If you want to watch me making this sandwich … click here.
This is just a really delicious winter sandwich that will send your taste buds into somewhat of a happy twirl. This is definitely not for someone on a strict diet but it will definitely impress all your friends and loved ones. I used three of my favourite soft cheeses – Boursin (my ultimate!!), some blue cheese and normal cream cheese. What gives this sandwich somewhat of an edge is the fact that the cheese fillings are at room temperature and the luscious mushrooms are somewhat zingy, warm and juicy. The important element in preparing this sandwich is the preparation of the mushrooms.
Here are a few tips for frying mushrooms:
1. You need to add oil and butter to your non-stick pan – the butter adds that buttery, nutty flavour to the woody flavour of the mushrooms.
2. The pan must be smoking hot – if your pan is not hot enough the mushrooms will become soggy.
3. If you are cooking a lot of mushrooms – it is a good idea to cook them in batches.
4. Season your mushrooms while frying – for me the salt and pepper get etched into the delicious graininess of the mushrooms
5. Lemon and parsley always elevate the taste of the mushroom – try it.
A generous squeeze of lemon juice (from ½ lemon or more)
5g Chopped parsley
(cheeses must be at room temperature)
3T Cream cheese
3T Boursin cheese
3T Blue cheese
Prepare the cheese filling first by mixing all ingredients.
Butter one slice of the bread very lightly. Divide the cheese fillings into three and add to the other side of the bread.
Then prepare your mushrooms: Cook the mushrooms + thyme in the olive oil and butter in a very hot pan – season with salt and black pepper. Do not let the mushrooms become soggy; they should be a beautiful nutty and brown colour. At the end at the chilli powder, a big squeeze of lemon juice and chopped parsley.
Add your mushrooms to the cheese filling side of your sandwich, top it with the delicious micro burst leaves and top with the other slice of bread. YUM!
There are a few desserts that will always be on top of my nostalgic pudding list … and one of them is my mom’s bread pudding. She tells me that her version of bread pudding comes from my aunt Bettie from Kroonstad in the Free State. In this recipe you don’t use slices of bread but rather bread crumbs and you add nutmeg and this soft meringue blanket on top. In my version I used ghee to add a nutty flavour to the dish and if you want to be a traditionalist you can add some apricot jam on top of the pudding before you add the meringue. In our house, bread pudding was always served with homemade custard or a crème anglaise.
This dessert’s simplicity lends itself to different interpretations and countless variations and any type of bread may be used – although white breads are the more commonly used. For me bread pudding is definitely comfort food with a big C.
But where does the original bread pudding come from? Bread puddings date back many centuries. Its origins can even be traced back to the days of the Romans! Back in those ancient times citizens could ill-afford to waste food so a variety of recipes stale bread were invented and became commonplace. Bread pudding was one of these recipes. Bread puddings were not only made by the Romans. Ancient versions of bread pudding include Om Ali, an Egyptian dessert made from bread, milk or cream, raisins and almonds; Eish es Serny, a Middle Eastern dish made from dried bread, sugar, honey syrup, rosewater and caramel; and Shahi Tukra, an Indian dish made from bread, ghee, saffron, sugar, rosewater and almonds.
my aunt bettie's bread pudding with a soft meringue blanket
Will the real Braaibroodjies please stand up? Everyone in South Africa loves braaibroodjies. They are just one of those “must haves” at any braai. However, despite the boastings of the braaimaster ( usually male with lager in hand) … these normally end up being:
C: tomato + onion = not cooked
D: cheese = not melted
E: all of the above.
So how do we ensure that these traditional toasties are:
A: not burnt
C: cooked tomato + onion
D: with melted cheese
E: all of the above?
Well I have a few sneaky tricks up my sleeve – use them or lose them as they say but do so at your own peril … but I can assure you that if you follow these tips you will have the perfect braaibroodjies every single time … And put any gloating braaimaster in awe of you for life …
1. Butter one side very lightly (not both sides).
2. Cut the onion into thin big round slices – keep the circles whole and pack on the one buttered side of one slice.
3. Then add the thinly sliced tomato circles – sprinkle with salt and pepper. You will note that I place the tomatoes in the centre of the sandwich filling – this prevents the broodtjie from becoming soggy.
4. Grate strong cheddar and generously sprinkle over the tomato and cover with the other slice of bread. Make sure you cover all of the tomato slices with cheese.
5. Put a griddle rack on a baking tray and put the sandwiches on top of that – then while the rest of the braai is on the go place the sandwiches in the oven at 100°C to bake for +- 1 hour – it will crisp the bread up and it will cook everything slowly.
6. Then after everyone has braaied and the coals are low – pop them onto a braai grid and allow to toast until they are browned on both sides! Depending on how hot your fire or coals are you will need to watch these carefully as they can toast quickly enough.
Some people like to add all sorts of other condiments like chutney etc to their broodjies … for me some things need to be kept simple like it was in the old days of braaivleis, sunny skies and Chevrolets.
Salt and pepper
A slice of toasted bread with tomato … a sophisticated Spanish breakfast? This might surprise you but this is a very popular breakfast for millions of Spaniards… just plain and simple … bread and tomato. Pan tumaca is a recipe invented in Catalonia but according to the www it was probably brought there by Andalusian emigrants. There is just something about the Spanish, the Italians and the Greeks … they have a unique gift of turning the mundane into the fabulous and the dull into something truly delicious.
You see my very good friend chef Louis now lives in Spain – I was heartbroken when he moved to Castellón de la Plana near Valencia a few years ago – it felt like a part of me has gone with him. This past December we had the chance to meet up and spend a few magical days together. Just catching up again with him and his adventures was the most wonderful gift – to laugh, talk and cook together just like in the old days. Spain is now Lu’s new home and he gave me such insights about the real Spanish traditions and their infective passion for food.
The first breakfast of our holiday was this traditional Spanish breakfast – a slice of toasted bread + grated tomato + the best olive oil + maldon salt. No butter – just that. I was a little taken aback as Louis and I, given our collective South African heritage are kinda used to the big breakfasts… you know greasy fry-ups and perhaps even a mixed grill of sorts from the braai the night before… but after my first bite of this tapas-style-pan-tumaca, my anticipation for a sumptuous breakfast dissipated into complete contentment … I was converted! There was bliss to be found in its simplicity and the rudimentary sophistication of this dish.
However, with everything in life, Lu reminded me that there were a few good rules to follow …
• You can toast the bread if you like, but it is not compulsory
• The tomatoes must be red-ripe + fresh + plump
• Grate the tomatoes [that is what we did] – but the traditional way is to take the tomato and rub it over the one side of the slice of bread
• Use the best olive oil you can find or afford and drizzle over the tomato
• Use Maldon salt to finish the dish
• Some people like to rub garlic before adding the tomato to the bread
• And …Always cook with passion and love – no matter how basic the dish
There is nothing better that waking up in the morning to the smell of freshly baked bread. I remember my mom used to bake fresh bread every single Saturday and the whiffs of the smell of that bread got me running to the kitchen – grabbing the jar of butter – smearing a big heap on and biting in into the piping hot bread … mhhh
So the other day I was in somewhat of a bread baking mood and whilst walking through my garden the lavender bush caught my eye. I imagined the scented lavender in a sweet bread and a bread which I did not have to butter myself …. so I instantly decided to make this loaf and add the butter to the dough just before baking. It’s absolutely delicious. The lavender offers just a very subtle hint to the bread making it quite moreish….and the butter and sugar form these little buttery-caramel-wells of deliciousness … Try it for yourself – you will finish this loaf in no time!
sweet lavender flatbread with buttery-caramel-wells