Cauliflower is the new Potato…

This trendy vegetable shot to fame in a cheesy sauce , but now its in the headlines for a different reason …..

In an age where obesity is a growing world wide epidemic with over 1.3 Billion people overweight , this brazen brassica has turned the tables once again and made us rethink the age old uses of cauliflower  .

This amazing vegetable not only comes in a variety of colours (purple , orange ,white , and green) but it is an amazing carbohydrate substitute ! low fat ,low carb , high fibre , vitamin C ….. the list is endless its no wonder the potato is going out of fashion .

This little low carb snowball could be the answer to many people wanting to change a dress size or two , from cauliflower pizza bases, baked cauliflower pops and cauliflower mash this little beaut is fast becoming the new’potato’ , I hardly think it will every surpass the need for french fries but it might just kick the obesity epidemic in the gut and start pushing mankind towards a healthier, tastier way of living .

Don’t get me wrong , I love my deep fat fried ,sugar coated , twice dunked ,sprinkle topped anything , but there needs to be a line .

so for those of you who think take out Friday is the easiest answer , maybe try something different … your heart will praise you and your waist will thank you .

here is my recipe for a cauliflower crust pizza (try use a purple cauliflower to make it extra fun for the kids )

For the crust:

1 medium sized cauliflower , grated

100 g low fat cream cheese

1 egg

salt and black pepper  (I also grate half a head of garlic , personal preference )

preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius, and place a tray in the oven to heat up ( like a pizza stone , but not quite),

boil the cauliflower for 5 min , drain well in a tea towel and squish all the liquid out and place in a processor ,  you should have something that resembles crumbs , add to a counter top (make a well) or a mixing bowl , add your cream cheese and egg and flavourings and mix well . section into portions (balls) and on a piece of wax paper push down into a circle to shape your crust .bake for about 30-35 min until golden while they are cooking get your toppings and sauce ready .

for the sauce :

1 small onion sauteed with 1 clove garlic

1 can of tomato puree

1 can of tomato chunks (or 3 fresh pomodoro tomatoes – cooking tomatoes , they have more flavour than salad ones)

saute the above , add some salt and pepper , some oregano and a pinch of sugar .

place this mix in the blender and mix on high for 5 min ( yes it must be hot ) take off and reduce further for a richer smoother sauce . if you like your sauce chunky reduce for 5 min on a medium heat .

Time to assemble the beast !!!

take your cauliflower bases and add some sauce and toppings , top with grated mozzarella (healthier than yellow cheese) , a little olive oil and bake for 10 min till your cheese is melted and yummy  , I quite like mine nuked (cheese is the colour of a cinnamon stick )

and voila !!! a healthy pizza

Bon appetite

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Mysterious Meringue

Lemon meringue cupcakes  has to be one of my favorites , but some people shudder at the word meringue thinking it holds this untold mystery that only well read cooks can obtain . wrong….

There are 3 types of meringue

  1. French meringue (uncooked)
  2. Italian meringue (partially cooked)
  3. Swiss meringue  (cooked)

Your probably thinking cooked and uncooked ?!? well yes just because you caramelize them all at the end does not mean they are cooked , its in the process’s

  1. French uses caster sugar , slowly incorporated into egg whites it also uses a stabilizing agent mainly lemon juice or cream of tartar   and is usually used as the topping in the classic lemon meringue pie, it can be cooked buy making meringues and letting them bake and dry out . I find it becomes weepy over time which tends to make the rest of the desserts its sitting on soggy .
  2. Italian meringue uses a hot sugar syrup , which partially cooks the meringue as the egg white cooks at anywhere between 63ºC – 65ºC , this type is usually used in the classic baked Alaska or the macaroon
  3. Swiss meringue is completely cooked , made buy combining egg whites and sugar over a double boiler , heating till all the sugar is dissolved , then whipping it up to get those lovely spikey peaks . this type is usually used in frosting as it does not require any baking , does not weep and lasts a lot longer than its counterparts .

Personally having tried these all , the easiest and most versatile is the Swiss meringue , it also has a smoother almost liquid marshmallow texture which I love .

Recipes :

French Meringue 

Ingredients :

  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Method:

Whisk  egg whites,  and cream of tartar with a mixer on medium-low speed until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until sugar dissolves and soft peaks form. Gradually increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff peaks form , lastly add vanilla . You can use it immediately or alternatively pipe it out on a sheet of baking paper , place on a pan and bake for 2 hours at 90ºC , turn off oven and allow to dry . Or use to cover a tea time favorite and add some colour by using a blow torch to caramelize the meringue 

Italian Meringue

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Method :

Bring sugar, water, and corn syrup to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook, undisturbed, until syrup registers 248 degrees on a candy thermometer.Whisk  egg whites with a mixer on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar. Increase speed to medium, and whisk until soft peaks form .at a constant speed  pour hot syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream , once halfway Increase speed to high, and beat until stiff and glossy , lastly add vanilla . You can use it immediately or alternatively pipe it out on a sheet of baking paper , place on a pan and bake for 2 hours at 90ºC , turn off oven and allow to dry . Or use to  incorporate into  a frosting,macaroon or as decoration , add some colour by using a blow torch to caramelize the meringue 

Swiss Meringue 

Ingredients :

  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon  vanilla extract

Method:

Fill medium saucepan one quarter full with water. Set the saucepan over medium heat, and bring water to a simmer and not boil as it will cook eggs to quickly and leave streaks of egg  white in the meringue .Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of electric mixer, and place over saucepan. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch they usually double in size and become thick and glossy. Test by rubbing between your fingers – you should feel no sugar granules an it should be warm and light.Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use meringue immediately as if left it forms a crust .Or use to  incorporate into  a frosting, or as piping decoration , add some colour by using a blow torch to caramelize the meringue – this meringue is great as its marshmallow consistency make great smores, spiky cupcakes and is the most versatile of all .

I hope this helps shed some light on the age old mystery of meringue , and if a first you don’t succeed try try again .

My first time making french meringue I had to throw away 7 batches and finally got the knack of it on the 8th try , so don’t be afraid of a little egg white , with a little perseverance, patience and imagination – meringue can turn any dessert around .

meringe

Have a Cakalisious day

🙂

Tea Time Tidbit’s

I love the delightful combination of cranberry and orange , it is so refreshing and homey and good enough to serve at the mad hatter’s tea Party .

I find it brings a different element to the usual tea time treats of cream doughnuts and scones , which you could also spruce up with a few dried cranberry’s and freshly grated orange zest it is that versatile as a flavour combination .

tea time

 

Below is a recipe I have found that works for tea loaves and muffins

Cranberry and Orange tea time muffins 

makes:

muffins : ±24

Loaf: 2 medium loaf tins

Ingredients 

500 g Cake  flour  (mix half almond flour and cake flour = Delicious almond flavours that works wonderfully with cranberry and orange )

20 ml baking powder

400 ml caster sugar

250 ml vegetable oil

4 eggs

250 ml orange juice

5 ml vanilla

125 g – 175 g dried cranberry’s (add to taste as i like mine loaded with them 🙂 )

zest of one orange (usually 2 tablespoons worth )

Method 

  1. line a loaf /muffin tin with butter and flour or muffin cups if you are planning to entertain .
  2. preheat oven to 180 degree’s Celsius
  3. sift flour and baking powder together and set aside
  4. whisk oil , eggs and sugar till thick , light and fluffy , add vanilla at the end
  5. add flour mix to oil mix and fold in
  6. add orange juice slowly as you are folding in
  7. add cranberry’s and zest (i find micro planing the orange produces a finer zest that is not so over powering )
  8. place in loaf tin or muffin cups , keep in mind if you place in a loaf tin the cooking time will increase
  9. Bake muffins in oven 180 °C , on middle shelf , for 25-30 min until a knife comes out clean , if you bake it in a loaf tin it takes approximately an hour  .

♥ To SPICE it up add some ground cardamon or grated nutmeg to really give that something extra .

This is a great summer and Autumn tea time treat , and easy enough to get the kids involved in beginners baking .

Have a cakealiscious day

😉

 

Yellow pepper soup

A friend of mine cultivates cherry tomatoes and yellow peppers , it was end of her season and she gave me a few to take home . A few being 60 kg’s !!! Say what!?!?

Everyone loves roasted red pepper soup but yellow pepper? never heard of it  , so I  accepted the challenge of making this mountain of peppers into something .

LIGHTBULB!!! MOMENT  –  make a soup or sauce , they freeze well and can be a base for many things such as a pasta sauce , base of another soup , all sorts .

Ingredients :

  • 2 onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • one red chili
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 5 sage leaves
  • cayenne pepper (to taste )
  • 2 ml nutmeg
  • 15 yellow peppers
  • one can tomato puree
  • 50 ml Port wine and then some 😉
  • 500 ml – 750 ml chicken stock
  • heavy cream
  • and salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Method:

  1. remove the core from the pepper and cut into 5 cm chunks , throw in a roasting pan with some olive oil salt and pepper , and place in an oven at 220 degree’s Celsius .
  2. In a heavy based pot , add 20 ml olive oil , slice onions , garlic and chilies roughly and brown for 10 minutes add the thyme (without stalk) , sage (freshly chopped), cayenne and nutmeg , allow the spices to infuse .
  3. add tomato paste and cook it out for a minute or so
  4. Deglaze with the Port wine  –  keep some for yourself , the chef always deserves a reward
  5. Buy now the peppers should be brown and sweet , add them to the pot and stir .
  6. Add stock to cover the peppers , and allow to simmer for 5 min .
  7. Liquidize the mixture and strain through a sieve ( this will get rid of the waxy skins of the peppers)
  8. Once strained season to taste
  9. serve with a swizzle of cream and a cheesy baguette on the side

this can also be made into a sauce by reducing it , adding some wine

You can always make this with red peppers as well as a mix of pepper and tomatoes – be creative in the kitchen and play around let your gut tell you what smells.tastes and feels right .

Pepper

Everything goes down better with a glass of Wine …

South Africa make some amazing complex wines down in the Cape regions , one of my favorites is  Pinotage . It is a uniquely South African grape varietal , this unique creation was first made grafting Pinot Noir and Cinsaut  grapes by Prof Perold – to today’s legends crafting and creating the latest Pinotage or Pinotage blend.

Pinotage has rich earthy flavours with hints of chocolate and cherry  , often having aromas of berry’s , petrichor and smokey oak

This wine goes lovely with rich spicy dishes , Cape Malay curries are always a winner , Pinotage has chocolaty  undertones this works beautifully with dark chocolate sauces or desserts .

My ultimate winter desserts usually include poached pears as they are excellent vehicles for flavour , and go well with white and red wines , this recipe with a chocolate fondant or sauce ?!?!? to die for !!!! and for some reason poached pears always give off an air of a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi ‘  – it is sure to impress any dinner guest with is elegant and thought out approach and delectable flavours

I use this basic recipe and instead of orange i add (750 ml of wine) , 8 cardamon pods , 2 star anise , one medium cinnamon stick  ,  and about a quarter cup of honey (for a deeper flavour use molasses )  –  these are the best of friends with a deep red wine .

Once the pears are poached i usually reduce this mixture (strain out the spices) for about 30 min on a medium heat or until it is a sticky sweet sauce that you could drizzle over a side of chocolate mouse and your poached pear .

People also think that poached pears can only be eaten with a creme anglais or sauce , not the case , slice it up and lay in a tart shell and cover with a chocolate frangipane mixture – HEAVEN IN A TART SHELL!!!

so take those traditional favorites and think outside the box , you wont regret it .

there is no short supply of taste testers in my house , where food is made they shall follow .

http://longevitymag.co.za/d_recipes/pinotage-pears/

http://www.masterchef.com.au/recipes/chocolate-frangipane–vincotto-pear-tart.htm

Bon Appetit !!!