Category Archives: Recipe

Pastéis de Nata

For all its woes and failures, colonialism did leave one or two things of value. In Mozambique, one is the decadent pastel de nata – a custard tart to die for.

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From the 19th-century nuns of Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Torre de Bélem to modern-day streetside cafés in Maputo, these small pastries have captured the hearts, taste buds, and gastronomies of tourists and locals alike.

While it may be folly to attempt these sweet treats on one’s own – as they will likely fail to match to the standards of perfection crafted in a true pasteleria or the secrets of the original Belem batch – here is a recipe for disaster/success:

For the dough:

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup plus two tablespoons water
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, stirred until smooth

For the custard:

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks, whisked
  •  Powdered sugar
  •  Cinnamon

Continue reading for baking instructions. Of course, after tasting a true pastel de nata, your inner baker’s ego will likely take a hit. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Bunny Chow

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The legend:

During apartheid era, lunch break for the Indian caddies at the Royal Durban Golf Course were too brief to nip into Grey Street for a curry. These caddies commissioned friends to buy some for them, but the shopkeepers lacked disposable containers and so a hollowed out loaf of bread was used instead to serve as both plate and dipper. The shopkeepers, known as banias, may therefore have indirectly contributed to the curiously-named cuisine. [source, though this origin myth has its critics and naysayers]

In proper Durbanese, one refers to this dish as a ‘bunny’ but when ordering mentions only the size loaf and style curry desired. Quarter-loaf is standard, but for the ravenous, a half or even a full loaf is available.

My order: a quarter veggie.

As far as food-as-art is concerned, bunny chow ranks among the grotesque, and its straightforward preparation eliminates the skill factor:

1) Cut out loaf insides
2) Ladle in curry
3) Place loaf innards on top
4) Serve

That said, there are few things more delightful than street food and proper Indian curry consistently hovers near the top of the list. For those of us nowhere near Durban, we can of course make this chaotic culinary masterpiece at home – here or here or elsewhere.

All the food

Let’s discuss the number of hours I’ve spent in the kitchen these past few days:

All the baking

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All the cooking

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And it all got eaten. Life is excellent.

“Anything off the trolley dear?”

I’m on a British baking binge. To be more precise, I’m on a Harry Potter baking binge. I revel in my ever-rising nerd status.

Recipes are in the experimental phase at the moment, but I’d be remiss not to share them even as they are. Photos to come when I’ve perfected each. These first batches were rather garish.

Pumpkin Pasties

Alterations: Used butternut squash in place of pumpkin. Cut sugar to 1/2 cup. Used margarine-based pastry dough because #availableingredients and thickened with extra flour. Egg-wash.

Review: So good, I had to make them twice. The flavor and spices were phenomenal. Unfortunately in my inaugural batch the sugar was overwhelming and the oil-based dough was atrocious to work with. Hence the adjustments listed above, which I employed in round 2. The finished pasties keep decently well, but devouring them within a day or so is strongly recommended.

Next round: Work on finding the perfect pastry dough and make them prettier.

Pumpkin pasties are just one of the many treats sold by the plump little witch who strolls the train corridor as the students make their way toward Hogwarts.

Oh treacle tart. You are beautiful and delicious.

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Treacle Tart

Alterations: Fresh out of lemons, so subbed white vinegar. Used margarine (or some equally nasty fatty spread) instead of butter for the dough. Increased molasses because short on treacle. Used crumbled Weet-bix instead of true breadcrumbs.

Review: Holy goodness. More please.

Next round: Make into individual tarts to cut down on the tooth-rotting-sweet; keep molasses doubled.

Allegedly, treacle tart – a common Muggle sweet – is Harry’s favorite. This is understandable, considering his limited knowledge of wizarding treats. However, toss me a pumpkin pasty over a slice of tart any day.

And in the spirit of indulging on Potter-related things, the news of late has been pretty great. What with the expansion of the Wizarding World at Universal Studios and JK Rowling’s interview with Emma Watson in Wonderland Magazine.

Time to re-read the series methinks.

First cookies of 2014

IMG_3807Okay so treating the Safe Home Bo’me to cookies on the first day of the new year was not my projet d’enthusiasme, but Jenn graciously allowed me to wield a pastry bag and paint on ALL the icing. The colorful results may not have been up to generally-acceptable artistic standards, but my were they delicious.

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Happy Turkey Day!!

Turkeys!!

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Recipe: Our Best Bites

[Ghana] Koko

Goldilocks might be surprised by the porridges she would encounter on the streets of Ghana. But, devoid of unsuspecting and strangely domesticated bears, I doubt this ranks high on her list of places to break and enter.

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