Thursday, May 24, 2012

3 ways with pizza dough

You know those cravings that won't leave you. The ones that creep up at in appropriate times. Cravings that whisper in your ear "that just doesn't taste right" when you eat something that isn't what you crave. Fill your mind to the point where not even your favourite series, your child's laughter or your husband's loving words can penetrate the thoughts of making or eating that which you crave? 

I see you nodding and so you will understand when I tell you about my pizza dough craving. It wasn't about what was on top, that didn't matter. It was the flavour and texture of what makes a pizza a pizza that took residence in my head and would not leave. 

So I paused Lost Girl, got up and made the dough. I had no idea WHAT I was going to put on it but the dough was made. Next I went foraging in the fridge, freezer and cupboards for something to use. No, going to the shop was not an option....because...stop it! No! aaaaanyway. In the freezer I found a beautiful piece of beef fillet which I had trimmed off a larger piece I made a few weeks back, some roasted red pepper and tomato soup and a couple of sausages. In the fridge a tiny bit of cheese and in the cupboards onion and spices.

So I went about creating these 3 tasty snacks for us, never having to leave the house or dress in anything but slippers and PJs (see why the shop was not an option). I turned the sausages into cows in blankets (beef sausage see), the meat I fried up with some onions, caramelising it a little then made balls of meaty goodness. The roasted red pepper and tomato soup was cooked down and thickened and made a beautifully rich base for the pizzas I made with cheese and some onion and the rest of the dough was mixed in some caramelised onions to make little dinner rolls (that never made it to dinner)

Pizza Dough

1/2 cup warm water
1 sachet activated dry yeast
2 + 1 cup 00 flour (or half white bread flour half cake flour)
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Put the yeast in the warm water with a pinch of flour and allow it to bloom. Mix it in with the 2 cups of flour and knead adding the 3rd cup as you knead the dough. Kneed in the olive oil and salt. Place ina oiled bowl and cover and allow to rise. 
Once the dough has risen, knead it to knock out or the air bubbles and divide it into the number of portions you need. (If you are freezing the dough this is when you do it)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mysterious Murders at the Five Flies

The nights are getting longer, the tempratures is dropping. Mist creeps into the city in the dark hours. Something sinister is happening at the end of Keerom street...

STOP! No need to call in the police. The detectives are already there but they need your help. From Egypt to England, New Orleans to Peru and even as far South as Antarctica murders are happening and YOU are the key to solving the mystery.

Hurry now and book a seat for a great night at the Five Flies. Murder. Intrigue. Food and wine. Loads of belly aching laughter, accusatory screaming (all with a smile) and a night you won't quickly forget. 

1 June - Horrific Hieroglyphics (Only 2 tables left! Don't miss out)
29 June - The Bloody Grail 
27 July - Voodoo in the Big Easy 
31 August - Raiders of the Golden Incan Tomb 
28 September - Arctic Madness 

For more information and to book, please contact Natalie at Five Flies on 021 424 4442 or 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Baa Baa bolognese

I love when plans come together. When you have a tiny seed of an idea and with the right kind of nurturing it starts to grow into the seedling of something amazing. Some ideas, like some seeds, when planted at the wrong time or in the wrong place never sprout but others, oh they even surprise. That was why I was cooking supper for Jon from i shot images.

I had an idea, I thought he might be the person to help me grow it and what I got in return for sharing this project with him was more than I could have ever imagine. The excitement I was holding back, in case I was totally off the mark, he let show immediately. I started to hope, to dream and to plan. After a great brainstorming lunch out I thought a working dinner in would be the logical next step.

After telling Jon that I was cooking his reply was "Whoot! Such a privilege.. " and I started to panic. The pressure was on and my culinary creativity went into overdrive until my loving husband reminded me that keeping it simple was always a winning idea. So the meal of bolognese, and a new technique I had spotted on Rhodes across Italy that I had wanted to try, came to mind. As if by fate, Frankie Fenner tweeted about the lamb mince they had in stock and a meal was born.

The technique? Well before adding the tomatoes to the Ragu di Bolognese you add milk. Yes, milk. I knew this would make a difference, there was no reason to not believe that but I had to see for myself. So I fried off some lardons, cooked the mince with the usual carrot, onion and celery mix (also known as soffritto) and tasted the mince. Then I added the milk and cooked it till it was all soaked up by the mince and tasted again. The difference was not as subtle as I expected. The meat was softer, almost creamy and I from now on, that step will be added to my usual process (that is, if I don't forget)

Considering everyone went back for seconds and Baby Bug gobbled his portion with no complaints I figured this is a winning recipe. You can use any mince you have available but the lamb mince was a very nice change from the usual.

Baa Baa Bolognese

1 tablespoon lardons (or olive oil)
1 large carrot
1 cellery stick
1 onion
750g lamb mince
1 cup milk
1 tinned peeled and chopped tomatoes
1/2 tin water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dry oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Fry the lardons until the lard melts and add the carrot, cellery and onion.
Fry till soft then add the mince and brown.
Once the meat is cooked, add the milk and cook on a medium heat until all the milk is soaked up.
Add the tin of tomatoes, water, sugar and oregano and allow to simmer on a low heat for at least 1 hour.
Season about 20 minutes before serving.

I served mine with Rigatoni and toasted ciabatta.

Disclaimer: Sorry for all the mixed metaphors, entertaining the bugling and blogging is new to me.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sharwood - Easy as 1, 2, 3

Food 24 used to have forums, maybe they still do but I haven't been to them in years. Most often than not,. they were filled with Vegan v.s. anti-vegan debate (read: flame wars) but soon it as obvious that there had to be a different platform for people to share recipes. So the food blogs were born and I took to blogging like a duck to water. 
Some light entertainment from a talented dancer before the cooking started

My first post was by no means brilliant, and many to follow were not much better but it was really only a place for me to keep my kitchen wizadry in a place I could find it again. Online I could access it anywhere, it wasn't going to get lost under a pile of laundry, or get stuck to the back of another book only to be found years from now. 

Then something strange happened, people started commenting. That meant people were reading it and I had to start making more of an effort. I didn't mind since it meant making people happy with food and I love doing that. From then I worked hard to produce what I felt at the time were quality posts (looking back I cringe though) and at a point I was posting almost every day.

One of our beautiful host having fun with the fish

As the blogs got more popular, more people posted and I developed a pet peeve. There I was, slaving away in the kitchen coming up with unique, delicious and easy to make recipes and people are posting about a pasta sauce they made with ready-made ingredients. I would see beautiful titles for "perfect, home made mushroom lasagne" and they had used packet mushroom sauce (just add water for that over salted fake taste) and a jar of pre-made pasta sauce. 

This developed into a dislike for all things pre-made and soon I was knocking out things I would normally just buy, like Sweet Chilli sauce. I had a sense of righteousness that rivalled the snottiest heiress and I became a total snob. Until I had a baby.
Stir frying the prawns

So now, here I sit. Not only do I use some pre-prepared ingredients in my cooking but I am even going to blog about one. Please be fair in your judgement of me, when I do commit the sin of lazy cook I try and do so with high quality ingredients. Ones that contain as few preservatives as possible, but still make it easy for me to feed my family before 10 o'clock at night. So when I was invited to cook with Sharwood (see my previous post about freebies and cooking events) I was keen to see what they had to offer.

Just add sauce.
Their product range is extensive. From the Southern most tip of India, to the cities of China, you can choose which part of Asia you would like your taste buds to explore. We were split into groups and each one did one Indian meal and one Chinese meal which we combined in a delicious buffet for all to enjoy and enjoy we did. I expected what you always get from bottled goods, over salted with that weird mouth-feel preservatives give you. What I got was spicy and flavourful with more than enough room to season to your taste. 

They really are as easy as 1-2-3. Cook protein and veg, add sauce, serve. Each dish is quick to prepare as all the lovely flavours have been developed in the sauce already but you can also leave your proteins or veg to cook for longer if you have the time and the want. Thank you Sharwood for a fun a delicious morning and to those of you with a love of good food and little time to make it I urge you to give them a try.

So many dishes to try

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Canderel Yellow - The experience

There is much bandied about in the blogesphere about freebies. Some love them, others hate them, some get to many and others sulk for lack of any. For me a freebie are welcomed like any gift, as long as the giver understands that I will be honest in my review (if they expect one). Canderel didn't expect one when they invited me to cook up a storm at The Cook's Playground. All they wanted was feedback.
Sneaking a bit of tuna sashimi before putting it in the pan

For me the best event invitation is one where I get to cook. Sure, sitting at a beautiful restaurant, enjoying magnificent food is great but it makes my night to be able to participate in the making of that food and to learn, teach and experience every step.

On this night we got to do it all. Drink bubbly, eat good food and too many lots of chocolate coated almonds. Old friends got to chat, new friends were made and near future invitations were extended (more on that in the next post)

Myself, polkadotcupcake and ninatimm preping the tomtoes for the Tart Tartin

Canderel teamed up with Jenny Morris to create 2 mouth watering, savoury dishes using the Canderel Yellow product, a sweetener designed specifically for cooking. We baked gorgeous tomato Tart Tartins and succulent tuna steaks with tangy sweet and sour salsa. We finished off with a bright fruit soup, that Jenny made for us with seasonal fruit, young coconut and coconut water, flavoured with almond extract and Canderel Yellow.

As soon as a nice warm, not so wet, day comes along I plan to attempt meringues with Canderel Yellow. If I succeed I know of a lot of very happy sugar free people.

Mini Tomato Tart Tartin

This makes a stunning starter or could be served as a main course with salad. For ease it can be made ahead if required. The tomatoes turn wonderfully sweet and caramelised once cooked.
1 Serving
15 minutes preparation time 
30 minutes cooking time
Save 40 calories
7g fat (per serving of which saturates 3g)
144 calories (per serving)
19g carbohydrates (per serving – of which sugars 9g)

3 tomatoes, cut in half
2 tsp granular Canderel Yellow
A few fresh thyme leaves (optional)
25g/2oz ready bought light puff pastry
Fresh basil leaves for garnish

1 Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6
2 Add the tomatoes to a roasting tin and sprinkle over 1tsp of Canderel Yellow and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes until they just start to soften and wilt a little. You want them to retain their shape.
3 Whilst the tomatoes are cooking, roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board to a 10cm round. Put to one side.
4 Now spoon the tomatoes out and sit them cut side down in a small pan along with the thyme if using, then add the remaining Canderel Yellow. Cook for a few minutes until some juices run then remove from the heat.
5 Sit the pastry over the tomatoes, tucking it in and around them. Put in the oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden.
6 Remove and leave for a few minutes then invert onto a plate, be careful as the pan handle will be very hot. Garnish with basil leaves.
Tip: If you haven’t got a mini pan, you can transfer the tomatoes to a mini tart tin or oven proof dish before covering with pastry

Sicilian style swordfish

This meaty fish is griddled and served with a sweet and sour mix of herbs and sultanas. Protein rich swordfish is filling so a lightly dressed salad or spinach is all that is needed.
2 Servings
15 minutes preparation time  
20 minutes cooking time
Save 10 calories
18g fat (per serving of which saturates 3g)
285 calories (per serving)
9g carbohydrates (per serving – of which sugars 9g)

2 swordfish steaks
2 tsp olive oil
For the sweet and sour sauce;
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 Lemon and zest of ½ of the lemon
Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves only, finely chopped 
2 cloves garlic, grated
Few stalks of fresh oregano, leaves finely chopped or use dried   
25g/2oz sultanas
1 tsp granular Canderel Yellow

1 Lightly brush the swordfish steaks with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2 In a bowl add all the sauce ingredients, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, taste and adjust as needed. Put to one side. 
3 Heat a griddle pan until hot then add the swordfish steaks one at a time and cook for about 3-4 minutes each side, depending on their thickness, you want the inside to remain still pinkish. If you overcook they will become dry.
4 Serve the swordfish on a plate and spoon over the sweet and sour sauce and serve with baby spinach leaves or a salad.
Tip: If you can’t find swordfish use fresh tuna steaks instead (which is what we did)

Note: Images and recipes were supplied by Canderel. I was not paid to do this post, only shown a really good time and a product that is easy to work with.