Thursday, 29 August 2013

Butter Chicken, the Sound of Music

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Brown paper packages tied up with strings ,These are a few of my favorite things....When the dog bites, when the bee stings, When I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, And then I don't feel so bad.

So I have been feeling down the past few days, have been eating worms - my own big plate of them. The weather hasn't helped much either - cold and wet and getting colder and wetter each day.

Then I started to hear the reports of how other's have been suffering, not only in Cape Town, all around the world. You only have to spend a few minutes on any news site and you'll know just how hard other peoples lives are.

 I also remembered back to many moons ago, when I was an extra in our school play, The Sound of Music. It was a soundtrack I knew very well, as it was one of the vinyls my parents had, which my Mom loved to play for us, especially on rainy days.

I started to think of some of my favourite things, and now I don't feel so bad.

This Butter Chicken recipe is certainly not the most authentic one you'll find, but I love it and it's tried and tested and I have never had anything other than compliments on it. It's a happy day meal for me, as it is a real indulgence with butter and cream - but who's complaining? Not me!

Butter Chicken

5 Skinned and Boned Chicken Breasts
100 g Butter
Oil for frying onion
1 Large Onion, sliced and chopped
¾ Cup of Tomato Puree
¾ Cup of Cream
¾ Cup of Plain Yoghurt
2 ml of Cayenne Pepper or Paprika (your choice)
Salt and Pepper
1 Handful of Roughly Chopped Fresh Coriander leaves
1 Squeeze of Fresh Lemon juice
Fresh tomato to garnish (optional)

Chop the chicken into 3cm cubes.
Heat a pot on the stove, and add the butter.
Fry the chicken in the butter until just turning golden.
Remove the butter and the chicken
Add enough oil to fry the onion until soft and starting to colour
Add the tomato puree, yogurt, cream, cayenne and season to taste.
Add back all the fired chicken and butter.
Stir and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
The sauce will thicken and reduce down by about half.
If you want to speed up the thickening sauce, remove the lid and increase the heat.
Occasionally stir until ready.
Just before you serve, add the coriander and squeeze of lemon juice.
Cook for 1 minute more and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Serve with lots of basmati rice and fresh tomatoes.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Vincent's Torment My Loss

Being artistic is for me as difficult as life was for Vincent van Gogh.

He epitomised the tortured genius, which is the inspiration for my challenge this week. Unlike Vincent, I do hope to be recognised in my own lifetime, because my passion for food could just as well be as relentless as Vincent’s passion for art.

Hopefully my unbalanced mind is a well-kept secret, unlike Vincent, who was in and out of sanatoriums his entire life, living an impoverished life.

The artistic food challenge, gave me the freedom to use the rich colouring of chorizo and peppers to depict the tumultuous and fiery mind that was Vincent, whilst the chicken and braised fennel a portrayal of the colourless, clinical existence he was often forced to live. I used the broken poached egg to represent a broken mind, or our interpretation of it, which never hid his incredible talent.

Sunflowers are probably Vincent’s most recognisable work, and so as a tribute to him I have as my centre piece my interpretation of these sunflowers, with the very starkness of the leaves being evocative of the deliberate brush marks he was so famous for.

As I have been chopped from the Freshly Blogged competition, there is no need to click to vote anymore. Thanks to everyone who did vote for me, I think I did really well. I stayed true to my calling at Homemade Heaven by making Toddlers Treats, unfortunately this was too simple for what the judges were looking for. I do hope you'll still enjoy giving it a try, even for a group of teens!

Poached chicken
1 whole Chicken
1 Cup Old Brown Sherry
4 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Knorr Chicken Stock Pot
6 cloves of Crushed Garlic Cloves
½ Lemon cut into 8
Salt and Black Pepper

Place all the ingredients in a large pot.
Cover with enough water to submerge chicken.
Boil on high for 25 minutes.
Turn off the heat and leave for 60 minutes.
Re-heat slowly for 15 minutes in the stock when almost ready to serve.
Carve chicken to serve and garnish with fennel fronds.

Braised Fennel
1 large Fennel Bulb or 6 baby bulbs
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sugar

Slice the top stalks off, keeping the fronds and the hard part of the root
Braise the fennel in the oil for 5 minutes until starting to soften.
Add the sugar, salt and a dash of water and turn up the heat on the pan.
Fry, tossing often until fennel is cooked, and just about to start to get come golden colour.

Chorizo Sauce
2 Chorizo sausages thinly sliced
2 Garlic cloves chopped
4 Potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes 1cm³
1 Red Pepper, roasted , skinned and chopped
In a non-stick frying pan, fry the chorizo, garlic and potatoes for 5 mins on high.
Add the red peppers.
Reduce the heat and add a little water and let it braise for another 5 mins, until cooked with a little sauce.

Poached Eggs

6 eggs
1 litre of water
1 Tablespoon of vinegar

Bring the water and the vinegar to a gentle boil.
Break egg into a ramekin.
With a whisk create a vortex in the sauce pan and then gently place the egg into the centre of the vortex.
With a slotted spoon, coax the egg white to fold around the yolk to create the poached shape.
Remove loose bits of egg white.
Allow egg to poach until the white is just cooked and yellow is still very runny.
Remove and place on kitchen paper, before plating on cooked chorizo sauce

The Onion Flower
1 Onion
¼ Cup of Flour
2 Garlic Cloves
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
Oil for deep frying

In a mortar and pestle crush together the salt, pepper and garlic into a paste.
Add the paste to the flour.
Take the onion and peel, leaving the stalk intact.
Start making cuts through the onion, stopping 1cm from the stalk.
Cut until you have about 16 equal cuts right around the onion.
Place the onion submerged in ice cold water for 1 hour
Start to heat the oil, you must have enough oil to cover the onion.
Take your onion from the water and dry as well as you can, without breaking the petals.
Gently spread the petals away from the centre.
Dredge in flour, making sure to coat as evenly as possible.
Once oil reaches about 180ÂșC, place the onion petal side down into oil.
Fry for 3-4 minutes and then turn the onion over and continue to fry until golden brown.
Remove and place on kitchen paper.
Sprinkle with salt and a little extra black pepper.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Toddler treats

Toddler: a person who toddles, especially a young child learning to walk.

If you have (or have had) one, you’ll know that the definition hardly incorporates the complexities of said 'little person'.

The fundamental job of a toddler is to rule the universe.

One of the difficulties faced by Moms and Dads of toddlers is when it comes to eating. Toddlers are strongly independent, have uncompromising wills and thrive on being fussy about anything that doesn't fit into their agenda.

Ideas about nutrition are as complicated as clothing choices and sleeping patterns. So guiding them through the passage of life never gets easier. (A warning to parents with young children: All the small irritations turn into nuclear warfare once they reach the teenage years!)

Staying true to my blog, Homemade Heaven, I decided to go back a few years back in time to make something easy that is filled with hidden vegetables, yet is both informal and tasty enough to feed your two-year-old (and a few friends), just as I did with my grandson.

We have a winner here, not on the restaurant table, but right at home where you make the magic happen (or is that M-NET?).

This is my weekly submission to Freshly Blogged competition,
if you would like to vote for this recipe -
Click HERE


For the pizza base:
2 cups cooked Spekko Parboiled Long Grain Rice, cooled
3 leeks, washed and finely chopped
3 eggs
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

For the pizza topping:
1.5 cups butternut, cut into 5mm cubed dice
1/2 tsp of thyme
1 tsp butter
1 can chopped peeled tomatoes, drained
Pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper
1/2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 can PnP solid tuna in brine
1.5 cups mozzarella cheese

Chef's note:
Cook the rice first and allow to cool in a bowl.
Preheat your oven, with a greased baking tray, to 240 degrees Celsius.

For the pizza base:
Braise leeks in butter over medium heat in butter until soft.
Add all ingredients into one bowl and mix well.
Using a mould, place mixture on hot baking sheet, about 1.5 cm thick. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until cooked and golden. Remove from oven, but leave oven on.

For the pizza topping:
Cook butternut with thyme and butter until 'al dente'.
In another saucepan, simmer tomatoes with extra thyme, salt, vinegar and sugar until you have a smooth and thick sweet sauce. (You can use a masher to speed this process on.) Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Remove the bases from the oven.
Start building your pizzas, on the same baking tray:
First a layer of tomato sauce; second a layer of butternut.
Sprinkle on some tuna.
Top with grated cheese.
Return to the oven for another 10 to 12 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.
Allow to cool before serving to toddlers - this is not a precaution needed with teenagers!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Creamy Spicy Chicken Livers with Homemade Pasta

Laughter: The best medicine and the shortest distance between two people.

This week’s challenge had me running around to find ingredients (no laughing here), failing to get recipes to work (still no laughter), but it did draw me into a community of other bloggers, all facing the same challenge.

All of a sudden, with tears of laughter running down my cheeks, I realised why I am in this competition – to have fun and get to know people who have the same passions and frustrations I do, so we can laugh about them.

When you’re told to use cayenne pepper and cinnamon in the same dish and, 'Just for fun, let’s crank it up and see what you can do with white chocolate using those two spices, too,' I saw some ask if the judges were on crack!!!

You see, this is all about fun. We love the fame of votes, but most of us count each one separately, not in batches of ten. So just know how special you voters are and how much work (and laughter) happens on the other side of the photo!

This is my weekly submission to Freshly Blogged competition,
if you would like to vote for this recipe -
For the creamy chicken livers:
15ml oil for frying
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp Robertsons cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp Robertsons cinnamon
Salt to taste
250g fresh chicken livers, cut into bite-sized pieces
50ml brandy
50ml water
60ml cream
Handful of fresh chopped Italian leaf parsley

For the homemade pasta:
200g cake flour
2 extra-large egg
Lots of flour for dusting

For the ganache truffle filling:
80g white chocolate
1/3 cup of cream
1 tsp cinnamon

For the chocolate truffles:
70g dark chocolate plus 30g for dipping after
1/3 cup of cream
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

For the creamy chicken livers:
Fry onions, garlic and spices in oil until just soft. Add chicken livers and fry for 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with brandy; stir in the water and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add cream and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until reduced slightly. Stir in parsley and turn off the heat.

For the homemade pasta:
Chef's note:
I use my food processor to start the mixing, but it can be done by hand, too.
Place flour in the processor and start the machine running. Add egg and allow it to run until mixture forms a ball.
Dust your work surface well and take the dough and knead for about 5 minutes. (You must end up with a smooth elastic dough that is not sticky. You might need to knead in extra flour to get the right texture.)
Leave the dough to rest for 30 minutes, while you set up your pasta machine.
Cut the dough in 100g balls and start to work through the pasta machine settings. Starting with the biggest first, work all the way down to the thinnest roller. Using the cutter on the pasta machine, cut to the required thickness - I like tagliatelle.

To cook your pasta:
Take a large saucepan and fill 1/2 way up with water. Add a generous amount of salt.
Once the water is boiling, add pasta and cook for about 4-5 minutes until al-dente.

For the chocolate truffles:
White chocolate ganache filling:
Melt ingredients together over a double boiler and chill overnight.
Dark chocolate truffles:
Melt ingredients together in a double boiler and chill overnight.
Assemble truffles:
Melt the remainder of the 100g bar of dark chocolate over a double boiler. Form balls with a teaspoon from the dark chocolate, make a dent in the middle and spoon in some white chocolate filling and close truffle up. Dip 2 of the truffles in the melted chocolate to coat and roll the other 2 in icing sugar. Garnish with cayenne pepper.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Spring rolls with a Twist

I’m dreaming about a secluded Thai beach. Channing Tatum and Mark Wahlberg are playing volleyball (shirts off). My phone breaks my reverie. I glance down and see there's an email from Freshly Blogged with the list of ingredients for this week’s challenge.

 They would love to hear the inspiration behind my dish: I smile as I give the nod to my daydream. I have a crazy list of ingredients and I must somehow concoct something spectacularly unique, yet simple.

 What would the guys in my life (Channing, Mark, my husband, sons and grandson) like? It’s Saturday and they'll want to eat while watching sport.

The twist is that it must be disguised sufficiently, so that the men are unaware that they're eating a healthy vegetarian dish! This is where day dreams meet real life.
This is my weekly submission to Freshly Blogged competition,
if you would like to vote for this recipe -
Click HERE



2 litres of milk
240ml rice vinegar
2.5ml PnP cook additions Garlic, Ginger, Dhania paste

Pineapple chutney:

1 pineapple, peeled and cored
1 flavour sachet from PnP Thai Sweet Chilli 2-min noodles
120ml rice wine vinegar
1 tsp PnP cook additions Garlic, Ginger, Dhania paste
6 Tbsp sugar
120ml water
Zest of 1 orange and juice of half an orange
Salt and black pepper

Spring rolls:

1kg Findus Wok Thai vegetables
Juice of half the orange
1 tsp PnP cook additions Garlic, Ginger, Dhania paste
2 packs PnP 2-minute noodles
500g PnP phyllo pastry
Oil for brushing

For the cheese:

Heat milk until just before boiling. Remove from the heat.
Add the vinegar and stir lightly.
Return to the heat and allow the milk to return to scalding temperature.
Remove from the heat and pour through a sieve lined with cheesecloth.
Stir in PnP cook additions Garlic, Ginger and Dhania paste.
Add a generous pinch of salt to the curds. Gently squeeze curds to remove whey.
While warm, form the curds into a block that's 5mm thick, 150mm long and 100mm wide.
Place the cheese block on a plate, cover with kitchen paper and place another plate on top, and refrigerate. Keep cold for 3-4 hours.

For the pineapple chutney:

Simmer all the ingredients together until the pineapple is soft. Mash with a masher and continue to cook until thick and sticky. Allow to cool.

For the spring rolls:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Unroll the PnP phyllo pastry. Work with the length facing you, taking one sheet at a time.
Brush the pastry with oil. Cut the sheet across the width and lay the sheet on the other, to form a square.
Place a piece of cheese (about 15mm long and 10mm wide) about 20mm from the edge of the square.
Place a mixture of cooked Findus Wok Thai vegetables (cooked as per packet instructions) on the cheese.
Place about 12.5ml cooked noodles on the vegetables.
Start to roll your spring roll, tightly rolling and tucking in the ingredients. Fold in the sides of the pastry after the second rolling. Brush with a little more oil and roll tightly.
Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on both sides.
Serve spring rolls hot on a bed of warmed-up stir-fry veggies and noodles, and enjoy with chutney.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Chocolate, pear and Amarula feast

Fear: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, whether the threat is real or not. JRK said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”. He obviously had never faced a cooking competition where the competitors seem like Michelin star chefs and me feeling completely out of my depth.
We now face week 5 of the Freshly Blogged competition and judging by the popularity at the top, I find myself torn between going back to my roots of good home cooking (totally in my comfort zone) or producing dishes that star in fancy silverware restaurant menus (which is not who I am).
So this week I combined what a home cook does, poaching and making cake and then stretching my patisserie home chef skills to the limit. The result was very satisfactory, it is something a home cook can make and still be made to look very proficient. It combines simple steps, all built together into a beautiful tower of boozy goodness – it just takes time, patience and a small pinch of fear!
In the end, people will judge you anyway. Don’t live your life impressing others. Live impressing yourself.

This is my weekly submission to Freshly Blogged competition,
if you would like to vote for this recipe -
Chocolate, pear and Amarula Feast
For the almond brittle shards
50g almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup sugar

For the poached pear and caramel
80g butter
1 cup dark brown soft sugar
2 pears, peeled, cored and sliced into 3mm slices
100ml Amarula

For the almond sponge cake
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup self-raising flour
20g blanched almonds, very finely chopped

For the chocolate mousse
50g butter
1/4 cup sugar
50ml Amarula
80g dark chocolate, melted
3 egg yolks
2 egg whites, beaten stiffly

For the custard
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup Amarula
1/2 cup castor sugar
4 egg yolks
30ml cake flour
1/2 cup cream
Almond brittle shards
Spray and Cook a non-stick silicon sheet (or waxed paper).

Roast the almonds until golden brown. Melt the sugar over a slow heat until an amber colour, remove from the heat.
Stir in almonds then pour on the silicon sheet. As the sugar starts to set, cut shaped chards with a sharp knife. Leave to cool.

Poached pear and caramel
Melt the butter with the sugar. Once melted add the Amarula and the sliced pears. Cook on medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until the pears are just soft. Remove the pears from the caramel and cool. Reduce the caramel over medium heat, stirring often until reduced by half. Set caramel aside to cool.

Almond sponge cake
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Beat the egg whites until soft and fluffy and add half the sugar, beat to sift peaks.
In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks and remaining sugar until thick and creamy.
Sift the flour 3 times.
Gently fold the egg yolks into the beaten whites with a metal spoon. Add the flour to the egg mixture. Work the mixture gently until mixed, careful not to overwork. Grease and line a small sheet tin (about 20cm²). Spread the batter evenly into the baking tray, sprinkle with almonds.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Remove from sheet and cool.

Chocolate mousse
Melt the sugar and butter together stirring all the time.
Add 50ml Amarula and stir.
In a double boiler melt the chocolate. Add the melted butter/sugar mixture to the melted sugar. Allow this mixture to cool.
Fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture with a metal spoon. Do not over mix.
Heat the cream and Amarula together.
Cream together sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. Add the hot cream mixture to the eggs, beating all the time.
Return to the heat, continue whisking.
In bowl add cake flour and pour over the hot cream mixture, beating well. Return to the heat and beat well until you have thick cooked custard.
Allow to cool completely, then whisk in the 2nd 1/2 cup of cream.

To assemble
Spray and Cook 4 ring moulds well.
Cut a piece of cake (using the rings) and place at the bottom of the ring. Spoon a layer of the thickened caramel over the cake layer, cover completely. Layer poached pears on the caramel. Pour over the chocolate mousse. Refrigerate overnight.
Unmould the rings, using a hot knife around the edges if it sticks slightly. Dust top of mousse with icing sugar and insert an Almond Brittle shard. Pipe custard around the edge of the mousse tower.

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

Search This Blog

South African Food and Wine Blogger Directory

The South African Food and Wine Blogger Directory