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warm bean salad with olive oil + lemon + parsley

warm bean salad with olive oil + lemon + parsley

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My mom used to make this side dish for us for years back in our days in the Free State…to help stave off the winter chill and provide some good nourishment to accompany a meat dish as opposed to just the ‘vleis, rys en aartapples” (meat, rice & potatoes) staple. We were fortunate enough to have a large vegetable garden in which my brothers and I had to do our time in turning the soil and tendering to the veg patch. I remember there were always these long green beans – and delicious ones too. While in matric (Grade 12) I had to lose a kilo or two so that I could fit into my matric dance dress – I was a size 10 in those days! I lived for weeks on beans and tomatoes – just cooked up, plain and simple … and fitted in my dress! The flavours have stayed with me to this day. The big secret to this simple fare is not to overcook the beans…. They still need to have a bit of a bite.

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Filled with nostalgia, I made this dish once again and served it as a warm bean salad – I added some freshly ground black pepper a drizzle of the best olive oil and to complete the dish a generous squeeze of lemon juice and some twigs of parsely. The olive oil, lemon juice and parsley renders the dish into a modern veggie serving that I absolutely love. If you like, you can always eat this as a main meal with a slice or two of freshly baked bread. Just paddle the bread through some of the lovely juices….just plain delicious is what it is…unadulterated veg at its best.

Three more ideas with green beans:
Steam or boil the beans until just cooked – add some bacon and a knob of butter.
Steam or boil the beans – add salt, black pepper, a bit of garlic and a knob of butter.
Cook beans with potato and onions and flavour with salt, white pepper and a knob of butter.

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warm bean salad with olive oil + lemon + parsley
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 400g Green beans (ends and strings removed)
  • 300g Tomatoes, sliced
  • 200g Onions, sliced
  • 125 ml Water
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Freshly chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients into a pot with the water. Cook on medium heat for +- 5-10 minutes until all is soft and cooked - but not overcooked.
  2. Season with salt and pepper and give a generous squirt of olive oil. Mix the lemon juice and chopped parsley through and serve immediately as hot as you can.

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cabbage sexy? i say yes! = roasted savoy cabbage salad

cabbage sexy? i say yes! = roasted savoy cabbage salad

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When people hear the word cabbage I often see them cringing – thinking of how they were forced to eat cabbage in school and varsity hostels. Even between kale, cauliflower and brussels sprouts it was often seen as the poor cousin of the vegetable. But the Savoy cabbage is the sexy cabbage – she is so petite and beautiful – in looks + colour + flavour. And when you treat this evocative and sultry lady with the respect and love she deserves – she will be the star of the night and your dining table.

roasted savoy cabbage salad

I served this as a starter for my friends and eventually the people were quite perturbed that there was no more of the sexy Savoy left for seconds….. The crispy leaves of this baby cabbage combine with the thyme gives it a unique flavour and taste. Once you have added the walnuts and the dressing to the mix…. well this little foxy Savoy revs-up a notch, setting-off somewhat of a flavour explosion in your mouth. It’s extremely easy, sassy and delicious – give it a try this winter!

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cabbage sexy? i say yes! = roasted savoy cabbage salad
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 Baby Savoy cabbages
  • 3T Olive oil
  • 2T Fresh thyme – leaves picked
  • 80g Walnuts
  • Dressing
  • 2T Red wine vinegar
  • 2t Sugar
  • 3t Parmesan cheese – finely grated [you can also omit it here and just add shavings on top of your dish]
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Add the thyme to the olive oil and heat for two to three minutes allowing for the thyme to infuse.
  3. Pull the cabbage apart so you are left with just the leaves.
  4. Sprinkle with olive oil – make sure that you rub each leave with your hands to make sure each leaf attracts some of the flavour of the thyme.
  5. Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes – or till crisp.
  6. After cooked add the walnuts to the pan and just leave in the oven for two minutes for the walnuts to warm-up.
  7. Salad dressing - Mix all the ingredients together
  8. To serve - Sprinkle the combined cabbage and walnuts with dressing and toss salad to cover all the leaves. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and tuck in and enjoy!

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roasted chicken curry = frindian chicken

roasted chicken curry = frindian chicken

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It’s winter and its time to cook something that will help keep the chill of winter at bay. For this, there is nothing better than a wonderful curry.

I was very fortunate to spend a weekend with renowned Chef, Reza Mahammad a month or so ago and he told me about the new trend that he had started – “Frindian cuisine” – yip Frindian … this is where you combine classic French cooking techniques with the wonderful variety and diversity of Indian spices.

This is a not an easy task but Reza, the genius, makes this work so brilliantly.

Back home I decided to try my own Frindian chicken – by roasting a chicken the French way { the technique I always use is from the book “Le Cordon Bleu at home”} and using my own Indian spice mix – this dish was such a hit around the table there were only a few bony morsels left. This is the kind of dish where you need to get stuck in with your hands and eat this with gusto – it’s delicious, tasty and extremely alluring. Not only does the dish dress up to impress, but the taste is hot and complex. The flavours seem to just stitch two continental food styles in seamless fashion and so worth the effort.

On how to truss a chicken click here.

Frindian Chicken

 

 

roasted chicken curry = frindian chicken
 
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Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 Chicken – about 2 kg’s
  • 3T Butter
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1T Vegetable oil
  • My spice mix – mix all the ingredients below together.
  • 1T Grated fresh garlic
  • 1T Grated fresh ginger
  • 2t Chillie flakes – you can replace these with 1 or 2 chopped strong red chillies depending on your individual taste
  • 2T Masala mix [strong curry powder]
  • 1T Cumin seeds
  • 1T Coriander [fine]
  • ½t Cinnamon [fine]
  • Fresh coriander for serving
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  2. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Loosen the skin on the topside of the chicken and take the Marsala mix and try to massage it under the skin – make sure you rub it all over the chicken. Do it carefully and take your time. You don’t want to break the skin at any point. Even try and get some Marsala into the little legs and wings. Rub the spice on the inside of the chicken as well.
  4. Now season the cavity with salt and pepper.
  5. Truss the chicken.
  6. Then rub the outside of the chicken with the butter and oil and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Place the chicken on the side in a roasting tray and roast for 20 minutes.
  8. Then turn the chicken onto its other side and roast for another 20 minutes.
  9. Finally turn the chicken with the breast side-up, add a ½ cup of water to the pan and roast till the juices run clear – about another 20 – 30 minutes.
  10. Let it rest for 15 minutes covered with aluminium foil. The juices will be absorbed into the meat and it will be far easier to carve.
  11. While resting the chicken, bring the remaining juices in the roasting tray to the boil on top of the stove – scrape to release any cooked meat that is still at the bottom of the tray. Add a bit of water and reduce till ⅓. Spoon this over your meat at the table.
  12. Remove the twine, carve and enjoy your Frindian chicken with your bestest friends.

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banana flan bread with amaretto biscuits + white chocolate + almonds

banana flan bread with amaretto biscuits + white chocolate + almonds

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Ever since I started writing my blog my husband has been pestering me to bake a banana bread. He is just crazy about the flavour, sweetness and cake like texture. It’s such an easy thing to bake and we always have a few overripe bananas loitering in our fruit bowl. What I do like about banana bread is that it is a no fuss thing – and very easy to put together. Once you have the basic recipe you can always add raisins, nuts, chocolate chips – actually just about anything you fancy to make it your own.

Watch me make this by clicking here.
banana bread

The way I made this a lifeisazoobsicuit banana flan bread was by:
#1 changing the shape – I decided to bake it in a flan pan and serve it in a tart of sorts instead of a loaf and then
#2 I added three components that work extremely well together with bananas – white chocolate buttons, amaretto biscuits and almond flakes
#3 I was not keen to serve it with the traditional icing – so I opted to serve it with the crème fraiche instead.

My hubby, Rick had three helpings … Need I say more?

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A few banana facts or fiction I found on the www 🙂

1. Bananas float in water, as do apples and watermelons.
2. More than 100 billion bananas are eaten every year in the world, making them the fourth most popular agricultural product.
3. A cluster of bananas is called a hand, and a single banana is called a finger. Each banana hand has about 10 to 20 fingers.
4. Thanks to its oil, rubbing the inside of a banana peel on a mosquito bite – will help keep it from itching and getting inflamed.
5. To whiten teeth naturally, rub the inside of a banana peel on your teeth for about two minutes every night. If you gargle with salt water, this will heighten the effect. Expect results in about two weeks. It works because of the effect of the potassium, magnesium, and manganese in the banana peel.
6. If you peel a banana from the bottom up (holding on to the stem like a handle), you will avoid the stringy bits that cling to the fruit inside.
7. Bananas are low in calories and have no fat, no sodium, and no cholesterol. They contain vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6.
8. More songs have been written about bananas than about any other fruit.
9. Bananas are the only fruit that contains the amino acid tryptophan plus vitamin B6. They help your body produce serotonin—a natural substance that alleviates depression.
10. If you put a banana in the refrigerator, the peel will turn dark brown or black, but it won’t affect the fruit inside.

source: thebananapolice.com

banana bread

 

 

banana flan bread with amaretto biscuits + white chocolate + almonds
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 60ml Butter at room temperature
  • 125ml Castor sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Bananas smashed
  • 1t Vanilla essence
  • 250ml Cake flour
  • 1t Baking powder
  • ¼t Salt
  • 50g White chocolate buttons
  • 50g Amaretto biscuits – broken into pieces
  • 40g Almond flakes
  • Crème Fraiche for serving
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Butter a medium loose bottom flan pan.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Then add the egg and mix it in with the butter and sugar mix.
  3. Mix the bananas and vanilla essence into the mixture.
  4. Add all the dry ingredients gently – be careful not to over mix – and pour into prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with a sprinkling of icing sugar and a few dollops of crème fraiche

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italian ramen – chicken soup for the soul

italian ramen – chicken soup for the soul

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“The Italian Ramen is a delicious cross-cultural take on chicken soup. The angel hair pasta represents Italy; the soft-boiled egg and chile oil evoke Japan” – Food & Wine

Italian Ramen – I have this lovely American colleague that started working with me this year and she reports to me what she cooked the night before (and I of course report to her :-)) and sometimes she brings along a small tester portion for me to taste. The American’s name is Madeleine. I needed to clarify that because I have another American in my life that I love dearly – she is another talented foodie and I will talk about her at a later stage.

So one morning Madeleine brought this delicious chicken based soup to the office – an Italian Ramen. It just blew me away – the chicken broth was so intense and just perfectly infused with the herbs. The chicken was cooked to perfection and the crunchy carrots added a wonderful sweetness and texture to the dish. Madeleine sent me a link to this specific recipe on Food & Wine’s website and I decided to make it – this is not a dish you want to fiddle with – It is perfect as is. It takes about 3.5 hours to make but its well worth doing it.
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This soup is served with a beautiful soft boiled egg – the traditional Ramen way … the egg compliments the dish but does not steal the limelight from the perfect chicken broth and succulent fleshiness of the white chicken meat.

So here is a quick guide to boiling the perfect soft boil egg:
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil add the eggs and cook for 5 minutes. While the eggs are boiling fill another large bowl with cold water. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to the bowl of cold water for 2 minutes. Crack the shells and peel the eggs.

Italian Ramen - chicken soup for the soul

 

italian ramen - chicken soup for the soul
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • For the broth
  • 1.3kg Chicken, cut into quarters
  • 2 White skinned onions, quartered
  • 4 Large carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 4 Celery sticks, cut into large chunks
  • 4 Thyme sprigs
  • 2 Rosemary sprigs
  • 2 Basil sprigs
  • Salt
  • Other ingredients
  • 2 Carrots cut into fine matchsticks
  • 6 Large soft boiled eggs
  • 500g Angel hair pasta
  • Chilli oil
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Few basil leaves to garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 260°C. Arrange the chicken in a roasting pan and roast until the skin is lightly browned – for +- 20 – 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer the chicken and any juices to a soup pot. Add the onions, carrot chunks, celery and herb sprigs. Add 3.8L of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the chicken is cooked, about 30 minutes.
  3. Using tongs, remove the chicken from the broth and let cool slightly.
  4. Remove the meat from the bones and pull into shreds; discard the skin.
  5. Return the bones to the pot and simmer until the broth is reduced to 8 cups, about 1½ hours.
  6. Strain the broth, discard the solids and skim off the fat. Season the broth with salt and keep warm.
  7. Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain and divide the pasta between 6 large soup bowls.
  8. Top with the shredded chicken, carrot matchsticks and soft-boiled eggs.
  9. Ladle the hot broth on top, add some chillie oil and garnish with basil leaves and serve hot.

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zingy warm mushroom and three cheese sandwich = decadent + delicious winter sandwich

zingy warm mushroom and three cheese sandwich = decadent + delicious winter sandwich

three cheese mushroom sandwich

If you want to watch me making this sandwich … click here.

This is just a really delicious winter sandwich that will send your taste buds into somewhat of a happy twirl. This is definitely not for someone on a strict diet but it will definitely impress all your friends and loved ones. I used three of my favourite soft cheeses – Boursin (my ultimate!!), some blue cheese and normal cream cheese. What gives this sandwich somewhat of an edge is the fact that the cheese fillings are at room temperature and the luscious mushrooms are somewhat zingy, warm and juicy. The important element in preparing this sandwich is the preparation of the mushrooms.

three cheese mushroom sandwich

Here are a few tips for frying mushrooms:
1. You need to add oil and butter to your non-stick pan – the butter adds that buttery, nutty flavour to the woody flavour of the mushrooms.
2. The pan must be smoking hot – if your pan is not hot enough the mushrooms will become soggy.
3. If you are cooking a lot of mushrooms – it is a good idea to cook them in batches.
4. Season your mushrooms while frying – for me the salt and pepper get etched into the delicious graininess of the mushrooms
5. Lemon and parsley always elevate the taste of the mushroom – try it.

three cheese mushroom sandwich

 

zingy warm mushroom + three cheese sandwich = decadent + delicious winter sandwich
 
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Author:
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • 6 Slices of bread
  • Butter
  • 1 Packet of micro leaves
  • Mushrooms
  • 300g Mushrooms
  • 1T Olive oil
  • 1T Butter
  • 1T Fresh thyme –leaves picked
  • Pinch of chilli powder
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • A generous squeeze of lemon juice (from ½ lemon or more)
  • 5g Chopped parsley
  • Cheese filling
  • (cheeses must be at room temperature)
  • 3T Cream cheese
  • 3T Boursin cheese
  • 3T Blue cheese
Instructions
  1. Prepare the cheese filling first by mixing all ingredients.
  2. Butter one slice of the bread very lightly. Divide the cheese fillings into three and add to the other side of the bread.
  3. Then prepare your mushrooms: Cook the mushrooms + thyme in the olive oil and butter in a very hot pan – season with salt and black pepper. Do not let the mushrooms become soggy; they should be a beautiful nutty and brown colour. At the end at the chilli powder, a big squeeze of lemon juice and chopped parsley.
  4. Add your mushrooms to the cheese filling side of your sandwich, top it with the delicious micro burst leaves and top with the other slice of bread. YUM!

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mac + cheese + tomato sauce = no frills + no fuss + just eat

mac + cheese + tomato sauce = no frills + no fuss + just eat

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This one is quick + easy and been a firm family favourite through the years. I remember sitting around the kitchen table, the radio playing in the background (there was no TV in those days)… My dad saying grace and thereafter mom bringing in this big baking tray full of steaming mac + cheese.

We did not have the fancy or posh mac and cheese – there was no bacon, no mushrooms, no cream etc … our mac and cheese came straight out of the Kook and Geniet and straight out of the oven. The basic ingredients are milk, eggs, macaroni and cheese. It’s the baked version that you can cut in blocks. We used to just get these blocks on our plates and in the middle of the table was a bottle of tomato sauce – and that was it for us … heaven.

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So today I took the same recipe my mom used and tweaked the ingredients to suit my adult taste buds. When it came to the tomato sauce I had to make a few changes – I fried some plump delicious rosa tomatoes in olive oil, added tomato sauce and fresh basil. Its still my  mom’s mac + cheese + tomato sauce – with a little twist. Life seemed much more simpler then. At least I can say that this recipe has remained simple and easy … give it a go.

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mac and cheese

 

mac + cheese + tomato sauce = no frills + no fuss + just eat
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1L Milk
  • 5 Eggs
  • 3t Mustard powder
  • 1t Salt
  • ½t Black pepper
  • 3 Cups of grated cheese
  • 4 Cups of cooked macaroni
  • Tomato sauce
  • 250g Rosa tomatoes - cut in half
  • 1T Olive oil
  • 80 ml Water
  • 1t Sugar
  • 250ml Tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 1 handful of fresh basil leaves – shredded
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Mix the milk, eggs, mustard powder, salt and pepper all together. Then add the cheese and cooked macaroni.
  3. Butter a baking dish well and add the mixture and bake for 1 hour.
  4. For tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil and fry tomatoes till the pan is quite dry. Add the water and cook again till quite dry.Then add the sugar + tomato sauce – heat through. Finally add the fresh basil + season to taste + serve with your mac + cheese.

 

 

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shades of night – the alluring aubergine

shades of night – the alluring aubergine

Although I did not quite start painting I decided I wanted to bring this mysterious aura of the aubergine into one photograph – to highlight its mysteriousness and allow the almost reclusive mood of the vegetable to translate onto the plate – anel

aubergine and tomato pasta

I always had a deep love for aubergines – something more than the usual obsession … when I see aubergines I want to design and create. I want to take out a canvas and start painting all its deep and alluring hues. The aubergine is just so mysterious and captivating, I don’t know if it is the beautiful shape with the green crown or that dark purple colour – or when you cut them they are full of these beautiful seeds and flesh – something dark, almost sinister yet enticing.

My mom used to sprinkle it with salt, then just roll it into some flour and fry then in a pan of oil. She then gave it a little sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce – and I was in heaven. Soft, delicious and packed with flavour.

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So with this all said, I decided to keep this recipe simple using only tomatoes and some red peppers however, my creativity got the better of me after I took the pics. Although I did not quite start painting I decided I wanted to bring this mysterious aura of the aubergine into one photograph – to highlight its mysteriousness and allow the almost reclusive mood of the vegetable to translate onto the plate. Enjoy.

aubergine and tomato pasta

 

aubergine + tomato pasta
 
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Author:
Serves: 5-6
Ingredients
  • 500g Aubergines – cut into 1 cm circles - leave the skin on
  • 500g Rosa tomatoes
  • One whole garlic bulb – cut in half (do not peel or break into smaller cloves)
  • 1 Red pepper sliced thinly
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh basil
  • 500g Pasta – cooked as per packet instructions
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 190 C°. Sprinkle the tomatoes, red pepper, garlic generously with olive oil and paint both sides of the aubergine with the olive oil. Place everything on a baking tray sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and bake for 40 minutes.
  2. In the mean time cook your pasta until al dente.
  3. When done squeeze some of the roasted tomatoes with your hands into a pulp over the pasta – mix into the pasta. It forms a tomato sauce for the pasta.
  4. Tear the aubergines and add the red peppers. Squeeze the garlic out of the shells and add to the dish.
  5. Season liberally with Maldon salt and some pepper and a good sprinkle with olive oil.
  6. Finish the dish off by adding parmesan shavings and freshly chopped parsley and some basil leaves.

 

 

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my aunt bettie’s bread pudding with a soft meringue blanket

my aunt bettie’s bread pudding with a soft meringue blanket

bread pudding

There are a few desserts that will always be on top of my nostalgic pudding list … and one of them is my mom’s bread pudding. She tells me that her version of bread pudding comes from my aunt Bettie from Kroonstad in the Free State. In this recipe you don’t use slices of bread but rather bread crumbs and you add nutmeg and this soft meringue blanket on top. In my version I used ghee to add a nutty flavour to the dish and if you want to be a traditionalist you can add some apricot jam on top of the pudding before you add the meringue. In our house, bread pudding was always served with homemade custard or a crème anglaise.

Watch me make this by clicking here.

mom's brood pudding recipe

This dessert’s simplicity lends itself to different interpretations and countless variations and any type of bread may be used – although white breads are the more commonly used. For me bread pudding is definitely comfort food with a big C.

bread pudding

But where does the original bread pudding come from? Bread puddings date back many centuries. Its origins can even be traced back to the days of the Romans! Back in those ancient times citizens could ill-afford to waste food so a variety of recipes stale bread were invented and became commonplace. Bread pudding was one of these recipes. Bread puddings were not only made by the Romans. Ancient versions of bread pudding include Om Ali, an Egyptian dessert made from bread, milk or cream, raisins and almonds; Eish es Serny, a Middle Eastern dish made from dried bread, sugar, honey syrup, rosewater and caramel; and Shahi Tukra, an Indian dish made from bread, ghee, saffron, sugar, rosewater and almonds.

bread pudding

my aunt bettie's bread pudding with a soft meringue blanket
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 Cups bread crumbs (6 slices of bread)
  • 2¼ Cups milk
  • 4 Egg yolks – beaten
  • ¼t Nutmeg
  • 2T Sugar
  • 3T Melted ghee (clarified butter)
  • ¼t Salt
  • To smear on after the first bake
  • 2T Apricot jam (optional)
  • For meringue
  • 4 Egg whites
  • 2T Sugar
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  2. Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk for a few minutes and then add all the other ingredients.
  3. Put in a buttered baking dish and bake for one hour.
  4. While the pudding is baking beat the eggs till soft peaks and then add the cream of tartar + salt + add the sugar spoon by spoon. Beat till you get a soft meringue.
  5. Smear some apricot jam thinly on top of the pudding and then add the meringue on top of the pudding - bake till golden brown for about 8 minutes.
  6. Serve with homemade custard.

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waldorf salad with a sparkling twist = food elegance from a bygone era for mother’s day

waldorf salad with a sparkling twist = food elegance from a bygone era for mother’s day

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Watch me make this by clicking here

It is now a bygone age but the late 1800’s was an interesting period in history. Coca-Cola was first put into bottles and thankfully a useful little drug-maker introduced Aspirin to the modern world with all its headaches – and is still proving useful to me today for those odd occasions of excess :-).

… Then of course there was the Waldorf-Astoria salad. It is recorded that Oscar Tshirky or “Oscar of the Waldorf” was the maître d’hôtel of this famous New York City landmark from the opening of the hotel until he retired in 1943. Although he was not a chef, it seems he was largely attributed with suggesting or inspiring food ideas, and tradition says he invented the Waldorf Salad for the hotel opening.

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The Waldorf salad lives on in its elegance and simplicity. It is traditionally made with fresh apples, celery on a bed of lettuce and then dressed in mayonnaise – the walnuts, it is believed were only added later. Over the years it now has several guises with variations being served with grapes, turkey and dried fruit.

So when my mom gave me this beautiful box of fresh sweet prunes I decided to add these to my version of this salad classic. I chose to caramalize the walnuts and added some fennel seeds to my mayonnaise. The caramelized walnuts add a crunchy texture to the salad and I also added some Appletizer and vinegar to the mayonnaise to thin it and to add a bit of sparkle to the dressing – perfect for Mother’s day.

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waldorf salad 

waldorf salad with a sparkling twist = food elegance from a bygone era for mother's day
 
Prep time
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Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Lettuce
  • Celery – pick the leaves and use them – chop the rest of the celery finely
  • Apple - julienned
  • Prunes - pitted and cut in halves or grapes
  • For Caramelized Walnuts
  • ½ Cup sugar
  • 100g Walnuts
  • Melt the sugar until it caramelizes - a light honey colour. Put the walnuts on the tray and pour the caramel over the walnuts. Let it cool down and then break into pieces.
  • Salad Dressing
  • 4T Mayonnaise
  • ½t Roasted fennel seeds
  • 2T Appletizer
  • 2t White wine vinegar
  • Pinch of red pepper
  • Mix all ingredients together
Instructions
  1. Mix all the salad ingredients together in a suitable stylish serving dish.
  2. Add the caramelized walnuts on top.
  3. Sprinkle with the dressing and season to taste.
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ham hock soup pot + wine + friends = perfect winter’s day

ham hock soup pot + wine + friends = perfect winter’s day

On one of those balmy, yet Cape wintery type days my husband and I were invited to lunch at some lovely friends of ours in their beautifully renovated old family home. It was one of those blissful afternoons spent cooking, sharing and laughing in the kitchen in between glasses of champagne. Whilst my friend and I nattered about this and that, the men drank beer, talked rugby and entertained the young kids as they excitedly ran in and out the house, chasing rugby balls, soccer balls and even the resident rooster. You know it was one of those special few hours where you completely forget about the troubles and stresses of the week, the chores or the unfinished laundry back at home. It was just one of those perfect afternoons.

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Back in the kitchen, my friend made this amazing dish of ham hock, beans, chorizo and tomatoes – her husband was quick to say that despite his wife’s considerable resume of cooking qualifications and accomplishments that it was actually his dish – yes he claimed it! I was duly informed that there was no actual recipe and they just throw things together– it was thick and rich and perfect with a piece of bread at the bottom. This is my type of cooking. This is cooking at its best – it’s slow, it’s full of flavour and full of love.

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Most of the time, I too cook without recipes but being a blogger I have since forced myself into the discipline of writing everything down. So here you go – this is my version of this splendid ham hock soup pot – it is so delish and so nurturing and perfect for a cold winter’s night. To make matters and preparation simple I decided to use three ingredients of everything – and it worked out perfectly. You need about 4 hours for this so it may be a good idea to make it the day before.

There is also no doubt that this soup needs to be prepared with love and working your way through a few glasses of good red wine, swapping stories and spending some carefree idle hours in the company of good friends.

ham hock soup pot + wine + friends = perfect winter's day
 
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Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 Smoked ham hock +- 1kg
  • 3 Large carrots – finely chopped
  • 3 Large onions - finely chopped
  • 3 Celery sticks - finely chopped
  • 3 Garlic cloves - finely chopped
  • 3T Olive oil
  • ⅓ Cabbage thinly sliced
  • 3 Tins of tomatoes
  • 3T Tomato paste
  • 3 Stock cubes
  • 3L Water
  • 3 Tins of beans (butter beans or black eyed beans etc)
  • 30g Chorizo sliced thinly (optional)
  • 3T Oats
Instructions
  1. Fry the onions, carrots, celery and garlic over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  2. Then add all the other ingredients except the beans + chorizo + oats and simmer for 3 hours.
  3. After 3 hours add the beans, chorizo and oats and simmer for another hour.
  4. Take the hock out – shred the meat and discard the skin and fat. Throw the meat back in the soup and serve piping hot with a delicious gremolate and some chopped chillies. Oh, yes and some chunky freshly baked bread.

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longing for braaibroodjies + sunny skies + chevrolet

longing for braaibroodjies + sunny skies + chevrolet

Watch me make braaibroodjies by clicking here

Braaibroodjies

Will the real Braaibroodjies please stand up? Everyone in South Africa loves braaibroodjies. They are just one of those “must haves” at any braai. However, despite the boastings of the braaimaster ( usually male with lager in hand) … these normally end up being:

A: burnt
B: soggy
C: tomato + onion = not cooked
D: cheese = not melted
E: all of the above.

So how do we ensure that these traditional toasties are:
A: not burnt
B: crispy
C: cooked tomato + onion
D: with melted cheese
E: all of the above?

Well I have a few sneaky tricks up my sleeve – use them or lose them as they say but do so at your own peril … but I can assure you that if you follow these tips you will have the perfect braaibroodjies every single time … And put any gloating braaimaster in awe of you for life …

Braaibroodjies

Braaibroodjie Tips

1. Butter one side very lightly (not both sides).
2. Cut the onion into thin big round slices – keep the circles whole and pack on the one buttered side of one slice.
3. Then add the thinly sliced tomato circles – sprinkle with salt and pepper. You will note that I place the tomatoes in the centre of the sandwich filling – this prevents the broodtjie from becoming soggy.
4. Grate strong cheddar and generously sprinkle over the tomato and cover with the other slice of bread. Make sure you cover all of the tomato slices with cheese.
5. Put a griddle rack on a baking tray and put the sandwiches on top of that – then while the rest of the braai is on the go place the sandwiches in the oven at 100°C to bake for +- 1 hour – it will crisp the bread up and it will cook everything slowly.
6. Then after everyone has braaied and the coals are low – pop them onto a braai grid and allow to toast until they are browned on both sides! Depending on how hot your fire or coals are you will need to watch these carefully as they can toast quickly enough.

Some people like to add all sorts of other condiments like chutney etc to their broodjies … for me some things need to be kept simple like it was in the old days of braaivleis, sunny skies and Chevrolets.

Braaibroodjies

Braaibroodjies

Ingredients
Sliced bread
Butter
Onion
Tomato
Cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper

Method
As above

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chicken + chorizo paella

chicken + chorizo paella

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A few weeks ago I was invited to meet Jose and Lisa Gomez owners of Perfect Paella … and all I can say of that night is that the Spanish truly love their Paella, they really know how to throw the best parties and boy can they dance! Just so you know Perfect Paella is selling the most amazing paella pans (and very affordable too) and even give cooking classes if you want to really learn from the Masters.

But for me the paella is one of those dishes that I think has become victim to its own success and modern day popularity – hence the reason why it has so many different interpretations or variation. Now my question today is – to chorizo or not to chorizo? A purist friend of mine said to me he heard that you traditionally don’t use chorizo in paella! This caught me completely off-guard – for one, I have always cooked my own paellas with chorizo and I honestly thought that it is the way to do it! I had to immediately ask one of my best friends Louis who lives near Valentia: would I be defiling an ancient and respected recipe by including chorizo in the paella or not?

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Within 5 minutes of my email, Louis responded as follows: “Nella… NO chorizo if you want traditional paella…my mother-in-law would turn in her grave. The paella with chorizo is more for tourists in Spain and in the South of Spain (Andalucia) . If you throw anything in then it’s just a rice ensemble and not a paella.”

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So there you have it folks – in Spain they don’t use chorizo in a real Paella … But now … I am not a purist or a traditionalist so I love chorizo and love adding it to paella. So my paella is probably a rice concoction of sort in Spanish terms but for me it’s a damn good paella. I also steered well away from the tradition by substituting the wine with some South African “Nagmaalwyn”. My paella is also on the blonder side (not yellow) – another note to self – I need to stock up on some fresh saffron. It was one of the most soulful paellas I have yet to taste – try it and let me know …

 

Paella

chicken + chorizo paella
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 800g Chicken pieces – I take each piece and cleave it into two pieces
  • 2 Chorizo sausages – sliced (+-250g)
  • 2T Olive oil
  • Marinade
  • 2 Garlic cloves - grated
  • 1t Black pepper
  • 1t Salt
  • 50ml Olive Oil
  • 50 ml Nagmaalwyn (Sherry)
  • Other Ingredients
  • 2T Olive oil
  • 3 Garlic cloves – sliced thinly
  • 1 Red pepper – cut into blocks
  • 1 Handful of fresh origanum (or replace with ½t dried origanum)
  • 5 Sprigs of fresh thyme (I use the whole sprigs)
  • 1t Smoked paprika (I did not have smoked paprika so I used normal paprika and added 6 drops of liquid smoke to my stock)
  • 1 Big pinch of saffron - soaked in a little bit of water
  • 50ml Nagmaalwyn
  • 500g Paella rice
  • 1.75L Chicken stock
Instructions
  1. Marinade - Mix all the marinade ingredients together and marinade the chicken for about ½ hour.
  2. Fry the chicken with the chorizo on medium to high heat until nice and brown.
  3. Take out of the pan and add all the rest of the ingredients except the Nagmaalwyn, rice and stock.
  4. Fry for about 5 minutes and then add the Nagmaalwyn to deglaze the pan. Scrape all the beautiful fried pieces from the bottom of the pan.
  5. Then pack the pieces of chicken in the pan – so they are spread evenly and add the sliced chorizo.
  6. Now add ½ of the stock to the pan and then the rice. Make sure all the rice is submerged in the stock.
  7. At this stage you don’t fiddle with the paella – don’t touch it with a spoon, ladle or anything. Cook over medium heat. When the paella looks dry add the rest of the stock and cook till done – about 40 minutes.
  8. Pour yourself a glass of good wine, rope in a few hungry friends and enjoy the flavours and the moment.

 

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pear crumble – a true treat

pear crumble – a true treat

If you want to watch me make this – click here.

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The other day a delivery of the most beautiful Abate Fetel pears from Tru-Cape arrived at my desk and it inspired me to make this delicious and easy pear crumble. That day I handed these delicious pears to some of my colleagues … well they all shouted for more and said they were just so utterly natural, fresh and delicious. Pears are such heavenly treats and so fabulous to bake with – so I baked some and also did a little research on the humble Abate Fetel pear* …

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Pronunciation
Abate Fete: ah-BAH-tay fuh-TEL

History
These pears were fist cultivated by Italian monks a few hundred years ago.

Shape + Look
Unlike normal pear-shaped pears, this variety of pear is slim and long and often many people have described it as almost banana-shaped. This fruit has an attractive yellowish brown russet over its green exterior.

When to eat
This variety of pear is eaten when it is just barely soft; you don’t have to wait for the fleeting, elusive moment between green woodiness and pulpy mush.

Taste
A rich sweet taste with a very unusual note: could it be aromatic honey?

Source: thekitchn.com + specialtyfruitclubs.com

* Abate Fete pears are now available in Checkers Stores nationwide.

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pear crumble - a true treat
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the filling
  • 400g Pears (cored and sliced thinly) - +- 3 Pears
  • 50g Brown sugar
  • 20g Butter cut in blocks
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 Star anise
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the crumble
  • 40g Oats
  • 40g Flour
  • 25g Castor sugar
  • 40g Butter – cut into small blocks
  • ¼ t Cinnamon powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • To serve
  • Vanilla ice cream
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  2. Filling – Place all the ingredients into a pan, cook over medium heat for 5 minutes and then transfer cooked ingredients into a small ovenproof dish.
  3. Crumble - Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Cut the butter into small cubes and add this to the dry ingredient mixture. Mix with your fingertips until it resembles an even crumbed texture.
  4. Cover the pears with the crumble mixture. Bake for approximately 40 minutes until the crumble turns golden and serve hot with some creamy vanilla ice cream.

 

 

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its biscuit’s first birthday – lets eat lemon meringue ice cream pie

its biscuit’s first birthday – lets eat lemon meringue ice cream pie

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365 days ago today, I made a life changing decision … I decided to live my dream instead of waiting for it to happen. I started writing this little blog … lifeisazoobiscuit. Since that day my life has been on the most amazing culinary expedition filled with adventures and the sheer enjoyment of sharing our universal language … the language of food.

I am not sure how I could possibly share with you all the wonderful experiences I have been blessed with up to this day so I thought that it might be fitting to share with you what I would like to call … lemon meringue ice cream pie – biscuit’s birthday cake. Quite simply, it’s a slice of heaven on a plate with only three ingredients. It’s whimsical, fresh and fascinating and best of all it is so simple to make.

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This is a secret that I learnt from my new best friends in the Free State where I grew up. Retha Cronje from the Bloemfontein Fynproewersgilde introduced me to this delicious dessert when I went to visit these exceptionally talented and inspiring women. Believe me, they and Bloemfontein rock!
So here we go …

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Take a spring form loose base round cake pan – smear a layer of good vanilla ice cream to form a layer at the bottom of the pan, then take a whole lemon meringue (yes, you just buy one) … and turn the whole lemon meringue tart upside down onto the ice cream layer. Then add another layer of ice cream up to the rim of your baking pan. Cover and pop it into the freezer for a few hours until the ice cream has hardened somewhat. When you are ready for your dessert, simply remove the baking mold form, then take granadilla pulp and pour it over. This is such a winner and show stopper even a one-year old can make it.

This dish is best served with a glass of chilled champagne and a toast to life, friendships, zoo biscuits and the possibilities that exist when one dares to dream.  Love, hugs, zoo biscuits, thanks and kisses to you all. Thanks for living this dream with me.

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lemon meringue ice cream pie

its biscuit's first birthday - lets eat lemon meringue ice cream pie
 
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Author:
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 2L Vanilla ice cream
  • 1 Lemon meringue pie
  • 1 Tin of granadilla pulp (small tin)
Instructions
  1. Take a spring form loose base round cake pan – smear a layer of good vanilla ice cream to form a layer at the bottom of the pan.
  2. Take the whole lemon meringue and turn it upside down onto the ice cream layer.
  3. Then add another layer of ice cream up to the rim of your baking pan.
  4. Cover and pop it into the freezer for a few hours until the ice cream has hardened.
  5. When you are ready for your dessert, simply remove the baking mold form, then take granadilla pulp and pour it over.

 

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