Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Writing to Save the World!

Hi guys!

I've neglected you lately, and have no excuses other than a terrible lack of time! This isn't likely to improve, but in the interim, here's a short post on something that's very close to my heart: Climate change and global warming.

Blog Action Day is an annual event designed to draw attention to the plight of many world problems, and this year we're targeting climate change. 

Food is a central element of climate change, as so many countries rely on imported foods to supplement those that grow locally, which negatively affects the climate of the world. Recently, the Slow Food movement has been encouraging consumers and supermarkets to buy locally grown, organic and low carbon footprint foods in order to try to relieve some of the strain importing food has on the environment.

More locally, small farmers and producers are seeing an upsurge in popularity, through initiatives such as Wild Organics who provide boxes of locally grown, organic farm produce that can be ordered in advance by consumers. Farmers markets, once the domain of farmers wives, have also come  ito vogue, with the Neighbourgoods Market housed at the Old Biscuit Mill enjoying incredible popularity, selling vintage and retro clothing, fresh vegetables, small producer cheeses and pestos and the like.

These initiatives all count towards reducing the impact that our consumerism has on the environment, and as conscientious consumers it is our duty to support these incredible movements!

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Baked Spanish Style Chicken and Pasta

Well, what can I say? I love this! I had one of those days when everything you think of making seems predictable, and everything you’d like to make has ingredients you can’t find. When that happens, I wander around the store, waiting for something to jump out at me. This time, I felt like chicken, but not in any of the ways I usually make it, and I felt like pasta. I don’t usually buy chicken breasts, as you already know, I lean towards thighs. Once I had those, I was stumped.

I wandered down to the pasta aisle, past the tinned food, and an idea came to me. I wanted something warm, tasty, filling and different (for me). So I picked up some Spanish style chopped tomatoes, with paprika and peppers, and some pasta, and away I went.

At home I had some courgettes, cherry tomatoes, red and yellow peppers and red onions, so I chopped it all up, tossed it in a baking dish. I browned the chicken, laid the pieces on the veggies, seasoned them and added a little cayenne pepper, and covered it with 2/3 of the tin of Spanish style tomatoes. After baking for 30 minutes, the chicken was beautifully cooked, and the veggies had roasted up nicely. I deboned the chicken, and tossed the whole lot with some cooked pasta, and was I ever impressed!

Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

4 chicken thighs (or whatever pieces you like, and as many as you like, though more will obviously take longer to cook, and require more covering.)
Half a pack of cherry tomatoes
3 courgettes / baby marrows / zucchini
Half a red onion, sliced
2/3 tin of Spanish style tomatoes
Salt, pepper and cayenne pepper
Half a pack of pasta screws, cooked
    1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
    2. Chop the onion, and lay it out on the bottom of a flat ovenproof dish, that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
    3. Chop the courgettes into wheels, or whatever shape tickles your fancy.
    4. Brown the chicken pieces in a hot pan, and place on top of the onion and courgette.
    5. Season the browned chicken pieces and sprinkle with cayenne pepper, rubbing to make sure the chicken is seasoned.
    6. Place cherry tomatoes close to the chicken pieces, to add their flavour.
    7. Cover it all fairly liberally in the Spanish style tomatoes.
    8. Pop it in the oven for 30 minutes.
    9. Put pasta on when you put the chicken in the oven.
    10. When 30 minutes are up, test the chicken by skewering with a sharp knife in the fattest part of the meat. If the juices run clear, the chicken is cooked. If there is any sign of pink, put it back in for a few minutes.
      When the chicken is cooked, you can either eat the pieces whole, on the bone with mash or rice or something. I deboned the chicken, and tossed it back into the sauce with the pasta. I then tossed the whole lot back in the oven under the grill with some grated boerenkaas I was sent my the fine people at Eat In magazine as part of the Eat In Awards, which I will tell you more about shortly.

      I SO hope you enjoy this, the bf and I really did. It wasn’t heavy, was delicious and different! Let me know how it goes!

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      Restaurant Review: The Eastern Food Bazaar

      Tantalising smells, milling people, the sizzle of frying ghee – these characterise the atmosphere of The Eastern Food Bazaar. Recently opened in what used to be the Wellington Fruit Growers, a long, narrow building from 1934 spanning the block between Darling Street and Longmarket Street in the centre of Cape Town, The Eastern Food Bazaar cooks up a storm.

      In the buzzing heart of the Cape Town business district, The Eastern Food Bazaar cuts a democratic swathe across the people of Cape Town. All types of people can be found here, from suited businessmen, to German tourists and hungry locals. All enjoy the flavours, smells and sounds of this bustling restaurant.

      Taking a different approach to the restaurant business, the owners of the Jewel of India work on the idea that different people like different things, and service costs money. A variety of food is served at 6 or 7 kitchens, while there is a central pay point for all kitchens. Service is kept to a minimum, with a few servers to clear tables, and maintain hygiene. Food, drinks and dessert can all be collected from self-service kitchens, and water is available on a central counter.

      The dishes range from chicken bunny chow (R25) to potato paratha (R15) and lamb rogan josh (R30). There’s also homemade ice cream and lassi to cool your chops when you’ve enjoyed a chicken tikka masala.

      The décor leaves nothing to be desired, and puts many a Michelin starred restaurant to shame. Lining the walls are carved wooden screens and doors, authentic Mughal paintings and silks. The floor was paved with stones to suggest a cobbled lane, and the whole effect is supposed to simulate an Indian lane. Granite tables and wooden chairs complete the feeling of quality, and enhance the already fantastic food.

      This haven of spicy delight fills a hole in the Cape Town restaurant scene, by offering good food, in a beautiful setting at very reasonable prices. This isn’t fine dining, but it doesn’t pretend to be. I predict that this unpretentious, incredible place will fill many tummies for many years to come.

      The Eastern Food Bazaar
      Tel 021 461 2458
      Fax 086 682 6519
      96 Longmarket Street
      Cape Town CBD

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      Thursday, September 3, 2009

      The last couple of weeks..months?

      Hi guys!

      I have to apologise. I've been terrible with updating recently, and all I can say in my defense, is that life has gotten in the way! Since mid-July, or so, I was planning my engagment party (I baked over 100 cupcakes!! More about that soon..) and for the last couple of weeks, I've been getting over it, searching for a house for my boyfriend (fiance weirds me out!) and works been picking up!

      That's not to say I haven't been cooking anything good, but to be honest, you haven't missed much. I've been relying on my staples, like the spaghetti bolognaise I can cook with my eyes closed, freezer pizza, and other easy, but not mind blowing dinners! We all have those periods, and this was mine.

      What I would like to share, is that we were given a beautiful slow cooker for our engagment party (Thanks Penny and Charles!!) and I'm collecting a million and one recipes for delecably slow cooked dinners that I'm eager to try! The first time, though, I want to hang around, and make sure everything goes according to plan, because I've never used one before, and I tend not to trust technology too far. Then, if everything goes accordingly to plan, I will be creating succulent lamb shanks, melt in your mouth butter chicken, and sticky oxtail, and sharing it with you all, right here!

      For now, please accept my deepest apologies for abandoning you for the last couple of months, I can assure you that, I will be back! (We just have to find a house first!!)

      Love, and see you soon,

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      Tuesday, August 4, 2009

      Mushroom, bacon and veggies with Linguine


      I'm so sorry I haven't posted in so long! I think it's nearly a month now, which is unforgivable! In my defence, I've been planning an engagement party, and works been picking up, so there's been minimal time. To add to that, I've had an uninspired cooking month, where nothing quite yelled 'wow' at me, and everything was just ok, not brilliant.

      {Image Source}
      All that changed last night! I was going to make a chicken casserole, with a 'new' casserole my gran recently gave me, but I realised I had gone and forgotten to get enough onion, so I decided just to make myself some dinner, and I'll make the casserole tonight.
      I made a rather terrible dish a while ago, in which I tried to substitute smooth cottage cheese for cream or creme fraiche. The result was appalling!!!! The cottage cheese curdled, and made the whole sauce grainy! I'm not very experienced cooking with cream, I tend to avoid it, as I perceive it to be higher in fat than, say, a tomato based sauce. But I'm SO over tomato based sauces, so I got some reduced fat cream, and decided to bite the bullet and cook with cream.
      This mushroom, bacon and veggie linguine was delicious!! I LOVE the pasta that I used here, in the baked rosemary and pork sausage pasta, it has a lovely texture and works so well with everything I put with it! Makes me feel like a wonder chef, but I think that quality ingredients will do that to you!
      I used white mushrooms for this, since they were in stock, and quite cheap, but I think it would be even better with brown, or portobellini, or a mix of portobellini and wild mushrooms. The water released by the mushrooms really flavour this dish in an AMAZING way..

      So without further ado, I give you

      Mushroom, bacon and veggies with Linguine

      1/2 pack streaky bacon (or whatever kind you like)
      1/2 pack mushrooms (white, brown, whatever, see previous note)
      1/2 yellow or red pepper
      1/2 a red onion (milder, sweeter taste than the yellow onion)
      handful frozen peas
      handful frozen corn
      pinch of paprika
      250ml reduced fat cream
      sprinkling of powdered parmesan
        1. Chop the onion, and fry in a little heated oil
        2. Chop mushrooms, peppers and bacon, and toss them in to fry with the onion
        3. Cook pasta according to packet instructions, with enough time so that it is ready when the sauce is ready
        4. Fry all on a medium hear until the mushrooms have given up their water, the onion is soft, and the bacon cooked
        5. Add the cream, lower the heat and simmer
        6. The cream will thicken slightly, and I added some powdered parmesan which I had on hand to the sauce, since I can't resist putting cheese in!
        7. Just before the pasta is cooked, toss in the peas and corn, either straight from frozen, or slightly zapped in some water in the microwave. It adds some more colour, and ups the deliciousness. I always have frozen peas and corn in the freezer, for occasions such as this!
        8. When the pasta is cooked, serve some pasta into a bowl and serve the sauce over.
        9. Eat and enjoy!!
          I really enjoyed this last night, it was quick and easy to be worth preparing just for myself. There was enough left over for 2 lunches. I felt a bit bad about the cream, but I thought my reduced fat cream mitigated the decision slightly AND I don't eat cream so often, so once in a while can't kill, right? Besides, it was delicious!
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          Wednesday, July 1, 2009

          Vote for Table Mountain as the new 7th Wonder!

          Yay for us!
          We got Table Mountain into the nominations, now vote for Table Mountain as the New 7th Wonder of the world!

          Thursday, June 18, 2009

          Roasted Sausage and Rosemary with Linguine

          I've been awful lately, neglecting my cooking, neglecting my blogging, generally being lax. Although, in my defense, we had a public holiday this week, and I went away for the weekend! I have many, many lovely things to say about the delicious food we had while we away, but that's for another post.

          Over the weekend Cape Town hosted the International Book Fair, which I always go to. It brings together publishers and authors, bookshops and bibliophiles from all across the country, and from other countries, to sell and show books, beautiful books! So, you can tell I'm a fan. This year was smaller than usual, and since I've been a regular at Paperweight this year, I didn't buy as many books as I usually do, settling for only one. But I did come across some delectable looking foodie magazines, delicious. magazine, and a Feel Good Food magazine, from Woman & Home.

          In any event, I pored through these, collecting inspiration. I'm not usually very good at following recipes directly, i usually just use them as a guideline and make it up as I go along. So in Feel Good Food, I found a recipe for roasted sausages with rosemary tomatoes, and I thought, YUM!! I don't cook with rosemary often, in fact, I didn't even have any in the cupboard, but I thought this was a brilliant time to try it. We felt like 'long pasta', so we got some linguine, and I upped the liquids, to make it more saucy. I can't find a link to the recipe online, it seems to only be available in print! So here it is, for your cooking pleasure, with my changes!

          Roasted Sausage and Rosemary with Linguine


          1 packet of fresh pork sausages (I used the skinny ones for use with pasta)
          1 onion, sliced
          3-5 baby marrows
          3-4 yellow patty pans
          1/2 packet of cherry tomatoes
          1/2 whole fresh tomato, chopped small
          1 tbsp rosemary leaves, fresh or dried
          100ml chicken stock
          cooking or olive oil for frying
          1/2 packet linguine

          1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
          2. Heat some oil in a pan, and slice the onion. 
          3. Fry the onion in the pan on a medium heat till soft. 
          4. Chop the marrows and patty pans, and any other vegetable you have or think would be nice, and throw them in with the onion. The original recipe only used cherry tomatoes and onion, but I want a more rounded meal, and added the marrows in. 
          5. When the onion and veggies are soft, add the rosemary, and either decant into a dish, or push to the side of the pan. 
          6. Turn up the heat, and add the sausages, to brown them. I ended up removing the onion mix, as there wasn't enough space with the sausages in the pan, and I didn't want the onion to burn while the sausages browned. 
          7. Once the sausages are brown, put back the onion mix, and add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes, not more than 5. 
          8. Transfer the whole lot to an oven proof dish, and pop in the cherry tomatoes and the chopped tomato. 
          9. I used the chopped tomato partly because I had so few cherry tomatoes, and partly because they have more liquid, and would flavour the dish well. 
          10. Put the pasta on once the dish is in the oven. 
          11. Cook according to packet instructions and set aside. 
          12. Pop the whole thing, uncovered, into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the sausages are cooked. 
          13. After it baked, I popped it under the grill for a few minutes, to burst the tomatoes and blacken the sausages a bit, but it's not crucial. 
          14. Since I was making it for pasta, I needed a sauce, not just a gravy. So I drained the liquids back into the pan, and thickened it with a little cornflour, then poured it back on top of the rest.
          When the pasta's cooked, serve into bowls, and spoon sauce over. You can also grate some Parmesan on top, but we had it without, and it was perfect! I had plates being licked left, right and centre! We all agreed that it was the rosemary that absolutely MADE this dish! Delicious! Enjoy! PS. Sorry about the lack of photos, starving family doesn't make for great photo taking, and frankly, I wasn't sure if this would work out!

          Friday, May 8, 2009

          The most amazing little cakes I've ever seen!

          I do not claim to have made these, although I wish I could tell you that my culinary prowess ran to such unbelievable creations! If you've visited before, you'll realise my usual suspects are pasta and other such easy, and well, lazy things..

          This however, happens to be the cutest little cheesecake I have ever laid eyes on. And, I don't even like cheesecake all that much, that's the bf's department! But please please go check out the blog, its so cute, and has tons of eye-candy, just like this little gem! A sushi cake! Have you ever in your whole life seen such a cute cake! Pick me! Pick me!!

          Please go see her blog, I love it!

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          Tuesday, April 28, 2009

          A Long Time Coming - Fishcakes!


          I know I've been incredibly lax lately, but all these public holidays are really messing around with my domestic goddess ambitions! I made this about 2 weeks ago, but I've been having a tough time actually writing it down, bloggers block is hard!

          So I got the recipe for these fishcakes from.... somewhere! Yup, as usual, in the time between making it and writing it down, I've totally forgotten where I got it from, so if anyone recognises it, please say so! I'd love to credit this genius! OK, so I'll get on with it!

          Tuna fishcakes

          Makes 10-13 balls (size dependent)
          2 x cans solid meat tuna
          1/4 onion, finely chopped
          1/4 red pepper, finely chopped
          1/4 yellow pepper, finely chopped
          handful chives, chopped
          250ml couscous
          1 egg
          flour for dusting 


          1. After chopping everything above, toss all of it, except the flour, into a bowl and mix. When I made it, it was a bit watery, and didn't bind well at first. I think next time I make it, I'll use some more couscous and possibly some flour in the mix, to help bind it together. 
          2. When everything's mixed together, and the tuna's all broken up, form small balls about the size of golf balls. 
          3. Roll them in flour, and if they aren't sticking together well, use a bit more flour and press them harder together. 
          4. Put them all on a plate, once rolled, and stick them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to let them harden. 
          5. Heat some oil in a pan, and roll the balls in a little more flour, then placing them in the heated oil. Don't have the temperature on too high, the balls will stick to the bottom of the pan. Remember also, that the tuna doesn't have to cook, just warm through, since it's fine to eat straight out of the can. 
          Fry the balls on a medium heat, until golden brown, turning regularly. It should take about 10-15 minutes. Take them out and place on a piece of kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil, and serve with garlic baby potatoes or mash, and veggies or a salad. This is a lovely light meal, and so quick, cheap and easy to make! Enjoy!

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          Wednesday, April 8, 2009

          Brand New Cookbook! Yippee!

          Hi! I just thought I'd share my extreme nerdiness over my excitement with my new cookbook! It's called "Quick & Easy" by kitchen library, and I bought it for R40 at the Paper Weight in St Georges Mall at lunch. It's so exciting, I can't wait to use it!

          Ok, I'm done. Enjoy your evenings people!

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          Chicken with blue cheese and bacon - Yum!

          So I was reading my blogs yesterday, when I came across this recipe from "What do I want to cook today?" I thought it looked delicious, but I doubted Pick n Pays capacity for stocking ricotta, especially at 7pm, so I got creative!

          The original recipe is quite different, but I used the same basic elements: chicken, cheese and pork. I really enjoyed my version, and so did Conrad, so hopefully it wasn't just my bias! It looks as delicious as it sounds!
          I really don't like chicken much, except braaied chicken, and then only chicken thighs. Yes, I'm probably full of it, but that's my business! But in these hard times, chicken is a really value-priced item, and I thought I'd give it a try! I made this with chicken thighs, bone in, because I like them that way, and blue cheese and mozzarella. Without further ado, here's the recipe with my changes:

          Chicken with blue cheese stuffing, wrapped in bacon

          Prep Time: 10 minutes
          Cooking Time: 45 minutes
          Serves 4

          4 chicken thighs

          1 wedge blue cheese
          2 pieces bacon per chicken piece (I used back bacon, but anything'll do, it has to wrap around the chicken piece) salt and pepper turmeric mozzarella for sprinkling afterwards a couple of grapes

          Roast veggie base
          1/2 red pepper 1/2 yellow pepper 2-3 baby marrows 2-4 patty pans (green and yellow) salt and pepper a pinch each oreganum and thyme (dried) You can throw anything into the roast veggie base, I used stuff I had in the fridge. You can even use one of those roast veggie packets from the supermarket, or with none at all, and serve it with a salad, I just did roast veggies, because I had all the ingredients, and thought they would work well together.

          1. Preheat oven to 180 C. 
          2. While the oven heats, trim fat off the chicken, and cut a slice into the middle of the meat. I leave the skin on, because I like it, but you can take it off if you'd like a healthier option. Or make the whole thing with deboned chicken breast, it would work just as well. 
          3. Cut a slice off the back of the blue cheese, and cut a piece big enough to fit into the slit you made in the chicken. Push the blue cheese slice in, and cover with skin. 
          4. Do this to all pieces, then season with salt, pepper and a little turmeric, if you have some, it gives it a delicious flavour and aroma! 
          5. Wrap each chicken piece in one or 2 pieces of bacon. I think streaky would work best, or pancetta if budget allows, but Pick n Pay had neither, and I like back bacon, so I used that. It took 2 pieces of back bacon per thigh, although they weren't big pieces, to cover them adequately. Wrap the ends underneath, neatly, and set aside, if you're making roast veggies, or move straight to the step after the veggies, if you're not.

          ** Skip this step if you're not making roast veggies**
          1. Next, chop any veggies you might be using, marrows, peppers, baby potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, etc. Anything'll work, but remember to roast the veggies longer if they're hard, like carrots and potatoes. Or parboil the hard veggies to reduce cooking time. 
          2. Once all is chopped, put the veggies in the bottom of a flat, glass, oven-proof dish and drizzle with a little olive oil. Toss the veggies, to make sure everything is coated, and season with a little salt and pepper, and any herbs you like, I used some origanum and thyme.
          **Start again here if you aren't making roast veggies**
          1. Put the chicken pieces on top of the veggies, or into a greased, glass oven-proof dish. Cover (with foil or a lid, whichever you have) and stick in the oven, which will be hot by now. 

          Although my explanation was lengthy, this really shouldn't take longer than 10-15 minutes. Roast for 30 minutes, untouched, covered, then remove from the oven, and take off the lid/foil. The chicken should start to look cooked and the veggies will have given off a lot of water.

          Remove the covering totally, chop some grapes and toss them in, and put back in the oven for 10 minutes.

          After 10 minutes, remove and put the grill on. Cover the chicken with mozzarella, and place back, under the grill. Now, watch it carefully, because it can burn quickly at this stage.
          When the cheese has melted, and started to bubble and brown slightly, take it out. Remove the chicken, after checking it for doneness. It should be done by now. I then put the veggies back in, under the grill, just to brown them a bit and lose some of the accumulated water. I also needed the time to make some Smash (I know, it's not exactly domestic goddess, but I really wasn't in the mood for peeling potatoes!!) 5 minutes later I served the delicious chicken, roast veggies and Smash! The Smash is really good if you chuck some cheese and salt in. It's not real mash, but it's a LOT less effort!! Oh, and you might have be surprised about the grapes: I had planned to put them into the chicken with the blue cheese, but my little thighs had no space, so I tossed them in with the veggies. The contrast of sweet grapes, savoury veggies, sharp blue cheese and salty bacon was really good, and the melted mozzarella was divine!
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          Monday, April 6, 2009

          Taste of Cape Town Festival

          What a whirlwind weekend!! I didn't cook all weekend, but I did eat at some lovely places!

          Ok, enough with the exclamations. This weekend was a brilliant foodie weekend, as I'm sure all agree. The Taste of Cape Town Festival was held this weekend, from Thursday to Sunday, and I must say, I love this expo! We went last year, and stored up a whole string of beautiful restaurants to bankrupt ourselves at, and I must say, we weren't disappointed this year!
          Here's what it's about: a whole bunch of local (Western Cape) restaurants and wine farms are invited or choose to host a stand at the event. As far as restaurants go, its the very best, last year we had the Cape Colony, from the Mount Nelson Hotel, this year we had Reuben's and Bread & Wine, Le Quartier Francais. It really astounds me every time when I realise what fantastic restaurants we have!

          At the stand, each restaurant makes small portions of a couple of signature dishes, so that visitors can 'taste' the flavour of the restaurant. It's a brilliant concept, because you get to sample the tastes of the restaurant before committing to a whole, often expensive dinner.
          So this year my favourites were Bread & Wine at Le Quartier Francais, Franschhoek, and Reuben's, also Franschhoek, but I'm biased, because I have been to Reuben's and had the most fantastic (and expensive) lunch before! I also enjoyed Overture in the Hidden Valley, Stellenbosch and Aubergine, down in my very own Gardens.

          I was silly enough not to take any pictures of the delightful foods, and we tasted so much I cannot remember which fantastic flavours went with which restaurant, but I can tell you this: froth is on the way up and mushrooms are fashionable! Go next year people, this is a fantastic show!! Oh, and I'd like to thank the lovely lady who gave Conrad and I the complimentary entry, to saved us R180!! You rock!!

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          Tuesday, March 31, 2009

          Couscous a la me!

          So, I've been meaning to share this one with you, since I rediscovered couscous a few weeks ago. This is very much like the Healthy Pasta I shared with you last week, it uses many of the same ingredients, but it tastes quite different. Now, I mentioned my eating plan before, and you may have noticed that I don't stick to it religiously (that would bore me, and you, to death), but I like to use the recommended items where possible. So here's what I had for dinner last night! Oh, and I'll be adding pictures to my posts, as soon as I can beg, buy, borrow or steal a decentish camera from someone!! (Any offers?!)

          Couscous with veggies galore! Serves 4
          Prep time: 20-25 minutes  
          1 red pepper
          1 yellow pepper
          1 onion
          4 yellow patty pans
          1-3 baby marrows
          20 cherry tomatoes
          20cm of cucumber handful of frozen peas
          half a can of whole kernel corn (or one fresh corn cob, boiled, with all the kernels scraped off) half a can of chopped tomatoes OR some Ina Paarman's tomato pasta sauce OR some tomato pesto 250g couscous, prepared to packet instructions (serves 3-4.

          You can really use anything in this dish, but everything should be cut up quite small, I try to make everything pea sized, since I'm not keen on dicing peas, and I think everything should be more or less uniform. But the size is up to you.


          1. Dice all the veggies, after washing and top and tailing where necessary. Like I said, size is up to you, but I try make them all about pea sized for uniformity. 
          2. I do the onions first, because they take the longest to soften, then the marrows, patty pans, peppers and everything else, except the corn, cucumber and peas. 
          3. Fry it all up, in a little oil, on a medium heat, enough that it sizzles, but not high enough to burn, and keep it moving. If it starts to look a little dry, drop in some water, but not a lot, just enough to prevent it sticking to the bottom, and to help soften the marrows. 
          4. Throw in some herbs, or some curry powder, for extra flavour. I have some Zanzibar curry powder left from my holiday last year, which I threw in. Its not insanely hot, it just gives the food a good flavour.  
          5. Now, this works well as a dish on its own, but I made it with pork sausages, you can grill some chicken, make frikkadels (my recipe for which I will soon share), or anything you like really. Even steak! 
          6. Since it contains so many veggies, it fulfills nearly, if not all, of your 5-a-day quota, and the couscous is the starch, so you're pretty much good to go.  
          7. Now, while the veggies cook, make the couscous according to packet instructions. If it looks a little dry when the water has all soaked in, I add some more, and it's great, so feel free to be a little creative with the instructions. Or if, like my sister, you can't make anything without instructions, follow them to the letter!!  
          8. When the veggies are soft, season to taste and add in the chopped tomato or tomato pasta sauce, or whatever. Don't use tons, just enough to lubricate. I used a tiny bit of leftover pasta sauce, and half a can of chopped tomatoes. 
          9. Add in the frozen peas (either parboiled, or frozen, they melt really quickly) and the corn, which should already be cooked. 
          10. Once the peas are melted and warm, and the corn is warm, you can mix the prepared couscous and the veggie mix together.  
          11. Once it's all mixed, if its a bit dry throw in some more chopped tomato, but you should be good to go! Lastly, throw in the cucumber, so it provides a nice, crisp contrast to the warm couscous.
          Even with all the chopping, this only took 25 minutes, which, as far as I'm concerned, is a dinner worth making! It got the thumbs up from my sister, and makes a fantastic standalone dish, or as an accompaniment to sausages, steak, chicken, whatever! My next goal is to learn to make tagine, so I can make this with it, how nice does that sound!? We all have to have goals! Enjoy!

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          Monday, March 30, 2009

          I Heart Steak Sandwiches!


          I know I've been terribly lax lately, but I'm not good on Fridays. Or weekends. Or a lot of the days in between.
          {Image source: FotoosVanRobin, flickr}

          So, here's a little update from last week. Thursday night I cam home from work, tired. And I was going to be all alone, since my sister was working and the bf was studying. And what do I look like, a socialising machine? I was staying home with my book! And I wanted something that would be warm, would cook quickly and was satisfying. So, wandering around the shop, I decided on steak sandwiches. I like my steak quite rare, I only cook it for a few minutes a side, so what could be quicker? I had most of the other ingredients, salad and so on, at home, so I got a couple of small, floury Portuguese rolls, and I was away.

          I cannot explain how incredibly delightful these were, and I don't think it would been expensive, especially if spread over more people. I'm a bit of a meat piggy, so I shared one steak between two small rolls, and took the other to work for lunch the following day, which was delicious. So here it is, my recipe for delightful steak sandwiches!

          Steak Sandwiches
          Serves as many as you cook steak for. This feeds 1 greedy, and 2 normal people.

          2 Rump/rib eye/porterhouse/sirloin steaks (amount varies depending on how many people you're feeding, but average one steak person, with a little leftover for second helpings if they're a hungry bunch, and choose whichever cut makes you happiest!)
          Tomato sauce - I had some Ina Paarman's tomato and basil pasta sauce left on the fridge, which worked wonders on these rolls, but ordinary ketchup would be fine too
          Tomato, thinly sliced
          Cucumber, thinly sliced
          Lettuce broken into managably small pieces for the rolls
          Red and/or yellow pepper, sliced thinly (optional, I had some in the fridge that needed finishing, and it was delicious)
          Couple slices cheese (any kind really, I usually have gouda or cheddar in the house, so I used that)
          Salt and pepper to taste
          Any other veggie you think would work well, I think fried onions would've been lovely, but I didn't have the energy to fry them!  

          1. Chop veggies thinly, so they're easy to lay on a sandwich or roll. 
          2. Cut off excess fat from the steaks, and season with a bit of salt, white pepper and some braai seasoning, if thats what you like.  
          3. Heat a cast iron, or heavy based frying pan with a little oil sprayed on the bottom. You want it quite hot, since you want to seal the outside of the steak quickly, to prevent all the juices leaking out during cooking. When the pan is hot, place the steaks in the pan, for a few seconds on one side, then flip to the other, to seal both sides. 
          4. When both sides are brown, turn the heat down a little, to prevent burning the steak. 
          5. Cook for a few minutes each side, turning often. Don't allow it to burn, and don't cook too long! 
          6. I know I fly in the face of some when I say this, but a decent steak is at its best when its still pink in the middle! 
          7. Good quality steak can be eaten nearly raw, so don't be frightened of it!! I, personally, like mine to be more than pink, I prefer my steak still mooing slightly, and cook it less than I've advised here. 
          8. When the steak is cooked to your satisfaction, remove it from the pan, and let it cool, while you spread the salad ingredients, cheese, sauce and so on onto the rolls. 
          9. When that's done to your satisfaction, the steaks will have cooled enough to handle, so slice the steak, into slice into 1cm thick strips and lay on top one side of the roll. 
          10. I like to put the cheese next to the warm steak, and let it melt slightly, but it really doesn't matter which way you do it! The whole thing took less than 20 minutes, and I was eating and reading happily! 
          Make these when you're tired, and you won't be sorry! You can serve if with chips, if you like, or to make it stretch further, but it's great just as a standalone meal! Enjoy!

          Thursday, March 26, 2009

          Foolproof Potato and Leek Soup - perfect for winter!

          OK, so to be honest, and I always try to be, this isn't my recipe, but I did make it, and it was amazing. So I'm going to share it with you. The original recipe came from What Do I Want To Cook Today (that link goes straight to the recipe on her blog, in case you'd like it from the horses mouth, so to speak).

          {Image source: Kara Reuter, flickr}

          So, moving on. I did it slightly differently to the original last night, and ended up with a green, but no less delicious soup. I like the oniony ends of the leek, the green parts, so I remove all the icky bits and chuck them, retaining and using as much of the leek as possible. I also wanted leftovers for work, so I expanded on the recipe slightly.

          Here's my version of this amazing soup:

          Foolproof Potato and Leek Soup
          Serves 4, with leftovers

          Prep time: 10-15 minutes
          Cooking time: 20-30 minutes

          4-5 medium to large potatoes, peeled, washed and diced
          4 leeks, chopped into 1 inch pieces
          1 onion, diced
          1-2 tsp cooking oil or butter (whichever you prefer to fry with)
          750ml chicken stock
          250-300ml full fat milk (depending how creamy you like it)
          salt and pepper to season  

          1. Chop and wash the leek, until all sand is washed off. There will be a lot, leeks are sandy creatures. 
          2. Melt the butter, or heat the oil in a large saucepan. When hot, throw in the onions, leeks and potatoes. 
          3. Saute lightly on a medium to high heat, for a few minutes, until all veggies have been added.
          4. Turn down to a medium to low heat, and fry until almost soft, but not coloured, stirring regularly, for 10-15 minutes. (Note, I used the green parts of the leek, but if you want a pure white soup, only use the white parts of the leek, obviously. I didn't mind the green tinge, I thought it made it more interesting, and made it more healthy (we all know green is good for you!)
          5. Having made the stock, add it and the milk (just 250ml for now). 
          6. Simmer on a medium heat, and try not to let it boil, as it changes the milk. 
          7. When the potatoes are cooked through, (the smaller you chop 'em, the quicker this will be!), which shoul take about 10-15 minutes, take it off the heat, and let it cool for a bit. 
          8. Using a stick blender, blend it to the desired consistency. I like my soups quite thick and tasty, but if it's too thick (potato is a natural thickener), just add come more milk, stock or just water to loosen it up a bit. 
          9. If it's gotten really cold by now, heat through again, being careful not to boil. 
          10. Serve with crusty buttered bread or toast, with chopped chives on top. 
          * Note from future self: I'm just going through my old posts, and came across this one! It's winter again in Cape Town, and I was wondering which soup to make next - this looks like a winner to me! Make this, and enjoy!

          Thursday, March 19, 2009

          Baby pasta shells with peppers and chorizo


          I'm on an eating plan at the moment, and all sorts of things have been denied me, foremost among them pizza and pasta, and all things comforting. In Cape Town's recent spate of unseasonably freezing weather, I decided to tweak my plan. I figured as long as I was eating a whole host of encouraged, recommended things, I could have it with pasta, and here's what I came up with, from what was in my fridge. I'm a fan of using what I've got, I don't like to have to buy a whole lot of new ingredients for every meal. So use what you've got, and see how it comes out. This is what I did a few nights ago.

          {Image source: steeljam, flickr}

          Baby pasta shells with peppers and chorizo
          Serves 2 (with leftovers for work the next day, score!)

          1/2 red pepper diced
          1/2 yellow pepper
          diced 4-5 yellow patty pans (or any other kind of soft marrow, baby marrow, baby squash, etc.)
          1/2 a punnet, or about 10 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
          1 onion
          1 tsp garlic
          150g frozen peas
          1 or 2 chorizo sausages, diced
          1/2 packet sundried tomato pesto
          1-3 cups baby pasta shells
          half a bunch (or 10-15 leaves) fresh basil
          1. After chopping, dicing and otherwise preparing the veggies and chorizo, start throwing them into a non-stick pan. I always start with the onion, as it takes the longest to cook down, and unless it's a salad I don't like raw onion. So start with the onions, then the chorizo, since its quite fatty, I like to fry it on quite a high heat at first, to fry out some of the fat. I used chorizo for the spiciness of the sausage, but actually, any meat can be used, or none. Bacon, ham, chopped chicken breast, etc. would all work well here. 
          2. At this point you should start the pasta. By the time it's done to packet instructions, your veggies and stuff should be more or less ready.
          3. Then throw in the peppers. These are really good for you, and increase your 5 a day intake, which is great. Apparently these beasties, and their spicier cousins, the jalapeno, have all sorts of goodies in them that speed up your metabolism, and generally keep you healthy, AND, they taste good too! 
          4. Toss in some garlic at this point, to allow it to fry down, then the tomatoes and anything else still left. 
          5. The peas can go in a bit later, and its probably good to throw them in the microwave with some water for a short time, (3-5 mins, depending on your machine) before you throw them in. 
          6. When the pasta's nearly cooked, this sauce should be a colourful, well, saucy looking thing in the frying pan. 
          7. Drain off any excess oil, and tear the fresh basil into smallish pieces. Mix together the tomato pesto and the pasta, then the sauce, and stir in the fresh basil right at the end. 
          8. Add sea salt and ground pepper to taste, but I found it didn't need much. Oh, and I threw some grated mozzarella on after, just to be naughty! 
          This is a fantastic thing to whip up on a week night, and despite all my ramblings here, doesn't take long. Mostly only as long as it takes for pasta to cook. And if you can enrol someone else to chop the veggies? It's a breeze!! Happy dinner, people!!

          What on earth's for dinner?

          You may very well ask.

          You come home from work, starving, and discover there's nothing in the fridge.
          Now what? In this day and age, I suppose you could go out to eat, and I will be recommending that at times. But for the most part, especially when it's nasty out, you just want to stay home, and eat something comforting.

          So here, I'll tell you about my responses to the eternal and inevitable conundrum,
          What on earth's for dinner?
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