Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Roti Roll ala Rosemary

So, again we had Indian food. The cold weather and the rain always makes me reach for the curry powder, I can't seem to stop myself.

It was a simple dish of curry mince, which I'll blog about another day, but the real show stopper was the home made roti's. Now I know, in an average Indian home, making rotis is as common a place as me making sandwiches, but in our home it's a production and a special treat.

This is the recipe I use and have never had any complaints, although I have never actually served it to a qualified expert, but this isn't Gordon Ramsey's kitchen, so whatever I say is the last word.

Rosemary Roti

3 cups of Flour ( all purpose)
½ cup Self Raising Flour
60ml melted Butter (or oil)
250ml Hot water

Mix the flours and butter together until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the water, mix and then knead to a smooth dough.
Leave covered with plastic wrap to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Break off pieces of dough, about the size of a golf ball and roll out on a floured surface.
Brush with a little butter.
Roll the disk up and twist gently and then roll into a "snail" shape.
 Repeat with the remainder of the dough.
Leave to rest covered for another 30 minutes.
Roll the "snails" out.
Brush with a little butter on both sides and fry in a medium hot pan until bubbles form, turn and cook through.
 Keep covered in a tea towel until you have finished frying all the dough.
Serve warm with your favourite curry.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Indian Delights

In the beginning of the year I had hoped to have a theme for my blog, something to celebrate South African and African food and culture. This has not worked out as well has I had dreamed, mostly because my personal life took many unforeseen twists and also because "a dream without a plan is just a wish.".

I have been caught up in football fever and in doing so I found this little piece of trivia which I thought was quite funny.

India qualified by default for the 1950 FIFA World Cup finals as a result of the withdrawal of all of their scheduled opponents. The governing body in India decided against going to the World Cup, being unable to understand the importance of the event at that time.

Now here is the funny part...A myth started that India refused to play because they were not allowed to play barefoot. This was not the actual case and just a story to cover up the disastrous decision of the governing body.

So, back to food. We had a wonderfully Indian meal last night, probably not authentic by Indian standards, but as close to "damn it" to being a swear word!

Tandoori Butter Fish

4 Butter fish steaks (about 1" thick)

80ml Tandoori paste (I used shop bought mix from Aminia's Wonder Spice )
80 -100ml Plain yoghurt

Mix all the above together and marinade for about 3-4 hours.
Preheat a pan with a little oil and fry the fish until done.
Season to taste and serve with Dahl (below).

This was my first attempt at making Dahl.

Pea Dahl

250g Pea Dahl
2 Large Onions sliced
1 Red Chilli chopped finely
2 Garlic Cloves chopped finely
1 Large ripe Tomato grated
10ml Sugar
25ml Vegetable Stock concentrate
15ml All in One Curry Powder
2 -3 Curry Leaves
Salt to taste

Cook the Pea Dhal in water until soft.
In a separate pan, braise the onions until soft and golden.
Add the rest of the ingredients and leave to cook down on a low heat, adding a little water if it starts getting too dry.
Once the Pea Dhal is soft, stir in the onion mix and leave to cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly and adding water if it gets dry.
Serve with the fish and steamed rice.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Italian Heaven

Football fever is all over my world, even though I had never watched a game before this month. I am now an expert and as most armchair players, I have opinions on every aspect, from team choices to coaching styles. I am so proud of Bafana Bafana, even though they lost, I think South Africa is the ultimate winner.

So the competition continues without us and I am turning my attention to the remaining teams. To honour a previous host country I made a traditional Italian dish, which will hopefully inspire them to play well in their last pool game and console them for their loss in the rugby last weekend (and the up coming rugby game on Saturday). If Italy don't win tomorrow, they'll too be going home with nothing other than the t-shirt!

Penne Ragu

1kg Beef Shin ( bone removed and meat cut into cubes)
750ml Tomato pasata
30ml Tomato paste
30ml Balsamic Vinegar
500ml Beef Stock
2 large Onions sliced
3 Bay leaves
15ml sugar
15ml Chopped fresh Thyme
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C
Fry the onions and the meat (in an pot which can be used in the oven too) until browned in a little olive oil.
Add the rest of the ingredients and allow to come to the boil.
Place the pot in the oven for 2-3 hours until the meat is very tender and the sauce has thickened.
Remove from the oven, check seasoning and adjust to taste.
Using a fork to shred the meat.
Cook the penne until al dente and mix with the meat sauce - serve.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

South Africa in 2010 : Vetkoek

If you didn't know anything about South Africa before June this year you would have been excused, but since the start of the Fifa World Cup 2010 you certainly do not have any excuses. We might not have shown much promise on the field, but we have shown South African hospitality at it's best.

It doesn't matter to us which team you support, we welcome you and if you don't feel at home then it it entirely your loss. Those who could not travel here have been spoilt for choice in enjoying the best of our country in every way - from scenery (see below) to food.

 With many South African dishes, it is not only the meat that plays an important part of a dish, but what you serve it with. Some fine examples would be :
  1. Wors (local sausage), this can be served with either with meiliemeal ("pap and wors") or a bread roll, which is then called a "borrie roll".  
  2. Curry Mince, you can have it with rice (boring), in a hollowed out half loaf of bread (a bunny chow), in a roti / wrap (then it's called a salomi) or one of my favourites : VETKOEK (direct translation would be fat cake).
I made vetkoek this weekend. I didn't serve it with mince, but with my personal choice of home made peach jam and cheese.

It is really easy, all you need to do is make a batch of white bread dough, and allow it to rise until double in size. You can also use shop bought bread dough.
Then you heat up a pot of oil to about 180°C and deep fry balls of flattened dough (about the size and thickness of your palm), until they are browned and cooked through.
Serve hot with a topping of choice - honey or syrup work really well too.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Homemade Heaven: Little Treasures : Onions and Verlaque

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Little Treasures : Onions and Verlaque

Yesterday as I was browsing the aisles in Woolworths, feeling completely uninspired and freezing cold I found these little gems.
  They are called Italian cipollini. Small flat shaped onions with a thin papery skins, which looked perfect for roasting.I was so excited I bought 2 bags.

I roasted them with some small Mediterranean potatoes, whole garlic cloves and olive oil. They are wonderfully sweet and made a perfect accompaniment to the roasted chicken.

The potatoes I roasted until they were soft and then squashed them with the skin on (not mashed), added some of the roasted garlic and a splash of Verlaque Pomegranate Moroccan Glaze. Homemade Heaven at it's best.

Monday, 7 June 2010

A Desert Treasure

Last year when we hiked the Fish River Canyon, we started talking (as all hikers do) about food. Not just any food, but what you would love to eat right at that moment. Norm's input was fish, chips and salad for main course and apple strudel both from the Road House - he pronounced the apple strudel as the best he had ever had.

We had seen the sign which said "Road House", but never for one minute actually thought it was an eatery - we are talking about a place hundreds of kilometres from anywhere, and it certainly didn't seem likely. Even less likely that they might serve apple strudel and the best ever to boot.

So a year later, after an extremely long morning of roadside car repairing, we headed for The Canyon Road House, 20kms from the canyon viewpoint, in search of this heavenly apple strudel.

We decided to spent the night there at the camp site, as the one car we were travelling in had a cracked sump and we did not want to test it too much on the dirt roads.

 I was pleasantly surprised by this oasis in the dessert. The camp sites were large and really clean, with great ablution blocks. The staff are friendly and helpful.

We had supper in the restaurant, which has a small dinner menu. The decor is wonderfully quaint- a collection of old cars and car memorabilia.

I chose the lasagne and it was really well made using fresh pasta. Keith had the steak with which he was a little disappointed, but the others who finished it off pronounced it as "not bad".

They had a very interesting desert menu (the red wine ice-cream tasted lovely), but no apple strudel! We begged the managers to make an exception, to no avail, it is only available on their day time menu. They did however promise they would arrange for us to have it first thing in the morning for breakfast - Yippee, no instant oats for me!

They had a great looking breakfast buffet, which I would have sampled if I didn't have the apple strudel waiting for me.

We held them to their promise and I am very pleased to pronounce the apple strudel as the BEST EVER! Served with custard, it was without a doubt the best ever apple strudel that I (or the others in our party) have had.

So if you ever find yourself  in the area, it is definitely the place stop, just make sure you stay long enough to sample the lunch menu and try out the apple strudel, it is well worth the trip.

Our party had big smiles when we saw our breakfast. Thanks to Graham for fixing Aldred's car and for the fun evening we had together.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Kalkys Fish and Chips - Resturant Review

Yesterday I spent some quality time on food blogs and I see that I "missed" a whole lot of "fun". There is mud flying all over the place and it seems that the restaurant in question, while getting lost in the fallout, drew more attention than the 2010 World Cup.

It is now with some trepidation that I submit a review, not of a restaurant but a fish and chip shop.

Last Sunday was a beautiful day in the Mother City (Cape Town) and we decided to head to the deep South to enjoy the weather. We, along with half of Cape Town, headed along Main Road, through Muizenberg to Kalk Bay. We were lucky enough to find a parking, and then took a short walk along the walk way to the Kalk Bay Harbour.

We choose Kalkys as our destination, it having been recommended months ago by a local, for lunch. The queue was long, but we had plenty of time so we decided to wait in line (something we seldom do). There was live music, lots of people and a very relaxed atmosphere, so it was actually fun.
 We ordered a platter of Grilled fish, Calamari and Chips - all for only R80.00. After placing our order, we managed to secure a table in the sun and enjoyed "people watching" and live music playing.

The food arrived at our table on a huge steal platter and we happily tucked in. The grilled fish was a whole Red Roman and the Calamari was crumbed and deep fried. The fish was done to perfection but I did find the calamari a little too oily for my tastes, but that's just me. The chips were really good, crispy and lightly browned - not the usual greasy fair you get rolled in paper.

I would definitely recommend Kalkys as a stop worth making (especially when the weather is good) and judging by the crowds, we were certainly not the first people to discover this gem. It was also rated by the SA Logue reviewer as number 4 in the top five places in Cape Town for fish & chips.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Following Footprints Part Eight

Day 8, the sun rises on the plateau, as beautiful and awe inspiring as the last night's sunset. The only difference is that this sunrise brings with it sadness - the 8 days are nearly over. As much as you cry and hurt , promise yourself you'll never do it again or you dream about cheese burgers and ice cold beer,  that last morning has an empty feeling. A feeling of "what now?". But still, you get on with what needs doing, you put on your boots and pack you bag for the last time and head off home.

The first part of the morning is spent walking over the Never Ending Hills, and so cleverly named too! Each rolling hill brings the promise of the descent, but is only followed by another hill.

Eventually we were on our way down and at a rapid pace too, literally falling out of the sky. A slippery slope of loose rocks which force you to watch your every step until you find yourself in yet another kloof (ravine) and then walking, falling, jumping and boulder hoping to the end.

 The last kloof has the most beautiful waterfalls and inviting pools and if you're brave enough (the water is very cold) you can enjoy a "relaxing" swim. I didn't but Aldred, Werner, Norm and Corneels did.

The hike is over when you get back to Hikers Haven (actually it should be called Hikers Hell), and then all that's left is to enjoy the cold beers and start planning the next trip.

On the drive out of the park we managed to see a small herd of Kudu, what a special goodbye.

Thank you for all those who followed the footprints for the last 8 days. I hope you enjoyed the hike and have been inspired to get your boots on and make some footprints of your own.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Following Footprints Part Seven

Day 7, where did the time go? It seemed like yesterday we were rushing to pack the car, set the house alarm and drive off along the N7 to Springbok! I'm delaying starting this post as I try to get the right words to explain just how big day 7 was -  a hiker's dream and nightmare all in one.

We were told at the start of the hike that there would be no water at Kapokvlakte (day 7's night shelter), which meant that we had to take enough water with us for day 7, which includes all the water needed for the evening cooking, coffee, teeth brushing etc. and for day 8. I packed an extra 7 litres of water in my bag and set off on the most difficult and technical climb of the whole hike.

We headed over a flat plain for about 30 minutes and then turned towards a huge kloof (ravine). The boulders get bigger and bigger the higher you climb, until you can go no further without the help of the chains. These chains are extremely difficult, as the climb is straight up a waterfall and the rocks are wet and covered in moss. We climbed half way up the waterfall and then had our bags hauled up with ropes. A huge thank you to Werner and Aldred for pulling up our bags, I could not have managed without Superman and Boomslang!

Here is the view from the top of the chains, you can see Aldred and Werner below, sitting 10m up from halfway spot pulling up the bags.

After the chains, the climb is steep but manageable. The final "little" climb before you reach Bakenkop, the highest point of the trail, is very testing but we managed to make it by lunch time. I was so tired by the time we stopped for lunch, I was ready to quit (not my best moment)! The view from World's View is 600m above the Tsondap River valley and is absolutely awesome ( I am sorry to use the same adjectives over and over, but I just don't have enough words to explain the beauty). You can see from below why it is called World's View.

The second half of the day is over a plateau until you reach the shelter, it's a flat and "easy" walk. Some people combine day 7 and 8 (yes, there are people crazier than us) but I could not imagine rushing through such a beautiful landscape. I enjoyed the sunset that evening and the last night's fire, so why rush through it?
We saw lots of springbok grazing.

Here was our home for the night at Kapokvlakte.

  The last night's fire was a small affair (due to the fire hazard), but the boys enjoyed their bush TV after a long day's hike!

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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