Tag Archives: easy

#lowcarb Italian feast with #shareGalbani

#lowcarb Italian feast with #shareGalbani

gioie della tavola – the joys of the table

Italian Meatballs #lowcarb

The Italians know best when it comes to food and family. As a nation, their history, their customs and their love of family seems to have been forged around the dinner table. There is something so unique and so special about their traditions that I often feel that somewhere in my heritage or a previous life I must have been part Italian. When it comes to food, there is simply nothing better than sitting around a table with friends or family sharing a day filled with good food and wine – just like the Italians do.

Family

Being on low-carb food regimen (…yes we are still going strong), you may think that preparing an Italian feast may prove a little tricky with all the pasta, gnocchi, bread and the likes. But as I gleefully found out that with the right cheese in hand and a touch of creativity, you can make a three course feast that is as good as any Italian mamma’s lunch.

Low-carb pizza
For starters, I had to create something that in a way imitated bread or pizza. I made a low carb base from cauliflower topped with generous pieces of Galbani’s fresh mozzarella. The cauliflower base was both crispy and extra cheesy, and the topping of salty pancetta mixed with the scented basil provided the perfect ‘antipasto’ for my Italian feast. Click here for how to video!

Low carb pizza

Cheesy meatballs with tomato sauce
Moving onto the main dish, I know that nothing beats a good, homemade Italian meatball served on a bed of pasta. I added grated Galbani mozzarella cheese to the meatballs. Instead of pasta I replaced this with zoodles. For those not in the know – and watching their waistline, zoodles are uncooked strips of zucchini and the perfect healthy replacement for pasta. Just ask your local supermarket for a supply as most stock them these days.

Low carb spaghetti and meatballs

Pears and figs with honey and lemon scented mascarpone
For dessert I kept it simple with whole pears and figs poached in a cinnamon and vanilla syrup. I flavoured the Galbani mascarpone with a dash of lemon juice. The fresh fruit paired brilliantly with the lemony mascarpone; it was subtle yet a little tangy.

Pears-and-figs-with-lemon-scented-mascarpone

It was a special and delightful kind of feast…and such a beautiful way to celebrate with friends and familia.

Saluti.

Low-carb pizza
(makes three small pizzas)
800 g cauliflower
3 large eggs
30 ml parsley chopped
250 ml (1 cup) Galbani mozzarella cheese, grated
75 ml (+- 1/3 cup) parmesan, grated
2.5 ml salt
2.5 ml ground black pepper
9 slices pancetta, crispy fried
250 ml (1 cup) Galbani fresh mozzarella, torn
15 tomatoes on the vine
olive oil
handful fresh basil
handful rocket
maldon salt

Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Chop cauliflower up in smaller pieces and blitz into a “rice” like texture in the food processor. Place cauliflower into a big bowl and cook (uncovered) in the microwave for 10-12 minutes, depending on the strength of your microwave. Once cooked, allow to cool for a few minutes. Scoop cauliflower into a cheesecloth or clean dishtowel and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. The more liquid you get out, the crispier the pizza base will be. Put the cauliflower back into the bowl and add the eggs, parsley, grated mozzarella, parmesan, salt and pepper and mix well. Divide mixture in three to form three basis. Pat dough down into a baking pan on a sheet of baking paper. Make sure not to make your bases too thin. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.
Take out and add the pancetta, mozzarella and tomatoes. Pop it back into the oven for a further 10 – 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Give it a good drizzle of olive oil and finish with some basil, rocket and maldon salt.

Cheesy meatballs with tomato sauce
Meatballs
500 g mince
1 onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
170 ml (2/3 cup) Galbani mozzarella, grated
1 egg
handful of finely chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, grated
5 ml salt
2.5 ml pepper
5 ml psyllium husks (you find this at any good grocery store)
Tomato sauce
200 ml extra virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, whole
handful fresh basil
900 g Rosa tomatoes
salt
black pepper
Zoodles
500 g courgette noodles, cooked as per packet instruction (I prefer it raw)
olive oil
handful of Galbani mozzarella, grated

Mix all the meatball ingredients very well together, form into golf ball sizes. Set aside
Add the olive oil, garlic and basil leaves to a large pan. Heat very slowly on low-medium heat – we want to infuse the oil with the garlic and basil. Infuse for about 5 minutes –don’t burn the garlic. Add the tomatoes, turn up the heat to about medium high and cook for +- 20 minutes without the lid. You will see the tomatoes will start to burst open and infuse with the olive oil. Season generously with salt and freshly grounded black pepper. Add the meatballs and cook another 20 minutes or until done. Stir carefully now and then but don’t break meatballs. Scoop courgette noodles in a large serving bowl and top with the meatballs and sauce, finish with a drizzle of olive oil and grated mozzarella.

Pears and figs with honey and lemon scented mascarpone
3 lemons, zested and juiced
250 ml honey
3 cinnamon sticks
seeds of one vanilla pod
1 L water
6 pears, skin on
18 small fresh figs, skin on
250 ml Galbani mascarpone
pinch of salt

Place the lemon zest, honey and cinnamon sticks, vanilla seeds and water in a pot and bring to boil. Add the whole pears to the boiling liquid and turn down to simmer. Let it poach until the pears are soft (about 45 minutes). Switch off the heat. Add the figs for only three minutes to the hot liquid. Transfer the fruit into a serving bowl. Continue cooking the liquid until a thin syrup. Discard the spices and pour over the figs and pears. Mix the mascarpone, the juice of the three lemons and salt together (I used all the juice, but taste till you like the it). Serve dollops on the fruit.

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easy #asparagus salad with parmesan cheese

easy #asparagus salad with parmesan cheese

Asparagus salad with parmesan
Cooking the asparagus
Just the other day I bought my first bunch of spring asparagus and quickly put together an asparagus salad. I never boil or steam very thin asparagus. If they are fresh and thin, I simply pour boiling water over the bunch and allow it stand for five to ten minutes. If you have large asparagus boil of steam them until soft. I then immediately plunge these beauties into an ice bath – the result: beautiful, bright, fresh green asparagus – with a scrumptious bite.

Making the salad
Scatter the asparagus on a wooden board and sprinkle with the best olive oil, some fresh lemon juice, roasted seeds and nuts… and to top it off,add finely grate Parmesan cheese. Season with Maldon salt and a few pinches of black pepper. And there you have it… a mouth-watering, seasonal spring salad for the soul.

How to keep your asparagus fresh
Trim the ends if necessary. Fill a jar with a bit of water. Store the asparagus upright in the container. Change the water when it gets cloudy.

Asparagus - keep fresh

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#pork sausage #bitterballen – easy rugby world cup snack

#pork sausage #bitterballen – easy rugby world cup snack

I love these easy pork sausage bitterballen. They are crispy, delicious with Dijon mustard, and just even grander with a refreshingly cold beer.

Pork sausage bitterballen

#pork sausage #bitterballen - easy rugby world cup snack
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: Dutch
Serves: 30
Ingredients
  • 400 g pork sausages, meat pushed out of casings
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • leaves of a fresh sprig of thyme
  • 75 g butter
  • 85 g flour
  • 225 ml full cream milk, hot
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • juice of half a small lemon
  • 1.25 ml salt
  • 1.25 ml black pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 125 g breadcrumbs
  • oil for deep frying
  • Dijon mustard
Instructions
  1. Fry the meat in oil for 7 minutes, or until brown. Use the back of a fork to loosen the meat in the pan. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minute or two. Remove from heat and cool. Place the butter in a saucepan and melt over low heat. Remove from heat and add the flour. Stir until the ingredients have become a smooth paste. Place the butter and flour mixture back on the stove and slowly add the hot milk. Constantly stir to prevent lumps. Keep stirring until thickened. Stir in the nutmeg and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the meat, mix well and leave to cool completely. Divide the mixture into golf ball sized balls. Dip the balls first in the egg and then in the crumbs until all the balls are well coated with crumbs. Deep fry in oil at 170 °C until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with Dijon mustard… and of course a cold beer!

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butter lettuce cups + healthy homemade minty-salty croutons

butter lettuce cups + healthy homemade minty-salty croutons

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Watch me make this by clicking here.

{build me up buttercup}
“build me up buttercup” is that fabulous pop song from way back in the sixties. Hearing this catchy track the other day gave me the inspiration for this dish – a lettuce cup salad that is light and fresh and just in time for summer. So there I was toes tapping, barefoot in the kitchen, singing out loud to my little wispy cups of butter lettuce.

{simplicity}
The simplicity of the dish is amazing yet the taste seems to linger like the last rays of sunshine in your mouth. The ingredients apple, mint, blue cheese, minted mayo and croutons combine into something so appealing to the senses and it will delight the most discerning guests.

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{homemade healthy minty-salty croutons}
I opted to make a more healthier version of the crouton (if this is remotely possible… :-)) … healthier as I chose to use olive oil and then rather than deep fry the bread in oil, I dry fried these crispy nibbles.

{crouton technique}
I have to say, the technique in making the croutons is both simple and fantastic. You add some olive oil and flavouring into a plastic bag, add the blocks of bread and shake the bag till all the croutons are coated. You then dry fry them in a non stick pan.

{serve}
Serve these little cups on individual spoons at a cocktail function or on a big dish for your summer lunch. What is great is the fact that people can fold these “lettuce cups over” to become something of a lettuce wrap. Happy summer everyone!

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butter lettuce cups + healthy homemade minty-salty croutons
 
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Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • Salad
  • 1 packet butter lettuce
  • 1 green apple, sliced (you can slice it any which way you like)
  • 50g blue cheese, crumbled
  • 50g roasted cashew nuts
  • 1 cup homemade croutons
  • Homemade croutons
  • 2 slices of bread, cut into small blocks – keep the crusts on (+/- 2 cups)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • large pinch of salt
  • 1 plastic bag
  • Salad dressing
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp water
Instructions
  1. Croutons - Add the oil, mint and salt to the bag. Then add you croutons. Shake the bag till all the croutons are coated in both mint and olive oil.
  2. Heat up a non-stick frying pan to medium heat. Add the croutons to the pan and dry fry until golden brown. Remember to shake the pan when frying the croutons so that the croutons fry on all sides.
  3. Salad dressing - Mix all ingredients together.
  4. To assemble - Take a lettuce cup, add your ingredients inside the cup and sprinkle with salad dressing. Serve immediately.
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picasso’s chicken

picasso’s chicken

“I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them”- Pablo Picasso

When I saw Anke’s article in Fresh Living magazine using Picasso as one of her inspirations, I knew that I would have to look no further. The first thing that came to my mind was the Spanish painter’s beautiful chicken drawings. These were not paintings, just beautiful drawings. It was like he wanted to be normal – to be like us, to draw and not paint. But these were still no normal chickens – these were Picasso’s chickens.

{This recipe was inspired by an ingredient list I received from Pick n Pay for their freshlyblogged challenge #8 competition}

Picasso's chicken

I could never match up to his artistic genius, but to a certain measure our philosophical palette shares similar thoughts about life.

“I am an artist too, you see, when it comes to cooking, I cook ingredients the way I think of them, not the way I see them.”

My food creation is something of a deconstructed paella – just without the rice of course. Each of the ingredients – including the sherry can be found in your traditional Spanish paella.

I really wanted a smoky paprika taste to my chicken so I char grilled the peppers and added them with the chorizo under the skin and then used the peppers with garlic and lemon on top of the skin. The garlic mash was a layer of colour and flavour I added to this food canvas and works brilliantly with chicken.

So this is my culinary interpretation of a Picasso’s chicken. Remember … we are all artists in our own right and we must remember to draw inspiration from the canvas of life. Carpe diem!

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Tips for char grilling peppers

Oven: Preheat the grill. Half your peppers and coat with olive oil. Place the peppers skin side-up under the grill. Grill until the skin is blackened. Place the charred peppers into a plastic bag and allow to sweat. Remove the skin filament from the peppers ( I love to keep the skin on).

To grill: over a gas hob: Using a tong (or long braai tong) hold the peppers over the open flame until blackened. Place directly on the hob and rotate over the open flame occasionally. Put in bag to sweat. Remove skin.
Preserve: Add the peppers, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt to a jar. Leave in closed jar in fridge. Delicious on sandwiches – try it on toast too!

picasso's chicken
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Chicken and marinade
  • 1.3 kg chicken spatchcocked and cut in half
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup Sedgwick’s Old Brown Sherry
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1tsp salt (use smoked salt if you have)
  • 1tsp milled black pepper
  • Chorizo Stuffing
  • ½ onion, chopped into small blocks
  • ½ Tbsp butter
  • 100g chorizo, sliced into small blocks
  • 1tsp fresh origanum, chiffonade
  • ½ red char grilled pepper, chopped with skin (see below tips how to char grill a pepper)
  • Wet smoky pepper rub
  • 2½ red char grilled peppers, chopped with skin on
  • 2 tsp fresh origanum, chiffonade
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1tsp lemon rind, grated
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ tsp salt (use smoked salt if you have)
  • ½ tsp milled black pepper
Instructions
  1. Marinade - Mix all the marinade ingredients together and rub into chicken and marinade for about 1 hour. Set aside. Turn a few times.
  2. Chorizo stuffing - Fry the onion in the butter until translucent.
  3. Add to all the other ingredients. Don’t fry the chorizo, we want it to cook underneath the skin so the fat can seep in and flavour the chicken. Set aside.
  4. Wet smoky pepper rub - Blitz all the ingredients together to a pulp. Set aside.
  5. Basting, stuffing and roasting the chicken
  6. Chicken - Preheat the oven to 200 ºC.
  7. Take the marinated chicken and loosen the skin carefully with your fingers – as far as you can down the thigh and wing as well. Stuff the chorizo mixture under the skin. Take toothpicks and fasten the sides. We don’t want the stuffing to fall out or to lose the flavour of the chorizo fat.
  8. Then generously pour the wet rub over the chicken. Make sure the whole chicken is covered.
  9. Roast for 40 minutes until cooked through. The juices must run clear.
  10. Remove the cooked chicken from the oven and rest for 10 minutes before carving into portions.

 
garlic mash
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 650 g boiled potatoes, skinned and passed through a potato press
  • ¾ cup milk, warmed-up
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Cook the potatoes and mash. Add the milk and salt.
  2. Fry the garlic in the butter – wait for the butter just to start to discolour then add it piping hot to the mash. The garlic must just slightly brown and crisp up – not burn. Mix through and taste for seasoning.
  3. Serve immediately.

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chicken + tangy coleslaw open sandwich

chicken + tangy coleslaw open sandwich

This deliciousness of a sandwich was introduced to me by my work colleague, the lovely American – Madeleine. I just love the combination of the fresh ingredients and the fantastic salad dressing that just lifts each bite. I realised once again how delicious homemade salad dressings are … and together with the coleslaw + chicken makes for a tangy-crunchy, rich-tasty, but above all healthy easy meal. For an even healthier option you can just grill your chicken.

What is also super is that you can use the coleslaw as a salad on its own – I added some fennel + flavourburst micro leaves + bean sprouts to give it extra flavour and crunch. This salad fits in perfectly with one of those impromptu braais that we so enjoy.

Watch me make this by clicking here.

chicken and coleslaw

chicken and coleslaw chicken and coleslaw chicken and coleslaw

chicken + tangy coleslaw open sandwich
 
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 Slices of bread
  • 300g Crumbed chicken pieces / steaklets
  • Coleslaw
  • 50g White cabbage, finely sliced
  • 50g Red cabbage, finely sliced
  • 2 Spring onions or salad onions, chopped
  • 2 Baby fennel bulbs, finely sliced
  • 40g Mung bean sprouts or any sprouts
  • 1 Red chilli, chopped
  • 10 g Parsley, chopped
  • 10g Flavourburst micro leaf salad (optional)
  • Salad dressing
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 3 Tbsp Sherry vinegar
  • 10g Parsley, chopped
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • Large pinch of milled black pepper
  • ¼ Cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 200 °C and bake the crumbed chicken pieces for 20 minutes – or as per the instructions indicated on the packet.
  2. Mix all the coleslaw ingredients together.
  3. Mix the salad dressing ingredients together and drizzle over coleslaw. Mix well and make sure you coat all of the coleslaw. Season to taste.
  4. Place the just fried or oven baked chicken pieces onto your bread and top it with the coleslaw.
  5. Note: I don’t butter my bread but you can if you want to.

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duo homemade samoosas

duo homemade samoosas

This delicious recipe was inspired by a very interesting ingredient list (see list + rules at bottom of this post) I received from Pick n Pay for their freshlyblogged challenge #4 competition.

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I always wanted to make my own samoosas from scratch. The pastry + the stuffing + the folding…everything! This is what I did this week … the pilchards + beans made perfect samoosa fillings. Looking back at this amusing and time consuming exercise, the toil paid off with its own self-satisfying rewards. I learnt so much. I must confess it took me more than some time to perfect the dough-making method. After all was said and done, I looked like some kitchen drifting poltergeist all covered in flour, dough and shrapnel’s of samoosa pastry.

But … OMG I am proud of these little triangular pastry parcels – they may not be perfect in shape, nor do they have a perfectly smooth outer layer. Deep fried they look like they may have picked up a case of the measles, but let me tell you they are light, crispy and so yummy. The pilchards were hot + morish and the beans and feta were delightfully scrumptious.

home made samosa

On top of it all I decided to try the dark lighting method to shoot the samoosas (this was my first attempt) – this took another few hours but I am really proud of the outcome of my photographs. All in all it proved to be such an interesting exercise culminating in fabulous samoosas and a very contented blogger.

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Tips for making samoosas
Take your time and be patient :-).
Use a paella pan to heat the dough for the pur separation process.
If you don’t feel like making the dough you can use spring roll wrappers.
You can replace ghee with oil.
For a healthier option – bake the samoosas.
For exceptional Indian recipes – Indian Delights by Zuleikha Mayat (ISBN 062005688-6)

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duo homemade samoosas
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Samosa Dough + Pur (the samosa pastry ready for filling)
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1tsp cumin seeds, roasted
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp ghee, melted
  • ⅔ cups water
  • Extra flour for making the pur
  • Extra melted ghee for making the pur
  • Flour and water, mixed
  • Bean + feta filling
  • 1Tbsp lemon infused olive oil
  • ½ tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • 50g onions, chopped
  • 50g green beans, blanched and diced
  • 50g brown rice, cooked
  • 100g PnP Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt
  • Milled lemon black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • Pilchard filling
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp chilli flakes
  • 2-3 tsp “Father in Law” masala or medium hot masala
  • 4 fresh curry leaves
  • 100g onion, chopped
  • 100g cabbage, chopped
  • ¼ cup tomato juice (from the sardine can)
  • 2 (100g) pilchards (from the sardine can)
  • Salt
  • Milled black pepper
  • 2Tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
Instructions
  1. Dough + pur method - Mix flour, salt and the roasted cumin seeds together.
  2. Add the ghee and mix well with the tip of your fingers.
  3. Add the water and knead into smooth dough.
  4. Set aside for 30 min to rest.
  5. Divide dough into 10 “ping pong” sized balls – +- 4cm.
  6. Roll each ball into 6-8 cm diameter round disc.
  7. Place 5 disks on top of each other after brushing both sides with ghee and sprinkle flour between them. Only the bottom of the bottom disk and the top of the top disk should be ungreased. Do the same with the other 5 discs.
  8. Roll out one pile into a large 30 cm round disc.
  9. Cut into a rectangular shape.
  10. Heat an ungreased plate, place the disc on the plate and let it heat up for a few seconds until the sheet changes in colour (not brown) – turn the sheet over – heat and then remove from the flame – this will separate the sheets.
  11. Do the same with the second pile.
  12. When cool trim the pur into two-inch strips, separate the sheets and use these for your samosas.
  13. Method for fish filling - Heat the oil on medium heat, add all the spices and cook for 2 minutes.
  14. Add the onions and cabbage and fry till translucent.
  15. Add the tomato juice and pilchards and mix well. Cook for a minute or two.
  16. Season with salt and pepper.
  17. Lastly add the fresh coriander.
  18. Bean and feta filling method - Heat the olive oil and add the mustard, cumin and chilli flakes. Fry for 2 minutes.
  19. Add the onions and fry till translucent.
  20. Add the green beans, brown rice and feta cheese – mix well.
  21. Season with salt and pepper.
  22. Lastly add the fresh coriander.
  23. Samoosa folding and frying - Mix a bit of flour and water together and smear on the sides of the pur. It acts as “glue” for the pastry.
  24. Place a teaspoon of the filling mixture at one end of the pur strip, leaving a 1cm border.
  25. Take the right corner and fold diagonally to the left, enclosing the filling and forming a triangle.
  26. Fold again along the upper crease of the triangle. Keep folding in this way until you reach the end of the strip.
  27. Fry in batches at 180 ºC until golden brown.

Samosas-6

image from xawaash.com

Samosas-5

image from xawaash.com

Ingredients + Rules for challenge #4

1 x 400g tin Lucky Star Pilchards
1 medium cabbage
1 small packet of brown rice
1 packet of green beans
250 g Pnp feta

You must use all the ingredients in the above list.
You may add two fresh ingredients.
You may add any spices of your choice.
Your dish must be cooked on the stovetop. You may not use the oven.
You can use any and all ingredients from the approved Freshly Blogged Pantry List. Olive oil, Vegetable oil, Salt, Pepper, Flours (cake, whole-wheat, bread and self raising), Baking powder, Bicarbonate of soda, Yeast, Butter, Milk, Eggs, Sugar (granulated, castor, icing, brown and treacle),Stock (powder or liquid – beef, chicken, fish, vegetable)

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banana flan bread with amaretto biscuits + white chocolate + almonds

banana flan bread with amaretto biscuits + white chocolate + almonds

banana 1 800

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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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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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
 
Prep time
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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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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
 
Prep time
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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
 
Prep time
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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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lemony pork fillets + garlic scapes = blissful + whimsical combination

lemony pork fillets + garlic scapes = blissful + whimsical combination

lemony pork and garlic scapes

Sometimes life just stumps you.  Such was the case when these absolutely, incredibly, beautiful and delicate garlic scapes found their way into my kitchen and onto my plate. A friend of mine, Daleen gave me a bunch of these green little wonders and said that I needed to cook something with it. But there I was, utterly stumped.  What was I going to do with these culinary flowers?  They belonged in a pretty flower vase on the window sill surely?  At first I thought the little buds on these slender green shoots were “onion flowers” and then with a wicked smile, Daleen informed me that they were actually garlic scapes or garlic flowers. I had never seen these little miracles before …Clearly, I need to get out more… Anyway, these flowers were just so fragile and perfect – long leafless stems with the little closed flowers on the top – and inside the flowers were the seeds of the garlic plant.  It was another wonder of creation.

garlic scapes, garlic flowers

But how and what could I do with these edible creations?  As always my weekly food journey starts with the world’s greatest encyclopedia, the internet. I read that the flower of the garlic plant is sometimes eaten and that it has a much milder flavour than the actual garlic bulbs. I read further that these seeds were mostly consumed while immature and still tender. This seemed to make some sense as the bottom part of the stem was rock hard. These stalks will be great in soups and stews.

inside of the garlic scapes, garlic flower

I don’t know why but my mind took me to Asia when I saw them … a dish of greens and pork. That is what I eventually decided to do…. My secret for this recipe was to keep everything simple.  The idea was to let the subtle garlic scapes infuse with lemon and then just let this flavour the greens and the pork.   The delicate simplicity of the flavours makes this a genuinely blissful, if not whimsical combination. Garlic scapes are available in stores at the moments – so please try it – it’s both fun and delicious.

lemony pork and garlic scapes

 

lemony pork fillets + garlic scapes
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • For the pork
  • 300g Pork fillet
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1T Soya sauce
  • Black pepper for seasoning
  • Salt – if you need extra seasoning
  • Oil for frying in pan
  • For the garlic scapes
  • 4-6 Garlic scapes (keep some whole and have some cut in halves) - use only a small piece of the stem and the flower
  • 2T Butter
  • Fresh juice from ½ lemon
  • A bit of white wine - +- 50ml
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • For the Asian greens
  • Asian greens for two people - I went to the Chinese market and got a variety of greens i.e. bok choy
  • 1-2T Soya sauce
  • Oil for frying
  • Fresh juice from one lemon
  • Lemon infused olive oil to drizzle over your dish when cooked
Instructions
  1. For the pork: Add the oil to the pan and sear the fillets.
  2. Then add your seasoning - pepper + lemon juice + soja sauce - fry the pork fillets on medium high heat till done.
  3. Make sure your fillets are properly cooked through - but do not over cook. Add a bit of salt if you like.
  4. For the scapes: Add butter to a medium hot pan.
  5. Braise the garlic scapes till soft in butter and wine. This will take about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the lemon juice and some salt and pepper for seasoning.
  7. For the other greens: Heat a wok until it is very hot – add the oil and then the greens.
  8. Flash fry the greens for a few minutees and add the soya sauce + lemon juice + pepper.
  9. Taste for seasoning.
  10. To serve: Add the greens to the plate.
  11. Cut your pork and put that on top of the green.
  12. Drizzle the juices of the pan over the pork + drizzle some lemon infused olive oil over the whole dish.
  13. And then place some garlic scapes on top.

 


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warm beef + vegetable salad = an exotic-asian-love-story with its beauty in a lotus root

warm beef + vegetable salad = an exotic-asian-love-story with its beauty in a lotus root

warm beef + vegetable salad=an exotic-asian-love-story with its beauty in a lotus root

I love to taste things and to eat things that I have never tasted or eaten before so when I was asked to take part in the Crush Findus Wok Challenge with an exotic veggie stir fry packet that contains ingredients like lotus root + green garlic + water chestnuts, I jumped at the opportunity.  It was like opening a veggie lucky packet of mysterious ingredients!  The best discovery was the delicious and crunchy +  mildly sweet lotus root … well I fell in love with this curious vegetable.  It was this perfect, beautifully white root with big wholes that jumped onto my plate.  It immediately brought a smile to my face.  It is little wonder that the lotus flower is adored and admired by so many.

Within the Buddhist religion… of which I am an ardent follower… the lotus flower is well known to me and so revered by other believers.  Buddha is often represented on a pink lotus and within the rich symbolism of the Buddhist philosophy the lotus represents purity of the body, speech and mind and symbolises faithfulness.warm beef + vegetable salad=an exotic-asian-love-story with its beauty in a lotus root

So you, little lotus root are more than just a thing of beauty.  I have read that you are high in dietary fibre, are   considered a good food source for energy and as you are high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein, you make a remarkably healthy food choice.  I found out too that you can strengthen my spleen, promote the activities of my stomach and assist with tissue re-generation – thank you lovely one – and like me you also love soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger. No wonder I fell in love with you. You are my new food muse.  I decided to make a warm beef and vegetable salad with my exotic vegetable pack. You must just try this – it’s fresh, crunchy, easy and delicious.

warm beef + vegetable salad=an exotic-asian-love-story with its beauty in a lotus root

warm beef + vegetable salad=an exotic-asian-love-story with its beauty in a lotus root

If you like my recipe, please go to Crush and vote for my exotic-asian-love-story with its beauty in a lotus root.

 

warm beef + vegetable salad = an exotic-asian-love-story with its beauty in a lotus root
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Fillet
  • 300g Fillet steak
  • 1T Oil for frying
  • Salt for seasoning
  • Pepper for seasoning
  • Wasabi Mayonnaise
  • 3T Japanese sushi mayonnaise
  • ¼ - ½ t Wasabi paste
  • Dressing
  • 1½ t Ginger - grated
  • 1t Garlic - grated
  • 125ml Soya sauce
  • 1½ T Fresh lemon juice
  • ½ Chopped chilli (optional)
  • 2T Water
  • Vegetables
  • 500g Packet Findus Wok Chinese (1 Pack)
  • 1T Oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Firstly make your dressing – just mix all the dressing ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Then make the wasabi mayonnaise by stirring the mayonnaise and wasabi past together.
  3. Season the steak and fry to your taste. I like medium rare for this salad. Let it rest. I like to fry the meat in a separate pan – I do not want the flavours of the meat to be infused into the veggies when cooking – it detracts from the stark freshness and crispiness of the veggies.
  4. While the beef is resting – add oil to your wok and stir fry the veggies as per the instruction on the pack. Don’t add any seasoning or flavouring at this stage. The flavouring is in the dressing that we are going to pour over the veggies – almost like a salad dressing of sorts.
  5. To serve: Slice the beef into thin slices and place these on a plate, dress each piece with a bit of the dressing. Now add the veggies on top. Sprinkle generously with the dressing. Now add a few dollops of the wasabi mayonnaise here and there over the dish.. If you want you can also sprinkle with a few sesame seeds.

 

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malay infused seafood soup

malay infused seafood soup

malay infused seafood soupThis is my all-time favourite winter soup recipe. It lies very close to my heart for two reasons – I was introduced to this recipe by my wonderful chef friend, Louis Verwey (the recipe was very different then and I developed it as I went along into what it is today) and secondly this recipe took me through to the Top 50 of Masterchef SA and earned three overwhelming and resounding yes’s from judges Andrew, Bennie and Pete. My Masterchef journey was an incredible experience, it was an amazing roller coaster ride of emotions, nerves and sheer excitement but the best part was meeting all the fantastic people who all share a common passion – cooking! This adventure re-ignited in me the fire and a burning desire to learn and share in the fun, frivolity and sheer pleasure that comes with cooking and everything culinary. I am very proud to have made it into the Top 35 only to be booted out on the potato challenge. Needless to say I have not cooked or peeled a potato again – but that is a story for another day…enough about me…back to this exquisite soup …

malay infused seafood soup
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • For the stock
  • 1 celery stick, chopped (with the leaves)
  • 1 onion, cut in half (I keep the skin on - I only peel the onion if I want to make a clear stock)
  • 1 carrot, chopped (…again keep the skin on – didn’t we learn that all the nutritional value lies in the skin?)
  • 5 black pepper corns
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 clove of garlic cut in half
  • 1 small bunch of parsley
  • 350g white fish – I use small whole hakes which I cut into chunks
  • 800ml water
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • Seafood
  • 24 mussels in ½ shell
  • 400 g kingklip (or any other firm white fish), cut into cubes of +- 2.5cm x 2.5cm
  • 12 de-veined prawns with shells – I love to keep heads on – if you do take the heads off, don’t discard these….add them to your stock
  • Other ingredients
  • 30g butter
  • 45 ml flour
  • 10 ml masala (I mix my own from the following ground ingredients: 15 ml turmeric, 15ml cumin, 10 ml coriander, 10 ml fennel, 15 ml hot “curry powder” this you can get from your local spice shop or supermarket)
  • 30 ml tomato paste
  • 1 ½ chicken stock cube, crumbled
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
  • Juice of ½ small lemon
  • For the gremolata
  • 30 ml chopped parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • Zest of one lemon
  • One big squeeze of lemon juice
  • 30 ml olive oil
Instructions
  1. Prepare your stock by adding the first 9 ingredients in a pot and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Take the mussels and place them in a sieve and then put it in the stock to cook for 2 minutes. I do this to infuse the juices in the stock (and to defrost if still frozen). Take out and leave aside.
  3. Repeat the same process with the prawns – leave to simmer for about 3-4 minutes in the stock. Take out and set aside
  4. Take the stock and strain through a very fine sieve. Set aside. (You can discard the stock ingredients but it does make for a very nutritious and fishy treat for my two canine children!)
  5. Add the finely grated garlic to this stock.
  6. Now, melt the butter in a pot. Add the flour to make a roux. Stir for about 2-3 minutes. Then add the tomato paste and masala. Stir well.
  7. Add the warm stock - ladle by ladle - whisking briskly to make sure it does not form lumps. Once you have added the stock, bring it up to simmer - you will see that it has now thickened.
  8. Add the stock cube and the chopped tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir well.
  9. Now add the raw fish and let it simmer for +-3 minutes, then add the prawns and mussels.
  10. Add the lemon juice and stir lightly – be careful not to break the fish! Season for taste by adding salt and pepper, lemon juice.
  11. Simmer for a 5-10 minutes.
  12. Lastly, mix the last 4 ingredients together to make the gremolata and set aside
  13. To serve – in the bottom of a soup bowl put a dollop of the gremolata. Take the prawns out of the soup and place 2 prawns on each plate, add 3 or more pieces of fish. Strain the fish soup through a sieve and pour in the bowl around the fish and prawns. Add 3-4 mussels on top.
  14. Garnish with a few drops of gremolata on top. Serve immediately.

 

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