Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Chocolate Brownies

I went on a baking spree for the girls' birthday party. At the last moment I decided to bake brownies, you know, just in case the rest of the cakes were not enough... so off my husband went to buy more eggs and I found a Jamie Oliver recipe that looked perfect.

As usual I adapted the recipe and let me tell you I was very happy with the result! The brownies were rich and sticky and every so decadent. Definitely a winner.

So if you need something sweet for your new years eve (or any other day of the year) then make these brownies!

I found the recipe on jamieshomecookingskills.com which I must admit is a very user friendly website with lots of step by step instructions and photos.

You can find the original recipe on the website above. Here is my version with the modified ingredients:

• 200g good-quality dark chocolate (I used 100gram 71% cocoa solids and 100gram 80% cocoa solids)
• 250g unsalted butter
• 100g walnuts, roughly chopped (optional)
• 100g chocolate chips (optional)
• 80g cocoa powder
• 65g plain flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 350g caster sugar (I used 150 gram light brown sugar and 200 gram caster sugar)
• 4 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4
Line a 20 x 30cm rectangular baking tin with greaseproof paper
Smash up the chocolate into small pieces
In a large bowl over some simmering water, melt the butter and the chocolate and mix until smooth
Add the nuts, if you’re using them, and stir together
In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar
Add this to the chocolate and nut mixture
Stir together well
Beat the eggs and mix in until you have a silky consistency and lastly add chocolate chips (if using)
Pour your brownie mix into the baking tray, and place in the oven for around 25 - 35 minutes
You don’t want to overcook them so, unlike cakes, you don’t want a skewer to come out all clean
The brownies should be slightly springy on the outside but still gooey in the middle
Allow to cool in the tray, then carefully transfer to a large chopping board and cut into chunky squares

Monday, 30 December 2013

Stella's 3rd Birthday

Yesterday my sweet Stella turned 3 years old.
We had a few friends over for cake and it was lovely.
I baked a lot. A butter cake, Victoria sponge cupcakes and brownies.
Yes, I might have gone a little overboard... but it was so worth it!

Heidi and Stella both loved the cakes and the party. I just loved having so many friends over to share in the fun and eat the cake!

Here is the rose birthday cake which I thought turned out pretty well:

It was actually quite easy to do the icing - here is a link to a tutorial from iambaker.net.

I made a very simple butter cake and the buttercream icing was made with a ratio of 1:2 butter to icing sugar. I used food colouring and baked three cakes in three shades of pink and then coloured the icing accordingly. Fun!!!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Onion Soup with Red Wine

I had red wine.
I had lots of onions.
I felt like having soup.
So yes, I made french onion soup with red wine instead of the usual white wine.
Will I do this again? I'm not sure. It was a good soup but somehow I prefer white wine version... The recipe was supposed to be quick onion soup but trust me, you need to cook the onions over a low heat for at least an hour because that is the only way you will get them to be soft and sweet.
Here is a little illustration I made with pen and water colour of the BBC recipe ingredients:

Friday, 20 December 2013

Cologne Christmas Market - Part 5

I went to Cologne with the IWCU and we went on a chartered bus. Lately I've not been taking the bus since my bicycle gets me pretty much everywhere in town. It was quite relaxing sitting on the bus, especially on the way home since I was exhausted. Walking around outside all day certainly took its toll.

I couldn't resist taking out my camera and shooting a few photographs of the cars passing by. And it was a good opportunity to play with my shutter speed!

Here are my final photos after a busy day at the Christmas Market. I'm already looking forward to going again next year :-)

Here's wishing you a great weekend ahead!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Cologne Christmas Market - Part 4

I must admit that I am most enamoured with the Christmas Market when night falls. All those pretty lights... Here are a few photos before I had to head home:

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Cologne Christmas Market - Part 3

Although I managed to consume quite a bit at the Cologne Christmas market I did not manage to take any photos of the food. It's just one of those things. Sometimes you want to eat the food while it is hot and not bother to get the camera out of the bag to get a few shots.

I also went into the Dom cathedral to sit down and rest for a bit. It was very busy and very cold inside so I did not stay long but it really is beautiful:

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Cologne Christmas Market - Part 2

Let's take a look at what the stalls had to offer... and I must admit that I did not actually buy anything except food stuff. Mostly cookies. I enjoy browsing but somehow I never actually buy things from the stalls. Probably because I have enough trinkets at home!

Here are a few photos of the stalls and their 'goods':

Monday, 16 December 2013

Cologne Christmas Market - Part 1

I went to a Christmas Market! It was more than two weeks ago but the memory remains very fresh. I still smell the bratwurst in the air... well you know what I mean!
The Christmas market in Cologne was packed. You could barely walk and that my friends is not ideal. It did not stop me from shamelessly indulging in delicious treats with quite a few hot chocolates along the way. If you can't beat them, join them.

This week I'm dedicating all blog posts to the Christmas Market - I'll share a few photos every day. Let's start the week with a few day time photos:

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Pretty Things

I love pretty things. Don't we all?

Lucky for me I have a friend who makes the most beautiful things with her laser cutter. She even has her own shop filled with goodies in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her business is called Green Grass Design and if you happen to be in Parkhurst then please drop by the Green Grass Shop. If you are looking for some Christmas gifts then I am certain you will find something there or in her webshop!

Here are a few photos of some items of hers that I have in my house. Fridge magnets, a chopping board, wooden spoons and a decorative cage with birdies. Not only am I in awe of my friend's talent but it serves as a reminder to me that anything is possible.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


I love cucumbers. We pretty much eat it at every meal. It's green so it is good for you!
One of my favourite dips has to be tzatziki. It is great with so many dishes and we tend to use it in pitas, with grilled chicken and I do love dipping veggies and chips in it!

The trick is to make sure you deseed the cucumber and then once you grate or finely chop it up you need to salt it lightly and let it rest. Draw out the moisture so that it doesn't make your dip watery. You might also want to go easy on the garlic since it can be a bit sharp but this depends fully on your own personal taste!

1.5 cups plain Greek yogurt (I used a 0% fat version)
1 cup grated seedless cucumber
1.5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed (use more or less depending on your taste)
0.5 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill / dash of dried dill
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (I tend to just drizzle some in until I think it is enough)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Place the grated cucumber in a bowl, salt it and let it rest for about 1 hour.
2. Drain the juices from the bowl and then squeeze the rest of the cucumber with your hands until you removed most of the moisture.
3. Combine the Greek yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and dill. Stir until well combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
4. Chill an hour or two before serving but it can also be enjoyed straight away!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Back to Reality

What a week we had last week. Sinterklaas came to visit multiple times. We ended our celebrations on Friday evening with our neighbours. The kids were running around, playing games and the grown ups enjoyed a glass of prosecco.

I made dinner which consisted out of bread, cold meats, snacks, crudités, home made hummus and tzatziki, chips and lots of cheese. My kind of dinner - easy and you can snack for hours!

After dinner we went to our neighbours house where we had dessert... chocolate brownies, assorted muffins, cookies, chocolates, pepernoten and hot chocolate with baileys. Sweet indeed. Sinterklaas knocked on the window and delivered a big bag of presents for the kids!

It was a week of overindulgence so this week the husband and I will do our best to take control again. In other words there will be lots of salad on the menu this week. Hopefully we get a chance to put up our Christmas tree because once Sinterklaas leaves the country you are finally allowed to get into the Christmas spirit!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Dinner at Niven

It's been a few weeks but I finally put together some photos of the dinner I enjoyed at restaurant Niven. Looking at them makes me hungry... tonight we're celebrating Sinterklaas with our neighbours so there will be lots of food but it won't be this pretty!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Orange Loaf Misadventure

So I decided to bake an orange loaf. Not something I've tried before but you know me, I'll try just about anything when it comes to baking. Well perhaps Sunday was not a good baking day for me because things went wrong.

Turns out the oven was too hot and the batter burst through the crust half way through baking. That was a first for me but google tells me that's what happened. OK. I decided to just let the loaf continue baking and added 10 minutes just to be sure. When a skewer came out clean I figured the ugly looking orange loaf was done. Ugly indeed.

I kind of followed two recipes using the batter from this one and the glaze from this one and perhaps that was also a mistake? My glaze just did not work either. I drizzled it over the still warm loaf and let it rest for a while. Then I cut it open because I had to try it, I just had to know what it looked like inside. It was fine, in fact it tasted fine but I felt like something was missing... The kids enjoyed it and that is a good sign.

Will I make it again? No way. I'm all done with oranges in baking and that's that.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Micro Herbs on my Lunch

I never used to think twice about micro herbs. They didn't really exist in my world.
Until I went to restaurant Niven where they use it on almost every dish!
I was surprised to learn that it actually adds to the taste experience and is not just something to make the plate look pretty.

Luckily I have some great shops in my neigbourhood where I could find a fine selection of herbs. Here I used them on my lunch last week: open sandwiches with home made hummus, cream cheese, beet, feta and herbs. Delicious!

Now all I need to do is start growing them myself...
Hope you have a happy Monday!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...