. I then tried to copy the sauce in my mom’s kitchen, using barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and lots of other household condiments, along with a touch of cream. It was marvellous.

Then I discovered the magic of liver pâté – my favourite being the wonderfully affordable chicken liver variety. So great for parties! I must mention though, that I once bought a glass jar of duck liver pâté from Cotage Fromage at Vrede en Lust Wine Estate in Simondium. It was the silkiest jar of buttery, sweet, rich pâté that I had ever tasted. I then learnt from the chef that liver pâté needs a LOT of butter to become really smooth and spreadable – up to 50% of the finished product! I don’t put that much butter in my chicken liver pâté, but don’t ever be afraid of adding more butter to yours!

This recipe contains all the great ingredients for a fabulous grown-up pâté: chicken livers, onions, garlic, butter, fresh thyme, cream and brandy. Use a stick blender or food processor to process it to a very smooth pulp, then refrigerate untill set. It is great on toasted ciabatta, and I can eat it morning, noon and night.

Tip: Don’t ever overcook the livers (for pâté) over too high heat – they shouldn’t brown, they should just change colour. Your finished pâté should still be a touch of pink!

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 500 g chicken livers (rinse and pat dry)
  • 90 g butter at room temperature
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 t chopped fresh thyme
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) brandy
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) cream
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. In a large frying pan, melt half the butter over medium heat. Add onion & garlic and cook over low heat until soft and transparent but not brown.
  2. Add livers and thyme, then stir over moderate heat untill they change colour. Add brandy and simmer for 2 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat.
  3. Place livers and liquid in a food processor and process untill smooth. Add other half of butter (at room temperature) and cream, season with salt and pepper, and process until just incorporated.
  4. Spoon into a glass jar or porcelain dish, smoothing the surface. Cover and refrigerate untill firm. Serve with toasted bread.

PS: If you want to keep the pâté for more than a day, pour clarified butter over the surface, then cover and refrigerate.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Pictures: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

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