Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Channa Masala-inspired Chicken and Rice

Good morning, girls and boys!

This morning is icy and freezy in Cape Town, and I can't stop thinking about my dinner last night! Am I the only one who thinks about food constantly in winter? And my dear, it's been a cold winter!! If you're looking for something warm, hearty, spicy, filling and cheap, you've come to the right place! As Marisa at The Creative Pot mentioned, it's penny-pinching time, and with my wedding coming up in about a month, I'm pinching all the pennies I can get my paws on! So when I saw her Channa Masala, I was inspired to make this Channa Masala-inspired chicken dish!
{Image source: allikazoo, flickr}

I'm a huge fan of using what you have at hand and, as I may have mentioned, I'm not too wonderful at sticking to a recipe verbatim. I like to use what I have, what's available in my local shops and sometimes, what just feels like a good idea that day! So while this dish was initially inspired by Marisa's Channa Masala, it can't claim to be even a sibling - more of a distant cousin, I suppose!

That said, don't let me stop you from following every recipe to the letter! I write these down as accurately as I can, so that you can have the benefit of my inability to follow recipes.. You're welcome! Also, following recipes will make you a better baker. We all know how I struggle with that!!

And so, without further ado, I give you,

Channa Masala-inspired Chicken and Rice
Served: 2, with leftovers

1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 tsp crushed ginger
1 tin chopped tomatoes / tomato and onion mix
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 tin chickpeas
1/2 tin sweetcorn kernels
1/2 tin red kidney beans
2 chicken breasts, flattened and chopped into bite size pieces
150 ml white wine
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to season
Rice, cooked according to instruction, to serve

  1. Chop onion (slice off the ends, then cut in half length ways. Take each half and lay it flat on the board, slicing from end to end to make half-moon shaped slices), and dice garlic.
  2. Heat a little sunflower oil in a pan, and fry the onion, garlic and ginger until fragrant, and the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the spices (cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper) and fry until fragrant, mixing into the mixture.
  4. Add the yellow pepper, and fry a little more, but not too much, you want the pepper to remain slightly crunchy.
  5. Add the flattened and chopped chicken, and stir into the mixture, until just cooked on the outside.
  6. Pour in the white wine, and stir to deglaze the pan. I used Kleine Zalze chenin blanc (I'm an Ambassador! Go and follow my adventures, and leave me a little comment love!), but any dry white wine will do. Have a glass while you're at it, you deserve it!
  7. Add the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, sweetcorn and red kidney beans, and stir.
  8. Heat through, and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Serve over rice with a side salad, and enjoy!
This dish is deliciously warming and spicy, and makes a LOT, so you should have leftovers, if you're only serving 2, as I was. You can sub out the chicken for sausages, or more chickpeas, or even meatballs, if you like.


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Monday, June 28, 2010

Blue Cheese Burger


I can't remember where I read this, or who inspired me, but among my endless trawls through the blogs, I saw a blue cheese burger, and I knew, I just knew, that this would be in my future. Yup. Sometimes, these things become crystal clear, and no matter what, it will happen eventually. And this was my time.

So after an incredible (and expensive) weekend, the boy and I were heading home from the market in Hout Bay with a lump of gorgonzola that stole its way into my bag, and it came to me: Blue Cheese Burgers! And what burgers these were! Thick, flavourful and stuffed with a hunk of gorgonzola that oozed from the sides as the middle cooked through...! And, I can tell you know, even better the next day! How'd you like that?!

So, all you #cheesesluts out there (and I know you're watching!), this is another one for you!

The Beef Blue Cheese Burger

Makes 3 thick burgers
400g beef mince (NOT the extra lean kind, you want a bit of fat, the fat gives the meat flavour)
3 blocks of blue cheese (I used gorgonzola, but roquefort or stilton would work just as well)
Quarter of an onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, finely diced
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tbsp tomato and onion chutney
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin (optional - will add a bit of spice)

  1. Put all the above ingredients, except the cheese, into a bowl, and mix gently. Don't overmix this, as it makes the meat tough.
  2. Form patties, with a block of blue cheese in the middle. My patties were rounded and thick, to cover the blue cheese. One burger each was MORE than enough for my boy and I, and we're greedy.
  3. Set aside in the fridge to set, for about 10 minutes. It helps the mince not fall apart when you cook it. Don't ask my why, it just does. Use this time to pour yourself a glass of wine, or make a salad (or both!)
  4. Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed pan, and place the patties in the pan to brown. Once brown on both sides, decrease the heat. You want the burgers to cook right through, until still juicy, and only just pink in the middle. They should give off a lot of liquid, since the mince I told you to get has a higher fat content, a lot of this will cook off, which is what you want. As it cooks, the fat flavours the mince, and drains off. Great: flavour and less fat!
When the burgers are cooked through, serve on a roll, or a halved ciabatta like I did, with some parsley baby potatoes and a root veggie relish. If you're feeling cheesy (and you know I was) slice some more gorgonzola, and place it on the lower half of the roll or other bread, and when you place the burger onto it, it'll get all melty, just amplifying the delicious cheesiness! I made an extra one, undercooked it, and brought it to work. A couple of minutes in the microwave and it was perfectly cooked through, warm and even more delicious, as the flavours had had time to permeate. So if you can stand it, this is a make-ahead meal. Form up the patties, cover and stick in the fridge, then cook the next day. Delish!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Italianised Shakshuka with Pork Sausage

{Image source: JefferyW, flickr}

What a pleasure to have my kitchen back! With the last game of South Africa in the World Cup, I wanted to make something completely non-partisan, and after some suggestions to my spaghetti and meatballs post last week, I decided to make an Italianised Shakshuka. Shakshuka is something I will (ignorantly) admit to never having heard of before, but LadyRaven over at Add to Taste let me know in the comments, that poaching the egg in the tomato sauce was an Israeli dish called shakshuka. You can see her recipe for the real deal breakfast version here. I, on the other hand, as we know, can never stick to a recipe. So when I researched shakshuka a little and discovered that it's usually in a pretty spicy sauce, that struck a chord. And off I went.

This is a spicy, tomatoey (?), delicious dish with the surprise of a poached egg and some pork sausage. Frozen sausages are something I usually have in the house, and while there are better versions out there, nothing beats not having to go to the shop of an evening. The convenience gets me every time. You want something with just enough spice to heat you up? Enough protein to make the average South African sing? And to top it all off, we serve it on pasta, carb of kings! So get on, boys and girls, and make this tonight!

Italianised Shakshuka with Pork Sausage

4 pork sausages
1.5 cans tomato and onion  mix
2 fresh tomatoes, diced (I had two in the fridge, which were heading into overripe territory, but this isn't crucial)
Half a yellow pepper, diced
250ml frozen peas
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp mixed Greek herbs (rosemary, thyme, origanum, etc.)
2 eggs (to serve 2 people)

Pasta to serve

  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain and set aside, keeping warm.
  2. Heat a little oil in a frying pan, and brown the sausages.
  3. When the sausages are browned, turn down the heat to medium and add the yellow pepper and tomatoes.
  4. Clear a little space on the side, and fry the cumin and cayenne pepper until fragrant, then mix in with the rest.
  5. Sprinkle the Greek herb mix over, and stir to mix in.
  6. Pour the tomato and onion mix over, first the first can only. If it seems to be boiling dry, you can add the other one, but it might be fine. My stovetop is insane, and gets hot and stays hot on the lowest settings, so things tend to boil away quicker.
  7. Heat the mixture through, and simmer for a few minutes.
  8. Remove the sausages from the mixture, and chop into bite size piece. I usually slice them in half long ways, and then roughly chop them into pieces. Cover, and set aside.
  9. Bring the tomato mixture to a simmer, break the eggs carefully into the tomato mixture, cover and leave for about 10 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. (I overcooked mine a bit last night, because the tomato mixture had cooled down too much - go figure! - and took a while to heat, dispersing the egg before it had time to set. It was still yummy, but not as lovely looking)
  10. Remove the eggs from the tomato and keep warm. Return the chopped sausage to the pan, heating the sausage through before serving.
  11. Serve the pasta into a bowl (we used fusilli, the screw pasta, but anything will do) and spoon the tomato mixture over it, placing the egg on top. 
This is a lovely spicy addition to the week, especially in this ridiculously cold weather! It's a spicier, less labour intensive version of the spaghetti and meatballs, and incorporates two cultures dishes into one delicious bowl!

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Restaurant Review: Casa Nostra

So I was boasting on twitter again, but this time not about my own cooking, but about a lovely little Italian eatery I found over the weekend.

A couple of months ago (checks), alright, in March, another food blogger, Dax over at Relax with Dax, recommended Casa Nostra as a good choice for quality Italian fare at reasonable prices; you can read his review here. And although I moved to Sea Point a few months ago, it's been hard making my way past the delightful Ristorante Posticino, which is literally steps from my house. However, much as I love Posticino's pizza (LOVE), we decided to venture further afield (still in Sea Point) to the tiny, but delightful, Casa Nostra, on Regent Road, further down Sea Point Main Road.

{Image source: Jezlyn26, flickr}
(This isn't a photo of what I ate, but it's close enough, though mine had mushrooms in.)

And I am so glad that we did!! OK, I was starving, and old shoe leather probably would've been lovely, however, the Carbonara linguine with extra mushrooms was a heavenly experience. The restaurant has a small, but really authentic-feeling menu. There were a few pasta options, offered in either linguine or homemade tagliatelle, and pizza. The salads looked delicious and fresh, and we saw a dozen people having a fragrant tomato soup, which looked divine. We had the Carbonara linguine(R50, or R70 for the tagliatelle) with bacon, mushrooms, and a light creamy sauce, and the gnocchi (R60) with napoletana sauce. We agreed that my carbonara was the clear winner, while the two in concert was nice, because the napoletana sauce was a light foil to the creaminess of the carbonara. We rounded out dinner with some Italian red wine (R30 per glass), and dessert was a Lindt chocolate brownie and white chocolate mousse.

Dinner was delicious, served quickly, and dessert was divine. The place was mostly empty when we got there (it was 6pm - we didn't have lunch, ok!), but filled up around 7pm, with lots of locals. I'd book if you want to go around 7-8pm, but just rock up if you're going earlier. For the sports mad, there are 2 big screen TVs (considering the place is tiny, that's really all you need), so you can catch the games.

So if you're in Sea Point, try this unassuming eatery out, it may just make your day!

Casa Nostra Italian Restaurant
66 Regent Road, Sea Point
Phone: 021 433 0187

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Restaurant Review: Lunch spots in Cape Town centre II

Good morning, dears!

Well, the soon-to-be-in-laws are in town again, and since I blasted you with two posts earlier in the week, I haven't cooked since then. So while I could do many other things, I thought I'd expand on my lunch spots post of a few weeks ago. You delightful souls gave me a few more ideas of places (you know when you're thinking of something, suddenly your mind goes blank? Yeah, it happens to me a lot.) So I've got some great new places that are actually old favourites.

So, in the comments from my last post, I was reminded about Marcelino's, the Jardine Bakery, and my old favourite, the Eastern Food Bazaar, which I reviewed many moons ago. And so, in order to appease the lunch gods, here we go!


Marcelino's bakery opened up on Loop Street, not so long ago, and they soon joined twitter, sharing the soups on offer and the daily specials, which is what brought them onto my radar.

{Image source: Marcelino's website}

Marcelino's is a large bakery with a small shop and seating area. I imagine that kitchen must churn out breads for many of the nearby restaurants, but I don't know that for certain. They sell divine soups at between R10 and R20 (small and large, respectively), which come with a buttered roll. The filled rolls and salads look amazing, but it's winter, so thus far I've only had the soup. Oh. And the Brownie! Good grief! The Brownie (yes, it needs capitalisation!!) was a huge brick of cakey, not overly rich but rich enough delicousness, and was only R10!! I don't think I should tell you this, but I love you, so there you are.

If you're in the area (think, the top end of Loop Street, just next door to where Madame Zingara's was, when she was housed in a building, not a tent), pop into Marcelino's for some soup and a brownie. Ok, you can thank me later!

Phone: 021 422 1809/0168
Address: 210 Loop Street, Cape Town

Jardine Bakery

Now, this is going to make me unpopular with the local foodies, but I've never understood what all the hype is about Jardine. I guess I just prefer other places for fine dining - the food here has always underwhelmed me. But nevermind, they've thoroughly appeased me by opening a divine bakery out of the side of the building that the restaurant is housed in. As far as I'm concerned, they should stick to baking. Of the restaurant food, I most enjoyed the desserts, and the breads that come out of the Jardine Bakery are just incredible. Also, in the winter they serve soups - I had a delicious carrot and ginger soup there a few weeks ago, which helped me towards the recipe for my own carrot soup that I made a week or so ago. This soup was gingery and carroty without being obnoxiously either one of those things, and was, above all else, divine.

So take a walk out to the corner of Bree and Bloem Streets, and enjoy a delicious sandwich on homemade fresh bread, or have a tasty, well wrought soup. Sure, its on the expensive side for a sandwich, but for the size and the quality, the price is well worth it.

{Image source: 17 on Loader Guesthouse}
The Eastern Food Bazaar

Now The Eastern Food Bazaar is a whole other kettle of fish. Steamy and warm with the aromas of countless curries cooking, this gem in the slightly dodgy end of Cape Town is not to be missed.

You know how it is, Indian and other exotic food restaurants are expensive, often running to over R100 for a curry! Well, here's the antidote, my lovelies! I'm talking delicious, freshly cooked and skillfully made curries and asian delights for roughly R25-R45 a plate! Fresh, hot naan's were R6 the last time I was there, and frankly, most other Indian places charge three times that. You have to visit to understand this place. At lunch time in the winter it's virtually impossible to get in, and it buzzes just as vibrantly in the evening. It's popular with authentic Indian families, office jockeys, tourists and locals, who flood there for a tasty home-cooked style meal.

For the uninitiated, you order in the middle by the tills, and then, armed with your slips, you disperse to the various counters depending on what you ordered. Each counter serves a different type of food, from Chinese to dosa. You can have bunny chow, masala dosa and sweet and sour chicken all in the same place, and in that way, it's really a crowd pleaser! My favourite is the lamb rogan josh (R35 I think), which is served with rice (huge portions, by the way!) and a fresh, hot naan (R6). That's a fresh, hot, delicious meal for R41, you got that? Do your self a favour, and go there. Not for the service, or the fine dining, but for good, tasty food, served fast and deliciously!

Address: 96 Longmarket (it runs in the old Wellington Fruit Growers building, between Darling and Longmarket Streets.
Phone: Don't bother, they don't take reservations.

And that, my sweets, is that for this week. I've got a few more gems up my sleeve yet, but please let me know if you've seen something wonderful, I'm always on the lookout for new places!

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs


{Image source: Jeff Cushner, flickr}

So I'm a little eager today. I havent blogged for about a week, and now you're getting two posts in one day? What can I say, today is the kind of day when I can't work. When I'm cold, all I can think about is food. What can I do about that? I can blog, that's what!

So, last night was the Italy vs Paraguay game, and it hailed in Cape Town, about an hour before the game started, so that should give you an idea of how f%&^ing cold it was last night. I may have mentioned that I really don't deal well in the cold, so though the boy wanted to go out to eat, I voted we stay in. And my vote goes with the dog's vote, so we had a 2/3 majority, and won. Hehe. So now that we were staying home, what was I making for dinner? Something warm, something with mince (what?! I had it in the fridge!) and something a little out of the ordinary. I could've made spaghetti bolognaise, but we have that all the time, and I wanted something a little different.

And then I remembered that I spotted an interesting recipe in this month's issue of Pnp's Fresh Living Magazine, which had meatballs, and a poached egg cooked in the tomato sauce, which I thought I could give a go. And so, as usual, since I can't follow a recipe, I used it as a guideline, and went my own way! And here is my take on their recipe. Since, I mostly made it up as I went along, I'll give you the full recipe.

500g mince (they used lamb, I used beef, since it's what I had.)
Half an onion, finely diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Italian herbs
1 tsp Kara's Greek Herb Mix
1 tbsp chutney
1 tbsp tomato sauce

1 can tomato and onion mix, or chopped tomatoes
1 - 1.5 onions, diced
Half a yellow (or any other colour) bell pepper, diced
Half a head of broccoli, broken into small florets
2 tsp black olive tapenade
1 tsp garlic
1 can tomato paste OR 2 tbsp tomato sauce (I didn't have any tomato paste in the house)

2 eggs (or however many people you're serving)
Spaghetti, about half a packet


  1. Put all the meatball ingredients into a bowl and combine, being careful not to mix to much, as it makes the meat tough. Oh, and a word to the wise. I used extra lean beef mince, and the meatballs were a little dry. In future, I'd use a fattier mince for these. In meatballs, I've found, as in burgers, a little bit of fat helps a lot with the flavour, so use a mince that's a little fattier that usual, and be consoled by the fact that everything else is good for you!
  2. Form the mince into little bite-size balls (smaller than a golf ball), and set aside.
  3. Heat a little oil in a pan, and brown the meatballs. I discovered last night that shaking the pan around prevents them from sticking, and browns them nicely all over. When browned, set aside.
  4. Cook pasta according to packet instructions, drain, and set aside.
  5. In the same pan, fry the onions, garlic and bell pepper, until the onions are translucent and a little bit browned.
  6. Add in the tapenade, and fry a little more, adding the tomato paste and tomato and onion mix.
  7. Heat through, and return the meatballs to the tomato mix, making sure to cover each meatball to prevent them drying out. Cook covered at a low temperature for about 10 minutes.
  8. Take the broccoli florets, and spike them into the tomato mix, wherever you can find space. Cover again, and steam the broccoli for about 10 minutes, which will also cook the meatballs through.
  9. Now, remove the meatballs and broccoli, and set aside, covered.
  10. In the simmering tomato sauce, break the eggs carefully, cover and cook until the eggs are cooked to your desire. I like the white cooked through and the yolk runny, and ours took about 10 minutes to poach.
  11. Once cooked, remove the eggs, and put the meatballs and broccoli back into the sauce, and heat through.
  12. Serve the sauce over spaghetti, and pop the egg on top of it all. I thought it was most delicious with the yolk cut open, leaving all the silky egg in about the tomato sauce. YUM!
This has quite a few steps, but all in all I think it took about 40 minutes. I initially put in FAR too much onion - the original recipe called for a whole onion in the meatballs, and I did that. But I didn't chop them finely enough, and it was horrible, so while I was forming the balls, I had to pick a lot of the onion out. But the combination of the spicy meatballs, tomatoey sauce and silky poached egg was just divine on a freezing winters night.

Enjoy this one!

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Carrot and apple soup

Hasn't it been absolutely ICY in Cape Town the last week or so? I don't even feel like cooking in this weather, I just want to get into bed and stay there, but I've been threatening to make a carrot soup for more than a week now, and rather than go out to Woolies in the cold to buy soup, I thought I'd better just bite the bullet and make it.

{Image source: joyosity, flickr}

And boy am I glad that I did!! Let me tell you a bit about this soup. You want something comforting, bright, sweet with a hint of spice, with all sorts of wonderful vitamins to help ward off the winter freeze? Well, you've come to the right place. This soup is (very) loosely based on the delicious looking soup that Browniegirl made a couple of weeks ago. For her wonderful looking and sounding soup, go here. I went so far as to actually write down the recipe (my home printer doesn't work) and look at it for several days, bought a few of the relevant ingredients, and then sorta went my own way. I think I'm pathologically unable to actually follow a recipe to the letter. But anyway, this soup was flavourful, delightfully carrotty without being overwhelming and, well, just the right thing for an icy freezy winter evening!

Comforting Carrot and Apple Soup

8 large carrots (or about 600-700g), chopped roughly
2 small or 1 large yellow onion, diced
1 apple, diced
Juice of one orange
± 1 litre chicken stock
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp ginger
2 tsps garlic
A splash of muscadel or other sweet wine
2 tsps brown sugar
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp apricot jam

  1. Heat a little oil in a big soup pot, and fry the onion, garlic and ginger until the onion is translucent. If you want to add any other veggies you have lurking around, you can dice them and throw them in. I had yellow patty pans that needed to be used, so I tossed them in, but I don't think they made any difference to the flavour, so I left them off the ingredient list.
  2. When the onions are cooked, throw in the carrots and apple, and fry for a bit.
  3. Throw in a splash of sweet wine, just to deglaze the pan, and get up all the slightly caramelised bits at the bottom.
  4. Cover the veggies with the stock, and bring to the boil. Turn down and simmer for 35-45 minutes, or until the carrots are cooked.
  5. When everything is cooked, remove from heat, and blend. I use a stick blender with the soup still in the pot, but some people prefer to transfer in batches to a food processor. I like the control the stick blender gives me, and I give it a good go, as I like my soup smooth and silky.
  6. When blended to your liking, return to the hot plate and heat through, adding salt and pepper, and sugar (I say 2 tsp, but just add to taste) and the apricot jam! This may sound weird, but the soup was missing something, and the jam just gave it that little something extra it needed. I used my soon-to-be-mother-in-law's apricot jam, which is smooth and delicious.

Please make this soup, it's not hard work, and it's so rewarding to have a hot cup of delicious soup on these ridiculously cold evenings! (And not that I'm a soccer fan, but who isn't getting a bit excited with all this madness around? So if you're supporting Holland, the bright orange of this soup will go down a treat!)


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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chicken with bacon, mushrooms and cheese

Ah! Cheese strikes again.. When I got home last night to find it storming and foul, and all I had in the fridge were some chicken breasts, I won't lie, I felt a bit bleak. But then I remembered Jan of A Glug of Oil and the delicious chicken breasts she posted last week, and I was sold!
{Image source: Quite Adept, flickr}

Hers were beautifully presented with a lovely looking side salad, while mine were a presented with some rather lacklustre frozen veggies, which were the only thing resembling veggies in the house. Would've been better to have no veggies, but the chicken!! Tender and yum, with the slightly salty contrast of the bacon, the savouriness of some mushrooms I threw in, and the oh-so-delicious cheese! So, we've decided to keep this one, thanks Jan, what a winner!!

I, as usual, can't follow even a simple recipe the way it was written (that's why I can't bake, I can't follow instructions, and I never measure anything!), so of course I changed a few things. For the original recipe, go here, but I'll put down my recipe with my additions and changes.

2 chicken breast fillets
2 rashers back bacon
1/2 punnet white mushrooms, quartered
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful cheese
1 tsp garlic


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Heat a frying pan, and fry the bacon to taste. Some like it crispy, I prefer it a little less crispy. Whatever. Set aside when cooked, and don't wash out the pan.
  3. Heat a little oil in the bacon pan, and fry a tsp of garlic in it, followed by the quartered mushrooms. I guess you could cut them however you like, but they look nice quartered.
  4. Fry until evenly browned, but not disappeared. When cooked, set aside with the bacon.
  5. Using a meat mallet or heavy skillet, bash the chicken breasts flatter, so they're an even thickness.
  6. Season flattened fillets with salt and pepper.
  7. Heat a little extra oil in the pan you used for the bacon and mushrooms, and sear the chicken breasts. While the breast is on its first side down, pour a little BBQ sauce onto it, and spread around, then flip and pour a little on the other side.
  8. Cook about 3 minutes either side, or until cooked through, and remove from the heat.
  9. Place the chicken breasts in an oven-proof dish, and place the bacon rashers on top. Pour the mushrooms around the chicken and bacon, with the cherry tomatoes. Pop a handful of cheese on top of each breast, and pop into the oven.
  10. Bake in the oven until everything's heated through, and the cheese has melted. You can put the grill on for a few minutes to give it some extra crispy, bubbly deliciousness, but keep an eye on it, it'll burn much quicker under the grill!
Serve with a salad or some steamed veggies, and oven chips or a baked potato. Delish!

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Bacon and mushroom linguine

So it was one of those weekend in which you feel like you have been force fed enough wine to float the Ark, and I was in need of some serious food to make up for the (gasp!) McDonald's we'd been eating most of the weekend!

So on Sunday when my dear friend came round to do my first wedding makeup trial, we were all a bit hungover, and desperately needed food before any makeup could be, well, made up. And so I went to work. I didn't know what I wanted, but I knew there had to be pig and it had to be warm. It was touch and go for while, we nearly had egg and bacon sandwiches, and then it was butter chicken. But in the end, pasta and its healing carbo-rificness won out. This was warm, creamy and delicious, and cured the hangover immediately. It had pig, how could it not?!

Well, I won't wax lyrical. Here's the bacon and mushroom linguine recipe.

Bacon and mushroom linguine

1/2 a punnet of mushrooms, chopped up - I used white, but brown or portobello would be great, and mixed wild mushrooms would be better
4-5 slices of bacon, chopped - I use back bacon, you can use what ever you like
250 ml cream - I use reduced fat
100 g peas - I just toss some over until it looks like enough
1 onion, diced
1 tsp garlic
1 sachet Ina Paarman's Blue Cheese sauce - or a hunk of blue cheese, which would've been better
Linguine - I use the Bavette (it's in a blue box)

  1. Cook pasta according to packet instructions, until al dente.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan, and spoon in the garlic. Fry for a few seconds, and add the onion. Fry until translucent.
  3. When the onion is browning, throw the chopped mushrooms in. Don't stir them for few minutes, you want them to brown a little before they start releasing water.
  4. Fry the mushroom mixture for a bit, until everything shrinks a little, and its all nice and browned.
  5. Throw in the chopped bacon, and turn up the heat a little, frying everything until it's nicely browned.
  6. Pour the cream over, and the pour the blue cheese sauce, or crumble the blue cheese over and stir to melt. I used the sauce, and it wasn't cheesy enough for my liking. But we all know I have issues with that. 
  7. Heat through, and serve spooned over the linguine. A generous twist of black pepper is great, and I would've loved some grated pecorino, but we didn't have any.

Restaurant Review: The Fat Cow

I guess not everyone knows this about me, but for me there are few things nice than a good quality steak. And if that steak is paired with the most delicious blue cheese sauce? This is heaven, methinks!

So, I've been trying to keep this place to myself, but, because I love you, I've decided to share. Also, my fellow #cheesesluts on twitter will kill me if I don't share this, because this sauce was revelatory. Now, you may be a cheese fan, you may not, but if you are, and if stinky blue cheese is your weapon of choice then, my dears, I've found the ninja sword of cheese sauces.

Roquefort is a French blue cheese, with a strong odour and taste and a creamy texture. It melts well, and spreads quite easily, and I think it improves with age. Stilton is an English blue cheese, and Gorgonzola an Italian. So everyone has a blue cheese, and they all have their merits. The revelatory sauce, however, was made with Roquefort, so for the moment, I'm going to say that Roquefort's my favourite. (Course, next week when I make blue cheese burgers, then maybe it'll be the Gorgonzola, but you understand that I'm fickle, right?)

So, while I've been waffling on about cheese (and who doesn't wax lyrical about cheese, right?) you've been wondering at what point I'll start talking about the Fat Cow. Well, here you are.

The Fat Cow Restaurant is a little gem set in Harfield Village in Cape Town's Southern suburbs. Since the boy and I nearly moved to Harfield (it was a near thing, but luckily we ended up in Sea Point), we made it a mission to find out what there was to do in that neck of the woods. Also, the boy works in Kenilworth, so it's convenient. And originally, back when we found it, we were starving and drunk after the J&B Met, and needed food, pronto, and so stumbled on this gem.

The steak, my dears, and the burgers. Well, I won't go into too much detail, but this hidden gem has well priced, well cooked (and by that I mean, cooked to order, not well done) tasty steaks, and delicious burgers. We had the 200 g (or 250g, I can't remember) rump, with the Roquefort sauce. All steaks come with chips, rice or a baked potato, and the chips are thick cut and delicious. In addition, all steaks come with a plate of veggies, which had butternut, peas and beans I think. Anyway, they were lovely. However, the Roquefort stole the show by being rich, creamy and delicious. I totally smothered my steak in it, and then dipped my chips in it. I'd have ordered it for dessert if I'd been allowed!

We also had a burger, and although I don't remember its name, it had bacon and brie on top, which was divine. Paired with the rich blue cheese steak, and we were in heaven.

The wine list is reasonable, the 200ish gram steaks feel much bigger than their equivalent in other restaurants. And if you go for no other reason, go for that sauce.

And that, my dears, is it. Go and eat there. Nuff said.

The Fat Cow: 43 2nd Avenue Claremont (actually Harfield Village)
Phone: 021 671 6592

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Sticky Pork Chops


Well, after the delightful weather we had in Cape Town to start the week, the end turned distinctly murky. After wanting sushi and fresh cold things until Wednesday, Thursday dawned cool and rainy and, well, stayed that way all day. So after I walked the puppy in the wet, I felt like some real meaty food. I don't know about you lot, but I don't really like to repeat items during the week. I mean, leftovers are one thing, they're fine, given a little reinventing (I made enchiladas again on Sunday, and used the leftover mince as a pasta sauce when I was home sick on Tuesday, which was fantastic!), but during the week, when we've had mince (beef) and chicken (quesadilla's, yes, I'm obsessed), then I don't want to have it again. So yesterday was pork's day, and what a yummy day!

{Image source: Plays with food, flickr}

I'm thinking sticky BBQ pork, with a touch of savoury from soya sauce and rosemary - you with me yet? With sweet potato mash, homemade apple sauce and broccoli? You coming round for dinner yet?

My usual problem with pork chops is dryness. There's nothing worse, for me, than a dry piece of meat. I mean, I like my steak pretty rare, my lamb chops still rare, and though I know that pork needs to be cooked right through, I'd really still like it to be succulent and tender when it gets there!

So what you'll need to create sweet, succulent and delicious pork chops, is the following:

Pork chops (I use whatever cut looks nicest that day - ours had bone in and were a little like T-bones)
1 tbsp BBQ sauce
1 tsp soya sauce
1 tsp Kara's Greek Herb Mix (or a combination of the following herbs, mixed - rosemary, thyme, origanum, etc.)

  1. Heat a little oil in a pan on the stove.
  2. Mix the BBQ sauce, soy sauce and herbs in a dish, and set aside.
  3. Season chops with salt and pepper, remembering to salt the fat more to ensure that it gets crispy.
  4. Sear both sides of the chops in the hot oil, to seal both sides.
  5. Lower the heat, and brush the BBQ sauce mix over the chops, flipping occasionally and brushing more sauce on. The idea is to fry the chops, but to keep them well lubricated to ensure that they stay succulent.
  6. Fry for about 10-15 minutes, or until cooked - this will vary depending on the heat production of your stove.
When the chops are cooked, serve with mash (I made sweet potato mash) and a salad or fresh steamed vegetables.


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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Eating sushi in Cape Town - My places

Unfortunately, I can't tell you that I went home last night and whipped up some tasty, beautiful sushi. I don't cook rice, on a matter of principle, unless it's the microwave kind (I have issues, of this I am well aware, and will be getting treatment - probably sometime around my mid-life crisis), but I CAN tell you that I had some tasty sushi, and I'll even tell you where I had it. Now how's that for a trade-off?!

Now, there are those people that say nothing beats certain sushi restaurants, and blah blah blah, there's nothing quite like that sushi plate that's R90 for 4 pieces. And I say that my enjoyment of a dish is quite directly related to the value I perceive that I'm getting, and to pay R90 for 4 pieces of sushi, while seated in a crowded thoroughfare of a busy mall - well, that isn't my idea of value. Sorry to say, I found the whole experience underwhelming and pricey. Not my idea of fun.

And then there are those that can ONLY have it cheap, and to those people I say that you are cutting yourselves off from experiencing amazing food by insisting on only eating at cheap restaurants. And so I'd like to introduce you to three sushi restaurants. One that is cheap, nice and convenient, and two others that are reasonably priced, very tasty, good quality, and a little off the beaten track.

Let's start with Saul's Sushi @ Vegas, shall we?
Based in Sea Point, Saul Beder has more less taken over the Main Road with his many restaurants, and while I can't claim to be a fan of burgers the size of my head at 4am, I can say that the sushi served at Saul's Sushi is fresh, well priced and imaginative, with specials to tempt those whose appetites lean toward the, well, burger the size of your head size. I went down to Saul's last night, in search of dinner (did anyone else notice that we've had summer for a few days? It wasn't a night I wanted to be sitting in my cold house!!), and ended up at Saul's, just a few steps from my house.

We also stumbled into the R99 eat-like-a-horse special, which seems to attract the entire population of Sea Point, because within half an hour the place was packed! Now, I can say that the eat-as-much-as-you-can menu did lean towards the ricey, with a large variety of California rolls and maki rolls, there were also fashion sandwiches, hand rolls, and a variety of sashimi, which is unusual for these "go wild" specials. We had some delicious Rainbow and Rock n Roll rolls, Norweigan salmon and seared tuna sashimi, some gunkan and inari rolls (I've never had those before, so I can't compare them to anything else, but they were ricey), and a couple of handrolls. The sushi was fresh, the fish was tender and tasty and it was good. What was also good was the Fun Card that I won at the SA Food Blogger's Conference earlier this year, which meant that our meals were FREE! And who doesn't love free?

And last week, we had a little something to celebrate - my little sister passed her first board exam (yay! Just one more exam and another 2.5 years, and then you're a CA!!) So we went down to Subarshi, on the Foreshore in Cape Town. Subarshi has actually been around for a long time, well, long in the life of Cape Town restaurants, and it's longevity is owed to it's consistently good prices, inventive, authentic sushi, and the chocolate and banana spring rolls. Don't be fooled, people. The sushi is good, great even, but the chocolate and banana spring rolls? I'd kill for those things, easily.

{Image source: Bento Business, flickr}

Now, back in the day when they opened, Subarshi had a card that gave you 25% off the sushi. Whenever you ate, no strings attached. And that was on top of their already reasonable prices. I think they call this a 'win-win' situation. But after a few years of awesomeness and great prices, we visited a few times to discover a slight decline in quality and a hike in prices. This didn't make for happy people, and we went elsewhere for a while. Until a few months ago, it had fallen off our radar, and then we decided, "What the hell, let's give it another go!" And boy am I glad we did! The quality was back up to par and the prices are SO reasonable. I'm talking 5 big pieces of sear tuna sashimi for R42! A bargain, I think you'll agree. They also make these chocolate and banana spring rolls which, for some unfathomable reason, aren't on the menu, but if you ask, and you MUST, they will make them. Eat. And enjoy. You're welcome.

And lastly, my Southern Suburbs option (Obs is in the suburbs, isn't it?). 1890 House Sushi Bar & Grill. 1890 House is my secret. Well, ok, I'm sure other peoples know about it, it's always full, but it's my secret place to have amazing, interesting sushi and sushi-like food at rock bottom prices!! And damned, if I'm not sharing it with you lot! This shows how much I love you, doesn't it?! They have crispy tuna, in a sweet sauce, drizzled with sesame seeds (yes, you can drizzle seeds, aren't you glad you know that?), deep fried chicken wontons, that are HEAVEN dipped in sweet chilli sauce, and the sashimi! Seared tuna sashimi (can you tell that's a favourite of mine?!) at, I think, about R30-40 for 5 pieces. It's my little bit of heaven. And if it weren't in Obs, I would eat there more often.

Those are all I can think of for now. Sure, there are more and probably better sushi places, but insofar as making sushi available at good prices while still maintaining great quality, these places come out tops for me, and keep me coming back, again and again.

So, where do you like to go for sushi? Or, if you're not a big sushi eater (why?!), do you like Asian food? Where do you eat great Asian food?

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Restaurant Review: Lunch Spots in Cape Town Centre

So last week, my soon-to-be-parents-in-law were in town, and staying at our house. This means that every night when I got home, dinner had already been thought out, and sometimes even cooked, and the kitchen already cleaned. Now, while I'm not complaining at this efficiency, it does leave me rather strapped for blog fodder - and I like to cook!!

Because, you see, necessity is the mother of invention, or so I hear, I tend to think up some of these things I make on the spot, when dinner is needed NOW. And so, without the NEED to cook, not only don't I cook, at all, I can't even think up fun recipes to blog about. I've always needed pressure, you see.

So, at a fellow bloggers suggestion on twitter, I'm going to tell you about what happens on the day after I don't cook. Yup. This lady, while lovely, doesn't really appreciate me taking the leftovers for lunch at work, since those leftovers often have a predetermined end in some other meal. That's what happens when you're not in control of your own kitchen. And so, I buy lunch. In town. And that is what I shall tell you about now.

Lunch Places In Cape Town

Please bear in mind that these are all, by necessity, within walking distance of my office, and do not constitute a comprehensive list of everywhere in town. And they're only the places I actually go to.

{image source}

Zucchini's (they don't have a website, but are based on Loop Street, just opposite the back entrance to the Christiaan Barnard Hospital, and a few shops back from the Cadiz Taverna. With a little tiny shop, but a bright orange sign, you really have to look out for them!)

Zucchini's is literally just across the road from my office, and I overlooked it for about a year when I started working in the area. Recently, though, I've been visiting over and over for their wholesome, vegetarian, and delicious lunches. Yesterday I had a delicious sugar bean and mushroom soup, which was full of yummy earthiness from the mushrooms, and sweetness from the sugar beans and the red pepper I could see, today I had a tagliatelle with a roasted tomato sauce, with a wedge of feta and slices of avo. Last week, I had the most delicious macaroni & cheese, with what tasted like a homemade tomato relish on top, just divine! From these meals, you can see that the offerings at Zucchini's are wholesome, homemade and tasty! They're also extremely well-priced, as each of these meals, in quite large portion sizes only came to R35! Now, you can easily pay that for a lacklustre sandwich in these parts, so its priceless for a wholesome meal.

{image source}

Rosa's Bakery (if you drive down Long Street, and turn right at the Purple Turtle, into Shortmarket Street, you'll find Rosa's just 3-4 shops up, on the right. It's a small bakery, with (again) and orange sign)

Rosa's is a small German bakery in the heart of Cape Town. They sell loads of traditional German baked goods, such as brezel rolls, rye breads and, well, lots of stuff! (I can't think of any more German baked goods, ok?!) They also sell delicious soups, such as the spicy Mexican soup - mix of mince, beans, vegetables in a spicy, rich broth; a more gentle butternut soup and a vegetable soup. These you can get by the cup or bowl, and come with a roll, or bread, or something.


(The Crave that I go to is in Greenmarket Square, but they have branches in Thibault Square, further down in town, and in the @homelivingspace at the Canal Walk pods, and probably other places, but those are the ones I know of)

Crave are good. They serve a variety of prepackaged sandwiches that are freshly made every day, using quality ingredients, and you can taste the quality. When they say they're using mature cheddar, you can taste it. My particular favourites are the croque monsieur (the classic ham and cheese toasted sandwich, on a panini, with mature cheddar and wholegrain dijon mustard, this is best toasted until the cheese melts); the bacon, cheese and avo (because who doesn't like bacon on their sandwich?!) and the chicken Caesar salad, with crunchy croutons and stinky cheese.

I like that they put it out there that they donate leftover food to a variety of charities at the days end - it makes me feel better about not eating the sandwiches left at days end, and ensures that I'll have a fresh sandwich every day!

Ok, that's all I have time for right now, but as I think of them, I'll add them here. If you have any favourite lunch spots, leave a note in the comments, and I'll check them out!

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