Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Date and Caramel Balls (Truffles)

Update: I was recently enjoying this article on the 11 Health Benefits of Dates by JenReviews - inspired me to make this recipe again!

Date and Caramel Balls (Truffles)

400g bag of Dates (pitted )
2 packets Tennis Biscuits
One 3rd of a block of salted butter
200g bag of shredded coconut
1 tin Caramel Treat

You will need:
Two deep bowls
Baking tray
Mixed/blender with an S blade
A plate for coconut rolling
Space in your fridge
Clean hands

Date Balls
  1. Divide the pitted dates into 3.
  2. Divide the stick butter into half, put half aside for the caramel balls and divide the remaining butter into 3.
  3. Group your dates and butter into 3 piles.
  4. Keep the biscuits aside.
  5. Using the blender – whizz up the dates and butter in three lots. Adding each processed lot to the first mixing bowl. The consistency should be mildly lumpy but glistening and smooth (the butter will do this)
  6. Once all 3 lots of date/butter paste are done, add half a tin of Caramel Treat and mix in well.
  7. Place the biscuits into the blender and whizz until fine crumbs (I did this in 3 as well, as my Kenwood Triblade Hand Blender is small) add to the date/butter/caramel mixture and fold in with a spatula until all is sticky resembling cookie dough. Use your hands if you must – finger tips only – to get the dough uniform throughout.
  8. Using your clean hands, scoop out teaspoonfuls of the dough and roll in your palm. (You may need to wash your hands after a while because they will get sticky and stop the balls from rolling nicely.)
  9. Roll each ball on a plate that has coconut shavings sprinkled liberally on it. Place each rolled, coated date ball onto the baking tray.
(Makes 50 medium mouth-sized date balls)

Caramel Balls
  1. Remember to keep aside a liberally sprinkled plate of shredded coconut for coating the caramel balls.
  2. Pour the remainder of the bag of shredded coconut into the second mixing bowl.
  3. Add the remaining half of the stick of butter.
  4. Add the remaining half of the tin of Carmel Treat.
  5. Whizz half a packet of Tennis Biscuits in the blender until fine crumbs, and add to the mixture.
  6. Using the spatula – get the mixture to a wet and crumbling evenly blended dough.
  7. Using your clean hands, scoop out teaspoonfuls of the dough and roll in your palm.
  8. Roll each ball on a plate that has coconut shavings sprinkled liberally on it. Place each rolled, coated caramel ball onto the baking tray.
(Makes 30 medium mouth-sized caramel balls)

Once you have made all of the balls – Put them all together in a sealable fridge tub (Clip Lock/Tupperware/Addis etc) the beauty of this treat is that they are mixed together.

It looks beautiful and the flavours combine very well, my only problem was stopping my Husband and myself from eating them as I made them!

You could also soak your dates for an hour in your favourite liqueur – Amarula Cream or Sherry comes to mind. An alternative to using butter would be to use Coconut oil, which you can buy from Crede oils online (I have met the team from Crede Oils - they are amazing!) You could even add their Cashew nut butter to the mix. If you don’t like sugar but would prefer raw unrefined sugars there are many alternatives out there worth researching. Agave syrup is one option. If you are striving for a wheat free recipe – just substitute the Bakers Tennis Biscuits for any wheat free alternative. Just remember though – you may have to add some form of liquid if you use rye or rice biscuits as they tend to soak up moisture. I would not recommend using any form of potato starch with this recipe. Potato flour tends to go very gluey… You could add some chopped chocolate or chopped smarties to the Caramel Balls if you were so inclined – it would be a great idea to push a short bamboo skewer into them, dip them in melted chocolate and roll them in 100’s & 1000’s for a kids party as well!

Dates are a great source of energy and the health benefits of Coconut are also worth thinking about. The volume of balls created means that the Caramel Treat is spread out so the amount of actual sugar per ball is not high. Overindulging would end that idea though! But, the balls are very rich so it would be hard to overdo it without feeling ill!

For breastfeeding Mums - Date balls are fantastic for topping up energy levels and provide a source of nutrients while nursing.

These would be just perfect served next to a cappuccino or tea, or served on a pudding platter with other small deserts, the key is to have a few here and there.

And of course, don’t forget to cry into the empty bowl when they are finished.

You’re welcome.

Sandy Bigara

The Date Dough

My Kenwood fitted with a S blade

Try not to eat them as you make them... 

The mixed Date and Caramel Balls

Guess who was peeking into the bowl... ;) 

Happy Wanderers Holiday Resort

Just a quick post to say THANK YOU to Happy Wanderers Holiday Resort and to Butik Asia for our lovely (much needed) family holiday treat!

We arrived on Sunday the 14th October - very stressed and tired. 
Spent 5 relaxing days exploring the beach, distant rock pools, 'haunted' house and lagoon. 

The close proximity to the water was at first overwhelming but we settled in quickly and really felt the fast-paced and stressful world slip away... we departed sadly on the Friday - could have easily stayed another few days! 

Unfortunately the weather wasn't great... we had hoped for loads of swimming and tanning, but we still had a lot of fun!

We enjoyed the nearby Atlanta Spur where the manager was amazing - made us feel very welcome. 

Due to the weather, our plans to visit Croc World were not an option - so we opted to just relax, read a book, go for walks along the strand, look out for whales and dolphins, play card games with our girls, BAKE BROWNIES! and just have lots of cat naps :) 

We've missed the sound of the waves... 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Having a laugh... This looks about right...

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Mystery Music Manuscript "True Till Death"

"True Till Death" OLD MUSIC MANUSCRIPT MYSTERY - THE FIRST SOUNDS! hear what I heard when i played back the first few bars for the first time! Amazing! After being hidden for so long... amazing. 

So... in 2005 I was given a box of sheet music. The music in the box (some of it hand written but destroyed by mould and borer, were dated by hand at about 1830 - 1850.) 

A short while ago I found a beaut
iful handwritten and decorated ORIGINAL piece of music called "True Till Death" and I felt that I wanted to program the music into my computer, learn the lyrics and tune - and do a recording of the song. So far it is delightful! A little art song inspired by marriage or unending love. I'm hoping to find out more information! 

There is not ONE error despite it all having been written and drawn with a calligraphy-type pen. SO much love went into this song - I hope that I can do it justice and give it sound for the first time in 163 years...

So lovingly written out.

Loads of detailed line drawings on the cover.

I wish I knew who this song was written for!! 

Our only clue - Initials A C P

The watermark that covers most of each page. Only visible when held up to a light. 

I've done the first page - VERY haunting and chilling to hear the music come to life. Can just imagine the person playing this song... 

“True, True till death”

By A.C. 

Here will I pledge thee, Dearest one. 
Here will I vow ere day be done. 
Deeper the shadows fall from the trees, 
Stirr’d to and fro by the evening breeze, 
True, true till death! 
True, true till death! 

Bear it, O wind! On your lightening breath! 
Bear it, O stream! On your bosom tide; 
Echo it! Carry it! Far and wide! 
True, true till death! 
True, true till death! 

Here will I pledge thee dearest one, 
For I must leave thee, all alone. 
Dark is the forrest, dark is the shore, 
Loud beats the storm and the waters roar… 
True, true till death! 
True, true till death! 

Bear it, O wind! On your lightening breath! 
Bear it, O stream! On your bosom tide; 
Echo it! Carry it! Far and wide! 
True, true till death! 
True, true till death!

(1800’s hand written musical manuscript found in a box in Durban, South Africa 2013)

I've just been asked "Who gave you the Manuscript?" - My answer: When Francis Doherty-Bigara and I were first married we were given a box of music books by an older couple from our church. 
There were lots of music books and old manuscripts like this one - I saw dates 1830 - 1850 and also 1935 on some of the manuscripts so they must have been family music passed down? I don't know. 
Most of the original hand written music was badly damaged (so much so that I couldn't see the notes) such a tragedy. I threw most of it out - too much mould and mildew to keep them with my other sheet music collection. 
This one always 'spoke' to me, made me feel wistful and dreamy. It's followed me around for over 10 years, always staying in my music cupboards or in my piano stool. The other day I saw it again and realised that I HAD to make it come to life. 
I have contacted the old man who's wife gave me the original box. I hope he responds - I have only found him on Facebook but don't know if his page is active.

I have now got a few friends looking into this for me! I hope we find out who wrote this song!  

Friday, 11 October 2013

Chocolate Toffee Apple Pudding (Carrot, Apple & Banana!)

FULL Recipe below! 
My family could NOT believe there was this much fruit and
veg in the pudding!

Once the cocoa and vanilla were added it looked and smelled like
traditional chocolate cake batter! There was a slight
carrot smell but that went away with baking.  

Don't be afraid... dit sal in-meng! 

The hard part was not tasting too many spoonfuls! If you feel the batter
it will feel slightly gritty, but the fruit and veg soften in the oven!

The toffee apple sauce. I would have preferred it a little smoother but... 

The baked pudding! Steaming, wet and chocolatey! See the clean knife?
That, and the SMELL let you know that this baby is READY to come out of the oven!

Managed to get a half-shot before gobbling up the slice!
Would have been PERFECT with custard of fresh cream.
Next time! 

Chocolate Toffee Apple Pudding
(Carrot, Apple & Banana!)
2 large carrots - peeled and chopped.
1 large apple - peeled and chopped.
3 big bananas - peeled and chopped.
4 heaped tsp cocoa
2 tsp vanilla essence

100g Softened margarine or butter

150g Self Raising Flour
50g Corn Flour
100g brown sugar*
1 level tablespoon baking powder

Toffee Apple Sauce
1 x apple, peeled, diced finely
4 heaped tablespoons brown sugar*
1 Tablespoon margarine or butter**
Level teaspoon baking powder

*for a sugar free option try using agave syrup
**for a margarine or butter free option try using coconut oil.

  1. Puree the fruit and veg (raw), add the cocoa and vanilla essence and mix with a food processor. I did it all with my Kenwood hand-held in one jug – no mess no fuss.
  1. In a separate bowl, place dry ingredients together and mix.
  1. Add pureed fruit/veg/cocoa mixture and add softened margarine/butter – mix lightly until blended. Add baking powder at the last moment, mix and pour into the pre-form cake tin.
  1. Bake at 180C for about 20 – 30 minutes. When the knife comes out clean – you’re ready to go!
  1. SAUCE: Sautee the apple in a non-stick pan, add margarine or butter and sugar, bring to the boil. Take off the heat and add the baking powder. Whisk lightly and set to cool. Puree the sauce and get it as smooth as possible! Pour over the pudding and wait to cool. (If you can wait!) Believe it or not this sauce is even better the next day!

For a “Malva Pudding” version of this – add only one teaspoon cocoa and 2 Table spoons of Apricot Jam to the fruit and veg mix!  

All of the flavour and not much guilt! 

Visit my website to see who I am and to say HI! 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Power Failure Win!

We had a neighbourhood power-failure from last night 22:00 until 16:30pm today... What an amazing day!!

Apparently a car had an alcohol induced fling (ding?) with an electricity pole a bit further up our road. He managed to drive away but left the wires disengaged from the pole...

This morning, I had a sad, heartbroken hour where I believed that a working friend had passed away... After calling/whatsapping and connecting with friends in Capetown, we established that our friend is well and *not* dead (whew!) But, of course, using one's blackberry actively for more than 40minutes renders one battery-dead... And with no electricity, no power, no car and a very steep hill between myself and any form of human life... I was well and truly cut off from the world! Jippee!

By 8:30am all other battery operated electronic equipment had died (batteries are shyte) I managed to send out one last inbox to my friend Sevi - via husband's dying phone - and then that was it!

My girl's played in the garden, Kel spent most of her time hovering around me, sitting on me, periodically bumping my hand while I drew a pony with rainbows coming out of its ass (For Sav who was clipping hedges with daddy's leatherman...) when the sun became to hot we went indoors, and I *actually* rehearsed piano and voice for 2 hours (!!!), read a book to the girls (with all of the Little Mermaid accents) ((Totally rocked Sebastian crab)), played cards with them (3yr old legitimately won almost every game - despite not having listened to the bladdy rules!!) and then after we stuffed our faces with delivered pizza (diet fail) we had a wonderful visit and play-date at The Coffee Corner with Sevi and Amy who are recently back from France!

I came home in such a good mood, prepared dinner and made us a chocolate pudding for pudding (made with carrot, banana and apple puree - but tastes and looks like malva pudding!)

We then jumped into the pool (had a ball playing Marco polo...) Then a hot bath (with loud music pumping!) A quick noddy dvd and snuggle in bed with our girls...

What a divine day! All thanks to a silly bloke who hit an electricity pole ;o)

Sandy Bigara

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Victoria Sponge with a South African Twist

Sandy Bigara
Brilliant baking Theatre
Victoria Sponge with a South African Twist

I used half Plantation Select and half Muscovado for a richer darker flavourful sponge

Toasted almonds and cinnamon give this cake a distinct South African flavour. 

Be liberal with the apricot jam - the cake is not too sweet.

160g self raising flour
80g Selati muscovado sugar
80g Selati plantation select brown sugar
(Or just 160g of one type of sugar!)
Tablespoon vanilla essence
160g melted butter (warm and runny not hot!)
3 large eggs
Teaspoon baking powder

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, use a whisk. Add eggs, add vanilla essence, add melted butter, add baking powder and put into the oven as soon as possible.

Bake at 180 degrees for about 20minutes - you will smell it when it is ready! Use a knife to test whether the centre is cooked.

Smear the top with apricot jam (be liberal!) top with the icing of your choice (Mascarpone Icing is divine! just remember to put the apricot jam on FIRST and the lighter icing on second) And handfuls of roasted almond flakes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve!

This cake is light and moist - it is a NON FLOP recipe.

When I MC'd at the Good Food & Wine Show in Jozi, I presented it at the Brilliant Baking Theatre where Paul Hollywood (Breat British Bake-off Judge), Ewan Strydom, Katelyn Williams (Expresso Morning Show SABC3) and Hayden Quinn (Winner Masterchef Australia) had also displayed their baking skills - eek!

I was nervous, and decided to do my flop proof sponge cake. Everything went well... the cake was in the oven about 5 minutes or so, when an audience member piped up
"Don't you put butter in this cake?"
I was so shocked! There was the butter just sitting there. I quickly put the butter in a pan and melted it to as hot as I dared, pulled out the cake from the oven, sang it a song and asked it to please rise!! Added the hot butter and whisked it in. I popped it back in the oven and said
"Don't worry! I will STILL rise..."

About 20 minutes later I called some of the lingering audience members to see me take the cake out of the oven... and guess what? It was a beautiful, risen, golden-coloured sponge. Tasted like a dream. My prep-chefs at the back (unknown to me) iced it up and sent it around to the other theatres... I had great feedback from them as well - and had to tell them the story!

I hope that you enjoy! xx

Thursday, 3 October 2013

FOUND - Calvin Balakisten from East London


A nephew of a friend... Please share and assist.

Thank you xx

The Trouble With The Interwebs

Ooh eh eh - too much drama online these days. I come onto FB and all I see are snippety comments on local business pages:
"So?... is it some sort of revenue boosting scheme? Huh?"
  People spewing hatred/their own wants and needs -  towards celebrities on their fan pages (deserved or not!)

"Henna Montona is to blame for all this... this... Twerking!"

People using their FB status as a soap box to declare their condemning views on food/sex/religion/work etc etc knowing that if anyone gives them grief they can delete their asses ... 

I go onto international news sites and read the articles there - so many reproduced articles where journos/celebs/politicians are obviously just rehashing news from other sites based on empty information - it's scary!! How can we believe a single word... sigh*

I read heartwarming stories only to scroll down to the comments sections and read the vile nasty words of ill-educated hateful judgmental people from all walks of life... 
I have no words. 

Scares me. 

Makes me want to just disconnect and focus on family and friends who I see daily. 


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Sandy Bigara LIVE at Hingham Nursery Tea Garden 6th October 2013

Hi guys! 

The following is the Press Release from the amazing and dedicated team at Hingham Nursery Tea Garden:

"Good morning all,
Please remember that on Sunday the 6th of October the very talented Sandy Bigara 
will be gracing us with her enchanting voice from 12:00 - 14:00!
Those of you who were at the nursery on the 1st of September will remember her, 
especially when she sang 'O mio babbino caro' and got a standing ovation. 
We will also be serving a roast lunch of R50 per person. 
Please call Loura Venter on 0765539691 to reserve your table."

Too sweet! :) 

There is a gorgeous children's play area with tables nearby! 
I love happy customers and I'm really looking forward to playing again, while little "Timon's" (Meercat/ Mongoose) scurry around my keyboard! Only in Africa people! 

"Hold me till the song ends Chancho." 

The food is traditional Sunday roast fair - meaty, tasty and filling. The restaurant is open air, rustic and surrounded by pretty flowers - what more could a girl want for her birthday gig!? My last gig there inspired my most recent tattoo... to see that you will have to ask me in person! 

Beautiful... Am I right? xx

Hope to see you there! It is my birthday weekend (I am another year older on the 7th October!) sob! 

"Like this...except, imagine this as a cheesecake."

 Loura Venter on 0765539691 to reserve your table!