November 30, 2011 in Uncategorized
You are browsing the archive for 2011 November.
November 25, 2011 in Uncategorized
To all the hardworking and smart peeps at food24: good luck with the move!
Thank you for doing this and can’t wait to see you on the other side!
November 24, 2011 in Soups, starters and light meals
Even before internet social networking, in the late 80s and 90s, we were already quite show-offish about what who we were, what we had, what we did and with whom. It was just terribly expensive at the time. We called it entertaining and being the hostess with the mostest was a highly coveted title. And to my own horror and shame I have to confess that I was terribly hard aspiring to be one of those …. And I felt had every reason to be: I owned an advertising and marketing consultancy which just made my efforts all the more well … big. (Ugh, blush.)
Happy hour for nice clients was a term used to describe the longest and hardest-drinking and canapé-nibbling Friday afternoons (and way into the evenings) in history. Intimate lunch for good clients meant the refrigerated catering and booze trucks were parked near the kitchen for at least eight hours with their waiters, chefs and barmen on full alert all the time.
And then one day I decided to cook as it was for very rich, very powerful clients and I wanted to impress them but instead, it started the end of my glorious reign as a fêted hostess …
It started with the marketing director of a massive supermarket chain being late and we were into the main course already. He was immediately served his starter course and soon caught up with the rest of us jolly lot (Dimple Haig on the rocks helped him along nicely!)
A few days later I received a call from his office and before the secretary put me through to him, she mentioned that the boss really enjoyed the lunch but was sorry that he was late because his soup was ice cold. I bit my tongue for a change because the soup that day was the most authentic Andalusian Gazpacho I could muster up …!
When the funny settled down amongst us in the office, the moral of the story hit: if you want people to like you, keep it true, honest, real, sincere, simple and unpretentious. After all, why would a bunch of very rich, very powerful people evaluate my marketing skills from a gazpacho? How far is a marketing campaign roll-out from a roulade? Huh …? Exactly..!
Today I know for sure even though many clients may appreciate and adore good food, they are mostly impressed with work ethics, quality of work, service and delivery of results … not by any cooking and entertaining skills (unless it’s your job). So unbeknowns to me my culinary skills did not define me but rather labelled me and not always too kindly as many insightful people saw beyond the cooking vapors, they confessed later … Ouch.
So it was a very liberating journey to wean myself off the admiration and yes, adoration I yearned for and thought my culinary and hosting skills would earn me. And as a bonus I gained much, much more time to focus on my career. And the big surprise was that, the admiration and strokes one gets from a job well done, are as sweet as (if not sweeter than) the compliments earned by cooking a fancy meal.
But ola! The gazpacho stayed and the good news is it’s no longer a precious-precious authentic Andalusian delight but has evolved to a very lekker local dish and it has happened on a few occasions that my daughter and I make five litres (yes!) and within two days, we polish it off! It gets better with a day or so resting in the fridge and … OK, there are usually others around who dip into the stash as we do it on holiday when we are many …
This recipe ticks all the boxes: local produce, seasonal and cool in summer, nourishing, hearty, it’s unpretentious and above all, delicious. And it’s a recipe that you can make as spicy, sour, sweet or herby as you wish.
So! Long story short about Countdown to Chrismas … and New Year’s Day for that matter. This is a scene setter of note! Serve in small pretty glasses (double shot glasses are perfect) as an appetiser … and serve with a batch of Cheesy Grissini. Then, if you serve this for New Year’s Day, set the tone by adding a shot glass of neat, frozen vodka on the side. It gets the lot verbose and jolly in no time … read it all in the recipe hint. Enjoy!
November 21, 2011 in Salads
There is so much to eat and so little time! This is my favourite season for eating (and so is winter… what can I say …?) because there is an abundance of sweet, juicy fruits and delectable veggies and herbs and edible flowers around.
So, before I carry on with my Countdown to Christmas menu, here is my latest invention: a little salad that tickles the cockles of my little heart right down to my soles. And following it, a selection of recipes already on my favourite recipe website.
Strawberry, Apple & Gorgonzola Salad with Sweet-Sour Walnut Dressing
An unlikely combination of flavours and textures but the crunch of the apple and sweetness of the strawberries combine heavenly with the bitter of the leaves and saltiness of the cheese.
1 large red apple
16 ripe strawberries (you can use more or less, depending on their size)
500 - 750 ml baby salad leaves (especially tatsoi, if you can get)
handful celery leaves , torn
handful Italian parsley, torn
handful basil leaves, torn
50 – 100 g walnuts, toasted and chopped
125 – 200 g gorgonzola or any other blue cheese, broken or cut into nuggets
90 ml walnut or macadamia oil
30 ml white balsamic vinegar
15 ml sugar
salt and freshly-milled black pepper to taste
Wash the apple, core and slice in wafer-thin slices. Dredge in a little lemon juice diluted with water then drain, pat dry and set aside. Wash and hull the strawberries and quarter or halve, depending on their size.
Wash and spin completely dry all the salad leaves and herbs and arrange on a platter. Tuck in the apple slices and scatter with the strawberries and walnuts. Top with the gorgonzola nuggets.
Whisk together the rest of the ingredients and drizzle over the salad or serve on the side. Serve salad immediately.
Serves 4 – 6 depending on course … starter, mains or side dish.
Hint: if you do not like blue cheese, I’m afraid you’ll have to settle for another salad. Or maybe, just maybe some black pepper feta would be a suitable substitute but I cannot guarantee anything.
More seasonal salads
Here is a link to more salad recipes, using ingredients in season right now and many of these salads, offering a meal-in-one – perfect for now …. lazy el fresco meals outdoors, summer fantastic! Click on the link for the full index or on the recipe headings below: Salad Index
(Divine with Moroccan-style roast lamb)
(Meaning garlicy, peppery yum! Ring the changes from the potato bake at your next braai!)
(Cheap, chearful and lovely with bread and wine on long lazy Saturday afternoons …)
November 17, 2011 in Baking, desserts & sweets
Ever since the long shoot-on-location we’ve had, I have food cravings like a pregnant woman. The latest is lusting and frankly, obsessing after sweet, juicy fruit and thick, creamy Greek yoghurt. Whether I eat them jointly or separately, it does not matter – as long as it’s cold and juicy. And in my obsessive pursuit for the best quality juicy summer fruits and berries, I’ve discovered Woollies Vanilla Paste … so well … now, go figure….!
Needless to say, there is a glut of fruity recipes on its way to you!
Take full advantage of the summer’s bounty of berries. This is one of those add-to-taste recipes which means you can make the strawberry sauce as sweet or as thick as you like. And as flexible the quantities, so variable are the uses. It can be enjoyed as a dessert, part of a dessert served warm with ice cream for instance. Similarly it can be breakfast, part of breakfast and even enjoyed as a snack in between.
600 – 750 g ripe and fresh strawberries, hulled
65 – 90 ml castor sugar (or to taste)
10 ml lemon juice
15 – 30 ml corn starch (or to taste)
750 ml Greek yoghurt (or even fat-free plain yoghurt)
a few squirts vanilla paste
Take at least two thirds of the strawberries and slice them coarsely. Place in a processor and process until smooth. If you want to remove all seedy bits, push the sauce through a sieve then transfer to a saucepan. Add half of the sugar and the lemon juice and bring the mixture to a boil. Mix the corn starch with a little cold water and add as much of it to the sauce as you like to thicken to your taste. Stir until thick and glossy then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool.
Just before serving, halve the remaining strawberries and sprinkle with a little sugar. Now, sweeten the yoghurt to taste with the remaining sugar and add a squirt or two of vanilla paste and mix well.
To serve, spoon a generous portion of the sauce into the bottom of suitable pretty glasses or bowls and top with a thick layer of sweetened vanilla yoghurt. Spoon a layer of the remaining sauce over and top with halved strawberries. Finish with a small mint leaf and serve.
Hint: You can omit corn starch from the sauce and rapidly boil the mixture until reduced and thickened to your liking
Another gorgeous berry offering I have for your is my Lite and Easy Strawberry Jam.
Can’t get enough of the stuff and the sauce in the recipe above, was inspired by this easy jam. It’s excellent with vetkoek !
November 15, 2011 in Soups, starters and light meals
The heading for this post was at 5 am this morning, Countdown to Christmas. After the frustration of trying to get a post loaded using the lethal combination of Explorer and Letterdash, I was totally ready to throw the PC and all it’s peripherals, out of the window into the sea beneath. Anyway, it finally loaded and here it is.
The festive season is nearly upon us and if you’re like me, you hate the work that goes with it … if you have to do it in a hurry. However, if you are organised and ready before the guests arrive, you magically all-of-a-sardines love it.
The trick is to choose your menu well – in addition to being prepared, of course. As locally we have hot weather, go for cold dishes. And above all, easy dishes!
In the next few weeks I will share with you some festive food ideas so let’s start with the starters … or rather, appetisers.
For any of the festive day meals it’s important to remember that an appetizer is just a little bit more than a snack. It is not supposed to be a course and satisfy the appetite. It is supposed to whet the appetite so keep it small, tasty, juicy. You have put a lot of effort into the mains and desserts, I presume so you do not want the starter or appetisers to spoil anything! Least of all, any appetites!
Almost- Caprese Appetiser
This tangy, delightfully clean and fresh-tasting appetizer combines all that we love in Italian food and flavours: colourful, aromatic, some tart, some fruity olives and deliciously herby. It’s a perfect pre-lunch starter for those long, hot festive days and events! And you can prepare literally everything the day before and dish up a few hours in advance!
Layer 1: Tomato & Red Pepper Brunoise
1 small red pepper
1 ripe tomato
1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
45 ml lemon-infused olive oil
Layer 2: Onion & Garlic Mascarpone
200 ml mascarpone cheese
4 spring onions, only the white parts chopped
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
15 ml olive oil
5 ml lemon juice
Layer 3: Basil Pesto & Wild Rocket
200 ml home-made basil pesto
250 ml wild rocket
To make the brunoise, skewer the red pepper, hold it over a gas flame until the skin blackens then pop into a plastic bag to sweat it off. Rinse the skin off under cold water, cut open the pepper, and remove the ribs and pips. Pat very dry then cut into tiny dice. Place in a mixing bowl. Plunge the tomato into boiling water, rinse under cold water, slip the skin off, remove the ribs and seeds and cut into tiny dice. Add to the red pepper. Congratulations, you have made a load of brunoise! Now stir in the chilli and lemon-infused olive oil and season to taste. Spoon about 15 ml of the mixture into 12 shot glasses and reserve the rest for your next salad, soup or sauce.
For the mascarpone layer, mix together al the ingredients and spoon in equal portions over the tomato and pepper brunoise layer in the glasses.
Top the whole lot with a layer of the basil pesto and garnish with the wild rocket. Serve with grissini (bread sticks) or toasted pita strips.
Serves 12 as an appetiser
If you want more appetiser and starter ideas, click here and then click on the Recipes & Videos tab. You will find a few great recipes under Soups, Starters, and Snacks.
And after all of that gefiddle, I am now going to pull a cork …
November 14, 2011 in Soups, starters and light meals
It was wild, wet and wonderful! But after shooting Challenge SOS, being indoors feels and looks like a consumer prison to me. Living in a little carefully-styled world being driven (and therefore bound) by ego desires, it’s easy to forget what life is actually about. This whole experience was a much-needed shot in the arm for me as, thanks to being up and outside by 5:00 am and even earlier some days, I am once again reminded and deeply touched by how simple and uncomplicated life could (should) be.
But locked into a life in suburbia, I have been forced back into my cushy carefully-styled little consumer world where …. all I can think of is food! Even though chef Riaan at Tri Active Lodge where we stayed on location cooked terrific meals, I eventualy started missing my kinda food and since I am back, have been overdosing on omelettes. Of all things.
Now everybody knows how to cook an omelette but do you know how Julia Childs cooked her omelettes? She shook the bejeesus out of her frying pan and through sheer agitation, the poor eggs obediently morphed into something very much resembling an omelette.
If you want to be fascinted by this old legendary sweetheart check it out on You Tube or simply by clicking here (I have hyperlinked it for you). I met the legend in the mid 90s on a Taste Australia tour and she was the butchest old girl around – almost if she could knit a Harley Davidson with her left hand! If you saw how she tackled a pork rib with a giant knife in one of the original viceo clips on You Tube (just Google Julia Child videos) you’d feel like a pious Delia Smith in your kitchen! But anyway, thanks to Julia, I shake up an omelette in much less than a minute and if I want a filling of sorts, I simply sprinkle the surface (before the shaking) with strong, tasty cheese. Finish and klaar without nonsence, like Ms Childs.
Here is my favourite version.
You will need:
2 large organic eggs
15 ml cold water (milk can make your omelette tough)
15 ml melted salted butter
10 – 15 ml fine herbes (parsley, chives, tarragon and cervil)
30 – 45 ml finely grated mature white cheddar
Ligtly beat all the ingredients except the cheese together. Heat a non stick pan (Scan Pan is the very best thing you can do for an omelette) over medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture and allow the bottom of the egg mixture to cook and set for 15 seconds. Sprinkle the cheese over the surface.
Now, gripping the pan handle firmly, start to shake the pan (watch Julia’s video, dear) to and fro on the plate. The omelette will rock and roll and as it does, it will cook and set and in doing so, the cooked particles will cling to each other for dear life. As soon as it comes together on one (sort-of) roll, flip it out of the pan over a plate and enjoy at once.
Chef’s note: It’s best to make only one omelette per pan at a time.
Since this is meatless Monday, here are two more egg recipes you may consider preparing for dinner tonight or any other meatless night of the week. Just click on the recipe name or picture.