What A SweetTart

Ok, this is a good one!! (Paleo people – look away now. Go chase your supper).

Much as I love to spend hours with fiddly, time-consuming, calculator-necessitating recipes, some days you need something quick and easy with a minimum of ingredients and effort. Like when you have overslept and you have to be somewhere impressing a crowd with a lovely bit of fresh yumminess and you CANNOT let your Domestic Goddess-nicity slip. Ripping the tertiary packaging (that’s the part with the pretty pictures and the price sticker) off of a Woolies pudding and then pasting smugness on your face is SACRILEGE. It’s for dire moments like these that you need a super-frikkin-awesome recipe like this tucked neatly up your sleeve (dankie Rudolph!!).

tarty

This recipe for Microwave Condensed Milk/Yoghurt Tart is an absolute miracle to me. It’s almost too easy, and bizarre in that nobody knows about it (well, nobody I know) (did you know?) (if so: how could you not tell me?? you ham-fisted cow!). It’s like those things you see on Pinterest, which you never knew about but suddenly, once you’ve seen the step-by-step tutorial, makes perfect sense. Like finger-knitting. And Halloween costumes for dogs. How did we ever live without them.

But I digress. This recipe contains 4 ingredients, all of which are staples for me. The yoghurt is my favourite part – high in protein, low in fat (if you pick the low fat variety, of course) plus its yummy. Apparently any type will work. Fruity, bitsy, smooth, with or without sugar, low fat, double cream, the works. I always have a large tub of fat-free plain on hand because it works both ways for savoury and sweet. This has become my go-to recipe for summer and I hope you give it a try. For a really fun time, pronounce the word “yoghurt” like Delia Smith does – “yoggit” . Love it! (my other favourite Delia word is gooseberries, I would have loved to use them in this recipe. “Goozzzbries”).

my dream scenario right there

I had a brief train of thought about lauding the healthiness of yoghurt in this recipe. Then I remembered the cookies, the butter and the condensed milk. Nevermind. That’s why they invented gym and Spanx.

Special thanks to Leonard, a random cat, for keeping me company the first time this tart happened upon my kitchen. I nicknamed it Leonard because it’s hard to keep bumping into someone and striking up a conversation without knowing their name. Then she pitched up in a pink collar. She was very enthusiastic about the yoghurt.

crushed carbs

pata pata

i see yooooo

yo-yo-yummy

something smells good

before

tarted up

glazed look

For one roughly 20cm Tangy Tart:

Approximately half a packet of Tennis biscuits. Have a full pack on hand in case more is needed – it’s really dependent on the size of the dish used. Plus you should never waste food so even if you don’t use it, you should eat it *angelic solves-world-hunger face*.

3 tablespoons of butter, melted (same as for above – have some extra on standby)

500ml yoghurt – pick a flavour. Any flavour.

1 can of sweetened condensed milk. 397g.

Say hello to your cooking buddy (in my case, Leonard in all her furry gangliness). Break the biscuits into a food processor and remember to warn Leonard about the noise it is about to make, and then watch her jump 6 feet in the air when you press play. If you prefer, pop the biscuits into a plastic bag and wallop it with something heavy, like a rolling pin or a baseball bat. Your call. Make nice nubbly crumbs.

Mix the crumbs with the butter, then press it into any shallow microwave-safe dish. In my hurry I used my mankiest old pyrex  dish that has lived through many a kitchen experiment, and only noticed when I looked at the photos – oops. I’ve chosen to use less crumbs after the first attempt as I like lots of creamy filling, but the crumb:filling ratio is entirely up to you.

Join Leonard in a brief game of Hide and Seek in the garden.

Thoroughly mix the yoghurt and the condensed milk. Pour it over the crust. Give Leonard a bowl of water to stem the flow of her complaints about not being given a chance to sample the yoghurt.

Pop the assembled tart into the microwave for approximately 3 minutes – you need to watch it carefully the first time, since all microwaves are not equal. You are looking for that moment where it sets. Tiny bubbles will appear along the perimeter, and if you give it a gentle prod in the centre it will show your fingerprint (and not simply allow your finger to dip in). Let it cool before parking it in the fridge until it’s all chilled out.

{finger impression - make sure it's a good one}

{finger impression – make sure it’s a good one}

toil and trouble

There you go. Done! Unless, of course, you feel embarrassed about how easy it was. In this case, slice up fresh fruit (I like strawberries because a) they look like hearts and b) if you turn the hearts upside down they look like bottoms) and prepare a glaze using fruit juice and a tiny bit of cornstarch and sugar (nuke it for a few seconds). Park the fruit on the cooled tart, brush with the glaze, and then impress the socks of people on a hot summer’s day.

{hearts...}

{hearts…}

{... or bottoms? hmm}

{… or bottoms? hmm}

Actually even if there are no people to impress the hosiery off of, make the tart anyway, grab a good book (you can see them in the pics – good old standbys) and find a shady spot to indulge.

bring on the bella

 

 

PS: Not sure how I missed this internet phenomenon, so here it is in case you were also hiding under a rock that day – Yogurt the Pirate Dog:

{to err is human, to arrrrrrrr is pirate}

{to err is human, to arrrrrrrr is pirate}

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A Whiter Shade of Paleo

Ok so I’m no paleolithic diet nut (sorry Warren) but I do try to eat healthy and avoid simple carbs. Simple carbs are the ones that taste the best then cling limpet-like to your bottom for time eternal (KrispyKreme, I’m looking at YOU).

{a girl can dream... love this daily doodle}

{love this daily doodle}

One of the many things which regrettably do not grow on trees or need to be hunted with poison-tipped spears, i.e. did not form part of the average paleolithic diet, is the pizza. I miss pizza. I miss pizza and beer. And so, ever since I cooked up cauliflower couscous, I’ve been wanting to make the cauliflower pizza crust that I kept reading about online. It seemed perfect for testing on gluten-intolerant Laura who has also had to cut pizza out of her diet.

I did have my reservations: I worried that it would be soggy, or disintegrate as a slice is lifted to the eagerly awaiting tastebuds, or taste overwhelmingly farty, or just be completely inedible like that time I made banana garlic soup (don’t EVER mix bananas and garlic).

BUT it turned out absolutely fan-frikkin-tastic! It’s really for the best that I hadn’t attempted it sooner, because judging by other bloggers there were a couple recipes way back that answered in the affirmative to all of the above concerns.

bring it on

The recipes with the most positive reviews are all really much of a muchness, with variations in the seasoning (which should in any case be to your own taste). I guess we’ll never know who “invented” it, but my favourite version came from The Tasty Kitchen – in it is a phrase which I use quite often – “Cheesy Goodness”. Word.

The crust is amazing – it holds together well, even with lots of hot cheesy topping and can be easily lifted with your grubby paw. I scraped the topping off a slice to taste it in isolation and it did have a faint cauliflower vibe, but nothing that could overpower the fairly bland topping of chicken and mushrooms. Even though I accidentally missed a step (Laura was flinging wine at my mouth engaging me in meaningful conversation) it was phenomenal; it takes a bit of preparation, but then from-scratch pizza dough is pretty labour-intensive too. This stuff is just too bloomin’ kool *snort* (if you aren’t Afrikaans: this is funny because cauliflower in Afrikaans is blomkool) (but possibly even then it is not very funny).

cauli crumbs

first you nuke em

gimme a squeeze

gack

brainiac

flatten em

and a 1

and a 2

and thats a 3

To make a pizza for 2 tipsy troglodytes to feast upon:

1 small head of cauliflower

1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese – put your hand deeper in your pocket and get the decent stuff. Those cheap packets of dessicated crumbs are revolting and have all the flavour and nutritive value of styrofoam.

1 egg

A bit of salt, pepper, herbs, etc.

Toppings of your choice – ooh, go wild! But not bananas and garlic.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Be sure that your cauliflower is not toooo big – if it is, it will “outnumber” the cheese and egg, and result in a crumbly crust. If it is as big as your head you may want to double up on the cheese and egg. Not that you have a gigantic head or anything. I have taken a most useful photo illustrating, in the absence of a human head, how big you should aim for:

{handy cauliflower size guide}

{handy cauliflower size guide}

Break the florets off and stick them into a food processor; pulse until they form little crumbs that look like couscous. Your cauliflower should yield 2-3 cups of damp smelly crumbs. At this point you may feel a little concerned, and pray that you have sufficient chips and nuts in your cupboard as a Plan B for your guests. Take a sip of wine for courage and soldier on.

Pop the crumbiness into a microwave-safe bowl and cover (I used cling, with holes pierced through for steam to escape); nuke it for 4 minutes in the microwave. Get a clean tea-towel ready near the sink; as soon as the crumbs are cool enough to handle comfortably, pop them onto the tea-towel, wrap it up tightly then squeeze the living bejeezus out of it. Then squeeze even harder. You want to get as much moisture out as possible! I didn’t do such a great job of this and had to give the final “dough” another go in the tea-towel (let’s blame it on the wine).

You will be left with a strange, greyish, crumbly mass. Mix it well with the cheeses, egg and seasoning to form a weird “dough”. If it feels wet and exudes wateriness when you give it a squeeze, pop it back in the tea-towel for another squeeze. Bring it together into a lump, place it on the baking paper and then kind of pat it down into a pizza base about 5mm thick. At this point you’re supposed to pop it in the oven until it’s browned and crispy but I forgot and lavishly applied topping ingredients. It worked out great anyway, next time I’ll see if this browning step is even worth it.

Anyway, add topping – I spread a layer of tomato base then mozzarella (to act as the glue – cheesy glue goodness!) then garlicky mushrooms and roast chicken chunks. Pop it back into the oven until the cheese looks happy and bubbly. Remove from the oven and serve it forth to your favourite neanderthals :-).

{crispy brown bottom}

{crispy brown bottom}

I guess this isn’t really part of a Paleo diet, because back then they weren’t beating sabre-toothed cauliflowers into submission and forming pizza bases. It’s like a dilute form of Paleo. A whiter shade, even. And a good excuse to get pizza back onto the menu.

yummmm

I’m so happy to have pizza back in my life. Now some smartypants need to come up with cauliflower-beer already.

PS: Whenever I hear the word Paleo, I remember those school trips to the museum where they had dioramas (is that the right word?) of early humans making fire and looking confused, and we would all laugh at their exposed bums. Also I think it would be a good name for a caveman rap artist. Grunt artist?

PPS: I hear that some restaurants in the US offer the cauliflower-crust option, which I think is great. I was wondering if Pizza Hut would take this on board. Which made me wonder….:

{i would love to visit, and grunt, and bang rocks here}

{i would love to visit, and grunt, and bang rocks here}

21/01/2014: So I’ve tried this recipe again, and remembered to bake the crust alone until golden brown before piling on the toppings. I honestly can’t say it made much of a difference, if any, and so Imma go with my lazy gut and do it myyy wayyyyyy (did you just sing that a la Ol’ Blue Eyes too?) as described in the original post above.

09/02/2014: Because my sister commenting on this blog would be a miracle on par with, say, walking on water: She tried what she calls a “poor man” version of this without the Parmesan and with cooked polenta making up for a shortage of cauliflower (did you not see my handy cauliflower size guide??) and it worked out AWESOME! Poor-men, rejoice!

Five Things: Anywhere But Here

OMW how long can a workday in January possibly get?? That first week before the masses returned from leave was bearable. It was quiet and controlled and it felt like a really good, solid start to the new year. I had a shiny new red diary and lots of meaningful lists.

Now that everyone’s returned, tanned and refreshed, I feel like the mother of all workloads has dropped on me from a dizzy height. And even though the days feel like they are taking weee-e-e-e-ks to pass, somehow I’m moving in slo-mo. I used to have a recurring dream as a kid, where I was doing the 100m sprint at “sports day” but when the time came to run I was moving super-slowly and with great difficulty, like I was underwater. This is what my workday feels like.

Anyhoo. My point is that I need a(nother) holiday. In a place far away. Where the food is good and the booze is better.

 

These are my top five right now:

{get me to the Greek...}

{get me to the Greek…}

{Petra, Jordan. it has nothing to do with the transformers movie}

{Petra, Jordan. it has nothing to do with the transformers movie}

{Angkor Wat, Cambodia - it's a long story. if you give me lots of wine i'll tell you}

{Angkor Wat, Cambodia – it’s a long story. if you give me lots of wine i’ll tell you}

{noo yawk city}

{noo yawk city}

Uh-oh. I’ve got like a 12-way tie of places for the 5th spot – where do you want to go?

 

true story