Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sage and rosemary aromatic salt

Last week I bought a 30g box of fresh sage for my meat ragu. 30 grams doesn't sounds like a lot but a little sage goes a long way. I used it to season a fabulous potato dauphinoise, a soup and a pasta but I still had half the box left over… I remembered my Mom making a herb salt with sage, so I called her and she said it was an Italian salt called Sale Aromatica…. sage, rosemary, garlic and salt all blitzed up in the blender.

I did this with about 10g of fresh sage and about 10g of fresh rosemary, 2 cloves of garlic and a cup of salt. I started by blending the herbs and garlic and then adding the salt. The smell was fabulous! I promptly sprinkled it on the cream cheese on toast and lentil soup I was having for lunch. So good! I also used it last night to make a roasted butternut and sage risotto.

I imagine it will taste great on grilled meats, on fish, on pizza, to make a herb bread, on eggs, to flavour soups and stews… It would also make a great gift. I have read that it lasts really well if you lay it out on a tray for a few hours to dry a little and seal it in a dry airtight jar.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Coffee… a worldwide passion!

It was the birthday of a friend of ours this weekend and we decided to buy him three of our favorite local coffees as a gift. I am very much in favor of supporting local producers of most things but with these coffees I don’t feel like I’m being philanthropic in the least. They are all sensational coffees and I feel sure they can stand up with the world’s best!

Like in any family, social circle or close knit industry there is bickering, back biting and politics. I have heard loads of coffee roaster gossip and at the end of the day I couldn’t care less. All three of the below roasters produce fabulous coffee and with each new roaster who cares about their trade and educates people in how to best use their products, they raise the bar and the expectations of the consumer.

I am just grateful that we are now spoiled for choice and no longer have to be subjected to bad coffee if we can possibly help it!

I have decided to let each of the roasters we chose speak for themselves, by giving you an extract from each of their websites. My suggestions I that you make a point of visiting each of these establishments yourself and if you don’t live in Cape Town, try to track down a wise supplier who stocks their product near you, or make a point of finding out who the coffee roasters in your area are who take real pride in what they do and tell me about them!

Listed in alphabetical order…

Deluxe Coffee Works - http://www.deluxecoffeeworks.co.za/

“You should also know that we don’t follow any rules when it comes to our coffee. In fact, there aren’t many rules that we follow in general. We are passionate about coffee and we think that is good enough reason for what we do. We don’t have all the answers but we do know what we want. And that is to roast, supply and serve coffee in the best way we know how. We also believe in having a great place where we can do all this and furthermore, where you can enjoy our coffee. That is why our coffee roastery is the way it is. You won’t find any fancy food or interweb here. That’s not our vibe. Awesome tunes, interesting people and great coffee. That’s what we’re about.”

Origin Coffee Roasting - http://www.originroasting.co.za/

“Origin is an obsession. Cape Town’s De Waterkant is its home. We select speciality beans with an African focus and transform them through artisan roasting and expert preparation into an exquisite cup. Intensive barista training at Origin extends the quality of our espresso drinks and flat whites to our wholesale clients and their customers countrywide. Coffee not your cup of tea? We also have over 100 fine leaf teas from great origins worldwide.

It doesn’t stop there (did we mention were fanatics?). We offer ourcommercial clients a lasting, committed relationship, with tailored consulting on every level to ensure that your coffee competes with the best in the world. We’ve developed a school to qualify the Baristas who will pour your coffee.

If you think you know nothing about coffee, visit us. If you think you know a lot about coffee, visit us. The proof is in the cup. You decide.”

Truth coffee cult - http://www.truthcoffee.com/about/

“Not all coffees are created equal. The streets are overflowing with watery brew; and this taste-bud nightmare continues to exist because good people remain silent.

No longer! This travesty of coffee justice ends right here with this institution.

At Truth. the bitter horror of the over-roasted bean is avoided, the coarse grind is banished and poor preparation is shunned.

Say no to mediocrity!

Experience coffee as a religion.”

Friday, May 27, 2011

Traditional meat sauce with pork, sage and plum twist

A very good friend of mine just had her first baby and I, as one does, decided to make her a lasagna so at least one or two meals could be taken care of while she and her new angel acclimatise to each other. Lasagna is not the most inspiring dish to make so I decided to improvise with the meat sauce a little and oh my word, what a winner it was! I must have spooned up at least a cup of it just in the ‘tasting’ process.

The second best part about it was that it took me 20 minutes to make it! There are three main differences to how I made it. I used a blend of beef and pork sausage meat for the base. I used sage as the herb and sweetened it with a plum and onion preserve from Chaloner. The pork, sage and plum combo just lifted the sauce to new level. If you couldn’t find the Chaloner sauce, try find a plum sauce, hoisin sauce or good chutney to substitute it with.

Luckily I had some left over meat and cheese sauce, so I whipped up myself a bowl of pasta for a late lunch. So good! This sauce would also be great as a bolognaise style sauce, cottage pie or traditional pastry pie filling.

I will add the recipe for the white sauce and method for the lasagne below – use which ever part best suits your needs best!

Meat Sauce

Makes 6 – 8 portions

1 Tbsp of oil

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

½ tsp of cumin

½ tsp of coriander

½ tsp of smoked paprika

400g of beef mince

300g of Wiltshire pork sausage meat squeezed from their casings

400g can of whole peeled tomatoes

1 Tbsp of chopped sage, (2 tsp if using dried sage)

1 cup of grated carrot

1 cup of beef stock (reduce this to half if you want a drier sauce, I like my sauce quite wet)

3 Tbsp of Chaloner plum and onion preserve

1 tsp of salt (or to taste)

Heat the oil in a medium pot on medium to high heat and add the onion, garlic and spices. Allow them to fry for a few minutes. Add the meat and brown that for about five minutes or so. Add the contents of the tomato can (juice and tomatoes), the carrot, the stock, the plum sauce, and salt. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon or spatula and allow this all to simmer until the meat has cooked through and the flavours have combined.

Cheesy White Sauce

Makes about 2 ½ cups

5 Tbsp of white flour

4 Tbsp of oil

500ml of milk

2 tsp of a smooth mustard

½ - 1 cup of a grated strong tasting white cheese, I used a white mature cheddar but parmesan is the best if your budget allows

1 tsp of salt

Heat the oil and flour in a medium sized pan or pot. Allow it to fry for a few minutes while stirring the paste with a whisk. Remove it from the heat and add half the milk. Stir this with your whisk until the paste and milk have combined, then add the rest of the milk. Return this to the heat and stir it with your whisk slowly while waiting for the sauce to thicken. If it starts thickening very fast, remove it from the heat and continue stirring it until the thickening has settled down. It will reach a point where the thickness stabilises. Turn down the heat to low, add the mustard, cheese and salt and allow to combine.

To assemble a lasagna

In a deep ovenproof casserole dish with at least a 4 litre volume start your layering process. Start with a thin layer of meat sauce, then a layer of dry lasagne pasta sheet, then a layer of meat again, topped with some white, then lasagne, then meat, white and lasagne. The last layer should end with meat and a good layer of white sauce. Leave about a centimetre space in the casserole dish for the lasagne to expand.

Bake this in the oven at 180C˚ for half an hour or until a knife can easy pierce through the layers of pasta. You can now top this with grated cheese and grill it until it bubbles.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A juicy topic!

The first time I brought up juicing in a blog I got surprisingly positive feedback and yesterday I had a call from someone desperate to start juicing and needing advice. We have also all be flu’ish in the house to I decided to do some major juicing yesterday.

If you are interested in the topic of juicing and didn’t catch my blog about it, go to this link: http://domesticgoddesses-sa.blogspot.com/2011/04/okay-ive-gained-few-kilos.html

After that blog I got asked about recipes for juices, so I have added a few below which are pretty nice tasting but still really good for you. Allot of people tend to err on the side of adding lots of fruit and ‘sweet’ tasting vegetables when they first start juicing. That is fine if you are making yourself a yummy juice to enjoy just because.

If you are juicing for health or weigh loss reasons, this is defeating the object completely. You need to be very cautious of adding too many fruits or sweet vegetables (ie – like carrots) as you will get a sugar spike and this will trigger cravings and also the sugar low thereafter making you feel really tiered.

The ingredients guidelines for the juices I made yesterday are:

Green juice – apple, mint, cucumber, lemon and spinach

Orange juice – oranges, carrots, tomato and ginger

Red juice – apple, carrot and beetroot

I am a hardened juicer and juice pretty much most veggies. I use cabbage allot as it is an amazing source of nutrients, but it does taste pretty strong (adding lemon helps). Also things like potatoes and celery can be odd tasting but are still really good for you!

If you have questions, please feel free to mail me at: info@domesticgoddesses.co.za

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Roast chickpea and sesame hummus

Yesterday I had a craving for a dish my Dad makes – roasted beetroot and chickpeas with rosemary, olive oil and feta. But alas after soaking and cooking my dried chickpeas and all, I couldn't find beetroot. As soon as I do, I will make and blog about the above but the obvious thing to do with the lonely chickpeas in my fridge was to make hummus.

Despite the obvious convenience of canned chickpeas, I really think they taste a bit funny. Kind of like tinned peas don’t taste right either. If I’m in a pinch I most certainly will use tinned chick peas but if I can I soak and slow cook the dried ones. I felt like being a little experimental today so I decided to roast the key ingredients of hummus before pureeing them, as I love the flavour of roasted things. It has a nice winery hearty taste. The result was really good! It was a little bitty at first but I pureed it bit longer to get it smoother but it had all that smoky savoury flavour I had hoped for.

I love snacking on crudités with a hummus dip as an in between meal snack. You can also glam it up a little and swirl some harissa paste in the dip and reserve some of the roasted chickpeas to garnish it with (or sesame seeds and a sprinkle of paprika like I did in the pic) if you wanted to serve a crudité starter snack for guests.

Kids often love hummus too. I mix it with cottage cheese and dash of chutney which can make it more accessible to kids. It also makes a great addition to my ‘rice moosh’.

Roast chickpea and sesame hummus

Makes about three cups

2 cups of soaked and cooked (or canned) chickpeas

2 Tbsp of sesame seeds

2 tsp of cumin

1 tsp of smoked paprika (optional)

½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

1 Tbsp of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

2 Tbsp of lemon juice

1 tsp of grated lemon rind

1 tsp of salt

½ a cup of olive oil

1 ½ - 2 cups of water

Preheat the oven on grill and place the wire rack in the centre. Scatter the chickpeas, sesame seeds, spices and oil into a roasting pan and roast them for 10 – 15 minutes or until just starting to brown. Add the garlic slices about 5 minutes before the roasting is done (I added them at the beginning and they burned a little).

Blend the roasted ingredients (scrap the spices and oil from the pan into the blender too) and blend with all the remaining ingredients. Add as much water as needed to achieve the desired consistency and blend long enough to get the mixture smooth.

Hummus freezes well, so you can make extra and defrost it when needed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pancakes make people happy!

I have a few excuses for today’s immoderacies. I have a sick fiancé at home today and while checking twitter this morning, Eat Out asked what our favourite pancake toppings were. I immediately posted flambéed banana, with honey, cinnamon and pecan nuts. I then read a few other tweets and decided that pancakes would most certainly put a sparkle in ailing Adam’s eye.

While I was shopping my plans of flambéing went South as I walked past the shelf holing the Nussfit which is my preferred chocolate hazelnut spread (better than Nutella in my opnion). I also happily changed my tune to hazelnuts when there weren’t any pecans available.

The end result was barely what I had started out shopping for but never the less fabulous. I flavoured my pancake batter with cinnamon and vanilla, spread the pancakes with a generous amount of Nussfit, sliced banana and chopped hazelnuts. This was accompanied by steaming hot cups of flowery black Darjeeling tea. My boy is now tucked up in bed with the kittens again and a small smile on his sleeping face.

PS – I also bought a new pan. I have a fetish with flipping pan cakes (almost as much as the pancakes themselves) and my non stick pan is a bit scratched to say the least. So, I bought one of these ceramic coated non stick pans with no PTFE’s and PFOA’s (it sounded like the right thing to do???). It worked like a charm for my pancakes, will now see if the 5 times harder promise also holds true?

Basic pancake recipe with my twists
Makes about 5 x 24cm pancakes (scale up the recipe if you need more than that)

½ a cup of milk
½ a cup of water
1/4 tsp of salt
2 Tbsp of castor sugar
1/4 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of vanilla essence
1 cup of cake flour, sifted
2 Tbsp of butter, melted

In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, water, eggs, salt, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Sift the flour into the mixture a quarter of a cup at a time and whisk lightly. Add the melted butter at the end. Try not to over whisk once the flour is added as you don’t want the gluten to build up too much as this will make the pancakes rubbery. You can rest this in the fridge until ready for use.

Heat a non stick frying pan (24cm is a good size) to medium high heat. You can oil the pan a little to make extra sure the pancakes don’t stick but pour off any extra oil, you don’t want pools of oil anywhere. Using a soup ladle or tea cup, pour about ½ a cup of the batter into the hot pan and tilt the pan around in a fluid circular motion to spread the mixture. Pour any extra mixture back into the mixing bowl. You can trim the pancake where you poured off the mixture using the edge of a spatula to keep the round shape. This just ensures you have nice thin pancakes while still getting the batter to cover the pan evenly.

Once the pancake is cooked at the bottom, it should come loose quite easily by shaking the pan or gently lifting it with a spatula - about a minute or two. You can flip the pancake using a spatula but I love flipping them in the air. It really is fun. I have pasted a short youtube clip giving you a good idea of how to do it. Practice with a piece of bread first to get the method right if you are nervous.

Pancake toppings are a personal thing. I love the old faithful cinnamon sugar (except I use castor sugar) with lemon juice. The flambéed banana with cinnamon, honey and pecan nuts is a dream (also good on ice cream). But if you need a good excuse to buy a jar of Nussfit or Nutella, try the ones I made today. 

I now happily have a three quarters of jar left in the cupboard. Nice!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Aromatic Thai inspired fish cakes

Fish cakes have never conjured up much enthusiasm in me. I have always associated them with a seriously boring way of using up left over fish. But over the last decade or so I have seen some fabulous twists being made with the use of herbs spices and top quality fish, to create a main event rather than ‘leftovers surprise’.

I made the below recipe about 2 months ago and was really happy with the result. I then used the same guidelines with left over fish and the result was similarly satisfying, although I used allot more breadcrumbs to extend the mixture and felt it made them a little stodgy.

I told my mom about the recipe and she felt I had really gone into over kill with all the aromatics and pastes but I really do feel it makes something special of what can be a very ordinary dish.

Aromatic Thai inspired fish cakes

Makes about 20 small cakes

500g raw or cooked fish (I used a mixture of haddock, salmon and butterfish)

1 egg

1 Tbsp of flour

½ a cup of fine bread crumbs

¼ of a cup of fresh coriander and dill

1 Tbsp of tahini paste

2 Tbsp of cashew nut paste (peanut should be a good substitute)

1 tsp of thai green curry paste

1 tsp of salt

zest of ¼ of a lemon and juice of half a lemon

1 clove of garlic

1cm of ginger, peeled

Chilli to taste

1 cup of sesame seeds for coating

Combine all the ingredients, except for the sesame seeds, in a blender until smooth. Don’t over blend as a little texture is nice, but all ingredients should be well combined.

Form balls with the paste in your hand (wetting your hands a little helps) and roll them in the sesame seeds, then flatten them a little to form cakes. Allow these to rest in the fridge for an hour to set before shallow frying them in oil over medium heat until cooked through and crispy on the outsdie. I skipped this step and the cakes were still quite loose and tricky to work with.

I served the fish cakes with a dipping sauce of yoghurt and a spicy coriander chutney.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Super quick salmon, sour cream and sweetcorn jacket potato

My blog today has to be super quick too as I have an uber crazy day! I love baked potatoes but when I am in a hurry, I confess, I either par microwave and finish them in the oven, or if I’m really lazy (and it’s just for a quick fix meal) I do just microwave them.

Earlier this week I had a packet of smoked salmon the fridge which was beckoning me, but I was super rushed and didn’t feel like getting into a big cooking and cleaning mission, but I wanted a warm meal, so here is what I did. I poped the spuds in the microwave for about 8 minutes. While I chopped up the salmon, I added a bowl of frozen corn to the potatoes in the microwave about half way through to defrost and warm up. With a stick blender I blitzed up some sour cream and a wedge of feta with a heap of freeze dried dill. I assembled the spud by cutting it halfway through in a cross, squeezed it open, sprinkled in the sweet corn, spooned in loads of the sour cream sauce and topped that with salmon and some dill for garnish. Voila, a 10 minute, super delish meal.

The problem came in after I had finished taking the pictures of the first potato only to find my kitten, Penelope, sitting next the chopping board where the salmon had been, licking her lips contentedly. My dear, Phiwe, had to have her lunch sans salmon! A strict kitten discipline regime has now started in our house!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mushroom hunting!

When I was child I was a painfully fussy eater! The list of foods I wouldn’t eat was endless. I pray to God that I will not be cursed with a child like I was someday. Mushrooms were pretty high up on the gag list for me back then, however mushroom hunting was still an outing I relished. Ever since I can remember my mother used to take us out on bleak damp autumn days to search for edible forest mushrooms. She taught us which were dangerous, which were lethal, which weren’t worth bothering about and eventually narrowed down the mushrooms we were allowed to pick for eating to three kinds. They are easily recognisable and to those who enjoy mushrooms a seasonal delight, the taste of which is markedly improved by their scarcity and the adventure of the hunt!

Thanks be given to the gods, I now LOVE mushrooms and almost all the things on the list I wouldn’t eat as a child. Mushroom hunting has also become somewhat of a passion as the mystic and excitement of the season, the timing, the searching, the finding and the final cooking and eating takes us back to some primal sense of purpose. It is a truly exhilarating experience for me.

I say all of this with a hint of sadness and promise as I have been on two unsuccessful hunts this autumn already. I am putting it down to not enough rain this season but keep waiting and searching. I have a pine ring and porcini risotto which is waiting to be made!

Oh yes – the three kinds of mushrooms I search for are: Porcini; Pine-rings and Shaggy ink caps.

Porcini (Cep or Bletus Edulis) and Pine-ring (lactarius deliciosus) are found in pine forests (and porcini also around oak trees). They need a lot of rain, a cold spell and then a warm spell. They grow well under a thick layer of pine needles or oak leaves as the case may be. Having grown up in Stellenbsoch I was pretty clued up as to where to look. But this is the first season for me of hunting in the Cape Town area, and I am determined to find the hot spots here too!

The Ink Caps one usually finds growing on lawns. We used to have some which would grow outside our front door under the Bougainvillea every year! My mom found some the other day growing on the side of the road and some on her neighbour’s lawn.

I have pasted some images of porcini and pine rings which I found on the internet. Once I find the suckers in the flesh I will post my own pictures! The Ink cap picture is my own!

If you intend on doing any mushroom hunting, please make sure you buy a book to guide you or go with an experienced picker. There are many poisonous and a few deadly mushrooms!

Porcini Mushrooms


Shaggy Ink Caps

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Greek Pasta Salad a la Woolies

Last week a client asked me to teach her housekeeper how to make (amongst other things) a pasta salad like the woollies Greek pasta salad, as her kids are crazy about it. Never having eaten it before, I went to their online shopping service and found that a list of the ingredients used in the salad was listed. Naturally quantities were not included but it’s not really rocket science is it…?

So, with ingredients at hand, Wedson (the Malawian housekeeper… a man!), and I added then together and decided if it tasted right. It didn’t just taste right, it was damned delicious! Certainly not just a pasta salad for the kids. I enjoyed a big plate of it for lunch, quickly took some photos and resolved to tell you about it.

I had initially imagined a simple mayonnaise sauce poured over cold pasta, but it was Greek yogurt with honey, garlic, herbs and mustard, lots of seeded olives, baby rosa tomatoes, fresh oregano… mmm!

It would be great for a light lunch and perfect as a side to a braai.

Thank you Woolworths and Annette!

Greek Pasta Salad a la Woolies

Makes 6 good portions

250g Fusilli or penne pasta screws, cooked and drained with lots of cold water

½ a Cucumber, cut into slices and quartered

250g mini rosa tomatoes, quartered

200g Feta cheese, cut into small blocks

15 black olives, deseeded and cut into a few pieces (or more if you love olives)

½ a small onion, peeled, halved and cut into thin slices

For the dressing

1 cup of Greek yoghurt

2 Tbsp of Honey

2 Tbsp of Olive oil

1 ½ Tbsp of Lemon juice

1 Tbsp of Wholegrain mustard

1 tsp of Salt

1 large clove of Garlic, crushed

½ tsp of Black pepper

1 Tbsp of fresh (or dried) Oregano, chopped

Cook the pasta with lots of salt, drain it and set aside until cooled. Add to this the cucumber, rosa tomatoes, olives, onion and feta. Mix up the dressing ingredients and combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Destination pizza… Massimo’s Pizza Club

With at least three pizza joints for every kilometre squared, we are pretty spoiled for choice when it comes to this world wide food phenomenon. So it’s not often that people will find a good enough reason to travel very far for a pizza. I have however found a restaurant in Hout Bay where the pizza is 100% worth the drive out there. The pizza selection is different to any I have experienced before (and I’ve eaten a lot of pizza).

I was invited to join a twitter event there a few weeks ago, where we got to taste an extensive selection of pizza and salads and I was thoroughly impressed, already looking forward to visiting them again for a more relaxed and leisurely meal. So when Adam and I were discussing what to do for our anniversary this Sunday, Massimo’s was my first suggestion. We combined the excursion with a bit of mushroom hunting in the Hout Bay forest (with zero success sadly) and arrived at Massimo’s afterwards for a late lunch.

We were seated at a sublime table at a window overlooking a dreamy, hazy Hout Bay. There was sun flooding onto our table and I had a bird’s eye view into the pizza oven. Sadly my camera seems to have gone on the frizz, so the photos are not a patch on the real thing, but they are all I have… (very sad face).

It was a serious struggle to decide on what to order as everything sounds so intriguing and unlike your regular pizzeria fare. I eventually settled on a pizza with no tomato base, which seems to be one of their trademarks, with mozzarella, smoked cheese, garlic butter and pan fried mushrooms. It was a perfect balance of smoky, herby and savoury flavours. The pizza base is also just that bit different. They puff up a bit in places and cause one to get a combination of textures between chewy, crisp and slightly burned (but in a good way).

When you see the owner of the restaurant, Massimo (naturally), personally doing the baking and finishing touches to each pizza, you know that this is more than a restaurant, it is someone’s passion – and pizza made with passion just tastes better!

There is care and authenticity in every part of this restaurant. The staff seem genuinely to care about their guests and they seem excited to be working with Massimo and all he creates.

We ended our meal with an array of little delights from perfectly made espresso, a selection of homemade chocolate liquors served in chocolate cups (YUM!), grappa and these insane orange liquor infused sugar cubes which you light to caramelise them a little and pop into your mouth for a taste explosion.

What a fantastic way to celebrate our special day… we can’t wait to go back again! Next time we want to get a group together to do ‘the pizza feast’ where Massimo will make a selection of his most popular pizzas and feed you until can feed no more! Sounds like heaven!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Slow braised beef goulash, lentil and smoked paprika soup

Yes, I know I blogged about soup yesterday, but it’s really cold and wintry at the moment in Cape Town. I have in fact made four soups this week already and will be off training two more soups later today. So I’ve got soup on the brain.

The soup I made last night is however, more than just a soup, it’s a rich meaty manly hearty spicy soup. I really went a little crazy with the spices but it was just all happening and I couldn’t stop myself. The madness started with a visit to Komati foods… always a dangerous move. I wanted to buy some smoked paprika and tom yum paste and ended up with a shopping basket full of goodies. When I buy clothes I wear each item at the first opportunity I find, and the same thing kind of happened with the soup last night. But I think the end result was pretty worthwhile.
If however you decide to try this, you could probably cut the spice list down by half and still come up with a pretty awesome soup. But I will give you the recipe as I made it yesterday.

PS – I just ate another bowl (the one in the photo) for breakfast and it’s given me all European winter nostalgia, like getting my man ready for the hunt or something medieval like that.

Slow braised beef goulash and lentil soup
Makes about 4 litres

2 Tbsp of olive oil
3 medium onions, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 kg of beef goulash pieces
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
100ml of tomato paste
1 litre of strong beef stock
1 tsp of ground black pepper
1 ½ Tbsp of smoked paprika
20g of dried chanterelle mushrooms (porcini or shitake will be good too)
2 tsp of garam masala (optional)
1 tsp of mild curry powder
1 tsp of all spice
3 Tbsp Harissa paste
2 tsp Sumac powder (optional)
250g black lentils (green or brown will be fine too)
2 tsp of salt (or to taste)

Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onions and garlic frying them for a few minutes. Add the beef goulash and brown the meat for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and beef stock and bring to a simmer. Add all the remaining ingredients and leave on a very low simmer for 3 – 4 hours (or leave in a slow cooker for the whole day or over night).
If the meat is still chunky but tender mash it up a little by rubbing the chunks with the back of spoon against the side of the pot. Add water or stock if you need to thin the soup. Check the seasoning and serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and crusty bread.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Express Chicken Soup

The comforting and healing properties of chicken soup are legendry. My mother told me that this stems from the mild antibiotic properties found in the skin of chicken. Most chicken soup recipes call for boiling a whole chicken for a long time extracting the chicken flavours into the broth and then flaking off the tender chicken meat into the broth afterwards. This is a fabulous way of doing chicken soup, but it takes a loooong time and is pretty fiddly. So if you’re not after the natural antibiotics in the skin and have time constraints then my version of chicken soup is a good one to go with, I think.

The basis of any great soup is usually a good stock or broth. Luckily we have reached a time in South Africa where we have access to (almost) world class insta stocks and fonds. Ina Paarman has a sachet stock which is good and Nomu has a range of fonds which are awe inspiring. If you are partial to making your own stock, this is the best way to start, but if you’re not don’t feel bad, Nomu’s fond range tastes better than most home made stocks I’ve tasted.

I like to add a few aromatics to the stock and then I simply toss in a packet of pre cut veggies (stir fry packs are best for this as they are very thinly sliced) and diced chicken breast. Viola, fresh and tasty home-made chicken soup!

Bellow is the recipe I made for dinner last night. But this soup would change every time I make it according to what veggies I have at home and what aromatics I feel like adding at the time. You truly can experiment here, don’t limit yourself to the below recipe, play a little!

Express Chicken Soup

Makes about 3 litres

1 Tbsp of olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

2 litres of chicken stock, (I used Ina Paarmans sachets – my PnP doesn’t stock Nomu fonds)

1 rib of celery, finely sliced

2 tsp of salt (or to taste)

½ tsp of pepper

½ tsp of mild curry

½ tsp of cumin

½ a cup of pink lentils

1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced

3cm of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

Thinly sliced lemon zest of half a small lemon

Juice of 1 small lemon

1 tin of coconut milk

½ a cup of fresh coriander and tarragon, washed and picked

600g Pillow pack of stir fry veggies

4 chicken breasts, diced

In a large heavy bottomed pot, gently fry the onion and garlic until tender. Add the chicken stock, celery, salt, spices, lentils, sweet potato, ginger, lemon zest and coconut milk. Allow this to simmer for 10 minutes. Check the seasoning and adjust where needed. Add the herbs, veggies and diced chicken and allow to simmer for a further 10 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked (do not overcook as the check will become though). Serve and enjoy. This will last for a few days in the fridge and will freeze well too.