The Biscuit Mill

Freshly baked goods at the Biscuit Mill

Freshly baked goods at the Biscuit Mill

People are hustling and busting and I am struck by the heady scent of freshly brewed coffee- is there any more evocative scent? There are spices and the smell of frying onions on the air promising good things to come. Right at the entrance is the flower stall with a vast array of spring flowers, irises, proteas, roses, poppies and freesia create a colorful display of welcome. This is Cape Town’s premier foodie destination, the Neighborhood Goods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. Its one of my favorite foodie places to visit.

Wonderful Cheese at the Biscuit Mill

Wonderful Cheese at the Biscuit Mill

This food market may not have much on what is on offer overseas, or so I am told – I’ve yet to find out though its on my to do list! I enjoy going to the market, especially if you can manage to get there a bit earlier before the crowds really get bad. I love exploring all the stalls.

Flowers at the entrance to the Biscuit Mill

Flowers at the entrance to the Biscuit Mill

My favorites have to be the Belgian stand which sells thick waffles and decadent looking tarts. I have to say they look divine, promising the world, but I’ve been let down on the flavor front. I had a good laugh at the proprietor who was putting on a show, miming to the Beatles song that was playing over the radio. Complete with jazzy dance moves, kicks and spatula waving, how could one not love that king of enthusiasm?

Decadent Desserts

Decadent Desserts

There are many different kinds of cuisine on offer through the back, from Chinese to huge Spanish paellas, sushi and fresh seafood; just about any craving can be met. This is definitely somewhere you want to visit hungry and with a full wallet! It can be a bit pricy, but there are some gems around. I bought some fantastic Oyster Mushrooms and Enoki from the Funki Fungi stand, which also sells delicious mushroom skewers. I tried a delicious and feather light raisin Danish, and bought some Ras el Hanut which I am dying to try.

Roast Tomato and Caramalised Balsamic Onion Tarts

Roast Tomato and Caramalised Balsamic Onion Tarts

I always enjoy my visits. Some of my friends are put off by the crowds and the lack of parking. The car guards charge exorbitant prices for looking after your car R 20 is ridiculous! But I felt obligated to pay as the guy was rather menacing. The parking should be free, and its voluntary what we give them. Yet here they fight over territory and demand these prices that we all seem to be paying. That was the only dampener on my day.

The Neighbourhood Goods Market takes place every Saturday Morning at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock Cape Town.

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Review – The year of eating dangerously by Tom Parker Bowles

The year of eating dangerously by Tom Parker Bowles

The year of eating dangerously by Tom Parker Bowles

Sorry its been awhile, work seems to be taking over my life! What little cooking I have done has been stuff I’ve already posted on here such as my sour cream and apple cake. I have also tried several recipes for doughnuts and have been disappointed – including George Colombaris’s from Masterchef Australia. I still haven’t figured out what I did wrong. I think my oil was either too cold or too hot. They were too dark and really dripped oil! Not nice. Any way without much on the baking front I thought I’d share with you a foodie book I’ve recently finished.

Tom Parker Bowles (yes Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall’s son from her first marriage) is a British food writer and critic. I have read some of his columns and always enjoyed them. When I saw his book The Year of Eating Dangerously, I was intrigued. He sets himself a goal, to go around the world eating some of the strangest and foulest concoctions we humans eat. The book is by turns hilarious and cringe inducing, almost likely to put you off dinner – nah never! But definitely aghhhh inducing.

He starts innocently enough with elvers or baby eels. It is supposed to be quite dangerous procuring these elvers and he is somewhat trepidations. A self confessed coward with a poor stomach I’m surprised that he set himself such a mission. The elver catching turned out to be very tame – not so other encounters. I particularly enjoyed his account of his time at the Fiery Foods Show in New Mexico where he decided to try chilli extracts. Now normal chillies are measured in scovilles. Now a normal jalapeno is around 2000 scovilles well there are extracts that go up to 7 million scovilles!!!! You apparently have to sign medical disclaimers. Now Tom decides, when drunk to try one of these extracts and the out-of-body experience he describes in hilarious! Needless to say he is a serious chilli head and I would not be able to stand half the things he slugged down!

There are truly horrific moments. He claims the worst thing he ate was silk worm pupae which he says was worse than many of the other unmentionable things he ate. The one thing he tasted, more under duress because he went all the way to do so was dog. Now as much as he was defending himself at this point, I really struggled to get myself to finish the book after this incident in Korea. As much as I love reading culinary adventure stories, dog is going way to far, and even reading about it made me feel quite ill!

I struggled on, but had lost my sense of fun and humor with the book after this point. Up till that point I really enjoyed it. I take pleasure in learning about these different cuisines, even the weird and wonderful aspects of them. If you like these sorts of books, then I think you will enjoy this one, but if you have a vivid imagination, then I’d pass.

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Another Sour Cream Apple Cake

Sour-Cream-Apple-Cake

Sour-Cream-Apple-Cake

I have grown very fond of apple cakes and am always trying new recipes. I love putting sour cream in them as it always produces a wonderful crumb and stays really moist. I came across this recipe from an old Woman and Home. The picture looked appealing so I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately our tea guests had to cancel, that’s unfortunate for them that is. Its Sunday lunchtime and the cake’s gone – I made it on Friday night, so that’s an indication of how good it is. This cake is lovely with a bit of Crème Fraiche for tea or as a dessert. While I prefer Chanterelle’s recipe, this one is easier and is very good.

Ingredients
2 cooking apples such as Granny smiths peeled and cored
125g 41/2 oz butter, softened PLUS 1 tbsp melted to brush on top
125g 41/2 oz castor sugar
2 free-range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g (7oz) plain flour
11/2 tsp baking powder
11/2 tsp ground cinnamon
100g (4oz) sour cream or crème fraiche
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp apricot jam, warmed

You will need a 23 cm 9inch tin oiled an the bottom lined with baking paper

Method
1)      Preheat the oven to 180° C, or 160° C fan forced. Chop 1 apple into small chunks and finely slice the other.
2)      Beat the butter and castor sugar until light and creamy, then gradually beat in the eggs.
3)      Stir in the vanilla extract, flour, baking powder and 1 tbsp of the cinnamon and the sour cream or crème fraiche until smooth.
4)      Stir in the chopped apple. Spread the mixture into the tin. Smooth over the top and arrange the sliced apples in a circular pattern over the top.
5)      Mix the melted butter and granulated brown sugar with the remaining cinnamon and spread over the top of the cake.
6)      Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the cake is risen, golden and firm to the touch.
7)      Remove and cool on a wire rack. When cool, glaze with the warm apricot jam.
8)      Serve in wedges with cream or with custard as a dessert!

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Carrot, Pecan and Apricot Cake

Carrot, Pecan and Apricot Cake

Carrot, Pecan and Apricot Cake

So after a lot of sugar and fattening stuff lately, this is supposed to be a slightly healthier cake, but not by much. My tasters were not bowled over by it, but I liked its slight heaviness from the whole meal flour and the tart cheesiness of the topping suited me too. Most would prefer a sweeter icing, in that case use the icing from my apple spice cake recipe. I hope some of you will give this a go; I especially love the tartness of the apricots and the earthiness of the pecans. Next time I might add a few raisins for nostalgias sake as that’s what my Gran always put in Carrot Cake

Ingredients
200 g wholemeal flour
1 tbs ground mixed spice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150ml sunflower oil
175g soft dark brown sugar
3 eggs beaten
Grated rind of 1 orange
125g pecan nuts chopped
125g dried apricots chopped
200g grated carrots

Topping
225g cream cheese
2tbsp clear honey
1 orange (1/2 zested, ½ thinly pared rind

Method
1) Mix the flour, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda in a large mixing bowl.
2) Measure the oil into a jug, add the sugar and eggs and stir together till smooth.
3) Beat the egg mix into the dry ingredients until well combined, then fold in the orange rind, nuts, apricots and carrots.
4) Pour the mix into a greased and lined 900g loaf tin and bake at 150° C for 1hr 20 min, until well risen and firm to the touch. (I reduced the cooking time from 1 45 – 2 hours)
5) Allow to cool a few minutes before turning out and cooling on a wire rack. When cool strip off the baking paper.
6) For the topping stir together the cream cheese, honey and orange zest till smooth.
7) Pile on top of the cake and spread evenly. Garnish the cake with strips of orange and lemon rind and a couple of lavender flowers or pecans if you prefer.
This cake keeps well for up to two weeks.

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Going Blondies – White Chocolate and Blueberry Blondies

White Chocolate Blueberry Blondies

I was thinking the other day that I always seem to make brownies, this is not surprising considering my long love affair with chocolate. However, I have seen a couple of recipes recently for Blondies.

So, I have finally been enticed to try the Brownies more anemic looking cousin. Well, I love them! Especially warm from the oven. This version has white chocolate, dried blueberries and orange zest that made them delicious. I had two at tea and a taste earlier! They are seriously moreish.

I’d like to think that they are less rich than my Brownies, but they’re not really. At least they were balanced out by a healthy carrot cake – guess what disappeared fastest…

Anyway these are a sure winner so please give them a try. The recipe comes from Eve magazine. I found dried blueberries at the Wellness Centre on Kloof St. I have seen them in other health stores too.

Prep time 20 min
Bake time 20 min
Makes 25

Ingredients
250g white chocolate chopped
150g butter
3 medium eggs
100g castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour
75g dried cranberries
75g dried blueberries
Zest of 1 orange
Icing sugar for dusting

Method
1) Preheat the oven to 180° C or 160° C fan forced, grease and line a 25cm square brownie tin.
2) Melt 150g of the chocolate and the butter in a bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water (to form a bain-marie). Melt together till smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
3) In a separate bowl beat the eggs with the sugar until thick and pale. Stir in the vanilla.
4) Add the melted chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Fold in the sieved flour followed by the remaining chocolate and fruit. Stir until well combined.
5) Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes until firm and golden.
6) Allow to cool. Cut into squares and dust with icing sugar

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Raspberry Orange Victoria Sponge Cake

Sophie Dahl's Raspberry and Orange Victoria Sponge

Sophie Dahl's Raspberry and Orange Victoria Sponge

Ok first things first, I’ve had issues with the camera I’ve been using so I have not got my pics for this post, so for the time being I am using a pic off the BBC site. My cake looked very similar to this. I’ll replace the pic as soon as I get my pic sorted out!

This last week I watched the Delicious Miss Dahl for the first time. Sophie Dahl is a British former model and cook who had a short lived show. It did not seem to take off. I think people may have thought she was trying to hard to be Nigella. I quiet enjoyed the show. I watched the one where she was talking about Nostalgic food. I decided to make her version of a Victoria Sponge. The cake turned out great. However the butter icing is definitely that ALL about the butter! It was really all I could taste, and slathered on. I followed exactly how she did it on the show, but next time I’ll use a different icing. If you are a fan of really buttery icing then this cake is for you. The fresh raspberry jam, does help to cut through the butter. I ended up using frozen raspberries as they are not in season here at the moment, and I think that it came out great. Here is the original recipe.

Ingredients

For the sponge
225g/8oz butter, plus extra for greasing
225g/8oz golden caster sugar
4 free-range eggs, beaten
225g/8oz self-raising flour, sifted
1 large orange, zest only

For the jam
300g/9oz fresh raspberries
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 heaped tbsp golden caster sugar

For the icing
250g/9oz butter, softened
250g/9oz icing sugar, sieved
½ orange, juice only
1 large orange, zest only, plus a little zest to decorate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
  2. For the cake, grease and line two 20cm/8in sandwich tins with baking parchment, and dust with flour.
  3. In a food mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  4. Gradually beat in the eggs, then add the flour and orange zest and mix until well combined.
  5. Divide the mixture evenly between the two cake tins, then bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden-brown and slightly springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, for the jam, place the raspberries, orange juice and golden caster sugar into a small saucepan over a low heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the raspberries begin to break down. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool completely.
  7. For the icing, beat the butter, icing sugar, orange juice and zest in a bowl until smooth.
  8. To serve, place one sponge on a serving plate or cake stand, and spread half of the icing on top. Spoon over the jam, top with the second sponge and finish with the remaining butter cream. Decorate with a little more orange zest if desired.
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Fantastic Indian at Bihari in Newlands

Delicious Afghani Lamb Chops

Delicious Afghani Lamb Chops at Bihari Restaurant

There is a lovely restaurant that I sometimes go to with my friends Eric and Beverly. It is an Indian restaurant called Bihari. This is a chain of restaurants, but the one that we like is in Newlands. They focus on Northern Indian cuisine. The restaurant has mostly Indian waiters and a muted décor that adds to the atmosphere.

One bit that I really enjoy is the open kitchen which allows you to watch the chefs cooking the food. I was most interested in watching them prepare our naan bread in the tandoori oven. I have always wanted to try this bread but know that it will be virtually impossible to get the same texture and flavor as they do. We always order two Rogani naan with sesame seeds and spices as well as garlic naan. It comes tinged with seeds and spice, drizzled with ghee and still warm. The slightly charred edges add bursts of flavor. The texture is akin to a dry pancake, but it is delicious. I went and watched the chef prepare our order. The years of practice show as he expertly twisted and flattened our bread by hand stretching it into a pear shape. It was then flung to stick to the walls of the tandoori oven to cook for just a minute. It was then chopped up and brought warm to our table.

Chef at Bihari Restaurant making naan bread

Chef at Bihari Restaurant making naan bread

Next we have to have the Afghani Lamb Chops. These are cooked in the tandoori oven as well. They are the most tender lamb chops I have ever had; they literally melt on your tongue. I think the secret is in the yoghurt marinade which tenderizes them. They are delicately spiced with cumin and a bit of chili. They have lovely charred, caramelized edges, and the best part is you get to pick them up and chew the bones to get the meat, getting unashamedly messy in the process – they bring you wipes at the end of the meal.

Curries at Bihari Restaurant

Curries at Bihari restaurant

We also had a chicken curry called Chicken Lababdar and lamb in a spinach sauce called lamb Gosht Sagwala. The chicken was mildly spiced and the tomato sauce was delightfully creamy. The lamb was once again meltingly tender and the spinach sauce was mildly spicy. We all thoroughly enjoyed our dinner and this is one place in Cape Town that I can heartily recommend. They also have many delightful vegetarian options on the menu, although we did not have any of them the other night. You can visit their website and have a look at their menu. They can be contacted on 021 674 7186.

Bihari is located on the Ground Floor of the Southern Sun Hotel, Main Road, Newlands.

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Wild Mushroom Risotto

Oven Baked Wild-Mushroom-Risotto

Oven Baked Wild-Mushroom-Risotto

Yes I am responsible for the freezing weather – I knew it would snow if I published a savoury dish, but I decided to do it anyway!
I visited the Biscuit Mill and got some amazing Carnaroli Rice from the Main Ingredient stall. (You should check them out, and while you’re there get the mushrooms from Magik Mushroom! – I think that’s what they are called) I’ve only made risotto a couple of times before, but I love it and Lynne convinced me that this was the only rice to use! She tried the Australian Masterchef way of just agitating it. I proposed risotto for dinner and Beverly convinced me to try Delia Smiths oven baked risotto. Risotto baked like rice pudding? Huh? Well I looked it up and decided to give it a go. I added a whole lot of extras to mine like the leek and celery, but it tasted great. The result was a little too stodgy for my liking, but maybe I over cooked it. It was tasty comfort food though even if it was not much to look at. It seems to work and cuts out all that stirring! Anyway here’s the recipe.

Ingredients
½ oz (10g) dried porcini mushrooms
8 oz (225 g) fresh mixed wild mushrooms
2½ oz (60 g) butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 leek (75g) finely chopped leek
1 stalk (75g) celery finely chopped
1 clove finely chopped garlic
25g chopped parsley
10 oz (300 g) Italian Carnaroli rice
5 fl oz (150 ml) dry sherry
2 level tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), plus 2 oz (50 g) extra,
Salt and freshly milled black pepper

Method

Soak the dried mushrooms and, to do this, you place them in a bowl and pour (700ml) of boiling water over them. Then just leave them to soak and soften for half an hour. Meanwhile, chop the fresh mushrooms into ½ inch (1 cm) chunks – not too small, as they shrink down quite a bit in the cooking. (Chop the leek and celery and onions now too).

Pre-heat the oven 300°F (150°C).

Now melt the butter in a medium saucepan, add the onion, leek and celery and let it cook over a gentle heat for about 5 minutes, then add the fresh mushrooms, stir well and leave on one side while you deal with the porcini.

When they have had their half-hour soak, place a sieve over a bowl, strain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Squeeze any excess liquid out of them, then chop them finely and transfer to the pan to join the other mushroom mix. Add the chopped garlic to the mushroom mix. Put back on a low heat. Let the onions and mushrooms sweat gently and release their juices – which will take about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put the dish in the oven to warm.

Now add the rice to the mushroom mix and stir it around to get a good coating of butter, and then add the sherry, followed by the strained mushroom soaking liquid. Add a level teaspoon of salt and some freshly milled black pepper; bring up to simmering point, then transfer the whole lot from the pan to the warmed dish. Stir once, and then place it on the centre shelf of the oven without covering. Set a timer and give it 30 minutes exactly.

After that, gently stir in the grated Parmesan, turning the rice grains over. Now put the timer on again and give it a further 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Taste for seasoning and stir in the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

I fried some extra mushrooms for garnish.

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Ina Paarman’s Cinnamon Buns

Ina Paarman's Cinnamon Buns

Ina Paarman's Cinnamon Buns

My friend Beverly often makes these quick cinnamon buns and I was keen to try them out. The recipe was developed by Ina Paarman, one of South Africa’s best known cookery writers. These buns use a scone dough as their base so they are yeast free. They taste delicious and are quick and easy to make. I use a mix of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. For me it’s the fragrant nutmeg, you only need a pinch, which gives these the edge. They need to be eaten the same day, as like scones they go stale quickly. If you warm them slightly they are okay for a day or two, but nothing beats them being still slightly warm.

Ingredients
2cups (240g) cake flour
½ tsp (2,5 ml) salt
1tbsp (15ml) baking powder
¼ cup (62.5 ml) butter fridge temperature cut into small cubes
1 extra large egg
½ cup (125ml) buttermilk or plain yoghurt
3-4 tbsp (45-60ml) water

Cinnamon sugar mix
2/4 cup (180ml) soft brown sugar
¼ cup 60ml) of white sugar
1 tbsp (15ml) of cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon (0.6ml) ground cloves or nutmeg
¼ teaspoon of salt
1tbsp of melted butter

Lemon icing
1 cup of icing (confectioners) sugar
zest of one lemon
2-3 tbsp of lemon juice

Method

Pre heat the oven to 190° C
Butter a 22cm cake pan really well and line the base with baking paper.

1) Make the cinnamon sugar. In a small bowl combine the sugars, spices and salt. Add the 1 tablespoon of melted butter and mix with a fork to form a mixture that looks like wet sand.
2) Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together in a large bowl.
3) Toss the butter through and then rub it in gently with the tips of your fingers or a pastry cutter, to form a coarse crumbly mixture.
4) Beat the egg, yoghurt (or buttermilk) and water with a fork and add it to the dry ingredients. Mix with a knife to form soft dough.
5) Roll the dough out on a well floured board to a 35cm x 25cm rectangle. Brush the dough with 2 tbsp of melted butter.

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Decadent Belgian Tart

Decadent Belgian fruit tart

Decadent Belgian fruit tart

I did not make this gorgeous creation, but I shall endeavor to at some point! I did get lots of other things baked though, which I shall post about later. My friend Beverly visited the market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock,Cape Town today. This is one of Cape Town’s best food markets. Beverly bought this tart at the Belgian sand.

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