Tag Archives: olive oil

pumpkin + sweet potato + pear bake with orange olive oil

pumpkin + sweet potato + pear bake with orange olive oil

The olive tree is surely the biggest gift of heaven – Thomas Jefferson

I grew up with sunflower oil and butter but these days I have five different extra virgin olive oils next to my stove. Ordinary olive oil for frying my chicken breasts, truffle olive oil that I add to my mashed potatoes, orange olive oil that I sprinkle on my pumpkin before I put it into the oven, parmesan olive oil to be added in good measures over hot pasta and then lime olive oil for dressing my salads. Olive oil is a completely natural oil (straight from heaven, I would say) with no preservatives added.

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SA Olive Association
In South Africa, the SA Olive Association keeps a watchful eye over our olive industry and if you want to be sure that you have a good South African olive oil you should be on the lookout for the organization’s seal of approval on the bottle. SA Olyf se seel van goedkeuring

Now, how should a good olive oil taste?
Well, once tasted, it should have fruity flavours such as apple and this should be followed by a bitter taste at the back of your tongue, giving way to a sharp peppery sensation in the back of your throat. Feel free to take a half teaspoon of olive oil, put it in your mouth, breathe the oil in as if you are tasting wine and see whether you experience theses sensations.

Beware of oils that smell or taste winey, metallic, musty or rancid.

Interesting facts and tips about olive oil
• Use olive oil while it is still young and fresh. It is not like wine which gets better as it gets older.
• Store oil in a cool, dark place.
• Do not store the olive oil in the refrigerator, the condensation will promote oxidation.
• Olive oil is more heat stable than, for example, sunflower oil and can be reused seven times.

 

pumpkin + sweet potato + pear bake with orange olive oil
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 800g pumpkin, unpeeled and sliced
  • 500g sweet potato, unpeeled cut into fingers
  • 2 pears, unpeeled, quartered
  • 60g butter, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons orange olive oil (this can be replaced with ordinary olive oil and the juice of one orange)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 ° C. Place the butter on a baking tray and then the pumpkin, sweet potatoes and pears. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and cumin seeds and bake for 30 minutes. Mix the honey, sugar and cinnamon. Pour over the pumpkin and bake for a further half hour.

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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
 
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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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ragù with potato + carrot crush = pick n pay freshlyblogged challenge #2

ragù with potato + carrot crush = pick n pay freshlyblogged challenge #2

Pick n Pay freshlyblogged challenge #2

This delicios recipe was inspired by a very interesting ingredient list (see list below) I received from Pick n Pay for their freshlyblogged competition. See list of ingredients and rules below.

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As a family, when I was growing up we used to eat “mince and pasta” every Saturday. You see we used to have dishes for Monday, Tuesday etc. and this was our Saturday dish. So l decided last Saturday that I wanted to make a ragù with the beef shin and I replaced the pasta with carrot and potato crush. I also added fresh parsley to the ragù and the crush for that fresh Italian originality. This crush with pepper and butter was also something I grew up with during my childhood. I remember it was one of my dads’ favourite dishes – he loved to scoop it onto his plate while it was still piping hot. He always added that extra bit of butter and a pinch more black pepper. He was so in my thoughts when I made this dish. You would have loved it dad… today I missed you so much. Love always…

ragu

Ingredient List and rules for challenge #2
1 Knorr beef stock pot
1 Block of beef suet
1 Punnet PnP Soup Mix (containing one potato, one carrot, one celery stalk)
500g Beef Shin
PnP star anise
PnP white wine vinegar

Rules
You may omit one ingredient (except the 1 Knorr Beef Stock Pot) from the above list.
You may add two fresh ingredients (fruit, vegetables or herbs)
You may add one grocery item.
You can use any and all ingredients from the approved Freshly Blogged Pantry List. Olive oil, Vegetable oil, Salt, Pepper, Flours (cake, wholewheat, 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)

ragu

 

 

ragù with potato + carrot crush = pick n pay freshlyblogged challenge #2
 
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Ragù
  • 2Tbsp (30ml) Atora shredded suet
  • 1Tbsp (15ml) Olive Oil
  • 350g Boneless beef shin, cut into small blocks
  • ½ Cup (50g) Carrots, cut into very small blocks
  • ½ Cup (50g) Celery, sliced finely
  • 1Tbsp (15ml) White wine vinegar
  • 1 Cup (250ml) Water
  • 1 Beef stock pot
  • ½ Cup (125ml) Milk
  • 600g Ripe red tomatoes grated
  • Salt
  • Milled black pepper
  • 3Tbsp (45ml) Parsley coarsely chopped
  • Potato and carrot crush
  • 1 Cup (150g) Potato, cut into blocks
  • 1 Cup (150g) Carrot, cut into blocks - cut potatoes and carrots in the same size blocks so they can cook evenly
  • 1 ½ Tbsp (22.5 ml) Butter
  • 1Tbsp (15ml) Parsley coarsely chopped
  • ⅛ tsp (0.6 ml) Salt
  • Big pinch of milled black pepper
  • To serve
  • Olive oil
  • ½ Tomato, deseeded and chopped into small blocks
  • Parmesan cheese to serve
Instructions
  1. Ragù - Heat the suet and olive oil in a pot. Add the beef and sauté over medium heat until brown. Take the meat out of the pot and set aside.
  2. Add the carrots and celery into the same pot and cook gently for two minutes.
  3. Transfer the beef back in the pot and add the water, vinegar and stock pot. Cook stirring occasionally, until all the water has evaporated.
  4. Add the milk and cook until the milk has evaporated, stirring occasionally.
  5. Next add the grated tomatoes and stir well. When the pot starts to bubble turn down the heat to the very lowest so the ragù can cook at a simmer.
  6. Cook uncovered for a minimum of 1 ½ hours stirring occasionally. If it starts to reduce too much add little water and continue to cook. When cooked taste and correct the seasoning.
  7. Add the parsley to the sauce, stir and serve over the potato mash.
  8. Potato and carrot crush - Boil carrots and potatoes together till cooked.
  9. Crush with a fork – this is not mash so we don’t want it fine like mash.
  10. Add the rest of the ingredients – mix well and serve hot with ragù.
  11. To serve - drizzle with good olive oil add some parmesan shavings and finally add the chopped tomato blocks and a few extra sprigs of parsley.

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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
 
Prep time
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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.

pasta 2 800

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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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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pan tumaca = simple + delicious {viva españa}

pan tumaca = simple + delicious {viva españa}

tomato spanish dessert

A slice of toasted bread with tomato … a sophisticated Spanish breakfast? This might surprise you but this is a very popular breakfast for millions of Spaniards… just plain and simple … bread and tomato. Pan tumaca is a recipe invented in Catalonia but according to the www it was probably brought there by Andalusian emigrants. There is just something about the Spanish, the Italians and the Greeks … they have a unique gift of turning the mundane into the fabulous and the dull into something truly delicious.

You see my very good friend chef Louis now lives in Spain – I was heartbroken when he moved to Castellón de la Plana near Valencia a few years ago – it felt like a part of me has gone with him. This past December we had the chance to meet up and spend a few magical days together. Just catching up again with him and his adventures was the most wonderful gift – to laugh, talk and cook together just like in the old days. Spain is now Lu’s new home and he gave me such insights about the real Spanish traditions and their infective passion for food.

The first breakfast of our holiday was this traditional Spanish breakfast – a slice of toasted bread + grated tomato + the best olive oil + maldon salt. No butter – just that. I was a little taken aback as Louis and I, given our collective South African heritage are kinda used to the big breakfasts… you know greasy fry-ups and perhaps even a mixed grill of sorts from the braai the night before… but after my first bite of this tapas-style-pan-tumaca, my anticipation for a sumptuous breakfast dissipated into complete contentment … I was converted! There was bliss to be found in its simplicity and the rudimentary sophistication of this dish.

tomato spanish dessert

However, with everything in life, Lu reminded me that there were a few good rules to follow …

• You can toast the bread if you like, but it is not compulsory
• The tomatoes must be red-ripe + fresh + plump
• Grate the tomatoes [that is what we did] – but the traditional way is to take the tomato and rub it over the one side of the slice of bread
• Use the best olive oil you can find or afford and drizzle over the tomato
• Use Maldon salt to finish the dish
• Some people like to rub garlic before adding the tomato to the bread
• And …Always cook with passion and love – no matter how basic the dish

… And there you have it. Olé!

grated tomato

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a simple cabbage greek salad + alain passard = veggie perfection

a simple cabbage greek salad + alain passard = veggie perfection

“If you enjoy reading my blog please vote for it in the Eat Out Best Local Food Blog Award by 1) clicking on this link {eat out best local food blog award} 2) and casting your vote at the bottom of the Eat Out web page.”

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Lesson #1 Alain Passard – Elevate vegetables to the main course. Respect them. Love them.

Cabbage Greek Salad … Just recently, I was fortunate enough to meet and eat at a Parisian restaurant owned and run by one of the best chefs on the planet – and one of my great food heroes. The place was L’Arpege + 3-Star Michelin Restaurant and the chef was none other than Alain Passard!

Having lunch at one of the top restaurants in the world turned out to be a very emotional day for me as we made our way through 13 courses of what can only be described as an expedition to some sort of culinary Nirvana. This was not a sampling menu, it was 13 courses of considerable portion of food.

In order to give fair justice to the skill and care that was taken in serving each course, I intend discussing (or is it dissecting?) various elements of this extraordinary experience over the next few weeks. The sum of which continues to jolt my brain and senses in the most wonderful of ways. More of that later but back to Alain…My hubby and I sat down just on midday and only left the restaurant four and half hours later. It turned out to be not just a meal but more a journey enticing discoveries. It was an explosion of the senses on all fronts from tantalizing the palate, to engaging the brain, to touching my heart. It was all of these things.

Then out of nowhere and so very casually, Alain Passard himself appeared in front of us… and so charmingly and non-chalantly introduced himself. He stood humbly before us wanting to know where we were from and then thanked us for making the effort to eat at his restaurant. Could you believe he thanked me!! I was speechless. He said that if I wanted to know anything, I must just ask him. He was most amused by my little black notebook. It is that little notebook that I take everywhere with me jotting down my thoughts and different food experiences. Alain then just said the following “eat slowly and enjoy every bite, try to stay till dessert because I have a surprise for you” and before you could offer a shy stammer of awe and appreciation he whisked himself back into his kitchen. *more about the surprise and what he meant in a later blog*.

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In between the courses that followed he came out to serve us … how amazing was that!! I was in dreamland and I think for the first time in my life, I was beyond speechless. What I took away from this restaurant and this genius of a chef was that you need to live and practice the credo of this talented food maestro….remember to elevate vegetables to the main course – it is not a side dish – respect them and cook them with love.

Ok, I got a little carried away by my recollections of this exceptional outing, back to dish at hand…..
Today I have taken the often disregarded, humble purple cabbage and added it to make a greek salad the way my dear and wonderful Mediterranean friend Thea Maroela taught me. Thea is +- 79 years old now and lives in Cyprus. Thea always made this particular Greek salad with white cabbage and I used to often eat this salad at Thea’s house with fresh bread and a tumbler of white wine – which Thea always kept in a bottle under the sink for me as she herself did not drink. This dish is a “must make”. It’s fresh, inspiring and delicious.

Note to self: Add to bucketlist – Visit Thea in Cyprus again. Book table and eat again at any restaurant owned by Alain Passard.

Recipe
This recipe has no measurements in terms of ingredients…it is only dependent on the quantity of ingredients you have in your fridge.

a simple cabbage greek salad + alain passard = veggie perfection
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Note
  • This recipe has no measurements in terms of ingredients…it is only dependent on the quantity of ingredients you have in your fridge.
  • Ingredients
  • Red cabbage – finely sliced
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Olives
  • Onion
  • Feta cheese
  • Dressing
  • Good Olive oil
  • White vinegar
  • Salt + black pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Pour generously with olive oil and then some vinegar, add the salt and pepper and mix well in a bowl before you dish it up.
  3. Serve with fresh bread.

 

 

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poppy’s roasted chicken + herby tomato orzo

poppy’s roasted chicken + herby tomato orzo

poppy’s roasted chicken + herby tomato orzo

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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hot olives + baguette and the #hot-and-happening

hot olives + baguette and the #hot-and-happening

hot olives + baguette and the #hot-and-happening

Hot Olives – A few weeks ago I was on a business trip in the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg, Guateng. The City of Gold has plenty of interesting foodie places well worth seeking out…Some colleagues and I ended up in a very interesting restaurant that serves both gossip and glitter to the well-heeled of Parkhurst and surrounds. We ordered a few small starters to share and one of them was hot olives with baguette. Never in my life would I have thought of heating olives in olive oil – isn’t that kind of like smuggling sand in the desert? Well, just so you know, this little starter tapas was so delicious. Heating the olives gives this stone fruit an undeniably new dimension. Dipping the fresh baked bread into the fragrant hot oil just seems to forge with the olives… leaving a most tantalizing taste….wash this down with some chilled wine and you could swear that you were sipping wines with the gods of ancient Greece!

It is just one of those really simple dishes you can make on the run or when guests come knocking unannounced…simple yet oh so sophisticatedly #hot-and-happening.

hot olives + baguette and the #hot-and-happening

hot olives + baguette and the #hot-and-happening

 

hot olives + baguette
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 150 ml Virgin olive oil
  • 1t Fresh rosemary (not chopped)
  • 1t Parsley - roughly chopped
  • 2 Red chillies chopped (I like it hot but you can leave the chillie out of the recipe if you are not fond of the fiery stuff)
  • 1 Garlic clove – finely sliced
  • 200g Kalamata olives
  • 1 Spring onion – chop the stalks and leaves
  • 1 Fresh baguette
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil, rosemary, chillies, parsely and garlic slowly in a pan for a 5 minutes minutes. Just to infuse the flavours with the oil.
  2. Add the olives and heat through for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the spring onion at the end, give it a good stir + serve with baguette.

 

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white pepper is back …viva! = steak + white pepper sauce + peppery mushrooms

white pepper is back …viva! = steak + white pepper sauce + peppery mushrooms

white pepper is back ...viva!=steak + white pepper sauce + peppery mushrooms

For some time now, some of my foodie friends and I have been wondering whether white pepper is making something of a comeback….well, I can reliably confirm that it is back. That everyday seasoning that for so many years has done duty on our mother’s and grandma’s dinner tables but somehow got lost over the past decades between her black, pink and red peppercorn brothers and sisters … Lady White Pepper … is back!

Before I share more about the return of the white pepper I need to make it clear that my aspirations for this blog are not to win favour, nor benefit from freebies.This is my journey and my experiences with food. This being said I do believe that good experiences need to be shared, and in this instance I just want to shout if from the top of Table Mountain – if you are looking for a good food and wine experience….this is it … go and experience it at De Grendel Restaurant. It is not an inexpensive outing I might add, but worth saving the pennies just to savour this culinary sojourn through amidst the Durbanville vineyards.

But without further blabbering, let me get back to that somewhat magical afternoon and the white pepper….there we were, Sue-Ann and Ilse from Masterchef and foodie doyen and all-round intriguing persona, Errieda, wine-fundi Samarie, cookbook publisher Daleen and De Grendel’s winemaker Elzette – breathing in the majestic views, soaking up the ambience from table to plate. We laughed, we ate, we drank and toasted our shared passion – we became the absolutely fabulous olympic #chicksthatchow! As Errieda said: “Some chase for gold; others chow for gold”!

Back to the white pepper … I tasted the prime rib with white pepper, pearl onions and broccolini that Errieda ordered and it blew me away. It WAS the best steak and sauce I have ever eaten – the sauce combined with the steak just melted in your mouth with a flash grilled flavour, subtle yet striking. This bite confirmed to me that the sultry Lady White Pepper is back … out of the shadows and back on the plate … she is sexy, sharp. shining and ready to take over the pepper world.

Chef Ian Bergh inspired me so much with his creation that I had to try this back at home – my version was also delicious, simple with a dash of brandy and cream. I tried my utmost to replicate the delicate balance, silkiness and sharpness of their sauce, but I have to confess despite my best efforts I fell short … but please do try my recipe – it is still yum! I served the steak with some beautiful white peppery King Oyster mushrooms.

Welcome back in our pots and on our tables Lady … Viva … Lady White Pepper … Viva!

white pepper is back ...viva!=steak + white pepper sauce + peppery mushrooms

steak + white pepper sauce + peppery mushrooms
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Steak
  • 500 g Prime Rib (I used rump but you can also use fillet) –
  • White Pepper Sauce
  • 1 Small onion – finely chopped
  • 1T Olive oil
  • 1 Knob of butter
  • 1 Clove garlic
  • 40 ml Brandy
  • 200ml Thick cream
  • 3t Fine white pepper ( I even like a little more but be careful, I believe white pepper is deceptively hotter than black pepper)
  • Small pinch of salt
  • 150 g King Oyster mushrooms – sliced length ways
  • 2T Olive oil
  • 1T Butter
  • ½ t White fine pepper
  • Large pinch of salt
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Steak: Fry to your taste. My guidelines - hottest plate, oil, season, +-3½ minutes on each side, rest for 6 minutes.
  2. Mushroom Sauce: Plate on medium - heat a pan and add the olive oil, butter and add the onion. Sauté for about 3 minutes until nice golden.
  3. Add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the brandy to the pan – not too much as you do not want to set your kitchen alight - heat it up and then ignite the brandy with a match. Flambé the steak by letting the alcohol burn off the liquid. Let it burn till finished – it needs to extinguish itself naturally.
  5. Add the cream, then stir in the pepper along with a pinch of salt.
  6. Taste for seasoning. Heat through for a minute or two.
  7. Pass the sauce through a sieve to catch the onions and garlic – I normally use the sieved garlic and onions as a base for the steak and then pour the sauce liberally over the steak just before serving.
  8. Heat a pan until it is very hot - add the olive oil and butter then add the mushrooms , sprinkle with the pepper and a big pinch of salt. Fry fast for about 3-4 minutes till brown and done.
  9. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and serve hot over the steak.

 

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whole baked fish + origanum + lemon + olives + tomatoes = mediterranean feast

whole baked fish + origanum + lemon + olives + tomatoes = mediterranean feast

whole baked fish + origanum + lemon + olives + tomatoes=mediterranean  feast

Fish – I just love fresh fish. But… I am a “no fuss fish” person – I am not one for these complicated fish recipes…the simpler, the better. Just baked or grilled or with the some subtle flavourings of lemon and herbs or just cooked whole over the coals – that’s my preference.

My most memorable meal consisted of fish. I recall so vividly the time I spent in Istanbul, Turkey…I had the most dreadful case of bronchitis and was feeling significantly sorry for myself. I was ambling along the Bosphorus River when I smelt this amazing aroma…. A local fishing boat was tied up alongside the pier and the fishermen were selling freshly grilled fish on ciabatta bread, with just a squeeze of lemon juice. A bite … and at that moment I felt so much better and I knew someone loved me.

whole baked fish + origanum + lemon + olives + tomatoes=mediterranean  feast

I buy my fish from Julie Carter from Ocean Jewels in Cape Town (http://www.oceanjewels.co.za/ 083 582 0829) – if you don’t know Julie – go to her website and subscribe to her mailer. She is such a wonderful woman with the most beautiful smile and is always there to deliver ONLY the freshest of fresh fish to you! You simply cannot get better than that.

This past Saturday, down at the market, Julie recommended that I sample two little Pangas (Pterogymnus Laniarius its Latin name and it’s also on the sustainable green list). I decided to combine the fish with real Mediterranean flavours of olives, origanum, tomatoes and lemon. This dish reminds me of Turkey – and all the wondrous colours, sights, sounds and smell of the Mediterranean. It makes me feel loved and happy.
Enjoy its delicious!

whole baked fish + origanum + lemon + olives + tomatoes=mediterranean  feast

whole baked fish + origanum + lemon + olives + tomatoes = mediterranean feast
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 Small whole fish - I used Panga +-500g each
  • 2 Cloves garlic sliced
  • Olive oil for drizzling over the fish and at the bottom of the baking tin
  • ¼ t Dried origanum
  • 1 Lemon, sliced
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 Bunch of spring onions
  • Olive oil
  • 250g Cherry tomatoes
  • 100g Calamata olives
  • White pepper for seasoning (I love white pepper with fish)
  • Salt for seasoning
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 °C.
  2. Pat fish dry with kitchen towel.
  3. Make small incisions into fish, placing the sliced garlic in the slits + fill the tummy of the fishes with olives, spring onions and sliced lemon.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and season with origanum, salt and pepper.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes with foil on or closed.
  7. Turn the oven onto grill, remove the foil + squeeze the lemon juice over and grill for 5-10 minutes.
  8. Serve with a fresh salad and bread.
  9. Enjoy its delicious.

 

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pork sausage + bacon + beer + veg = modern irish coddle

pork sausage + bacon + beer + veg = modern irish coddle

pork sausage + bacon + beer + veg=modern irish coddle
Porks sausages + bacon + beer + vegetables – my version of the Irish coddle is one of Rick’s favourite dishes. I am married to a man of Irish descent and what I have learned from our family visits to Ireland – and my husband is that the Irish love beer (Guinness only when in the Emerald Isle) + whiskey + eating potatoes + pork sausages + salmon + they only start a party at 9pm and even if you are around the ripe age of 75 there is still nothing wrong with partying till 4am and passing out on the couch at you friends house if you had too much to drink!! I just love the Irish, it is their spirit, their joviality and perhaps the fact that they are never shy to drink more than me.

For this recipe I have added a few herbs, mustard seeds and some beer and then also added some lemon. I think it’s a bit of modern Coddle and it’s hearty and just perfect in the dead of winter. It is so easy to prepare …everything is in one bowl, meat, veggies etc. So between my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law I think we have come up with a rather decent local version of the Irish coddle! Sleinte!

pork sausage + bacon + beer + veg = modern irish coddle
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 6 Pork sausages
  • 4 Garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 125g Bacon finely chopped
  • 4T Olive oil
  • 2 Onions - sliced
  • 2 Celery sticks - chopped finely
  • 2 Large carrots - chopped
  • 2 t Mustard seeds - if you dint have just add 2t mustard
  • 30 g Flour
  • 3 Large potatoes - peeled and cut in quarters
  • 50g Tomato paste
  • 1t Lemon juice
  • 1t Balsamic vinegar
  • 2.5 Cups of stock - I used beef stock
  • ½ cup of beer (I used a lager – no Guinness on hand I’m afraid)
  • 2T Chopped parsley
  • 1T Fresh sage (optional)
  • 1t Black pepper corns
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
  2. Fry the sausages in an oven proof dish with 2T olive oil. Just brown them and then remove from dish. Now fry the fry the bacon and take out.
  3. Add the other 2 T oil and fry the onions till golden brown.
  4. Add carrots and the celery and garlic sweat veggies till translucent.
  5. Add 30 g flour, let it fry for a minute or two.
  6. Now add all the other ingredients.
  7. Put the lid on and bake for 1hour.
  8. Serve with fresh bread.

 

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tomato pasta sauce + 10 variations to spice it up

tomato pasta sauce + 10 variations to spice it up

tomato pasta sauce + 10 variations to spice it uptomato pasta sauce + 10 variations to spice it uptomato pasta sauce + 10 variations to spice it up
I made a tomato pasta sauce with well-renowned and fabulous Nina Timm at her home earlier today. What an honour and absolute delight to meet and spend a day with this amazing woman! Yip, she is the wonder behind the much followed www.my-easy-cooking.com blog. We laughed, we cooked and shared so many stories from our past and talked about the thrills of living in today…. I will be chatting to her tomorrow on her RSG radio broadcast between 9 and 10 am and share what we did today. I am so inspired and so alive … Nina I thank you for one of the best days of my life and to cooking up many more memories in the future!

Back to the sauce … I am a freakishly mad about tomatoes. So obviously my most favourite pasta sauce is a tomato-based sauce … made from fresh, ripe, juicy tomatoes that brim with flavour. I read about this method to make tomato sauce a few years ago in a magazine – unfortunately I cannot remember or find the magazine between the thousands of foodie magazines lying around in my house – please try this, it is definitely the most delicious tomato sauce you will ever taste!!

Variations you can add to the tomato sauce + remember always sprinkle generously with shaved parmesan!

  1. Cut chorizo sausages in slices and add – this makes it a rich and spicy dish.
  2. Bacon (+ chilies optional) – everyone loves bacon! Adding a somewhat smoky flavour to your pasta.
  3. Meatballs – you can make this on Sunday and just add in the week to your pasta dish.
  4. Lots of fresh chopped chilies – simple, yet always deliciously and one of my favourites.
  5. Capers + olives + anchovies + chilies – my absolute favourite!
  6. Any seafood – prawns, calamari, fish, mussels – add them to the tomato based sauce at the end of the cooking process – let it simmer through for 5 minutes – taste for seasoning again after you have added any seafood.
  7. Fresh herbs (basil, parsley) and lots of rocket – mix it with the sauce – yum.
  8. Roasted vegetables + olives + capers + crumbled feta – these produce lovely Mediterranean tastes.
  9. Artichokes, creamy feta cheese + sprinkle of dry oregano (use the oregano very sparingly).
  10. Fresh slices of buffalo mozzarella + sprinkled with smoked Maldon salt .

 

tomato pasta sauce + 10 variations to spice it up
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 900g Rosa tomatoes
  • 200ml Olive oil – good quality (I know this sounds a lot but the tomatoes burst open to combine with the olive oil, garlic and basil - and creates the most amazing sauce )
  • 8 Garlic cloves – peeled but kept in whole segments
  • Handful fresh Basil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 150 – 200g Fresh parmesan cheese – shaved with potato peeler
  • 500g Penne pasta (or spaghetti)
Instructions
  1. Add the olive oil to a large pan / pot and add the garlic and about one handful of torn basil leaves. Heat the oil very slowly on low-medium – we want to infuse the oil with the garlic and basil. Infuse for about 5 minutes – please don’t burn the garlic.
  2. Add all the tomatoes, turn up the heat to medium high and cook for +- 20 minutes without the saucepan lid.
  3. You will see the tomatoes will start to burst open and infuse with the olive oil.
  4. Season generously with salt and freshly grounded black pepper. Please be sure to taste when you season!
  5. Just before serving, add the rest of the basil and sprinkle generously with shaved parmesan
  6. You can use the sauce just as is or see the 10 variations above you can add at the end for an interesting twist.

 

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cauliflower soup with brie + smoked paprika + little toasts

cauliflower soup with brie + smoked paprika + little toasts

cauliflower soup with brie + smoked paprika + little toasts

Derick Henstra is the Chairman of the company that I am very fortunate to work for. He is an amazing individual, architect, artist, food lover and wine connoisseur. A while ago he told me about a cauliflower soup with brie, smoked paprika and crostini (“little toasts” in Italian) that he ate in Durban. I immediately decided that I would have to make and taste this – I made it a bit different…choosing to roast the cauliflower … well, I cannot tell you how amazing it tasted. The smoked paprika certainly compliments the roasted cauliflower and the melting brie inside gives it just that extra edge. There is not one flavour that overpowers the other and all seems to come together in perfect harmony … it is a simple + beautiful bowl of joy! This one is for you dh … carpe diem.

Note: Smoked paprika is a wonderful ingredient but please use it sparingly + with respect. You can easily overpower the dish with its strong flavour. I bought the smoked paprika at Newport Deli in Cape Town.

cauliflower soup with brie + smoked paprika + little toasts

 

roasted cauliflower soup with brie + smoked paprika + little toasts
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 Cauliflower heads – cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1 Big onion – cut into quarters
  • 2T Olive oil
  • 2 Cup water
  • 1 Chicken or Vegetable stock cube
  • 2 Cups full-cream milk (if you want it richer you can replace one cup of milk with cream or you can use fat free milk as a more healthier option)
  • 20g Butter (or more 🙂 )
  • 1 Large pinch of salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 125g Brie cheese – cut into 6 pieces
  • Smoked Paprika to sprinkle over the soup.
  • Preparing the "little toasts"
  • Cut a French loaf into thin slices and toast in toaster.
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Put cauliflower and onion in bowl – pour the olive oil over it and swirl the contents around in the bowl until all the vegetable pieces are lightly covered in oil. Place on baking tray and bake in the oven for +- 25 - 30 minutes until roasted and browned.
  3. Take a pot, add the water and the stock cube.
  4. Add the cauliflower and onion and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Add the milk and liquidize. It will have a nice thick consistency. If you find the consistency too thick just add a bit of extra milk.
  6. Add the butter and season with salt and pepper. Please taste and use more salt if needed.
  7. Pour piping hot soup into bowls. Put a wedge of brie in each, then add the "little toasts" on top and sprinkle lightly with smoked paprika!
  8. Tuck-in and enjoy!

 

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