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.

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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