Friday, April 30, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 8

This week saw three more dishes completed. Something sweet and two uses for ground beef. I made sure to include the cute little spring flowers in the pic to celebrate the fact that mine have also appeared in my garden.

Pumpkin Pie

I've made the Traditional version many times, but thought I'd try a new recipe this time.

I went to my trusty Martha Stewart Living Cookbook and found a Pumpkin-Pecan Pie, it sounds yummy with the pecans, but I opted to omit them for for this challenge, since the Cafe World version doesn't have any. What made this recipe different, was the addition of bourbon to the pumpkin mixture. The bourbon taste was subtle, but just enough to mess with the pumpkin flavour, I think it would have been better with the pecans as the bourbon would compliment their flavour.

You can find the recipe here, type Pumpkin-pecan pie in the search on the left. I'd really recommend this cookbook, as it has some really great recipes. It is the New Classics book, so many of the recipes have a modern twist on old favourites.

Bacon Cheeseburger

A bacon & cheese burger is my second favourite type of burger, so this was an old classic in my house. For some reason I never think to make my favourite at home....a bacon and guacamole burger. A restaurant chain in South Africa served (or serves) this burger. I find it here and there and will usually order it immediately.

If I look out of the house for a bacon & cheeseburger, McDonald's Angus Burger with Bacon & Cheese cannot be beaten. I'm usually not a Mickey Dee's fan, but my James gets to go about twice a month as a treat. The calories in their burger is frightening though, so I haven't had one in months.

My burger was made with ground beef seasoned with a bit of Texan Barbecue spice. I layered my burger up with a smear of mayo, bacon, cheddar cheese (which was placed on the burger patty to melt just before serving) and tomato. I usually add some lettuce too, but I discovered mine was a touch furry, so I had to toss it out.

It was quite funny watching my family eat their burgers. My husband skipped the cheese, bacon and tomato entirely and loaded his with hot picked peppers and hot sauce. He'd put hot sauce on his ice cream and cereal if I'd let him.
James (4) wanted everything I had, but with added pickles. He only ended up eating his bacon, pickles and some of the burger patty. Little Willem (2) seemed to prefer the cheese and had to be coaxed to eat something else. Ah the joys of feeding kids.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This was a meal where I had no problem with the kids, they cleaned their plates and had seconds. The adults loved it too. I made extra meatballs and froze them.


Equal quantity (I used 500g each for a larger batch) of ground beef and ground pork.
Freshly ground black pepper.
Dried oregano

Mix meat and spices together, form into balls and fry till browned and cooked through.

4 Ripe tomatoes
2 red peppers
1/2 an onion (or 1 small)
Minced garlic, to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 2/2 tbsp fresh basil

Saute chopped onion and garlic in oil till onion softens. Add chopped Peppers and tomatoes. Cook till Peppers are soft. Add chopped fresh basil.

Serve sauce on top of cooked spaghetti and place meatballs on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Progress: 21/60

Up next: Tikka Masala Kabobs

* Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 7

This week has been really slow on the cooking front, as I only made one Cafe World dish. My husband has either been away or had to eat out, so it's been mostly just myself and the kids at dinnertime. I like to share my cooking and get feedback (hint, hint) so when he's not around, its easier to just serve the kids exactly what they like, so its been spaghetti or soup and salad for most of the week.

Tony's Classic Pizza

In Cafe World the picture of the pizza shows pepperoni and the instructions include olives, so I assuming Tony's Classic is a pepperoni and olive pizza.

I made two pizzas, one is Tony's Classic and the other is my favourite, so I'll call it Jenny's Classic Pizza.

No amount of great toppings can save a pizza with a bad base, so I prefer to buy my pizza dough from an expert. I have a great little bakery and cafe in my neighbourhood owned by an Italian family, so I get my pizza dough from them. I get two dough balls in each package big enough for two 12 inch pizzas.

Pizza recipe

Use base or dough of choice
I use a pizza pan with holes, so that the base crisps. I spread coarse corn meal on the plate before adding the dough. This prevents the dough from sticking. For my South African readers, I use good old IWISA pap

For Tony's Classic:

Spread tomato/pizza sauce or puree on the base. I like to mix in some minced garlic and a drizzle of olive oil before I spread mine on. Add cheese, I like an Italian blend of mozzarella, parmesan, emmenthal and provolone, but plain mozzarella is good too. I then place sliced pepperoni and olives on top. Don't put the pepperoni under the cheese, it doesn't crisp and you'll have soggy pepperoni, UGH. I also sprinkle a little Italian herb seasoning on top. I put my pizza on the bottom rack of a 425F/220C oven and cook for about 15 minutes. It'll depend on your pan, so check when the cheese is bubbly and the crust is browned.

* I didn't add the tomato paste in this photo as I didn't have any. I used oil and garlic, as in Jenny's Classic

For Jenny's Classic:

My Classic is a Tomato and Basil Pizza. Mix together some olive oil and minced garlic and spread/brush over crust. Add thinly sliced tomato and chopped fresh basil. Sprinkle with cheese and Italian herb seasoning. Bake on the bottom rack of a 425F/220C oven and cook for about 15 minutes.

Cafe World Cookbook Changes

The Cookbook has had a net decrease this week. The Martian Brain Bake and the Tom Yum Goong are gone and the Sushi Spread is new.

Progress: 18 / 60

Up next: Pumpkin Pie

* Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Plum Almond Phyllo Tart

Monday seems to be baking day for me. I suppose I browse through recipes on a Sunday evening after a hectic weekend with the family and have a breather again on Monday with hubbie at work and James at preschool.

Today I made a plum tart recipe that I found in a Canadian Living recipe booklet. It was simple and tastes great. Served with some whipped cream, it was a perfect dessert.

Plum Almond Phyllo Tart

3 phyllo sheets
2 tbsp butter melted

2/3 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 egg
dash almond extract
2 tbsp flour
3 plums
3 tbsp smooth or strained apricot jam

I used a 9-inch (23cm) pie dish. Brush phyllo sheets with melted butter and fold in half cross-wise to form a crude triangle. Place each in bottom of pie dish at angles to cover the bottom. I had my triangle points falling over the sides. But you could fold them in.
Filling: Beat together almonds, sugar and butter. Beat in egg and almond extract. Stir in flour. Spread in phyllo shell. Cut plums into 8 wedges each and place on top of almond filling.
Heat baking sheet on bottom rack of 375 F (190 C) oven until hot. Place tart on sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool on rack.
Brush apricot jam over filling. Serve at room temperature.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 6

I had my most productive week yet, finishing 5 dishes. A successful repeat, a Chinese New Year dish, a dessert and two chicken dishes.

French Onion Soup

I tried this one in week 2 and was disappointed by the result. I had a bag of onions to finish, so I gave it another try. I used the same recipe as before, but this time I got the onions caramelized, used commercial beef broth and added snipped chives at the end.

It worked!!! Hubbie liked it (no references to onions in water), James actually had two huge bowls and I had the leftovers the next day for lunch.

Failure is nothing but the step to success in this case.

White Radish Cake

I'd made bread the night before (see previous post) and my house smelled divine...well it pretty much reeked after this dish.

I should've looked at the steps in the Cafe World game, because it seemed that they used bacon instead of the horribly stinky dried shrimp in my recipe. I suppose using bacon is very westernized. In my post-cooking analysis I also found a vegetarian version in my Vegetarian Thai cookbook.

I used this White Radish Cake recipe. It provides great descriptions and step by step photos.

My other problem with this dish was the steaming then frying. My cake seemed like a jellied mush and getting it out the steamer and then fried was a mess.

Although I really did enjoy getting to browse through my local Asian food store, I think I'll stick to eating this in restaurants.

Triple Berry Cheesecake

The Cafe World version has only strawberries, but done three ways: sliced, diced & pureed. My version has strawberry and wildberry swirls and is topped with strawberries and raspberries.

I went to the website and scoured their abundant resource of cheesecake recipes and settled for the New York Style Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake. I've made a few of their cheesecake (and other) recipes and have always had great results. I used half strawberry and half wildberry jam for the swirls and substituted one of the three cream cheese packages with the reduced fat version.

This cheesecake didn't last was a hit with the whole family. Actually I don't think I've met a cheesecake I didn't like. ;)

Spitfire Roasted Chicken

Roast chicken is a classic and I love to make different versions. I'm not sure about Spitfire Chicken, as suggested by Cafe World, it kind of has images of chickens roasting on a spit over a fire, but I decided to go classic and used lemon like the Cafe World version.

Roast Chicken Recipe

1 whole fresh chicken
1 lemon
2 sprigs rosemary or thyme
olive oil or melted butter
salt & pepper

Rinse the chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Prick lemon all over. I find a wooden skewer works well. Place lemon and herbs in chicken cavity and truss chicken.
I then rub the outside with the oil or butter and then season with salt and pepper.
Roast at 350F for 20 minutes per pound. I usually check the breast with a meat thermometer to make sure it's at 180F. I let it rest for 10 minutes before I carve (or I ask my husband to do it).

I added white wine to the pan drippings, let it boil and added a little flour & had an easy gravy.

Voodoo Chicken Salad

This was my delicious find of the week. I wanted to use the leftover chicken from the roast, but it seems the leftovers "disappeared" from the fridge. I did a web search for Voodoo Chicken Salad to get some ideas and found this recipe on

On reading the recipe, I thought there was a lot going on with that dressing, just too many flavours, but I'll attest that it is superb. I little bit spicy and sweet. I used walnut oil instead of the sesame/olive oil in the recipe.

I'll definitely make this again....give it a try.

New Cafe World recipes

Two more dishes have been added: Vegas Buffet and Sirius Sorbet

Progress: 17/61

Up Next: Not sure, check in next week.

* Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Rolls

My house smells so good right now. I've just baked a batch of rolls and they turned out perfectly.

I used the Whole Wheat Honey Oat Loaf recipe from my October 2009 copy of Canadian Living magazine. You'll see the instructions to make rolls below the main recipe.

Nothing tastes better than bread right out of the oven, so give it a try sometime. Bread-making is really not that difficult, you just need fresh yeast, some time for rising and the ability to give your dough a good beating (kneading). Although there are some good no-knead recipes out there too and for those lucky enough to have a bread machine, it's even easier.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 5

This week I made 3 dishes and chose two specifically to use my new little toy, a beautiful wooden mortar & pestle.

Macaroni & Cheese

Believe it or not, I have a 4 year old that hates mac & cheese, so I decided I had to add things he liked to maybe disguise the fact that it was mac & cheese. It didn't work so well, he just picked out what he liked and ate those separately. He usually has garlic bread with his pasta at preschool, so he was not happy to have his "garlic bread" ie croutons on his pasta and thought I was ridiculous for cutting it up so small. I have to admit that life with the boys is never dull. At least my little guy is like a human garborator and eats whatever is placed in front of him and then scavenges off our plates too.

I used this Knorr recipe for Bacon Parmasan Mac and Cheese, I had the recipe card in my recipe scrapbook. I only made one change, I couldn't find the Parmasan Basil seasoning, so I used another variety of Parmasan herb seasoning. Good comfort food.

Rackosaurus Ribs

We didn't go on any Dinosaur hunting expedition to get this meal, but my son James, who is dino-obssessed, did pretend he was a Velociraptor and he was eating a Stegosaurus. But after a few bites, he reckoned he preferred to be a plant eating Triceratops and focused on his mashed potato and salad.

I used another recipe card in my scrapbook and produced Rubbed Barbequed Baby Back Pork Ribs , except mine were done in the oven. I found this recipe as well as the next one on recipe cards in The Wine Rack, found in my local store. I went to the website printed on the card and found the blog with the recipes, what a great resource.

I chose this recipe so I could use my mortar & pestle and because my hubbie likes spicy foods. But be warned, it is spicy, so go slow on the chilli powder if you don't like spicy food. I would also warn those that don't like much salt, like us, to reduce the amount of salt used. It might not have been so salty if it was done on the barbeque???

Fish and Chips

I couldn't resist doing this recipe....Cedar Planked Pine Nut Coated Tilapia, which is in the same link as the ribs above. I got to use my mortar & pestle again and I used cedar grill planks for the 1st time. I learnt my lesson and reduced the salt. I really liked this one. Once again I used my oven instead, we don't own a barbeque...don't ask???
I know that the Cafe World version is the traditional battered and fried fish, but this is the gourmet version. So I'm counting it.

The fish was suculent, the coating was tasty and I liked the mild smoky cedar flavour.

Progress: 12/59

Next up: Something sweet....Triple Berry Cheesecake and one of the Oriental dishes.

* Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The "What was I thinking" Skirt

I've got another item in the SWAP complete, but I'm not sure yet if I can rescue it.

It a purple satin skirt made using Burda 7610.

I should've posted this a few days ago on April Fool's Day....since I was the fool. Now you can clearly see on the pattern envelope that it says, "Young Fashion". Well I just didn't see that. I thought the skirt would be cute and flirty and I thought that it was short on the model, but I'm only 5'5" and don't have such long legs, so I thought it wouldn't be THAT short on me. Wrong on all counts.

It is really short, although I could wear it with leggings. But the real problem is the back and side views. Those pleats form a bubble in the front, which is not tooo bad, but they are repeated in the back and lets say they make my butt look like a giant purple satin marshmallow.

So I'll keep this on the SWAP progress list for now, but it'll need some fixing for me to be comfortable in it. On a positive note, I sure love that colour!!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 4

This week I decided to up my game a little as Cafe World has added some new dishes, bringing the total to complete to 59. I'll list the new dishes at the end and include them in the master list to the side. I'm also not sure if there is any April Fooling going on with the cookbook, so things might be different again next week.

I did 3 1/2 dishes this week, with a few recipes to share.

Steak Dinner with Garlic Fries

You might recall from Week 1 that I didn't make the Garlic Fries with the Hot Dog, well I've got my favourite Garlic Potato Topper from Epicure Selections and they were good. I make oven bake fries, much less calories to contend with. I also use the same spice mix on the steak.

The Steak and Potatoes were served with a green salad, just a salad mix from a bag with my own dressing. Since I used two different dressings in my cafe meals this week, I thought I'd share my thoughts on making your own salad dressing.

My favourite tip, which I picked up in Jamie Oliver's book, Cook with Jamie, is to use a jam jar to make up, shake up and store the dressing. This makes it so easy with no need for whisking or figuring out how to store or serve the dressing.
The basic recipe is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil, but I sometimes add more or less to achieve a good taste balance, it depends on the oil/vinegar used. I love making dressings, so I own many varieties of oils and vinegars, if you follow the basics, you can go crazy with the types you use. To this you can add a variety of other ingredients, for example: garlic, fresh or dried herbs, mustards, juice, etc, etc. I sometimes make a lower calorie dressing with juice instead of oil. These dressing will keep in the fridge for a while if they don't have dairy products or fresh herbs or garlic. Oh yes, I sometimes add in creme fraiche to make a creamy dressing.

I noted what I used in this weeks dressings so I could share the recipes. Note the amount of oil and vinegar was approximated as I usually add them to my jar and adjust after taste. It's then easy to see how much of each I used as the vinegar and oil separate.

Walnut Vinaigrette

1/3 cup walnut oil (will work with extra-virgin olive oil, but then won't be called Walnut vinaigrette)
3 tbsp cider vinegar
1 small shallot minced
1/2 tsp dry English mustard
salt & pepper to taste (I used 1/4 tsp each)
1 pinch sugar (needed to balance the tastes a bit)

Add altogether in jam jar and shake. Shake before each use. Or alternatively use a whisk to mix in a bowl.

Classic Dressing

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste.

Method same as before.

Check out this post for more dressings.

Loco Moco

Before doing the research I didn't know this was a real dish or what it was. From the look of the picture in Cafe World I thought it could be a type of Sushi with the egg on top. That I wasn't game for. But luckily it turned out to be good, although not recommended if you suffer from high cholesterol.

Loco Moco is a Hawaiian dish that consists of a bed of rice with a hamburger patty, gravy and an egg on top.

The history behind the dish is pretty interesting. It was created back in 1949 at a Hawaiian restaurant and is now popular throughout Hawaii. Check out the Wikipedia entry for more.

I made a yummy gravy, which would have gone well with the steak too. It was so good I'm ashamed to say I did lick some gravy off the plate...I just couldn't waste it.


beef broth (I used 1 litre homemade and a 287ml can commercial)
1 cup Merlot
2 tbsp butter softened
1 tbsp flour

Cook the broth and wine for about 2 hours or until reduced by at least half. Add the broth to the pan you cooked the hamburger in, loosen the meat bits, which also flavoured the gravy. Combine butter and flour and add to the broth mixture, keeping cooking until gravy thickens.

Smoked Salmon Latkes

Latkes are fried potato pancakes. The combination with the smoked salmon was a first for me, but it was fantastic. I served mine with whipped chive-flavoured cream cheese.

This is how I made my Latkes:

2 large potatoes grated
1 medium onion grated
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour

Mix together and fry small pancakes in shallow vegetable oil. Drain on a paper towel and serve with smoked salmon & cream cheese.

Cookbook changes

With the changes made last week and yesterday, there are now 59 dishes for me to complete. There are 58 in the cookbook, but they have removed the Giant Dino Egg, which I have already completed, so I will still count it.

Other new additions are:
Martian Brain Bake - a past dish returned to replace the Dino Egg.
Chashu Ramen
Tom Yum Goong
Mystical Pizza
Ice Cream Sundae :)

Progress: 9/59

Next Up: Haven't planned yet, just check back Friday and see.

* Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property.