After experiencing an unseasonably warm autumn in Israel, we had highs of 29C, its finally started getting cold and rainy.
What better way to spend a cold morning than baking?
I decided that cinnamon-y stewed apples were the way to go, and it just so happened we had some vanilla ice cream in the freezer and I also had the last of my Moir’s custard powder from SA that was begging to be used.
The other day, while hunting for a tin of coconut milk, I came across condensed milk. It can be tricky to find here so I grabbed one and then stuck it in the grocery cupboard and promptly forgot all about it.
Then last weekend while looking for something yummy to snack on, I pulled out the tin. I also spied a bag of desiccated coconut and an idea struck.
I remember the white and pink sugar overload from my childhood quite fondly and decided to whip up a batch and introduce it to my children. Faith was dutifully impressed, Aaron took one sniff and said no way!
Its really, really easy to make and took no time at all. The hardest part was the mixing, its really good for toning your arms!
3dropsred food colouringyou can use any colour you like and even add flavouring if you want
Pour the condensed milk into a large bowl.
Add the icing sugar and the coconut and mix together. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl to get all the condensed milk.
Keep mixing. The mixture will be very stiff. Keep going.
Line a square or rectangular, deep sided dish with baking paper.
Scoop out half the mixture and using your hands or the back of a spoon, press the mixture into the dish. It doesnt have to be perfect but the more uniform the thickness is, the better it will look when you cut it into squares.
Add your colouring (and/or flavouring) to the remaining mixture and mix well until the entire mixture is coloured to your liking.
Scoop out the coloured mixture and using your hands or the back of a spoon, spread it over the first layer in the dish and press it down.
Once everything is smoothed out to your satisfaction, place the dish, covered, in the fridge for a few hours.
Once cold and set, remove the coconut ice from the dish, peel off the baking paper and slice into small squares with a sharp knife.
Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.
You can add a bit of cocoa powder to the 2nd half of the mixture instead of food colouring to make a vanilla chocolate ice.
Recently I have been trying to make more things from scratch. Not only is it healthier but most of the time its far more cost effective than buying ready made.
I posted about my pasta sauce the other day. The total cost of that was under ₪10 (about R35). It was also sugar and preservative free and was totally delicious.
I also want to start making my own burger patties and pizza bases.
One of the things I’ve been making myself each week is our Shabbat challah. I started off making it because I got myself a stand mixer with a dough hook and it is just so easy but now I make it because its cheaper, healthier, tastes amazing and its really special to have homemade challah on a Friday night too.
I have reduced the original recipe to make 2 small medium sized challot but the original recipe makes enough for 4 challot or 2 challot and a dozen cinnamon rolls. Here is my amended recipe.
So I mentioned that I bought a stand mixer the other day. Well, it arrived and so far I have made 2 batches of challah using the dough hook (NEVER kneading dough again!) as well as a batch of cinnamon muffins and on Friday I made an apple and banana bread/muffin recipe.
I have absolutely no idea what prompted me to add apples into the mix but I’m glad I did. They were amazing!
3 large grated or finely chopped apples (I used 2 green and 1 red and left the skin on)
3 large ripe or overripe bananas, mashed
2 cups sugar (I used sugar replacement)
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
2/3 cup of oil
2 teaspoons vanilla (I didn't have so didn't add and it was absolutely fine)
Preheat your oven to 180C and grease 2 loaf pans or like I did, 1 loaf pan and 2-3 muffin trays (12-18 muffins).
Add all the ingredients into a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer.
Mix well, ensuring all the flour is incorporated.
Separate batter into the desired pans and place in the oven.
For loafs, bake for about 1 hour.
For muffins bake for between 30 minutes and 45 minutes.
The original recipe called for half a cup chopped nuts and half a cup raisins. I had neither on hand so didn't add them and the recipe came out fine. You could also add craisins or even chocolate chips to this recipe and it would be delicious.
OK, so not something I didn’t already know but still.
I could not look at Aaron’s room for a single minute more on Friday. So I asked demanded that he clean everything. I made him pick up and throw away every last piece of paper, string, broken toy, piece of crap off his floor. He had to clean out his toy box, bedside table and computer desk. He had to dust everything, wipe down all the surfaces and then sweep the floor. I then came in and used my awesome steam mop thingy to clean the floors. The best part was when I told him I want the floor clean enough to eat off. His eyes almost bugged out until I told him that it was a saying and we were not really going to eat off the floor.
So now his room is pretty clean, except for the cardboard boxes he is turning into a plane. Lets see how long it lasts this time.
The vacuum cleaner wasn’t broken
About 2 years ago we bought a really cheap vacuum cleaner from the local grocery store. It was cheap but it worked really well. For the last little while I’ve noticed that it wasnt working as well as it used to. We cleaned it out. Paul pulled out a fair bit of fluff and hairballs and it worked a bit better but no where near as well as when it was new. I thought that was that. Its a cheap machine, obviously has a short lifespan. I asked Paul to give it a clean so I could use it on the above mentioned boy’s room. Paul landed up taking the thing apart and actually washing one of the big sponge filters, which was disgustingly dirty.
Let me just say, the machine now works like I just took it out the box. It even picked up glitter off the tiles and carpet.
Moral of the story? Clean and service your appliances before throwing them out.
You can make cake using plain Greek yogurt and no sugar
I felt like making a cake for tea yesterday and I didnt have any diabetic cup for cup sugar replacement available. What I did have was stevia liquid. I searched online and found a simple trick for using liquid stevia as a replacement in a regular recipe. Basically 1 teaspoon stevia for each cup of sugar as well as 1/3 cup liquid for each cup of sugar. In my case I used plain yogurt.
As you all probably know, we keep a kosher home. That means that if we have a meat meal, the dessert needs to be dairy free.
This Rosh Hashanah, my brother hosted the meal, which was a feast of amazing chicken, deli roll, veggies and more, and I was making the desserts.
I really really wanted to make a Peppermint Crisp Tart (click on the link for the original recipe) but it needed to be parve/dairy free.
My one issue was finding a solid slab of dairy free peppermint chocolate. Not so easy apparently. You can get After Eights but the peppermint part is soft and I didnt think that would work. I found an artisan, bean to bar, locally made chocolate but I could not get the peppermint one for love nor money. Eventually I gave in and bought plain dairy free chocolate and then found a peppermint extract to add to the cream.
Another concern was what to swap the dulche de leche for. It had to be sweet but diary free and I came up with using Biscoff Lotus spread. I’m not sure this is available in SA but Im sure you can find some type of dairy free alternative.
All in all the dessert was a hit, everyone loved it and it was as close to a regular peppermint crisp tart as one could hope for.
Here is the recipe.
Dairy Free Peppermint Tart
A dairy free take on my traditional Peppermint Crisp Tart
1 jar Biscoff Lotus spread (or any dairy free sweet spread)
1 packet of plain biscuits
1 large slab of dairy free chocolate, broken or crumbled into small pieces
A few drops of peppermint extract
Place the cream and a few drops of peppermint extract in a bowl.
Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks.
Place a single layer of biscuits on the bottom of a large square/rectangular dish.
Microwave the Lotus spread for a few seconds for easy pouring.
Cover the biscuits with a layer of Lotus spread.
Sprinkle half the crumbled chocolate over the Lotus layer.
Add a thin layer of whipped cream.
Add another layer of biscuits.
Add another layer of Lotus spread.
Cover with a thick layer of whipped cream.
Sprinkle the remaining chocolate over the top of the cream.
Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
I used a dairy free bitter chocolate, if you really want it to taste like Peppermint Crisp then look for a dairy free 'milk' chocolate or non bitter chocolate. Personally I liked the bitter contrast to the sweet Lotus spread and the minty cream.