December 9th, 2011 § § permalink
To appease my acid levels after my bitch session in Do I look bloggered? and because I was feeling nostalgic, I decided to bake a milk tart for the first time in twenty years. Milk tart. That cornerstone of Boere culinaria and the absolute antithesis of newfangled confectionary. Even in our mothers’ era milk tart was considered a tad oudoos. It’s more of an ouma thing. It is currently enjoying a retro-cool revival but I have encountered a few pasty, gelatinous offerings in restaurants. Of course, always pimped as The Best Milk Tart Ever Made With Grandma’s Recipe. Did grandma have a rough time of it during the Great Depression… or are you just skimping on eggs and butter?
Mom's much handled recipe tome
I was convinced me and my grandma’s recipe could do better. And that I would find it in my mom’s big black book. Quelle horreur when a definitive family recipe was nowhere to be found! I found a milk tart crust on page 4 and further on my old neighbour tannie Evelene’s coconut milk tart, followed by aunty Elsabe’s regular milk tart towards the end of the book. All I know is I like my tart with a Tennis biscuit crust. And enough cinnamon on top. So I took Evelene’s crust and Elsabe’s filling and baked a tart that eclipsed any of my sepia-toned, butter and eggy custard memories. I will give you the recipe. If you don’t have a memorable milk tart recipe in your family, please adopt this one. Pretend. Copy and paste it any which way you like. Don’t bother with credits because this really is nobody’s ouma’s milk tart.
She's plain but all heart
Universal ouma’s milk tart recipe:
CRUST 1 packet Tennis biscuits, reduced to fine crumbs; half a cup of sugar; half a cup of flour; 125g soft butter
Cream butter and sugar together, add dry ingredients, mix well. Line a standard pie dish (pictured above), including the sides and press down gently to create an even crust.
FILLING 1 litre full cream milk; 125g butter; 1 cup sugar; 4 very heaped tablespoons flour; pinch salt; 4 eggs separated, whites beaten to soft peaks; vanilla (I used two vanilla pods but would guess a quarter teaspoon of vanilla essence should do it); cinnamon
Heat oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Pour most of the milk into a pot, leave a cup aside to add to dry ingredients. Add butter to milk and bring to the boil. Remove vanilla seeds from pods, add seeds and pods to milk. Let milk boil for a minute or three to absorb the vanilla flavour, stir to keep from burning. In a bowl, make a dough with the flour, sugar, salt, egg yolks and remaining milk. Once milk has boiled, strain through a sieve, pour over dough. Mix well and pour back into pot. Medium heat and whisk like hell otherwise you’ll have lumpy custard in no time. Allow to thicken, then add whipped egg whites. Pour into pie dish, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake for about 20 minutes until set and crust edge is golden.
I strongly recommend you have a slice while it’s still warm. Delicious. My neighbour Simon described it as ‘quite possibly the best milk tart ever’ and Lord knows Simon’s a tough dessert diva to please.
August 12th, 2011 § § permalink
We had a day of winter last week so I bought a bag of waterblommetjies at the Spar. It felt like bredie time. And with such an oldskool dish I consulted my newly acquired C. Louis Liepoldt cookbook Kos vir die kenner, a book with over 1000 recipes that proves that at least one Afrikaner knew what mirepoix was in the 1930′s. Afrikaners, nay all white folk, may have benefited from Apartheid economically but culturally, it dumbed us down something awful. Like rocks on an island.
Savvy as Leipoldt was, cousin J warned that his book had to be taken with a pinch of salt. ‘Some of his combos are dreadful.’ Waterblommetjiebredie is a dish best prepared with restraint. Don’t innovate or deviate. It’s just blommetjies, lamb, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Maybe potato. She’s the queen bee of bredies. Leipoldt provides a few options and recommended the addition of anchovy, which I fell for. He advocates the use of suurings – those soft little wild stems with pink flowers that we used to eat as kids, before toxic sourworms hit the scene – to add zing to the stew. It rained cats and dogs so instead of picking suurings, I zested a lemon and added a bit of juice later.
But the blommetjies… Leipoldt wouldn’t have touched the gnarly old Spar blommetjies. My buds looked like cold-chain cadavers but at least they were picked early enough (pre-bloom). Soak them in vinegar water, rinse under a fast-flowing tap, top and tail the gnawed, tough bits and they should do.
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July 29th, 2011 § § permalink
Yes, I shall make a wine jelly… In fact, a pinot noir jelly! Paired with duck. And something earthy and seasonal. Like beetroot. I mean, what would you do for your first ever live food demonstration at a wine festival? Absolutely nothing else came to mind. I love Pinot Noir. And duck. So look no further.
Ever made a wine jelly? Me neither. Even as a kid I didn’t like jelly. Compared to malva pudding it’s a sad excuse for a dessert. In fact, jelly was the reason I refused to eat trifle. But a wine jelly… now that I could consider. All my recipes called for pectin. But somehow pectin has fallen out of favour and is nowhere to be found. ‘Wat gebruik al die boervrouens deesdae?!,’ my inner voice squealed. Leaf gelatine was also not to be found in the village so I opted for the powdered variety. My first attempt (made with Noble Savage, a lovely affordable Cabernet Sauvignon) looked like chopped liver. I didn’t bother straining it as it was just an experiment. I then bought a little sachet of agar agar from the health store and made a sheet of jelly from Stark-Conde Pinot Noir – my wine of choice for the demo at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival. Agar agar is derived from seaweed and with a 50g sachet you could build a tornado-proof two-bedroom dwelling, seal the cracks in a family-sized swimming pool or stop the flow of the Orange river in flood. Plus it has a nasty aftertaste. I was luckier the third time around with a mixture of leaf gelatine (kindly donated by Richard Carstens of Tokara just up the road) and half a teaspoon of agar agar but the jelly was still too sour. The aim was to retain as much of the Pinot flavour as possible but nobody wants to eat sour jelly. Behold, the first three attempts:
Three bottles down and still no strike
From right to left: chopped liver, the Fountainhead of jellies made with agar agar and on the left, getting there with a mixture of leaf gelatine and a pinch of agar agar. But then a road trip to the Swartland lead me to the kind people of Fynbos Foods, where I managed to score 50g of pectin! Serendipity or what? As I sit here, a container with pinot jelly is setting in the fridge… or not. I’ve added more sugar and am quite frankly too tired to care. That’ll be tomorrow’s little drama. My demo at the Clover Kitchen at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival kicks off at 1. The audience will enjoy a glass of pinot with their portion of duck breast, beetroot relish and pinot noir jelly , courtesy of the kind people of Stark-Conde. It’s a food and wine pairing session after all.
On Tuesday night I subjected a few friends to a trial run. After a terrible day, Katie really took to the wine jelly. Especially the first one. I suspect a fuller bodied wine like a Cab makes for better jelly, although I hate admitting it now with so much vested in Pinot jelly. Or maybe she just needed the sugar. » Read the rest of this entry «