I just love food stories and this one really takes the cake. Apparently whoopies originated when Amish women, baking cakes, used the leftover batter to make these little miracles as a surprise for their husbands’ lunchboxes. When the husbands opened up their lunchboxes after a hard morning’s work on their land, they’d shout “Whooppee!”
Red Velvet Whoopies
Makes 18 whoopies (sandwiched)
Making the whoopies
2⅓ cups cake flour
2 tablespoons cacao, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100 g soft butter
1 cup castor sugar
1 tablespoon red food colouring
2 teaspoons vanilla
175 ml buttermilk
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
For the icing
4 cups icing sugar, sifted
½ of a 240 g tub cream cheese
125 g soft butter
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
extra icing sugar for dusting
Sift the cake flour, cacao, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl. Cream the butter and castor sugar n a separate bowl and add the food colouring and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the eggs, to the butter and sugar mixture and mix well. Beat the buttermilk and vinegar into the mixture. Spoon batter into the holes of three 12 hole pattipans. Bake for 12 minutes in a preheated oven of 170ºC. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Make the icing: Beat together the icing sugar, cream cheese and butter. Add the cider vinegar and mix until you have a smooth batter. Sandwich whoopies together with the cream cheese icing. Dust with icing sugar.
The secret of the most delicious nougat lies in the honey and nougat you’re using. I use the Sicilian method, slightly chewy but extremely delicious. The Sicilians also believes in using almonds in their nougat. I use it with the skin on, but it is up to you. Just remember, if you decide to use blanched almonds, you need to make sure that the nuts have completely dried before you use them in the nougat. Nougat hates water or moisture of any kind. I use raw honey, supplied by a friend, Karen Otto. She produces honey at her small-holding, Rietfontein, near Darling. She markets her honey under the label Darling Honey. They also make the most delicious honey liquors and gin.
Makes about 6 – 7 bars or 18 – 21 pieces of nougat (depending on the size you cut it)
For the sugar syrup
1⅔ cups sugar
¼ cup honey
1¾ cups water
For the honey syrup
½ cup honey
For the composition
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ cups whole almonds, skin on, roasted, and still warm (see note)
2 sheets of rice paper
Prepare a rectangular loose-bottomed tin of about 18 x 28 cm with a thin layer of oil spray and line the bottom with a sheet of rice paper. Keep the second sheet for later.
Prepare the sugar syrup first: In a saucepan, combine the ingredients for the sugar syrup and bring to a boil. When the temperature of the syrup reaches 118ºC on a thermometer (It takes about 20 minutes.) Continue cooking the sugar syrup. Pour the honey for the honey syrup into a smaller saucepan and bring to a boil until the temperature reaches 129ºC. Carefully watch the sugar syrup until it reaches a temperature of 152ºC.
While you’re waiting for the syrups, beat the egg whites until forming stiff peaks and slowly add the sugar while beating. Use the paddle attachment from now on and slowly add the honey syrup while the mixer is running at medium speed. Then add the sugar syrup in a slow stream. After you’ve added all the syrup, beat for 3 – 5 minutes. Add the nuts and mix well.
Scrape the nougat into the prepared tin and press into an even layer. The mixture is very hot. I spray a potato masher with oil and use it the flatten the surface. Place the other sheet of rice paper on top. Leave to stand for 30 – 45 minutes until the nougat has cooled down and is completely set. Remove the nougat from the tin and place it on a solid work surface. Use a serrated knife (preferably a bread knife) and a meat mallet or small hammer to cut the nougat into bars or pieces. Place the knife in position and hit the top of the blade with the hammer.
NOTE: Spread the nuts on a baking tin and place in a preheated oven of 200°C as soon as you start cooking the sugar syrup. Roast the nuts for 3 minutes, then switch off the oven but keep the nuts inside to retain heat. If you add cold nuts to the nougat mix, it sets too fast.
I love Turkish Delight. By that, I mean the real thing, not those jelly-like galoops. With real Turkish Delight, you cannot use the easy way out and pop in some gelatine. No, my sweet, if you want to make it the way the Turks do, you need a lot of patience and strong arms. You have to stir and stir and stir . . .
Makes about 25 – 36 blocks (depending on the size you cut them)
For the sugar syrup
4 cups sugar
1½ cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
For the cornflour paste
1 cup cornflour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups water
For the final touches
1 teaspoon rosewater
‘n few drops of red or pink food colouring (optional)
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup cornflour
Start with the sugar syrup: Put the sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan. I put in the sugar first, followed by the water and lemon juice. You have to pour in the liquid very carefully so that no sugar crystals form on the side of the saucepan. If you see some sugar crystals, use a brush with some hot water to brush it from the side. Bring the syrup to a boil until mixture reaches a temperature of 115ºC. Switch off the plate but leave the saucepan on it.
Mix the cornflour, cream of tartar and 2 cups of water in a separate saucepan. Use a whisk to break up any lumps. Continue whisking while you bring the cornflour to a boil. Once it becomes a gluey paste, remove the pot from the heat.
Add a small amount of the sugar syrup to the gluey paste and use a wooden spoon to incorporate. Always stir in one direction, clockwise. (Don’t ask me why – I don’t argue with the Turks.) Continue to add the syrup bit by bit, stirring between each addition. Put the pot back on the stove plate and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and allow to simmer very gently for about an hour. Stir frequently. I set my stove alarm clock for every 7 – 10 minutes and stir. The mixture should be a golden amber colour.
Take it from the heat and add the rosewater and food colouring. Pour the mixture into a square baking tin of 20 x 20 cm, lightly sprayed with oil spray and lined with two strips of baking paper, also treated with oil spray. Leave overnight or for several hours to set completely.
Sift the icing sugar and cornflour together. Dust the Turkish Delight with this mixture and turn out onto a working surface dusted liberally with the same mixture. Remove the baking paper. Cut the slab into blocks, using a lightly oiled knife and dust each block with the icing sugar and cornflour mixture. Put the blocks in a container with the rest of the icing sugar and cornflour mixture.
Please note: The container should NOT be airtight. DO NOT STORE IN THE FRIDGE!
I love avocado – the texture, the taste, the versatility. And to me the ultimate comfort food is a mega sandwich of soft white bread with heaps of avo, slices of boiled egg, chopped tomato, salt and freshly ground pepper.
It has now been more than a year ago since this strangely innocent and naïve young Xhosa man has moved in with me.
I simply cannot imagine life without potatoes. To me it is the ultimate comfort food – a creamy, buttery mash with just a hint of nutmeg. Or a grand accompaniment to a succulent roast – potatoes oven roasted in goose fat.
And then there is real slap chips for relaxed days. And now I’m not talking about the sterile little things drilled to perfection, crunchy little sticks neatly packed in cute little boxes. Oh no, I love the real thing – slap, with plenty of salt and drenched in real malt vinegar.
But, enough of that, the reason why I love potatoes so much, is because it is so versatile in its simplicity. And these three very different recipes showcase just that.
Potato flatties with chilli and garlic oil
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
2 garlic cloves, crushed (do not chop)
8 medium-sized potatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pour the oil in a small sauce pan, add the chilli flakes and garlic and slowly heat over very low heat. Let it stand to infuse while you prepare the potatoes. Boil the potatoes in their skin. (I usually add just enough water to the potatoes to cover them, bring it to a boil, lower the heat to the lowest setting and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Depending on the size of your potatoes, it should be perfectly cooked without bursting open.) Drain the potatoes and place on a baking tray lined with foil. Use a meat hammer or wine bottle (or similar) and wack each potato until it bursts open. A good way to vent your frustration after a heavy day, but be careful not to turn it into mash! Pour the oil through a sieve and pour onto each crushed potato. Season with plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put the tray under a preheated grill for about 10 – 15 minutes. Watch carefully so that it doesn’t burn.
Curry & coconut potato soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 x 2 cm piece of fresh ginger
10 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 -3 cm cubes
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
4 cups chicken stock
1 x 400 g can coconut milk
a handful chopped fresh coriander leaves (and stalks!)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra coriander leaves for garnish
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger and stir through. Sauté for about 1 – 2 minutes. Add potatoes and mix well. Fry for a minute or so before adding the curry powder. Mix well. Add the lemon zest and stock. Lower the heat and cover the pot. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Add the coconut milk, coriander and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes more. Use a hand blender or food processor to make a smooth mixture. Heat through, garnish with coriander leaves and serve.
Lamb and potato casserole
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
800 g stewing lamb
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
10 -15 cherry or other small, dwarf-sized Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 medium-sized potatoes peeled and cut into 5 cm cubes
Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed pot (that can go in the oven) over low heat. Add the onion and fry until soft and translucent. Raise the heat, add the meat and brown on all sides. Mix the tomato puree with the stock and add to the pot. Stir well and boil for about a minute while stirring constantly. Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper to taste and bring back to the boil. Lower the heat slightly and cook, covered, for 30 minutes, Add the potatoes, mix well and cover the pot. Place in a preheated oven of 190⁰C for 1¼ hours. Serve.
For interesting facts and helpful information, go to www.potatoes.co.za
This is the closest you’ll get to that wonderful syrup barmen uses to make mojitos. Now you can have your own virgin mojito (without the alcohol) at home. Or you can go all the way and enjoy the mojito in its full alcoholic glory. By the way, children also love this refreshing lemon drink and there is something so immensely satisfying in making your own lemon concentrate.
On Saturday morning I got up at 3.33 as I usually do to prepare for the market. I intentionally set the alarm for 3.33, finding a little comfort in the magic of numbers to make up for the lost sleep. This is what I do every Saturday morning. I make myself a cup of coffee and then the baking starts. And every Saturday morning, at seven, I hear the gate open and Maswazi coming up the stairs to help me.
The recipe is quite simple, the ingredients very ordinary, but I dare you to find any ready-made pasta sauce on the supermarket shelf that comes even close in taste.