Posted in Good Food, Recipe, Sweets

Pancakes stuffed with Figs & Sweet Dukka

In South Africa pancake is sort of a national delicacy which most moms only bake in winter. I remember how many churches, schools and community centres were built on the back of the funds that was raised by the dozens of moms and sometimes dads, baking millions of pancakes one after the other, delicately sprinkled with a balanced mix of cinnamon and sugar. What I loved most about these fundraising fêtes was the sense of community and the show of solidarity under the townsfolk. Pancakes still remain one of my favourites and I thought why not elevate the humble pancake to a more glamorous dessert and here is my recipe for pancakes filled with brandied dry figs, sprinkled with sweet dukka and a generous helping of  a good vanilla ice cream.

Note: Crêpes, the french version of a pancake, is a much thinner pancake and it is not flipped. Pancakes is a little thicker and needs to be flipped to bake both sides.

For the Figs:

  • 250g soft dried figs
  • 125ml Demerara Sugar
  • 500ml Water + extra
  • 125ml Brandy
  • Rind of one orange

For the Sweet Dukka:

  • 150g Caramelised Peanuts
  • 150g Sesame Seeds – Toasted
  • 80g Flaked Almonds – Toasted
  • 100g Coconut desiccated – Toasted
  • 30g Poppy Seeds
  • 100g Demerara Sugar
  • 5ml Fine Ginger
  • 15ml Fine Cinnamon
  • 5ml Mixed Spice
  • 10ml Caraway Seeds – Toasted

For the Pancakes: (6-8 pancakes)

  • 250ml Flour
  • 1ml Baking Powder
  • 2ml Salt
  • 250ml Water
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2ml Lemon Juice
  • 5ml Vegetable Oil + more for baking

Method:

Figs: You need to make this at least a day in advance. Place all the ingredients, except the brandy, for the figs in a large pot, bring to the boil, once it has started to boil, immediately turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperate and give the figs time to rehydrate again. Add more water if the figs soaked up too much of the syrup, usually just about 100ml more. After about soaking for 8 hours, put back on the heat, bring to the boil and allow the syrup to reduce with about 30%. Allow to cool a little, then add brandy and place in sterilised bottles for later use. Keep any leftover syrup as well.

Sweet Dukka: Put all the ingredients into a food processor and process on high-speed for about 2-3 minutes or until all the nuts and seeds resembles a coarse salt like texture. Store in an airtight container for later use. This is a large recipe, what remains can be sprinkled over oats porridge in the mornings or sprinkle it over ice cream for a lovely treat for the children.

Pancakes: Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well until the batter looks smooth and silky. Allow to rest in the fridge for at least an hour, but I have found a 4 – 8 hour rest is actually better. I usually triple the recipe as a rule the first pancake should always be a flop and remember you need a hot pan for these, a cold pan will result in a stodgy oil soaked pancake.

To Assemble:

  1. Bake your pancakes and keep them covered in a very low oven (60°C) to keep them warm until needed. Each pancake is about 80 – 100ml of the batter.
  2. Place a few figs into each pancake, you’ll need to put them off centre towards one side and then roll them up.
  3. Place two pancakes on a plate, place a scoop of good vanilla ice cream on top, sprinkle liberally with the sweet dukka and drizzle each pancake with some of the fig syrup.
  4. Serve immediately with a glass of port.

Enjoy and have fun with it. If you just want to do pancakes sprinkles with cinnamon sugar, then mix 200g white sugar with 12ml cinnamon powder and sprinkle each pancake with the cinnamon sugar while they are still hot out of the pan.

Posted in Good Food, Recipe, Sweets

Madeira Cake Bread & Butter Pudding with Rooibos Tea Custard

In my search for many great recipes in my mom’s black recipe book when she visited in April was a rediscovery of an old favourite of ours, Bread and Butter Pudding made with Madeira cake. At age 42 I am still a sucker for a great Madeira cake and my mom used to bake them the best with a light lemon syrup that will drench the cake and make it soft and very moist. Left over of the cake was then used to bake Bread and Butter Pudding. I have slightly adapted the recipe a little and instead of using leftovers, I have added some flair for a very attractive remake of an old favourite. If you don’t have time to bake your own Madeira cake, then buy the Woolworths one, it is the closest to the one my mom used to make for us. I added a little South African touch with the Rooibos Tea custard – my grandmother used to slow cook rooibos tea leaves in milk on the stove for us in winter with a spoonful of honey added to it. My mom used raisins, I decided to replace the raisins with cranberries and for an extra South African flavour I added moskonfyt (grape must jam). Make the Madeira cake early in the week to allow it to become a little older or if you buy it, buy it at least three days before you actually going to make the pudding.

For the Madeira Cake:

  • 350g Unsalted Butter, soft and at room temperature
  • 350g Caster Sugar
  • 350g Self Raising Flour
  • 175g Plain Flour
  • 6 Large Eggs, at room temperature

For the syrup:

  • 125ml water
  • zest of one lemon
  • 80ml sugar

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Grease and line the cake tin (pan) with baking parchment. Place a bowl of hot water on the bottom between the element of your stove.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light, fluffy and pale. Sift the flours together in a separate bowl.
  3. Beat the eggs into the creamed mixture, one at a time, following each with a spoonful of flour, to prevent the mixture curdling.
  4. Sift the remaining flour into the creamed mixture and fold in carefully with a spatula.
  5. Transfer to the lined bakeware and bake. I baked mine with the thermofan off. When the cake is ready it will be well risen, firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean.
  6. While the cake bake, make the syrup by combining all the ingredients for the syrup in a stock pot, bring to the boil and reduce by 30%.
  7. When the cake comes out of the oven, pour the hot syrup slowly of the cake. Allow the cake to cool then, leaving the lining paper on, wrap the cake in foil or place in an airtight container for at least 12 hours before cutting, to allow the cake to settle.
  8. This recipe makes one 20cm long cake, you’ll need two for 6-8 puddings.

For the Pudding:

  • Two 20cm Madeira cake
  • 100g Demerara Sugar
  • 150g Soft unsalted butter
  • 150g Soft Cranberries
  • 180ml Moskonfyt

For the Custard:

  • 300ml Full Cream Milk
  • 125ml Cream
  • 20ml Rooibos Tea leaves (not the bags)
  • 80ml Moskonfyt
  • 3 Jumbo Eggs

Method:

  1. Start by making the milk tea, put the milk, rooibos tea leaves in a sauce pan and simmer for about 10 minutes on a very low heat to allow the tea to steep. If you use bags, remove the leaves from the bags. Once steeped, strain and add the moskonfyt and stir until resolved, then add the cold cream and stir well, allow to cool slighty while you prepare the rest of the pudding.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.
  3. Slice the Madeira cake length wise in 1cm thick slices and using a cookie press the size of your ramekins, press two rounds for each ramekin. Butter each round well on both sides.
  4. Butter each ramekin well, put a teaspoon of Demerara sugar in each and roll around until the sides are covered. Safe the excess sugar for later.
  5. Start by placing one madeira round in each ramekin, then divide the cranberries between your ramekins.
  6. Drizzle each round with 30ml Moskonfyt.
  7. Place the second round on top of the cranberries and moskonfyt and press down a little.
  8. Your milk mixture should be cooled down by now, whisk the 3 eggs in and pour about 80-100ml of the custard into each ramekin, depending on your ramekin size.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining Demerara sugar on top and bake in the oven for about 40-45minutes until golden brown and the custard is set.
  10. Serve hot out of the oven with clotted cream or a good vanilla ice cream.

You can also make them well in advanced and just reheat them about 20 minutes before serving them in the oven at 140°C. Enjoy and this recipe makes enough for 6 large ramekin or 8 medium sized ramekins.

Posted in Good Food, Recipe

Shortcut Asian Tuna & Shrimp Soup

I love winter and I adore a good bowl of well made soup, and usually I am more than patient and willing to do all the hard work in making a good stock as the basis of the soup and then to allow the soup to gently simmer away for 3-4 hours. However, when I am just too busy and over my head with work, I love making this under 20 minute Asian inspired and styled broth-soup and it is usually also dependent on me finding some fresh tuna at the Woolworths in Brooklyn. It is light, delicious and packs a lot of flavour, leaving you very satisfied and wanting a second bowl. For a cheaper version you can replace the tuna with a piece of smoked chicken and for a child friendly soup leave out the chillies.

Ingredients:

  • 300g shrimp, steamed (that;s about 4-5 shrimps per plate)
  • 4 x 80g Tuna steaks, lightly seasoned with salt and black pepper
  • 30ml peanut oil
  • A good handful of watercress leaves
  • 200g Enoki Mushrooms lightly fried in pan with a little oil
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Noodles of your choice

For broth:

  • 1.2L chicken stock (I use Knorr Stock Pot tubs, they’re magnificent, use two on 1.2L of water)
  • 10cm piece of lemongrass, crushed with a meat hammer
  • 1 Small chilli
  • 1 garlic glove crushed
  • 1 Thumb size piece of fresh ginger – finely sliced
  • 30ml light soya sauce
  • Juice of 2 limes (small) or 1 lemon
  • 2 Spring onions – julienned

Method:

  • In a large stock pot add all the ingredients for the broth – except the spring onions. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5-10 minutes allowing all the flavours to infuse. Set aside.
  • In another pot, bring about 1.5L of water to the boil and add the noodles of your choice. Remove from heat and allow to sit in the  hot water while you prepare the rest of the meal.
  • In a steamer, steam shrimp, this will take less about a minute, remove from the steamer and set aside.
  • Heat a griddle or normal pan until smoking hot, add the peanut oil and sear the tuna steaks for about 30-40 seconds on each side, depending on the thickness of your steaks.

 To serve:

  • Place a spoonful of the noodles in the centre of your plate, sprinkle some of the shrimp around and place the piece of tuna on the noodles.
  • Add a good spoonful of the enoki mushrooms on top of each tuna steak, add a few julienned spring onions and sprinkle with some sesame seeds.
  • Add about 250ml of the broth to each plate and scatter some of the watercress around the plate.
  • Serve immediately as hot as you can.

I like to serve this as a light starter before a hearty main course or served as a main you may want to add a piece of bread, try sourdough with, it works beautifully. Enjoy and have fun with this recipe from Taste Café!

Posted in Best Find, Good Food

Best Food Find – Limes

A few years ago two of my very good foodie friends each planted a lime tree and so started the wait for these amazing limes to appear, but to our great disappointment for the first three years either tree produced any fruit. This year, suddenly there is an explosion of fruit on both trees and I am very happy to be on the receiving end of bags of fresh and organic limes this season.

I adore this small, green citrus fruit, which is a staple of Asian cuisine and is used mainly for its juice, although lime zest and leaves are also used in cooking. It has a stronger, more bitter taste than lemon. The juice can be squeezed into cocktails or sprinkled over finished dishes to enhance their flavour; it effectively ‘cooks’ raw fish in a ceviche.

Probably the most tart of fruits, limes, like lemons are rarely eaten alone. But their tart juice adds life to everything from salads to pies. This gives them carte blanche by perking up all the freshness and goodness of your dishes. And as they are very low in calories, they are the perfect accompaniment on your new diet!

Selection and Storage

Look for firm, unblemished fruit that’s heavy for its size – an indicator of juiciness. Thin-skinned fruit yield the most juice. Refrigerated, they keep for a month or two. Unlike lemons that can be kept at room temperature, limes prefer to be refrigerated. The key lime – of pie fame – packs much more flavour than other lime varieties because of its greater acidity. Key limes are small and round; other varieties look more like green lemons. Limes typically turn yellowish as they ripen. When you select your limes, go for the greenest ones as they have the best flavour.

Preparation and Serving Tips

To get more juice from a lemon or lime, bring it to room temperature, and then roll it back and forth under the palm of your hand before you cut and squeeze it. The most flavourful part of the fruit is its “zest,” or skin. Scrape it off with a grater, knife, or zester, and use it to enhance desserts and fruit salads. A twist of lemon adds zing to fish and to bean dishes, drastically reducing the amount of salt typically used to flavour beans.

One of the most refreshing drinks on a hot day is Salted Lime & Soda, which I learned to drink on my three trips to India since 2005.  And here is my very easy recipe for this great drink:

Per glass of 300ml you’ll need:

  • Juice of two limes
  • ½ teaspoon of organic sea salt
  • 250ml chilled soda water
  • A slice of lime for decoration

To make:

Simply squeeze the juice of the limes into your glass, add the salt and mix until the salt has dissolved. Slowly add the soda water and serve immediately with a thin slice of lime. For a more adult version add a splash of vodka, it makes for a refreshing drink!

Benefits of Lime

The first fruit that comes to our minds when it comes to medicinal uses is perhaps the good old lime. This sour citrus fruit can do what many specialist medicines cannot. Lime, bearing the scientific name Citrus Aurantifolia, is being used for ages for treatment of various ailments.

The health benefits of lime include weight loss, skin care, good digestion, relief from constipation, eye care, and treatment of scurvy, piles, peptic ulcer, respiratory disorders, gout, and urinary disorders. If you suffer from heartburn, try the juice of one lime every morning in a glass of luke warm water.

Lime is consumed throughout the world in sorbets, beverages, refreshing drinks, pickles, jams, jellies, snacks, candies, sugar boiled confectionaries and culinary and the oil extracted from its peel or skin is extensively used in soft drink concentrates, body oils, cosmetics, hair oils, tooth pastes, toilet and beauty soaps, disinfectants, mouth washes, deodorants and innumerable other products.