Scrumptious Sunday: Toad in a Hole

Hi kids,

Sorry I’ve been so quiet lately. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks. In South Africa we just had the last in a five week stretch with public holidays and long weekends, so we’ve spent quite a few days participating in some form of debauchery. Food, wine and sleep. It was lovely. Yesterday was the last public holiday, the next one being only in June, so everyone is mourning a little bit. Now we go back to full 5 day work weeks. How utterly pedestrian, right?

I wanted to share with you my attempt at the British Classic: Toad in a Hole. This is not the egg in toast version. This is a fluffy, golden batter, called Yorkshire Pudding, enveloping plump, fragrant pork sausages – bangers. I’ve wanted to try this for a very long time, it has always looked like my idea of Sunday comfort food. I’ve never had it, or Yorkshire Pudding on it’s own even, so I had no idea what it was meant to taste like. And the beau couldn’t remember from his gap year in England more than a decade ago. So we were flying blind, but brave nonetheless. I figured it would probably be best to use a British recipe, and I found one that looked do-able on BBC Goodfood. I skipped making the gravy, I was just in it for the carbs and meat. I don’t know if I would call this attempt a success, because I think the Yorkshire Pudding came out wrong. It was beautifully puffy, but the inside was almost like instant pudding’s consistency. We finished it, because we do love bangers, and the batter wasn’t inedible. I’m not sure what the texture should have been, or how I went wrong. I poured over the comments and googled until my vision got blurry – but I’m still at a loss. So, if you have any suggestions, that would be really helpful! So here we go!

Toad in a Hole

Ingredients:

  • 100g plain flour
  • ½ tsp English mustard powder
  • 1 egg
  • 300ml milk
  • 3 thyme sprigs, leaves only
  • 8 plain pork sausages
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil

Method:

  • Make the batter: Heat oven to 220C. Tip flour into the large mixing bowl and stir in the mustard powder with a good pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre, crack in the egg, then pour in a dribble of milk. Stir with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating some of the flour, until you have a smooth batter in the well. Now add a bit more milk and continue stirring until all the milk and flour has been mixed together.
  • The batter is ready: You should now have a smooth, lump-free batter that is the consistency of double cream. Tip it back into the jug you measured your milk in, for easier pouring later on, then stir in the thyme. Use scissors to snip the links between your sausages, then drop them into a 20 x 30cm roasting tin. Add 1 tbsp of the oil, tossing the sausages in it to thoroughly coat the base of the tin, then roast in the oven for 15 mins.
  • Cook the batter: Take the hot tray from the oven, then quickly pour in the batter – it should sizzle and bubble a little when it first hits the hot fat. Put it back into the oven, then bake for 40 mins until the batter is cooked through, well risen and crisp. If you poke the tip of a knife into the batter in the middle of the tray it should be set, not sticky or runny.

The only thing I changed from the original recipe, is that I added onion slices into the baking dish with the sausages. It looked gorgeous, and I was really excited. I expected the batter cook into a doughy, bread-y maybe waffle-y consistency. I was disappointed that it hadn’t, but like I said, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be. Win or fail? Dunno, but I might try it again, if I can figure out how it’s meant to be, or with a different recipe. Any tips?

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What recipes have you tried lately? Any help with this Toad in a Hole?

Much Love

Scrumptious Sunday: Quiche Lorraine with a Twist

As you know, I live to please people with my food. It’s how I love. It’s how I apologise. It’s my way of giving comfort, and support. To celebrate and to mourn. I live by the philosophy that good food, in fact, makes everything better. So with that in mind – our latest Scrumptious Sunday! Quiche Lorraine with a Twist. My beau adores quiche, and he hurt his back at the start of the weekend, so the poor man was in pain and had to stay in a vertical position. So to comfort and heal him, I decided to make him a quiche for Scrumptious Sunday. I had to fly solo on this one, but he was very encouraging from the sidelines (the couch). Quiches are funny things. I’ve never been a fan, because most of the time it just tastes like someone put some ingredients into scrambled eggs and filled a tart pan with that. Ugh, no. I just can’t. I don’t deal well with quiche like that, so I’ve always been reluctant to make it. Clearly this was very much a challenge for me because: 1 – I had to do it alone and 2 – It was very scary virgin territory for me.

I paged through my cookbooks (of which you can never ever have too many), and finally settled on Gordon Ramsay’s Leek and Pancetta Quiche Recipe. Except, I would be winging the filling part, just using his recipe for the pastry recipe, but eyeballing the custard quantities. I have to say, I was majorly impressed with myself for that pastry. Gosh, it was so good. And really, not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. So off we go!

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Quiche Lorraine with a Twist

Pastry Ingredients:

  • 200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g butter, at room temperature and cubed

Custard and Filling Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 6 tbsp double cream
  • 100g finely grated Cheddar
  • 250g mushrooms (any kind, I jused Button mushrooms)
  • 100g Cooked Ham
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Parmesan, for sprinkling

Method:

First make the pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour, lifting the mixture up and dropping it back into the bowl – you want to keep the mixture light and airy. When it resembles fine breadcrumbs, mix in 2–3 tablespoons of cold water. Bring the pastry together, then knead lightly on a floured work surface to create a smooth, solid ball. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Oil a 25cm loose-bottomed tart tin. (I didn’t have one, so I used a normal tart tin)

Flour a work surface and roll out the pastry to a thickness of 3 mm. Use to line the prepared tin, pushing it into the corners and sides with a small ball of leftover pastry. Leave some excess pastry overhanging the edges, then prick the base with a fork. Chill for 10 minutes.

Line the chilled pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with ceramic baking beans or uncooked rice. Blind bake in the preheated oven for 10–15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, then bake for a further 5–8 minutes until golden. Trim off the excess pastry with a sharp knife, then set the case aside.

Meanwhile fry onions in a pan until they become soft and golden. Add salt & pepper, and minced garlic and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Let the onions cook down until well caramelized. When they are done, empty them into a large mixing bowl. Using the same pan, saute your mushrooms until golden brown, but still quite firm. Add the ham and saute for another 5 minutes or so. Add to the onions.

In a smaller mixing bowl, crack 6 eggs, add cream and three quarters of the cheddar, season well with salt & pepper and whisk together well. Pour the egg mixture into the onion, ham and mushroom mixture and stir until combined.

Pour the mixture into the cooked pastry case, sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and cook in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes until golden and set.

Remove the quiche and allow to cool slightly before serving.

I was so proud of my quiche, that I was actually doing a little dance! The pastry was perfect, the filling was delicious, the custard had set and best of all: IT DIN’T TASTE EGGY! It was so good that we ate half of the quiche on Sunday, and the other half on Monday. And to quiche I say this: I’m coming to get you! Watch out world, I know how to make pastry now – and I’m not afraid of egg-based tarts any more!

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What’s your opinion on quiche? Any ideas of different quiches to make? I’m excited about our next Scrumptious Sunday already! And I owe you a delicious mustard recipe! (It’s coming!) And I want to try my hand at Bacon Onion Jam. So many things to cook, so many calories to burn! Until then, good eats and much love.

Amsterdam: A quick guide

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I thought I’d do a quick post about our favourite places in Amsterdam. We so love Amsterdam, and it is our favourite European city. We find the people to be friendly and happy, with generous spirits, and I feel a major affinity to the people and the culture. I could go on for hours about my love for Amsterdam, but I won’t bore you with that. Instead, I’m just going to give you a run down of where to eat, what to eat, what to drink (I’ll give you a hint: it’s always beer), and things to see. I’ve even done the work for you and added all the links you need!

  • Stacey’s Pennywell – The best place to have lunch. Have a Stacey’s All Time Favourite Sandwich. Trust me. It. Is. The. Bomb. Located very close to Rembrandtplein.
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  • Café Luxembourg – Some of the best Croquettes and a very good Eggs Benedict, located on Spui.
  • Coco’s Outback – Out favourite spot for Bitterballen and beer. It’s an Australian pub with very reasonable prices (quite cheap actually), with a good vibe. It’s located right by Rembrandtplein. Bitterballen is an absolute must on your trip.
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  • De Brabantse Aap – Another favourite for Bitterballen, but a little more pricey than Coco’s Outback, located also on Spui.
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  • De Ysbreeker – If you recall, I did a post about our Croque Monsieurs, and I mentioned where the best Croques I’ve ever eaten was. This is the place. Do it. You won’t be sorry. They are pricey, but well worth it. You could also do an Uitsmijter, which is amazing too. Located on Weesperzijde.
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  • De Biertuin – Amazing burgers for a decent price. It’s a little bit further from the centre of the city, so it’s not very touristy. It’s where the local young people hang out, and reservation is a must. Find directions here.
  • Café Stevens – A lovely little bar with an amazing variety of beers to try. It’s quite close to the bustling touristy red-light district (De Wallen), so if you take a stroll down there to have a look-see, Café Stevens is the perfect place to fill your belly with plenty of beer.
  • Café Kale – This is our favourite place to eat Vlammetjes, which is also a must have while you’re there. Located on Weteringschans.
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  • Bar Lempicka – A bar with a great atmosphere, day or night. It’s situated right on the Amstel river in Sarphati straat.
  • Vooges (Harmsen Restaurant) – A lovely place to have dinner, if you’re looking for something that doesn’t include burgers and run of the mill food. The cuisine is exquisite, the service so friendly, and the frites are to die for. Located on Utrechtsestraat
  • McDonalds. Don’t shoot me. Yes, I just suggested you go to McDonalds. But hear me out. The franchises in the Netherlands have a speciality not available anywhere else. And I am recommending that you have it. It’s the McKroket. Try it. Please.
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If you’re staying in Amsterdam for an extended period – and not necessarily in a hotel, then you might need to buy some supplies. Our favourite go-to shop for anything from bread, milk, cheese, to surprisingly tasty ready-made Creme Brulee, meat, wine and everything in between was Albert Heijn. Just a traveller’s tip though – they won’t let you pay with a Visa card. Even if it’s a debit card. There are ATM’s in the shop though, so it’s not that big of a deal.

For more of a farmer’s market feel, you should definitely visit Albert Cuypmarkt. It has fresh (FRESH) fish, homemade breads, cheeses of all shapes and colours, poultry, fresh vegetables and flowers. While you’re there, stop by the Stroopwafel stall, and get a fresh and hot Stroopwafel. It will change your life. It is crispy on the outside, made with a ginger and cinnamon infused dough, filled with a sweet, all-butter, very sticky and sweet caramel. Mmmhmmm. You can also find almost anything else at the market, from socks, to beads, crockery, fabric and upholstery, clothing, shoes and bags. It’s a lovely outing.
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You can’t visit Amsterdam without doing the historical and cultural circuit. So here’s a quick run down. I’m going to start with the Anne Frank House. We go every time we’re there. I’ll keep going. Every time. It is something so powerful, a humbling experience like no other. It teaches us what humanity can be if we let it. It’s a somber reminder of what cruelty truly is. It also teaches us that the human spirit is an unyielding and beautiful thing. You really should visit. You can (and I recommend that you do) book your tickets in advance online. And try to book it for the earliest time slot possible. It gets busy, and it’s really an experience you want to have when there aren’t that many people around. And please, if your children are not old enough to understand the gravity of the place they’re standing in, keep them reigned in. The people who go there have an emotional experience, and unruly little brats running around screaming, not only lessens – nay, ruins – the experience for other visitors, but makes you look bad too. (Preaching over) When you’re done there, you can pop in right next door at the Westerkerk. There is also the Oude Kerk to visit, which is located right by the red-light district. Two museums worth seeing: Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. You can buy your tickets online. Try to get there early too, to avoid the masses.

The squares I mentioned in the food section of this post, are all beautiful places too. Even if you don’t visit the restaurants, take a stroll through Rembrandtplein, Leidseplein, Frederiksplein and Spui. For shopping I highly recommend going to Kalverstraat. You can find just about anything there, and it includes some of the world’s most popular brands – like Guess, Steve Madden, Levi, Fossil and so on. You should be able to pick up some great bargains if you’re there around the time that they have end of season sales. I also love walking through Utrechtsestraat, which has more of a quirky feel to it, with smaller stores, speciality shops and small eateries. It also happens to be very pretty. If you happen to be strolling through Utrechtsestraat, you should pop into Kaldi. It’s a speciality coffee and tea shop, where I could spend hours selecting teas. It’s lovely. My last little shopping gem is the 9 Straatjes. It is a 3 streets x 3 streets block of little cafés and specialty stores, ranging from a shop that exclusively sells buttons, another selling only board games, vintage shops, toothbrush shops and tea shops. The shops there only open at 11am on a Monday – remember that.

In terms of transport, you could rent a bicycle and do it the way the locals do it. I don’t though. The rules are very different than they are in my country, there are trams all over the place, cars, buses and pedestrians. It’s scary. But if you have the bravery – go for it! Many family members adore cycling in Amsterdam. I prefer using the trams and metros when I need to, but we tend to walk most places we go. In fact, the walking helps ease the guilt of consuming so much beer and Bitterballen. You can buy a chip card to use on the metros and trams, which works on a prepaid basis. You load your card with a certain amount, and every time you use it the card will be deducted with the fee of your trip. This is important though: REMEMBER TO CHECK OUT EVERY TIME YOU GET OFF. Other wise it will deduct about 4 Euros from your card. The trams are very easy to use, super accessible and there are regular trams coming and going throughout the city. There’s a very useful app that you can download which can tell you which tram to take depending on your destination, and their stops, and their times. The app can be downloaded on iPhones and Android phones – just search for 9292 OV app.

That’s it from me, I think. If you have the opportunity to see Amsterdam, you should grab it. It is a magical place.