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Easy Comforting Mushroom Soup

August 20, 2013 in SOUP, VEGETARIAN

Mushrooms! One of my absolute favourite ingredients to cook with. They are so versatile and there is so much that you can do with them. For the two years that I was undergoing my reconstructive surgeries I was unable to eat anything with a particular texture and mushrooms were just taboo…I did have some in bought cream of mushroom soup – most of it tasteless white stuff in a bowl or cup that I could not really identify with any mushroom….that deep earthy umami flavour was just missing and I longed for mushrooms, big brown ones stuffed with yummy delights and braaied outside over the coals, or delicious little marinated buttons that I could just pop in my mouth and taste the burst of flavour….whole baby mushrooms in a lively rich Boeuf Bourguignon or in a creamy beef stroganoff, or sliced porcinis and exotics in a delicious creamy mushroom and blue cheese risotto… ..Stir fried shiitake and exotics in an Asian Stir Fry! Oh I could go on and on! I have had my fill of mushrooms in all kinds of dishes since I have been able to eat them again these past 3 months or so and I am not tiring of them….last week, during the incredibly cold winter snap where the snow was falling on the surrounding mountains and we here at the coast were shivering in the bone biting accompanying wind and rain, I suddenly had the yearning to be holding a steaming bowl of homemade soup in my hands. I managed to get hold of my son who happened to be working locally that day and he went via the shop and bought me some fresh mushrooms and leeks and I set about picking thyme and parsley from the garden during a break in the rain. The aromas that filled the house were amazing. When hubby got back home from work he was very appreciative of the homely delicious smells that wafted out to meet him on the driveway.  I put a phone pic up on facebook of my saucepan full of sauteeing mushrooms leeks, thyme and garlic and got a lot of reaction out of it with friends asking for the recipe.

With all the rain and storms we have experienced our telephone cables got wet, as they do, so I was without internet for the better part of last week and the weekend. So I am excited to get onto my blogs, it is a very welcome and bright sunshiny day and I have 3 loads of laundry flapping in the slight breeze! And here I am in the dashboard of my blog finally and hoping for enough time on the interwebs to be able to write up my recipe and publish it…..a perfect meal for vegetarians and for Meatless Mondays!

Please click here for the recipe


browniegirl xx

Grilled Avocado with Prosciutto Parmesan and Pinenuts

July 31, 2013 in LIGHT MEALS, SALADS

It feels really good to be back blogging again after a lengthy hiatus. It has been exactly one year today since I blogged here on Kitchen Diary and Food 24 (not so long on my other blog) so it feels right that I post here on this day! What better recipe to share with you on this glorious sunshiney Cape Town day than this delicious Grilled Avocado with Prosciutto Parmesan and Pinenuts that I entered into the #Afrikado challenge run by ZZ2 Farms this month?

The smokiness from the griddle pan adds such a wonderful flavour to the normally mild tasting avocado. This recipe was inspired by the winter menu at The Red Herring Restaurant in Noordhoek. We went there for our recent 35th wedding anniversary and I had their grilled avocado starter which I really enjoyed. I took the basic elements from their dish and adapted it to suit my tastes, adding the chilli, prosciutto and parmesan. Of course using my homemade secret recipe ClemenGlaze added a delicious warm spicy, citrus touch!

Serves 2 as a starter


  • 1 Avocado sliced in half and stone removed
  • 1 Lemon or Lime – cut the cheeks off and reserve for serving
  • 2 Slices Prosciutto – at room temperature
  • 1 Red Chilli – finely sliced (remove seeds if you can’t stand the heat)
  • 5-10ml Olive Oil
  • 30ml Pinenuts – Use Walnuts roughly chopped up if preferred
  • Rocket or mixed baby lettuce leaves
  • Parmesan shavings
  • Coriander leaves
  • Balsamic Glaze

Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot

While that is heating up quickly dry toast your nuts in a non stick pan over high heat until lightly browned. Watch them carefully and toss every couple of seconds then allow to cool

Brush the cut surfaces of the avocado with a little olive oil and lemon juice then place cut side down onto the very hot griddle pan. Push it down gently onto the ridges so that all the surface gets nice charred lines across it. It takes about a minute at most.

Flip the avo over onto the skin side using a spatula then turn off the heat and leave it on the griddle pan to heat up nicely while you prepare your plate

Arrange a layer of rocket or lettuce leaves onto the plates

Using a piece of paper towel to hold the avocado halves gently peel off the hot skin – it comes off quite easily, then slice a thin layer off the rounded ends so that it can sit on the leaves without wobbling

Sprinkle over the pinenuts and the finely sliced chilli

Drizzle with the Balsamic Glaze

Tear the Prosciutto into long strips and place them decoratively on the plates putting one strip into the hollow of each avo half

Scatter over the Parmesan shavings and the coriander leaves. Use parsley if you prefer

Grind over some black pepper and sea salt flakes and serve immediately with the lemon or lime cheeks


Pinenuts are very expensive in South Africa so these can be substituted with walnuts which you toast whole then chop roughly once cool

A tip to easily remove the stone from the centre of the avocado – hold the avo half in one hand, smack the stone with a sharp knife, give a little twist then lift it out easily!

You can check out all  the buzz and recipes on twitter at #Afrikado or follow@ZZ2Farming  I also submitted these delicious brownies using avocado as a healthy fat instead of butter in the recipe, as well as my sneaky MORE than just guacamole and Nachos tart

browniegirl xx

Pumpkin Pops

July 30, 2012 in DESSERT, VEGETARIAN

About a week or so ago I was trawling the net, as one does sometimes, and came across a recipe for pumpkin poppers that I rather fancied. My mom used to make the most fabulous pumpkin fritters when we were kids and the memory of those had me scrambling to try out this recipe. Of course I pimped and adapted it to suit my needs and seeing as it is my favourite season….ClemenGold time I added some of those magical citrus fruits in and this is what I came up with…..

These were totally addictive and my two grandsons loved them…….the citrus cut through the spicy sweetness and I will definitely be trying them again. I would also like to try and bake some which is how the original recipe said they were done but I didn’t have a small muffin pan at the time. 

Please pop over and find the recipe for these delicious little pops of flavour here

Tyler and Jay are getting so big. They went fishing yesterday and Jay caught his first fish. So much excitement. Ty is already a regular fisherman :)

Have a great week,

browniegirl xx

A fantastic Giveaway Food and Wine Blogger Indaba

June 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 There is so much happening on the Indaba front that I rarely find the time to pop in to visit blogs or even to come and blog on my own blogs these days. But this is so important and special that I absolutely have to share it in case someone here has not been over to read the official SA Food and Wine Blogger Indaba blog lately. And if you haven’t I would encourage you….nay….URGE you to go and read the Agenda and if you would like to attend this very exciting event then book immediately. There are only 20 seats remaining. If you are on twitter (and once again I urge you to open an account and tweet if you own a blog) then follow me @Collywolly or the official Indaba account @SAFWiBI – there are AMAZING giveaways happening over there. You can also follow on the official Facebook page to keep up to date. I am sad to see that this event, the only one of it’s kind in Africa, is not well supported and advertised over here on this forum.  Subscribing to the Indaba blog posts will keep you totally abreast as well. I hate to think that anyone who has a passion for blogging will miss out because they didn’t know about this event.

I look forward very much to seeing some of your fabulous bloggers there……

Until then,

browniegirl xx

PS This competition closes midnight Friday 15 June 2012

Who DOESN’T want their blog audited right? I reckon every blogger should be clamouring for this particularly wonderful prize, valued at R5000 and available to only one lucky winner. Closing date is Friday evening, so get cracking on twitter if you would like to win this…..

One of the sessions at the Indaba that we are most excited about is the search engine optimisation workshop that will be run by Neil Pursey.  Most of you have probably heard of the term SEO but have no idea how to apply it to your own blog – and yet there are many fairly simple tips to make it easier for search engines to find your blog which Neil will share with you at his workshop.

Neil is the owner of WebGrowthFoxyTonic and co-founder of the GROW Academy. He is passionate about search and website usability and discovered his interest in SEO by chance while trying to generate more traffic and sales for one of his previous businesses.  Neil identified a need for SEO in South Africa and so he founded WebGrowth and started researching SEO. Since its inception in 2006, WebGrowth has evolved into a software and education company and uses its platform to educate South Africans in SEO.

During the course of Neil’s workshop at the Indaba, he plans to cover:

  1. A brief introduction to SEO and where we are at today
  2. Basic techniques to improve your site’s search visibility
  3. How to track your progress
  4. Live site audit
  5. On-site optimisation
  6. Competitor analysis
  7. Strategies to improve on SEO

And point number 4 is where you come in! Neil has offered that bloggers attending the Indaba and who are curious to know how well their site is currently optimised for search engines are going to be given a chance to find out during a live site audit on the day.  If you would like your site to be considered for this live site audit, here’s all you have to do:

Tweet “I want my site audited!” and include the hashtag #seobloggerindaba as well as the url of your website/blog

It could not be simpler!  Also, if you have any questions relating to SEO, you can tweet the question at any time before 24 June using the same #seobloggerindaba and Neil will (time permitting) try to answer your questions during the workshop.  From all the submissions, Neil will choose the website best suited for the SEO case study on the day of the Indaba.

And as an added bonus, those of you who tweet and enter the competition will be placed in a lucky draw that will be drawn at the Indaba.   The winner will receive a full month worth of reporting stats on their blog, together with a 1hr consultation with Neil at the end of the month. The winner will also receive a full strategy and action plan to improve on their site’s search visibility. The prize is valued at R5000.

The competition closes on Friday 15 June, so you’d better hurry and get Tweeting! Good luck! 

Roasted Tomato Red Lentil and Chickpea Soup

June 1, 2012 in SOUP

So it was national Soup Day in South Africa…WAS being the operative word here…..yesterday! HAHA! Life is  seriously fully taken up with the SA Food and Wine Blogger Indaba right now so I seem to be a little bit late with everything. Forgive me. Seeing as I am a soup fundi I thought that I would participate in the soup blogging thing but by the time I got here the boat had slightly sailed out into the……. well…………..soup! But I thought I would share with you anyway, especially seeing as soup (and smoothies) is what I have been existing on for the past year or so……. this one is vibrantly red, healthy and especially good so hang in there!

On another note entirely, the beloved and I were invited last night to share in the winter menu launch at one of my favourite venues. Remember that we went to the launch of the Harbour House Restaurant at the V&A Restaurant in November last year? Well they have done it again with the launch of their winter menu….you could not wish for a better venue, overlooking a working harbour, the food was superb and we had a fabulous evening in the company of some fabulous people and a roaring wood fire. I will be sharing about that in a future post but just wanted to say that this is the reason for this post being late….well partially that! I will blame the rest on Indaba and leave it at that……

So on to the soup of the day. I have been incredibly blessed since I started on this seemingly never ending journey of reconstructive oral surgery. I have wonderful neighbours…..and sometimes, when I have been unable to socialize with them, that is when I have been most blessed. I will suddenly get a text message on my mobile phone alerting me that a container of soup has been left at the garden gate. So out I go and collect the container and bring it in, opening it up to reveal a real labour of love. A couple of bowls of soup, made and given selflessly, in the true spirit of love and neighbourlyness. Is that a word??? If not, I just made it up. So  I reiterate, I have wonderful neighbours. A while ago my one neighbour Mo dropped off a container of this soup for me. It was so sublime that I just had to wangle the recipe out of her. This recipe is hers, excepting for the chickpeas and smoked paprika which I added to it when I tested the soup for myself. Full of body and flavour this is a wonderfully fresh and filling soup. I have made it a couple of times since then and enjoy it more every time. I hope you try it for yourself. I am loving the cooler weather and so enjoying the soups that I am making at the moment. Not too much longer and I will be able to enjoy delicious chewy food once again. Just two more surgical procedures for this gal and then the foodie world is once again her oyster!!


15ml Olive Oil

1 Onion – peeled and chopped

2 Cloves Garlic – peeled and crushed

125g Red Lentils

500g Roasted Tomatoes (I cut in half, drizzle with Olive oil, honey and Balsamic, fresh thyme or rosemary, black pepper and salt then roast for about 30 minutes at 200degC)

1 Can Chick Peas – drained and rinsed

900ml Vegetable Stock (I am personally very fond of  NoMU Fonds :) )

50g Parmesan Cheese finely grated

Small handful of fresh basil leaves

Salt Flakes and Black Pepper for seasoning

Smoked Paprika for serving

Creme Fraiche and Olive Oil for serving


Heat oil in large saucepan and saute onions over medium low heat for about five minutes until they are soft and glazed

Add the garlic and saute another minute or so

Stir in the washed drained lentils

Roughly chop the roasted tomatoes and add to the saucepan. At this point I must add that you can use a tin of whole tinned tomatoes that you roughly chop if so desired :)

Add the boiling stock and bring back to a boil.. lower the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes until the lentils are soft and pale.

Add the drained rinsed chickpeas and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and liquidize soup with a hand held blender

Return to heat to heat through, stir in half of the cheese and tear in the basil, reserving one or two sprigs for each plate

Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into soup bowls, add a drizzle of olive oil, some basil leaves, a sprinkling of smoked paprika and a bit of  parmesan cheese

Serve with a swirl of creme fraiche ( I personally serve it with a big dollop of basil pesto – preferably the Pesto Princess one)

This soup freezes well but before you add the basil leaves and parmesan cheese.

Have a wonderful weekend.

browniegirl xx

PS The countdown to FBI2012 has begun. Excitement is in the air and things are hotting up on the Indaba front. Keep your eyes peeled for some exciting happenings and competitions in the last couple of weeks before the conference. I have some incredible sponsors lined up, the goodie bags will be filled to capacity. My home is starting to look, yet again, like a warehouse and I love it! If you are in Cape Town and you have not booked for the Food and Wine Blogger Indaba on June 24 you will be missing out, big time.  :) Rumour has it that something beautiful, desirable, shiny and red will be one of the giveaways this year….something that all home chefs and foodies aspire to….maybe even dream about! I wonder what it could be? ;)

Easy Creamy Asparagus Soup Recipe

April 23, 2012 in LIGHT MEALS

Lately I have been struggling to cook. When you cannot eat the food yourself you lose that passion to cook awesome meals. It has been 10 months now since I last ate and chewed my way through an ordinary every day meal….one that you take for granted until something happens and you find yourself spending your days longing for a piece of steak, or a slow roasted leg of lamb. Pork chops done in cider with cranberry would be delicious… would perfectly pink duck breast served with some awesome sticky citrus sauce or some yummy quince jelly. A delicious lemon and thyme roasted chicken would hit the spot right now. But instead my days are filled, in reality, with whatever smoothie I can make with the ingredients and fruit that I have on hand, or what soup I feel like sipping….I can manage soft stuff like flaky fish, well cooked finely minced beef or lamb, soft pasta, pureed or smashed veggies….in other words stuff that doesnt require any heavy duty masticating! As in chewing people before your minds start wandering off the subject here. So with the struggle to cook comes the struggle to blog…they go hand in hand. You passionately bake or cook something that looks drool worthy on the photos and sounds delicious reading through the ingredients….you will be passionate and proud to get it up on your blog. That just hasn’t been it for me in a while. So when I DO manage to do something delicious (even if it is the dreaded soup or a smoothie) I feel a bit of that old passion returning and it gives me hope to know that the fires are not entirely ashes….that some embers are warmly flickering inside there, just needing some little bit of life breathed into them to burst into flame again. I hope those embers can withstand another 7-9 months….I sometimes feel that I cannot, but I am only just over half way through my treatment program. Next surgical procedure happens mid May. And then I feel depression settling around me like a heavy, grey, dull, asphyxiating blanket. Almost like when that very thick peasouper of a fog comes rolling in off the icy ocean to settle in the valley where I live….Above the valley the sun is shining…..2 miles out of town the sun is shining and everyone is having a wonderful day….while in the valley we feel only the damp dankness of the fog. We see no shining sun….we believe that the rest of the city is shrouded in the same wet blanket. I constantly remind myself,  daily, that I will not look beyond THIS day…..

Well, on THIS day I decided to make a new soup – not new in the sense of us never having eaten it before but new in the sense that I have never made this one before. At the end of last week I was at the Food Lovers Market and they had some beautifully fresh crisp green asparagus spears there so I bought almost 1kg of them with the intention of using them in a number of different ways. Needless to say they came in very handy for the soup that I made today – a creamy delicious green asparagus soup that has left me with a warm full belly and enough passion to do a blog post immediately! YAAY! And there is enough left over for 2 more helpings! Last week I made some stunning roasted butternut, sweet potato and apple soup. So very good….and I have about 5 portions left in the freezer for when I want some. Tomorrow I am making my Cold and Flu Busting Chicken Noodle Soup because yes…….I am fighting this head cold which seems to be winning at the moment. I cannot afford to be ill right now. I am into the final run of planning for the SA Food and Wine Blogger Indaba and it is taking up all my time and energy. Can not be in bed with a thick head now with so much to do. The pressure is on and I have to get the booking open this week.

So for now…… is my recipe….I stood with paper and pencil next to me as I worked and wrote down what I was doing so that I could put the recipe up here. And it turned out to be really delicious!


Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 750g Fresh Green Asparagus spears – woody stem bits discarded
  • 1 Large Onion – peeled and chopped
  • 3 Leeks – washed and sliced
  • 1 Garlic clove – peeled and finely sliced
  • 30ml Olive Oil
  • 30ml Butter
  • 1 Liter Hot Chicken Stock (use Vegetable stock for the veg option)
  • 500ml Water
  • 6 Sprigs Thyme – leaves picked off and stems removed
  • Large bunch Fresh Parsley (about 25g)
  • 60ml  Cream or Crème Fraiche (optional)
  • ½ Lemon – Finely grated zest and juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 20g Parmesan Cheese – finely grated


Cut tips from the asparagus (about 3cm from top) and reserve for garnish. Chop the remaining asparagus stalks up into 3cm pieces and set aside

Place large saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil, butter, onion, leeks and garlic and sauté for about five minutes, stirring often, until onion is limp and translucent

Add the asparagus pieces and the thyme and saute for another 5 minutes

Pour in the hot stock and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer, with the lid on, for about 15 minutes until the asparagus pieces are tender

Take off the heat, cool slightly

While the soup is cooling bring about 500ml water to a rolling ball in a small saucepan with a good pinch of salt

Add the reserved asparagus tips and boil for about 3 minutes just until done. Refresh immediately in some icy cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside until needed.

Add the chopped parsley, zest and juice of the lemon to the slightly cooled soup and blend until smooth with a stick blender or food processor

Return to the saucepan, add the cream or crème fraiche (if using) and the parmesan cheese. Season to taste and stir over heat just until heated through

Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a few asparagus tips and some extra parmesan cheese

Later this week I will be my making my families favourite broccoli and feta soup (YUM!) and then my Spicy Carrot Honey and Ginger Soup will follow….also fabulously warming and healing. I DO love the cooler weather!

Have a great new week everyone. Its a short one again for us in South Africa….and another short one next week too. Brownieboy is taking a day or two off in between and has a about a week or so off work. He needs it badly as he is suffering with a bit of stress and exhaustion, so the time off is going to be good for him! I am just trying to put an Indaba together :)

browniegirl xx

Food and Wine Blogger Indaba 2012 Survey

February 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

Beautiful Cape Town - photo by my talented friend Ricky De Agrela

Exciting news! We are busy planning the 2012 South African Food and Wine Blogger Indaba, which will be a Cape Town winter event this year planned for the weekend of 23/23 June, and Jeanne and I have decided to put out this survey so that you, the most important part of the whole event, can tell us what YOU want – in return we will do our very best to tailor make this Indaba to suit everyone. So whether you have attended any previous Indaba, or whether you are planning on attending for the first time this year or possibly in the future, please would you take a couple of minutes to fill out the online survey to help us in putting together the best Indaba possible, and one that fulfils your needs. And of course, keep watching this space and facebook for regular future updates on the 2012 event!

So please pop over and fill in the online survey. It will only take a couple of minutes and will give us a great perspective on how we can tailor make this Indaba to suit you.

And pencil in that weekend, book airline tickets, do whatever you have to to become part of this exciting event. Look forward to seeing you all there.

Thank you,

Have a great week,

browniegirl and Jeanne (cooksister)