Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Christmas Lunch

Pictures from Christmas Lunch...

Starters - Prawn Cocktail (Retro treats)!

Main - Roast lamb, Roast Beef, Gammon, Corned Beef Tongue, served with roast potatoes, pumpkin (fresh from Dad's garden), minted peas, Greek salad, asparagus, 4 bean salad...really great meal!
Finished off with Mom's trifle! Talk about Homemade Heaven.

Monday, 14 December 2009

If you Can's Stand the Heat....

If you can't stand the heat, add less chili!

I have great admiration for the people who write newspaper headlines and billboards. I never buy a newspaper, and have absolutely no interest in reading or watching the news. I have enough news about my life and the people I know to keep me busy. If there is something of interest, I usually pick up a snippet from Keith. Otherwise I am a total ignoramus!

Billboards on the other hand, I always read. I drive down Main Road slowly, due to the traffic, and catch all the juicy bits. I can then decide for myself exactly what the story is about!

Some priceless ones after the Tiger Woods debacle: " More babes in the Woods" and " Tiger : Birdie count up to 11!" - You really didn't need more than that to know exactly how his life was unfolding.

When I came up with my heading / billboard for this post, I was very proud of myself. It has a 2 fold meaning, which makes it twice as clever! Firstly we had a blisteringly hot weekend in Cape Town and secondly I was in the kitchen all weekend cooking with chillies.

I firstly made Mild Red Pepper Jelly. Great recipe from Brownie, as always. Mild tasting and suitable even for children.

I then upped the ante, and moved on to Chili Jam. Not that hot (by my standards), but leaves you with a warm glow and pleasant sweetness.

Lastly I made Peri Peri sauce. A wonderful mixture for those who can stand the heat, but still appreciate god taste and not just good burn. Made with roasted red pepper and long hot red chili blized together with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt.

Here is the Chilli Jam (adapted from Nigella's recipe)

200g Long Red Chillies (de-seeded and de-vaned)
150g Sweet Red Peppers (de-seeded)
2 inch Knob of Ginger (peeled and cut into 3)
3 Garlic cloves (Peeled and slightly bruised)
250ml Apple cider Vinegar
350ml Red Wine Vinegar
1kg Jam Sugar (available at any good supermarket)

1.Sterilize your jars and keep hot.
2.Put the chillies into a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped. Add the chunks of red pepper and pulse again until you have a vibrantly red-flecked processor bowl.
3.Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a wide, medium-sized pan over a low heat without stirring.
4.Scrape the chilli-pepper mixture out of the bowl and add to the pan. Bring the pan to the boil, then leave it at a rollicking boil for about 10 minutes, until setting point is reached (105°C).
5.Take the pan off the heat and allow it cool.
6.After about 40 minutes, or once the red flecks are more or less evenly dispersed in the jelly (as the liquid firms up, the hints of chilli and pepper start being suspended in it rather than floating on it), ladle into your jars.
Seal tightly.
If you don't wait for it to cool before bottling, the chillies will float in the jelly, which will not effect the taste, but the presentation.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Super Simple Supper

Some days are so busy that it seems that you'll never have time to get everything done. Yesterday was one of those days for me.

I have a big legal battle going on with one of my tenants, I had invited a friend for tea (together with her 3 adorable children) and we had workmen installing our new solar system.

The house was chaos. People walking in and out the house (with dirty shoes), banging on the roof, watching the children so they didn't get hurt with all the power tools scattered throughout the house and back yard, serving tea and cake and making cool drinks to keep the "work force" hydrated (it was an extremely hot day yesterday).

And at the end of this, I still spent half an hour on the phone to my internet service provider trying to fix Markwin's broadband connection (which is still not working)!

So as you can see, things got very hectic, but I still managed to rustle up a wonderful meal. I love these one dish wonders. You basically throw everything into a roasting dish, turn on the oven and 60 -70 minutes later you have a meal which is filled with flavour and still gives the satisfaction of homemade heaven!

Chicken in a Flash Dish

8 pieces of skinned Chicken (you can leave the skin on)
1 Lemon cut into 8 pieces
2 Large Onions cut into quarters
8 Black Olives
15 Roma Cherry Tomatoes (not the very small ones)
15ml Olive Oil
5 Sprigs of Rosemary
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional extra:
60ml Garlic and chili relish (from a bottle)

Place all the ingredients, except the relish in a roasting dish and bake for about 60 minutes on 180°C.
Increase the heat of the oven to 200°C and stir in the relish (you can use any relish or chutney which you have in the cupboard - even tomato sauce at a push).
Bake until browned and cooked through.
Serve with rice, pasta or couscous.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Be My Guest

">I am so excited to share my latest find with you – a beautiful find, and something to be treasured for years to come.

With Christmas wish lists growing daily, I have the perfect gift to add. If you are a lover of food and enjoy entertaining, then this book is a must have.

Be my Guest, by Fay Lewis is the ultimate entertaining guide. Not only will you have the know how to make beautiful food, which will leave your guests in awe, you will also have simple and fun ideas on how to create the perfect setting for any occasion.

The recipes are very simple to follow, using ingredients which are readily available. There are great tips relative to forward planning, ways to stay ahead of the last minute scramble. It is always good to have parts of the menu ready ahead of time, so that you don't have to stress over things once your guests start to arrive. There is not much that is better than looking your best when the guests arrive, makeup in place, and then being able to confidently serve a meal which looks like you have spent all day slaving over. I love being able to say “Oh this, only took a few minutes to prepare - no hassle at all", and with this book you can say it with honesty!

In my book shelves, I have many, many recipe and cook books and Fay seems to have combined the best aspects of each of my books, and has produced an absolute masterpiece. The book is broken into chapters, starting with brunch and working through to formal winter dinners, picnics, pool parties, even a retro party, simple midweek family dinners plus many other party themes and ideas.

If you don't do much entertaining, this book is still ideal for help and ideas in preparing regular meals for the family. If you don't cook at all, you can use it as a coffee table book. The photography, which is done by Neil Corder, is exceptional. You will find yourself drooling over the pictures.

The recipes are all triple tested (which is important). I decided to test 3 of the recipes for myself – and I can assure you that they work, tasting just as good as they look in the book. Looking good and tasting good is very different in the life of a Foodie!

I share a quote from the cover, which clearly shows what this book is about :
" Whether you're a beginner when it comes to entertaining guests, or an
old hand, you'll find inspiration in Be My Guest.
Best of all, your guests will leave with nothing but admiration for your

professional and stylish hosting skills.
..... Be My Guest is your indispensable guide to entertaining"

A must have on your Christmas wish list, and, if you do not celebrate Ch
ristmas, get it anyway - you deserve to spoil yourself, and your guests

Old Fashioned Granadilla Lemonade
This can be made up to 2 day ahead

Juice of 10 Lemons, strained
Pulp from 3 Granadillas or 60ml canned pulp
1.5l Water
200g White Sugar
Ice Cubes, for serving
Slices of Lemon
Maraschino Cherries

Combine the lemon juice, grandadilla pulp, water and sugar in bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To Serve: Serve well chilled over ice and decorate with lemon slices and cherries.
My alternative serving : Place the lemonade in the freezer until frozen to a slush and serve in a
salt rimmed martini glass.

Mustard and Potato Salad
Serves 6

700g New Potatoes
2 sprigs of rosemary
80ml Dry White Wine
1 Red Onion, Chopped
5ml Salt Crystals
250ml Mayonnaise
15ml Dijon Mustard
15ml Wholegrain Mustard
2 Hard Boiled Eggs

30ml Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley

Boil the potatoes and the rosemary in a large heavy-based saucepan of salted boiling water until tender.
Drain, cut in half and transfer to a mixing bowl.
While still hot, pour over the wine.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix throughly.

To serve : Transfer to a platter and serve.

Poached Salmon
Make Ahead : The broth can be made 1 day ahead and refridgerated.
Serves 6

6 x 200g Salmon Fillets (Norweigian or Scottish)
3 Limes, halved for serving

1 Onion, sliced
3 Fresh Bay leaves
2ml Salt Crystals
5 whole Peppercorns
250ml white Wine
500ml Water

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Coat an oven proof dish with cooking spray.
Place the fillets in the prepared dish.
Pour over the broth and poach, uncovered for 20 mins or until cooked.
Remove from the oven and cool in the broth for 20 minutes.
Using a spatula, remove the fillets from the broth and set aside until ready to use.

To make the broth
Combine all the ingredients in a large, heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat, strain and refridgerate until ready to use.

To serve : Transfer the salmon to a serving platter and serve toped with cucumber and dill salad, and the limes on the side.

Cucumber and Dill Salad

2 English cucumbers, peeled, halved and sliced
100ml White Wine vinegar
15ml Chopped fresh dill
30ml Castor Sugar

Place the cucumber in a serving dish.
Combine the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the cucumber.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, 30 November 2009

The Year of Bread

As this year draws to a close, I look back at all the things I have achieved and I am very happy. I have failed in somethings, but my kitchen is one place that things are going well.

Not only have I got a whole new kitchen, thanks to my wonderfully talented husband, but I have learned so many new skills.

My biggest feat this year was overcoming my fear of bread baking. I am now a fully accomplished yeastie! I love working with dough - it's alive with so many possibilities.

Next year I am planning to do a big cooking project, I am very excited about the planning. I hope to introduce African food in a big way to the rest of the world - adapting and modernizing traditional recipes. Think Julia Child does Africa!

But this year needs to end first and in celebration of the year of bread I bring you this very simple Egg Bread. It is an all purpose white bread, with a wonderfully rich flavour and texture.

Egg Bread
Makes 1 Loaf

1 Whole egg plus 2 egg Yolks
100ml Warm Milk
75ml Warm Water
20ml Milk Powder
1½ Tablespoons of melted butter
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1½ Teaspoons Sugar
500g Bread Flour (or Cake flour for a softer texture)
2½ teaspoons Dry Active Yeast

I use my bread machine for this recipe, but if you do not have a bread machine you can use this technique -

-Combine the ingredients and mix well.
-Knead the dough until smooth and soft.
-Let rise until doubled.
-Punch down, and shape into a loaf.
-Place bread in a greased loaf pan, or on a baking sheet for a round loaf.
-Rise again until doubled.
-Bake, as most bread is baked in a moderate oven, about 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) this is a good temperature to start with.
-Bake for 40 to 50 minutes (this will depend on your oven and the bread itself so be careful here), or until the crust is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Enjoy hot with lots of butter!

Monday, 23 November 2009

All things Nice

This weekend I was rather busy. I had the pleasure to make 2 cakes for friends of mine. One was for a baptism and the other for a girl's 13th birthday.

The birthday cake idea I got from the Ideas magazine - a while ago, I can't remember which issue. It is very simple to do - and very impressive. You ice the cake normally - top and sides and then cut pink and white marshmallows into "petals" and place on the cake. I found I needed to work with damp hands to stop the petals sticking to my fingers. You then use a chocolate Whisper (or Maltese) for the centre of the flower.

The biggest treat for me came on Sunday, while watering my garden, I picked 2 purple figs from my tree. I can not tell you the pleasure I got from eating these sweet juicy gems!

Figs are my most favourite fruit in the world (especially the purple fig) - I just can't afford to buy them, but now that my tree is bearing, I can eat my full and then some! Are you jealous yet?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Keeping it Simple

I love cheese and biscuits - it is one of my all time favourite lunch time meals. I really don't care what cheese (although I am partial to stronger cheeses), or what biscuits (I love Salticrax the best).

Most days it's just a quick plate of biscuits with cheese and I am good to go another 8 rounds, but some days I do take a little care, and use a topping with the cheese. Pepperdews, gherkins (think end of the month), watermelon or fig preserve (think just after pay day) all work really well.

This little topping of pickled onion, not only tastes good, it takes a few minutes prepare, is really easy on the month-end-wallet but most of all, it is so very pretty!

Quick Pickle Onion
1 Red Onion thinly sliced
10ml Red Wine vinegar
5ml Sea Salt Flakes (less if you using table salt)
5ml Sugar

Mix all the ingredients together, check the seasoning to taste (this will vary depending on your preference for sweet, salty or tart)
Level to stand for about 15-30 minutes.
Serve with biscuits.

This pickle is also great with grilled fish.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Bouillabaisse a la Cape Town

If you have been following my blog for a while ( a week would be long enough), you'll know I have been reading Julia Child: A Life by Laura Shapiro.

I am totally inspired to stretch my South African culinary boarders to France. As you read how Julia explains French food, it no longer seems daunting. She said "
Once you have mastered a technique, you barely have to look at a recipe again", and this is so true about all cooking.

So I thought I would start with something simple, yet quintessentially French - Bouillabaisse. This dish is a bit of a scared cow in France, each chef claiming their version as the only truly authentic dish. I looked through all my cook books, scoured the Internet and finally came full circle back to Julia's interpretation as the only one I felt confident enough to try. Who better to ask about French food than an American?

I sourced the recipe here. Using as much French flair as I could muster, I ended up only making one change. I used a fresh fennel bulb thinly sliced and added with the leeks and onions, instead of using fennel seeds as instructed.

While the recipe looks long and complicated, it is really very easy and is perfect for entertaining, because everything revolves around the stock, which you can even make a day ahead if you think you will be pressed for time.

I did spend a fair amount of time preparing my fish and seafood, so that everything would be bone free and perfectly portioned. I used the following fish - yellowtail, sole and panga, as this is what I could get at my fish monger, but so long as you follow the "rules" set out in the beginning of the recipe, you can use whatever is local and lekker (nice)! I also included prawns and calamari - again these are ingredients which are easily available and within my price range.

I strained the stock twice - once as instructed and again after I had cooked the fish in it - just to ensure it was perfectly (my new favourite word) clear.

I served this with heaps of French bread and a homemade olive focaccia. My guests and husband loved the meal and I will definitely be making this again soon.

The best way to execute French cooking -
is to get good and loaded and
whack the hell out of a chicken.
Bon appétit.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Can you Chef

A couple of months ago I entered a competition "Can you Chef". I certainly didn't hold out any hope of getting through, so when I got a phone call telling me I had been chosen, I was blown away!

The event was held at the new Cape Quarter centre in Green Point.

The competition was stiff, and in both rounds I found myself up against 2 very confident and organised gentlemen! The format was, you were given a selection of ingredients, and 30 minutes to prepare at least one dish.

In the first round I prepared a Thai chicken green curry and a fillet steak salad. Cooking under pressure is not really something I am not used to, you had to think and cook at the same time - so there was no time for smiling at the camera!

Despite the fact that my curry was a little too hot for the judges (those chillies were hotter than I thought), they still decided I'd done enough to win and so I was through to the finals. My prize, amongst other things, was a new slow cooker - which is fortuitous, because my old one I inherited from my mother, and it's ready for retirement.

Even though I knew what to expect the next day, I still remained nervous. The other finalist, Justin, was not going to be easy to beat - he knew his stuff and the judges loved his food the day before and could not fault it.

I kept it very simple in the second round - fried kingklip with coleslaw, topped with fried capers and a second dish of simple chicken curry. After seeing what Justin had prepared, I didn't think for one minute I could win. I sat there waiting for the judges, and I kept saying - "I wish I had done more"!

To my surprise and delight, I was announced as the winner - and I won the most amazing prizes, the best being a cooking course at Jenny's cook school! I also received a gift voucher from Spar, 2 black truffles, a Crystal wine decanter and a whole bag filled with of the most wonderful goodies from various shops at the Cape Quarter.

All that said - I had a totally wonderful weekend - and I must say a huge thank you to Keith - official chairman of my fan club (okay it wasn't the Oscars, but it was a pretty big deal to me) and Jenny Morris.

Sunday night's supper was scrambled eggs on toast with truffles - not bad for a whip-up meal!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Goulash to Curry

Yesterday I took out my last pack of goulash from the freezer (from the hind-quarter we bought earlier this year). I was so looking forward to going home and trying my hand at a genuine Hungarian Goulash recipe.

I chopped the onions, washed and dried the meat and after I had softened the onions just perfectly, I discovered that all my paprika was finished - nothing, nada, gone, finished, missing. How did this happen? I think I might have thrown it out by mistake when I repacked my kitchen after extreme makeover - kitchen edition!

Well, it was "think on your feet time" - the onions were starting to brown just a little too much and the clock was ticking (I could even hear the digital clock on the microwave)! I opened my beautifully new pantry cupboard, with the slide out shelves and inspiration hit me - curry! The weather was perfect and I had just enough time to make it and would not require me running out to the shop to buy any supplies.

This curry is slightly different to what I would usually make - more like braised meat with a thick curry sauce.

Goulash to Curry

500g Beef Goulash (which is just topside cut into 2" chunks)
1 Large Brown Onion
15 -20 ml Curry Powder (depending on how hot you like it)
10 -15ml Dried chili Flakes (again some like it hot and some like it when the heat it on)
10ml Garlic Paste
¼ teaspoon Cumin
¼ teaspoon Coriander
¼ teaspoon Turmeric
½ teaspoon Dry Ginger Powder
¼ tin of tomato puree
1 large handful of Fresh thyme
10ml Sugar
Salt and Pepper
1 tin Cooked Lentils (optional), drained and washed

Fry the onions until they are nicely caramelized.
Add the meat, which is washed and dried and fry on high heat with the onions.
Once the meat is browned on all sides,
Add all the spices and continue to fry for another 2 minutes.
Add the tomato and the sugar, keep stirring.
Add just enough water (¼ cup max) to help work off the bits that have stuck to the pot.
You must keep stirring until all the bits are off the bottom, that is where all the flavour is.
Reduce to the lowest heat you have, and allow to simmer very slowly, stirring and adding as little water as you can to stop it catching and burning.
I simmer this for about 60 -80 minutes, until I have a wonderfully thick gravy and the meat is tender.
If you are using the lentils, add them at the end and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes.
Serve with steamed white rice.

And here is a wonderful quote from my new hero Julia Child

“I wouldn't keep him around long if I didn't feed him well.”

Monday, 9 November 2009

My friend Julia

I am proudly Capetonian and while it's not New York or Paris, it's not as backward as some people think.

After reading some of these questions - I cringe to think what people think of South Africa and Africa.

I don't understand anything about football or baseball, I can't buy milk by the gallon, unless I have a dairy (do people really drink that much milk? or do you have calves in your back yard), we don't have snow at Christmas, but still we celebrate it anyway and I don't know what Graham crackers are and Starbucks does not exist in my world.

We do have a Jimmy Choo shop (don't have the courage to go in yet) and MacDonald's (Yippee!).

We do have elephants and lions, but we keep them in game parks (and not roaming in the street). The sad thing is that 90% of the population will never see a wild animal (except our taxi drivers) - a few might see them (the animals) at a zoo. I am one of the privileged that have actually seen the big five (lion, elephant, leopard, cheetah and buffalo) in the wild.

But I digress, there are things that the rest of the world know well, but I missed as an average South African growing up. One such phenomena is Julia Child -until 6 months ago, I had never heard of her. Should I be blushing?

Now I can see the entire North America frowning and deep in thought - did she live under a rock? I guess when it came to TV and food I did. Television only came to this country in 1976, and then it was only for a few hours a day. Many of the programs where dubbed (into Afrikaans). I don't think a big American woman (she is over 6ft tall) teaching people to cook French food would have been a huge hit in this country in the late '70's - we had other issues!. And even if we did, I doubt I would have been allowed to watch it anyway, my parents were pretty strict about bed times and TV watching.

But things have changed, I now know who Julia Child is. I have read Julie Powell's blog (the whole year) and am now I am reading Laura Shapiro's book, Julia Child ~ A Life, a book I received (won) from Coco @ Coco Cooks.

This is an incredible little book, I'm about half way through and I can't put it down. If you are looking for a great little stocking filler for a foodie - even if they don't know Julia yet, this book is wonderful. With excerpts from letters her husband Paul wrote to his brother, things Julia wrote to her family and generally just the fly on the wall commentary on this extra-ordinary woman, you can't but help fall in love with Julia. And as you can see, I am already on a first name basis!

It is very well written, witty and charming. Foodies will love it, just because you'll find a kindred spirit in Julia. I see myself in her, as someone who wasn't born with a natural ability to cook, but had a love for eating and went out and learned how to cook - reading and learning and never stopping until she was happy with the result.

I just love the easy to read language and I quote "Shapiro's Julia Child personifies her own most famous lesson: that learning how to cook means learning how to live" - how very true!

A Road less Travelled

A road less travelled took me away from blogging for 2 weeks. I discovered places in this beautiful country, things about myself, where I am going and where I want to be. I met new people and made friends that I hope I can nurture for years to come.

All this sounds very philosophical, but it's not really -time spent with yourself, outside of your comfort zone, can reveal things that get lost in a normally hectic life and routine.

So, let's start off with where I was.

I had to take a 5 day business trip to a little dorp (town) in the Eastern Cape called Humansdorp. While I was very busy sorting out the reason for my visit, I did have time to drive around and see some beautiful places and eat at some really wonderful restaurants.

One of these beautiful places was Cape St Fransis and the Port of St Fransis. A sleepy little hollow, right on the coast. Here is a picture of the lighthouse and the harbour pictured above.

Two of the restaurants at which I ate stand out, firstly Le Chameleom, in Humansdorp and the second was De Viswyf in Jefferies Bay. The third place is a coffee shop, cum second hand book shop, cum bonsai nursery, also in Humansdorp.

Le Chameleon is only open during the day and not only has a wonderful restaurant, but a gift shop and farm stall where I could have maxed out any credit card! There is not a person in the area who doesn't know this little gem, and even out of season you'll be hard pressed to get a table. They do not take reservations and close at 4pm on week days. The owners are always there, keeping a keen eye on every plate which leaves the kitchen.

I do apologize for the picture quality, but I think the excitement at seeing such a beautiful plate of food was just too much for even my camera to handle!

I ate at Le Chameleon twice, opting twice for a salad - and while this might sound boring, it was everything but, more like a culinary voyage into the heights of heaven. The first salad I had was grilled pear with blue cheese, crispy bacon and bruschetta. My soul shall never know such pleasure on a plate again. That was until the second master piece of grilled halloumi cheese with pine nuts and olives. I still can not decide which was best, but I could write a Mills and Boon novel on the pleasures thereof!

The second restaurant I went to was De Viswijf in Jeffreys Bay, an award winning restaurant. It is set right on the rocks, next to the lighthouse. The menu is very extensive, with fish, poultry and meat. I had the fish, being of the belief that when in a fish restaurant you should eat fish. I started with Mussels Maison, mussels in the shell with garlic white wine sauce, topped with cheese, oven baked and served on a bed of rice . And yes this is as good as it sounds!
The Yellow Fin Sole was "to die for", and I don't say that lightly - I can think of a few small countries I would invade for another chance to savour this dish. And just because I was alone and out of town I finished off with the créme brûlée.

Thirdly was the little coffee shop - Browns Cafe, in Main Street Humansdorp. It looks like nothing from outside, just another secondhand book shop, with perhaps an old Auntie making coffee and koek (cake) in the back. Oh no, as you walk through, you discover a beautiful nursery, filled with bonsai trees and tables where you sit and enjoy the view.

I tell you now, do not to waste your time thinking about what to order - coffee and lemon meringue pie! That's all you will need to make you realize that books and covers are never what they seem!

So there you have the first part of my voyage of discovery. It involves lots of food - but there was time to do some soul searching too. But I think I will keep that for another day- just in case you needed a reason to come again and visit!

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 150ºC. 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!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Mamma's Meatballs

I have been blogging for just over 2 years. I have made so many dishes, tried out so many recipes - good and bad but best of all I have made so many wonderful friends. Thinking of what to cook for supper is not as easy as it used to be, at least twice a week, I have to consider new things to blog about.

When I set the table, the camera is in place before the salt and pepper. Then of course you have get the lighting right and if the food is steaming, you have to think of a way to get that perfect close up without the lens steaming up.

When I look at the pictures that some foodies take, I am green with envy, the reflection from my green envy seems to have come out in last nights photos.

I made spaghetti and meatballs, with a wonderfully thick chili tomato sauce. I changed my meatball recipe, and loved it. It does take a little more effort than "two-minute noodles", but once you've made the meatballs, it comes together without much fuss.


500g Mince Beef Mince
1 Cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (please buy the good stuff and grate it yourself)
20ml Basil Pesto
1 Small Onion finely grated

Mix all the ingredients together - by hand is the only way to really do it properly.
Make the balls the size of walnuts (I don't like big balls!)
Fry in a medium hot pan with a little oil until browned.
Remove the balls from the pan and set aside.

The Sauce

1 (400g) Tinned Tomato and chill
4 Fresh ripe Tomatoes, peeled
2 Onions Sliced
20ml Basil Pesto
Black Pepper and salt
10ml Sugar

Fry the onions until soft in the same pan you cooked the meatballs in.
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook down until it is soft - at least 30mins.
You can add water when necessary.
Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook for a further 40 minutes on a very low heat, stirring gently and adding water if it starts to get dry.

Serve with lots of spaghetti and love!

Our dessert was simple, yet authentically Italian. Strawberries with a little sugar, a dash of good balsamic and a grinding of black pepper - leave it to sit for a while and enjoy!

Monday, 21 September 2009

International Food Evening

On Saturday night our church held an mission's celebration and each bible study group was asked to choose a country, dress up in national dress, as well as cater a table with food from that country. It was such fun and very interesting, we had a talk from locak Pastor who was a missionary to Morocco for 6 years.

The countries were not randomly chosen, as in our church we have people from the 4 corners of the world. I was part of a group from the Cameroon. It was a great experience from the foodie side too, as I had to research a cuisine that is totally foreign to me.

The people in West Africa eat lots of fish, beans, peanuts, coconut, pineapples and chili. The most exciting part of this food adventure, was that I found a shop in Parow that only sells ingredients that are used in West and Central Africa. I didn't recognize anything, and kept asking the owner to explain - I think I was about 2 questions away from him saying "Lady, we cater to foreigners, if you want to understand everything in a shop, go to Pick 'n Pay!"! Next time I go, I'll have more recipes in hand, so I won't have to ask so much!

My attempt at Cameroonian food was this Suya, a kebab. It can be made with any kind of meat - I chose beef. It is marinaded in a dry spice mix and then cooked over hot coals. The flavours are subtle (except for the chili) and work remarkably well together.

Cameroonian Kebabs
Makes about 18

1kg Steak chopped into 1" cubes
10ml Meat Tenderizer (this was my addition)
60ml Chili Flakes
20ml Garlic Powder
15ml Paprika
10ml Onion Powder (I used 2 Knorr mini Stock cubes)
1 Cup Roasted Peanuts finely ground (but not into a paste)
15ml Ground Ginger
Salt to taste
Red, Green and Yellow Peppers, cut into 1" pieces

Mix all the ingredients together and marinade for a few hours.
Thread onto skewers with some colourful peppers.
Cook on the braai (BBQ) or in the oven under the grill.

I served this together with some grilled pineapple kebabs. This is inspired by Cameroon, but not authentic.

Take two whole pineapples and cut off the peel.
Slice into wedges and then into 1½" cubes
Make a mix with about 125ml hot honey and 10ml dried chili.
Coat the pineapple with the mix and thread onto skewers and grill over the flames or on a hot griddle pan.
Brush with more of the sauce before serving.

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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