Black Forest Trifle for Christmas

Black Forest Trifle for Christmas
Black Forest Trifle for Christmas
Black Forest Trifle for Christmas
Black Forest Trifle for Christmas
Black Forest Trifle for Christmas
Black Forest Trifle for Christmas

Nostalgia is a very strange thing. It pops up when you least expect it. A taste or a smell can take you right back to a moment.

The lease on my apartment wasn't renewed this year, which means its time to move out and move on.

I have been in my apartment for 9 years. It has been my home, a place that has hosted countless dinner parties, a place that holds many dear memories.

I have lived in this apartment with my best friend talking endlessly about life, our hopes, ambitions, dreams, and fears.

In between these walls; I have made new friends and said goodbye to old, built a career in food while navigating the tiny kitchen and have lived here with my love and our beautiful Piglet; my little family whom I cherish.

Funny how I have become so attached to a house that I have made into a home, a safe haven. 

I have celebrated many a Christmas whilst living here, have cooked for my tribe and shared my special family recipes.

Today I am going to do the same.

Today; I give you my grandmothers Black Forest trifle recipe which has been present at every Christmas celebration for as long as I can remember. To be honest it just wouldn't be the same without it.

It makes a magical appearance once a year, stays for a few days, all the while the flavour deepening into something truly extraordinary. 

I suppose it takes me back to so many memories a lot like my apartment. I can remember the face of every person that has tasted it for the first time. That moment of bliss as their eyes close and the mmmm that follows.

The dark chocolate paired with cherries and condensed milk are a match made in heaven. 

I hope you will share this and make beautiful memories of your own whilst doing so...

As for me? I am off to pack and although I am sure there will be many tears shed while saying goodbye to my home, at least I will have a bowl of chocolate trifle to cover the pain.

Merry Christmas.

Here's to new beginnings.


Ingredients:

  • 2x 397 grams condensed milk 
  • 125ml lemon juice 
  • 1 x 425 grams tinned pitted and halved cherries 
  • 120 grams grated quality dark chocolate 
  • 500 grams smooth cottage cheese 
  • 1 dark chocolate swiss roll 600 grams
  • 150 grams flaked almonds 
  • 200 grams fresh pitted cherries 
  • Whipped cream and cherry liqueur

 


Instructions: 

Mix condensed milk with cottage cheese and lemon. Whisk until smooth. 

Slice swiss roll and place a layer on the base of the serving dish. I made the individual in the images but you can also make it in a large serving bowl. 

Sprinkle with cherry liqueur. 

Dot with pitted cherries. 

Sprinkle with flaked almonds 

Spoon a layer of condensed milk mix over cake and sprinkle with dark chocolate. 

Repeat until all your layers are in, ending with cottage cheese mixture and grated chocolate. You can top with whipped cream and fresh cherries! 

-Melissa

Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it

Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it
Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it
Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it
Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it
Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it
Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it
Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it
Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it
Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it
Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it
Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it
Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it
Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it
Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it
Lion Heart - Have your cake and eat it

I first came across Lion Heart through Nikki Albertyn. She is a local baker and creative with an Instagram that caught my eye. I knew from the get go that I had to share what she was up to. Her business partner Karmen, is her lifelong friend and the two have created a little magic with their baking skills and creativity. After much stalking, I decided to contact the Gurl's and shoot the exciting bakery and magnificent cakes! 

Situated in Woodstock this team of two work on making cakes that are minimal in design yet make a statement with their bold colours and unique textures. I was taken aback when I saw the limited space that they work out of. To create these little pieces of art with such limited space is commendable! Trust me, I know because I am in a tiny kitchen and although it's great that everything is at arm's length, it can get tiring! 

Spending the morning with the team I watched how they work together with ease and let each other create with trust. Feeding off the fun vibe and with tunes playing in the background. Of course, this all would mean nothing without the matching Gurl Power T's. 

They created a new beautiful cake and mentioned that they will put it on the site and name it "Everest." It's the blue cake above and it took all of me to not run my finger through the buttercream! 

I believe you can never have too many good bakeries listed in your little black book and I will definitely be adding this team to mine. Their cakes are for all occasions. So whether you are celebrating a birthday or going to get married they are definitely worth a call! The flavours of the sponge vary from poppy seed to mud cake and the fillings from smokey salted caramel, lemon curd to rosemary buttercream! If you would like to see more click here to visit their site! It's pretty rad and will leave you drooling - just a warning! All cakes are made to order and you need to give them a heads up! 

I know for sure if I ever need to make a cake and I don't have the time, the Sweet Lion Heart Gurl's will be the first bakers I call for back up! 

-Melissa 

 

Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!

Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!
Cederberg Mountains and the Wolfberg cracks!

So my friend Julie has this boyfriend named Ian. He is a really great guy that loves adventure more than anyone or anything. I like Ian. I didn't like Ian when he chose to have his 30th birthday in the Cederberg which involved the dustiest dirt road that was horribly rough on my little car and entailed a giant hike that was 6 hours long. Kidding (not really).
My car had beeping lights the entire way and I was convinced it was going to fall apart.

A four-hour drive out of Cape Town and we arrived at our campsite in Krom Rivier. Julie and I, of course, decided that Ian deserved a giant Steri Stumpie cake. For those of you who aren't South African; it is a local strawberry flavoured milk drink. Needless to say, the cake barely made it intact to the campsite. I was very impressed it survived the journey. The heat was absolutely unforgiving on my perfect buttercream! Eventually, I was happy to be safe in the camp site under oak trees, eating cake. 

The main event of the weekend was, of course, the Wolfberg cracks. I will let you guys in on a little secret. I exercise because I have to. If I didn't I would be morbidly obese with my career. Julie had spent the better part of the Saturday morning telling me that the hike wasn't that bad. That I could totally do it. The question was would I be able to walk after I had done it?

The answer, no.

I couldn't walk properly for two days afterward. Was it worth it? Absolutely yes. It was simply spectacular. The cracks are unlike anything I have ever seen. If you ever find yourself in the area - it is a must. The cool part is that once you are down you can go wine tasting and swimming in a crystal clear river. I couldn't believe that something so beautiful was right in our back yard. Often with my life on social media, I have this wanderlust for travel. Have you seen the Utah slot canyons? Well if you dream of them then this one is for you. If you are local, it is so affordable. For R100 per person you can camp and for R50 per person, you can get a permit for the hike! What a win. I spent the week dreaming of going back and believe it or not, I am booking it for my birthday in January despite the wide range of emotions I had on that mountain.

So in closing. Thank you, Julie, for lying to me and Ian for turning 30. I will return to this magical place and I am dragging you with me! 

Click here for details if you would like to book or read up more about this adventure! 

-Melissa 

 

 

Brie stuffed artichokes

Brie stuffed artichokes
Brie stuffed artichokes
Brie stuffed artichokes
Brie stuffed artichokes
Brie stuffed artichokes
Brie stuffed artichokes
Brie stuffed artichokes
Brie stuffed artichokes
Brie stuffed artichokes
Brie stuffed artichokes

This week has been simply manic and I  must admit as grateful as I am to be busy it does make me miss my kitchen and question my sanity. Cooking by myself with some music on in the background is everything to me. Its like a zen meditation that I get to do. It doesn't happen often but I get these slight moment where I doubt myself. Im not sure if you get them? Where I have this chaotic life and then in the hast I think to myself, am I doing the right thing? Can I really create this food dream that I work so hard for. Do I have the talent in my kitchen to be creative and take on a dish that I haven't made before as well as develop it? All these questions come rushing in all at the same time when I have these moments. It is so hard with social media to not doubt myself. I find myself in a moment of hesitation comparing myself to other creatives which is creative death in my opinion, yet I still do it. 

Then I enter my kitchen and I can breath. I find a moment where everything makes sense and I know what I am doing is being done in the best way that I know how. I remind myself to take a second and acknowledge myself for how far I have come and how much I have learnt. I force myself to look up from my phone and away from my social media. To rather look inward at my talent and not at everyone else's. I know that no matter what happens, or how crazy life gets that I just need to keep cooking. 

On that note I found these amazing artichokes at the farmers market this past weekend and knew I wanted to be creative with them. They are so beautiful to shoot. I have never cooked with artichokes before but I know that I love to eat them. The result is juicy moorish cheesy artichokes that are the most fun to eat and delectable! They are best served with a great white wine as the richness of the cheese is perfectly paired with the wine! 

After I made these I had to remind myself that I've got this. That I can do this and that it isn't that bad if you have a good glass of wine in your hand and a delicious meal!  


Ingredients:

  • 5 medium artichokes
  • ½ cup of cream
  • 250 grams Brie cheese, diced with rind on
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Honey to serve

 

For the bread crumb topping:

  • 2 slices of thick cut sourdough bread, torn into fine pieces
  • ¼ cup pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Bring a pot of salted water to boil.

Cut the stems of your artichokes so that they have a flat base. Trim the leaves slightly. The base of the leaf is edible so don’t cut it all off. Once trimmed, pop the artichokes into the pot and boil for 15-20 minutes. Once ready drain and set aside in the colander.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In a small saucepan over a low heat add the cream, Brie, and Parmesan. Melt all the ingredients together until soft and creamy.  Remove from heat and while whisking add the egg yolk and cayenne pepper to taste.

Cut the artichokes in half or leave some whole if you prefer. Place them on a roasting tray lined with wax paper. Pull the leaves outward opening them up like a flower. Fill the artichokes with the creamy cheese sauce. Make sure you fill all the grooves!  

In a separate bowl mix together the breadcrumbs, pistachios, butter and oregano. Sprinkle over the top of the artichokes. 

Bake for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm with fresh lemon zest on top! Of course, add a beautiful glass of white wine!

-Melissa 

Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014

Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014
Saffron poached pears with Lourensford noble late harvest 2014

I have never been a fan of avocado. 
The texture was simply something I could not accept. 
I remember being young and being told that certain things in life were an acquired taste and that an appreciation for them would more than likely come with age. 
For many years I wasn’t sure that this was true, until, lo and behold, my absolute distaste for avocado disappeared. 
Slowly but surely I invited this green fruit into my life and I started experimenting with its flavours. Strange how that happens.
How the adults turned out to know a thing or two at the end of the day.

Another food that I have had the same experience with is blue cheese. 
The thought of it when I was younger turned my stomach (and my nose).
It was off putting to know that mold was grown in the cheese (on purpose!), the taste was pungent, the smell oh-so-over powering rushing into my sinuses with a less than agreeable result and that people actually ate it AS A SPECIAL TREAT!?

Now, in my later years, I enjoy a mild blue cheese and won’t say no to it especially with a fig on top. 

My new found love for blue cheese and avocado started me thinking about the wines that I drink. 
Being a stone’s throw away from some of the best wine estates in the world have given me a unique opportunity to expand my palette and begin appreciating some phenomenal wines.  

I have always loved dessert wine. For obvious reasons, it is sweet and pleasing to a novice wine drinker. 
In the same way, I have learned to appreciate new tastes with a maturing palate, I am loathed to admit that I had forgotten the delights of some of my younger forays into dessert wine and had all but excluded it from my repertoire.

Revisiting some of my earlier favorites, I’ve fallen in love with dessert wines all over again 

Appreciating the nose of a wine and the tasting notes have definitely come with age.
I found the perfect opportunity with this Lourensford Noble late harvest to pair up some unique flavours that will not only test your palette but please it right down to its nuanced sensibilities.

The wine has a certain richness to it and could be a dessert all on its own. 
With its liquid gold colour and an inviting nose of rich tropical fruits, I decided to pair it with saffron poached pears served with blue cheese and walnuts. It’s a flavour symphony that will sing in your mouth and should be kept in your arsenal for Christmas, which is just around the corner, complete with a list as long as your arm of demands for indulgent desserts and treats.


Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes. 

Ingredients:

  • 4 pears peeled 
  • 1 cup of castor sugar 
  • 3 cinnamon sticks 
  • pinch of saffron 
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 4 whole cloves 
  • peel of 1 lemon
  • 3 star anise
  • 100 grams blue cheese
  • 80 grams walnuts 

Instructions:

In a medium pot add the pears, sugar, cinnamon, saffron, cardamom, cloves, lemon peel and star anise. 

Fill the pot halfway with warm water. Place on a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 40-50 minutes or until the pears are soft when pricked with a fork. 

Remove the pears from the pot and set aside. Reduce the syrup in the pot for another 15 minutes. You want it to become slightly thick. 

Serve warm or cold topped with syrup, blue cheese and walnuts crumbled on top and the perfect glass of dessert wine from Lourensford! 

-Melissa 

p.s this can be made the day before and the flavour gets even better!