Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Buffet style sweet & sour dumplings

When TheHusband and I started dating I was living in a digs in "Little Mowbray". I wasn't really a student at the time but my friends were and well I was tired of living at home. My relationship with my parents was strained from moving out of home and smoking and (not really) working for my dad.

In walking distance from our house we had some great food options. Some for the begining of the month (Greek and Chai Yo), one for mid month and special (read: reasons to get drunk) occasions (Fat Cactus) and one for just before the end of the month (when you know you really shouldn't but you really don't want to eat at home) and that was a "chinese" buffet place. I forget the name, it changed so often as did the clientèle. They are no longer there, I believe their fatal mistake was adding a sushi bar (which was not all you can eat like their buffet)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Anything for love "huevos" rancheros

If you have a partner you have been where I was this morning. Dreaming from the night before about using my texmex left overs for my very first attempt at Huevos Rancheros. Getting up I asked "TheHusband" if he would like a cheese omelette and got a resounding "yes" so bounced (as much as an 8 months pregnant lady can) off into the kitchen to make our respective breakfasts. I open the carton of eggs only to discover 2 lonely eggs staring back at me.

What do I do? Tell make TheHusband porridge and hope he forgets he was offered eggs, or give up on my breakfast fantasies? As you may have guessed from the title of this post I chose to forfeit the eggs. I however do not regret it as my breakfast was delicious (and ultimately way too much for me anyway)

Add to taste Rancheros plated

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Le Creuset & Silwood treat us for a night

Picture yourself on a boat on a river...or alternatively in a car on the M5, with 2 fabulous food bloggers (Butterfingers & FoodandtheFab), heading towards an evening of unknown decadence. You have the menu in front of you. It seems basic but you know there is going to be more. Often words are not enough to give you an idea of what to expect and having a air of mystery behind an event can lend to words what nothing else can, almost tangible excitement for the potential of what lies ahead.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Truffle Salt Risotto

I was never very good at physics, in fact I was shocking (no pun intended). Even if I memorised the rhymes till I turned blue in the face, when it came down to a test or making something work I didn't know my positives from my negatives and failed every time. On the other hand, when it came to chemistry I was "Queen of the Lab", I loved the way things worked and how 1+1 did not always =2. Unfortunately at my school we just had "science" as a subject and so, although my chemistry scores were FANTASTIC, my physics scores were so flat I had to drop "science" as a subject.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Breedekloof Soetes & Soup 2011 weekend

Wine. Soup. Market. Cabaret. Witblitz. If any of those words make you smile then check out what Breedekloof wine estates has coming up to make you smile some more:


Beat away the wintry blues at the annual Breedekloof Soetes & Soup 2011 weekend which takes place on Friday 22 July and Saturday 23 July. Live music, a farmer’s market and Witblits tastings, as well as exhibitions of art, clothing and jewellery are on the menu.
Highlights include a Cabaret show hosted by Seven Oaks and Waboomsrivier Cellar, featuring Phantom of the Opera star Rory Rootenberg, and Bob & Sop at Opstal Estate – an evening of food, wine and music featuring covers of artists named Bob (Dylan, Marley, Geldof and Seger).

This fun-filled event hosted by wineries in the Rawsonville, Slanghoek, Goudini, and Breede River areas, combats the chills by serving cups of steaming hot homemade country soup accompanied by a glass of multiple award-winning soetes (dessert wines) including Hanepoot, Noble Late Harvest, Red Jerepigo and Port.

Visitors buy a Breedekloof Soetes & Soup enamel mug and coupon booklet for R15 per person at their first winery and use these to enjoy complimentary cups of homemade country soup and discounts of between 10% and 25% on red and fortified wines at each of the participating wineries.

Opstal Estate will host Opstal Vars - a farmers/fresh produce market with music, food stalls, jewellery, paintings and entertainment for kids.

Badsberg will offer a 15% discount on reds and selected dessert wines. There will also be homemade country soups and freshly baked bread made the traditional woodfire way by Kleinplasie Museum and a Witblits tasting hosted by Kleinplasie Museum.

Slanghoek Cellar will host red wine barrel tastings with the winemaker and cooper demonstrations - the art of wine barrel making. Daschbosh Cellar has a full programme of kiddies entertainment including Sand Art, decorate your own cupcake and braai your own “stokbrood”.

Bergsig Estate will host live music and offer Soup & Wine Pairings at R40 per person - soups include Green Pepper, Seafood, Spicy Tomato, Hungarian Goulash and Chocolate. The Bistro will serve an A’ la Carte menu.

The region’s diverse range of accommodation venues have a Soetes & Soup weekend special where you pay for two nights and get the third night free.

The Breedekloof is a family destination and the wineries cater for kids. Visit for more information, or email or call (023) 349 1791.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sour Cream Brownies - Rich and delicious

I have always been a lover of "loot", I am never one to turn down a gift for any reason. Sure, I will do the polite "aw you didn't have to" but I will be very glad you did. I am equally excited about giving gifts and often leave gift buying for the last minute to avoid having to wait to see someone's reaction to a gift I bought which I felt was perfect for them. Sometimes I make it the other person's challenge by giving them the gift early and informing them that they cannot open it until the big day arrives. On the same level I tend to wait till after a party to open my gift, a little challenge to myself, something fun to have once all the guests have left and the party is over.

Such it was with the "brownie baking pan" that Nicola, from Wots for Lunch, gave me for my housewarming. She didn't make it easy, telling me she saw it at home and thought it was something I would definitely want. She did say if she got it wrong I could exchange it but I knew it would be so right. In the time that I have known Nicola, every gift she has given me has been thoughtful and just right. 

As some may know I had a #FoodieWarming. My housewarmings are going in stages, my flat is smallish and I wasn't sure what my limit was. As usual I totally over catered for the event (except on the tortilla's side, I didn't make enough) and was left with plenty food at the end of the night. What could be frozen was and what couldn't, was used (salsa makes great omlettes). I wasn't sure what to do with all the left over sour cream but when I saw Nicola's gift I knew that somewhere in the world wide web there must be a recipe for Sour Cream brownies and I was so right.

Sour cream brownies
(recipe adapted from TLC - how stuff works)
What you need:
1/2 cup butter softned
1 cup caramel sugar (you can use light brown sugar too)
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup NoMu cocoa ( I mention brand because their cocoa is very potent, other brands use 1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup milk
1 bar dark chocolate (I had a bar of Lindt Dark Chocolate Mousse - it was either that or Madagasse)
What to do:
Preheat oven to 180°C. Butter a 33X22cm pan or brownie pan.
Cream butter and sugar in large bowl until blended. 
Add egg, sour cream and vanilla; beat until light. 
Add cocoa, baking soda and salt; beat until smooth. 
Alternate flour and milk well mixed. 
Stir in chocolate.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until center springs back when touched. Cool in pan on wire rack.
Cut into which ever shape you like or if you lucky like me the pan has already done that for you.

Serve with a cold glass of milk. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Flapjacks & The Green Pan - Recipe & Review

I was never built to be a full time slave. I run out of steam way to quickly and concentration is not my strong suit. So when I was given the opportunity to work at a job which kept me busy for only 5 hours out of the day I was ready and waiting. Of course a full time job pays better and longer hours at the office mean less chance for me to spend money but it also means spending every hour after lunchtime wishing I was home or finding way to keep my eyelids from shutting on me. 

The other problem with being stuck at an office is following people on twitter who do things like go out for lunches or, as @rethavs did today, make yummy things for lunch. Then you are stuck staring at pictures, coming up with escape schemes until it's time to go home and by then all your energy is sapped and you make hot dogs for supper or go out instead. 
I was already home when the offending image was posted onto twitter and decided that this would be the perfect time to do a long overdue test of my Green Pan. 

Everyone who has ever made flapjacks or their daintier cousins know that these are some seriously sticky things before they are cooked. If you don't get the right amount of oil in their you don't get a good result. Too much and they soak it all up, too little and you'll be scraping your pan for days. So what better way to test this seemingly amazing pan? I used no oil, butter, grease, spray&cook, suntan lotion or any other kind of lubricant, just the pan...face to face with the sticky and delicious flapjack batter. 

The result? Perfect flapjacks! I will admit now that this is not the first time the pan was used, it gets used often for scrambled eggs and omelettes, so this was not just because it's brand new. As for the flapjacks, this recipe is a keeper.

(Adapted from's recipe)
What you need:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch salt (about 1/4 teaspoon)
1 1/4 cups milk
2 jumbo eggs 
2 teaspoon of vanilla extract1/4 cup melted butter
What to do:
Sift or whisk dry ingredients together. Add the milk and mix well. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well between each addition. Add the vanilla extract. Lastly whisk in the melted butter. Heat the pan on a medium heat and pour on a measure of the batter (all depends how big or small you want the flapjack to be) and cook on one side till bubbles form, pop and don't refill with batter. Flip over and cook till golden brown underneath. Serve warm with anything you like. mmm Nutella.

Disclaimer: The Green Pan was a prize I received at the Food Blogger's Indaba but my review is honest and nothing was left out

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Caramel Bread

TheHusbands brother loves to cook. So when we're up for a visit I try and see where his interest lie and how well he executes them. So far I have seen him do 2 things. 1) Wreck a really good piece of meat and 2) Caramel Bread.

His way: Buy bread dough from the grocery store, make little balls, place in a baking tin and cover with Caramel Sugar and Cream. Leave to rise then bake.

This is the way I have been doing it. It's one of those dessert you can whip up real quick, everyone loves it and there is only 1 dirty dish (and sometimes a dirty drip tray if I underestimate how much it bubbles over)

It really is a self saucing dessert. The caramel sugar melts into the cream and soaks into the dough as it bakes. If you put in enough cream (and it doesn't all boil over onto your drip tray) there will be some caramel sauce left over too.

So the other day, while cooking up a cottage pie I sat waiting for the bing of my oven timer and realised "I need dessert!". How could I have people over for supper and not give them something sweet to end with? Caramel bread came to mind. Smells great, tastes delicious, minimum effort. I checked my watch, 17:00, there would be no way that PnP would still have raw dough for sale.

This lead me a to google search for a simple white bread recipe and I stumbled on this recipe. Checked my pantry (cupboard), checked the fridge, inspected my counter and found everything except bread flour. So did I give up? No! See I am a cook not a baker so I have no regard for exact ingredients...pffft. I used cake flour instead. I can tell you that on this one occasion my contempt for recipes paid off well (nothing exploded either, bonus!)

What you need:
1 cup milk
2 tbs butter
1 1/2 cup warm water
2 packets dry yeast
2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
6/7 cups flour (use bread if you have it, cake if you don't)
1 cup cream (or more if you have a deep enough dish)
1 cup caramel sugar

What to do:
Melt the butter in the milk in a saucepan on a low heat. Once melted put aside to cool. Mix the yeast and 1/2 cup of warm water together and put aside too. In a large bowl mix together the sugar, salt and water together. Once cooled add the milk and butter mixture. Make sure the mixture is not too warm before adding the yeast mixture, you don't want to kill the yeast. Mix the flour in one cup at a time until you get a nice smooth and slightly sticky dough, not too sticky though. Kneed it and then pop it into a well oiled bowl, flip it over so that the dough is coated in oil and then cover and leave to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size. Knock it down and leave it for another 30 minutes. Greece a baking tin of your choice and and make balls of dough. The size is your choice depending on the baking tin you use but the balls are important. Sprinkle the caramel sugar over everthing keeps a little aside to sprinkle ontop. Pour the cream over. Cover and let rise for at least 20 more minutes. Before popping it into the oven at 180°C sprinkle the rest of the sugar on top. Bake until golden brown and serve warm. 
Can also be served the next day with some extra caramel sauce and a cup of coffee

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Homemade Lux - A father's post for father's day

When you say "midlife crisis" you immediately think of balding men with hairy chests sporting gold chains, luxury cars and models on their arms. In my world, my dad's midlife crisis has been nothing short of delicious. It started a simply with an interest in creating labaneh like we had had in Israel and into sausages, so that he could make my mom's favourite salami but without pork and from there the very natural step towards smoking.

In the beginning it went slowly slowly as he learned things from YouTube and the internet and then came The Food Network, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and suddenly we had BBQ sauces and dry rubs and all this led him to this forum, and all smokin' hell broke loose. If it could be smoked it was and trust me in their world, everything was fair game until proven otherwise and my dad took to it like a to water. 

So I decided to introduce you lot to my dad through one of his posts (He is so cute when he photographs his food that I am not even slightly annoyed but very amused by the fact that he is now doing exactly what he used to tease me for doing) Here he is Ladies and Gentleman (please excuse his English, it is his 3rd language after all):

First the results (sorry could not help my self)

it was Wednesday  i could not take it any i got a whole salmon i  fillet it and remove the bones.trimmed the belly and the side off the fish (don't throw )
In a cure  it go's(i love dill and pepper so i add in)  for 48 hours  then to ice bath 90 minutes
and to the frig for 36 hours.


It takes looooong time so we will do the cream cheese for the sandwich

you know the Pieces thet i trimmed i smoked it  in a aluminum pen for 3 hours  mix it with salt,pepper and
butter and i got a yummmmy spread.
OK it is ready now  in to the smoker it gos for 4 hours cold smoke
Now for the long 4 hours ............................................................................ OK it is finish


Yummmy Thanks AL

Al is SmokinAl, one of his forum buddies. You can find my dad and all his posts as africanmeat

Friday, June 10, 2011

Planet restaurant - out of this world (what can I say, queen of cheese)

All images courtesy of Mount Nelson Hotel

Lets for a moment talk "Portion size". When were you last at a place where the portions were just right? Where you could comfortably make your way through three courses without feeling the need to deflate at the end? I can tell you that that was a small but very important part of what made my dinner at Planet so wonderful, but I am skipping ahead to the end and that's not fair for anyone. Especially not you.

It starts with having a brilliant sister, who wows enough staff members into giving her a well-deserved "You make a difference" award, the "Employee of the month" accolade at The Mount Nelson Hotel. The next step for this is a plan for two sisters, whose relationship is a lot like dark chocolate: on a good day smooth and rich and on other days a little too bitter. With age the palette matures and dark chocolate becomes more of a pleasure than anything else. Days like those lead to plans like these. Both on the same page, equally in need of some comfort and pampering, we decided to use The Sister's reward of a "A night at the Nellie".

Luxury in the bedroom, luxury in the bathroom and to crown the whole occasion, luxury on the tongue as we headed downstairs for dinner at the Planet. A short wait for the rest of the guests, Mr Entertainment, Mr Fabulous and Ms Chatty, in Planet Bar with my virgin cocktail and some yummy nibbly things (oh, the maturity in my words often pains me). Final guest arrives and we wonder off down the passage of mirrors, star signs twinkling in the background as Mr Entertainment declares "That's my star-sign!" "You're Aries?" "No! Tauro" and with that the tone was set for the night

Champagne was served (a nice vintage of Appletiser for me) and a beautiful little plate of amuse-bouche delights was placed on the table. Tiny tastes from popovers to springrolls and our tastebuds were jerking the reins to get going. Looking through the menu only served to send their nostrils flaring as we diligently chose a range of dishes so that allowed us to taste as much of the menu as possible. I was intrigued and delighted to see an entirely vegan journey option as well as many vegan dishes to chose from. It's not often that fine dining and ethical eating meet in such spectacular ways.

From terrines to salads everybody shared, well except for The Sister, who held on tight to her collection of bite size morsels each one with salmon as their star ingredients. The brightest star in the starters was most definitely the crumbed and feta stuffed pepperdews that came with the smoked crocodile salad. My choice, the lentil salad, was surprisingly light and very refreshing. For a legume known for it's meatiness the salad turned out to be the perfect prelude to my main.

There too, with Liezl expertly guiding our galloping tastebuds in the right direction, we each picked a dish we could share. Blown away by the presentation and care that was taken to make each dish not only beautiful to the eye but colourful on the tongue. We were delighted by the potato foam served with the fillet, a cloud of comfort, tasting like home but with the texture of heaven. My star for this course had to be my very own kudu pie, how such a petite parcel could carry so much flavour without exploding was beyond comprehension. My kudu steak, butternut mash and the bean salad that came with it all served only to make the dish even brighter.

On to dessert and on most occasions this is the point where the tastebuds have come to a comfortable trot, the sky-carriage heavy from over indulgence, slowing down to an almost intangible pace. Not this time, flanks glistening from excitement at the thought of more delights in store, decision time came again and this time the good of the group was forgotten. The favourite pretasting was "The Nutty one" but having had it at Taste of Cape Town I was too curious, too intrigued by all the creatively named dessert on the menu to have the same thing again and so "Chocolate..." and it's description (chocolate souffle, chocolate mouse, salted caramel, chocolate bellinis...) won me over. The star, however, in this galaxy was by far The Sister's choice "Whiter shades of pale" Meringue, white chocolate, heaven, cream, magic...all on one plate.

Good chats, raucous laughter and great company were our companions on this journey, friendly and attentive service our guides and every moment was savoured and enjoyed. 
The winter menu has now been launched, with the dishes I described saying farewell as the seasons change and with them the produce changes only to be replaced by what I can only believe will be equally inspiring dishes. 

At R300 pp for a 6 course Journey menu, it is really worth every penny, the only part you will be disappointed by is, that at some point, you will have to land.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Orange Yoghurt Cake

To be honest, this post was meant to hold a good ol' South African dessert. Only fair after the All American post before it but not all is fair in pregnancy and cravings and so the Local is Lekker post will have to wait.

Don't you worry though, this post is full of sweetness just right for the winter season. The perfect cake to bake if you don't want to spend too long out from under the covers and ready so quick you could probably bake it just before guest arrive for coffee.

Let em take you back to Tuesday afternoon. After checking with the whole family what the plans were for supper I was left with "make something" and my porridge brain shut down and no ideas other than "spaghetti bolognese" would come up. There was no mince and what I really wanted to do was curl up under a blanket and stare blankly at the TV screen. The latter won and I was delighted that "up next" on the Food Network was Ina Garten. Aha! I thought, she will definitely have something that will inspire dinner.

I was wrong, between the Baked Salmon (I don't like salmon, yes yes I know) and the Oriental noodle salad (Don't get me wrong, it looked good...and summery) nothing really caught my eye. Why do I bring up her show then? Well her dessert, lemon yoghurt cake, did. Off I ran to get pen and paper and rewound the segment to copy down ingredients and instructions and then rushed off to the kitchen, forgetting the warmth of the blanket and the vapid calm of watching TV

Into the kitchen I dashed and checked the fridge. Plain yoghurt...hmm just 1 small tub but I did have some leftover inkomazi/maas (Leben or sour milk), that should work. Then turn to the fruit bowl to check for lemons...plenty but the With that a cake was born.

A perfectly easy cake and one I have never baked before so perfectly fitting for Tandy Sinclair's  competition to win Le Creuset competition (click the link to see their amazing range)

What you need: (adapted from the Lemon Yoghurt cake by Ina Garten)
For the cake:
1.5 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2/3 cup plain yoghurt
1/3 cup Maas (Leben or sour milk. You can also use a whole cup of yoghurt)
1 cup sugar
3 Jumbo eggs
0.5 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp orange zest
0.5 cup vegetable oil
For the glaze:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup orange juice

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line a 24cm springform pan. Sift all the dry ingredients together. In a separate combine the yoghurt, maas, sugar, eggs, vanilla and zest. Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined and then add the oil. Mix till all is combined but do not over mix. Pour into your pan and bake for 30-35 min checking to see if it baked through. While it cools slightly (too cold and it won't soak up the glaze) heat up the sugar and juice until clear. Pour over your cake.
Serve with a couple of slices of orange and a dusting of icing sugar.

Oh, I ended up making potato and leek soup for supper, wonderful how a little baking can get the creative kitchen juices flowing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Oreos - Home made is better

As much as we like to deny it, our lives are full of America. The TV shows we watch and the foods we crave, the good ol' US of A is all around us. It frustrate my husband no end that we are "allowing them" to brainwash us with their cool shows and delicious fast food but I am not complaining. Some things are just better with a twang.

One such thing, is the oreo. How we all rejoiced when they originator of the "but you can have the rest of my meeelk" graced our shores and several years on the cookie, and the iconic advert, still remain firm favourites. So, on one quiet and creative afternoon I thought "well how hard can it be?" and dived head first into the millions of results google handed me. Many very american short cuts like "chocolate cookie mix" later I finally found food networks version and made a few tweaks to match what I had (I was not in the mood to go shopping, if I was I would have just BOUGHT oreos and settled down with a glass of meeeelk)

What you need:

For the Dough:

  • 1 1/3 cups NoMu cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Filling:

  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3-4 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

What to do:

Prepare the dough: Sift together the cocoa powder, flour and salt in a large bowl.Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, incorporating each ingredient before adding the next. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces; place one piece between 2 lightly floured sheets of baking paper and roll into a half centimetre thick rectangle. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Refrigerate both rectangles, covered with the baking sheets, until firm, at least 1 hour or up to several days.
Using a 4cm round cutter, cut the dough into 64 circles on the baking paper. It's easier to move the dough in between then the individual cookies. (You can reroll the scraps once.) Place the cookies about 4cm. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.
Bake the cookies until they are set and slightly darker around the edges, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Using a mixer, cream the butter and vanilla until creamy. Beat in the icing sugar and lemon.
Flip half of the cookies upside down and top each with 1 level tablespoon of filling. Press the remaining cookies on top to make sandwiches.
Serve with a glass of cold milk and make sure your dogee doesn't get any cho'clate

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Roasted veg with Walnut & Rocket Pesto

Winter has come for a quick educational* before it's arrival in a month or so and with it come the visions of warm comforting food and snuggling up with a hot drink while watching TV or reading a good book. It brings to mind the Afrikaans saying "Maagies vol ogies toe" meaning when the tummy is full the eyes want to close. This is all well and good if you hadn't had a pig-out weekend like mine.

Hummus im Basar on Sunday night, Romanian Kebabs with wedges on Monday (forgive me, it was a public holiday and I had forgotten it was meant to be meat-free) and then all-you-can-eat sushi on Tuesday night. I was looking for something comforting and warm but still light and healthy.

I first thought about what I would consider "Light & Healthy" and vegetables came to mind. Then the "Warming" aspect and roasting sounded like a grand idea. Next it was about what to serve it with and cous cous just was naturally at the top of the list. Relaying my idea to my father (who was also a little fed up with the heavy eating) I came up with the last minute idea of adding a little bit of feta to the mix. Viola!

Popping into the shop I looked around for some nice roasting veggies and was about to head downstairs for some more veggie hunting (after picking up some Willie's Cocoa for next to nothing" when I saw it was almost FOUR. Why is this a problem? Well see, we are currently living with my parents and the domestic worker leaves at 16:00 but some one has to be home when she leaves. So off I rushed with what ever I had, which in the end proved to be plenty.

When it came to assembly I realised that as much as I enjoy the olive oil + rosemary combination on roast veg, I felt like something a little different. I recalled a jar of Walnut and Rocket pesto sitting in my fridge and from there a star was born.

What you need:
1 Packet carrot balls (or chop up some carrots)
4 or 5 baby peeled onions (the kind that are perfect for pickling)
4 small mixed sweet peppers, sliced into quarters
1 small brinjal, cut up in cubes, salted and rinsed
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, peeledA
1 jar pesto princess walnut and rocket pesto (or make your own if you can't get any)
1 packet vine ripened cherry tomatoes, on the vine
2 cups instant cous cous
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups boiling water
1 cup crumbled feta (we used a combination of black pepper feta and Fairview's no-brine feta)

What to do:
Preheat oven to 200°C. 
Throw all the vegetables, except the tomatoes into a baking dish. 
Coat with the pesto and pop into the oven.
Set a time for 20 minutes.
At 20 minutes take the veg out and give them a stir, pop in the tomatoes.
Roast for another 10-15 minutes then turn the oven off but leave the veggies inside.

In a large bowl pour the 2 cups of cous cous.
Sprinkle the salt over the top and then pour in the boiling water.
Cover with a tea towel.
After about 5 minutes use a fork to break up the cous cous.
Cover and leave until ready to serve.

Serve the vegetables on top of the cous cous and sprinkle some (or lots) of feta to finish.

The verdict? 3 out of 5 people said it hit the spot. Of the other 2 the one doesn't eat roast veg (she got roasted butternut and loved it) and the other is TheHusband who complained that it wasn't meat :)

*An educational is a fact-finding trip that companies make before using a service provider

Disclaimer: Pesto Princess did give me the pesto for free but I was under no obligation to write a favourable review.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hot water crust pie

Pie, I think there is a version in almost every culture. Short crust, puff or none at all the crust vary and some are easier then others. I have always used store bought *ashamed* and sometimes, for sweet pies I made short crust. I was about to pop some puff pastry out the fridge for a chicken pie when my sister gave me a "look". See the whole family is on a health drive and well, puff pastry if full of that heavenly evil "butter". 

We both concluded that if I made my own pastry, even if it had butter in it, it would have a lot less than the store bought puff pastry. 

I remembered seeing, on one of those in between sections on Food Network, something about "Hot water crust pasty" and googled around till I found a recipe I was happy to work from and then promptly changed it completely. Those that bake will know, changing a recipe before even trying it is like playing with fire but I figured what the hell. I had a really tasty filling and back-up puff pastry in the fridge. 

Hot water crust pastry (makes 2 pies)

What you need:225g Whole brown bread flour
225g Whole rye flour
2 tsp salt (the stone ground flours need a little more salt then regular flour I find)
200g butter
225ml chicken stock (My filling was made with shredded chicken which I boiled so I used the stock from that)

What to do:In a mixing bowl whisk the flours and salt together (whisking adds air that you would normally get from sifting, but since I used whole flours sifting wasn't an option). Make a well in the centre. Melt the butter in the stock. Pour into the well and mix immediatly until combined. Knead the dough a little. 
From this point use however you want. The hot water crust pastry is worked with warm, unlike shortcrust that must be chilled. 

Note: Any fat can be used where the butter is used so you can replace it with margarine to create an equally great vegan crust.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Baked Doughnut Peaches

I kept seeing tweets about doughnut peaches and my curiosity was piqued. I had never seen or heard of such things and so the minute I was at Woolworths and saw them I popped them in my trolly, not knowing what their destinies were but knowing that somehow there would be an oven, my mouth and my tummy involved. 

Friday night rolled around since I planned a lightish dinner (red thai curry with brown and wild rice) so I decided dessert was in order. Poaching the peaches sounded like a great idea but I decided a little googling for more options couldn't hurt. So off I went and found this recipe. Brilliant! That was what I would do. I knew we had Lemon Verbena in the garden (Interesting Fact: called Melissa in hebrew) and so all I needed was the cookies.

We only had plain butter cookies in the cupboard and no almond essence, so I crumbled them up, put in some vanilla essence and some Cap'ian Morgan and left them to dry as the peaches soaked in the syrup. 

The peaches baked beautifully and when you broke through the crumbed surface you found what can only be described as peachy custard, soft, creamy and just sweet enough to satisfy the sweet tooth without making holes in it

What you need:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 whole lemon verbena leaves or grated zest of 2 lemons
6 doughnut peaches
About ½ cup flour
1 large egg
1 packet Leibniz Butter Biscuits, crushed
½ tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp rum
Vanilla bean ice cream for serving

What to do:
Place the sugar, water, and lemon verbena leaves or lemon zest in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. When the sugar has dissolved, remove the mixture from the hat. Cool the syrup completely.
Skin the peaches. To loosen their skins and make peeling easier, Plunge the peaches into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds and then into a bowl of ice water. Peel the skin. Carefully run a small paring knife around the stones, then poke the stones out, leaving a hole in the center.
Pour the syrup into a glass or ceramic dish (large pie plate will do) and place the peeled peaches in the cooled verbena syrup to macerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours, turning them occasionally. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Place the flour in a small bowl. In another small bowl, whisk the egg to break it up. In a shallow dish, combine the biscuits with the vanilla and rum. Arrange the bowls of flour and egg and the dish of crumbs side by side. Remove a peach from the syrup and let it drain slightly, then dip it in the flour to lightly coat. Shake off the excess, then dip it in the egg to coat. Shake off any excess, then roll in the crumbs. Press the crumbs to pack them. Place the crumb-covered peach on the prepared baking sheet. Continue the dipping and crumb-coating process with the remaining peaches. Pack any leftover crumbs into the stone holes, dividing the crumbs between the peaches. The crumb-coated peaches can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours before baking.
When ready to bake, center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 180°C. Bake the peaches for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan from front to back and continue to bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until golden on the outside and the peaches are tender when pierced with a tester. Remove from the oven and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Meringues - Angel food

For my birthday TheHusband told me to pick a spot for breakfast, he wasn't sure he would be able to join us for lunch so we wanted to spend some time together. I chose to go to MissK. The food was really good but what really got my attention and stuck in my mind were their giant meringues. Brittle and crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, I loved every sweet bite.

A few moths later my father decided to try a gellato recipe that uses a bazillion egg yolks, well 8 of them and I decided that it was the perfect opportunity for me to make meringues. So I popped on to google to find the perfect meringue recipe, I found one and my apologies to the blogger who's page I found it on but I seem to have lost the link.

The idea is simple:
Sift your egg whites through a fine sieve
Weigh them
Coat the mixing bowl with lemon (cut the lemon in half and rub it on the bowl)
Pop in the egg whites and start whisking
weigh out twice as much castor sugar
when the egg whites reach the foamy stage slowly start adding the sugar and whisk till stiff.
Take a large spoon and spoon big blobs of meringue onto a baking sheet (or pipe them on prettily if you must)
Then pop into the oven on 110°C with the oven door open for about 1 hour, then drop to 90°C till dried out. (these temperatures my vary depending on your oven)

For a little variation mix some strawberry essense into the egg white mixture and make strawberry meringues 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spinach and Mushroom parcels - Meat Free Monday

The last 2 weeks have been rather tedious. I was helping my dad out answering phones while his receptionist was away on annual leave. I spent many an hour playing facebook games and wishing I had uploaded some images for blogging. I was not on my own computer so had no pictures with me and so you didn't get any new recipes to try. Sorry :(

However you did get a new look and feel, like a new space to visit. They say a change is as good as a holiday :)

So it is Monday again and with it comes the dulcet sounds of my family moaning at me that they don't understand how 1 day a week can make a difference. With it also comes me ignoring them. Some weeks I just quietly make my own little meal to eat, others I make a dish with several components so those who choose to can eat Meat-free and other days I make something so delicious, they don't care if there is meat or not.

Such was the case with these little phyllo parcels. With the meatiness of the wild mushrooms and the creaminess of the spinach, these edible presents ticked every box in the house.

What you need:
3 bags baby spinach
1 box mixed wild mushrooms
1 tub fat free smooth cottage cheese
1 onion
1 medium potato
½ fairview single salad serving feta (or 1 wheel)
smoked paprika
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Phyllo pastry

What to do:
Wash the spinach very well (rule of thumb is at least 7 times, no one likes sandy spinach)
Chop half the onion finely, do the same with the potato (the pieces should all be roughly the same size and very small). Heat up some olive oil in a wok or large pan. Saute the onions and potatoes then add the spinach and mix till wilted (depending on the size of your wok/pan you made need to add the spinach in stages). When all the spinach has wilted add the garlic ad stir well. Then add the cottage cheese and crumble in the feta. Turn off the heat and stir well. Slice the other half of the onion into slivers. In another pan toss the onion and the smoked paprika in some heated olive oil, then add the mushrooms and fry until browned. Add the mushrooms to the spinach mixture, mix well then season to taste.

Cut your phyllo into long strips (I use scissors). Brush one piece with olive oil and stick another piece on top of it. Spoon some filling into it and fold as you wish, using a little more olive oil to seal it. Heat up the oven nice and hot and turn on the grill  and grill until golden brown and crispy (you filling is cooked and should be warm, if the filling has cooled then place the parcels into the oven at 180°c for a few minutes and then pop them under the grill)

You can serve them steaming hot, or even instead of sandwiches for school or work the next day

Monday, January 10, 2011

Feb 2011 Sushi Club - Make Your Own

So for some time now people have been discussing doing a sushi course of some sort as our sushi club event. After overhearing some vague details at a party I contacted BlowFish and got some more information:

p.s. Everything in Italics below is from their press release

Blowfish Sushi Courses
The Japanese consider food an art and it is said that it should be viewed with
appreciation. The art of Sushi making has been refined and perfected by their people.
Therefore we use our best sushi chefs to teach the age old secrets and techniques of sushi
making. This unique concept has been voted as one of Cape Town’s top team-building
exercises. This 2 hour sushi lesson in which students are thought all five types of Sushi is
not only fun but you’ll be thought a new skill which you can entertain you guests with at
home. We would like to invite you to join us in orchestrating your own masterpieces. To
avoid disappointment please contact Blowfish to make your booking in advance.
Introductory Course
Blowfish provides all materials and products needed for the course. Each person will cut,
roll and garnish their own platter and enjoy their masterpieces at the end of the evening.
• Basic information on Sushi making
• Garnish making (Cucumber garnishing)
• Sashimi Slicing
• Nigiri Making
• Maki Rolling
• Californian Rolling
R275 per person, maximum 20 people per lesson.
The classes are first and last Thursday of the month. Now if we can get 10+ people we can have our own private lesson so, after some twitter discussion, I figured if we can get the 10+ then the date will be anounced closer to the time, most likely Monday 28 February 2011.

So you just need to sign up in the comments section and go!