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.
1 cup full cream (or high fat percentage) plain yogurt
pinch of course salt
cheesecloth (or a pair of new knee high stockings - I used 20 denier)
a colander or large sieve
a bowl big enough to fit the colander/seive
Place your colander into your bowl and then your cheesecloth over your colander.
If you are using stockings, double them up and get someone to hold them open for you.
Mix your salt and yogurt together.
Spoon or pour your yogurt into the cheesecloth/stockings.
Tie the top of the cloth/stockings closed at the top, squeezing the yogurt towards the bottom as you go.
Now you can either leave the cloth/stockings in the colander as is or you can hang them above the colander and let gravity help (I hung mine from the kitchen tap).
Leave your yogurt to drain for at least 24hrs, the longer you leave it the firmer the cheese will be.
You can leave it out on the counter (in winter) or in the fridge if its too warm.
When you are ready to unveil your cheese, give it one last squeeze to remove any residual liquid and then, over a plate, unwrap the newly formed cheese.
There are a few options once your cheese is ready
You can place it in an airtight container in the fridge and use it as a plain cream cheese spread.
You can roll the cheese into small balls and then roll the balls into various herb and spice mixes before placing in an airtight container in the fridge.
You can roll the cheese into small balls and then place them in a glass jar with a well sealing lid. Top the balls of cheese with a high quality olive oil to preserve them. You can also add various herbs and spices to the oil to infuse the cheese with flavour.
You can also add your herbs and spices to the yogurt before draining if you like which will give you a flavoured cream cheese when you are done.
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.
A while back I got a bee in my bonnet to haul out my pasta machine and make home made pasta.
What possessed me to start the process at 6pm for dinner that night will forever be unknown.
Making pasta from scratch should never be rushed.
Actually making the dough, is a process that can take up to half an hour. You really need to give the kneading process time. The longer you work the dough the smoother and more elastic it is. You also need to let the dough rest before rolling it.
Then, since the machine is small, you need to actually make your pasta in small batches. Rolling the pasta takes time, you need to roll the dough through each setting a few times to ensure its even. Rolling the entire ball of dough can take over an hour.
But, its worth it, Fresh pasta is delicious!
So before I give you the recipe, here are a few tips from me to you.
Plan ahead. Set aside a morning or afternoon where you have at least 2-3 hours uninterrupted time. I suggest an afternoon because of tip #3 below.
Don’t make pasta alone. Rope in the kids to help. Mine had a blast helping me roll out the pasta and choose which type of pasta to cut. Alternatively invite some friends around and make a day of it. Make the pasta, make the sauces from scratch, maybe even make a batch of artisan bread to go with your fresh pasta.
If you go the friend route (or even the kids route), open a bottle of wine and enjoy a sip or two between rolling batches.
Take a break. The kneading and then the rolling takes work. Your shoulders will get sore. This is also why you need time. Sit between batches. Maybe stop rolling the dough for a while and make one of the sauces.
Take the time to let your pasta dry a bit before cooking. You can cook it right away, but I find letting it dry for at least 20 minutes helps the pasta maintain its shape when cooking.
Bonus tip! If you don’t have a pasta drying rack, you can use a folding clothes drying stand. Just make sure the rack is clean before you start hanging your pasta to dry!
4 cups pasta flour (you can use '00' fine flour or regular flour if you want, I bought a bag of flour that said pasta flour on it and it was delish)
6 large eggs
A pinch of salt
In a large bowl or on a large, clean surface, place your flour and sprinkle the salt into it.
Make a well in the middle.
Crack your eggs into the well.
With your hands, start bringing the flour into the eggs in the centre.
Keep working the flour into the eggs from the outside in.
Once the flour and eggs have become a rough ball, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and start kneading.
Keep kneading the dough, adding a little bit of flour if it is too sticky until the ball starts to become smooth.
You will know the dough is ready when the ball is smooth and silky and stretchy.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave in a cool place (or in your fridge) for about 20 minutes to rest.
When you are ready to start rolling, remove a small ball of dough to work with and cover the remaining dough well before setting it aside.
Follow the instructions on your machine to achieve the desired thickness and type of pasta.
Once your pasta is cut, hang it immediately so it doesn't clump. You could also lay it flat on a floured tea towel.
Let the pasta dry for at least 20 minutes before boiling in salted water for about 5 minutes.
I had about a 3rd of the dough left and didn't feel like rolling it. I left it tightly wrapped in plastic in the fridge and rolled it out the next day and it was still easy to work with and delicious. I'm not sure leaving it for more than one day will work but if you don't have time to roll it all in one day you can definitely leave it overnight and have 2 days of fresh pasta out of one batch.
One of the things we decided when we made aliyah was that we were going to try live as Israelis as much as possible. In particular food. We decided to buy and eat Israeli products as much as we could.
One, buying imported things is expensive.
Two, support the local economy.
Three, the kids are growing up Israeli, they need to be comfortable eating foods we may not have eaten in South Africa.
All of this is not to say we don’t eat the same foods we used to eat in South Africa. I’m yet to see cottage pie on a restaurant menu but we often have it for dinner.
Israelis also tend to eat larger, heavier meals at lunch and smaller, lighter meals at dinner time. We still eat a proper cooked meal for dinner, mostly, this summer we have tried eating lighter, smaller meals at night.
All this brings me to things that we don’t/cant buy here (there is one big store that imports food stuffs from SA and Australia and the UK, but it is hellishly expensive). Things that I miss. Things that I have asked people to bring me and that I hoard and cherish like a certain gold ring.
Anita mentioned on Facebook, samp, which I haven’t had in years and now have a hectic craving for.
Along with samp, is a good stiff pap with tomato gravy. You can buy polenta here but its just not the same.
Boerewors. I’ve had locally prepared boeries but its just not the same. The meat here is very different to SA and you can tell.
Five Roses Tea. Israeli black tea is rather weak. At least that’s my opinion. I love a good cup of Five Roses.
Biltong. I actually have a biltong maker, I just need to figure out what’s the best cut of meat to use so I can make some.
Mrs Ball’s Chutney. I dont even really like chutney but I use to use it for cooking. Maybe I should try make my own…
All in all I think we manage just fine using local products and ingredients. And I don’t really miss anything to point of agonising over not having it. But I wouldn’t say no, if someone gave me any of the above.
As you know, Paul is diabetic, and I am always trying to find yummy sugar free food to bake or cook for him.
Paul tends to eat a bowl of oats with fresh fruit in the mornings but its getting boring. I work with a lot of UK products and last week, Scottish oatcakes kept popping up. So I googled and found a variety of recipes and yesterday I tried out a simple Scottish oatcake recipe.
These biscuits can be used in place of bread. Spread some butter, honey, jam or cheese on top or just have them plain right out the oven!
A quick to make, yummy biscuit. Can be served with butter, cheese, jam or as is.