Num Num

eat. cook. write.

January 20, 2014

Delicious Dinner: A menu


This blog isn’t even a blog anymore, a pity. It’s a rusty old archive of things I cooked and words I wrote in orders and ways that sometimes make me cringe when I read them.

It is useful, though. I love how it takes me on a food-memory excavation, the click-through I can do of things I made and loved.

In this spirit, I might posthumously write up some menus and recipes I’ve done this summer. The favourites, a kind of note or memory-boost to my future self. So that next year, when I sit at this old Hermanus kitchen table, I can click through and take courage.

Notes on Last Night


Canapés:

Biltong cheese straws (Home-made rough puff pasty with egg-wash, and on the other side – blue cheese melted with butter and soy sauce, with fine biltong sprinkled over). Delicate and moreish. I'm not in blog-mode currently so I forgot to take a picture. 

Parmesan crisps with Jane Coxwell’s guacamole and pomegranate seeds. They look like little frogs on parmesan toadstools, and they taste incredible. I mourn every guac I made without fresh ginger in it, thanks to Jane. (Whose cookbook, Fresh Happy Tasty (see here is one of the very best books you can spend money on).


Starter

Crayfish salad with vanilla linguini, tomato, basil, thyme.
Steam crayfish in wine, bay, fennel. Cool, remove tails. Clarify butter, whisk in lemon juice and thyme leaves, coat the crayfish in this. Make vanilla linguini and cook until just done. Fork into centre of plate. Take some beautifully ripe tomatoes, and peel (blanch for only 10 seconds, refresh). Cut into petals. Deep fry skins for garnish. Plate: linguini. Torn fresh basil. Crayfish tail, tomato petals, drizzle some left over lemon butter sauce over. Sprinkle with picked thyme leaves and pop tomato skins on top.

Main course

Miso-marinated beef fillet
I crusted it in sesame seeds – a bad idea. Seeds burn and you can’t sear the meat properly. Still delicious, but leave the seeds off. Fry in sesame oil. Serve with jus that has miso, soy and drippings from pan.
Shoestring sweet  potatoes – a bit labour intensive without a deep fryer. I got over shifting pots of oil around to avoid burns and did half the sweet potato in the oven, so that there were some roasted bits and the crunchy thin chips on top.
Roasted pumpkin with lime, pistachio and cinnamon butter. This was the best idea I’ve had in ages. Pumpkin is so good. It’s so so good. I roasted it until soft, and the butter was comforting but fun at the same time.
Rocket broccoli
From another must-have cookery book The Kitchen by Karen Dudley (see here). I had to go to Banks in Woodstock this week, so I went it to buy a famous Love sandwich (gammon! yes!)  and I met her, Karen.  I just held her hand like some groupie and told her thanks for the recipes, which are a private chef’s godsend. She smiled and laughed and asked for my details so she could pass on work.
The recipe involves boiling (or blanching) broccoli and dousing it in a sauce made of rocket blitzed with olive oil. It’s so simple but it works.

Dessert



I made a recipe from Taste Magazine (the Jan/ Feb issue had loads of delicious things in).
Ginger mousse (which is airy, and actually more like a panna cotta cut into cubes – Italian meringue and cream folded into a gelatine mixture)
With almond biscuits (the recipe calls it’s crumble, but it’s more shortbread. I added fine ginger and cinnamon and cut them into triangles)
And geranium syrup (sugar syrup with geranium simmered in it, which also means you can now garnish with beautiful purple flowers)
And strawberry coulis and fresh strawberries.
The recipe calls for vanilla ice cream too, but I thought there was already enough going on.

With coffee




Blackberry macaroons

I’ve been trying for aeons to get perfect macaroons, with varying degrees of success. This time I used the basic Ottolenghi recipe, added some blackberry essence and purple colouring. For the icing, Philly cream cheese with soft butter and vanilla, with fresh blackberries. It was perfect because they weren’t too sweet but the fresh berries made them a little jammy. I’m about as proud of them as a momma-bear of her cubs.

September 06, 2012

Cinnamon and Naartjie Carrot soup


(Thanks @chef_grl for inspiring me to write a post again, even if it's just a quickie with a phone snap. Hope you like the soup) 

End of term.
Fridge full of scraps
Lots of deadlines
No-one wants to leave the house to shop.
I scrounge around the cupboard and the fridge, and find

1 bag of carrots
half a thingy of cream

and that’s about it.
I have flour and yeast in the cupboard, a naartjie in the fruit bowl, and 6 hungry, busy mouths to feed.

It's not exactly rocket science...

Cinnamon and Naartjie Carrot Soup

1 leek (all I had, but I’m sure an onion will do great)
1 bag of carrots, peeled and chopped
abour 3- 4 cups water.
1 naartjie
1 spoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
125ml cream

Fry the leeks in hot oil
Bang in the carrots.
Add the water, and the whole naartjie. Cook until carrots are soft.
Remove the naartjie, let it cool a little then peel and add the segments to the soup.
Blend with a hand blender, add cream, cinnamon and sugar and season well with salt. Serve piping hot.

I made huge breadsticks to go with mine, (a basic 4 cup flour dough divided into six long breadsticks and baked), and we didn’t even need spoons.

Full bellies and happy hearts <3


August 17, 2012

Oppikoppi: Sings to the senses


When you go to Oppikoppi you must leave your anxiety at the gate.
There is no space for it inside.
There are just 20 000 other people looking to dance and jump and gurgle with laughter.
We all experienced Oppikoppi in different ways


Body

My knuckles are cracked, skin still dry. My hands held another’s. Weaving in and out.
Skin a sun-shade darker. Dust in every crevice. Black boogas.
My knees shook and they shook; and my feet throbbed from adventures in tommy tackies. Boots, next time.
My arms waved, in praise, and in happy hellos, and goodbyes.
My mouth screamed and sung along. It giggled and laughed.
I licked my lips over and over, dry air. Kiss, kiss.


 Ears

As we walked up and down our home stretch, Beton Boer road, there was a constant cloud of dust above us, punctuated by bursts of conversation. About shows, about beer, about philosophy, about race and about South Africa.

But we came for the music and we flocked to see Die Heuwels Fantasties on Friday night, as did many who reveled in the electric air “It gave me goosebumps” someone said. Not to mention 340ml, Bombay Show Pig, Kongos, Aking, and Jeremy Loops who all blew my skirt up. 

Lonehill Estate was my surprise band highlight. Donning green streaks and pink goggles the lead singer was cheeky and vivacious, drawing the crowd in with his antics and confidence on a hot day amongst the rocks. 



Shadowclub and Beast (and many other grand bands) also graced the stages, although I confess I was at that time holed up in my tent. I hear they were fantastic.

French band Babylon Circus were a feast, but Eagles of death metal

June 15, 2012

Kiss from a quince




Everything we eat has a story. A story about where it came from, how it was made, born, or spouted; and how it travelled toward us.

Everything we eat also becomes part of our own story. A link in the web of meaning that flavour holds for us. Each bit of sustenance that passes over our lips has the potential to start a story, or to stir up a memory.

Quince, for me, is winter. It’s granny food. It exists, in bottled form, on the colour scale from fleshy crayfish to sensuous stripper red. It’s neatly layered in conserve bottled, lids tightly screwed on.

I don’t really remember by granny ever making anything with quince. Maybe she did, and I only associate it with her because the senses of smell and roots of nostalgia were affixed in me before my visual memories. Maybe I associate quince with the wrinkled faces of old women I saw as we paused at farm stalls across the country during family holidays. Neatly packed in rows with handwritten labels. Part of the granny-domain.

Either way, I walked into a local supermarket last week in a post-exam daze. My mind was still whirling with theories and ethnographic accounts. I was craving something I couldn’t name.

I saw the quince, bright yellow, bulbous on the shelf, larger than the surrounding fruit. I knew immediately that they were what I needed. I selected three, smooth skinned and heavy for their weight.


Quince poached in rosé wine with orange and vanilla

I bought them home, and started to put the exam out of my mind as I emptied the bottle of rosé wine (merlot and pintoage) that I had bought into a saucepan with 1 cup of sugar and 1 orange, cut into wedges. I peeled the three quinces one by one, with a peeler, nibbling at the skin to gauge it. Apple-y and sour, strong.

May 18, 2012

A Book deal with a side of sweet potato


Shock and horror.
I’ve been a bad blogger.
but I do at least have a book deal! 

(This photo is not really relevant to anything in this post, I just put it here because photos are nice. However, it will come into the story later.)
Yes. Despite the fact that this is meant to be my year of writing (that is indeed a part of what I’m studying) and despite the fact that it’s compulsory for me to blog every week for my course; I have left my poor little blackpepperplum to ferment in the back of a dark cupboard, just like the sweet potato we now have sprouting roots and feelers because nobody remembered to cook it. I am planning on planting it this weekend. Just like I am planning to blog more often.

In fact, the sweet potato with feelers is just the perfect metaphor for my life. This blog is the sweet potato, once fresh and budding with potential. It is currently in a stagnant stage. It’s on hold. Why? The cook has found other things to fry. Yes, by frying I mean writing. (I am getting heavily involved in my metaphors here, please just oblige me).

The thing that I am writing is a cookbook for students.

Its name is Yum-mo: Student Cooking 101.

(I am silly pleased about this, you have no idea) 

This is the story of how it came to be: 

April 18, 2012

Eet en onthou: Woordfees 2012

Ek eet, en ek onthou. My herinneringe is gevleg met maaltye, met proe sensasies en eet rituele. Verlede kwartaal vanaf die 9de na die 11de Maart, is ek en vyf klasmaats, deur die Nederlandse Taalunie na Stellenbosch toe gestuur om die Woordfees, en onder andere die Neerlandistiekdag by te woon. Heel gaaf, dankie.

Ek proe die naweek nog.
Die nederige standbeeld wat ons na La Motte verwelkom het

Die Greyhound bus was, voorspelbaar, twee ure laat. Op ons tasse het ons in die parkeerterrein gesit en uiteindelik, verveeld, ons lekkers uitgedeel. Wine gums en saggeel dinosouruse bedek my tande met ’n laag soetgoed. My goedkoop pastel gekleurde lekkers was fassinerend op die rak, maar in die mond was hulle hard, en skreeu- soet. Ons probeer die smaak uit ons monde kry met ’n vodka – suurlemoen – ment mengsel. Die gevolg is ’n gegiggelery en ’n goeie begin.

Ek het nog nooit lang afstand bus gery nie. En as ek weer daaraan dink, weet ek wat ek sal onthou. Die reuk van my mede passasier se toebroodjies, toe sy 3 uur in die oggend haar dosie se deksel oop kliek en die gis reuk van brood laat ontsnap.

Met honger mage het ons op Stellenbosch aangekom. Voordat ons selfs kon stort het ’n vriendin ons opgelaai en La Motte toe geneem waar ons eerder geld aan wynproe wou spandeer as ontbyt.

March 18, 2012

St Paddy's Day: Spinach and basil mayonnaise



St Patricks’s day in Grahamstown signifies many things: Primarily, its an excuse to dress up in green, brandish a beer glass all night and join thousands of others behaving abominably in bars. Great. Except that it also signifies green beer (whose bad idea was that anyway?!), sometimes accompanied by free green cane shots. Sies. The combination of these someone leads to a green mess in gutters. Not so Irish. 

This year, I squirmed at the thought of St Paddy’s. It was a rainy Saturday, and mugs of tea appealed to me more than liquor. I decided to resist the peer pressure and stay at home like a grandmomma, catching up on my work. Yes, I even wrapped my knees up in a crocheted blanky while I read.

It felt great. I thought of all the loud noises I was escaping; the squash of bodies and the smell of cigarettes, beer and burps. I made a green mayonnaise as my spirited token for the day, and settled back smugly. There is a time for everything.