Category Archives: Dinner Divas

chicken meatballs with apple + cumin + mint salsa = for january budgets

chicken meatballs with apple + cumin + mint salsa = for january budgets

Indian chicken meatballs with Indian bread

The start of each year invariably sees most of us stretched to the limit after all the expenses over the festive season, the food, the gifts, the wine – it all adds up and still somehow it manages to be more than we originally budgeted for. I was fortunate enough to spend a few short days in Europe over the past month and swapping Rands for Euros is something that could make one quickly lose ones appetite. But it was wonderful and it was worth it. Just experiencing the different cultures, the history, the food and the flavours provides an inspiration that goes way beyond currency conversions! I have so much to write about from the simplest foods from the street restaurante and pastelarias of Lisbon to the simple sophistication of Parisian cuisine.

But more of this in future chapters…. One thing that remains universal is the budget-beating chicken. It remains a constant on any menu the world over and it is definitely the protein of choice in Europe at the moment. We all make the mistake of taking chicken for granted but we must always remember the many ways in which it is spiced-up, dressed-up or served up from countries in Europe + India + Mexico to the shores of Morocco. With a bit of creativity you can delve into the delights of chicken in a thousand different international ways without ever having to leave your kitchen … and to boot, you can beat the budget blues!

As a start I thought I would share my Indian chicken meatball recipe today. It’s really simple and the apple + cumin salsa makes this dish something extraordinary. I served it in a phulka but you can serve it in anything like a roti + pancake etc.

Indian chicken meatballs

chicken meatballs
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 500g Minced chicken breasts (skinned, with any fat pieces removed)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Medium onion (grated)
  • 4T Fresh coriander (chopped)
  • 1t Red marsala (wet) - click here for recipe
  • 2t Green marsala (wet) - click here for recipe
  • 2t Fresh ginger and garlic mix - click here for recipe
  • 1t Oil
  • ¼ t Turmeric
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1 Squeeze of lemon juice
  • For the tempering of spice
  • 3T Cooking oil
  • 3 Cloves
  • 3 Cardamom pods
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
Instructions
  1. Put all the chicken mince ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix through.
  2. Taking a handful of the mixture at a time, roll in meatballs (about the size of a golf ball).
  3. Tip: Keep a bowl of water next to you – wet your hand in the water so that the meat does not stick to your hand.
  4. Heat the oil in the pan on medium heat, adding the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon sticks. Let it fry for about 3 minutes.
  5. Now add your chicken balls. Fry until cooked through and golden brown in colour.
  6. Tip: If you are in a hurry, add a dash of water to the pan and put the lid on.

 
apple + cumin + mint salsa
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ Green apples (leave the peel or skin on)
  • 2t Fresh mint finely chopped
  • ½t Cumin seeds
  • 1t Green marsala (wet)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Juice of ½ to a whole lemon (all depends how juicy it is)
Instructions
  1. Chop the apples with skin still on into small little blocks.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.



phulka
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 500g Flour
  • 1T Cooking oil
  • 1t Cumin seeds
  • 1t Salt
  • 1T Sugar
  • 10g Dry yeast
  • 375ml Luke warm water
  • Oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Put flour, oil, cumin, salt and sugar in mixer. Mix for a minute or two.
  2. Add the dry yeast and mix through.
  3. Add the luke warm water slowly till it forms a dough.
  4. Knead the dough in the mixer for about 5 minutes till soft and elastic – it must still be slightly sticky to the touch.
  5. Put aside in a warm place and let it rise for +- 2 hours.
  6. Punch the dough down.
  7. Roll the dough out flat to approximately 2mm in thickness. Remember to sprinkle a little flour onto your work surface when you are rolling the dough out so it does not stick.
  8. Turn a drinking glass (tumbler) upside down and punch out circles of the dough.
  9. Heat the oil in a wok.
  10. Tip: To check whether the heat of your oil is right – stick the back end of a wooden spoon into the oil – if it bubbles and sizzles immediately around the spoon the oil is at the right temperature.
  11. Stick your dough circles into the heated oil for a minute or two. You will see it forms a bubble. Then turn it around till done - light corn-like colour.
  12. Take your deep fried dough circle out of the wok of frying oil and drain on a paper towel.
  13. To assemble - Open your little Phulka bread pockets.
  14. Add a meatball then add some apple salsa.
  15. I also like an extra squeeze of lemon juice just to give a fresh, zesty taste. Sprinkle with some coriander and enjoy.

 

 

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carrot + potato + date crush = moroccan dream

carrot + potato + date crush = moroccan dream

carrot and potato crush with dates and coriander

Carrot and potato mash with white pepper and butter was something I grew up with during my childhood. I remember it was one of my dad, Coen’s favourite dishes – he loved to scoop it onto his plate when it was still piping hot.  He always added an extra bit of butter and more white pepper – Coen liked to spice things up and … the richer, the better.  He was so in my thoughts when i made this dish on Dinner Divas – he would have been proud that I transformed the dish from the “boere tafel” of my childhood to an exotic type of Moroccan flavoured dish.

I did not mash it but rather crushed the potato, adding the butter and white pepper in remembrance of my dad and giving it that North African twist  by adding dates and coriander. You would have loved it dad. You encouraged me to live one day at a time, to be crazy + to be myself, to cry + laugh every day, to live my dream, to travel the world, to give more than what I have, to try and fix whats wrong, to never give up, not to get discouraged by disappointment, to stand up and try again, to be adventurous, to be me … today I miss you so much … with love … your biscuit.

carrot + potato + date crush

carrot + potato + date crush = moroccan dream
 
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 200g Potatoes – peeled and cut in big blocks
  • 200g Carrots – peeled and sliced
  • 35g Dates – chopped
  • ⅛t Salt
  • 20g Butter
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • 2T Coriander coarsely chopped
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Boil carrots and potatoes together till cooked. Crush with a fork – this is not mash so we don’t want it fine like mash.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients - mix well and serve hot with a few chopped dates on top of the dish.

 

 

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meatballs with mint + pine nuts + butternut

meatballs with mint + pine nuts + butternut
spaghetti and meatballs delicious, easy

#spaghetti + meatballs

When I first opened my mystery basket on Dinner Divas and saw the mince the only thing that went through my mind was MEATBALLS!! Nothing else … I never saw the chicken … in fact I did not register any of the other mystery ingredients … but at that moment in time and space, in front of all the cameras your brain just freezes. In retrospect you always end up quizzing yourself … I could have done this or I could of done that … in situations like this hysteria creeps in and disrupt your thoughts but I was resolute and determined to make this dish and prepare it well.

The other thing was that I had made a commitment to myself before I entered the competition … to stick with my gut, make a decision, go with it and not entertain any reservations. When you start doubting or second guessing yourself, this is when things tend to go awry and in a competition there is no time for messing about.

When I saw Kristy making the same dish, I have to admit I was apprehensive and the seeds of doubt were teasing my brain. Fortunately I had the clarity of mind to press on – it was too late to back track – I had to stick to what I believe in and what I know I can do well …

Well the judges did not think so – “oh dear another meatball dish – really” + “the meatballs were just disgusting” … this cut deep at that moment in time – but now I am laughing about it all. I love Caro + Aubrey + Andrew – they have crept deep into my heart and they will have a very special place in my life forever and ever …

So here is my  version of meatballs – something between my mom’s meatballs + what i have tasted in New York + something I have tasted in Italy. I added some mint + pine nuts + loads of veggies and used my fantastic tomato sauce which you can look up here

meatballs and tomato sauce and spaghetti

#spaghetti + meatballs

 

meatballs with mint + pine nuts = fab grecian fare
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 500g Extra lean mince
  • 4 Garlic cloves - grated
  • 1 Potato large - grated
  • 3 Thick butternut rings – grated
  • 1 Carrot - grated
  • 2 Small onions – grated
  • 50g Pine nuts – lightly fried in a non stick pan till golden brown
  • 1 Slice of white bread – soaked in water and excess water squeezed out
  • 1 Egg
  • Handful of finely chopped parsley
  • 1 t Dry mint
  • 1 t Salt
  • ½ t Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Put your oven on grill.
  2. Mix all ingredients together. Fry a small teaspoon and taste for seasoning – I normally use the microwave.
  3. Make small balls and grill till done - +- 10 minutes. After first 5 minutes turn them around and cook for another few minutes.
  4. Put in pasta sauce and simmer for a minute or two. Serve on spaghetti + parmesan shavings + fresh basil.

 

Tomato Sauce 

Click here for recipe.

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goat curry + saffron egg basmati rice = a delicious indian feast

goat curry + saffron egg basmati rice = a delicious indian feast

goat curry and saffron rice

Goat and Bean Curry: People probably thought I was off my head when I decided to cook goat on Dinner Divas for national television. We have over 50 million people in this country, 11 official languages and a rainbow of cultures – I wanted to show the people of our beautiful nation that it is a healthy and delicious choice. It’s affordable too! Did you know more goat meat is eaten throughout the world than any other red meat? This is a fact!

Goat meat is a healthy alternative to beef and chicken because of its lower calorie, fat and cholesterol totals. It comprises 63 percent of all red meat that is consumed worldwide! Currently, goats make up the main source of animal protein in many North African and Middle Eastern nations. Goats are also important in Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and other tropical regions across our planet.

saffron basmati rice with goats curry

Anyway, I got a shoulder of goat meat from my mom’s local butcher and decided to transform this into a delicious goat curry. You will often hear people say that goat meat is tough, tastes “funny”, poor man’s meat so to speak…this is where we are naive I think. If we are not prepared to try something and taste for ourselves we will be forever missing out on the real flavours that permeate our society and world. You have to try this goat for yourself. Take my word for it – it’s just delicious.

 

goat + bean curry
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 600g Goat (bite-sized goat pieces – softer pieces no bones for this one)
  • 2t Garlic and ginger mix - see recipe below
  • 2t Green marsala - see recipe below
  • 1t Red marsala - see recipe below
  • 11/2 t Salt
  • ½t Turmeric
  • 2t Medium marsala (curry powder)
  • 1t Cumin and coriander powder
  • 3 Medium onions chopped
  • 1T Ghee or normal butter
  • 2T Olive oil
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 3 Cinnamon sticks
  • 4 Cardamom pods
  • 3 Cloves
  • 410g Rhodes Tomatoes Chopped and Peeled
  • 5 Curry leaves
  • 410g Rhodes Butter Beans in Brine
  • 2T Fresh chopped coriander
  • Fresh coriander for serving
Instructions
  1. Mix the goat, garlic & ginger mix, green marsala, red marsala, salt, turmeric, medium marsala and cumin + coriander powder together and set aside to marinade.
  2. Fry the chopped onion in the oil and ghee till translucent.
  3. Add the star anise, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Fry for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the goat and brown the meat.
  5. Then add the chopped tomatoes and curry leaves.
  6. Let it simmer closed on medium heat for about 50 minutes. Stir now and then - add a little water if you see the sauce gets too dry.
  7. After 40 minutes add the beans with the “juice”- and simmer for another 20 minutes.
  8. Taste for seasoning - or if you so prefer, add more chillies.
  9. Sprinkle with fresh coriander just before serving.

 
saffron egg basmati rice
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For rice
  • 1 Cups of Basmati rice
  • A few strands of saffron (if you don’t have saffron use a pinch of turmeric powder)
  • 2T Ghee
  • For onions
  • 3 Large onions
  • 2T Cooking oil
  • 2T Ghee
  • For eggs
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 Cups of hot water
  • Few strands of saffron (if you don’t have saffron use ½ t turmeric powder)
Instructions
  1. Cook the Basmati rice as per the packet instructions however add the few strands of saffron to the water and remember to also add salt before boiling the rice. Drain the rice using a sieve. Rinse with hot water. Then add the ghee and lightly mix through.
  2. Cut the onions in side lengths in strips. Fry till golden brown over medium heat in the oil and ghee.
  3. Boil the eggs. Tip: For perfectly hard boiled eggs – bring the eggs to boil and then turn the heat down and let the egss stand in the hot water for 10 minutes.
  4. Peal the eggs.Add the saffron to the water and add the pealed eggs.
  5. Let it stand for about 10 minutes to colour and flavour the eggs.
  6. To serve - Use the rice as a base in your serving dish. Cut the boiled eggs into quarters and place on top of your rice base. Sprinkle the fried, golden brown onions over the rice and eggs and serve immediately.

 
tomato salsa
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 Tomato de-seeded and finely chopped
  • ¼ Onion finely chopped
  • 1T Coriander finely chopped
  • 100g Cucumber finely chopped
  • 1 Green chillie finely chopped
  • 1T Cooking oil
  • 1T White vinegar
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch sugar
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Put in bowl and serve immediately as side dish

 
garlic and ginger mix + green marsala + red marsala
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For garlic and ginger mix
  • 2T Minced or grated peeled garlic
  • 2T Grated ginger
  • For green marsala
  • 1T Garlic and ginger mix
  • 2T Green chillies finely chopped or better milled finely
  • 1t Cooking oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • For red marsala
  • 1T Garlic and ginger mix
  • Two red chillies
  • 1t Cooking oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of turmeric
Instructions
  1. For garlic and ginger mix - mix both ingredients together.
  2. For green marsala - put it all ingredients in a mortar pestle and grind together or put through a mill.
  3. For red marsala - put it all ingredients in a mortar pestle and grind together or put through a mill.

 




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leaf salad with roasted tomatoes + parmesan shavings + passion fruit dressing

leaf salad with roasted tomatoes + parmesan shavings + passion fruit dressing

Easy Summer Salad with Passion Fruit Dressing

Summer is salad time. This is the most easiest salad but so packed with flavour because of the passion fruit dressing.  I find the passion fruit lifts everything and the combination with the balsamic does wonders to the simplest salad.

Easy Summer Salade with Passion Fruit Dressing

leaf salad with roasted tomatoes + parmesan shavings + passion fruit dressing
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For Salad
  • 1 Large packet of mixed salad leaves
  • 30g Parmesan shavings
  • For Roasted Tomatoes
  • 200g Baby tomatoes
  • 2T Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • For Dressing
  • 115g Passion Fruit Pulp
  • 1T Balsamic vinegar
  • ½T Olive oil
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. First preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Coat all the tomatoes in olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  2. For the salad dressing, mix all the ingredients together.
  3. Put all the salad ingredients into a bowl and drizzle liberally with the passion fruit and balsamic dressing.

 

 

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poppy’s roasted chicken + herby tomato orzo

poppy’s roasted chicken + herby tomato orzo

poppy’s roasted chicken + herby tomato orzo

We’re fortunate enough to live in a real suburban neigbourhood – picket fences, children in the streets, we don’t ever lock our doors and then we had this most amazing relationship with our neighbours.  Poppy (fromGreece) and Giuseppe (from Malta) were our neighbours for the past 8 years and they have  really become like a  second set of parents.  Poppy and I have always shared an incredible  love for food while the men shared the same love for their gardens.   When  I woke up in the mornings I would hear Poppy working in her kitchen – cooking and baking away on one of her many Greek creations.  There is no-one  in my eyes that  can cook like Poppy – or better than Poppy for that matter.  She is someone who can  take the simplest of ingredients and transform them  into these most amazing dishes.

At times when I was sad or  lonely when hubby was away I used  to sit in her kitchen in my pajamas, having a cup of coffee and waiting for a fresh bread or croissant coming out of her oven – she nurtured my body and soul. In the evenings I will hear a holler from over the wall….Aaa-néééél – then I rushed to the wall and there Poppy would be with a sample (enough for  Rick and I and another two people) of what she cooked during the day.

One of the dishes that she sent over the wall on several occasions was roasted chicken with orzo. Poppy taught me how to make this dish – yes, I have I added my own twist to it – but it’s still my Poppy’s dish.

Poppy and Giuseppe have since moved and our life is not quite the same without them but they are not too far away and never out of my thoughts.

I love you and miss you, Poppy. I made this specially for you on Dinner Divas.

roasted chicken + herby tomato orzo
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Chicken
  • 6 Chicken thighs
  • 1t Dry oreganum
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Tomato Mix
  • ½ Tin (205g) Rhodes Oreganum and Basil Tomato Mix
  • 1 Tin (410g) Rhodes Whole Peeled Tomatoes – chopped
  • 1t Rhodes Tomato Paste
  • 3 Cloves of garlic finely grated
  • 60ml Olive oil
  • 200g Cherry tomatoes
  • 125ml Dry white wine
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1t Ground black pepper
  • 1t Sugar
  • Pasta Rice
  • 300g Cooked pasta rice
  • 1T Olive oil
  • 250g Grated Halloumni cheese (if you don’t have Halloumni cheese you can replace this with hard grated feta cheese)
  • 1t Dry mint
  • 2T Fresh parsley – finely chopped
  • 2 T Fresh basil – finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 200 °C.
  2. Rub some olive oil onto the chicken pieces.
  3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, sprinkle with the oreganum and then set aside.
  4. Add all the ingredients of the tomato mix into an oven roasting pan and stir well.
  5. Then place the chicken pieces on top of the tomato mix.
  6. Put in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
  7. In the meanwhile cook your pasta rice.
  8. Drain the pasta rice with a sieve (not a colander as the rice drops through) and wash under hot water.
  9. Add the olive oil and mix.
  10. Then add the rest of the pasta rice ingredients and mix well.
  11. After 35 minutes take the chicken dish out of the oven.
  12. Remove the chicken pieces and set these aside for the moment.
  13. Also remove the whole baby tomatoes as we are going to use these for the salad later.
  14. Add the pasta rice to the tomato mixture – mix well then add the chicken and thereafter put the whole dish back in the oven for 10 minutes and bake.
  15. Take out of the oven and taste whether further seasoning if necessary.
  16. Serve hot in individual bowls with the pasta rice serving as a bed on which to rest the roasted chicken breasts.

 

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cinnamon twirls + milk tart cups

cinnamon twirls + milk tart cups

cinnamon twirls + milk tart cups

cinnamon twirls + milk tart cups

When I decided to serve puff pastry twirls with my milk tart cups (this link will take you to the recipe) within the 1.5 hour Dinner Divas timeframe I immediately phoned my friend Nina and asked her for her advice. She guided me to her pastry recipe that she has successfully used for many years … but this pastry needed to stand overnight in the fridge – and I just did not have that sort of time available to me. I just thought to myself why not just experiment with the recipe? I eventually got it right and could prepare this in the allotted time allowed … and fortunately this pastry turned out to be a winner. You can make the pastry twirls from start to finish in less than 1.5h and it’s perfect. And as Nina mentioned … make a lot of it because it freezes very well.

cinnamon pastry twirls
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Rough Puff Pastry
  • 275g Cake flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2.5 ml Cream of Tartar
  • 250g Butter at room temperature – cut the butter into small blocks
  • 125 ml Boiling water
  • Extra cake flour for rolling out the dough
  • Spray and Cook
  • Egg Wash
  • 1 Small egg
  • 1T Full-Cream milk
  • Mix together
  • Cinnamon Sugar Mixture
  • 50ml Sugar
  • 5ml Ground cinnamon
  • Mix these two ingredients together
Instructions
  1. Place a baking tray in the freezer and pre-heat your oven to 200°C.
  2. Mix the flour, salt and Cream of Tartar together.
  3. In a separate bowl, put in your butter cubes, pour boiling water over the cubes and stir with a fork until there are about a ⅓ of the butter blocks left.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the butter.
  5. Mix well – but don’t over mix.
  6. Pour this mixture into baking tray and spread the mixture out with a spatula, then leave in the freezer for 20 min – thereafter transfer it to the fridge until you need it.
  7. Spray another baking tray with Spray and Cook.
  8. Take half of the dough out of fridge, sprinkle some Sasko flour onto your work surface and roll the dough out flat with a rolling-pin to approximately 2mm in thickness.
  9. Cut the flat pastry into long strips of about 1.5cm in diameter.
  10. Brush the pastry strips with the egg wash.
  11. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  12. Twist each strip into a straw-like twirl and place on baking tray and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes – until cooked and golden brown.

 

 

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food + fears + dinner divas + everything else

food + fears + dinner divas + everything else

On Saturday, 27 October you will see me in action on Dinner Divas, SABC 2 or for those with Dstv Channel 192 @ 8.30am.

I was as nervous as hell at the prospect of exposing myself to the whole of South Africa.  Nervous of the cameras – don’t we all hate seeing ourselves packing on another 5 kilos when we are already overweight?  Seeing every imperfection of ourselves on these modern day large format TV screens?  What would my first school boyfriend (Hennie Theron)  think seeing what I look like now? How would I measure up to the extreme and grueling challenges of breakfast TV? Would I be able to show my abilities and keep my nerve on camera, focus on thinking clearly and not strike a blank – well, let’s be honest here….not to make my name ass? And what about the thing we all don’t want to hear – criticism – to be criticised by amazing chefs and food people for something you love to do – for something you think you are good at?

Gathering the courage to enter Dinner Divas took a lot of guts as I had to overcome so many of my own personal fears. Before I entered, I had all these negatives in my head – I did not want to do it because I did not want to feel hurt or feel exposed… yet  I decided to face my fears  with the support of my biggest fan, my amazing husband Rick.

The great thing was that I could take my blog with me – I was not alone. I am so proud of this little blog of mine – lifeisazoobiscuit.  It brought me out of a deep depression and I wanted to see how much further this blog could lead me in life.

Can you actually believe that this blog took me out of the depths of depression?  Throughout my whole life I had been searching for that “thing” that would make me happy – I have always been fortunate enough to have been  successful in my career but there was still this thing – I wasn’t ever happy with myself, with me  who I was and who I am and all that I had achieved so far – something was missing.  To counter all these negativities I would eat and then I would gain weight … go on diet … and then the whole vicious cycle would begin again.  You see I love food but then again I   hate it as well – it is my passion and my poison.  But through it all and more than anything I wanted to prove myself to my mom, my brothers, my family, my friends how good I was with food, thinking about food, working with food,  for putting flavours together and everything else.    I tried to start a restaurant, I did my own deli range at the local markets … but at the end it all just faded away again …

But then earlier this year, again in the midst of a very deep and lonely depression I started eating (againJ) zoo biscuits … a week later on 12th April 2012 still eating zoo biscuits I woke up and decided I needed to write about food … and the blog lifeisazoobiscuit was born. Well, since then nothing has been the same.

lifeisazoobiscuit gave me the chance to appear on Dinner Divas and I recall that I did not sleep the night before we started the first shoot. When I arrived on set for make-up, the producer of the show Anne Myers  just looked at me once and said “on the coach lady, legs up under the cushions, and bring the tea bags”. I realised then and there that I was in good hands and although nervous and insecure as all hell, I knew it was going to be one of the most exhilarating days of my life. 20 minutes later I met Barry. How on earth was I going to compete against this big huggy bear of a man?

Watch me this Saturday on SABC 2 overcoming my fears + making very good friends with one of the most amazing men I know!

Carpe Diem.

 

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