Valrhona Chocolate Snowballs

Some leftover Italian Meringue and a plentiful supply of Valrhona Chocolate nibs makes a sweet treat out in the Stellenbosch Winelands today. I generally don’t like ‘messy food’ but every now and then a girl needs to be covered in molten chocolate and gooey meringue.

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Italian Meringue:

1 cup sugar
1 tbsp of glucose
4 egg whites
4 tsp water

Start by whipping the egg whites in a mixer. While this is going bring the sugar, glucose and water to a boil. Take to 120 degrees Celsius. When the egg whites are at stiff peak slowly pour in the sugar mix. Be careful of splatter! Continue beating till the mixture is cold. You now have a meringue that is stable and you can store in the freezer for future use.

To make the snowballs mix in good quality chocolate pieces and place a dollop of the mix on a prepared baking tray. Bake until the meringue starts to feel like its hardening. It won’t set like a normal meringue! About twenty minutes at 110 degrees Celsius.

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How to write a new menu without losing your mind

I find that coming up with new menu ideas or totally new dishes for that matter shares a striking similarity to blogging. It either just happens or it doesn’t. When I try to force things I inevitably end up browsing Facebook or googling something totally inane. And don’t even get me started on doing it the ‘right way’ and sitting down at a table. It’s just not going to happen. I had a very practical office set up in our spare bedroom, and that has since become a highly unorganized storage space.

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All I need and want is the cushy comfort of my bed, a few dogs spread in-between local and international trade magazines, my favorite cookbooks, my latest cookbooks and laptop.

Now to just deal with all the lovelies at my disposal. Happiness faster than you can say quail and charcuterie.

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But why is the coffee always finished?

Koeksisters for grandma

Spring might (technically) be here, but I am still in full winter mode. Whether it’s the fact that at noon on a Sunday I am still in bed with the new additions to my cook book collection, the latest Taste magazine and a cup of coffee, I will still refer to it as being Winter. And as such I’m looking for recipes for my winter favorites.

I’m on a bit of a tangent since the only things I want to make at the moment are rusks, koeksisters and biscuits.
Anyone with a granny worth their weight in Maldon probably has ‘the best recipe ever’ for one of the above mentioned. My grandma definitely knew how to make koeksisters and she always seemed to do just that when I was growing up. That was the fun part of my gran (besides being the most awesome grandma in the whole wide world). Her house was about twenty meters away from our’s on the farm. A quick hop and skip beneath two magnificent Oak trees and in through the kitchen door I’d attempt to help her plait the dough ready for the hot oil. This wasn’t the easiest thing for me back then, having the attention span of a ‘miggie’ once they came out of the syrup.
These days it’s a lot more discipline even though I still can’t wait for the cookies to cool before eating one.

Luckily, going through all these recipes prove to be almost as satisfying as a fresh buttery biscuit.

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“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”

Cape Town baby!

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In a very short amount of time I managed to open my perspective to a whole new world. From Greece, Malta, Croatia, Italy, France and even the Ukraine, a new sense of food and people has taken hold of me.

But, be it Istanbul or Valletta, Mykonos or Venice – Cape Town holds something so special in the grip of its City Bowl that everything else almost seems to pale in comparison.

As we like to say around these ends, we have the mountains, the ocean, the valleys and the wines, why live anywhere else in the world. This saying now holds new meaning to me.

I think I will drink to that tonight with one of our award-winning Cape wines and share in the company of good friends, old and new.

Calvi, Corsica

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When in France do as the French would right. The question remains what that would be. From a food point of view the first thing many of us think of are crepes. The second thing that comes to my mind is shopping.

I have now spent two very blissful afternoons walking around Calvi, strolling into the local shops, trying out different crepes at the same little place.

As with the differences experienced with Turkish Delights in Istanbul compared to the ones in South Africa the crepes here are fantastic and so much better. The closest I have come to trying out something similar has funnily enough been at a trance dance party out near the lovely little town of Malgas outside of Cape Town. You have to give those hippies credit for schlepping their crêpe batter and gas burners out into the middle of nowhere!

Of course an afternoon off would not be the same without a thorough sampling of the local brew. The ‘Torra’ has a particular appeal with its light palate and lingering effervescent bitterness.

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How I do love seeing all these little towns. I don’t believe that I would have come to most of these places if I had gone on a standard European holiday. Perhaps if I had backpacked my way around one or two countries I might have encountered some, but for the most part it is an out of the ordinary out-of-the-way experience.

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Rhodes, Greece

My first day here I looked at the city and thought to myself, “I’m so not going out, it looks like a medieval Ghetto.

Second time round though I dared to go and walked around the ancient town on my own for the afternoon.

At the entrance to the Old Town, a World Heritage site if you are interested in that kind of thing, lies the ruins of the Church of the Virgin of the Burgh.  It is still a very interesting and beautiful site in my opinion.

Although it is a pity to me that all the little tourist orientated shops sprawled across the main walkways have taken over, there is. however, an ambience about the town.

Little tavernas are hidden away down alleyways and around corners; clearly where the locals go as foreigners are as few and far between as proper English.

Down the main street a family run linen shop selling handmade comforters, pillow slips, throws and spreads caught the attention of my credit card and I cannot wait to get home and put my new purchases to use.

Today though it is a case of taking more photo’s and a second try of the local beer.

I do wish that I had more time to actually explore.  Seeing things like the Acropolis of Apollo would be high on my to do list, but alas, it is not to be.