Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Figure Friendly Fast Food

I read an article this weekend about how the fast food industry can package any food and still make it appealing to children. I see that Big M are selling "corn off the cob" in a little plastic tub, which comes with it's own plastic spoon! I wonder how many mothers out there have served this same thing on a glass plate without the same success!

I never had a problem eating my vegetables as a child, and I have been blessed with a son who eats just about anything I give him. With a few exceptions, like tinned asparagus and oats porridge, darling son (AKA the Vacuum Cleaner) eats anything and everything!! He is also very partial to food served in boxes, bought in places with bright lights and lots of noise!

Some vegetables need a little help to make them child friendly. One of these is baby marrow (zucchini). I don't think there are many kids who will line up for a plate of steamed baby marrow. I think fritters are a great way to add variety, and still compete with the Big M and the Colonel!

Baby Marrow Fritters

500ml grated Baby Marrow ( Wrap in a dish towel and "skweez" out all the liquid)
1 cup of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
½ teaspoon of Bicarb
3/4 teaspoon of salt
Black Pepper
¾ cup of milk - you might not need this full amount
2 Tablespoons of Fresh Coriander chopped
Chopped Garlic (optional)
1 egg, beaten
Oil for shallow frying

Mix the marrow, flour, bicarb, baking powder, salt, pepper, egg, garlic and coriander together.
Add enough milk to have a batter (like scones).
You don't want it too runny, it must still have some body.
Drop by tablespoons, a few at a time, into shallow heated oil.
Fry 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown.

I served mine with sweet chilli sauce.

You can learn many things from children.
How much patience you have, for instance.

Friday, 25 April 2008

The Ultimate Comfort

I know many of you have had a sleepless night wondering what my dessert will be.... Sago, bread and butter pudding or milk tart ? It is very traditional , it was brought to us by the Dutch and is found on most restaurant menus in winter and is served with custard.

There are variations to this dessert , you can add brandy and call it tipsy or you can add dates and brandy and call it Cape Brandy tart.

Well done to those who have guessed ... MALVA PUDDING!

It is very simple to make and can very easily be made in large quantities suitable for any bazaar!

Malva Pudding ( Full credit to Kit at Food and Family)
Serves 6-8

1 heaped tablespoon butter
3 heaped tablespoons apricot jam
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ cup sugar
½ cup milk

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the beaten egg and jam and beat together. Add the dry ingredients and milk alternately and stir into the mixture. Pour the batter into a greased round dish approx 20cm. Cover either with a lid and bake at 180C 40 minutes until the top is browned and a skewer comes out clean.
The sauce is to drench it in as soon as it leaves the oven.

1 cup cream
4oz / 100g butter (I left this out as Hubby does not eat "raw" butter" and it was still very good)
½ cup sugar
60 ml hot water.

Warm together the ingredients until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved and pour over the pudding as it comes out of the oven. You can prick holes in the top to help the sauce soak in.

There are recipes which call for a teaspoon of vinegar, but then you make this slightly differently by adding the melted butter and vinegar after the flour. I think Kit's recipe came out very well, and I like the creaming method best.

Thank you to the Dutch who brought this beautiful dish to our shores.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Fair Cape Food

South Africa has such a rich culinary history. We are truly a melting pot of cultures and nothing shows our rainbow nation status more than the food!

Living in Cape Town, we are home to some of the best food histories anywhere in the country. The Cape Malay influence, the Dutch, the Portuguese and never forgetting the English (were would we be without bangers and mash or even fish and chips?).

Last night I made real Cape cuisine, that even Cass Abrahams would have been proud of!

We started off with Bobotie. But you are going to have to come back tomorrow to enjoy the dessert.

THE BOBOTIE FILLING (adapted from Nina's Kitchen)

500g beef, minced
6 Tbsp Bread crumbs soaked in 125 ml milk
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp hot water
2 Tbsp sugar
Juice of 1 large Lemon and half the zest
2 tsp curry powder
½ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp garlic, crushed
1 tsp turmeric
Salt(to taste)


· 2 eggs, lightly beaten
· 1 cup milk
· bay leaves or lemon leaves for garnishing

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
Soak the bread in water for 10 minutes, and then crumble.
Fry the onion until golden.
Mix the onion mixture, the hot water, lemon juice and zest, crumbled
bread, turmeric, cloves, curry, garlic and sugar to the mince, mixing well.
Spoon the mixture into a oven-proof dish and bake for 40 minutes, or
until golden brown.

You can remove from the oven if you want to serve this later and then make add the topping just before you are ready to bake before serving. It will take about 20 mins of baking if you do it in two stages. This is great for entertaining, as you can have the filling made early and then just do the topping when your guests arrive.

Combine the egg with the milk and beat well.
Pour the mixture over the mince and arrange the bay as garnish.
Return to the oven and bake at 180°C until the topping is set and browned.
I used the grill for the last 5 minutes, because I did this in 2 stages, about 2 hours apart.

The only nice thing about being imperfect
is the joy it brings to others.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Greek Pleasure

Last week Food 24 once again opened it's doors to free recipes. It is wonderful to have access to over 14000 recipes (if you are into that kind of thing). To celebrate this I browsed the recipe search and found the Ideas Moussaka.

While this it is not my usual style of cooking, I hate to follow recipes when I cook and very seldom make things that require that much preparation time, but it was fun making it (with lots of help from my son) and the result was spectacular.

This is definitely not a meal you want to make if you are on a diet, but the decadence of it was pure pleasure, especially on a cool autumn night.

Give this a try. Would work well if you make it in advance for entertaining. You definitely will have plenty of time with your guests (so long as you have it ready to bake before your guests arrive).



50 ml olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
750 g lean beef mince
410 g can chopped peeled tomatoes
250 ml water (Added when necessary)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 ml dried origanum
1 teaspoon sugar
2 aubergines, sliced, salted and drained
40 g butter
60 ml flour
750 ml warm milk
300 ml fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
20 ml lemon juice

Heat 15 ml oil in a saucepan and sauté; onions until soft.
Add mince and cook over a high heat, stirring continuously, until liquid has evaporated.
Add tomatoes, some water, cinnamon and origanum. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding water when necessary.
In the meantime, heat half the remaining oil in a frying pan and brown brinjal slices on both sides.
Add more oil when necessary. Set aside. If you take the time to salt and drain, you will use less oil.
Heat the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour.
Add milk gradually, stirring continuously until thick. Cool.
Scatter half the breadcrumbs over the bottom of a greased ovenproof dish.
Stir the remaining breadcrumbs into meat mixture along with half the cheese and one egg.
Stir remaining cheese, eggs and lemon juice into the white sauce.
Arrange half the brinjals in the ovenproof dish.
Top with meat and remaining brinjals and cover with sauce.
Bake in preheated 180 °C oven for one hour.

Serve with a large Greek salad with lots of feta and olives.

If you’re not using your smile,
you’re like a man with a million dollars in the bank
and no cheque book.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Fast Food Frenzy

The one thing I am always guilty of is lazy cooking, especially when hubby is not in for diner. My son loves it when Dad is not there (he was playing golf yesterday - see quote below), because he knows the food is hardly ever healthy but always delish!

Last night was not that different, except I did actually try to make the meal relatively healthy without sacrificing on either taste or speed. I had 2 episodes of Grey's to get through, so my mind was somewhere else - Seattle actually!

Tuna and Mushroom Pasta

500g Whole wheat Pasta twirls (cooked as per the box)

White Sauce
45 ml Butter
60 ml Flour
125ml Low fat milk
30ml French Mustard
Water from one of the tins of Tuna
"Juice" from the tinned Sweetcorn
Lots of Black pepper and salt if needed

Melt the butter, add the flour and "fry" for 2 mins.
Start adding the milk, stirring all the time so you don't get any lumps.
Add the rest on the liquid and cook slowly.
You might need more liquid if it looks too thick.

Add to the Sauce
Mushrooms cut in half (you can ad as many as you wish, I had half a punnet left from Sunday night)
1 410g Tin Sweetcorn Kernels (use the liquid in the white sauce)
2 tins Tuna in water (use the water from one of the tins in the white sauce)

Mix the mushrooms and sweetcorn into the sauce and cook until the mushrooms are soft.

Just before you serve, add the tuna and stir through until warmed. Don't mush the tuna, leave in bite size pieces.
At this stage you can also add some fresh basil leaves.
Add the sauce to the pasta and serve in large quantities.

I’m not saying my golf game went bad,
but if I grew tomatoes, they’d come up sliced.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Peanut Butter Nutta

One of the things I am most grateful for in my marriage, is that I married a man whose mother could not cook! My mother didn't, and I think that living in the shadow of my Ouma's cooking really must have been tough.

My Mom is a good mother and housewife, we always had a different main meal every day of the week, but her biggest downfall is that she hates making sandwiches. The standing joke between my sister and I was that you never told Mom that you liked a particular filling on your bread. The direct result of this is that you spent the next 6 months only getting that sandwich. My sister always got peanut butter and syrup and I only got peanut butter and jam.

However this overkill never made me sick of peanut butter. I still can't think of anything I would rather have than a thick slice of hot white bread, with lashings of peanut butter.

My son has proclaimed these biscuits as his all time favourite. They are light and crispy, and melt in your mouth when you eat them. My Dad even said, "These things are addictive!". It is possible to eat far too many before you even realise it, so beware of the cooking monster!!!
Peanut Butter Biscuits

125g Soft Butter
125g Peanut Butter (smooth or crunchy)
100g Brown or Caramel Sugar
1 egg
5ml Vanilla Essence or Extract
170g Flour
50g Cornflour
50ml Finely Chopped Peanuts (not salted)
3ml Bi-Carb
3ml Baking Powder

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease 2 baking sheets.
Beat the butter, peanut butter and sugar until light and creamy.
Add the egg and the vanilla.
Sift in the flours, bi-carb and baking powder. Mix well.
Stir in the chopped peanuts.
Roll into walnut sized balls and place on the sheet. Flatten with your fingers.
These biscuits do spread a little, so don't place them too close together.
Bake for 10 - 12mins until they are golden brown on the edges.

Very good served with a glass of cold milk!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Salsa Swordfish

Well I am back. I had a fantastic holiday. I apologise that I didn't post anything interesting about the food we had on holiday, but nothing really stood out. I did however have a very relaxing time and great bonding time with my family.

Last night was the first time I actually got back into my kitchen, and it was great to be home. The weather was (and still is) very hot, so I wanted something simple, but tastey to celebrate being home.

Once again I went to my favourite fish shop - Fish 4 Africa, in Monte Vista. I am always amazed at the variety they have, and how inexpensive everything is. I decided on swordfish, it was beautifully fresh and as Jamie Oliver likes to say "cheap as chips"!

The preparation of the fish is extremely simple.

Oven Grilled Sword Fish
Pre Heat your grill (top element) for 15 minutes.
Place a wire rack into a baking sheet (line it with foil to make cleaning up easier) and heat in the oven. The fish must not be cooked on a flat surface, otherwise it will stew. I used my metal cooling rack in a large roasting pan.
Marinade the fish steaks for an hour in a mixture of lemon juice, a little garlic and olive oil.
Place the steaks on the rack and grill until done. Only grill on one side.
Be careful not to over cook, as dried out sword fish is like cardboard!

The salsa I served with was a definite hit with everyone - even my sceptical 13 year old.

3 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tbsp mint leaves
2 tbsp capers in salt (you could also use the ones in brine)
1 Green Chilli (optional)
6 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juice only
120 ml extra virgin olive oil ( I used lemon infused olive oil)
Black pepper

Blend all the ingredients together in your processor.
You should not have to add salt to this, as the capers and anchovy give it enough.
I served this in a bowl, so that everyone could help themselves.

This dish proves that good food can be easy and affordable.

The two most common elements in the world are hydrogen and stupidity.

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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