Monthly Mystery Munchies #34: Berry Meringues with Pistachios

Four attempts. Four. That’s how many times it took me to get the meringues to look like this! Who knew whipping eggs and sugar would be this hard? I learned that it’s all about timing, from how long to whip the eggs to how long to bake the meringues and leave them to cool in the oven. But once I figured it out, it was plain sailing. This is all thanks to my stepmom. High five, Shell!

 

When Ann from Grubbs ‘n Critters suggested April’s Monthy Mystery Munchies theme – berries and pistachios, I was instantly hooked. I love berries. I eat them every day. They make me happy. I also love nuts, all nuts, but pistachios are right up there for me. So, I decided to finally put my past meringue failures aside and get it right. My last attempt was about two years ago buuut I’ve wanted to try again for a while. My stepmom is an amazing cook, and she gave me a handwritten book with all her recipes a couple of years ago. She makes droolworthy meringues, so I used her recipe and it worked. Yaaaasssss! Proud to no longer be a loser in this category. I used a mixture of berrries with a strawberry compote. Like denim on denim, berry on berry is quite acceptable these days.

Credit: Grubbs ‘n Critters

 

This month, Ann made savoury cake. If you’re unsure, listen to this “soft, gooey Camembert cheese sprinkled with crushed pistachios underneath layers and layers of filo delicately brought together with melted butter. It is then topped again with blueberry sauce before crinkling the filo together at the top, drizzle it with more blueberry sauce and pistachios.” It’s a savoury revolution! Check it out!

Berry Meringues with Pistachios and Compote

Supplies:

Meringue:
6 egg whites
180 grams castor sugar
180 grams icing sugar
3/4 teaspoon cream or tartar.

Strawberry Compote:
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
2 cups fresh or frozen cherries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice

Topping:
Mixed berries (I used frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
2 tablespoons finely chopped pistach

Making it Happen

Preheat your oven to just below 100°
Beat the egg whites on high until soft peaks form.
Add the sugar slowly, 1 teaspoon at a time.
Lastly add the cream of tartare and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form (approximately 3 minutes. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down.)
Fill a piping bag with the meringue mixture.
Line a large baking tray with parchement paper.
Pipe the meringue mixture in circles.
Bake for 1.5 hours. Thereafter, turn the oven off and leave the meringues inside, with the door closed. for four hours.

Compote:

Heat the sugar and orange juice on medium, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves.
Chop the strawberries and cherries and add them to the pot. Simmer on medium-low for 10 – 15 minutes, until the fruit is completely soft.
Transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth.

Topping it Off:

Fill the centres of the meringues with mixed fruit and pistachios.
Drizzle the compote over the sides of the meringues and serve!

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Monthly Mystery Munchies #33: Bouef Bourguignon

I love a recipe that calls for an entire bottle of wine! February’s Monthly Mystery Munchies between myself and Ann from Grubbs ‘n Critters is beef and bacon, two ingredients synonymous with bouef bourguignon. It’s a mouthful – English please! Beef Burgundy is a traditional French stew that’s usually cooked in a Dutch oven. However, that’s one thing I don’t have, so let’s make another plan: Crockpot! Fry some ingredients, place in a crockpot (slow-cooker), and let it stew for 6-8 hours. Glory be!

I fried the first six ingredients in batches using the same skillet, transferred to the crockpot, poured an enormous amount of wine into it, with a hint of beef stock* and let is stew, let it stew, let it steeeew. Two hours before the end, I removed the lid to let the booze evaporate, and added the mushrooms an hour before the time was up. Y’all, I’m so into this recipe. The Husband said “I’m so glad this is February’s blog challenge”. He approves. My life is complete. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around, “happy wife, happy life”? Well regardless, this one was a hit!

To see what the lovely, dear Ann produced this month, please do yourself a favour and hop over to Grubbs n Critters. Also, if you’re into jokes, anecdotes about raising kids, and life in general, she’s your gal. This is our 33rd monthly recipe challenge, and Ann has really, impressively, stepped it up a few dozen notches. She uses interesting ingredients, she thinks ‘out the box’, and every month I eagerly await her recipe.

Bouef Bourguignon

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Supplies:

 

200g bacon, chopped
1kg stewing beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons white flour
4 baby onions, peeled
8 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
500g baby potatoes, unpeeled and whole
2 teaspoons minced garlic
50g tomato paste
1 herb bouguet (3 bay leaves, 5 sprigs parsely and 5 sprigs thyme)
3 cups red wine blend
1 cup beef stock (list name)
400g white button mushrooms, cut into quarters
Salt and cracked black pepper for seasoning

Serving: 1 cup rice (white or basmati), or a baguette.

Making it Happen:

In your skillet heat one tablepsoon of olive oil on medium and fry the chopped bacon for about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Don’t clean the skillet.
In the bacon juices, add another tablespoon of olive oil and on medium-high heat, place the cut beef into the skillet. You would probably have to fry the beef in two batches. Sprinkle one tablespoon of flour over the beef per batch. Seer the beef on both sides until lightly brown, about two minutes per side. Remove and set aside.
Deglaze the skillet with a quarter cup of red wine.
In another tablespoon of olive oil, add the garlic and fry the onions, carrots and potatoes for five minutes on medium-high. Add the tomato paste after four minutes. Set aside.
Fry the mushrooms until cooked. Cover and set aside for later.
Transfer all ingredients into the slow-cooker. Start with the beef and bacon at the bottom, then add your onions, carrots, and potatoes.
Pour in 750ml/3 glasses of red wine plus one cup beef stock. Add the herb bouquet, season with salt and pepper. Do not stir.
Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes. Adjust heat to low and simmer for another 7.5 hours. Two hours before the end, remove the lid. One hour before the end, add the mushrooms.
Do not stir.
Serve with rice (I used basmati), or a baguette.

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Word

Monthly Mystery Munchies #32: Wild Mushroom Risotto

I really feel like I’m one with the earth, getting in touch with my roots by using wild mushrooms in this risotto. That’s this month’s Monthly Mystery Munchies theme, and I chose wild mushrooms because I lurve them. These are different from the ones I ate when I was a teenager. Kidding? Before this recipe, I had made one risotto a few years ago and it was gross. I was deeply disappointed, but one night at a friend’s house, she served risotto and it was perfection. I asked her how she got it right, and she said she always oven-bakes it instead of boiling. I can be slightly lazy, so this appealed to me because (a) it was bomb, and (b) it was schelp-free. Winner.

I tried this recipe twice, and it works. It just works. I use shiitake and oyster mushrooms because they have a cool earthy flavour. Parmesan brings the extra, and remember to save some of the white wine for cooking. And there is butter. Need I say it again? It gives me life. Reserve the liquid you use for soaking the mushrooms. It has lots of flavour, and it’s such a waste to toss it. In this recipe, I use 600ml liquid – please note that this is the combined total. It includes the mushroom-soaking liquid, wine and stock.

Please hop over to Ann’s recipe on Grubbs n Critters. She is so creative with her meals, and I learn a great deal from her every single month. What I lack in imagination, she has in spades, but life is about balance, right? Unless you’re me trying to perfect Warrior 3 on a bad day. Or a good day, because I inevitably fall over. “Look at meeee! I’m so strong!” Faceplant. Yoga aside, Ann does bring balance, inspiration, motivation and super cool ideas to my life.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

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Supplies:

1 cup risotto rice
2 leeks, sliced
60g butter
*75ml dry white wine
*525ml combined chicken stock and liquid from soaked mushrooms
50g shiitake and oyster mushrooms
1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
50g grated parmesan + 20g
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Parsley for garnishing

* You want a total of 600ml of liquid, consisting of dry white wine, chicken stock and the liquid from soaking the mushrooms.

Making it Happen:

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).
Heat butter in a pan on medium heat. Fry the leeks for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper. Fry for another 5 minutes. Add the rice and fry for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Pour in the combined stock and wine, and bring to a simmer.
Heat your baking dish in the oven while all the frying is happening.
Transfer the risotto mixture to the heated dish, and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
Add 50g parmesan, and stir once. Return to the oven.
Bake for another 10-15 minutes until cooked, then add the rest of the parmesan, garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

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Monthly Mystery Munchies #31: Pasta Primavera

Credit: NordWood Themes

Haaaaapy New Year! May 2018 be delicious! In the spirit of New Year, Ann from Grubbs n Critters, who is my dedicated, loyal Best Blogging Friend, chose “new beginnings” as this month’s recipe challenge, and challenge is quite apt. I was initially stumped, as it’s not as easy as it sounds, but then I did some research and learned that Chinese dumplings are a traditional dish served for the Chinese New Year. Fantastic, I thought, let’s do that. I mean, how hard can it be? Quite, as it turned out. I Googled and YouTubed and realised that dumplings were, in fact, tricky, but that did not deter. I went to the grocery store and stocked up on pork mince, bamboo shoots, and the rest of the ingredients. However, when it came time to make said dumplings, well, it was a comedy of errors. The Husband informed me that rice wine vinegar is not the same as Chinese rice wine. Oops. Also, I left spring onions off the list, and my dumpling dough was horrendous and inedible. It was so hard, it could have been used as a weapon. Blunt force trauma for dinner, anyone? No? We bailed on the idea and went out for burgers instead. It was good for a laugh. The Sister from Another Mister was lured here with the promise of pork dumplings, but instead she was tasked with the idea of finding another recipe. I felt it only right that she contribute, as I stared into my chicken burger and uttered some choice words. She decided that I should make pasta primavera, or spring pasta, and I jumped on the opportunity.

Now, it’s not spring in South Africa. It is summer. Sweltering, blazing summer, but all of these veggies are available here and I do love spring, and the idea of using these veggies that represent a new season. Plan B worked out well. Hallelujah! I really loved the idea of roasting a wide array of delicious, colourful vegetables, mixing them with butter and cream, topping with parmesan. It’s a creamy dish, but because it also uses a variety of vegetables, it’s bursting with flavour too. Yes!! I am so keen to see Ann’s dish this month, and I mean wow, she really picked a fun one this month. So without further ado, here’s my pasta primavera recipe, and please take a gander at Ann’s recipe. I have no doubt it’s a delicious treat!

Pasta Primavera

Supplies:

500g bowtie pasta (or any other kind)
3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 baby marrows/zucchini, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon Italian herbs
Freshly cracked black pepper
Pink salt (you can use normal salt, but Himalayan salt is my fave for health reasons)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Sauce:

4 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 sliced garlic cloves
½ cup chicken stock
1 cup cream
½ cup parmesan

Making it Happen:

Boil the pasta per package instructions until al dente.
Meanwhile, lay your vegetable in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle the dried herbs over the veggies and roast in a preheated oven at 200°C for 10 – 15 minutes.

For the sauce:
Heat the butter in a pan on medium, and add the onion and garlic. Fry until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and fry for another minute. Pour in the stock and cream, and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, along with the cherry tomatoes, then add the roasted veggies and toss well. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve!

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Monthly Mystery Munchies #30: Almond Flour Banana Bread

Number 30? Whaaaaaa? Ann and I have been doing our super cool challenge, Monthly Mystery Munchies, for 30 months. I feel like this is when, in a relationship, people set a wedding date. It’s a commitment! And one I love so very much. Ann, I will never cheat on you. I swear it. And thank you, Ann, for always being up for the challenge, even when I get exhausted just thinking about everything you have going on in your life on any given day/week/month.

So, what happens when you have a gluten intolerant friend, spare bananas and a blog challenge that calls for anything almond-y? Banana bread, that’s what. Now, I am not one for the whole “gluten-is-terrible-and-if-you-eat-it-your-insides-will-shrivel-up-and-die” movement, unless you genuinely have an intolerance, which I don’t. TG. Nevertheless, I am super curious about using white flour substitutes, so I ventured off to the supermarket in search of almond flour. It is eye-wateringly expensive… I balked, hesitated for a moment, and then decided to commit. I mean, it’s banana bread, thank you Banana Food Gods for this invention (worthy of capitals), and almond flour – my favourite nut in the history of taste buds.

We’re doing renovations again. It feels like just the other day I nearly lost my mind with the last round. It was, in fact, almost two years ago, but the mind remembers and I feel that trauma in my soul. So, a good excuse to venture into the kitchen, get busy and put my music on full blast. Cue ACDC. Old school never sounded so sweet. I was very hesitant to bake with almond flour, sans butter. Hooooow does one bake banana bread without butter, pray tell? Add maple syrup, that’s how. Yet more “WTF”? Buuuuut it works. It really, really works. I loved it. It’s easy and the prep is ridiculously quick – throw everything into the blender, mix, transfer to pan, bake. Done. Okay, I’m sold. And it tastes soooo good! If almonds, or bananas, or both, are your vibe, do this. Try it, enjoy it and feel zero guilt! I’m pumped for Ann’s recipe this month: Dutch Bitterkoejes. “They are somewhat related to macarons, taste like marzipan, almost pepernoten-like and very much a typical Dutch classic. It’s chewy on the inside, NOT bitter and incredibly easy to make.” I’m so in. I’m booking my ticket as we speak. Have a look-see at her latest culinary creation on Grubbs n Critters, and while you’re there, check out the rest of her site. It’s awesome!

Almond Four Banana Bread

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Supplies:

3 ripe, mashed bananas
2 eggs
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt

Making it Happen:

Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°CF).
Spray a bread tin with non-stick spray.
In a blender, blitz the first four wet ingredients until smooth.
Add the remaining four dry ingredients, blitz until mixed, about 5 – 10 seconds.
Pour into the prepared bread tin and bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clear.

Monthly Mystery Munchies #29: Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese and Buttermilk Glaze

Whoop whoop! Back in the land of the living! (Although I am often zombie-esque, so I’m not really sure how accurate that statement is, but it’s all relative.) To make a long story short, I had an accident which resulted in a few surgeries and bed-rest for six weeks. After two months, I rejoined society. This annoying and frustrating situation threw a spanner in the works of, well, everything. However, I was totally ready to go ahead with Ann’s Monthly Mystery Munchies theme: Cinnamon. Anything with cinnamon. Now, you might say “oh, that’s so easy”, but it was actually quite tricky. The very first idea that popped into my mind was cinnabuns. I mean, yassss.

Google was my trusty friend, but I was daunted by the recipes I found online, until I found Once Upon A Chef’s cinnamon bun recipe. “Let’s just try it and see what happens”, I thought. And so I made it, and it was amazing AF. Jenn Segal, food guru from Once Upon A chef, tried a few recipes before perfecting this one. And perfect it is! I’ve adjusted the frosting by increasing the portions and adding vanilla, which I am permanently ‘sessing over. I am also obsessed with cinnamon. I’ve had a love affair with it for years. I put it in everything. Like, everything. It goes into my smoothies, I sprinkle it over my All Bran and bananas every morning, I put it in curries and chilli dishes… Any opportunity and I’m down.

Baking is something I haven’t done for quite some time. The price of butter has skyrocked in South Africa. FML. No, seriously, it saddens me. Baking is something that’s an instant mood enhancer, and I’m not just talking about the finished product. In fact, I think I enjoy the actual process and preparation more than the reward that comes out of the oven! Okay, maybe not more, but definitely on par.

Cinnabuns. Cinnamon buns. Cinfully delicious. Crisp, not too sweet, and the icing melts, literally melts, in your mouth. It’s like little fairies moonwalking over your tongue. I am so amped to see Ann’s creation. She always pushes the boat out. She’s a serious foodie and her recipes are beyond impressive, inventive, imaginative and delicious. Please visit her site for the most amazing food, adventures, humour and more.

It’s important to note that these portions have to be measured precisely.

Cinnamon buns

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Supplies:

For the buns:
7 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
¾ cup packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon + ½teaspoon salt
3 cups spooned flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1¼ cups buttermilk

For the glaze:
3 tablespoons cream cheese, room temp
4 tablespoons buttermilk
1¼ cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Making it Happen:

In a 9-inch cake tin, place a piece of tin foil at the bottom, covering the sides too. Preheat your oven to 220°C (440°F).

In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, cinnamon, ⅛ teaspoon salt salt in a small bowl. Add one tablespoon melted butter and stir with a fork until the mixture resembles wet sand.

In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining dry ingredients together. Add 3 tablespoons melted butter and buttermilk and stir using a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed, 30 seconds – 1 minute.

Sprinkle flour over a work surface, transfer the dough and knead until it’s smooth, about 30 seconds – 1 minute.
Sprinkle more flour on your surface, lightly dusting it. Form a rectangle with the dough, then roll it into a 9 inch x 12 inch rectangle with your rolling pin. Dust the rolling pin lightly with flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.

Brush the dough with a tablespoon of butter and evenly spoon the brown sugar mixture over it, pressing it down firmly with your hands. Roll the dough into a tight log, pinching to seal it. (You might need to use a tiny bit of water to help seal the seam.)

Turn the log over so that the seam is at the bottom and slice into 9 pieces. Place the buns in the cake tin, flat side down, and brush with the remaining butter. Bake for 23 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Using the foil overhang, transfer the buns to a wire rack. Allow to rest for five minutes, then separate the buns (you might need to use a knife.)

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Mix the buttermilk, cream cheese, vanilla and icing sugar, and drizzle over the buns.

Serve warm, or refrigerate and reheat later. (15 – 20 seconds in your microwave.)  

 

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Monthly Mystery Munchies #27: Lamb Rogan Josh

Keep calm and curry on! I am a staunch proponent of curry – any curry, any time – I’m totally there! When Ann suggested July’s Monthly Mystery Munchies theme – Indian – I was too excited. Give me any excuse to throw it down in the kitchen and I will take it. I know a lot of people don’t like to fuss, but I was in my element in the kitchen, trying various dishes for hours at a time, and after a stressful couple of months, I was blissing out on cinnamon, cardamom, masala, cloves, you name it. What a joy this past month has been! Oh, and my house smelled amazing! I’m sure my neighbours thought I was setting up a spice factory. I would absolutely be Ginger Spice, because I had that in abundance. Aah yes, I do like abundance of a culinary nature.

So, now the question was “which dish should I choose?”. Enter the willing guinea pigs: The Husband (always game), the sister from another mister, and a dear friend who inspires me with her incredible cooking, especially her Indian cuisine. We settled on lamb rogan josh, because lamb. It’s such a treat, being an expensive meat and it’s so not difficult at all! No slaving for hours upon hours (although, by my own admission, I kinda dig that) but not for this recipe. It’s fragrant and spicy but not hot, so it’s suitable for everyone.

Ann, inspired by Pinterest (it’s addictive) made Indian Bengali-style spicy eggs. Yáll, head on over to Grubbs ‘n Critters, like soon-ish, to check it out.

Now, let’s get curried away with this lamb rogan josh. Enjoy it!

Lamb Rogan Josh

  • Difficulty: Not brain surgery
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Supplies:

1kg diced leg of lamb
1/4 cup canola/vegetable oil
10 black peppercorns
5 green cardamom pods, sliced
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons garam masala
4 large tomatoes, pureed
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup water
175g double cream yoghurt
Fresh coriander
Basmati rice

Making it Happen:

Paste: Blitz the ginger and garlic with 4 tablespoons of water in a food processor. Set aside.

In a large, heavy-bottom non-stick pot, heat two tablespoons of oil, fry the lamb on medium heat until it’s browned on all sides. Remove from the pot.

In the same pot, heat the rest of the oil on medium heat and fry the peppercorns, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon for 1 minute. Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and ginger paste, and fry for another minute. Take a deep breath and enjoy the aromatics emanating from the pot!

Sprinkle the rest of the spices into the pot and fry for 30 seconds, then add the lamb back into the pot, stir in the tomatoes, fill with water and simmer for half an hour, or until the lamb is tender.

Stir in the yoghurt and garnish with coriander. Serve with basmati rice.
(You can also make this ahead of time, refrigerate and reheat slowly on low on your stove.) 

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