Aug 31, 2011

My First Oxtail Stew

My husband LOVES oxtail and i, his wife, have never cooked oxtail before.  Until this past Sunday that is.  Being away at his 10 year school reunion, a weekend of late nights and large amounts of beer, i thought that he would like to come home to something hearty and fortifying, something to remind him of why he likes to be at home.  So, i made my very first oxtail stew.  I don't know much about this cut of meat, except that it needs to cook for a very long time.  I didn't have a recipe, and unfortunately, i was too excited to make use of the beautiful sunny day by getting some gardening done that i didn't take any pictures either. It was a beautiful, deep red stew with soft sticky meat peeling off the bone.  Gorgeous and mouth-watering, but you will just have to take my word for it.  Or, come over for dinner and see for yourself!

Serves 4 (or in our case, 2, and 1 left over lunch portion for hubby the next day)
1.2 kg oxtail
Couple of tablespoons of flour
Knob of butter
Onion soup (you can use the packets, but i absolutely abhor anything that is processed, except Ina Paarman's liquid stocks, so i grabbed a tub of onion soup out of the freezer, about 1 liter)
1 sachet Ina Paarmans (yummy) beef stock dissolved in 500 ml boiling water
Glass of wine (or two... if you like something to drink while you're cooking!)
70 g tin of tomato paste (for that lovely rich colour)
1 onion
6 young carrots
3 potatoes

Mix the flour, salt and spices in a bowl large enough to toss the meat around in.  Toss the meat in the flour mixture until well coated. In a roasting dish on your stove top, melt the knob of butter and start browning the meat.  Once all the meat is browned, deglaze the roasting dish with the wine.  Let the alcohol cook off and then add the stock and the onion soup.  Pop into an oven preheated to 200 ˚C and leave to do its thing for 2-3 hours.  Once you think that the meat is soft enough, add the onion, carrots and potato and roast for another 1 hour.  If a lot of the liquid has cooked away at this stage, feel free to add some more boiling water or stock for the veggies to cook in.  Boil some rice et voilà, trés délicieux!  Dinner is served...or a lazy late Sunday lunch, as was our case.

Aug 8, 2011

Let's do the Hokey Pokey!!

We had such beautiful weather this weekend!! The sunshine brought everyone out to play, so the market was a real success.  Here's to an exciting Summer!

Not expecting the drastic increase in sales that there was, i under catered slightly and had to do quite a bit of baking when i got home on Saturday evening so that i would have enough to make Sunday worthwhile.  My Red Velvet cupcakes were pretty much sold out, so i had to make more cupcakes, but i wasn't in the mood for making Red Velvet (despite their popularity, i'm not a huge fan).  I wanted to make something fun and interesting, but not too off the wall that nobody would buy it.  Then, "lightbulb", i thought of these Hokey Pokey cupcakes that i made about 2 years ago.  So, a quick dash off to the convenience store to grab some Crunchie bars and Whispers and back to the kitchen to get cracking with the baking!

Here is the DELICIOUS recipe:
(an adaptation from Divine Cupcakes, Tamara Jane, New Holland, 2009)

Hokey Pokey Cupcakes
415 g cake flour
15 ml baking powder
230 g butter
230 g brown sugar
2.5 ml vanilla essence
4 eggs
125 ml sour cream
125 ml milk
2 large Cadbury's Crunchie bars

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of your mixer, beat the butter until creamy.  Gradually add the sugar, scraping down the bowl between each addition.  The mixture should be light and fluffy - approximately 3 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla essence.  Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating after each addition.

In a jug, combine the milk and sour cream.  On low speed, add the flour to the creamed butter-sugar-eggs mixture in four additions, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.  Once everything is just combined, stir in the chopped Crunchie bars.

Divide the batter evenly between 24 cupcake cases and bake in an oven preheated to 180 ˚C for about 20 minutes.

Cool the cupcakes in the trays for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Rich Caramel Butter-cream Frosting
100 g butter
125 g treacle sugar
75 g golden syrup
125 ml cream
500 g icing sugar

Combine all ingredients, save the icing sugar, in a medium saucepan.  At medium heat, stir occasionally until the ingredients are well combined.  Turn up the heat and bring to the boil for 5 minutes (keep an eye on the pot, as this mixture can boil over quite quickly!).  Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Sift half the icing sugar into your mixer.  At a low speed, gradually pour in the cooled caramel mixture until combined with the icing sugar.  Turn up the speed and beat for 2-3 minutes.  Add the rest of the icing sugar and beat for another 2-3 minutes.  Place in a piping bag and pipe onto your cupcakes as you wish.  The mixture might not seem as if it is of pipe-able consistency, but it does hold it's shape very well!  Place a little Whisper on top and sprinkle some chocolate shavings, gold glitter or crushed honeycomb over your cupcakes - C'est Beau!!!

Aug 3, 2011

"Bug's" Birthday Cake

I had SOOO much fun making this cake.  I made each of the ladybirds, bumble bees and wormies by hand - it was like being in Kindergarten again!  The colours are so nice and bright and cheerful - really good for the soul.  Here are some pics... and a recipe. I made a marble cake with white chocolate ganache.  This recipe is sufficient for a 25 cm sponge (square or round) with a height of 10 cm.

For the Vanilla Sponge
400 g butter
400g castor sugar
8 eggs
400 g self-raising flour

Cream the butter until soft.  Gradually add the sugar and cream until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and mix until combined.  Sift the flour over and mix until just combined. Set aside.

For the Chocolate Sponge
400g butter
400g castor sugar
8 eggs
340 g self-raising flour
60 g cocoa powder

Cream the butter until soft.  Gradually add the sugar and cream until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and mix until combined.  Sift the flour and cocoa over and mix until just combined.

In a 25 cm square baking tin, lined with baking paper, 1st layer half of the chocolate batter.  
* i put chocolate at the bottom to avoid that brown colour that the vanilla sponge gets when it is baked at the bottom of the tin.
Then layer half the vanilla butter, followed by a layer of chocolate and a layer of vanilla.  To create the marble effect, drag your spoon through the mixture in a wave-like motion: up and down, up and down from the bottom of the tin to the top .  Make sense?  The mixture of the two different colours should like ocean waves when you are done with this step!  Then use a truffle dipping fork (or just an ordinary one) and pull it through the batter in one direction and then the opposite, in lines from one side of the cake tin to the other.

Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180 ˚C for 75 minutes.

For the icing, i used 1 kg of white chocolate ganache.  To make: heat 400 ml of cream in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Pour over 600 g of white chocolate and stir until combined. Set aside until the desirable spreading consistency is achieved.
Happy 2nd Birthday Nina!!

And some cupcakes too!

Aug 1, 2011

Mad Hatter's Tea Party!

On Thursday last week, i catered for a Mad Hatter's Tea Party for 70 ladies.  Needless to say, i had so much fun with the theme!  I made a big "Hatter's" hat, lots of fun sugar biscuits in the theme - teapots, red painted roses, white rabbits, red hearts...  Some fabulous macaroons, delicious petits fours and a bunch of yummy savoury goodies too.  Here are the not-so-fab pics that i took.  Unfortunately the light was bad and my hands were super shaky due to lack of breakfast - BAD idea!

The creative Sylvia from Special Events by Cindy did the decor: each table was decorated according to a different Alice in Wonderland character!  And the talented Nikki from Nikki Meyer Photography took pics for the birthday lady to remember all the details of this special occasion.

The very large hat made of cake!  There was so much food that the  birthday lady didn't even get around to cutting it :(  Fortunately, it will last a goodly while and they will be able to enjoy it at a later stage!
A tower of vanilla and red velvet cupcakes inspired by the Queen of Hearts scene from the Disney Alice in Wonderland movie.

A white rabbit frolicking amidst the delicious cupcakes!

Chessboard white and dark chocolate brownies

Teapot vanilla sugar biscuits

"Painted Roses" vanilla sugar biscuits
Triple lemon and raspberry petits fours

Macarons - vanilla, raspberry and blueberry

My two wonderful assistants: Sindiswa and Alicia

Smoked salmon and cream cheese blini