Archives for posts with tag: recipe

advocate cracker

Devil’s Advocate is currently reading through the recipe collection for the Artist’s Survival cookbook. He held his hand up for the task as he couldn’t contribute a recipe, despite his love for food. He just doesn’t cook. Mouse was delighted to have found another pair of eyes to look over the work. It is a well-known fact, that you can’t see mistakes, when you are too close to the project. So she gratefully gave him the pile of paper and left him to it. He started at the beginning, as one does. You might remember, we did cracker recipes right at the start, as they don’t require many ingredients just flour and water and maybe a little oil or butter. After all the book is to show how many yummy staples you can make from very basic ingredients. Devil’s Advocate loves crackers. He normally devours an entire packet when he watches TV.  So he was amazed when he read how easy they are to make and as it was Sunday, he was keen to have a go himself.

But gee was he disappointed with the result. The crackers didn’t hit his taste buds at all. They reminded him more of crispbread, rather than the crackers he favours. His favourite ones are a tad richer and sort of friable. But on the upside the crackers weren’t difficult to make and had hardly any ingredients. The attempt made him realise how much money he would save, if he could make his favourite food himself. He asked Mouse if she has another recipe that might be more like what he was after. Mouse didn’t need much time to think and said: “Just add more butter and less water and maybe you want to add a leavening agent to make them more airy.” Devil’s Advocate looked blankly at her. “You have to be more precise” he said “I am an absolute novice!”

“Okay then” replied Mouse, “here is another cracker recipe. It might be a little bit too rich and it has more ingredients. That’s why I call them the rich man’s crackers.” She then explained to Devil’s Advocate, that you basically can use any combination of flour, water and butter/oil to create crackers. The baking soda and yoghurt in the following recipe is not really necessary, but it fluffs the crackers up a little. Keep track of any changes you make to the recipe, so you can repeat it when you get the the combination that hits the right spot on your taste buds.


1 cup of flour, ½ teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of salt, 4 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon of plain yoghurt, 4 to 5 tablespoons of cold water


Mix flour, baking soda and salt together. Add the butter and rub with your fingertips into the flour until it is well distributed and the mixutre resembles semolina. Add the yoghurt and also distribute well. Last add the water. Add one tablespoon at the time and knead into the dough. Add only as much as is needed that the dough sticks together well. Let rest in the frigde while the oven preheats to 2100C.

Roll out the dough thinly. It will rise a little during baking. Cut in squares or other shapes and place on a baking tray. The dough contains so much butter, that it is not necessary to butter the tray. Brush the surface of each shape with water and prick with a fork a couple of times.

Bake in the oven for 10 mins or until slightly brown.

Let cool on a wire rack.


fairy naan

Last weekend Fairy Godmother had a fit, because Punch Drunk had offered shortbread as a snack during the photoshoot. It is a far too unhealthy option for her taste. The Dedes were waiting all week for her to make something more suitable. As you can imagine a fairy godmother is pretty busy and nothing was produced.  Whenever she bumped into one of the Dedes she was asked, when she is going to make something. After the 50 oddth time she finally surrendered and made some naan bread to go with a soup last night.

Naan is usually made with yeast. Of course this method needs a bit of time as the dough has to rise. Fairy Godmother of course can’t be bothered to wait around and makes her naan with baking powder. Mouse was very curious as she couldn’t imagine that it would work, but was surprised when she tried the result. Now she is very happy to include this recipe, as the book contains a lot of yeast breads already.


2 cups of flour, ½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of baking powder and ½ teaspoon baking soda, ¼ cup of milk, 2 teaspoons of oil.

For the topping some sort of seeds (eg poppy seeds or sesame seeds) or chopped garlic and corriander

1 tablespoon of butter or oil to brush the surface of the bread before serving


Mix the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda) together in one bowl and make a well in the middle. In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients (milk and oil).

Pour the liquid mixture into the well. Then work everything into a smooth soft dough by gradually adding the flour from the edges into the liquid. Knead well for 8-10 minutes, adding a little flour if the dough is too sticky.

Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea-towel and let stand for 10 minutes. Make five or six balls from the dough.

Preheat the grill to medium and place a tray on the upper shelf under the grill to heat up.

Roll the dough balls out quite thinly, sprinkle with the desired topping. Wet your fingertips with water and press into the surface of the dough. (This creates the blisters in the naan). Place the pieces onto the hot baking tray and grill for just 1-2 minutes, or until lightly browned. Brush with butter or oil and serve hot.

short bread copy

As you know, last weekend the Dedes worked overtime to get their pictures taken for the Artist’s Survival Cookbook. Even though they worked late, they didn’t quite finish and will have to continue in their spare time. It didn’t help that they had a heated discussion for a while, which kept them from working for some time.

Punch Drunk got the munchies while waiting his turn and he thought that while he waits he might as well whip up a treat for everyone to keep them going. The fridge was rather empty. They simply forgot to go to the shops to get food as they were so engrossed in the photoshoot. Anyway, he found some butter and sugar, and flour is of course  always in the pantry. So he decided to throw together some shortbread. He thought it was a good idea and that the treat would go down well.

Fairy Godmother shrieked in disgust when she saw him placing a plate with his baking on the table. She grabbed the piece of shortbread Punch Drunk held in his hand and shouted “That stuff is pure poison! It is made of butter and sugar only! Can you think of anything more unhealthy?”  The studio fell silent and everyone looked at her. Punch Drunk ducked, obviously fearing Fairy Godmother would hurl the cookie at him. But she didn’t. She just glared at him disapprovingly.

“I’ll have one” said Devil, who has a sweet tooth and helped himself confidently. “Me too” L’Artiste followed suit. He was running the show and had not realised how hungry he was. “Are you crazy?” said Fairy Godmother. She wanted to confiscate the plate but Devil held on to it. “It is a little treat to share around. At least when one reads the recipe one is fully aware of what’s in it” he said. “Get over it.” Fairy Godmother continued to point out out all the negative effects of sugar and fat. Of course some of the other Dedes sided with her.

In the meantime,  L’Artiste gulped down three more pieces and said: “You don’t have to eat it! But I can go for another hour now. Let’s get back to work. Chop, chop!”

Mouse grabbed Punch Drunk by the arm and said “I think for the sake of completeness, we should put the recipe in the book.” Punch Drunk looked at her gratefully and handed over the recipe.


4 tablespoons of butter, ¼ cup of sugar, 1 cup of flour


Beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth. Stir in flour to get a smooth paste. (If the dough is too crumbly and doesn’t’ stick together, wet your hands with water and work into the dough until it holds together.) Heat the oven to 1900C While the oven is heating up, let the paste rest in the fridge. Then put it on a work surface and gently roll out until the paste is about 1 cm thick. Cut into fingers and place on a baking tray.  As the dough contains a lot of butter, there is no need to butter the tray. Prick each piece with a fork a couple of times. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.


This is a really busy weekend for the Dedes. They all lined up in the studio to get their pictures taken for the Artist’s Survival Cookbook. For a while they’ve been discussing with L’Artiste how to do the imagery in the book. The pics on the blog were only quick snapshots taken on the day when their recipe was baked. Mouse baulked at the idea of re-making everything just to get better shots. She is really annoyed that nobody listened to her when she said, “Do it once and do it right!” Why should she spend more time now, she asked, when she can use her time so much better for the design of the book.

“But don’t you want to have the best possible book?” asked Detail.

“Leave her alone” said Devil. “I can understand, she’s the one who does all the work! There is always a way around it.”

In the end they decided to take new pictures in the studio and present the existing ones as selfies. They asked Mouse to quickly mock a page up to show everyone. She acted coyly at first, as she doesn’t want to show work in progress. She has a long list of things she still has to solve. But the others were adament that the readers need to know they are still working on the book. In the end she succumbed.


quiche mouse

Evan G List, the vegan Dede, complained to Cash Cow that most of the recipes have dairy products in them. It’s either butter, milk or both. He doesn’t eat that stuff. Cash Cow said she was raised on it and she wouldn’t like to miss it, though she herself is vegetarian. Then Mouse came along carrying a plate and said that while she doesn’t eat much she does eat everything. That is just her nature. Evan G looked at her in disgust. Mouse explained she comes from a long line of church mice. Her family was so poor they had to eat what they could find. She still appreciates food and is grateful for what she gets. “It’s lucky if you have a choice” she added. “But but you know, if you don’t want to eat dairy, you can make a short pastry with oil instead of butter. I’ve just tried it and here is the result.” She pointed at a slice of quiche on her plate.

It did look delicious. “What’s on it?” Evan G asked suspiciously.

“Left overs from last night’s dinner again. We had mashed potatoes with garden vegetables. But there wasn’t enough left over, so I put sliced tomato on top of the left overs, added two eggs and sprinkled grated cheese over it.”

“Here we go again” said Evan G. “There is cheese and egg on it. No, not for me, thank you.”

“I mean, the base is vegan” said Mouse. “You can choose your own topping. Whatever you like to eat.”


1 cup of flour, 1/4 cup of oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt (optional), cold water.

1 tart baking tray. The dough is enough for a 12cm x 35cm rectangular tray.


Preheat the oven to 200oC

Place the flour on a flat surface, mix in the salt if you use salt. Pour in oil little by little and work into the flour with your fingertips. It will look like fine semolina when you are done. Add a little cold water and knead. Add only as much water needed to make the dough stick together nicely. Let it rest in the fridge for half an hour or so.

Note: Mouse made the dough after breakfast and left it in the fridge till lunch time. An oil-based dough doesn’t go as hard as one made with butter when it is left longer in the fridge.

Roll out the dough and place on the tart baking tray. Press the dough up the sides to get a bit of a lip at the edge. This prevents the filling from seeping out. Add your choice of filling.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.


cash cow pie

Cash Cow had intended to make a silverbeet quiche this weekend, but as there were left overs from last night, she changed her mind and decided to turn those into a pie for lunch today. Good old Cash Cow is such a thrifty and resourceful one. Her name might be misleading, she is by no means rich, but she always gives when anyone is in need. She didn’t want to waste the left overs and told Mouse her new plan and Mouse’s first question was, “Tell me, what is the difference between a pie and quiche?”

“That is a difficult one as there are so many different ways of making a pie. The simplest dough is a short pastry and you can use the same for a quiche. I would say the main difference is that with a pie the filling is usually totally encased, while a quiche has an open top.”

“But aren’t there also single crust pies, like pumpkin pie, that don’t have a top cover?” asked Mouse. “I guess they would be the same as a quiche.”

“No, not quite. Quiches are also shallower than pies and have a dairy/egg topping.  With pies, at least when you buy them, you can be never sure what’s in them” she laughed then added, “No, honestly I love pies, but I wouldn’t touch one from a shop.”

“So what is in your one?” asked Mouse curiously. “Just last nights left-overs. We had fettucini with silverbeet and corn in a creamy gorgonzola sauce. The main spice was nutmeg. Simple! To be honest, you can put whatever you want in it.”

Mouse looked at Cash Cow’s recipe for the pie crust and realised she will somehow have to sort the recipes into a logical order. The dough is very similar to Devil’s Flatbred.


1 cup of flour. 70g cold butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt (optional), cold water.

1 muffin tin (the recipe is for 4 to 6 muffin sized pies. To make a cake size pie double the amount)


Preheat oven to 200oC

Pour flour onto a work surface and add salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and work into the flour with your fingers. Once it is well distributed add a tablespoon of cold water and knead in quickly. Only add enough water to make a nice elastic dough. Try not to overwork it either. Let it rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Cash Cow had wrapped the dough in plastic and left it in the fridge over night. It got really hard, but this is due to the butter hardening again. Knead it once more and the warmth from your hands it will quickly soften it.

Divide the dough into 4 to 6 pieces and roll out thinly. Line the muffin moulds with the pieces and cut around the egdes to make them clean. Keep the cut-off dough for the lid of each pie.

Put the filling in each mould. Roll out the lids and cover each pie, pressing the sides closed. Brush with water.

Bake for 25 minutes. You might want to sprinkle some grated cheese on top in the last 10 minutes.

dardevil custard

There are some days when you need comfort food. When everything has turned to custard it’s best to have a bowl of it, or at least that is Daredevil’s advice. Daredevil is a peace loving character who only fights for what he strongly believes is right. Of course, what he considers the right thing doesn’t necessarily coincide with other people’s opinion and he sometimes feels like Don Quixote. When he realises he is on a kamikaze mission he usually makes himself a big bowl of chocolate custard and eats it slowly and quietly in the corner, reviewing his position. It doesn’t happen too often, but yesterday he felt the urge. “Do you think, Mouse, my custard is eligible to be included in the book?” he asked, while he had another mouthful.

“What’s in it?” asked Mouse, “you don’t just rip open a packet of custard powder, do you?”

“No, I use corn flour, milk, sugar and cocoa and – when I have one on hand – an egg.” Mouse thought for a little bit and said, “not sure about the cocoa, it isn’t on the ingredient list. And I see you use corn flour?”

“C’mon, corn flour is a flour and it is a much better thickening agent than wheat flour.”

Once again Mouse couldn’t say no. “Okay, give me your recipe. I am only collecting them at the moment and I’ll think about it!”


3 heaped tablespoons of corn flour, 2 cups of milk (or milk and water), 1 generous tablespoon of cocoa, 2 tablespoons of sugar.


In a bowl, mix the corn flour, sugar and cocoa and add half a cup of milk to make a smooth paste. Make sure there are no lumps in it.

Heat the rest of the milk (1 1/2 cups) and before it boils add the paste you made earlier. Stir continuously until it bubbles. It will thicken quite quickly once it starts boiling. Stir until it doesn’t thicken any further.

Eat warm or let rest to cool.

“You said earlier you might add an egg if you have one. When would you add this?” asked Mouse.

“Simply mix any eggs into the corn flour paste before you put it into the heated milk” answered Daredevil. “They are also a thickening agent and you can leave out a little bit of the corn flour.”

mouse rob bechamel

Usually Rob D Light waits until everybody has left the kitchen before he sneaks in and makes his meals. Like he did last night. He had “found” this huge marrow in the garden and wanted to cook it up. Mouse was still sitting in the dining room leafing through the recipes when she heard the pots and pans being handled in the kitchen, and the fridge door being opened and closed.

“What are you doing?” she asked Rob D Light who got a big fright. “Um, I am making myself a meal.” Rob is very shy as he has to deal with a lot of prejudice. Mouse saw the marrow on the cutting board. “Are you just frying this in oil?” she asked curiously.

“No, I am making a bechamel sauce with it today,” answered Rob. “Oh dear.” Mouse looked as if she had been hit by lightning. Rob was delighted that someone was interested in his work and thought Mouse was impressed with his cooking skills. “It is not that difficult” he said proudly. “No, I know,” said Mouse. “I just realised this is another recipe we don’t have in our collection yet. And it is so versatile.” They both agreed the name bechamel sounds magic, but in effect it is the most basic white sauce you can make.

“Once you know how to make this sauce, you can add all sorts of things: spices or cheese or capers or anchovies. You can even turn it into soup, if you add more water.”

“Yes,” said Mouse excitedly. “When I make Lasagne, I make this sauce and add a cup of cheese.”

“You really have to add some sort of flavour” said Rob. “On it’s own it is pretty bland. But it is good starting point. Today I am adding a bit of cheese as well and will pour it over the chopped marrow then bake it in the oven for 35 minutes”

Mouse asked Rob to give her a quick run-down on how he makes his sauce. He prefers milk when he uses it with vegetables, but you also can use the water you boiled your vegetables in, for example asparagus, or just plain water.

“What about the proportions of butter to flour?” asked Mouse. “Personally, I use equal amounts.”

“It’s not hard and fast, but you can use up to 3 parts flour to 2 parts butter. And with the liquid, you just add as much as you need for your desired texture.”


1 tablespoon of butter, 1.5 tablespoons of flour, 1 cup of water or milk (nutmeg, pepper optional).


This sauce requires constant stirring!

Over a medium heat melt the butter in a saucepan. With a wooden spoon stir the flour into the melted butter until it turns into a well combined paste. Cook ans stir until it bubbles slightly, but make sure it doesn’t turn brown. Add the milk, a quarter cup at a time, and stir until it is well mixed into the paste without lumps before you add the next portion. When all the milk has been added, bring to a boil and it will thicken nicely. Add nutmeg and pepper to taste, lower the heat and cook for two or three minutes longer. If you want to make a cheese sauce, add half a cup of grated cheese at this point. It is done, when the cheese is melted.

Note: If you want to flavour the bechamel sauce, add the flavours of your choice after the sauce has thickened.

mr vague research

“We won’t get 101 recipes together” lamented Mouse. “We are already scraping the bottom of the barrel with our left-over recipes.”

“I have another one” called Mr Vague. “At least I think it is different.”

Mouse was surprised, as Mr Vague never puts his hand up for anything. Besides, the kitchen is not his favourite place. He prefers to sit on the garden fence and watch the world go by, waiting for a better day. This time he seemed keen to participate. As he lacked his own ideas he combed through old recipe books looking for an easy-to-make bread. Sure enough, he found a toast bread that was as plain as himself. He believes old equals trusted so he expected a good result. But when he tasted the finished product he really didn’t like it much. Disappointed, he chucked it in the chicken bin. Witch was furious when she saw the wasted bread.

“It can’t be that bad,” she said “What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s too buttery” Mr Vague answered meekly. “And you can’t toast it. It’s too crumbly, it falls apart” he added. Witch looked at the book and saw immediately what the mistake in the recipe was. It is a yeast dough and it has to rise twice, but the book only mentioned it once. “And 90 grams of butter, yes, you are right, that is a bit much. Just use less.”

“I am not doing it again” said Mr Vague and went to leave for the garden. “Yes you are,” insisted Witch. “Otherwise you will think you can’t bake, but in truth it was the recipe that was wrong.”

Reluctantly Mr Vague got all the ingredients out and tried again. “Knead thoroughly and give it time to rise” Witch said, when she left him to it. Indeed, she was right, the bread worked perfectly this time.

Mr vague unveiling


6 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of dry yeast, 2 cups of warm milk (or milk and water), 1 tablespoon of butter. Milk to brush on the surface.

You also need a non-stick loaf pan (or a loaf pan and baking paper)


Pour flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle, add half the liquid and the dry yeast. Let it sit for 20 minutes until the yeast is sloshy. Stir the liquid into the flour and transfer to a flat surface. Knead everything to an elastic dough while adding the rest of the liquid. Knead for five minutes, then put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Let it rise in a warm place for one to two hours.

Preheat oven to 180 0C

Knead again and place in a baking tray (lined with baking paper if it isn’t non-stick). Let it rest again until the dough has risen to twice its size. Brush milk on the surface and bake for 1 hour.

french toast court jester

“I have a good one” called Court Jester “if you want to give stale bead a second life!” He was preparing something on the stove top and delicious smells eminated from the pan. Mouse went over to have a look. “Ah she said “I know that one, it’s French toast, isn’t it?” Court Jester nodded affirmatively.

“Not so much my thing” said Mouse, “but I know a few people who love it”

“Including me” said Court Jester and transferred the finished toast onto a plate. He couldn’t help to grin in anticiapation. Mouse looked at the recipe. “My one is slightly different. You coat it with bread crumbs, after you soaked it in the egg/milk mixture.”

“This doesn’t sound right to me.” remarked Court Jester “I like my recipe as it is”  and he had a first big bite.


4 slices of slightly stale bread, 2 eggs, ½ cup milk, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, Butter


In a bowl big enough to accommodate the size of bread your are using, whisk together the eggs, milk, and cinnamon. Place each slice of bread into the mixture and allow the bread to soak up some of it. Make sure it doesn’t get too soggy.

Melt butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Shake off the excess, and place the bread slices in the pan. Fry until it is browned on one side, then flip and brown the other side.

Serve hot with butter, honey, jam or fresh berries.