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10 tips to poach the perfect egg

10 tips to poach the perfect egg

My favourite Saturday morning breakfast is a soft poached egg on whole wheat toast with a bit of wild rocket out of my garden and a pinch of Maldon salt. When you cut into that egg and the yellow slowly ooze onto the bread … it is like early morning sunshine on my plate! What I want to share with you today is not a specific recipe on how to poach the perfect egg but a few interesting facts and tips that might help you along the way. I am sure you will know most of them but one or two of these pointers are quite interesting.the perfect mother's day breakfast - 10 tips to poach the perfect egg
1. The fresher the egg, the easier the poach – fresh eggs hold together better when slipped into the simmering water.
2. To test to see whether an egg is fresh – put the egg into a bowl of water. A very fresh egg will immediately sink to the bottom and lie flat on its side – an old egg will float.
3. The eggs must preferably be room temperature.
4. Remember to add a bit of vinegar to the simmering water – it helps hold the egg together.
5. The water must be simmering not boiling.
6. Now, my best tip is to slowly submerse the whole egg with shell and all in the hot simmering water for 10 seconds before you break it. This ensures the whites on the outside of the egg hold together better during poaching.
7. Before breaking the egg into your simmering pot of water, use a spoon and give the water a stir so that it forms a little bit of a whirlpool…the centrifugal motion will pull the egg together when you slide it into the water.
8. When you break the egg break it into a saucer or cup first – be careful not to break the yolk and then simply slide the egg off the saucer or cup into the centre of the whirling water.
9. How long to poach the egg? Here’s a quirky snippet I read…when you put your bread in to toast put your egg in to poach…when your toast pops out of the toaster…your poached egg should be ready to be removed from the pot. Otherwise poach it for 3-5 minutes until cooked.
10. When done scoop out with slotted spoon or spatula onto a paper towel to dry excess water from the now poached egg.

It’s quick but fabulous when poached to perfection… decadent and yummy all at the same time!

Don’t forget too that a poached egg on top of a rocket + bacon salad makes for a wonderful salad option just ever so slightly out of the ordinary.

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peas + lettuce + parsley + onions = petits pois a la francaise

peas + lettuce + parsley + onions = petits pois a la francaise

peas + lettuce + parsley + onions=petits pois a la francaise

Lettuce + peas + onions – in French … Petits Pois a la Francaise. Sometime a go I decided to up my French cooking techniques and my friend Pierre (kitchenbabble.com) from Bangkok suggested we start cooking our way through Le Cordon Bleu at Home recipe book. As it then turned out, Saturdays became a specific cooking lesson, with Pierre in Bangkok and myself here in Cape Town, we set out on what was such an intriguing and rewarding international, virtual cooking experience. From other ends of the atlas, we emailed and facebooked our comparative findings.

This dish of lettuce + peas + onions was a lesson in which they paired it with a roast chicken. My culinary dictionary expletives included…it is absolutely delicious!!! As it happened, we did not finish the chicken – as this dish just took centre stage on the table…. My friends tucked into this dish, with bread in hand it was like a peasant dish – or from the look of my friends, their last meal as they soaked up the juices, finishing every little last little pea! You can serve this as a side dish or as a main meal – just bring the bread, good wine..and good friends.

peas + lettuce + parsley + onions=petits pois a la francaisepeas + lettuce + parsley + onions=petits pois a la francaisepeas + lettuce + parsley + onions=petits pois a la francaisepeas + lettuce + parsley + onions=petits pois a la francaise

peas + lettuce + parsley + onions = petits pois a la francaise
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 Small head of lettuce chiffonade * see at bottom of recipe for the chiffonade technique
  • 5 Tablespoons of real butter (margarine is not going to work this time!)
  • 3 Cups of peas ( I used frozen peas, I simply poured hot water over and let it stand for 5 minutes and thereafter drain)
  • 18 Pearl onions pealed
  • 1 Small bunch of parsley ( tie into bouquet with kitchen twine)
  • ⅓ Cup water
  • 11/2 T Sugar
  • 1t Salt
Instructions
  1. Heat the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the lettuce + peas + onions. Stir gently until the lettuce wilts.
  3. Add the parsley + water + sugar + salt.
  4. Stand back, simmer for +/- 30 minutes, taste for seasoning, then be amazed!
  5. Remove parsley and serve.
  6. * Stack the lettuce leaves one on top of each other and roll them up tight into a cylinder – or something like a rolled lettuce tube. Then cut the cylinder crosswise into thin slices.

 

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chocolate mousse + crispy onion sprinkle = surprising + delicious dessert

chocolate mousse + crispy onion sprinkle = surprising + delicious dessert

chocolate mousse + crispy onion sprinkle=surprising + delicious dessert

I know many of you think I must be off my rocker … but this is a MUST TRY. Lately, I have been reading a lot about modern food combinations with unusual flavours. Let me mention a few …

1. dark chocolate + parmesan cheese
2. chocolate mousse + crispy onion sprinkle
3. oysters + coconut + lychee + rose
4. lobster + passion fruit
5. belgian endives + chocolate + vanilla ice cream.

The one that really aroused my curiosity was the chocolate mousse and crispy onion sprinkle. I just had to try it so I dashed off to my Woollies store down the road and bought a tub of chocolate mousse and a bag of crispy onion sprinkle, you know the type that they sell as a soup topping. So that evening I took a scoop of chocolate mousse and a healthy serving of onion sprinkle and I served this unusual matching to some very startled guests …! Well, well, well, if you want to impress your friends with an amazing out of the box dessert that you don’t even have to make yourself …try this. The tastes just gel together and produce a surprising and unusual delicious combination. Put this on your list the next time you are out of ideas for dessert!

nom nom nom …

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20 minutes + salmon + asian broth = healthy hot winter warmer

20 minutes + salmon + asian broth = healthy hot winter warmer

20 minutes + salmon + asian broth=healthy hot winter warmer
I am by nature a foodie and as foodies go, we all have our foodie idols … One of my foodie idols is Chef Peter Tempelhoff – not only is he a great chef but also not too shabby on the eye – oh, who am I kidding everyone … he is hot! And if you come to my office you will see an A3 poster of him hanging next to my desk … but to my utter dismay two of my wonderful colleagues Johann and Pieter gave Chef Tempelhoff a mustache and a tattoo 🙂 … Anyway, two weeks ago I attended the Table of Peace and Unity lunch on the slopes of our wonderful Table Mountain and Peter Tempelhoff was one of the chefs responsible for the starter [miso sesame cured salmon and ginger prawn spring roll with soja jalapeno dressing]. I don’t know if it was the dish or perhaps him walking past that inspired me to do something hot with salmon. So later in the week I visited my Chinese supermarket for some ingredients and over the weekend made this really delicious, salmon in a hot and sour Asian broth. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! It’s so easy … so tasty and so fresh … and cheers to the hot chef who inspired me to make this dish!

20 minutes + salmon + asian broth = healthy hot winter warmer
 
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Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 150g x 4 Skinless salmon steaks
  • Salt and black pepper
  • For broth
  • 1L Chicken stock (I use stock cubes for this – that’s what they do in Asia :-))
  • 2-3 Green chillies (...if you like things a little hotter, spice it up with one more ... but not too many as it will overpower your dish )
  • +-20cm piece of lemongrass – crushed with the back of your knife and cut into pieces (if you cannot find it but you do stay in Cape Town – contact me, I have a huge bush in my garden!)
  • 1 Garlic clove – finely sliced
  • 1 Thumb size piece of fresh ginger – finely sliced
  • ¼ Cup of soya sauce
  • 4ml Sesame oil - just under a teaspoon (be very careful that you don’t overdo the sesame oil)
  • Juice of 2 limes (small) or 1 lemon
  • 2 Spring onions – chopped diagonally into thin slices
  • Handful of fresh coriander – roughly shredded by hand
  • Bean sprouts to garnish and to add some crunch
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan or pot add all the ingredients for the broth – except the spring onions, coriander and bean sprouts. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5-10 minutes allowing all the flavours to infuse.
  2. In a non stick pan fry the salmon until brown on both sides - +-2-3 minutes on each side should do. The salmon must still be rare inside – but you must be able to flake it with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. To serve: Pour some of the broth through a sieve into a 4 bowls, add some spring onion and coriander. Put the salmon in the middle of the bowls and add some bean sprouts to garnish. I love fresh ginger so I always add the ginger I used for the broth in my bowl.
  4. Tuck in and enjoy!

 

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ostrich fillet + red wine + king oyster mushrooms + beetroot blocks

ostrich fillet + red wine + king oyster mushrooms + beetroot blocks

ostrich fillet + red wine + king oyster mushrooms + beetroot blocks
Today, I need to tell you about my little weekend adventure … the Ultimate Braai Challenge… This past Saturday my friend Joani and I took part in the Western Cape auditions for the Ultimate Braai Challenge. This turned out to be one of the best foodie experiences of my life – the 100 crazy teams, the ‘gees”, the organizers, the judges were just amazing and Justin Bonello is such a fabulous guy and so down to earth! Kudu’s go to all the organizers, the sponsors and everyone that took part both young and old. I was really gob-smacked by all the different people that took part – their liveliness, their spirit and what passion we South Africans have! I realised once again – we LOVE a braai! I cannot wait for this show to start – I really think it is going to take SA by storm!!

But let me get back to what food we presented to the judges – our main course was braaied Ostrich fillet in a red wine and mushroom jus with beetroot blocks – all done on the braai. One of the judges told us that this specific dish was the best dish he had tasted on the day. So I thought I would share this recipe with you. For sure you can do this on the stove as well but for those of you who are adventurous why not also try this on the braai…? Serve this with buttery, mustardy, crushed new potatoes. If you are not so much an ostrich steak fan you can always swap this with a cut of beef or even kudu fillet. Do not forget to enjoy this with a good glass of red wine …

Happy Braaiing … remember where there’s smoke … there is a braai!

ostrich fillet + red wine + king oyster mushrooms + beetroot blocks
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For steak
  • 4 x 200g Ostrich Fillet
  • 1Tablespoon cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the Jus
  • 15 g butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ large onion, cut in quarters and parted
  • 3 king oyster mushrooms, cut in 3x lengthwise
  • 4 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 Tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove, grated or finely chopped
  • Pinch of salt
  • Big pinch of black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups of red wine
  • 1 Cup chicken stock (it is ok to use stock cubes diluted in water as per instruction)
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons of brown sugar
  • 20 g butter
  • For beetroot blocks
  • 250g cooked beetroot cut into 1cm x 1cm cubes
Instructions
  1. Add the oil and butter to a pot then add the onion – caramalise the onions over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  2. Onions need to have that beautiful honey colour.
  3. Add the mushrooms, thyme, rosemary and the salt and pepper. Fry for a further 10 minutes. I love to hear the snap-crackle-pop of the thyme!
  4. Add the red wine and garlic and de-glaze the pan.
  5. Then add the chicken stock and the tomato paste. Simmer till half the amount is left. This is important - it needs to be a thickish sauce consistency.
  6. Add the rest of the butter and let it melt. Taste and season.
  7. Sieve through a fine sieve and add the beetroot blocks. Set aside.
  8. Keep the big onion pieces and oyster mushrooms aside – discard the thyme and rosemary.
  9. Heat the oil in the pan and fry the ostrich according to your taste – medium rare for me. Season meat to your taste.
  10. Add the onions and mushrooms (that you used in the jus) and fry these with the steak.
  11. Take the steak out of the frying pan to rest (let it rest for least 8 minutes) and add the red wine jus to the steak juices in the pan.
  12. To serve: Put the steak on a plate – add some onion pieces and giant oyster mushroom on top. Then pour some jus at the bottom of the plate. Dress with a few blocks of beetroot around the steak.

 

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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
 
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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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maple syrup + mielie fritters + new york

maple syrup + mielie fritters + new york

Whilst wrapped-up under the duvet on a public holiday with a glass of red wine and watching a dvd, I was wondering what I felt like to eat. Jade de Waal’s twitter came through with a recipe for mielie fritters (Jade is an extraordinary wonderful woman that is currently in the Top 13 in Masterchef SA). That little tweet took me back to my moms’ “mielie brood” (mealie bread) that we used to gobble down with lots of golden syrup. My mind then next teleported me to the place where I had fallen in love with Maple syrup … New York…! Oh my word, how I love maple syrup! That amazingly, beautiful, golden sticky, earthy, sweet syrup stole my heart (as did New York…). At that moment I knew I wanted Jade’s Mielie Fritters with my maple syrup!! I really love mixing sweet and savoury and immediately started cooking. To say the least – it was YUMMY and the chopped spring onion complimented the Maple syrup in such a profoundly earthy way!
mielie frittersmielie fritters

Just a little snippet about Maple Syrup…

In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before the winter; the starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in the spring. Maple trees can be tapped by boring holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded sap. The sap is processed by heating to evaporate much of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup.

So here is Jade’s recipe – she serves it with a green avocado salsa and/or sweet chilli sauce – delish!

The recipe makes about 6 medium fitters

maple syrup + mielie fritters + new york
 
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Fritters
  • 1 cup (250ml) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup (125ml) corn kernels in brine, drained
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • Salsa
  • Small handful coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 avo, peeled and diced
  • ½ chilli, finely chopped, optional
  • Juice of 1 lime or lemon, optional
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sweet chilli sauce, to dunk, optional
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients for the fritter in a bowl. At first the batter will look dry, but keep mixing until the ingredients come together.
  2. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium frying pan. Turn down to medium so the oil is not too hot, otherwise the outside of the fritter will burn whilst the inside is still raw. Spoon a tablespoon scoop of the batter in the oil, frying about 2-3 at a time for 2 minutes on each side or until brown.
  3. Meanwhile chop and mix the ingredients for the salsa in a bowl.
  4. Test the first fritter by cutting in half to make sure they're cooking through. When all fritters are done, spoon the salsa over to serve perhaps with the sweet chilli sauce on the side to dunk the fritters in or … as I did smother the fritters with golden maple syrup. Bon appétit!

 

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