DESTINATIONS: Tales from Tanzania

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On a recent trip to Tanzania, the selection of food is very different to what I am used to here in Australia and with my Greek background.

Take for example cream. We found ourselves in a quaint little town called Moshi – 8km from Mt Kilimanjaro(pictured above) – very much a friendly place but madness on the roads! With eyes wide open and mouths dropped to the ground, we could not believe what we would be witnessing on a daily basis – a tourist bus overtaking a semi-trailer! Yep..it’s true people!

But back to the cream. We were going to Moshi to visit a friend of a friend and spend time with him. He’d been checking out my page – In Sofia’s Kitchen – on facebook and sent subtle, not so subtle hints he loved vanilla custard slice. And being the person I am, I offered to bring all the dry ingredients over with me, and a baking dish to assemble it in, and his sweet tooth would be satisfied! But could we find cream anywhere? Nope.

So, after visiting every supermarket in Moshi, I resigned to the fact that this vanilla custard slice was not going to happen and someone was going to get the sugar I brought over – which is a rare commodity right now in Tanzania.

It wasn’t until we reached out next destination – Arusha! Ah..wonderful, busy, very cosmopolitan Arusha! Our first stop was the South African coffee shop across the road from the Educational bookshop (my other love!). I loved this place because they had chamomile tea on the menu! My first love is hot water with a wedge of lemon but often the weird looks I get is not worth the effort of ordering it!

We were in Arusha to visit our friend Carly who volunteers in an organization called Joshua Foundation. She mentors the teachers in this school and improves the lives of many.

Carly took us all around Arusha and she knew exactly where to go to get cream for this beloved vanilla custard slice that Mike had been hanging out for!

The next challenge was to prepare this sliced before we lost electricity! Just as well the stove was gas but we did need some lighting but all was good and we got through unscathed.

I always find it weird cooking in someone else’s kitchen – I often feel lost, and not knowing where everything is, unnerves me a little and I worry my wonderful creation will not work out! Weird, hey?

But thank goodness all was good and the slice set and there were big smiles all round as we all gathered for afternoon tea and shared a hot cuppa and a serving of vanilla custard slice.

Here is the recipe for my vanilla custard slice made in Arusha, Tanzania! Hope you enjoy it as much as all my friends did in beautiful Africa!

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**Above picture: Cooking in Carly's kitchen - Joshua Foundation

Vanilla Custard Slice

Ingredients
1 packets lattice biscuits
3 cups milk
300ml thickened cream
60g unsalted butter, chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup caster sugar
½ cup custard powder
3 teaspoons cornflour mixed with ¼ cup water
6 egg yolks
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Icing
1½ cups icing sugar
1 passionfruit, pulp
20g butter
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Method
the milk, cream, butter, vanilla, custard powder and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook until just boiling. Remove from the heat.
Whisk egg yolks into the hot milk mixture. Return to heat, whisking, and bring to boil. Add cornflour and stir for one minute or until thickened.
Line an 18cm-square cake tin with baking paper. Place biscuits on the bottom and pour custard on top. Place remaining biscuits on top and press down gently. Refrigerate for 3–4 hours or until set.
Note: Ensure you have enough baking paper hanging over the sides of the tin so you can lift the slice from the tin after it has chilled.
Icing
Combine icing sugar, passionfruit and butter in small glass jug. Microwave on high 30 sec, stir and further microwave for 30 more seconds until warm and runny.
Pour on top of slice and spread to edges. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
**Below is a picture of my friend Mickey who inspired me to carry the dry ingredients all the way from Australia and make this yummy slice for him -- as he was about to take a bite, he said, "It's been 16 years since I had one of these!!"
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