Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Flapjacks & The Green Pan - Recipe & Review

I was never built to be a full time slave. I run out of steam way to quickly and concentration is not my strong suit. So when I was given the opportunity to work at a job which kept me busy for only 5 hours out of the day I was ready and waiting. Of course a full time job pays better and longer hours at the office mean less chance for me to spend money but it also means spending every hour after lunchtime wishing I was home or finding way to keep my eyelids from shutting on me. 

The other problem with being stuck at an office is following people on twitter who do things like go out for lunches or, as @rethavs did today, make yummy things for lunch. Then you are stuck staring at pictures, coming up with escape schemes until it's time to go home and by then all your energy is sapped and you make hot dogs for supper or go out instead. 
I was already home when the offending image was posted onto twitter and decided that this would be the perfect time to do a long overdue test of my Green Pan. 

Everyone who has ever made flapjacks or their daintier cousins know that these are some seriously sticky things before they are cooked. If you don't get the right amount of oil in their you don't get a good result. Too much and they soak it all up, too little and you'll be scraping your pan for days. So what better way to test this seemingly amazing pan? I used no oil, butter, grease, spray&cook, suntan lotion or any other kind of lubricant, just the pan...face to face with the sticky and delicious flapjack batter. 

The result? Perfect flapjacks! I will admit now that this is not the first time the pan was used, it gets used often for scrambled eggs and omelettes, so this was not just because it's brand new. As for the flapjacks, this recipe is a keeper.

(Adapted from cookbook.co.za's recipe)
What you need:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch salt (about 1/4 teaspoon)
1 1/4 cups milk
2 jumbo eggs 
2 teaspoon of vanilla extract1/4 cup melted butter
What to do:
Sift or whisk dry ingredients together. Add the milk and mix well. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well between each addition. Add the vanilla extract. Lastly whisk in the melted butter. Heat the pan on a medium heat and pour on a measure of the batter (all depends how big or small you want the flapjack to be) and cook on one side till bubbles form, pop and don't refill with batter. Flip over and cook till golden brown underneath. Serve warm with anything you like. mmm Nutella.

Disclaimer: The Green Pan was a prize I received at the Food Blogger's Indaba but my review is honest and nothing was left out

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Caramel Bread

TheHusbands brother loves to cook. So when we're up for a visit I try and see where his interest lie and how well he executes them. So far I have seen him do 2 things. 1) Wreck a really good piece of meat and 2) Caramel Bread.

His way: Buy bread dough from the grocery store, make little balls, place in a baking tin and cover with Caramel Sugar and Cream. Leave to rise then bake.

This is the way I have been doing it. It's one of those dessert you can whip up real quick, everyone loves it and there is only 1 dirty dish (and sometimes a dirty drip tray if I underestimate how much it bubbles over)

It really is a self saucing dessert. The caramel sugar melts into the cream and soaks into the dough as it bakes. If you put in enough cream (and it doesn't all boil over onto your drip tray) there will be some caramel sauce left over too.

So the other day, while cooking up a cottage pie I sat waiting for the bing of my oven timer and realised "I need dessert!". How could I have people over for supper and not give them something sweet to end with? Caramel bread came to mind. Smells great, tastes delicious, minimum effort. I checked my watch, 17:00, there would be no way that PnP would still have raw dough for sale.

This lead me a to google search for a simple white bread recipe and I stumbled on this recipe. Checked my pantry (cupboard), checked the fridge, inspected my counter and found everything except bread flour. So did I give up? No! See I am a cook not a baker so I have no regard for exact ingredients...pffft. I used cake flour instead. I can tell you that on this one occasion my contempt for recipes paid off well (nothing exploded either, bonus!)

What you need:
1 cup milk
2 tbs butter
1 1/2 cup warm water
2 packets dry yeast
2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
6/7 cups flour (use bread if you have it, cake if you don't)
1 cup cream (or more if you have a deep enough dish)
1 cup caramel sugar

What to do:
Melt the butter in the milk in a saucepan on a low heat. Once melted put aside to cool. Mix the yeast and 1/2 cup of warm water together and put aside too. In a large bowl mix together the sugar, salt and water together. Once cooled add the milk and butter mixture. Make sure the mixture is not too warm before adding the yeast mixture, you don't want to kill the yeast. Mix the flour in one cup at a time until you get a nice smooth and slightly sticky dough, not too sticky though. Kneed it and then pop it into a well oiled bowl, flip it over so that the dough is coated in oil and then cover and leave to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size. Knock it down and leave it for another 30 minutes. Greece a baking tin of your choice and and make balls of dough. The size is your choice depending on the baking tin you use but the balls are important. Sprinkle the caramel sugar over everthing keeps a little aside to sprinkle ontop. Pour the cream over. Cover and let rise for at least 20 more minutes. Before popping it into the oven at 180°C sprinkle the rest of the sugar on top. Bake until golden brown and serve warm. 
Can also be served the next day with some extra caramel sauce and a cup of coffee

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Homemade Lux - A father's post for father's day

When you say "midlife crisis" you immediately think of balding men with hairy chests sporting gold chains, luxury cars and models on their arms. In my world, my dad's midlife crisis has been nothing short of delicious. It started a simply with an interest in creating labaneh like we had had in Israel and progressed...um....naturally into sausages, so that he could make my mom's favourite salami but without pork and from there the very natural step towards smoking.

In the beginning it went slowly slowly as he learned things from YouTube and the internet and then came The Food Network, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and suddenly we had BBQ sauces and dry rubs and all this led him to this forum, and all smokin' hell broke loose. If it could be smoked it was and trust me in their world, everything was fair game until proven otherwise and my dad took to it like a witch...er...duck to water. 

So I decided to introduce you lot to my dad through one of his posts (He is so cute when he photographs his food that I am not even slightly annoyed but very amused by the fact that he is now doing exactly what he used to tease me for doing) Here he is Ladies and Gentleman (please excuse his English, it is his 3rd language after all):

First the results (sorry could not help my self)

it was Wednesday  i could not take it any more...so i got a whole salmon i  fillet it and remove the bones.trimmed the belly and the side off the fish (don't throw )
In a cure  it go's(i love dill and pepper so i add in)  for 48 hours  then to ice bath 90 minutes
and to the frig for 36 hours.


It takes looooong time so we will do the cream cheese for the sandwich

you know the Pieces thet i trimmed i smoked it  in a aluminum pen for 3 hours  mix it with salt,pepper and
butter and i got a yummmmy spread.
OK it is ready now  in to the smoker it gos for 4 hours cold smoke
Now for the long 4 hours ............................................................................ OK it is finish


Yummmy Thanks AL

Al is SmokinAl, one of his forum buddies. You can find my dad and all his posts as africanmeat

Friday, June 10, 2011

Planet restaurant - out of this world (what can I say, queen of cheese)

All images courtesy of Mount Nelson Hotel

Lets for a moment talk "Portion size". When were you last at a place where the portions were just right? Where you could comfortably make your way through three courses without feeling the need to deflate at the end? I can tell you that that was a small but very important part of what made my dinner at Planet so wonderful, but I am skipping ahead to the end and that's not fair for anyone. Especially not you.

It starts with having a brilliant sister, who wows enough staff members into giving her a well-deserved "You make a difference" award, the "Employee of the month" accolade at The Mount Nelson Hotel. The next step for this is a plan for two sisters, whose relationship is a lot like dark chocolate: on a good day smooth and rich and on other days a little too bitter. With age the palette matures and dark chocolate becomes more of a pleasure than anything else. Days like those lead to plans like these. Both on the same page, equally in need of some comfort and pampering, we decided to use The Sister's reward of a "A night at the Nellie".

Luxury in the bedroom, luxury in the bathroom and to crown the whole occasion, luxury on the tongue as we headed downstairs for dinner at the Planet. A short wait for the rest of the guests, Mr Entertainment, Mr Fabulous and Ms Chatty, in Planet Bar with my virgin cocktail and some yummy nibbly things (oh, the maturity in my words often pains me). Final guest arrives and we wonder off down the passage of mirrors, star signs twinkling in the background as Mr Entertainment declares "That's my star-sign!" "You're Aries?" "No! Tauro" and with that the tone was set for the night

Champagne was served (a nice vintage of Appletiser for me) and a beautiful little plate of amuse-bouche delights was placed on the table. Tiny tastes from popovers to springrolls and our tastebuds were jerking the reins to get going. Looking through the menu only served to send their nostrils flaring as we diligently chose a range of dishes so that allowed us to taste as much of the menu as possible. I was intrigued and delighted to see an entirely vegan journey option as well as many vegan dishes to chose from. It's not often that fine dining and ethical eating meet in such spectacular ways.

From terrines to salads everybody shared, well except for The Sister, who held on tight to her collection of bite size morsels each one with salmon as their star ingredients. The brightest star in the starters was most definitely the crumbed and feta stuffed pepperdews that came with the smoked crocodile salad. My choice, the lentil salad, was surprisingly light and very refreshing. For a legume known for it's meatiness the salad turned out to be the perfect prelude to my main.

There too, with Liezl expertly guiding our galloping tastebuds in the right direction, we each picked a dish we could share. Blown away by the presentation and care that was taken to make each dish not only beautiful to the eye but colourful on the tongue. We were delighted by the potato foam served with the fillet, a cloud of comfort, tasting like home but with the texture of heaven. My star for this course had to be my very own kudu pie, how such a petite parcel could carry so much flavour without exploding was beyond comprehension. My kudu steak, butternut mash and the bean salad that came with it all served only to make the dish even brighter.

On to dessert and on most occasions this is the point where the tastebuds have come to a comfortable trot, the sky-carriage heavy from over indulgence, slowing down to an almost intangible pace. Not this time, flanks glistening from excitement at the thought of more delights in store, decision time came again and this time the good of the group was forgotten. The favourite pretasting was "The Nutty one" but having had it at Taste of Cape Town I was too curious, too intrigued by all the creatively named dessert on the menu to have the same thing again and so "Chocolate..." and it's description (chocolate souffle, chocolate mouse, salted caramel, chocolate bellinis...) won me over. The star, however, in this galaxy was by far The Sister's choice "Whiter shades of pale" Meringue, white chocolate, heaven, cream, magic...all on one plate.

Good chats, raucous laughter and great company were our companions on this journey, friendly and attentive service our guides and every moment was savoured and enjoyed. 
The winter menu has now been launched, with the dishes I described saying farewell as the seasons change and with them the produce changes only to be replaced by what I can only believe will be equally inspiring dishes. 

At R300 pp for a 6 course Journey menu, it is really worth every penny, the only part you will be disappointed by is, that at some point, you will have to land.