Tag Archives: south africa blog

easter blondies anyone?

easter blondies anyone?

Blondie

Watch me making this by clicking here.

Bon Appetit magazine listed the “Blondie” as one of the food trends of 2013 and I can only concur. This is decadence with a capital D. For too long chocolate brownies ruled the dessert roost – in all shapes and sizes … yet I dare to re-introduce the Cinderella cousin … the Blondie!

– Bon Appetit Magazine | Blond(ie) is the New Brown(ie)
For dessert snobs, blondies have always been a pale imitation of their darker inspiration. But now the fairer-hued bar is coming into its own. In New York, Stellina sells a Dirty Blondie with peanut butter and toffee. And in San Francisco,Black Jet Baking Co. adds brown butter and Maldon sea salt to set a new standard for what the classic un-brownie should be.

She is so sexy, sassy and delicious. I added all my favourite stuff … like white chocolate (you can give me white chocolate anyday and anytime – just LOVE it) + pistachio nuts + because I am in an Easter mood I added some marshmallow Easter eggs. This is my most adorable sweety thing at the moment – try it. She is a real treat!

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blondies
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 Eggs
  • 175g Demarera sugar (or you can replace this with Muscovado sugar)
  • 1t Vanilla essence
  • 100g Butter – melted
  • 100g Flour
  • ½t Baking powder
  • 50g Pistachio nuts
  • 100g White chocolate – cut into very small pieces
  • 3-4 Marshmallow Easter eggs – cut into small blocks
  • Sprinkle of Maldon salt
  • To serve
  • Raspberries
  • Crème Fraiche
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Beat the eggs till foamy. Add the sugar bit by bit. Beat for about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla essence and then add melted butter, a little by little while beating.
  4. Mix the flour and baking powder and add to egg mixture. Fold in with spoon – don’t overwork the mixture.
  5. Add the Pistachio nuts, white chocolate, marshmallow eggs.
  6. Line a baking tray 20cm x 20cm with baking paper – add the dough and sprinkle with a bit of Maldon salt - bake for 35 minutes at 180°C.
  7. Let it cool down and serve with fresh raspberries and a dash of crème fraiche.

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pizza … my style – just don’t tell mamma

pizza … my style – just don’t tell mamma

brown bread pizza

Watch me make this live by clicking here.

Stand back … I can honestly say this is one of the most amazing things I have ever made. It astounds me that I did not discover this earlier in my life … you know all those times you sat hankering after a pizza but were just too lazy to call the pizza delivery guys. Well, now there is just no excuse. Just take a slice of whole wheat bread + roll it out with a rolling pin + brush with garlic and olive oil + fry in griddle pan + add your toppings + and bake! This takes just minutes to prepare and you can decide on what toppings you want…healthy or decadent…the choice is yours.

Just tell me this isn’t good? I know that you cannot beat an original Italian pizza base….you know the ones they make in Italy – but this is just as delicious, believe me. Just don’t tell Mamma!

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pizza ... my style - just don't tell mamma
 
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Pizza base
  • 4 Slices of bread
  • 2 Cloves garlic – grated
  • 3T Olive oil
  • Topping
  • 140g Ina Paarman Sundried Tomato
  • 1 Small block of mozzarella cheese (this all depends on how much you want to layer on)
  • Dried origanum (optional) – a very small pinch per “pizza”
  • 8 Slices cooked salami
  • Kalamata Olives
  • 1 large onion – sliced and slowly fried in a bit of olive oil till golden brown
  • To serve
  • Rocket
  • Fresh basil
  • Chillies
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 220 ºC.
  2. Take a rolling pin and roll the bread till flat.
  3. Mix the garlic and olive oil and brush the slices of bread with it.
  4. Fry each slice on both sides in a griddle pan tuntil the brown etching lines appear on your bread
  5. Take the sundried tomato and mesh it together with a fork. Smear the tamato on one side of the bread.
  6. Then add the mozzarella and all the toppings.
  7. Pop in the oven at 220ºC till the cheese in melted and bubbly.
  8. Serve with fresh rocket, basil, chopped chillies and always wash down your creation with a glass of good wine.

 

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pan tumaca = simple + delicious {viva españa}

pan tumaca = simple + delicious {viva españa}

tomato spanish dessert

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.

tomato spanish dessert

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

… And there you have it. Olé!

grated tomato

smoked potato + vintage cheese and friendships

smoked potato + vintage cheese and friendships

“It made me realise once again that food + blogging brings people together – it cements the deepest friendships and this is what the culinary society and life is all about. Sharing our knowledge and sharing our food around the table or swimming pool – anél”

smoked potato and vintage cheese

alain passard lesson # 3 : never underestimate a vegetable.

It was unusual yet one of the most distinctive taste experiences of my life. Chef Alain Passard served up a simple flambéed smoked potato accompanied by a slice of Moelleux du Revard cheese – that was it – nothing less and nothing more. To me, it was sheer genius serving a potato as the starch with the cheese course {no biscuits or bread}. Not only surprising and crazy to the taste buds – but also absolutely perfect!

Back in the RSA I decided to smoke my first potato and serve it with a vintage mature cheddar {for this recipe I used Simonsberg Vintage Mature Cheddar}.

The first person I rang up to give me some direction {and instructions I might add} to the smoking process was my friend and fellow blogger Barry. Firstly he thought I was crazy – “you want to smoke what?” – in the end the adventurous nature of this challenge intrigued both of us.

Barry arrived all chipper one Saturday morning along with all the goodies – the smoker, the ‘saagsels’, a fresh salmon, a bottle of bubbly and a few beers. Well, we spent a wonderful day together smoking all sorts of edibles – potatoes, salmon and sausage. We all know that it is tough here in Africa, so one always needs to temper this with plenty of laughs, chilled liquid refreshments while languishing under the splendor of the African sunshine.

It made me realise once again that food + blogging brings people together – it cements the deepest friendships and this is what the culinary society and life is all about. Sharing our knowledge and sharing our food around the table or swimming pool.

smoked potato and vintage cheese

Method and ingredients: Peel and steam your potatoes until cooked – do not overcook. Smoke the potato for 15 minutes in a smoker + then flambée it in a dash of brandy just before serving + serve with a slice of Simonsberg Vintage Mature cheddar + sprinkle with some maldon salt and course black pepper. If you want a stronger smoke taste serve with smoked maldon salt. {PS. It is important to accompany with shavings or wedges of strong cheese so that it can match the deep smokiness of the potato}

Wine: I also wanted to wash this unusual offering down with the perfect wine –so I phoned Nic van Wyk from Diemersdal {he was on the set of the new cooking show Kokkedoor} to ask him what he would pair with this specific dish – without so much as a hesitation his response was the Diemersdal Chardonnay Reserve.

Win: To win a Simonsberg Cheese hamper and 2 bottles of Diemersdal Chardonnay Reserve please click here.

smoked potato and cheese

cooking paupillette of lemon sole + saffron sauce with reza mahammad

cooking paupillette of lemon sole + saffron sauce with reza mahammad

‘don’t get overwhelmed by the list ingredients – read the method first – then you will find it easy to cook my recipes’ – reza mahammad

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As the African sun set over the great Sundays River, I had to pinch myself… the situation was surreal, almost sublime. There I was deep in the Kwazulu-Natal bush at the Esiweni Lodge on the Nambiti Private Game Reserve … just the day before I was at my desk doing my regular duties as communications head at a leading architectural firm, dhk Architects.

For the next 48 hours, I was to be a captive in this wilderness, a captive to my senses. It wasn’t the Big 5 wild animals that roamed the reserve that were making me nervous but the prospect and sheer excitement of meeting world renowned TV Foodie and chef, Reza Mahammad. You see, he is one of my all-time food heroes and by some stroke of sheer good fortune I spent the weekend with him on what I could only describe as a culinary safari of sorts. It was such a fabulous opportunity that I could hardly contain myself. I was there representing Food24 but the truth be told I was more excited than a little girl on big red school bus venturing off to class for the very first time.

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Reza Mahammad

The lodge had embarked on a series of culinary safaris where guests would be invited to cook and share the food of well-known chef’s and personalities. It is a good formula and offers an enchanting yet educational break from the humdrum of our daily lives.

Reza Mahammad joined us later the Friday evening jetting in from Cape Town where he was promoting his new TV series. In his latest series, Reza’s African Kitchen, he explores African cuisine, from the spicy Indian influences of Zanzibar, to the indigenous dishes of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa. Reza goes on horseback safari, tiger fishing, gets friendly with ostriches, herds sheep, snorkels and more all in an unsatiable endeavour to uncover the diversity of flavours and fabulous ingredients which populate the food heritage of Southern Africa. Back in his own breath-taking African kitchen, Reza uses his travels as inspiration to create his own delicious dishes with a spicy Indian twist!

But now back to the Friday night at the lodge – I was anxious, apprehensive and excited – the spirit of this man and his culinary talents preceded him. Yet, it was odd, I loved the work of this chef before I had even met him…But after spending two days as an apprentice-like food groupie of sorts, I was hanging around his apron tails for the better part of two days … I think I can call him friend. What an individual! What a down to earth talent and yet of such humble and generous spirit. Reza is exactly the way he is on television – open, full of laughter fun and excitement – but what strikes you almost immediately is his dedication and enthusiasm for his work his passion and his food. He started in the kitchen at 6am with Damon (Esiweni chef) in the morning to prep for our workshops – and finished that evening with dessert just before 9.45 pm. To say he is a workaholic would be somewhat of an under exaggeration. Where the energy and passion comes from can only be put down to his deep love of his craft. A craft of which he is a master. He is so proficient – even almost belligerent in the best of ways, he never uses any measuring equipment – it is just a dash of this, a sprinkle of that a few spices here… and there you go – another Reza creation. There are neither airs nor a graces about this man, he preps, cleans and chats and somewhere in-between these masterful dishes just seem to appear.

Through it all we laughed till our bellies were sore, we chatted about food and tips and his new ventures and adventures. We sipped on this, savoured that and let ourselves get lost in this wilderness of food, flora and fauna.

reza mahamma - esiweni lodge

Esiweni Lodge

My lodgings for the next two days was an opulently furnished suite perched high above the meandering Sunday’s river. It was a citadel in the sky, luxurious and just too beautiful all at the same time. My cliff-top chalet had its own private deck with just the most magnificent, sprawling views. I need’nt have gone anywhere and could have sat for the entire weekend sipping endless G&T’s in the rim-flow pool taking in the breathtaking vista and just talking to myself and the animals. I would have done so if it were not for the scheduled game drive which took us into the veld to explore God’s beautiful creatures in the cool of the setting sun.

There were elephants, birds, strange sounds and nature-filled silences, the rustle of bushes and fluttering heartbeats. From the exotic to the unusual – these wild and wonderous creatures seemed to linger in balance around the environs of the lodge. There were no doubt many more creatures wandering around the greater reserve. But the most amazing thing of the lodge was its people – their motto is you come as guests and you leave as friends – it’s so true. The managing couple Natie and Magda are such an engaging and exceptional couple who exude the finesse and hospitality that brings the real charm to this natural hideaway.

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Food

I learnt loads of interesting things which I will share in future in my future blog posts. But for now, one of the workshops that we did with Reza on the Saturday is what I want to share ….it is this amazing dish called Paupillette of Lemon Sole with saffron sauce. This dish epitomises Reza’s love for the “Frindien” cuisine, combing classic French food with an Indian twist. This is a not an easy task but this genius does it so brilliantly – this dish not only looks elegant and refined, but the taste is subtle yet complex. The white fish contrasts beautifully with the yellow sauce. This is a perfect dish to impress the best – without having to slave for hours in the kitchen. Don’t be alarmed by the list of ingredients because the preparation is actually quite straightforward. As Reza said – “ don’t get overwhelmed by the ingredients – read the method first – then you will find it easy to cook my recipes’.

cooking paupillette of lemon sole + saffron sauce with reza mahammad
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Paupillette of Lemon Sole with saffron sauce
  • Serves 4
  • 6 x 140 – 160g fillets of lemon sole, trimmed, skinned and filleted
  • 150ml dry white wine or Vermouth
  • For the filling
  • 300g raw prawns (net weight, after being shelled and de-veined)
  • 1 tsp grated ginger 2 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped dill 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • Zest of 1 lemon plus juice of ½ a lemon ¼ tsp roughly crushed fennel seeds
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes salt to season
  • For the Sauce
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) or vegetable oil1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger 1 chopped green chilli
  • ½ tsp saffron 1 tbsp. chopped coriander
  • 200ml double cream salt to season
Instructions
  1. To make the filling - Blitz the prawns coarsely in a food processor. Decant into a bowl and mix in all the remaining ingredients. Divide into six portions and set aside.
  2. Place the sole fillets, with the side that had the skin face up. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place a portion of the prawn stuffing on the fillets. Roll the fillets, starting with the thickest part and finishing with the tail.
  4. Place on a roasting tray and pour the dry white wine or vermouth over the fish.
  5. Cover with a grease parchment paper and place in a preheated oven at 180C for 10-12 minutes until the fish is tender.
  6. To make the sauce - Whilst the fish is in the oven, heat the oil in a pan until hot. Add the fennel seeds and allow them to pop for a few seconds. Add the chopped shallots, garlic, ginger and finely chopped chilli. Reduce the heat to medium.
  7. Cook until the onions are soft and transparent.
  8. Once the fish has finished cooking, remove the soles from the oven and pour the juices from the roasting tray into the sauce. Set the fish aside, cover and keep warm.
  9. To the sauce, add the saffron and coriander. Reduce the liquid to half so the flavours intensify. Add the cream and continue to cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce has thickened, become glossy and coats the back of a spoon.
  10. Strain through a fine sieve, and squeeze out all the juices to maximise the flavours. Adjust seasoning.
  11. To plate up - Cut the sole into halves, allowing 3 halves per portion. Arrange on a plate with the sauce around.
  12. Serve with the glazed carrots with maple syrup and mustard seeds.

 

Esiweni Lodge: +27(0) 36-636-9002
Emails: reservations@esiweni.coza
Reza: @rezamahammad (twitter)

sundried tomato + parmesan scones {the expresso way}

sundried tomato + parmesan scones {the expresso way}

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During South Africa’s first ever live televised cook along this morning on Expresso {SABC3}, I made these delicious savoury scones {recipe below}. While Expresso’s Katelyn and Zola were cooking in the studio, a few of us {including food24 editor Caro de Waal!} were cooking along in our kitchens. So, how does it work? It’s very simple – get the recipe on the Expresso website, purchase the necessary ingredients and on the day of the cook along switch on your TV and let the cooking, excitement and fun begin! It was delightful to know that I wasn’t the only one with flour all over my hair, and it was great to hear the tips and instructions straight from the telly. I encourage you to join us in the future; it’s great fun! Keep an eye on my twitter or facebook for the next cook along.

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{two of my colleagues} pierre + madeleine loved these tasty treats!

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sundried tomato + parmesan scones {the expresso way}
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 250ml Cake flour
  • 10ml Baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 30g Cold butter, diced
  • 125ml Grated parmesan cheese
  • 6 Sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 t Dried oregano
  • 1 Egg
  • 45ml Milk
  • Extra egg, beaten with 2 Tbs water for egg wash.
Instructions
  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it is crumbly.
  3. Add the grated parmesan, sundried tomatoes and oregano.
  4. Whisk together the 1 egg and milk.
  5. Slowly add the liquid to the flour mix and stir lightly to combine with a knife.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat out lightly with hands.
  7. Roll out to about 2cm thickness.
  8. Cut with a round cutter and place onto a greased baking tray.
  9. Brush the top of each scone with egg wash.
  10. Bake at 200C for about 10-12 minutes.

 

 

 

semolina halwa with peach puree = easy indian dessert

semolina halwa with peach puree = easy indian dessert

Semolina Halwa with Peach Puree

Indian desserts remain for me a somewhat tricky and challenging thing – I find them extremely sweet and I struggle to actually fall in love with the flavours. So I decided to experiment with a very well know Indian dessert – Semolina Halwa. This is an easy dessert to make. In this instance though I decided to use a lot less sugar and added sultanas and raisins and served this together with a peach puree. What is also great about this recipe is that you do not need to use an oven for this dessert – just a warm plate. Live a bit beyond the ordinary and give this one a sample….

 

semolina halwa with peach puree = easy indian dessert
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ½ Cup semolina
  • 3T Ghee
  • 25g Sultanas (small handful)
  • 25g Raisins (small handful)
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 2 Cardamom seeds (shelled)
  • 1 Cup boiling water
  • ½ Cup sugar
  • ½ - 1 Cup cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • Puree
  • 100g Drained tinned peaches
  • 1t Sugar
  • For serving
  • 30 g Pistachio nuts crushed
  • 30g Almonds flakes
Instructions
  1. Melt the ghee over medium heat and add the semolina, sultanas, raisins, cinnamon stick and cardamom seeds.
  2. Let it cook to a point where the fruit is nicely swollen and the semolina turns somewhat of a pinkish colour.
  3. Add the water and let it simmer until the semolina is cooked. Remember to stir.
  4. Add the sugar and allow it to cook for a minute or two.
  5. Add the cream and salt and cook over low heat for a few minutes.
  6. Blend the peach and sugar together for the puree.
  7. To serve - Make two quenelles per person.
  8. Put some of the peach puree on the side of the quenelles and sprinkle with almond and pistachio nuts.
  9. Serve luke warm or cold.

 

 

sweet lavender flatbread with buttery-caramel-wells

sweet lavender flatbread with buttery-caramel-wells

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If you want to watch me making this bread {click here}

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!
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sweet lavender flatbread with buttery-caramel-wells
 
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Ingredients
  • For the dough
  • 500g Bread flour
  • 1t Salt
  • 3 Lavender flowers – picked from the stalk
  • 5g Dry yeast
  • 330ml Lukewarm water
  • 2T Sugar
  • 40g Butter – room temperature
  • Toppings
  • 1 Egg - lightly beaten
  • 3T Sugar
  • 40g Butter – cut into small blocks
Instructions
  1. Mix the yeast, lukewarm water and sugar together and let it stand for 5 minutes - to allow the yeast to develop.
  2. Mix the flour + salt + lavender flowers together and then add the yeast mixture plus the butter.
  3. Mix well and then knead for 5 minutes till dough is elastic and smooth in texture.
  4. Place dough in a warm area and to let it proof and double in size – for about an hour.
  5. After it has doubled in size knock the dough down lightly.
  6. Then put in a non-stick baking tray pan stretch the dough softly with your finger tips till the surface area of the pan is covered.
  7. Let it proof for another 20 minutes.
  8. Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
  9. Then with your finger poke random holes into the dough (do not pierce the dough) popping a knob of butter into each hole.
  10. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 °C for +-20 minutes – till golden brown.

 

red wine poached beetroot salad

red wine poached beetroot salad

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lesson#2 {alain passard} enhance the flavour of your vegetables with subtle flavourings

I am still talking veggies and the most wonderful experience I had at Alain Passard’s restaurant in Paris – L’Arperge. As I mentioned in a previous cabbage post – what I took away from the day was to make your vegetables the stars of a meal – look at them, smell them, see their beauty, see their perfection and cook them in such a way as to bring out their natural flavours.

I took my little black book with and my camera to make sure I had a permanent memory of the food. But the flavours – how am I going to remember them? How was I ever going to relate them? I decided that the only way was to take what I have tasted and implement these complex flavours in my kitchen – it will definitely not be the same but at least it will be documented.

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One of the dished served to us at Passard’s little restaurant was beetroot – OMG, the flavours! When you tasted the beetroot it was the same flavours you would find in glühwein – you know, the red wine, the cinnamon etc. It was so complimenting of the beetroot that I decided to poach my red veged beauties in a bit of red wine, black pepper corns, cinnamon, star anise and some orange peel.

Well, it turned out fantastic and so absolutely delicious. The spices compliment the earthiness of the beetroot transforming this root into something so special. After you had a bite the tastes kind of linger in your mouth for a while and you don’t know if you are in winter or in summer. I served the baby beats cold and added some cream cheese buttons, some micro leaves and a drop of balsamic glaze on each beetroot.

Please try this the next time – it really is special and something rather completely different.

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red wine poached beetroot salad
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For poaching beetroot
  • 650g Baby Beetroots
  • 1L Red wine
  • 250ml Water
  • 3 Cloves
  • 5 Black peppercorns
  • 1 Big cinnamon stick
  • Peel of one orange
  • 2T Sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Other salad ingredients
  • Micro greens
  • 80g Cream Cheese
  • Balsamic glaze
Instructions
  1. Cook the beetroot in the wine spice mix for +- 40 minutes till soft.
  2. Drain and let it cool. Peel and leave in wine for a while – just to soak up some flavours.
  3. Cut in half, add some cream cheese drops and micro greens.
  4. Add one drop of balsamic glaze on each beetroot.

 

scooped melon salad with wild rocket + mint + honey mustard vinaigrette

scooped melon salad with wild rocket + mint + honey mustard vinaigrette

melon, rocket, mint and mustard vinaigrette

Melons are just amazing this time of the year and it’s such a versatile fruit that goes with salt, sweet and pepper. They are extremely beneficial to your health so simply make a point to stock up more often on this tasty treats.

Today, I just scooped out a sweet melon with an ice cream scoop and served it with a peppery rocket, a bit of mint and a mustard vinaigrette – these additions just enhance and bring out the already summer fresh flavour of the melon. It is light, easy and absolutely delicious!

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Some Yellow and Orange Melon health benefits

1. Yellow and orange melons are packed with vitamins A, B-3, B-6 and C, potassium, dietary fiber and folate.
2. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, which aids in healthy eyes, skin and mucous membranes.
3. These melons are Carotenoid-rich foods and may help reduce your risk of macular degeneration, cancer and heart disease.
4. Carotenoids help strengthen the immune system.

source: health24 + livestrong

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scooped melon salad with wild rocket + mint + honey mustard vinaigrette
 
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Ingredients
  • 350g Melon
  • Wild Rocket
  • 5 Mint leaves – chiffonade
  • Mustard vinaigrette
  • 1T Honey
  • ½ T White wine vinegar
  • 1t Wholegrain mustard
Instructions
  1. Scoop the melon out with an ice cream scoop. Mix with rocket and mint.
  2. Mix all ingredients of dressing together and drizzle liberally over salad.

 

 

pork sausages + lemony thyme mushrooms plus how to cook the perfect pork sausage

pork sausages + lemony thyme mushrooms plus how to cook the perfect pork sausage

Pork Sausage and Mushrooms

We all love pork sausages – it’s one of my husband’s ultimate favourite things to eat. The frustrating thing about pork sausages is that although they have this thick casing around them, they generally burst open … furthermore all the juicy flavours and brownness from the pan stays on the skin. For those that are like me … we generally tend to rip the skin off and set it to one side – and there goes the flavour with the skin! Well I have now worked out how to perfectly fry a sausage without it breaking or bursting or skin and with loads of flavour – I want to share this with you today … it will change your entire outlook on pork bangers!

1. Firstly add the sausages to a pan with a little water – about a cup of water for 6 sausages – put the lid on the pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Then put the sausages into cold water and take the casings off.
3. Now put some butter and olive oil in a pan, add the sausages and fry till golden brown – perfect!

I decided to serve these porkies with lovely mushrooms, thyme and lemon. The lemon cuts through the richness and its perfect just with a piece of bread on the side. Enjoy!

Pork Sausage

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Mushrooms

pork sausages + lemony thyme mushrooms
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • For sausages
  • 6 Pork Sausages
  • +- Cup of water
  • 20g Butter
  • 1T Olive oil
  • For mushrooms
  • 400g Mushrooms sliced – I love a variety of different mushrooms
  • 30g Butter
  • 1T Olive oil
  • Handful of fresh thyme
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
Instructions
  1. Cooking the sausages - Add the sausages to a pan with water – put the lid on and simmer for 10 minutes. Then put into cold water to cool it down - remove the casings. Now put the butter and olive oil in a pan, add the sausages and fry till golden brown and perfect!
  2. Cooking the mushrooms - Add half the butter, oil, mushrooms and thyme in a very hot pan. Season with the salt and pepper and fry till golden brown. Do the same with the next batch. Squeeze the lemon juice over the mushrooms when done.
  3. To serve - Put the mushrooms in a serving dish and add the sausages – serve with some fresh bread.

 

 

a simple cabbage greek salad + alain passard = veggie perfection

a simple cabbage greek salad + alain passard = veggie perfection

“If you enjoy reading my blog please vote for it in the Eat Out Best Local Food Blog Award by 1) clicking on this link {eat out best local food blog award} 2) and casting your vote at the bottom of the Eat Out web page.”

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Lesson #1 Alain Passard – Elevate vegetables to the main course. Respect them. Love them.

Cabbage Greek Salad … Just recently, I was fortunate enough to meet and eat at a Parisian restaurant owned and run by one of the best chefs on the planet – and one of my great food heroes. The place was L’Arpege + 3-Star Michelin Restaurant and the chef was none other than Alain Passard!

Having lunch at one of the top restaurants in the world turned out to be a very emotional day for me as we made our way through 13 courses of what can only be described as an expedition to some sort of culinary Nirvana. This was not a sampling menu, it was 13 courses of considerable portion of food.

In order to give fair justice to the skill and care that was taken in serving each course, I intend discussing (or is it dissecting?) various elements of this extraordinary experience over the next few weeks. The sum of which continues to jolt my brain and senses in the most wonderful of ways. More of that later but back to Alain…My hubby and I sat down just on midday and only left the restaurant four and half hours later. It turned out to be not just a meal but more a journey enticing discoveries. It was an explosion of the senses on all fronts from tantalizing the palate, to engaging the brain, to touching my heart. It was all of these things.

Then out of nowhere and so very casually, Alain Passard himself appeared in front of us… and so charmingly and non-chalantly introduced himself. He stood humbly before us wanting to know where we were from and then thanked us for making the effort to eat at his restaurant. Could you believe he thanked me!! I was speechless. He said that if I wanted to know anything, I must just ask him. He was most amused by my little black notebook. It is that little notebook that I take everywhere with me jotting down my thoughts and different food experiences. Alain then just said the following “eat slowly and enjoy every bite, try to stay till dessert because I have a surprise for you” and before you could offer a shy stammer of awe and appreciation he whisked himself back into his kitchen. *more about the surprise and what he meant in a later blog*.

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In between the courses that followed he came out to serve us … how amazing was that!! I was in dreamland and I think for the first time in my life, I was beyond speechless. What I took away from this restaurant and this genius of a chef was that you need to live and practice the credo of this talented food maestro….remember to elevate vegetables to the main course – it is not a side dish – respect them and cook them with love.

Ok, I got a little carried away by my recollections of this exceptional outing, back to dish at hand…..
Today I have taken the often disregarded, humble purple cabbage and added it to make a greek salad the way my dear and wonderful Mediterranean friend Thea Maroela taught me. Thea is +- 79 years old now and lives in Cyprus. Thea always made this particular Greek salad with white cabbage and I used to often eat this salad at Thea’s house with fresh bread and a tumbler of white wine – which Thea always kept in a bottle under the sink for me as she herself did not drink. This dish is a “must make”. It’s fresh, inspiring and delicious.

Note to self: Add to bucketlist – Visit Thea in Cyprus again. Book table and eat again at any restaurant owned by Alain Passard.

Recipe
This recipe has no measurements in terms of ingredients…it is only dependent on the quantity of ingredients you have in your fridge.

a simple cabbage greek salad + alain passard = veggie perfection
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Note
  • This recipe has no measurements in terms of ingredients…it is only dependent on the quantity of ingredients you have in your fridge.
  • Ingredients
  • Red cabbage – finely sliced
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Olives
  • Onion
  • Feta cheese
  • Dressing
  • Good Olive oil
  • White vinegar
  • Salt + black pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Pour generously with olive oil and then some vinegar, add the salt and pepper and mix well in a bowl before you dish it up.
  3. Serve with fresh bread.

 

 

savoury + pineapple lassi shooters = refreshing and healthy

savoury + pineapple lassi shooters = refreshing and healthy

Lassi drinks pineapple lassi and savoury lassi

As you know I like things hot + spicy, so a lassi is a must in my house – especially when I make a lovely curry.  A Lassi is a very popular yogurt based drink that originated in the Punjab regions of India and Pakistan and are often served in genuine Indian restaurants as they are the perfect drink to have when eating spicy dishes. It’s a type of a yogurt milkshake / smoothie because you just blend the ingredients together. The yogurt in the lassi neutralises the heat generated by the spices and offers some cooling and respite from the spicy ingredients.

I have made two versions of a lassi (sweet and savoury) but this is something that you can play with – you can use any fruit  … mango, banana, lychee, strawberry or  use other spices – experiment a bit and see what flavour combinations work for you.  It will be something both novel and unique at your next Indian soiree.

And remember … if you use fresh fruit Lassi’s are 100% natural and are free from artificial colourings, preservatives and flavourings. I also use fat free yogurt for a very healthy option.

Facts I did not know about lassi:

1. It is consumed by over one billion Asians throughout the world.

2.  In Punjab a lassi is sometimes topped with a thin layer of malai – a type clotted cream.

3.  With a little turmeric powder mixed in, it is also used as a folk remedy for gastroenteritis.

4.  In old times, people would have lassi because they wouldn’t get hungry quickly afterwards and they could wait until lunch to eat again.

5.   A sweet lassi is a more recent invention, and has become immensely popular. Rose water is a common ingredient for sweet lassi and adds a sweet, perfumed aroma.

Sources:  hassam.hubpages + wikipedia

 

savoury lassi shooter
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup of plain fat free yogurt
  • 2t Chopped coriander
  • ½t Dry mint
  • ¼ t Chillie powder
  • Pinch of coriander and cumin powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • To serve
  • 20 g Crushed pistachio nuts for serving
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients except the pistachio nuts together and blitz in a blender
  2. Pour into liqueur glasses.
  3. Sprinkle with pistachios.

pineapple lassi shooter
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup of plain fat free yogurt
  • 115g Rhodes Pineapple Crush
  • ½ t Chillie powder
  • ¼ t Dry mint
  • Pinch of coriander and cumin powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • To serve
  • 20g Crushed pineapple for serving
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients together and blitz in a blender.
  2. Pour in liqueur glasses.
  3. Sprinkle with crushed pineapple and serve.

 

 

 

spiced ricotta pancakes + figs + naartjie honey

spiced ricotta pancakes + figs + naartjie honey

“Peel a fig for a friend and a peach for your enemy” – English proverb

ricotta pancakes with figs

I love figs. Such an ancient fruit, yet still with us today … I also agree with the believe that figs are a symbol of abundance, fertility and sweetness. So when my eyes caught a few fresh figs on the shelf in the supermarket the other day, I had to have them and do something with them. They were dark purple, plump and looked so ripe and juicy. I had ricotta at home and I decided to make ricotta pancakes with figs. Using Nigella’s Ricotta Hotcakes as a basis I changed her recipe by adding a few spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves as well as naartjie zest – which just gave it that ‘pick-me-up’ spicy-citrus flavouring.

Figs

I am also curious to dig a little deeper, and scratch below the surface when it comes to things that interest me, so I read up about figs and came across these interesting facts.

Fig Trivia – 10 Fig Facts

1. The Blossoms
Fig trees have no blossoms on their branches – the ‘fruit’ that we eat is the blossom and is pollinated by a special type of wasp. Many tiny flowers produce the crunchy little edible seeds that give figs their unique texture.

2. Calcium and Fiber
Figs are one of the highest plant sources of calcium and fiber. Eating a half cup of figs has as much calcium as drinking a half a glass of milk. The food value increases with drying – one dried fig has almost as much calcium as an egg – listen up moms!

3. The Calorie Value
There is approximately 50 calories in one large fig.

4. The Garden of Eden
Many believe it was figs that were actually the fruit in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, not apples.

5. Fig Puree
Fig puree can be used to replace fat in baked goods.

6. The scientific name – Ficus carica
The common fig is a deciduous tree that grows to heights of up to 6 meters in the genus Ficus, from the family Moraceae, known as common fig tree. It is a temperate species native to the Middle East.

7. The Family
Figs may not look like it, but did you know that figs are a member of the mulberry family?

8. The Language
English – Fig
Spanish – Higo
Afrikaans – Vy
French – Figue
German – Feige
Italian – Fico

9. The History
Figs are originally from small Asia and are one of the first fruits cultivated ever. The Greeks made mention of them and around 60 BC and Plato promoted the fig as being an important nutrition for athletes. A story is known of the Greek government that had forbidden all exports of figs once in order to assure themselves of a good outcome at The Olympic Games. The ancients Greeks knew about 29 fig sorts. Today there are more than 600 different fig types.

10. Idiom
English Idiom: “I don’t care a fig”
Meaning: Complete lack of concern about an event.
Origination: Probably originates from the abundance of this fruit.

Source: valleyfig.com, foodandtravel.com.au, caloriecount.about.com, wikipedia.org, crfg.org,

Fig

spiced ricotta pancakes + figs + naartjie honey
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • For crumpets
  • 250g Ricotta cheese
  • ½ Cup milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 100g Plain flour
  • 1t Baking powder
  • 2t Naartjie Zest (you can replace with orange)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of cloves
  • Butter for frying
  • Naartjie honey
  • 1 Cup honey (I used orange blossom honey)
  • Juice of one orange or naartjie (you can replace with orange)
  • 1t Naartie peel
  • 1 Clove
  • To serve
  • 5 Fresh figs - quartered
  • 5t Crème Fraiche
Instructions
  1. For pancakes – Mix the ricotta, milk and eggs together and then add all the dry ingredients - mix everything together. Don’t overwork the mixture. Heat a bit butter in a non stick pan – then “spoon ” a dollops of batter into the pan and cook each pancake for about a minute each side till golden brown.
  2. For honey - simmer all ingredients for 5 minutes and allow to cool down a bit.
  3. To serve - Drizzle with syrup + add the figs + the Crème Fraiche.

 

chicken meatballs with apple + cumin + mint salsa = for january budgets

chicken meatballs with apple + cumin + mint salsa = for january budgets

Indian chicken meatballs with Indian bread

The start of each year invariably sees most of us stretched to the limit after all the expenses over the festive season, the food, the gifts, the wine – it all adds up and still somehow it manages to be more than we originally budgeted for. I was fortunate enough to spend a few short days in Europe over the past month and swapping Rands for Euros is something that could make one quickly lose ones appetite. But it was wonderful and it was worth it. Just experiencing the different cultures, the history, the food and the flavours provides an inspiration that goes way beyond currency conversions! I have so much to write about from the simplest foods from the street restaurante and pastelarias of Lisbon to the simple sophistication of Parisian cuisine.

But more of this in future chapters…. One thing that remains universal is the budget-beating chicken. It remains a constant on any menu the world over and it is definitely the protein of choice in Europe at the moment. We all make the mistake of taking chicken for granted but we must always remember the many ways in which it is spiced-up, dressed-up or served up from countries in Europe + India + Mexico to the shores of Morocco. With a bit of creativity you can delve into the delights of chicken in a thousand different international ways without ever having to leave your kitchen … and to boot, you can beat the budget blues!

As a start I thought I would share my Indian chicken meatball recipe today. It’s really simple and the apple + cumin salsa makes this dish something extraordinary. I served it in a phulka but you can serve it in anything like a roti + pancake etc.

Indian chicken meatballs

chicken meatballs
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 500g Minced chicken breasts (skinned, with any fat pieces removed)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Medium onion (grated)
  • 4T Fresh coriander (chopped)
  • 1t Red marsala (wet) - click here for recipe
  • 2t Green marsala (wet) - click here for recipe
  • 2t Fresh ginger and garlic mix - click here for recipe
  • 1t Oil
  • ¼ t Turmeric
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1 Squeeze of lemon juice
  • For the tempering of spice
  • 3T Cooking oil
  • 3 Cloves
  • 3 Cardamom pods
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
Instructions
  1. Put all the chicken mince ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix through.
  2. Taking a handful of the mixture at a time, roll in meatballs (about the size of a golf ball).
  3. Tip: Keep a bowl of water next to you – wet your hand in the water so that the meat does not stick to your hand.
  4. Heat the oil in the pan on medium heat, adding the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon sticks. Let it fry for about 3 minutes.
  5. Now add your chicken balls. Fry until cooked through and golden brown in colour.
  6. Tip: If you are in a hurry, add a dash of water to the pan and put the lid on.

 
apple + cumin + mint salsa
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ Green apples (leave the peel or skin on)
  • 2t Fresh mint finely chopped
  • ½t Cumin seeds
  • 1t Green marsala (wet)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Juice of ½ to a whole lemon (all depends how juicy it is)
Instructions
  1. Chop the apples with skin still on into small little blocks.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

 
phulka
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 500g Flour
  • 1T Cooking oil
  • 1t Cumin seeds
  • 1t Salt
  • 1T Sugar
  • 10g Dry yeast
  • 375ml Luke warm water
  • Oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Put flour, oil, cumin, salt and sugar in mixer. Mix for a minute or two.
  2. Add the dry yeast and mix through.
  3. Add the luke warm water slowly till it forms a dough.
  4. Knead the dough in the mixer for about 5 minutes till soft and elastic – it must still be slightly sticky to the touch.
  5. Put aside in a warm place and let it rise for +- 2 hours.
  6. Punch the dough down.
  7. Roll the dough out flat to approximately 2mm in thickness. Remember to sprinkle a little flour onto your work surface when you are rolling the dough out so it does not stick.
  8. Turn a drinking glass (tumbler) upside down and punch out circles of the dough.
  9. Heat the oil in a wok.
  10. Tip: To check whether the heat of your oil is right – stick the back end of a wooden spoon into the oil – if it bubbles and sizzles immediately around the spoon the oil is at the right temperature.
  11. Stick your dough circles into the heated oil for a minute or two. You will see it forms a bubble. Then turn it around till done - light corn-like colour.
  12. Take your deep fried dough circle out of the wok of frying oil and drain on a paper towel.
  13. To assemble - Open your little Phulka bread pockets.
  14. Add a meatball then add some apple salsa.
  15. I also like an extra squeeze of lemon juice just to give a fresh, zesty taste. Sprinkle with some coriander and enjoy.