Day 148 28 May – dessert date

Tonight we had a girls night out with my daughter’s best friend and her mother. The girls had been very excited to go into the city and visit Milse dessert bar. We took the train into Britomart (I know, again) and took about 15 minutes to find the dessert which was less than a 5 minute walk away. I blame Google maps!

Milse is a very small and quint contemporary eatery, with less than 4 tables indoors yet they have an incredible selection of desserts. We gawked at the display cases with the colorful array of what I can only call pretty, elegant, sophisticated. Each dessert is hand crafted, with unique flavors. From assembled chocolates, gateaux, verrines, tarts and macaroons to their world famous gelato sticks.

Obviously we wanted to sample everything, so we cleverly decided to each get at least 1 dessert, place it in the middle of the table then we can all have a taste. My daughter and I took 2 dessert each (honestly, you have no idea the sweet tooth we have!) which means we had 6 plates to share.

I might have given a soft squeal when the desserts arrived. Each armed with a spoon, we ate to our hearts content. The portions are big enough to comfortably finish a small plate and by the end of my second helping I can say I certainly had enough sweetness for the day.

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We left the dessert bar not hungry but in need of food, but more in particular, burgers. Around the corner from Milse is yet another small eatery called Better Burger. Their menu is limited, but this does not take away from the quality of food you receive. All the produce is fresh, and the burgers are juice and tasty. Myself and my friend had the vegetarian burger, which is a giant Portobello mushroom lightly coated in a crumb, fried and served on lettuce, tomato and sauce. The girls each had a beef burger and as to my daughter’s reputation, included a meal (served with chips and a drink). she not only finished her meal, but was offered the last few bites of her friend’s, which she finished too.

Literally rolling out of the eatery, we took a leisurely stroll around Britomart. The city with its lights is by far one of my favorite places to be at. The lanes are all adored with fairy lights which made for great photo opportunities. It was relaxed night out, one we desperately in need of.

T.L.C

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Day 134 14 May – mother’s day dessert

Happy Mother’s Day to ALL the amazing mommies out there!

All I ever want is:

  • to have a sleep in (I wake up SUPER early so to be in bed anytime after 7am is a winner in my eyes)
  • breakfast in bed and by that I do mean a warm cooked meal, more specifically eggs benedict
  • flowers, any flowers!

I do appreciate any gifts from my family but it certainly isn’t what is important to me. Being with them, relaxing and enjoying a ‘day off’ is what me heart yearns for.

Today I was able to lie in bed for some time before being asked to join my husband and the kids in the dining room. Spread across the dining room table were presents, lots of them! None of them wrapped, no surprises there. From a large white porcelain container to keep the flour in, to a new re-usable piping bag with nozzles from Jamie Oliver, to a ramekin set with blow torch (a hint that they want me to make more crème brulee), to a blue canvas print with a love quote on it…oh and chocolates, how can I forget about the chocolates. I felt so spoiled! These were all such thoughtful and practical gifts. I was overwhelmed by their generosity!

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The afternoon was spend with my parents, where I was able to spoil my mom with gifts and a home baked dessert. Mom loves a baked pudding so I made a Feijoa & Apple Crumble as that is what I know how do to best.

 

Day 117 27 April – dessert cups

My daughter’s best friend’s parents happen to be good friends of ours. Two weeks ago she received news that her brother passed away. He was suffering from an infection which had left him in a vegetative state for over a year. She travelled back to her home town in Thailand soon after which left her husband to look after my daughter’s friend and her younger sister.

To give him a helping hand we invited them over for dinner tonight because from what I heard his speciality has been mince on rice 🙂 I prepared a vegetarian lasagne with chicken nibbles and fresh ciabatta bread to soak up the sauciness. The lasagne took a whole lot longer to prepare than the 1/2 hour I gave myself. The vegetable  sauce took the longest to boil down and thicken. But in all honesty, it was well worth it! All 4 children gobbled it down with my son (not a trusty veggie eater) exclaimed afterwards, “It wasn’t good, it was delicious”.

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For dessert I turned a traditional South African peppermint crisp tart into a dessert cup. A peppermint crisp tart is made from a South African chocolate called Peppermint Crisp which is roughly grated and then folded into a cream and caramel mixture. We use a coconut based biscuit called Tennis biscuits to form the biscuit base. You start off with a layer of biscuits, followed by the cream mixture. Repeat the layers until you have the required height/size you want. Top the tart or dessert cup off with left-over pieces of peppermint crisp chocolate. It needs to set in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. The dessert cups were reasonably large and after a filling dinner it was a bit overkill, so I would suggest serving these in small jars.

Peppermint Crisp dessert cups (serves 6)

500ml cream

1 tin Caramel Treat

3 Peppermint Crisp bars, roughly grated

1 1/2 packets of Tennis biscuits, crushed

6 small mason jars

Whisk cream until thickened. Add the Caramel Treat and gently whisk until the mixture is well combined and smooth. Add the grated peppermint crisp (but leave some for the garnish) to the mixture and fold in until well combined. Layer the mason jars, starting with the crushed biscuits and followed by the cream mixture. Repeat until the jars are filled to the top. Garnish with left-over peppermint crisp. Let it set in the fridge for 2-3 hours. Enjoy!

 

 

Day 68 9 March – meeting Manu

A dream come true!

Manu Feildel and Pete Evans are currently in New Zealand shooting the third season of MKR (My Kitchen Rules). If you do not know what MKR is all about, you are welcome to have a read here 😊 It is an interesting collaboration of home cooking, challenges and clashing personalities and you have the presenters/judges, Manu and Pete. We were first introduced to this Australian television show shortly after arriving in New Zealand, and I haven’t missed an episode yet!

The minute I heard of this opportunity I informed my husband and we decided we will go as a family. I am not the only MKR fan (more precisely Manu fan) in the family. I reserved our spot and kept it a secret from the kids.

We arrived early at Paper Plus in New Market. I wasn’t sure what the correct process is for an event like this. Even though they were officially closed to the public, the doors were open and the event signs up out on the sidewalk. I noticed a few people already seated. The kids had relentlessly been asking me questions  in an attempt to solve the ‘surprise’ night out. My daughter had narrowed it down to meeting an author, but it wasn’t until we approached the doors and I turned her head to the sign, that she shrieked from excitement. I bought his cook book and we took our seats. The room was filled with a buzz, everyone speaking either of MKR or of Manu himself. Every time the back door opened up my daughter would perk up, hoping that he is making his appearance earlier. She couldn’t believe that Manu will be here, in the same room as her. My son was more interested in walking around the store, looking at the books.

The moment arrived, a moment captured in memories. He peeked through the door opening and made a dramatic entrance. I don’t think there was a sound made when he walked in and then everyone clapped. Manu is calm, smiling at everyone as he quickly makes eye contact with several people. There is no denying that he is handsome, even more so in real life. His accent is soothing and he speaks with passion when he talks about his family, upbringing and cooking. He is such a casual guy and no question or comment was off limits. He is funny, witty and really knows about food (obviously).

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After the interview and questions from the guests, it was time for the book signing. As we were seated towards the front of the room, we were of the first few to have our book signed. My son was greeted with a high five from Manu and he giggled back at my daughter who couldn’t help but giggle out loud. He signed our book and we had a photo taken together as a family. My kids, bless them, then asked if they can get a ‘Manu’ cheek kiss each. Being French he does the traditional double kiss. He thanked us for being there, shook my husband’s hand and the next person walked up.

Our night finished with dessert at Movenpick. We each chose a flavour of lovely smooth Swiss ice cream; double cream meringue with chocolate sauce, mint choc with caramel sauce, panacotta, raspberry & strawberry sorbet.

Great night out in Auckland city again, cheek kisses and all.

Day 66 7 March – cappuccino créme

When I get a spontaneous idea in my head it is usually very hard to convince myself to not follow through. During the day I had this thought of making crème brûlée. I have always wanted to try making it but the thought alone of how quickly something can go wrong is overwhelming.

During the current televised season of The Great British Bake Off one of the challenges were to create a crème brûlée. I watched the episode three times trying to understand the making of it, but they don’t usually show the contestants recipes from start to finish, and it still seemed like an immense task. I asked chef Google to find me an easy to follow recipe, and I ended up with Mary Berry’s Cappuccino Crème Brûlée. This was also a good opportunity to add another item to my baking project.

The only ingredient I needed to buy was cream. Now true to my style, I misread the recipe and bought normal cream instead of thick (or double) cream. I had to adjust the recipe and whisked the cream to a thick consistency. The only problem with that is, you whip air into it which surely will effect the outcome of the final product. The rest of the method was very easy to follow and it doesn’t have a lot of steps either. The tricky part is the baking. I placed my ramekins into the water bath and set the timer. It all hangs in the balance!

A few minutes before the timer goes off I peeped through the oven door to see what, if anything, is happening. Now I know what the whisked cream does when baked, it forms a thick froth-like texture over the top which separates from the custard. It looks horrendous but thankfully once the ramekins are removed, it is easy to scoop it off the top and you are left with the crème.

After cooling the custard down and giving it some time to set, I sprinkled brown sugar over the top (as per another recipe’s instruction) and placed it under the grill for about 3 minutes until the sugar crystalizes. I was very doubtful that the custard will be edible but we still gave it a try. And YES it was! It was a little bit thicker than what it should be, but it did NOT separate or scramble. *happy dance*

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It was perhaps a little ambitious of me to try add a sharp flavour such as coffee as my first attempt so next time I will try a traditional vanilla crème and work on my technique.