You are browsing the archive for 2011 May.

Mood food for blue Meatless Monday

May 30, 2011 in Sauces & side dishes, Soups, starters and light meals, Vegetarian & vegetable dishes

At first I thought what a silly idea to pick Monday as save-the-world-day by encouraging people to go meatless. I mean, Mondays are traditionally blue, meaning we’re already not feeling in the mood for what lies ahead after Sundays. But when the second thought arrived months later (it’s an age thing, Miranda – it’s going to happen to you too …), I realized it’s quite clever to pick on Mondays because it holds the potential to alleviate that moody Blue Monday syndrome by steering us into the veggie direction … in case you wake up over the moon and never experience a blue Monday mood, let me explain: it’s that sinking feeling most of us get after a weekend of chillaxing or thrill-outing without a care in the world when the alarm rings in the dark next to your bed and spitefully and urgently reminds us of you-know-what? It’s a feeling that can become a full blown bad mood by the time we leave the loo on a Monday morning.. !

 

Well people, if you suffer from blue Mondays, cheer up. Apparently spinach can help to put the smiles back on our dials. It’s because spinach (and other dark green leafy vegetables) offers us the nutrient folate and if we have sufficient levels of that little mamma’s helper, then we are A for away in the mood department. Lentils and citrus fruits are also bearers of the nutrient and it’s especially beneficial for pregnant mums as it reduces the risks of neural tube defects.

 

How much of the stuff we should eat, I don’t know but for me and my meatless Monday it’s good enough to know we should eat spinach to improve the blues. I suppose the amount really depends on the shade of blue you’re feeling which can range from baby blue to midnight blue. When the mood gets midnight blue I suggest also chomping your way through a heap of fresh basil leaves. It’s a great anti-depressant and will bring on the smile in no time.

 

But seriously, certain foods affect our brain function while others are grouped together in its own food group. We call them Comfort Foods – not necessarily good for us, but when we are down in the dumps we usually don’t care about the list of nutrient distinctions in our food, as long as it makes us feel better.

Now in my book on a day like today a happy, crisp and colourful spinach salad will push me deeper into the shades of blue. We have had a power failure and it just came on a minute ago and dependent as we are on power, I had to sit and feel sorry for myself without any comfort food because comfort food is usually also warm. And brown, like. Like meat balls in tomato sauce. Like chocolate brownies. Like Lam Bobotie. Like Malva Pudding. Like Beef Lasagne. Like we carnivores love it … every second meal contains meat…

 

Anyway, back to my spinach promotion: here is my suggestion for today. It’s a Spinach & Mushroom Roulade. It requires hardly any skill but a little effort – but it’s just the creamy, dreamy morsel to lift the mood. Start with a creamy tomato soup with crispy parmesan croutons if you have a healthy appetite. This is delicious winter mood food, just the sort of thing on this blue Monday. If you – after all my hard selling it to you – still not feel up to a little cooking, then go a detox today. A liquid diet is perfect so reach for the Old Brown Sherry. It is cold, miserable, very windy and just sort-of-wet outside. Bad combinations.

 

Blue Monday mood? Me? Nah! Pass me the OBS, please.

 

Spinach Roulade with Walnut-Mushroom Filling

 

Click here for the recipe, seriously its good!

 

http://www.ilovecooking.co.za

 

Sarie, no blog tomorrow. Will be in JHB for a few hours … so until Wednesday dears! XXX

 

Must-be top ten curries – Butter Chicken for sure!

May 27, 2011 in Chicken

Even though I was too busy yesterday to blog, I just HAD to pull the keyboard closer when I saw for the umpteenth day running, the “top five chicken curry recipes” and butter chicken does not feature on it. But when I tried to upload the post, it rejected my image and all efforts to upload a pretty picture. So I worked myself into such a frenzy of frustration, I chucked the whole day in the bin, got in my car and took my daughter for an impromptu lunch it being her birthday and all …  So here’s yesterday’s blog! 

 

But back to my defence of Butter Chicken: Yes, yes Miranda, I know that these  top lists work on how many of us viewed it so I will repost this Butter Chicken recipe hoping that it will receive so many views that next time a curry chicken recipe hit list hits our screens, Butter Chicken has taken its rightful place as a top curry …

 

Maybe I am biased towards Indian curries but Butter Chicken (or Murgh Makhani) is one of the most popular curries all over the world albeit home-made or restaurant fare. It is usually served with breads such as naan, roti and paratha or bowls of fragrant steamed rice. People often confuse it with Chicken Tikka Masala, a similarly-looking chicken dish that only evolved amongst the home-sick South Asian diaspora in the U.K… and today more Brits scoff Chicken Tikka Masala than their Indian neighbours!

 

The chicken is best marinated overnight in a rich, full-cream yogurt and the spice mixture best made yourself (see recipe below). Makhani, the sauce, is made by simmering tomato puree with various spices.

 

I can find no explanation as to why it is called Butter Chicken but I do know that if you add cream, you may find yourself on a well-buttered high-way to Food Heaven! But you did not read that … instead, you read that seasoned Indian (what a lekka pun!) chefs usually add a paste made of finely ground roast cashew nuts which makes the sauce also kind of outta-this-world-creamy!

 

One word of caution: do not have a heavy hand with the spices like cumin and fenugreek. Too much of it usually leaves a bitter taste. But however darlings, of all the spices added to the dish it is dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) that makes the greatest contribution to the characteristic flavour of this classic curry.

 

O dear, I can see the stores having to stock up on chicken breasts … but please, buy the ones with the bones and skin intact. Cheaper, tastier and it only takes a few minutes to debone. Getting whole breast, you also score lovely bones for your next chicken soul!

 

One last thing: this recipe works extremely well if you use fish or prawns instead of chicken. Yummy!

 

Butter Chicken

 

 

Click here for the recipe:  http://www.ilovecooking.co.za/recipes.php?categorie=4§ion=detail&recipe=28

 

Enjoy!

 

 

First aid for frosty fingers: Curry Lamb Soup with Green Bean Chili Bites

May 25, 2011 in Soups, starters and light meals

Here’s help for those frosty feet and fingers: a spicy, hearty lamb soup served with crispy little chilly bites which will give you a delectable crunch between those chattering teeth. And it may just also use up those small portions of veggies you have in the fridge and freezer that you reckon are too good to trash and too little to make a meal … However, this recipe is not entirely a moerby (chuck everything in) soup. No. It asks for a crucial core ingredient: lamb meat and its stock.

 

But you don’t have to go broke on investing in locally-grown organic lamb especially for this soup. If you’re lucky you can get the imported Australian or Irish lamb packs that are frozen – they are usually on special … and instantly goes my effort to live green by buying local … s*&^ up in smoke! But honestly, really, it’s a matter of making wise choices and ‘balance’ and ‘common sense’ are really the same – to my mind. (Obviously, my buzzword this week is ‘balance’!) But the way I reckon is that when you have to choose between going broke for buying a soup’s core ingredient locally or buying the same ingredient at an affordable cost from elsewhere in the world, then I’d say be common and buy cheap especially if you do not have to travel there to get it leaving a massive carbon footprint! Often, you can get it right here at your local supermarket and the best thing is, you can continue freezing it until the urge for lamb soup grabs you. (On that note, the quality and flavour of those lamb packs are really not the best to my mind. Perhaps it’s the age or the distance it had to travel but for a curry, a soup or a stew, these lambs are just perfect.)

 

That said, you do not need a lot of lamb but you need to cook it long and lovingly to extract all flavour and get the meat very tender before you add the rest of the ingredients. And you will need to skim the fat off the stock when it’s cooled-down otherwise your soup will be too rich and glisten with globs of floating fat on top attracting far too much attention. But other than that, easy peasy!

 

The chilli bites are just as easy to make and don’t even think of omitting them from this recipe. It ensures that the whole thing comes together as a meal.

 

Enjoy!

 

Curry Lamb Soup with Green Bean Chilli Bites

 

 

Get the recipe on:

 

 

 http://www.ilovecooking.co.za/recipes.php?categorie=1&section=detail&recipe=156

 

 

 

 

 

The pie’s the limit!

May 24, 2011 in Meat

Pies have made a come-back and it’s like  a new food fashion: “Bye Thai! Hi pie!” And I am glad that pie is being re-established as a desirable food item. I just love the idea of biting expectantly into great, crispy pastry waiting for a delicious, juicy gem-of-a-filing to start oozing out. If it’s a good pie, it is bliss!

 

Yet, it’s been a long time now that pies have been maligned as ‘bad’ for us. Yes true, some pies are laden with bad fats and toxic chemicals and refined carbohydrates (that’s white flour and white sugar, Miranda) and it takes a no-brainer to know that those pies are to be avoided. But my worst dining experience is not bad food, no. It’s that friend or family member (we all have at least one of them!) who has taken on the role of being ‘the brother’s keeper’ and will tediously tell us (usually over a meal) how bad what we are eating (or have just eaten) is for us. In my experience, these folk are looking for a discussion or a debate or want to impress the other diners with their knowledge while they are actually not holistically wired. Which makes it entirely inappropriate for them to stage such a conversation at such a time ..! An expert or professional will not try to convert us over a meal and if they do, it will be from concern and they will use facts, stats and compelling arguments. Not just drone on and one like auntie Sannie about pies being junk food …

 

I usually stop these nosey parkers from further spoiling our meals with the simple question “What are your thoughts on balance?” And you know what? Usually they clumsily tango their way through a not-very-intellectual explanation of fat and flour and food without specifics or fascinating stats … and eventually they change the subject themselves when they realise we are all simply carrying on eating! Usually that food which they are warning us about …

 

But enough about them and let’s move on to the luscious pie I intend to share with you. There are so many recipes for homemade pies and they range from the humble cottage pie to the trickier duck and cherry pies to pork pies and dessert pies like even lemon merengue pie. From simple to grand and from sweet to savoury, right now pie feature on many gourmet menus – until they go out of fashion again but until such time, I will have my pie and eat it.

 

Pie may not be your thing to make or eat, but for me, the trouble is worth double the pleasure if it’s a great homemade pie. Here is my best recipe – and containing no hidden ‘baddies’ – only good, honest ingredients. And with balance in mind: obviously, if you are serving a pie rich in saturated fat and/or sugar, you’d balance out the other foods on the menu. With this hearty lamb pie for instance, you only need to serve a fresh green salad with a fat-free honey & mint yogurt dressing. Then if somebody tries to rob you of your limelight at the table by talking about foods that are bad for you, simply say what we all want to say: “Los my pie en waai!” (Stop eating my pie and go.)

 

Enjoy!

Rustic Lamb Pie

  

Click here for the recipe:

 

http://www.ilovecooking.co.za/recipes.php?categorie=6&section=detail&recipe=54

 

Soy it’s meatless Monday, right? Then Spicy Veggie Bake it is!

May 23, 2011 in Vegetarian & vegetable dishes

You know, we always had meatless days in our weeks. It’s just lately that some-or-other okey got the alliteration of Meatless Mondays in his head and now we all scratch ours thinking of what to cook on Mondays. Now even Oprah fell in love with the concept (Now? Where has she been the last few years…?!) and so, here is my contribution to world safety: a spicy vegetable and soy bake.

 

This is a large, hearty recipe and like most recipes destined to be the family meal, you can chop and change to your heart’s desire. Serve with the usual curry sambals: chopped tomato salad, sliced bananas and chopped nuts dredged with plain yoghurt and honey and some crispy pappadums.

 

So enjoy – no long chatty poohs today. Must rush to Cape Gate where we are shooting the new Reggie’s Rush … eh … rushes. Several lucky kids get to rush like mad hatters finding hidden gift vouchers and what they find, they may keep.  Talk about finder’s keepers … this is IT!

 

Spicy Veggie Bake

 

 

 

Click here to get the recipe: http://www.ilovecooking.co.za/recipes.php?categorie=10&section=detail&recipe=143

 

Until tamarra! XXX

 

 

   

Make your own sensational Sticky Ribs

May 20, 2011 in Meat

It looks like fair (ish) weather this weekend so my veranda overlooking the beach of ‘Beach’ (English for Strand, where I now finally live on the water’s edge, a lifelong dream!) will be teeming with a small army of enthusiastic braaiers and their partners, the equally enthusiastic and appreciative eaters. And we will have my homemade sticky ribs …

 

 

The view from the ribs!

 

Coming to think of it, the one thing you seldom see on a braai is a rack of homemade sticky ribs. Could it be the schlepp? I think so. It is a hell of a schlepp because you first have to buy the best ribs, cut and trimmed properly (read the recipe for advice and get them from Checkers or Spar or your own butcher, dear), then you have to cook them until tender in a special cooking liquid 9see recipe), then you have to make a superbly tasty basting sauce and then you have to braai them! That said, trust me and believe me and just do it and you’ll thank the stars forever that you read this blog. And on the schelpp note, make life easy on yourself and do nto have any other meats on the braai for this occasion. And serve simple side dishes. Do like they do in restaurants: baked potato and a side salad. Coleslaw dressed with a mustardy mayo is perfect and easy as you can even buy the fresh cabbage and carrots already shredded!

 

Once you have made and tasted and seen your friends and family relish your own homemade sticky ribs, you that it’s a lot like making homemade bread and pasta: you may not do it often but you swear it is and will always be the best ever! And your family and friends all agree. So roll up your sleeves and get ribbin’ – remembering that this recipe, like many others, can be altered to suit your own taste. Just the way you like it and just the way it should be. Enjoy!

 

Sensational Sticky Ribs

 

 

Click here to get it:http://www.ilovecooking.co.za/recipes.php?categorie=8&section=detail&recipe=155

 

PS: Don’t even be tempted to skip the poaching stick part … you may not like the end result!

  

The tribe has spoken – retailers take note

May 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

 

And so it is … not good! The impromptu quickie research we did last week about online readers’ views on food brands revealed more bad and ugly than good. Fascinating was the fact that even though we asked for comments on ‘food brands’ and ‘brand experiences’, we received comments about only one food brand, Ultra Mel Custard (* See end of post). The rest of the comments were about food retailers and two of those giants only received comments flagged as ‘bad’ or ‘ugly’.

 

Ironically, started by ‘consumer friend’ Raymond Ackerman, Pick ‘n Pay got the most flak. Ugly flak. Comments flew in about their bad service, bad attitude and in general, unfriendly and un-co-operative staffers. Readers rated shopping there as a bad experience.

 

Not surprisingly Fruit ‘n Veg City following closely. Readers were commenting on the lack of service, lack of attention to detail, bad service and here, bad produce came into the picture. Readers were even complaining about branded products on the shelves having gone off or still for sale after its sell-by or expiry dates.

 

But not a single negative comment landed in our inbox about our best housekeeping partner, Woollies. Instead, readers had glowing comments about their staff’s friendliness, professionalism, caring and efficient attitude. Checkers also received hearty comments and even their cousin Shoprite received a few good ovations.

 

Significantly, online readers regard food retailers as ‘food brands’. This is something that the people who run our large food retailers should hear: they are our brand- and housekeeping partners! And they need to understand that the human experience is not only about what we eat or drink or sit on or what we drive around in or how much and what we indulge in or how we jump from bridges or gamble or risk for thrills. The most fundamental human experience is to have a relationship and most events in our daily lives revolve around a continuous string of relationships with people we are having human experiences with – at that time. Even if it is putting petrol in the car, for those few minutes, we are having a relationship and sharing an experience with another human being – a significant other human being as he is assisting us in achieving our goal to travel from point A to point Z! And the same goes for the supermarket cashier who bangs our new mugs and crushes our packet of crisps and squashes our fresh crispy bread and bumps and shatters our fragile glass noodles and does not tender our chip credit card back and who should be glad is not near us a few days later when we are unable to pay for lunch with our best friend and why? Because the cashier is not having a good human experience with her boss and her job! So the relationship between us and that cashier is dysfunctional and like all dysfunctional relationships, the end result is and experience in which we lost something: time, money, dignity, temper, patience, pleasure, joy, peace … name it, you will have lost something.

 

So, how can food retailers improve on the shopping experience? In a word: training. They should spend time and effort in investing in their people and the improvement of their skills – including social and people-handling skills. Here is what makes Woollies different and way ahead of the pack: their staff. Yes, we all know about their quality but it would mean pie nothing if their staff were not smartly dressed, clean, friendly, energetic, intelligent, helpful, and above all, makes us feel relevant. Even the cashiers make me feel that my purchases are relevant as they pack it with care and thought and intelligence and logic and nothing is broken or squashed when I get home. Relevant: that is the human yearning – to feel relevant and something as ordinary as food shopping is not free from this human expectation.

 

When we walk into a food store we are charged with all sorts of emotions and intentions. We have our after-tax money in our pockets and we have a heart full of desire to care for our loved ones. We want to buy well and wisely and we want to feel that we are relevant in the store’s wellbeing as we are … after all dammit, the geese that lay the golden eggs with our golden chip cards!

 

Although we are a nation of moaners we often moan in private or to people who cannot change the situation. But the point of this whole exercise is to get you to complain! To complain in the right way to the right person is the only way to achieve change and improvement of service and produce.

 

So it’s time to enhance our consumer skills and here is how to do it (and not to) when you have something to complain about.

 

Here is my list of do’s and don’ts and as you may have gathered, I really know my oats and the ropes when it comes to consumer complaints that work!  Click here:   http://ilovecooking.co.za/blog/?p=152

 

And the best comments came from Janine van Houten and K Naidu (do you have a first name?) – gift vouchers on their way already – my personal compliments enjoy! 

  

(*) These were actually good comments as many readers were complaining that they cannot find Ultra Mel in store. One commented: “Our family’s emotional security blanket has been discontinued”! I get it the outcry … removing this dreamy custard from our store shelves is like removing cheese, coffee or chocolates from our lives!

 

Best voter’s roll … Flaky Chick & Veg Strudel!!

May 18, 2011 in Chicken, Vegetarian & vegetable dishes

On this day of voting it’s also my friend Marthinus and my birthdays so we are first going to vote and then – depending on what we see at the voting station and in honour of the fact that we are actually legally on the voter’s roll – we will either prepare my renowned Boerrasic Boerie Rolls or sushi or even something wrapped in flaky pastry for lunch. Eh … it may even be dinner if there are miles of lines at the voting stations…

 

Anyway. My vote today will go for the Flaky Chick & Veg Strudel as it is homely, hearty and easy to make. Just what one needs after standing in a long line to vote knowing it may count or not knowing you may make a difference or not knowing that you may not be knowing anything about the future. But I am digressing …

 

What I like about the chicken strudel is that we can pick up a moist, tasty roast chicken on our way back to my place and you have to know that Woollies makes the best butter puff pastry and the very best cheese sauce …. one stop shopping is really my thing lately! Especially now that petrol costs so much … I reckon every kilometre driven in my car costs around R1.80 in petrol! So you may as well shop at Woollies and save petrol, money and the entire world by minimising your carbon footprint.

 

But if expensive ready-made ingredients are not your thing, don’t fret, pet. I actually wrote this recipe to use up left over chicken and you can also take care of all those little tiny pieces of cheese that offer too little quantity for a sauce or a sandwich but collectively, those little pieces are usable in this recipe either with the chicken mixture or in the sauce. They will add even more taste and will also add more kilojoules but what the heck, we only vote once every few years and presumably you will have stood for hours in a long line to leave your mark on our destiny! (I find that such an awesome thought: to leave your mark on our destiny – so go vote …!)

 

Flaky Chicken & Veg Strudel

  

 

Chick here for the recipe: http://www.ilovecooking.co.za/recipes.php?categorie=4§ion=detail&recipe=32

 

If I can’t have meat … give me corn!

May 16, 2011 in Sauces & side dishes, Soups, starters and light meals, Vegetarian & vegetable dishes

Instead of risking the entire world’s future by cooking a meat course for dinner on this Meatless Monday, rather prepare this yummy, savoury, tangy cheese soufflé with just enough aromatic sweetness from the corn kernels to balance the taste buds.

 

And frozen corn is brilliant in this recipe as it is in many other recipes! I just love frozen corn and frozen peas and frozen pumpkin and frozen … anything that offers great quality and great nutrition (two of my most important criteria when spending my hard-earned after-tax money on food) and that saves me time and effort! 

 

I reccently had to write the back-of-pack serving suggestions for Nature’s Garden frozen veggies and my o my, what a delight it was to see that they actually have astonishingly good veggies in those packs. Watch out for the new packs in a few week’s time (I’ll alert you) so that you can see my handywork at the back o f the packs … tralaaa ..! 

 

Must jut tell you that I am astonished at the feedback comments we received from our little fun research we had asking you to comment on anything good or bad or ugly you could on food brands. We even got a whole lot on yesterday – on the Sunday! As promised, I will write about it on my blog later on this week.

 

So, without any further ado, here is my dinner recipe of tonight:

 

Twice-Baked Corn, Cheese & Chive Soufflés

 

 

Click here to see get the recipe and much, much more!

 

http://www.ilovecooking.co.za/recipes.php?categorie=9&section=detail&recipe=76

 

Nuts about toffee!

May 13, 2011 in Baking, desserts & sweets

If you love toffee this is your day! ‘Sublime’ is not a word I often use, but my butter and cashew nut toffees are well … you have to taste them to figure out another description but I bet ‘sublime’ will pop into your head. Honestly, I am not the slightest bit shy to brag about them and if you also want to experience real, honest-to-goodness creamy toffee, roll up your sleeves and get out the sugar and butter and nuts and a few extra bits delectable and bobs. This weekend the clan (meaning my kids and theirs) is coming over and I will have ready a batch of these toffees, for sure.

 

Yes, yes, yes … to all the healthy watchdogs: I know sugar and butter could cause anything from rolling eyeballs to obesity and everything in between but so could most other foods if you have too much of it. For me one of the few great burdens of life is to be faced with culinary boredom, eating the same kind of food day in, day out. Even after two consecutive meals of say, soup, I get itchy fingers and perverted taste buds and stalk my fridge and pantry for a drastic change on the menu. So yes, eating healthily is the best way to go but hell girls, once in a while veering towards the decadent isle in the food department is just the right thing to do for your body. The excitement releases valuable endorphins necessary to boost you immune system and the sensual pleasure lifts the mood and so your quality of life. I am beginning to sound like a manufacturer of coffee, chocolate or red wine by using health as a side benefit and unique selling point for my toffees! But balance is healthy and without toffee once in a while, I feel ‘imbalanced’ and there, full justification for toffee this weekend …

 

There are only a few ingredients in this recipe, mainly sugar, butter, nuts and chocolate. So please Miranda, make sure you use the best ingredients. The French could not teach me to talk their language, but they did teach me one thing about food: quality of ingredients. They taught me that shopping deserves more praise than cooking. When buying food in a supermarket I always remember that it’s easy to make great meals with great ingredients but hard to make even a passable meal with sub-standard ingredients.

 

Yesterday’s blog asked your opinion about food brands and girls …! When it came to the ugly and bad, two retail giants stood out like a bleeding boil on a bride’s chin! I will tell you about it next week but first my toffees: progressively the standard of our food is declining. It’s a fact like the moon and sun and the ebb and flow of the sea in front of my apartment. And our butters and fats are declining even faster on account of worsening work ethics affecting cooling and manufacturing processes. How many packets of rancid butter have you thrown out – rancid butter that made your entire dish in which you used it smells like a mad cow’s breath? So don’t risk this recipe for the sake of cheap butter. Go for the best you can afford and save elsewhere on your food bill for the week. Any event, the toffees that you make will still be cheaper than bought ones and a gazillion times more delicious!

 

We use Lurpak for all our recipes and videos on the website and no, we do not get it for free because they advertise with us … we buy it like anybody else. And the reason we do is that we are smitten and in love with the taste, the texture and the results we get when using it in our cooking. That’s why. We save money in many, many other ways but not on ingredients that can reduce the taste and end result of our cooking. There is no point, we feel, in spending any kind of money and effort on ingredients that may render the entire exercise of lovingly preparing food for sustenance and joy fruitless, so to speak. And horrors, whatever you do, no margarine in this recipe. It will not work at all! There is something in the milk solids in butter that just ‘does it’ to this recipe whereas margarine makes it oily – yuck.

 

So without any more do, let’s make toffee – good luck!

 

Sublime Butter & Cashew Nut Toffees

 

 

Click below for the recipe and treat yourself:  watch Chef Adelie cook this recipe by clicking on the “watch video” tab when you are on the recipe page.

 

Click here:  http://www.ilovecooking.co.za/recipes.php?categorie=§ion=detail&recipe=106 

 

On this page you can also download the recipe or print it. And stop fretting about your cap. Our videos are light and fast and economical. Remember we are actually television program producers so we know about these things. Well, my crew actually … but it feels good to boast about IT and VoD and HRT at my age … LOL!

 

Lekker weekend ahead … go and have a fabulous braai. I will have a yummy meatless recipe for you on Monday!