Monday, June 28, 2010

Journey to India part IV - Sogee

I think endings are always better when they are sweet. So the end of our journey is dessert, Sogee:

Originally when I was planning this meal I didn't plan for there to be dessert until TheHusband said "Are you going to make that sweet stuff your boss made the other day". He loved the stuff, eating handful after handful of it  (At my boss's house they eat with their hands, they offered us cutlery, we graciously and excitedly declined) 

So to please my loving husband (there are very few foods he will specifically ask for) and also because he got the idea in my head I made sogee as the end to them meal. When I served it the first comment I got was "Where is the honey and milk" and to be honest it did look a little like porridge but once they tasted it, no more sarcastic comments, no more smart ass comments, no more comments really...they were too busy eating.

What you need:

2 cups Semolina
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1 tbs butter/ghee (more if you want it richer)
1/2l water
1/2l milk (or cream if you really like it rich)
1 dishing spoon sugar (to taste)

What to do:

Roast semolina, cinnemon stick and almonds in a hot pan till golden then add butter, roast a little more then take off the heat
Allow to cool. 
In a seperate bowl mix the water and milk and the sugar then add that to the cooled mixture and return to the heat until warm and thick.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A guest post from Cooksister

As a food blogger in this day and age I have been fortunate to have a lot of great influence and inspiration from other food bloggers around me. Whether its the style of writing, beautiful pictures or great recipe ideas, the wealth of knowledge and passion in the food blogger universe is immense. One of the greatest food blogger inspirations has been Jeanne from Cooksister. With her mouth watering imagery, inventive and delightful recipes to her entertaining writing, she really is a great example of one of the best food bloggers around.

When my food blog grows up it want's to be like Jeanne's. For now though my food blog and I will be happy to host one of Jeanne's posts:

Hello and welcome to (would you believe) my first ever guest post!  I have been following the delightful LadyRaven for probably almost as long as she has been blogging, and she was one of the first people listed on the South African Food and Wine Blog Directory.  When she asked me to guest post for her, how could I resist.  And after all, she is a fellow cheeseslut!

Those of you who grew up in South Africa at about the same time as I did will recall that Mexican cuisine was not beeeeeg in our beautiful country 20 years ago.  In fact, the first restaurant that introduced any form of Mexican dishes to the public at large was Spur Steak ranches, albeit the Tex-Mex version rather than the Real Deal.  We were mesmerised by these exotic sounding creations on the once-familiar menu of burgers and steaks.  As an indication of just how novel these dishes were, the menus came with a pronounciation guide telling us to ask for "kes-a-DEE-a" as opposed to "kwes-a-DILL-a" and "ha-la-PEH-noh" instead of "ja-la-PEE-no".  Definitely a more innocent time! 

Of course, these days Mexican food is easier to find (and I don’t mean the Old El Paso taco kits available at supermarkets!).  When I tasted real Mexican foods for the first time, what struck me was the fact that not everything was blow-the-roof-off-your-mouth hot.  There was a full spectrum of heat, from cooling fresh salsas to smoky, slow burning hot chillies.  But the one thing that is super-important is starting with the right fresh ingredients – that’s what will lift an ordinary tomato salsa to something fresh, zingy and sublime.

The same can be said for this quick but delicious Mexican-inspired potato salad – the secret lies in good ingredients.  Make sure that you get waxy salad potatoes (as opposed to baking potatoes) as there is nothing worse than a potato salad that disintegrates into mayonnaise-potato mush rather than identifiable cubes (Charlotte and Nicola varieties are particularly good).  Use fresh coriander leaves – the dried stuff is simply not the same.  And unless you have found a secret supplier of authentic Mexican salsas in South Africa, consider making your own as there are many recipes on the internet.  The main ingredient in salsa verde is tomatillos (a tart relation to the gooseberry), but you can substitute green tomatoes and a little lemon juice - or you can even try growing your own tomatillos!  If you really can’t find or make salsa verde, mix 1-2 teaspoons of green Tabasco sauce into the mayonnaise before adding it to the potatoes (or more if you like it spicy!).


6 large waxy potatoes
4 Tablespoons finely chopped white onion
about 4 Tablespoons good mayonnaise (I always use Hellmans)
1 cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves and stems
about 2 tablespoons salsa verde (I used some bought from an online Mexican grocer)
salt and pepper
Boil the potatoes until you are able to pierce them with a sharp knife.  Drain and plunge into cold water.  When they are cool enough to handle, peel and cube them into a large bowl and allow to cool.
Stir the chopped onion and coriander leaves into the potatoes.  In a smaller bowl, mix the mayonnaise and salsa verde, then stir into the potatoes.
Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with more coriander leaves.  Delicious served at a braai! 

Journey to India Part III - Mint & Peanut chutney

After a short trip west we are back on our Journey through my Indian plate of food with Mint & Peanut chutney

I know most people in South Africa see a bottle of Mr. Ball's when they hear the word chutney, so when I was first offered this dish I was expecting just that...only with peanuts inside. I was very surprised and happy when something similar to what you see in the picture was placed in front of me.

If you have ever visited an Indian restaurant you have more then likely had a basket of papadums put on your table while you wait for your food. With the papadums, often already on the table there are often some things to eat with them. Preserved lemons, chilli sauce and something green. That green stuff is mint chutney. Most places use buttermilk as their base (which I did) although traditionally, according to my boss, you use tamarind juice. I didnt have the time to find some of that so went with the buttermilk. This is a really simple dish that you can serve on a snack platter or as part of the meal.

What you need:
3 packets mint
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 packet raw peanuts
2 cloves garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste

What to do:
Heat up a dry pan and pop the raw peanuts in, keeping htem moving so they dont burn. Once the peanuts are brown all over throw them and everything else into a food processor and pulse. If needed, add a bit more buttermilk, you can chose the consistency you want.

See I told you it was easy

The Shopping List

Monday, June 21, 2010

Detour - Stop over in Italy

I know we are midway through our India journey but I am going to divert the group to Italy for a quick break.

On friday I, and a few other fantastic ladies, were given a challenge to create a salad with a difference. I knew I had a great red bean salsa to share already, and a tuna salad which could be converted into a tasty variation on coleslaw if you left out the tuna. However I wanted to give my friend something new and special to do.

The inspiration came from JamieWho with his devine looking "Caprese Salad" soup. I knew exactly which salad to make but decided that a regular caperese salad would be, well, regular and decided to make a slight variation on it. Something that brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes.

Warm caprese salad
What you need (amounts are according to the people you are feeding):
Rosa/ Italian plum tomatoes (regular tomatoes will work if you can find these)
Fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
Maldon Salt 

What to do:
Mix the olive oil and balsamic vinegar 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar
Slice the tomatoes into thick slices
Brush a baking tray with the mixture and place the tomatoes on top.
Brush the tomatoes with the mixture
Place under a hot grill for about 5 minutes, checking constantly
Remove the tray, flip the tomatoes and brush the other side. Replace it under the grill.
When done, place on a plate, break the mozzarella over the tomatoes and sprinkle the leaves.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Journey to India Part II - Palak Paneer

Our journey continues with Palak Paneer.

Paneer is an Indian curd cheese. Paneer was accidental invention by Mongols riding their horses carrying milk in Mushki (Bags made of raw-hyde). The heat of desserts and the rennet in the leather turned the milk into Paneer. Making paneer these days takes a little less riding and can be done in your kitchen, not just in the dessert.

I have been threatening to make paneer for years, after I was given a recipe by one of my fellow food bloggers on Food24 blogs. It hasnt happened yet. This paneer I bought from Kebab Mahal in sea point. If you are going to be lazy like me and buy it call around, most places need a day or 2 advance warning. If you cant get your hands on the stuff, buy some haloumi and leave it in fresh water to extract the saltiness 

Spinach really is a very delicious green if done well.  Remember to always wash it well (fill a bowl, in which you will be able to see sand clearly, with water and dump the leave sin. Rinse them in the bowl then put them in a colander and repeat until there is no sand at the bottom of the bowl)

What you need:
250 grams paneer (ask your local indian restaurant if they will see you some) or Haloumi
2 bunches of spinach
3 medium sized onions (finely chopped)
2 medium size tomatoes (finely chopped) OR tomato puree as per convenience
2 green chillies (slit into half)
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
½ ginger paste
½ garlic paste
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp chana masala
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Cream or yogurt for garnish

What to do:
Cook the spinach for about 5 minutes in boiling water and grind it to fine paste after it is cold.
Cut the paneer into small cubes and fry till light golden brown (the original recipe said deep fry but I didnt)
Heat the oil in non-stick pan and add the cumin seeds. Wait till it crackles and ensure that it does not burn. Add the chopped onions and green chillies and sauté till the onions are golden brown. Add the ginger garlic paste and sauté for another minute. Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder and the chana masala powder and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Then add the tomatoes/tomato puree and stir till the oil separates.
Add the spinach paste to this mixture along with 1 cup water.(
Tip: You can use the water used for cooking the spinach)
Add the paneer, garam masala, sugar and salt and cook till you start to see the gravy bubbling. If the gravy seems a bit dry, you can add some more water.
Garnish with some cream or yogurt in the end

The Shopping List

Journey to India part I