Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mexican Pasta


I finally got a chance to cook last night, and discovered a half a dozen things that HAD to be eaten, or they'd be in the bin shortly. And since I was too lazy to go to shop to buy something that actually WORKED with these things, I just freestyled. And what I cam up with was, in the inimitable words of my boy, "Like, Mexican and Italian met and had babies." So yes..... That's what we have here, folks! A fridge-emptier that turned out delicious, if a little weird. But weird's alright sometimes, isn't it? Especially if it was yum!

{Image source: cremo, flickr}

And because I have far too many things going on in my head (10 days!!), I can't think of anything more interesting to write. I'm writing this as a recipe, but feel free to freestyle with whatever you have, substituting the veggies and even the meat, and the serving style. For me, it was the spices that made it Mexican, and serving it on pasta that made it Italian. It would be just as good served on rice, or even in a pita or tortilla wrap, for a more genuine Mexican meal.

Mexican Pasta

500g beef mince
250g broccoli florets
2 medium courgettes/baby marrows/zucchini
1 can tomato and onion mix
1 can Four Bean mix (chickpeas, red kidney beans, cannelini and borlotti)
1 handful halved cherry tomatoes
1 tomato, chopped
3 baby potatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chutney
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat a pan, and brown the mince, until there are no pink parts left.
  2. Add the chopped courgettes and fresh tomatoes, and turn down the heat. Fry for a few minutes until the tomatoes start to get soft.
  3. Add the spices and garlic salt to the mix and stir to combine.
  4. Add the tinned tomatoes and tinned beans and stir, bringing the mix to a low simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the mince is cooked.
  5. If the mixture is looking a little dry, add the tomato paste, and add the chutney, which adds a lovely sweetness to the dish. Also, while the pasta is cooking, you can spoon a few spoons of the pasta water over to the mince mixture. It helps to loosen the mixture, and the starch in the water helps to bind it all together, and coat the pasta once you serve and mix the two.
  6. Parboil the broccoli and baby potatoes in the microwave, and chop potatoes, and add both to the mixture.
  7. Serve over cooked pasta (or rice/tortillas/mashed potatoes/etc)
It's a lovely, filling (if slightly weird) meal, and can be changed around to suit whatever you have on hand. Don't you love those meals that turn out great when you don't have a plan?

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Next Few Weeks


So, I've been a bit sparse on the posting front just lately, and I feel terrible for abandoning you all! As I've said, things have been hectic on the home front, with the wedding in under two weeks, my Dad coming to visit from England, and various other wedding and honeymoon related activities all coming to a head right now. In fact, I've hardly cooked in the last month or so, and the next month will be much the same, because we're going to EUROPE, baby! Yes, we're leaving for our honeymoon a day or so after our wedding, and we're visiting Rome and the Dalmatia area of Croatia.

{Image source: Tambako the Jaguar, flickr}
Because of this amazing trip, this here blog was in danger of being sadly neglected (and I haven't had time to schedule a bunch of posts for you, I'm sorry. I'm just not that great a multitasker, and I've had a busy couple of months!) However, some of my delightful blogging friends on twitter have offered to take up my mantle, and guest post for me while I'm away! What amazing people! Thank you SO much ladies, you've no idea how much I appreciate this!

And so, over the next few weeks you'll meet @TheCreativePot, @ninatimm, @cptcarla, @Ashleign_Martyn and @LadyRaven, and these lovely ladies will each bring something special to this blog, and I DO hope you enjoy them!
If any of you, my readers, would like to volunteer to guest post from the 30th July - 19th August, please email polkadotcupcakecooks {at} gmail {dot} com. I'll send you details, and you can send me a post!

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spicy Baked Chicken


So it's all stations go at home at the moment, with just 16 days until my wedding! My dad arrived from England late on Tuesday night, so although I'm cooking again, I still have NO time. It's slightly insane, really. How do people who plan weddings have clean houses, clean laundry and clean dogs? Dear heavens, I realise now that I'm not the multitasker I though I was.

{Image source: gwendolen, flickr}
This is closeish to what I made, but I had marrows, and the chicken pieces were whole)
So, I invited my dad and my sister round for dinner (I really needed to clean my house, and figured they'd be late, so I could clean and cook at the same time - bingo! I was right.) I wanted something that was low maintenance, that I could cook in the oven, and that would be warming and tasty. Also, I had some veggies in the fridge that needed to be used (yes, sometimes I buy things and forget to use them until the last minute!). And so this dish was born.

I literally pulled out everything I needed to use, along with some herbs and spices, and 45 minutes later, out came this wonderful spicy, savoury, delicious baked chicken dish! It has no recipe (I mean, I made it up as I went along), but that's how greatness is made, not so? And without further chatter, I give you,

Spicy Baked Chicken

Chicken pieces (as many as there are people to feed; whatever piece, I used thighs)
4-5 baby marrows/courgettes/zucchini, roughly chopped into rounds
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed (or 1 tsp bottled garlic)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tbsp veggie pickle
1 tbsp black olive tapenade
1 tsp (flat) chilli & garlic paste (it's hot, so be careful with this one)
1 tin tomato and onion
250ml white wine
1 can chickpeas


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Heat a frying pan, and brown the chicken pieces, setting them aside in an oven proof dish.
  3. Heat a little oil in the same pan (having turned down the heat a bit), and fry the onions for a few minutes, until they start to soften a bit, then add the chopped baby marrows.
  4. Add the veggie pickle, tapenade, the herbs and the chilli and garlic paste.
  5. Fry these until the onion's translucent, and add the garlic just before the end, frying until the garlic is fragrant.
  6. Add the chickpeas. Because I used tinned, they're already pretty soft. I understand that if you use dry, the chickpeas take a lot longer to cook, so bear that in mind if you decide to use dried, and maybe parboil them before adding them to the mix.
  7. Pour in the white wine, a little at a time, stirring in between to loosen any brown bits on the bottom of the pan, then allow it to simmer for a bit, reducing the liquid levels.
  8. When the wine has reduced, add the tomato and onion mix, bringing the whole mixture to a simmer.
  9. When it's all warm, pour it over the chicken pieces, and pop the whole lot in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken juices run clear when you stick a knife into them. Thighs are quite thick, and depending on your oven, this may take up to 45 minutes. Rather overcook them slightly, than undercook, as undercooked chicken can give you all sorts of funny illnesses, and it's gross to boot.
  10. Serve with rice and steamed veggies or a salad.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Restaurant Review: La Mouette


How're you, dears? Sorry I've been so MIA lately - if you could see my house, you'd know that blogging isn't the only thing I haven't had time for lately! I hate to admit this (especially on the interwebs) but we haven't done dishes in so long, I literally have nothing to cook IN. And there's so little time, I haven't had the chance to even worry about it yet!
Between the football racking up the tension on one side, planning a wedding on another, finally moving out of my old flat, and my Dad arriving from England this evening, time has not been on my side. So cooking? Yeah, that hasn't happened much. In fact, we've pretty much been scraping by on sandwiches. Horrific, I know.

But last night was the boy's birthday, I decided that (rather than do dishes and cook him up something special), we'd go out to La Mouette, a new restaurant in Sea Point that's been receiving rave reviews all over the internet.

We had heard rave reviews about the Winter Tasting Menu (6 courses for R150), so we went for that. And, oh my dear! am I glad we did! There were two options for each course, except the palate cleanser before dessert, so we just ordered the whole menu! 

And what a menu! Melty truffle and cheese croquettes, crispy calamari and a garlic aioli, starts off the delights, and they are followed by a slightly spicy coconut broth with veg dim sum and an almost frothy butternut soup, with walnuts and blue cheese. This incredible start was followed up by a crispy, crackly salt and pepper pork belly and tuna tartare (that's raw, like sashimi, but chopped and thrown together with spices and a vinaigrette). Then we moved onto a delicate piece of fragrant kingklip, with a most delicious sauce vierge and a perfectly cooked piece of sirloin, with bordelaise sauce. My dears, I must heartily recommend that you go with a loved one who likes to share, because ordering on of each enabled us to share the whole thing! Then, after a light, foamy green apple sorbet (with real pieces of apple in it), dessert followed. A giant chocolate macaron with honeycomb (I know!!) ice cream, and a cheese plate, with a peppered Kimberly cheddar, quince jelly and lavoche crackers.

What a delight! We washed down the whole thing with a bottle of Zandvliet shiraz, that we've been hoarding. It was actually supposed to be our anniversary wine, but we didn't drink it. A 2005 vintage, it had aged to mellow perfection, and we've decided to buy a new one every year, and save it for 5 years. This gave our tendency to hoard wine a reason to continue - this wine was decadently perfect with everything!

Please, please do yourself a favour and go and eat at La Mouette. In a time where fine dining restaurants are closing, the souls at La Mouette have been very brave to open their doors, and we'd like to see them continue! The food, ambiance, service and overall feel were just wonderful, and we'd like to see them remain in business for a good long time.

To book:
Tel :   021 433 0856
Or catch them on Twitter: @teamlamouette

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Pissed Potluck Pork


I've been a bad blogger lately, haven't I? Would it help if I told you I'm planning my wedding? Yeah, well, I am. It's in *checks geeky countdown* 24 days time, and we're still scrambling to organise, well, everything. So cooking hasn't been high up on my agenda, unfortunately, I even lost my appetite for a few days, which NEVER happens. But now, I'm back in the game, and hopefully I'll be whipping up some lovely things for you over the next few days.

{Image source: danpeters, flickr}
Last night was the Uruguay vs Netherlands game, played here in Cape Town, and while the rest of the city's population was going bos in town, I was peacefully cooking sausages. Yes, sausages! Ok, to be fair, I did go and join in the gees with the boy when he got home, but first, I wanted to COOK!

This is a funny sort of dish, born from the fact that I had a ton of things in my fridge that I really needed to use up, and this is what I came up with. To be honest, I think you could use anything in this dish, and you could serve it with pasta, mashed potatoes, or roasted veggies, if that's what your heart desires.

So I had some slightly dodgy cherry tomatoes, half a punnet of mushrooms that would be going south pretty soon, and half a bag of baby potatoes, and this is what I came up with. The boy has a pretty funny Afrikaans term for this kind of throw-everything-from-the-fridge-in meals, but it escapes me. So Potluck Pork in Wine it is!

Pissed Potluck Pork


This is for 2 people (I used 4 sausages)

Pork sausages (take the number of people you're feeding, and budget about 1.5-2 sausages per person, unless you have greedy people, then budget 2.5-3)
Half a punnet of mushrooms
Half a punnet of cherry tomatoes (or a couple of whole tomatoes, chopped)
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic, diced finely
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 small bunch fresh curly leaf parsley, chopped roughly
Small lump of blue cheese, roughly diced
Small lump of sharp cheddar, grated (I had some lovely plaaskaas from the Hout Bay craft market, yum!)
Half a bag of baby potatoes

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Heat a little oil in a pan, and lightly brown the sausages, being careful not to burn them. When browned, transfer to an ovenproof dish, and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, fry the onions, until translucent. When the onions are almost cooked, add the ginger and garlic, and fry for a little, until fragrant.
  4. Pour in half a cup of the wine, and allow to sizzle a little. This will loosen all the lovely browned bits at the bottom of the pan.
  5. Meanwhile, boil the new potatoes in the microwave, about 10-12 minutes.
  6. When the liquid has heated through, add the dried herbs, and cook a little while longer, about 5 minutes, adding a splash more of the wine if the pan seems too dry.
  7. Remove from the heat, and pour the mixture, together with all the liquid and herbs over the sausages in the pan. Set aside again, and return the pan to the heat.
  8. Melt a little butter in the pan, and fry the mushrooms for a couple of minutes, until they start to brown, and the water has fried off them.
  9. When browned, add them to the top of the mixture in the ovenproof dish.
  10. Pour the frozen peas over the top, along with the chopped parsley, and the blue cheese. Toss the whole lot a bit, and mix it all up.
  11. Chop the new potatoes roughly, and lay over the top of the mixture. It doesn’t need to be a thick layer, just spread them out.
  12. Spread the grated cheese over the whole lot, and pop it into the oven for about 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted, and the sausages are cooked through.
I entered this recipe in full as part of the For the Love of Wine (Kleine Zalze) bloggers competition. Just so you guys know. Also, due to the low quality of writing and posting relevance over on that blog, I'm dropping out of the competition. I value each and every one of my readers, and this blog, however small it is, and I'd rather not be associated with the low quality of posting that's going on over there.

Well, that's enough of my philosophising! I hope you guys understand, and that this doesn't negatively affect your attitude towards me and my little blog.

And make this! It may seem weird, but it's really delicious, and taste even better the next day when the flavours have melded a little more.


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