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eat. cook. write.

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. 

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