Green Bean Vinaigrette

In keeping with my tradition of quick and easy recipes, this is another qualifier.  I can quite comfortably polish off all the beans by myself in one sitting.  It does help that Pete says they are squeaky and steers clear of them. :-)  If you want to get fancy, you could throw a few toasted flaked almonds over the top.

Green Bean Vinaigarette 1

Green Bean Vinaigrette

Ingredients

350g fresh green beans
45ml olive oil
30ml red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove crushed
¼ tsp brown sugar
Ground salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Blanch or steam the beans until tender.
  2. Mix all of the other ingredients and pour over the beans while they are still hot.
  3. Allow to marinate for an hour or more spooning the vinaigrette over the beans a couple of times.
Green Bean Vinaigarette 2

So tasty with a tender piece of steak

 

Baked Sweet Potato with Philadelphia, Dates & Coriander

Quite frankly this is a meal all on it’s own and I have been known to enjoy it more than once for lunch and is another fabulous recipe I inherited from my sister-in-law Karin.  I am also hooked on serving these for guests and they accompany everything from a braai to a roast dinner, well I think so.  If I bake the sweet potato in the oven, I brush them with olive oil before baking but when I do them in the microwave I don’t bother.  There are no real quantities as you can stuff in as much or as little of the cheese, dates and coriander as you like.

Baked sweet potato

Baked Sweet Potato with Philadelphia, Dates & Coriander

Ingredients

Sweet potatoes
Philadelphia cream cheese cut into chunks
Dates cut into pieces
Coriander chopped

Method

  1. Baked the sweet potatoes in the oven set at 180°C until soft alternatively cook them in the microwave.
  2. Slice the sweet potato lengthwise and place all the other ingredients in the opening.

Baked Sweet potato 2

Mandy’s Tempura

The festive season is well under way so you may have noticed my lack of visiting your blogs – sorry about that.  Things may be higgledy piggledy until the new year before I am back in the swing of things – I will pop in periodically though just to keep up to speed with you all as I hate missing out on things. :-)

I love when I can put something together that really works, especially the first time and this tempura is one that has jumped right to the top of my favourite list.  I call it Mandy’s tempura as I am sure it is not a traditional recipe and has a slightly thicker consistency, although you could thin it a little by adding more club soda.  This recipe doubles very well too which works well for sharing these light crispy morsels with family and friends.

Mandy's Tempura 1

Mandy’s Tempura

Ingredients

½ cup flour
1 tbsp cornflour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt or season of choice
1 egg yolk
½ cup ice cold club soda

Method

  1. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add the egg yolk and club soda and mix until just combined – leaving lumps.
  3. Dunk any julienne vegetable or protein (I used chicken) and fry in medium hot oil until light golden brown on both sides.

Mandy's Tempura 2

Spicy Roasted Chicpeas

With the festive season here and all the extra eating and celebrating we do, a healthy tasty snack is always welcome.  Even if you aren’t a chicpea fan, I urge you to try this easy recipe, the crispy light nutty result is well worth the time in the oven.  I would suggest doubling or even tripling this recipe and use any combination of spice you would prefer.

Spicy roasted chick peas  1

Spicy Roasted Chicpeas

Ingredients

1 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tin chicpeas – drained and rinsed
Salt to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Grind all the spices together and place in a bowl, add the oil and stir to combine.
  3. Rinse the chicpeas and mix through the oil mixture to coat.  Add salt to taste.
  4. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until crispy.

Spicy roasted chick peas  2

 

Millet and Grape Salad

I wanted to call this Millet, Grape, Coriander, Toasted Almond and Spring Onion Salad because all of the ingredients are stars but alas, it’s too long.  Millet is a great alternative to quinoa for a summer salad and is somewhat cheaper too, which is great.  If you can’t get hold of millet, couscous will be a perfect substitute.

Millet Salad

Millet Salad

Ingredients

3 cups cooked millet
1 cup red grapes halved
1 cup coriander chopped
¼ cup red spring salad onions sliced
½ cup almonds toasted

Dressing

30ml apple cider vinegar
60ml olive oil
⅛ tsp sesame oil
1tsp honey
1 small garlic clove crushed
Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Combine all of the salad ingredients in a bowl
  2. Mix the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad and mix through.

Your ideal all in one cook book

If somebody had to ask you the question, “What is in your ideal cook book?” what would your top 3, or more if you like, things be?

Blog Book Cover

I ask because I am in the process of revising my Complete Cook Book and will be fluffing up the kitchen guide as well as the recipes.

So, if you could have an all in one complete kitchen book, what would you like to have featured?

I really would appreciate your input and if there is anything I can credit you for, I certainly will.

Thank you for your valuable input and hope you are as excited about the prospect of an improved complete cook book as much as I am.

Quick Coconut Chicken Curry

This is the ideal week night meal when you want a quick,  tasty and satisfying meal.  It may seem like a long list of ingredients but it all comes together and ready for the table in the amount of time it takes your rice to cook.

Quick coconut chicken curry

Quick Coconut Chicken Curry

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp coriander seed bruised
½ tsp cumin seed bruised
½ tsp chilli flakes – more if you like it hotter
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 inch piece of ginger grated
Zest of half a lemon
1 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tsp brown sugar
400g tin coconut cream
4 chicken breasts sliced
Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the spices and gently fry for one minute.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, zest, stock powder and sugar and fry for one minute.
  3. Add the coconut cream and allow to reduce by one third.
  4. Add the chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve with basmati rice.

 

Chocolate Meringue Pie

Dad always keeps interesting recipes aside which he finds in his Star newspaper for me to try when he and mom are visiting.  Angela Day runs a series of recipes with chocolate being the theme for Thursday 17 April 2014.

First on the agenda with the latest batch of recipes was a chocolate meringue pie which came in as winner with a unanimous vote.  Instead of making one pie, I opted for 4 smaller ones which worked very well for halving to share amongst 8 people.

Personally I would have preferred a softer centre and would add a minimum of 50ml extra cream – possibly even 100ml.  Overall though it is a lovely decadent pudding to share.

Chocolate Meringue Pie

Chocolate Meringue Pie

Ingredients

200g chocolate digestive biscuits crushed
80g butter melted
125ml chocolate hazelnut spread – (I omitted this)
300g dark chocolate
150ml cream – (I would definitely increase this)
125ml sugar
30ml water
5ml lemon juice
3 egg whites

Method

  1. Combine the crushed biscuits and melted butter and press into a 22cm pie plate or loose bottomed quiche tin (I used 4 smaller loose bottomed tins) and place in the freezer (I think the fridge is sufficient) to harden.
  2. Spread the hazelnut spread over the biscuit base or omit like I did.
  3. Combine the chocolate and cream in a bowl and microwave on a low setting for 1 to 2 minutes until melted and smooth.  (I melted the chocolate over a double boiler and stirred in the cream until combined once melted).  Pour over the base and refrigerate until set.
  4. Combine the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Turn up the heat and boil until the mixture reaches 115°C on a sugar thermometer or test by dropping a little mixture into ice water.  If it forms a brittle thread, it is ready. (I took the saucepan off the heat just as the mixture started to colour).
  5. Just before the sugar syrup is ready, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer to form soft peaks.
  6. Once your syrup is ready turn up the speed on the mixer and beat the egg whites, slowly pouring in the hot sugar syrup and beat until the mixture is cool.
  7. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe blobs over the chocolate mixture.
  8. Use a blowtorch to brown the meringue or place the pie under a heated grill for a few seconds.

Lack of Food Posts

As most of you know, Pete is away a lot of the time which means you will also know I get suckers on my butt and sit at the computer far too long which means supper is always an easy throw together meal.

Apple

When Pete is home, it is not for extended periods of time so we always enjoy his favourite meals and lots of braais (barbecues) so there is nothing new to share with you, very sad I know.

Every now and again I will get a sudden rush of blood to the brain and will make something scrumity like the Anchovy, Garlic, Tomato Pasta, or indulge in Sticky Chicken Wings but for the most part, I throw a chicken with some veggies and  spuds in the oven.  I have been known to get extravagant and on occasion even make gravy.  This will serve me well for at least 3 meals with leftovers to add to a salad.  A couple of other quick favourites are steak and salad or a piece of fresh fish and salad.

I will work on getting back in the kitchen to share something new and delicious with you.

Anchovy, Garlic, Tomato Pasta

I have been craving pasta for the past couple of weeks.  Maybe my body is lacking something or more likely I was just wanting to eat pasta.  I finally succumbed to the craving and made a scrumptious and very moreish meal, I think even my friend John would be impressed.

Anchovie pasta

Anchovy, Garlic, Tomato Pasta

If you don’t want to make your own pasta, use your choice of store bought.

Pasta Ingredients

200g all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1ml salt
5ml olive oil

Method

  1. Place the flour on a counter top and create a mound with a crater in the middle. Put the eggs, salt and oil into the crater.
  2. Beat the eggs with a fork and gradually incorporate the flour until all the egg is incorporated into the flour.  The dough should be of a rough consistency, feel slightly sticky to the touch and moist. If it’s too sticky sprinkle a bit more flour on the mixture.
  3. Using the palm of your hand push the dough down and away from you. Flip it back towards you and fold it in half. Once again push the dough down and away from you, rotating the dough so that it kneads in every direction. Continue until the dough becomes smooth.
  4. Wrap the dough in cling film and rest for 20 minutes. Don’t put it into the fridge.  I sometimes even skipped this step.
  5. If you don’t have a pasta machine to roll out your pasta, using a rolling pin, roll dough until flat and fairly thin.
  6. Roll the entire dough up like a pancake and cut into slices. The width of the cut will determine the thickness of your pasta. Unravel the pasta into strips.
  7. Cook for three to five minutes until al dente in a generous amount of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally to separate strands and prevent sticking.

Sauce Ingredients

15 ml olive oil
20 anchovies – more if you can resist eating them straight from the bottle
1 tin Italian tomatoes chopped
5ml sugar
3 garlic cloves crushed
Salt and black pepper to taste
Fresh coriander and flat leaf parsley chopped for serving

Method

  1. Mash the anchovies in the oil  in a pan.
  2. Add the tomatoes and sugar and reduce by half.
  3. Add the garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

Add your drained pasta to the pan with the tomatoes sauce.  Once plated, top with the coriander and parsley.

A few shavings of parmesan wouldn’t go a miss here either.

Quick No-Knead Bread

One of my favourite no-knead breads is the Crusty Artisan Bread, a fuss free recipe where you leave the dough to rise for between 8 and 24 hours before baking.  I have made this very moreish bread on a number of occasions to rave reviews and most everybody says it’s the best ciabatta they have eaten.

I then read about a no-knead bread which is ready to go in 2 hours or less over at Eat, Play, Love, which Kristy originally read about over at Five Euro Food and naturally I had to give it a go.

quick no knead bread 1This is a lovely loaf of bread which is a more traditional loaf than the artisan bread.  I made a second round of dough and baked it in 8 mini loaf tins which we enjoyed with friends.  They did however say they thought a bit more salt was needed.  I am very tempted to bake this super easy recipe in a Dutch oven as with the artisan bread and see what the difference is.

Quick no-knead-2

I couldn’t wait so I cut the bread while it was too hot -oops

 Quick No-Knead Bread

As seen on Eat, Play, Love

Ingredients

8g dried yeast – I used instant – it’s all I can get
50ml warm water
400g plain flour – I used unbleached stone ground bread flour
3tsp sugar – I used brown
1tsp salt
250ml warm water

 Method

  1. Place the yeast into a small bowl and pour over the 50ml water. Set aside and allow the yeast to activate for approximately 15 minutes.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.  Pour in the activated yeast and the remaining water and mix well until the flour is completely combined. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm spot to prove for approximately 60 minutes until the dough has doubled in size.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Dust the dough with a little flour and fold over a few times.  Form the dough and place in a prepared loaf tin. Make cuts into the top of the loaf  and sprinkle on some flour before setting aside in a warm place to rise for approximately 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 230°C.
  5. Bake the bread for 25-30 minutes until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.
  6. Remove the bread from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Barley and Lentil Soup

I am sorry I haven’t been around to visit your blogs and read your posts yet – things have gone a touch haywire here and I am hoping to be back to normal by next week.  Please be patient with me while I get there. See you soon. :-) xo

Even though Spring is officially here, we are still having some blustery cold days.  A pot of soup simmering on the stove is always a warm and welcoming smell on days like this.

Barley and lentil soup

Not the prettiest but oh so tasty

Barley and Lentil Soup

Ingredients

1 large onion chopped
2 inch piece of ginger grated
6 garlic cloves crushed
2 tsp dried Italian herbs
500g packet soup mix – barley, brown and red lentils and split peas
± 4 litres chicken or vegetable salt
Celery salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Fry the onion in a little olive oil until tender.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic and herbs and fry for a minute.
  3. Add the soup mix and stock and bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 1 hour until cooked.  You may need to add additional stock if the soup is too thick.
  5. Season with celery salt and pepper.

Feeling insignificant and Date Balls

Do you ever have one of those days, one when you feel really down and unimportant in the big scheme of things.

I had one of those recently.

Date balls 3

Years ago, when Pete and I got married, as you do, we combined everything and reshuffled a few things to suit our new life.  One of the things we did was close the banking accounts which were in my maiden name as they became somewhat redundant and instead of changing the accounts into my married name we  closed the account as to prevent unnecessary monthly banking fees.  Made sense at the time.

Fast forward a number of years to just the other day.  As many of you know, my uncle recently passed away and having worked through the process of his estate with my aunt, it brought a lot of realities to the fore which brings us to my not having a bank account in my own capacity.  I am a secondary card holder on all of Pete’s accounts with full signing power plus I have a power of attorney so what more do you need, right… but in the event of anything happening to him I would be in a bit of a dormant situation until his estate is wound up which as we all know can take quite some time.

This all sounds very depressing but it is a reality which needs to be dealt with and I am sure I am not the only one in this position.

Long story short, because I do not have any utility bills in my name showing our physical address in the region we reside in, it seems I cannot prove who I am to the bank!  HONESTLY!

Date balls 2

The 2 ladies at the, let’s call them, the Blue Bank, were not very sympathetic to my situation and after lengthy explanations said they were happy to accept a store account printout with the stores official stamp on it, just so long as it reflected our physical address – no amount of further explanation that we do not have street delivery in our area and that everything is registered to our box address made no difference, regardless of the fact I do not have any accounts.  The more I was trying to explain this, the more they were insistent that I must have!  Urgh!!!

Long story short, they are now happy to have Pete sign a piece of paper saying I am his wife (you should see the unprofessional form) and to provide a utility bill in his name.  They don’t need to see him sign the silly piece of paper so I could just as well sign it and take along my power of attorney and see what they have to say about that!

So feeling very unimportant and worthless I came home and made a batch of date balls.  Food is very therapeutic.

Date balls 1

Date Balls

Ingredients

250g butter
2 cups sugar
500g packet dates broken into small pieces
2 eggs beaten
1½ pkts Marie biscuits crumbed
2 tsp vanilla essence
Coconut for coating

Method

  1. Melt the butter, sugar and dates together in a pot until combined.  Remove from the heat to cool.
  2. Add the eggs.
  3. Add the vanilla essence.
  4. Add the Marie biscuits and mix well.
  5. Form into walnut sized balls.
  6. Roll in coconut.
  7. Refrigerate.

Hot Milk Chocolate Cake

I was browsing through a pile of my old recipe books the other day looking for some inspiration and out fell a handwritten page with a few shopping items written in Afrikaans; first clue this wasn’t mine, secondly I write in all capital letters and this was all in lower case.  The recipe portion of the page was in English though and the ingredients were written in such an odd order with a couple of corrections along the way – I list my ingredients in the order in which they get used so further proof that this recipe was not written down by me.  I also write the name of the person I get a recipe from or where I have copied it from.

Sadly I have no idea who’s it is but loved the idea of a hot milk cake so put all the books aside and preheated the oven while I got all the ingredients together.

Hot milk chocolate cake 3

The cake itself was lovely and spongy and moist but the flavour was somewhat insipid- I would at a minimum double the quantity of cocoa called for to get the desired result of a chocolate cake – also by using the stated amount of cocoa made the cake look like coffee cake.

Hot milk chocolate cake 1

Hot Milk Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

4 eggs
1½ cups sugar – I am sure this could be reduced to 1 cup
2 cups cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
2 tbsp cocoa – I would increase this to 5 tbsp
2 tbsp butter – I would substitute this with oil
1 cup milk

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Spray two 20cm baking tins with non stick spray.
  3. Beat the eggs well.
  4. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  5. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
  6. Add the butter to the milk and heat to boiling point.
  7. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and fold in.
  8. Add the milk and mix well.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tins and lightly tap the tins to expel any air bubbles and bake for 20 minutes.
  10. Once cooled ice as desired.

Hot milk chocolate cake 2

Choc Chip Oat Biscuits

These biscuits smell like what my granny’s kitchen smelt like – such a beautiful warm welcoming smell that wraps you up in a delicate warm and fuzzy feeling.  What more could you ask for!  These are so good that even my ever loving Pete who isn’t a biscuit person kept saying how fabulous they are.

Choc Chip Oat Biscuits 1

Choc Chip Oat Biscuits

Ingredients

115g all purpose flour
½tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼tsp baking powder
¼tsp salt
115g butter
115g caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla essence
85g oats
170g chocolate chips

Choc Chip Oat Biscuits 6

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Combine the flour, bicarb, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugars together.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the flour mixture and beat until thoroughly blended.
  6. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips.
  7. Place teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets, spacing the dough about 1 inch apart.
  8. Bake for approximately 12 minutes until just firm around the edges.
  9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Choc Chip Oat Biscuits 3

International Scone Week 2013 – Rustic Olive Oil Scones

Our dear friend Celia over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial hosts our International Scone Week which has become a firm annual favourite amongst a lot of us and seems I have just made the deadline for this year.

Last year I made yoghurt scones and this year I wanted to try something a little different and I was impressed with the result.  These lovely rustic scones were delicious with strawberry jam and lightly whipped cream as well as some grated Gouda cheese and made for a lovely lunch with a cup of tea which I enjoyed with my mom. :-)

Rustric olive oil scones

Rustic Olive Oil Scones

Ingredients

500ml cake flour
20ml baking powder
2.5ml salt
15ml white sugar
100ml mild olive oil
1 egg
±125ml buttermilk – yoghurt and milk would also work well

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 230°C.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Measure the oil in a 250ml measuring cup, add the egg and fill to the 250ml mark with the buttermilk.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix to form a rough dough using a knife.  Don’t over mix.
  5. Divide the mixture into 12 and place in muffin tins sprayed with non stick spray, alternatively divide the mixture into 12 and place on a prepared baking tray and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown on top.

No need to brush the top of the scones with an egg wash before baking.

Orange Poppy Seed Muffins

These lovely light flavoured muffins are perfect for with tea and come together in just a couple of minutes.  The longest part of this recipe is grating the orange zest and waiting for them to bake.  I was tempted to add a glacé (royal) icing drizzled over the top but thought they were nice enough just as is.

Orange Poppy Seed Muffins 1

Orange Poppy Seed Muffins

Ingredients

½ cup sunflower oil
¾ cup caster sugar
2 extra large eggs
¾ cup milk
5 tsp orange  zest
2 cups self raising flour
½ tsp salt
7 tsp poppy seeds

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Line 12 muffins pans with paper cases.
  3. Beat the oil and sugar together.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time and beat in.
  5. Add the milk and lemon zest.
  6. Fold in the flour, salt and poppy seeds.
  7. Divide the mixture between the 12 muffins pans and bake for 15  minutes.

Orange Poppy Seed Muffins 2

Curried Butter Beans

This is a lovely quick and easy recipe which compliments so many meals.  I have been known to eat it as a meal on it’s own too.  I got this scrumity recipe from a friend who always makes these delicious beans when we get together for a braai.  The flavour combination of garlic, ginger and curry is always a winner and these beans remind me of the fillings we used to enjoy in roti’s and dhalpouri’s when we lived in Mauritius.

Curried butter beans

Curried Butter Beans

Ingredients

Half an onion chopped
1 garlic clove crushed
¼ inch piece ginger finely chopped
1tsp mild curry powder
420g tin butter beans in tomato sauce
1 tsp chutney

Method

  1. Fry the onion in a little oil in a small pot until tender.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder and fry for two minutes.
  3. Add the butter beans and chutney and heat until the butter beans are heated through.

Fried Rice

This is for my lovely friend Diane over at Photographs and Recipes. :-D

This is my base recipe for fried rice which I throw all different types of rice at, even pasta rice – love versatile recipes that take so well to varying ingredients.  Very rarely I will add an egg to the mixture but don’t find it adds that much to the dish and occasionally will add fresh chilli, corn, chives, parsley and anything else I have taking up space in the fridge.

Fried rice  2

Fried Rice

Ingredients

Olive oil
Half an onion chopped
Half a red (capsicum) pepper diced
8 white button mushrooms sliced
3 cups cook rice of choice – I used basmati
Handful frozen baby peas
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Fry the onion and pepper in a good glug of olive oil.  Once the onions and peppers have started to soften add the mushrooms and fry until tender.
  2. Add the rice and stir fry until warmed through.
  3. Add the peas and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Fried rice  1

Stuffed Brown Mushrooms

I couldn’t resist a pack of 4 giant brown mushrooms the other day, I had no idea what I was going to do with them – they usually get put on the braai but sadly Pete was away so it was me, the mushrooms and the oven.

The first couple of mushrooms I stuffed with a mixture of crumbled feta cheese, chopped chives, fresh sliced peppadews and crushed garlic with the chopped stems from the mushrooms, which I then drizzled with olive oil and baked at 200°C for approximately 18 minutes.

Stuffed brown mushrooms  3

I also did a few with sliced garlic, sea salt, black pepper and a good drizzling of olive oil.

Stuffed brown mushrooms  2

Both variations were fabulous, couldn’t be easier to prep and cook and would be perfect as a starter for a dinner party.