Feast On Bunny Buns & Nutriseed NuMe Bread: The Guilt-Free Way

Easter has become synonymous with bountiful family feasts, which makes it super tricky to keep track of healthy eating. But, no more! Thanks to Nutriseed we can have decadent chocolate brownies, cake muffins and bread (all low-carb, gluten- and sugar-free)! Recently, I had a chance to try the Nutriseed NuMe bread and bread roll premixes, and I’ll definitely make them again!

I do have a personal interest here, as bread is something I’d like to live and breathe every day, and now, it seems like I can.

Nutriseed-Nume-Bread-Bunny

I’ve adjusted the Nutriseed premixes slightly, to fit into Easter. The bunny-shaped buns are cinnamon-y, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and have a honey-glaze for sweetness – perfect as it is. My version of Nutriseed NuMe bread has a bit festive spice, seeds and hot-cross bun inspired piping on top, to remember what it’s all about.

Here’s how to use Nutriseed NuMe Bread Premixes!

Easter Cross Bread

healthy-hot-cross-bun-bread-nutriseed-nume

INGREDIENTS

  • Nutriseed NuMe Bread premix
  • 150g mixed seeds
  • 5 Eggs
  • 100ml water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 20ml oil
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • Flour paste*

* Make a paste by mixing 2 tablespoons flour with water. The consistency should be like runny icing. You’ll also use this paste for the bunny buns.

METHOD

  1. Heat the oven to 220˚C and grease a bread tin.
  2. Mix together liquid ingredients.
  3. Fold in the bread premix, cinnamon, nutmeg and seeds.
  4. Place the mixture into the bread tin then pipe the flour paste in a cross pattern.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Bunny-shaped Buns

nutriseed-nume-easter-bunnies

INGREDIENTS

  • Bread roll premix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 cup double thick yogurt or cream cheese
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 raisins, cut in half
  • Honey glaze (1 tbsp honey mixed with 2 tbsp hot water)

METHOD

How to roll Easter bunny bread rolls
  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Beat liquids together.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Section the dough into five equal parts. Then divide each section into three (a large, medium and small section).
  6. Roll the large and medium pieces into balls for the head and body of the bunny, and the smallest piece into a sausage shape.
  7. Use a knife to cut the smallest shape three-quarters in half -length-wise.
  8. Assemble the bunny on the baking tray. Place the raisins where the eyes should be and use the flour paste to pipe the nose and bunny ears.
  9. Glaze the bunny rolls with the honey mixture then bake for 15-20 minutes, and serve warm for the Easter feast.

I was astonished that something so healthy could taste so good. So you know, a little goes a long way. A bite of Nutriseed bread is very filling.

If you’re wondering where to get a Nutriseed premix, here are their stockists: Dischem, Spar, Pick ‘n Pay, Food Lover’s Market, Jackson’s Real Food Market, The Health Food Emporium, Faithful to Nature.

Happy Easter!

Blissful Baked Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Love

This post was originally published in March 2018.

This baked chocolate cheesecake topped my list of cheesecakes this year. I’ve had a bit of an experiment going recently… I’ve tried a couple of no-bake ones: the first was a no-bake lemon/granadilla one that was easy and delicious, the second was a strawberry-infused one that was OK, but I made the mistake of adding (what I thought was) a little bit of powder colouring to get “just the right” shade of pretty pink I had in mind.  It turned out SUPER pink – I won’t make that mistake again!

So for this month’s post, I’m sharing with you my favourite out of my recent bakes: a deliciously decadent baked chocolate cheesecake with an Oreo biscuit base.

Baked Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Crust

YOU WILL NEED

Equipment: An electric mixer/food processor, whisk, 22cm springform pan, small saucepan, small heat-proof bowl

INGREDIENTS

For the crust:

  • 24 (1½ packs) Oreo cookies – finely crushed
  • 57g butter or margarine

For the cheesecake filling:

  • 920g (4 tubs) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 270g caster sugar
  • 45ml cocoa powder
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 280g dark chocolate – finely chopped

For the chocolate topping:

  • 100ml cream*
  • 160g dark chocolate – finely chopped
  • 15ml granulated sugar

For the decoration:

A little extra whipped cream as well as fruit, edible flowers or other decorations of your choice – I’ve used granadilla, kiwi, and figs as well as gold-dusted speckled eggs!

METHOD

Preheat oven to gas mark 4/175ºC/350ºF

Prepare your springform pan by cutting a circle of baking paper for the bottom, as well as cutting strips for the sides.

Instructions for the oreo crust:

  • Finely crush the cookies in a food processor, then add melted butter and blend until well combined.
  • Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool while making the filling.

Instructions for the baked chocolate cheesecake filling:

  • Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool.
  • Using your electric mixer, combine the cream cheese and sugar and mix until smooth.
  • Mix in the cocoa powder.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on low speed and taking care not to overbeat the mixture.

  • Add the cooled, melted chocolate and mix on low speed until well combined.
  • Pour the filling over the crust and smooth the top.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 1hr to 1hr 10mins. At this time, the centre of the cheesecake will still be a little bit wobbly, but the surface will feel firm to the touch with a bit of give when pressed lightly.  If your finger sinks into the cake or comes away with batter on it, the cake needs more time in the oven. Bake it for another 5 minutes before rechecking it.

  • Cool on a wire rack until cool enough to place in the refrigerator (uncovered) to set completely – this needs to be at least 8 hours, but ideally overnight.

Instructions for the topping:

  • In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it boils (be careful not to let it boil over!).
  • Place the chopped chocolate in the heat-proof bowl and pour the hot cream over it.
  • Allow to stand for 5 – 10 mins to allow the hot cream to melt the chocolate and to allow the overall temperature to reduce a little.

  • Now for the whisking: start slowly, then increase your speed, whisking the mixture in one direction until smooth and creamy. This may take a little while, the ingredients may initially look like they don’t want to mix, but just carry on whisking until you get that lovely thick, rich texture everyone loves about ganache.
  • Set the ganache aside to cool a little, then pour over the cheesecake and allow to cool completely.
  • When the topping is set and cooled, gently remove the cheesecake from its springform pan and place on your plate of choice.

  • Decorate with whipped cream, fruit or whatever other decorations take your fancy – this can quite easily be tailored to any theme or occasion!

Cook’s notes:

* The chocolate and cream quantities used in this recipe make for a lovely glossy ganache that sets quite firmly, but not so much so that it cracks when you cut it.  Make yours runnier or firmer by adding more or less cream, to suit your preference.

* This baked chocolate cheesecake can be prepared 2-3 days in advance – simply store (covered) in the refrigerator until needed, then decorate as required.

* This can be an expensive bake, as the recipe calls for 4 tubs of cream cheese which can be quite pricey, but a baking-loving friend recently suggested freezing cream cheese, so that’s exactly what I’ve done.  I came across some reduced price tubs recently and bought a whole lot.  Defrosting them overnight worked wonderfully!

* For the gold-dusted speckled eggs, dampen the surface of the egg with a little water and a clean, soft paintbrush, then dip the egg in edible gold dust.

Happy Easter!

The Lavishly Rich Walnut Rosewater Cake Your Valentine Needs

This wildly wonderful walnut rosewater cake is so packed full of flavour that it will bring tears of your joy to your loved one’s eyes! This tasty cake easy to make, although a little bit labour intensive. But it will be well worth the effort! Try it for tea or serve as a decadent dessert.

Adapted from an original recipe in Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh.

HOW TO MAKE A WALNUT ROSEWATER CAKE

Walnut Rosewater Cake with Crystallised Rose petals

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cardamom pods, bruised, seeds reserved, pods discarded
  • 1 cup (150g) walnuts, plus extra chopped
    walnuts to serve (* the original recipe uses pistachios, but I prefer walnuts so I ended using those)
  • 1 cup (100g) almond flour
  • 170g rye flour (*originally, this is a semolina-based cake. But being wheat intolerant, I opted to use rye flour. It provided the perfect accompaniment to the nuttiness!)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 300g unsalted butter, chopped, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs rosewater
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

ROSEWATER CREAM

  • 200g Double cream plain yoghurt
  • 200g creme fraiche
  • 1 tbs icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbs rosewater

SYRUP

  • 100ml lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) rosewater
  • 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar

CRYSTALLISED ROSE PETALS (OPTIONAL)

  • 1 eggwhite
  • 10g (about 40) edible red or dark pink rose petals (from gourmet food shops)
  • 25g caster sugar
Walnut Rosewater Cake with Crystallised Rose petals

METHOD

  1. First, preheat oven to 80°C. Grease a baking tray and line with baking paper. Grease a 23cm springform cake pan and line with baking paper
  2. For the crystallised rose petals, if using, whisk egg white until frothy. In 2 batches, use a small pastry brush to very lightly paint over both sides of each petal with egg white, then sprinkle with sugar. Shake off excess sugar and arrange petals on the prepared tray. Bake for 30 minutes or until petals are dry and crunchy, then set aside to cool.
  3. Increase the oven temperature to 180°C.
  4. To make the walnut rosewater cake, place cardamom seeds and walnuts in a food processor and whiz until walnuts are finely ground. Transfer walnut mixture to a bowl and add almond meal, rye flour, baking powder and 1/4 tsp fine salt. Stir to combine.
  5. Place butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until well combined (be careful not to overwork – you don’t want a lot of air in the mixture). With the motor running, slowly add egg, beating well. Fold through the wallnut mixture, then fold through lemon zest and juice, rosewater and vanilla until just combined. Spread batter into prepared pan and use a palette knife to smooth the surface. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean but a little oily.
  6. Meanwhile, for the rosewater cream, place all ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk to medium peaks. Cover and chill until needed.
  7. Start with the syrup in the final 10 minutes of cake cooking. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, drizzle with hot syrup (it looks like a lot of syrup; the hot cake will absorb it). Then sprinkle with extra wallnuts and set cake aside in the pan to cool to room temperature.
  8. Finally, remove walnut rosewater cake from the pan and scatter with crystallised rose petals, if using, breaking some into pieces. Serve with rosewater cream for even more deliciousness.
Walnut Rosewater Cake with Crystallised Rose petals

This walnut rosewater cake is the cherry on top of a relaxing weekend outdoors or a romantic evening spent underneath flower fairy lights. Let us know if you enjoy this walnut and rosewater cake as much as we did!

Happy Baking this Valentine’s Day!

 

Healthy Rainbow Trout with Plum Salsa

Can a savoury dish be healthy and pink? Oh, yes it can! This low carb rainbow trout and plum salsa recipe is every bit as delicious as it is pretty. I’m quite impressed with myself, having cooked the fish perfectly. Plus, rainbow trout cooks super quickly – a BIG bonus for weeknight dinners!

For the best healthy rainbow trout with plum salsa, first get the basics right for perfectly flaky fish.

How to cook rainbow trout fillets?

  1. Heat a pan to medium-high heat.
  2. Then add a tablespoon of quality olive oil in a pan.
  3. Place the trout fillets with the skin facing down, onto the hot oil.  
  4. Grill for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the trout fillets.
  6. Flip the trout fillets so that the skin is facing up.
  7. Cook the fillets for a few more seconds then remove them from the hot pan.
  8. Serve!

By the way, if you love plums as much as we do, check out Anélle’s Frangipani Tart with Plum Roses. It’s amazing!

Here’s what you need for the healthy rainbow trout with salsa

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 trout portions
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 3 ripe plums
  • 1 yellow pepper  
  • 1/4 cup mint
  • 1 serrano chilli
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • Salt and pepper

Optional:

Fresh whole wheat or rye rustica bread.

how to cook healthy rainbow trout with plum salsa

METHOD:

  1. Chop the mint and chilli, julienne the yellow pepper and cut the plums into small sections.
  2. Mix the honey and the juice from one lemon.
  3. Combine mint, chilli, pepper and plums with the honey mixture and set aside until serving.
  4. Season the rainbow trout fillets with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat the olive oil then grill the trout on the skin side for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add lemon juice then flip the trout fillets and cook for a few seconds.
  7. Place a handful of baby spinach on a plate, top with a trout fillet and then the plum salsa.
  8. Serve with crispy bread.
healthy rainbow trout with plums

Give it a try and let us know what you think! If you like this healthy trout with plum salsa recipe share this post! I found my inspiration from Lettuce Be Healthy.

Happy Eating!

New Year’s Almond Shortbread Cookies with Edible Flowers

Every day we have the opportunity to try and make something new. So, wy not with a cookie recipe? We love cookies here at Homeology and I’ve been in love with Kourabiedes (Greek almond shortbread cookies) since I could remember.

Traditionally, these cookies are for Christmas, but I just loved the thought of combining them with edible flowers and bubbly to celebrate the New Year. So, in the spirit of all things new, I decided to make my first almond shortbread cookies!

shortbread cookies with edible flowers for new years

I found a Kourabiedes recipe that I liked but modified it slightly. Here is my version of the almond shortbread cookies.

butter shortbread cookies

WHAT YOU NEED FOR MY FLORAL & SNOWY SUMMER KOURABIEDES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 600g flour
  • 300g butter
  • 110g powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  • 100g blanched almonds (lightly roasted and chopped)*
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 40 ml brandy/bourbon
  • Extra powdered sugar to coat the cookies
  • Pinch of salt

* If you can’t find blanched almonds, buy whole almonds and blanch them yourself. Just follow the instructions here. After I blanched the almonds, I dried their skins in the oven for 2-5 minutes and crushed them to create almond dust. I added this to the cookie dough for extra nuttiness.

Optional:

  • A handful of edible flowers

almond shortbread cookies fluffy butter

METHOD:

  1. Heat the oven to 160˚C and grease a baking tray.
  2. Mix butter and icing sugar on high in a standing mixer for +/- 20 minutes or until it’s as creamy as beaten cream.
  3. Turn the mixer to low then add the brandy and vanilla essence to the butter mixture.
  4. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and almonds then slowly add to the standing mixer.
  5. Press the cookie dough together and place on a clean and dry surface. Either roll out the dough and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter, form small balls or shape the dough into a loaf-like form and cut into slices. I tried all the options because I like variety. **
  6. Place the cookies on the baking tray and bake for 12-18 minutes or until just done. They should be pale and not golden. Once done, take them out of the oven and allow cooling.
  7. Coat the cookies in icing sugar, make sure they’re fully covered and sprinkle extra icing on top for serving.
  8. For the cookies with the edible flower tops, simply dip the bottom half of the cookies in icing sugar then they’ll be good to go.

** If you’re adding edible flowers, first press the dough together then roll it out slightly. Place petals and small edible flowers onto the dough and continue to roll it out. Cut the dough with a cookie cutter.

shortbread cookies with edible flowers for new years eve celebration

That’s it! These snowy, yet summery, cookies are a delicious way to usher in 2019.

Happy New Year!

NutriSeed Not-So-Naughty Gluten-Free Christmas Cake

Health foodies rejoice, we’ve got great news! Now, a gluten-free Christmas cake can be deliciously decadent and sugar-free too! When NutriSeed asked us to try out their not-so-naughty alternative dessert, I was almost too excited to get started! But I got baking and am happy to report the result was delightful. This cake is also a great option for those who find a fruitcake hard to stomach (myself included!).

nutriseed nume not-so-naughty gluten-free christmas cake

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED FOR THE GLUTEN-FREE CHRISTMAS CAKE

nume not-so-naughty gluten-free christmas cake
The NutriSeed gift box complete with instruction note!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Nutriseed NuMe Chocolate & Pecan Brownie Mix
  • ½ cup Coconut oil
  • 3 Eggs
  • 6 NuSeed Canadian Blueberries and Cranberries*
  • 1 tsp Vanilla essence

* You can use 1 cup of any dried fruit and nut packet that you have in your home. Keep a little extra to sprinkle over the finished treat.

OPTIONAL NAUGHTINESS

  • Coconut cream (chilled in the fridge overnight)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla essence
  • 1 cup Powdered sugar (you can skip this)
  • 2 tbsp Coconut cream

Bakers Note: The tiered cake yields 6-8 portions. Double the recipe if you’re baking for more than 8 people.

nutriseed nume gluten-free christmas cake

METHOD:

I decided to create something that resembles a tiered cake to make it a little more special. But, you don’t have to! Just slice them into brownie slices after their cooled and serve with a dollop of cream and a sprinkle of nuts. If you’re taking my tiered route, consider using a binder like sugar-free strawberry jam or (naughty) icing sugar for between the layers.

FOR THE CAKE

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C and grease a baking pan. (I used a rectangular baking pan and cut out three different sized).
  2. Mix coconut oil, eggs and vanilla essence until well combined.
  3. Blend in the dried fruit, nuts and the brownie mixture.
  4. Pour batter into the baking pan, put it in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Once they’re done, remove from the oven and let them cool down completely.
  6. Now, you can either cut the brownies into squares or three circles like I did. One large, medium and small.

FOR THE LAYERS & TOPPING

  1. Combine vanilla essence, powdered sugar and two tablespoons coconut cream until it is a smooth consistency. Then refrigerate.
  2. To whip the coconut cream, scoop out the solidified bit and blend until it looks like whipped cream.
  3. Assemble the tiers by placing the biggest circle onto a dollop of icing sugar (or jam), to keep it from sliding around. Place two to three dollops of icing sugar in the middle of the first tier then place the medium piece of cake on top and press it down lightly until the icing sugar almost oozes out from the sides. Repeat this process for the remaining tiers.
  4. Cover the whole thing in whipped coconut cream, sprinkle with chopped nuts and cherries.
  5. Refrigerate until serving.

nutriseed not-so-naughty gluten-free christmas cake

The result was super satisfying, delightful and truly tasted like Christmas. We’ve also tried the NutriSeed muffins and they are just as tasty and perfect for brunch!

Happy Christmas Eating!

The products for this post were sponsored by NutriSeed.

3 Easy DIY Christmas Gift Ideas for a Stress-Free Season

Mid-December is when shopping mania sets in. Frantic shoppers dash through stores in search of this year’s special gift. But, why put yourself through the trauma? An easy DIY Christmas gift can be even more special than its store-bought counterpart while taking up less time and much less stress. We’ve put together three quick go-to gifts to cater to any skill set. Dazzle your friends and family with homemade cookies, cordials or succulent planters!

Here’s what you need for three easy DIY Christmas Gifts

Difficulty: easy 

Time: between 5 – 30 minutes per item and 1 hour for all three

1)  Mini Succulent Planters – for the Green Thumb

Give a little love the natural way!

succulent box easy diy christmas gift idea

YOU NEED:

  • A wooden box *
  • Potting soil
  • A succulent or two **
  • Broad ribbon

* You can use any container; old teapots, watering can, cookie boxes are just a few that come to mind.
** Pick a few succulents from your garden. Succulents can grow roots from their leaves, so, don’t worry about the plant dying.

STEP 1:

Take a container (or make your own box), make sure it’s dust-free and clean, and fill it up to halfway with potting soil (you can use soil from the garden).

STEP 2:

Nudge the succulents into the soil, softly and roughly in the middle of the container. Then add more soil to 1cm below the top of the container.

STEP 3:

Make a festive bow with the ribbon, tuck it in at the side of the box then you’re done! Yay! Slide your Christmas card in between the ribbon and the box. Or, spike the card into the soil! It’s a gardener’s gift after all.

2) Rainbow Cookies – for the Sweet Tooth

Spread a little festive cheer with sweetness.

hundreds and thousands cookies-easy DIY gift idea

YOU NEED:

  • 100s & 1000s Cookies
  • A box with a lid
  • Tissue paper
  • Festive ribbon

COOKIE INGREDIENTS:

You can use your favourite vanilla cookie recipe, bake the cookies, glaze them with icing/white chocolate and sprinkle with hundreds and thousands. Or, use Foodlover’s hundreds and thousands cookie recipe like we did!

If you have cookies, follow the steps, or scroll down to make your cookies first!

hundreds and thousands and white chocolate cookies-easy DIY gift idea

STEP 1:

Line a cookie tin with tissue paper and leave enough paper to cascade over the sides of the tin.

STEP 2:

Place your awesome cookies inside, (you can even add a few sachets of your favourite coffee or tea bags!). Bring the cascading tissue paper to the top of the cookies, and softly twist to cover the baked goodies.

STEP 3:

Cover with the lid, add the ribbon and Christmas card and get ready to see happy faces!

For those baking from scratch, here are the ingredients:

hundreds and thousands cookies-easy DIY gift idea

  • 175g butter
  • ⅔ cup caster sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 180g white chocolate, melted
  • ½ cup hundreds and thousands

METHOD:

hundreds and thousands and white chocolate cookies-easy DIY gift idea

  1. Mix the butter, sugar and flour until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  2. Blend in the egg and vanilla until it forms a dough-like consistency.
  3. Lightly knead the dough on a floured surface, then place in a container, and refrigerate for half an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 170°C then roll out the dough between two baking sheets.
  5. Cut out your choice of cookie cutter shapes (a tree or star would be awesome!), then place the raw cookies on a lined baking tray.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, take the cookies out of the oven when they are a light golden colour and let them cool.
  7. Spread the cookie tops with melted white chocolate and dip in or sprinkle with hundreds and thousands and let them set.

3) Rosewater Cordial – for the Life of the Party

A tasty cordial is such a simple gift idea. But, it’s so delicious you might want to keep it for a party yourself. Germarie made a pretty pink cordial, by modifying a tasty Woolworth’s recipe.

rosewater cordial with strawberry easy christmas gift idea

YOU NEED:

  • Homemade rosewater cordial (recipe below)
  • A glass milk jar, or a glass bottle with a screw top *
  • Ribbon
  • Gift box (Optional)

* Pick a bottle with chalk paint square on it, or paint a small square onto the bottle. The chalk will help you to write on the bottle.

ROSEWATER CORDIAL INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 300 g strawberries
  • 1 lemon’s juice
  • 2 tbsp rosewater
  • 1 1/2 cups water

STEP 1:

First, make the cordial. Bring sugar, lemon juice and strawberries to a simmer until the sugar had dissolved. Remove from heat, let it cool then add in the rosewater. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve for a clear cordial.

STEP 2:

Pour the blend into your glass jar. Write “Rosewater Cordial” on the chalk bit, tie it with a pretty ribbon, place in a gift box/bag and it’s ready for mixing. Keep it light with soda and a dash of lemon; mix with bubbly for a version of Kir Royale, or if you want something stronger, spirits and soda!

rosewater cordial with strawberry easy christmas gift idea

That’s it – three gifts within an hour! You can have fun while making gifts for others. I find it way more therapeutic than running in a shopping mall, although I’m often guilty of sprinting through the isles on the 23rd!

Happy festive season, and remember to take it easy!

Glühwein Poached Pears With Spiced Mascarpone Cream

Nothing smells like Christmas as citrus, cinnamon, cloves and star anise. I know that these warming spices seem out of place when we celebrate Christmas in a warm country like South Africa, but there is something about this smell that warms my heart and makes me want to switch on fairy lights.  Just making this delicious dessert is enough to put you in the festive spirit –  my whole house smelled like Jingle Bells! And it is so good that I licked out the pot. I had to wrestle the spoon from one of my children! This recipe for Gühwein poached pears with spiced mascarpone cream comes from Nadia Lim, and it is absolutely delicious served cold. So get ready for a traditional Christmas dessert, served chilled as it should be on a hot Christmas day!

gluhwein poached pears

How to Make Glühwein Poached Pears With Spiced Mascarpone Cream

You will need

For the Pears:

  • 750ml red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice (with no pulp)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (or seeds from 1 vanilla pod)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • peel and juice of 1 orange
  • peel and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 firm pears

For the Spiced Mascarpone Cream

  • 1 cup mascarpone (you can also use double cream or double cream yoghurt)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

peeled pairs

Method:

Place all the ingredients for the poached pears, except for the pears, into a medium saucepan and heat.

While the liquid is heating, peel the pears with a knife or vegetable peeler and slice a bit off the bottom so that they can stand upright.

Place the pears on their sides in the liquid and bring to the boil. The liquid should just about cover the pears.

Reduce the heat and allow to simmer gently, partially covered, for 1.5 to 2 hours, until the pears are tender and have absorbed the lovely colour and flavours of the wine and spices. Turn the pears once or twice while cooking to ensure that they colour evenly. You must also keep an eye on them to make sure that the liquid is not reducing too fast and allowing the pears to burn to the bottom of the pot.

Remove the pears from the liquid and allow to cool. Then turn the heat back up, reducing the liquid for 10 more minutes, until thick and syrupy.

Mix the spices with the mascarpone cream.

gluhwein poached pears with spiced mascarpone cream

To serve, drizzle the syrup over the pears and served with the chilled spicy mascarpone.

Happy Feasting!

Homemade Satay Sauce with Grilled Flatbread & Chicken Skewers

Sticky, sweet, salty, tasty goodness is all I ask for in a braai. And today, I had it all! I decided to treat myself and my partner (to his distress) to a braai. And even though my fire-making skills are close to nought, it had to be done. Just so you know, this meal is perfect for sharing and it ticks all the flavour boxes. Soft flatbread, sticky chicken and spicy homemade satay sauce can make anyone happy. After a day of braaing, remember the dessert and treat yourself to an easy treat – you deserve it!

Spicy Homemade Satay with Grilled Flatbread and Crispy Chicken Skewers

spicy homemade satay sauce with chicken and flatbread

 

You Will Need

A griddle pan or a good old-fashioned fire braai.

Ingredients:

For the Homemade Satay Sauce

  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp yellow curry powder

Optional extras*

  • ½ tsp fish sauce
  • 2 chillies chopped
  • 3 cardamom pips crushed

* The sauce will still be super tasty if you don’t add these, but the extras add a lovely depth of flavour and heat for those who want some spice.

For the Spicy Chicken Skewers

  • 400g chicken**
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp chilli sauce/chutney
  • 1 tbsp warm water
  • wooden skewers

** I used chicken wings for the extra crispy bits, but chicken breasts also work really well with the dipping sauce. Multiply the marinade by 4 to marinade a whole spatchcock chicken.

For the Flatbread

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp peanut/olive/coconut oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Extra flour and water to use while kneading

Method:

If you’re making your own chicken skewers start with the marinade first.

For the Chicken

homemade chicken skewers with spice satay sauce

  1. Start by soaking the wood skewers in water (soak them until they’re needed).
  2. Mix honey, zest, water, soy sauce and chilli sauce and place in a shallow dish or Tupperware.
  3. Add the chicken (chicken breasts need to be diced to 3cmx3cm pieces) to the marinade.
  4. Cover and cool the chicken in the fridge for 1-24 hours.
  5. Once the chicken is ready, skewer the pieces onto the wooden skewers.
  6. Cook the chicken on a hot griddle pan or the braai.*

* Hold your hand just above the braai grill and start counting. If you can count to 3-4 seconds before you start burning it’s ideal for chicken wings and chicken breasts.

FOR THE SATAY SAUCE

homemade chicken satay sauce

  1. Heat oil in a pan and then add the ginger, garlic and chillies.
  2. Mix the peanut butter, lemon juice, soy sauce, water, curry powder, fish sauce and cardamom before adding to the hot pan.
  3. Bring the sauce to the boil and stir the mixture until it’s smooth and has the consistency of thick yoghurt.
  4. Set aside until serving.

FOR THE FLATBREAD

chicken satay homemade flatbread

  1. Mix flour and salt in a bowl, then make a well in the middle.
  2. Pour the yoghurt and oil into the well then incorporate the flour mixture bit by bit with a spoon.
  3. Now, use your hand to knead the dough, just lightly so that you can form a dough ball (it’ll still be sticky).
  4. Leave the dough to rest for 30 min – 2 hours in a warm spot.
  5. Once the dough has rested, prepare the kneading surface by placing a medium layer of flour onto the surface and flour your hands.
  6. Tear off a golf ball-sized piece of dough, then roll the piece into a ball. Start pulling the dough to resemble a saucer (or plate). This will help make rolling the dough easier.
  7. Sprinkle both sides of the piece of dough with flour and roll it out.
  8. Once you’re happy with it, brush with olive oil or herb butter and place aside. Continue this process until the dough is finished.
  9. Braai the flatbreads one-by-one on a griddle pan, 3 minutes per side. *

* Hold your hand above the braai grill and count. If you can count to 5-8 seconds before you start burning, you can braai your flatbreads.

homemade chicken satay sauce with chicken braai

Serve everything together with something chilled and good company. Remember to dip the flatbread and chicken in that tasty sauce!

Happy Eating!

Quick and Simple Deconstructed Tiramisu

More than once in my life, I have found myself in the situation where it took so long to prepare a special meal for guests that I don’t have enough time left to create a masterpiece for dessert. While this certainly addresses my lack of planning, you sometimes have to cut yourself some slack and take a shortcut. This super quick deconstructed tiramisu presents really well and is light without being too sweet. Play it down to a simple finish after a heavy meal, rather than your shortcomings 😉

deconstructed tiramisu for two

First, a quick note on tiramisu:

I know that any Italian or lover of Italian food will look at this recipe with scepticism. I love (real) tiramisu, in spite of my deep disapproval of biscuits and liquids in close contact with each other for more than a few seconds at a time. But when you break down the flavours, this most delicious of desserts comes down to a few basic ingredients put together with a lot of care and love. This dessert was inspired by those beautiful flavours.

How to Make A Quick And Pretty Deconstructed Tiramisu

You will need (serves 4)

  • 125ml mascarpone
  • 125ml single cream
  • 30ml castor sugar
  • 5ml powdered vanilla pods*
  • 8 ladyfinger biscuits
  • 2 cups of espresso or super strong coffee with sugar to taste
  • 60ml coffee liqueur
  • strawberries and good quality powdered chocolate** to serve

* You can use vanilla essence as well, but I find that powdered pods pack a lot more flavour and I love the speckled look it lends to the cream as well.

** I prefer a bitter cocoa powder that provides a beautiful contrast with all the flavours. If you want it a bit sweeter, however, use hot chocolate powder.

deconstructed tiramisu with ladyfingers and strawberries

Method:

Place the cream, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla pod in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.

Equally divide the mixture between four ramekins and place in the fridge until it’s time to serve.

Once your guests are ready for dessert, brew the coffee and pour into four espresso cups. Add the liqueur and sugar to taste. (You can also make this before the meal and place in the fridge to cool.)

tiramisu

Dust the ramekins with powdered chocolate and serve with ladyfingers, strawberries and the espresso.

May you always have enough time to present delectable desserts. And when you don’t may you serve deconstructed tiramisu!