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.

Friday, 27 August 2010

All in One Chicken

Having enough time to cook, blog, entertain guests, watch TV, exercise, sleep and read is a full time job for me. Then if you throw in a challenge like Ready Steady Cook I'm about ready to jump off the bus.

Thank goodness for one pot oven baked meals, they are a wonder to me. I can read, watch TV, entertain and sleep all the while my meal is gently cooking away in the oven. What makes this meal even better is that you can have your meat and vegetables all done together - so the washing up is a breeze.

I came up with this simple meal yesterday after having our water cut from 9.30am - 7.30pm. I had only the  water in the water-cooler as my only supply. So this is a perfect low water meal too - saving time and water!

Chicken with Leeks and Green Olives.
Served with Pasta Rice with Courgettes and Kidney Beans
Serves 4

8 Pieces of Chicken ( I used legs and thighs)
6 Large Leeks cut into 2" chunks
1 packet Pitted Green Olives (about 100g)
45ml Chicken Stock Concentrate (I use Nomu Chicken Fond)
500ml Water
45ml Nomu Stir (or Tomato paste, dried garlic and dried chilli)

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC
In an pot that can go from stove to oven brown the chicken until golden.
Add the rest of the ingredients and stir.
Once the liquid is boiling place in the oven for 2 hours.

Pasta Rice with Courgettes and Kidney Beans

250ml Pasta Rice ( risoni / orzo)
8 Courgettes cut into 1" pieces
1 Can Kidney Beans, drained and washed
2 Cloves of Garlic crushed

Cook the pasta rice ( risoni /orzo) as per instructions on the packet.
Drain, leaving a little of the water behind in the pot.
Return to the heat and add the courgettes, garlic and the beans.
Stir through and cook on a very low heat until the courgettes are tender and beans are warmed through.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Ready Steady Cook : Dessert

When asked to give a hint on my dessert I said it was cold, sweet and red but I left out the best part, it's also refreshing, fruity and easy to make.

If you followed my introduction to the Ready Steady Cook Challenge, you would have noticed that strawberries were on my list of 7 ingredients. Such a simple ingredient, which needs nothing other than a wash to be fully enjoyed. But this being a challange I thought of something which would keep the taste of the strawberries while still looking like I did try put some effort into making something speical.

I have never made a sorbet before. I have an ice-cream maker so there really is no excuse, except that my men seem to like creamy chocolate and mint ice-cream much better than fruit (in any form).

So here goes my Simple Strawberry Sorbet

Strawberry Sorbet

800g Strawberries (washed and hulled)
160ml Sugar ( I used more sugar as the strawberries are not really in season, so they lack natural sweetness)
80ml Water
Juice of on Large Lemon

Make a sugar syrup with the water and the sugar, by slowly heating until sugar is dissolved and then boiling for 1 minute.
Allow the sugar syrup to cool.
Purée the strawberries with the lemon juice until smooth.
Once the syrup is cool, add to the strawberries and chill overnight in the fridge.
At this stage I use my ice-cream machine to to the churning, but you can do it by hand.
To freeze sorbets without an ice cream maker: Pour the cooled sorbet mixture into a stainless steel bowl, and place in the freezer. Let freeze until you have a 2-inch border of ice around the edge of the bowl --- typically this takes 1 1/2 hours or so --- then remove and scrape the frozen parts into the liquid middle, beating well with a whisk (or even an electric beater, if you want a very smooth texture). Repeat, freezing this time around for about 30 to 50 minutes. Repeat 1 or 2 times more, or until it is of a consistency where you can scoop it loosely into a ball or oval.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Ready Steady Cook : Main Course

I love blog challenges and competitions. They are great for making this normally lazy cook take a big steps out of her comfort zone.

Another reason I have a keen interest in Ready Steady Cook, is my love for Ainsley Harriott 
I was lucky enough to be on a show aired in South Africa called "Off the Menu", hosted by Ainsley Harriott.
So to get the challenge each blogger will then use 7 ingredients provided by another participant plus the allowed "pantry" ingredients and free items (salt, pepper, olive oil, sunflower oil) to create a 3 course meal. This sounds easy enough, but I have spent 2 weeks re-creating menus in my head before being satisfied.

My list of ingredients came from Claudine and I must say I have really had a challenge even Ainsley would have had trouble with. 

  1.  Leeks
  2. Plain Couscous
  3. Strawberries
  4. A Chilli
  5. Pork Chops
  6. Dates
  7. Cauliflower
I choose to start with my main course. So without any more name dropping or complaining here goes the first step in the challenge :

Couscous Encrusted Baked Pork Chop with Leek and Garlic Couscous and Cauliflower Purée.

Couscous Encrusted Baked Pork Chop
2 Pork Chops
½ Cup of flour
1 Egg Beaten
½ Cup of uncooked Couscous

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC
Coat the chops in flour, shake off excess.
Dip in the beaten egg then coat in the couscous.
 Place in a baking pan, drizzel with a little oil.
 Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden and cooked through.
Leek and Garlic Couscous

2 Thinly Sliced Leeks 
2 Cloves of Garlic thinly sliced
1 Cup Couscous
1 Cup Boiling water
Oil for frying leeks

Prepare the couscous as per the box instructions.
Fry the leeks in a little oil until soft and starting to brown.
Add the garlic and good on low heat until cooked and soft.
Stir the cooked leaks and garlic into the prepared couscous.

Cauliflower Purée

1 Head Cauliflower
1 Cup Milk
30ml Salted Butter

Cook  the cauliflower in the milk and butter until soft.
Purée until smooth, add seasoning.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

A Fishy Winner

Following on from last week's Sweet and Sour Fish with Egg Fried Rice I decided to use the other half of the hake fillet.

Before I start with the recipe, which is more of a re-make than an original, I thought I would give some thought to good choices for fish. My mission with last week's fish recipe was to promote the City of Cape's campaign to encourage Capetonians to pick one day of the week where they eliminate red meat from their diet and eat more fruit, vegetables and grains instead.

Today I want to address some fish choices which are better than others with regard to their sustainability.

The Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) was initiated in November 2004 in order to inform and educate all participants in the seafood trade, from wholesalers to restaurateurs through to seafood lovers. SASSI has three primary objectives:
  1. Promote voluntary compliance of the law through education and awareness
  2. Shift consumer demand away from over-exploited species to more sustainable options
  3. Create awareness around marine conservation issues
Having said and supported all this, I do on occassion choose fish from the orange list, but it is definitely more of an exception than a rule. I have even blogged on fish on the orange list, only because I feel I should be honest. There those who don't share those tasty morsels with their readers for fear of reprisal. 

Hake is on the green list, so it's a good choice for the environment and the sustainability of our sea stocks and is also relatively cheap when bought in season.

For more information on choosing the "right" fish click here.  You can also SMS  the name of the fish as a text message to the number 079-499-8795 you will get a prompt response telling you where the species is on the list, as well as some additional information such as minimum size and bag limit in the case of line-fish. The SMS is charged at standard cellular rates.

Lime Battered Fish with Aubergine and Red Bean Salad

Hake fillets (skin on cut into 4.5cm pieces)
1 Cup of Plain Flour
Finely grated Zest of 1-2 Limes
2 Eggs Beaten
Salt and White Pepper
Oil for Deep Frying

Warm the oil to 190ºC.

Add the zest of the limes, the salt and a little pepper to the flour.
Dry the fish thoroughly.
Coat the Fish in the flour, then in the egg and again in the flour.
Deep fry until golden brown and cooked through.

Warm Aubergine and Red Bean Salad

1 Large Aubergine cut into 1" disks and then cubed evenly.
4 Whole Dried Red chilis
Olive Oil
1 Tin Kidney Beans, drained and washed.
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and Black Pepper
Pomegranate Concentrate (I use Verlaque Persian Pomegranate Concentrate)

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC
Place the aubergine and chilli in a roasting tin and coat with olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper and bake for about 30-35 minutes until browned and cooked.
Add the kidney beans and bake for another 10 minutes, until the are heated through.
Squeeze over the lime juice and toss through.
You might want to add a little extra olive oil (if you not watching your fat intake)
Serve and drizzle with the Pomegranate Concentrate.  

Monday, 16 August 2010


                                                        by Sonja Heroldt   (**Translation at the end)

This song takes me back many years. Years ago when we still had Springbok Radio, Sonja Heroldt topped the music charts, 5FM was still called Radio 5 and when you mailed someone, it came on paper via the post office. Ram was a male sheep, tweeting was something birds did, phones didn't need charging and photographs were taken to "CNA" to be developed (and this was only once the film was finished, however long that took).

You might have noticed that with the passing of another birthday, I have had some time to think back to "the way thing were". I certainly am not a "in the good old days" person, I like that I can have instant access to things which could have taken months or years in the "old days". 

The problem with our fast life and instant gratification addictions is we are loosing some golden treasures, which just can't be done fast. Things like the home made jerseys my Granny used to send me each year, patchwork quilts or slow cooked food.

This brings me back to waterblommetjies (little water flowers, Cape pond weed or Cape Hawthorn to mention a few of it's posher names).Waterblommetjies flower in profusion during winter and spring. Large areas of water in the western, southern and eastern Cape are covered with their sweetly scented, white flowers. It is adapted to growing in ponds which dry up in summer. The dormant tubers sprout again as soon as the pools fill in autumn.

This used to be well known local delicacy for the cold winter months. Traditionally made with lamb or mutton, onions and sorrel. A delicious stew (bredie) which needs slow cooking and cold winter days. The actual  waterblommetjies don't take very long to cook but the meat needs to be tender for the full flavour of the meat to be enjoyed. Put it simply, you don't stir-fry waterblommetjies! I have seen they are available canned and should you use them as a substitute they need even less cooking.

Before you start, you need to soak fresh waterblommetjies in salted water, to make sure they are clean and critter clear. You certainly don't want to be eating sand and snails with your lamb!

I have used smoked lamb, which has a very strong flavour so I have not added much to the stew for flavour. If you use regular lamb rib, then you should take a look at adding extra flavours like sorrel, chilli and or some lemon.

Smoked Lamb and Waterblommetjies 

1Kg Smoked Lamb Rib (cut in 3 rib pieces)
3 Onions cut into wedges
2 Large Carrots cut into dice
6 Garlic Cloves (peeled and left whole)
1 Small tin (about 50g)  Tomato Paste
2 Teaspoons Dried chilli
5/6 Fresh Shitake Mushrooms (roughly cut)
700ml Lamb or Beef Stock
500g Waterblommetjies (see above for preparation) 
10ml Sugar
Oil for frying

Preheat your oven to 160ºC
In an pot which can be used on the stove and the oven fry the meat, onions, carrots and garlic until starting to brown
Add the rest of the ingredients - EXCEPT the Waterblommetjiesand stir.
Once the liquid starts to simmer transfer to the oven and cook for about 1½ -2 hours.
Once the meat is tender, add the waterblommetjies.
Stir and return to the oven for another 30-40 mintues.
Serve hot with rice.

Little Water Flowers from the Boland
Little Water Flowers from the Cape
Make the Stew just like in the Wine lands
And say You Love me Lots
Before you go to Sleep.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Birthday Cake and Canola

Spring is around the corner, the days are getting slightly longer and warmer and the early buds are starting to show on the bravest of trees.

We took a trip through Swellendam on our way to visit my parents in Stilbaai and passed through the canola fields, which are in full bloom. Canola is an oilseed crop that is mainly grown in the Western Cape, and more specifically in the Overberg around Swellendam. 

Here are two pictures of the fields, taken just as the sun was rising.

As it was my birthday this week, I made myself a huge celebratory death by chocolate cake. It certainly is not for people who do not love chocolate.

Death by Chocolate Cake
 Death by Chocolate Cake
Step 1
Make a chocolate sponge cake. 
I used this recipe : click here
But you can use your favourite recipe or even a box cake will work well.
I used my VERY large cake tin (28cm diameter) so I only made one layer.

Step 2
Chocolate Mouse
  • 1 Tablespoon unflavoured gelatin
  • 2 tablespoon cold water
  • 2 Tablespoons boiling water
  •  ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup Cocoa
  • 2 cup cold whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon chocolate extract
Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl; let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool slightly.

2. Stir together sugar and cocoa in medium bowl; add whipping cream and chocolate extract. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally, until mixture is stiff. Pour in gelatin mixture; beat until well blended.

Spread the mousse over the cooled sponge and leave to set.

I used a home made plastic cuff (made from strips of cut transparency sheets stuck together), to ensure a smoother edge.

Step 3
Chocolate Ganache

300g Melted 70% Chocolate
1 Cup of Cream

¼ Cup of Castor Sugar
10ml Orange Blossom Water
¼ Cup Roasted Walnuts chopped

Melt the chocolate and then add the cream, nuts and the sugar and stir to until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the Orange Blossom water and leave to cool until starting to thicken.

Pour over the set mousse and leave until the entire cake is set.
Remove the cuff carefully and add a final layer of flaked milk chocolate.

Eat in moderation!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

American TV and Food

I like to watch TV, mostly crime and hospital programs. I cried at the end of ER (actually I cried every time one of my favourite cast members died - which happened often) and I held my breath for 6 months waiting to see what happened to the CSI :New York team after the bar shooting.

One thing I have noticed is the difference between American TV and British TV. American cops are normally sexy and dressed to kill, whereas the British are more real life, usually bordering on down right plain. The most puzzling difference to me,  is that on American shows they never eat their food.Why do they have scenes where people will sit down to eat and never touch a morsel? That and the fact that all TV numbers start with "555" (while I can understand that, it still makes me laugh).

So, in my TV travelling in America, I have found one dish that comes up quite regularly -Chilli! I don't know how true this is, but it would seem that there is a lot of chilli being eaten (although not on TV) in America.

I decided to make my version of TV chilli, which I am glad to say we ate and thoroughly enjoyed.

TV Chilli with Rice and Homemade Wraps

500g Minced Beef
4 Red Chillies - chopped fine
4 cloves Garlic - chopped fine
1 Onion Sliced
40ml Nomu Stir - Tomato and Chilli  (replace with a sachet tomato paste if unavailable)
1 teaspoon Crushed dried Chilli
30ml Chilli Jam (made here) - you can use 10ml sugar instead
10ml Paprika
Oil for Frying
1 Tin Red Kidney Beans (washed and drained)

Fry the onions and the beef until browned.
Add the rest of the ingredients and a little water.
Simmer for 2-3 hours, adding water when it gets dry.
In the last ½ hour of cooking add the beans and leave to simmer until you are ready to serve.
Serve with slices of avocado and wraps.

The wraps were so easy to make. I know that most people find buying them easier, but I just find them so over priced. When you see how easy they are to make, I hope you'll give these gems a bash.

Homemade Wraps

1 Cup All Purpose Flour (Cake Flour in SA)
1 Cup Wholewheat Flour
30ml Cornstarch
15ml Olive Oil
10ml Salt
185ml Warm Water

Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Add the water and the oil and knead together into a smooth dough.
You might need to add a little more liquid, depending on the flour, but don't add to much.
You do not want a sticky dough.
Wrap in cling wrap and leave to rest for about an hour
Cut the dough in 5-6 (depending on the size you want).
Roll out on a lightly floured surface.
Fry in a dry non-stick pan for about 1 minute on each side, until bubbling and cooked through.
Place in a tea towel to stay warm until finished frying and ready to serve.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Meat-free Day in Cape Town

Cape Town is the first African city, and one of seven progressive cities in the world, to officially endorse a Meat-free Day a week for the sake of animal welfare, human health and climate change.

The City’s Health Committee unanimously backed a call by the Compassion in World Farming organisation for Capetonians to pick one day of the week where they eliminate red meat from their diet and eat more fruit, vegetables and grains instead. (source City of Cape Town)

 When I heard this initiative announced on the radio, I believed that this was one of the most progressive health ideas our leaders have come up with. After the debarcle when  'Manto' Tshabalala-Msimang announced beetroot and garlic were more effective treatment of AIDS than antiretroviral medicines, heath advice from government have been met with much scepticism.

I have featured Meatless Monday before and I strongly endorse it, even though I can't always make it on a Monday, we still have at least one meatless meal per week. This not only make sense for our health, the environment but also on my purse!

 I have not been at a loss for ideas, which I often find when it comes to meaty meals. I really try to be more imaginative on the meatless days and I enjoy the challenge.

This weeks meal is so simple to make but will impress the fussiest carnivore.

Sweet and Sour Fish with Egg Fried Rice

Hake fillets (skin on and sliced into 1½" pieces)
1 Cup All purpose Flour (seasoned with Salt and White Pepper)
2 Eggs Beated
Oil for Deep Frying

Pre-heat the oil to about 185ºC (Medium Hot)
Dry the fish.
Dip the fish into the flour and then into the egg and then again into the flour.
Deep fry for 3-5 minutes until golden and cooked through.
Drain on kitchen paper.
Serve with Egg Fried Rice and sweet and sour sauce.

Egg Fried Rice

2 Cups Cooked Rice
2 Eggs Beaten (add the Soya Sauce below)
5ml Dark Soya Sauce
Onion cut into wedges and separated
½ cup of Cooked peas (optional)

Pre-heat your wok to smoking
Place 15 ml Oil in the wok.
Add the egg and allow to cook, omelette style.
Once the egg is crispy and cooked through on both sides remove from the wok - cut into small pieces.
Fry the onion pieces until they have some colour, but are still slightly crunchy.
Add the rice, the cut up egg, the peas and stir fry until the rice is hot.

Serve the fish with this sweet and sour sauce and egg fried rice.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

1 Cup Rice or Apple Cider Vinegar
1½ Cups of Sugar
2" Piece of Ginger, peeled and cut into fine dice
1 Green chilli left whole
½ teaspoon of Sea Salt
50g Tomato Paste
1 Star Anise (optional)
½ Red Pepper (seeded) sliced into thin strips

Boil the above at a simmer for about 1 hour, until reduced and thickened.
Strain and serve hot.

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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