Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Summer Salad Sensation

"We having guests on Saturday night, I would like to do a braai (BBQ), since the weather is so good. The only thing is that half the guests are vegetarians".
He says: "What? You mean they don't eat any meat? - not even chicken? Why would you want to braai - what on earth do they eat?".
She replied : "Don't worry, they'll have great food, good enough to make you want to change your life choice of carnivorism.".
He smiles : "I very much doubt that.".

So we had the braai and the vegetarians certainly didn't go without and while the carnivores enjoyed the meat, they also enjoyed the meat-free dishes too. Perhaps not enough to change their life choice, but definitely enough to surprise them that meat-free can be almost as good.

Here is one of the wonderful salads I made, which can easily be a full meal, served with some home made bread or a brie and olive focaccia.

Roast Vegetable Salad
1 Whole Aubergine sliced
1 Red Pepper seeded and sliced
3 Courgettes sliced
Olive Oil for roasting
2 handfuls Rocket leaves
Walnuts roughly chopped

2-3 Garlic Cloves
½ teaspoon Coarse salt
Juice of 1 Lemon
60ml Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
10-15ml Palm sugar (or regular sugar)
2.5ml finely ground Black Pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC
Roast the aubergine, pepper and courgettes coated in oil until soft and brown.
Make the dressing, by pounding the garlic to a paste and
then mixing the rest of the ingredients, adjust to taste.
Once the vegetables are done, pour over the dressing while hot.
Allow to cool slightly and then toss in the rocket leaves, pepper and the walnuts.
Serve at room temperature, drizzled with the dressing and optional extra walnuts .

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Crème Brûlée and Lavendar and Lime

My father has always been the "special occasion cook" in our family, Mom was the journey (wo) man, making the weekly fair - but Dad was the Sunday lunch / special day man - roast and gravy king.

Retirement for my parents, has brought with it more time to watch TV and then came the food channels. Now my Dad drops words like "caramelize" and "flambe" with the same ease as Nigella Lawson! They followed Australia MasterChef (2009) with same passion as me. We still are able to debate the merits of Poh's smile verses Chris's crispy pork and Andre's downfall of always cooking pasta - much to my hubby frustration!

The one thing Dad has been taking about since the Australia MasterChef Singapore trip is Crème Brûlée. He's been dreaming of trying this dish that every foodie talks about in hushed tones. The holy grail of desserts.

After mentioning on Twitter yesterday that I needed the ultimate recipe, I was pleased to see there are plenty of Crème Brûlée fans out there - Cindy even commented that she orders it at a restaurant to gauge the talent of chef.

One of my favourite bloggers and supporter's Tandy Sinclair from Lavender and Lime sent me her recipe for Crème Brûlée.

It's so simple to make, all you need is patience to bake it and then wait for it to chill. It is soft and creamy, pure decadence. Please go visit Tandy Sinclair from Lavender and Lime for the Crème Brûlée. recipe, you will not find a anywhere.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Butter Bean Butter Boom

We've had a hard few days in our household this week, hence the fact that I only have one post this week. My Keith had double knee surgery and is recovering on the couch, unable to bend his knees. It's amazing how you can take a body part for granted until it's out of action and then you're literally floored!

Meatless Monday became a trip to the Spur (a local steak house), Tuesday was something re-heated (after fetching my patient from the hospital) but by Wednesday I just had to have something healthy - my body was screaming from all the junk from the last few days.

I always have a tin of butter beans (Lima beans) in the pantry. They are my favourite standby for just about any meal - from butter bean mash to plain in a bowl with salt and olive oil. The creamy sweetness filled with goodness, opening the tin makes me feel healthy!

This simple butter bean, grilled vegetables and harissa paste salad was so good, I wish I  had made more.

Butter Bean Salad with Harissa Paste and Grilled Vegetables
1 Tin Butter Beans (drained and washed)
10ml Harissa Paste (I used shop bought, but you can make your own)
Zest of 1 Lemon and the juice of ½ the Lemon
10ml Palm Sugar (or plain sugar)
4 Courgettes slice diagonally and char-grilled
½ Yellow or Red Pepper seeded, sliced and char-grilled
10ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
10ml roughly chopped parsley
Salt and Black Pepper
Rye Bread, thinly sliced, rubbed with olive oil and grilled with the vegetables

Place all the ingredients in a bowl, expect the bread and allow to marinate for 1 hour.
Serve the salad on the hot toasted bread.
Garnish with fresh parsley.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Roast Belly Pork Roll

I am so happy, summer has arrived in Cape Town. There's still some wind, which is normal for this time of the year - but it helps to ease you into the rising temperatures. Once January and February comes, all we'll have are blisteringly hot days and no cool breezes to combat the heat.

Our days are longer now, so supper is being served later and later, it's too hot to eat at early and I find facing hot meals too much effort. We are enjoying lots of pasta, salads, cold meat and of course ice-cream!

Yesterday I managed to find a beautiful rolled pork belly( at Woolworths), which had very little fat and decided to slow roast it, and then leave it to cool before serving it with a big salad and a boiled potato - simple to make and easy to digest on a hot summer evening.

Slow Roasted Pork Belly Roll.

1 Rolled Pork Belly
2 Large Onions cut into 1" rings
2 Granny Smith Apples, slides crosswise the same as the onions
10 Fresh Sage leaves
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil
Pomegranate juice concentrate to serve (optional) - I used Verlaque

Pre-heat your oven to 160ºC
Place the onion, apples and sage leaves on the base of the roasting pan.
Dry the pork well with kitchen paper.
Rub the pork with a little oil and salt well.
Place the pork on the vegetable trivet and top with a good grinding of black pepper.
Roast for about 1½ -2 hours until done.
Remove from the oven.
Remove the rind from the roast and set aside - this will make the crackling.
Leave to cool to room temperature, or you can serve it hot if preferred.
To make the crackling, heat a thick based non-stick frying pan to high.
Lay the rind which you removed and weigh it down with another heavy pot.
Allow to fry until crispy.
Slice the rind into thin strips and serve with the pork.
I made a green salad with blue cheese and grapes, which worked very well with the pork.
If you using the pomegranate juice, pour over a little just before serving.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Relaxing Chicken

Yesterday was Meat-free Monday, but unfortunately there was a spoke in the meat-free wheel yesterday. We will however make up our for our slip later this week, but for now we're living in carnivore sin!

I will share my reason for taking the easy supper route, I spent most of yesterday afternoon being pampered with a Thai massage. I got home so relaxed, that thinking about cooking anything that required thought or effort was just not going to happen.

In comes stage left - good old faithful chicken. The easiest meal to throw into a pot, forget about and then serve a wonderful meal 2 hours later.

In some parts of South Africa, when you tell people you're a vegetarian, they will answer you very cheerfully with: "No problem, we'll have chicken then"!- So it's not all bad.

 Chicken Beans in Verjuice and Molasses Sauce

Serves 4

8 chicken pieces (skin removed)
4 Anchovy fillets 
125ml Verjuice
30ml Molasses
1 Onion cut into wedges
4 Garlic Cloves roughly chopped
1 Chili (optional)
1 Tin Butter Beans (washed)
4 Courgettes thickly sliced
Salt and Black Pepper
Fresh Thyme for serving (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 180ºC
Using a pot that can go from hob to oven.
Fry the chicken, onion, chili, garlic and the anchovy fillets until golden brown.
De-glaze the pot with the verjuice and stir in the molasses.
Add a little water and season.
Roast for about 60 minutes.
Add the beans and the courgettes.
Return the oven and bake for a further 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked.
If you want more sauce, add a little water or you can use more verjuice and molasses.
Serve with rice and garnish with fresh thyme.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Sundried Tomato Pesto

Commitments are always easier to make than keep. A real commitment takes lots of effort, especially when the stakes are high. If you think of being married, that's a commitment that needs a 100% from both parties, 50/50 is just not going to work. Anyone who has been married longer than their honeymoon will know exactly what I am talking about.

As a married woman, with a few years experience, I know that my husband in the most wonderful man on the planet - especially when he's doing exactly what I want. But from what I've heard, I'm no ice-cream sundae to live with either (who would have guessed that)!

If you have children you'll also know how hard commitments can be. You have to get through teething, the terrible twos (which can last anything up to 5 years), school projects, the wonderfully trying tween years which are followed by the the best years of any parent's life - the teenage years.

So, I suppose you all think I'm having a hard life - being both married and having a teenager, but it's not that bad. I have a great life, except I make other commitments to things which I find difficult to juggle in normal life. One such example is Meatless Monday!

Staying dedicated to Meatless Monday would be a breeze if I was only cooking for myself, but I'm not. I live in a house with carnivores and serving roasted butternut with quinoa and peppers is just not going to meet the dietary requirements of 2 hungry lions. I envy you ladies out there who have managed to train your pack to smile when served sesame crusted tofu and steamed bok choy. I won't even tell you what my boys call bok choy behind my back!

I did however manage to make something last night that would make most meat eaters very happy and perhaps let them forgo just one night of flesh feasting without feeling hard done by.

Sun dried Tomato Pesto
Serves 4

1/4 cup of Sun dried Tomatoes, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes.
50g Toasted Walnuts
2-4 Whole Garlic Cloves (roasted until soft) - add to your preference
1-2 Whole Red Chillies (roasted until soft and charred) - add to your preference.
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
Salt and Black Pepper
10ml Sugar
Olive Oil (Extra Virgin if possible)

Blend all the ingredients in a food processor slowly adding enough olive oil
until you have the right consistency.
Check the taste and adjust to your preference - lemon juice, salt, garlic chilli.
Serve stirred through a pasta of your choice - either spaghetti or tagliatelle work well.
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and edible flowers (optional).

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Yoghurt Cream with Strawberries and Rooibos Syrup

What a delight it is when you spend days dreaming a dish in your head and then producing something that comes so close to perfection, it sends your entire body into raptures.

I now know the satisfaction that Albert Einstein must have felt when Arthur Eddington proved his theoretic observations in reality, going against much of which was accepted science in it's day.

Okay, so I certainly haven't found the answers to the speed of light or the made a giant leap for mankind in solving the mysteries of the universe. I can't do calculus, almost failed trigonometry and still have algebra nightmares - but I have discovered a fusion which is more in touch with the day to day life of the average family than \scriptstyle m/(1 - v^2/c^2) and \scriptstyle m/\sqrt{1 - v^2/c^2}

I also happen to think my discovery is much prettier than anything Albert, Isaac or even Stephen Hawkins have come up with, but that's just my point of view - you're welcome to yours.
Yoghurt Cream with Strawberries and Rooibos Syrup

100g Puff Pastry
1 Egg Beaten (for egg wash)
1 Teaspoon Icing Sugar

2 Cups Fresh Strawberries (washed and hulled)
1 Cup Water
1 Cup of Sugar
3 Rooibos Tea Bags
2 cups of Plain Yoghurt (strained overnight through muslin to thicken)
2 Tablespoons Icing Sugar

Preheat your oven to 200ºC
Roll out the puff pastry and cut into 4 disks and 4 hearts (with a cookie cutter)
Brush the pastry with egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes until puffed and golden.
Allow to cool.
Dust with icing sugar once cooled.

In a sauce pan boil the sugar, water and rooibos tea until reduced by 1/3.
Remove from the heat, add the strawberries to the hot syrup and allow to cool.

Add the icing sugar to the thick yoghurt and combine.

To plate the dish :
Place 2 spoons of the yoghurt cream on a plate.
Top with the strawberries and drizzle with the syrup.
Decorate with the a puff pastry disk and one heart.
Serve and delight!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Sweetcorn and Chickpea Fritters

It is just me or is the cost of food, meat especially, just spiralling out of control? I find myself standing dazed at the the meat counter at my local super market weighing up the cost of a meal. Sure you can buy "cheaper" cuts, but you really can only serve mince and sausages so many times a week before your family start to complain. Chicken used to be great value meal, but even that has now become a treat in some cases.

Thank goodness for Meat-Free-Monday, a wonderful excuse to leave the meat out, feel good about saving the planet and save a few pennies for the rest of the weakly weekly food budget.

I also have more and more friends who now have teenagers that have decided to "go vegetarian", which is great - except it seems to be the moms who now have to come up with a different meal for an already fussy eater.

I came up with this fritter idea simply by combining 2 of my favourite tinned foods - creamed sweetcorn and chickpeas.

Chickpeas provide an excellent source of molybdenum. They are a very good source of folic acid, fibre and manganese. They are a great source of protein as well as minerals such as iron, copper, zinc and magnesium.

Sweet corn has vitamin B1, vitamin B5, vitamin C, folate, phosphorus, dietary fibre, and manganese. As an add-on to the sweet corn nutrients already stated, it also has a full array of other nutrients such as sugar, carbohydrates, soluble and insoluble fibre, vitamins, minerals, sodium, amino acids and more. 

So these fritter are an all around winner and will satisfy even the fussy teenagers and I am sure even tempt the carnivores to tuck in with gusto.

 Sweetcorn and Chickpea Fritters

1 Tin Creamed Sweetcorn
1 Tin Chickpeas
1½ cups Self Raising Flour
10ml sugar (optional)
Salt and White Pepper
1 Large Handful of Fresh Parsley roughly Chopped
1 Egg
15-30ml Plain Yoghurt
Oil for Frying
Bean Sprouts to serve (optional)

In a bowl, mash half the chickpeas and then add all the rest whole.
Add the sweetcorn and the rest of the ingredients mixing and adding enough yoghurt to get a thick batter,
Heat your oil in a non-stick pan and fry the fritters until golden brown and cooked through.
Keep warm until ready to serve, with sprouts if available.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Fish Cakes Again

If you have followed my blog for more than a month, you will undoubtedly know that I love fish cakes. I love to make them, I love to eat them and best of all my family love them too.

To actually give you "my fish cake recipe" would be almost impossible. I make them differently each time, depending on what fish I have on hand and what flavours I fancy that day.

One of the wonderful things about fish cakes, is that they taste as good hot on the day you make them as they do cold the next day. You can splash out and use expensive fish like salmon, or go on the cheap and use tinned pilchards - both are equally good in my eyes mouth!

I know many of you will baulk at the idea of using instant mash, but I find it gives great consistency and holds the fish cake together beautifully. You are welcome to use your own real mash, just make sure that it has no lumps, is very dry and is perfectly smooth.

Butter Fish Cakes
Serves 2

150g Butter Fish
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Big Handfull of Parsley, with stalks (for Steaming)
15ml chopped Fresh Parsley for the fish cakes
50g Instant Mash Potato
Salt and Pepper to taste
Breadcrumbs for rolling the fish cakes before frying
Oil for Frying

In a steamer place the parsely on the base and top with the fish and then the chopped garlic.
Steam the fish until just done.
Reserve the liquid.
Flake the fish in a bowl, together with the as much of the garlic you steamed it with to taste.
Add the chopped parsley, the mash, salt and pepper.
Mix together and add enough of the steaming liquid to get firm but workable mixture.
Place in the fridge or freezer until well chilled.
Shape the fish mixture into patties, roll in breadcrumbs and fry in shallow oil until golden on both sides.

I served my fish cakes with the great home made tartar sauce. I would only suggest you thy this if you have a food processor, as beating mayonnaise by hand is a long and tiring job.

TarTar Sauce

1 Fresh Egg
300- 400ml Sunflower Oil
2 Pickled Gherkins
30-45ml Pickling Juice from the Gherkins
Lemon Juice
Salt and White Pepper
1 Small Onion peeled and roughly chopped

Place the egg in the food processor bowl.
Start the processor on high.
Add about 20ml of gherkin pickling juice.
Add the oil in a very thin stream while the motor is running.
After each 100ml of oil, check the mayonnaise until you have the correct consistency.
Once your mayonnaise is thick and creamy, add the salt and pepper to taste.
Add the gherkins and the onion and whizz until smooth.

Check the taste, you might need to add more pickling juice or lemon juice to help even out the taste.

Store in the fridge for 3-4 days.

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.

    Wednesday, 29 September 2010

    Meatloaf : Singing or Eating?

    Michael Lee Aday (born Marvin Lee Aday on September 27, 1947), better known by his stage name Meat Loaf is an American rock musician and actor.

    My favourite Meatloaf song is "Anything for Love" - And I would do anything for love, I'd run right into hell and back, I would do anything for love, I'll never lie to you and that's a fact. I Would do anything for love, Anything you've been dreaming of, But I just wont do that..."

    As a an 80's child - I like my Rock stars to have lots of make -up, long unkempt hair and sing heart wrenching love ballads.  I don't like love songs which are soft and weepy (yawn) - like Celine Dion, Justin Bieber or Mylie Cyrus -  I'm a Guns and Roses, Bon Jovi and of course Meatloaf kinda girl.

    So, you ask, why do I think you are interested my music choice? Well it ties into what I made for dinner last night meatloaf (with a small m). Maybe I'm crazy, But it's crazy and it's true - I would do anything for love, even make meatloaf!

    Just like an 80's rock star, it's not pretty to look at, but it tastes great!

    Rock Star Meatloaf with Ginger Tomato Sauce

    500g Minced Beef
    1 Onion Grated
    1 teaspoon Thyme
    1 teaspoon Dried chili
    4 Cloves of Garlic Crushed
    1 Teaspoon Salt
    1 Egg
    10 Mushrooms Sliced

    Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC
    In a bowl mix all the ingredients well together, except the mushrooms.
    Layer the bottom of a loaf tin with the sliced mushrooms.
    Top the mushrooms with the mince mixture.
    Cover the tin with foil.
    Bake in the oven for 60 minutes.
    Place the tomato sauce in the loaf tin and bake for another 30 minutes uncovered.

    Tomato Sauce

    4 Fresh Tomatoes peeled and roughly chopped
    1 piece of Ginger the size of your thumb, peeled and shredded
    1 Green Chili Chopped
    6 Sun dried tomatoes
    30ml Rice Vinegar
    15ml Sugar

    Mix this together in a baking dish with a lid.

    Bake covered, separately, in the oven for 60 minutes with the meatloaf.
    Pour over the meatloaf and bake for another 30 minutes uncovered.
    Serve hot.

    Tuesday, 28 September 2010

    Happy ever After Health Bread

    Once upon a time in the land of the Table Mountain, there lived a fair maiden. This maiden was very happy, she spent her carefree days being doted on by her loving parents. Her Mother and Father provided all her needs, never requesting her to cook or clean.

    The maiden would buy magazines that told her about fashion and beauty and when she read a book it would always be a love story. She paid no attention to recipes, unless she was glancing at a diet, for which she had no use.

    One day, quite unexpectedly, the fair maiden met a prince from the Northern City of Gold. He was dashing and handsome and after a short courtship the prince and the maiden were married at ceremony surrounded by friends and loved ones.

    The maiden moved into the prince's palace and enjoyed having her own home. She set to work on being a good wife. It took many moons before the maiden finally got the hang of buying stores for the larder and planning meals to cook for the prince and the rest of the court.

    It was during this time that the maiden changed. Food, recipes, cooking and baking began to become increasingly more important in her life. She no longer bought glossy magazines featuring the latest fashions, but scoured the shops from many lands, for books and magazines on food, recipes and exotic ingredients.

    She spent hours and hours on the Internet drooling over pictures of more food, printing 1000's of recipes - all of which she planned to make "one day", even though this would mean she would have to live to be 167 years old to complete such a task.

    The maiden grew older and wiser - yet still she continues her passion for food and recipes. She has made friends with like minded maidens, princesses (and a few princes), who are equally passionate about food and cooking, they call themselves foodies and bloggers.

    One recipe the maiden kept in her treasure chest (as part of her trousseau) is Pam's Health Bread. She no longer remembers who Pam is, but is still grateful to her for this recipe.  It is a wonderfully versatile recipe and can be adapted to what can be found in the pantry (which was very handy before the maiden knew how to food shop).

    Pam's Health Bread

    4 Cups Nutty Wheat Flour
    1 Cup Bran
    10ml Salt
    50ml Dark Molasses
    1 Sachet Instant Dried Yeast
    60ml Chopped Walnuts Nuts (optional and exchangeable to whatever nuts you might have)
    60ml Seed Mix (sunflower, pumpkin, linseed, sesame)
    2-3 Cups of Warm Water

    Pre-heat the oven to 180C
     Mix all the dry ingredients together.
    Then add enough warm water to make a soft dough.
    Place the dough in a bread pan and allow to rest in a warm place for 30 - 45 minutes.
    Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until golden brown.

    Thursday, 23 September 2010

    Chicken Biryani Made Easy

    I stand by the belief that home made food is better than take outs or ready made meals. It not only makes economical sense but you know exactly what is going into your meals and there are no hidden fats, sodium or preservatives. It's highly unlikely the average home has bottles of calcium propionate, sodium nitrate ,or  methylchloroisothiazolinone sitting in their pantry.

     With that said, even Father Christmas has elves help him make the presents for Christmas and I have no problem buying pre-made ingredients to help produce a great meal without added fuss. They are also great for those of us that are learning new cuisines, like curry.

    There are days when I will use fresh spices, dry fry them and grind them up to make my own spice mix, but there are some great ready made spice mixtures, which I have found that can create lovely meals, with minimum fuss.

    One such product I have recently discovered is from a company in India, sold in most local supermarkets called Curry Tree. They have no preservatives, no hydrogenated vegetable fat, are 100% natural and are gluten free. They have easy to follow recipes on the box and need no exotic or expensive ingredients to create authentic dishes packed with flavour.

    Yesterday I bought the Curry Tree Chicken Biryani. While the recipe provided was simple to follow, I have changed it slightly and I was very impressed with the result. Once again, I did the "all in one pot cooking" in the oven - less fuss and less washing up!

    Chicken Biryani with Curry Tree Spices
    Adapted from the recipe supplied by Curry Tree

    1 Packet Curry Tree Chicken Biryani
    8 Chicken Thighs
    300ml Plain Yoghurt
    300ml Water
    300g Plain White Rice
    2 Teaspoons Crushed dried Chilli (optional if you like it hotter)
    1 Pinch Saffron (optional)
    Chopped fresh Coriander (optional for garnish)

    Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC
    In a pot which can go on the stove and oven, brown the chicken until golden (don't add extra oil).
    Mix the yoghurt,1 teaspoon of the chilli and the Curry Tree spice in a bowl.

    Pour the yoghurt mix into the chicken and combine.
    Pour over the rice and then the water and sprinkle the saffron and other teaspoon of chilli on top.
    Allow the mix to come back to heat - slow bubble.
    Place a layer of foil over the top of the pot and then place the lid on to make it completely sealed.
    Place in the oven for 60-80 minutes.
    Remove from the oven and serve sprinkled with some chopped fresh coriander.

    Tuesday, 21 September 2010

    Banana Cake with Lime Frosting

    Bananas in pyjamas
    Are coming down the stairs
    Bananas in pyjamas
    Are coming down in pairs
    Bananas in pyjamas
    Are chasing teddy bears
    'Cause on Tuesdays
    They all try to
    Catch them unawares

    Do you remember this song? I used to sing it with my niece when she was little. This same niece got married this weekend, oh how time flies when you getting old!

    I don't know how many of you experience this, but bananas in our house seem to turn from perfectly ripe, to beautifully sweet but bruised and black when you turn your back. I often get stuck with the odd one or two bananas that no one will eat, but are perfect for smoothies and baking.

    I often make banana bread, which is always well received, but yesterday I decided to try something a little different - banana cake with lime icing. What a wonderful find, it is very moist and the lime icing really is "the icing on the cake"!
    It is very easy to make and perfect for a quick cake using those last over ripe bananas - especially when they are really well past their eating prime.

    Banana Cake with Lime Icing
     You can double this recipe and make a layer cake with a lime butter frosting.

    125g Butter (Soft)
    125g Castor Sugar
    2 Eggs
    2 Bananas Mashed (Medium)
    2.5ml Vanilla Seeds (or 5ml Vanilla Essence)
    5ml Orange Blossom Water (optional)
    2.5ml Bi-carbonate of Soda
    30ml Milk
    500ml Self Raising Flour

    Pre-heat the oven to 180C
    Grease a 20cm x 10cm deep round cake tin.

    Cream the butter and the sugar together.
    Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
    Add the bananas, the vanilla and the orange blossom water.
    Dissolve the bi-carbonate in the milk.
    Add the bi-carbonate to the mixture.
    Sift in the flour and fold in to combine.

    Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
    Leave the cake for 5 minutes in the tin and then remove and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

    Lemon Icing
    150ml Icing Sugar
    Juice of one Lime

    Sift the icing sugar, add the lime juice and stir until smooth.
    Pour over the cake, once the cake is cooled and allow to dry.

    Thursday, 16 September 2010

    Apple and Date Delight

     This weeks Lavender and Lime challenge is Something Sweet with Baked Apples.

    I decided to keep it really simple, as the apples at this time of the year are delicious and don't need much fiddling with to enjoy their wonderful flavour.

    Baked Apple with Dates and Nuts

    1 large Granny Smith Apple per serving

    4 Fresh Dates, pitted (per serving)
    1 teaspoon Coconut oil (in solid form)
    2 teaspoons Chopped Nuts

    Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC
    Core the apple ¾ of the way through. This ensures that the mixture does not all drop out the bottom when baking.
    Score the apple around the circumference, so it does not burst while baking.
    Mix the remainder of the ingredients together and stuff the apple.
    Bake for 20-30 minutes and serve hot.
    Pour the baking juices over the apple before serving.

    Tuesday, 14 September 2010

    Kumquat Marmalade

    What's the best part of the end of winter? The beginning of summer!

    Preserving is a becoming increasingly popular (judging by blogs and cookbooks available), after many years of everyone being caught up in the fast and convenient food culture. I don't do much preserving, except jams and marmalades.

    I love making marmalades especially since it is by far more popular in my home than jam.  A bottle of strawberry jam will last long into the next strawberry season - not so with a marmalade.

    I have perfected the art of lemon marmalade, which I make throughout the year. This week I thought I would try making something I have grown up knowing and seeing often, but never actually eaten or cooked with - Kumquats.

    Kumquats are widely available at the moment and on impulse I took a bag before sanity could prevail and I am so glad that I did. This preserve / marmalade is sweet with a lovely tang of ginger and of course kumquat.

    Kumquat and Ginger Marmalade

    1kg Kumquats (washed and then cut 1cm trough the length - not all the way)
    Thumb size knob of Ginger, peeled and finely shredded)
    1kg of Sugar
    Juice of 1 Large Lemon


    Place the kumquats and ginger in a large saucepan, and cover generously with water.
    Boil for between 1½  hours.
    The longer you boil the fruit the less time you'll need to boil with the sugar to reach setting point.
    Once the fruit is soft add the sugar.
    Stir the sugar until it has dissolved and then allow to boil without stirring, removing any scum.
    Once it has reached setting point (4º - 5ºC above water boiling point), add the lemon juice.
    Remove from the heat.
    Allow to cool slightly and then pour into sterilized jars and seal tightly.
    Serve on hot buttered toast!

    Thursday, 9 September 2010

    Ready Steady Cook - Start

    Ready Steady Cook hosted by Add to Taste
    This challenge has taken me almost 3 weeks to get to the start! It's been more like reading Jodi Picoult than Leon Uris

    With the ingredients I have left to make my starter, you might understand why I've been at odds and ends starts. I have yet to use my dates, chilli and 2 leeks (used some in the main).

    So after 2 weeks of procrastination I went through the store cupboard ingredients and fell back on one which is never missing from my pantry - canned tomatoes.

    Lucky for me today was chilly enough to attempt a something which has had me stumped almost everyday since I first got my ingredient list.

    Tomato Leek and Date Soup

    1 large Tin of Whole canned Tomatoes
    2 Large Leeks washed and finely sliced.(White part only)
    1 Clove of Garlic
    10 Fresh Dates (stones removed)
    10ml papricka
    1 Green Chilli
    Salt and pepper for seasoning.
    Garnish : A small piece of leftover leek and thinly shredded and deep fried until golden brown

    In a pot, fry the leeks, garlic, chill and dates until the leeks are softened.
    Add the rest of the ingredients with about 350ml water and simmer for about 1 hour.
    Check the seasoning and adjust to taste.
    Purée the soup until smooth.
    Serve hot, garnish with a drizzle of  olive oil and fried leeks.

    How good is this soup? Very good, just look at the bowl...yummy!

    Tuesday, 7 September 2010

    Meatless Commitment Continues

    Sometimes when I make a commitment to something, I go hell bent for leather and then cool off  into a steady rhythm of nothingness. This is true with numerous diets, exercise regimes, gym contracts and promising to cook every meal from scratch. I can be a bit of a fader, I bore easily and need consistent motivation to keep my focus on a repetitive task.

    Last month I decided to join the City of Cape Town's call for a once a week meatless meal program and I'm happy to proclaim that I have remained fully committed to this. This has not been a difficult task to remain focused on, because every week is a new experience in creativity.

    This week I took what is essentially a puttanesca sauce, with a twist to accommodate family tastes.You will notice that I have used a large quantity of parsley (Jamie Oliver would use basil), I love the fresh flavour, but if you're not a big fan you can either substitute torn basil or reduce the quantity.

    Pasta Puttanesca Rose (and yes I know what puttanesca means!)

    3 Ripe Tomatoes (skinned and chopped into dice)
    2 Onions Chopped finely
    2 Green Chillies chopped
    3 Garlic Cloves Chopped
    1 410g Tin Chopped peeled Tomatoes
    7 bottled Anchovies (7 fillets not 7 bottles!)
    1 Sachet Tomato paste (50g)
    10ml Sugar
    2 Bay Leaves
    10ml chopped fresh Oregano
    2 large handfuls of Fresh Parsley
    400g Penne Pasta (cooked to instructions)

    Fry the onions and the anchovies until the anchovies have melted and the onions are soft.
    Add the the rest of the ingredients, except the parsley (and the pasta).
    Add enough water to allow a simmer, without drying out.
    Simmer on a low heat for at least 60 minutes.
    Cook the pasta as per instructions on the box / packet.
    Drain the pasta and stir the sauce into the pasta and leave in the hot pot with the lid on for 5-7 minutes - This allows the pasta to absorb the flavours of the sauce better.
    Stir in the parsley (if using) and serve.

    Friday, 3 September 2010

    Lamb Rogan Josh

    This last weekend I had the Lamb Curry King of the North, stay with us, together with his lovely wife Marilyn.

    As Jane-Anne Hobbs, writing the Scrumptious South Africa blog, rightly described food bloggers as “desperate for attention” at the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, I stepped up to the plate stove - desperate for attention and praise for being able to create a lamb curry for the most renowned curry maker I know.

    I decided to go for Rogan Josh, a mild curry with fragrant with spices and mellowed by the yoghurt.

    I am proud to proclaim this was a resounding success, and to quote the Curry King: "I couldn't do better myself"!
    Lamb Rogan Josh

    Lamb Rogan Josh

    1kg Lamb Knuckle (traditionally you should use lamb neck)
    250ml Plain Yoghurt
    3 Cloves of crushed Garlic
    2" piece of Crushed Ginger
    2 Tablespoons Black Vinegar (not balsamic)
    2 Medium Onions Finely Chopped
    300 -500ml Lamb or Chicken Stock

    Spice Blend
    2 teaspoons Cumin
    3 teaspoon Coriander
    1 teaspoon Fennel
    3 teaspoons Paprika
    1 teaspoon Cinnamon
    4 teaspoons Dried Chilli
    5 Green Cardamom Pods (crushed)
    3 Cloves Crushed
    4 Large Potatoes peeled and cut in half

    In a dry pan, roast the spices until fragrant, then crush in a mortar and pestle. 
    Marinade the meat, the crushed spices, the yoghurt and the vinegar overnight.
    Pre-heat oven to 140ºC
    In a oven and stove proof casserole.
    Brown the onions and the meat (with the marinade) until lightly browned.
    Add the stock.
    Cook on low heat for 2-3 hours at least, until meat is tender.
    Add the potatoes, check there is enough liquid and cook for a further hour until potatoes are cooked.
    Serve with steamed white rice, sambals and cucumbers in plain yoghurt.

    Wednesday, 1 September 2010

    Pasta Challenge : Lavender and Lime

    This week's meatless meal is part of Lavender and Limes weekly challenge.

    The challenge for this week is to make a pasta dish using 5 ingredients. These 5 ingredients do not include the pasta, olive oil or seasoning but you have to use 5.

    This is a perfect vegetarian meal or a simple light meal for days when you've overindulged on meat for too long.

    Roasted Vegetable Pasta with Verjuice
    Per person
    250g Vegetables ( I used butternut, onion, red pepper and courgettes)
    10ml of Verjuice per serving
    A big handful of fresh Parsley, roughly chopped.
    Olive Oil
    150g Penne Pasta per serving

    Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.
    Roast the vegetables with verjuice and olive oil until soft.
    Cook the pasta as per packet instructions.
    Combine the pasta and the roasted vegetables, and include the oil and juices in the roasting pan too.
    Stir in the parsley and serve with a good grinding of black pepper.

    Monday, 30 August 2010

    Sinns Restaurant - Review

    If you want a Sunday brunch with the trendy people in Cape Town, the place to be is Wembley Square. As a completely un-trendy person this is was an experienced in itself. We had guests with us this weekend, so we decided to show them all the beautiful people and places of Cape Town -  you don't have to go far in Cape Town to find beautiful places but the beautiful people are all at Wembley Square and it's easy to see why.

    We settled on Sinns Restaurant. Wembley Square, Gardens Cape Town, Tel +27 21 4650967.

     I have been a fan of Sinnfull Ice-cream from Camps Bay since they started in 2002. I was secretly hoping I could have my choice of  ice-cream for brunch, but I settled on the "Full Monty", with rye bread toast. What a delight - perfectly done bacon, eggs, German sausage with mustard sauce, fried tomato topped with pesto, fried mushrooms and a small rosti! I did say it was the "Full Monty" (R65) and while it is a huge plate of food I had no problems finishing it ALL!

    Our waitress, Heather, was a incredible. She was attentive, without being crowding. She took down all our orders, (with all the special requests and dietary requirements) and delivered everything perfectly, as requested. The flat white coffee (R13) was definitely one of the best I've had anywhere.

    One of our party had the 3 egg omelette(R54), with ham and mozzarella. It was light and fluffy and looked beautifully presented, and according to Marilyn was very good eating too.

    I would highly recommend a trip to Sinns Restaurant for great service, very good food, wonderful atmosphere, comfortable chairs (we sat on soft leather couches) and value for money.

    If you have time afterwards, walk across the passage to Knead Bakery and get yourself some bread - I bought a French loaf and it was one of the best I have had anywhere.  Knead Bakery, a dynamic bread house,  the first of its kind and taking Capetonian pallets by storm. With their delectable section of artisan breads and pastries Knead is pioneering on the bread front. Every thing's handmade and baked on the oven floor in traditional artisan style.

    Smiling faces after our brunch.

    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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