Tag Archives: cream

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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I love “pampoentert” (pumpkin tart)

12 Apr

I love pumpkin fritters. In Afrikaans we call it “pampoenkoekies”: those little round yellow pan-fried bundles of joy topped with cinnamon sugar. It just sounds much nicer in Afrikaans. It is one of those winter side dishes that makes us love cold weather and the comfort food that comes with it.

So if you love pampoenkoekies, you’ll also love their big brother, the mighty “pampoentert” (pumpkin tart). It is a baked side dish, made with cooked pumpkin. And I am telling you, this thing is so addictive you will even trick the most non-vegetable-eating child into eating seconds. […]

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Easy peasy pavlova that’ll impress your guests

21 Mar

Pavlova with blueberries, raspberries and cream

Pavlova must be one of the most beautiful desserts in the world. The fantastic thing is that it’s dead easy to make, and it never seizes to impress my guests.

It is best to make it the night before, and just quickly assembly it when it is time for dessert. Then it only takes a minute to whip the cream and arrange the fruit. Anyone can do it!

Always pick fruit that is in season, that way your pavlova will be more economical and it will look sensational. A firm favourite is to use strawberries, but other fruit like blueberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, gooseberries, pomegranates, kiwi’s, black and green seedless grapes, diced mango, sliced banana and granadilla pulp make beautiful colourful pavlova toppings. You can also use nuts like flaked almonds to make it extra special, and dust the final product with icing sugar.

Here’s how I make a really easy pavlova that has a puffy soft centre, but a delicately crispy outside layer, topped with whipped cream and fruit.

Ingredients:

  • 6 x extra large egg whites
  • 500 g castor sugar
  • 3 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 250 ml cream, whipped untill just stiff (not too stiff)
  • roughly 2 handfuls of seasonal fruit
  • 50 ml berry coulis (or make your own by whizzing 2 tablespoons fruit with 1 tablespoon icing sugar)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
  2. Whisk egg whites in a big, clean bowl (with an electric whisk) untill 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 untill 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 untill 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. Cover with freshly whipped cream and arrange fruit on top of cream.
  11. Drizzle with berry coulis and sprinkle with nuts or dust with icing sugar.
  12. Slice and serve immediately! (the cream and fruit will make the meringue base soggy over time)

Tip: Another option would be to cover the pavlova with a mixture of fresh whipped cream (250 ml) and double cream Greek yoghurt (250 ml). Then cover with sliced fresh figs, chopped mixed nuts, and drizzle with honey. Sublime when in season!

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Summer sunshine fridge tart

14 Mar

My Mother makes a cottage cheese fridge tart that I absolutely cannot resist. She makes it for all special occasions, and always have it ready in the fridge when we visit them in Keurboomstrand.

I recently copied her handwritten recipe into my recipe book. It is fool-proof, really easy, and contains all the good stuff for a great fridge tart: smooth cottage cheese, condensed milk, lemon juice and cream. The special touch is the topping, which is a golden orange & passion fruit syrup which gets thickened with custard powder, and totally looks like a summery sunshine celebration! […]

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Classic chocolate mousse

7 Mar

I have a confession to make. After my blog post on tiramisu last week, where I mentioned what a sucker I am for mousse desserts, I talked myself into such a craving that I couldn’t think of anything else. I had created a monster.

Chocolate mousse originated in France in the 18th century. Bless the soul of the person who invented such a treat! There are few things in life as delectable as proper chocolate mousse. Most people prefer it in small quantities, because of its richness. I don’t share their sentiments. I can finish a whole batch of chocolate mousse in one sitting. In fact, I have to restrain myself not to. […]

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