Thursday, April 21, 2011

Creme Caramel

I have always loved custard for as long as I can remember. I even remember mum feeding me custard as a child. Creme caramel is one on my favourite custard dishes. It is simple, creamy, and the lovely caramel that pours out over the just set custard is so delicious! 
I have been battiling my sweet tooth since being pregnant trying to 'trick' myself into eating healthy options, poached fruit with yoghurt is one of my healthy, sweet tooth satisfying desserts. But every now and then I have to give in and have something rich, gooey or just down right sweet! :) 

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

125ml cream
125ml milk
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
2 eggs

makes 4 1/2 cup capacity ramekins

Preheat the oven to 150C fan forced
Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan, and on medium heat. Stir till the sugar dissolves, then don't touch the syrup, just let it bubble furiously for about 10 minutes or until it changes to a deep caramel colour. I should of let mine darken a little more.... Pour into ramekins.

Next beat the eggs with the sugar until creamy and paler in colour. Heat the milk and cream on the stove until almost boiling. Pour into the egg mixture and whisk like crazy!

Pour the custard into the ramikens. Fill the baking dish with hot water about an inch or so, bake for about 25-30 minutes, until it is just set.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


A few days ago we lost our beloved family dog Pepe.

Poopy has been with us since 1999.

He always made us laugh with his crazy antics. He was a nut that loved to eat way too much, sleep and give lots of kisses.

Having a dog like Pepe in your life changes you for the better. Having his little tail waggling and barking at you to hurry up and get inside the house so he can smother you in kisses, or check your shopping bags for treats, always put a smile on your face.

I never knew having a dog would be such an emotional roller coaster. Or that any of us would be so attached to a little animal the way we were with Poop.

He will be missed. Love you always Poopy. R.I.P

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Plain and Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

                                 Plain hot cross buns

                                Chocolate hot cross buns

I love hot cross buns. It baffles me why I always wait another year to eat these fruity, spicy delights. It's like I forget all about them until easter rolls around again, and my love affair for the buns starts all over. The only thing I dont like is the 'cross'! The pasty flour and water cross, blegh! I knew if I was going to make these doughy delights I had to make the 'cross' tasty.

I read up a little bit about the hot cross buns, from Wiki.

English folklore includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or become mouldy during the subsequent year. Another encourages keeping such a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone who is ill is said to help them recover.

This year I ate one of the most delicious buns i've ever had, from Brasserie Bread. It was so lovely. Soft, fruity, spicy and not too sweet! Just how I love them. They also make a sour cherry and chocolate one, heavenly.

There is no where near where I live to buy such delightful treats, so I decided I would give it a go and make my own this year!

I wanted a traditional one, with fruit and all. I don't care for the fruitless ones, I dont see the point, just like a hairless cat in my eyes! Any baked goods that have the kind of medicinal power that is described above, I certainly dont want to mess around with too much! But I also wanted to try something a little different like the sour cherry and chocolate buns I tasted from Brasserie Bread.

These buns are so good toasted with lots of butter!

I adapted the recipe from this for my hot cross buns.

Plain Hot Cross Buns

4 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons sweet spices
pinch salt
1 cup currants
50 grams butter melted
2 eggs beaten lightly
1 1/2 cups warm milk
zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon

4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablesppon water

Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Leave on medium heat for about 12 minutes just to make a sticky glaze, DO NOT colour! Set it aside. You can reheat it, before you need to glaze the buns, if it gets to thick.

Preheat oven 230C.

Place the yeast, 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar and 1/2 cup warm milk in a small bowl. Wait about 10 minutes for the yeast to activate, it will froth and bubble.
Place all the ingredients into your mixmaster/kitchenaid with a dough hook attachment. Mix for about 10 minutes. Set aside for at least an hour for the dough to rise and double in volume.

Roll dough out onto a floured surface and give it a light knead 1-2 minutes. Cut the dough into 4 and shape into logs. Then cut those into 4 so you have 16 buns.
place the dough buns onto a baking tray, give them enough room to expand. Cover with cling wrap, set aside for 30 minutes to puff up and rise.

Bake them in a hot oven for 25 minutes. Brush with the sugar syrup/glaze while still warm. Set aside to cool completely.

Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

4 1/4 cups plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tablespoon yeast
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
50 grams melted butter
2 eggs beaten lightly
1 1/2 cups warm milk

1/2 cup icing sugar
Dissolve the milk into the icing sugar. I found it easier to put the icing into a piping bag and just pipe on the crosses, when the buns had cooled completely.

For the chocolately buns, follow the same steps as above.

                                           Just before baking
                                           Just after baking
                                          Brushed with the sugar syrup
                                          With the sugary crosses!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nursery Update

Well not long now. I have about 3 1/2 months to go till baby arrives!

I'm excited, nervous and very emotional. I love feeling the baby move around in there, it's creepy and cute all at the same time. The strangest thing is when the bub kicks so hard or moves around so much , it wakes you in the middle of the night, I wasn't ready for that. No one told me it was going to be like that. Or that sometimes it hurts, especially when they grind up against your ribs, or hips!

I have also been shopping up a storm! We did the big ticket items, mostly ikea, on a recent weekend. Cot, change table, and a couple small drawers. Hubby and I decided to purchase the cot and drawers unfinished as they were SO much cheaper than going for painted finishes. I have decided to start painting the furniture myself, so much fun :) It also gives me something to do while I impatiently await the arrival of this little angel.

My husband is a whiz at putting together all the furniture, I am completely hopeless! I have this fear that if I tried to put the ikea furniture together, it'll fall apart!!! He even put the bassinet together NO INSTRUCTIONS!!!

                                          The baby's room

We also squeezed in one of my favourite takeaway foods for lunch, Thai from Thai-riffic! Delicious! Love the generous portions.

                                           The bump :)
I know, I look kinda smallish for 6 months. I'm waiting for a huge growth spurt soon enough.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Easy Olive and Feta Bread

I have a love hate relationship with bread. I really love it but I just can't eat that much. I feel bloated and so full afterwards, I usually regret eating so much of it. I even struggle to get through burger buns sometimes!!

Every now and then though I get massive cravings for it. I love nothing better than to make my own, I like to know what goes into my food. If I make a bread then, I usually eat a light meal with it, most of the time salad or soup. I am known for throwing anything and everything into a salad, so it makes it a complete balanced meal.

The only thing with making bread is you need to be patient, which I am not most of the time. I like to see the end product quick smart. Especially so I can sample it :)

With this dough I literally threw it together, no fancy kneading, or dough shaping, I was going for a rustic look anyway. I didn't even wait for the yeast to prove. I have been using Lowans instant yeast for ages now, and know that when the yeast is fresh it will activate, so I always skip the yeast proving and have never had a problem.

Makes 2 loaves, about 30cm each.

4 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup warm water
pinch salt
pinch sugar
1 flat tablespoon dry yeast

Throw all these ingredients into a mixmaster with a dough hook, and beat until it comes together into a smoothish ball, adding more flour or warm water if needed.

Add these ingredients next:

100 grams goats feta cut into chunks
20 black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 sprig rosemary, chopped fine

Let the dough rise for about 1 hour, or longer if you wish.

Take the dough out, cut in half, and gently shape onto a lightly floured baking tray. Leave to rise for another hour. Then bake in a hot oven 230C for 25 minutes. Let it sit on a wire rack so the bottom doesn't go soggy.

Lovely served warm, with a huge salad or soup ;)

We had it with pork and roasted pear salad, so good! The pears were so sweet!