This one is quick + easy and been a firm family favourite through the years. I remember sitting around the kitchen table, the radio playing in the background (there was no TV in those days)… My dad saying grace and thereafter mom bringing in this big baking tray full of steaming mac + cheese.
We did not have the fancy or posh mac and cheese – there was no bacon, no mushrooms, no cream etc … our mac and cheese came straight out of the Kook and Geniet and straight out of the oven. The basic ingredients are milk, eggs, macaroni and cheese. It’s the baked version that you can cut in blocks. We used to just get these blocks on our plates and in the middle of the table was a bottle of tomato sauce – and that was it for us … heaven.
So today I took the same recipe my mom used and tweaked the ingredients to suit my adult taste buds. When it came to the tomato sauce I had to make a few changes – I fried some plump delicious rosa tomatoes in olive oil, added tomato sauce and fresh basil. Its still my mom’s mac + cheese + tomato sauce – with a little twist. Life seemed much more simpler then. At least I can say that this recipe has remained simple and easy … give it a go.
mac + cheese + tomato sauce = no frills + no fuss + just eat
Mix the milk, eggs, mustard powder, salt and pepper all together. Then add the cheese and cooked macaroni.
Butter a baking dish well and add the mixture and bake for 1 hour.
For tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil and fry tomatoes till the pan is quite dry. Add the water and cook again till quite dry.Then add the sugar + tomato sauce – heat through. Finally add the fresh basil + season to taste + serve with your mac + cheese.
Sometimes life just stumps you. Such was the case when these absolutely, incredibly, beautiful and delicate garlic scapes found their way into my kitchen and onto my plate. A friend of mine, Daleen gave me a bunch of these green little wonders and said that I needed to cook something with it. But there I was, utterly stumped. What was I going to do with these culinary flowers? They belonged in a pretty flower vase on the window sill surely? At first I thought the little buds on these slender green shoots were “onion flowers” and then with a wicked smile, Daleen informed me that they were actually garlic scapes or garlic flowers. I had never seen these little miracles before …Clearly, I need to get out more… Anyway, these flowers were just so fragile and perfect – long leafless stems with the little closed flowers on the top – and inside the flowers were the seeds of the garlic plant. It was another wonder of creation.
But how and what could I do with these edible creations? As always my weekly food journey starts with the world’s greatest encyclopedia, the internet. I read that the flower of the garlic plant is sometimes eaten and that it has a much milder flavour than the actual garlic bulbs. I read further that these seeds were mostly consumed while immature and still tender. This seemed to make some sense as the bottom part of the stem was rock hard. These stalks will be great in soups and stews.
I don’t know why but my mind took me to Asia when I saw them … a dish of greens and pork. That is what I eventually decided to do…. My secret for this recipe was to keep everything simple. The idea was to let the subtle garlic scapes infuse with lemon and then just let this flavour the greens and the pork. The delicate simplicity of the flavours makes this a genuinely blissful, if not whimsical combination. Garlic scapes are available in stores at the moments – so please try it – it’s both fun and delicious.
Open fish cake lasagna + tomato and gherkin relish – I grew up with fish pasta made with tinned pilchards for Saturday lunch so when Babs invited me for lunch this Saturday past – I knew what was on the menu. I asked my mom to wait for me to get to her place – I grabbed my copy of You can with Fish by Tamsin Snyman and rushed over to her house all inspired. I wanted to show her something different …for all too often we get caught up in the routine, making the recipes we know in the same way we have always made them.
We decided to try Tamsin’s fish cakes (love her use of potatoes in the dish) but replaced the tuna with pilchards – and as I am always prone to do… I added lots of fresh herbs, extra lemon and a Dhanya and Chillie sauce I discovered. We served it with a lasagna sheet and a tomato and gherkin relish. The gherkin gives it that beautiful tanginess and just complements the dish in an extraordinary way. It is kind of like “Viskoekies en tamatie-smoor” just dressed up and off to see the opening night of Verdi’s famous opera, La Traviata… and so, so simple.
Try it. I promise you it will make your heart sing!
10 Famous Italian Operas
1. Aida, by GiuseppeVerdi
2. Cavalleria Rusticana, by Pietro Mascagni
3. Il Barbiere de Siviglia, by Gioachino Rossini
4. La Gioconda, by Amilcare Ponchielli
5. La traviata, by Giuseppe Verdi
6. L’elisir d’amore, by Gaetano Donizetti
7. Madama Butterfly, by Giacomo Puccini
8. Nabucco, by Giuseppe Verdi
9. Norma, by Vincenzo Bellini
10. Pagliacci, by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Opera info from yusypovych.com
“viskoekies en tamatiesmoor” - dressed up for a night at the opera
1T Bread crumbs [my mom uses all the crumbs from the bottom of her rusks packets – very good idea mom!]
2T Fresh parsley - chopped
1T Fresh coriander – chopped
½ t Chillie flakes – optional
½ T Dhanya and chillie sauce (i discovered this last week in the shop - it adds a lovely zing to this particular dish)
1 Spring onions – chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Sunflower oil for frying
For lasagna sheets
4 Lasagna sheets – one sheet per person
For tomato and gherkin relish
½ Onion – chopped
1T Olive oil
250g Small rosa tomatoes
200g Dill gherkins – chopped finely
1T Dhanya and chillie sauce
2ml Salt (or to taste)
For potatoes – peel potatoes and boil till soft. Drain well and mash. Set aside.
For fish cakes – mix all the ingredients for the fish cakes and the mashed potatoes together. In a non-stick pan add some oil and fry the little patties until golden brown on both sides.
For relish – fry the onion in pan till the onion is soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes and close the lid for about 8-10 minutes. The tomatoes will burst open, bringing a splash of flavour. Add the gherkins and the salt and mix together. Cook for another minute or two.
For the lasagna sheets – boil with salt as per the instructions on the packet.
To assemble - Put some of the Dhanya and chillie sauce at the bottom of the plate, place or arrange the lasagna pasta sheet on top of the sauce then place the fish cakes on top of your lasagna pasta sheet adding the relish to top off this awesome, but so easy little dish.
After a brief but blitzy gastronomic tour through Johannesburg this past weekend I returned home in need of something healthy – something green. So I made this delicious + scrumptious + sumptuous salad. It’s fresh and easy – just add all the ingredients in a bowl, sprinkle with some salt and drizzle with lemon infused olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. I like to serve the baby marrows still warm from the oven and then all the other ingredients at room temperature. It’s crunchy, creamy, tangy and really splashy in flavours. Enjoy.
My favourite shades of green:
+ Irish colour green – I am married to a wonderful man of Irish descent … where everything from the Emerald Isle seems to be green;
+ The green of an olive;
+ The green colour of growing grass;
+ Lime green;
+ … and then the US Dollar green. 🙂
green salad + broken-cheesy-olive-melba-toast = fresh + sumptuous
Fish – I just love fresh fish. But… I am a “no fuss fish” person – I am not one for these complicated fish recipes…the simpler, the better. Just baked or grilled or with the some subtle flavourings of lemon and herbs or just cooked whole over the coals – that’s my preference.
My most memorable meal consisted of fish. I recall so vividly the time I spent in Istanbul, Turkey…I had the most dreadful case of bronchitis and was feeling significantly sorry for myself. I was ambling along the Bosphorus River when I smelt this amazing aroma…. A local fishing boat was tied up alongside the pier and the fishermen were selling freshly grilled fish on ciabatta bread, with just a squeeze of lemon juice. A bite … and at that moment I felt so much better and I knew someone loved me.
I buy my fish from Julie Carter from Ocean Jewels in Cape Town (http://www.oceanjewels.co.za/ 083 582 0829) – if you don’t know Julie – go to her website and subscribe to her mailer. She is such a wonderful woman with the most beautiful smile and is always there to deliver ONLY the freshest of fresh fish to you! You simply cannot get better than that.
This past Saturday, down at the market, Julie recommended that I sample two little Pangas (Pterogymnus Laniarius its Latin name and it’s also on the sustainable green list). I decided to combine the fish with real Mediterranean flavours of olives, origanum, tomatoes and lemon. This dish reminds me of Turkey – and all the wondrous colours, sights, sounds and smell of the Mediterranean. It makes me feel loved and happy.
Enjoy its delicious!
Today, I need to tell you about my little weekend adventure … the Ultimate Braai Challenge… This past Saturday my friend Joani and I took part in the Western Cape auditions for the Ultimate Braai Challenge. This turned out to be one of the best foodie experiences of my life – the 100 crazy teams, the ‘gees”, the organizers, the judges were just amazing and Justin Bonello is such a fabulous guy and so down to earth! Kudu’s go to all the organizers, the sponsors and everyone that took part both young and old. I was really gob-smacked by all the different people that took part – their liveliness, their spirit and what passion we South Africans have! I realised once again – we LOVE a braai! I cannot wait for this show to start – I really think it is going to take SA by storm!!
But let me get back to what food we presented to the judges – our main course was braaied Ostrich fillet in a red wine and mushroom jus with beetroot blocks – all done on the braai. One of the judges told us that this specific dish was the best dish he had tasted on the day. So I thought I would share this recipe with you. For sure you can do this on the stove as well but for those of you who are adventurous why not also try this on the braai…? Serve this with buttery, mustardy, crushed new potatoes. If you are not so much an ostrich steak fan you can always swap this with a cut of beef or even kudu fillet. Do not forget to enjoy this with a good glass of red wine …
Happy Braaiing … remember where there’s smoke … there is a braai!
ostrich fillet + red wine + king oyster mushrooms + beetroot blocks
This is my all-time favourite winter soup recipe. It lies very close to my heart for two reasons – I was introduced to this recipe by my wonderful chef friend, Louis Verwey (the recipe was very different then and I developed it as I went along into what it is today) and secondly this recipe took me through to the Top 50 of Masterchef SA and earned three overwhelming and resounding yes’s from judges Andrew, Bennie and Pete. My Masterchef journey was an incredible experience, it was an amazing roller coaster ride of emotions, nerves and sheer excitement but the best part was meeting all the fantastic people who all share a common passion – cooking! This adventure re-ignited in me the fire and a burning desire to learn and share in the fun, frivolity and sheer pleasure that comes with cooking and everything culinary. I am very proud to have made it into the Top 35 only to be booted out on the potato challenge. Needless to say I have not cooked or peeled a potato again – but that is a story for another day…enough about me…back to this exquisite soup …
1 onion, cut in half (I keep the skin on - I only peel the onion if I want to make a clear stock)
1 carrot, chopped (…again keep the skin on – didn’t we learn that all the nutritional value lies in the skin?)
5 black pepper corns
2 cardamom pods
1 clove of garlic cut in half
1 small bunch of parsley
350g white fish – I use small whole hakes which I cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, finely grated
24 mussels in ½ shell
400 g kingklip (or any other firm white fish), cut into cubes of +- 2.5cm x 2.5cm
12 de-veined prawns with shells – I love to keep heads on – if you do take the heads off, don’t discard these….add them to your stock
45 ml flour
10 ml masala (I mix my own from the following ground ingredients: 15 ml turmeric, 15ml cumin, 10 ml coriander, 10 ml fennel, 15 ml hot “curry powder” this you can get from your local spice shop or supermarket)
30 ml tomato paste
1 ½ chicken stock cube, crumbled
2 large tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
Juice of ½ small lemon
For the gremolata
30 ml chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, finely grated
Zest of one lemon
One big squeeze of lemon juice
30 ml olive oil
Prepare your stock by adding the first 9 ingredients in a pot and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Take the mussels and place them in a sieve and then put it in the stock to cook for 2 minutes. I do this to infuse the juices in the stock (and to defrost if still frozen). Take out and leave aside.
Repeat the same process with the prawns – leave to simmer for about 3-4 minutes in the stock. Take out and set aside
Take the stock and strain through a very fine sieve. Set aside. (You can discard the stock ingredients but it does make for a very nutritious and fishy treat for my two canine children!)
Add the finely grated garlic to this stock.
Now, melt the butter in a pot. Add the flour to make a roux. Stir for about 2-3 minutes. Then add the tomato paste and masala. Stir well.
Add the warm stock - ladle by ladle - whisking briskly to make sure it does not form lumps. Once you have added the stock, bring it up to simmer - you will see that it has now thickened.
Add the stock cube and the chopped tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir well.
Now add the raw fish and let it simmer for +-3 minutes, then add the prawns and mussels.
Add the lemon juice and stir lightly – be careful not to break the fish! Season for taste by adding salt and pepper, lemon juice.
Simmer for a 5-10 minutes.
Lastly, mix the last 4 ingredients together to make the gremolata and set aside
To serve – in the bottom of a soup bowl put a dollop of the gremolata. Take the prawns out of the soup and place 2 prawns on each plate, add 3 or more pieces of fish. Strain the fish soup through a sieve and pour in the bowl around the fish and prawns. Add 3-4 mussels on top.
Garnish with a few drops of gremolata on top. Serve immediately.