Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gone fishing?

In case you were wondering if I had gone fishing... not quite. I have been working my butt off and have barely had time to snap a photo let alone write about my experiences of late. This weekend I cooked for a party of 101 people single handed. Before you get too impressed, it was a very simple menu so not really rocket science. I served loads of fabulous Fairview cheeses on Knead bread, garnished with various accompaniments. I made some of my roasted hummus which I served on bread with marinated sundried tomatoes.

For mains I served my express butter chicken on steamed aromatic rice with fresh coriander. To serve 100 people I had to make 25 litres of curry and 25 litres of rice… that was quite an amazing thing to see coming out of my little kitchen. This was followed by two chocolate cakes which were the sum of 6 x Devil’s food cake. Simple, easy, delicious - just time consuming doing it for that many people.

Yesterday was spent crazily preparing for my three week trip to Joburg where I will be training every day, sometimes in the evenings too and one day on the weekend… so I will take loads of pictures and come back with many stories to tell… but I doubt I will get the time to blog.

Today I helped with my god-daughters birthday party and some of the snacks I made with Yvonne her nanny, were mini bacon and cheese quiches and… that devilish chocolate cake again!

All in all I am tiered, happy, excited, nervous and a little sad that I won’t have time to blog, but I will back in three weeks with so much exciting foodie news to tell you all about. I will be tweeting and facebook’ing so if you don’t already follow me – do!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Frantic Friday Food Fast Fuel!

I have been frantically running around today try to shop and prep for a function of a hundred people for Saturday. I have been running the stocks in my fridge down so I would have space for all my prep so with very little to choose from, very little time but very much in need of a good meal I resorted to one of my old favorites. A microwaved potato with a salad of what ever is in the fridge piled on top.
Today's potato ensemble was topped with the left over Caesar dressing from Wednesday and the salad was chopped tomato, grated carrot, defrosted frozen sweetcorn, what was left in a baby Asian salad pack, crumbled feta, some chickpeas and my faithful toasted seeds.
It was fricken delicious and exactly what I needed to keep me going for the rest of my busy day!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Roast veg salad with Caesar dressing

A few weeks ago my Mom told me about reading a taste magazine where they had roasted whole slices of cauliflower in the oven and served them like steaks (so to speak). This idea intrigued me as I like cauliflower but can never think of anything special or exciting to with it. This sounded like it would look interesting and taste different.
Yesterday I felt like a salad but I like robust salads with loads of goodies and a great dressing, so I decided to add roasted cauliflower and butternut slices, a Caesar dressing and a soft boiled egg. I had also grilled some maple syrup coated streaky bacon but I burned it mercilessly... and had to throw it away...
I rubbed the slices of cauliflower with olive oil, salt, chilli flakes and sumac powder, but you can rub pretty much any of your favorite seasoning on the veggie slices with a bit of oil and grill them until the start getting flecked with black.
I also had some toasted seeds left over from another day (I always make extra). So all in all, it was mixed baby Asian salad leaves, with slices of roasted cauliflower and butternut, a soft boiled egg, toasted seeds and Caesar dressing - robust flavors, filling and satisfying. A good meal.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Salted caramel and hazelnut cup cakes

A few days ago, while my nephew was with me, I received in the mail the first edition of a new magazine called ‘Baked and Delicious’ and with the magazine came a gift of six brightly coloured silicone cup cake moulds. Now if this was not a sign from God that cup cakes needed to be baked, then I don’t know what is… We followed the recipe for vanilla cup cakes from the magazine but decided to top the cup cakes with caramel fudge sauce instead of vanilla butter icing.

Today I made another batch because the last batch got guzzled down so quickly by Luke and Adam, I didn’t even get one. For today’s batch I decided to experiment with a salted caramel topping as Annika had brought salted caramel chocolate truffles for us to eat over the weekend and this fabulous experience has stayed with me. I just happened to have half a packet of hazelnuts in the cupboard and I think they add a nice taste, texture and appearance to the cup cakes.

The silicone cup cake shapes are such a win. I have seen them in stores before and had not seen the point in them, but these ones are such bright fun colours and are totally non stick. So often cup cake papers end up looking all oily and tired after baking but these silicone guys look fresh, funky and fabulous!

Vanilla cup cakes with salted caramel and hazelnut topping

Makes about 8 medium cup cakes

125g of butter

½ a cup of castor sugar

2 large eggs

2 Tbsp whole milk

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1 tsp of baking powder

1 cup of cake flour

Preheat the oven to 180C˚ and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

With a cake mixer, blend together the butter and castor sugar until light and creamy. Add to this the eggs, vanilla and milk and blend to combine. Add the baking powder and cake flour and blend until smooth.

If you are using cup cake papers, place the papers into the holes of a muffin tin. If using silicone cup cake moulds place them onto a baking tray or into a muffin tin.

Spoon the mixture into the cup cake moulds until ¾ full. Flatten the mixture and push it up the sides of the moulds as much as you can with the back of the spoon.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden and springy.

Allow to cool before icing.

For the salted caramel topping you simply combine about ¼ of a tsp of salt with a 360g tin of caramel. You don’t want the caramel to be salty but just to have this slight salty tanginess. Using the back of a knife, spread a thick layer of caramel onto each of the cup cakes. Roughly chop up hazelnuts and decorate the cup cakes with these.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cashew and basil burger patties

Yesterday my seven year old nephew, who is visiting from France, came over for lunch. I don’t really know him that well, so wasn’t sure how fussy he is. After some thought I decided there was no way I could go wrong with a burger and I LOVE home-made burgers, so off I went to get all the ingredients. As he arrived I had just finished all the preparations and was ready to get stuck in. Guess what… he doesn’t like burgers.

So while my Dad and I enjoyed my fantastic burgers (if I do say so myself), he ate a peanut butter sandwich. No regrets though, as now I still have one patty left over and am looking forward to having it for lunch today… so good!

This recipe is just that bit different with loads of chopped bacon, tomato, nuts and basil in the patty which makes it juicy and flavoursome. I topped my burger with a mature cheddar and sundried tomato paste from Nog. The whole combination was to die for.

I have done this in the past for dinner parties too; with various bowls of accompaniments and let people put together their own burgers. Has always been a hit.

Thekla’s burger recipe

Makes 6 generous sized burgers

500g beef mince

125g of streaky back bacon, finely cut up

1 large ripe tomato, very finely cut up

1 clove of garlic, minced

½ a small onion, minced

50g of cashew nuts, finely chopped

A handful of fresh basil, finely chopped up (or a few spoons of basil pesto)

1 ½ tsp of salt

½ tsp of smoked paprika powder

Freshly ground black pepper

1 egg

Get a large heavy bottomed frying pan heating up, on medium heat, on the stove. Add all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Shape them into patties the same size as the bun you plan to serve them in. Try to get them relatively flat as this will help cook them all the way through before they burn on the outside.

Add a little oil to the pan and start frying the patties. Once they have browned on the first side flip them over carefully with a spatula. It should take about 7 – 10 minutes per side, depending on the size of the patties and how well done you like your meat.

Serve on your favourite bun with all your favourite accompaniments.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Indian Feast

On Friday I trained a set of recipes I had never personally cooked before. This usually stresses me out but I have worked with Nomiki, the housekeeper I was training, so many times before. We are really on the same page and I know that if I hit any bumps we would be able to navigate them together.

The reason the recipes were new to me was because my client, whom I was doing the training on behalf of, was having guests for dinner that evening who were vegetarian and she wanted to serve them an authentic Indian vegetarian meal. I have a fabulous tried and tested recipe book at home called ‘Curry leaves and cumin seeds’ which I used to plan the menu and aside from a few tweaks here and there, the recipes were perfect.

The meal was planned to consist of a number of smaller dishes and side dishes from which the guests would help themselves. The protein part of the meal was the variety of split pea and lentil dishes, the starch dishes were a fragrant rice and a potato and cauliflower dish. The veggies were present throughout and we also made a cucumber, mint and yoghurt condiment to add some fresh cooling flavours.

Dessert was a creamy rice and nut pudding. I have never been a huge fan of rice pudding but, oh my word, this was most certainly the exception! The subtle spices and the abundance of nuts were divine.
Each dish was relatively simple but put together the spread seemed like a feast of spices, aromas and textures. I can’t wait for an opportunity to recreate it for a dinner party of my own soon.

Masoor Daal Sabzi Wali
(Mixed vegetable and lentil curry)
Serves 4

3 cups of water
¾ cup of red lentils
1 tsp of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp of turmeric
Salt to taste
½ cup, julienned carrots
½ cup, julienned baby corn
1 cup, broccoli florets
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tsp of ground cumin
2 tsp of ground coriander
½ tsp of chilli powder
½ tsp of paprika
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp of sugar (or to taste)
1 Tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped

Bring the water to a boil in medium pot and add the lentils, garlic, turmeric and salt, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until almost cooked. Add all the other vegetables and carry on simmering for a further 10 minutes until the veggies are tender but still crunchy. Remove from the heat.

Fry the onion in the oil and butter until golden. Add the spices, tomato and sugar and stir fry for a few minutes. Stir in the fresh coriander and add the mixture to the vegetables. Allow to stand for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

Chole Aur Khumb
(Mushroom and chickpea curry)
Serves 4

1 can of chickpeas
250g of fresh button mushrooms
2 Tbsp oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp, finely chopped ginger
1 Tbsp, finely chopped garlic
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp garam masala
2 Tbsp, tomato paste
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 cup of hot water
Salt to taste
2 tsp of chopped fresh coriander

Wash and drain the chickpeas. Cut the mushrooms into halves or quarters. Heat the oil in the pan and fry the mushrooms and onion for a few minutes until golden. Then add the garlic, ginger and spices and fry for a few minutes.

Add the tomato paste, tomatoes and hot water and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the salt and chickpeas and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Check the seasoning and add a teaspoon or two of sugar if the tomatoes were particularly acidic. Remove from heat and garnish with coriander.

Gobi Aloo
(Potato and cauliflower side dish)
Serves 4

1 Tbsp of oil
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp of fresh ginger, finely chopped
½ tsp of turmeric
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp of ground cumin
½ tsp of garam masala
Salt to taste
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
500g cauliflower, cut into florets
1 Tbsp freshly chopped coriander

Heat the oil in a large non stick pan and fry the cumin seeds, garlic and ginger for a few minutes. Add the spices, salt, potato and a splash of water. Reduce the heat to low and cook covered for 5 – 7 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the cauliflower, reduce the heat even more, cover and cook until tender. Stir in the coriander just before serving.

Palak Daal
(Spinach and split pea curry)
Serves 4

¼ cup of yellow split peas
2 cups of water
½ tsp of salt
2 Tbsp of oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp of fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp of paprika
1 tsp of coriander
Salt to taste
500g spinach, finely chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp of butter
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the split peas in water and salt until they are cooked but not mushy. Drain and set aside.
In a large shallow pan heat the oil and fry the onion for a few minutes before adding the remaining ingredients. Fry this until the spinach has wilted and all the cooking juices have cooked away.
Add the split peas, butter and black pepper and mix well.

(Creamy rice and nut pudding)
Serves 4 - 6

½ a cup of basmati rice
2 cups of water
A tin of evaporated milk
A tin of condensed milk
1 tsp of cardamom seeds, pounded
¼ tsp of nutmeg
½ cup of seedless raisins
½ cup of finely chopped almonds
½ cup of finely chopped cashews
¼ cup of chopped pistachios
A pinch of salt
1 Tbsp slivered pistachios (for garnish)
1 Tbsp slivered almonds (for garnish)

Simmer the rice in the water until soft. Add all the other ingredients except the slivered almonds and pistachios and simmer on very low heat for about 10 minutes until thick and creamy. Garnish before serving with the slivered nuts

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sensational smoothie!

I had a smoothie for breakfast this morning, which I haven't had in ages, and was reminded of how damned good they are! I blended some berries from an assorted berry pack in the freezer, with a banana, oats, water and some stevia for extra sweetness. It was sensational. Have been buzzing all morning.

Now off to train six Indian recipes. Looking forward to it!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Win a hamper of fabulous goodies from Diletto!

A few weeks ago I wrote about my fabulous experience with an on online deli called Diletto. Well, they loved what I wrote so much that they have sent me a hamper of goodies to give away to one of my loyal readers! On top of that they will have it delivered free of charge anywhere in South Africa! I would love my international readers to take part too, and perhaps if you have a friend, relative or charity in SA, you can get it sent to them as a wonderful unexpected gift (who doesn't love those!).

Don’t let my rotten photography detract from the gorgeous goodies in the hamper. Cat not included... just couldn’t resist that shot, isn’t she gorgeous?

The products in the hamper are as follows

So!Go caramel fudge sauce (the one I have been raving about)

Chaloner Strawberry and Mint Jam (is going into my next vanilla cake)

Chaloner Plum and Onion Preserve (the one from my fabulous meat sauce recipe)

Skimmelberg Organic Rooibos Tea (still have to try this)

Buchulife herbal water (lime, cranberry and natural)

Garlic infused Grape Seed oil (even better for you than olive oil)

Olive Boutique Kalamata Olives in Blueberry dressing (still have to try these)

Dried Pomegranate Arils (great as a snack and in salads)

Vanilla man, vanilla syrup (this is so sexy I am having trouble not nicking it for myself)

To enter

You need to have liked and followed both Diletto and Domestic Goddesses facebook and twitter pages, if you haven’t already - the links are below. You also need to share this blog on facebook and twitter (as many time as you want, it will only increase your chances of winning) and send me a mail telling me how much a case of Jack Black beer costs on the Diletto website along with your facebook and twitter details so I can trace your shares and retweets.





Good luck and looking forward to hearing from you all!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Nachos for girls night

My teenaged nieces are coming to spend the night with me tonight as we want to finish watching season 2 of Vampire Diaries together. They got me addicted to the series so now we have agreed only ever to watch it together. So I have been prepping for our girls night – the sweets and chocolates have been bought, as well as the frozen berries and bananas for tomorrow mornings breakfast smoothies. But I was a bit stumped as to what to do for dinner.

I thought a snacky style TV dinner would be best and as avos are at large right now I thought nachos with dips would be the perfect thing. So I have made refried beans, guacamole and tomato and pimento salsa. My house mate is going to make a shredded chicken thing later to add to the mix. Top this all with sour cream and grated cheese and I think we have a winner!

The picture above was my lunch as I couldn’t resist trying some out, but it was the ‘light’ version, really fresh and tasty without the guilt. We will hit the decadent version once the girls are here.

The below if for a nacho’s feast of about 6 – 8 people

Refried Beans

1 Tbsp of oil

1 small onion

1 clove of garlic, finely sliced

3 cups of pre cooked beans or canned beans (I used red speckled beans)

½ a cup of water (more if the mixture is too dry)

1 tsp of salt

1 tsp of paprika

½ tsp of black pepper

½ tsp of chilli powder (optional)

½ a cup of cheddar cheese (more if you like it very cheesy)

Gently fry the onion and garlic in the oil on medium heat until translucent and softening. Add the beans and all the other ingredients except the cheese and gently fry this. Using a masher, mash the beans into a rough paste. Add the cheese and remove from the heat. Stir and set aside until ready for use.


2 ripe avos, scooped out of their skins

Juice of half a large lemon (or one fresh lime if can find them)

Finely grated lemon zest of a ¼ of the same lemon (or lime)

2 cloves of garlic, crushed (optional)

1 tsp of salt

1 tsp of chilli flakes (or finely chopped fresh chilli)

¼ of a small red onion, finely chopped

1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

A handful of chopped fresh coriander (I couldn’t find any, so I left this out)

Add all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mash with the back of fork until a rough paste has formed.

Tomato and pimento salsa

2 medium tomatoes cut into small cubes

2 pimento, seeded and cut into small cubes

½ a small red onion, finely chopped

A squeeze of lemon juice

1 tsp of salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Some finely chopped chilli

A handful of fresh coriander chopped (I couldn’t find any so I used basil and mint)

Add all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and toss lightly.

If you want to add chicken or ground beef, use about 300gs of either. Cut chicken breast up into very small pieces. Then fry the chicken or beef mince in a pan with a little oil and some of your favourite seasonings and salt until just cooked through, about 10 minutes or so. Set aside until ready for use.

Get a couple of packets of your favourite nacho’s (I would suggest a more traditional round chip with not too much additional flavouring). Pre heat your oven on grill. Then lay the chips out on an oven proof platter, top with the dips starting with the beans and ending with salsa, dollop on some sour cream and finally scatter with grated cheese. Grill in the oven until the cheese has just melted.

Tuck in immediately.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Creamy Shiitake and Courgette Pasta

Wow, what a weekend. The weather was fantastic and we were surrounded by fabulous people, food, music, wine and venues. Oh my word, the venue we were at on Sunday, Casa Labia in St. James, is something completely extraordinary. We had a table for 20 booked in the ballroom and all dressed appropriately. The food was lovely and the company exceptional. If you are looking for a very special venue for a gathering, you would do well to consider this place.

But too much of a good thing can also leave one pretty drained and Monday seems very dull after the frivolities of the weekend, which is why I felt perfectly justified having a slightly extravagant lunch today. It certainly has brighten up my day as only creamy pasta dishes can.

It was also made a little more exciting as I go to use one of my new kitchen tools, an antique veggie slicer which is still razor sharp and slices wafer thin!

Creamy shiitake and courgette pasta

Serves 4 conservative portions (i.e. two people in my house)

250g of your favourite pasta, cooked and drained

15g pack of dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in ½ a cup of hot water for ½ an hour

1 Tbsp of oil

1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced thinly to form half onion rings

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

½ a punnet of courgettes, julienned or cut into ribbons

125ml of cream

Salt and pepper to taste

While your pasta is cooking, gently fry the onions and garlic on medium heat until they become translucent but don’t brown. Add the mushrooms (and the water they soaked in), courgettes, cream salt and pepper and allow them to simmer lightly until the courgettes are just cooked. They should still be bright green in colour.

Serve over pasta and with parmesan if you like.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Coffee, Ice Cream and Caramel Fudge Sauce.

Phew… what a day! I spent the entire day with my housekeeper spring cleaning our kitchen so I could find space for all the treasures I got from my Mom yesterday. It was serious manual labour but now my kitchen looks so tidy and organised I can just stand there and stare at it with admiration. In between all this I baked a loaf of bread from various left over things in my grocery cupboard – rye flour, cake flour, crushed wheat, seed mix and coconut. Phiwe and I had that for lunch straight out the oven with lashings of cold salted butter.

I think I might still write a post about some of the treasures in my now pristine kitchen… some seriously special stuff there, with some great stories attached.

In the afternoon Phiwe and I were pretty exhausted, not having sat down once the whole day. I decided to spoil us with a little pick me up. I brewed some strong Origin coffee, scooped up some vanilla ice cream drizzled it with So!Go caramel fudge sauce and then poured some of the coffee around the ice cream. We gratefully scooped up the heavenly concoction, and smiled – ready for the final wave of our spring clean.

This would be a great hassle free dessert after a weekend meal. That sauce is such a great thing to have in the cupboard for a last minute, easy dessert. It would be great in pancakes, in a cake, on cup cakes and on ice cream. Try it, it will make you happy.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A very good day

My parents have let our old family house in Stellenbosch and have moved to Betty’s Bay. They are getting in a new tenant soon so they have decided to spring clean, renovate and also to pack up a lot of our personal family stuff. Before my mother was going to pack up the kitchen stuff I asked if I could quickly pop by and see if there were a few things I could use in my kitchen. Well, my quick pop through ended up being the best part of a very good day.

I arrived to a house under siege – boxes, painters, handy men and chaos but my mother and step dad in with their usual charm showed me around and told me all the plans they had and what was going to be done. They also had a little gift for me from their recent travels of a packet of Beaver Creek, estate reserve 2010 coffee and a piece of sheep’s milk pecorino from Ovis Angelica. Since I had brought with me a jar of Chaloner’s olive and chilli preserve and guava jam, I offered to pop out and get some more cheese and bread for lunch.

My parents then advised me to stop in at Mellisa’s just up the road for some more cheese and then to go to a new bakery they had heard a lot about, called De Oude Bank Bakkerij (fabulous review by Whale Cottage). So I mozied off up Dorp Street on the most heavenly of winters days. I bought two of my old favourite cheese from Dalewood and Klein River as well as some little florentines for dessert.

I struggled to find the bakery but finally, almost by accident, I found it tucked in the back of a set of quaint shops. It was like a little hidden treasure, bustling with people in the know and wafting with the smells of freshly baked bread and the best intentions. I had just come to buy bread but the food on the tables scattered around the café looked so enticing, I was very sad that I had to leave without being able to sit and enjoy this haven. I bought two massive loaves of dark rye and something called rustica (like ciabatta with bigger holes in the dough, as well as four bread sticks filled with chunks of dark chocolate, all wrapped in a butcher paper and tied with red twine. 10 out of 10 for atmosphere, friendliness and presentation.

I rushed home and set up a rustic lunch upstairs on an old wooden kist on the floor as every other table and space was packed up with boxes and clutter. A friend of the family had also spontaneously popped in and the five of us plus our old cat who has suddenly gained about 2kgs (I think all the neighbours have been feeding her independently) sat in a pool of winter sun and enjoyed this simple feast.

The bread was light, crusty and chewy, the cheeses were all the things an excellent gruyere and camembert should be, but the sheep’s milk pecorino was something new for me and therefor special. It was very young and soft so it had a lovely creamy texture whilst still having the strong flavour and acidity which will turn into crystals with age. The cheese paired beautifully with the olive and chilli preserve (which is sweet, savory and spicy all at the same time) and the guava jam (which has something of a likeness to quince paste but is far more fruity and floral in flavour)

The mini florentines and bread sticks with chocolate were sensational. Simple goodness.

It was now time to pillage the kitchen. I left with way more than I had bargained for, but still only a 20th of what was there… oh my word my mother had collected a lot of kitchen stuff. I am so looking forward to cooking, baking and plating my next meals… where I am going to put everything is another story all together!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bite sized maple syrup crumpets

Recently I got a lovely big bottle of Great Northern grade A amber Maple Syrup and have been dying to use it, aside from slurping up a few teaspoons on the side. Naturally my first thoughts ran to pancakes or crumpets but I had also been dreaming about basting a pork roast or doing some sticky ribs with it. Anyway, the crumpets won this morning.

My granny often used to make us crumpets. I remember the butter and honey running off the hot crumpets all over our hands as we ate them. When I started to make them myself I experimented with making little bite sized crumpets so that you could top them and pop them into your mouth before the topping slid off. The American way of making big crumpets, stacking them and eating them with a knife and fork somehow never appealed to me. Not sure why…

Since my granny is no longer with us, I improvised a recipe which was really easy but not as good as my grannies. I think I am going to have to call my mother and see if she remembers the recipe. It could also be that my granny had this antique crumpet pan made out of heavy black iron and looked like it was transported here by ox wagon… perhaps that was what made the difference…


Makes about 40 bite sized crumpets

2 ½ cups of flour

4 Tbsp of castor sugar (I used 6 Tbsp of maple syrup)
2 large eggs
2 tsp (10ml) of melted butter
1 cup (250ml) of milk
2 ½ tsp of baking powder (make sure it has not expired)

½ tsp of vanilla essence (optional)
½ tsp of salt

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Beat the eggs, milk, melted butter and vanilla essence in a separate bowl. Whisk the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. Stir well to form a smooth batter. Leave the mixture for 30 minutes.

Fry the crumpets on medium heat in a greased pan. I found a table spoon of the mixture dropped into the hot pan was enough to make one bite sized crumpet. With a spatula carefully flip each crumpet once it starts to bubble evenly all over. Adjust the temperature of the stove if they are browning too quickly.

Serve them with maple syrup or butter and honey. Some people like nutella or jam.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Express butter chicken

One of the most popular recipes I have cooked has to be my almond yoghurt chicken curry. I think the recipe has been used by friends, family, colleagues, domestics, the families they work for and my blog readers all over the world. It is easy, quick and ridiculously tasty. But after having cooked and trained this for many years now I was looking for a something new yet similarly quick, easy and tasty but with a completely different flavour. I think I may just have found that recipe.

It is a version of Butter Chicken or Chicken Makhani, I have however simplified this as much as possible. I just made it for lunch and the whole recipe took me 15 minutes and I was developing it as I went using what I had read online as the basis.

Now I just feel guilty as Adam can’t share it with me. May have to whip up a second batch with paneer for him.

Express Butter Chicken

Serves 4

1 Tbsp of oil

1 medium onion, very finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp of ginger, minced

2 Tbsp of butter

1 Tsp of ground cumin

1 Tsp of ground coriander

1 Tsp of garum masala

1 Tsp of ground paprika

½ Tsp of chilli powder (or to taste)

½ Tsp of black pepper, finely ground (or to taste)

4 skinless free range chicken breasts, cut into small cubes (replace with paneer if desired)

115g of tomato paste

125ml of cream

125ml of yoghurt

1 Tsp of salt (or to taste)

On medium high heat, fry the onion in the oil until translucent but not browning. Add the spices and the butter and fry for a few minutes. Add the chicken cubes and fry for a few minutes until the chicken is almost cooked through. Add the tomato paste and cream and fry on medium heat for a further few minutes. Once the chicken has just cooked through add the salt and yoghurt and combine well.

Serve with fresh coriander, steamed rice, roti and or sambals. Can keep in the fridge for two days or will freeze beautifully.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Veggie Mac n Cheese

Macaroni cheese is one of those comfort food meals which when made well is hard not to love. Sticky, creamy, cheesy pasta baked until golden and crispy. Heaven, but if you make it yourself and know exactly what goes into that sublime stickiness, you would clutch your chest in anticipation for the cardiac arrest to come. 

This is a dish which should be eaten with the due respect given to dishes you will only grant yourself very occasionally. As for feeding it to children as a fail safe meal... this really is the wrong flavor profile to get your kids accustomed to.

A while ago Adam told me about a pasta dish his granny used to make for them as kids. I was very intrigued as this seemed to be a 'healthier' alternative to Mac n Cheese, with all the sticky, creamy and cheesy notes but still full of veggies, fiber and nutritional value. A great way to disguise veggies for fussy kids as well as a comfort food meal for adults as well.

Veggie Mac n Cheese
Serves 4 – 6

250g macaroni, cooked and drained
1 cup of chopped butternut, carrots and cabbage (or any other yellow, orange or white veggies)
½ an onion, chopped
¼ tsp of mild curry powder
Salt to taste
3 Tbsp of white flour
3 Tbsp of oil
300ml of milk
2 tsp of a dijon mustard
1 cup of a grated strong tasting melting cheese
½ tsp of salt
½ a cup of grated cheese

Get your pasta cooking and lightly steam the veggies putting the hardest veggies in first and the softest ones in last.

Drain the pasta and set aside until you are ready to use it. Puree the veggies with the curry powder and salt. If they are not runny enough add some water to thin the mixture. It should be the texture of a thick butternut soup.

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. Take the sauce of the heat and add the mustard, cheese and salt and stir to combine.

Combine the pasta, veg puree and cheese sauce. You can serve this directly onto plates and top with the remaining cheese or place this into a casserole dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake under the grill just before serving until the pasta has heated through and the cheese is bubbling and golden on the top.