Boston Cream Pie revisited

baking, recipes, boston cream pie, cake, creme patisserie, pastry cream, custardOne of the hazards of keeping a blog going for almost 5 years is that you start forgetting what you’ve already posted and run out of ideas for new things to write about. Maybe I should start learning how to bake recipes made famous by the French, Italians and Greeks. The recipes I’ve been playing with lately are certainly more complex than I usually post but I’m trying to improve my skills.

You may have noticed that I have started including a few personal posts in amongst the recipe posts and I find that I really enjoy sharing just a “normal life” post with you instead of feeling obligated to include a recipe. What do you think? Do you like these posts or should I rather stick to recipes?

Like most writers, I am horrified by the quality of my older posts. I had so much to learn when I started blogging and I’d like to believe that there is a vast improvement in what I write today vs how I posted 3 years ago. I am my own most vicious critic to the point where I am sometimes overwhelmed by how much I still need to learn and grow.

Boston Cream Pie revisited

baking, recipes, boston cream pie, cake, creme patisserie, pastry cream, custardWhen I looked at a post I did about Boston Cream Pie in 2012, I cringed at the quality of the writing as well as the horror of having “copied and pasted” the recipe. I haven’t made that mistake in so long that I had forgotten that I did that in the beginning. I was so tempted to delete that post and replace it with this one but I think it is a good comparison and reminder about how much I have evolved since then. I think I’ll leave it there to encourage me that I am actually improving.

I used the same custard recipe as posted in the previous post but I went out of my way to find an awesome sponge cake recipe that would really make this cake a show stopper. Back when I started baking, one of the first cakes I taught myself to make was an old fashioned, Hot Milk Sponge and this is what I want to share with you today. Remember, you want to make the custard and the ganache before you start baking the cake so that everything has enough time to cool down. You could even make these two components the night before so that you have enough time to assemble everything and chill the cake in the fridge for a few hours so that everything sets before serving.

Boston Cream Pie

Crème Patisserie

125ml muscovado sugar (divided)

5 large, free range egg yolks

45ml cornflour (Maizena)

500ml full cream milk

1 vanilla bean

60g butter, cut into small cubes

Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. Place seeds in a medium bowl together with your 5 the egg yolks and 60ml of the sugar. Whisk briefly to combine sugar and egg. Set aside.

Heat milk and the remaining 60ml sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Place the empty bean pod in the milk to infuse the milk with vanilla flavour. Stir the milk gently until the sugar has dissolved and it has almost reached boiling point.

Carefully add half the hot milk to the egg mixture and whisk to temper the egg. Add the egg and milk mixture back to the pot and return to the heat. Stir continuously until the custard is thick and smooth. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter one piece at a time until each piece has melted before adding the next one. Transfer into a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure you press the plastic wrap down onto the custard to prevent a skin from forming.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

125ml fresh cream

250g dark chocolate

Heat cream to boiling point in the microwave (about 2 minutes at 100% power). Chop chocolate up roughly and place into the hot cream. Allow to stand for 2 minutes before stirring gently until smooth and glossy. Set aside until cool, stirring every 10 minutes. If the chocolate sets up before you use it, place it in the microwave and heat for 20 seconds at 60% power. Stir again until smooth before using it to top the cake.

baking, recipes, boston cream pie, cake, creme patisserie, pastry cream, custardHot Milk Sponge

4 large, free range eggs

500ml white sugar

5ml vanilla extract

250ml milk

100g butter

560ml cake flour

15ml baking powder

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius and prepare two large cake pans with non stick spray or butter. Line the bottom of the pan with baking paper. Set aside.

Place eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until fluffy. Slowly add sugar and beat well until light yellow in colour and thickened. Add vanilla extract and beat well.

Combine milk and butter in a heat proof bowl and heat for 4 minutes in the microwave at 100% power until the butter has melted. Stir well and keep aside.

Sift flour and baking powder together and add to the egg mixture. Set stand mixer to lowest setting and mix gently until combined. Slowly add hot milk to the cake batter and mix well until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure there are no pockets of flour left behind. Mix briefly on medium speed until the batter is well combined.

Divide batter between 2 prepped cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes (rotating the pans after 20 minutes). Use a toothpick or clean knife to check if the cakes are done by inserting the toothpick/knife into the center of the cake. If the knife still shows signs of wet cake batter, return cakes to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes until the cakes are done.

Set cake pans onto a cooling rack and wait 10 minutes before carefully turning the cakes out. Carefully remove baking paper from the bottom of the cakes and cool completely before putting the cake together.

Assembly

Level the tops of the cake and slice each cake in half horizontally so that you have 4 sponge cake layers. Place the first layer onto a serving plate and top with about 125ml of the custard. Place the next layer on top and repeat until you have stacked the 4 layers together. Place this in the fridge to set for at least 1 hour.

Once the custard is sufficiently chilled and the tower of cakes seems stable, remove from the fridge and carefully top with the chocolate ganache. Allow cake to stand and ganache to set for about 1 hour before serving.

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Motherhood: My story

motherhood, what it's really like, being a mom, birth story, post natal depression, realityWhen I first became a mom in 2004, describing myself as an absolute mess is a pretty accurate description. I had just turned 26 and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I had read some of the books and been on the receiving end of a lot of advice, but nothing could prepare me to have another human being completely dependent on me.

Zac’s birth was traumatic. He had aspirated meconium and couldn’t breathe when he was delivered. There is nothing more eerie than the absence of a baby’s cry in the delivery room. When I first laid eyes on my first child, he was turning blue and it obvious distress. Within seconds he was whisked away from me and taken to NICU. I gave birth to him at 1pm on Sunday afternoon.

Motherhood: My story

Since I had been given an epidural, I was not allowed to leave the bed for about 8 hours so I couldn’t go to my baby. I sent my husband to be with him (so that at least one of us was there) so I was left alone. I had to rely on someone else’s assessment of the situation in NICU because I couldn’t see for myself. By Monday morning I was emotionally numb. Both my tummy and my arms were empty.

I had been asking to see my baby for hours and hours and no one would help me. By late morning I was asking the nurses why we couldn’t do “kangaroo care”. One of the senior nurses seemed shocked that I knew about it. It took another few hours of nagging until eventually they gave in. Within hours, Zac’s stats improved so much that he could be removed from most of the pipes and wires that were helping him. By Monday evening he was taken off all the machines.

I had absolutely no idea how much this experience would affect me until many months later. My gynae had prescribed the generic version of Eglanol for “having the blues”, after assessing me before I left the hospital, but it had no impact on my emotional state. It didn’t even help my milk supply (which is apparently a common side effect for this anti psychotic).

Zac was born weighing 3.48kg and by the end of his first week he weighed 2.94kg. Nothing will make you feel more like a failure than not being able to feed your baby. When the baby nurses are starting to use the words “failure to thrive” it’s like a sword piercing your heart.

motherhood, what it's really like, being a mom, birth story, post natal depression, realityAll of this accounted for undiagnosed and untreated Post Natal Depression that plagued me for our first 18 months. My maternity leave consisted of me feeling house bound because I was told I needed to get the baby settled into a routine as soon as possible. Zac was such an easy baby once he was on formula – although he did battle with reflux for 9 months.

Since he was content, I had no idea what to do with him so, he spent a lot of his time in his cot staring at his mobile while I sat in the lounge in a daze. (When you are emotionally disconnected it feels really fake and silly to play and mentally stimulate a baby who feels foreign to you).

I was emotionally disconnected and, because I had no idea what was normal and I had spent my life being told that I was “too sensitive” and “too emotional”, I couldn’t make sense of what I was feeling.

There is a very good reason why many cultures and religions have an older woman (Mother, Aunt, older sister) stay with the new mom. That kind of comfort, reassurance and support is essential for a first time mom could feel completely lost in how much a baby changes your life. Without this support, new moms fumble around hopelessly trying to fit the baby in with “normal life” of cooking, cleaning and whatever else they feel they are expected to do.

Why don’t we talk about how terrible those first few weeks are more often? People should be prepared to have physical support available so that they have a literal hand to hold, ear to listen, shoulder to cry on.

New moms, please don’t be scared to ask for help. You don’t have to do this alone. You also don’t need to shower, brush your hair or clean the house. Feed yourself and your baby and everything else will fall into place. Remember to drink enough water and alfalfa tonic is the absolute best thing in the world for milk production. Trust me, I’ve tried everything (literally) and this is the only thing that generates twice the amount of breast milk within 4 hours.

If one of your friends has become a new mom lately, please be a physical presence in her life. If you’re scared that you will impose, just drop off a veggie-filled hot meal. Maybe put on a load of washing for her or tidy the kitchen. There are no words to express how much those small gestures will help. Let her focus on building a relationship with her child. Everything else can wait.

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Recipe Testing

baking, rules, testing, recipeWhere do I begin? There are a lot of recipes on the internet, many of which claim to be “The Best” but, how can anyone claim that their recipe is the best when taste is so subjective? I don’t really want to make an example of any recipe in particular but I think I need to show you something.

Go have a look at this recipe. Then have a look at the comments. I have taken to reading the comments before trying any recipe for the blog so that I’m well informed about the results other people have had. I picked up that this recipe has one huge error in the method and I wanted to see if anyone else found a way to make it work. Can you spot it?

Recipe Testing

Who knows, maybe the science was different for someone else and they managed to beat egg white and sugar together to make meringue by adding all the sugar to the unbeaten egg white. In the interest of clarity for those who haven’t tried this before (in my experience) it won’t work.

The egg white needs to be beaten to soft peaks before gradually adding the sugar. If the meringue was then going to be used inside the cake batter then maybe you could get away with it, but since you wanted to top the uncooked cake batter with meringue it would be in your best interest to follow the rules of baking science and make a meringue that can hold its shape.

Since I didn’t want to crush the meringue when I sliced the cake in half horizontally, I decided to make a two layered cake. This meant that all of the meringue would be on one layer while the other would be naked. I knew I was taking a risk but I made the necessary compensations to try and get it to work.

The other thing I had a problem with is the fact that the meringue needs to cook for 30 minutes at 180 degrees celcius (without burning) and the cake needs to cook through underneath that layer.

My meringue started burning after 10 minutes and after I placed a layer of foil lightly over the top, the cake with the meringue layer was still wet in the center after 30 minutes. You have 5 egg whites to 250ml sugar. The meringue WILL burn.

This leaves me in a bit of a sticky situation. I could share the recipe the way I made it but I’ve changed it so much that the end product is probably nothing like the one the recipe creator tried to achieve. If you look at the comments of the food52 online editor it sounds like the cake is meant to be fairly biscuit like in texture but it softens during that hour in the fridge once the fruit and whipped cream softens everything up.

In order to keep the meringue crisp as I prefer it to be, I never place it in the fridge. Soft meringue is just rubbery caramelized egg white and just the thought of it makes me want to gag. At first, I was going to try the recipe again but this time, follow the instructions exactly the way food52 published it, but my brain is kicking against the idea of wasting ingredients because I’m convinced that the end product would be inedible.

What do you think? Have you had a similar experience with recipes you have tried? This is one of the reasons I am posting less frequently. More and more of the recipes I’ve tried recently haven’t worked and I feel I have to “fix” the recipe before I share it with you.

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Apple Lattice Pie

recipe, apple pie, lattice crust, tart, a la mode, winter treats, delicious, baking, fruit, applesApple Lattice Pie

With the cold weather arriving in Cape Town over the past week, there are A LOT of Apple Pie recipes popping up all over the blogosphere. It seems like Apple Pie is the thing most people think of when summer waves goodbye and I wonder if it’s because desserts, where the main ingredient is fruit, makes us feel more virtuous.

I’ve made quite a few apple based recipes (like these muffins or a delicious apple pear crumble) since I started blogging, but I’ve never tried my hand at making a lattice pie. I don’t think I’ve eaten a lattice pie in Cape Town before even though it seems to appear in many American sitcoms and movies. Of course, in most of these cases, the characters order “Apple Pie a la mode” (i.e. with ice cream) but since most people find eating ice cream in winter a bit strange (not me!) I chose lightly sweetened whipped cream instead.

As always, I simplified this recipe a lot. It really doesn’t need to be this complicated! The pastry does need to chill but so does the filling so please factor sufficient time in so that you’re not frustrated. I prepped everything on a Saturday morning before we went exploring and put it together in the afternoon.

Apple Lattice Pie

Pastry

625ml cake flour

20ml sugar

180g butter

1 large egg beaten with 30ml cold water

Place all the dry ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Turn the machine onto a medium setting and drop pieces of butter down the chute. Work quickly so that the dough starts to look like breadcrumbs as quickly as possible. Add egg mixture and let the machine run until the dough is wet all the way through and the dough starts pulling together into a ball. Bring dough together and wrap in plastic. Place in the fridge until ready to use.

Filling

1.3kg apples (I used red Starking apples), peeled and evenly sliced

30ml fresh lemon juice

160ml muscovado sugar

125g butter

2.5ml ground cinnamon

1.25ml freshly grated nutmeg

1 egg whisked with 15ml water to make an egg wash

45ml extra sugar for sprinkling over the pastry

Place lemon juice in a large glass bowl. As you peel and slice the apples, place the apples directly into the bowl of lemon juice. You will need to toss the apples in the lemon juice as you go to prevent the slices from turning brown. It all cooks down to mush anyway so it’s not a train smash if it goes wrong for some reason.

Once you have finished preparing the apples, add the sugar to the bowl and mix together well so that all the apple slices are covered. Heat butter in a large saucepan until very hot, add apples to the pot and stir gently. Turn down the heat and cook for around 10 minutes until soft.

Place a colander over the bowl you used earlier (to mix the apples, lemon juice and sugar) and place this in the sink. Drain cooked apples into the colander using a spoon to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Catch all the juice you can in the bowl under the colander. Transfer apples to a clean bowl and stir through the spices. Set aside to cool.

Place the liquid you collected back into the same pot you used earlier and turn up the heat on the stove. Cook liquid over medium heat, swirling the pot often until the liquid has thickened and started to caramelize (about 10-15 minutes). Place caramelized sauce into the bowl with the apples and stir will. Set aside to cool

recipe, apple pie, lattice crust, tart, a la mode, winter treats, delicious, baking, fruit, applesPut it all together

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius and grease a deep pie dish with butter. Break the dough in half and roll out the dough between two pieces of baking paper. Carefully transfer the dough into prepped pie dish, pressing dough into the corners of the dish and trim edges. Place cooled filling into the dough lined dish and set aside.

Roll out remaining dough and use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to slice even strips of dough. The strips will need to be longer than you first anticipate so roll out the dough longer than you think you need to. Lightly place strips over the top of the pie first in one direction. You will need to still lift the strips so that the other strips can go over/under so work carefully. Interleave strips now working in the opposite direction to form a lattice. My lattice work is terrible so clearly I need loads of practice.

Pinch the edges of the lattice to bind together with the edges of the pastry. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle generously with white or castor sugar. Bake for 45-60 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with whipped cream sweetened with 30ml castor sugar and 5ml vanilla extract (this is for 250ml fresh cream).

 

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Meeting The Cake Boss

cake boss, buddy valastro, kfm, live broadcast, good food and wine show, baking, cake, decorating, tv shows, tlcEvery now and then all the stars align and a few things fall into place where it is absolutely essential that I take a day’s leave and just relish in the opportunities set before me. If I had my way, I would blog full time. Not for the perceived glamour but because I love working hard, especially when it is for doing what I love. Friday was an uncomfortable day for this introvert but I pushed myself to grab the opportunity with both hands and make the most of it.

To be perfectly honest I do struggle to get myself to work on time. After 11 years, the challenge is gone. I know how to navigate the loopholes and get the job done well despite the obstacles placed in my path. I’m actually glad I had the opportunity to work for government. It has made me a stronger and more resourceful person and, while I look forward to the day my contract runs out in November, I will miss the income deposited into my account every month. Nothing scares me more than the thought that I won’t have a guaranteed source of income to feed my family. I am more valuable than this though. I can do some good and it’s time to step outside my comfort zone and take on the world.

Life seems to be getting busier and busier. I wanted to include a recipe in this blog post but in the end I decided that there is no way I would expect you to waste so much time and ingredients on a cupcake that it just marginally better than a normally baked one. In order to come to that conclusion, I did have to waste a lot of time and ingredients this weekend, but I’m chalking it up to experience.

cake boss, buddy valastro, kfm, live broadcast, good food and wine show, baking, cake, decorating, tv shows, tlcLet me tell you a little bit about Friday. Shall I start with the fact that I felt like I was stalking The Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro by the end of the day or should I mention the over 10 000 steps my FitBit counted between 8am and 5pm that day? Tell you what, I’ll start at the beginning.

While I was in Johannesburg for a (day job) meeting, KFM popped me an email inviting me to their live broadcast with Buddy Valastro on Friday morning. Well obviously you don’t say no to that so, that was that. Then another email appeared in my inbox confirming that my media accreditation for the Good Food and Wine Show had been approved which meant that I could see Buddy in action on Friday afternoon in the celebrity theatre. See what I mean about stars aligning?

Meeting The Cake Boss

It goes without saying that applying for leave and chatting with my blogger friends Tandy and Teresa to meet up at the Good Food and Wine Show was on the cards. It’s always more fun to meet up with friends who have similar interests at shows like this one. Walking around a food show by yourself is incredibly sad and boring.

cake boss, buddy valastro, kfm, live broadcast, good food and wine show, baking, cake, decorating, tv shows, tlc

On the left is Tyrone Rothwell who nearly fooled us into believing he was The Cake Boss.
On the right is Jacques from Ons Plaaskombuis in Brackenfell who won the best milktart competition.

In brief, the live broadcast was awesome. I had never been to one before and it was fascinating to watch how the KFM Breakfast Show interacts with one another in real life. Clearly when everything runs on an incredibly tight schedule, there is actually a whole lot of timing and planning going on behind the scenes to produce a professional show. Everyone is really friendly though but very, very busy!

TLC’s Next Great Presenter Search

While at the Good Food and Wine Show, I attended the TLC press conference they mentioned that they were looking for Africa’s “Next Great Presenter“. Buddy was there as part of the show to tell us what it is like to be the host of one of TLC’s shows and how he would audition if he wanted to take part. It was easy to see why he is as successful as he is. His personality is infectious and he makes a point of thanking his fans.

cake boss, buddy valastro, kfm, live broadcast, good food and wine show, baking, cake, decorating, tv shows, tlcAt the Celebrity Cooking Theatre, Buddy showed us how to make animals using fondant and how he usually goes about decorating a cake. I found it interesting that he brought one of his interns, Ora, with him who is actually from South Africa but moved to Hoboken, New Jersey to learn from him.

To say I was exhausted and footsore when I arrived home on Friday would be an understatement but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I am so grateful for all the opportunities I have had since I started blogging. Thank YOU for reading and interacting. There are no words to fully encompass how much I appreciate each and every one of you.

 

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Easy Chocolate Mousse

chocolate, recipes, easy chocolate mousse, dark chocolate, mousse, decadentIn case you haven’t noticed, I enjoy chocolate from time to time. By “time to time” I mean “daily” and I am downplaying the “enjoy” part a bit. Ever since I went to the Lindt Sale at Cape Quarter, I’ve been sitting with just over 2kg of their 70% dark chocolate in the pantry cupboard and I’m pleased to say that I haven’t sneaked a single one to munch. In fact, I think I still have a 100g dark chocolate Lindt bunny sitting in the cupboard. How’s that for self-control *gives self a gold star*.

I may not have been sneaking any to munch on but I have been baking with it which means that I’ve made quite a dent in the stash since I’ve made this chocolate mousse 3 times over the last 6 weeks. Every single time I leave it in the fridge to set so that I can take a picture to use on the blog, I come back to the fridge to find huge finger marks gouged into each pot.

Now, I could get angry with the kids and shout about it or I could cover it in whipped cream and photograph it anyway. The thing is, since the recipe uses 300mls of cream, I rarely have any spare to do that with. When I served it on Easter Sunday, I may or may not have covered the gouges with speckled eggs.

So, I’ve tried it topped with whipped cream and I’ve tried the speckled eggs option but neither of these can top the “wait-until-it-comes-to-room-temperature” option (the waiting nearly does my head in) and enjoy the smooth deliciousness. It deserves a moment of silence. You’ll see!

In terms of method, it doesn’t get easier than this and its gluten free so it means it’s healthy…right? So let’s get to the recipe, shall we?

chocolate, recipes, easy chocolate mousse, dark chocolate, mousse, decadentEasy Chocolate Mousse (from here)

3 large eggs, at room temperature

60ml castor

300g dark chocolate*

300ml cream

Beat eggs and sugar at high speed until pale and creamy (about 10 minutes). While you are waiting, melt chocolate at 60% power in the microwave for around 3 minutes, stirring every minute until melted. Set aside to cool.

Add melted chocolate to egg mixture and fold in gently. Keep going until there are no streaks of egg left and everything is well combined. (I found this to be the hardest part because my arm got sore. You cannot skip this part (I’ve tried) because beating the chocolate into the eggs makes a heavy mousse).

While you are folding, beat the cream to soft peaks and fold into the chocolate-egg mixture. Again, be gentle and take your time. You don’t want to knock the air out of it. It will be worth it, I promise.

Once the cream is fully incorporated you can pour into champagne glasses or ramekins to set in the fridge for 2-3 hours. The mousse is incredibly rich so small portions are better. This recipe makes at least 10-12 portions. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before you want to eat them so that they can be served at room temperature.

* If you use Cadbury or Beacon (please don’t ever use baking chocolate), add 15ml cocoa powder into the egg and sugar mixture once it has reached the pale yellow and creamy stage.

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Reflections of a Mother

parenting, mother's day, reflections of a mom, advice, valuesAs Mother’s Day is coming up, I am reflecting about how being a mom has changed my life. The wound of my mom’s death 6 months ago is still too raw so I won’t write about it until it actually starts feeling real and not just like a bad dream.

Reflections of a Mother

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been a mom for 10 years already. Some days it feels like I’ve learned nothing at all in the past decade but, every now and then, I go to bed satisfied that the kids have learned something useful and have taken a step forward in their emotional intelligence.

parenting, mother's day, reflections of a mom, advice, valuesIf I had to choose 5 things I’d like them to have a decent grasp of by the time they leave home, I think compassion would be the first thing on that list.

It took me a long time to look outside of myself centeredness to realize how much pain there is in the world. My life doesn’t suck. Everyone is battling a war that no one knows about. Treating people with kindness doesn’t cost you anything and it could make a huge difference in the lives of those we come into contact with.

parenting, mother's day, reflections of a mom, advice, valuesSince I started working 18 years ago (OMW I’m getting SO OLD), I have come across a number of people who have chosen to believe that life owes them something. They bring unpleasantness and negativity into the work environment to the extent that you would rather find a way of doing something yourself than asking for their help. While you cannot avoid these kinds of people, you can make a conscious effort to not be one of them. A good attitude goes a long way in making your life something you can be proud of. It will help you to learn concepts and pick up skills more easily and ensure that you always feel like you’re moving forward.

parenting, mother's day, reflections of a mom, advice, valuesThe one concept my kids already have under their belts is curiosity. Thankfully I think all kids are born with this ingrained in them but quite a few seem to lose it after a while. I never want my kids to stop asking why. I want them to have an interest in people, cultures, countries, languages and food. I never want to stop learning and I want the same for them.

I think the hardest concept for anyone to learn is responsibility. When I look at parenting self help books, a number of them suggest that chores or looking after a pet is a good way to teach kids this concept. The thing about this idea is that it is too small to encompass the knock-on effect of the concept. I want my kids to know that their actions and choices have an impact on their family and friends. The choices they make should be made mindfully because we are part of something so much bigger than we can imagine. Life is, essentially, fluid and organic which means that each life experience gives us an opportunity to learn and grow.

parenting, mother's day, reflections of a mom, advice, valuesThe last concept is one that I’m still battling to come to grips with and I’m not sure what to call it. I want my kids to have lives that are rich in experiences, not things. I want to give them the gift of wanderlust and fill their minds and hearts with a whole world full of travel. Even though the world tells us to BUY-ALL-THE-THINGS, I want them to shake off that ideal and see what is really important. I feel that making a difference in the lives of those around us is what should bring us happiness at the end of the day.

I’d love to know what you think. Do you agree or have I missed something important? I still have so much left to learn and I’d love to learn from you.

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Easy Chocolate Torte

easy chocolate torte, baking, chocolate, easy, recipe, torte, 50g ground almonds, 4 eggs, tami magnin, rumtumtiggsI could start this post off with, “I was thinking about chocolate the other day” but that would incorrectly imply that at some point I stop thinking about chocolate. After I took the day off work to spend over an hour waiting for the doors of the Lindt shop in Cape Quarter to open for their sale, I’ve had 2kgs of 70% dark chocolate waiting to be baked with.

It took a little bit of hunting but I finally found a recipe for chocolate torte that doesn’t use a million eggs and a financially crippling amount of ground almonds. I was also surprised at how many people call things like chocolate mousse tart a torte. To my knowledge, most tortes are made with little or no flour and they are always baked. In other words, a “no bake torte” is not a torte.

After I baked this unctuous, decadent chocolate torte, I had to Google how to pronounce it as it was one of those words I had read many times but hadn’t heard all that often. If I were to pronounce it the way I though it should sound I would have to say “tor-tay” but apparently, the E is silent so it’s tort. As in, “I tort I taw a puddy tat”.

Since we don’t get golden castor sugar in Cape Town I simply sent my regular brown sugar through my food processor briefly and make my own. I also decided to grind my almonds and flour together before sifting it as my almonds were starting to look a little clumpy. This all went a long way to ensure the best chocolate torte I had ever tasted and found that it tastes even better 2-3 days later.

easy chocolate torte, baking, chocolate, easy, recipe, torte, 50g ground almonds, 4 eggs, tami magnin, rumtumtiggsEasy Chocolate Torte (From BBC Good Food)

4 large eggs, at room temperature

200g golden caster sugar

200g butter

200g 70% dark chocolate, chopped

50g cake flour sifted

50g ground almonds

Method

Preheat oven to 175 degrees celcius and grease a cake tin with butter. Place eggs and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at high speed for 5-8 minutes until pale yellow and thick. Weigh chocolate and butter into a glass bowl and microwave at 60% power for about 2 minutes. Stir well and repeat until butter and chocolate have melted. Set aside to cool slightly before adding it to the egg and sugar mixture. Gently fold the chocolate into the egg using a figure 8 motion until well combined. Sift ground almonds and flour onto the top of the mixture and gently fold in until fully incorporated.

Pour batter into prepped cake time and smooth the top before placing in the oven to bake for 25 minutes (30 minutes at the absolute most). I usually err on the side of slightly undercooked as I prefer a dense, fudgy torte. A dry, crumbly torte is a very sad sight to behold. Remember that the residual heat of the pan will continue cooking the torte for a few minutes after and you want to make allowance for that.

A little goes a long way so this smallish torte can easily serve about 12 people. Serve with a generous dusting of icing sugar and a healthy helping of homemade vanilla ice cream.

 

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Daily Dish For You Giveaway

daily dish for you, daily dish giveaway, win supper, vegetarian, classic, low carb, tami magnin, rumtumtiggsOnce upon a time I ate incredibly well for 4 days in a row.  Enjoying such vegetable rich suppers is rare in these tough economic times and none of them took longer than 30 minutes to prepare in the comfort of my own kitchen.

The delivery arrived at my house on Monday morning with all the ingredients I needed to make 4 supper dishes for 4 people and with such easy to follow instructions, even my husband could manage on his own. Daily Dish is ideal if you do quite a few business trips or for when your schedule is so jam packed you don’t have time to plan, shop and cook for your family. I did find that the 4 day meal planning break refreshed my kitchen mojo and I’ve found myself recreating a few of the Daily Dish recipes often.

Since we are dealing with fresh produce here, I strongly recommend that you follow the suggested meal plan as some of the veggies do go a bit meh as you reach the end of the week. The idea behind the 4 meals is that most people work 5 days a week and often some people would go out to eat once during that week or order in. For me it usually means toast for supper, on those days I didn’t remember to take something out of the freezer or make a plan to use up whatever is in the fridge to “create a masterpiece”.

This actually made me remember a favourite book I’ve read over and over called Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy, where one of the clients they cater for sneakily gets them to prep 6 meals for 2 people in her own serving dishes. She then serves these meals to her oblivious husband for supper every night, passing it off as her own cooking. Why 6 meals you might ask? Well, her husband treats her to fish and chips every Friday to thank her for “all the cooking she does during the week”.

Daily Dish For You Giveaway

This brings me to this Daily Dish for you giveaway I have for you. I have 3×1 week subscriptions to give away. 1 reader in Cape Town, 1 in Pretoria and 1 in Johannesburg. All you have to do is tweet or instagram me a picture of what you make for supper. You can enter as many times as you like but remember to tag me and Daily Dish in the picture and use #FeedMeTami and #CPT, #JHB or #PTA in your post. You can find my instagram account here and Daily Dish’s instagram account here.

Before you enter though, please visit the Daily Dish website  (click on the “Where we Deliver” tab) and make sure you live or work in one of their delivery areas. If you are chosen but cannot accept delivery you are welcome to nonimate someone else to receive your prize (and convince them to invite you over for supper *wink*).

In the event that you don’t win or you just want to try it out for yourself, use “Easy Supper” as a coupon code when you check out on Daily Dish for a R250 discount.

For easy reference here are all Daily Dish’s Social Media details go give them a follow ;)

https://www.facebook.com/dailydishforyou

https://twitter.com/DailyDishForYou

https://instagram.com/dailydishforyou

www.dailydish.co.za

The competition will run from 12:01am on Monday 30 March 2015 to 8pm on Friday 3 April 2015 with winners announced early next week.

Terms and Conditions: (borrowed from Sue Levy’s site)
The prize is a 4 dinners delivered by Daily Dish and can not be exchanged for cash.
Please note that the meals are not cooked. Fresh produce gets delivered to you with easy to use recipes. Saving you time to go shopping and running around for spices etc.
Three winners will be selected in terms of entries received.
Winners can choose between classic, low carb or vegetarian meal options for 2 or 4 people.
Daily Dish currently delivers in the selected suburbs in Joburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.
There are certain areas that Daily Dish does not deliver to as yet.
If you are a winner who lives/works in an area where they we do not deliver in, then you may have to select a replacement to accept the prize on your behalf.
Winners will be announced after 7 April 2015 via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Images submitted may be use in a collage but credit will be given whereever possible.

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Homemade Marshmallow Easter Eggs

easy, easter, treats, homemade, marshmallow, recipe, no corn syrup, egg free, delicious, chocolate covered marshmallow easter eggs, rumtumtiggs, tami magninCan you believe Easter is around the corner? Where on earth is 2015 racing off to? It feels like a million years ago since I made my own Creme Eggs  and yet it was only 2 years back! Since I’ve tackled most sweet treats it seems like I’d saved the easiest one for last. So, it was really only a matter of time before I made Homemade Marshmallow Easter Eggs, but only after I found one that didn’t use corn syrup or liquid glucose. No more processed sugars over here, thank you very much!

After a few back to back weekends of jammed schedules and road trips for TazzDiscovers I found myself so desperate to bake that I started feeling a little twitchy. You know what I mean?

Since I’d rather make a plan to use up a glut of ingredients than go out and buy something new, I started looking for a way to use up the 12 egg whites I had sitting in the freezer. Since I’ve already done 2 Angel Food Cakes (regular and gluten free) for the blog I started thinking along the lines of marshmallows. Yes, I know there is no marshmallow recipe in existence that uses 12 eggs whites but I was brainstorming, ok? ;)

The added challenge was that I wasn’t going to hunt for liquid glucose again as it was a nuisance and I’m still trying to limit my intake of processed sugars as much as I can. When I found this recipe that didn’t need liquid glucose (or corn syrup) and it didn’t need egg, I thought, “There is no way this is going to work! It’s way too simple!” As one who never backs down from a challenge I decided to give it a try and Oh My Word, it is delicious!!

The most obvious next step was to turn them into chocolate coated marshmallow Easter eggs and my family swears they will never eat the shop bought version again.

Homemade Marshmallow Easter Eggs

Marshmallows

500ml white sugar

125ml cold water

30ml gelatin (I used the powder kind that comes in sachets)

120ml water

10ml vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

4-5 drops of gel colour (optional)

360g milk or dark chocolate, melted (for dipping)

Marshmallow mix

125ml cornflour (Maizena)

125ml icing sugar

Sift together and set aside to prep the pan and to dust the marshmallows.

Heat sugar and 125ml water together on the stove, stirring until the sugar has completely melted. Place gelatin powder into the 120mls water and stir to dissolve before setting aside. Once sugar has dissolved completely, add gelatin and turn down the heat to medium. Allow the mixture to come to a boil while stirring.

Once it has reached boiling point you can turn off the stove after about 3 minutes and pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer to cool slightly. Attach whisk attachment to stand mixer and turn it on its lowest setting. Add salt and vanilla. Turn up the speed on the mixer and beat mixture for 10-15 minutes until white and cloud like.

While you are waiting sift together the marshmallow mix and place about 125ml into the bottom of a large brownie pan (20x30cm). Shake the pan until the marshmallow mix has settled into an even layer.

Once the marshmallow is ready, pour 2/3rds into the brownie pan and set aside. You can now tint the rest of the mixture yellow or whatever colour you’d prefer. Beat again until colour is evenly distributed.

Turn the brownie pan so that you have a long side facing you and the short sides of the pan are to your left and right. Place coloured marshmallow in a line in the middle of the white marshmallow working from left to right. Roll white marshmallow up and over coloured section (like a Swiss Roll) and press down gently until it sticks.

Set aside for about an hour before removing your marshmallow “swiss roll” from the pan and slicing into rounds. Dust cut sides of marshmallow lightly with remaining icing sugar mix and set aside to firm up some more.

Dip slices of marshmallow in melted chocolate and place on a baking paper or silicone lined cookie sheet. Store in airtight containers for up to 2 weeks.

** Of course, you are welcome to tint all the mixture or just leave it white but I was going for the “proper” Easter egg look. You can also just scoop lumps of mixture into the marshmallow mix using oiled tablespoons and then dusting the balls with the rest of the icing sugar. You don’t even have to dip them in chocolate. They are delicious without the chocolate coating too.

 

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