You are browsing the archive for Woolworths & MasterChef SA 2012.

Asian Style Ostrich on Ginger Sweet Potato Rosti

July 24, 2012 in Chicken & Poultry, Recipe, Woolworths & MasterChef SA 2012

Asian Style Ostrich on Ginger Sweet Potato Rosti

MasterChef SA Finale

I suppose what’s a grand meal for one can be a simple meal for another. When I think of a meal for celebration and a meal to impress, I think as important, if not more that the appearance and the time and ingredients it takes the cook to prepare, it must be flavourful. It must not tire the cook out to the extent that he or she can not be part of a relaxed evening or afternoon, enjoying that meal.

I have had the privilege of eating meals where textures are a combination of liquid and solid, where solids give way to a burst of liquid passion fruit or liquified olives and the senses leap with surprise and joy. Meals composed of the most meticulously made sauces (never called gravy!) etched in stipes and arcs so fine and neat you marvel at the ability of the talented human hand. Meals where the ingredients beg that you clap your hands in applause and where you can’t wipe the grin off your face. These meals have been prepared by culinary artists who understand flavour, the produce and that the price tag attached to the menu demands nothing less than perfection. If not more.

My meal of Asian style ostrich served on ginger sweet potato rosti with veggies in an Asian dressing isn’t about taking you to the next level of culinary superstardom. It is about showcasing ingredients simply but with emphasis on flavour. It uses ingredients you can easily find at a good supermarket and uses a meat (poultry, actually) I’ve been preparing for years and that I find many people still hesitate to use. Ostrich, local, low in fat and certainly lekker. The fillet is not an everyday piece of meat, so make this when you want to spoil your someone special.

This is a meal for two and perfect for a date night in.

Recipe at Food and the Fabulous

Pear Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce and Caramel Shards

July 11, 2012 in Desserts & Baked Goods, Recipe, Woolworths & MasterChef SA 2012

Pear Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce and Caramel Shards

I think it’s time I admit it – I have a sweet tooth. While I love both sweet and savoury foods, I love the meal to end on a sweet note, even if it’s a small tub of yoghurt, a plate of sliced fruit or a few squares of chocolate.

Growing up, we never had a pudding or cake to end every meal. Dessert was made on special occasions, when we had guests or on some weekends. My brother and I helped to mix and stir the batter, and sometimes when my mother turned around, we snuck chocolate chips and sprinkles into her carefully measured out bowl of ingredients. I don’t remember her getting angry but it could explain why the weekend muffins or scones were made on Friday while we were still at school.

Despite enjoying desserts, I am not an avid baker, mostly because I have stuck to a few tried and trusted recipes – for convenience, perhaps, and a little fear of wasting time and a mountain of expensive ingredients as well as having so many good options available at bakeries and stores.

Featured by Woolworths, here

But, really, nothing can compare to the smell of a cake baking, the kitchen filling with vanilla, cinnamon and in this case the fragrance of beautiful Ercolini pears.

This cake is based on an old Victoria sponge recipe, but I made a rather large one with no layers, baked in a bundt or ring cake pan. I used fragrant, tiny Ercolini pears (in season here in the northern hemisphere).

I adorned the cake with a salted caramel sauce I made and while on the theme:salted caramel shards. Looks fancy but is so easy to make and takes just a cup of white sugar and a teaspoon of sea salt.

This pear sponge is a celebratory cake -with it we toasted the end of two and a half months of being away from home, the incredible opportunity we’ve had to explore so much of Europe in one go (not to mention the bounty  of new foods we’ve eaten), the new friends we’ve made and the knowledge that we will be reunited with precious old friends and family soon.

I encourage you to take some time, gather the kids (but keep the sprinkles and chocolate chips out of their reach) and make this cake to celebrate something in your own life.

Cooks Notes:

  • Victoria sponge uses the formula of equal weight (not volume) of eggs, sugar, butter and flour. Use the eggs as the starting point. If the eggs are large, they should weigh around 63 grams each. That makes them a total of 252 grams. A block of butter is conveniently 250 g. Now weigh the sugar and flour to equal 252 grams. Use a digital scale for best results – this is essential.
  •  You may make two large standard cake layers and serve individually or  fill with fresh cream.
  • Using fresh pears can be tricky, you need to use very ripe ones or give them a quick steam if they aren’t very ripe. I’d recommend you use tinned pears if pears aren’t in season where you live.
  • For the caramel sauce and shards, use a heavy based pan or pot as thin based pots cook  warp and unevenly and may result in burning. Once burnt you can do nothing to save the sauce but have to start over
  • Use white granulated sugar for the sauce and shards – brown contains unrefined particles that will not yield a smooth result. Also melting brown sugar will not have the visible colour change process for you to easily identify when the amber stage is achieved and may burn as a result.
  • While you are allowed to stir the sugar only until it melts and not after, try to avoid this and swirl the pot instead.
  • For the sauce, use a deep pot as the mixture will bubble and froth up when you add the butter and the cream
  • If you have lumps in the sauce, never fear- you can strain the sauce. But cleaning the sieve may prove a nightmare once the sugar solidifies.
  • Exercise caution – use a long sleeved shirt and you should not leave the pot unattended until the caramel is ready.

Recipe at Food and the Fabulous

Angelfish Pasta in Champagne Cream Sauce with Chives

June 27, 2012 in Recipe, Seafood, Woolworths & MasterChef SA 2012

Angelfish Pasta in Champagne Cream Sauce with Chives


Featured here for Woolworths & MasterChef SA

Eating Sustainable Seafood

Doctors and dietitians place a great emphasis on the importance of a diet with lean protein or proteins with good fats like oily fish.  However, fresh seafood as we all know, is expensive. It’s particularly baffling when you live at the coast, Cape Town and Durban for example and it costs more to buy a piece of fish than it does chicken.

There are other issues too, the ever depleting marine life and the need for us to become responsible consumers. When I discussed this with London Chef Henry Vigar, owner of the popular La Mouette Restaurant in Sea Point for a piece I was researching on Food Trends 2012, he agreed:

 “Finding ingredients in South Africa can be a real battle. Especially fish with the depleting fish stocks in the ocean and massive export market.“

It’s a sad truth, but what can we do?

Respected editor Abigail Donnelly advises

“Sassi has made the choice of seafood awareness for the consumer accessible but it is still a niche premium foodie that understands. My advice is always eat and shop green and maybe orange depending on how it is caught and if from a responsible retailer.”

The informed consumer needs to get to grips with not only the lists but the method of catch too. It’s really important that we ask questions.

Julie Carter of Ocean Jewels Fresh Fish, had a bit to share with me and this is her advice in brief:

“The red, green and orange list can be confusing as the method of catch and whether the fish is imported can determine which list a fish fits into. Consumers that are serious about making the right choice must become familiar with the list, the method of catch and whether the fish is local or imported.”

Angelfish is inexpensive, very ‘green’ and has the perfect delicate texture for pies and a pasta like this and allows the Champagne cream sauce to be the star. It’s a fish I buy whenever I can. Using smoked angelfishin this recipe is sublime- I’ve made it to rave reviews.

Now, please don’t break open a bottle of your treasured expensive bubbles for this- local sparkling wine is perfect, but a rule that’s worth following is, don’t use it in your cooking if you won’t drink it. Enjoy what you don’t use in the sauce with the meal.

An easy way to “treat” yourself and brighten up a weekday dinner. Enjoy!

Please visit me at Food and the Fabulous for the recipe

This post forms part of the series of recipes I am preparing for Woolworths, the food sponsor for MasterChef SA. It is a Food and the Fabulous Endorsed project and I will be remunerated for it




Prawn Dhansak – a spicy taste of the Islands

June 13, 2012 in Food & Travel, Recipe, Seafood, Woolworths & MasterChef SA 2012

Prawn Dhansak – a spicy taste of the Islands

I love using herbs and spices in traditional recipes and in ‘experimental’ ones.

I think often one can travel to far and exotic destinations, just by using new or unexplored spices in the kitchen. It’s one of my greatest joys when travelling to bring back spices that are indigenous to or grown well in a country. It’s true that most spices can be found at home in South Africa now, but it means more to me (Customs allowing) to bring back a crumpled brown paper bag of spices, a favourite “local mix” or dried herbs than it does to bring back a touristy souvenir. Though, I do have a thing for fridge magnets and try to restrict myself to a maximum of two. For holding up treasured photos and recipes, you know.

I must admit, I was thrilled at this week’s recipe brief: Spice Challenge. Combining seafood, spices and fruit as the brief required, made me think of the spice Islands Mauritius and Zanzibar.

I visited Zanzibar and its spice plantations where a large variety from tamarind to vanilla are grown. Cloves were the most popular spice from Zanzibar a few centuries ago- did you know? It is a fascinating romantic island, with an exotic blend of Indian, Arabic and European architecture and influence and a mixture of crumbling buildings and palaces, sadly juxtaposed.

Zanzibar was at a stage a melting pot of cultures due to it being ideally positioned on the Spice Route during the 16th century and heavily influenced by the Persians, Chinese and Indians amongst others. The spicy cardamom Zanzibari coffee available everywhere is one example of how the country loves and incorporates spices in a popular everyday drink.  I’ve written a short guide on the Darajani Food market and the Forodhani Night market  in a earlier post on the blog.

Recipe at Food and the Fabulous

Stone Town, Zanzibar is also famously the birth place of rock band Queen’s lead singer Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara and of Parsi origin. One of his family’s houses still stands on Kenyatta street (now a gift shop). I thought a dhansak, which is a Parsi dish, or credited to the Parsis at least would be fitting for this challenge.

Dhansak is a curry dish using lentils and would traditionally be made with goat or lamb. Chicken and vegetarian dhansaks are also popular these days.

I used Tiger prawns in this one, pureed mango and pineapple and served it over basmati rice with a mango and pineapple salsa.

Bacon and Broccoli Chilli Pasta – Budget Meals

June 6, 2012 in Pasta. Noodles & Rice, Recipe, Woolworths & MasterChef SA 2012

Bacon and Broccoli Chilli Pasta – Budget Meals for Woolworths MasterChef SA Week 10

Budget isn’t the most exciting word. In fact it can be quite depressing and brings to mind all kinds of limits. And Angela Merkel. Yes, far from exciting. However, all of us have to reign in the spending and the world is experiencing one of the most severe economic crises of our time. I am currently in Europe and having just spoken to a range of people in Athens, it brings home more than ever, the severity of the situation felt by people all over.

When Woolworths gave me the challenge of preparing a meal for four for R150, a “budget” meal, I knew three things should into play so that the eater (and the cook) would not feel deprived in any way:

1. Flavour.  For the main meal I used pasta which is usually a cupboard staple and bacon which affords lots of flavour even if you use a little of it. Onions are browned to add depth and chilli gives you a satisfying spice-injection. Broccoli isn’t just nutritious, it also adds some crunchy texture.

2. Easily available ingredients. Everything for this meal should be available at your local supermarket. The worst thing when considering the pennies is to have to go from shop to market to deli to find the ingredients for supper. The instinct then is to opt for cheap, non- nutritious take outs. Leave the leisurely food shopping for when the wallet and the clock allows. I assumed that the cook in this instance is preparing a meal on a busy week day, so I created a quick, easy but nutritious meal.

3. A treat. Even though you’ve had to carefully consider the spend, you can still serve a refreshing drink (home made iced tea in this case) as well as dessert. What’s not to love about that?

Cooks Notes

I have assumed that reader would have salt, sugar and vegetable stock liquid or cubes in the grocery cupboard as well as a lemon and an egg in the fridge.

If you prefer, substitute the bacon with a chicken breast or piece of steak pan fried and cut into very thin strips.

If you prefer a vegetarian option, use one large aubergine, cut into slices and pan griddled instead of the bacon.

On a day that you have more time, buy one pack of beef or ostrich mince instead of bacon (relatively same price as the dry cured bacon I purchased) and brown with the onions and slow cook with the tomato, adding water as needed for a bolognaise sauce. Leave out the broccoli or add a can of barlotti or red kidney beans towards the end of cooking to bulk the dish up.

 For the recipe and the rest of the meal for R150, visit Food and the Fabulous

Raspberry & Lemon Semifreddo – Woolworths and MasterChef SA Week 8

May 10, 2012 in Desserts & Baked Goods, Woolworths & MasterChef SA 2012

Raspberry & Lemon Semifreddo – Woolworths and MasterChef SA Week 8

Desserts are more than something to look forward at the the end of the meal. They are, in my opinion, a great part of the meal and in many cases make it. Perhaps that is my sweet-tooth talking, but if you apply moderation and sensibility there is no reason why desserts (or any food group, except those on red lists) should be banned.

I won’t eat rich chocolate pudding with each meal every night of the week, as tempting as that may be, but when I do, I enjoy it. I am happy to split a dessert at a restaurant and share the deliciousness (and the calories). I do think children’s diets should be monitored and fruit and healthy snacks encouraged, so that that they can grow up to be informed adults with balanced eating behaviours. The old saying of “don’t trust a thin chef” just simply isn’t true and, as with all things, moderation and healthful habits must come first. You want to be enjoying those sweet goodies for a very long time, right?

But, I detract from the important subject of desserts. I love spending time in the kitchen and when I throw dinner parties, or even have a few friends pop by informally, I like to serve a few savoury courses or share several tapas style plates. This means I’m sometimes scrambling around by the time I need to make dessert. My go-to options (as vanilla as they may be) are a panna cotta, chocolate fondants or this semifreddo. I change the ingredients according to what I have at hand – berries, nougat, meringues, passion fruit, figs. I love this semifreddo because of the unexpected, refreshing scent of lemon and and the freshness of the zest. It goes surprisingly well with rasberries and is creamy and indulgent.

Also, a good dessert to enjoy before winter kicks in.

Semifreddo translates to Italian for ‘half -cold” or half-frozen and sets in hours. Your guests will still feel like you put as much effort into dessert as you did with the rest of the meal. Easy points for the cook!

Full post at Food and the Fabulous


Serves 6

3 free-range eggs, separated

1/2 t vanilla essence (not extract) – optional

3 T castor sugar

1 x tub (250 g) mascarpone cheese

1/2 t lemon extract (or 1 t essence)

250 ml fresh cream (whipping)

1 t castor sugar

250 ml raspberries – fresh or frozen, slightly thawed if frozen (or berries of your choice), sprinkled with 1 T castor sugar

1 large lemon, zested

Semolina Soji – Childhood Memories MasterChef SA Week 4

April 10, 2012 in Desserts & Baked Goods, Recipe, Woolworths & MasterChef SA 2012

Semolina Soji – Childhood Memories MasterChef SA Week 4


This post forms part of the series of recipes I am preparing for Woolworths, the food sponsor for MasterChef SA. It is a Food and the Fabulous Endorsed project and I will be remunerated for it

You can read it on Woolie’s blog here:

Childhood Memories & Comfort Food

I spent my childhood in Pietermaritzburg in the Natal Midlands, with frequent visits to my grandparents in Durban. I have fond memories of eating with my family – every gathering, whether a special prayer or a meal shared after a short drive to a relative’s home was marked by a meal or at least a hot snack served with Crerars cool drink (the Natal equivalent of the Cape’s Bashew’s) or a cup of tea. Always Ceylon.
I remember the sticky hot summers, eating stringy, over-ripe mangoes and plump litchies in my maternal grandparents’ garden with my brother, watching my Ayah (what to we lovingly called our gran) cut green mangoes from the trees, to be dried in the sun and made into tangy, spicy pickle.
I recall the comfort of potato curry and steaming hot rotis, rolled up and eaten with our hands while we sat inside the kitchen as the afternoon rains wet the earth. That smell too, of the rains in Natal is etched lovingly in my memory. Second to my parents, it is one of the things I miss most about living in the Midlands.
On cold or rainy days, my mother would often make a small pot of soji – a rich, buttery semolina dessert made with cardamom, cinnamon and slivered almonds. In later years my mother used flaked almonds that she’d toast. My brother didn’t care for the golden sultanas she added, juicy and sweet, but I loved them.
The smell of the semolina browning in butter is heady and welcoming, an instant reminder of my mother’s kitchen. Soji is akin to nursery food -a buttery bowl of simple, soothing comfort, and home

Poached Eggs on a Chilli Tomato Sauce – Woolworths and MasterChef SA

March 28, 2012 in Recipe, Woolworths & MasterChef SA 2012

Poached Eggs on a Chilli Tomato Sauce – Woolworths and MasterChef SA

image by Catherine Scott, styled by myselfI’m honoured and excited to have been appointed one of four official Woolworth’s bloggers for MasterChef SA. Woolworths is the pantry sponsor for the series.

As a food and wine loving community, we have been a-buzz and a-flutter since last year awaiting South Africa’s first MasterChef series – after all we have cooking and blogging friends who entered the competition and some who are contestants, and chefs from our community who are either judges, working in the background on the show or will appear in later episodes. It’s a truly proud moment for all of us.

The first in my contributions to the MasterChef themes is on Eggs. I submitted three recipes and my Rich Dark Chocolate Soufflé with Honey Almond Cream was featured on Woolworth’s Pantry page. I also encourage you to have a look and try out this easy step-by-step  Healthy Poached Eggs with a Spicy Tomato Chilli Sauce and my fantastic  all-in-one Bacon and Egg Breakfast Cups too.

All images here styled by myself and shot by my talented friend Catherine Scott.

Cooking with Eggs

Most people who cook regularly (chefs and home cooks alike) will attest to the incredible nutrition contained in and the versatility of the humble egg. When the pantry and fridge are bare, a frittata or omelette made with left over veggies and herbs will feed a family. On other occasions, an egg can be dressed up as the perfect brunch- poached eggs on steamed asparagus for example or in a light-as-air soufflé for dessert. I understand that the more complicated dishes can seem daunting. The answer to perfecting these egg dishes lies in two very simple aspects. Firstly make sure you get the freshest, and best quality free range eggs and secondly practice! When you remove fear from the equation, anything can be achieved in the kitchen. Cook with confidence and the eggs will know who’s the chef.

Poaching Eggs

This recipe for Poached eggs on a thick Chilli Tomato sauce is a healthy spin on the classic Eggs Benedict (a buttery egg yolk sauce). A sprinkling of chopped chives and a squeeze of  fresh lime add a flavourful zing to this summery dish.
After trying several techniques, I find this to be the best way to poach eggs. Use fresh free range eggs and familiarise yourself with the procedure before you start. Have everything, including the slotted spoon and the bowl of ice ready, once the water starts to boil.  It really is over in under three minutes! Grill the English muffins and prepare the thick chilli tomato sauce in advance so you can plate up with ease. One egg is poached at a time, but for a crowd, you can slip the eggs back into the warm water to heat just before serving. Prepare the yolk to your liking- I find that two and a half minutes on my stove is more than sufficient for a cooked egg but runny yolk consistency. Cooking times differ according to heat of your stove plate. Have fun Chefs!

Poached Eggs on a Chilli Tomato Sauce


Makes 4 servings

4 extra large free range eggs
2 T white spirit vinegar
2 English Muffins, sliced in half and toasted
6 chives, finely chopped
½ small lime

For the sauce

1 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
410 g chopped, peel tomatoes
½ t sugar
1 red chilli, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Cooking instructions


Heat a pan on medium heat and add the oil. Add the onions and fry till they just start to brown.
Add the garlic and chilli and fry for a few seconds.
Add the tomatoes, sugar and salt. Cook for 5 minutes and reduce the heat.
Cook until the sauce thickens by half, stirring so that the sauce does not catch at the bottom of the pan. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and add freshly ground pepper.
Set the sauce aside.

 Full recipe on Food and the Fabulous

Poaching Eggs – how to: step-by-step

L-R, TOP-BOTTOM: Simmer, add vinegar, vortex, slip egg in, turn with spoon, timer, remove, ice bath