Green Fig Preserve

I’m always really excited when I find a fig tree – like something in me forgets that I live in England now, and I’ve yet to pick a ripe fig from a tree – even here in the very South of England.Fig on Cheese

Fortunately a South African friend of mine invited me round to her house last year, and out of her cupboard she brought a jar of green fig preserve, reminding me how, back home, we used to deal with the figs before the birds could get to them.

Fig PreserveThis is one of many recipes – in reading up on it, I realise that it’s also something the Turkish do, so who knows how it made it’s way into the South African diet – to me it’s definitely a South African staple, so here’s the recipe, should you too have access to a big fig tree that never bears fruit. You’ll never look back.

Fig Boiling

Two things: it’s a bit fiddly to get the figs to the point of ready, but well worth the effort. Also, I don’t tend to add the spices in the boil. I add them to jars when they’re ready to be bottled up – this means I might have a fig and cardamom, a fig and cinnamon or a fig and clove, slightly different flavours, which keeps it fun and exciting.

Sometimes the figs we find are really big – too big to fit into gifting or ‘single portion’ (aka, enough for one meal) jars. If that’s the case, halve or quarter the figs before adding them to the sugar syrup. It doesn’t look as pretty in the jar, but in reality, when you pull them out to eat on your crackers you would  rarely eat a whole one on a single cracker anyway.

Green Fig Preserve
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: South African
Cuisine: Preserves
Serves: 1kg
Ingredients
  • 1kg unripe figs
  • 1kg sugar
  • 1.250 ml (also 1.25kg!) water
  • Spices (cloves, cinnamon stick or cardamom all work well)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil - just enough to cover the figs. Add the figs and boil for ten minutes. Empty out and refill the pot, bringing the figs to boil and boiling for another ten minutes. This is important, as it's what makes them lose the bitter/unripe taste.
  2. Drain and leave to cool.
  3. Once cool enough to touch, squeeze the figs - there may may be some white liquid that drains out. If there's still a lot of white juice, boil again for ten more minutes, then squeeze again. It seems fiddly, but is well worth it!
  4. In a clean pot, bring the 1.250ml water to boil and add sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the squeezed figs. They will resume their original shape during this process, unless of course, you've cut them.
  5. Add the spices of choice* and boil figs in the sugar syrup for about 25 minutes. Add the lemon juice and boil 5 minutes more.
  6. Pour into sterilised jars, making sure the syrup covers the figs. *I tend to leave out the spices in the previous step and add different spices into the jars at this point so that I have different spice varieties. Close while hot to create a vacuum seal.
  7. Keep in a cool dark place, and transfer to the fridge once opened as it's actually best cold, served with goats cheese and parma ham - or just goats cheese if you're veggie.

 

Thermomix® Creme Egg Fudge

I love our Thermomix® fudge recipe and it’s something we make often in varying ways. We make a jelly bean fudge and a glace cherry one and even a TimTam fudge and a bunch of others too, so I decided today to try it with Creme Eggs and well, it’s crazy sweet, but it’s delicious and the kids love our Creme Egg Fudge.Thermomix® Creme Egg Fudge

The nice thing about this fudge is that with the creme eggs melting into the fudge it flavours the fudge so you’re not having fudge with creme eggs, you’re actually having creme egg flavoured fudge. It’s yummo!

If you can’t get mini eggs for the decoration, put two eggs in the fridge (you want the yolk to be more solid). Put the thermomix on speed 5 then drop the egg through the open lid. (Quickly cover it again so it doesn’t fly all around the kitchen and hit you in the face!) Chop for 5 seconds or so as you want large chunks, not fine chocolate dust!)

Thermomix® Creme Egg Fudge

Enjoy and happy Easter!

 

Thermomix® Cadbury Creme Egg Fudge
 
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Author:
Serves: 50 pieces
Ingredients
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 250g white sugar
  • 25g golden syrup
  • 125g butter
  • 200g cadbury's eggs (5 eggs) + 2 eggs or 89g bag of mini eggs for decoration
Instructions
  1. Instructions
  2. Add condensed milk, sugar, syrup and butter to the Thermomix® bowl.
  3. Cook without MC at 100C speed 3 for 8 mins.
  4. Scrape down sides if needed, then cook Veroma, 20 mins speed 3 still without MC.
  5. Add whole chocolage eggs and mix on speed 3, reverse blades for 20 seconds.
  6. Working quickly, pour the mixture into a brownie tray. Wait two to three minutes for the mixture to cool down a little (otherwise the mini chocolate eggs will just melt into it) then split the mini eggs in halves and press them into the fudge. (Alternatively smash two large eggs roughly and then push the parts into the fudge)
  7. Refrigerate for 3 -4 hours, cut and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

 

Easy Monster Eggs

Monster Eggs

It’s almost Halloween and while the rest of the world have been having parties and trick or treating, we’ve been so busy I’ve not even thought about it too much. This evening though we did breakfast for dinner, of a sort, with sausages, eggs and potato wedges, and I decided to make them a little Halloween-ish. So here’s a quick recipe for  Monster Eggs to bring some Halloween into your day with little to no effort.Monster Eggs

Fortunately, I happened to have edible ink and edible eyes on hand (That’s normal, right?!) so it was easy to do. If you don’t have those, you could use mayonnaise and olives for the eyes, or even mayonnaise and a sprig of greenery for eye slits.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 4 peeled and boiled eggs (14 minutes in the Thermomix® internal steamer/Varoma) 
  • 50g spinach
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt to taste

Cut the eggs in half, then scoop the yolks out
eggs Combine the yolks, spinach, mayo and paprika in a food processor and blend till it’s a smooth mix (2 mins, speed 4 in the Thermomix®)

If you have edible ink, draw eyelashes on the egg whitemonster-eyes

Scoop spoonfuls back into the egg whites and top with the ‘eye balls’

egg-eyes

Sprinkle salt to taste

These will keep for a few hours in the fridge if you’re making them for later

Follow this link for more Halloween recipes

 

Slowcooked Chicken & Tomato Stuffed Pepper

Stuffed Pepper

Temperatures are dropping and the days are becoming shorter, so for us, it means the slow cooker has come out of the dark depths of the cupboard. We’re trying out a variety of savoury dishes for Halloween, a season not normally known for its savoury foods, but I want to have some options available, at least! Stuffed Pepper

For this recipe, I’ve used yellow peppers. I didn’t realise until I was cleaning them out that one of the peppers only had two humps on the apex, rather than three, which meant it couldn’t stand on its own. Undeterred, I just cut a small layer off, not so much that the bottom of the pepper was opened up – just enough to make it stand up straight.
Stuffed Pepper

Cutting faces in a pepper is a whole lot easier than it is on a pumpkin. Simply use a sharp knife and carefully pop the cutout parts out. Stuffed Pepper

You can use any filling you like, really. I’ve used a chicken and tomato one. If you want to stretch this meal, add some rice or couscous to the pepper. Alternatively, serve each pepper on a bed of rice. I didn’t bother in this particular meal. Stuffed Pepper

Once stuffed, I felt the peppers could use a bit of help to stand out a little, so I used a finger to pop some homemade tomato sauce into the eyes and mouths of the peppers.

Stuffed Pepper

I love the way the chicken and tomato looks a bit like brains, topping off the Halloween face. It’s simple, and quite effortless and very tasty!

Slow Cooked Chicken and Tomato Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Slow cooked Chicken & Tomato Stuffed Pepper
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500g skinless, boneless chicken
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 30ml (2tbs) dark soy sauce
  • 15ml (1tbs) balsamic vinegar
  • 5ml (1tsp) dried or fresh chopped rosemary
  • 5ml (1tsp) salt
  • 5 fresh tomatoes
  • 4 yellow peppers
  • For Halloween Faces, you'll also need a little tomato sauce
  • Serve with rice or other grain if you are so inclined.
Instructions
  1. Turn a slow cooker on low for 6 hours
  2. Add chicken, canned tomatoes, soy sauce, vinegar, rosemary and salt , put the lid in place.
  3. With an hour to go, add the fresh tomatoes
  4. With 30 minutes to go, remove the lid so the sauce can thicken a little
  5. After six hours, cut the top off the peppers and remove the seeds. (If you're making Halloween faces, do that now too)
  6. Stuff the pepper, and using a clean spoon or finger, fill the eyes and mouth with tomato sauce.

Find more Halloween recipes here

Amazing Pumpkin Parmesan Dip

Pumpkin Parmesan Dip

Another fantastic centrepiece for a party, a pumpkin filled with Pumpkin Parmesan Dip looks great and is versatile for crackers and veggies alike. You can adjust the amount of parmesan, or even substitute for a cheese you prefer – I can’t imagine there’ll be too much difference to the end result.

Pumpkin Parmesan Dip

My kids are particularly antsy about raw garlic – they can pick it out of anything – so if you prefer, you can saute the garlic for three minutes at 100C. I only do that if I’m making it, especially for my children.

Pumpkin Parmesan DipI decided to put the dip into a bowl and hover the bowl inside the mouth of the pumpkin. I don’t know if that’s necessary or if you can just put it in the pumpkin, but I decided it would be easier in this instance to keep cool, and that the pumpkin itself was reusable for a number of days and other recipes if not. Also, if you’re particularly skilled at carving (I’m not!) a fake candle inside, under the dip could look very pretty too.

Pumpkin Parmesan Dip Recipe:

Amazing Pumpkin Parmesan Dip
 
Prep time
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To cook the pumpkin, add 400 - 500 g chopped raw pumpkin to the internal steamer. Fill water to the 1-litre mark. Thermomix® 15 minutes/Varoma/speed 4. Once finished, leave to drain and cool for a while before making the dip
Author:
Serves: 600g
Ingredients
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 50g parmesan
  • 100g cream cheese (I use full fat)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400 - 500g cooked pumpkin
Instructions
Thermomix® Instructions
  1. Add 1 clove garlic 5 seconds/ speed 5
  2. Add parmesan 10 seconds/speed 10
  3. Add cream cheese, paprika, salt and cooked pumpkin 30 seconds/ speed 4
  4. Scrape down sides 1 minute/ speed 10
  5. Set aside to firm up again, and serve
Regular Instructions
  1. Finely chop the garlic, or crush it and add to a food processor
  2. Grate parmesan and add to the garlic.
  3. Add cream cheese, paprika,salt and cooked pumpkin
  4. Mix following your food processors instructions till it's all well blended and smooth.
  5. Set aside to firm up again, and serve.

Try these Halloween recipes too!

The cheese biscuits in the images are round versions of these cheese straws.

 

Cheesy Straws

Cheesy Straws

These cheesy straws are a lovely snack for lunch boxes and last minute visitors. They can be prepared whenever you have time, and the pastry frozen – then just pop out a handful and bake when you need them.  I was setting an Autumn scene for some photos I had to do, so we broke up the straws to make a ‘woodpile’. I was glad when the kids walked in and said ‘Oh, look at the brooms!’  Always useful when people can tell what you’re going for!
Cheesy Straws

These cheesy straws can be made as straws, though simply baking them in rounds is okay too – I tend to freeze them as round biscuits, making them easier to use with dips. If you’re going to make brooms, I recommend that you use the stringy type of kids cheese, rather than regular blocks of cheese which crack rather than pull apart. And have more chives than you think you need as they break really easily too. Cheesy Straws

I also like to add paprika or rosemary to cheese strings – it just depends on what flavour you like, or whether you like something different from time to time! Also, you don’t have to add parmesan, it just heightens the cheese flavour. If you decide not to, just make another 50g cheddar cheese.

Cheesy Straws Recipe:

Cheesy Straws
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 60 sticks
Ingredients
  • 375g plain flour
  • 225g butter
  • 150g cheddar cheese
  • 50g parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp mustard (I use a grainy mustard, but powder will work too)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • pepper to taste
Instructions
Thermomix® Instructions
  1. Add all the ingredients to the Thermomix® bowl
  2. Mix speed 5/30 seconds
  3. Remove and shape into a log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  4. Heat the oven to 180C
  5. Break off pieces and roll into sticks using your hands
  6. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool before moving but be gentle as they are fragile
Regularly Instructions
  1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor
  2. Mix until everything is combined and the dough forms a ball
  3. Remove and shape into a log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  4. Heat the oven to 180C
  5. Break off pieces and roll into sticks using your hands
  6. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool before moving but be gentle as they are fragile