Malva Pudding

Mmm… Malva Pudding.

Malva Pudding

Drenched in sunshine...

It’s a miserable Easter Sunday here in Cape Town, but then again the weather’s perfect for spending with family. Miss you today, Mom.

To cheer me up, I drenched up old food photos and found this fantastic pic of Malva Pudding I baked on a beautifully sunny day.

I am not by a long shot a pro when it comes to this South African classic, so I turned to a pro for some help.

The November 2009 edition of Taste Magazine featured recipes from Shaun Schoeman, the exec chef at Fyndraai, the gorgeous restaurant at Solms-Delta wine estate. (Aside note: you must try the Springbok shank.)

His Malva pud looked amazing so I thought hey, this could make me look good.

My final product didn’t look anything like the picture, but it tasted real good so we won’t split hairs.

Fyndraai‘s Malva Pudding
Serves 4 to 6
220g castor sugar
140g white flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 free-range egg
1 cup of milk
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tbs melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sauce:
110g castor sugar
1 cup full-cream milk
2 tbs butter

Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius. Sift all dry ingredients together. Whisk together the egg and milk, then add vinegar and melted butter. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and whisk until smooth. Mix in the vanilla extract. then pour the mixture into a lightly greased tray and bake for 25 mins. Pierce the surface of the warm pudding with a fork. Pour the sauce over it and serve.

Sauce: Mix all ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat until butter is melted.

My result was so saucy I didn’t bother with ice-cream or Ideal milk, just a bit of lemon zest.

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Postcards from the Veg: Pizza

Vegetarian pizza is a pretty obvious choice for us newbie veggies. We still get all the flavour without having to sacrifice much or work with foreign ingredients.

Veg pizza

So NOT rabbit food.

But this pizza is special. I learnt the recipe when I joined WeightWatchers and I haven’t made a different pizza since. Although, I have become far more liberal with my toppings and serving sizes. Shh…

Instead of buying pizza bases or painstakingly making them yourself, you can make this pizza on a tortilla wrap. Fancy, neh?

It produces the most wonderful, light base and the flavours just tend to ‘pop’ that much more as a result.

Enough with the sales talk. Here’s the recipe, make it yourself and then report back.

Nomnomnom...

Vegetarian WeightWatchers Pizza
Serves 2
2 tortilla wraps, preferably wholewheat
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tomato, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 cup  of sliced mushrooms
1/2 avo, sliced
1 cup of grated cheeze, preferably mozzarella but I use whatever’s in the fridge
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 220ºC.

Smear the tomato paste and garlic on the tortillas. Add the rest of the toppings, cheese and avo last.

Place your pizzas on a Spray ‘n Cooked oven tray.

Once the oven is smokin’ hot, put the pizzas in the oven for about 10 minutes or until it looks like you want it to look. Some like theirs crispier than others.

And don’t be shy to make yourself more than one serving. It’s too delicious not to.

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Postcards from the Veg: Lentil Frikkadels

It’s the 9th day of  Lent.

Lentil Frikadels

Meatless Meatballs

It’s been nine days without meat or chicken.

While my choice to give up meat for Lent is on some level a spiritual and ethical one, I was really just curious to see if I could do it.

Sometimes you need the constructs of a tradition or ritual to help motivate you to try something that otherwise seems too difficult. It’s the same with New Year’s Resolutions:  Our little hupstootjie to make the transition easier.

I launched into my vegetarian diet with something that at least looked like meat. I took food24’s lentil burger recipe and adapted it for frikkadels.

I’d like to introduce you to meatless meatballs. Take that, Fry’s!

Lentil Frikadels

The Close Up

Lentil Frikkadels
Makes about 12

1 cup of brown, dry lentils
3 cups of water
1 stock cube/tbs stock powder

1 onion, chopped
1 baby marrow, grated
1 small green pepper, grated
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs garlic and ginger paste
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of raw oats/breadcrumbs
Extra stock/wine/water

Oil for frying

Right. Rinse the lentils and cook them in the water and stock for about 15-20 mins until soft. Puree or mash them until you’re left with a thick paste. It can be really thick. Like, so-thick-it-broke-my-blender kind of thick.

Fry the onion in the oil until translucent. Mix the lentil paste with the onions and the rest of the ingredients and incorporate. Use extra liquid – like wine:) – to make the paste more malleable so that you can form it into small balls.

Roll the “mince” into “meat”balls.

Heat about 30ml of oil in a pan. Place the meatballs slowly into the oil and fry. You don’t need to worry about them being done or not – no raw meat to worry about! So fry them just until they are golden brown.

Serve with a cucumber raita and a green salad.

And so the journey to the veg of the earth continues…

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Roses are red, and cakes are too…

Valentine’s Day is schmucky, schmaltzy and OTT. But sometimes it provides the perfect inspiration to get my ass back in the kitchen.

Red Velvet Cake

Hearts and flowers for Valentine's Day

After a tear-inducing episode with a flopped milktart a few weeks back, I swore off the kitchen. We survived on take-aways, tins and toast. It was a dark time in our culinary lives…

But I finally made my return and decided to make it a grand one.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

I used Colleen’s recipe because her recipes always turn out well (UNLIKE Beluga’s milktart recipe…).

However, the heart shape and the cute little icing clouds are all my own genius. And of course the pearls…

Thanks to our nice neighbours for planting the lovely nasturtiums and letting me steal one.

Red Velvet Cake

So take a bite and succumb to the wiles of Valentine’s Day.

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Orange and Coriander Roast Chicken

I’m sitting on a farm in the Natal Midlands with seriously free-range chickens clucking around me. I’m surprised at how easily I can imagine what great dinners they’ll make. You may gasp,  but I’d rather eat these gorgeous, healthy birds than those manky white things called battery chickens.

But let’s get back to the bird that’s already been in my oven.

Zest breasts

Orange Coriander Roast Chicken

Everybody eats roast chicken. It’s the floozy of meats; the go-to gourmet; the all-pleasing poultry.

We’re in the middle of a blazing hot summer and roast chicken with rys en artappels won’t go down that easily. Plus – isn’t it SOOO boring? The poor chicken is already so everyday, it deserves a bit of zhuzhing up.
So we’ll spice it up, clean it off with some citrus and cool it down with coriander.

Orange and Coriander Roast Chicken
Serves 4 or more

1 medium free range chicken
2-3 oranges
Generous sprinklings of chicken braai spice
Bunch of coriander
Maldon salt

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius. Place the hefty bird in a roasting pan. Squeeze orange juice all over your whole chicken, making sure to get it in all the nooks and crannies. Slice the squeezed half and insert it into the cavity. (I know that sounds awful, but just try not to think about it.

Sprinkle the chicken with the braai spice so that it almost forms a coating. Stick a handful of coriander in the cavity as well as some around the dish.

Pop it in the oven for an hour or so – prob an hour and 20 minutes depending on the size – and watch it turn the most glorious colour. Turn the chicken over half-way through the cooking time, and then back again for the last 10 minutes.
If your colouring is less than glorious, sprinkle some salt for shine and brush with a little bit of olive oil. I usually forego the oil as the chicken skin is fat aplenty.

Garnish with slices of orange, some zest and the rest of the coriander.

Serve with a green salad or a cold couscous and veg salad. Leftovers can be shredded for chicken mayo, a lovely chicken and corn broth should the weather suddenly turn, or simply take yourself a doggy bag to work. The flavours will intensify overnight. 

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Apricot and Mustard Chicken

My new favourite favourite.

Fiery Fruit

FIERY FRUIT: Apricot Mustard Chicken

I get into a rut very easily in the kitchen. When I find something that works, I clutch to it for dear life, or until Danny begs me to vary it up.

My latest flavour fixation is Apricot and Mustard. It stems from a recipe found in an old edition of Fresh Living. It’s also very adaptable because you can use any mustard and any apricot product really. From Dijon with apricot jam to English mustard with freshly sliced appelkosies, it’s delicious any way you want it.
I used my colleague Shaheema as my guinea pig and gave her some to try. Her comments: “I feel like judge on Top Chef“. I’ll take that as a compliment!

I’ve come to regularly serve it with a warm couscous salad as it just seems like the appropriately Moroccan thing to do… 🙂

And one last tip: The chicken breasts with the bone in work better than the fillets.

Apricot and Mustard Chicken
Serves 2
2 free-range chicken breasts with bone in
1 cup of chicken stock
8 fresh apricots, sliced and stoned – for a sweeter palate use tinned apricots which are just as yummy
2 tbs Colman’s English mustard
1 tbs yellow mustard seeds
1 tbs olive oil
Coriander

Heat oven to 180 degrees. Remove chicken skin. It’s will looked old and wrinkled once the chicken is done in the oven and that’s just eeuw. Fry chicken in a pan or pot that can go in the oven, such as my wonderful Le Creuset casserole pot. Yes, I’m bragging. Fry until brown.

Mix apricots, stock, mustard and mustard seeds together. Pour over chicken. Cover the chicken dish with foil or a lid and pop it in the oven for an hour.

After the hour, you’ll notice the sauce will still be thin. Add some maizena if you like it thicker and gloopier. No judging – that’s how I like it. Return to the oven for a few minutes.  Then serve with warm couscous salad and fresh coriander.

Not a square meal...

Not a square meal...

Warm Vegetable Couscous Salad
Serves 2
1 cup of couscous, cooked according to box instructions
1 onion, sliced
1 red, yellow or green pepper, chopped
1 cup frozen peas or corn
1/2 tbs olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon

Cook the couscous as best you can. I often screw it up – too mushy, or too dry. I’m working on it…

Fry the rest of the ingredients together for a few minutes until soft. Mix it with the couscous. Douse with lemon juice. Serve shaped with a bowl.

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Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving in America tomorrow. Although we don’t celebrate this holiday, I think it’s as nice a sentiment as Braai Day is here. There’s nothing trivial about getting together and giving thanks for well, being together. And if you happen to swallow a turkey and a pumpkin in the process, so be it.

Big ups for the little things that make these times special.

For a long time I’ve had this terrible affliction. When others do well/get lucky/have fun, I’ve always seen it as something I don’t have. Therefore there must be something wrong with me. What makes person X so darn special huh, and where can I get me summa that?

I’m rather ashamed of my childish attitude to other’s good fortune. My mom always taught me not to laugh at the misfortune of others, but in the process I forgot how to celebrate their triumphs.

In order to remedy this “disease”, I will proclaim all that I am thankful for.

Today I am thankful for:

My boyfriend
He’s what I always wanted, and I’m so glad he’s still here five Christmases later.

My job
I consume media for a living. Coincidentally, that’s what I do on the weekends too. Funny that.

My love of food
While my hips expand and my arteries clog a little more this festive season, I’m thankful that I can do something wonderful like cook Christmas lunch for my family and be blissfully happy throughout the process. Let’s hope they’re as “blissfully happy” with the results. Holding thumbs for no burnt offerings this year.

Just the food
I’m so grateful that we have food to cook. So many people don’t have food to cook.

Family: old, new and gone
The crazies, the over-protective ones and the cute ones. Whatever they are, they’re mine, and it feels nice to say I have them.

The return of O’Gradys
Thank you Simba. Thank you so very very much for the greatest chip ever. Thank you for only making two flavours so that I can never decide which is my favourite.

O'Gradys

O-O-O-O'Gradys!

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Intoxicating Spirits

The carols, the colours, the collective… I’m a sucker for Christmas.

Little Red Christmas Ribbon

For you, at Christmas.

Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas plays in the background while I dress in red, tie ribbons around everything – even the roasting pan – and imagine I’m Martine McCutcheon in Love Actually.

Hi, my name is Sam and I’m a Christma-holic.

I’ve started drinking it in and by December 25 I’ll be in high shpiritsh. But can you blame me? It really is all around us like Billy Mack says. I’m not talking about the Boney M and the window dressings. It’s become so much more than that. I’ll illustrate.

Exhibit A: Prince William and Kate’s engagement
It’s just the happy news the world needs to induce the warm ‘n fuzzies. Diana was the closest thing our generation had to a Mother Christmas and this announcement is perfectly timed with the advent of Christmas shopping. Everyone wants a piece of that love drug and buying it at Woolies is way easier than finding your own Prince Charming.

Exhibit B: Best of Lists
Best dressed, best movies, best albums, best everything! This information coupled with a credit card ensures that you can be and have what is perceived as the ‘best’ just in time for Christmas. It’s a great motivator to shop and spoil yourself and others. And if your credit card is maxed, put it on your wish list.

Exhibit C: Celebrity engagements and weddings
And more of that euphoria sets in. No matter what you think of said celebrities or if their impending nuptials are just a ‘showmance’, Love is in the air and it makes you think about your own relationship. If you haven’t decided to dump him or her by now, you’re stuck with them until Valentine’s Day at least.

Christmas is a time of commercial exploitation. It’s the best excuse we’ve got for our indulgences. But it’s also a time for me to spoil my family, impress with my culinary skills, act like a kid and be love-drunk on all the corniness that comes with it.

I heart Christmas.

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Easy as Pie

Oh, hell no!

I don’t know who came up with this overused adage, but it’s simply not true, unless you’re a grandma who survived the depression with only cabbage soup and potato skins. Then I guess yes, Pie is easy in comparison.

Baking however, is far more of a skill than cooking.

An extra teaspoon of baking powder can be the be-all and end-all of your perfect pastry.

An extra teaspoon of baking powder in your scrambled eggs will go a long way to adding fluffiness, but there’s no catastrophe should you have forgotten it.

Cooking is like matchmaking; bringing complementary elements together and watching them, well, complement each other. A little bit of fire under their stubborn arses also helps.

Baking is like IVF; every element – the ingredients, the temperature, the altitude – has to be just right in order for the project to be successful.

See what I mean?

Despite this, I will bake. I will bake this tonight:

Apple Blueberry Pie
Apple Blueberry Pie

Apple Blueberry Pie

Shortcrust Pastry without liquid: (Thanks Kook en Geniet)
250 ml (1 c) cake flour
pinch salt
15 ml (1 T) castor sugar (I used icing sugar)
125 g (1/2 c) butter or margarine

Combine cake flour, salt and sugar.
Grate and rub in the butter or margarine until crumbly, or use a food processor using the pulse action. Since I don’t have a food processor, I did it by hand, which was lots of fun!
Tip (from me): If you make this beofre the time, keep it in the fridge so that the butter doesn’t melt.

Filling:
3 medium sized apples
100ml blueberries
125ml (1/2 c) sugar
1 ml ginger
juice and grated rind of 1/2 lemon
60 ml (4 T) hot water
Handful of pecan nuts

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Peel, core and slice your apples. If you want to used tinned apples, go ahead. No snobbery here.
Lay half the apples, berries and nuts in your pie dish.

Combine sugar, lemon juice and rind, ginger and sprinkle 1/3 of this over apples.
Arrange remaining apple slices and berries over the top and sprinkle another 1/3 of the sugar mixture.
Sprinkle over shortcrust pastry crumbs and pour over hot water.
Sprinkle remainder of the sugar mixture over the crumbs.
Bake for 40 minutes. Serve with whipped cream.

Don’t get on the scale until you’ve been for a jog.

So alright, this is fairly easy, but definitely not foolproof. I’m the fool and the proof that it can go wrong in so many ways; your butter’s too squishy or the oven’s too hot and the apples stay hard. While it’s still a test, the rewards are definitely worth it.

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Pumping Iron: Beetroot and Ostrich Salad

Pretty in purple and pink...

Pretty in purple and pink...

Salad and I are new friends. I used to be ugly and call it “Rabbit Food”. But I’ve changed my ways and now I can dress her up seven ways from Sunday.

Another of my slightly older friends is ostrich meat. I haven’t cooked with beef mince in over three years because all I buy is ostrich. It’s lean cuisine without the plasticky stuff.

A leftover ostrich fillet in the deep freeze and leftover Woolies beetroot salad could have easily ended up in the bin in my pre-salad days, but now I had the opportunity to mix and match for greatness! The gauntlet in front of me and a hungry man behind me, I had some work to do.

Beetroot and Ostrich Salad

serves 2 big or 4 little people

2oog ostrich fillet (also referred to as steak hereafter)
250g Woolies beetroot salad (the chunks, not the grated stuff)
2 handfuls of leafy greens
2 handfuls of green beans
1 tbs olive oil
1 lemon
Maldon salt and fresh black pepper
Balsamic vinegar and extra olive oil (optional)

Steam your green beans in the microwave for about 5 minutes. Heat your pan until it’s smoking hot. Rub the olive oil over the ostrich fillet. It would be easier if you had 2 x 100g pieces.

Once the pan is smoking, put in the ostrich. Fry on each side for about 2-3 minutes. Remember ostrich has very little fat so it dries out very quickly. Rather take it off when it’s too rare and put it back than serve “Beetroot and Rubber Salad”.

Once your steak is cooked to your liking, let it rest on a plate for a few minutes.

Place the salad leaves and green beans on the plate. Add beetroot. Slice steak into thin strips and douse in fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. Be liberal. You deserve it – you are having SALAD after all. That’s got to count for something.

Divide the steak strips between the plates. Grate some lemon zest over the pretty plate. Serve with olive oil and balsamic on the side.

This is of course a fantastic meal option for the anemic among us, or the occasional fangbanger, as ostrich and beetroot both have a high iron content which is essential for the production of haemoglobin in our red blood cells.

Woah… too much Web MDing for me today.

Enjoy!

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