When people hear the word cabbage I often see them cringing – thinking of how they were forced to eat cabbage in school and varsity hostels. Even between kale, cauliflower and brussels sprouts it was often seen as the poor cousin of the vegetable. Today I have taken the often disregarded, humble cabbage and turned it into a five star dish.
Cabbage + pancetta with peas and mint
250 g pancetta, cut into small blocks
350 g shredded cabbage
30 g butter
1 cup frozen peas, cooked for 2 minutes
6 mint leaves, chopped
Fry the pancetta in a non-stick pan (no butter or oil) until crispy and golden. Remove the pancetta and add the butter and cabbage to the same pan. Fry until cooked. Season the cabbage with salt and pepper. Add the peas. Taste again for seasoning. Add the mint and serve immediately … with love.
“It took me 2.5 hours at 62°C – sitting by my stove with an electronic thermometer in hand to ensure that the water temperature remained constant. I was like a mother hen watching over her hatching eggs! It took some time and some doing but it was worth every single minute. The thick golden yellow yolk that oozed out of this perfectly boiled eggs was like liquid gold … and something you just have to try once in your life”
The other day my dear friend Nina Timm surprised me with a gift of two beautiful and bountiful goose eggs. Eggs are a symbol of birth, of life – and these eggs were so fulsome and so perfect. It reminded me of the wonders that surround us but it also reminded me of Aesop’s fable of …
… The goose that laid the golden eggs
A man and his wife owned a very special goose. Every day the goose would lay a golden egg, which made the couple very rich.
“Just think,” said the man’s wife, “If we could have all the golden eggs that are inside the goose, we could be richer much faster.”
“You’re right,” said her husband, “We wouldn’t have to wait for the goose to lay her egg every day.”
So, the couple killed the goose and cut her open, only to find that she was just like every other goose. She had no golden eggs inside of her at all, and they had no more golden eggs.
So what is the moral of this little tale? Riches do not lie in earthly things nor in the greed for more riches … Our riches are within and in each passing moment we have the opportunity to hold dear the real riches of this world like family, friendships, love and hope. We need to treasure it all …
But now let’s get back to recipe….the sun was out and spring was in the air…what was I going to do with these gorgeous goose eggs?
I went to Sat Bains for inspiration – he was the one who took the classic egg, ham and pea combination to a whole new level by using the sous vide method to cook duck eggs and to serve them with a pea sorbet.
I was determined to sous vide these two golden beauties and serve them on a nest of crushed minted peas and prosciutto with some little toasts. I do not have one of those fancy and very expensive sous vide water baths and I could not find a recipe … so I had to improvise. With a pot of hot water covering my eggs – it took me 2.5 hours at 62°C – sitting by my stove with an electronic thermometer in hand to ensure that the water temperature remained constant. I added cold water when the temperature went up. It took some time and some doing but it was worth every single minute. The thick golden yellow yolk that oozed out of this perfectly boiled eggs was like liquid gold …and something you just have to try once in your life. The perfect combination of the sweet peas and then the salty prosciutto and a scoop of the golden yolk on a crispy cut of toast are just absolutely from another planet. Of course, the dish was not complete without a sprinkle of salt and freshly grounded white pepper.
Thank you Nina and thank you Mrs Goose for bringing some rays of golden sunshine to my plate.
goose egg on a crushed-minted-pea-prosciutto-nest . the story of my golden sous vide goose egg
Big pot filled with water – eggs need to be covered with water
For the crushed-minted-pea-and-prosciutto-nest
250g Frozen peas
1T Freshly chopped mint
4 Slices of prosciutto
Fresh ciabatta cut thinly and lightly toasted
Freshly ground white pepper
For the goose eggs – heat the pot with water to 62°C and then add the eggs. Keep it on the lowest heat level on your stove and try and keep the temperature constant for 2.5 hours. You just have to stand by the stove, check the thermometer and add a bit of cold water to bring the temperature down. When done, put the eggs aside to cool a bit. Then peel very carefully. The shell is very hard and thick and it’s not so easy. The outside of the white is going to fall away and you will sit with this beautiful thin white layer and the golden yolk.
For the peas – cook the peas for about 3 minutes. Add the salt, butter, mint and sugar give it a good stir and then crush.
To assemble - divide the peas in half and divide onto two plates. Add a slice of prosciutto on each nest and then add the egg. Sprinkle with white pepper and some salt - then add another slice of prosciutto and round it off with a little toast.
Vegetable Soup – A couple of weeks back I invited a few foodie friends over to watch the finale of Mastechef SA, as it was winter I thought it would be appropriate to put on a large pot of my vegetable soup for the occasion. It went down a treat; the problem came about when they all asked me to share the recipe. This proved to be quite difficult as I don’t have a recipe for this soup. The way it works in my house is that I make soup on Sundays. I open the fridge, take out all the veggies + herbs that I did not use over the previous week and make a steaming pot of soup with it. So…to be frank, the recipe below is a list of all the items leftover in my fridge from last week…
If you think the recipe seems a bit long, do not be put off, once you get the hang of it and taste of it you will be making this soup for generations to come. The thing about soup is, you have to make it your own … put in the effort and spend that little extra time…I can promise you it is worth every little spoonful. Enjoy making it and remember to serve it with love.
I do have 10 tips that I have picked up along the way that I would like to share with you when making this soup:
1. Don’t be in a hurry – take your time… and love the process – that is why I normally do it on Sundays – it takes time to grate and chop. Make big bowl of this soup… the soup freezes very well and will never go to waste!
2. Use the veggies + herbs – even lettuce, rocket – whatever you have in your fridge or veggie basket…..the stuff you did not use during the week and want to throw away.
3. Look in your freezer and use all those small packets of frozen veg that you still have not got around to using…
4. The five basic vegetable ingredients that you have to put in to your pot are the following: potatoes, carrots, onions, celery + tomatoes.
5. I always leave the skin on all my vegetables.
6. I grate my vegetables …that is if they are grate-able – it cooks faster and I feel the flavours infuse just that much better.
7. Veggies like broccoli and cauliflower – use the stems – cut them into thin slices – it adds to the beautiful chunkiness of the soup.
8. Parmesan skins – when you buy and use parmesan – don’t throw the skin or rind away – keep them in your freezer and use this in your soup – it adds a wonderful richness.
9. The secret ingredients of my soup : cloves, pesto (any flavour), whole pepper corns, parmesan cheese skins and grated, instant tomato cream soup, oats, good stock to cover the veggies, Worcestershire sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and always a bit of butter.
10. To serve always finish your soup with a drizzle of olive oil , chopped parsley and some parmesan shavings.
350 g Tomatoes either chopped or rosa tomatoes halved
200g Baby marrows - sliced
150g Cauliflower - cut into chunks
130g Broccoli - cut into chunks
2 Long pieces of celery - chopped
80g Cucumber - chopped
300g Frozen peas
50g Sundried tomatoes - chopped
10g Fresh coriander - chopped
25g Garlic - grated
20 Black peppercorns
20g Fresh parsley - chopped
1t Chillie flakes
410g Tinned chopped tomatoes (1 tin)
2 Stock cubes (Vegetable or chicken)
75-100g Parmesan skins
3L Water (or 3L of good stock – then omit the stock cubes and remember to add more salt)
100g Dry pasta (I use spaghetti and normally break the spaghetti up into small pieces)
2x 410g Sugar beans (drain the fluid) – you can even replace this with tins of baked beans
60 ml Olive oil
1 Packet cream of tomato soup mixed with 500 ml cold water
1T Worcestershire sauce
100g Pesto (any basil or rocket pesto)
100g Parmesan cheese grated
1t Black pepper
Put all A ingredients into a large pot and bring to boil. Simmer for 30 minutes on medium heat. Please remember to stir frequently. As this is a big pot of ingredients, it can easily burn if you don't keep a watchful eye on it.
Now add all the B ingredients and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
Then add all the C ingredients – stir well – and simmer for 10 minutes.
At the end please taste for seasoning – adding salt and pepper as per your individual taste or preference.
To serve: Drizzle some olive oil over the soup, add some chopped parsley and some parmesan shavings.
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