Monday, we celebrate our independence as a country, but we can take independence a step further. Independent means on one’s own, freedom to do as one pleases. We can celebrate independence in our kitchen, our ability to create our own dishes without conforming to traditions. It’s very liberating actually, and pushes us further to discover how much is possible once you realise you are "boss" of your own kitchen. I tell my students all the time, you are the boss of your knives and your stove, so manage them skilfully, do not be afraid. The more we assert ourselves in our kitchens the more adventurous we become and more independent in our thinking with respect to the flavours we put together, and the foods we ultimately create. So, go out and celebrate your independence in the kitchen, create something new and exciting! Here are some of my favourite creations. Brown coconut tart Pastry 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp salt 1 tsp sugar 4 ozs unsalted butter ¼ - ½ cup ice water   Filling 2 cups freshly grated coconut 1 tsp cinnamon ½ tsp grated nutmeg Shaving of tonka bean 1 cup brown sugar ½ cup granulated sugar 1 cup full fat milk 3 beaten eggs Combine flour with salt and sugar. Make the pastry by cutting butter into flour until mixture resembles peas. Add the iced water gradually until mixture can be pressed together with your fingers. Bring all the flour mixture together, pat into a flat circle and refrigerate for one hour or more. Place all filling ingredients into a double boiler, cook for 12 minutes, remove. Preheat oven to 375F Roll pastry to fit into an 8 inch pie plate. Pour filling into pastry shell. Bake for 40 minutes until deep golden in colour. Charred pineapple with brown sugar and rum [caption id="attachment_843863" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Charred pineapple with brown sugar and rum -[/caption] There’s something to be said about grilling fresh pineapple, the fruit becomes succulent and juicy absorbing all the flavours they are infused with. Serve with ice cream or on its own for a perfect fat free dessert! 1 large pineapple ½ cup brown sugar ¼ cup dark rum 1 tsp Angostura bitters Preheat grill or broiler. Peel pineapple, remove eyes then cut into half lengthways. Now cut these lengths into eight lengths. Remove centre core. Line a shallow baking pan or dish with foil. Place pineapple into this, sprinkle with sugar, bitters and rum. Grill or broil until pineapple turns brownish and sugar starts to bubble and caramelise. Serve warm as is or with ice cream. Serves 6 to 8 Passion fruit soufflé in crepes [caption id="attachment_843864" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Crepes -[/caption] Crepes ½ cup all-purpose flour ¼ tsp grated nutmeg 1 tbs sugar ¼ cup each milk and water 1 tbs rum 1 egg and one egg yolk 1½ tbs melted butter 1 tsp vanilla pinch grated nutmeg Place flour, nutmeg and sugar in a mixing bowl, whisk in milk and water and rum until smooth, add eggs and continue whisking until smooth, add melted butter and combine. Cover and rest for one hour in the refrigerator. Heat a non-stick frying pan and pour crepe batter by ¼ cup measures, tilt pan and distribute batter so that it covers the base of the pan completely, pour off any excess batter. Cook until batter is almost transparent, flip over when bubbles appear, cook for a few seconds more and remove, repeat for others. Makes 6 crepes. For the passion soufflé: 4 egg yolks ⅔ cup granulated sugar 1 cup full milk 1 tsp vanilla 4 egg whites ¼ tsp cream of tartar ⅓ cup passion fruit puree ½ cup sifted icing sugar. Beat the yolks with ⅓ cup sugar add milk and vanilla and warm over low heat until thick, remove. Beat whites with cream of tartar until frothy, add the rest of sugar and beat to soft peak stage. Add some egg whites to the cooled custard then add the custard mixture to the egg whites, fold to incorporate. Fold in passion fruit puree. Just before serving: Preheat oven to 400F Place crepes onto a greased baking tray or a prepared oven proof dish, spoon some soufflé onto one half of the crepe, fold over and place into oven, cook until lightly browned and puffed, about 5 minutes, remove and generously dust with icing sugar and serve immediately. Serves 6

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