Thursday, 27 December 2012

Chocolate covered Strawberries

My head is spinning as I adjust to a Southern Hemisphere Christmas. I have become accustomed to mulled wine, autumn's harvest of nuts, winter vegetables and steamed puddings. Not the bountiful summer fruits which I am faced with. In 35 degree heat, a hot Christmas pudding hardly seems appropriate. (don't worry I still forced myself to eat it)

So to freshen up our Christmas dessert, these chocolate covered strawberries graced our table along with the Christmas pudding, peppermint crisp tart, banoffee pie and ice cream.

*Note: It is very important to dry the strawberries well. The chocolate will not coat the strawberries if they are not well dried before you start dipping. Water repels chocolate and will cause the chocolate to seize, becoming a grainy, clumpy mess in the bowl. 


160g milk chocolate, chopped
60g white chocolate, chopped
450g strawberries with stems (about 20), washed and dried very well


Put the milk chocolate and white chocolate into two separate heatproof medium bowls.
Fill two medium saucepans with a couple inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat; set the bowls of chocolate over the water to melt. Stir until smooth.
Once the chocolates are melted and smooth, remove from the heat. Line a sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper. Holding the strawberry by the stem, dip the fruit into the milk chocolate, lift and twist slightly, letting any excess chocolate fall back into the bowl. Set the strawberry on the parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the strawberries.

Dip a fork in the white chocolate and drizzle the white chocolate over the dipped strawberries.

Best eaten within 24 hrs. (not really a challenge)


Saturday, 22 December 2012

Borough Market

It's funny how you when you leave a place, you realise how much you enjoyed it.
Despite all it's shortcomings: the dodgy District Line which always had delays, packed public transport, miserable weather, carrying your brollie in your handbag all the time, escalator etiquette, please stand on the right! etc. But there are lots of good things, no great things like Borough Market. Oh my beloved Borough Market, how I miss thee.
I wanted to share a little of this wonderful place with you. It's difficult to decide where to start because this is the ultimate foodie destination in London. If you are a food loving tourist, you owe yourself a visit to this market while you are in London.

First things first, go with an empty stomach and wear comfortable shoes.
I arrive as early as possible, the first stop is Monmouth Coffee which opens at 7:30am. By arriving early, you are right there when the market opens at 9am. Then you can get great photographs without the crowd in the way and you can take your time sampling all the delicious food at it's freshest! I caffeine myself up and map out who and what I want to check out, using Borough market's very useful and printable interactive map online.

Now the food, I won't go on endlessly about the array of stalls of fine and unusual foods. There is almost everything you can think of. Cheese lovers you are in trouble, the cheeses! I could go into a cheese coma. Baked items are too many to try, spices, fish, oysters, beer, drinks, mushrooms, fruits and vegetables. There is so, so much choice. Price wise I'd say it's above average but its definitely worth it. Take cash, it will be much easier.

On Saturdays the market gets packed, literally shoulder to shoulder. As I grow older my ability to cope with large crowds seems to be diminishing exponentially, so I try to be done just before the lunch time rush. Have an early lunch and take a stroll down the South Bank.
Yes, it gets crowded and touristy, but it's still amazing. Londoners enjoy this Aladdin's cave of wonders, and we tourists will have the privilege of plundering it occasionally. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Jam Crumble Biscuits

It's been a while. A lot has happened since my last post. (which was 3 months ago, eek!)
It's not that I haven't been cooking. Boy, have I been cooking! I've recently completed the Essential Certificate, a professional cookery course at Leith's School of Food and Wine in West London, which I massively enjoyed. Will definitely post some of the recipes soon.

Then I moved countries. Bye bye London, England...Hello Durban, South Africa.
Packing up ones entire life, OK 9 years of it, it was still a daunting task. Boxes packed, car taken to the docks to be shipped, accounts closed, farewells said, last stroll along the South Bank and last Borough market visit (sob!) So you get why I haven't been blogging?
I knew you would.

A new chapter, a new city. Durban. My husband's family is from here. It's humid and hot, and don't even get me started on the rain! Seriously, we have had more rain in Durban in the last 6 weeks than I have had in an English summer. The thing about London is that we are organised for this kind of weather, Durban on the other hand, is not. South Africa is all about the great outdoors, so there are no indoor play centres. Spur? Wimpy? You can only eat so many R20 fry ups. What to do with a 2 and a half year old?


To set us off on rediscovering great South African classics here is a recipe so easy, my daughter and I whipped these up on one of the many rainy afternoons. We pretended to 'tickle' the butter and flour which is a good way of explaining the rubbing-in method to a little person. You can also use any type of jam, but apricot jam is the die hard South African favourite.


375g flour
225g butter, cubed
145g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 large egg
1/2 a tin/bottle apricot jam

*optional 1/2 tsp lemon zest


Pre-heat oven to 180°C.

Rub the chilled cubed butter into the flour until well mixed and resembling breadcrumbs. Or alternately pulse it a few times in a food processor. *Add the lemon zest here if you decide to use it.

In a separate bowl, beat together the egg and sugar, add the vanilla essence.

Then mix together the liquid and dry ingredients, using a knife to begin with, so that you handle the mixture as little as possible. The heat from your hands can melt the butter making the dough greasy, which will affect your end product.

Take roughly one-third of the mixture and set it aside. Roll out the remainder and place in a baking tin. Then smear the jam evenly across this surface, leaving about 1cm around the edges. Next, take the final third of the mixture and grate it through the coarsest setting over the jam, ensuring a relatively even distribution over the top. Make certain the jam near the sides are covered.

Bake for about 30 - 45mins or until golden brown on top.

Makes about 24 squares.