Friday, 29 February 2008

Flip Flops

My kitchen confidence is currently at an all time low. This last week it seems that everything I try to make ends with "Flip, another Flop"!

I have been so inspired by all the wonderful things I have been seeing on other blogs but it seems that everything I try comes out terrible. I have had dreams about posting pictures and recipes of the most delicious things, but I can't give you one recipe in fear of spreading this failure virus across the whole world wide web.

I will however, in the spirit of transparency, show you the pictures of the chocolate oat crunchies which taste great, but have been re-named "crumblies". You can only eat them outside on a ground sheet because they are so messy. And then I have a raisin bread that had to be registered with the Department of Defence as a deadly weapon. It was so dense and hard that if you threw it at someone they would end up in hospital, and no I didn't try throwing it at anyone.

I am not going to give up, and I trust that you will laud my bravery in showing you my failures and remember that "failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success".

Disclaimer : Do not try this at home, and if you do, only under strict adult supervision.

Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits

Monday, 25 February 2008

Stirring it up

When I don't have much time to cook there are 2 things which always come to mind : Pasta or Stir Fry. They don't require much thought, you can usually use whatever you have on hand (or at least in the fridge) and depending on the sauce they can taste different every time.

I had a wonderful collection of bright multi-coloured vegetables in my fridge and they were screaming "Stir Fry Me", and as I always have a pack of frozen prawns somewhere in the freezer, I knew this was going to be very easy.I am not going to tell you what to add to your stir-fry, this is something which is dictated by what you have, what you can buy and what you can afford. I am however going to share the sauce which a made, and to my delight it was very good.

Stir-Fry Sauce

1 28g Packet Knorr Teriyaki Marinade
20ml Cornflour
250ml of cold water

Mix together until there are no lumps.
Add the mix to the stir-fried vegetables once they are half way cooked.
Makes a delicious thick sauce, slightly sweet, slightly salty.

I Dream a World

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn.
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind--
Of such I dream, my world!

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), p. 311.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Fine Food for Friends

I love to entertain. But I hate to be stuck in the kitchen with preparation when everyone else is sitting around a chatting. I also don't like to be in the kitchen and have my guests standing there wanting to help. I want to have everything done and then just plate up and call people to a beautifully set table with all the food ready and looking great.

The following meal is so easy to prepare, and can sit for a few minutes while you enjoy your party and then you can just plate up and be ready to eat.

Vegetable Risotto and Grilled Salmon

The ingredients for the risotto are:
2 cups Risotto
1 onion
1 1/2 cups julienne of zucchini
1 red chili and 1 orange chili (these were the large one that have lots of flavour and very little heat)
1.5 litres hot vegetable stock

Fry the onion and the chili until soft but not brown.
Add the rice and fry for a minute, until coated in oil.
Start adding the hot stock a spoon at a time. Only once all the liquid is absorbed must you add another spoon of liquid.
Continue to go this until the rice is 5 minutes from done. You will need to do a taste check for
"al dente" before you serve.
Turn off the heat, put the lid on, with a little liquid and let it stand until you are 2 minutes away from serving.
Once you are ready to serve, turn on the heat and stir in the zucchini and add a little water if you need to.
You can add parmigiana cheese, but that is your choice, I didn't.
Check the seasoning - salt and black pepper.

I simply grilled my salmon fillet.
I caramelise the presentation side and then pop in it into the oven.
Some people like there salmon medium rare, but again this is very personal.

The fish takes about 12 minutes from start to finish, and because you finish it in the oven, it is great to put it in and then set the timer and go have a little drink and return just in time to serve.

To plate up, I first put down a whole leaf of Swiss chard which I had lightly steamed in the left over stock from the risotto.
Place a spoon of risotto on top of that and top off with your fillet of salmon.

Once again this is very simple and if you take a little extra time on the presentation, you are really set to impress.

A smile is the lighting system of the face,
the cooling system of the head and
the heating system of the heart.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Copy and Paste

I have never done this before, but after reading this article I thought I have to share it with you. So alas I have fallen into blog hell and done the "Copy and Paste" thing.

Fish bites man
Chris Roper

It's time someone asked the question; what is the point of sushi? I found myself in Cape Town's Veronica & Archie Waterfront, that delightful architectural homage to all things comic, staring at a plate of salmon and tuna, and it came to me - now is the time to ask.

Salmon. "Norwegian" salmon. What is that, anyway? It's flash-frozen, farmed salmon that's basically like Rainbow battery chicken, except with less of a fish taste. I think they can call any salmon "Norwegian" if it's farmed by a man wearing a beanie.

And tuna. Sigh. It's Japanese leftover tuna - somebody collects all the bits that Japanese people spit out, force moulds it, and recycles it in Cape Town restaurants. How many times do you ever see fatty tuna on a menu?

Sure, once every six months a Japanese restaurateur dips some leftover tuna into some lard, doubles the price, and then doubles over with laughter as some unsuspecting customer oohs and ahs over his oily little purchase.

No, we all know that all fatty tuna goes straight into that hellhole of fish consumption called Japan, the country that used to be known as Nippon, but is now called Gulpon. What we don't know is that all tuna in general goes there, and what we get is compressed capenta dyed red. Mock sushi, if you will.

And by the way, let's all say sayonara to the scalloped hammerhead shark, which has declined 99% over the past 30 years in some parts of the world, and eight other sharks that are about to be added to the endangered species list.

Bad, bad, bad

It's not that sushi restaurants are bad - it's that sushi is bad. Take Willoughby's, for example. They've redecorated the place, spent millions it looks like. It's a fantastic looking Japanese restaurant, and if you eat their cooked food, they do a great job. But the point of a sushi restaurant is sushi, and that, you can't get. Well, you can get the mock sushi, but there's never any local fish, any yellowtail or red roman, or kabeljou, or even a bladdy deboned sardine.

It's not just Willoughby's, I don't want to pick on them, and in fact I urge you to eat their spider crab rolls wrapped in soybean paper. I could gobble those critters like popcorn, they're so good. But go to any sushi restaurant, and nine times out of 10, all they'll have is mock sushi.

Okay, maybe it's the fault of South Africans. I know people who claim to love sushi, and when you end up in a restaurant with them, it turns out they don't actually eat fish. Please, people, if you don't eat fish, don't eat sushi. Eat mock sushi instead, like "Norwegian" salmon.

Maybe South Africans think that tuna and farmed salmon is what sushi should be. Yum. Just add some Spur secret sauce, and you have a meal fit for a ding. (Note to editor: I do know how to spell king. So don't touch that word.)

Ding dong

Dings are people who imagine they've cottoned on to a cuisine - a little bell goes off in their head. "Ding! Prawns fried to a pulp and covered in butter! I LOVE PRAWNS!" No, you don't love prawns, you love butter. Or margarine, actually, depending on the restaurant.

Why can't our sushi restaurants serve decent fish? Well, obviously, the main reason is that there aren't any fish left. But leaving that aside for the moment (and modern man and woman have a wonderful capacity to leave environmental disaster aside for the moment), why can't they buy the odd local fish from those klippies-crazed fishermen I keep seeing landing their wares?

I suspect it's because they're too lazy. If dumb ol' South Africans want their mock sushi, why waste your energy on those few clients who foolishly believe that fish should contain at least a hint of fish.

Incredibly, as I write this, Heidi, one of the women working at Visi, has just shouted across from their offices to ask why I'm working so late. I'm writing a column about how horrible sushi is, I tell her.

"Oh, except at Willoughby's," she says. "The salmon roses there are divine." Tsk, Heidi. And you work for South Africa's top design magazine. You've let me down.

Thanks to Chris for this great article. I just wonder if people around the world (except Japan) have the same problem?

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Chocoholics Anonymous

I have said on many occasions that I have the most wonderful husband (sorry girls he's mine). He is the undoubted chairman, treasurer and life-long member of my fan club. It still amazes me that he will tell strangers about the food I make. The amazing thing is that he will actually talk about food, as he is not the kind of person you would ever imagine talking about foodie things.

Last week he came home and told me that he had an order for me from someone he had told that I make the most divine chocolate cake, carrot cake and mint-choc chip ice-cream. They promptly placed an order for all three!!!

I have already shown how to make my chocolate cake, so that needs no further explanation, but I would like to share with you what I did do with the "off-cuts" from the cake.

Chocolate Cake and Mousse desserts
Makes 4

Chocolate cake (I used the top piece that I cut off the cake to make it level before frosting)

Chocolate mousse
  • 1/2 Tablespoon unflavoured gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 Tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa
  • 1 cup cold whipping cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon chocolate extract
Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl; let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool slightly.

2. Stir together sugar and cocoa in medium bowl; add whipping cream and chocolate extract. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally, until mixture is stiff. Pour in gelatin mixture; beat until well blended.

Use ramekins which have been sprayed with non-stick spray, or line them with plastic wrap.
Place a layer of chocolate cake on the bottom of the dish, do not leave any spaces.
Top with the mousse and then put a lid on with more of your cake.
Cover with plastic wrap and leave to set in the fridge for a few hours. I did this the night before and served it the following day.

I have un-moulded mine and placed it on a pool of cream and then topped with a little more cream and sprinkled some finely chopped orange intense dark chocolate on top.... DELISH!

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Been Tagged

The great thing about the "blog world" is that you can see how perfect strangers live, what they eat, when and where they go on holiday and even some personal details that I wonder if they would share if they didn't think they were relatively anonymous.

I was tagged by Nina, who lives in the same city as me, actually not that far away either, whom I've come to know better than most the people I work with, just by reading her blog everyday!

I give you 5 facts about myself:

1. I am a committed, born again, evangelical Christian, and have been since the age of eleven.

2. I read my first full novel (The Exodus by Leon Uris) at the age of 21! (And now average a book every 2 weeks, sometimes more).

3. I will not allow anyone to even open a magazine I have bought for myself before I have read it.

4. I still love to write "real letters" on pretty paper, even to people who have email! I also love nothing more than receiving such letters.

5. I am totally convinced that I am the luckiest girl in the world, to have a husband as wonderful as I do.

I am not sure who I should tag but I think I would sure love to know more about....

Sandi at the Whistlestop Cafe

Kindness is difficult to give away,

because it keeps coming back.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Childhood Favourites

Everyone has a favourite food, something that takes you back to your childhood and makes you warm inside. I love macaroni and cheese. I like it for lunch, I love it for supper. I will enjoy it hot or cold. But there are some things which it must have, if you want me to have seconds!

Rosemary's Mac 'n Cheese

5oog pasta (Any tube pasta, don't limit yourself to )
1 packet of cheese sauce (I buy the one you mix with boiling water)
30ml Dried Cheese powder (don't laugh, it's really good)
100g mozzarella cheese
250g bacon Chopped into bite size pieces
6 mushrooms
1 onion thinly slices
1 teaspoon dry chilli (this is optional extra)
3 sliced thinly tomatoes

Prepare the pasta as per the packet instructions
Prepare the chesse sauce as per instructions, stir in the cheese powder and the mozzarella, there must be no lumps.
Stir the cheese sauce into the cooked pasta.
Fry the bacon, onion, mushrooms and chilli until crispy.
Once it is crisp and golden add to the pasta and cheese sauce.
Spoon into an ovenproof dish and top with the sliced tomatoes, sprinkled with salt and a few grains of sugar on each tomato slice. This gives a sweet and salty taste to the grilled tomatoes.

Q: What do you get if Batman and Robin get smashed by a steam roller?

A: Flatman and ribbon.

Oh so English

What could be more civilized than crumpets and tea served on bone china? I am thinking Pride and Prejudice, and having Mr Darcy for high tea on Sunday afternoon.

This was what I had hoped to create at home, but alas I live with 2 men and they are not romantic enough to imagine sitting in the parlour listening to me recite poetry. Granted I did not dress up for the occasion, but I did bring out my new bone china cups and it was almost as civilized as you get in Africa in 2008!

English Crumpets
Makes about 18 - 20

500ml Cake Flour
50ml Sugar
2 eggs
25ml melted butter (please use butter)
250ml milk
20ml baking powder
2.5ml Bi-carb (optional - but it makes them really rise well)
2ml Salt

Sift the flour, baking powder, bi-carb and salt in a bowl.
Beat the eggs and sugar together in another bowl.
Add the melted butter to the eggs.
Stir the milk into the butter/egg mixture.
Stir the wet ingredients into the flour and beat until smooth.
Heat a hot non-stick pan, spray with non-stick spray (just in case).
Drop spoonfuls into the pan, when they bubble and are golden brown, flip over and cook until golden on the other side too.
Serve with your favourite berry jam and lots of cream.

Very civilised and very tasty. If you don't finish them all in one go, you can re-heat them in the microwave and repeat as before with the cream and jam.

On a lighter note of Englishness, my darling son is playing polo. Not the same polo as Prince Charles does, but Water Polo. I have to say they look so cute in their little white bonnets!

Double Espresso Please

When it comes to false advertising, I think that coffee has cornered that market completely. When I smell coffee brewing, or even if you walk into a good coffee shop where you smell the beans roasting it smells like heaven. I have never had a cup of coffee that tastes even half as nice as it smelt.

I don't actually drink much coffee, perhaps only once or twice a week, but one thing I do love is espresso. Brewed in my little kettle, poured into my little green cups, sipped slowly after a really good meal - now that is Homemade Heaven!

On Friday I went to visit good friends, and I brought the dessert- Espresso Ice-Cream with chocolate chips! If I liked espresso before - after having this ice-cream, I can think of nothing better.

Espresso and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

250ml Full Cream Milk
Heat the milk with the ground espresso until just boiling.

100g Sugar
2 Eggs
450ml Cream
100g Dark Chocolate

Beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl.
Strain the milk through a coffee filter into the eggs and sugar ( you don't want the coffee grains in your ice-cream).
Pour the mixture back into the pot and heat until it starts to thicken, keep stirring and don't let it boil.
Pour into a jug (at least 1.5l in size), or a big enough bowl.
Let it cool to room temperature.When this custard mix is cool, stir in the cream.
Put this in the fridge for about 12 hours.Make in your ice cream machine as per manufacturers instructions.When your ice cream is set, stir in the finely chopped chocolate.

As an explaination on the ice-cream photo, it was really hot on Friday night and I was talking a lot (not totally unusal for me) and the ice-cream got a little melted before I could get the photo taken. But I can promise you that it tasted so very, very good.

Friday, 8 February 2008


I wanted to keep a secret, but I just can't. My little wheat-free and sugar-free muffins are so nice that it would be wrong not to share them with you.

I have used coconut oil and egg whites, so the are cholesterol free too. They are so healthy it is almost too good to be true!

I will confess that they are drier than a regular muffin, but you have to forfeit something, as long as it is not taste.

Apple Cranberry Muffettes

1 1/4 cup Rice flour
1 cup oat bran
1/3 cup Xylitol
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tsp Chopped Cranberries
2 Tsp Chopped Pumpkin seeds
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup low fat plain Yoghurt
2 egg whites
2 tbsp Coconut Oil
3/4 cup shredded apple ( you can peel it, I didn't to add more fibre)

Combine dry ingredients.
Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl.
Add to wet ingredients to dry ingredients until just moistened.
Mix apple into batter.

Spray mini muffin cups with non-stick spray and spoon about
1 heaped dessert spoon of batter into each muffin cup. Bake in a 180C oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean.
Make 36 Muffettes.

I made a batch for sale at the gym today. I hope they go down well.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Bite Me Chilli

The best thing about going out for diner is starters and dessert! To me the starters and dessert are always little promises of delight. If you don't like your starter, it is never big enough to ruin your whole meal.

At home I always make starters when I am not that confident that the main meal is going to be a huge hit!

One starter which never fails to impress, and always fills the gap which brussel sprouts don't, are Chilli Bites! They take no time to prepare, are perfect for pre-diner snacks for a diner party, and cost just about nothing.

Chilli Bites
This is half recipe, which makes about 18 - 20.
375 ml of Pea Flour
180ml Cake Flour
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Dy Chilli Flakes ( You can make this less)
1 teaspoon Leaf Masala
1 heaped teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup Finely Chopped Lettuce
1 small potato grated
1 small onion grated
1 small tomato finely chopped
Cold Water to bind

Mix all the dry ingredients together.
Add the vegetables and mix.
Add enough water to bind the mixture into a soft dough - dropping stage.
Deep-fry dessert spoonfulls in oil at 180˚C (Medium hot) until really golden brown.
Serve hot with a sweet chilli dipping sauce.

I saw a picture at Nina's Kitchen of her beautiful tomatoes, and thought I would show you my garden. It is not very big, but it produces the most delicious chillies, basil and tomatoes.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Free Chocolate Cake

I know there are laws regarding false advertising, but my title is totally legitimate. I am now making chocolate cakes which are wheat-free and sugar-free!

As I have mentioned, I am trying to get going on making cakes to sell. The problem is that there are so many people making cakes, and the market is really competitive. So I have worked on a few recipes and am now producing cakes for a very specific market - people who like free cakes, but have the money to pay a premium for them.

I have made good friends with a lady who teaches pilates to many men and women who treat their bodies like a temple. They will not eat any wheat and definitely no sugar. So I have introduced the "Wheat-Free, Sugar-Free Chocolate Mousse Cake" as well as, bite size "Oat Bran and Apple Muffins". The muffins are a perfect treat as a post gym snack.

I would love to give you the recipe for both of these, but I do not have the time to track you down to kill you to protect my secret. I will however let you see the picture and a guarantee that they actually do taste very good!

Wife: “I just lost ten pounds!”
Husband: “Turn around, I think I found them”

Jeremiah 17: 7-8

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water."

It is not your business to succeed, but to do what is right : when you have done so, the rest lies with God.
C.S. Lewis

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