Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Restaurant Review: La Boheme Wine Bar and Bistro

So. I haven't done very many restaurant reviews, and that isn't because I don't eat out. I do eat out, probably more than I should, it's just that I don't really want to do over what better bloggers have done before me. And sometimes, you just wax poetic over yet another creme brulee.
And yet, there sometimes comes a time when I am forced to wax poetic, just because I enjoy it so so much. And La Boheme Wine Bar and Bistro on Sea Point Main Road is just one of those places.

Now, it could be because I live around the corner (it certainly doesn't hurt to be able to consume several jugs of delicious sangria, and then not have to drive home!), and it could also be because I've heard many good things about it, but I think it's mostly the sure combination of relaxed atmosphere, incredibly good, homestyle food and very reasonable pricing.
Take Saturday for instance. The boy and I were ravenous, and contemplating lunch with fervour. We decided to pop around the corner, and take advantage of the R110 3 course special (though I ended up having the 2 course, R90 special, that's another story).

And what a special it is!
For starters, the boy had the most delicious chicken and leek ravioli, beautifully presented with a pile of rocket, which perfectly complemented the creamy sauce, and I had a divine chicken liver parfait, which was smooth and creamy, and served with sweet onion marmalade. These starters set the tone for our mains, a veritable feast of deliciousness. The boy had roast pork belly (with crispy crackling!) with poached pear and a wholegrain mustard sauce and baby potatoes, while I was spoiled with beef bourgignon on roasted garlicky mashed potatoes, both accompanied by spicy lentils, carrots, beetroot and roasted peppers.

The subtlety that was the mustard sauce paired with the sweetness of the pork and pear ws just divine. And the garlic mash amid all that beefy, winey goodness? Well, let's just say that we had an incredible lunch. And we really needed the dog walking afterwards, to help loosen the pants a bit.

Ah, and dessert. Chewy, light, chocolatey goodness that was the toasted almond and chocolate meringues was just the, well, I supposed icing on the cake that was lunch at La Boheme. But this isn't just a lunch joint. You can do a delicious dinner, or even breakfast - this place has delicious breads and croissants that you can buy at the deli and take home, or eat in with your eggs. The menus seem to be updated regularly, and are written up on large chalkboards that are standing around the restuarant, to be brought to the table by your friendly waitress. For some odd reason, we've had the same waitress every time we've been, and her service, at least, is efficient, friendly, knowledgable and not overly obtrusive. All in all, we have a winner.

You can book with them on
La Boheme: 021 434 8797

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Butter Chicken - Easy and Delicious!

As I'm sure you've guessed, I'm a sucker for food markets, expo's and so forth, and have been, and will continue to go, to the Taste of Cape Town, the Good Food and Wine Show and, coming up, the Stellenbosch Wine Festival! And at these expos I, invariably end up spending FAR too much money on spices, cheese, chocolates and wines - and sometimes, I forget to use them! Horrors, I know!

{Image source: LexNGer, Flickr}

So at the Taste of Cape Town, I bought some things. Some delicious and imminently edible (Yummichef's brownies, er YUM! and blondies), some not-so-yummy (foie gras and chocolate macarons are WEIRD. I don't like the sweet/savoury mixture here), and some for future use, namely Shaik's Butter Chicken Spice Mix, with some Cumin. (This isn't my photo - you all KNOW I don't have a camera - but it looks almost EXACTLY how mine did look! Gotta love creative commons on flickr, thanks LexNGer!

So now I had the spice, I just needed the motivation, and the fear-conquering! I'd heard stories about how cooking it wrong would end up with horrible, tough lumps and wasted spice, and I just couldn't face it! But as the clouds drew in yesterday and the weather grew cooler, I just couldn't stop thinking about how delicious this would be! And so, I bit the bullet, and this was SO much easier than I expected it to be! And delicious! If I can find a permanent supply of this spice, this'll be making a monthly appearance on our menu! It might even be something to impress the in-laws with this week... Hmm..

And here's how you do it. This recipe is a mixture of various recipes I read online, though not one specific one, and the recipe hints on the back of the packet.

500g boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (I used breasts, couldn't find thighs, though I hear it's juicier)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, diced (or 1 tsp bottled crushed garlic)
1 tsp bottled crushed ginger (or the same fresh ginger, finely grated)
100-250ml cream (I used reduced fat, and it was delicious, and less fat-making)
2 tbsp Butter Chicken spice mix
2 tsp ground cumin
1 small tin of tomato paste
rice to serve, and fresh, hot naans (we picked ours up from Kabab Mahal on Sea Point Main Road, right around the corner! But if you have more guts than I do, make em!)

  1. Bash chicken breast until of uniform thickness (good for releasing pent up aggression) using a heavy pan, meat mallet, or can.
  2. Chop chicken into bite size pieces, about 1 inch diameter chunks.
  3. Dice onion, and fry with the garlic and ginger in butter until the onions are translucent, being careful not to burn.
  4. Lay diced chicken out flat, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Pop the chicken into a ZipLock bag, and spoon the Butter Chicken spice mix and cumin on top. 
  6. Shake up the chicken and spice mixture, making sure the chicken is nicely coated. 
  7. Pour the whole lot, including any spice not sticking to chicken, into the pan with the onion mixture.
  8. Fry for a few minutes, frying both the spices and browning the chicken lightly.
  9. After a few minutes, spoon in the tomato paste, and reduce the heat.
  10. Pour cream over the chicken mixture, stirring into the mixture. I used 100ml initially, but I used too much spice, so I ended up using 250ml of cream, and about 60ml of water.
  11. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, and serve over rice with fresh naans, and either fresh, steamed veggies or a salad, to cut through the richness of all that cream!

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Grilled Pineapple and Chicken Quesadillas

This Mexican thing is started to become a habit! Could it be the #cheeseslut  in me (see twitterfeed for details)? Could it really? Well, I don't live anywhere close to Mexico, I've never visited, or even spoken to a Mexican person, and yet, the Mexican food (although it may be truly bastardised by the time it reaches my table) really appeals to me! There's few things better on a cold winters night than something ooey and gooey and cheesey and GOOD! And so, when I was looking for something fast and tasty for dinner, I saw these quesadillas on Ree's blog, I knew I'd spotted a winner. And boy, was I right.
{Image source}
These are sweet and tangy, and with just a few small steps, you can have dinner in 20-25 minutes!

I'll be honest and say that although I did see very cheap pineapples on sale, looking divine, I didn't feel like all that chopping, even though Ree does give the most brilliant pineapple chopping tutorial, I just couldn't face it, so I bought a can. Probably fresh would've been better, but convenience and speed was the name of my game last night, and canned won.

You can even buy Ree's cookbook through Amazon, and from the looks of the recipes on her blog, this cookbook should have a place in my kitchen!

And because I changed the recipe to have a sweeter, less spicey version, here's the recipe. For the original, jalapeno-and-spicy-BBQ-sauce version, visit Ree herself, at The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Ingredients: feeds 2
4 flour tortillas
2 chicken breasts
4 pineapple rings
1 spring onion
Mozzarella and cheddar cheese, enough to cover two tortillas and to put a bit on top.

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 C.
  2. Take a heavy can, meat mallet, heavy pan and flatten the chicken breasts a little, so they're of uniform thickness. This will ensure even cooking, and if you're slicing it, give you more surface area so you have more slices, and it means there's more surface area for spicing, which means more taste. So, beat it, just beat it..
  3. Sprinkle salt and pepper, and any other spice you like, onto the flattened chicken breasts and set aside.
  4. Heat a grill pan on the stove, or put in the braai. 
  5. Remove 4 rings from your can of pineapple, and place onto the grill pan or grill. Wait quite a while before you turn, because what you want are those blackened grill marks, that show the pineapple has heated and the sugar has caramelised properly. When it has those lovely marks on both sides, remove from pan.
  6. Place the flattened chicken breasts in the hot pan, turning it down a bit, since you don't want to cook these too quickly. Turn once or twice, and cook the chicken until the juices run clear when you stick a knife into the thickest part, I think it's about 10 minutes, but test with the juice test. If it runs pink, the meat is still raw inside.
  7. Remove the chicken from the pan when cooked, and replace the grill pan with a big, heavy bottomed frying pan.
  8. Melt butter in the pan, and heat your tortillas on both sides.
  9. Place two heated tortillas next to each other on a cookie tray (in retrospect, I'd've used a rack, since the bottoms got a bit soggy, but its not a train smash), then cover both tortillas with a mix of mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
  10. Sliced the cooled chicken breast and chop the pineapple rings/
  11. Artfully place chicken strips and chopped pineapple on top of the cheese mixture.
  12. Chop some spring onion (I always use scissors, so much faster!) and sprinkle on top, with a bit more cheese.
  13. Top with the other tortillas. You should now have two tortilla sandwiches.
  14. Pop them in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
  15. Remove from the oven, slice like a pizza and serve!
Delicious, cheesy, pineappley, chickeny goodness, people!! Enjoy!

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spicy Red Pepper, Tomato and Barley Soup

Mmm. It's Tuesday, not my favourite day of the week, it always seems too far from the weekend. It's not Monday, during which you still have the pleasant glow left from the weekend. And it's not Wednesday, which is only 2 days short of the hallowed weekend. It's just stuck in the middle, like, well, like a Tuesday. And so, it is on this day that I bring (back) to you (again) this delicious soup! It'll warm your heart, your mouth, your tummy and even your fingers, if you chop chillies like I do!

{Image source}
I have posted this soup before, but I made one or two changes this time, like using (previously fresh and now dried) chillies that were a gift from a friend who grows them. I got them when they were glossy and fresh, and was scared of using them, and now they're wrinkly and dry, but still just as good chopped and used in soup! Oh, and a word to the wise? When you chop chillies, touch them as little as possible, and then wash your hands immediately! Don't carry on, like I did, and then go and touch your nose or something like that, because it will burn! BURN!! And please, please don't touch your eyes, it will hurt!

Now we have the safety warnings under control, please don't let them stop you from making this soup. It's warming, filling and, above all, easy to make! And with that, I give you, for Meat Free Monday, Spicy Red Pepper, Tomato and Barley Soup.

200g Imbo Soup Mix (buy it at Pick n Pay, by the pulses and grains; if you aren't in South Africa, substitute with a mix of pearl barley, split peas and brown lentils)
2 cans (410g each) tomato and onion mix, or chopped tomatoes
1 red pepper, diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed (or 1-2 tsps bottled crushed garlic)
2 onions, chopped (I used 1 red and 1 yellow, but I don't think the colour makes any difference to the flavour)
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped OR 1-2 tsps red or cayenne pepper, dependent on heat tolerance
1 litre chicken stock
I also threw in a chopped fresh tomato, because I had one languishing in the fridge.

{Image source}

  1. Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed, large soup pot. Fry the onions, garlic, chopped chilli and red pepper until the onions are translucent. I also put the chopped tomato in here, when the onions looked like they were close to being done.
  2. When the onion and pepper mix is done, pour in the tomato and onion cans, and the chicken stock, then add the 200g of Soup Mix.
  3. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer and cook for 1-1.5 hours, or until the barley and split peas are cooked, stirring regularly to prevent the pulses from sinking to the bottom and burning.
  4. When everything is soft, take off the heat, and blend with an immersion blender until the desired chunkiness is reached. Sometimes I prefer it smoother, sometimes more rustic. Use more of the soup mix for a thicker, more rustic feel if you like.
When this stage was over, I had some whole kernel corn in the fridge and some frozen peas, which I threw in for some extra colour, which gave it some nice sweetness to offset the spiciness of the chilli. This soup can also benefit from some chopped chorizo lightly fried and added in at the end, and some cream or sour cream stirred in just before serving to lighten the chilli. I didn't add any meat, since it was Meat Free Monday, but I think it would work very well.
{Image source}

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cheese Fest! Beef Mince Enchilada's

Last week the rainy miserable weather hit Cape Town, and I knew that I couldn't go on much longer without some cheesy goodness. I had mince in the fridge, and I decided to make mince enchiladas, unwittingly on Cinco de Mayo! I think the planets were aligned, because this, my friends, was divine! And there was enough for dinner the following night too, which just made my day!

{Image Source}

Following the cheesy goodness that was these enchiladas, I was reminiscing about it on Twitter the following day, sparking a series of confessions from Marisa (Creative Pot), which led to more from Nina (My Easy Cooking), Nina (@luna_pixie), Nicola (Wot’s For Lunch), Colleen (Browniegirl) and Jeanne (Cook Sister). At last Nina from My Easy Cooking suggested we all make something cheesy and delicious over the weekend, and we all agreed.

Now, I was feeling rather guilty yesterday, that all these lovely ladies had contributed such divine goodness to the #cheesesluts, and I, having had NO time over the weekend, as well as a basket of donated foodstuffs from the MIL, had cooked nothing! And then it came to me: I started this whole thing,  and had yet to blog my enchiladas!! These would be my contribution to the #cheesesluts and a worthy contribution indeed!

Without further ado, I give you

{Image source}

Beef Mince Enchiladas a.k.a Cheesy Goodness

500g beef mince/beef and ostrich mince
1 onion
1/2 red bell pepper
2 tomatoes
3-5 baby marrows
1 can tomato and onion mix
300 ml beef stock
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp paprika
±1 tsp cayenne pepper
± 250 ml sour cream
300g grated cheddar cheese
1 jar Ina Paarman Roasted Mushroom pasta sauce
4-6 flour tortillas

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  2. Chop the onions, and fry in a little oil until soft, adding the chopped baby marrow and chopped pepper after about 10 minutes, and the chopped tomato about 10 minutes after that.
  3. When the onions are slightly browned and soft, stir in 2 tbsps of flour. This'll make the whole thing quite sticky, but just stir it about, and remove from the heat for a bit if it looks like it might burn.
  4. Throw in the paprika and cayenne pepper and stir to combine.
  5. Pour in about half the can of tomato and onion, and stir to combine, then add the last half.
  6. Heat through, and set aside.
  7. In a new pan, brown the mince in a large pan, and when it's brown carefully combine the tomato mixture with the mince, and heat through.
  8. Stir in about 100 ml of grated cheddar, and heat until melted and combined.
  9. Stir through about 200-250ml sour cream, and heat through.
  10. Now, place a tortilla on a dinner plate, and heap about 3 tbsps of the mince mixture into the middle, being careful not to over load.
  11. Roll the tortilla and secure with a toothpick.
  12. Transfer the filled tortilla to a greased baking dish, and repeat until the mixture is finished, or the dish is full. I fit 3 tortillas in side by side, and another one across the end, which was two for dinner tonight, and two for dinner tomorrow night, for the boy and I.
  13. Pour the Roasted Mushroom sauce over the top of the tortillas, spreading it about with the back of a spoon to ensure that everything is covered. All the bits of tortilla that aren't covered will get slightly crispy in the oven.
  14. Pop it into the oven for 10 minutes, remove and generously spread the remaining grated cheddar on top, returning to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melting and bubbly. If you like it to be a little crispier, just switch on the grill for a few minutes, but keep an eye on it, because it burns quickly!
MAKE THIS! It's delicious, and so versatile! You can add any number or variations of meat and vegetables, and the spice combined with the sour cream is just creamy, cheesy and divine!

Printable Recipe

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I'm going to The Good Food and Wine Show, are you?!

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm back!

It's that time of year again, people, when The Good Food and Wine Show rolls into Cape Town. It's the only thing that makes these wet and windy grim days better! I'm talking stalls and stalls of beautiful food and wine to taste and buy! I go every year, last year, or maybe it was the year before, I bought some DELICIOUS strawberry wine that wasn't even available for retail in South Africa yet, how's that for incredible!

This year is bound to be even more incredible, since top chefs like Gordon Ramsay, of Hell's Kitchen, Reza Mohammed, Eric Lanlard, Giorgio Locatelli and Willie Harcourt- Cooze will be hosting Chef's in Action theatres. At these shows the chef in question performs a show for the audience, who are then invited to taste the produce created during the show. It's an experience of a lifetime, and one any foodie worth his fleur de sel should NOT be missing!

Even BBC Lifestyle is getting on board, with the exciting Get Fresh hands-on workshops, while the Stellenbosch Slow Food Market educates and features the best of local slow food produce.

All in all, you should make a plan to get to The Good Food and Wine Show this weekend, it runs from Thursday 13 - Sunday 16 May, and adult standard tickets are R80. PLEASE go, you will not regret it!

{Full disclosure: I have been offered free entry to the show in return for a post. However, due to the fact that I have been to the Show for the last two years and thoroughly enjoyed it, I would pay, and have paid, gladly for these tickets, and would write a post regardless.}

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