I think my luck has changed back into the green! I won tickets to the Good Food and Wine Show (GFWS) thanks to @CapeArgus and Lance Witten for the headsup on his Twitter account.
A few years back I attended the event, I know it was fun because I cannot remember much due to the countless tastings we glugged down. This year however, I did not have the same experience maybe because I’m not 23 anymore? Here are my hits and misses of the event:
I got to meet Reza and take a picture, yes the Spice Prince of India! (I love his show).
Got some real schmancy looking wine glasses for R 150.00 which is a steal – retails for R 300.00.
Someone proposed on stage while J’Something was performing which was real sweet to watch.
Found Jack Parow’s own hand crafted brandy – and it was surprisingly good.
My ticket didn’t include a glass – ended up paying R 60.00, R 60.00! for one glass.
The glass included 7 “tasting coupons which really didn’t matter; the exhibitors didn’t want them or know about them?
The venue was packed, it was difficult to take pictures or walk around with a full glass of anything. This put us off from wanting to walk around or stand in line to try something new.
Maybe it was the time of day but the exhibitors weren’t the friendliest – could be fatigue?
Big wine farms weren’t on show i.e. Webersburg, Backsberg etc.
The GFWS was the same weekend as The Wacky Wine Festival – WHY!
In the end it was an experience even though I feel a bit disappointed in the event. I tried some interesting pestos and chilli sauces, there were plenty of food options – but carrying around so many items and trying to find a place to sit down and eat would of been a nightmare. I believe in second chances so will try again next year!
Trying to find time to blog has become tough… I recently got a puppy so my evenings are spent cleaning up, training and tummy rubs. I felt really bad about not posting anything for a while so made it my mission to visit this cake shop which I have been meaning to pop into for a really long time.
Today was the ultimate cheat day which started with a lamb burger special (a steal at R 45.00!) which totally rocked my world… but we not here for that.
I’m lucky to be working in the CBD so there are tons of great food places to check out and new ones popping up literally every day. I walked past The Velvet Cake Co a couple of months back and was genuinely intrigued by the décor; bright colours popping through the windows and picture perfect cupcakes eyeing you as you pass by.
After building the courage to go inside the shop and take pics (I still feel really awkward doing this) I ordered a sweetie pie cupcake for Claud which is a cupcake with marshmallow on the top, coated with chocolate on a chocolate cupcake base – can you say heaven? I ordered a vanilla caramel cupcake for myself which I probably devoured in 60 seconds flat. Eating this cupcake made my year fo sure, it was everything you want in a cupcake, melt-in-your-mouth buttercream, pillowy soft cupcake with caramel on the inside and sprinkles on the top! Wait, What?! DEAD DEAD DEAD – it was real good, you might think I’m over exaggerating but it was REALLY that good. Promise.
I got my colleague a red velvet meringue cupcake which he tore apart in 10 seconds and ended up with meringue on his cheeks, pity I didn’t get a pic of that J
If you ever looking for THE BEST cake for a birthday party, special event or simply cause YOLO I would give these guys a try… Check their website, these master pieces are worth every cent!
Helooooooooooooooo!! It feels like it’s been a while but it really hasn’t been thaaaat long. Friday is my FAVORITE day of the week so Friday past, after work and some red wine I decided to make chocolate chip cookies for the week ahead.
I bought the chocolate chips quite a while back as I had this idea in mind for a while. I’m not a GREAT lover of biscuits, just feels like so much work – hard on the teeth. Cookies are different to biscuits as they are softer in texture .
1 cup butter, melted and cooled
1¼ cups light brown sugar
¾ cup castor sugar
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt
Mix together flour, salt and baking soda – set aside.
Combine the brown sugar and icing sugar in another bowl, make sure all the lumps are broken up. Add the melted butter and whisk vigorously.
Add the first egg to the sugar & butter mixture and mix thoroughly, add vanilla essence, whisk again then finally add the 2nd egg and whisk thoroughly.
Add the dry ingredients to this sugar – butter –egg mixture and mix well. There should be no traces of the dry ingredients in the mixture.
Once thoroughly mixed add the chocolate chips and mix well to ensure the chocolate chips are evenly spread.
The batter is quite wet – don’t worry
Allow it to set in the fridge for about 10 minutes or as long as you can, overnight even.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees
Line a baking tray with parchment paper (whatever that is! I used wax paper and sprayed some cooking spray on it and it worked fine)
After your batter has rested in the fridge the ideal tool to use is an ice cream scoop to scoop individual portions on the baking tray and sprinkle a tiny amount of flaky sea salt on the top.
I know it seems big / high but it works as the cookies flatten while baking.
Don’t add too many portions on the tray as the biscuits do expand while baking – I made about 6 at a time.
Bake for 10 – 15 mins –watch them! Once you get a golden top and the edges are baked – they will be done.
My 1st attempt was a FAIL!
2nd attempt my friend suggested I make them smaller as I was using 2 tablespoons to sort of get the ice cream scoop look. This worked but the bottoms were burnt
My oven gave me A LOT of grief, the top element was NOT on when doing an inspection after attempt 1 so I fiddled with the heat and the settings – my third attempt was a success 😀
The cookies tasted amazing even though Claud called it “vetkoek biscuits”
It is important to let the cookies rest for about 5 minutes once you remove them from the oven as it comes off the wax / parchment paper MUCH easier – learnt this on the second attempt.
What I learnt –
Maybe don’t have too much red wine
Know your oven – the temperature of recipes especially when baking plays a big role
Use decent chocolate chips – Woolworths has the good, melt in your mouth kind
With the evenings being soooo cold I thought this would be a good time to try out this tomatoe and red pepper soup. It’s really soooo cold at night I even went to bed with my coat on! I started this soup on Sunday afternoon as I need good light while using my phone to take half decent pictures. We were then invited to a braai so had to put the cooking on hold, hence the end result pic looking a bit blegh as it was dark…
As with my last post; there are 3 elements to this soup – basil pesto, the soup, croutons. (I am trying to impress you guys 🙂 ) We’ll start with the pesto:
250 grams basil leaves – I used 4 packs from Checkers which is not 250 grams but ah well it worked
2 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons pine nuts – I used cashew nuts – Woolies let me down, well actually poor planning did. Pine nuts are also very expensive about R 90.00 a small pack. The cashew nuts worked very nicely also.
5 tablespoons Parmesan cheese – also quite pricey but really makes a big difference and I still have a lot of the cheese left.
120 ml Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1 x chilli (optional)
These ingredients are a bit expensive but its really worth it as you get about 3 – 4 jars of pesto from this recipe. You would normally buy the ready made pesto for about R 50.00 for a good ish brand. I wont hate if you bought the ready made pesto, its really no biggie. (but still, homemade is life)
Method for the Basil Pesto:
In a food processor add the basil, garlic, nuts, cheese, salt, pepper, chilli and blitz. While the food processor is running add the olive oil until it forms a paste – pesto – like consistency.
Once done decant into a jar and store in the fridge. You can use the pesto as a side with literally everything, its sooooo gooood!
We will now move on to the soup. I suppose to save time you can first put the veggies in the oven and then make the pesto.
Ingredients for the soup:
Approx 6 large tomatoes
3 red peppers
4 garlic cloves
Salt and Pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
600 ml vegetable stock
1 teaspoon sugar
30 grams butter
3 tablespoons flour
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Cream – optional
Method for the soup:
Preheat the oven to 180°. Cut the tomatoes and peppers roughly and place in a roasting dish along with the garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle generously with olive oil and roast for about 40 mins. Once done allow to cool and remove the skins of the tomatoes and peppers – it comes off quite easily.
Dice the onion and saute in a large pot with a little olive oil until the onions are soft, add the cayenne pepper and paprika until fragrant – about 30 seconds. You will then add the tomatoes, red peppers and garlic from the roasting dish along with the vegetable stock and sugar.
Melt the butter in the microwave and once melted add the flour and mix until a paste forms. Stir the paste into the soup – this will give your soup a nice texture. Once all is done use a stick blender or transfer to a blender to iron out all the big bits.
Once done, place on heat again and once the soup boils add the lemon juice and remove from heat. At this point I added fresh cream simply to add a touch of richness but its really not needed as the basil pesto does that anyway. Season with salt and pepper the way you like it.
Lastly; the croutons – all you need is canola oil, a baguette or any bread really, salt and pepper.
Cut / tear the bread into pieces – crouton size pieces.
Heat the oil, use one piece of bread to check if the oil is hot enough. The bread should sizzle once it touches the oil. Fry the bread pieces until crispy and once done place on a paper towel to drain excess oil – season with salt and pepper
To serve; dish soup into a bowl, add a dollop of pesto in the middle and scatter with croutons. Dinner is served 😀
Sundays are usually set aside for chilling HARD, eating LOADS and also mostly recovering from Friday and Saturday night. While watching the regular show (its really everything!) my partner suggested I make chocolate eclairs – his childhood fav. Now his mother is a master baker so the pressure was ON.
I’ve attempted making bread dough before -epic fail! But learnt that when making pastry even when its gooey and looks like a sticky situation you never getting out of – simply persevere and knead that dough girl.
Now he knows I’m only an amateur cook but also knows that for anything to work you gotta be consistent so here goes…
There are 3 elements to these eclairs namely; the custard (yes we will be making this from scratch just to be classy AF), the choux pastry and the ganache – which is the same as my previous post Dark chocolate ganache cake
For the custard –
1 cup milk (full cream)
2/3 cup heavy / double cream – I used whipping cream and this worked fine
1/2 cup sugar
A pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup of flour
For the choux pastry –
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup flour
For the Ganache –
Dark / Milk chocolate drops or chips
For the ganache you simply heat the cream, pour over the chocolate and whisk until its all silky and beautiful.
First we will make the custard, you need to prepare this quite well in advance about 2 – 4 hours or overnight. I did not do this and it worked out OK but I can see how the custard developed hour after hour.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, salt and sugar until completely combined. Add flour, whisk well and set aside, at this point you can start heating the milk, cream, butter and vanilla essence. Once the mixture starts to simmer slowly add it to the egg yolk mixture, whisking slowly and continuously.
Once all the mixture is added, transfer back to the heat and continue to stir. The mixture will start to thicken and once thick enough – see pic (that’s the consistency I went for) set aside. Once cooled transfer to the fridge in a container with a lid.
Now we move to the choux pastry – don’t be alarmed I was quite nervous attempting this but it was easy – get your dad or someone to assist – you will need some muscle.
Preheat the oven to 190 °C, line a baking tray with wax paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray – set aside.
In a small pot on a medium – ish heat add the water, butter, sugar and vanilla and stir with a wooden spoon ( i don’t know why a wooden spoon is used but almost all recipes say to use one) until all is combined and melted.
Add the flour to the mixture and stir until the ingredients become one – almost like play dough and no longer sticks to the pot. Once you get this consistency you can transfer the dough to another bowl.
We will now add the eggs one at a time to the dough – it is a tough job as once each egg is combined the dough is quite stiff, luckily I had a muscl-ey assistant 🙂 Each time you add an egg the mixture is almost slippery and once the egg is combined the mixture is stiff so that’s how I knew when to add the next egg.
OK – well done!!! We made choux pastry!!! Now if you have a piping bag, transfer the dough to the bag. I didn’t have a piping bag (getting there) so used an oven roasting bag and cut the tip off on one end.
So, as you know my blog is not about perfection, its about FIRST tries and please hold your laugh at the size of my first batch of eclairs which you will see further down. From this experience I learnt to make them quite high and wide to get the best size for filling with the custard. I thought I was making them big enough initially but clearly…
My FIRST batch –
They were a bit burnt at the bottom but its didn’t affect the taste, coz the custard is sooo delish. I think its because 190 degrees is too hot, my bf reminded me I don’t have a Smeg oven so adjust accordingly. For the second batch i started on 190 degrees and ended on 150 degrees.
I couldn’t cut them open and fill with the custard, if I had a little syringe or piping bag I could’ve stuffed them with custard. We ended up eating two on top of each other with custard in between 😀
While the pastries are cooling down you can start with the ganache. Once cooled you then dip the tops of the pastries in the chocolate and leave them to harden, or don’t wait and dig in immediately!
Second batch – piped these higher, longer and thicker, hence the choux on steriods look
This recipe was scary at first but really fun to make in the end, lots of laughs which is always a plus. I hope you guys enjoy this and let me know if you try it yourself 🙂