Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Weddings and New Family

This weekend we were in Johannesburg to celebrate the wedding of Anthony and Claire. It was the most beautiful wedding I have ever attended and I am so proud to say I now have two daughters.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Curry Craze

We have been having the most glorious weather in Cape Town these last few days, with temperatures soaring to 31°C (87°F) - I can just imagine how hot summer is going to be if this is Spring.

I am certainly not complaining, it has been officially proved that I am solar powered! It is absolutely wonderful to drive to work in the sunshine - something I really miss in the winter months. Cape Town really is the most beautiful city in the world! and Yes I am biased!

So, back to the weather and what's cooking in the Homemade Heaven kitchen - Curry! "What?!" you might say, why on earth do you want to eat curry when it's so hot. Well if it works so well in India - and they know hot, I don't see why it can't work in Cape Town. And I am happy to say, it worked very well.

I did want to make a prawn curry, but they did not have any nice size prawns at the shop so I settled for calamari rings - which worked equally well. The best part is there is enough for us to have for supper tonight, so I have a night off!

Calamari Curry

400g Calamari Rings (Defrost in cold water)
2 Large Brown Onions
2 Tins Chopped peeled Tomatoes
10ml Dried Chili
10 -15ml Curry powder (depending on how hot you like it)
15ml Green Massala (I but the bottle variety)
¼ teaspoon Coriander
¼ teaspoon Turmeric
¼ teaspoon Cumin
10 - 15ml Sugar (to counteract the tinned tomatoes)
1 handful fresh Lemon Thyme

Fry the onions until soft, but not brown.
Add the spices and fry for 1 minute.
Add the rest of the ingredients, EXCEPT the calamari.
Leave to simmer for about 1 hour, stirring regularly.
When you are about 10 minutes from serving, add the calamari and cook until just done.
Do not over cook the calamari or it will toughen.
Serve with steamed white or basmati rice.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Sexy Turnips?

Some vegetables are really sexy, others are not. Asparagus is sexy and so are artichokes but brussel sprouts and turnips ? Nope!

So what makes a vegetable (or fruit) sexy? Colour? Taste? Texture? Marketing? I think it's a combination. It's highly unlikely calling your love one "My little turnip" is ever going to score big in the romance department. You won't find people saying "She's the turnip of my eye"!

Labels can be a sad thing, whether it is vegetable or person. Once you stuck with it, it's almost impossible to get rid of it.

So why are turnips dull and radish not? They are part of the same family and have a very similar taste and texture. Why have turnips been relegated to hearty winter soups and radish to sexy summer salads?

This weekend I picked 3 beautiful turnips from my father's garden. I certainly was not going to be making hearty winter soup with the weather we are having now - so I made this wonderful turnip salad. If you only try one recipe from this blog - this should be it. It will blow your mind just how good it is - and super easy to make.

Turnip Salad

3 small Turnips cut into julienne ( the bigger ones can be a little "woody")
10ml - 15ml good quality Mayonnaise (not salad cream)
A pinch or two of sugar
5ml Lime juice
Salt and WHITE pepper (I like lots of white pepper)

Combine all the ingredients - and check the seasoning, and adjust according to taste.
Keep chilled until you are ready to serve.
I found this really good with fish.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Stir Fry Perfection

I love stir fry, it is a great way to incorporate your 5 day vegetable quota without the boredom or the calories.

Some people like stir fry because it is quick and easy. I will agree that the cooking is quick, but the secret to really great stir fry is to spend time cutting your vegetables. I will not accept that anything which comes out of the freezer should be called stir fry and I will even go as far to say that if you buy the pre-pack stir fry vegetables, you are still selling yourself short.

Some people say "life is too short", but making a stir fry with the combination of vegetables you like and cut properly and not butchered by some machine, doesn't take much time and will save you money- and you will make it up in the cooking time!

I don't think there is a recipe for stir fry, only some tips and once you get them right, you can create a dish which will be more than just mushy fried vegetables with over cooked noodles.

Firstly and most important choose vegetables you like, and play around with colour and texture. My example of this is the stir fry I made last night - I used only green vegetables and smoked pork

Secondly, take time to cut everything before you start cooking and have it all on hand. Once your wok is hot, you don't want to have to start chopping spring onions. If you doing it right, you shouldn't have the time to cut anything! Cut everything evenly, even the meat, this helps both in the cooking and in the eating.

Always cook the meat first, and remove when it is about 80% done. You then cook the harder vegetables first and then the soft vegetables and the meat. Keep everything moving in the pan and try not to over crowd your pan otherwise you'll have braised stir fry.

Your wok must be hot before you add the oil, and it must be an oil which can hold up to high temperatures. Olive oil doesn't work, it will burn.

Fourthly, I like to have a little water on hand (actually in a jug), especially for cooking harder vegetables like cauliflower, butternut or even broccoli. I have found that once I fried the hard vegetables for a while, adding a little water (2 tsp) helps to cook them, which stops them from burning and I don't have to add more oil.

I like sauce with my stir fry, especially when I serve it with rice. Our favourite is oyster sauce mixed with some water and a teaspoon of cornflour.

And lastly and very importantly, you must serve the stir fry straight away.

I hope you will try some of my tips, if you don't already and make lots of wonderful stir fries as I have.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Homemade Heaven Kitchen Bliss

You have all heard about my kitchen that got a makeover (more like Extreme Makeover - Home edition). What started out as a leaking drain, turned into a completely new kitchen. The best thing about it, we did it ourselves (mostly Keith) and it suits our needs (mostly mine) perfectly.

So here is a peek from door...

And here is a side view with some of my cookbooks and tins on display - don't they look beautiful?

So I hear you ask and what is in that tin on the counter?

My homemade Easy Biscotti, adapted from the YOU Delectable Cookie book, published by John Reilhan.
This is a very easy recipe, I changed it slightly because I didn't have any nuts on hand, so I used coconut and secondly I love lemons, so I added an extra lemon. Because I added more dry ingredients, instead of nuts I had to add an extra egg too.
Easy Biscotti

380g Cake flour
5ml Baking Flour
160g Castor Sugar
5ml Vanilla Essence
Grated Zest of 3 lemons
4 Jumbo Eggs
100g Shredded Coconut

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking sheet with paper (or just spray it well with non-stick spray).
Sift the flour into a bowl and then add all the other ingredients, except the eggs and mix.
Add the eggs and mix to a smooth (except for the coconut) but sticky dough - this is so much easier with a stand mixer.
Divide the dough in half, shape each half into an oval . Place on the baking sheets and flatten slightly.
Bake for 20 minutes until pale brown and remove from the oven.
Cut each oval into diagonal slices about 1cm (not more) thick.
Reduce the oven temperature and re-bake the slices for another 15 minutes or until they are dry to the touch.
Allow to cool on a cooling rack and enjoy with your afternoon tea (when the crunchies are finished)!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Crunchie Munchies

When people talk about health food, they usually talk about things like quinoa, kidney beans, tofu or sprouts, which are all great, except when you have an incurable sweet tooth like me!

Some days, for me most days, I need something sweet to munch on. Usually this happens in the middle of the afternoon. I have read the books and I know why this is happening (a drop in blood sugar) and I even have the suggestion list, a small tub of plain yogurt with granola or half a banana with some peanut butter or even taking a brisk walk! But really, do I really want a tub of yogurt with a great cup of coffee?

I made these crunchies, and I have successfully managed to convince myself that they are healthy - so long as I restrict myself to no more than I can carry in one hand at one time! Sometimes you just have to let go and give into the temptation - just make sure you enjoy every moment, because it could be your last.

Rose's Crunchies
Adapted from the Hulletts Recipe Book

310ml (1¼ cups) flour
310ml (1¼ cups) breakfast oats
310ml (1¼ cup) Coconut

50g Sunflower Seeds

100g Chopped Walnuts
185ml Brown Sugar
20ml Runny Honey
150ml Coconut Oil
5ml (1 teaspoon) bicarbonate of soda
45 - 60ml boiling water

  1. Combine dry ingredients.
  2. Melt the Honey and Coconut oil together. Combine the bicarbonate of soda with the water and add to the butter mixture.
  3. Mix together with the dry ingredients.
  4. Press the mixture into a Swiss roll tin and sprinkle with a little brown sugar.
  5. For a thicker crunchie, bake in a square 20cm x 20cm tin and bake for 20 minutes at 150ÂșC. Gently press down the sides if they seem to rise too much.
  6. When light brown, remove from the oven and cut into squares. Switch off the oven. Return crunchies to the oven, for about 10 minutes to dry out.
  7. Allow to cool before removing from tin.
Enjoy with a good cup of coffee in the afternoon and it will cure any slump you might have.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Forever Ice-cream!

We have sayings about "making hay while the sun shines", "when life gives you lemons make lemonade" and my person favourite "well behaved women rarely make history", but what about when life hands you strawberries - what do you make? - Ice-cream, and lots of it!

I made Strawberries and Cream ice cream and it is so good, you certainly won't be tempted to spend a fortune on some famous brand - "made like no other® ".

This ice cream is not the usual pink artificial stuff you see in your supermarket, this is pure indulgence and each mouthful says "hello" to every taste bud in your mouth!

Strawberries and Cream Ice Cream

500g Strawberries (washed, hulled and cut in pieces)
250g -300g Sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
Juice of 2 lemons
250ml Fresh Cream Whipped
2 Egg Whites stiffly Whipped

Cook together the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice until pulped.
Allow the pulp to cool - I placed it in an ice bath for an hour and then in the freezer for another hour.
Stir in the stiffly whipped cream and then the egg whites and freeze.
You can use your ice-cream maker, or just freeze in a plastic container and give it a stir every hour until it is solid.
Serve with freshly sliced strawberries or if you having a Bridget Jones moment - straight from the container!

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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