Num Num

eat. cook. write.

January 28, 2011

Happy Roast Poussin Salad

I've been trying to make yummy chicken salad all season. Thighs and breasts have been grilled and fried, some marinaded and some sauced up at the last. Different leaves tossed in different dressings with different herbs, spices and salad things. I've never got it smack- perfect. 

Until today, I think. Because simplicity is key. And I think that maybe a chicken is happier when its whole than when its been hacked apart. What is it that they always say on free- range and organic advertising? A happy chicken is a tasty chicken. 

Roast Poussin salad
A very lovely lunch for two- Double up and use a grown- up poussin if you like

  • 1 poussin ( baby chicky) Free range now for sale at Fruit and Veg City at reasonable prices
  • 15ml olive oil, or erm.. truffle oil. (I'll explain later) 

January 27, 2011

Razorlight Lamb

I have always loved singing. This despite the fact that my reports from pre-school read something like: ‘Carina is a robust and enthusiastic singer. However she is seldom in tune.’

Later, in boarding school, I was mortified when the singing teacher pointed me out in front of the whole class, and in her terrible accent said: “Carreeena Truyts. See me ofter class- you con’t sing.’

Just like that. She smashed a ten-year old girl’s ego to bits.

January 25, 2011

Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Ice- cream

I'm obsessed with the new Krupps Ice- cream maker. Ooh. There is no end to the options. Today I adapted a Sharon Glass recipe for pistachio ice- cream. The result was something truly yum, if you like ice-cream with loads of crunch and pow-wow. Cool thing is, I made half in the ice- cream machine and the remainder by the hand- whisking method. Both worked! Ha! Yes. Anyone can make ice- cream.

As you can see, my hand slipped a little with the forest green food colouring. Which left things with a little lumo- blueish tint. Ah well. All's well that tastes delicious.

Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Ice- cream.

January 24, 2011

Kiss- me Kabeljou

Prologue: After posting this here post, I randomly decided to email Koos Kombuis himself. He has just replied : "Hahaha! What a luvly blog!! Ja, ek het onlangs weer daai song begin sing, het n rukkie daarvan vergeet. En "vry" is 'n quite innocent euphemism for "kissing" or "making out" (probably going not all the way)."

So there we have it, straight form the horse's mouth. You can read more Koos Kombuis, (In English, don't fear) on his Thoughtleader Blog

So, you know how, before Mp3's and I pods, we all had mixed tapes. Well anyway, I did. I used to wait by the radio for my favourite song to come on and press record just in time, cursing Barney Simon if he talked over the intro. After a few years we progressed to mixed Cd-s.  I still have a few lurking around, with labels like 'Party jams- love you Careen' and 'Summer 2004 Xxx'.

Well, Somewhere along the line I had a CD with a certain Afrikaans song, which I think was sung by rock legend Koos Kombuis, although I can't find it on the net anywhere.

It goes...

"Kabeljou, kabel-my, kabel wil jy met my vry? Se vir my...."

Which is so catchy it's annoying. It plays on the fish name, kabel-jou, which means: "Kabel-you. Kabel- me? Kabel- do you want to kiss me? Tell me..."

 Except I'm never quite sure what the Afrikaans word 'vry' means. Is it just an innocent kiss? Or a bit more of a sexual adventure? I've always imagined a 'vry' as a kind of groping, body-to-body sort of  venture that could turn into anything. Please enlighten me, those with know-how. Someone post the answer on Urban Dictionary. We won't judge you, promise.

Point is, I naturally get that song in my head when I cook kabeljou. I'd love to hear it again. I reckon it must be sung by Koos Kombuis. He's the only artist I know who would likely write a love-song with a hint of fish.

Pan- fried Kabeljou with braised Cucumber, green Grapes, Basil cream, and Olive, Caper and Lemon mashed Potato.
Adapted from The Collection by Liz McGrath

January 23, 2011

Butter-nut me better

I'm not very gracious when I'm ill. In fact, I'm a grouch. So, before I fill this post with self- pity, let me share with you this delicious recipe that helped me feel a whole lot better. It's comfort just looking at it.

Lime-y Butternut Soup with Ginger and Coconut

January 21, 2011

Grappies en Grapes

A note to English readers: This post is about two days I spent at a grape- farm in the Hexriver with my brother and friends. I intended to translate pieces so that you could understand. And then. Google Chrome offered to translate the page into English for the reader. I strongly recommend that you allow this option and then read and roll with laughter. Suffice to say that Google Chrome is not strictly bilingual. Anyway, the pictures say it all. 

Dis vyf uur namiddag en ek skarrel om op die pad te kom. Ek het ʼn kans gekry om van Hermanus af te ontsnap vir twee dae en ek vat koers na De Doorns in die Hex Rivier. Dit is die plek waar dit lyk asof reuse lank terug die prag- berge skeef geklap het.

January 19, 2011

Chichifregi, chiboust and a Queenly Quiche

Ah. I’m so in love with my Larousse Gastrominique. It’s full of stuff no one cooks anymore but oh! I can never look one thing up without flipping through a few pages in interest. My version is from 1988, the year I was born in (what a great gift, thanks Dad). It is filled with terrible photographs of drab food that often involve a lot of aspic, and other garish things like cock’s combs used for garnish, and canned pineapple.

Well hey, I reckon. It’s not their fault that cucumber garnish was in and photoshop hadn’t been invented yet.

I was just wondering what to do with the whole half- smoked turkey that I never used for Christmas- hmmm. Maybe I should just stuff it with truffles and wrap it in puff pastry? Titan, old- school chef August Escoffier (who prefaced the origianl Larousse) would probably dig it. In fact, he would suggest another block of butter and litre of cream.

Today I was looking up the word chiboust. As it turns out, the person Chiboust was a 19th century pastry chef who invented the Saint-Honoré cake, in honour of the patron saint of pastry cooks and bakers.

The chiboust page in my Larousse also contains entries for Chicken where the explanation reads: “A domestic fowl reared (raised) for both its meat and eggs”. I searched the same term on Wikipedia and found a similar explanation. Thus, the Larousse takes itself very seriously as a dictionary, even kindly giving us a synonym for the word rearing. Sweet.

It makes sense- what did all those people who had never seen a chicken before do in 1988? When google was still a twinkle in the eyes of Larry Page and Sergey Brin? The Larousse was a history book, source book, and encyclopedia all in one.

The Chiboust page also contains an entry for chichifregi, “a type of fritter from the region of Marseille and Aix-en-Provence.”
I wiki’d it: and found zilch. Ka-Pow. Furthermore, Google had nothing to offer but a few dodgy french sites. (Sounds of a mechanized rifle going off… bang.)

That’s one for the Larousse.  

Granadilla Chiboust

January 18, 2011

Pandora's Box and Simba the Lion

The doorbell rang and I just had a feeling. I knew my box had arrived. The week of waiting was over.I ran out to fetch it and plonked it on the kitchen table. I felt as giddy as I did as a little girl in front of the Christmas tree, when my grandmother would reproach me: “Handjies agter die rug”; which loosely translates as ‘keep those little hands behind your back’.

With no restraining orders now, I ripped the pink Yuppichef tape off and delved into my box of treasures. There are quite a few things that excite me in life and one of them is those thin strips of brown paper nested in packaging.

Black Pepper Plum plans to do a bit of lip- smacking catering this year (Grahamstown: beware) and I have indulged in some goodies to ease the work.

I quickly uncovered the follwing in my Yuppiechef order:

January 17, 2011

Here, Snoekums

My dad does the best snoek braai, in good old Cape Malay style. He melts together butter and apricot jam and and uses this mixture to baste the opened slightly smoked snoek on a braai (or barbeque, grid-over-hot coals, whatever) until it is just cooked. You only need to turn it once. And you need to serve it on a hot day, when the sun is high, and the pool is in use. A chilled, barrel- fermented Chardonnay is also obligatory.I serve the fish with Indian-ish accompaniments like cauliflower and potatoes cooked with cumin and coriander.

I do love India for adding spice to life. And jangly decorations with glittering elephants, of course.

Sorry Dad but: the best part about a snoek braai for me is in the left overs, and not in the actual meal. Cold smoked snoek flakes so loverly. You can add spice to it, you can make a dip from it, you create delicious omelettes and quiches and tarts. You can make snoek pate and flat breads and that's Sunday dinner, sorted.

Smoked Snoek pâté

Adapted from the recipe for Silwood Snoek Pate in the timeless classic The Complete South African Fish and Seafood Cookbook by Alicia Wilkinson. Most of the pages of this  book are available for preview at google books but it's worth buying just for the comprehensive guide at the back that explains all the types of fish in our waters, gives their other names (of which there are a myriad), their locations, characteristics and suitable cooking methods. Quite handy indeed.

  • half a left-over smoked snoek from the braai
  • 30ml lemon juice
  • 1 handful parsley, finely chopped
  • small bunch chives, finely snipped
  • 100ml fresh cream ( or add more if your half- snoek happens to be quite big)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Skin the fish and starting from one end, pick off the meat and carefully pick out every single bone (the problem with snoek is that they are spindly things and likely induce a need for the Heimlich manoeuvre at the dinner table which is something that we try to avoid as it is not very classy at all).
  2. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz like crazy. The special thing about this pate is it's light and smooth texture. Add a little more cream if you want it a bit smoother. Season to taste. 
  3. Place in ramekins or a pretty crock and refrigerate for at least two hours to firm up. Serve with flat breads and a sprig of parsley.
* If you don't have a food processor or care for one- lightly flake the snoek with a fork, and add less cream and butter, and maybe some crunchy bits like tiny celery cubes or cucumber cubes. The result won't really be a pate- but it will still fit on a cracker and taste scrumptious. 

Flat breads

These bad boys are easy to make, and impressive. The recipe is adapted from an article by Matt Preston in Delicious Magazine. I like the bread. But I don't understand how someone can Braai with a necktie on (quizzed expression on face).

He makes his flatbreads on his 'barbeque'- a gas affair that doesn't hint at flames or coals. I don't really see the point so I make mine on my floured stove surface or under a hot grill where they pop up a bit like pitas. Which is cool. 

  • 500g cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 140ml milk
  • 65ml olive oil
  • 2.5ml salt
  • lukewarm water
  1. Sieve flour, baking powder and salt together. Add olive oil, milk  and enough lukewarm water to make a nice stretchy dough. 
  2. Knead for about 8 - 10 minutes until pliable and elastic. Place aside in an oiled bowl to rest for at least forty minutes. 
  3. I have one of those flat what-you-mcall-it? stovetops. Man. The ones that look glassy and get red rings under to show they're hot. Anyway. If you have one of these, heat it up, if you don't think your stove plate can deal with getting flour on it, then heat up a plain frying pan. 
  4. Break off balls of dough the size of a gobstopper (Don't you hate how recipes always say walnut-sized balls? Like we all have walnut trees in our gardens to measure by.) and roll them out really thinly. Now dust your stove plate with flour and place the thinly rolled dough on top. You'll see it go all funky and get bubbly. Thats what we like. Don't fret if the flour burns, it's yum and tastes like it came off a grill in North Africa somewhere ( I like to imagine). Turn until browned on both sides.Set aside. Before serving, heat up in the oven for a bit if you fancy. 
  5. Break of double- sized chunks of dough and roll them out to about a 1/2 cm thickness. Pop on a baking tray dusted with flour and place under your hell- hot grill, only about 8 cm or so from the top. 
  6. Don't go away (ahem, yes, I did and returned in two minutes to a kitchen filled with acrid- smelling smoke). The dough will puff up and brown in a minute or two, turn over with tongs and allow the other side to brown. That's all folks. 

January 16, 2011

Sunset Barcelona

Funny thing is: I've never been to Barcelona. Or Spain.

But I have seen some sunsets in my time. And some of them had the colours yellow, ruby red and brown in. Sort of.

Truth is: This recipe was conceived in faraway Barcelona and I figured I should attribute it. See, Mrs Y went there two years ago on holiday. She and Mister Y couldn't find the restaurant they were meant to go to, so they ducked into some little hidden treasure close to their hotel, and the chef produced something like this.

I tried to re- create it according to what Mrs Y told me about the dessert. I tried different layers. I tried to bake the orange jelly.  I considered using cornflour. And then this little creation popped out and got my tastebuds all in a tizz. You know how sublime dark chocolate and orange is? I have always raved about the flavour marriage. Henceforth I will always recommend a menage- a-trois with raspberry.

Sunset Barcelona

For the jelly:
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 250ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 15ml castor sugar (leave out if your oranges are sweet enough)
  • 5ml powdered gelatine
  • 50ml water
For the mousse: 
  • 100g 50%-60% dark cocoa chocolate
  • 100g 70% dark chocolate
  • 60ml dark filter coffee
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) butter
  • 3 eggs, separated
For the raspberry layer: 
  • 300g fresh, beautiful, bursting raspberries ( the only kind worth money)
  • 100g castor sugar
  • 30ml water
  • squeeze lemon juice
  1. Place the orange zest, juice and sugar (if using) in a sauce pan and warm up. 
  2. Place the 50ml water in a glass jusg and sprinkle the gelatine over. Nuke in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time, checking after each go to see if the gelatine has dissolved. It won't take more than a minute. Add to the orange juice mixture. Divide between 6 pretty glasses ( you can use whiskey glasses, martini glasses, whatever floats your boat) and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  3. Place a saucepan of water over low heat. Place chocolate, butter and coffee in a glass bowl and place over pan until melted, stirring about a bit every now and then. 
  4. Remove from the heat and beat in the egg yolks. 
  5. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold in in three stages. 
  6. Divide between the glasses and carefully place on top of jelly. Return to fridge for 3-4 hours.
  7. Place the castor sugar, water and lemon juice over medium- low heat, whisking to dissolve the castor sugar. Allow to boil for 2 minutes then add the raspberries. Leave on the heat for one minute then remove. Blend in food processor and allow to cool. 
  8. Just before serving, spoon the raspberry coulis over the mousse. Now indulge. Ooh la la.

January 15, 2011

Souped up

My Cool green gazpacho

This is the kind of thing that evolves when I open the fridge, find all the green things I can, then roughly chop them and blitz the daylights out of the whole shebang.

Serves 4 as a starter.
Add another avo or cucumber or two if you’re hungry.

  • 2 ripe but firm avocado’s, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8 baby Israeli cucumbers, roughly chopped ( or ½ a cucumber)
  • 3 spring onions, tops removed, roughly chopped
  • Zest and juice of one lime
  • Handful of basil leaves, gently torn ( but keep 2 big ones for garnish)
  • 1 green pepper, pips end membrane removed, roughly chopped
  • Salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 300ml sparkling lemonade
  • Dollop of greek yoghurt
  • 100- 200g streaky bacon (get good stuff, from a butchery proper. Not even Woolworths has proper streaky bacon in this country- I recommend Super Meats in Main Road, Kenilworth for their amazing bacon (and their beef fillet, incidentally).
    1. Pop your soup bowls in the freezer. Preheat your oven grill to a serious degree. 
    2. Like I said: Bang all of the above except the greek yoghurt and bacon in a food processor and blitz, blitz, blitz. Add more lemonade if you want it more runny, add more avo if you want it more silky, and add more cucumber if you want to bulk it up.
    3. Now you and the soup chill out for 2 hours or so. I freeze my chilled soup in the ice compartment of the freezer for 45 minutes or so before serving- If it’s a really hot day its nice to have icey bits and slush floating around.
    4. Lay out the streaky bacon on a trivet placed on a roasting tray. Place under a very hot grill, turning once, until super- crispy.
    5. Serve ladlefuls in your chilly bowls, with a dollop of greek yoghurt in the centre and some basil chiffonade on top. Serve the crispy bacon shards on the side. Ooh. So nice.

(To make up a proper filling lunch, I did some bruschettas topped with basil, peppadew and boerenkaas, liberally doused with avocado oil and sprinkled with Maldon Salt.)

January 13, 2011

Black Pepper Plum!

Black pepper and plum ice- cream

The year was 2007 and the first year chefs at Silwood all had to submit their entries to The Flavour Challenge. I had plums, I had red wine, and I had an easy- peasy ice- cream recipe. 

When I added the pepper, the grinder broke and a stream of black dropped into the mixture. 'What the hell' I thought, and didn't bother to pick the peppercorns out. The result was mouth- puckering. 

The ice- cream base recipe is not exactly ideal- but for the home- cook with no ice- cream machine ( I'm still waiting for mine to be delivered) its quite handy. 
  • 1/2  box Orley whip (a dairy substitute found in the refrigerator section in major supermarkets- use only one sachet) 
  • 1/2  cup (125ml) castor sugar
  • 1/2 tin ideal milk, refrigerated overnight ( I pop it in the freezer for a 2- 3 hours if I've forgotten)
  • 800g ripe red plums, halved or quartered, pips removed and nasty bits cuts out
  • 700ml of your favourite red wine ( Yes, I only use 700ml so that the cook can drink the remaining 50ml)
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 100g castor sugar
  • 40ml freshly ground black pepper
  1. Place the wine, castor sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan and bring up to heat gradually, whisking until the sugar is dissolved. Add the plums and poach until soft but not disintegrating. 
  2. Remove the plums with a slotted spoon and place in a blender. Blitz to a puree and push through a sieve (or if you don't mind bits of skin, just leave it). 
  3. Reduce the remaining red wine mixture to a dark syrup and set aside.  
  4. Use an electric beater to beat the Orley whip until soft peaks form. Gradually add half the castor sugar whilst beating. Place in a bowl and freeze for 30 minutes. 
  5. Beat the ideal milk until soft peaks form and gradually add the remaining sugar. 
  6. Combine the Orley whip mixture and Ideal milk mixture with the puree, freshly ground pepper and a little of the syrup. 
  7. Pour into a rectangular container (an old ice- cream tub is a great size) and freeze for 4- 5 hours or until nearly firm. Carefully pour over the syrup and strir enough to make dark red streaks in the pink mixture. Freeze until firm ( preferably overnight) 
  8. Serve as is. I wouldn't complicate it with much else- unless you have a dark chocolate torte lying around (as one does)

January 11, 2011

Colour me green

I never coloured in the lines when I was little. I wasn’t patient enough. But I’m quite sure that my grass was always green, my rivers and skies blue and my mud as stinking brown as I could make it.

I detest it when food doesn’t taste like the colour it is. When I did a stint at The Five Flies restaurant in Cape Town, I was amazed to see the pastry chef add green food colouring to her crème anglaise. I then expected to see peeled pistachios going in, or mint essence- but alas.


It looked green and tasted vanilla.

Similarly, I like it if food is, well, the colour it sounds like. After making Rick Stein’s green curry paste I could see that something was seriously amiss. I delved into the fridge, only to find that my fresh coriander had gone over to the dark side. I desperately groped around and found some red salad onions. In my pursuit for colouring perfection, I finely chopped the lime- coloured heads off all my salad onions and added them to the paste. It was delicious and my conscious could rest.

To the same tune, it highly offends me to see garnish that is not applicable to the dish. There seems to be an underlying chef’s obsession with seeing green on a plate. I can understand why, as green is lovely colour (my favourite in fact) and it certainly does liven things up. But seeing roughly chopped parsley scattered around the rim of my plate makes me cross.

And whole trees of rosemary poking out of mashed potato piles just look stupid.

As it happens,  one of my freezers defrosted today because some buffoon (probably me) left the door open. I lost meat, 2 rolls of cookie dough and a frozen dessert I had been picking on for a while. But a tray of sweet baby pastry cases had semi- survived so I baked them off for the hell of it.

Scrounging around the fridge, I found some left over ganache from my minted Christmas macaroons. Light bulbs flashed like it was Christmas in Adderley Street and chocolate mint tartlets with summer berries took shape.

I poked some baby mint leaves between the berries on top of my tarts with the happy knowledge that they were true to my theme: a hint at the minted, scrumptious chocolate ganache that awaits the eater; and not a trick as cruel as the hollow Easter egg I once got next to my brother's solid one.  

Market Pickings

On Saturday mornings I try to avoid the glare of  supermarkets and head off to the HermanusPietersfontein Food and Wine Market.

My first stop is always the cheese man. He’s a big fellow, with a whiskery face and a large apron with a towel tucked in it. He stands behind a large table, sagging under the weight of his hard parmesans, oozing camemberts, ripe blue cheeses and shiny, light goudas. There are flies flitting about, but he ignores them, leaving them for the obliging customers to bat at.

It’s not the cheese that draws me to the table. It’s the cheese man. You ask for a taste of this and that, and he slivers off pieces and poffers the large knife blade in your direction. For every bite that you take, he pops a bit into his own mouth, as if to remind himself for the hundredth time this morning what his pecorino tastes like. His method of charging is also interesting. The prices for all the meats and cheeses are chalked up behind him, but he pops each slab onto his scale, allows a second or two for thought then announces a random (I assume), rounded off figure. We don’t complain.

Sunday night dinners back home are always light- sandwhiches and maybe some left overs. Mrs X and Mrs Y went out for dinner so I treated  C and myself to a market- tribute cheeseboard. The balls on the left are Greek Yoghurt Cheese balls ( that are delish! with olives) , the ham is the Cheeseman's parma, sliced as thin as I could dream of and perfect on the palate with his parmigianno and sharp pecorino. Since I find bocconchini (from Woolworths) quite dreary and disappointing, I marinade it in the best balsamic and olive oil, and chiffonaded basil from the garden. Biltong belongs on cheeseboards in South Africa, I think, and tomaraisins are my special ingredient find of the year, available for a limited time at Woolworths.
The next stall along sells artisan chocolates: handmade on a small scale they focus on drawing out the flavours of different beans from the America’s, Africa and Madagascar. I always appreciate stalls that have loads of tasters, and the DV chocolatiers are generous. As I approach the stall, the owner leaves things up to his two young sons to manage. They cannot be older than twelve at most, but they take their job seriously, explaining earnestly how their microbatch, pure chocolate can make you age slower, and make exercising easier.  I buy two slabs, at a reasonable R25 each. They are truly delicious- snappy and bursting with flavour. The perfect after- dinner treat. See their list of nationwide stockists at

Hermanus is a small town. The lady who runs the Greek food stall is married to the man who comes to fix our intercom and lights. She’s lovely and her home- made Greek yoghurt is heaven in a cup with fruit and granola. I walk away laden with yoghurt, greek cheese, olives, feta and sun- dried tomatoes.

Next up is the grey- haired oyster-and- bread man. The oysters are expensive- but they are huge, with gorgeous silky molluscs inside, and so fresh that you can see the little sea shell animals living on the outside still breathing in and out. The queue is long; he apologises sweetly to everyone that has to wait as he skilfully shucks his luxurious goods.   

I bought a healthy brown loaf from The Incredible Fish Stall (Which also sells bread and traditional pumpkin fritters that are all sold out by 10 30). I sliced it into 1 cm wedges, and stuffed it with the Cheeseman's Pecorino, fresh basil and generous helpings of butter for a new take on supermarket garlic loaves. I  wrapped it in tin foil and popped it on the braai while I cooked Rick Stein's amazing Cambodian marinated steak and some wors. Lovely.
The Swiss lady is my best. She sells vegetables, home- grown and delicious. ‘Yez, yez,’ she mutters. ‘Zis one is five rands, zis one is ten rands.’ I have big love for anyone who sells bags of soft- leafed basil, and potatoes with earth still clinging on to them.

Crispy Potato Wedges
  • 4- 5 large potatoes, scrubbed and cut lengthwise into wedges
  • 40ml cake flour, seasoned well with salt and pepper
  • 30ml canola oil
  • All Gold tomato sauce, to serve, (because I can't fit 36 tomatoes in one bottle and they can.)
  1. Heat the oven up to 180C.
  2. Pour the oil into the bottom of a deep roasting dish. 
  3. Dust the wedges in the season flour and shake off the excess. Place the them, skin side down, in the roasting tray and pop into the oven. 
  4. After ten minutes, remove from oven and shake around to coat in the oil. Place them all skin side down again and return to oven for another 30- 40 minutes until crisp. 
  5. Serve immediately. 

The market also holds a terrific spice and preserve shop, a jaffle and pancake stall and a collection of other baked goods. There is also a coffee stall that, by some ingenuity, produces fresh filter coffee in Styrofoam cups. The tables in the square courtyard are all packed, as families try to inch all the benches into shady spots under the umbrellas. I perch on the wall next to the fountain. I love how they place floating ducks, boats and toys in the water for the children’s amusement. A gorgeous little boy comes to befriend me (shame, he was probably thinking, who is this lady who sits by herself?) He says ‘ice- cream, ice- cream’ and pokes at my yoghurt. Then he starts drinking my coffee, spilling the remainder of my cup into the water as he bangs it down. He ends up finishing my yoghurt by licking it out with his finger, and batting his eyelashes at me. More grown- ups should do this, I think.

As I leave I hesitate at the HermanusPietersfontein wine stall. I glance at my watch; it’s not eleven o’ clock yet, so can I start drinking?  I shake my head at this silly thought, and ask for a glass. I enjoy the nr 7- a white blend, and the red Arnoldus, but it’s a bit pricey. And then I try the limited edition sweet wine, on ice. It’s soo refreshing. Called ‘Bloudruk’, this light, non- syrupy sweet(ish) wine made of viognier by junior winemaker Kim McFarlane really tickled my fancy. I bore it home and dared to offer it to Mr Y, a wine connoisseur as a dessert treat. 

Niles came into the kitchen, looking grim. “They want to talk to you chef”. Imagining that I was about to be disgraced by my wine choice (I never get to pick the wines on other days) I was delighted to hear Mr Y in raptures about it.

The HPF food and Wine market is a classy and fun venture which I heartily approve of (and not just because  I get to share my yoghurt with strange men and start drinking at ten) 

January 10, 2011

Ideas from my menus so far

Strawberry and tomato Gazpacho

Butternut, feta and sage phyllo Roulade

Just roast off cubes of butternut with some chopped sage and olive oil at 200C until cooked but firm. Toss in a bowl with feta cubes, pumpkin seeds and torn, fresh sage. Season well. Butter 6- 8 layers of phyllo pastry, stacking them on top of each other as you go. Place the butternut mixture in the centre and roll em' up, seams underneath. Brush the top with beaten egg and sprinkle with seeds- I used sesame, pumkin and poppy. Now bake on a tray at 190 C until golden and crisp. Serve at once. 

Chocolate souffle cake

Winner of a recipe from Gourmet magazine to be found on Epicurious. Except I was running a little late on the caramel sauce- I didn't have time to patiently let is caramelise (probably due the the fact that I started making it as the main course went out- one of my favourite tricks). So, I just well, burnt it, didn't stress about removing all the pith from the orange and dubbed it 'bitter orange sauce'. It was delicious and I would recommend if over the sickly- sweet caramel. Serving it with fresh orange is nice, too- it lightens things up. 

Courgette marinated in salsa verde with camembert- Great lunch fare.  
The guests went gaga over this: just marinate thick slices of courgette (peel them with a peeler if you don't have a mandolin) in salsa verde (Good old Jamie Oliver has a nice salsa verde recipe on his site) for about ten minutes and serve with a good quality camembert cheese.
Sharon Glass's Potato and Salmon salad
 A refreshing, classy potato salad: strips of smoked salmon with cooked baby potatoes and chopped red onion, and a dressing made of greek yoghurt, chives and a splash of mayonnaise.

My Christmas macaroons- Served with coffee
This is me showing off- But there's not really much skill involved in following the macaroon recipe in my all- time favourite Ottolenghi Cookbook. I got the idea for the devil- red version from the blog Almost Bourdain (see my blog list) and then took it further by making the minted, green ones with mint ganache to go alongside the chilli red.

 I love raw beetroot- I slice it paper thin and marinade for an hour or so in balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs. Some prefer it at least slightly cooked. Either way its delicious in this salad, inspired by Reuben Riffels. Make a yellow pepper dressing my blitzing raw, chopped yellow peppers with a dash of tumeric, some vinegar, and the ripest mango you can find. Serve with dressed rocket leaves, sliced radish, toasted sunflower seeds or pine nuts if you have any, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
Meringue Roulade filled with whipped cream blended with ripe mango, fresh blueberries and  vanilla. 

The Christmas lunch buffet.Turkey with apricot, celery and pecan stuffing, with truffles on top and under the skin, with rich gravy, gammon glazed with blueberries and caramelised apple stars, homemade cranberry sauce,  crunchy green veg, roast potatoes, caprese salad and a wreath of phyllo wrapped around grilled mediterranean veg. My legs shook when the day was done, but there is great happiness to be found in tired feet and happy bellies. 

Christmas gammon glazed with Blueberries and caramelised apple stars. An idea from a Taste magazine, if I remember correctly. 

Chilled tomato and pomegranate gazpacho with crunchy bits- cucumber, peppers, red onion and thinly shredded basil. I just added pomegranate concentrate ( from Woolworths- every cook should try it, it's brilliant) and thinned down the gazpacho with pomegranate juice. I popped it in the freezer for an hour before serving- so it was super- chilly and refreshing. 

Reuben's chilli salt calamari with Japanese mayo ( you can buy Japanese mayo at Fruit and Veg city- but beware it is addictive) and a little radish and coriander salad. I get my calamari tender by soaking it in milk for a few hours or overnight before slicing it into rings and and dipping it into a flour-salt- paprika- chilli powder mixture and deep- frying it in canola oil for mere seconds.

Sharon Glass's lime, lemongrass and lemon ice- cream. 
The recipe promises a creamy texture, but mine had ice- crystals in it that deterred greatly from the lovely flavour combination (and not for lack of beating; I can assure you). I've now given in an ordered an ice- cream maker from Yuppie Chef a brilliant South African website, with great prices, free delivery in South Africa, and an awesome selection of kitchen goodies that ranges from elite knives, to cookbooks, wine decanters and a variety of appliances.

Easy and impressive
 Van Blommenstein's Butchery in Hermanus ( and I've sure most others, if you ask them) stock both springbok and kudu carpaccio. It's so handy to have a pack in the freezer- you can just whip it out if you have guests and serve it some avocado- dressed-in lime, fresh rocket, some crispy radish slices, toasted pine nuts, a sprinkle of blueberries and drizzle of balsamic reduction.
Toasted croutes with chicken liver parfait, pomegranate and sage
I used my own chicken liver parfait recipe, but the pomegranate and sage combination is Jamie Oliver's idea ( I just can't remember quite where I spotted it) For the croutes, I sliced up heat- and- eat paninis and doused with herb oil (bring canola oil up to simmer with a halved house of garlic, and either five sprigs of thyme or two sprigs of rosemary then take off the heat until cool- keep in the cupboard in a jar) then I grilled them on a smoking griddle pan just before serving, crisped them up in a 180C oven. This canape is lovely for Christmas, with its classy panash and jewelled pomegranate seeds- but it can be enjoyed all year round.
Elizabeth David's caramelised onion tart

 I'm having a sort of love affair with Elizabeth David at the moment- her recipes are old school, it's true. But they are flawless and work every time. This tart is testament to that. It's as easy as caramelizing a bunch of onions and baking them in a short crust base with an egg and cream mixture. I served it with a blue cheese sauce (fry some finely chopped onion, then add a bang of blue cheese, allowing it to melt over low heat and adding some snipped chives at the end), a few choice dots of balsamic reduction and some last- minute fried onion rings. A lovely starter. 

January 07, 2011

Gourmet Burgers

Gourmet Burgers

This one goes out to J, who thinks my burgers are rad, and rates me really clever for freezing my patties before cooking (Not his exact words but I do flatter myself).

It looks a seriously long recipe but do not fear. You can just do the parts you feel like. There’s no crime in buying rolls; mushroom sauce is not necessarily a game- breaker and All Gold has served generations of families as the all- purpose T sauce.  Gourmet burgers can just mean using up all the goodies in the fridge and making them look pretty by putting them in separate bowls with silver spoons in!

For the home made rolls:
  • 4 cups stoneground Eureka white bread flour (Normal flour will do)
  • 1 sachet (10g) dried yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Lukewarm water
For the patties:
  • 10 ml ground cumin
  • 10ml ground coriander
  • 5ml ground tumeric
  • 500g ostrich mince (or beef, but ostrich is funky, healthy, yummy)
  • 200g picked oxtail- totally optional. (I had some leftovers lying around, so added it in- the result was the softest, yummiest, most moist-est patty ever. For the rest of my days I will always follow oxtail- dinner with gourmet burger lunch)
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cm ginger, crushed
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 handful coriander or parsley ( or both), chopped
  • Plenty salt and black pepper
  • 1 chilli, de- seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 slices of white bread, mixed into crumbs ( if you don’t have a mixer, just kind of grate the bread till its crumbly- improvisation is king)
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 sachet tomato paste
  • 20- 30 ml oil
For the tomato relish:
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 10ml olive oil
  • 8 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 sachet tomato paste
  • 1 handful basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5ml brown sugar
For the mushroom sauce:
  • 3tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 200g mushrooms (portabello is nice), diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Dash of olive oil
  • 5 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
  • Salt and pepper
For the filling:
  • 1 avocado, sliced and doused with lemon juice
  • A few peppadews, sliced or halved
  • Slices of mature cheddar
  • Some bacon, fried or grilled till crisp ( optional)
  • Slices of pineapple, fried eggs. Whatever. It’s your burger. So add any pickles or yummy things you have lying around in the fridge
  • Lettuce, washed or rocket (even better).
For the bread rolls:

    1. Place the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add enough lukewarm water to mix into a pliable dough. Rather add more water than less, as it is easier to add more flour than water at a later stage. Knead for 8 minutes. Rub a little oil onto the surface, place in a clean bowl in a warm place until almost doubled in size.
    2. Preheat the oven to 180 C
    3. Punch down the dough and break into small, equal sized balls, shaping them by cupping them in your palm and rotating on a lightly floured surface.
    4. Place on a greased tray and dust the tops with flour. Leave at room temperature for 20- 30 minutes, until risen a bit more.
    5. Bake in 180 C oven for 15- 20 minutes, or until the rolls sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
    6. Leave to cool on a rack (or serve warm, melted butter on warm bread= heaven).
For the patties:
1.      Place a small frying pan on the heat. Dry- fry the spices until you can smell their aromas.
2.      Place spices in a bowl with remaining ingredients, and mix well. You can fry off a little in a frying pan to test the seasoning if you’re as fussy as I am.
3.      Shape into equal- sized patties and place on a board or tray covered in cling film. Freeze for at least half an hour to firm up and prevent disintegration in the pan.
4.      Heat up a grill pan until smoking hot and add oil. Fry the patties for a few minutes on each side, then just before serving finish them off in the over for ten or so minutes, or until done to your liking.

For the tomato relish:
When I worked in the bush we used to call this shebo ( a Shangaan word for this tomato and onion- based sauce traditionally served with pap), minus the basil. It’s really handy to make double the recipe, because you can use the left- over as a pizza base or a pasta sauce with some crispy bacon and parmesan shavings.  If you’re lazy (or call it tired; overworked; rushed- whatever blows your skirt up) you can use canned whole peeled tomato instead.

1.      Get a large pot of boiling water going, as well as a big bowl of water with ice in. Slit the skin of the tomatoes wit a sharp knife at the top and bottom of each. Now plunge the tomatoes, four at a time, into the water. After ten seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into the cold water. Now peel them, and cut into quarters. Remove the seeds inside and chop the flesh up roughly.
2.      Fry the onion in oil for a minute or two until soft. Add the garlic and tomato paste and fry for another 2 minutes. Add the tomato flesh and simmer, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes or so. Season to taste and don’t forget the sugar. Just before serving, add the basil.

For the mushroom sauce:
If you don’t feel like making a béchamel, just fry the chopped mushrooms and thyme with some onion, deglaze the pan with sherry and add a cup of cream and reduce till sauce consistency. Season and indulge.

1.      Place the milk, cloves, bay leaf and any onion – tops you have left over in a pan and heat until tiny bubbles start to appear on the surface. Set aside.
2.      Melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add the flour. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for a few minutes.
3.      Remove from heat and gradually add the milk (you can strain it through a sieve or just avoid and solid bits when pouring)
4.      Bring to slow boil and stir for 5 minutes ( this cooks out the floury taste)
5.      In a separate pan, Fry the mushrooms in butter and olive oil and add the thyme after 2 minutes.
6.      Combine the mushrooms and bechamel and heat before serving. Season to taste.

Place all your fillings, sauces, a basket with rolls, bowls of butter, the hot patties and a big bowl with the french lettuce on the table. Now build burgers.

* Serve with crisp potato wedges (recipe to follow shortly)

January 06, 2011

the Most refreshing dessert

My customers like to keep it light. This is the least heavy dessert I could think of, it's tasty, refreshing, and well, it has jelly in it. Anything with jelly = fun.

Cranberry jelly with plums, litchis and mint

Serves 8 ( reduce amount of fresh fruit for less people)

You don't have to use all the different juices just cranberry is good, in fact, you can try any fruit juice you like. 

  • 350ml cranberry juice ( liquifruit’s cranberry and apple works well)
  • 100ml pomegranate juice ( available from Woolworths)
  • 50ml clear apple juice
  • 100g castor sugar
  • 10g powdered gelatine

For the dessert:
  • 5 ripe plums, sliced
  • 10 litchis, peeled, de- pipped and halved
  • 200g blueberries
  • Handful of mint, chiffonaded (keep a few whole)
  • Zest of 1- 2 limes

    1. For the jelly, place all the juice in a saucepan and add the sugar. Whisk over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved then bring to the boil for two minutes. Remove from heat
    2. Place 30ml of water in a glass jug and sprinkle the gelatine on top. Place in the microwave for 10 -20 seconds until the gelatine has dissolved. Add to the hot cranberry mixture.
    3. Pour into a square or rectangular plastic container that is not too large or shallow. You want to cut the jelly into cubes so it should be either  one or two cm deep when you pour it in. Refrigerate for eight hours or overnight.
    4. To serve, place the fruit randomly on a platter, sprinkle with the lime zest and mint. Un-mould the jelly and cut into 1 or 2 cm cubes and dot around. You might not use all the jelly- keep the rest in fridge, what a treat. 

Watermelon, Feta and Pomegranate salad

This summer salad just screams: " Eat me now!" If you don't have a sweet and firm watermelon though, don't bother.

Watermelon, feta and pomegranate salad with balsamic dressing

For the salad:

  • ¼ big watermelon, sliced in triangles and pips removed ( what a treat)
  • 50g good quality feta, sliced
  • ½ pomegranate
  • Handful of mint, chiffonaded ( rolled up and thinly sliced)  
  • 40g rocket
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing:
  • 35 ml good balsamic vinegar
  • 5ml Dijon mustard
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

    1. Here’s the easy way to get pips out of a pomegranate: slice it in half vertically and remove as much of the white membrane as you can see. Now turn it upside down in your hand, with the fleshy side facing your cupped palm. Now tap it sharply with the back of a heavy knife or a good wooden spoon. The pips will fall out into your palm. You might have to stop every now and then to remove a little more membrane.
    2. Arrange the watermelon on a platter and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, radish slices and mint. Top with rocket ( dress it in a little olive oil first)
    3. Sprinkle Maldon salt over a give a good grind of black pepper.
    4. For the dressing, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and mustard then gradually add the olive oil. Season to taste and drizzle a little over the salad, serving the remainder on the side. 

January 05, 2011

Chilly chilli, mango and cucumber soup

Like I said, it's blazing outside. This little chinchilla of a soup is zingy and refreshing. The  only odd thing is the colour, but I don't think  green and yellow were born to mix.

Chilly chilli, mango and cucumber  soup

Serves four

  • 2 mangos
  • 4 baby cucumbers, or ¾ of a big one
  • 1 red onion
  • ½ green chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • Zest and juice one lime
  • 200- 250ml clear apple juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful coriander

    1. Roughly chop one and a half of the mangos and place in a blender. Cut the remainder into a nice dice and set aside
    2. Roughly chop the cucumber and sprinkle with salt. Place in a sieve over a bowl and leave for about 45 minutes to draw out the water
    3. Roughly chop half of the onion and add to the blender. Cut the other half finely and add to the diced mango.
    4. Add the chilli, and the lime juice and zest to the blender and whizz. Thin it down to your desired consistency and season to taste.
    5. Place in the freezer until cool. I let mine start to freeze around the edges, it’s that hot here.  If  you’re in a rush, place in a bowl inside a larger bowl full of ice to cool quickly.
    6. Just before serving, chop the coriander and add to the mango and red onion dice.
    7. Ladle soup into chilled bowls and place a dollop of the dice mixture in each.
 * In hindsight, some ginger would be nice, as would a dash of fish sauce instead of salt and pepper. If you try it, let me know how it goes

Chewy, nutty spice biscuits

Its 37 C outside and I feel like a cookie in the oven myself. But I've been getting grief from Mrs X's daughter, Mrs Y for not putting up my recipes on this blog. She's the second boss in command so here goes...

I found a ginger cookie recipe in my old file ( I can't remember where I got it from) and tweaked it. You can leave out the preserved ginger and 25g of flour if you want, but it makes a yummy touch.

Chewy, nutty spice biscuits. 

  • 200g brown sugar
  • 200g butter, softened
  • 150g slivered almonds
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 225g cake flour
  • 2g salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 5g mixed spice
  • 3g ground ginger
  • 40g ginger preserved in syrup, chopped

    1. Preheat oven to 160 C
    2. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.
    3. Add remaining ingredients, mix well to combine.
    4. Shape the dough into walnut- sized balls and place, well spaced apart, on a baking paper lined with baking parchment.
    5. Bake at 160 C for about 10- 15 minutes until golden brown.
    6. Cool on a wire rack before filling the cookie jar. 

January 04, 2011

Summer you beauty

View from the cliff path

Summer days like these are for bikinis and dresses and shorts. For large hats and the smell of sunscreen. For soft serve ice- cream and cold beers.  For sitting on my favourite bench on the cliff path and watching the fishermen. And for crunchy Chicken salad.

My crunchy Chicken salad

Serves four

  • 7ml wholegrain mustard
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 10ml clear honey
  • 150ml olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

  • 400g skinless chicken breast fillets ( free range, happy(ier) chickens taste nicer)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 30ml olive oil
  • small bunch of dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cucumber, cut into big dice
  • 250g ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 200g mange toute, sliced
  • 100g fine green beans, blanched and cut in 2cm pieces
  • 100g asparagus, blanched and cut into 2 cm strips
  • 50- 80g feta cheese, crumbled or sliced
  • 100g rocket, or cos lettuce (or both) dressed with a little olive oil
  • Maldon salt and black pepper

    Grill those little chicks. 
    1. Whisk together the mustard, lemon juice and honey. Add the olive oil in a steady stream while whisking continuously. Season with salt and pepper.
    2. Season the chicken breasts and marinade in mixture of lemon juice, olive oil and dill for thirty minutes.
    3. Heat up a grill pan until smoking hot and grill the fillets on each side for a minute or two, to make those pretty lines. Usually, colour is flavour.
    4. Pour a little of the dressing over the chicken, and place in a 180 C oven for 6 minutes.
    5. Allow to cool. Combine with other ingredients and season with Maldon salt and black pepper. Serve remaining dressing alongside.