Words Crush Wednesday – Thomas Keller Edition

One of the (many) fun and appealing aspects of cooking is taking a selection of random ingredients and creating something delicious and satisfying. Whether you do this joyfully out of desire, or grudgingly out of necessity, you’re bringing to life something that only usually exists in a recipe. Cook with passion and purpose, and every dish you make will be soul food!

Thomas Keller WCW

Image credit: Google Images

For more Words Crush Wednesday, and other writing treats, visit Rebirth of Lisa.

Chocolate Fondants (Lava Cake)

Chocolate fondants 1 12Ooooh! Gooey, warm, rich chocolate that literally melts in your mouth! Hells yes! Firm on the outside, bubbling with molten chocolate on the inside, indulge yourself and your guests with this decadent pudding that will soon become a firm favourite! You can conveniently prepare this ahead and pop the fondants in the oven just before you’re ready to serve. You can also reheat them for 15 seconds in the microwave if necessary, but don’t overheat!

Chocolate fondants captured my heart (in terms of both fondness and cholesterol) five years ago when I happened upon a Gordon Ramsay recipe, which I adjusted to create this one. I tried it and was floored at the simplicity of the idea – firm to the touch on the outside, but the moment you go in for the first mouthful, melted chocolatey heaven escapes, as if little cocoa fairies are having a party in your mouth!

 

Chocolate Fondants (Lava Cake)

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: prep time 10 mins + 1 hour refrigeration, baking time 12 mins
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
  • Print

Supplies:

Chocolate fondants 43 tablespoons melted butter, for greasing
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, for dusting
200g dark chocolate, cut into small pieces
200g salted butter
200g castor sugar
4 room temp eggs + 2 egg yolks
200g cake flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Making it happen:

Chocolate fondants 51. Nuke 3 tablespoons of butter and brush it inside the cups, spreading it around the sides and bottom of each individual cup. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder inside each cup, tipping to spread it across all the sides and bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or overnight if you’re preparing ahead.

 

 

Chocolate fondants 62. In a small pot, melt the butter and chocolate on medium heat, stirring to dissolve, until both are melted and fully mixed.

 

 

 

Choc fondants 103. In a mixing bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and yolks until the batter is thick and pale, about 3-4 minutes. Sift in the flour and beat well to fully incorporate.

 

 

 

 

Chocolate fondants 74. Pour the melted chocolate and butter into the batter in thirds, mixing well after each addition, until the chocolate and butter are fully mixed into the batter. Add vanilla and beat to mix.

 

 

 

Chocolate fondants 85. Pour the batter into the cupcake/muffin cups/ramekins, filling 23 full, and refrigerate for one hour or more.

 

 

 

 

Choc fondants 116. Heat your oven to 200°C (400°F) and bake for 10-12 minutes until the tops start to come away from the sides. Do not over-bake! You want the fondants to be firm around the sides but gooey in the centre. Serve with ice cream or cream, but my vote is creamy vanilla ice cream!

 

 

Let’s Talk: An Interview with Moi

A few weeks ago, the lovely Ann from Grubbs n Critters interviewed me and posed some interesting questions. The premise was a more in-depth take, apart from what’s on my ‘About’ page. Check out Ann’s full post here, but for now, here are her questions and my obliging answers:

1. Tell us a little bit more about yourself..outside what you have written from your about page.

I studied Marketing & Business Management at university and my first full-time job was at an online trading company. Snooze. I then, after a few years, ended up (purely by chance) doing QA and testing for a company that builds and maintains websites. I was quite amazed at how much I loved my job. Being a perfectionist definitely helped! I never thought I would do anything IT-related but I was in my element! Another thing I never thought I would do: enjoy cooking! Those were two huge things that happened within the same year and those experiences really opened my mind (and stomach) to trying new things. It was pretty cool, unexpected and rewarding, and completely serendipitous.

2. What are your cooking inspirations? A famous chef, your mom, a cookbook or a blog…?

Honestly, I needed a hobby and wanted a challenge and in no way did I ever think I would succeed at cooking. There were no books or movies or TV shows that inspired me. I simply decided to challenge myself to do something I thought I couldn’t. However, I would say, in terms of people who influenced my cooking once I got started, my gran was a key inspiration. She was a master at the craft and my happiest childhood memories are of all of us doing the traditional Sunday lunch roast at my grandparents’ house. She did very traditional meals, which were my focus for quite some time when I started cooking, and that provided a very solid basis. I’m definitely more adventurous though and like to push my boundaries.

In terms of chefs, although Gordon Ramsay looks like a bit of an ass and I don’t watch any of his TV shows, I really enjoy his recipes. Jamie Oliver is someone whose books I actually buy – a rare occurrence because I mostly Google recipes. You also can’t go wrong with Nigella and Ina Garten. (Ann: Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Nigella…my favourite inspiration too! That’s kindred spirit!)

3. What inspired you to start  your blog? And how did you end up with Eat, Play, Clove?

It’s pretty simple. I love cooking and I love talking and writing, so I decided to parlay them into a cooking blog. The reason I started my blog is because I sucked balls when I started cooking and I followed online recipes to a T, even better if they had pictures, so I thought I would share my recipes and take pictures of every step in case there are some newbs out there who need visual assistance!

4. Name your 3 favourite bloggers and can you explain why they are your favourites?

Three of my favourite bloggers are you (Ann: awwww! Thank you, Gen!), Sally’s Baking Addiction and Jane’s Patisserie. Yummly is a cool site too. I love learning and getting inspiration for new recipes. With yours, it’s so interesting to me to see how you incorporate the different cultures in cooking. It’s also enlightening learning about your culture, watching you find a balance between working your ass off, cooking, being a mom and wife, travelling AND blogging regularly. Wow, I’m tired just thinking about it.

Sally’s Baking Addiction – she makes the most amazing sweet stuff and  takes incredible photos, which is something I’m pretty useless at. I’ve recently discovered Jane’s Patisserie – that girl knows how to bake! Yummly has the yummiest recipes too. (Ann: I couldn’t agree more. Yummly is an awesome resource!)

5. What’s the one kitchen tool you cannot live without and what’s your biggest failure in the kitchen?

Oh, that is such a good question! My dishwasher is right up there. It saves so much time and I can do my nails and not have them chip from washing dishes (priorities!). My food processor is a thing of beauty and again, saves so much time and effort (I’m a bit lazy, I think you can see this). Also, my very sharp knife. I would almost rather have a good knife than a dishwasher. Almost.

My biggest failure was a roast lamb I made about 13 years ago. The Husband had a convection microwave when we met so I decided to do a roast and, instead of just cooking it in oven mode, I also microwaved it on high for about 1.5 hours. When I took it out, it was smoking and literally shattered. It was like a large piece of coal. He still rips me off about it to this day. At that point I decided I was terrible at cooking (because I was!) so I had a mental block against it.

6. You have lived your life in South Africa, to most of us, it’s synonymous with “safari” and nature”. What else are there, what’s unique about it, dos and don’ts?

Apart from an abundance of mountains, deserts, oceans and wildlife, there is wine. Lots of wine. It’s an incredibly beautiful country packed with diversity. We’re pretty into mining here and export a lot of fruit. The sunsets are magnificent.

Do – go on safari, take the cable car up Table Mountain, visit our many beautiful beaches and explore our wine farms. Eat lots of fresh fish, steak and try the babotie – a traditional Cape Malay dish.

Don’t – drive around with your doors unlocked, feed the wild animals or expect a fast-paced life. We’re super chill in coastal towns and cities.

7. Cooking or baking? If there are 3 recipes from your blog you think readers should try, which would you recommend and why?

Crap. I’m very indecisive. I’m better at cooking but I love baking, although I need to work on my presentation, but baby steps! Three recipes I recommend are:

Baked camembert in phyllo – cheese, butter and phyllo. Heaven! It’s an excellent starter and pretty easy to do.

Tomato bredie – it’s a traditional South African dish and you can use beef or lamb. You can make it the day before because it gets better the longer it stands, so it’s convenient too. It feeds quite a few people and it’s a one-dish meal.

Baked vanilla cheesecake or cupcakes, any kind, although red velvet is my favourite. The cheesecake is vanilla-y and I’m obsessed with vanilla and will find any excuse to use vanilla beans. The red velvet is a mild, incredibly smooth chocolate cupcake but with a hint of vanilla too, and my preference for any cupcake, regardless of flavour, is vanilla cream cheese frosting.

I interviewed Ann in return, and you can find it here. If you have a fast-paced life and time is a precious commodity, I highly recommend reading this interview with a mom of two who works crazy hours, runs a home and still finds time to cook amazing meals and be consistent in her blogging!

 

Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce 4 2Homemade marinara sauce is incomparable to store-bought sauce. The ingredients are perfectly blended to give you a herby, tomato-y sauce packed with flavour, and all of the ingredients are easy to come by. You can add a cup of cream if you like, and I tend to alternate. With ravioli, I add cream. With meatballs and spaghetti, I leave it out. It’s entirely up to you. I use both tinned whole tomatoes and fresh baby tomatoes. When the baby tomatoes burst, they release a wonderful flavour that’s tastier than large tomatoes.

Marinara sauce is versatile and doesn’t have to be limited to pasta. You can use it in casseroles if you want a tomato-based flavour and it makes a wonderful tomato soup. I’ve used it on meatloaf many times, or blitz it in the food processor and serve with a ciabatta as a soup. Once you’ve made this sauce, you will realise its potential to be used in many different dishes and it’s easy! Like, super mission-free and takes a total of half an hour.

Marinara Sauce

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Supplies:

Marinara Sauce ingredients500g baby tomatoes
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
7 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon oregano
Basil leaves
Fresh parsley for garnishing
Mozzarella for sprinkling (optional)
1 cup cream (optional)
Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
Salt and pepper

Making it happen:

Marinara Sauce 101. Heat the olive oil on medium. Add the garlic, onion and oregano and fry for 5 minutes.

 

 

Marinara sauce 62. Add the baby tomatoes, tinned tomatoes and tomato paste. Turn down the heat, add the basil leaves, salt and pepper and simmer for 25 minutes, with the lid on for the first 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
OPTIONAL: Stir in the cream. Top the dish with mozzarella and fresh parsley.

 

Marinara sauce 8 23. The sauce boils down, with the baby tomatoes bursting and releasing their flavour.

 

 

Marinara sauce 1Serve with a variety of food – in this case meatballs and spaghetti.

 

 

 

Words Crush Wednesday – William Arthur Ward Edition

Dreams, hope, aspirations – we all have them, and all in abundance. I’ve recently watched a deeply special friend of mine fulfill a dream, something she never thought she would do, something that took great courage, endless hours of hard work and a gigantic leap of faith. It all started a dream – “imagine if we could do this”. Indeed, imagine, and now it’s here. That dream was put into action, and it became a reality, near-nervous breakdowns and insomnia notwithstanding.

Success is a funny thing. Do you measure it by your job title? The size of your house? Your annual international vacations (oh heeey Cabo)? Or do you, like me, measure it by the type of person you are? Talk is cheap and anyone can do it, yet it takes a special type of dedication and self-belief to action it. No matter how you perceive success, there is one common denominator – it all starts with a thought, with a dream, regardless of its nature. This week I was approached with a job offer, something slightly different from what I’m used to. Initially I was somewhat daunted by it, but I started thinking about it, applying myself, imagining different scenarios where I’d be able to deliver the highest quality of work, and I accepted it with great excitement (and moderate trepidation). Nevertheless, success. I also created a new recipe, ravioli and marinara sauce, which was amazeballs. That, to me, is also success. It takes many different forms but originates in exactly the same way. Dream it, see it, do it.

William Arthur Ward

Hop on over to Rebirth of Lisa for more Words Crush Wednesday quotes.

Bar-One Sauce

Bar One Sauce 5This sauce is easy and utterly delectable and will have you asking for more and licking the bowl! Bar-One is a milk chocolate bar wrapped around a layer of malted chocolate and caramel. If you don’t have access to Bar-Ones, don’t despair. All you need to do is find a chocolate bar made with nougat and caramel. Depending on where you are in the world, your substitute could be Mars Bars or Milky Ways. Delicious on warm brownies, chilled cheesecake or ice cream, it’s versatile and takes 10 minutes!

Bar-One Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
  • Print

Supplies:

200g Bar-One chocolate bars (or Milky Way or Mars Bar)
250ml cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Making it happen:

Bar-One Sauce 91. Cut the chocolate bars into small pieces, about 0.5cm each. In a small pot on medium heat, add a third of the cream and all the chocolate pieces and stir frequently. The nougat takes a while longer to melt, and the frequent stirring will prevent the chocolate from sticking and burning. Add another third of the cream, continuing to stir, and then the last third. The entire sauce process will take no more than 10 minutes, so you can time the cream additions accordingly.

Bar One Sauce 32. Once thoroughly melted, pour the chocolate sauce over ice cream, or brownies, or cheesecake. This sauce can be cooled and reheated in the microwave or on the hob.

 

 

Bar One Sauce 4

 

An Interview with Ann – Multi Tasking Foodie

Ann Spud 1

Credit Grubbs n Critters

Meet Ann, the incredibly talented, multi tasking author of Grubbs n Critters. She’s a wife, mother of two small kiddies, has a demanding full-time job, travels frequently and blogs regularly. Busy much? She came up with the idea of our Monthly Mystery Munchies, and for the past six months we’ve been challenging each other (and ourselves) to cook a mystery meal based on a theme we choose monthly. She’s passionate about cooking and intrigues me with her recipes. One of the things I love about blogging is how it brings people together, be it through poetry, humour, writing, photography, cooking… Ann seems adept at juggling it all. Amid the demands of a hectic life, she still finds time to cook. And I don’t mean throw a meal together, I mean plan one thoughtfully and then spend hours cooking it.

We live on opposite ends of the world – me in South Africa and her in Thailand, and hers is the first blog I check in the mornings. She frequently blogs about everything from food to humour, travelling to raising multi-cultural kids (Ann is Singaporean, her husband is Dutch and they live in Thailand). I really don’t know how she does it! We interviewed each other and here she discusses her culinary inspirations, how to balance a hectic life and still find time for blogging, its ups and downs, and how to plan posts.

What inspired you to start your blog?

An old buddy of mine by the name of Major Awesome got me started on a blog when I moved to Thailand. But, one of the main reasons I started blogging was the fact that I could not be bothered to email my friends and family to tell them what I’ve been up to. So, a blog became a very practical reason for them to get updates on what I’m doing without me telling 10 different people the same things over and over again. My rationale was, if they want to know, they could always read stuff on my blog! 

When did you start cooking and why? Was it from necessity, ie you had to feed the kids, or was it something you grew up doing?

I grew up mostly with home-cooked food as my mom cooks A LOT! So I was always helping out in the kitchen doing the dirty job of peeling, washing, cutting and the works but apart from fried rice, boiling eggs and frying eggs, I never really cooked as my mom rules the kitchen. She’s always particular about how things are done in the kitchen, so I try to get out of her way. My dad was convinced that I can’t cook for nuts! I only started cooking for myself when I moved to Thailand and that was when I started experimenting because I was so sick of eating out and I was missing food from home. The rest is history!

You’re Asian, your husband is Dutch and you live in Thailand. How do these different cultures influence your cooking Do you have a favourite cuisine and do you do fusion?

Oh! So many variety of cuisines to experiment, I tell you! Frankly, apart from the great and delish deep-fried stuff of the Dutch cuisine which I love, I mostly found Dutch food to be quite boring, sometimes bland with the usual meat and vegetables combination.  It’s a good thing that they have the Indonesian influence and that adds on to the variety and flavour of food. My favourite? That’s a tough one as I like variety. But if I have to choose, I’ll say the Indonesian and Indian cuisine top my list of favourites. And, Bitterballen. I love, love, love Bitterballen. And yes, I fusion! With the exception of baking, I never follow recipes to a T and I always modify.

What/who has been your greatest influence in the kitchen?

Gotta to be my mom. And no one else! OK. Maybe Nigella, and Jamie Oliver. I like that their cooking are always so simple, rustic and anything goes!

If you could ask one specific chef for a piece of advice, who would it be and what’s the question?

I’ll ask Jamie Oliver how the hell he’s able to use such a sharp knife at such great speed without cutting off his fingers! And how can I overcome the fear of big ass sharp knives as they scare the the crap out of me. 

You have a very busy life – a hectic, demanding job, two young kids, a husband and a home to run. How do you balance all of this? Are there any secrets to it, and how to you stay motivated to blog with so much going on around you? Do you have advice for fellow bloggers?

Sometimes I wonder the same and I think it’s only because I’m not quite right in the head! Finding the balance is hard. Really hard and it’s something I struggle with everyday. It helps that my husband helps out quite a bit and picks up the slack when I have to do extra hours at the office.  I don’t have any magic formula or any advice, really. My head seems to have a lot to say, so whenever I get a little inspiration, I jot down little notes and key points so I don’t forget. When I find the time, I’ll write them out – sometimes over several days.

Usually, I do a little writing during my lunch break. It helps that my kids go to bed before 7 pm and after that, I have a little time in the evening to write half a post (one whole post if I’m lucky) after dinner. When I have 3 hours at stretch, I usually try to write a few posts and then schedule them and space them out so in the event I get bogged down by other things, I don’t feel the pressure to have to write something everyday.

I think it is exactly the fact that I have so much going on around me that makes me feel motivated to write! or I’ll end up having inane conversations with myself! That would be baaad.

No matter how busy my week, the three blogs I regularly check are… because…

Apart from yours because your recipes are always mouth watering and easy to replicate and spark off ideas for me to figure out what to cook over the weekend. I love your Wednesday word crush too! (Awww, thank you so much!)

So the other 3 would be:
All in A Dad’s Work – I love reading his stories and honest account of parenting anecdotes. I like his writing.
All That’s Jas – Recipes! And her photography of her food is always so amazing!
Estelea’s Blog – She’s a good mommy friend of mine who left Bangkok and moved to the Philippines more than a year ago. She’s got a great writing style and mainly because I just want to know what she’s up to!

What are your three favourite cooking ingredients, and what are your three favourite cooking utensils? 

Ingredients: Tumeric, sage and onions. I’ll add chillies if you allow four!
Cooking utensils: Does a blender count? Otherwise, it would have to be my Circulon non-stick pan, potato peeler and super blunt knives!

Since you started your blog, what’s the most rewarding thing about it, and what’s the biggest challenge?

The most rewarding (and surprising) is being able to build a community of followers who actually like the crap I write! And I’m always amused by that. Apart from that, it really is meeting and connecting with bloggers like yourself, and I love it when people take the time to comment on my annoyingly unfriendly comment box on a self-hosted site. It’s also always nice to get the occasional knocks on my door to be a guest blogger or get featured..it’s like a little pat on the back and one that motivates me to keep on going.

The challenge for me is having the luxury of time to sit down and write whenever I want, for as long as I want to. It doesn’t happen all that often. And the result of pushing myself to write because I really want to, is severe sleep deprivation.

If you could cook a meal for three people, famous or not, dead or alive, who would they be and what would you cook?

Hmmmm..I think I would be embarrassed to cook for famous people! They’d balk at the modification of the ingredients and method I use when I cook, they probably send me off to go to some culinary school. They’ll laugh at me when they see the knives I work with (they still cut, mind you! Just not my fingers) So I’ll stick to cooking grubs for my parents, my husband, my kids and my friends. If I have the chance (and time) though, I’d really like to do some volunteer cooking for the orphanage and the less fortunate.