Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Gazpacho with Brie and Olive Focaccia

Stephen Stills, of Crosby Stills Nash and Young fame, wrote the song : "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you with." It's rather mercenary for a love song, and certainly not the words I would want my lover to proclaim, should we be separated for any length of time.

It does however play well when it comes to a holiday in Spain I would love to have. Since I can't be in Spain for the holiday I want, I'll still love their food in place I'm in.

My inspiration for a Spanish meal came from Jeanne at Cook Sister, who just had a holiday in Spain. Be sure to click the links to her blog to see the beautiful photographs she took while enjoying the Spanish sunshine.

Gazpacho is a cold Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup, originating in the southern region of Andalusia. Gazpacho is widely consumed throughout Spain, neighbouring Portugal (where it is known as gaspacho) and parts of Latin America. Gazpacho is mostly consumed during the summer months, due to its cold temperature and acidic bite.
Serves 2

1 Tin chopped peeled Tomatoes
½ Cucumber peeled and seeded
1 Green Chili
1 Slice of White Bread Moistened
3 Garlic cloves
15ml Olive Oil
1 Red Pepper, grilled and skin removed
Juice of ½ a lemon
10 Fresh Basil leaves
4 Ice Cubes
10ml Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
Place in a bowl and chill for at least 2 hours.
Serve cold. garnished with small dice of cucumber, cherry tomatoes and fried basil leaves.

I made this Brie and Olive Focaccia to have with our soup.

Brie and Olive Focaccia

500g White bread dough (shop bought is fine)
10 Olives pitted and torn in half
3 Cloves of Garlic finely chopped
100g Brie Cheese, sliced thickly
Sea Salt
Olive Oil

Pre-heat your oven with a pizza stone to 250ºC
Roll out your dough to about ½cm thick
Once the stone is hot, place dough on the stone and top with garlic, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
Return to oven until cooked and starting to brown.
Place the olives and brie on the focaccia and bake until cheese has melted.
Serve warm.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Salad Nicoise in South Africa

Salad Nicoise, a French composed salad with tuna, green beans, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, onion, capers, and potatoes. Essentially it is a meal in it's self, using the freshest of ingredients it's a collection of colours, textures and flavours to fill your mouth with a party!

Yesterday I treated us by buying a beautiful fillet. A rare treat, due mostly to the high cost of fillet. I love fillet, it's the only cut of steak which I want to eat and have seconds. I know that it hasn't got the flavour of rump or sirloin, but that soft butter melting texture gets my heart thumping.

So, to bump up the flavour which might be lacking from the fillet, I made a flavour packed salad. It's not a traditional nicoise salad, it's my adaptation to make it a great side dish.

Salad Nicoise for the Side

Serve 2

1 Large Potato cut into 1½" pieces, which skin on.
1 hand full French Beans (runner) trimmed and cut length ways
6 Cherry Tomatoes
1 Medium Soft Boiled Egg, shelled and cut in half
8 Black Olives pitted
10ml Oil from Anchovies bottled in oil.
Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil the potato until just done. Keep a close eye on them, they must not be soggy or breaking.
In a non-stick pan, add the oil and fry the potatoes until they are golden, tossing regularly.
Add the tomatoes, olives and beans. Fry gently to warm through.
Plate the salad and top with the egg.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Polka Dot is back!

The fashion world is so fickle. Every season has it's "must haves" or as I heard the other day "lust haves". You hear that pink is the new black and now I believe it's coral that's the new black - what exactly happened to black to have such an identity crisis?

I don't follow fashion - sure I did wear neon pink and purple in the '80's, followed closely by shoulder pads, a poofed fringe and knickerbockers (now called capri pants). But as I have gotten older, I have become wiser (and greyer). Fashion is completely recycled, if you patient enough and able to keep your size constant for 10 -15 years, you can have the latest fashion always on hand.

So I read, as per Fair Lady, the polka dot is back! They say : "Stick to a two-tone palette, and one piece at a time. Be quirky and mix with other prints, or accessorise with a simple bag".  I haven't worn polka dots since my teens (a bridesmaid's dress I would rather forget) and I certainly don't see that making a recurrence in my wardrobe - I leave it to the younger set. When I wear polka dots I look like I just lost a game of paint ball!

I certainly didn't want to be a total bumpkin, so I tried polka dots in a way that suit my life style - eating! 
 These lemon muffins with chocolate polka dots are not only hot fashion, but great to eat.

Lemon Muffins with Chocolate Polka Dots

1½ cups Self Raising Flour
½ cup Corn flour
1 cup Castor Sugar
¾ cup Buttermilk
1 Egg lightly beaten
½ cup melted Butter
Grated zest and juice of 1 large Lemon
Chocolate drops for topping 

Pre-heat oven to 200ºC

Bowl 1:
Sift together the dry ingredients

Bowl 2:
Mix together the wet ingredients

Add the wet ingredients with the dry until just combined.
Scoop into muffin cups.
Place the chocolate drops on the top of the muffins.

Bake for 20 minutes.
Allow to cool and enjoy.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

New Age Waldorf Salad

You're the top!
You're a Waldorf salad.
You're the top!
You're a Berlin ballad.
You're the boats that glide
On the sleepy Zuider Zee,
You're an old Dutch master.

The Waldorf salad was first created between 1893 and 1896 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City. The original recipe did not contain nuts, but they had been added by 1928. The salad became popular enough that  featured it in the Cole Porter song "You're the Top".

 There now seems to be more variations to the Waldorf Salad than Microsoft Windows, adding everything from chicken or turkey to dates and raisins. Not to depart from the tradition of blogging, of taking something simple and changing it into something complicated, I reinvented the wheel, with something surprisingly easy and beautiful.

Instead of apple, I used an Asian Pear, which has the shape of an apple, skin the colour of a potato and tastes like somewhere between an apple and a pear, with a high water content. It is  not suitable for baking because of the high water content and is best enjoyed fresh.

New Age Waldorf Salad
Serves 2

30ml Mayonnaise (Home made is best, click here for a great recipe)
10ml Lemon Juice

Combine the mayonnaise and the lemon juice.


1 Asian Pear cored and thinly sliced.
¼ cup Hazelnuts (dry roasted until skins loosen and go golden brown)
1 Cup of finely shredded Celery (I used the inside fronds only, because they are sweeter)

Place the celery in the mayonnaise and mix together.
Arrange the slice Asian Pear on the plate.
Place the celery mayonnaise in the middle.
Scatter with the toasted hazelnuts.
Serve immediately, before the pears turn brow.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Classic Carbonara with Courgette Spaghetti

The saying goes, "When the cat's away the mice will play" and yesterday my Tom Cat (actually his name is Keith) was away, so I could do and cook anything without considering his tastes or comfort.

I could watch Army Wives, without his real military knowledge spoiling the romantic drama. I enjoyed Private Practice and Mercy without the peanut gallery saying "Oh pleeeese, doctors and nurses don't do / look like that". Of course they don't, if I wanted the real thing I would only have to go see my own GP!

But best of all I could make a pasta dish like this Carbonara at 5pm, when the natural light was at it's best, spend as much time as I wanted to style the food and photograph it without worrying that my darling's food was getting cold. Real life in food photography is not dish up and photograph in 30 seconds before everyone forgets why they sitting at the table.

So, I managed to create a wonderful dish, thanks to the recipe I found at Pick 'n Pay Fresh Living and enter the Eat Pray Love competition. I am really hoping to win the first prize from Le Creuset .

I choose the Italian theme, as I am more of a Eat person.

Classic Carbonara with baby marrows 

According to the Italians, one should never add cream or Parmesan cheese to carbonara.

1 packet no name spaghetti
6 baby marrows, cut into thin strips (courgettes)
1 dash PnP olive oil, for frying
1 packet PnP back bacon, cut into strips
2 cloves of garlic, or 3, finely chopped
4 large PnP free range eggs, beaten
125 ml pecorino cheese, finely grated
1 pinch salt and milled pepper
  • Cook pasta according to packet instructions. 
  • Add baby marrows 2 - 3 minutes before the end of cooking. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat a glug of oil in a large pan and fry bacon until crispy.
  • Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
  • Drain excess fat from pan and fry garlic for a minute.
  • Add pasta, baby marrows and bacon to pan and toss well.
  • Remove pan from heat. Quickly stir through the eggs, mixing until they begin to thicken, but not scramble.
  • Add cheese, season and serve

I will say that while I did have a fun day doing all my own thing,
I did miss my Tom cat and 
I am so glad he is home safely,
where he belongs.

    Tuesday, 5 October 2010

    Break The Habit


    When I saw this Australian advert that is part of a  public service announcement (PSA), which forms part of a campaign to put a stop to the increasing incidence of childhood obesity, shows a mother drawing prepared heroin into a syringe and tying a tourniquet around her son’s arm before they bite into burgers. It ends with the tag line: ‘You wouldn’t inject your children with junk. So why are you feeding it to them?’ - I was rocked to my socks. It really made me think about the number of children who are fed really junk food on a daily basis and never get the benefit of good home made food.

    There are excuses about busy working parents who feel that so long as they feed their children, no matter what it might be, they have done their duty as good parents. While the occasional "treat" from your local fast food drive through might be fine, it still does not substitute nutritiously balanced meals.

    But junk food is not only food that you might get at Mac Donald's or KFC, it's also those ready meals which are sold in supermarkets. Many of these meals might look like "home made goodness", but when you see the ingredient list you'll be shocked to see that they have alarmingly high levels of salt and preservatives - "junk", none of which you would want to eat yourself, never mind feed to your precious child.

    I have found a book by Michael Pollan, which I haven't read but am planning on buying. In this book Food Rules : An Eaters Manual, he states some helpful things to keep in mind when choosing good food from junk food.

    Rules like :
    1. #13: Eat only foods that will eventually rot.
    2. #19: If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
    3. #20 It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.
    4. The best rule for me is : " Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.". 
    There are so many simple meals, which you can make at home, they don't take much time or fuss and even the worst junk food addict will admit it's so much better than anything they have eating from the window of their car.

    Next time you feel you just don't have the time - try this delicious Tandoori Chicken and see how how rewarding it is to feed your family something wholesome.

       Tandoori Chicken

    2 Pieces of Chicken per person (more if you have BIG eaters)
    ¼ cup of Plain Yoghurt per serving
    Juice of ½ Lemon
    1 Teaspoon Crushed Garlic
    1 Teaspoon Crushed Ginger
    1 Teaspoon of Dried Chili Flakes
     1 Teaspoon of Cumin
    1 Teaspoon of Dried Coriander
    ¼ Teaspoon of Paprika
    ¼ Teaspoon of Cloves
    A good grinding of Black Pepper  and Salt

    Place all the ingredients in a ziplock bag and marinade for as long as you have - anything up to 24 hours is fine.
    Pre-heat your oven to 220ºC.
    Place the chicken in a roasting dish and roast for about 60 minutes, turning once.
    Check it is cooked.
    Serve with chips, salad, naan, bread or anything else you like, to make a good nutritiously balanced meal.

    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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