Monday, February 23, 2009

Chocolate Trifle

This dessert is to die for.  
My first "Trifle" and I didn't have the layers down quite right.  I wasn't going to publish this with a photo, but after encouragement from my daughter and husband, I took photos anyway.  I guarantee this will look even prettier if you give it a try, because you will know that you only use half the cake in this recipe.  So when baking it perhaps using two 9 inch rounds would be best. That way you will have a Trifle and a small cake you can frost or freeze it until your next Trifle! 

1 devils food cake mix
1/2 cup Kahlua
1- 3.4 oz package devils food instant pudding mix
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Heath English toffee bits
1- 8 oz container cool whip, thawed
1- 12 oz container cool whip, thawed
1 chocolate bar

1.  Prepare cake as directed on the box, cool completely.  Cut about half the cake into 1 inch cubes and sprinkle with Kahlua.  

2. In a large bowl blend pudding mix with water and condensed milk until smooth.  Blend in 8 oz. container of Cool Whip until no streaks remain. 

3.  In a trifle bowl scatter half the cubes of cake over the bottom.  Sprinkle half the toffee bits over the cake.  Spread half the pudding mix over the toffee.  Spread half the 12 oz. container Cool Whip over the pudding.  Repeat, then garnish with chocolate curls on top. 

Tip: Run a vegetable peeler along the edge of the chocolate bar, to make chocolate curls. 

Orange Cornish Game Hens

3 Cornish game hens (without giblets, about 1.25 lbs. each)
2 oranges
1 can chicken broth
2 teaspoons rosemary
7 tablespoons apricot preserves, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup orange juice

1.  Rinse the hens with cold water and pat dry.  Salt and pepper the cavity of each hen. Cut one of the oranges into wedges.  Stuff cavity of hens with the orange wedges, tie the legs together with string. 

2. Rub a little oil all over each hen and place on a rack in a roasting pan.  Reserve 1/2 cup chicken broth pour the remaining broth over the hens.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and rosemary.  Bake at 400 f. for 45 minutes, basting occasionally

3. Remove hens from oven.  Brush each with 1 tablespoon apricot reserves.  Return hens to oven, and bake 25 min longer or until juices run clear. 

4. While hens bake.  Prepare orange sauce.  First cut off the peel of the remaining orange and cut between sections and remove the fruit from the skin.  Cut into bite size pieces, set aside. 

5. In a small sauce pan, dissolve cornstarch in reserved chicken broth, add orange juice and remaining 4 tablespoons of apricot preserves.  Cook over medium heat.  Stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens slightly.  Let mixture simmer about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in orange pieces. 

6.  To serve - cut each hen in half along one side of breast bone.  Garnish with slices of orange and pass the orange sauce at the table to pour over hens if desired.   A side dish of long grain and wild rice and steamed fresh green beans makes this a special meal. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Frikadeller or Danish Meatballs

Pan fried meatballs traditonally served with milk gravy made from the leftover bits in the pan.

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 slices bread soaked in water, squeezed dry
1-2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Finely chop onions. Add beef, pork, eggs and seasonings, mix well. Add bread and bread crumbs mix to incorporate.
Shape into balls (a little larger than a golf ball) and flatten slightly as you lay them in the pan.
Fry until nicely brown on both sides and cooked thru. Remove from pan, set aside. I usually put them in a warm 200 F. oven while I make the gravy

Milk Gravy
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 - 2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste

Loosen brown bits in the pan with 2 tablespoons butter. Add about 3 tablespoons flour, stirring constantly and allow to bubble for about a minute. Whisk in milk and simmer, adjust as needed depending on the consistency you like. Sometimes I end up adding 2 or more cups to get the thickness of the gravy I like. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve Frikadeller and gravy along with boiled or Mashed potatoes and a side of pickled beets, or cooked red cabbage.

Makes 4-5 servings

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Really Easy Truffles

Have a Happy Valentines Day!

Be sure to use quality chocolate; I used Ghirardelli chocolate chips .  My only other advice,  is to hide them if you want them around long enough for the event you made them for. They magically disappear!

1-8 oz pkg.  cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons *vanilla

In a large bowl beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Beat in powdered sugar a little at a time until smooth and creamy.  Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla until well blended.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Shape into 1 inch balls and roll in cocoa, powdered sugar, finely chopped nuts, colored sprinkles, dip in chocolate etc...  They are a bit messy to make, but so worth it!

Makes about 50-60 Truffles

* you can try other flavors, just omit the vanilla and add 2 tablespoons of Irish cream, Kahlua, brandy, rum just about anything you can dream up. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cake Balls

These I believe have taken this country by storm. There is a gal here in the Dallas area that opened her own shop just to sell these things, check it out, This is my first try and I think they turned out beautifully a few more times and I ought to be a pro myself! With Valentines Day in a few short days I may have to make more of these.

These beauties are so simple.... they're one of those things that make you go hmmmmm.

This is what I made today, but the combinations are endless.

1 (18.25 oz) box Red Velvet cake mix
1 (16 oz) can prepared cream cheese frosting
Almond Bark candy coating

Bake cake as directed and cool.
While still slightly warm crumble cake into a large bowl with a hand mixer to a fine texture.
Mix in 3/4 to 1 can frosting (according to your taste) blend into a paste. Using a melon baller or your hands shape into 1-1/2 inch balls.

Place in freezer for a couple hours, then coat them with melted almond bark flavor of your choice.

Here are some variations:
• White cake mix and mint chocolate chip icing and dipped in chocolate confectioners coating. • French vanilla cake with white chocolate almond icing and dipped in chocolate confectioners coating. • Red velvet with cream cheese icing and vanilla confectioners coating. • Red velvet with cream cheese icing dipped into milk chocolate coating. • Chocolate cake, milk chocolate icing, dipped into chocolate bark. • Lemon cake with lemon frosting and dip them in white chocolate. • Lemon cake mixed in white chocolate chips and lemon frosting, dipped in white chocolate. • Spice cake with cream cheese frosting and coated them with white chocolate coating. • Cherry chip cake mix and cream cheese frosting dipped in white chocolate. • Fudge cake, mixed in peppermint chips and fudge frosting. Dip in dark chocolate. • Chocolate fudge cake mix and coconut pecan frosting dipped into chocolate. • Chocolate cake, butter cream icing, and dark chocolate coating. • German chocolate cake mix with coconut pecan frosting & dipped in melted semi sweet chocolate chips. • Strawberry with vanilla frosting and dipped in chocolate. • Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Cottage Pie or Shepherd's Pie

This is a real comfort food.  The way I make this is semi simple, however you can make it super simple if you like; by using instant mashed potatoes, frozen  mixed vegetables and packet gravy. I use packet gravy but make real mashed potatoes and fresh cooked sliced carrots, and I prefer fresh mushrooms, but if you only have canned like I did here, that works fine too! 

4 potatoes
1/2 cup warm milk 
2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 carrots sliced, and cooked
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 can mushrooms, fresh is better if you have them, but I used canned this time. 
1 or 2 packets brown gravy mix, so that you have 2 cups gravy total.
2-3 shakes Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil in two separate saucepans, boil potatoes in one and carrots in the other, for 20 minutes or until tender, drain and set the carrots aside. Drain potatoes and mash them with 
the butter and milk,  cover and set aside.
Brown ground beef, onion and garlic, drain.
Stir in the gravy and Worcestershire, simmer for 8-10 min. 
Mix in Carrots, peas and mushrooms. 
Salt and pepper to taste.

pour into a greased casserole dish and top with mashed potatoes, dot with butter and bake at 350 F. for 35-45 minutes.  Serve with slice of fresh baked bread.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Our family is a real mix no kidding!  My husband is South African and me well my dad says I'm half Dane and the rest Ish!  This sits just right with me; I love to explore all kinds of different foods and the traditional dishes of all cultures.  

Several times throughout  the year on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, we make a South African sausage called Boerewors (farmers sausage),  yesterday was one of those times.  Though Boerewors is a rich sausage on its own, it has also become somewhat of a tradition for us to have Lamb Chops with this meal.  We had Bread Pudding for dessert- that recipe follows this one, be sure to check it out, it is to die for!

South African Boerewors recipes are a plenty and each one tries to perfect a better, tastier sausage.   

I have read along the way, that it was and still is, a point of honor with farmers wives and butchers not to add breadcrumbs or soya to bulk up the meat filling.  

This is our favorite basic recipe:


3 lbs. beef (chuck)*
3 lbs. pork (pork butt)
1 lb. bacon 
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoon ground coriander (slightly toast coriander seed and grind with pestle)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 1/2 oz sausage casing

Soak sausage casing in water for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile Cut beef and pork into about 1 inch cubes.  Dice the bacon into pieces no larger than 1 inch.  Mix it well with all the other ingredients, except the sausage casing. 
Grind the meat using a medium-coarse grinding plate. 

drain casings and rinse by running water through the inside several times to remove excess salt. 

slide casing on the sausage stuffer.

Fill the sausage casings firmly, but not too tightly with the meat mixture. 

If you haven't already, get the braai (grill) fired up and slap a coil on!

fresh sausage with keep for a couple days in the refrigerator or about 1 month in the freezer. 

*Traditionally Boerewors is made with a combination of pork and beef; it can be with beef only, but add 2 teaspoons oil or fat for each lb. of meat.    

Bread Pudding

1 lb loaf day old *Portuguese Sweet Bread, cubed
8 large eggs
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup raisins

1. Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish.

2. In a large bowl , combine all the ingredients except bread and raisins.

3. Mix until eggs are well incorporated

4. Add bread cubes and raisins and mix till combined.

5. Pour the mixture into baking dish.

6. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

7. Bake at 350 F. for 1 hour, 15 minutes.

8. Serve warm or at room temperature with warm vanilla sauce and or sweetened real whipped cream.

* any sweet yeast bread will work, like Hawaiian or Challah 

Vanilla Sauce:

2 eggs
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

combine in a double boiler over medium heat stirring constantly until thickend.  Cool slightly.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Portuguese Sweet Bread

Bread making is truly an art.  One that I have only just begun to explore.   This is another recipe from the "Bread Baker's Apprentice".   It is somewhat similar to the sweetness and softness of Hawaiian bread.  Looking at the recipe you might feel it may be difficult, but it really is much simpler than it looks.  One thing it does require like most yeast breads is time.  This one from start to finish including 90 minutes of cooling takes approximately 9 hours so start it early in the day if you plan to have it with dinner.

Makes 2  1-pound loaves


1/2 cup unbleached bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2-1/4  teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup water, at room temperature


6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup powdered milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups unbleached bread flour
about 6 tablespoons water, at room temperature

Egg Wash

1 egg, whisked with one teaspoon water until frothy

1. To make the sponge, stir together the flour, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl.  Add water and stir until all the ingredient are hydrated and make a smooth batter.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 60 - 90 minutes, or until the sponge gets foamy and seems on the verge of collapse. 

2.  To make the dough, combine the sugar, salt, powdered milk, butter and shortening in a 4- quart mixing bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer).  Cream together with a sturdy spoon (or the paddle attachment of your stand mixer) until smooth, then mix in the eggs and the extracts.  Knead by hand (or switch to the dough hook attachment) and mix in the sponge and the flour.  Add the water, as needed, to make a very soft dough.  The finished dough should be very supple and soft, easy to knead, and not wet or sticky.  It will take 10-12 minutes with the electric mixer and close to 15 minutes by hand to achieve this consistency.  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3.  Ferment  at room temperature for approximately 2 hours , or until dough doubles in size. 

4.  Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 2 equal pieces.  Form each of the pieces into a *boule shape (round).  Lightly oil two 9- inch pie pans and place 1 boule, seam side down in each pan.  Mist the dough with spray oil and loosely cover the pans with plastic wrap.

5.  Proof at room temperature for 2-3 hours, or until the dough fills the pans fully, doubling in size and overlapping the edges slightly.  (if you only want 1 loaf, you may retard the second in the refrigerator for 1 day, although it will take 4-5 hours to proof after it comes out of the refrigerator. )

6.  Very gently brush the loaves with the egg wash.  Preheat the oven to 350 F with the oven rack on the middle shelf. 

7.  Bake the loaves for 50-60 minutes, after 30 minutes check the loaves and rotate 180 degrees, for even baking.  Because of the high amount of sugar, the dough will brown very quickly, but don't be fooled into thinking it is done.  It will get darker as he center gradually catches up with the outside, but it will not burn.  The final color will be a rich mahogany brown.

8.  Remove the bread from the pie pans and place on a rack and cool.  the bread will soften as it cools, resulting in a very soft, squishy loaf.  Allow the bread to cool for at least 90 minutes. before slicing. or serving. 

(A) Gather the dough to form a ball.  (B) to create surface tension, stretch the outside of the dough into an oblong, being careful not to squeeze out the gas trapped in the dough anymore than necessary.  (C) Repeat this stretching motion, bringing the opposite ends together to make a ball.  Tighten the surface tension by pinching to seal the bottom of the dough where the creases converge.  (D)  Set the boules aside for proofing or to rest for further shaping. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Banana Pancakes

I had 2 small over ripe bananas, not enough for banana bread or muffins so I made these pancakes instead.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash of nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk 
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed

1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.   In a seperate bowl, mix together egg, milk, canola oil and mashed bananas.

2. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture until blended; batter will be slightly lumpy.

3 heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat.  Pour the batter onto griddle, using about 1/3 cup for each pancake.  Cook untill pancakes are golden brown on both sides; serve hot with your favorite syrup.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

White Bread

I received a beautiful book this Christmas from my Son and Daughter in-law titled "The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread" by Peter Reinhart.   I think this is one of my most treasured books yet.   This White Bread recipe has 3 variations, this is variation 2.

4-1/4 cups unbleached bread flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 large egg, slightly beaten, at room temperature
1/4 cup butter, margarine, or shortening, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature

1. Mix together flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a 4 quart bowl.  Pour in the egg, butter, and enough milk until all the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball.  If the dough seems very stiff and dry, trickle in more milk until the dough is soft and supple. 

2. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook of a stand mixer), adding more flour, if necessary, to create a dough that is soft, and supple, and tacky but not sticky.  Continue kneading for 6-8 minutes.  (in the electric mixer, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick ever so slightly to the bottom.)  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. 

3.  Let dough rise for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size (the length of time will depend on the room temperature).

4.  Remove dough and divide in half.  Mist the dough lightly with spray oil and cover with a towel or plastic wrap .  Allow to rest for about 20 minutes.

5.  Shape into loaves by flattening dough with your hand,  folding in the edges to make an even sided rectangle about 5 inches wide and 6-8 inches long.   Working from the short side of the dough, roll up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension.  The loaf will spread out as you roll it up, eventually extending to a full 8-9 inches.  Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs.  Rock the loaf to even it out; do not taper the ends.  Keep the surface of the loaf even across the top.  Place each loaf in lightly oiled  8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch loaf pan.  The ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise. 

6.  Mist the tops of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a towel.  Proof the dough at room temperature for 60-90 minutes, or until it nearly doubles in size. 

7.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Brush the top of loaf with a beaten egg if desired, or score the loaf down the middle and rub a little vegetable oil into the slit.

8.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown on top and sides.  

9.  Remove  them immediately from pans and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Monday, February 02, 2009

South African Milk Tart (Melktert)

In South Africa they use Marie Biscuits for the crust. They are found from time to time in specialty stores, but I just use Vanilla wafer cookies since they are similar in taste.  A graham cracker crust works too, but we prefer Vanilla wafers.

2 Cups crushed vanilla wafers
1/2 cup butter, melted
a dash or two of cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)

Combine crumbs and butter.  Press onto bottom and sides of a 9" pie pan or spring form pan.


2 cups Milk
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of nutmeg
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cream
3 egg yolks
Cinnamon and Sugar

In a medium saucepan bring to a boil, milk, sugar, butter, salt, vanilla and nutmeg.   In a medium bowl whisk cornstarch and cream together till smooth.  Pour boiling milk over cream mixture, stirring well. 

Beat egg yolks and while beating, slowly pour some of the hot mixture into the egg yolks (keeps eggs from cooking) ; return the whole mixture to saucepan, blend well and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk , until thickened.   Remove from heat and cool about 15 - 20 minutes 

Stir well to mix in any skin that forms on top and pour into pie shell.   Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Cool then refrigerate for 2 hrs. before serving. 

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Macaroni Salad

I love macaroni salad!  There are a million ways to make it; this is the one I like best.  

3 cups uncooked macaroni
4 hard boiled eggs (chopped)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped red or green pepper
1/2 cup thawed frozen peas
2 cups miracle whip
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2-1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1.  Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Boil macaroni for 9-10 minutes.  Drain, set aside to cool.

2.  In a large bowl stir together onion, celery, red pepper, peas and eggs.  

3.  In a small bowl stir together miracle whip, mustard, sugar, vinegar, celery seed, salt and pepper, pour over vegetables, and stir in macaroni until well blended.   Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving.