Monday, June 11, 2012

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bliksem Biltong Muffins!

Let's face it – the savoury muffin would be no where without cheese. Mature cheddar, Gruyere, Danish blue, Parmesan... whatever your poison, you can't go wrong with the texture and taste of crumbled salty, feta.

Inspired by the Rugby World Cup (and the fact that she was entertaining guests at 8 in the morning for the games, when chips 'n dip didn't seem appropriate), my good friend Narina (of The Crazy Aunt Co) experimented with biltong muffins – a sure-fire, proudly South Africa party pleaser!

  • 1 egg
  • Approx 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1ml cayenne papper
  • 1/2 cup biltong powder (available from a biltong shop, alternatively finely chop the biltong)
  • 1 cups mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
  • Onion sprinkles and chopped chives (optional)
How to make:
Beat the egg lightly in a measuring jug, topping up with milk to the 250ml measure. Sift the dry ingredients together, stir in grated cheese, reserving some to sprinkle on top of the muffins, and the biltong. Mix in the liquid ingredients to create a thick batter. Mix lightly and quickly, and finally stir in the crumbled feta so it doesn't totally disintegrate. Spoon into well-greased muffin tins and sprinkle with onion/chives as desired. Bake at 220C for 10-15 minutes until golden. Game on!

Hi, I'm back

So much time has passed. A lot and nothing has happened in that time, but I'm excited for what's to come. I'm also excited to be blogging again, and be able to purge the blog drafts that have been piling up in my brain for months!

This beautiful print is by photographer Sharon Montrose. Her site, The Animal Print Shop, showcases, and sells, her exquisite images of animals. I can't find a favourite, but I think the raccoon rates high up!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Barcelona Beauty

It's a rare and beautiful thing to find a man who can shop for you. I am proud and humbled to say I have found one such anomaly. On a recent business trip to Barcelona, The Boyfriend returned with a bounty of brownie points. (Bearing in mind, that aside from sizes, I didn't give him any guidance.) Whether you're interested in fashion or not, I think you will appreciate the never ceasing wonders of the modern man!

Zara is one of my favourite stores to visit overseas. Above, a soft cream tee with repetitive butterfly
print & a longer-length, black knit vest, great for layering in winter. 

These delightful lingerie sets are from a store called Intimissimi, an Italian brand that offers
beautiful & feminine underwear, basics, pyjamas and more.

Turquoise & cerise pink (short) tunic dress from Zara.

And The Shoes: a pair of authentic, hand-made wedge espadrilles from the renowned
La Manual Alpargatera shop, near the Las Ramblas in Spain, that put espadrilles on the international
fashion map. They're such a beautiful stone/dove grey – feminine and really versatile.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes

Images by Baby_Birdie
Recipe courtesy of

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180C. In a small bowl, combine and sieve the flours and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, stir in the ingredients until incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into a muffin tray filled with cupcake cases, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Vanilla Butter Icing
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 to 8 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add four cups of sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about three to five minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about two minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. (I didn't, so my icing was a little smoother on top of the cupcakes when it had hardened.) If desired, add a few drops of food colouring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days (though I haven't tried!).

Cooking For Kylie: Volume 2

[Alternate header: Why I'm Not Cut Out For Catering]

Last week was a blur of shopping, prepping, chopping, washing, drying, stirring, baking, washing, chopping, packaging, selling, baking, tasting, shopping, prepping, washing... and repeat! Monday's menu involved macaroni & cheese, mildly-curried butternut soup, bran muffins and chocolate brownies. Tuesday night I shopped and prepped, preparing spaghetti and meatballs, minestrone soup, bran & cappuccino muffins and brownies. This was by far the toughest night with every pot we own bubbling on the stove, the meatballs in the oven, the brownies and muffins lined up to be baked and the sink piled to the rafters.

Thursday was a colleague's birthday and I'd agreed to make brownies, chocolate cake and a baked lemon cheesecake. Now my colleagues are like family, so I wasn't sure what to charge and we agreed upon the round figure of R150 – R50 an item. Turns out I severely undercharged – just three ingredients for the cheesecake cost R55. So we settled on vanilla cupcakes. I didn't end up making money, but the birthday was a success and I have two more orders for birthday goodies for office mates. That evening, I made chicken curry and bacon and lentil soup for the following day. We had guests for dinner, and I made chicken pie and enjoyed the temporary respite from "the project".

Friday came & went, and I handed out the last of my meals and counted out my earnings. I most certainly didn't make millions, or recoup enough to cover my time, but I covered costs and made enough for a Kylie ticket. The brownies proved supremely popular and were the easiest to make and manufacture, so I'm going to keep those up. I learnt the cost of my time; became truly aware of the expense of ingredients and my unwavering decision not to cut corners with poor produce; basked in the pleasure of having a project outside of work and the joy I get from cooking; tested my boyfriend's patience (and washing up skills); and let go of a great project not because it failed, but because of the reality of its execution. Along the way, I got some feedback on a few of my recipes. I'll be sharing a few of the most successful ones (like the Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes!).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cooking For Kylie

I grew up moving to "The Loco-motion", singing "I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky...", thinking love was Jason & Kylie's "Especially for you", grooving to "Slow" and belting out "Aaalll the Loversss". Well, the pint-sized Princess of Pop responsible for this journey is coming to Cape Town! I'm a firm believer, that in order to get big acts to keep coming to our shores, we have to support them. I'm also a believer, that the likes of pop divas Madonna, Beyonce, Shakira and Gaga - Kylie included - provide the most dazzling, entertaining and fun concerts, even if you're not their biggest fans. 

But alas, the ticket prices for this tiny dynamo are not so petite... and it was with a sparkly tear, that I gave up on my dream of "Spinning Around". But a good friend and colleague of mine, known fondly as The Fashion Pixie, Azeez, suggested we try and make a plan to go together. I love a challenge, and we set about generating dazzling ideas of how we could get to the concert, from selling all the grooming products in our office's storeroom for "charity" obviously, to clearing out our wardrobes and having a garage sale. On the more rational, if a little old-school, suggestion of someone to have a "bake sale", the "Cooking For Kylie" idea was born. 

The premise: we offer soup, comfort food and baked goods to our colleagues. The execution: so as not to be exploiting work premises for our tuckshop, people can order two days in advance and the delicacies will be delivered to their desks. On Monday, I'm bringing in samples: roast butternut soup, macaroni cheese, muffins and chocolate brownies and we'll go from there. (We all know that people like to test the wares before committing to anything.) We already have our first order - a colleague's birthday on Thursday. So you can tell what I'll be doing this weekend! Wish us luck!