My husband, Rick, buys our weekly veggies on a Friday – yes, he does ladies … and there is always a surprise or two in the veggie basket for me … some exotic or peculiar addition to tickle my culinary brain. It’s kinda like a mystery box that I get to explore over the weekends. Last week, he walked in with a punnet of passion fruit. Passion fruit or granadilla as they are more commonly referred to in these parts is one of the most flavoursome of fruits and it takes something really simply to migrate it to an extraordinary level.
Curiosity got the better of me and did a little research on the World Wide Web… to my shock and horror it took me straight to a few porn sites! Clearly, these purveyors of porn were taking liberal interpretations of this innocently delicious fruit. I immediately closed my computer and ran to my fridge to cool down! As it would then happen, I had some Ricotta cheese in the fridge so I decided to mix the two – it set my taste buds racing. I loved it.
I dished it up in in the empty granadilla cups. Be tempted with these forbidden fruits, it is after all food porn – with no age restrictions.
passion fruit cups = food porn with no age restrictions
- 250g Ricotta cheese
- 20g Icing sugar
- 125ml Fresh Granadilla pulp from about 3 to 4 large-sized granadillas
- Scoop out the granadilla pulp, mix all the ingredients together…and put back into the granadilla shells. Put in fridge – serve cold…with a sultry smile.
I love wheat….and I love Italians. I am fascinated by the way Italians eat and the way they cook – it is the simplicity and the flavours, their history and the la famiglia. I grew up with wheat on our table and have always loved the earthy crunchiness of wheat, its healthy and nutritious in so many forms, its cheap and then of course it is also grown just around the corner from us in Malmesbury. What got me thinking about Italians and wheat was a fabulous foodie get-together with #chicksthatchow (see below)* at the Italian restaurant, Zibaldone. It was a spectacular feast of Italian cuisine and the kind of atmosphere that makes a South African like me feel part of the greater La Famiglia…
What stole my heart and took my gastronomic spirit on a wheat journey was the lamb tortellini with creamed pearl barley. Out of my endless curiosity when it comes to food, I had to explore wheat as a risotto ingredient. I went back to Jamie’s basic risotto recipe that I use every time I make risotto and tweaked it somewhat by replacing the risotto rice with wheat and added some martini and mascarpone cheese. It is so delicious and crunchy. It has such a proud and distinctive nutty undertone of flavour and can be enjoyed as a main meal or accompany any beef or lamb dish.
*About #chicksthatchow: we are a group of “taste, tipple and tweet” women who celebrate life, happiness and all things good over a serving of fabulous food and a glass or two of the best pressed grapes whenever or wherever the mood or the menu may take us. #chicksthatchow was founded by the inspiring and enchanting Errieda du Toit, aka @huiskok and now the presiding President of #chicksthatchow.
wheat + mushroom + thyme risotto
- 1 Cup of wheat – pre-cooked for 25 minutes without salt in the water
- 1T Olive oil
- 1 T Butter
- 1 Medium onion – finely chopped
- 1 Celery stick – finely chopped
- 2 Cloves garlic – grated
- 60ml Martini Bianco
- 450 ml Stock of your choice
- 40g Grated parmesan
- 2 Generous tablespoons of mascarpone cheese
- For mushrooms
- 500g Mushrooms – any sort – thinly sliced
- 2T Olive oil
- 2T Butter
- 2T Fresh thyme –leaves picked
- 2 Cloves garlic – grated
- Pinch of chilli powder
- Black pepper
- Big squeeze of lemon juice
- 30g Chopped parsley
- Prepare the mushrooms first: Cook the mushrooms, thyme and garlic in the olive oil and butter in batches in a very hot pan – season each batch with salt and black pepper. Do not let the mushrooms become soggy; they should be a beautiful nutty and brown colour.
- When cooked add the chilli powder, a squeeze of lemon juice and the chopped parsley and then set aside.
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a pot and add the olive oil.
- Add the onion and celery and fry for about 5 minutes till translucent.
- Add the garlic and let it fry for another few minutes then add the cooked wheat. Slowly fry the wheat for a minute or two.
- Add the Martini – and stir till the martini has evapourated.
- Now start adding the stock ladle by ladle – allow each ladle to be absorbed by your ingredients in the pot before you add the next one.
- Continue until all stock has been added to the saucepan. Remember… your wheat needs to stay moist and creamy.
- Now add the mushrooms – give it a good stir.
- Then add the parmesan and mascarpone.
- Taste for seasoning – it is not normally necessary to add salt – but I always give it an extra pinch of black pepper.
- Serve with beautiful fresh Italian bread and a glass of good red wine.
Lettuce + peas + onions – in French … Petits Pois a la Francaise. Sometime a go I decided to up my French cooking techniques and my friend Pierre (kitchenbabble.com) from Bangkok suggested we start cooking our way through Le Cordon Bleu at Home recipe book. As it then turned out, Saturdays became a specific cooking lesson, with Pierre in Bangkok and myself here in Cape Town, we set out on what was such an intriguing and rewarding international, virtual cooking experience. From other ends of the atlas, we emailed and facebooked our comparative findings.
This dish of lettuce + peas + onions was a lesson in which they paired it with a roast chicken. My culinary dictionary expletives included…it is absolutely delicious!!! As it happened, we did not finish the chicken – as this dish just took centre stage on the table…. My friends tucked into this dish, with bread in hand it was like a peasant dish – or from the look of my friends, their last meal as they soaked up the juices, finishing every little last little pea! You can serve this as a side dish or as a main meal – just bring the bread, good wine..and good friends.
peas + lettuce + parsley + onions = petits pois a la francaise
- 1 Small head of lettuce chiffonade * see at bottom of recipe for the chiffonade technique
- 5 Tablespoons of real butter (margarine is not going to work this time!)
- 3 Cups of peas ( I used frozen peas, I simply poured hot water over and let it stand for 5 minutes and thereafter drain)
- 18 Pearl onions pealed
- 1 Small bunch of parsley ( tie into bouquet with kitchen twine)
- ⅓ Cup water
- 11/2 T Sugar
- 1t Salt
- Heat the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the lettuce + peas + onions. Stir gently until the lettuce wilts.
- Add the parsley + water + sugar + salt.
- Stand back, simmer for +/- 30 minutes, taste for seasoning, then be amazed!
- Remove parsley and serve.
- * Stack the lettuce leaves one on top of each other and roll them up tight into a cylinder – or something like a rolled lettuce tube. Then cut the cylinder crosswise into thin slices.
I made a tomato pasta sauce with well-renowned and fabulous Nina Timm at her home earlier today. What an honour and absolute delight to meet and spend a day with this amazing woman! Yip, she is the wonder behind the much followed www.my-easy-cooking.com blog. We laughed, we cooked and shared so many stories from our past and talked about the thrills of living in today…. I will be chatting to her tomorrow on her RSG radio broadcast between 9 and 10 am and share what we did today. I am so inspired and so alive … Nina I thank you for one of the best days of my life and to cooking up many more memories in the future!
Back to the sauce … I am a freakishly mad about tomatoes. So obviously my most favourite pasta sauce is a tomato-based sauce … made from fresh, ripe, juicy tomatoes that brim with flavour. I read about this method to make tomato sauce a few years ago in a magazine – unfortunately I cannot remember or find the magazine between the thousands of foodie magazines lying around in my house – please try this, it is definitely the most delicious tomato sauce you will ever taste!!
Variations you can add to the tomato sauce + remember always sprinkle generously with shaved parmesan!
- Cut chorizo sausages in slices and add – this makes it a rich and spicy dish.
- Bacon (+ chilies optional) – everyone loves bacon! Adding a somewhat smoky flavour to your pasta.
- Meatballs – you can make this on Sunday and just add in the week to your pasta dish.
- Lots of fresh chopped chilies – simple, yet always deliciously and one of my favourites.
- Capers + olives + anchovies + chilies – my absolute favourite!
- Any seafood – prawns, calamari, fish, mussels – add them to the tomato based sauce at the end of the cooking process – let it simmer through for 5 minutes – taste for seasoning again after you have added any seafood.
- Fresh herbs (basil, parsley) and lots of rocket – mix it with the sauce – yum.
- Roasted vegetables + olives + capers + crumbled feta – these produce lovely Mediterranean tastes.
- Artichokes, creamy feta cheese + sprinkle of dry oregano (use the oregano very sparingly).
- Fresh slices of buffalo mozzarella + sprinkled with smoked Maldon salt .
tomato pasta sauce + 10 variations to spice it up
- 900g Rosa tomatoes
- 200ml Olive oil – good quality (I know this sounds a lot but the tomatoes burst open to combine with the olive oil, garlic and basil - and creates the most amazing sauce )
- 8 Garlic cloves – peeled but kept in whole segments
- Handful fresh Basil
- Salt and black pepper
- 150 – 200g Fresh parmesan cheese – shaved with potato peeler
- 500g Penne pasta (or spaghetti)
- Add the olive oil to a large pan / pot and add the garlic and about one handful of torn basil leaves. Heat the oil very slowly on low-medium – we want to infuse the oil with the garlic and basil. Infuse for about 5 minutes – please don’t burn the garlic.
- Add all the tomatoes, turn up the heat to medium high and cook for +- 20 minutes without the saucepan lid.
- You will see the tomatoes will start to burst open and infuse with the olive oil.
- Season generously with salt and freshly grounded black pepper. Please be sure to taste when you season!
- Just before serving, add the rest of the basil and sprinkle generously with shaved parmesan
- You can use the sauce just as is or see the 10 variations above you can add at the end for an interesting twist.