Carrot and potato mash with white pepper and butter was something I grew up with during my childhood. I remember it was one of my dad, Coen’s favourite dishes – he loved to scoop it onto his plate when it was still piping hot. He always added an extra bit of butter and more white pepper – Coen liked to spice things up and … the richer, the better. He was so in my thoughts when i made this dish on Dinner Divas – he would have been proud that I transformed the dish from the “boere tafel” of my childhood to an exotic type of Moroccan flavoured dish.
I did not mash it but rather crushed the potato, adding the butter and white pepper in remembrance of my dad and giving it that North African twist by adding dates and coriander. You would have loved it dad. You encouraged me to live one day at a time, to be crazy + to be myself, to cry + laugh every day, to live my dream, to travel the world, to give more than what I have, to try and fix whats wrong, to never give up, not to get discouraged by disappointment, to stand up and try again, to be adventurous, to be me … today I miss you so much … with love … your biscuit.
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.
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
500g Mushrooms – any sort – thinly sliced
2T Olive oil
2T Fresh thyme –leaves picked
2 Cloves garlic – grated
Pinch of chilli powder
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.
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.
Flambéed Sweet Apple Omelette – Every now and then you experiment with something new, sometimes the outcome is just ok and other times it just blows you away. This is what happened to me when I tasted my own rendition of a sweet omelette – whoop whoop – it blew me away and it is so easy to make! But first let me tell you the story how I ended up with fruit and an omelette of all things…
I draw my inspirations from many different people … one person who really inspires me is Lidewij Edelkoort. What a fascinating woman – she is well-renowned as an international trend forecaster in any form of design. The other day I read on her website that yellow is a currently one of the primary fashion colours of the season – and as she says… “ the power of yellow with its strength and radiance, is able to change all volume and all surfaces, giving glow to all matter”. She shared some intriguing, and quite amazing references when it comes to eggs… she took us to France with “eggs + soldiers”…and then to Spain for an omelette. It just got me thinking. Before I knew it, I was traversing the world, the internet and my hoards of cookery books for something, yellow, eggy and interesting…. I eventually found something quite enticing and a recipe that woke up my taste buds….it was an egg + pear omelette … a dessert of all things.
I decided to use apples instead of pears and then used our local brandy to flambé the dessert. It did not stop there though… being my cheeky self, I added some cream, a pinch of nutmeg, a dose of cinnamon, a star anise and a heap of expectation….taste for yourself … it is delicious!
4 Granny Smith apples – cored, peeled and cut into 1 cm slices
1 Star Anise
2 Cinnamon sticks
4 Large eggs
1 Big pinch nutmeg
1 Pinch salt
On medium heat in a big non-stick pan - melt the butter and add the star anise, cinnamon, apples and 1T of sugar.
Cook with the lid on for 10 min and then cook without the lid for a further 10 min.
Stir from time to time but be careful not to break the apples.
In the mean while beat the eggs, cream, nutmeg and salt together.
Then pour the eggs over the apples.
Cook till the eggs are set. Lift it on the sides to make sure it stays loose and your egg mixture does not stick to the pan.
Invert the omelette onto a large serving dish, sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the omelette and pour the 3 tablespoons of brandy over the dish. Ignite the brandy and then shake the platter till the alcohol burns of and extinguishes itself. Serve immediately.
Hot Olives – A few weeks ago I was on a business trip in the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg, Guateng. The City of Gold has plenty of interesting foodie places well worth seeking out…Some colleagues and I ended up in a very interesting restaurant that serves both gossip and glitter to the well-heeled of Parkhurst and surrounds. We ordered a few small starters to share and one of them was hot olives with baguette. Never in my life would I have thought of heating olives in olive oil – isn’t that kind of like smuggling sand in the desert? Well, just so you know, this little starter tapas was so delicious. Heating the olives gives this stone fruit an undeniably new dimension. Dipping the fresh baked bread into the fragrant hot oil just seems to forge with the olives… leaving a most tantalizing taste….wash this down with some chilled wine and you could swear that you were sipping wines with the gods of ancient Greece!
It is just one of those really simple dishes you can make on the run or when guests come knocking unannounced…simple yet oh so sophisticatedly #hot-and-happening.
At the recent Bloggers Indaba we received amazing goodie bags and one of the items in the giveaway was a Beetroot-Rhubarb-Fig-Balsamic-Chutney from Pick and Pay. I love rhubarb and figs and knew that I was going to love this chutney. Once back home, I tasted some of the chutney and it was just yummy. By chance there was also a punnet of beautifully ripe guavas staring at me from my fruit bowl on my kitchen table. I got thinking….one slice of ripe guava, a good chunk of camembert and topped with the chutney and coriander leaf or two. Wow…a kind of explosion of different, tropical tastes… again an unusual combination but oh so good…fresh and fun…you will be a fan too…try it!
I don’t have specific measurements or recipe – just buy the mentioned ingredients, poor yourself a glass of wine + slice + play + enjoy!
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
Derick Henstra is the Chairman of the company that I am very fortunate to work for. He is an amazing individual, architect, artist, food lover and wine connoisseur. A while ago he told me about a cauliflower soup with brie, smoked paprika and crostini (“little toasts” in Italian) that he ate in Durban. I immediately decided that I would have to make and taste this – I made it a bit different…choosing to roast the cauliflower … well, I cannot tell you how amazing it tasted. The smoked paprika certainly compliments the roasted cauliflower and the melting brie inside gives it just that extra edge. There is not one flavour that overpowers the other and all seems to come together in perfect harmony … it is a simple + beautiful bowl of joy! This one is for you dh … carpe diem.
Note: Smoked paprika is a wonderful ingredient but please use it sparingly + with respect. You can easily overpower the dish with its strong flavour. I bought the smoked paprika at Newport Deli in Cape Town.
roasted cauliflower soup with brie + smoked paprika + little toasts
2 Cups full-cream milk (if you want it richer you can replace one cup of milk with cream or you can use fat free milk as a more healthier option)
20g Butter (or more 🙂 )
1 Large pinch of salt
Black pepper to taste
125g Brie cheese – cut into 6 pieces
Smoked Paprika to sprinkle over the soup.
Preparing the "little toasts"
Cut a French loaf into thin slices and toast in toaster.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
Put cauliflower and onion in bowl – pour the olive oil over it and swirl the contents around in the bowl until all the vegetable pieces are lightly covered in oil. Place on baking tray and bake in the oven for +- 25 - 30 minutes until roasted and browned.
Take a pot, add the water and the stock cube.
Add the cauliflower and onion and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add the milk and liquidize. It will have a nice thick consistency. If you find the consistency too thick just add a bit of extra milk.
Add the butter and season with salt and pepper. Please taste and use more salt if needed.
Pour piping hot soup into bowls. Put a wedge of brie in each, then add the "little toasts" on top and sprinkle lightly with smoked paprika!
Whilst wrapped-up under the duvet on a public holiday with a glass of red wine and watching a dvd, I was wondering what I felt like to eat. Jade de Waal’s twitter came through with a recipe for mielie fritters (Jade is an extraordinary wonderful woman that is currently in the Top 13 in Masterchef SA). That little tweet took me back to my moms’ “mielie brood” (mealie bread) that we used to gobble down with lots of golden syrup. My mind then next teleported me to the place where I had fallen in love with Maple syrup … New York…! Oh my word, how I love maple syrup! That amazingly, beautiful, golden sticky, earthy, sweet syrup stole my heart (as did New York…). At that moment I knew I wanted Jade’s Mielie Fritters with my maple syrup!! I really love mixing sweet and savoury and immediately started cooking. To say the least – it was YUMMY and the chopped spring onion complimented the Maple syrup in such a profoundly earthy way!
Just a little snippet about Maple Syrup…
In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before the winter; the starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in the spring. Maple trees can be tapped by boring holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded sap. The sap is processed by heating to evaporate much of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup.
So here is Jade’s recipe – she serves it with a green avocado salsa and/or sweet chilli sauce – delish!
Mix all the ingredients for the fritter in a bowl. At first the batter will look dry, but keep mixing until the ingredients come together.
Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium frying pan. Turn down to medium so the oil is not too hot, otherwise the outside of the fritter will burn whilst the inside is still raw. Spoon a tablespoon scoop of the batter in the oil, frying about 2-3 at a time for 2 minutes on each side or until brown.
Meanwhile chop and mix the ingredients for the salsa in a bowl.
Test the first fritter by cutting in half to make sure they're cooking through. When all fritters are done, spoon the salsa over to serve perhaps with the sweet chilli sauce on the side to dunk the fritters in or … as I did smother the fritters with golden maple syrup. Bon appétit!