There are days when I think I should begin a prosporous career as a guinea pig in the cloning business. Certainly, I would sign up immediatey if I knew the experiments were to be successful. Roughly ten versions of myself would be ordered (naturally, being the guinea pig, I would get a discount) and assign each and every one of these clones different duties. One clone would check my Facebook and email, another would work, a third would attend my driving lessons and a fourth would do my homework. All the fun chores, such as cooking and traveling, would be done by the original me. Ah! What utter bliss that would be.
Anyway, before the science of cloning improves, it will be have to be just me, myself and I and we'll have to make the best of it. This week was just crazy. Absolutely hectic. On Thursday alone I sat eight hours straight, well into the early hours of Friday morning, working with mathematics. I then spent Friday traveling between my village and Stavanger like a ping-pong ball, before waking up early on Saturday to babysit the most adorable French children. So when I woke up this morning, I decided to not work. No homework. No studying. Nada.
But then it hit me. Today is the 8th of May. Sixty-six years ago peace returned to Europe. To commemorate this, flags are flown high above the rooftops all over Norway; gently waiving in the wind. Yet as important as this day is, it is not the reason why my day off was spent in the kitchen. You see, today, one of the people I love the most turned 21. I cannot my boy, my big brother, is all grown up now. Fifty years ago, this day would have marked his enter into adulthood, and although 21 is of no particular significance in this day and age, it still felt special. No longer a teenager, my brother is now an adult. How very strange it all seems... My brother, who's life has been one weird choice after another, ranging from being a carpenter to living in a Coptic monastery in the Egyptian desert. My brother, the popular entertainer with an ironic humour and the excellent ability to utter sharp puns. My brother, an awful cook, who still tried to make me soup when I had the flu... Twenty-one years old... How very strange it all seems.
Instead of giving him a regular gift, I decided to make whatever he wanted to eat. For dinner, it was Boeuf Bourguignon with Bordeaux; for dessert, Melkterte and as for kaffimat, well, it was spent indulging in Muffins aux pépites de chocolat. All swallowed down with several litres of coffee, naturally.
A South African classic, the Melktert, literally 'milk tart', tastes like rice porridge without the rice. At first I was afraid the cake wasn't thoroughly cooked – it was all very jiggly wiggly. Eventually I decided to take the risk, and carefully cut a piece. To my surprise, it wasn't runny or undercooked, but rather, a perfect pudding-like cake. Den mjølkekagå di ser go' ut, (That milk cake of yours looks good) my brother told me. Kan eg ta litt? (Could I have some?) We sprinkled some cinnamon and sugar on the cake and graciously (I write graciously, because it would be silly to admit we gobbled the cake) swallowed one piece after the other.
But the cake was also in honour of two other people I love so very dearly. On Thursday, my maternal grandparents, mormor og morfar, will celebrate their 60th anniversary. I can't help but admire the accomplishment. As romantic as a young couple in love is, to me, nothing is more romantic than an old couple, holding hands in the park and still flirting, after fifty, sixty or seventy years together. My only hope is that I, too, one day will experience that kind of love. In the meantime, though, I can show my love for the people around me by dedicating my time to cook them food. Or make them muffins. Muffins aux pépites de chocolat embodies all of these feelings. My love for my brother, my grandparents, good cakes and good company.
Muffins aux pépites de chocolat
Recipe by Foodbeam*Ingredients*
300 g flour
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
380 g chocolate chips
160 g butter, softened
110 g sugar
112 g light brown sugar
2 ½ tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
250 ml milk
1.Preheat the oven to 190°C.
2.Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, toss the chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture. Cream the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the granulate sugar and beat for 2 minutes; add the light brown sugar and beat for a further 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Still beating – on low speed – alternately add the flour mixture (in 3 times) and the milk (in 2 times). Stir in the chocolate chip and divide the batter between 14 muffin cups.
3.Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Place the muffin pan onto a wire rack and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Then remove the muffins from the pan and serve.
|South African Melktert |
Recipe by Jul's Kitchen
100 g cold butter, diced
100 g sugar
230 g flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 lightly beaten egg
1 pinch vanilla salt
750 ml milk
75 g butter
3 eggs, separated
100 g sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
30 g cornstarch
1 tbsp cane sugar
1.To make pastry, whisk butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until it becomes fluffy. Add flour, baking powder, 1 pinch of salt and mix with fingers until you obtain a moist and sandy dough. Mix beaten egg, flatten the dough and wrap in clingfilm. Leave it to rest in the refrigerator for one hour.
2.Preheat oven to 180° C. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a well floured work surface. Line a round tart tin, 26 cm in diameter (or, as in my case, two rectangular mold of 30 cm x 10 cm), at least 3 cm deep. Prick the dough with a fork, cover with baking paper and pour over beans: blind bake for 20 minutes. When it gets golden, remove baking paper and beans and bake for 10 more minutes.
3.Meanwhile, make the filling. Melt butter in milk over medium heat. Beat egg yolks with sugar and vanilla, then incorporate the cornstarch. Add a tablespoon of hot milk into the egg mixture, stirring to avoid eggs from scrambling. Add the remaining milk, mixing until everything is smooth, then let it cool. Whip egg whites and fold them slowly into the cold egg mixture.
4.Pour egg misture into the tart shell, sprinkle the surface with sugar and cinnamon and bake in preheated oven at 180°C for 30 minutes. Let cool completely and serve sprinkled with extra cinnamon!