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Pina colada thumbprints, Easter & sea soaps & more!

Written by Nazarina on July 9th, 2011


How to make desserts soar! How to make soap fun!

Pina colada thumbprints – some with coconut ganache & some with chocolate; also Easter soaps & aquatic & terrestrial soaps

Summer is here, and I am stagnant no more!

My hands are almost automatically drawn to making a myriad of things but lately my mind seems to be tangled in a web of a creative confusion. I seem to find myself there more often than not and even though this bothers me, I have no time to ponder the cause because usually, life gets in the way. A friend once said that multitasking and fatigue can do this to a vibrant brain and implored me to step away from it all. I did comply for a little while, thinking that I was free at last from baking, soap making & photographing, yet strangely enough,  my soul kept hankering for that unnecessary trepidation that goes into the art of making things from scratch. So here I am again, purely driven by  the persuasive powers of a  zealous nature to create & making people smile! Lord knows, how long this will last, yet I always say that imagination is only limited by a blurry vision and consistency best be a recourse for the unimaginative!

This segment is for the South Africans…..

Ek was net fokken lui en my familie het op my senuwees gewerk! Som tye will ek vir hulle ‘n warme paar klappe gee vir aand ete!…en “call it quits.” Gelukkig kan my familie nie Afrikaans verstaan nie he! he!


Pina colada , chocolate ganache thumbprints

Dessicated coconut, ( I cannot bake with no other), thumbprints filled with a dark chocolate ganache & garnished with a toasted coconut flake. I made these for a dear friend’s baby shower including all the soaps below! This recipe is so different to that of my other thumbprints!


Pina colada thumbprints filled with a coconut white chocolate ganache, made with coconut cream & garnished with a maraschino cherry. Who knew what freeze-dried pineapple powder & coconut extract would do to hike up the ego of these absolutely scrumptious coconut shortbread beauties?

……  like  Freddie would say, (‘n Suid Afrikaner wat ek in Miami ontmoet het) sal se, dit is nie lekker nie, dit is moer se lekker!


I love the unexpected twists & turns in this recipe, it made the diners at this baby shower wish for more! They all wanted to know, how I achieved this delicately balanced recipe & not at all sweet to boot!



My hand-made soaps for curious little munchkins

Chocolate brown bunnies & cheeky chicks….Easter essentials for tiny tots. These were a bit cumbersome to make…..not an easy project but with a little perseverance, I achieved the final images conjured in my imagination.


Luminous soaps, slippery sea critters basking on the boardwalk. I had to buy the “sea sand” from a craft store for the decoration on the tables for the baby shower….Is this not pitiful? Where is the ocean when I need it?


Soapy Aquatic ” monsters” & terrestrial critters that hide in your bath-tub. I found these rather inexpensive molds, not for soap- molding at all, but used them anyway! I am glad that I am making a little guy, named Cooper,  so happy at bath time!



This post is especially for you Auntie Fatie & all of my aunts & uncles, (in Cape Town, South Africa), & most of all our dearly departed…….

I sincerely miss those days when we were all together….joyous & loud for all to hear,  but then again, we are extremely lucky with all those beautiful memories that Mamma, Boeyah, Grandmother Galiema, my Mom, uncle Omar, uncle Toyer, uncle Yusuf, (a magnificent artist in his own right)  have given us the pleasure to savor! Their creativity was mesmerizing!

To Uncle Mitch who is still wowing people in his part of the world! Are you not glad that you took what may have seemed as woodworking abuse by Boeyah, to a now revered pastime & a means of income? To Uncle Issie who taught us that loyalty toward family takes precedence over everything else!  To Tietie, with her delectable twists and turns in food & making any unsuspecting diner wish for more of what they thought, they disliked! To Auntie Mona, for that entrepreneurial spirit & teaching us to explore the “other side” of the world! I am happy to report that “this other side of the world” is what I now call home!

Because of Uncle Omar & you, Auntie F, I can still make huge additions mentally just by looking at numbers, this I learned by working in your store on the week-ends & much later in my Mom’s store.  Both you & my Mom taught me the beauty  & the love for fabric among countless other things…..my Mom, who could turn any rag into a robe fit for a runway… & what can I say about my Grandmother J, she was one of a kind, she is still making sure that up to this day, I am making her craft proud, her confectioneries were insane!!! I know in my heart of hearts that she helps me every step of the way through this satisfying journey of  tasty cookery!

To my Grandmother G, who with great ease, made vats of tangy mango pickle & delicious home-made fizzy ginger beer & from whom I take after in looks and mannerisms! I have yet to master the art of ginger beer…..I shall soon!

Auntie F, I still remember the time when you showed me off in a sari when I was twelve! I loved those scrumptious,  baked turmeric colored potatoes you made in the oven….& now of course I make them for my family , friends & acquaintances  all over world & not without the beautiful memory that goes with them. My friends thank you’ll! There are just not enough accolades in the world to commemorate what you all have instilled within us. I miss those dearly departed! I am because of what they made me to be!!  I thank God every day, that I had such caring elders who embraced life with so much passion & making this, sometimes unattractive world, so appealing!


Hope you guys are having a spectacular summer! Will post a recipe soon!

Love as always,



Digestive biscuits & another pumpkin pie

Written by Nazarina on March 20th, 2011

Here is the link to the Red Cross if you want to donate to the plight of the Tsunami victims in Japan. My prayers are with all of my Japanese blogger friends, especially OCHI, who Thank God is okay & all of the Japanese during this tumultuous and difficult time!

How to make desserts soar!

On the agenda today: Digestive biscuits ( regular and chocolate); Vanilla bean whipped cream pumpkin pie and foxes!….. Need there be more?

This digestive biscuit post is my contribution to a  garnishing event held by Food Fanatic


The gift of the Digestive biscuit, (cookie), was given to us by our friends from across the pond, namely the English! This is my version of this irresistibly, delicious snack. I can still recollect the days when my Mom and I used to share the chocolate Digestives in the purple package in Cape Town, South Africa! My Mom rocked! “Dit is nou vir jou n’ lekker koekie!”

Well, my quest here was to develop a recipe that would be a wholesome snack for skiing and a little chocolaty for high tea or in my case, milk! Somehow, I do not think that the British would go for the milk! Nevertheless, I often serve this biscuit at high tea as well & do the unthinkable…..I dunk!!!

It seems to me that this biscuit has somewhat of a conflicting nature……should I be savory or should I be sweet this time? You know, just like  when those crazy voices in your head are at loggerheads with each other! LOL!

For the savory factor, just garnish a cheeseboard by cutting out whimsical shapes from the cheese of your choice with cookie cutters & stack for further interest. The digestive biscuits are perfect mates for sharp cheddar cheese / Swiss & maybe a dollop of spicy cranberry chutney on top of the cheese!

Mmmm, to be chocolaty or to be cheesy that is the question?

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For the sweet factor, adorn the Digestive biscuits with dark chocolate ganache! Boil your cream, pour over dark chocolate with a small pat of unsalted butter and incorporate & slather over the crispy biscuit. To make the wavy pattern, use a cake comb and please do wait until the chocolate sets!

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I ” love” this biscuit so much, I even put it in writing! For the garnish, “LOVE”, just pour the dark melted chocolate into a paper cone made of parchment & write the word,”Love” onto parchment & let it harden.

I made 10 of these gift boxes, covered in cellophane for my neighborhood bake sale for the Strength.Org charity event. They flew off the table like hotcakes! I love doing charities like Strength.Org because this is where I can really flaunt my baking expertise!

This biscuit had a “malty” overtone with a slight crisp & shortbread-like taste! Absolutely yum! A Nazarina special!



A wildlife intervention

These are my new pets! Just kidding, I vow never to keep the wild in confinement! “Foxy” (female) came to me limping (really badly) from the nearby  Rocky mountain during September of last year. I felt an immediate pang of sorrow for Foxy because of this limp so in my regular  “Nazarina-like-fashion”,  I coaxed her with some food & nursed her leg! She came almost hypnotized by my soft spoken voice & it was almost as if she knew instinctively that I meant her no harm but only to help. There are lots of these foxes in my area. I love foxes, white wolves & polar bears! Gosh, I love all animals!

My 22lb cat, Oscar, stealthily went after her, trying to chase her off his domain. I intervened & stopped the confrontation in the nick of time! Cats, I tell ya are so territorial! LOL! I am sure you are most probably thinking that I am being terribly facetious, especially taken into account that I am dealing with foxes here!

Well Foxy came back this January  and brought her mate,” Moxie” (male) along with her. Aren’t they cute! Moxie follows Foxy everywhere and my sweetie shared a piece of  fox trivia with me saying that once they find their mate, they stay together forever! BTW, this is just a light dusting of snow compared to the norm.

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They love to run and hide underneath my studio (now as you can see just ravaged by the continuous snowfalls and arctic-like cold air)! This is where I make my soap & other crafts. This picture is a bit blurry because I was running after them, trying to take their picture! Anyway, I have not seen them for a couple of days now, maybe they went back to the nearby mountain! Funny thing though, just when we forget about them, they reappear in my backyard! Do you think that they bonded with me?



Finally, remember this post (Streusel topped pumpkin pie).……… that I wrote about a year ago?


……..I revamped my pumpkin pie yet again! This time, I still kept the streusel, but piped a swirl of mousse y vanilla bean whipped double cream on top & abstractly “Jackson Pollocked” the melted dark chocolate all over the pie! My friend, Vanessa, was having a bad day & quit her job over the phone, so I made her this pumpkin mousse pie & named it “Vanessa is out livin her life, so shove your job where the sun don’t shine! pie”  She liked the message so much and left it on voice mail & that was exactly what her Employer heard when they eventually called her back!

Stop me please!!! how many more times am I going to change this gift that just keeps on giving?  I use Dr. Oetker French vanilla ( all the time see my old blog), ….a friend of mine, Zoe, went to Canada from Miami & brought back 20 packages, all just for me. I just got tired of asking Cost Plus to get the French Vanilla! I did add the double cream to the mousse as well though to make it extra light & fluffy! “Zoe, many, many, thanks you are the bomb! You are a great gourmet cook in your own right! Delicious breyanis and heavenly cakes are amongst her specialties!”

Oh! BTW, this time I made the crust  & streusel with organic coconut flour (Bob’s Red Mill ),  almond flour etc…… . It came out better than a French sable’ type of dough!

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Recipes: As usual, please use organic ingredients when possible!

Digestive biscuits: Makes about 13 biscuits or more if you use a smaller cookie cutter than the one described in my “method.”

(This is my version)

  • 1/2 c organic wheat bran
  • 2 T extra fine Dessicated coconut ( Buy this at an Indian Grocer)
  • 5oz unsalted softened butter
  • 1/3 c brown sugar minus 1 T
  • 1 T Barley Malt syrup
  • 2 t  pure vanilla extract ( I use the one from Santo Domingo)
  • 1 egg yolk (I love baking with just the yolk, because the end result is always rich!)
  • 1-2 t ground ginger (optional but not for me!)
  • 1 t finely grounded (super-fine) cardamom (optional but not for me!)
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 t baking powder


Toast the wheat bran & the coconut together in the oven 350 degrees for about 10-15 mins; just until you can smell the toasted coconut aroma & the wheat is slightly colored. Remove & cool

Cream the butter, brown sugar, malt & vanilla together with an electric beater until light & fluffy. Add the egg yolk,  ginger & cardamom & incorporate. Sift cake flour, wheat flour & baking powder & then whisk in the toasted wheat bran & coconut.  Gingerly fold in this dry ingredient mixture  in 3 batches with a spatula. If the dough seems a bit wet, lightly dust hands with extra cake flour & then knead lightly and finally refrigerate 30mins-1 hour.

Roll out the dough to a little less than a quarter inch and cut out rounds with a 2 & half inch cookie cutter, ( or to whatever size you prefer),  & dock with a fork. I also love to roll the dough out thinner than this this on baking paper (tape the ends down on work surface or plastic wrap!),  & then place on baking sheet, but you really have to watch the browning…..this makes for some of the biscuits,  a lot more crispier! Refrigerate again for about 10 minutes & then bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 16 mins. or until slightly brown along the edges. Cool on the baking sheet and then garnish with the chocolate ganache or just eat them plain with cheese.

That’s it folks, I am signing off.



“Thomas”, the train made from chocolate gingerbread!

Written by Nazarina on March 2nd, 2011

How to make dessert fun

This was a really cool and delicious project and especially prudent to make since I am compelled to watch “Thomas the Train” and several other kid friendly movies with the munchkin.  To say that I am bored, (thinking out loud rather facetiously), with his TV choices would be an understatement!  I have succumbed to the notion that “Madagascar” and “Cars”, to name a few, are to be my only form of entertainment!
I am no longer in charge of the TV remote or allowed to satisfy a sudden urge to watch one of my favorite shows!……..  just kidding! he only has 1 hour of allotted TV time over here!

Even with this displayed, illiberal behavior, I still wanted to be his heroine, so making this train out of gingerbread and dark chocolate more than likely would have averted his pretty, little “TV head” to something way more enjoyable, such as cutting out  parts of the train from soft gingerbread dough. I succeeded, only to realize that now my cherished bake-ware is at the brunt of his rambunctious baking demeanor. Lord! have mercy, he is extremely messy and disorganized as well…. some things, I just cannot appreciate….. I love my “mise en plus” just way too much ! I do have standards , you know! LOL! ” Sure!” you would say, now, most probably, would be a good time to let go of all your peculiar kitchen antics and anal cleaning mannerisms because this is not about you! Rug rats rule!

Anyway, I know that this is the only way he is going to learn by having “his way” with all my treasured cookware , so forgive my unnecessary rant. He will most probably recollect all of our baking sessions together, just as I of my Mom and Grandmother.

Chocolate gingerbread cookie train for a little boy who loves trains!

This is a chocolate gingerbread dough,  “glued” together with chocolate ganache. You can also use Royal icing, but frankly I much prefer the chocolate. The result is a much more neater and way more delicious result. I also used the dark chocolate M & M’s , Twizzlers & Christmas peppermints to further decorate the train and the track.


I prepared, measured and baked the different parts of the train on one day and did the decorating on the following day.

You are also going to need  honey grahams to serve as support for both the engine and coal car. Glue six of the gingerbread  wheels together to form the boiler and then glue onto the graham stack support inside the “engine sides.”


This is the template for the train. Measure the different parts and just place directly onto the dough and cut with a pizza cutter. Use a craft knife for the little window on the “engine side.” I used a two & half inch round cookie cutter for the wheels. BTW, it is most probably a good idea just to place the templates back onto the baked pieces and just trim uneven sides, you have to do this really gingerly, otherwise they will crack. I used the template from Family Circle, but not the recipe.

You do not need a bottom part to this train, as the graham cracker stacks will keep the engine & the coal car up!


Recipe: Please use organic ingredients whenever possible!

Really easy, all the ingredients are mixed in the food processor!!!

I could not use my really delicious gingerbread dough recipe on my old blog, for fear of it not being able to “stand up” to this project. Turns out, I was wrong, so next gingerbread project will definitely be with that old recipe!!!

  • 1 & 1/4 cups All purpose, unbleached flour
  • 3 t ground ginger
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ground clove
  • 1/4 cup Valrhona French dark chocolate powder 64% ( Grand Cru de Terroire, “Tainori” Dominican Republic. I am now using this in almost all of my chocolate creations!
  • 1/2 t bicarbonate of soda ( do not use baking soda, this has a soapy taste, I know because I also make my own soap!). Buy it from your local Middle Eastern store.
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 6 T unsalted butter (slightly softened & cut into small pieces)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • honey grahams for support only
  • chocolate ganache for “gluing”the parts together


In a food processor, sift together flour, spices, salt, bicarbonate of soda and chocolate powder. Give two quick pulses. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles course sand. Use the on and off pulse button to achieve this OR  a biscuit cutter if doing this by hand.  Add the sugar and beaten egg and pulse again until the mixture comes together. Remove and lightly knead by hand into a smooth ball, wrap and refrigerate for about two hours.

You will have to make this recipe 4 times in order to make all the different parts of the train and then use the remainder for gingerbread boys and/ or girls, whatever your fancy. Use your realm of creativity. The dough should be rolled out into slightly less than a quarter of an inch. See further instructions & captions at my pictures. You are going to need to glue together 7 graham cracker cookies to serve as  support with chocolate ganache. Just snap the cookies along the perforated edge. Make 4 of these stacks. Take two stacks and glue to the side of one of the “engine” parts. Let the chocolate harden a little and then glue the other part of the “engine” to the graham crackers. This will make your “engine” car stand up. Do the same with the coal car. Proceed by gluing together all the other parts of the train, just like in my pictures above.

I used melted dark chocolate ganache ( dark choc. boiled heavy cream a pat of unsalted butter), in a pastry bag to glue all the parts together.

If you do not want to use chocolate ganache then use this Royal icing recipe:

  • 3 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
  • meringue powder( prepared as per instructions on the can) OR 2 fresh egg whites, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 t cream of tartar
  • 1 t fresh lemon juice

Sift & beat ingredients together to form a fluffy icing. Just use a plastic zipper bag, if you do not have a pastry bag to do all the piping!


As you can see from the messy picture below, his favorite food is steamed butternut squash but he can also clean up very nicely!

He was only allowed to munch on a gingerbread boy, because we donated the whole  cake to a lady with lots of children. Hopefully, I shall make a different design when he is a little bigger and I shall definitely use my old chocolate gingerbread recipe that is on my old blog!!!

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Love, as always & have fun making this train, & if you have any questions about this cookie train, ask me in your comment, & I shall answer, the best way possible!


Curry pies made with a William Sonoma lattice mold

Written by Nazarina on December 31st, 2010

Hope you guys had a swell Christmas and plan to have a really cool New years eve as well. HAPPY NEW YEAR !

I catered a couple of Christmas parties and had a really fun time preparing for them! My husband was out of town so I decided to party and dance along with everyone else. I thought that it would be the antidote to me missing him.  If you are a regular visitor here, you most probably know that I love dancing, ( a great way to work out),  and occasionally, yet, enthusiastically burst into song, (this you did not know!)!  Oh, come on, don’t be coy with me, tell me you don’t do this when you are alone? It turns out to be a favorite pastime of mine and heck, I am actually insulted for not being discovered ….yet he he ! Hay, let me tell ya, singing, whether on or off key,  is good exercise for relinquishing, cooped up crap, as long as it is in the confines of your own home ( the shower), you’re not hurting anyone’s eardrums! In fact, catchy lyrics and a visceral heave or two, ( you know when you hit those high notes), are  my melodramatic stance at “stardom.” What can I tell you, music,  simply moves me!

This was pretty much the festive mood I was in, trying to expedite the task of baking all thirty of these scrumptious curry pies and other delectable party food. I had lots of help so setting up, including decorating the huge table for the party was a cinch. People were very much impressed by the food and the beautiful table decor! Within in no time, we were dancing and just having a really good time.

Vocal trance rocks!

There I was, minding my own business and rhythmically swaying to the beat of my ultimate favorite trance song—— DASH BERLIN—featuring CERF,MITISKA & JAREN singing MAN ON THE RUN and the Tritonal vocal trance of Nadia Ali, singing  “Fantasy”, ( I am a trance junkie &  I  actually requested the DJ to play this because frankly, he was just playing crap all night, you might also  recognize Nadia Ali, from the group, Iio,  singing Rapture,” when this Matthew McConaughey wannabe, comes up to me and says in this rather humorous &  Southern colloquial drawl, ” Na za ray na”, I am digging your “abonible” snowman,would you like to dance?” I was actually surprised because when we were introduced earlier, he could barely say two words to me & I do think he was a little drunk, (not snockered) at this point in time.  I felt like saying to him, the word is  “abominable” you fool, but instead I  pretended  that I did not hear him and just sang the chorus line  of  “Fantasy”, a little louder……”Stay away from me….” and hoped that he would just go away.  He most probably realized then that I was not going to oblige, when he turned  around and said, ” Your food and your dance moves are fantastic but your singing is not!”  Flustered, I defiantly stammered a bad word  in Afrikaans, “Vok jou, jou ou moer”  “last time I checked Mr Simon Cowell, you certainly are  no American Idol either!”After a rather awkward silence, we both just cracked up and I decided to just dance with him to keep the peace! Turned out that he was a rather nice guy after all! He did ask what I said to him in Afrikaans, I politely answered, ” I plead the fifth!”


Lattice pocket pie mold

( Talk about party crashers & a disappearing act! these curry pies simply vanished the minute, they came out of the oven). I had to literally scramble to take the picture of my final presentation!

I bought this simple, yet inexpensive mold from William Sonoma and it truly does a marvelous job of molding these lattice pocket pies. They have a fruity filling on their box & another type of dough.  However, I used my own recipe for the pie crust and the filling. I made my pie crust with pastry flour,  cream cheese,  unsalted butter etc….. The cream cheese gave this dough a flaky and tender crumb, while the butter gave it lots of flavor. I also added a teaspoon of my masala, ( spice blend),  into the prep of the dough, thus giving it that extra burst of flavor! As you can see below, my pie dough is extremely forgiving and holds its shape beautifully!

I would recommend buying this little gadget because it makes the lattice design appear very professional & the other good thing is that, one can really place a lot of filling in the pie without distorting the design.


These pies had a very flavorful & light curry flavor with bits of chopped egg on top. I also made some without egg, but added small chunks of potatoes to the ground beef mixture. The potatoes has to be tender! I also made a roasted apricot & chili chutney as an accompanying dipping sauce. Delish!

Accompanying them were icy cold glasses of the non alcoholic Martinelli’s sparkling apple drinks & maraschino cherries as a garnish. I do not drink alcohol,  ( this does not mean that I cannot have my fun LOL!),  so the hosts, I cater for,  always provide their own alcoholic drinks .

lattice 580 curry pies 1


  • Please use organic ingredients when possible!
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 large tomatoes, skins removed ( to remove the skins,  make a deep “cross” in the top of the tomato and soak in boiling water)
  • 1 T pounded garlic
  • 1 teaspoon pounded ginger root
  • 1 lb of ground beef, slightly rinsed and drained in a colander
  • 2 teaspoons of meat masala( I make & toast my own spice blends)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala ( My blend has toasted cumin, coriander, fenugreek etc…..
  • 1 julienned  green bell pepper
  • 1 chopped green jalapeno, seeds removed
  • juice of half of a lemon
  • half cup chopped cilantro, including the stems
  • 3-5 curry leaves
  • 2 small potatoes peeled and diced (optional)
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, chopped into tiny pieces ( Do this only if you do not want the potatoes in the ground beef mixture)
  • If you cannot find all these spices, then use cumin, sweet red paprika & turmeric of course
  • an egg wash for the glaze


Peel & finely chop the onion & saute in 3 T olive oil & 1 T unsalted butter until translucent. Add the pounded garlic & ginger and cook for 5 minutes. Chop the tomatoes into chunks & then add to the onion mixture and cook for 10 minutes until saucy. Add the ground beef and cook for 30 minutes. Toast all the spices first….this brings out a tremendous flavor & aroma…then add them, green peppers,  jalapeno & lemon juice and cook further for about 10 minutes. Now would be a good time to add the potatoes, if you so wish and cook until they are almost tender & then top off with cilantro & curry leaves and cook for 5 minutes more. When done, the potatoes have to be soft & have taken on the color of the spices! Fill the lattices with the ground beef mixture and scatter the chopped egg on top and continue to follow the instructions of molding the pies as per the William Sonoma box. If you wish to leave out the egg then just follow the recipe with the chunks of potatoes instead. Frankly , I love the potato ground beef mixture the best,

Beat an egg yolk with a little water and then brush pies before baking. You can freeze these pies as well. I let the pie dough rest in the refrigerator for an hour before molding and filling them. I baked them at 400 degrees for 25 minutes


Here are just a few of my other favorite songs for 2010: My sweetie always cracks up when I say “The Giddy DJ is in the house”

I really, really really want to go to a concert & see the two best DJ’s in action, one of them is,

Tiesto—-power mix

& the other is Armin Van Buuren—–Imagine

Lady Antebellum—– Need you now

Vocal trance 2010——Xtreme snow mash up

Rihanna——Only girl in the world, what’s my name etc….

Also listen to this version of Nadia ali “Fantasy” & cool dance moves from the queen of clubs

Nadia Ali—-Is it love?


Gosh, I have so many more, I swear I do not have enough time to list them all!!!

Hope you too can dance the night away!



Sweet potato recipes, “Lays style” potato chips & making sushi napkins

Written by Nazarina on November 14th, 2010

How to make food soar:  sweet potato chips, “Lays style” potato chips, panko  baked  pearl onion & sweet potato salad and super easy & cute sushi napkin folds.

The premise of this blog is to share cooking, crafts and many laughs and many of you already know that I am extremely ostentatious in all of my efforts whether culinary, presentation of dishes or otherwise but never gaudy! I love exciting food and to say that I am disambiguous would be an understatement especially since I am more than eager to transform anything into more ways than one and totally override  an ingredient’s current potential. So, today I am going to do just that share a recipe, a craft and many a laugh in the form of  a couple of jokes, (hopefully, not too indecorous for your taste!) Oh! c’mon, are you going to sit there and tell me that when friends get together that one of them is not liable to let loose a “dirty” joke? Its funny because normally, I am the one that is easily embarrassed. I always turn red as a tomato and in the process mess up the entire joke he! he! Isn’t it fun to be a little naughty?

Spuddy, buddy?

Tomato flavored potato chips and Chinese 5 spice sweet potato chips

Everyone has a favorite chip and a different term of endearment for this comfort food, whether they are gaufrettes, crisps, frips or like a former neighbor of ours in South Africa would say ‘KRIPS” ( this one always cracks me up!). “Wil jy ‘n pakkie krips he?”

Nevertheless,  they all have to be crispy! My favorite were “Tomato chips” back in South Africa. Unfortunately, I cannot find this flavor here, so,  I made my own. I made my spice  with tomato powder ( on its own, this powder lacks va va va voom), so I  toasted some pink peppercorns in a hot pan, and a few more toasted ingredients to make up the most captivating blend! This spice blend is to die for and imparted a very good flavor to my popcorn, french fries and roasted tomato soup as well. I also made a Chinese  5 spice, a little cinnamon, & a few more toasted ingredients, a custom blend, for the sweet potato chips as well. I made a note of all so that I can get the same flavor every time! Don’t you just hate it if you did not!

See some good tips below on how to keep the chips crispy!


Recipes :

Please use organic ingredients when possible

  • 2 big Idaho russet potatoes or Yukon golds or more
  • 2  garnet sweet potatoes or more
  • Bob’s Red Mill potato starch ( so silky, you do not even have to shake off the excess! I love Bob’s Red Mill!!! & this makes the spuddy extra crispy!
  • peanut oil for frying
  • kosher salt
  • my special tomato spice blend
  • my special Chinese 5 spice & cinnamon blend (for sweet potatoes only)

Method and tips for making a batch of “Lays style” chips

Warm half of a saucepan with peanut oil and if you drop in a piece of bread, it should immediately crisp up, this is your queue to drop in the chips. Meanwhile scrub the russets,  (do not peel some of the potatoes, keep it rustic),  under running water and thinly slice with a mandolin. It is fun to use all the different settings on the mandolin like the waffle and many others.  Rinse the russet slices until water runs clear and pat dry with paper towels. Do not let the potatoes sit in water!!! They will become water logged and will steam instead of crisp up! These slices should  be very dry and then toss them in the silky potato starch and then drop immediately into the electric fryer or a Dutch oven, ( cast iron pot). These two utensils tend to maintain the temperature of the oil and allows anything to be fried evenly. Do not overcrowd the pot, you do not want to steam the potatoes. Fry for about 2 mins until golden brown and drain on a cookie sheet covered with paper towels. Season with your choice of seasoning. If you have a big batch to make,  keep the cooked potato chips in a 300 degree convection bake oven until you are done with the rest and no longer than 15 mins. I use the convection setting because the air flow further dries the residual oil and hence the crispy appeal!

Scrub the sweet potatoes in the same way and dry with a paper towel but do not rinse the slices in water. Toss with Bob’s Red Mill potato starch and fry in the same way as for the regular russets. When the Chinese five spice blend hit the sweet potato chips as it came out of the fryer, the dry cold weather outside seemed like a cinch to bear.

I actually sliced the garnet sweet potatoes very thinly by hand and let all the slices air dry the night before I fried them. This is a kick a.. snack for Thanksgiving !

*Try this as well if you dare!

As the regular russets or Yukon golds come out of the fryer, lightly drizzle with malt vinegar and kosher salt. Do not put on any of the spices I mentioned on this batch though, it will clash with the vinegar! This is a British influence on the tater and was taught to me by my Mom.

Actually now that I remember, it was the Portuguese fish & chip shops that would sell these in South Africa.


However, the same does not go for the prep of my homemade french fries, here you can actually let the french cut style potatoes sit longer in cold water. This will release more of the starch, you will have to dry the cut potatoes very well with paper towels and then deep fry in hot oil. The result, a very crispy, french fry!


I share with you this really cute sushi napkin fold that I folded by using fabric remnants. You could use paper napkins as well! This will be great for a sushi party!



“How to fold the sushi napkin”

For the inside napkin:

  • Fold the napkin in half  with the folded edge on bottom & iron flat
  • Fold the napkin into 2 & half inch wide bands, starting from the bottom to the top. Do not worry about the little piece sticking out, when you reach the top.
  • Roll the napkin tightly, starting from one end into a “roll” and set aside.
  • Lay the second napkin in a diamond shape and fold the bottom point up to about 2 & half inches and continue folding into 2 &half inch bands until you reach the top and then flip over.
  • lay the first napkin roll about 2 inches from the left side of the second napkin and roll the outside napkin around the first like a sushi roll all the way to the end. The bottom edges of the sushi rolls should be aligned.  Secure with a corsage pin or just tuck the loose end into the folds of the second roll.


*Baked panko sweet potato balls & half pearl & half boiler onions “onion rings” salad. My take on a potato salad.  I made this as a pot -luck dish for friends and went over really well even with those “burly, bad boys!”

This is a totally vegetarian meal! ( not that I have anything against meat because I do indulge every so now and again )

There is a bed of sesame vinaigrette slaw ( julienned  carrots, cucumbers & parsnips) on the bottom of my panko sweet potato balls and crispy pearl onion “rings” & tomato salad. I made the mayonnaise also from scratch and lightly coated this unique potato salad. Both the little panko sweet potato balls and the pearl & boiler onion rings (balls) were baked.

I say unto all carnivores in light of this menu, “Eat your hearts out!”

600 sweet potato & pearl onion ring salad

Looking at these pictures, one would think that these are meatballs, but I kid you not, they are baked  panko sweet potato and onion balls. The pearl onion balls had a very cool coating on it as well & no it is not a regular flour coating!!!

sweet potato570

You will love this homemade version of this light & creamy ” Hellman’s style” mayonnaise and believe it or not, no raw eggs were used!

BTW, I am still getting tomatoes from my patch! See post below for the tomato patch and spicy tomato jam!




A funny senior citizen joke

“You’re getting old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster.

Mother-in-law joke

A married couple was in a terrible accident where the man’s face was severely burned.

The doctor told the husband that they couldn’t graft any skin from his body because he was too skinny.

So the wife offered to donate some of her own skin. However, the only skin on her body that the doctor felt was suitable would have to come from her buttocks. The husband and wife agreed that they would tell no one about where the skin came from, and they requested that the doctor also honor their secret.
After all, this was a very delicate matter.

After the surgery was completed, everyone was astounded at the man’s new face. He looked more handsome than he ever had before! All his friends and relatives just went on and on about his youthful beauty!

One day, he was alone with his wife, and he was overcome with emotion at her sacrifice. He said, ‘Dear, I just want to thank you for everything you did for me. How can I possibly repay you?’

‘My darling,’ she replied,
‘I get all the thanks I need every time I see your mother kiss my ass.’

Employment joke!

How to ask your Boss for a salary increase..?

One day an employee sends a letter to her boss asking for an increase in
her salary!!!

Dear Bo$$

In thi$ life, we all need $ome thing mo$t de$perately. I think you $hould be
under$tanding of the need$ of u$ worker$ who have given $o much $upport
including $weat and $ervice to your company.

I am $ure you will gue$$ what I mean and re$pond $oon.

Your$ $incerely,
Marian $hih

The next day, the employee received this letter of reply:

Dear Marian

I kNOw you have been working very hard. NOwadays, NOthing much has changed.
You must have NOticed that our company is NOt doing NOticeably well as yet.

NOw the newspaper are saying the world’s leading ecoNOmists are NOt sure if the
United States may go into aNOther recession. After the NOvember presidential
elections things may turn bad.

I have NOthing more to add NOw. You kNOw what I mean.

Yours truly,

State of mind joke!

It doesn’t hurt to take a hard look at yourself from time to time, and

this should help get you started

During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the director what

the criterion was which defined whether or not a patient should be


“Well,” said the director, “We fill up a bathtub, then we offer a

teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to

empty the bathtub.”

“Oh, I understand,” said the visitor. “A normal person would use the

bucket because it’s bigger than the spoon or the teacup.”

“No” said the director, “A normal person would pull the plug … Do you

want a room with or without a view?”


That’s it folks, oh dear, I need a room with a view!!!!

I decided against the really bad jokes after all!



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