Sunday, 2 June 2019

Crunchy Granola

In the 70s, one of many reasons my family was considered weird was that we ate homemade 'Crunchy Granola'. I gather it's trendy again. Which is good, because I've discovered it tastes good too. 

Mix together in a large bowl:
2 cups rolled oats 
1 cup spelt flakes
1 cup barley flakes 
1/2-1 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
1/8 cup sesame seeds 
chopped or flaked nuts to taste/budget 

Mix in a measuring cup:  
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey 

Add honey and oil to large bowl and mix well.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and spread out the mix out well. 

Bake at 170C for 20 minutes or until golden brown; stir once during cooking. 

Cool. Add raisins or other dried fruit (optional).  Enjoy. 

Sunday, 9 December 2018

O Christmas Tree!

This was a big hit with the family.

The mould is from Lakeland. The recipe is from their blog, but it has some incorrect measurements that I've corrected below:

Preheat oven to 180C
Butter mould well and lay on a cookie sheet.
Add 60g butter; 60g dark muscovado sugar; 50g treacle and 50g golden syrup to a small saucepan and warm until ingredients melted and combined.  Cool.
In a medium sized mixing bowl combine 120g self-raising flour, 1 teaspoon ginger and 1 teaspoon mixed spice (or a combination of cloves, cinnamon and allspice). 
Combine sugar and butter mixture with dry ingredients. Add in 1 beaten egg and 60 ml milk.   Mix well. 
Pour into mould and bake 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the biggest segment is clean when removed.
Let cool before removing the sections.  Trim them flat if they've risen too much. 
Assemble, using a stiff icing in a piping bag.  Try a blend of 200g icing sugar; 2 teaspoons orange essence and 2 teaspoons water.   It should be quite stiff.  Add the icing generously. I was too stingy above and had lots left over.
If decorating with sparkles etc add them right away, as the icing hardens quickly. 

Friday, 2 November 2018

Bella's Birthday Brownies

For the chocolate base 

150g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate broken into pieces
250g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 medium free range eggs
100ml espresso
100g plain flour

For the Marbling

150g full fat cream cheese
60g caster sugar
1 medium free range egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

You will also need

20cm cake tin, greased and lined with non-stick baking paper


  1. Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Melt the butter and the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Remove the bowl from the heat and cool slightly.
  2. Stir the sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt into the chocolate mix, then beat in 
  3. For the marbling, beat the cream cheese in a mixing bowl until smooth, then mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla. Spoon the coffee chocolate mix into the tin, then pour over the marbling mix and use a knife to cut through both mixes for a marbled effect.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, but keep an eye on the brownies as you may need to cover the tin with foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking if they start to brown too much. Cool in the tin, then cut into 16 squares.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Sadza nenyama

It's been a long month in Zimbabwe, and although I wasn't there, I've been rather distracted.  So when my kids asked for sadza, I had to agree.  This was my best effort yet at beef stew, so am writing it down.
(with very non-zimbabwean plantain)

Beef stew

Finely chop and sauce 3/4 large onion in a heavy bottomed pan, with 1 stick celery finely chopped and two cloves garlic chopped or crushed.

remove sautéed veg from pan

dust 1 kg beef shin / hock in seasoned flour (salt, pepper, montreal steak spice, Schwartz chicken spice, whatever)

turn heat up in heavy pan and brown meat.

return sautéed vegetables to the pan and add chopped other veg -- carrots, turnip, green pepper.

add beef bouillon (i used one of those little bouillon pots, with about 2 cups hot water)

add chopped tomatoes or puree tomato (not too much).

Make sure meat covered with stock - add more water if needed.

Cook on low heat, in oven or slow-cooker (crockpot) until meat is tender and stock reduced and thickened a little.

Sadza:  buy white mealie meal at a 'halal shop' or African grocery shop.  Cook according to this recipe:

Vegetables:  this is a classic way to cook zimbabwean greens  I like to add tomatoes and onions, and sometimes peanut butter.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Poached pears

We have lovely friends who often invite us over for Persian/Iranian food on New Year's Day.  I always bring desert.  This year, things are a bit hectic, so I made the one desert I used to make when I was first living on my own: my mother's poached pears. Pretty much any pears are good in this, but juicy flavourful ones will always be best. It doesn't matter what they look like though, so choose them by smell, not appearance.

Combine 200gr granulated sugar and 500 ml water in a medium sized saucepan and bring to the boil.


1-2inc piece of cinnamon stick
3-5 whole cloves
2-3 1 inch strips of orange and/or lemon peel.


3-6 peeled, quartered and cored pears.

Poach for 15 minutes or until soft.

Serve slightly warm.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Easy Eggnog

Blogging this one so that we don't forget!  Fabulous stuff. 

Recipe from: 

    • large eggs
    • cup 
      granulated sugar
    • cups 
      whole milk
    • cup 
      heavy cream
    • 1/2 to 1 cup 
      bourbon (or other booze - whisky, rum, brandy etc)
    • Freshly grated nutmeg, for serving

    Separate the eggs and beat yolks with sugar until light and creamy.  Blend in milk, cream and alcohol.  Mix well.  Let rest in fridge (overnight if possible).  

    When serving, beat whites until soft peaks form, then fold into eggnog.  Dust with nutmeg. 

    That's it. 

    Saturday, 16 December 2017

    Nanaimo Bars

    When I was little,  my parents' friends would exchange baked goods on Christmas Eve. We all loved the Dutch butter cake we used to get with almonds on top, but each of us had favourites from the plate of mixed cookies that another colleague's wife made.  Two in particular we have tried to recreate for our grown-up Christmasses -- butter tarts and nanaimo bars - both Canadian classics.

    Here's our favourite version of Nanaimo bars - based on a recipe in Annie Bell's Baking Bible.

    Biscuit Base
    150g/5.3oz/ 2/3 cup softened unsalted melted butter
    100g/3.5oz digestive biscuits  broken into pieces  or 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
    60g/2oz walnut pieces (a generous half cup)
    40g/1.4oz / 1/3 cup good quality cocoa powder, sifted
    100g/3.5oz / 1/2 cupgolden caster sugar
    80g/2.8oz / 7/8 cup desiccated unsweetened coconut
    2 large eggs, beaten

    Custard Cream
    100g/3.5oz/ 1/2 cup  softened unsalted butter
    2 tbsp custard powder (or a little more if you like them extra custardy as advocated here)
    ½ tsp vanilla extract
    250g/8.8oz / 2 cups icing/confectioners sugar
    2 tbsp milk  (or Tia Maria/Kahlua for a flavoured version)

    Chocolate topping
    150g/5.3oz dark chocolate at least 70%
    25g/1oz 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    4 Tablespoons black coffee or coffee liqueur (tia maria or kahlua)

    To assemble: 
    Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F). Butter or line a 23cm square x 4cm deep cake tin or brownie tin (or equivalent traybake tin, for example, 25cm x 20cm).

    Whiz the digestives and the walnuts to crumbs in a food processor. Add the cocoa and sugar and whiz again, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
    Mix in the coconut. Stir in the melted butter, then add the beaten eggs, stirring until combined. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to cool. Don't overbake!

    For the filling, beat the butter in a large bowl for about a minute until pale and fluffy.  
    Mix in the custard powder and the vanilla, and then the icing sugar.  Mix in the milk or kahlua in until smooth and creamy, like a stiff buttercream frosting.  Spread on the cooled base, and chill. 

    For the top layer, break up the chocolate and gently melt it with the butter  and coffee or liqueur in a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan containing a little simmering water.   If the chocolate separates, beat briskly with a tablespoon or two of cold water until it comes together again.  
    Remove from heat and leave to chill slightly, then smooth the chocolate mixture over the custard cream. 
    Chill, cut into small pieces and serve.