Today’s post is going to be a quick one because I think today is the last day to get entries into Bangers and Mash’s new challenge The Spice Trail. Vanesther chose chillies for this month’s theme and so I give you a recipe with a whole 20 hot chillies in it. This is not for the faint hearted but if you are a chilli fan then you have to try this. Peri Peri sauce or (Piri Piri sauce) was brought to South Africa by the Portuguese and has since been popularised in the UK by Nando’s. It makes a great marinade for roast chicken and another very popular dish in South Africa is Peri Peri chicken livers. I have used the very hot Scotch Bonnet chillies because they are readily available here in the UK but if you can get African Bird’s Eye chillies then even better.
It’s been a couple of months now since I last participated in the Bake Along challenge so I was keen to try this month’s challenge which is an Italian Almond Tart. One of the main ingredients called for is Almond Paste which I have never come across here in the UK. A quick search on Google revealed quite a heated debate amongst the baking fraternity. It would appear that Almond Paste means something different depending on which country you come from. What I did learn is that Marzipan (as we know it in the UK) is not the same as Almond Paste. Almond Paste generally has equal quantities of ground almonds to sugar whereas Marzipan has a much higher ratio of sugar to almonds. I did have a look at a couple of brands of Marzipan and the quantity of almonds was only 25%. I also didn’t recognise a lot of the other ingredients which is never a good thing. Having established the ratio of sugar to almonds, the next deciding factor is what binding agent to use. This is where you see the difference between the different countries. I found recipes which used egg white, egg yolk, whole egg, water, sugar syrup, honey and some even had alcohol in them. I opted for the whole egg but only because I didn’t want to have to deal with the problem of a stray yolk or 1 egg white to use up. I also added Cointreau but to be honest I couldn’t taste it in the finished product. The end result was delicious and made for a perfect Almond Tart. It is really quick and so easy to make and freezes beautifully. No excuses… you have to try and make your own homemade almond paste. You won’t regret it.
This week has not been without its fair share of kitchen disasters. I have been trying to perfect a chocolate mousse terrine and gave up after my third attempt – never wanting to see another chocolate mousse again. I also tried my hand at deep fried cauliflower. Why? When I don’t like deep fried food and I don’t like cauliflower. I was not converted! By the end of the week I was looking for familiarity. Something that I knew would work. Something comforting. A good old fashioned oat cookie, crispy and perfect for dunking was my answer. These oat cookies were part of my Mum’s baking repertoire when we were growing up. We used to know them as Gypsy Creams and I was always intrigued as to where the name originated from but have never managed to find out. My Mum used to sandwich them together with a buttercream icing but I generally leave them plain as they last longer in the tin. For this batch I sandwiched them together with some leftover Mars Bar sauce (which, by the way is perfect over vanilla ice cream).
Way back in September I can remember wondering what I would do with all my time now that both kids are at school. Two months in, and I can honestly say that I have not had one day where I’ve had nothing to do. In fact I seem to have less time to do ‘my’ things like blogging. On Monday I decided I would spruce up the guest bathroom by giving it a quick lick of paint. It is now Thursday and my small job has turned into a complete over haul with me painting the walls, the woodwork, removing the old tiles and putting up new ones, varnishing the floor and fitting all new accessories. I do love the whole process of DIY but everything else gets put on the back burner including cooking and housework. This is where my freezer becomes my best friend. First thing in the morning I can take out a precooked meal and half an hour before hubby is due home it is in the pot getting heated up. A perfectly good home cooked meal on the table in less than half an hour and I’ve managed to spend the day decorating the house.
One of my standby meals for the freezer is this Durban Lamb Curry. It is just a good, no nonsense spicy curry which originates from South Africa and in particular the area of Natal which is where I was born many years ago. I have toned down the spices ever so slightly so that my hubby can eat it and even my five year old daughter enjoys ‘that spicy meat stuff’. A real family favourite in our house.
Well that’s enough sitting around, coffee break over, it’s back to the painting….
When looking through a menu it is always the dessert section that I head to first, the same when I pick up a recipe book or when I’m looking through somebody’s blog. Sadly for me I very rarely get to make a dessert. My hubby has no interest in anything sweet and I don’t want to overload my kids with creamy, sugary food when they are more than happy with fruit or yoghurt. So the only time I really get to indulge myself is if we have friends round for dinner and then I tend to make something quite elaborate.
When I heard about the new Dead Easy Desserts challenge over at Maison Cupcake I was more than happy. That was until I realised that you had to be able to complete them in less than 30 minutes. Yikes! I can’t remember ever having made a dessert in such a short time except for my Lemon Ping Pudding but I had already blogged that. It was only a few days later that I thought about this Chocolate Blancmange recipe which was one of the first things I learnt at school. It is super quick and so easy it is almost fool proof. You can serve it as is or layer it with some fresh cream in a glass and serve with a shortbread biscuit for something a bit more elegant. You can also play around with the flavour by adding a touch of Cointreau or Baileys Irish Cream. When served just plain with a few shavings of chocolate over the top it is a perfect quick treat for the kids.
It’s quick; its rich, it’s chocolaty – what more do you need.