Thursday, 31 July 2008

Hertzog Cookies

Hertzog Cookies
 I had very distant, 3 times removed family which arrived from the Netherlands yesterday morning. Wanting to make a good impression, I decided that I would bake them something traditionally South African.
It didn't take me long to decide on these little treasures.

Hertzog cookies are a traditional favourite in South Africa. They are said to have been the favourite of Prime Minister General JBM Hertzog, and that's were they got their name from.

Hertzog Cookies
370g Cake Flour
75g Cornflour
80g Ground Almonds
150g Icing Sugar, sifted
320g Cold Butter cut into blocks (please use butter, it really does make a difference)
3 Large Eggs separated
1 Cup Castor Sugar
250g Desiccated Coconut
Apricot jam
I make the pastry in my food processor, but you can make it by hand using the rub in method.
In the processor add the flour, cornflour, almonds, icing sugar and butter.
Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the egg yolks and mix until it it just comes together, you can add some cold water if the mixture is too dry.
Remove the mixture and form into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for half and hour.
While the pastry is chilling, beat the egg whites until the form soft peaks.
Add the sugar slowly until you have thick glossy mixture.
Stir in the coconut.
Roll out the pastry and cut circles to fit your bun pan for the traditional shape.
I used my mini muffin pans for a change, and they came out very nicely.
Place the pastry in the pan, place a half a teaspoon of apricot jam in the centre. Top with coconut mixture.
Bake at 200°C for about 15-20 minutes until they are crisp and golden.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing to cool completely on a cooling rack.
Some nice changes you can make -
Use pecans instead of almonds.
Try using different types of jam, like youngberry or fig.
Add some orange zest to the pastry.

Friday, 25 July 2008

First Dates

I went on my first real dinner date when I was 16. Thinking back on it always makes me cringe and laugh at the same time. He was the cleverest guy in the school, played first team rugby and was a real catch. The only problem was he had shocking table manners! I went to the toilet 4 times during the meal, just to escape watching him eat. Needless to say, that romance ended very abruptly - right after his father dropped me off at home!

This soup is definitely only to be eaten with someone you are convinced is your life-long partner. It is a "slurpy soup"! Totally delicious and remarkably filling.

Asian Fish Soup

½ packet Rice Noodles
Prepare as per packet instructions

Zest of 1 Lime
1inch piece of Ginger peeled and sliced
1.5l Vegetable or Fish Stock
1 Large Red Chilli sliced
15ml Fish Sauce
Juice of 1 Lime
2 Cups Calamari Rings
6 Large Tiger Prawns
1 Bunch Spring Onions finely Sliced
Salt to taste

Boil the zest, ginger and stock together for 20 minutes.
Strain and return to the pot.
Add the calamari, fish sauce and the chilli and boil for 5 mins.
Add the prawns and lime juice and boil until prawns are cooked.
Add the spring onions and turn off the heat.

To serve
Place some noodles in deep soup bowl and top with the soup.
Garnish with the prawn and a lime wedge.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Sticking Your Neck OUT

I hope the title caught your eye, because I spent quite some time thinking of a clever caption. While planning this post I have had different thoughts on how to introduce an ingredient that I can not remember seeing anyone blog about - Ostrich Neck. Now I know I am going to get 50 comments on how everyone is using it (and blogging about it) and what rock am I living under? - but so be it.

I have seen the steak, heard all about the mince even seen the hats with the feathers but no one talks about the neck. So here I am sticking my neck out and hoping for the best.

I like to use my slow cooker for this dish, but if you haven't come over to the easy life, and still like spending hours standing over a hot stove it works just as well. The best thing about the slow cooker is you do not even have to defrost the meat before you start cooking. Put it all together, go to work, return 8 hours later to a meal that your family will think you spent the day cooking.

Ostrich Neck Stew

1kg Ostrich Neck
2 Large Carrots, peeled and sliced
1 Large Onion sliced
2 Chillis chopped
2 teaspoons Dry Chilli
1 Cup Small White Beans
1 Cup Pearl Wheat (Crushed Wheat / Stampkoring)
15ml Dried Thyme
15ml Dried Origanum
1 large sprig Fresh Rosemary
Salt (Only add after the beans are soft)
Lots of Black Pepper

Place everything in the slow-pot, fill with water and leave to cook on low for 8 hours or 5 hours on high.
If you are using the stove, fry the onions, carrots and meat until browned.
Add the other ingredients and cook on low for about 3-4 hours until the meat is tender.
Serve with steamed white rice and a good chutney.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Souped Up

My son loves cars. His favourite programs on TV are Top Gear Extra and Pimp my Ride. He loves to talk about fuel injectors, super-charges, hydrolics and a range of other car parts which I can't even pronounce, never mind spell. To him the expression "Souped Up" means dropped suspension, spinners and a set of pink dice dangling from rear- view mirror! (Please forgive his taste, he is only 14!).

As for me, I love my 1.3l Toyota Yaris and when I talk about optional extras, I think central locking and electric windows. The only "hot" thing on my car is my personalized number plate.

But I can "pimp" a meal and this "souped- up" soup was a real winner. It does not require hours of cooking. It's fresh and tasty and will satisfy any home-boy! Sorry about the photo but after trying 16 different angles, my food was getting cold and I was very hungry.

Greek Lentil Soup (Original idea from the Shape Magazine)

300g Brown Lentils
1 Onion thinly sliced
1 Celery Stalk thinly sliced ( or a handful soup celery leaves chopped)
1 can Chopped peeled Tomatoes
10ml Sugar (Optional)
1 Bay Leaf
2 Garlic Cloves chopped
30ml Fresh Origanum finely chopped
15ml Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1.5l Chicken or Vegetable stock ( I used a stock cube mixed with hot water)
Black Pepper to taste

Fry the onion until caramelized.
Add the rest of the ingredients and boil for about 30 -40 mins until the lentils are soft.

If you really want to soup this meal up make the following :

Soup 'Gremolata'
2 Garlic cloves finely chopped
30ml Fresh Origanum finely chopped (Not traditional but very complimentary)
30ml Fresh Parsley finely chopped
10ml Finely grated Lemon Zest
10 ml Lemon Juice
10 ml Good Olive Oil

Mix together and leave to rest while the soup is cooking.

When soup is ready place the soup in a bowl and add a teaspoon of the gremolata (gremolada).

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


I have had a really hard few weeks at work. Many of my friends laugh when I tell them this, because usually what I do is not called work. I only work half day, and most of it can be finished within an hour of arriving. But the forces of nature and bureaucracy have conspired to work against me in every direction.

The one place I still seem to have control is in my kitchen, even Eskom ( the unreliable national power supply company) can't turn the heat off there. I have been experimenting with flavours from around the world and it has become a culinary adventure.

Where to next? Mexico.

This next dish is not authentic, but then I'm not really Mexican (surprise) and most people living in South Africa probably couldn't tell the different between a chimichanga and a chihuahua!


The Filling
I used a Chilli Con Carne recipe from Nina's Kitchen.

The Wrappers
10 Flour Tortillas
These I bought at my local Spar!

The Art
Warm one of the tortillas in a hot dry frying pan until soft and flexible. Spoon some of the cooled mince mixture into the centre of the tortilla and fold over the edges to form a neat parcel; Pin in place with cocktail sticks and repeat with the remaining tortillas.
Heat 1cm vegetable oil in a large frying pan and cook the chimichangas for 2-3 minutes on each side until crisp and golden brown.

To Serve
Make a green leaf salad with Avocado.
Place everything on the plate and enjoy!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Exotic Creations

Well the honeymoon is technically over, my son is home and we are all back in the school routine. Up early in the morning, making breakfast, rushing out the door to ensure I still can have a few minutes of running before the work day starts.

After the success of last week's "pole dancing", I have a new found confidence in making exotic food. These little morsels are a winner and the dipping sauce is a definite must. The combinations are limitless and the only rule you have to keep to is - freshness.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

10 Rice Paper sheets
30 cooked Prawns (I used medium ones)
½ cup julienne Cucumber (Flesh only)
1 cup finely Shredded Lettuce

Soak the Rice paper in hot water one sheet at a time, until soft.
Place 3 prawns in the middle of the disk.
Top with a little cucumber and lettuce.
Fold in half, then tuck in the sides and then roll into a cigar shape.

The Sauce!!!
Nuoc Mam Cham (my version)
5 tablespoons palm sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/3 cup fish sauce (nuoc mam)
1/2 cup lime
1 inch piece ginger peeled and minced
1 or more bird's eye or Thai chillies minced

Whisk together the sugar, water, fish sauce, and lime juice in a bowl until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the ginger, chilli and let stand for 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Cook and Enjoy It

Koek en Geniet ( available in English as Cook and Enjoy) is the quintessential South African cookbook. First published in 1961, it has all the recipes a good South African Boeremeisie (Afrikaans Girl) would need to make her Boereseun (Afrikaans Boy) happy.

It gives recipes for large families and everything you would need in order to stand proud at the NG Kerk bazaar.

Last night I made Tomato Bredie (stew), and when you see how few ingredients it uses, you'll understand that this is not a fancy dish made in a modern kitchen. This was made by women who lived hard lives, in the bush. She wouldn't have had access to bay leaves and lemon grass . She had salt and pepper (if she was lucky). This would cook slowly on the back of the coal stove (Agar), while she tendered her vegetable garden.

Tomato Bredie

1 to 1.5kg Mutton ribs chopped into pieces (I actually used leg chops)
1kg Ripe Fresh Tomatoes
2 Medium sized Onions
Cooking Oil
250ml Hot Water
4 Potatoes
6 Peppercorns
10ml Sugar
15ml melted Butter (I used olive oil)
15ml Flour

Wipe the meat with a damp cloth.
Skin and chop the tomatoes.
Peel and slice the onions.
Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and sauté the onions.
Add the meat and the hot water.
Turn the heat to the lowest and cover with a tight fitting lid and stew for 2 hours.
After 1 hour add the tomatoes, peeled and sliced potatoes, peppercorns, salt, pepper and sugar.
Thicken the stew with a mixture of melted butter and cake flour.
Serve with boiled rice.

You can make this beef ribs.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Dancing with the Food

If cooking styles were compared to dancing I would see my style as waltzing. Well timed, not provocative and you can even do it with your father! A classic which every one needs to learn and can be done with your eyes closed so long as you follow the beat.

My hubby and I are on honeymoon! My son is away for 2 weeks being spoilt rotten by his Grandparents. So I decided to stop waltzing and start pole dancing! - Okay not really but I came out of the comfort zone and made an exotic meal!

Prawn Pad Thai (Based on the the recipe in this months Nomu newsletter)

½ pkt glass noodles

4 tbsp Tamarind puree
4 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp Jenny Morris Thai Spice

3 tbsp vegetable oil
300g peeled, de-veined prawns
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp grated or sliced ginger
Hand full of chopped chives
1 cup bean sprouts
2 large Red Chillies – Julienne
5 spring onions, sliced diagonally
2 large eggs

Soak the noodles in hot water for a minute or 2 minutes or until soft, then drain well.
Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and gently heat to melt the palm sugar
into the other ingredients. Keep warm.

Heat a large wok over high heat until smoking hot.
Add the oil and once hot, add the garlic and ginger, followed by the prawns.
Fry until they cooked
Add the noodles and pour in cup of warm sauce.
Stir rigorously, keeping everything moving in the wok.
Once the noodles are coated in sauce, push it up to one side of the wok and crack the eggs into the wok.
Lightly scramble them, and then toss everything all together.
Throw in the bean sprouts, spring onions and chives.

You can top with some roasted peanuts and coriander and lime wedges.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Breaking Bread

Bread, in one form or another, has been one of the principal forms of food for man from earliest times. It is used as slang for money and you speak of "breading bread" when you share meal with someone.

While I grew up with home made bread, I have never tried it before. When you scroll through blogland, you see the most beautiful bread creations which shows just how important this staple is to our society.

This was my first attempt, based on something which I tasted at the Giggling Gourmet cooking school MOB (meet other bloggers) and is dedicated to Jenny Morris' return from Morocco.

Bread Wheel

500g White Bread Flour
1 Packet Instant Yeast
10ml Salt
10ml Sugar
60ml Olive Oil
Warm Water
Jenny Morris Chilli and Lemon Seasoning (if not available use lemon pepper mixed with a little chilli powder)

Mix all the dry ingredients together.
Add the oil and the enough warm water to make a dough.
Knead for 5 - 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Leave to rest until double in size.
Knock down and roll into a sheet about 5mm thick.
Sprinkle with Chilli and Lime seasoning and roll up like a swiss roll.
Cut slices and place in a large round cake tin or two, there should be spaces between the pieces.
Leave to rest until risen enough to fill the pan.
Brush with egg wash and top with a little course salt.
Bake at 200°C for 25 - 30min, until cooked and sounds hollow when tapped.

Break into pieces and serve warm with a good home made vegetable soup.

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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