Archive | April, 2012

Piccolo Tesoro Goat’s Cheese, Fig and Rocket Spelt Pizza

29 Apr Goat Cheese & Fig Spelt Pizza

This is my adaptation of a really excellent pizza we had at Piccolo Tesoro in Montagu. Montagu is a picturesque village  about 200 km outside Cape Town on Route 62. We stayed in a pretty little hotel called Four Oaks Guest House.

We had an excellent evening meal there and the breakfasts were lovely too. Piccolo was also the name of  the really cute chihuahua who stole the show at the hotel.

 After breakfast we had a walk around the village. We saw ibises nesting, weaver birds’ nests hanging over the river and some beautiful flowers.

Traditional architecture, churches and quaint cottages surrounded by white roses.

 We wandered around the Saturday morning market with people selling  homemade jams, chutneys, breads, cakes, pestos and freshly made take-away foods, but we couldn’t stay long.

We were booked on a river boat cruise at Viljoensdrift before lunch. We had a lovely bottle of the Viljoensdrift rose while drifting down the river enjoying the views. You can also order a picnic but we had lunch already booked at the beautiful Reuben’s in Robertson. You can see my full review of lunch here.

We were very full after our fabulous lunch so we had a lie down and went out quite late for a light dinner. Pizza seemed like the best option as we had gone gourmet for lunch. Arriving at Piccolo Tesoro it seemed like everyone else had the same idea. It was packed, they had actually run out of chairs. My dad had to sit on a stool for the first half hour until somebody left!!

 To be honest we were only expecting a quick pizza and a beer. Isn’t it sometimes the way, that when you are least expecting it a little gem (or piccolo tesoro) turns up out of the blue.

We did have to wait a while because they were so busy and we were the last table but we didn’t mind at all. We had enjoyed an enormous lunch remember and The Washer Up discovered his new favourite beer while we were waiting thanks to our friend Paul. Jack Black is the best South African beer now according to him.

The pizzas were excellent, some of the best I have ever had actually. The “Sophia” was my favourite, it was topped with Gorgonzola, green fig preserve and rocket. The bases were thin and crispy and not overloaded with toppings, which is exactly how I like them. Green fig preserve is used a lot in South Africa, we also had it at our picinic at Bramon Wine Estate with the baked camembert. It is made with unripe figs.

My version of this fantastic pizza is made with a spelt flour dough. I have just found a new supplier of spelt flour actually in Alhaurin (where we live). El Amasadero supplies all different types of flour including spelt, quinoa, oat, wholemeal and strong bread flour. He also supplies baking accessories and utensils, including pizza stones which I could definitely do with. He ships all over Spain and Europe or you can buy from him directly in his office/warehouse in Alhaurin just in front of the Policia Local.

He can also get Teff flour, which I am really excited about because I have been trying to get hold of  it for ages. It is used to make the Ethiopian flatbread Injera.  Injera is a flatbread made with yeast and the runny batter is poured into a hot pan and cooked a bit like a thick crepe. I have made it before with spelt flour and have been quite happy with the results. Now I can try it with the proper flour I will be posting an Ethiopian recipe soon.

Unfortunately figs aren’t in season here yet and we don’t have the green fig preserve so I used dried figs soaked in boiling water to soften them up a bit. Gorgonzola is also quite difficult to get hold of here so I used goat’s cheese instead, you could also use a blue cheese if you like.

Goat’s Cheese, Fig & Rocket Spelt Flour Pizza

Makes 2-3 pizzas, vegetarian, Dough recipe adapted from vegrecipesofindia

Prep time 25 mins (plus 1-2 hours resting) Cooking time 5 -10 mins

For the dough:   

  • 375g – 450 gr (2.5 to 3 cups)  spelt flour (or plain)
  • 220 ml (1 cup) warm water
  • 25gr fresh yeast, finely chopped or 1 sachet quick action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • olive oil for brushing
  • polenta/cornmeal for rolling

For the tomato sauce:

  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • a pinch dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tin (400 gr) chopped tomatoes     
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • a squeeze of honey
  • 1/2 tsp basil pesto
  •  1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:       

  • 100-150 gr goat’s cheese/gorgonzola/blue cheese
  • 10-12 dried figs halved (or 4-5 fresh figs, sliced) or some green fig preserve       
  • 3 handfuls of grated mozzarella or other cheese 
  •  fresh rocket leaves to garnish

Dough…

Whisk the honey into the warm water until it dissolves then add the yeast, whisk again and leave for 10-15 minutes to become frothy.

Add 150 gr (1 cup) flour, salt and olive oil to a large bowl, stir together then add the frothy yeast mixture. Stir again and add another 150 gr (cup) of flour until combined.  Add another 75 gr (1/2 cup) flour and combine. It should be quite a sticky dough.

Use some of the remaining flour to dust the board and knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic adding more of the flour as necessary if it sticks. Put the dough in a bowl and rub some olive oil over it. Cover and leave in a warm place for up to 2 hours or until doubled in size. 

Meanwhile make the tomato sauce….

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over a medium high heat and cook the onion, herbs and chilli flakes with a pinch of salt for about 4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

Tip in the tinned tomatoes, add the tomato paste, honey and pesto. Season with salt & black pepper, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until reduced.  Taste and adjust seasoning. Leave to cool. You could puree it if you like but I left mine chunky.

To cook:

Preheat the oven to its highest setting, with the baking tray (or pizza stone) in there too. Make sure the oven is clean or you will have a smoking kitchen (just saying).

Punch the dough down and divide it into 2 or 3 equal balls. You can refrigerate it at this point if you like. Sprinkle some polenta (or flour) on your worksurface and start to roll or push out your dough to a kind of circle about 3-5 mm thick.

This stage is optional but this is what Piccolo Tesoro do to keep the dough crispy. They put it in the oven for one minute before they put the toppings on. That’s what I did and it worked, no soggy base.

Take it out after 1 minute and smear some of the tomato sauce on the pizza (not too much) then add your goat’s cheese slices (or chunks), your chopped/sliced figs and cover with a layer of grated cheese. Put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes (depending on heat of oven) but keep an eye on it and take it out when you are happy.

Scatter over some fresh rocket leaves and serve immediately, with a Jack Black if you can get one…

 Enjoy!!

Spiced Cauliflower and Red Onion Savoury Picnic Cake

23 Apr Cauliflower Picnic Loaf

Gourmet picnics are big news in Cape Town, espsecially in the winelands. Well it makes sense doesn’t it? Most of the wine estates have beautiful grounds, so why not make use of them. While we  were in South Africa we enjoyed three picnics. The first at The Roundhouse overlooking the stunning coastline around Camps Bay. The second at Bramon Wine Estate just outside Plettenberg Bay where our table sat amongst the Sauvignon Blanc vines. And the third at Boschendal, one of the oldest traditional Cape Dutch wine estates in Franschhoek, dating back to 1685.

We sat under ancient trees enjoying the view, while our picnic was prepared.

Ordered the wine, one of my favourites: the Boschendal Chardonnay Pinot Noir blend a lovely wine with a slight apricot blush.

They actually offer a Vegetarian Picnic option which is a first. It included a duo of potato salads, quiche, salad, sweet chilli vinaigrette, sundried tomato & spinach wraps, red pepper pate, caramelised onion pate, chocolate & macadamia nut brownies, cheese & biscuits, red onion maramalade and a french stick. We had trouble finishing it all.

Le Pique Nique, as it is called, is very good value, you get a lot of food and can enjoy their fine wines surrounded by Agapanthus, my favourite plants. I am a little obsessed with them actually.

So, inspired by the picnic food idea and eating outside. I came across an Yotam Ottolenghi recipe for a Cauliflower Cake. Ottolenghi is another one of my obsessions, I love his food and find it endlessly inspiring. See this post and this one for proof of his influence over my recipes.

He makes a big round cake in a 24 cm cake tin, I halved the recipe and cooked mine in a loaf tin. I also added some more spices because I can’t help myself. It’s kind of like a quiche without the pastry.

Spiced Cauliflower & Red Onion Savoury Picnic Cake

Makes 1 loaf, vegetarian. Can be doubled to fill a 24 cm cake tin.

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi Prep time: 20 mins Cooking time 45 mins

  • about 400 gr cauliflower broken into medium florets 
  • 1/2 large red onion, peeled
  • 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 5 medium eggs
  • a handful of fresh chopped coriander
  • 90g spelt flour (or plain)
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 80-100g grated manchego or vegetarian parmesan
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

Heat the oven to 180C. Put the cauliflower florets in a large saucepan, cover with water, add a teaspoon of salt, bring to the boil then lower the heat and and simmer for 10 -15 minutes, until quite soft. Strain, and leave to drain in the colander.

Meanwhile prepare the batter. Cut a few 1/2 cm rings off one end of the onion, set aside to decorate the top of the cake and roughly chop the rest. Heat the oil in a pan and on a medium heat sauté the chopped onion and rosemary for about 6 minutes, until softened and slightly caramelised. Remove from the heat and leave to cool down.

Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a large bowl, and add the parmesan, one teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper.

Add the eggs and coriander to the cooled onions and whisk. Then add the egg mix to the flour mix and whisk to eliminate lumps. Add the cauliflower and fold in gently, trying to keep some florets whole.

Use baking paper to line the inside of the loaf tin. Brush any visible sides of the tin with oil and dust with flour. Tip in the cauliflower mix, even out the top with a spatula and arrange the onion rings on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 40-45 minutes (for both sizes of cake), until golden brown and set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The reason I called this a picnic cake is because it is equally good served warm with a lemon & olive oil dressed cucumber salad with fresh mint as a light evening meal or served room temperature the next day as part of a picnic lunch, wherever you happen to be, office, lawn or beach.  Just cut yourself a slice and relax.

A very nice glass of wine always helps too….

For more information about Boschendal Wine Estate visit their website here.

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Spelt Flour Braid Loaf

20 Apr Garlic & Rosemary Braided Loaf

So here it is, as promised, the recipe for the Garlic & Rosemary Braid that I made to go with the Baked Camembert with Honey Glazed Pear & Almonds in my last post.

The delicious flavour of this bread comes from roasting a whole bulb of garlic with fresh rosemary in the oven for about 35 minutes until it is soft and sweet. You then squeeze the roasted cloves out of their papery cases and mash them with a beaten egg. All of this goes into the bread mixture before kneading.

I don’t need to tell you that it smells amazing while it is cooking and that you will not be able to resist pulling a piece off to stuff in your mouth as soon as it comes out of the oven. You may want to have some olive oil ready to dunk it into.

I brushed the top with olive oil, sea salt and rosemary after 15 minutes of cooking and then put it back in the oven for another 10-15 to get golden. I also painted another layer of olive oil over the top when I took it out of the oven to give it a lovely shiny finish.

Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Braided Spelt Loaf

Makes 1 loaf, vegetarian, wheat-free. Adapted from Taste of Home

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp veg stock
  • 450 gr (3 cups) spelt flour (or plain flour)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 sachet of quick action yeast (or I used 25 gr fresh yeast, finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) milk (I used oat milk)
  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) water
  • 3 tbsp olive oil or butter plus extra for brushing top
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 210 C. Remove the outer paper from the head of garlic but do not peel or separate the cloves. Cut off the top of head of garlic but leave the root end intact. Place cut side up on a baking sheet (or oven proof pan), brush/drizzle with a teaspoon of oil and sprinkle with the rosemary. Cover and roast for 30-35 minutes until soft. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then squeeze the cloves out of their cases into a small bowl with the veg stock and mash with a fork.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl. In a small saucepan gently heat the milk, water, 3 tbsp butter or olive oil until just warmed through. Add this to the dry ingredients and combine well with a wooden spoon.

Beat an egg into the mashed garlic until smooth and add that to the mix as well. Add a bit more flour if the dough is too wet but you want quite a sticky dough.

Tip it out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.

Turn the dough out and divide into three equal balls. With your hands, roll these into approx 18 inch sausages/ropes. place the sausages on a baking sheet lined with baking paper that has been brushed with oil. (they will probably hang over one end at this point) and braid/plait them as evenly as possible. Pinch the ends to seal and tuck them under. Cover again and leave in a warm place to double in size, about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C and bake for 15 minutes. Mix some chopped rosemary and sea salt into a tablespoon of olive oil and brush this over the top of the bread. Put it back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

You can also brush it with more olive oil when it has finished cooking to give it a nice shine. Leave to cool on a wire rack. If you can bear to wait, that is…

Enjoy your weekend…

Rosemary and Garlic Baked Camembert with Honey Glazed Pear and Almonds

17 Apr Baked Camembert & Honey Glazed Pears

This dish was inspired by a picnic lunch we enjoyed at the Bramon Wine Estate just outside Plettenberg Bay. Bramon Wine Estate is a boutique vineyard and it is the first and only Estate that far East of the Western Cape.

Their flagship Sauvignon Blanc wine is called The Crags which is the name of the “town” where the Wine Estate is situated. You couldn’t really call it a town though. It consists of a petrol station and a shop. Which is why it is such a pleasant surprise to find this beautiful place just off the main road. They also have two sparkling Sauvignon Blanc Cap Classiques. I went for the 2008 sparkling ” a  refreshingly clean palate with vibrant mousse and an exciting, limey, zesty lingering finish”. It was one of the best sparkling wines I have tried in a long time.

So I had another glass. As you do.

In the summer they offer a picnic lunch amongst the vines. It is a really special feeling to be drinking the wine that is growing all around you. It is a relaxed, informal dining experience (in a really good way). You order your drinks and then get a list of the foods available. You trick the boxes next to what you would like to order and then give it back to the very capable waiting staff. Sit back relax, enjoy your drink and the beautiful surroundings while your picnic is freshly prepared for you.

We chose the mini baked camembert with honey figs and nuts, a beautiful plaited bread with rosemary and sea salt, green fig preserve, avocado and parmesan crisp salad, fresh pesto with mixed herbs and almonds, sundried tomatoes and a creamy hummus.

There is a monkey park and a bird sanctuary very near to the Wine Estate, so in a very organised fashion we went to Bramon in the morning to book a nice table in the vines for lunch at 1pm and then went off to Monkeyland for the rest of the morning. You get a guided walking tour around the forest that is very informative for kids and adults. More than 450 primates live and free-roam around the forest. It is an amazing feeling to be that close to so many different types of monkeys and lemurs that are living in a natural habitat. 

After lunch we went to Birds of Eden which is the largest free flight bird aviary in the world. It is a great way to spend a a couple of hours, there are 3500 birds out in the open. You walk up wooden walkways that snake their way through ruins and waterfalls up into the canopy of the trees. It is a stunning place.

And again you get so close to them.

Monkeyland and Birds of Eden are next to each other so you can buy combination tickets for both, which is what we did. With an excellent lunch at Bramon in between of course. Which brings me back to the food.

I contacted Bramon to get the recipes for the baked camembert and the rosemary plaited bread. The gave me the camembert but then told me that the bread recipe was a secret! I can understand it of course, it was very good.

So I made my own version of the bread using spelt flour which I flavoured with roasted garlic and rosemary. It was lovely, especially dipped into the oozing  baked camembert.

I will give you the bread recipe in my next post but for now here’s the baked camembert. I used pears rather than figs because figs aren’t in season here yet and I had some in my fruit bowl.

 I also studded the cheese with sliced garlic and rosemary sprigs before baking it because we used to serve it like that when it was on the menu at the restaurant. It’s something I saw Jamie Oliver do somewhere that makes such a difference to the flavour.

Rosemary & Garlic Baked Camembert with Honey Glazed Pear & Almonds

serves 2, vegetarian, gluten-free

Prep time: 5 mins Cooking time: 30-35 mins

  • 1 boxed camembert (250 gr) wooden box is best but card is fine
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • a few tops of fresh rosemary
  • olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180C, remove the paper wrapping from around the cheese and put it back in the box. Make little slits all over the top of the cheese with a sharp knife and push in the slices of garlic and rosemary tops.

Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 30-35 minutes until soft and melting inside. Meanwhile make the honeyed pear and almonds.

Honey Glazed Pear & Almonds

serves 2, vegetarian, gluten-free

  • 1 pear, cored and sliced into 12 wedges
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • a handful of whole toasted almonds (I used salted)
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 1 tbsp honey (rosemary honey if possible)

Toss all the ingredients apart from the honey together in a small bowl until evenly coated. Heat up a small frying pan over a medium high heat and throw in the pear & almond mix. Brown/caramelise slightly on both sides before adding the honey and stir to coat the pears.

Cook until the pears are soft but not mushy and remove from the heat.

Serve the warm honey glazed pear and almonds with the baked camembert and a nice bread for dipping. Or wait for my Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Braided Spelt Loaf in my next post…

For more information about the Bramon Wine Estate visit their webste here.

Enjoy!!

Mushroom Goats Cheese Ravioli, Butternut Sauce, Confit Tomatoes, Pine Nuts, Basil

9 Apr Ravioli with Butternut Sauce

This recipe is inspired by a couple of dishes we tried at Reuben’s restaurants in Franschhoek and Robertson. For those of you that don’t know, Reuben Riffel is the Chef Patron of the, now very successful chain of Reuben’s restaurants in South Africa. The first restaurant opened in Franschhoek seven or eight years ago and put the town well and truly on the map as a culinary destination. Reuben’s food is all about flavour and freshness of ingredients and has a definite world influence. His consistency has kept this popular award-winning restaurant at the top of the ever-increasing number of fine-dining establishments in the town. Which is why, I presume they decided to open another one.

Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel is an oasis of calm, serenity and cool styling. I had to physically restrain myself from diving (dream on) into the pool that lies adjacent to the suites as we arrived at the restaurant. Our table overlooked the pool area but luckily the menu was enough to take my mind off of that view.

The menu is typically Reuben. For starters we chose the water, summer & sweet melon salad with poppy-seed dressing, light & refreshing. The marinated mixed tomato, artichoke salad, olive caramel, deep-fried boconccini, pesto, tomato chutney. The deep-fried boconccini mozzarella balls were beautiful (must try at home soon) and came with the best tomatoes I’ve had for a long time. The Washer Up had the double baked gruyere souffle, waldorf salad, raisin puree, vanilla citrus vinaigrette. The souffle was light and flavourful, excellent with the sweet raisin puree which I recreated to go with this tart.

The main courses that lead me to this recipe came from both restaurants. Goat’s cheese ravioli, yellow pepper essence, pine nuts, confit tomato, spinach and olives from The Robertson and Butternut Ravioli, melting goat’s cheese mousse, pine nuts, tomato, yellow pepper essence from Reuben’s in Franschhoek. Mine is a mash-up of both.

Oh, and the desserts are to die for. Bon Courage white muskadel creme brulee, poached plum, plum ice cream.  Heaven.

Vanilla Panna Cotta, lemon thyme poached peaches, apricot sorbet, enough said.

Affogato: vanilla ice cream, Klipdrift gold brandy, hazelnuts, hot espresso shot. I’m going to try this at home but with frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) next time

The thing about Reuben’s food is the flavour. Every dish has a small amount of chilli in it. You don’t really notice the heat it just enhances all the other flavours. I love it. Oh, I forgot about the side dishes they do a Parmesan Truffle Oil Mash which is the most comfortingly addictive thing I have ever tasted. I didn’t get a picture because we ate it too fast.

This is my version of a Reuben dish. I made a wholemeal pasta dough with spelt flour rather than 00 flour. It actually worked really well. I’ve had disasters with wholemeal pasta before but the spelt flour seemed to be better. I did leave the dough in the fridge to rest overnight as well though. This may have helped it firm up more.

I contacted Reuben’s for the recipes and they, very kindly, sent me  a few different ones. The mushroom filling is from one dish (I added the goat’s cheese) and the Cape Malay butternut sauce is from a completely different dish. It may sound odd but it all balances out well and tastes great. The only thing I may do differently next time is trim some of the “skirt” of the raviolis (above) so that there isn’t so much double layer dough, or even use more filling to reach nearer the edges.

The confit tomatoes are intense little balls of flavour that burst in your mouth. I will definitely make these again, for pasta or salads or anything really. You may think life is too short to peel cherry tomatoes and I do kind of agree with you but, it means they soak up all of the garlicky herb oil they are soaked in. You could just saute them in a pan to save time.

Mushroom Goat Cheese Ravioli

Serves 2, vegetarian. Adapted from the Reuben’s recipe

  • 200 gr ’00′ flour (I used spelt flour)
  • 2 large eggs

Mix together in a processor until it forms a dough. Bring together, knead for a minute, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours. I left mine overnight.

  • 12 chestnut (or mixed) mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 small sprig rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp soy sauce + 1 tsp sugar (or 2 tsp kecap manis)
  • 2 tsp Worcester sauce
  • about 30 gr goat cheese, cubed
  • 1 egg, beaten for sealing raviolis

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in  a pan over a medium high heat and cook the mushrooms and rosemary for a minute. Add the soy, sugar and Worcester sauce and saute until the mushrooms are dark, soft and the liquid has all been absorbed. Leave to cool completely before filling the raviolis.

Roll out the pasta dough, on a well floured surface with a rolling-pin or pasta machine until 1mm thin. Cut out circles about 7cm in diameter. Take a tablespoon of the (cooled) mushroom filling and place on one side of the circle. Top with a piece of goat cheese. Brush the edges with the beaten egg and fold it over to cover the filling. Press down around the filling to get rid of any air bubbles and make sure the edges are sealed and there are no holes in the dough. You can cut off some of the excess skirt of the ravioli if you think there is too much. Place on a tray on a piece of baking paper until ready to cook. Store in the fridge if necessary.

To cook: carefully lower them into a large pan of salted, boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes. They should float and look softer. Drain and serve immediately with your choice of sauce.

Garlic & Herb Confit Tomatoes

Serves 2, vegan, gluten-free

  • about 175 gr cherry tomatoes
  • 25 ml white balsamic vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced finely
  • 1 shallot, sliced finely
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 small sprig fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • sea salt & black pepper

Put a cross in the bottom of each tomato, put in a bowl and pour over boiling water till covered. Leave for 20-30 seconds, drain and then shock in iced water for 30 seconds. Peel immediately.

Warm the oil, vinegar, herbs, garlic and shallot over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Pour this over the peeled tomatoes and leave for at least two hours at room temperature before serving. Reheat in a pan with some of the oil. Season with sea salt & black pepper just before serving.

Cape Malay Butternut Squash Sauce/Soup

This makes a lot of sauce so I used it as a soup for lunch the next day as well.

  • 600 ml veg stock
  • 1 tbsp Cape Malay spice mix (see my recipe here)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 celery leaves & tops, chopped
  • 750 ml grated butternut squash
  • 400 ml milk/cream (I used oat milk)
  • 1 tsp palm sugar/brown sugar
  •  a squeeze of fresh lemon
  • 1 tin (400 ml) coconut milk (optional)
  • salt to taste

Put the stock, squash, Malay spices, onion, garlic and celery leaves in a large pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat slightly and cook for about 10 minutes until the squash is soft. Add the milk, season with the salt, sugar and bring to the boil again. Cook for a few minutes to reduce slightly.

Remove from the heat and carefully blend with a stick blender until smooth. You can serve as it is or add a tin of coconut milk to make it more soupy. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and taste for seasoning.

I used a potato peeler to make some courgette ribbons which I heated through with the tomatoes and toasted off some pine nuts. Some baby basil leaves and fresh rocket look pretty for a garnish too.

For more information about Reuben’s restaurants and The Small Hotel visit their website here

Grandad’s Pickled Red Cabbage

5 Apr small-3

It was my granddad’s birthday on Tuesday, he was 93. I phoned him to wish him a happy birthday and also to persuade him to give me this recipe. After the success of his amazing Pickled Onion recipe that I posted in the Summer I have been trying to get him to write this one down too. They really are the best pickled onions in the world. If you haven’t tried them yet, what are you waiting for?

I have been running past these red cabbages every day with the dog thinking “I have to get that recipe”.

Then I got a huge red cabbage in my organic veg box this week and I knew it was time.

Grandad uses pickling spices that come in a muslin bag from the supermarket. You hang them in the vinegar while it is boiling to infuse it with the spices. They don’t sell pickling spices in the supermarkets here so I googled it to find out what they were.

There are different combinations but the main ingredients are bay leaves, cardamom, allspice, coriander, mustard seeds, cinnamon, black peppercorns and cloves. I didn’t have any muslin and all the shops are shut for Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday) so I just threw the whole lot into the vinegar. Hopefully it will turn out the same but I won’t know for a month. That’s how long you have to leave it before eating.

Grandad’s Pickled Red Cabbage Recipe

Makes 1 big jar, vegan, gluten-free

You have to salt the cabbage overnight before continuing

  • 1 small red cabbage (I used 1/2 a big one)
  • salt
  • 1 or 2 bags of pickling spices or I used: 2 bay leaves, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 cardamom pods, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp allspice berries, 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, 4 or 5 cloves
  • 500 – 750 ml malt vinegar (or I used a mixture of malt vinegar, sherry vinegar and cider vinegar)

Tear off the outer leaves of the cabbage and any that look a bit tired. Remove the core and slice the cabbage into 1/4 inch slices. Lay them out on a large ceramic plate and salt very generously. Leave overnight.

…In the morning my grandad recommends trying some of the salty cabbage and, he says you’ll wonder why you are pickling it…

Rinse the salt off and dry the cabbage. Put the vinegar and pickling spices in a pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat slightly and cook for 10 minutes. Now you can remove the muslin bag of spices if you have one.

Pour about half of the hot vinegar into a sterilised jar then add most of the cabbage. Fill up the jar with the rest of the vinegar and any more cabbage that will fit in. Make sure the cabbage is covered with vinegar then seal the jar and store in a cool dry place for about a month before opening.

 I’ll let you know in a month how it is…….if I can wait that long!!

Thanks Grandad, Happy Birthday, Happy Easter and I’ll see you soon!!

Lots of Love

Chocolate and Lavender Easter Cupcakes

3 Apr Easter Chocolate Cupcake

Lavender is the colour of the moment. Everywhere I look when we are out walking the dog I see wild lavender growing out of rocks.

Or the beautiful wisteria that has decided to bloom all at once. Just in time for Easter.

I wanted to make something sweet for Easter and that for me that means chocolate. I had an idea in my head of chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting, sprinkled with crumbled up Flake (to look like a nest) and little mini eggs inside the nest.

The thing is that tidy, delicate and uniform is not my forte. Also, if it doesn’t work the first time, it’s never going to happen. So when my first attempt at a mini egg chocolate flake nest looked like a six year old had been let loose in the chocolate cupboard, I actually considered inventing some children and blaming them.

Already bored of the chocolate nest idea I started playing around with the icing and some of the lavender I had picked that morning. It turns out that the lavender ones looked the best, so I spent the next few minutes picking out all of the lavender coloured mini eggs. I don’t know what happened to the other colours, must of been those pesky kids again…

These cupcakes are actually vegan and made with spelt flour. The frosting is also vegan, made with an olive oil spread instead of butter which is why it is a bit softer than proper buttercream icing. As I didn’t know beforehand that I was making lavender chocolate cupcakes I didn’t add any lavender to the cake mix. I have added it into the recipe below but it is up to you whether you do or not.

Chocolate Lavender Easter Cupcakes

Makes 10-12, vegan (without toppings), wheat-free. Adapted fron Oh She Glows

Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 25 mins

  • 1 cup oat milk (or any non dairy milk)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar (raw cane if possible)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups spelt (or wholemeal) flour
  • 1/3 cup pure cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp dried edible lavender (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170 C and line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, beat together the  milk, vinegar, sugar, oil and vanilla with an electric whisk/mixer for a minute ot two.

Sieve the dry ingredients (except the lavender) into the wet and stir well to get rid of any lumps. Then stir through the lavender.

Transfer the mix to a jug and pour it into the cupcake liners about two thirds to three quarters full for each. Bake for about 25 minutes until the top springs back slowly when pressed with a finger. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before adding the frosting.

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 6 tbsp olive oil spread (or equivalent)
  • 3/4 cup pure cocoa powder
  • 2+2/3 cups icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup oat milk (or other non dairy milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the spread and vanilla together with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add 2 tbsp of the milk and whisk again.

Alternate adding the sugar, cocoa and milk a bit at a time until it is all mixed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to get all of it combined well.

Store in the fridge until ready to use. Don’t start icing until the cupcakes are completely cool. Use a palette knife or piping bag to ice the cakes and decorate as you wish.

If it stops raining long enough I should be able to get about and photograph some of the spectacular processions and plays that take place here for Semana Santa. I remember saying the same thing last year and there was a huge electrical storm which blew up my modem and motherboard as well as cancelling all the processions and the crucifixion.

So, fingers crossed!

Happy Easter everyone!!

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