A whole new year has begun. That means twelve more months of the Secret Recipe Club. It’s a cooking group where each month we are assigned a Secret Blog. We cook from it and then post what we cooked. It’s all secret until reveal day. Thus the name – SECRET Recipe Club. Every month we get to meet different bloggers. Expand our horizons. Make new friends. This month I added bunches of pins all because I met up with Manuela of Manu’s Menu. So many things I want to make. It’s always hard to choose from so many good things. I stuck with three. All of them a version of something I would have to cook for us to eat.

So we’ll start with Bread.


    Whole Wheat Bread

If you need a sweetish nutty sandwich bread, this is the one.

    Ingredients: (makes two 23×12.5 cm – 9×5 inch loaves)
    235 ml – 1 cup warm water
    10 gms – 2 tsp active dry yeast
    235 ml – 1 cup milk
    90 ml – ¼ cup honey
    2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    350 gms – 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
    350 gms – 2 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
    1 tbsp salt

Put the warm water in a glass and dissolve the yeast into it. Set it aside for a few minutes to activate.
In the meantime, put the milk, honey, extra virgin olive oil and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Add the water and yeast, two cups of all-purpose flour and stir to combine the ingredients. Add the rest of the all-purpose and whole wheat flours. Stir to form a rough dough. Let this dough stand for 20 minutes so that the flour can absorb the liquid.

Now, knead the dough for 8-9 minutes. If the dough is very sticky, add extra flour little by little. The dough is ready when “it is smooth, feels slightly tacky, forms a ball without sagging, and springs back when poked”.

Form the dough into a ball, spray it with some olive oil and put it into a bowl. Cover it with cling wrap and put it in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume (this will take at least 1 hour).
Then, divide the dough in two and shape each half into a ball. Let them rest for 10 minutes.

Grease two loaf pans. Shape each ball of dough into a loaf. To do so, gently flatten the balls into rectangles. Now fold the bottom third of the dough over itself (like a letter) and then fold the top of the dough down to overlap the other layers and pinch it closed with your fingers (on all sides). Roll the loaf over so that the seam is down, then fold the 2 sides and tuck them underneath. Now gently put the loaf into the pan. The seams should be on the bottom with the tight surface facing up Let the loaves rise for another 30 minutes. Slash the top with a serrated knife so that it rises evenly in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 220°C – 425°F. Put the loaves in and turn down the heat to 190°C – 375°F. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until dark golden-brown. They will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let them cool completely before slicing.

This was such good bread. So much flavor. Mine didn’t rise as much as I expected. ot But that’s alright.

And we needed supper one night so I used another of Manuela’s recipes.


    Penne with Sausage Sauce

We love any kind of of pasta add some sausage to it and it is a perfect meal. As was this dish of Manuela’s I used 1/2 Venison Sausage and 1/2 pork sausage.

    300 gms of Italian style sausage with fennel seeds (you should be able to get this at your local deli)
    2 tins (800 gms) of diced tomatoes
    3 medium carrots
    1 medium onion
    2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
    1 standard shot of Brandy/Cognac {I left this out}
    100 ml of cream
    1 cup of water
    Salt & pepper to taste (depending on the sausage you may need more or less salt)
    400 gms of penne rigate pasta
    Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano – very finely grated, to serve

Clean and finely chop the onion and carrots and cook them with the 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil on a medium fire until they are soft.
Remove the sausage from the skin and chop it coarsely.Then add it to the onion and carrots and mash it with a wooden spoon.
When the sausage has browned, add the diced tomatoes, 1 cup of water, a pinch of salt and pepper.Cover and cook on low fire for approximately 1 hour (when the sauce thickens it is ready).
Add the Brandy/Cognac and cook uncovered on a high flame for 2 minutes. Then lower the flame, add the cream, bring it back to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Check for salt.

In the meantime, cook the penne pasta “al dente” . Serve with the sausage sauce and some grated Parmigiano Reggiano on the top.

Definitely this is a repeat. But maybe next time I will remember to ADD THE CREAM!! I completely left it out. After we finished I found the container of cream STILL SITTING ON THE COUNTER. It was good without the cream. I can imagine how nice and thick and smooth it would be WITH the cream.

We had a cold snap (as did just about everybody else) and ran out of my Chai mix for making tea. Lucky for me Manuela had a recipe for Chai on her blog.


    10 gms – 2 tsp pepper powder
    10 gms – 2 tsp ginger powder
    7 gms – 1.5 tsp cardamom powder
    7 gms – 1.5 tsp cinnamon powder
    0.5 gm – ¼ tsp clove powder
    0.5 gm – ¼ tsp nutmeg powder

Put all the ingredients in a small container with a lid and stir until well combined. Keep in a well closed jar.

Of course this is just the mix for the tea. To make the tea you can use her Method to make it.

I liked all of the proportions of her spices except for the pepper. I doubled everything except for the pepper. Much more to my taste.

These are only three of the many, many delicious recipes on Manu’s Menu. I only pinned about 30 of her dishes. Enough to keep us eating for a long time. You have to visit with Manuela. You have to try her recipes. You have to see for yourself.

Please visit the other SRC Group C members and see what blogs they cooked from.