Great Aunt Mavis’ Milk Tart

I’ve already mentioned that I come from a rather large extended family on my Dad’s side. His Dad, my Grandpa, was one of 4 children, the only son with three sisters – that in itself isn’t a large family, but over the generations, and once they all had kids, and their kids had kids, there were always wonderfully large gatherings at my Granny and Grandpa’s home most Sundays. And as everyone grew up and went their separate ways, it became a family tradition to have a get together on the first Sunday of every month and each family would bring along a finger food, be it savoury or sweet. The table would almost be groaning under the weight and variety on offer, with one of my favourites being my Great Aunt’s milk tart.

Great Aunt Mavis' Milk TartMelk Tert (or Milk Tart), is literally the Afrikaans translation meaning a tart made out of milk and can trace it’s origins back to the Dutch settlers who landed at the Cape of Good Hope in the 1600’s. So it’s been a traditional South African recipe for many, many generations. Now anyone who knows about egg custards, knows that they are pretty simple to make, but you still have to be careful as no-one wants scrambled egg in their custard. The egg needs to be cooked slowly and delicately with no stringy lumps forming. Between the egg and the pastry, this tart has always been my nemesis. I can’t tell you how many recipes I’ve tried over the years, but my lovely cousin Jenny (2nd or third cousin actually!) shared her Beloved Mum’s recipe with me and it is one I’ll treasure forever. Jenny scanned the original hand-written recipe and emailed it to me to show the beautiful slanted cursive handwriting of yester-year written by Great Aunty Hilda, Mavis’ sister. Aunty Mavis always had the most beautiful skin, was ready with a cuddle, always had a tissue handy and had one of the most wonderfully infectious laughs – and boy could she bake. She was an amazingly talented cake decorator, making beautiful sugar craft decorations and roses years before it became fashionable and she kindly baked and decorated my 21st birthday cake too. Happy memories. Oh, and she could crochet beautifully too! So sad when you look back and realise that you should have spent more time learning from the wiser generations before they moved on.

But back to this recipe. It has become the only one I make now and works perfectly every time. The quanity as noted below, is sufficient to make two smaller round tarts or 1 fairly large one. It can also be made in a square tart/flan dish and cut into squares once cooled. The secret of this wonderfully light mixture is to separate the eggs, beating the whites until they are thick and stiff before folding them into the cooked egg yolk/custard mixture. Not all milk tart recipes call for this, but I guarantee it makes for a lighter filling.

I pre-cook the pastry for a few minutes, baking blind using baking beans spread evenly over the pastry on a sheet of baking paper, substitute the baking beans with uncooked rice or beans and then just discard them once done. The paper is then lifted off mid way through cooking the pastry so it holds it’s shape during the remaining cooking time. The custard is then added and the tart it put back into the oven to cook. The first time I made it, I was a little nervous as it rises quite a bit, but once removed from the oven, it sinks back to form a flat top which you cover with a sprinkling of cinnamon. Add a little sugar too to give it an extra sparkle if you like, but the traditional way is plain ground cinnamon sprinkled on the top.

Thank you Jenny, for sharing, and thank you Aunty Mavis.
For ease of use I have used ready-made sweet short crust pastry.

ingredients:
1 litre milk
4 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp mazena or cornflour
2 Tbsp butter
2 eggs
1 stick cinnamon
ground cinnamon for sprinkling
1 – 2 sheets ready-made sweet short crust pastry

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Line a pie dish with the thinly rolled out pastry. Return it to the fridge for about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the milk and cinnamon stick into a saucepan and bring gently to a simmer on the stove.Now here’s where I differ slightly to my Aunt’s recipe – I like to pre-cook the pastry a little before adding the milk mixture as I’m still a little nervous of serving up an uncooked pie shell – not good.
  3. Place a sheet of baking paper into the pie shell, taking care to remove any air bubbles and cover with the baking beans, rice or dry beans. Place into the heated oven and cook for 5 – 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the baking parchment and beans without burning yourself.
  4. While the pastry is in the oven, mix the flour, cornflour and sugar with a little of the warmed milk to form a thick liquid paste and pour it into the simmering milk.
  5. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t catch on the bottom. Once thickened, remove from the stove.
  6. In two separate bowls, separate the egg whites and yolks.
  7. Add a little of the warmed milk mixture to the yolks and butter to bring the eggs to temperature before adding the egg mixture to the saucepan. Stir through until the butter is melted and the egg completely combined.
  8. Remove the cinnamon stick.
  9. Beat the egg white in a large bowl until the stiff peak stage – my son had a good laugh when I held the bowl above my head and went Ta-Da! He clearly thought I’d have the egg landing on my head, but it was just the perfect consistency and didn’t move – thankfully.
  10. Again, add a little of the warmed milk mixture to the egg whites and fold gently. This brings the egg to temperature without cooking it too quickly. Then spoon the egg whites into the saucepan and fold through. Don’t stir, you want to keep as much of the air in as possible. Once combined, pour into the prepared pastry shell.
  11. Pour the mixture into the par-cooked pie shell and return to the oven, reducing the heat to 200°C. Cook for a further 10 – 15 minutes until the tart is still slightly wobbly but cooked through. The filling will have risen slightly, but it will relax on cooling.
  12. Allow to cool and sprinkle with ground cinnamon or a cinnamon sugar mixture. Some people like to serve it hot/warm but I prefer it cooled right down.

Enjoy!

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Parmesan Crumbed Fish

A few years ago I discovered Panko breadcrumbs, and although I stock the normal breadcrumbs in my pantry as well, I far prefer using Panko unless the recipe specifically calls for normal breadcrumbs (as was the case in the pork schitzels I made recently).

Parmesan crumbed fish

I was about to get very descriptive about the differences and similarities between Panko breadcrumbs and normal breadcrumbs, but then decided to simply share this article I came across, which explains it all so clearly with beautiful pictures, that I knew I wouldn’t do it justice; so if you’re inquisitive as to the differences, like I was, then please take a moment to visit this post by Kelli Foster, Whats the difference between panko and breadcrumbs.

In short, Panko is a type of breadcrumb, but is a larger “flake” instead of a “crumb” and only made from a certain type of white bread. It gives a crispier coating as it doesn’t allow as much oil through to the food than the smaller “breadier” crumb. More often than not, Panko are sold as plain while standard bread crumbs can often be flavoured. I prefer to flavour my own dishes and as we don’t use a lot of bread, certainly not white, I very seldom have the opportunity to make my own.

This deliciously quick and tasty mid-week meal only takes around 10 minutes to prepare, a few minutes to rest (the fish, not me!), and then another 10 minutes or so cooking time. I shallow-fried these pieces, but I’ve also prepared fish by oven-baking them once coated. Recipe to follow later.

New Zealand’s fish selection is very different to those found around the coast of Southern Africa (or anywhere else in the world I hear you say, but as I’ve only lived in these two areas, I prefer to talk about what I know) so it took a while to find my preferred type of fish for various dishes.Check out this super source of information for fish around New Zealand’s waters so you can search the fish I refer to, check out it’s nutritional value and cooking uses to help you find a local alternative http://www.seafood.co.nz/species/.

ingredients: (serves 3 – 4)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil (I like Rice Bran)
400 g Trevally fillets (or any other medium firm white fish)
½ cup plain flour
1 – 2 eggs, depending on their size
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 baking tray and a piece of baking parchment cut to size
1 lemon cut into quarters

  1. Measure out your flour into a low-sided bowl and add the salt and pepper to season. Beat the egg/s in a separate bowl large enough to fit the fish pieces into. Combine the Panko crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a third bowl/dish and set aside.
  2. Wash and trim the fish, taking care to remove any bones or skin/scales. Pat dry using kitchen paper towel. Cut into fillets. The fish should be dry for the next step.
  3. Thoroughly coat the fish pieces in the flour before dipping them into the beaten egg. Allow the excess egg to dribble off before placing the egg-coated fish into the breadcrumb/cheese mixture. Coat well.
  4. Place the crumbed fish onto the baking parchment on the tray. Repeat step 3 until all the fish pieces/fillets are coated. Place the tray in the fridge for a few minutes so the coating can set.
  5. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a moderate heat and gently fry the fish a couple of minutes per side until it is golden brown and the fish is cooked through.
  6. Drain on more paper towel and serve immediately sprinkled with a little lemon juice and freshly made lemon mayonnaise (grate the lemon rind into a couple of tablespoons of ready-made tangy mayonnaise – add a squeeze of the juice and use as a dipping sauce).

Enjoy!

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Eskimo Cookies

I have no wish to cause offense with this post to any of my Canadian family, friends or readers by being insensitive to the way you feel about the use of the term “Eskimo”, so please read on and bear with me. In different parts of the world, words mean or represent different things, and in New Zealand, we have lollies called Eskimos, with the tag line – the coolest lollies around!

Eskimo CookiesBefore writing this, I researched the term and discovered a great post by Linda Lanz, who, as an Alaskan native, has studied linguistics and cultural differences of many of the indigenous Alaskan, Northern Canadian and Russian people for many years which can be found here: Inuit vs Eskimo. Apparently what is a derogatory term in parts of Canada, is not derogatory at all in Alaska or other parts of the world, so please read my story without taking offense as none has been meant or wishes to be implied.

Last year, these little lollies made headlines in our dear little New Zealand. And the reason for that is because a native/indigenous Canadian visitor took great offense to the use of the term. The detail on the pack describes them as “sugar confectionery”. They contain no E numbers, the glucose syrup is noted as being either from wheat or corn and yes, sadly for any vegans out there, they contain gelatine (can also be spelled gelatin), but they are simply a delicious marshmallow-type treat in the shape of people rugged up in warm coats. Probably not very PC if you take them literally, but for heaven’s sake, the world has already gone PC mad, leave these little treats alone!

So the reason I’m writing this is that my son wanted to make choc chip cookies the other day, currently his favourite (I can’t seem to get away from this weekly occurrence when I’d much rather be trying new things but it’s lovely spending the time together in the kitchen), but alas, we were all out of chocolate chips (I breathed a sigh of relief). I heard him rummaging around moving furniture in the kitchen and found him standing on top of a chair, removing the treat box from the top shelf of the pantry. Inside, he found a bag of these lovely lollies and spent the next 5 minutes convincing me that we should make cookies that included chopped up Eskimo lollies.

A little hesitant at first, I could see that I wasn’t going to get out of this and it was certainly different to chocolate chips, so we agreed to experiment. Possibly a chip off the old block I say! He carefully got his chopping board ready, washed his hands and proceeded to slice them into 1 cm pieces (or close enough) with the sharpest knife he could find (eeek!) but did a really good job. And I have to say, the cookies were divine. Sweet and  crunchy yet chewy whenever you encountered the melted lolly. Definitely one to add to the collection – and his comments: “Will you take a photo and put them on your Facebook Mom?” warmed my heart. So no, not going directly onto Facebook in my personal capacity, but they get pride of place amongst my Chocolate Goose collection. We’ll definitely be making these again.

And this, my friends, is what the bag of lollies and lollies themselves, look like.

Eskimo lollies

Recipe:
Instead of re-typing the recipe here, simply go to Chocolate Chip Cookies, and substitute the chocolate chips with the equivalent of chopped Eskimo lollies. Everything else is the same, except you might want to pay a little more attention to the cooking time.

Enjoy!

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Spanish Chorizo Rice

Brown rice is delicious. It’s nutty, wholegrain goodness is full of magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, an excellent source of manganese and high in fibre and although it takes a little longer to cook than white rice, it’s benefits are worth it. I recently discovered Basmati Brown Rice – can it get any better?

Spanish Chorizo Fried Rice

Because of how long it takes to cook, I often cook double or triple what I need at once. That way I have left over in the fridge to use for fried rice, rice/fish cakes, or something simple with gravy and meat on the side. It really does help on those nights when you’re in a rush to get a good meal on the table as quickly as possible.

I’m finding that the older my son gets, and the after school sport activities extend into the evenings, we’re sometimes only home by 6.30 or 7.20 pm, so having healthy pre-prepared options on hand is a life saver. I can’t be dealing with toasted cheese sandwiches as my only option, although he’d happily eat them 7 nights a week I think.

This dish is a great money saver too, as the use of chorizo sausage makes a little go a long way. My preferred local grocery store has really good quality mild or fully spicy ones for around $3 a pack (250 g), which quite easily makes this meal a very worthwhile option if you’re on a tight budget. Great for students too, plus the inclusion of a few chopped veggies helps use up whatever is lying about in the fridge and might be on it’s last legs. I made this the other night, and although it looks a little like Paella, I promise there isn’t a piece of fish or squid, octopus or mussel in sight. Also, I didn’t use any expensive spices like saffron. So the flavour comes from the rice (which I agree isn’t of Spanish origin), but the spicy chorizo I used is, so a great flavour, and meal, all round.

Another reason I like having cold cooked rice in the fridge (and yes, I hear the voices in my head quoting magazine articles I’ve read about rice left in the fridge too long can develop all sorts of poisons in it, but people – honestly, leaving it for one or two nights is fine, leaving it for a week might be a different story altogether. As long as it is in a sealed container in the fridge at the right temperature, it will be fine for a day or two).

So back to my point. Another reason I like having cold cooked rice in the fridge, is that this is the absolute best rice to use for stir fried rice. Freshly cooked rice that is still warm, is soft and sponge-like, and has just absorbed a lot of cooking liquid so when you try to fry it, your stir fry can become a little stodgy, like a badly made risotto. I prefer my stir fries to be crunchy and full of a range of textures from the crispy meat pieces, to the diced veggies, to the rice.

ingredients:
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
250 g chorizo sausage, sliced
1 – 2 cups cold cooked rice (I prefer brown)
1 white onion, peeled and diced
1 – 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed/chopped
1 red pepper (capsicum), diced
1 yellow pepper (capsicum), diced
1 – 2 courgettes, diced
salt and freshly ground pepper
½ – 1 lemon (juice only)
fresh herbs, like parsley or coriander if you prefer a stronger flavour

  1. Peel, chop and dice all ingredients as noted above, taking care to keep them separate from each other.
  2. Heat the oil in a shallow wide saucepan and fry the chopped chorizo and onion until the onion is translucent and the chorizo begins to caramelise.
  3. Add the garlic, red and yellow peppers and stir fry for a few minutes. Then add the diced courgettes and after 2 – 3 minutes, add the cold, cooked rice.
  4. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the lemon juice and sprinkle over the chopped fresh herbs.

Enjoy!

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Lemon Yoghurt Cake

I first made a version of this cake about 15 years ago back in South Africa, using a recipe book I borrowed from a friend. I’ve lost contact with her over the years and I have absolutely no idea what the title of the book was, but thankfully, with the gazillions of recipes at our fingertips on the web these days, I was able to find one similar* which, in true Chocolate Goose fashion, I have adapted to my own liking.

Lemon Yoghurt CakeWhile I’m sure the one I found is perfectly good as it is, I’ve been keen to use the Dreamy Lemon yoghurt I discovered a few months ago, which is part of the Fresh ‘n Fruity range. Many of New Zealand’s dairy products are available in over 70 countries, so you might even find a tub of this good stuff locally, but if you can’t find it, or anything similar, you can always use plain yoghurt and add lemon juice and zest.

As the cake has oil instead of butter as an ingredient, it has a delicately moist texture and stays fresher for longer without drying out.

Now we all know that plain unsweetened yoghurt is far healthier than the flavoured sugar-filled stuff I’m talking about, so I removed 3/4 of a cup of sugar from the recipe I found.

The icing sugar is a simple royal icing, with a teaspoon of butter added. I guess this adds flavour and setting properties as royal icing is normally quite runny/liquid.

.Not only does this cake taste good, it looks beautiful and fresh too. A few slivers of lemon or orange zest sprinkled over the top makes for a festive tea-cake fit for a celebration. I chose to make a single layer in a rectangular tin this time, but I’ve made it in loaf tin before. The original recipe called for a round hollow baking pan. I need to get myself one of these as I like the way the icing drizzles over both the inside and outside edges. I’ll add it to my wish-list.

ingredients:
1 cup oil, preferably a lighter flavoured oil
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1½ cups Fresh ‘n Fruity Dreamy Lemon yoghurt
2 cups self-raising flour

icing:
1 tsp butter, melted
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon
1 tsp hot water (only add a few drops at a time if icing consistency too thick)
2 cups icing sugar (no need to sieve)

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Grease and line your cake/loaf/ring tin.
  2. Place oil, eggs and sugar into a food processor and mix until thick.
  3. Add salt and yoghurt and mix again.
  4. Sift in flour and mix gently, then pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 – 35 minutes (time will vary depending on the size tin you use so check regularly).
  5. Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

To make the icing, mix the melted butter, lemon juice and icing sugar together. Add the hot water sparingly and only if required or else it could be too runny. You want a relatively thick spreadable consistency. Only ice the top of the cake once it is completely cool. Decorate by sprinkling the lemon or orange zest over the top.

Enjoy!

*original recipe found at http://www.foodtolove.co.nz

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Courgette Fritters

At first thought, courgettes seem to be a bit one-dimensional. I mean how much can you actually do with a courgette? But on closer inspection, this small sausage shaped green or yellow, plain or striped Summer vegetable, also known as a zucchini or baby marrow, can be enjoyed in as many ways as your imagination will allow.

Courgette Fritters

We love them in stir-fries; gently fried directly on the grille; baked until the inside is squishy soft or even diced finely into pasta bakes or fried rice dishes. Sometimes they’re grated into bolognaise sauce, savoury muffins or cake mixtures, but making fritters is one of my favourites.

They hold a lot of moisture, so if you are grating them for something, it is best to place the grated bits onto a clean tea-towel and squeeze the liquid out into a separate bowl. The tea-towel will probably never be the same again as, like potato, the juice can stain. But the difference to the end result speaks for itself. Don’t worry about wasting all those lovely vitamins in the juice, use it the next morning in a smoothie or add to a home-made stock.

I prefer to cook these on my Breville HealthSmart grille and sandwich press, it’s less messy than heating up the oil and frying them, healthier too. This way I literally drop the batter onto the grille (flat side please) in individual portions but DON’T close the grille! After a couple of minutes, simply flip them over using a non-stick spatula and voila! They’re done!

ingredients:
1 – 2 cups grated courgette
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 large egg, beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil (if frying in a saucepan)

  1. Wash and finely grate the courgette. Place in a clean tea-towel and squeeze out all the liquid into a separate bowl (or into the sink if you aren’t saving it). Remove as much moisture as possible.
  2. Add all other ingredients, except the oil, and combine well.
  3. If frying stove-top, heat the oil in a pan and place spoonfuls into the hot oil, carefully – no splashing! Like with pancakes or crumpets, when the top has little bubbles, it’s ready to turn.
  4. If using a sandwich press or health grille, no oil needed. Space dollops of the mixture onto the flat press and after a couple of minutes, flip with a non-stick spatula.
  5. Remove from the oil and drain off the oil by placing on a double layer of kitchen paper towel for a few seconds.
  6. Delicious hot or cold with a little plain yoghurt, sour cream or sweet chilli sauce drizzled over them or as a dipping sauce.

Enjoy!

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