apple, cottage cheese & walnut muffins

Simple to make with simple ingredients that had almost reached its expiration date, these delicious muffins are definitely worth baking.
I had quite a few Granny Smith apples hanging around in my fruit bowl and a (half) tub of smooth cottage cheese that desperately needed saving. You can use natural yogurt as an alternative to the cottage cheese. In fact, i used half a cup of cottage cheese and half a cup of double cream natural yogurt.
Almonds, pecan or pistachio’s are also a great alternative if you don’t have walnuts. I love nuts and i love the crunch it adds.
I often bake muffins, savory or sweet, not only because i enjoy devouring it but also because it brings simplicity to every day life, especially when i am on a tight schedule or simply don’t feel like making breakfast or cooking lunch.
The perfect on-the-go snack, breakfast or light lunch for me and for my toddler.

ingredients | makes 12 regular or 6 jumbo | easy
1.5C all purpose flour
1/2C brown sugar
1t baking powder
1t baking soda
1/2t salt
1/2C smooth cottage cheese
1/2C double cream natural yogurt
1.5C grated granny smith apples
1/4C canola oil
1/2C milk
1t ground cinnamon (optional)
1 egg
1t vanilla essence
1/2C walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4C oats, garnish

how to
preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a muffin pan with melted butter or non stick spray and set aside.
Sift the dry ingredients except the walnuts, into a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together until well incorporated and smooth.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Do not over-mix.
Gently fold in the walnuts.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tray, sprinkle with the rolled oats and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tray for about 7 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
Store in an air tight container.

Great on its own or served warm with butter, grated cheese and jam or preserves.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x

pulled pork & zucchini tart – another great meal using leftover meat

I am always thinking about the next dish, using food that was left over from the previous day / evenings’ meal. I cooked a beautiful large pork belly on Sunday, which obviously cannot be devoured by only two people. Please don’t think I didn’t try.
With my very simple three ingredient shortcrust pastry that I made ahead of time on Sunday evening, this dish was on the table in almost no time at all. I often make two batches of shortcrust pastry as it freezes really well. Thus saving time when you quickly want to whip up a tart or quiche.
This is also a great way to get the kids to eat their veggies!
I don’t think there are any rules when it comes to savoury tarts. It really depends on what you like and what you have on hand. Quiche is the perfect dish for using all the vegetables that are really just lying around in your fridge and then adding an egg custard to a very simple tart shell.
Thank me later.

ingredients | 1 standard size tart | easy
for the tart shell
225g plain flour
100g butter, chopped
pinch salt
1/4c cold water

Place the flour, salt & butter into a food processor and blend until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. (You can also do this by hand by rubbing the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs.)
With the processor running, slowly add the water until the dough comes together so that it can form a ball without crumbling.
(You do not have to use all of the water and can add more if necessary.)
Dust your work surface with flour and gently knead the dough by pushing it back and pulling it forward again. Repeat this for about three minutes.
Form the dough into a disc, wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Should you wish to freeze the dough, place the wrapped disc into a freezer bag or freezer container, date it and freeze for up to one month. When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.
Dust a flat work surface and roll the pastry out to fit your tart tin. Grease a tart tin with non stick spray.
Press the dough into the tart tin and into the sides. Trim the edges with a sharp knife. Dock the pastry with a fork a few times and place a large piece of baking paper on the pastry shell. Fill the shell with uncooked rice, beans or baking weights.
Place the shell into the oven and blind bake for 12 minutes.
Remove the pastry and gently remove the baking paper and weights. Place the pastry back into the oven for a further ten minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. (Keep the tart shell in the tart tin for baking the quiche later.)

For the filling
1/2 white onion, chopped
2tbs olive oil
2tbs butter
1tsp chopped garlic
300g cooked, pulled pork or any other meat like chicken, bacon or sausages
300g zucchini, half sliced and the remaining half chopped
100g onion marmalade
1.5tsp dijon mustard
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
100g grated parmesan (optional)
1/2tsp salt
grind of black pepper
3 large eggs
1c cream, full fat
1/2c milk, full fat

heat the oil & butter in a large skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook until glossy. Add the chopped zucchini & garlic and cook for one minute.
Add the cooked pork or your choice of protein and cook for about two minutes or longer if your meat is uncooked. (Cook until the meat is fully cooked.)
Add the thyme, salt & pepper, stir through and cook for one more minute.
Put the tart tin on an oven tray and sprinkle the base of the tart shell with the parmesan. Turn the heat of the oven up to 175 degrees C.
Break the eggs into a large jug, add the cream, dijon mustard & onion marmalade and whisk until combined well.
Spoon the meat & zucchini mixture into the tart shell. Pour the egg custard into the tart shell and very gently stir move around with a fork.
Place the sliced zucchini on top and gently, taking care not to spill the egg custard, place the tart into the oven and bake for about 30 – 35 minutes until the egg custard is set and the top has browned lightly.
Remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool for about fifteen minutes before slicing into wedges.

Serve the tart with salad or tossed, buttered greens.

banana, chocolate & walnut tarte tatin

i quite often have a sweet tooth and i love making dessert. i especially love great tasting, easy desserts that can be ready in almost no time at all. pastry desserts rank high on my favourites list and combining it with banana and chocolate is practically a no brainer.
as tarte tatins’ go, puff pastry is your best option. this flaky, rich pastry consists of layers of dough and fat, giving it a light, crispy texture upon baking. perfect for almost any tart or pie!
the kids and your guests will love this one!!

1 roll puff pastry, thawed
flour for dusting
100g brown sugar
80g butter
3-4 firm bananas
1/3c chopped walnuts, plus extra for garnish
100ml cream, whipped or vanilla ice cream

for the sauce
50g dark chocolate, chopped
100ml cream

how to do it
preheat the oven to 185 degrees C.
roll out the pastry and, using the pan to measure, cut our a circle 1cm bigger than your pan. place the pastry in the fridge.
place butter and sugar in an ovenproof pan on medium heat. once the sugar has melted, turn up the heat and allow the caramel to get a golden dark colour and thicken, while occasionally tilting the pan.
remove the caramel from the heat and cool for 5 minutes. press the banana slices into the caramel and top it with the chopped walnuts.
lay the pastry on top and gently lift and tuck the sides in using a spoon.
make a 2cm slit in the top of the pastry in the centre, to allow the steam to escape.
bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.
allow the tart to cool for a few minutes before placing a plate on top of the pan and turning the tart out.

for the chocolate sauce
heat the cream in a small saucepan. pour the cream over the chocolate, leave for 3 minutes and then stir until melted.

to assemble
garnish the tart with the remaining chopped walnuts.
serve slices of the tart topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

walnut & almond banana bread

another tasty childhood bake! the sweet aroma of banana baking away in the oven sits fresh in my memory bank. my paternal grandmother loved baking this delectable loaf and my mother was right on her heels. we savoured this treat cut into thick slices, warm with butter and cups of sweet tea. and i love it with double thick cream. full fat, of course. i am imagining a banana bread pudding with one of these loaves drizzled with caramel sauce or whipped cream.
nuts are optional here but i simply cannot imagine this loaf without a bit of toasted crunch.
i wonder how many times we walk past the overripe bananas in our fruit bowls and remind ourselves to bake a banana bread. but never do.
go on, use those sad bananas before they meet the bottom of your bin.

makes 1 loaf |
2c all purpose flour
1.5tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp fine salt
3/4c brown sugar
1/2c butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, beaten, at room temperature
4 small ripe bananas, smashed
1/3c slivered almonds
1/2c walnuts, roughly chopped

how to do it |
preheat the oven to 165 degrees C or 145 with a fan. grease a loaf tin with melted butter or nonstick spray.
sift flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt & baking powder into a large mixing bowl. using a hand held mixer, cream the butter & sugar together until light and fluffy. add the eggs and beat until just incorporated. fold the smashed banana into the butter and egg mixture. mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and combine well. fold through the toasted nuts. pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin.
bake in the preheated oven for 55 – 65 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
remove from the oven and rest in the loaf tin for 5 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool before slicing.

serve warm with butter and spoonfuls of double thick cream.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

vanilla and seed rusks

food for thought –
strawberries contain more vitamin c than oranges

a hard, biscuit like treat that pairs well with coffee or sometimes just on its own. rusks, customary to my heritage, have been around for many years, and this recipe, which i’ve tweaked through the years, has never let me down. moreish, tasty white rusks. every time.
the drying time is long, so i sometimes opt for making a double batch as they last really well in an air-tight container. there are so many rusk variations although i almost always come back to this one.
i just love the smell of freshly baked rusks and the lingering rusk drying smell the next morning.
these really are so good that sometimes you don’t even need the coffee to dip them into…

ingredients |
1kg plain flour
500g unsalted butter, melted
500ml full cream buttermilk
1 1/2tbs baking powder
1 1/2c castor sugar or brown sugar
1tsp salt
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2c mixed seeds
i used pumpkin, linseeds & sunflower seeds

preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. grease a standard size sheet pan with non-stick spray.
in a large bowl, sift dry ingredients together and stir using a whisk. pour the buttermilk and cooled melted butter into the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. add the eggs & vanilla essence and mix well. lastly, add the seeds and mix until evenly distributed. turn the mixture out onto the greased sheet pan and lightly press down and into the sides, using your hands, spatula or wooden spoon.
using a sharp knife, make incisions in the batter for the rusks’s size and shape. place into the oven and bake for about 1h15 or until just firm and nicely browned on top. remove from the oven and leave to cool for then minutes. turn the oven down to 85 – 90 degrees C.
using a serrated knife, cut along the incisions to loosen the rusks. place the rusks onto an oven rack and back into the oven to dry overnight.
cool completely before storing in air tight containers.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x