Mmmilk Tart

I suffer from a crippling loneliness.

Sometimes it feels like my world suddenly became tiny and enormous all at the same time; my heart pounds and my ears ring from the silence of a phone that hasn’t beeped in hours.

I know there are other sufferers, and the feeling is fleeting and should be handled with a pinch of salt. I prefer to handle it with my favourite dessert.


Milk tart is my favourite, favourite dessert.

This is however, only the second milk tart I’ve ever made. I’ve always felt a little intimidated by it. Imagine my favourite thing turned out to be a big, gloopy flop? I’d be shattered.

I found a recipe for condensed milk milk tart on Food24 and decided to give it a go. I did however make some changes and some notes.



1. I used Clover’s vanilla Mmmilk instead of normal milk
2. I used half a tin of condensed milk instead of a full tin because the milk was already sweetened, and the thought of all that sweetness hurt my jaw.
3. I added a little saffron to my milk mixture to give it some fragrance and colour – it was beautiful!
4. The crust is a little difficult to spread evenly – must practice.
5. The recipe says the milk mixture will take 5-7 minutes to thicken, but mine took only a minute or two once returned to the heat with the egg mixture. It actually got too thick, but I just beat it with some more milk to thin it out.

The result was delicious. It bounced back softly when pressed and melted in my mouth. Give it a go and share it with someone.


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Spinach and Pea Risotto

I am 1 year and four months single.

This has taken quite the toll on my kitchen forays. Cooking for one is terribly sad.

6-portion mac ‘n cheese, pots of soup that would last days and pancakes and flapjacks to feed an army… I used to cook BIG. Real big.

Adjusting portions has been tough, especially when I say to myself “I’ll cook it and freeze it for another night”.

That doesn’t happen.

A sad episode of Grey’s Anatomy, me, the couch and the leftovers happens.

*I’ve got to get this under control*

But… I’m one Woolies micro-meal away from digestive failure. As a result, I’ve slowly crept my way back into the food cupboard, carefully coaxing my pots and pans out of their dusty hiding spots.


Risotto is an old favourite. Did you know a skottel braai is great for making risotto? It is. I’ve tried it. So should you. Unfortunately the skottel left with the boyfriend, so I’m back to the stove.

I’ve clearly become a bit rusty as my rice was rather overcooked and the seasoning wasn’t spot-on, but we’re getting there.

Spinach and Pea Risotto with Cream Cheese and Parmesan

A splash of olive oil
a knob of butter
1 tbs of crushed garlic
1 onion, chopped finely
1 cup of Arborio rice
6 cups of chicken stock
a few splashes of wine
100g of English spinach
Half a cup of frozen peas
1 tbs of cream cheese
Parmesan shavings

Heat butter and oil in a pan, or a lovely Le Creuset pot like mine. Don’t go crazy with the heat – keep it at a good medium. Once the butter is melted, add the onions and fry until translucent. Add a splash of lemon juice for whimsy (it also helps the onions not stick to the bottom when you’re not looking). Also add the garlic once onions are almost done.

Then add the rice. Make sure the rice is coated in the oil and butter and fry for a few minutes until some of the grains start to get a little colour. But JUST a little.

Then add a cup of stock. Stir, like you’re massaging the rice. No, really. Don’t laugh. And don’t stop stirring just to Whatsapp that hottie – your rice WILL BURN!

Once the stock has been absorbed, add another cup with a splash of wine (if you haven’t drank it all yet). Continue this stirring/massaging process until the rice is soft and it has formed a nice consistency (not stiff, but the rice shouldn’t be disintegrating).

Then add the spinach, peas, a little bit of stock and cook for a further five minutes. Take off the heat, stir in the cream cheese and leave to stand for a bit while you message said hottie.

Dish up into pretty plates, garnish with some Parmesan and flat leaf parsley and enjoy. You could add some smoked chicken like I did for added gluttony and deliciousness.



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Green Pasta

My dear friends JM and Jan-Adriaan have been been toying with the idea of more meatless meals (specifically less red meat) and I’ve found myself  re-inspired. If hardcore braai aficionados like them can do it, there’s hope for us all. (Just kidding guys, you know I love you )

A few years ago I gave up meat for Lent and it was a truly rewarding experience. I don’t think meat is bad for you, I just think we consume far too much of it as a people.

My re-found inspiration has resulted in many meatless dinners like this one.

I first discovered this recipe in an edition of Pick n Pay’s Fresh Living magazine and I’ve adapted it, reworked it, added to it and subtracted from it over the years. The secret really is to just use what’s available in your fridge and enjoy in limited quantities.

green pasta

Green Pasta (originally titled some other kind of pasta)

Serves 2

200g spaghetti
4 or 5 baby marrows, shaved into thin strips with a peeler
1 cup of frozen peas
250g plain cream cheese (Simonsberg works best for me)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Plenty of Maldon salt and pepper
2 tsp chopped garlic
Parmesan shavings

Cook spaghetti in plenty salty water. 5 minutes before the pasta is done, add the baby marrow and peas. Once all is cooked, remove from heat. But don’t drain it just yet!

In another bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, lemon juice and zest, and garlic plus half a cup of the water the pasta was cooked in.  Then drain the pasta, add the cream cheese mixture and toss well. Add Parmesan shavings. Serve with a side salad or plain for maximum creaminess.

Eat up and remember to wipe your face after.

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But, but… I cooked!

So last week’s Five Weekday Meals challenge was a bust. I can’t even remember all the excuses I had prepped for this, the shameful follow-up blog post. So I’m not going to bother.

Moving swiftly along.

I’m spending a lot of time at home lately – partly due to a curfew imposed by my wallet and liver, but also due to a rather sickly start to the year. Cough.

While I’m there, I might as well do something that matters. Cooking matters. When I feel like I’m accomplishing nothing in my life and there hasn’t been a single beep on my phone for HOURS, cooking makes me feel smart, nifty, strong and, well, accomplished.

So this is what I accomplished on Sunday (it’s pretty much the sum total of my Sunday accomplishments, unless you count finishing ANOTHER season of ANOTHER series).

Warm barley salad with tomatoes, mushrooms and Parmesan

warm barley salad

Serves 2

0.5 cup pearl barley
2.5 cups chicken stock
1 tbs olive oil
Half a punnet of brown mushrooms
Half a can of chopped tomatoes
1 small red onion, diced
half a green pepper, diced
Worcester sauce
1 tbs chopped garlic
1 cup of canned chickpeas
1 cup of cut cucumber
Grated Parmesan to taste

Cook the barley in the stock until soft – about 40 minutes. Set aside. Fry the onion, green pepper, mushrooms and garlic in a pan until soft. Add the tomato and chickpeas and Worcester sauce. Cook for 10 minutes on low heat. Taste – add a teaspoon of sugar or some chutney to add a bit of sweetness.

Dish the barley into bowls, generously grate some Parmesan over it, then add the tomato mixture. Serve the cucumber on the side.

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MONDAY: Tomato and onion tortilla pizza

This post forms part of the Five Weekday Meals Experiment.

I was relieved by this recipe for a number of reasons: I eat all of the ingredients, it looks light for summer and I’ve made a similar Weight Watchers recipe before so I was familiar with the territory.

I’ve always been the type of girl who eases into the water inch by inch instead of diving into the deep end. So inching into this challenge was just peachy with me.

tortilla pizza 2

Check out the recipe here.

A tomato and red onion ‘pizza’ with a tortilla wrap as a base. Very healthy pizza.

Problemo 1
The recipe calls for olive oil for brushing, but the instructions call for some sort of pasta sauce to coat the tortilla. FYI: El cheapo tomato paste and some dried basil works just as well. But now the instructions don’t tell me what to do with the olive oil? For brushing where exactly? The olive oil remains on the counter, unused.

Problemo 2
The recipe calls for Parmesan cheese. 1 handful. Sounds good, and I like the taste of Pamesan. However, when cooked in the oven at 200ºC, it definitely doesn’t become white and gooey. It kind of evaporates. It still tastes good, but it doesn’t look anything like the picture alongside the recipe. Unless the recipe was written by a giant whose ‘handful’ is the size of a watermelon. But a normal handful is more than enough for one tortilla pizza. I suspect it was meant to say ‘mozzarella’, but didn’t. I’d probably go for a combination of the two cheeses.

The recipe isn’t precise with measurements, which I like. Everything should be added to taste when cooking (baking’s another battle we’ll tackle another day).

As you can see, I added my own bits and bobs. I liberated the half a green pepper and opened a can of chick peas for added protein in this meatless Monday meal, plus some avo to add creaminess.

tortilla pizza 1

RATINGS (1 = crap, 5 = awesome)

Ease of recipe:    3/5
Not for difficulty – it’s incredibly easy, but the recipe writing is a little unclear.

Cost: 3/5
When did groceries get so freakin’ expensive? It’s a relatively inexpensive recipe because of the lack of meat, which is good. Also, you can get quite a few portions out of one pack of tortilla wraps. But it’s no ‘fish cakes and mash for R5 per portion’ type of recipe. You get what you pay for. Cheese be expensive, yo!

Taste: 5/5
Seriously, normal pizza just tastes weird now. The tortilla wrap creates such a delicate base off which to serve the amazing flavours of the sweet red onion and sharp Parmesan. Omnomnom. It is a little soft in the middle and crunchy at the edges, so I end up folding my slice in half and eating it calzone-style. (Did I say ‘slice’? I mean the entire tortilla. Because that’s how I roll.)

Overall: A solid 3.5/5.

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Five Weekday Meals Experiment

I love receiving Food24’s Weekday Meals newsletter on a Monday morning. I pore over the options, and every ooh and aah is more vociferous than the one before.

But that’s usually where the excitement ends.

After a morbidly-hued Monday, I usually opt for an over-priced, under-spiced Woolies meal and survive on fridge anomalies and take-aways for the rest of the week.

Cook? Pah. I’m too stressed/lazy/hot/cold/overworked/single/scared of the dishes to tackle meal preparation on my own.

However, changing my bad habits takes more than a plastic bag (I know – I need to take my own shopper) full of groceries that will probably change colour, shape and smell in my fridge over the next few weeks.

Five days, five simple recipes. I’ve got this.

Here’s what I’m offering: A bad Blackberry photo of my creation, my additions/remarks on the recipe and various ratings.

Let’s go!

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Pea Risotto

Dear Risotto,

You’re so versatile, easy-going and comforting. You’re like a best friend.

I’ve only just discovered that I’ve been doing you a disservice. I’ve treated you so ordinarily and not provided you with the tools to make you truly exceptional.

Well, it’s time to really stir things up. No longer will I dump you with chunky vegetables that you have to wade through. You deserve the finer things in life…

Pea Risotto

Pea Risotto

And that’s exactly what you’re going to get. Peas, butternut, cauliflower… before any of it touches your beautifully creamy grains it will first have to withstand a few minutes in the blender.

You deserve the rich colour and full taste of a pureed vegetable.

Pea Risotto

1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 cup of arborio rice
1 litre chicken stock
1 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
1-2 cups of frozen peas, thawed and blitzed in a food processor

Heat a pan or casserole pot.

Add butter and oil. Once butter is melted and foaming, add the onions and fry until translucent. Then add the garlic and fry for a minute. Add rice and fry on a medium heat until grains are glossy and slightly, ever so slightly browned.

Add a cup of stock. Stir continuously, almost massaging the grains of rice. Once all the liquid is absorbed, add another 1/2 cup of stock and stir again. Repeat the process until all the stock has been absorbed. Taste your pot. If the rice grains are still very chewy, add some more rice or white wine and repeat the process until the rice is soft and creamy.

Remove the pot from the heat. Add the pureed peas and stir in. The risotto will turn green.

Garnish with black pepper and salt/lemon juice and rind/parmesan or whatever takes your fancy.

I served my green rice with lemon chicken and cauliflower and cheese sauce.

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French Toast for Dad

Today you’ve been gone for 18 years. Long time.

Surprisingly I remember quite a bit about our time together. Dinner on the porch. Bread with butter, salt and pepper, cut into four squares. I still do that. A constant supply of Worcestershire sauce and HP sauce in the cupboard. You were so particular.

One Saturday morning, I was nine, I burst in the front door, said “Hi Dad” and proceeded to watch K-TV, a Saturday ritual at your house.

You hadn’t come down the stairs yet. So I went up. You were very sick at that time, you were thin, your boep had totally disappeared.

The culinary genius Esther wasn’t in that day. Boy, could she ration things out expertly!  So I took over in the kitchen. I made you a heap of French toast (and no doubt a terrible mess too) for breakfast.

I carried it up to you in bed. When you didn’t finish even half a slice, my heart broke.

You were too sick to eat.

But it’s all cool now, Dad. I know it wasn’t the French toast. You know how? Because my French toast rocks. Looky here.

I’ve never missed you like I miss you today.


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Autumn Cheese Sauce

Okay, cheese sauce is good any time of the year.

Autumn cheese sauce

However, the change of season leaves me craving the lightness of summer as well as the warmth of winter. What to do, oh what to do…


I’ve added a sprinkle of this, a dash of that and a little bit of hope and luck to my cheese sauce recipe.

It’s like lemony, fragrant velvet on your tongue. Fo’sho.

Autumn Cheese Sauce

1 tbs butter
1 tbs flour
1 cup of warm milk
1 cup of grated cheddar
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp white pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
rind of 1 lemon
A handful of fresh basil leaves

autumn cheese sauce

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Once its liquid, add flour and mix into a roux. When it forms a ball, cook for about a minute or so on a medium heat.

Remove the pot from the heat and add a bit of the liquid. Mix quickly to form a thick paste. Return the pot to a medium to low heat. Add the milk little by little until the sauce is the consistency you desire. Use a whisk to deal with any pesky lumps.

Add cheese and stir with a wooden spoon. One combined and melted, add cumin, pepper, juice and rind. Stir. Add basil leaves whole and leave to stand for a few minutes.

Remove basil leaves before serving with you meal… say a crumbed chicken breast, juicy steak or as I like to enjoy it – with a big piece of crusty bread!

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Chocolate Pear Pudding

Rich, gooey goodness paired with soft, sweet freshness… sounds heavenly, huh?

Chocolate Pear Pudding

Chocolate Pear Pudding

Peas and carrots ain’t got nothing on chocolate and pears. They just go together.

A while back I received a copy of Willie Harcourt-Cooze’s recipe book Willie’s Chocolate Factory Cookbook. From cacao with your fried egg to cacao under the skin of your chicken, there’s no way not to enjoy the flavours of cacao and chocolate.

Excuse me for waxing lyrical there for a moment… It’s  the sugar high.

Not one for doing things by the book, I changed up Willie’s recipe for Gooey Chocolate Pudding. Mainly because all I can afford is the 70% stuff instead of his brand of cacao (available at R100 per 100g from Woolies).

How about some canned pears? Yep. What’s this – a leftover lime? In goes the zest.

Willie’s Goey Chocolate Pudding with Sam’s amendments

(3 large ramekins of pudding)

100g Lindt 70% Excellence (or 90g of Willie’s cacao)
100g unsalted butter
87.5g castor sugar
3 eggs
1ts vanilla extract
1 tin canned pears, halved
zest of 1 lime

Chocolate and Pears like... honey and bears?

Chocolate and Pears like... honey and bears?

I know a recipe for 3 servings is odd but this is just one of  those puddings.

Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius with the fan. Grease or spray your pudding ramekins.
Melt the cacao or chocolate with the butter and 30g of castor sugar in a heatproof bowl set on top of a pot of simmering water.

Beat eggs, remaining sugar and vanilla together lightly. Until pale yellow.

Fold cacao mixture gently into egg mixture.

Place 1 canned pear half in bottom of each ramekin.

Divide the mixture between the ramekins.

Now, here’s the thing. The original recipe is for 6-8 pudding ramekins. Due to not having said amount of ramekins, we had to go with three. They were quite large. So while the recipe states bake for 12-15 minutes, I found it to only be ready in 20-25 minutes.
The trick is to wait for the tops to rise and crack, then you’ll know. That’s really the better indicator than a stupid kitchen timer shaped like egg.

Once done, serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of lime zest.

Willie’s Chocolate Factory Cookbook (Hodder & Stoughton)

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