Créme Caramel

Demolished creme caramel

This recipe is great to make ahead for a party, and the mixture of creamy custard and caramel sauce is a winner every time – and I’ve made it many, many times. People love the taste and texture (as you can see from how it’s been demolished in the picture) and are always impressed by it, although it’s really not that difficult to make.

By the way, this is not the same thing as crème brûlée, which is far richer as it’s made with cream instead of milk, and which requires very careful handling to create the sugar crust on top. Crème caramel is the easier and, in my opinion, equally delicious version.

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Quiche with a Potato Crust

Cooked quiche

Quiche is one of my favourite go-to dishes when I need to take something savoury to a get-together. It’s light and yet still filling, and so incredibly versatile since you can put just about anything in it: spinach and feta, chicken and mushroom, roasted butternut and bacon, courgette and sweetcorn, sweet potato and goats’ cheese (a combo I tasted just the other day), and the list goes on and on…

Aside from whatever other ingredients I might have on hand, I almost always use sautéed onion (sometimes caramelised) and cheese/s of some description, which give the quiche a kind of luxurious feel (that’s the best way I can describe it). You can also use all cream or all milk if you prefer or if that’s what you have in your fridge. Obviously the more cream and less milk you use, the richer it will be.

Usually I make shortcrust pastry for the base, often with some proportion of whole-wheat flour in it, but recently I experimented with potato slices instead, which worked really well. It’s a great alternative if you prefer not to use or can’t manage wheat.

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Berry Pavlova (or Meringues)

Pavlova

In my personal opinion, pavlova is one of the most beautiful and delicious desserts you can serve and it’s actually not that difficult to make, although it does take a while to cook. I think it’s the combination of colours, tastes and textures that makes it such a winner – it’s crispy, creamy, sweet and tangy (especially if you use berries) and it melts in your mouth. I’m salivating just thinking about it!

I use the same recipe to make individual choc-chip meringues, simply adding chunks of chopped-up dark chocolate to the mixture. (If you’re not afraid to go OTT, you could even add chopped chocolate to the pavlova mix.) These are always a huge hit at parties, especially when served with very slightly sweetened, whipped cream. People who don’t normally even like meringues have told me that mine are the only ones they will eat. 🙂

Choc-chip meringue

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Courgette-Feta Crumpets

Courgette-feta crumpet ready to eat

Normally when you think of pancakes or crumpets (the South African version of American ‘pancakes’, which are different from French ‘crêpes’ and also different from English ’crumpets’ – I know, it’s very confusing!), it tends to bring up images of a tea-time treat that’s a bit starchy and usually served with jam and cream. And those are certainly delicious, no doubt about it.

These crumpets are completely different though, more like very light fritters – savoury and fluffy, and a different and interesting way to prepare vegetables. You can eat them as a snack on their own, have them as a side dish with meat or make them the main part of a light meal and just add a salad or something to round it out.

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Bran Muffins

Bran muffins

My Mom originally got this recipe from a friend years ago and it was then called ’30 Day Muffins’. Since we usually ate them immediately, I’m afraid I can’t vouch for what the results would be after 30 days. To be honest, I would be very surprised if they were still edible!

Depending on who filled the muffin pans though, we did occasionally have a couple of spoons of mix left after the first batch, sometimes enough for a muffin or two a few days later (although only if the mix was well hidden at the back of the fridge). The second batch of muffins still tasted good, even if they didn’t rise as much. The trick is to keep the raw mixture in the fridge and only bake the muffins when you want to eat them.

This recipe requires a bit of forward planning as the mixture needs to sit overnight so the bran softens and it all blends together. It’s really quick to put together the evening before though, and well worth the effort for the pleasure of fresh, delicious and fairly healthy muffins the next morning.

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Tip: Using Left-overs

Herb salad with left-over spinach, beetroot and cranberry White Rock
Herb salad with left-over spinach, beetroot and cranberry White Rock

I get weirdly excited when I can use up a bunch of left-overs or small quantities of fresh food that were just a little more than I needed for the original dish. In fact, I often buy/cook more than I need so I can actually create left-overs and then use them in something else.

Examples of left-overs could be meat or chicken from a roast, rice, grilled veggies like sweet peppers, onions or aubergines, the dregs of a can of sweetcorn, the last bits of cheese, the end of a packet of mushrooms or baby spinach, or the last spoon of cream cheese. Obviously the key with many of these ingredients is not to leave them too long before you use them, and definitely sniff them beforehand! Continue reading