Salted Caramel Sauce

Chocolate brownies. Fried banana splits. Creamy vanilla ice cream. All delicious on their own but topped with caramel sauce, they are heavenly. This sweet, gooey sauce is made even better by adding a touch of salt and you just can’t get it wrong, it’s that easy and quick too! How quick? Ten minutes. That’s it.

Salted caramel sauce ingredients 11 cup brown sugar
75g (5 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup cream
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

 

 

 

Salted caramel sauce 1 2In a heavy-based medium pot, melt the sugar over medium-low heat. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon to prevent from sticking. The sugar will form clumps, continue stirring, and it will start to melt.

 

 

 

 

Salted caramel sauce 2 2Continue to stir until the clumps have melted.

 

 

 

 

 

Salted caramel sauce 3 2As soon as the sugar has melted, take the pot off the heat and add the butter, and, you guessed it, stir continuously.

 

 

 

 

 

Salted caramel sauce 4 2Stir in the cream slowly, sprinkle in the salt and add the vanilla. Wait for it to cool thoroughly before tasting!

 

 

 

 

 

Salted caramel sauce 5 2

Yep, that’s right, that’s all there is to it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fettuccine Alfredo

Did you just say “creamy bacon”? Oh, how I love it when you talk dirty! Hold on… creamy bacon with chicken and buttery mushrooms in a garlic-infused sauce? Will you marry me?

Most fettuccine alfredo recipes use either bacon or chicken. I use both because I can and because they work so well together in this dish. I don’t often make pasta but when I do, I’m all in. And it’s quick!

Servings: 4   Prep time: 5 minutes   Cooking time: 20 – 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Fettuccine Alfredo ing 1 (2)4 tablespoons butter
500g chicken cut into one-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 pack bacon cut into strips
400g mushrooms, sliced
250 ml cream
Salt and pepper for seasoning

Parmesan for serving

 

 

Fettuccine alfredo 1 (2)Cut the chicken into one-inch pieces and slice the garlic cloves thinly. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pan on medium-high. Add the chicken and garlic to the pan once the butter has melted and fry for 3 – 4 minutes per side, turning halfway through until the chicken is white on the outside but still pink in the centre. Remove the ingredients from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

 

 

 

 

FA mush bacon cooked 1Heat another 2 tablespoons of butter, still on medium-high, and fry the bacon for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry for another 2 – 3 minutes until lightly browned.

 

 

 

 

Fettuccine alfredo 2 (2)Pour the cream into the pan then re-add the chicken and garlic. Cover and turn down to medium-low, simmering for 7 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to simmer for a further 5 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Fettuccine alfredo 3 (2)In the meantime, cook the fettuccine according to the instructions, drain and add it to the other ingredients. Sprinkle with grated parmesan; serve aaaand enjoy!

Crustless Mini Quiches with Caramelized Onions and Brie

There are few things I love more than cheese. Not many, but a few. The Husband, the cat, shows about people who are ardently readying themselves for doomsday, dreaming I can fly (it only happened once but it was awesome) and, on that note, sleeping late. Actually, take the apocolypse show off the list. I definitely prefer cheese to watching people build underground bunkers in preparation for the inevitable alien invasion. If I were to do that, I know what I would take. Cheese. A lot of cheese. Probably not the best idea in the event of said aliens cutting all power, but you get the gist.

Brie is also known as “the King of Cheeses” and was believed to have been a tribute paid to French kings. I mean, if it’s good enough for royalty.

There are many ways to eat this cheese but this is by far my favourite. The sweetness of the caramelized onions perfectly compliments the gooey creaminess of the Brie. I use a medium (180ml/cup) muffin tray which gives me six mini quiches but you can use small pie dishes too.

Crustless Mini Quiches with Caramelized Onions and Brie

Servings: 6   Prep time: 5 minutes   Cooking time:  Caramelized onions 40 minutes + 25 – 30 minutes for quiches

Ingredients for mini caramelized and onon quiches

Ingredients for mini caramelized onion and Brie quiches

Ingredients:

  • 125g Brie cheese
  • 2 onions, peeled, halved and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 250 ml cream
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Non-stick spray

Method:

Peel, halve and slice the onions. Don’t slice them too thinly, you don’t want them to burn. Usually for caramelizing you would slice the onion whole, however, the quiches are too small for this.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium high. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and butter, stirring to spread the butter.

Onions in olive oil and butter

Onions in olive oil and butter

Spread the onions evenly across the pan. Fry for 5 minutes on medium high, stirring to prevent onions from sticking, then turn the heat down to medium low and saute for another 10 minutes.

Add the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and salt and saute for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F) and spray non-stick spray in the muffin tray cups, making sure you cover the sides too.

Brie is too soft to grate so cut it into small pieces, keeping a quarter aside for the topping.

Cut the Brie into small pieces, keeping a quarter aside

Cut the Brie into small pieces, keeping a quarter aside

Whisk the eggs and yolks and add the cream, stirring until thoroughly combined. Add the onions and Brie to the egg and cream mixture, stir and pour into the muffin tray, filling each cup ⅔’s full.

Pour the mixture into a muffin tray, filling each cup by two-thirds

Pour the mixture into a muffin tray, filling each cup by two-thirds

Bake for 25 – 3o minutes until golden brown on top. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before gently lifting the quiches out of the muffin cups.

Caramelized onion and Brie quiches

Caramelized onion and Brie quiches

Brie onion 8 (2)

Individual ramekins also work very well

 

Chewy Chocolate Brownies

These brownies have saved my hide a few times when, say, the ‘rents decide to pop in and end up staying for dinner or friends come over for a quick chat and cuppa which turns into an all-day and all-night event. Lovely though it is to spend time with these special people, I’ve often found myself in an “oh no, what do I make for pudding?” predicament. Enter this recipe.

Ingredients for chocolate brownies. You can substitute the vanilla paste with 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Ingredients for chocolate brownies. You can substitute the vanilla paste with 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

It’s easy and not very time consuming at all. The reason I’m able to whip it up with short-to-no notice is because these ingredients are always in my cupboard, and probably yours too. I also often make this when I’m cooking a very time-consuming main course. I usually make the brownies first and get it out of the way before tackling the several-hours-long mains.

Some brownies are too sweet and rich (is there such a thing?) but not this. The creamy chocolate-y-ness (that should really be a word; can you imagine the Scrabble points?) is just right. In fact, you can even serve it with ice cream. Some puddings make you feel uncomfortable, some even ill, but you can happily make this without worrying about that.

Here’s a tip. Initially I made the chocolate sauce (so easy; two ingredients, some heat and you’re done) when I was ready to serve dessert. What I’ve been doing lately is making the sauce once the brownies have cooled, then pouring it over them so they soak in it. You don’t have to do it this way. I actually happened upon this method when I had very little notice, got invited to a friend for dinner, quickly made the brownies and sauce and just poured it over them and reheated when ready. It. Was. Amazing.

It’s easier to use a square baking tray. I use a 9 x 9 inch silicone baking tray. The reason for this is because I prefer cutting the brownies into squares as opposed to slicing it like a cake. Having said that, it’s purely for my convenience and I’ve used a round tin many times, but I prefer the square tray for this recipe.

Something important to remember is that the universally-accepted toothpick test does not apply to this recipe. Because you’re making it chewy, you don’t want it to cook like a cake, so after half an hour, if you do the toothpick test, it should not be clear. It should be brown and gooey. Another thing is that my preference is always vanilla paste but you can substitute this for two teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Chewy Chocolate Brownies

Servings: 9     Prep time: 5 minutes     Baking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup butter, melted (170g)
  • 1 cup white sugar (200g)
  • ½ cup light brown sugar (100g)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup flour (85g)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder (50g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • non-stick spray

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).

Spray your baking tray with non-stick spray.

Using an electric whisk on high, beat the eggs and sugar until properly mixed, about 10 seconds. Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt and stir to combine. Add the melted butter and vanilla paste and beat until well-combined, approximately 30 seconds, scraping down the sides.

Pour the batter into your baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.

My preference for this recipe is a square baking dish but you can use a round cake tin too

My preference for this recipe is a square baking dish but you can use a round cake tin too

 

If you do the toothpick test at this point, it will come out gooey, so there is no need. After 30 minutes, take the baking tray out and let it cool for about 10 minutes before cutting your brownies into squares.

Chocolate brownies

While you’re letting the brownies cool, make the chocolate sauce:

  • 90g chopped dark chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 150ml cream

On medium-high, heat the cream until warm but not boiling. Don’t let the cream boil, you want to heat it just enough to melt the chocolate. Chop the dark chocolate and add it to the warm cream, removing the pot from the heat. Stir with a whisk until it’s smooth and then pour over your brownies. You can refrigerate this dish until you’re ready to serve it, in which case reheat it and serve as is or with ice cream.

Chocolate brownies in chocolate sauce. Chocolate, anyone?

Chocolate brownies in chocolate sauce. Chocolate, anyone?

 

 

 

 

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Brussels Sprouts Gratin pre-baking

Admittedly, I have never been a big fan of Brussels sprouts. My mother loved them and my mother-in-law also loves them but seldom does she have a chance to enjoy them. You see, my father-in-law doesn’t quite fancy them and much prefers gem squash. For Christmas last year, I decided to make a dish that we would all enjoy. After a few practices this is my tweaked version which also includes mushrooms just because they taste delicious with the bacon.

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Servings: 4-6     Prep time: 15 minutes     Cooking time: 20-25 minutes      Standing time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 500g frozen Brussels sprouts
  • 125g bacon, fat removed and cut into small pieces
  • 4 large brown mushrooms, sliced into ¼’s
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, I use canola
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper (I always use sea salt but table salt is absolutely fine too)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Lightly grease a baking dish. I use cholesterol free Spray and Cook.

In a microwaveable dish, pour in boiling water and add a pinch of salt. Add the frozen Brussels sprouts and microwave, uncovered, on medium-high for eight minutes. Drain and immerse the Brussels sprouts in ice cold water for ten minutes (to stop the cooking process).

While the sprouts are chilling, slice the mushrooms and cut the bacon. Add the oil to a large pan and fry the bacon on medium-high for three minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry for another three minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Once the sprouts are cool, drain and halve them. Put them in an ovenproof dish and add the bacon and mushrooms. Season further with more salt and pepper. Toss the ingredients to ensure even distribution.

Evenly pour the cream over the sprouts, bacon and mushroom mixture. Toss one more time. In a separate bowl, mix the bread crumbs and grated cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the Brussels sprouts mixture. Distribute the butter over the bread crumbs and bake uncovered, on a low shelf, until heated through and golden brown, approximately 20 – 25 minutes.

Allow it to stand for about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Note: I sometimes also add ten halved strings of green beans and five sliced baby marrows. These two ingredients do not require and pre-cooking and you can add them when you mix the Brussels sprouts, bacon and mushrooms. Yummy!