A very silly title for a food post, I know, but this has been lying around in my drafts for so long that I thought, “what the heck?” I’ll post it! Who says blogging has to b perfect? (The little voice in my head does but today, DAMN THE LITTLE VOICE!! ….rant over….)

So over the past few weeks I have been stuffing myself and my family with zoodles. Zoodles are made from zucchini or courgettes. You make them by shredding the zucchini to look like noodles or spaghetti, cook them quickly with a combo of condiments of your choice and voila! A quick yummy meal that is healthy and colourful!

You may be saying to yourself, “I don’t have time to shred anything before I eat it” but I promise, it takes no time at all. You can make zoodles with a shredding tool (pictured below) or a box grater, a mandolin of if you really want to go the fancy route, you could use a spiralizer…..remember though that cleaning the spiralizer may take the joy out of the meal. Also watch your fingers when washing up your mandolin!!

In fact if you don’t have any of these, but have a very sharp knife and matching knife skills you can julliene the courgettes to achieve the safe effect!

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If you opt to use a box grater, you basically want to use the side with the largest holes. Lie the box grater on its side with the section you want to use facing up, the take your rinsed zucchini and drag it across the surface away from you.

To be honest there is no “recipe” for this meal. I recommend that you incorporate what ever you like. In some preparations I included chicken, some fish, some boiled eggs, carrots, crayfish, Ugu (shredded pumpkin leaves), broccoli, garlic, onions, lemons and even cheese!

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I will share what has been my favourite combo and you can use that as a blank canvas for yours!

Ingredients

2 medium sized zucchini
1 1/2 tbs vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil)
1 small chopped red onion or 7 pearl onions (very fiddly to peel though)
2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
1 medium shredded carrot
1 small bunch of Ugu (rinsed and julienned finely)
1/2 cooked chopped chicken breast
8 cooked broccoli florets
1 scotch bonnet pepper (seeded and chopped)
1 bird’s eye chilli (seeded and chopped)
2 boiled eggs
2 spring onions (finely chopped)
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbs sesame seeds (optional)
Salt to taste

(The amount of chilli you use is entirely up to you! you can use more or less depending on how much heat you can stand!)

The “How To”

The trick to really getting this meal together is to have ll your ingredients prepped and ready. It comes together very quickly and you do t want to over cook the zoodles so it doesn’t become soggy. It doesn’t really affect the taste…..it’s really an aesthetic matter….
In a thick bottomed skillet heat the oil until it is very hot then quickly add in your chopped onions and garlic (leave the spring onions out at this stage). Stir for a few seconds then add in carrots, chicken, peppers, Ugu, crayfish and broccoli. Then add in the zoodles. Stir for a few seconds…..just under a minute. Then turn off the heat. Squeeze the lemon juice over it and add the spring onions.

Serve immediately with boiled eggs on the side and sprinkle sesame seeds over the dish.

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It doesn’t get much easier than that I assure you!

Now I leave you with some my other zoodles variations. Bon appetit!

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FFF Tip Of The Day

When your shredding your zucchini, be careful to stop once you can see the seeds, flip it round and shred the the over sides.

I love chocolate and it’s a fact…..Here’s some of the chocolatey creations that have emanated from the FFF flab over the past few days…

Gorgeous chocolate cake covered in whipped cream surrounded by a chocolate cage. Aren't those strawberries adorable?

Gorgeous chocolate cake covered in whipped cream surrounded by a chocolate cage. Aren’t those strawberries adorable?

Triple chocolate mousse cake with strawberry coulis

Triple chocolate mousse cake with strawberry coulis

Even tied up in ribbons it's still stunning

Even tied up in ribbons it’s still stunning

Strawberries and chocolate........dessert Heaven.......

Strawberries and chocolate……..dessert Heaven…….

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This is post is really just meant to sate your chocolate appetite…..however if you want us to bring these gorgeous baked yummies to life for you then contact us at nkem.o@foodandfashionfusion.com or use the contact form on the home page.

Two posts within 24 hours? Yes a bit of an information overload but you know…..it’s honest to goodness deliciously good looking content, yes? πŸ™‚ Of course you agree!! πŸ™‚

So, last week, hubby had had a pretty rough few days at work and wanted to cheer him up…..you know using the age old reasoning that “the way to man’s heart is through his belly”…….I mean I cook for him all the time and he glad inhales most of what I put before him except when I present what he calls “goat food”, you should read that as salad. If the salad is devoid of any animal protein (which doesn’t include fish because he hates fish) then he goes up in arms! He’s a sweet toothed carnivore at heart….

Anyway, so focusing on his sweet tooth, I remembered that he loves apple pie and I hadn’t made one in AGES!! In fact, the last apple pie I made was on February 27, 2014 and I wrote this post chronicling my attempt.

I had seen an exquisite looking apple pie on Pinterest that inspired me so after a few tweaks to the recipe, I came up with two gorge delish variants.

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Like I mentioned in my earlier post, you have to be organized to make this dessert but every step is worth it when you see the final result. Also, if you don’t have loads of time, a lot of the prep work via be made a couple of days a head, this way it comes together easily when you want to complete it.

So let’s get cracking!

Ingredients

For the pie crust: Please use the pΓ’tΓ© brisΓ© (short crust pastry) recipe in this post Also follow the procedure for blind baking the pastry here
Please note that the ingredients listed for the pie crust is sufficient for one pie.

So with the pastry shell ready, it is on to the fillings.

I filled one of them with lemon curd and apples and the second with lemon pastry cream, apples and strawberries. They both yielded fantastic flavours! I couldn’t choose between the two!

I followed the Lemon curd recipe on Martha Stewart and it was perfect.

For the pastry cream

Ingredients

Zest of one lemon
1 1/2 cups full cream milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon lemon essence (optional)

The “How To”

Heat the milk and lemon zest gently in a saucepan until you start to see wisps of steam rising from the pan; it should not be boiling. Take it off the heat and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the egg yolks and whisk them into the dry ingredients. This will form a thick paste; ensure that it is thoroughly mixed in.

Next, carefully add a little of the hot milk into the eggs and whisk to combine. Continue pouring the milk slowly into the eggs, whisking continuously.

When all the milk has been added to the eggs, turn the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan. Set a strainer over a bowl and place this near the cooker.

Place the pan back over medium heat, whisking constantly. At first, the pastry cream will look very thin but it will start to thicken after a few minutes so keep an eye on it. When it has thickened to a pudding-like consistency, stop whisking every few seconds to see if the cream has come to a boil. If you see large bubbles popping on the surface, whisk for a few more seconds and then remove the pan from heat.

Quickly, stir in the lemon essence (if using) into the pastry cream and then pour the cream into the strainer set over the bowl. Using a spoon or spatula,stir the cream to push it through the strainer. This will catch the lemon zest as well as any lumps or bits of cooked egg that may be in your pastry cream.

Cover the pastry cream with a piece of cling film pressed right up against the surface of the cream and chill completely.

Please note that the cream and lemon curd can be stored in the fridge for a few days (I recommend no more than 4 days)..

Now for the artsy part of the cake; the apple filling!

Ingredients
6 – 8 medium apples
60 grams butter
1/4 cup sugar
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

The “How To”

Core the apples by using a sharp knife to slice a segment off the apple close to the core from top to bottom. After rotating the apple four times you should have four segments and a “rectangular” core on your chopping board.

Using a mandolin set to the thinnest section for slicing, slice the apples to achieve a semi circular or half moon pieces. If you don’t have a mandolin you can use a very sharp knife to get thin slices. Whatever instrument you use, please watch your fingers!

Transfer your apple slices to a bowl and pour the lemon juice over them. Toss to ensure that they all get coated. Add butter and sugar to a pan and turn the heat to medium. Stir until the butter is melted then pour the melted butter-sugar mixture over the apples in the bowl. Coat the apples with the mixture then transfer back to the pot and cook the apples for about 3 – 5 minutes on medium heat. You essentially want the apples to become pliable and lose their crunchy “snap”. If you own a microwave, I don’t, simply melt the butter and sugar in the microwave for a few seconds toss in the apple slices for a full minute on high and you will have attained the same result.

When the apples have cooled sufficiently enough for you handle, take out one slice and carefully roll it like you would a cigar. This will form the “rose bud”. The take another slice and carefully wrap,it around your rose bud, add another slice around the first slice ensuring that it over laps. Keep on building and as you layer the slices your rose should begin to form. When you have reached your desired size; I used about 16 – 19 slices per rose the carefully set the rose down in a small bowl or in a muffin tin. As pictured below.

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Make as many roses as you may require to fill your pie shell.

Phew! That wasn’t so difficult was it? And tell me that when you look down on your rose creations you don’t feel fulfilled? Of course you can’t tell me that because you are doing the victory-happy dance!

So now, to put it ALL together!

Simply fill the baked tart shell with the filling you prefer. I made one with lemon curd and used just apples. And the second I made with the lemon pastry cream filling and after I had baked the tart I studded it with fresh strawberries. Like I said earlier they were both equally delish!

Edited on July 26, 2015 – bake for 15 – 18 minutes at 175 degrees Celsius and half way through glaze with some syrup as described below.

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The lemon curd delivers a slight tangy taste so if you like zesty things then lemon curd is for you. The pastry cream is sweet and mildly lemony.

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The pan or bowl in which you cooked the apple slices should have a fair bit of liquid left in it. Simple reduce it on medium heat for a few minutes until it is slightly sticky but still runny. I added a few drops of red food coloring which you could do as well. Preferably, if you have some fresh red berries like strawberries toss into the syrup for a rich red color. When the tart is baked. Sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg; glaze the top of the tart with the syrup.

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It is ideal to let the tart cool completely before attempting to slice into it. I know; the wait is agonizing! If you can pop it I’m the fridge, for at least an hour, after it has cooled it will be even better. It will slice beautifully as the filling would have set.

Wasn’t this fun to make?!

FFF will be happy to make and deliver this to you if you prefer to just experience the eating aspect of this pie πŸ™‚ We won’t judge you. We understand you πŸ™‚

Please contact us using the contact form or send an email to
nkem.o @foodandfashionfusion.com

FFF Tip of The Day

To make this pie use firm apples like cripps pink, Braeburn or red crisp. Granny Smith could work if you like really tangy flavours. The red red delicious are a NO-NO. They are too mushy and have a grainy texture.

A lot of people underestimate the thought process that goes into setting a meal before someone. Some people even trivialize the whole cooking “thingy”. In my opinion, the truth about preparing food, be it for a feast of 100 or a quiet meal for one, is that when you cook with love it comes through in the food. It really does……this has been my experience.

When I cook, I get inspiration; all sorts of ideas float into my head and before I know it I have a delicious creation before me. It’s great fun!

Over Christmas, I came across an amazing recipe for a tuxedo cake which went down a treat during Christmas lunch.

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It is essentially a two layers of decadent chocolate cake slathered in whipped cream and topped with a chocolate ganache. In the version I made over the holidays I slathered mine in vanilla cream cheese frosting and topped off the ganache with cherries not the strawberries that the original recipe recommended.

The gasps of delight the ensued when I appeared with the cake and the mmmmmms that escaped from my guests’ cake filled mouths assured me that the cake was a huge hit. Not to mention every one left with a an extra piece safely ensconced in foil and ziploc.

The recipe is simple enough to make. Although I must confess you MUST be fairly organized in order to set about putting this cake together. It’s not something you make on a whim; it’s a simple but deliberate process.

Ingredients:
To make the cake:
226 grams unsalted butter
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil ( I used corn oil)
4 cups sugar
1 tbsp instant coffee (optional)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk*
1 tbsp. baking soda
Β½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

*I don’t know about you but butter milk is a pretty scarce resource to find in the city of Lagos so I save myself the grief by deploying a nifty alternative I learned a while ago. Measure a cup of whole milk and add 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice to it. Stir and let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. And voila! Buttermilk!

To make the frosting:
4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1ΒΌ cups icing sugar, sifted

OR

You could opt to use store bought cream cheese frosting. Betty Crocker make a good selection.

For the chocolate ganache
100 grams good quality bittersweet chocolate (50 – 70% cocoa) finely chopped
Β½ cup heavy whipping cream
ΒΌ cup light corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Garnish
A 12 – 15. fresh strawberries or cherries (optional)

The “How To”

To make the cake layers, preheat the oven to 175˚ C. Line three 9-inch round cake pans (or two 10-inch round cake pans) with parchment paper. Butter and flour the inside edges of the pan. Tap the pans gently to discard of any excess flour and set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, coffee (if using) water and vegetable oil; heat until the butter is melted then take of the heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and flour; whisk to blend. Pour the melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then add in the buttermilk and vanilla to the bowl and mix until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

You might wonder how the heck you should divide the batter evenly, well, if you have a flat surface digital scale the. Weigh the pans until each have equal weights. Or if you’re like me you just eyeball to. Alternatively you could go through the messy process of sticking toothpicks I. The batter to see the level in each pan but that’s so messy….just eyeball it or weigh it. I must point out that I used 9″ pans and I found the batter to be too much so I usually hold some of the cake batter back and simply fill a teeny weeny loaf tin and made a cute chocolate loaf for myself. Anyway back to the matter at hand….

Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Please check the cake from the 28 minute mark; for my cakes they were done at about 32 minutes.

Now, this is the hard part; LET THE CAKES COOL IN THE PANS for at least 15 minutes. Then carefully run a table knife or spatula around the edge of each cake layer and carefully invert onto a wire cooling rack. Now, allow the cake layers to cool completely before frosting for at least 2 hours.

This cake is a great make ahead dessert so once the cakes have cooled you can plonk them in the fridge. Be sure to wrap them secure in cling film or parchment paper first.

Now for the fun part; to make the frosting, add the heavy cream to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and continue to whip until thoroughly combined and stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat or you will effectively end up with butter and water……which is not such a bad thing……..:-)

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake platter and spread a layer of the whipped cream frosting over the top. Top with a second cake layer, more frosting (and the third cake layer, if using). Frost the top and sides of the assembled cake. Refrigerate until the frosting has stabilized/set. This should take at least 1 hour but the longer you leave it the better!

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To make the chocolate ganache, place the finely chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering (do not boil the cream. Once you can see steam rising off the surface take it off the heat). Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit 1-2 minutes. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and homogenous. Blend in the corn syrup and vanilla. Pour the glaze into a pitcher or measuring cup and let cool for 10 minutes; this step is crucial because if you apply the hot chocolate the cake directly it will completely ruin your frosting however do not let the glaze cool longer or it may become difficult to pour over the cake – see what I mean about it being a deliberate process?

Slowly pour the gooey ganache over the cake, ensuring that the top is covered and the glaze drips over the sides. It’s a mesmerizing process and creates such a beautiful visual!

At this point, if you have the stamina………lol, you may dip your washed and dried strawberries in the chocolate and place carefully on the cake.

Refrigerate the cake until the ganache is set and the whipped cream frosting is firm, at least another hour. Slice with a long, sharp knife, wiping the blade clean between slices.

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Now bite into decadent chocolatey goodness!

This cake has been in high demand since I first made it and in within one week I have made it twice for two clients. The first was as a birthday cake from a loving hubby to his wife and the second was for a swanky private dinner party.

If you would FFF to create this impressive for you just fill the contact m or send an email to nkem.o@foodandfashionfusion.com

FFF tip of The Day

1. In order to get even layers between your cakes, when the cakes are completely cool, carefully, slice off the domed part of the cake with a long sharp knife until you have a level surface.
The scraps need not be wasted as you can use them in a lovely parfait, layering them up with any left over whipped cream and chocolate ganache or just snack on them as they are πŸ™‚

2. Before whipping cream, ensure that the cream is well chilled. Also chill the bowl the whisk in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. I prefer to use a metal bowl. This ensures that the cream whips up nicely and easily.