Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

Photography by Darren Bester

I’ve always loved Chocolate Mousse … light and airy, you can just about feel the air bubbles pop in your mouth and then there’s the tasty moorish decadence of dark chocolate – Heaven!  It is rich though, which makes over indulging very easy to do, which is why this time round, I opted to serve them in cute little espresso cups.   You can of course, serve yours anyway you want … just don’t pair large portions with a very heavy meal. 

Quick and easy to prepare, it can be made a few days ahead of time thereby eliminating any stress when entertaining.  Perfect end to an Easter Lunch, I’m sure even the Easter Bunny would agree. 

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Yield: 4 standard ramekin portions 

Ingredients: 

170g dark good quality chocolate (70% cocoa solids) – Lindt is a good option 

80ml full fat milk

1 egg yolk

4 egg whites

20g caster sugar

Method: 

Roughly chop the chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl over a small pot of simmering water.  Stir until chocolate has completely melted and remove from the heat. 

Bring the milk to the boil and pour onto the melted chocolate, stirring with a whisk to combine.  Add the egg yolk and mix well to combine.  Set aside to cool. 

Whisk the egg whites to firm peaks, adding the sugar bit by bit.  Using a spatula, fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.  Whisk briskly, before folding in the rest of the whites (fold from the middle of the bowl up and outwards, using your other hand to steady and turn the bowl as you go).  Ensure the egg whites are well incorporated but be careful to not over work the mixture.  

Pour the mousse into individual ramekins or 1 large bowl.  If you want to serve in espresso cups or another dainty cup, use a piping bag to fill the cups neatly.   Chill for at least an hour.

Decorate with whipped cream and chocolate curls, if desired. 

Cooks Notes: 

The eggs should be very fresh.  Use them cold but not icy and not at room temperature. 

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Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Photography by Darren Bester

Another childhood favourite that has stayed with me is Banana Bread.  I can quite easily eat an entire loaf by myself (I don’t, it must be said … but I would , if I could get away with it on the scale and if it wouldn’t scare my husband quite as much as I think it would).  Besides being delicious, its also just so comforting and I wonder if its because it subconsciously conjures up carefree feelings from childhood.  This recipe is so quick and easy that its surprising that the loaf is as delicious as it is. 

Yield: 1 Loaf 

Ingredients:

375ml ripe bananas, mashed 

250ml white sugar 

375ml cake flour 

1tsp baking powder

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

60ml vegetable oil 

125ml crème fraîche 

2 eggs, whisked 

pinch of salt

Method: 

Preheat the oven to bake at 180ºc.  Grease a 23 x 13 cm banana loaf tin with butter or ‘spray & cook’ and set aside.  Mix the bananas, sugar, crème fraîche, eggs and oil until well combined.  Sift all the dry ingredients into a separate bowl.  Gradually stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture, until combined.  Pour mixture into prepared baking tin and bake at 180 for 40 minutes to an hour.  Test with a skewer, if it comes out clean, the loaf is ready. 

Cooks Note: Cooking time can vary depending on your oven and its settings.  Best to start keeping an eye on it from the 40 minute mark.  If you don’t have a baking skewer, an uncooked piece of dry spaghetti will do the job just fine.   You could add walnuts or poppy seeds for a nice variation.

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Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Photography by Darren Bester

 

My Sister-in-law Carmen’s Pumpkin Pie is synonymous with the words braai, lunch, dinner & celebration in our family.  No meal is complete without Carmie’s famous Pumpkin Pie!   While everyone loves it, there are 3 of us who usually wrestle for seconds or for that much sort after ‘take away’.   In the number 1 spot is Carmie’s Mom, my Mother-in-law, aka ‘the Matriarch’ – I know better than to try and take on the leader of the pack 🙂  Next, fighting for the leftovers is Carmie’s Husband Heinrich … again, I know the pecking order and know that if it was left to rank, I’d be walking away empty handed,  but often, kind hearted Heinrich will give in and let me eat my way to happiness (Thank you Heinrich).  

It made sense then, that I ask Carmie for this magical recipe so that I could make and share this delicious pie with friends (and always ensure I had a little leftovers stashed away).  Upon making it for friends it became evident that this is not just a family favourite, but a favourite to all who taste it.  I don’t think I’ve ever had so many requests to share a recipe … so here we go … Here’s my sister-in-law’s yummy Pumpkin Pie recipe, which she got out of a cookbook entitled ‘Cellarmasters in the kitchen’ and this particular recipe was contributed by Jan Boland Coetzee (On behalf of the nation – Thank you Jan!).  

Yield: 6 (I usually double these measurements to ensure there’s enough for everyone and plenty of leftovers when catering for a bigger crowd)

Ingredients:

50grms Butter

250ml White Sugar

250ml Milk

250ml Cake Flour

10ml Baking Powder

875ml Cooked & mashed Pumpkin (we use x 2 500grm bags.. a little extra pumpkin can’t be a bad thing)

2 Eggs

5ml Salt

250ml Fresh Cream

Ground Cinnamon for sprinkling

Method: 

Preheat the oven to 180ºc & grease an oven proof dish 

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the milk, sift in the flour and baking powder and stir until well combined.  Add the pumpkin, eggs, salt and cream and mix well.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for about 30 minutes, until lightly browned on top (The pie will crack on top when ready).  Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve. 

Cooks Note: Carmie does substitute white sugar for brown sugar and uses butternut instead of pumpkin from time to time.  The cooking time can vary greatly … When doubling up, I usually cook the pie for over an hour.  The pie should still have a slight wobble in the middle, when done.  Its good to let the pie stand for a bit before serving, so try and bake ahead of time & then just pop in the oven to heat through again just before serving.   This pie freezes well.

Stomped Image for blog

 

Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon…

Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon…

Ever seen the movie Julie & Julia? A foodie must see… Where the main character, Julie aspires to cook all 524 recipes out of the great Julia Child’s recipe book, within 365 days. She blogs about her journey and all the recipes as she goes along, earning herself a lot of followers and media attention, resulting in a reporter wanting to run a story on her. Julie is so excited and decides to make Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon for the interview.   This dish requires up to 4 hours of stewing and when Julie oversleeps and burns the first batch, my heart broke for her at the prospect of having to start from scratch.

Experiencing a cold winter in the Southern Hemisphere at the moment, this king of all stews, seemed like just the meal to conjure up a few weeks ago, and that’s exactly what I did… having started rather late in the afternoon, I opted to serve it the following evening instead. Always a good idea with a stew, because that old wives tale about stews and curries always tasting better the next day is 100% true! Leaving the food over night, allows all the flavours to mingle, fall in love and hold hands, resulting in love at first bite!   Don’t eat this alone, it’s a master piece worth sharing with a few good friends and a (few) good bottles of wine !

Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon

Yield: 6

Ingredients: 

150g streaky bacon

3 tbsp olive oil

1.4kg lean stewing steak cut into 2 inch cubes

1 chopped carrot

1 chopped onion

1 tsp salt

28g flour

¼ tsp pepper

700ml good quality red wine

1tbsp tomato paste

570ml brown beef stock

2 cloves mashed garlic

1/2 tsp fresh thyme

A crumbled bay leaf

18 to 24 small onions, brown-braised – see recipe

450grm baby button mushrooms, sautéed – see recipe

Method:

Remove rind and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1½ inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1.4 liters of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 230 degrees

Sauté the bacon in the oil over a moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Reheat casserole dish until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef. Dry the beef, it will not brown if damp. Sauté a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil & bacon fat unit nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat if any remains. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole & toss with salt & pepper.   Sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly.

Place casserole uncovered in the middle of the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust).   Remove casserole, & turn oven down to 170c.

Stir in the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs & blanched bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover the casserole & place in lower part of pre-heated oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions as follows:

Ingredients: 

18 – 24 peeled baby onions

55grms butter

1 tbsp oil

145ml brown stock / red wine or water

Salt & pepper to taste

1 medium herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, and a few sprigs of thyme tied in string)

Method: 

When the butter and oil are bubbling in the frying pan, add the onions and sauté over a moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so that they will brown as evenly as possible. be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.

Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 – 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet. Leave onions aside until called for later in the recipe.

Now sauté your mushrooms as follows:

Ingredients: 

30ml butter

1 tbsp oil

450grm button mushrooms, washed, well dried

Method: 

Place the frying pan over a high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating that it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 – 5 minutes. During this the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from the heat. Leave aside until called for later in the recipe.

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve placed over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole & return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions & mushrooms over the meat. Skim fat off the sauce & simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 570ml of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. if too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock. Season to taste.

Pour the sauce over the meat & vegetables. Cover the casserole & simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Basting the meat & vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole with a side of your choice, I like to serve with silky smooth mash potato… hmmmm YUM!

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