Croissants & Pain au Chocolat – I MADE IT Challenge – May

The I MADE IT challenge for May was set by Blue Jellybean, and what a challenge it was.  In my career, this has been a challenge that has been with me for a while.

After I made these, I sat back and analyzed what I could improve on, see the CHEF NOTES below.

Croissants & Pain au Chocolat

croissant and pain au chocolat

250g salted butter
280g full cream milk (NOTE: must be grams, not millilitres)
1 tsp dry yeast
450g flour
70g white sugar
pinch of salt

Heat the milk until tepid (lukewarm) – see chef’s notes at the bottom.  In the tepid milk, add the yeast, 1 tsp flour and 1 tsp sugar.  Whisk together at set aside in a warm place for the yeast to activate.  This will take about 10 – 15 minutes, you will know it has activated once the yeast creates a large section of foam on top of the milk.

Cut your butter into slices, about ½ cm thick, place between cling wrap and roll out until the butter is really thin.
Place in a tray, cover with cling wrap and place into the fridge.
NOTE:  The butter must be very cold before you can work with it.

Mix the rest of the flour, sugar, and the salt into a mixing bowl.
Whisk the yeast mixture and pour into the flour.
Using your fingers, mix until combined.
Place on a work surface and knead for about 10 minutes.  (This stage can be done in a mixer using a dough hook).
Wrap in cling wrap and place in the fridge for 2 hours.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a long rectangle shape, using a rolling pin.

Place butter slices on the dough, slightly overlapping the edges of the sliced butter.
Tightly, but gently, fold one edge of the dough to the middle, and repeat with the other edge, forming a 3 fold.
Fold in half.
Wrap in cling wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Again, on a lightly floured surface roll out dough again into a rectangular shape.  Do this gently at first as you do not want the dough to split and the butter to break through. Rub a little flour on the surface if you feel your butter is breaking through.
Fold again into a 3 fold, and then into half.
Cover and place into fridge for 1 hour to rest.

Repeat the rolling out step 3 times, remembering to rest for 1 hour between each roll.

After the last rest, cut the dough in half and roll out on a lightly floured surface, the dough should be about 1 cm thick.

For the Croissants

With a sharp knife, trim the edges to make them even, cut even sized triangles out.

i made it
Cut a small slit in the middle of the top edge of the triangle.

i made it 2
Gently stretch the dough.
Not to tightly, roll the dough into a cylinder, creating a crescent shape.

Set aside to rise for minutes and bring the dough to room temperature.
Brush with an egg wash
Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 30 minutes

For the Pain au Chocolate

With the left over dough, trim the edges to make them even.
Cut rectangles out of the dough.

i made it 1
Sprinkle icing sugar over the dough, break bits of chocolate and place on the surface of the dough.

i made it 3
Roll the dough into cylinders.
With the palm of your hand, gently press down on the dough to flatten slightly.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 30 minutes

i made it 4

Chefs Notes

Replace 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of corn starch for lighter, flakier dough

Don’t heat the milk up to much as this will kill the yeast, however if the milk is too cold it will not activate.  You want the milk at a temperature that if you put your finger in, you feel the heat on your cuticle.

When working with the dough, ensure that your work surface is cold, keep your hands cool as the dough must stay cool to ensure the butter does break through.

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Monkey Bread – April I MADE IT Challenge

I was fortunate enough to host this months ‘I Made It Challenge”’, I settled for Monkey Bread.  I know a few people wonder…how do you get to that, how do you choose something as random as Monkey Bread? It was easy to be honest.  Firstly, I love Monkey Bread, I learnt about it while in the USA, secondly, I found a new product I desperately wanted to try which would fit in with this challenge, and thirdly, I wanted my fellow bloggers to think outside the box.

So I experimented with two different versions of monkey bread, one use a plain bread dough, the other using a sweet biscuit dough, which was store bought.

When you watch American sitcoms, you often see sad, depressed women eating cookie dough, straight from the can, I found a very similar product in my local Spar, which I just HAD to try.  To see if it was the same and all that…

Today’s Biscuit dough comes in 3 different flavours, Vanilla, Chocolate and Ginger, of course I wanted to add a little more depth to my Monkey Bread, so I used the Ginger flavour. This is so easy, that I can’t call it a real recipe!

todays biscuit dough

Ginger, Cinnamon and Nut Monkey Bread

1 packet of Today’s Ginger Biscuit Dough
1 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
Roughly chopped ground mixed nuts

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Line a muffin tray with cupcake holders (I got 6 out of this)
Throw away the empty packet of biscuit dough; the instructions on there will not work for this.
Defrost the biscuit dough, cut into small pieces and roll into balls.  You do not want it to big, but you also do not want it to small either.

Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture, and stack into the muffin cups.

In between the dough balls, sprinkle a few mixed nuts; I love the texture of the nuts between the layers of soft gooeyness.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, just until it is nice and golden brown.

Remove from oven, and now the fun starts.   You can glaze it with just icing sugar and butter mixture, or softened cream cheese.

monkey bread muffins

Those who know me, know that sweet treats are not my deal, so I had to make something savoury out of this challenge too!

Pizza Monkey Bread

Basic Pizza dough –  I use the Jamie Oliver Pizza Dough recipe, which is always a winner.
Homemade tomato sauce, which you can find the recipe here
Grated cheese – I used mozzarella and cheddar mixture
Bundt cake pan, greased with butter & flour (or cook n spray if you wish)

Now this is your creative side comes in.
Use your favourite pizza toppings; I had little bowls of already chopped toppings:
Ham, Salami, Mushrooms, Green Peppers, Peppadews, Danish Feta, Basil Pesto, Garlic, Camembert, Green Fig, Blue Cheese etc.

Preheat your oven to 200°C

Pull small balls off the pizza dough, mine weighed anywhere between 30g – 40g, roll them out and fill with your toppings of choice. Roll up the ball again and stack into the pan.

Between each layer, brush on some tomato sauce and sprinkle grated cheddar, the top later I made smaller balls, just to fit the bundt pan.

Once you have layered the bundt cake pan full, bake for 35 – 50 minutes, depending on your oven. Work on as if you were baking a bread from scratch. The time would be more or less the same.

I didn’t manage to get a photo of this one, but it was absolutely delicious, it was small stuffed balls of pizza happiness.

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I will do a round up of all the bloggers that have taken part in the challenge the first of the new month.  There are some great recipes!  There is still time to submit your Monkey Bread recipe!

Saturday Morning at the Outeniqua Farmers Market

What a beautiful Saturday morning it was in George, I wanted to be outdoors…and for those who don’t know me that well, by outdoors I mean outside, not doing any weird or wonderful extreme sport.  The outdoor farmers market is the perfect outdoors for me.

Follow the N2 heading for PE from George, you will find the Outeniqua Farmers Market nestled on the Kraaibosch farm, close to the Garden Route Mall.  I am told that on the opening day of the market, a year ago,  it was so busy that people were parking on the opposite side of the highway just to be able to get there.

I love the concept, strolling between the big trees, all the little stalls of all wonderful little goodies. I met some great people, every stall that caught my eye, ended up with a few minutes of great conversations and of course some great networking.  I just love the vibe, I have been to markets where the people are rather off putting, you walk away feeling more of a bother than educated.  This is definitely not the case at the Outeniqua Farmers Market.

The first stop was coffee, I was amazed how well organized the coffee store was, in my opinion, more organized than most coffee shops I have been to.  On the menu were different coffees, cappuccino and teas, no lack of milk, sugars, sweetners, I loved how clean and neat the station was, and the absolutely delicious cappuccino!

The food stalls were impressive, such a large variety, local restaurants offering prego rolls, or a stall for bacon and eggs, some pancakes, and the speciality stores were amazing, you had such a choice of world cusine – Indian, German, French, Thai, Chinese, South African and Greek.

I settled on French simply because of the personality of the stall.  Such a lovely energy, German born, married a Frenchman, loved South Africa and finally settled on living here.  She was making the famous Crepe de Paris.  But what really got my attention was how natural she was, she just loved making your crepe and chatting with you.

Her croissants had me drooling…I had a croissant filled with gypsy ham, and topped with béchamel and a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar. I was in heaven.  Flaky and light croissant just heated enough to melt the cheese…yes please!


Next door was the German Butcher, all homemade bacons and other charcuterie and man oh man was he busy.  He had his little deli slicer set up and was selling like hotcakes.

And of course to cater for everyone, the rugby was broadcasted for the men while the ladies strolled from stall to stall.  Tables set out under the trees for people to sit and relax, enjoy the weather and all the market has to offer.

So if you are in the Garden Route area, I would recommend that you stop by.  The Outeniqua Farmers Market is every Saturday, there is ample parking and for more information, pop on over to their website

Rosemary Marinated Olive, Feta & Sundried Tomatoes Bread

We all have those certain smells or songs that trigger of a great memory or a moment that just triggers of a smile that is unexplainable.  For me, the aromas that fill my house when bread is baking, perfectly exhibits one of those moments.  Fresh bread brings feelings of warmth, comfort, happiness and family…and most importantly simplicity.

I don’t often get the opportunity to bake bread at home, having some time off, I just had to grab the chance with both hands.  I have a few things in my pantry and fridge that I am trying to use in all weird and wonderful ways.  One of these said items are rosemary marinated olives & feta & sundried tomatoes.  Lovely to use for cheese platters or other anti pasti’s, but why not more!

Rosemary Marinated Olive, Feta & Sundried Tomatoes Bread

I have just a basic white bread loaf recipe that I use when baking.  This recipe makes 1 loaf.

500g stone ground white bread flour
1 pk dried yeast
1 tsp fine salt
375ml tepid water
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp Olive oil
2 eggs

Tepid water is basically water that is the heat of bath water.  You don’t want it to hot or it will kill the yeast, but if it’s too cold it wont activate.

Place the yeast and sugar into the tepid water, whisk and set aside for 10 –  15 minutes.  It will create a layer of foam on top.

Mix the flour, salt olive oil in a bowl.

Crake the eggs into the yeast and whisk lightly.  Pour yeast mixture into the flour, incorporate until you have a stiff dough.

Knead for about 15 – 20 minutes.  I do this by hand, but if you have a machine, use a dough hook, and you probably looking at about 10 minutes.

Set aside in a warm place, in a bowl that has been wiped with olive oil, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to double in size +- 45 minutes

Knock back down.  At this point you add the olives, feta, sundried tomatoes and rosemary.  Break it up and just place all over, fold the dough and place another layer.  This is all estimated, you can use a lot for a string flavour, or you can keep it subtle.  Roll into a ball and place under the tea towel again and let double in size again.

Knock back down one last time, and shape, you can either place in a baking tin or bread tin, I like to keep it a little more artisan style.  Score the top and set aside to rise, +- 30 minutes

Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Place loaf into the oven and bake for 25 minutes, turn the oven down to 180°C for another 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.

Now 2 tips on bread:

Never place bread in the fridge, it will go stale over night.

Eat bread in moderation.  Bread is not only a carbohydrate, but your body breaks up break into sugars, so for a diabetic, rye bread is your healthiest option.

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Soup & Sandwich, if you know me well enough, you will know that I absolutely love this concept.  I have slightly adapted it to something even better…in my opinion.

With the cooler weather that is surrounding us, we tend to crave warmth and comfort in our food, and why not just add a little “pazaaz” to our boring old winter food.

Soup & Quesadillas

I used my Rooibos infused  Butternut Soup recipe that you can find here. With that, I made the quesadillas. Now you can go wild and crazy with what fillings you wish desire, be creative and mix some flavours.  My quesadillas consisted of bacon, feta, cheddar and fresh basil, and let me tell you, the creamy freshness complimented the butternut soup beautifully.

What you will need to make your quesadillas…as easy as this…

Tortilla wraps
Your desired fillings

Heat a pan and place the tortilla wrap in the pan to heat, turn over as if flipping a pancake, place your filling on the one side and close the tortilla in half.  Let the bottom heat up and crisp a little before flipping over again.  You want the filling to be warm and the cheese all gooey and stringy, with the crispness on the outside…makes for that perfect bite!

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This is such a great light lunch, or the perfect easy quick dinner.  And so versatile, use your favourite soup and choose whatever filling you wish!  Tortilla wraps are a great substitute for bread, it is perfect for gluten intolerant people, and of course for anyone who is watching their weight.

Right now, I am busy cooking a delicious meat soup…recipe to follow soon!

Lazy Sundays and a wonderful lunch at Crossways Country Kitchen

I know I have not been on the blogs much lately, I guess just a mixture of being busy, and for a while I stepped away from the  stoves, I just didn’t have any confidence in my cooking after a rather nasty incident with a patron.  But I am back, and I am feeling again…I have missed food…and most important, I have missed the feeling I have when I create in the kitchen.

Today, we had to do a little celebrating, so my lovely husband and I went to discover a new destination for lunch.  Now this is definitely what I would refer to as a “Hole in the Wall’ type place, which is exactly the kind of restaurants I love.  I am not one for the top 5 restaurants in the country, in my opinion, fine dining does have its purpose, however, for me…I am more the “mom & pop” kind of chef, where food comes from the heart and the creativity on the plate is such a large part of you.  Maybe its the artist in me as well that brings these feelings out.

The Crossways Country Kitchen is exactly what I love about the industry.  Briefly listening to the owner, I am so excited for the ideas he has, and WOW, it will bring so much into the community and more importantly for the “foodie’ community of the Eastern Cape.  I really look forward to his vision.

You can find out more about the restaurant here

We were warmly greeted by the handful of waitresses which are so lovely and friendly, and told we may sit anywhere, as there were many open tables.  I was rather surprised as I thought they would be more busy, however, we were early for lunch, and by the time we left, they were buzzing with people.

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We were brought the drinks menu and asked for a wine list, I was slightly confused as there was not an actual menu.

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The waitress brought us our wine, and in tow were 2 more waitresses, one with an easel and one with a large blackboard which was set up in front of us.  I absolutely loved this, however not very practical when they got busy as there was only one menu floating around.

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We settled on a wine I have never heard of.  Brampton Viognier, which was so fruity. The aromatics are splendid: springtime perfumery, fresh ginger, peaches, apricots and honeysuckle. The palate is waxy and delicate yet with an underlying strength and focus. Aromas follow effortlessly onto the rich palate the wine just set the mood for an absolutely wonderful meal.

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We started with the roasted tomato soup with basil pesto and  lovely homemade bread.  The bread was so delicious, beautiful soft crumb texture yet the crust was so crispy and chewy – exactly how I love my bread, with oregano and nuts, this was a perfect companion to this hearty earthy soup.

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As always mains are a tough decision as I always want to have so many things!  I finally settled on my old time favourite Lamb Shank with spring onion mashed potatoes with a lovely red wine & onion gravy.  The lamb was so full of flavour and just fell off the bone, definitely country cooking at its best.  The spring onion in the mash just gave the mash such a beautiful uplifting flavour which enhanced the flavours of the lamb.

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Justin had the smoked pork neck with rustic butternut mash, when the food arrived I had one of those breathtaking moments.  The sight of this dish made my mouth water!  The roasted naartjies and the beautiful Fall colours on the board  just oozed creativity, I was in love!

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I was already so full however when the dessert blackboard was set out for us, and there was a cheeseboard…I had to have!  Very seldom do you find a cheeseboard part of dessert, so we enjoyed cheese, preserves, crackers and a lovely cuppachino for dessert.

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The setting was just stunning, about 40kms from Humansdorp, just off the N2, take the Sunnyside turn off,  nestled between cows roaming free.  Open from 9am to 3pm, Wednesday through Sunday, from what I understand the menu changes all the time, and the pork belly is something to look out for!

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boring tuna sandwich gets a little face lift

We have this wonderful little bakery in the village which does a variety of different breads which is made with stone ground flour. There is a lot of debate regarding flour and the usage of it. We only use stone ground in the restaurant, by far a much more superior quality in your product.

My last little stop, I picked up a crackly wheat bread, which has to be one of my favourit breads…well top 5 at least because nothing beats a proper sourdough cibatta.

With this, I was having a conversation with a friend, and she mentioned she always makes a boring tuna sandwich, which I never understand. To me, sandwiches are such a fun thing, you can go wild and just have fun with different toppings. I love gourmet sandwiches! So I took her boring tuna sandwich and gave it a slight face lift and sent her a picture…

Boring Tuna Sandwich to a more upbeat sandwich

1 can shredded tuna in water
1 green chilli
1 heaped tbsp mayo of choice
Danish feta
1 tbsp chia seeds
lettuce
tomato
seasoning
balsamic reduction

Drain the tuna, dice up the chilli and mix together with tuna and mayo. Build your sandwich from there. It’s such a quick lunch and a healthy option.