I love Pasta ! When I moved to London in my early twenties, I had my first taste of basil pesto and fell in love! I would drench it over big bowls of pasta with bacon and mushrooms and I simply could. not. stop. eating. it. Needless to say that when I flew home a year later on holiday, friends and family practically bypassed me at the airport due to not recognising me … or rather, the size of me 😮
I’ve learnt to practice portion control since then and don’t make pasta part of our families weekly menu. I am however, a firm believer in the ‘everything in moderation’ mantra and therefore do not see anything wrong with enjoying a bowl of pasta every now and then! What is life without pasta? This particular pasta is very fresh and certainly a lot healthier than the bottled pesto jars of my youth. The flavours marry together beautifully, so simple but really packs a tasty flavour which makes this pasta dish, restaurant quality! I’ve made it for friends and they have asked for the recipe. Nough said 🙂
Yield: 4 – 5
500g dried penne pasta
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed to a paste
2 – 3 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
450ml of white wine (Sauvignon Blanc / Chenin)
450g peeled & de-frosted ready to eat prawns
4 tbs sun-dried tomato puree
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
4 big handfuls of rocket, chopped
Salt & Black Pepper
Follow the cooking instructions for the pasta and while that is on the go, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a big frying pan and add the garlic and chilli – cook on a gentle heat ensuring not to burn the garlic. After a minute or 2, add the white wine and the tomato puree and simmer for a few minutes until the alcohol has been cooked away together with the acidity of the tomatoes. Drain your pasta and reserve a little of the cooking liquid. Once the sauce is to your taste, add the prawns and mix through. Remove from the heat. Return the pasta to its pot and add the sauce, stir to combine. Add the lemon juice, the lemon zest and half the rocket and 20 or 30 mL of the reserved cooking water. Taste. Adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper. Heat through on the stove top. Plate and garnish with the remaining rocket.
Cooks Notes: I buy the Woolworths ‘Frozen fully cooked Prawns’ and the Woolworths ‘Sundried Tomato Quarters’. With the tomatoes, I drain the vinaigrette it comes in and blitz the sun-dried tomatoes in a food processor / blender to a lumpy puree type consistency.
I’ve never really been a savoury mince kind a gal. I remember going to a friends house after school and being horrified when her mother presented us with mince on toast! A firm favourite for many, i know, but not for this lady … or at least thats what I thought until, boredom of the same old chicken wrap, led me to experiment with this spicy mince recipe, which was inspired by Chef Pete Evans. The family and I enjoy it so much that its become a firm favourite. Even little Hudson is enjoying the mince, I add some spinach, some brown rice and a miellie and he is a very happy little toddler with a big belly. The state of the floor, the feeding chair and him is another story! If you going to try this with your little ones – feed them outside 😉 Hudson’s portion has less chilli … as does Andrew’s 🙂
This dish is perfect for feeding crowds, place all the prepared elements on the kitchen counter for a self service kind of vibe 🙂
You could substitute the wraps for oven roasted sweet potato slices, for a gluten free take on this dish. Enjoy x
Spicy Mince & Salsa Wraps
Yield: 15 (Great for lunch boxes the next day or for toddler meals which you can freeze)
For the Spicy Mince:
1kg lean beef mince
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed and turned into a paste
2 red chilli’s, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomato
salt & pepper
Dash olive oil
For the Salsa: (The salsa never stretches far enough, so be generous here)
1 red onion, finely diced
Few generous handfuls of fresh coriander, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
For the Guacamole:
3 ripe avocados, mashed
1 or 2 garlic cloves, crushed and turned into a paste
3 or 4 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
For the spicy mince: Put 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a pot and bring to heat, add the onions, reduce the heat and fry gently for 5 or so minutes until soft. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a further minute or two before adding the mince. Increase the heat and cook until the meat has browned, stirring continuously to break up the pieces. Add the spices and the tomato paste and cook for a further minute before adding the tinned tomatoes. Once it comes to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
For the Salsa: Bring a small pot of water to the boil. Place a container with ice water, which will hold all the tomatoes, next to the stove. Using a small sharp knife make a small ‘X’ insertion on the bottom of each tomato. Gently place the tomatoes in the boiling water for 30 seconds before removing with a slotted spoon and transferring to the ice bath you have waiting. (Do not boil the tomatoes for more than 30 seconds else they will soften and begin to cook). Once the tomatoes have cooled, you can easily peel the skin off, starting from the ‘X’. To deseed, cut through the centre of the tomato then cut into quarters. Using the small knife, cut through the flesh at the top and pull out the seeds, or use a teaspoon to scoop out. Cut the tomatoes into diced size pieces, add the finely chopped onion (be cautious of the onion overpowering the salsa so start with half the allocation – you can always add more) and the coriander. Add the lime juice, salt & pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as required.
For the Guacamole: Mix all ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.
Prepare your wraps according to the packaging and plate up ! Additional extras could include some grated mature cheddar and cream cheese.
Nothing says Christmas in South Africa, quite like Gammon, does it? It’s one of those meals thats reserved solely for Christmas. If I had Gammon at another time during the year, I’d feel as if I was cheating on Christmas … I’m sure some of you know what I mean. So, with it being the Festive Season, I decided to make a little Gammon for Andrew, Hudson, My Mom and I for dinner on the 23rd December … an opening act, to the main Gammon coming on Christmas day, if you will. If we can only indulge in Gammon at Christmas, then lets at least enjoy two 🙂
The result? A resounding YUM!!! Even Hudson enjoyed it and I didn’t think he would eat meat just on its own like that, but he loved it. The best part is it was so easy to prepare, almost had me thinking, I could make this a few times a year… just kidding Christmas!
I used a deboned and non smoked gammon but you could use smoked too – will add to the flavour.
2kg boneless gammon
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 Tbsp Black Pepper Corns
Maple, Honey & Mustard Glaze:
80ml maple syrup
80 ml honey
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
100g demerara sugar
Whole Cloves (A lot)
Place the onion, carrots, celery and gammon in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Allow gammon to cool slightly before removing from pot and setting aside. If cooking a day in advance, once your gammon and cooking liquid have cooled down, you can return the gammon to the pot with the cooking liquid in it and refrigerate until the next day. Just remember to take your gammon out of the fridge 30 – 45 minutes prior to moving on to the next step.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
Make your glaze by mixing all ingredients together until the sugar dissolves. Remove the rind from your boiled gammon by gently running your fingers between the rind and the fat. You should be able to pull it off in one piece, leaving behind a thin even layer of fat. Score the fat in a criss-cross diamond pattern, taking care not to cut into the meat. Stud the centre of each diamond with a clove. Generously coat the gammon with half the glaze, using a pastry brush to spread evenly. Roast for 15 minutes before removing from the oven and brushing over the remaining glaze. Return to the oven and roast for another 20 – 30 minutes, until the gammon is a rich golden brown colour, taking it out occasionally and basting with the pan juices. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
I served mine with Mustard Mash, Honey Glazed Baby Carrots & Asparagus and it paired perfectly! Let’s just say there was no space left for dessert 🙂
Photography by Darren Bester
Beetroot Cured Salmon
Yield: 10 as a main dish accompanied by sides
1.5kg side of Norwegian Salmon, boned & skin removed
4 Beetroots, grated
400g Caster Sugar
315g Coarse Sea Salt
2 Handfuls of fresh Dill, chopped
Zest of 3 Oranges
75g capers, chopped
Combine the beetroot, sugar, salt, dill, orange zest and capers in a bowl and stir to combine well. Line a baking dish or other dish suitable of holding your salmon comfortably, with cling wrap (but don’t tear off the cling wrap). Spread half of the beetroot mixture across the cling wrap, in the shape of the salmon, place the salmon on top of the mixture & cover with the remaining mixture, pressing it up against the sides to ensure all of the salmon is covered. Wrap tightly in the cling wrap a few times over to ensure its snug. Place a heavy pan or board on top of the salmon and place in the fridge for between 8 – 12 hours. Remove the cling wrap, rinse under cold running water, pat dry with carlton towel and either serve or refrigerate until required.
Cooks Notes: Don’t worry if your mixture becomes runny – just wrap up in the clingfilm as snug as possible. Be aware that over curing will result in a hard leathery exterior on your fish and it may become too salty so do not exceed the recommended curing hours.
Here’s the link to our Lunch Celebration Table, as featured on The Pretty Blog
Photography by Darren Bester
You say Pea soup and I’m immediately transported back in time… I’m in my family kitchen, I’m a child, my Mom is standing over one of her trusty AMC pots (pots which are now in my kitchen some 30 years on – Talk about quality!), the radio is on and the aroma of pea soup is filling the air ! Yummy, my favourite of all her soup recipes.
My Mom’s version, is actually Split Pea Soup, made with dry split peas & no-one will ever be able to make it quite like Mom, well not in my eyes anyway 🙂 So when the craving for Mom’s Pea soup hit the other day, I wasn’t about to attempt to recreate her winning recipe, because for me, half the comfort is knowing that my Mom made it for me, but with mom not around to see to this craving, I decided to experiment with a different kind of pea soup. Feeling inspired by the recent sunny weather we had during our Cape Town winter, I felt like a lighter, fresher pea soup and so opted to use whole peas instead of split peas, I added some bacon because well, its bacon and any opportunity to add bacon to a recipe, I do 🙂 and then a sprinkle of mint to heighten the lightness and freshness of the soup.
The result? Quick, easy and tasty! Suitable for a deliciously healthy light lunch or dinner starter. The beautiful green is so vibrant that it brings colour to any dining table, while conjuring up feelings of excitement and anticipation that Spring is finally, once again, knocking at our door …
Pea, Bacon and Mint Soup
500ml Fresh or Frozen Peas
250g Streaky Bacon, diced
1 Large Potato, chopped
1 Litre Chicken or Veggie Stock (I use the organic liquid stock from Woolies)
Handful of Mint, finely chopped
Fry the bacon for 5 or so minutes until crisp (keep some aside for garnish), add the potato and stock and cook until the potato is soft, approximately 20 minutes. Add the peas and turn down the heat to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, season with salt & pepper and stir in the mint. Use a food processor or hand blender to puree. Pour into serving dishes and garnish with a drizzle of fresh cream and a sprinkle of crispy bacon.
Cooks Note: If you don’t have cream at hand, drizzle with a dash of olive oil instead. The soup can thicken on refrigeration , if this happens just add a little stock or boiling water when reheating to achieve the preferred consistency.
This recipe was featured on The Pretty Blog: Martha Who’s Pea, Bacon & Mint Soup
Photography by Darren Bester
Anyone who ever had the Mushroom & Cauliflower soup at Sinn’s Restaurant in Wembley Square, Cape Town will know what I was trying to achieve here ! That soup was one of those meals … You know the ones, where you think about it for days, weeks or in this case, years afterwards. So I had no choice, but to try and recreate it … Is it as good as the original? In my eyes … sadly No, but its a close second and did bring me some comfort 🙂
For the Mushroom Soup:
1 Onion, chopped
4 Sprigs of Thyme, chopped finely
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed to a paste
400 grms Mixed mushroom selection, chopped
50grms Dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes
50 grms Butter
250ml Vegetable Stock
Salt & Black Pepper for seasoning
Sweat the onion in a little olive oil for 2 minutes before adding the garlic, thyme and butter. Cook until the butter has melted and the garlic is no longer raw (approximately 2 – 3 minutes). Add the fresh mushrooms & dried mushrooms along with the water the mushrooms were soaking in and the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to food processor and blend, while slowly adding the cream. Season with salt & pepper, taste and adjust seasoning until you are happy.
For the Cauliflower Soup
A few glugs of olive oil
2 Onions, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed to a paste
125mls Dry White Wine
1 Large head cauliflower, stalks removed & chopped
1 Litre Chicken Stock
Salt & White Pepper for seasoning
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, add the onions and sweat gently until the onions are translucent and soft. Add the garlic and wine and cook until most of the wine has evaporated. Stir in the cauliflower and chicken stock and raise heat to bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20 or so minutes until the cauliflower is soft. Transfer to food processor and blend until very smooth, should take a few minutes. You might have to do the soup in batches if your processor is not big enough. Transfer back to the pot and stir in salt & pepper, taste and adjust seasoning until you are happy !
Plating Up :
Now for the Yin and the Yang … Its actually easier than it looks … get two cups / mugs of equal size and fill one with Mushroom Soup and the other with Cauliflower Soup, pour them into a soup bowl, from either side simultaneously, then simply place your hands on either side of the bowl and give the bowl a quick swirl and Voila!
Garnish ideas: I kept a few of the more exotic looking mushrooms aside and sautéed in some butter. I cut a few cauliflower florets very thinly and did the same thing. Also chopped up some chives really finely with some parsley and mixed with olive oil and then drizzled this over the soup.