Cookie Swap Durban

4 Sep

What a fun idea. I’m going to have to figure out what I’m going to bring to this event. Watch this space.

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Braai – a truly South African Barbecue

9 Jul

There is nothing more South African than a good braai. This is not a regular bbq. In SA, braai is an institution, and it crosses every cultural barrier, if you get it right!

Braai: pronounce brrrry, rhymes with try, but with a rolling “r”.

You can tell a South African in a foreign country as they are the ones standing outside in rain, snow, sleet, or hail with an umbrella protecting the boerewors on the braai. I remember many a night having a braai in our house in London, no matter what the weather was, the boys were outside making sure our meat got charred to perfection. In my years in America, it is the one thing I truly missed. Gas BBQs are great, but it just isn’t the same. And I never did find a place to get a decent substitute for boerewors. No self respecting South African man would every cook hotdogs on a braai!

Weber originalTraditionally a braai should be made from wood, although charcoal and briquettes are now quite widely used. When we travel away from home (camping trips, visiting the bush, etc), the preferred method is wood. I will admit to having a gas braai now at home, as well as our Weber, but we use that for cooking more than braaiing. And it is nice to be able to get the braai-ish flavour for just two burgers on a week night. But if we are planning on braaiing steak, or boerewors, then it has to be over coals (whether they came from wood, charcoal or briquettes).

The best part about braai in South Africa is that they are so universal. Whether you are a street vendor doing fresh corn on the cob, to the market vendors selling “smileys”, a family having a Saturday outing, mates watching the rugby together, a large family gathering, or expats trying to recreate the taste of home; a braai brings people together, and it is a flavour that everyone loves. Even vegetarians can get in on the deal, with braaied vegetable skewers, braai roasted peppers or haloumi cheese. Fish braais are also very common around the wonderful coast line of my amazing country.

Roosterkoeke(1)Roosterkoek (direct translation is roasted cake – but it’s more of a bread, and only ever cooked on a braai), is the staple of most Afrikaans braais. I must admit I have never tried to make them myself, although now days most grocery stores sell pre-made ones. You just do the final cook on the braai to get the crispy crust. The other staple across all cultural groups is phuthu, or pap, with sous. Phutu/pap is a corn meal that is cooked to a stiff consistency for consumption with a braai. Sous (p: sohs) is just the Afrikaans word for sauce, but when used with phuthu (p: poo-too) or pap (p: pup – but the vowel is more neutral) almost always refers to a tomato and onion gravy. This is quite well seasoned, and often has chilli or other flavours added. I’m not a fan, never have been and doubt I ever will, but for both my father and my husband, it’s not a good braai until there is phuthu and sous.

braai sidesThe other traditional sides of a braai, and the domain of the women, are salads. The variety and choices are very different, and completely depend on the people who are holding the braai. In our family there is always a good potato salad, a green salad and often a carrot salad. My dad is a huge fan of 3-5 bean salad. I love coleslaw. My sister is always after potato salad, as long as there is no onion or egg in it! Other common salads are beetroot salad, cold pasta salad, rice salad and various variations of green salads. Every family will tell you that it’s not a braai with out a particular side dish or salad, and this will vary from family to family and from area of the country too.

Now onto the important bits – the meat! The basic, standard meat that almost every South African will have on their braai, at one time or another, if not every braai, is boerewors. This is a traditional South African sausage that is usually bought and served in a coil, rather than in links. It is a spiced sausage made of various meats, with a fairly high fat content. The spices used are unique, and are what make the sausage taste as good as it does. The key spices are coriander seeds, nutmeg, cloves and salt & pepper. You can find a recipe for traditional wors here. After wors (the nickname for boerewors, also referred to as boerrie), the next most important things are chops – mutton, lamb or pork, no one really minds, as long as there is something to gnaw on! We almost always have steaks of some sort, but my parents don’t. Their favourite is sousaties – or kebabs (skewers of meat), again in pork, chicken, beef or lamb. Anything goes as long as it has a good marinade. Flatties (chickens flattened to make braaiing easier) are also great for braais. Game meat is often used on the braai and is delicious.

Our most recent braai was one of Bloody Mary Flank Steak. The recipe itself was from an America cook book, but I tell you, it tastes that much better cooked over hot coals. Enjoy the recipe.

Bloody Mary FlankBloody Mary Flank Steak

Recipe courtesy Guy Fieri

Prep Time:15 min

Inactive Prep Time:24 hr 0 min

Cook Time:20 min

Level:Easy

Serves:4 to 8 servings

Ingredients1 cup vegetable juice (recommended: V-8)1/2 cup vodka1 teaspoon sea salt1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper1 teaspoon hot sauce1 tablespoon lemon juice1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce1/2 tablespoon crushed garlic1 teaspoon onion powder1 teaspoon celery seed1 tablespoon prepared horseradish4 tablespoons olive oil1-pound flank steakDirectionsThoroughly mix all the ingredients except for the flank steak in a 1-gallon zip lock bag. Add the flank steak. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.Preheat the grill to high or heat a skillet over high heat. Remove the flank steak from the marinade and wipe the excess liquid off with paper towels. Grill or pan sear both sides, then lower heat to medium and cook to medium rare.Let the flanks steak rest, covered, with a clean towel for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut on the bias against the grain and serve.Per Serving (based on an 4-serving yield): Calories: 213; Total Fat: 9.5 grams; Saturated Fat: 3 grams; Protein: 25 grams; Total carbohydrates: 2 grams; Sugar: 1 gram; Fiber: 0 grams; Cholesterol: 70 milligrams; Sodium: 230 milligrams

Enjoy, and here is just a last photo of what I think a perfect setting for a braai is!

south-african-braai perfect

I have been lazy!

25 Jun

My in-laws were staying with us for a week last week and I chose that as my excuse for not spending time on my businesses. I haven’t posted on here in over a week and I feel bad. Even though I have reminders on my phone and computer, I have just ignored the reminders to post something.

So loyal readers – I apologise!

Since lazy is the theme for today I thought I would share my recipe for pot bread. It’s lazy because there is no need for kneading, and it’s pretty tasty! You can play around with the fresh herbs and the cheeses that you use for this.

I recommend baking it in a traditional Cast Iron bread pot like this one:

number 10 potjie

Cheese and Herb Potbread

★★★★

Prep Time: 1 hr | Cook Time: 1 hr | Makes: 4 | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Lukewarm Water
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1kg Whole-wheat or Bread Flour (or a mixture of both)
  • 2 Cups lukewarm Milk
  • 3 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Dry Yeast
  • 3 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 2 tsp Mixed Herbs
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Chopped
  • 4 Tbsp Chopped Chives or Parsley
  • 1 Cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 tsp Paprika

Directions:

1. Dissolve the sugar in 1 cup of lukewarm water, then sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside for 15 minutes to react
2. Place flour and salt in a bowl; add oil, herbs, garlic, chives and cheese, keeping 1/2 cup of cheese for the topping
3. Mix well and stir in yeast mixture, adding milk to make a sloppy dough, adding extra water if necessary
4. Spoon mixture into a well-greased, flat bottomed pot, remembering to grease the lid of the pot
5. Cover with the lid and stand in a warm place for 45 minutes, for the dough to double in size
6. Sprinkle the paprika and remaining cheese on top of the dough and cover with the lid
7. When the coals have burned down completely, make a hollow in the middle and stand the pot in the centre
8. To brown the top, place a few coals on the lid
9. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the bread makes a hollow sound when tapped

On line 8 when they say  a few coals on the lid, they literally mean 3 or 4. Also when you take the lid off the pot to check the bread, make sure to not let the ash fall onto the bread. I have done this more times than I care to remember.

This bread is particularly good with a nice tomatoey potjie or stew, but is brilliant with any sort of braai!

I hope you enjoy this recipe from my own arsenal!

Spectacular Spices – Ginger

13 Jun

I’m starting a new series of blog post this week. I want to focus on the various ingredients that will be included in some of my hampers, and ideas for using the ingredients in future dishes. Ground ginger is a component of the Morrocan Tagine Recipe. Preserved ginger is a component of the Gluhwein recipe that I shared last week. This is a spice that is used in a wide variety of cuisines and in many different forms. I will discuss some options that you can use to incorporate each of the types of ginger product into your cooking of every day items.

First we need to differentiate between spices and herbs. According to Wikipedia:

spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substance primarily used for flavouring, colouring or preserving food. Sometimes a spice is used to hide other flavors.

A herb is derived from leafy green plants and is used for flavouring or garnishing.

It is possible to have both herbs and spices come from the same plant. Coriander is exactly one of these plants. The fresh leaves are used in numerous cuisines as a herb – Mexican, Middle Eastern, Asian. Called amongst other things Fresh Coriander, Dhania or Cilantro. The seeds are dried and are called Coriander almost everywhere that they are used. They are a common ingredient in curry spice mixes and in traditional sausages. Biltong and boerewors would not taste how they do without coriander seeds. The root is stronger tasting than the leaves and is used most often in Thai curry pastes. A plant that can truly be utilised in full.

ginger-fresh-and-dried

Now onto Ginger. One of my favourite spices as it is so versatile. It can lift a savoury dish and add a level of flavour all it’s own, it can create the warmth and heat in an Asian dish, it is the comforting spice for my favourite cookies, it balances the flavours of sushi, and it helps calm a queasy stomach!

Fresh ginger is used in many cuisines. It has a hot and spicy flavour. I love using it on Beef Roasts, as it adds a delicious heat to the meat, and definitely mellows when it is cooked slowly. In Asian cuisines it is used mainly in seafood dishes and stronger meats such as goat. It is wonderful in stir fries. Fresh ginger can be sliced and steeped in boiling water to make ginger tea and is really good for chest problems as well as queasy stomachs. It is best sweetened with honey, and often orange or lemon is added to the tea. Fresh ginger is also used for making ginger beer and ginger wine.

Ground dry ginger is used mostly in baking. You can substitute fresh ginger for dry at a ratio of 6 to 1. The flavours are quite different though. Dry ground ginger can be kept in the spice cupboard for up to 2 years, and should retain a pungent scent. It is wonderful to add to glazed carrots; any stewed apple desserts such as pies, crumbles, baked apples; use it to spice up baked sweet potato, butternut, pumpkin. Ginger mixes well with nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamon.

Pickled Ginger is used most often in Japanese cuisine, and is the usual accompaniment to sushi. It has a milder ginger flavour, but retains the heat of the root. This is thought of as a palate cleanser between bites. It is a great accompaniment to any fish, and can be used to garnish grilled fish steaks, usually with other Asian flavours like soy and wasabi.  It can be used in salads to add a new flavour as well as to pork and poultry dishes.

The medicinal uses for ginger throughout the world are extensive. The most common use is for nausea and queasy stomachs. I know that when I went for my first dives, I was advised to bring a pack of ginger cookies to help settle my stomach. They worked at first, until I swallowed some sea water (I was a first timer) and that was not a good combination! Fresh ginger is recommended by a few cook books for assisting with reflux and settling the stomach. In India ginger paste is applied to the temples to relieve a head ache. There are many more folk remedies using ginger for circulation, treating colds & flu, coughing and inflammation. These are not as widely believed to work as the ability to settle the stomach. Ginger tea is recommended in the US as an aid for morning sickness.

When purchasing a My Recipe Hampers hamper that contains a bottle of ground ginger. You will now have a variety of uses for that ginger. These suggestions will be included in the hamper so that you will have ideas of what to use it for going forward.

Here is my favourite Ginger cookie recipe, from here. My husband is the baker in our house, and he makes these regularly. They are phenomenal!

Ginger Snaps

EA1212_Ginger-Snaps_lg★★★★★

Prep Time: 30 min |

Cook Time: 15 min |

Makes: about 4 dozen cookies |

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 270 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 200 grams dark brown sugar
  • 140 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 85 grams molasses, by weight
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 115 grams finely chopped candied ginger
  • Sanding sugar, for sprinkling, optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180 C

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cardamom, clove and salt.

Place the brown sugar and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the molasses, egg and fresh ginger and beat on medium for 1 minute. Add the crystallized ginger and using a rubber spatula, stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until well combined.

With a 2-teaspoon-sized scoop, drop the dough onto a parchment-lined half sheet pan approximately 5cm apart. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 12 minutes for slightly chewy cookies or 15 minutes for more crisp cookies. Rotate the pan halfway through cooking.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired, and allow the cookies to stay on the sheet pan for 30 seconds before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with all of the dough. Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days. If desired, you may scoop and freeze the cookie dough on a sheet pan and once frozen, place in a resealable bag to store. Bake directly from the freezer as above.

Enjoy and order a recipe hamper today!

Gluhwein and Winter!

6 Jun

I live in Durban! It doesn’t really get cold enough to really call it winter, but we do. Lows that go below 10C are very cold for Durban, and it’s been like that quite a bit this week. Which has everyone thinking about delicious winter foods and drinks. The things that come to mind for me in winter are soups, home made bread, stews, potato bakes, potjies, hot chocolate, warm steam puddings, and gluhwein. I love red wine, and I love spices, so therefor I love gluhwein or mulled wine has it has come to be known in English.

The new recipe hamper for this week is Gluhwein! I found a wonderful South African food blog this week, and I am borrowing their recipe post, as I think this is a really good recipe for Gluhwein from Gordon Ramsay.

Hamper includes:  750ml Red Wine 3 Cardamon Pods  6-10 Cloves  2 whole Star Anise 1 Cinnamon Stick  1 Lemon Grass Stick  1 Orange  1 Tbsp Soft Brown Sugar 1 tsp Ginger Preserve 2 Tbsp syrup from Ginger Preserve Muslin Cloth

Gluhwein R245

Mulled Wine | Gluhwein Recipe

Prep Time: 20 min | Cook Time: 20 min | Makes: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 750ml Red Wine, a cheaper bottle is ok, but it should be one you like to drink.
  • 3 Cardamon Pods
  • 6-10 Cloves
  • 2 whole Star Anise
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 Lemon Grass Stick
  • 1 Orange
  • 1 Tbsp Soft Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Ginger Preserve
  • 2 Tbsp syrup from Ginger Preserve

Directions:

  • You need to make a ‘bouquet garni’ & for this you require an A4 size muslin cloth & some string.
    • Add the cardamom pods, cloves and star anise.
    • Break the cinnamon stick into 2 and add to other spices.
    • On the muslin cloth, flatten the lemon grass to release its flavour & then lightly chop.
    • Fold the muslin cloth and tie tightly.
  • Remove 5 – 6 grates of orange zest from the orange & cut the remaining orange into wedges
  • Chop the pickled ginger.
  • Empty the bottle of Red Wine into a saucepan and warm up. Do not boil the alcohol away.
  • Add the prepared bouquet garni.
  • Add the orange zest and pieces.
  • Add the brown sugar, ginger pieces & ginger syrup.
  • Stew & heat wine for a further 5 minutes.

The best way to serve Gluhwein is in clear glass mugs, or nice heavy wine glasses. Traditionally this is a drink served at Christmas in the northern hemisphere, but for those of us in the southern hemisphere, we are about to move into the winter season, and this is a lovely drink for chilly evenings.

The hamper will come packaged with everything you need, including the muslin cloth for making the bouquet garni. The cost of this hamper, including delivery to the Durban area is R245. A perfect gift in time for Father’s Day!

Image

To Market, to Market….

28 May

On Sunday I attended my first market – The Bulwer Park Craft and Food Lovers Market. My stall was small and simple, but I have great ideas for the next one. There was a lot of interest and I’m excited to do another one next month.

A Beautiful day for a Market

May Sale Flier

Make your own Mayonnaise Hamper R250

Mushroom Risotto Hamper R450

My Table

Moroccan Cuisine and Why I love it!

24 May

I have a complete love of cool kitchen gadgetry and fell in love with Le Creuset products. Weirdly the first thing we decided to purchase was the Kiwi Tagine.

Le Creuset Kiwi Tagine

I then realised that I needed to learn some recipes to try in it. I have probably tried about 15 different variations of tagines,  but what I have learned is that these dishes are very balanced. The spices are not over powering, there is a balance of savoury, sweet, sour and salty. The best ones, like most slow cooked meat dishes, take 2 hours or longer, and are as good, if not better, the next day.

Tagines all have a very similar mix of spices:

  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Ginger (either fresh or ground depending on the meat)
  • Paprika
  • Ground coriander
  • Saffron

Interestingly these recipes very seldom call for garlic, and if they do it is not a lot. I also love that they prefer that you use whole spices and toast and grind them together, fresh for the recipe. This adds a wonderful level of flavour to the dishes.

Fresh herbs are usually either coriander (cilantro or dhanja) or parsley (flat leaf). I like how these simple herbs lift the flavours of a dish. Also in this cuisine they tend to use every part of the herb or spice, and so the stems are used to flavour stocks etc.

Another component of these dishes is usually a sweet element. The most common are fruits such as dates, raisins, citrus fruit, or apricots. They often call for honey to sweeten a dish too. I have also seen dishes use sweet potato to add a sweet element.

Moroccan dishes make use of the bounty of the Mediterranean. Olives and lemons are common in a lot of tagines. Onions are often the only vegetable in the dish, but once they cook along with the meat, the richness it gives the sauce is amazing. Lamb, Chicken and Duck are the most common proteins used in tagines, although vegetarian tagines made with chickpeas are very good too.

Tagines are best served with couscous. Depending on the type of tagine, you could flavour the couscous or have it as a plain base. I love to flavour my couscous with dried fruit, fresh herbs and toasted nuts. Tagines are usually not very textural, and so having the nuts and fresh herbs in the couscous helps to add texture to the dish.

I love to make a Chickpea Salad to serve with my tagines, although this makes a fantastic salad along side anything really. It keeps very well in the fridge for a few days and tastes delicious as the flavours mature. Feel free to change up the herbs as you would like. I do regularly.

Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs

Chickpea Salad

Makes: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-to 15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed, drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, pressed
  • 1/3 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Coarse kosher salt

Directions:

Combine rinsed and drained chickpeas, chopped fresh basil, chopped Italian parsley, fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and pressed garlic clove in medium bowl. Add grated Parmesan cheese and toss gently to blend all ingredients thoroughly. Season chickpea salad to taste with coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

DO AHEAD: Chickpea salad can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Serve salad chilled or at room temperature.

At first Moroccan Cuisine can seem very mild, but what I love is how there are so many depths of flavour in a slow cooked tagine, especially as you eat more and more of it!