Hey guys. I’m going to let the blog go quiet for the next few weeks while I focus on my new blog. It’s about life as a medstudent in a rural town in South Africa. If you’d like to read it then drop me a line using the Contact Me page and I will send you a reader’s invitation :)
When food bloggers blog about the ol’ soup, words like ‘comfort’ and ‘cold weather’ and ‘padded shoes’ are tossed around. Padded shoes? Who would’ve thought?
So why not introduce a new word to the mix?
Like a NETWORK.
Ugh, lame. You have permission to punish me for that.
This recipe draws inspiration from Ohn-no-khakswe, a famous chicken and coconut soup served on the streets of Burma. This simple, spicy soup is bolstered by some crunchy/herby/spicy/onion-y garnishes where YOU get decide how much of each you’d like. And that’s where the fun, social aspect comes in. There’s actually activity at the table where this soup is served – how often can a soup lay claim to that?
This blog has taken a rather hyperglycaemic turn this year, so for the next few posts, I’ll pander to the savoury crowd with:
– a particularly social soup
– a collection of recipes featuring the ugly stepsister of garam masala: curry powder
– one of my favourite starters from one of the best resources for halaal recipe seekers: the delightfully named Halaal Recipes.
Fried dough is delicious.
I rediscovered that simple fact when I made Baked Lawyer’s churros the other night. They were good – but the addition of a simple chocolate sauce took them from good to glorious. Carby, crunchy, and impossible to eat with cutlery, these are yummy indeed.
I made several modifications to their recipe. The main one was the substitution of butter for olive oil. Why? Because Time said so.
Cooking these babies was a pain though. On medium heat x 3 minutes, my short 5cm-long churros would turn the most beautiful colour on the outside – but their insides would remain doughy. Baked Lawyer did recommend a deep fryer set at 170 degrees, so maybe that would work for those of you who own deep-fryers. I fiddled with the settings until a compromise between temperature and timing was reached.
Eventually, out of the oil, churros were born. They were coated in sugar and dipped in a very, very good chocolate sauce. I’ll be making these again soon.
Adapted from Baked Lawyer
The original quantities were halved – this makes 10 x 5cm long churros.
For the batter:
1 and 1/4 cups cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon melted butter
220 to 250mls of boiling water
Oil for frying
For the coating:
1/2 cup caster sugar
For the sauce:
50 ml cream
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (or more!)
pinch of white pepper
80g dark chocolate (I used Bournville)
1. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder.
2. Make a well in the centre. Add the melted butter and about 220ml boiling water.
3. Mix it all together until a firm dough forms. It should be slightly sticky. Add more water if necessary.
4. Spoon it into a decent, strong piping bag (fabric or a strong plastic) that has a large star shaped nozzle attached. Tie it up and leave aside.
5. For frying, I used a 20cm wide pot, and poured oil in to a depth of about 4cm, and heated the oil up over low-medium heat.
6. When the oil is ready, pipe the dough into the oil, as long as you prefer. 5cm segments were manageable for me. Cut off the dough using a sharp knife or clean kitchen scissors. Cook the churros until they turn a golden brown colour (about 8 minutes).
7. Drain on paper towels, then transfer the hot churros to a bowl in which the sugar coating awaits. Jiggle the bowl about to evenly coat the churros.
8. To make the sauce, heat the cream, chilli, white pepper and cinnamon stick until the cream boils. Pour over the chocolate and leave to stand for a few minutes. Whisk together; remove the cinnamon stick and serve.
9. Dip and enjoy!
Last Sunday, I was here – 8 Morrison Street.
This place has become the weekly home of The Morning Trade, which is essentially a flea market for foodies. It seems that Durban’s inner city regeneration has finally gone mainstream, bringing all the people who would traditionally sneer at the CBD … right into its bowels.
(Okay, 8 Morrison Street doesn’t qualify as ‘bowels’, but you get my point.)
This project is long overdue. It always strikes me how busy and how central CBDs are in developed countries, yet in Durban we have a CBD that unfortunately had developed a reputation as a no-go zone. Durban needs this. Durban needs arty farty things like this. Durban needs more people like the organisers of TMT, who have the foresight to take advantage of ‘Town’s’ grungy appeal.
So all the food and everything else aside, you must go. Be a part of the regeneration.
Some things that you should remember about The Morning Trade:
– Go early. On the advice of a friend, we got there by 8:30. Early birds don’t have to squeeze between people, the stallholders have enough time to chat to you, and ALL the food is there for the taking.
– Don’t expect a massive feast. It’s a small market. It’s made up of predominantly baking stalls and breakfast things, with a smattering of plants and some other cool items.
– Haven’t seen a quail egg before? This is where you’re going to see it.
– It’s pretty Muslim-friendly. There are a few things more unattractive to a me as a Muslim than the all-permeating smell of alcohol, and slabs of meat hanging around, when I’m looking for something to eat. TMT features none of that. There are several small butchers, but they’re not in your face in any way. We spotted one Muslim stallholder who sold halaal chicken sandwiches and koeksisters. The ever popular falafel guy from the Essenwood Flea Market is also there; all his food is vegetarian and very, very yummy. We also visited Margaret Wasserfall’s cake shop, where nothing contained alcohol, meat or gelatine (YAY). My friend had raved about a stall called The Bake Shop, which featured some beautiful German chocolate cupcakes. Unfortunately these cupcakes were placed right next to the bacon/banana ones. The thing about home bakeries is that you have to be skeptical about cross-contamination, so this meant The Bake Shop was off limits. Sigh.
– Get some baba ganouj on your falafel wrap. It’s so, so smokey!
The Morning Trade is open every Sunday from 8am to 2pm. For more information, visit their Facebook page.
(A very late) Ramadaan Mubarak!
After the permissibility of gelatine was questioned by the local Ulema, I’ve had a niggling doubt about its ‘halaalness’. It appears that gelatine has turned into the nail polish of the food world. Some say it’s halaal – while others like SANHA say it’s completely forbidden. Then again, with some debatable practices, SANHA itself is not exactly a paragon of virtue – which leaves us back at square one: confused.
Do I still eat marshmallows? Definitely. Do I still have soft jelly sweets and Clover Sour Cream and Vital capsules? Definitely. But lately I’ve decided to start cutting back on the gelatine in my baking. Appeasing the conscience? Definitely.
Enter agar agar. Made from dried seaweed, it’s a fine off-white powder that’s also known as China grass powder – or falooda powder. It’s been used in Asian countries as a gelatine substitute for years.
The problem with agar agar, however, is that there’s a limited amount of information about how to use it. Substituting gelatine with agar agar is tricky. Too little and it doesn’t set. Too much and it becomes a solid chunk of dessert (it’s nasty, trust me). It also needs to reach boiling point to be ‘activated’.
So after some trial and error, lots of anxiety, and buckets of prayers, I present to you the airy agar-agar cheesecake.
Try making this for Eid – it offers a break from the really rich, chocolate-y things on display on the Eid table.
AGAR AGAR STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE
Makes one 20cm cheesecake
For the agar agar gel
2 ¼ teaspoons agar agar powder
6 tablespoons cold water
For the fresh strawberry puree
220g hulled and chopped ripe strawberries
2 tablespoons water
For the base
90g butter, melted
200g Nuttikrust biscuits
1 tablespoon sugar
For the cheesecake batter
250g cream cheese, left outside the fridge for an hour
1 cup whipping cream
¾ cup sugar (if you like your cheesecakes very sweet, bump it up to 1 cup. I used brown sugar because we don’t usually keep white sugar.)
- Mix the agar agar with the 6 tablespoons of water. Set aside while you prepare the base.
- Crush the biscuits and mix with melted butter and sugar. Press into a well-greased 20cm springform pan and place in the freezer.
- Place the sliced strawberries in a saucepan together with the 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and puree the strawberries using a stick blender.
- In a clean small saucepan over moderate heat, bring the agar mixture to a simmer. Once it starts thickening, whisk until it forms a thick translucent gel. Whisk this gel into the saucepan of strawberry puree. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cook for about 30 seconds. Set aside to cool.
- On low speed, beat together the cream cheese and the sugar until combined, not dissolved.
- Beat the whipping cream until it forms firm, not stiff, peaks. Whisk the cream into the cream cheese mixture, one third at a time. The mixture will be quite stiff.
- Finally, whisk the now-just-warm strawberries into the cream/cream cheese mixture. Whisk it into the mixture in thirds (as always) – after the first addition, work quickly. Pour it on to the cold biscuit base. Level the surface.
- Refrigerate for at least 5 hours. This cheesecake is best enjoyed after at least a day, when the strawberry flavour has had time to meld with the cream cheese.
Heston Blumenthal must be an inspiration for photocopier salesmen everywhere. Once a photocopier salesman himself, he’s ascended the ranks in the food business to become one of its leading figures.
His remarkable journey bore a three Michelin starred restaurant called The Fat Duck, once voted the number one restaurant in the world.
I watched an episode of Masterchef: The Professionals (the UK version) and marvelled at The Fat Duck’s creations. Thing is, being Muslim comes with some unique side effects, and I suddenly wished I was the daughter of an Arab sheikh, who could hire The Fat Duck and its team for the evening to make me halaal versions of all their beautiful dishes. Until some Arab sheikh realises I’m his lost daughter, the restaurant’s dishes will remain separated from me by a TV screen.
However … it still doesn’t stop one from being amazed at the wondrous workings of this innocuous-looking restaurant.
To get an idea of what I’m talking about, watch this episode. It’s part one of the season five finale.
Now go and watch the other seasons of Masterchef: The Professionals. It’s one of the my favourite shows on the box at the moment.
A while ago Lorraine Pascale appeared on Masterchef AU for a masterclass in cake-making. There she said something that validated my years of shortcuts in the kitchen.
“Sifting flour is unnecessary.”
And just like that, the heavens opened up and shone light onto my TV. Sifting … is … unnecessary! No more hauling the sieve out of some dark cupboard! No more sifting flour over the entire kitchen counter! No more washing the sieve! LAZY BAKERS UNITE!
She went on to explain that 21st century flour is sifted many times during production, so unless there are bits like bran that you want to get rid of, sifting is unnecessary.
But I digress. This recipe for apple pancakes doesn’t – as you may have guessed – require any sifting. It’s a simple mix-it-all-together that produces a filling breakfast. Served with lots of dripping syrup, it makes great comfort food too.
BREAKFAST APPLE PANCAKES
Adapted from Fast Kids’ Food
1 and ½ cup brown/wholewheat flour
1 and ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ cup brown sugar
1 and ¼ cups milk
30g butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 apples, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon vegetable oil, for frying
- In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, brown sugar and oats). Create a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.
- Now pour each wet ingredient (milk, egg, vanilla essence) into the well. Using that whisk, mix them together in the centre first, then start incorporating the dry ingredients from the sides. Whisk together until the batter is smooth and homogeneous.
- Stir in the grated apples.
- Stand for at least 15 minutes. You can refrigerate the batter for use the next morning.
- Get a non-stick frying pan going on low heat. Oil the pan using a piece of paper towel that has soaked up a teaspoon of oil.
- Pour half a cup of batter into the pan, spreading with a tablespoon, to create a pancake about 16 centimetres in diameter (yup, I know, huge – but satisfying).
- When it starts to bubble all over, turn it over. Cook for about 30 seconds longer – or lift up one edge and peek at the underside, which should be golden. Serve with syrup or honey.
I’m going to start with an apology.
I am sorry that there will be no pictures of my own finished product today. So when I say this ice cream is amazing, well, you have to take my word for it.
This was the picture that got me making this recipe:
Such a feast for the eyes. The warm colour of the ice cream imparted by the peanut butter; those chunks of crispy chocolate, crunchy sugar cones and crispy cereal juxtaposed with the ice cream’s melty softness; the coolness of the exterior, giving a clean look to the whole picture. Well done Love & Olive Oil. I wish I could take photos like you guys do.
Inspired by Love & Olive Oil’s recipe, but knowing full well that I don’t have an ice cream maker, I used one of my favourite ice cream recipes instead. It’s a no-churn recipe – which eliminates the inconvenience of the freeze-beat-repeat method – BUT it still gives you an incredibly smooth, creamy ice cream.
Best of all, it produces ice cream that looks exactly like the beautiful picture above.
If you like peanut butter, this recipe will transport you to a land filled with peanut butter, chocolate and sheer joy.
If you don’t, then fear not, you will be a convert after this.
PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CRUNCH ICE CREAM
Makes 1.2 litres
For the ice cream
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter (not 100% peanut butter)
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 cup fresh cream
For the chocolate crunch
100g dark chocolate
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 cup Rice Krispies
1. Heat the milk to boiling point. Pop the peanut butter in a bowl; pour the hot milk over it and whisk until smooth. Immediately after you mix the two ingredients together, it will turn grainy and odd-looking. Don’t freak out. Keep whisking and it will become a smooth, homogenous mixture. Leave aside.
2. Over a bain marie*, beat the egg yolks and the caster sugar together until thick and pale (about 4-5 minutes). Remove from the heat, add the vanilla essence and beat on moderate speed until it leaves a complete figure-of-eight trail.
3. Beat the cream until firm peaks form. Leave aside.
4. Whisk the peanut butter-milk mixture into the yolk mixture.
5. Whisk the beaten cream into the mixture.
6. Pour into a container and freeze for about four hours. It should be semi-solid. Stir in the chocolate crunch. Return to the freezer for a relaxing overnight rest.
1. Line a baking tray with a 30cm x 20cm piece of parchment.
2. Melt the chocolate together with the peanut butter.
3. Stir in the rice krispies, making sure each rice krispie is coated evenly.
4. Spread mixture in a single layer on parchment. Freeze until required.
5. As soon as the ice cream is semi-solid, chop the chocolate crunch into small pieces, stir it into the ice cream and freeze overnight.
Before serving, leave outside for a few minutes.
*A bain marie is just a fancy term for a double boiler. When recipes call for a bain marie, I bring a small pot of (about 400mls) water to a slow, rolling boil, then pop a heatproof bowl over the top. The bowl must not touch the water; it is only in contact with the steam. The ingredients (in this case, the yolks and the sugar) are placed in this bowl. If the bowl is in contact with the boiling water, or if you do not beat/whisk/stir the mixture while it’s over the heat, the yolks will cook.