Archive | March, 2012

Babel Roasted Artichoke Goat’s Cheese Tart, Rocket Pesto, Raisin Puree

29 Mar Roasted Artichoke Tart

We have found a new organic veg supplier, which is really cool. In this weeks box we had some beautiful young artichokes and a bunch of fat peppery rocket leaves (as well as other stuff obviously).  Artichokes are stunning looking thistle-type vegetables and it always seems such a shame to rip all their leaves off and throw them away. I did it though, using this tutorial.

To be honest preparing an artichoke is a complete faff. Such a lot of work for little return. Is that controversial?

That’s why they sell them already prepped and cooked in delis or in jars in supermarkets. So, if you are impatient (like me) or they are not in season where you are, save yourself some time and buy them. Use the whole vegetable as a table decoration instead with some lavender maybe, or even some fat rocket leaves as an alternative bouquet….

The artichokes reminded me of the delicious tart we had at Babel restaurant at Babylonstoren. The pastry was the amazingly crumbly and I managed to get the recipe from the Chef Simone. This tart came with the best chips in the world that I have recreated too. I will share the recipe in my next post.

I have already written about our day at Babylonstoren in another post . They have a huge farm on site that supplies the restaurant with fresh fruit and vegetables. There is also a beautiful greenhouse that houses the more exotic plants where you can sit and enjoy a fresh from the garden herb tea.

The interior of the restaurant is effortlessly chic.

Even the menus are gorgeous.

Their version of the tart came with tamarillo (a cross between a tomato and a passionfruit), onion marmalade and pesto. I made a rocket and walnut pesto with the gorgeous rocket and a sweet raisin puree to cut through the sourness of the goat’s cheese. After preparing the artichoke hearts I roasted them with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and fresh thyme to enhance their delicate flavour.

You could also buy the tart cases if you are short of time but this pastry recipe is definitely worth the effort.

Roasted Artichoke & Goat’s Cheese Tart

Makes 4 x 10 cm tarts, Vegetarian. Adapted from the Babel Restaurant recipe

For the pastry:

Prep time: 35 mins (including resting)  Cooking time: 15 mins

  • 100 g  chilled butter, cubed
  • 125 spelt flour (or plain)
  • 65 ml sour cream/creme fraiche
  • a pinch of salt

Pulse the cubed butter, flour and salt in a food processor until it resembles crumble mix. Add the sour cream and pulse again until it just comes together. Do not over mix. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling:

Prep time: 40 mins (if using fresh artichokes) Cooking time: 15-25 mins

  • 3 young artichoke hearts, quartered (to prepare artichokes read this)
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • a sprig of fresh thyme, leaves removed & chopped
  • 4 small garlic cloves unpeeled
  • 150 gr soft goat’s cheese
  • 75 ml sour cream/creme fraiche
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • fresh thyme, rosemary leaves, very finely chopped
  • pinch salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 180C and toss the uncooked artichoke hearts (you can leave this part out of you have bought cooked artichoke hearts) with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and the whole unpeeled garlic cloves. Roast for 20-30 minutes until slightly browned.

Whisk together the goat’s cheese, sour cream, herbs, egg, salt & pepper until combined.

Butter and flour your tart tins. Quarter the pastry and roll out each piece between two bits of floured cling film to about 3mm thick. Lift the pastry and carefully push it into the tin, do not stretch it, until fairly even. Trim off the excess with a sharp knife. Put in the fridge while you do the rest.

Prick the bases all over with a fork, cover with a square of greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or any dried beans.  Bake at 180c for about 10 minutes then remove the paper and beads and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Pour in the cheese, but not to the top, then add in the artichoke hearts and peeled roasted garlic cloves so the filling now reaches the top and bake for 15 -25 minutes, until puffed and golden.

 Rocket & Walnut Pesto

serves 4, vegan, gluten free

  • a bunch of fresh rocket leaves
  • about 100 gr walnuts (toast them in the oven for 4 minutes) then chop
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • a squeeze lemon/orange juice
  • a pinch of sugar

Put all the ingredients except the oil in a measuring jug (or food processor) and start to puree with a stick blender drizzling in the oil until you get a nice consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning.

 

 

For the Raisin Puree:

serves 4, vegan, gluten-free

  • about 100 gr raisins
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp balsamic/sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp miel de cana (molasses)

Put the raisins and sugar in a small saucepan and just cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Reserving some of the liquid blend the raisins with the rest of the ingredients and a splash of the cooking water if necessary to a smooth puree. Taste for sweetness.

Serve the tart hot or warm with the rocket pesto, raisin puree and some fresh rocket leaves if you like. The perfect accompaniment though would have to be these chunky chips.

Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy in the middle, sprinkled with sea salt, cracked pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Perfect.

I’ll give you the recipe in my next post, I promise….

Indochine Melon Coconut Curry, Lemongrass, Coriander, Rice Noodles

26 Mar Indochine Melon Curry

This was one of the five different vegetarian curries we had the pleasure of trying at Indochine restaurant on the Delaire Graff Wine Estate. The whole experience was out of this world but this curry was the best I have ever had. And I’ve had a lot. I’d even go so far as to say it is one of the best dishes I have ever tried from anywhere in the world.

It’s unusual, elegant, fragrant, well-balanced, exotic, beautiful and totally delicious. It’s not actually on the menu, the chef on the evening that we were there, Virgil prepared a special selection of vegetarian curries for us to try. If anyone is listening from Indochine, you should definitely put it on your menu. It is really fantastic.

The drive up to the Delaire Graff Wine Estate has stunning views of the surrounding mountains and when you drive up through the shady tree-lined drive to see the well-manicured lawns and row upon row of parallel vines, you know you have arrived somewhere special.

And if you thought that the exterior was beautiful you have to see the interior to believe it.  The entrance lobby is flooded with light and filled with huge exotic flower arrangements. Bronze sculptures and water features punctuate the space, creating a modern African glass jungle.

Contributing to the theme, the lounge areas are decorated with gold and ebony pieces that transport you the colonial luxury lodge of your dreams. Or is it just me? I could definitely get used to this.

The restaurant has floor to ceiling glass doors opening out onto a terrace that takes full advantage of those spectacular views.  The copper and blue theme mirrors the red earth and blue sky of the surroundings bringing the outdoors in.

The curved banquette seating, facing the view is perfect for an intimate dinner for two.

A lovely detail, they have little pots of microherbs on the tables. Should you need a little more coriander.

Let’s get onto the food. First a bamboo basket arrived filled with pickled cucumber, black rice crackers (amazing), sweet potato crisps and a trio of sauces to go with them. Passionfruit, cucumber and pineapple & chilli. We chose a bottle of the Delaire Sauvignon Blanc as recommended by our excellent waiter. It had a hint of passionfruit which made it the perfect wine pairing with the spicy, fragrant dishes to come.

The amuse bouche was a little mouthful of tofu, mushroom, edamame and coconut sauce. Beautifully presented on a piece of slate. You may have noticed that I am plating some of my food on a slate tile at the moment. This is where the inspiration came from.

Our starter was an Indian Spiced Makhani Tofu Croquette, cinnamon confit tomatoes, pickled root vegetables, raita, beet leaves and tomato chutney. Presented on a slate tile again. You can see how all the colours stand out so beautifully.

We also ordered a Green Mango Salad with lime juice, chilli, ginger, coriander, mint. This classic Asian dish is refreshing, light, crisp and fresh. It makes a great side dish because of the contrast in textures. The cold crunch of the unripe mango with the hot spicy sauces of the curries. You can see why it is a classic all over Asia.

We were then presented with a palate cleanser. Apple and Ginger Sorbet with a sake shot. Oh alright then.

The sous chef Virgil came out with our main courses to explain the selection of curries he had made for us.

Tapioca Pearls with Curried Squash and Tofu Tom Yam, never has tapioca tasted so good or looked so beautiful.

Thai Green Pak Choi Curry with broccoli, sugar snaps, edamame, spring onions, light, fragrant and spicy

Melon Coconut Curry with lemongrass, ginger, coriander, chilli and fresh mint. Mind blowing honestly.

Lychee Red Curry with pickled cabbage, coconut, ginger and sprouts. This fruit in curry thing is going to catch on.

Burmese Aubergine Curry, tomato, garlic, cumin, coriander and turmeric. Aromatic and spicy.

For dessert we ordered the Trio of Creme Brulee because why wouldn’t you?

White Chocolate & Chilli, Ginger & Lime, Coconut. Heaven on a plate.

This restaurant has some of the best food I have ever tasted. It is daring, exquisite and mouth-wateringly good. If you live in SA and you haven’t been, you need to go. Exceptional food and service in luxurious surroundings.  Go on, treat yourself you know you want to. For more details and menus check out their website here.

For those of you that don’t live in South Africa, you need to try this recipe. And if you’re saying “Eww melon in curry, that’s gross” you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. The cool sweetness with the spicy, aromatic sauce is an unbelieveable combination that deserves some recognition. Do it.

You will have to make your own curry paste and coriander puree but don’t let that put you off it is not difficult and it is so worth it. You will also need to get a melon baller if you haven’t already got one leftover from the Seventies. You can serve it with plain rice or some thick rice (stick) noodles like I did.

Indochine Melon Coconut Curry with Rice Noodles

Serves 4, Vegan, Gluten-free. Adapted from the Indochine recipe

Prep time: 25 mins Cooking time: 20 mins

For the curry paste:

  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 5 white peppercorns
  • 1 pinch grated nutmeg
  • 4 small green chillies, deseeded and chopped (depending on the chilli)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped/minced lemongrass
  • 1/2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic (about 3 cloves) finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp lime/lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped coriander stalks
  • a big pinch of salt

Blend everything together in a mortar and pestle or food processor until you get a smooth- ish paste. Set aside.

For the Coriander Puree:

  • a bunch of fresh coriander leaves(or a mix of coriander & basil), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 1 bowl of iced water

Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the bicarb. Plunge the coriander into the hot water and leave until the water starts to turn green. Drain off most of the water and blend to a smooth puree in a measuring jug. Cool down by putting the measuring jug in the iced water.

For the Curry:

You can use which ever melon is available, two different colours is nice.

  • about 500 gr (rind on weight) watermelon
  • about 500 gr (rind on weight) green melon
  • 2 cans coconut milk (do not shake before opening), I used low-fat
  • 2 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • coriander puree (see above) I used about 2 or 3 tbsp
  • salt
  • thick rice (stick) noodles for 4 people (or rice)
  • fresh mint leaves, rolled up & finely shredded for garnish
  • toasted coconut for garnish
  • vermicelli rice noodles deep-fried for garnish (optional)

Scoop out balls of melon flesh with the melon baller but leave the excess on the rind. Scrape out the excess flesh into a food processor and blend to a smooth puree.

To a large pan over a medium high heat, add the tops of the coconut milk (the thick cream bit) and cook until bubbling and starting to reduce. Add the curry paste and stir for 3 minutes until fragrant. Add the rest of the tins of coconut milk, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

Cook the rice noodles according to the instructions on the packet.

Add the palm sugar, lemon juice and salt to the sauce then stir in the coriander puree and melon puree and taste. Adjust salt, lemon juice as required. Then add the melon balls, stirring to coat them in the sauce and heat through.

To make the vermicelli garnish, heat some oil in deep-frying pan until it sizzles when you test it with a dried noodle. Carefully drop a bunch of the dried rice vermicelli into the oil , it will puff up straight away. Remove immediately with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on kitchen paper.

Serve the curry over rice noodles, garnished with the shredded mint leaves, toasted coconut and fried vermicelli (if using).

Thanks Indochine for a fabulous evening and for introducing us to the genius of fruit in curry. I am desperate to try the lychee one next…

Mushroom Risotto Spring Rolls, Manchego Thyme Crisps, Roasted Garlic Watercress Mayonnaise

22 Mar Mushroom Risotto Spring Roll

This recipe is inspired by an amazing meal we had at La Colombe in Contantia Uitsig. La Colombe has always been very special to us ever since the first time we visited about five years ago. We had such a great time that we both agreed that it was the best restaurant we had ever been to.

The thing is that it had reached such an iconic status in our memory that I was secretly worried that it wasn’t going to live up to our very high expectations this time. I was actually preparing myself for disappointment.  Silly me, this time actually exceeded my expectations by quite a long way.

The food is, well you can work it out for yourself. This was how it went….

Amuse Bouche: caramelised onion tart with goat cheese, parsnip soup (in an egg-shell), pea salsa

Starter: Beetroot Cannelloni, beetroot mousse wrapped in pickled beetroot, toasted olive brioche, roasted golden baby beets, fromage blanc, poached raisins, 12 yr old balsamic drizzle

Palate Cleanser: Granny Smith Sorbet, pimms foam, cucumber, mint

Main Course: Wild Mushroom Risotto Spring Roll, butternut puree, sous vide butternut, caramelised onion, smoked garlic veloute, thyme foam.

Desserts: Coconut & Rosewater Panna Cotta, rose meringue, rose foam, turkish delight, cashew nut streusel  

Chocolate Peanut Butter Terrine, candied cranberries, apricots, peanuts, chocolate, pistachio nut dust

And if that is not enough for you, they bring around a wooden trough filled with petits fours. Okay it’s not a trough but that’s what we called it. Bring me the trough!!!

Petits Fours: Rose Turkish Delight, mini citrus madeleines, maple meringues, cinnamon marshmallows and espresso pistachio dusted chocolate truffles filled with salted caramel.

Yes, that was espresso pistachio dusted chocolate truffles filled with salted caramel. They didn’t last very long, someone at our table may have stuffed his face with them before I could stuff mine. Not mentioning any names but you know who you are…

I don’t think I need to say that the food was outstanding do I? The beetroot cannelloni was light, elegant, sweet and exquisitely made. The mushroom spring rolls were rich with truffle butter and earthy morels, the pastry was perfectly crisp, I didn’t want it to end.

The desserts were a complete triumph. Everything a dessert should be, playful, sweet and nostalgic with a grown up twist.  The attention to detail is what makes this an unforgettable dining experience. From the amuse bouche (very amusing), the palate cleanser (I mean Pimms!!), all the way through to the petits fours (bring me the trough and leave it please).

Speaking of attention to detail I have to mention that the level of service we received was actually on another level to anything I have ever experienced before. Jennifer and her highly knowledgable team made our evening a complete joy from start to finish. The waiter actually explained each dish on the menu FROM MEMORY! All those foams, purees and veloutes without reading from a notepad. That deserves a mention by itself.  And it is not at all stuffy, that’s what makes it so enjoyable, it is proper fine dining without the squeaky chairs and pretension.

Can you tell that I loved it?

I managed to acquire the recipe for the Mushroom Risotto Spring Rolls from the very talented chef, Scot Kirton. Mine is a simplified version as you can see from the description. I don’t have  a syphon thingy to make foams but I wouldn’t mind if anyone out there wants to send me one. I made some Manchego Thyme Crisps instead.

You could use spring roll wrappers to make these, I used a double layer of filo and Scot uses a special Asian pastry that I am desperate to get hold of. Either way you roll them like this:

I couldn’t get any truffle butter or morels so I used a mix of dried mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for about 20 minutes and some fresh chestnut or cremini mushrooms. The advantage of using dried mushrooms is that you can use the mushroomy soaking liquid with the stock to give the risotto a deeper colour and flavour.

Mushroom Risotto Spring Rolls

Makes about 12 rolls, vegetarian. Adapted from the La Colombe recipe

The risotto needs to be chilled before you roll it so it is best to make it the night before and refrigerate overnight.

Prep time: 45 -60 mins (not including chilling time) Cooking time: 15-25 mins

  • 150-200 gr fresh mushrooms, chestnut/cremini/portobello/morels roughly diced
  • 25 gr dried mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 20 mins (reserve soaking liquid) then chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • 30 gr white truffle butter (optional)
  • a bunch sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
  • 250 gr risotto rice
  • 250 ml white wine
  • about 1 litre veg stock plus the mushroom soaking liquid
  • 50 gr parmesan/manchego, finely grated
  • 1 packet filo pastry/spring roll wrappers defrosted
  • olive oil for brushing

In a large pan, fry the chopped fresh mushrooms and thyme in a tablespoon of hot oil until nicely browned. Tip them into a bowl. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan over a medium heat and cook the onions for about 4 mins until translucent then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the rice and stir to coat in the onions for a minute.

Put the stock and mushroom soaking liquid in a small pan over a medium heat and keep hot but not boiling.

Add the wine and soaked mushrooms and cook until most of the liquid has disappeared. Add a ladle full of the hot stock to the rice and swirl the pan until all the liquid is absorbed. Add another ladle full swirl until it is absorbed and continue on like this until the rice is cooked.

Stir through the cooked mushrooms and truffle butter (if using). Taste and adjust seasoning. Stir through the grated cheese, remove from the heat. Leave to cool then chill in the fridge, overnight if possible. What I did was make the risotto for dinner, reserved about half for spring rolls for lunch the next day.

Cut a double layer 20 cm square of filo pastry (or use spring roll wrappers) and lay in a diamond shape on a board in front of you. Mound 2 or 3 tbsp of risotto onto the pastry and roll up following the pictures above brushing with olive oil to make them stick.

Preheat the oven to 190 C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, place the spring rolls on the tray, brush the tops with olive oil and bake for 15 -25 minutes depending on size. You can also deep-fry them.

Roasted Garlic, Watercress Mayonnaise

Enough for 2 people, vegetarian

  • 2 tbsp good mayonnaise
  •  a squeeze of lemon juice
  • a handful of fresh watercress (or parsley)
  • 1 large garlic clove (unpeeled)
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Roast the garlic clove in its skin in a hot oven for about 15 minutes (I did it with the spring rolls). Put the peeled roasted clove with the rest of the ingredients in a measuring jug and puree with a stick (immersion) blender until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning/lemon.

Manchego Thyme Crisps

Makes about 6, vegetarian

  • 50 gr manchego or parmesan, finely grated
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped

Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Mix together the cheese & thyme. Put a heaped tablespoon of the cheese on to the baking tray and flatten & spread out slightly. Leave about 1/2 inch between each circle.

Cook for 3-5 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Leave to cool if you want flat discs and remove carefully with a metal spatula.

If you want you can mould them gently around a rolling-pin while still hot to make them curved.

Enjoy!!

 For more information on La Colombe and Constantia Uitsig visit their website here.

Thanks to everyone at La Colombe who made our evening so special. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the next time…..

 

 

Sweet Potato Brulee Tart, Lemon Asparagus, Pea, Mint and Feta

20 Mar Sweet Potato Asparagus Tart

Haute Cabriere’s Chardonnay Pinot Noir blend is my favourite white wine in the whole world. The first time we came to Cape Town my Dad ordered a bottle with lunch in Manna. That was it, I was smitten. No wine has ever come close since. It has a slight apricot blush and creamy finish that I just love.

On our next visit to Franschhoek a few years later we had the pleasure of dining at The Cellar Restaurant on the Haute Cabriere wine estate. My Dad, again ordered a bottle (or maybe two) of their Pierre Jourdan Cap Classique sparkling rose. That was the beginning of my love affair with pink sparkling wine. That’s pretty amazing, don’t you think? Two of my favourite wines come from Haute Cabriere.

Ok, now make that three. They have recently added the first Unwooded Pinot Noir to the collection. It’s a light, fruity red that is served chilled. It’s a great summer drink, like a dark rose and it’s easy to drink in the sun. I can vouch for that, very easy!

This year we arrived at the restaurant to find the new outside dining terrace open with spectacular 180 degree views of the Franschhoek valley below. The chef, Ryan had prepared a special 5 Course Vegetarian Tasting Menu for us.  The marriage of food and wine is very important to them, each dish was especially designed to complement a different one of their wines. Normally it is the other way around, the wine is chosen to compliment the food.

We started with  Tomato Gazpacho, tomato pineapple sorbet, peppers, pineapple, cucumber garnish which was served with the crisp sparkling Pierre Jourdan Brut.

Then came a Smoked Cheddar & Green Peppercorn Souffle, ratatouille puree, apple crisps, sweet roasted cherry tomatoes, served with the Unwooded Pinot Noir.

Next was a Summer Vegetable Risotto, peas, parmesan crisps, asparagus, corn served with the Pierre Jourdan Tranquille.

Then the Sweet Potato Brulee Tart, asparagus, tatsoi, pickled artichoke, labneh, basil, sweet potato puree, served with my favourite, the classic  Haute Cabriere Chardonnay Pinot Noir blend.

For dessert we had Banana Parfait, liquid chocolate centre, chocolate vodka sorbet, dried banana, tuille, served with the Pierre Jourdan 100 % Chardonnay Blanc de Blanc.

I apologise for the lack of photos of the food but it was a very hot day and we were sitting under a red umbrella. Consequently all the pictures have a distinctly scary pink hue that was near impossible to get out when I was editing them. Hence the pictures above have a slightly dayglo appearance or I gave up and went for black and white instead!

All of the dishes were beautiful, well-balanced and delicious with the wines. The service was also exceptional. When it came to selecting a dish to recreate at home I had a hard time choosing but in the end it had to be the tart. It goes with my favourite wine after all. I changed a few things adding feta, peas and mint instead of artichokes, labneh and basil and made a spelt flour pastry instead of plain.

Sweet Potato Brulee Tart, Lemon Asparagus, Pea, Mint & Feta

Makes 3 x 10 cm tart tins, Vegetarian. Adapted from the Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant recipe

Prep time: 1 hour Cooking time: 25 mins

For the filling:

  • 1 large sweet potato (375 gr), scrubbed & roasted at 200 C for 1 hour (or until soft)
  • 150 ml oat milk (or any milk/cream)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 sprig rosemary or thyme
  • 1 egg
  •  a few teaspoons of sugar

While you are roasting the sweet potato make the pastry and put it in the fridge to rest.

Scrape the soft cooked flesh out of its skin into a sauce pan. Add the milk, salt and sprig of rosemary/thyme. Bring to the boil , stirring to combine then remove from the heat and take out the rosemary sprig.

Puree the sweet potato with a stick blender until smooth.  Add in the egg and mix together well. Check seasoning.

For the pastry:

  • 65 gr spelt flour (or plain flour)
  • 35 gr olive oil spread (or butter)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • iced water (?)

All the ingredients must be cold. Put the flour and diced spread/butter into a food processor and pulse until it resembles crumble mix. Add the egg yolk a bit at a time and pulse until the dough just comes together. You may (or may not) need to add a little iced water to bring it together. Do not over work or it will be tough.

Wrap it in cling film and put in the fridge for at least 30 mins to firm up.

When rested, cut into 3 equal parts and roll them out between two bits of clingfilm to rough circles around 2 mm thick.

Butter and flour you tart tins and lift the pastry circles into the tins, do not stretch the pastry. Press it into the tins evenly. Put back in the fridge to firm up again if you can.

Preheat oven to 180 C.  Prick the bases of the tarts all over with a fork. Place a square of parchment paper in each tart and fill the base with baking beans (any dried beans or rice) to stop it puffing up. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the paper and beans and put back in the oven for 5 minutes until lightly cooked.

Pour the sweet potato mix into the tart cases and smooth the tops (you should have some puree leftover to serve with the tarts if you like).

Put back in the oven for 10 minutes. Then sprinkle a thin layer of sugar over the tops and brulee with a blow torch or put under the grill until bubbling and slightly browned (optional).

For the Lemon Asparagus, Pea & Mint Vinaigrette & Feta:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • juice of a lemon
  • salt
  • feta crumbled

Trim the woody ends off the asparagus and cut in half. Bring a small pan of salted water to the boil, squeeze in the lemon juice, lower the heat slightly and cook the asparagus for 3 minutes. Drain and run under the cold tap to stop the cooking, or serve immediately.

  • about 50 gr frozen peas, cooked in boiling salted water
  • 5 or 6 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped, small leaves reserved for garnish
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • a pinch of sugar
  • salt & black pepper

Run the cooked peas under a cold tap to stop the cooking. Squeeze the peas out of their outer casing and mix the bright green pods with the rest of the ingredients and taste.

To serve: Top the tart with the cooked asparagus, crumble over the feta cheese and drizzle the pea & mint vinaigrette around the plate. Garnish the plate with a smudge of the sweet potato puree,  watercress leaves and some small mint leaves.

 

Now all you need is a glass of the Haute Cabriere Chardonnay Pinot Noir to go with it, and so do I…..

For more information about Haute Cabriere wines and The Cellar Restaurant visit their website here.

Avocado Tomato Tian, Tempura Peppers, Sweet Chilli, Basil Coriander Sauce

17 Mar Avocado Tian & Tempura Peppers

The last of the hass avocados are being harvested at the moment where we walk the dog. They are stored in piles of crates ready for market. The farmers are cutting back the trees and making bonfires out of the mountains of branches.

This was the first thing we ate when we arrived in Cape Town. Just off the plane and straight to lunch at Harbour House at The Waterfront. The shape of things to come. Lunch and dinner booked every day for three weeks, well nearly. In the end I worked it out as 29 meals out in 19 days. This does not include breakfasts or the meals we had at the Game Reserve. Heaven or hell? You decide…….

Their version was with tempura prawns, I changed it to red peppers because you can cut them in a similar shape to prawns (they have that natural curl) and they look sort of pink in the tempura.

The original recipe uses fresh basil to infuse an olive oil and a mayonnaise as two of the three sauces that are used to dress the plate. I didn’t have any fresh basil so I used some basil pesto and lots of fresh coriander to increase the vibrancy of the green. I blended these together in the oil and mayonnaise with a stick blender.

Basil and coriander actually work really well together. I was a bit worried about the Italian/Indian (con) fusion of flavours. But hey it tastes good.

Avocado Tomato Tian, Tempura Peppers, Sweet Chilli, Basil Coriander Sauce

Serves 2, Vegetarian (Vegan without the mayo). Adapted from the Harbour House recipe

Prep time: 40 mins Cooking Time: 5 mins

  • 1 medium red pepper, cut in 1 cm slices
  • 2 small avocados, mashed with lemon juice
  • 2 small tomatoes, peeled, deseeded & chopped
  • 1 small aubergine, cut into 1 cm rounds
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • salt & pepper
  • sweet chilli sauce, see my recipe here if you want to make your own
  • fresh basil leaves (or I used basil pesto and fresh coriander), save some for garnish
  • 1 heaped tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/2 lemon
  • olive oil
  • 2 or 3 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch, maizena)
  • 100 gr flour (I used spelt flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 200 ml iced fizzy water (or beer)
  • vegetable oil for deep/frying

Drizzle the aubergine slices with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, minced garlic and chilli flakes. Roast in a 200 c oven for about 30 minutes until softened. You won’t need the whole aubergine for this dish but you can keep the rest for salads, wraps or whatever.

Put the pepper strips on a plate and sieve over the cornflour until the peppers are coated on all sides.

Mash the avocados with a big squeeze of lemon and season with salt & black pepper, taste.

Cut a cross in the base of each tomato. Plunge them into a bowl of boiling water and leave for about 30 seconds. Drain then refresh them in a bowl of iced water for another 30 seconds. Then you can peel them easily.

Half or quarter the tomatoes and remove all of the seeds. Chop or dice the tomato flesh, season with salt & pepper and set aside.

Add one heaped tablespoon of mayonnaise into to a measuring jug with one teaspoon of basil pesto and/or a big handful of basil/coriander leaves for a greener colour. Add a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper. Blend with a stick blender adding a splash of water to loosen it if necessary. Taste.

Ina separate measuring jug add another teaspoon of pesto and/or a big handful of basil or coriander leaves. Drizzle over a good glug of olive oil and blend. Add more oil until you get a good drizzling consistency. Season.

Sieve the flour, baking powder & salt into a large bowl. Whisk in the ice-cold water/beer until just combined. Do not over whisk.

Heat the oil to about 180 c in a wok. Add the peppers (in two or 3 batches) to the batter and coat completely. When the oil is hot, carefully lower the first batch of peppers into the wok. When the peppers have come to the surface, if you like you can sprinkle over some more batter from a height with your fingers. This gives it an extra, light crispy coating. Use chopsticks or a metal slotted spoon to move the peppers onto the bits of batter so it sticks  to the peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Drain in a sieve over kitchen paper and keep warm while you cook the rest.

Using a mould or chef’s ring on your serving plate, place two slices of aubergine into the base. Top with with a layer of the diced tomatoes then add a layer of the mashed avocado. Smooth the top and press down lightly.

Drizzle the mayonnaise, sweet chilli sauce and basil oil around the plate. Place the tempura peppers evenly around the tower/tian. Then slowly lift of the ring and serve garnished with some fresh basil or coriander leaves and a drizzle of the basil oil. Some toasted ciabatta slices would be good with this too.

Now try to get someone else to clean up the mess in the kitchen!!

For more pictures of our lunch at Harbour House check out  this post.

Have a great weekend…

Cape Malay Sweet Potato Samosas, Spiced Apple Chutney, Curried Mayonnaise

14 Mar Sweet Potato Samosas

This recipe is inspired by a meal we had at Apprentice in Stellenbosch. Apprentice is a restaurant owned by the Institute of Culinary Arts. All the staff, kitchen and front of house, are students from the institute serving a six month placement.

The Head Chef Hylton is a former graduate from the institute and he trains and watches over the trainees. Two of the chefs in the Top Ten restaurants of South Africa are graduates of this scheme including the winner of the award for best chef 2011/2012 Peter Tempelhoff.

We went for lunch and ordered the Tapas plate, the Greek Salad and the Roasted Vegetable Wrap. Every dish was full of flavour and well executed. Hylton was very keen to inform us that the evening menu is far more “fine dining” so he bought us an example of that menu. The Beetroot Tart came with a dukkah spiced goat’s cheese and honeycomb crumble. Really lovely. The lunch menu is more casual but no less enjoyable. They also open in the morning with a very popular breakfast menu.

Part of the tapas plate was a delicious sweet potato samosa that I was very keen to recreate at home. They make their own Cape Malay curry powder which makes a real difference to the flavour. I managed to get the recipe for both the samosas and the curry powder so now I have always got some to add to any vegetable curry or chutney that I make. I recommend that you have a go at it too.

I used a double layer of filo pastry cut into 9/10 cm strips (above) to make these. You could also use spring roll wrappers, see my tutorial here. I brushed them with olive oil and baked them rather than deep-frying but it’s up to you. The apple chutney is sweet and sticky like a spicy jam and I also made a curry mayonnaise (the yellow stripe) to go with it, made with the Cape Malay curry powder.

Sweet Potato Samosas with Apple Chutney & Curry Mayonnaise

Makes 12-15 depending size, vegetarian. Adapted from The Apprentice recipe

For the Cape Malay Curry Powder:

  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 18 curry leaves (optional)

Roast the whole spices in a dry pan for a minute until fragrant. Grind to a fine powder then add the powdered spices and curry leaves if using. Store in an airtight container.

For the samosas:

Prep time: 45 mins Cooking Time: 15 mins

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 350 gr), peeled & cut into 1/2-1 cm cubes
  • 1 tsp Cape Malay curry powder (see above)
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cardamom pod, bashed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 pack filo pastry sheets, defrosted
  • 1 egg & a splash milk, beaten, to stick samosas
  • olive oil for brushing

Preheat oven to 200 C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Mix all of the ingredients apart from the fresh coriander together and spread out in one layer on the baking tray. Bake until soft about 10-15 minutes. Leave to cool. Remove bay leaf, cardamom pod and taste. Stir through the fresh coriander. Mash slightly to create a chunky mass.

Unroll the filo, remove two layers and cover the rest with a tea towel to stop it drying out. Cut the double layer into 9 or 10 cm strips.

Take a heaped teaspoon of the sweet potato mix and lay it in a triangle shape at the bottom of the strip on the right hand side. See the pictures above. Brush the edges with the egg wash then fold the left hand side of the pastry over the filling to create the triangle.

Brush around the edges with egg wash again and fold the whole triangle up along the long edge. Brush with egg wash again and fold the triangle over to the left. Keep folding until you have reached the top and run out of pastry.

Put the folded samosa on a lined baking tray, brush the top with olive oil and continue to make samosas until you run out of filling.

Bake at 200 C for 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy.

For the Spiced Apple Chutney:

Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 25 mins

  • 1 large apple, (200 gr) peeled, cored & chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 25 gr sultanas/raisins
  • 1/2 orange, zested & juiced
  • 50 gr brown (or raw) sugar
  • 1 tsp Cape Malay curry powder (see above)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 50 ml cider vinegar

Add all the ingredients except the apples to a large frying pan, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the onions are tender. Add in the apples and cook for another 20 minutes or the apples are soft and the mix has reduced and thickened and is sticky.

Blend it with a stick blender until jammy but still a bit chunky.

For the Curried Mayonnaise:

  • 2 tbsp Cape Malay curry powder (see above)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise

In a bowl, mix together the curry powder and olive oil to a paste. Add the mayonnaise and mix vigorously until combined. If it splits add more mayo. Season with a pinch of salt & taste.

Serve the hot samosas with the apple chutney, some curry mayo and sprinkle with some more fresh coriander.

At the Institute of Culinary Arts they cultivate chefs who breathe inspiration and innovation into the culinary world. The hospitality industry is experiencing record growth and South Africa is leading the way. Food is being taken a lot more seriously and there is also a growing public interest in quality ingredients and local flavours and cuisines. The concept of giving young chefs the opportunity to learn and grow in a business enviromment is obviously a very succesful one. For more information visit their website here.

Beetroot and Red Wine Risotto with Oregano and Seared Halloumi

10 Mar Beetroot Risotto & Seared Halloumi

This recipe is inspired by our trip to the Holden Manz Wine Estate in Franschhoek. Holden Manz is owned by Gerard Holden and Migo Manz, an artist whose paintings and sculpture decorate the public areas. They took over the existing wine estate about a year and a half ago and have been reinventing it ever since.

There is a beautiful Manor House with luxurious suites that has an exclusive yet unpretentious atmosphere. This could be said of the whole estate. They have a refreshingly modern approach to the business which translates into every area. The spa, guest house, winery and restaurant all have a positivity that comes from the staff being well-trained and excited about what they do and where they work.

You can order a picnic with food fresh from the garden orchard and a lovely bottle of the Holden Manz rose. Wander down to the banks of the river, chose your spot under the oak trees and while away the afternoon. Try some of their award-winning wines, a food and wine pairing or the extremely popular tapas menu.

The Franschhoek Kitchen restaurant has very quickly become a name up there with the heavyweights in the culinary town of Franschhoek. And those are some big names.

The stand out dish, for me, was the Holden Manz shiraz and beetroot risotto with duck prosciutto. I didn’t eat the duck obviously but the sweet beetroot risotto with a hint of peppery spice from the shiraz really was delicious. The Washer Up said it was perfect with the salty, smoky duck. My challenge was to recreate this dish at home and find a suitable replacement for the duck. 

I immediately thought of feta because its salty, sour creaminess would be the perfect contrast to the sweet, dark and earthy beetroot. And this would still be great but halloumi has that slightly chewy, meaty texture that as well as the saltiness that gave it the edge over the feta. The oregano is because we have just bought an oregano plant so it is “new favourite thing” and it goes well with hallloumi for that extra bit of Greek flavour.

You make a beetroot puree to add to the risotto, we made a bit extra to use as a dressing on the plate. It really increases the volume on the beetroot flavour. It’s up to you.

Beetroot & Red Wine Risotto with Oregano & Seared Halloumi

Serves 3-4, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from The Franschhoek Kitchen recipe

Prep time: about 30 mins if roasting beetroot Cooking Time: 25-35 mins

  • about 160 gr baby beetroots, roasted until soft with olive oil salt & pepper (or you can buy precooked vacuum packed beetroot) but don’t used the pickled stuff in jars.
  • 250 gr arborio rice (we used brown short-grain rice it takes longer to cook and more stock)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano or thyme (plus extra for garnish)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk young celery, finely chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • 250 ml (or more if using brown rice) red wine (Shiraz/Syrah if possible) something peppery and spicy
  • 250-500 ml veg stock
  • a handful of finely grated manchego (or parmesan) cheese
  • 250 gr pack halloumi cheese, in 1/2 cm slices
  • rocket or watercress to serve
  • some finely diced cooked beetroot for garnish (optional)

Blend the cooked beets with a stick blender to a smooth puree. Reserving some to finely chop for garnish if you like. Taste and season with salt and pepper (if you haven’t already).

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Put the veg stock in a small pan over a low-medium heat and keep hot, not boiling.

Fry the onions and celery in the hot oil until starting to soften (4-5 minutes) then add the garlic and oregano, cook for another minute then add the rice. Stir to coat the rice then add three-quarters of the beetroot puree, stirring again.

Add the wine, in three parts stirring all the time until each lot is absorbed into the rice. Then add the hot stock a ladle full at a time, stirring untill each ladle full is absorbed before adding the next.

Keep adding the stock until the rice is cooked (you may need to add more stock/wine to the small saucepan depending on the rice). Season with salt and black pepper.

Remove from the heat stir through the grated cheese, cover and leave to stand while you cook the halloumi.

Heat a frying/saute pan over a medium-high heat but DON’T add any oil. Dry the slices of halloumi on kitchen paper then put into the hot pan. Cook for a minute or so on each side until browned and slightly crispy.

To serve: spoon the risotto into bowls (or into a chefs ring on a plate) and top with the halloumi slices. Garnish with a smudge of the reserved beetroot puree, the rocket or watercress leaves, chopped beetroot and some baby oregano leaves.

Serve with a nice glass of the red wine you used to cook the risotto. The Holden Manz Shiraz if you’re lucky…..

For more information about the Holden Manz wine estate, visit their website here.

Have a great weekend!!

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