Homemade Pretzels, New York Style

Homemade Pret­zels, New York Style



There is noth­ing quite like a homemade pret­zel straight from the oven: the warm, soft, chewy bread with a glossy deep brown exter­ior and lumps of rock salt is a delight in the mouth.



Look­ing back, I remem­ber eat­ing a real New Yorken pret­zel for the first time. I was eight at the time, it was a freez­ing day in New York city and we passed a pret­zel vend­our. Firstly, I was astoun­ded by the size of them (*note: at the time, I thought pret­zels came in plastic pack­ets, were small and crunchy and gen­er­ally [not exclus­ively] served at adult parties and were, in my opin­ion, fan­cier than crisps). Secondly, I was delighted that they served them warm! Being South African, I was not accus­tomed to the harsh New York winter wind – hel­luva icy! So, eat­ing some­thing warm was a treat on its own, how­ever eat­ing some­thing as deli­cious as a pret­zel, whole other ballgame. The tex­ture, the bits of salt and even the shape all make it a per­fect snack (espe­cially for an eight-year old who had been miss­ing out her whole life).



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Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo

Spin­ach and Ricotta Rotolo



This is a won­der­ful dish to make for a din­ner party. It has everything you want: a wow factor, great authen­tic Italian fla­vour, and can be made in advanced. I love mak­ing homemade pasta and filled pas­tas and have many a time made over 50 ravi­olis for Christ­mas or other spe­cial occa­sions – and let me tell you that is freakin’ time-consuming (both in prep and cooking).



This is why I love mak­ing Rotolo, it’s quite sim­ilar to any filled pasta in fla­vour, how­ever where it dif­fers is in its pre­par­a­tion time. To make pasta dough is not too time-consuming espe­cially when made in a food pro­cessor, and to make a spin­ach and ricotta filling is also rather basic. How­ever when the two are com­bined it is in no way basic in taste!


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Beetroot Pasta, the colour of ‘M’ in CMYK

 Beet­root Pasta, the col­our of ‘M’ in CMYK

LOVE the col­our of this pasta. The deep magenta hue is mes­mer­ising and in a way unbe­liev­able that it’s edible. It’s the col­our that rep­res­ents the “M” in CMYK and in that sense seems com­pletely ined­ible or only some­thing that would be edible in the future – when we’re all liv­ing in a computer-generated world where food has to be one of the col­ours rep­res­en­ted in CMYK (oth­er­wise it would not be recognised).

At the same time, I can­not help but think of Alfred Hitch­cock when I eat this pasta. I remem­ber read­ing a fab­ulous story about him and his “blue” parties – a col­our that is also rep­res­en­ted in CMYK in the form of the “C” for Cyan. At these parties he would only serve blue food, from the Mar­tinis to the mash pota­toes, and I have ever since wanted to do the same – it’s crazy, yet bril­liant! How­ever, it ‘s also believed that his guest got sick after­words – many believ­ing that the idea of eat­ing blue food has a physiolo­gical effect that is hard to stom­ach ( excuse the pun, hehehehehe…). So per­haps I should rather throw a Magenta party and serve everything inspired by beet­roots from the Mar­tinis to the pasta.

I also love this pasta because it is so vibrant and, when served on a matte black plate, looks super mod­ern – mak­ing a won­der­ful state­ment at the table. Remem­ber to avoid over­cook­ing it, the more you cook it the quicker it loses its col­our and goes stogy. If you cook it imme­di­ately from fresh, it can take less than 2 minutes to cook. For best res­ults, leave it to dry overnight and then it will retain more of its col­our and take about 3–5 minutes to cook. I like to serve it with a blue cheese sauce sprinkled with, roas­ted, chopped wal­nuts and crispy bacon or pancetta.

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Perfect Chocolate Cake

Per­fect Chocol­ate Cake



OK, so its been a while. If I have to be a little more accur­ate I’d say like 7 months, but I mean whose count­ing? And as the say­ing goes, “bet­ter late than never”. Not sure if that works here, but I’m gonna own it.

In my defense, I have been away for 6 weeks trav­el­ing around Europe (I hope that came across as pre­ten­tious as I meant it), and before that I was, like, really busy with stuff. Any who, here is a really great chocol­ate cake recipe. It’s not only really easy, but more import­antly tastes fab too. One could say, like  7 months of wait­ing fab! But that might be over-selling it a tad.

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Festive Strawberry Apple Almond Crumble

Straw­berry Apple Almond Crumble



This crumble is simply and utterly divine. The tart­ness from the straw­ber­ries and apples mar­ries beau­ti­fully with the rich, but­tery, almond top­ping. The apples add tex­ture to the filling, while the straw­ber­ries add a much needed juicy dec­ad­ence. The hint of lemon cuts through the sweet­ness and the top­ping does what it should do: adds a crunchy-buttery-rich-biscuity finish.



As I have men­tioned in past posts, I love cooked apples even more than raw ones (they are quite bland when raw), and obvi­ously I like apple crumble. How­ever, I wanted to do some­thing a little more dec­ad­ent and I sup­pose Christmas-sy (hence the red and green) – even if it was simply sub­lim­inal. Hav­ing seen the won­der­ful price of straw­ber­ries (a pun­net at PNP was R15), I had no choice but to buy them and add them to a crumble – I think it was then when the sub­lim­inal Xmas mes­sage popped into my head. Also, lov­ing the fla­vour of almonds, and know­ing it works per­fectly with apples and straw­ber­ries, I knew it would be just the thing to make this crumble even better.



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