Review: The LG Neochef

4 Dec

A few weeks ago, I received a brand new LG Neochef microwave to review and keep. Our previous microwave was on its very last legs (we bought it 15 years ago from a friend, second hand, and although it has warmed many a leftover it was time to step down) so the timing was impeccable.

The thing is: you get microwaves, and then you get the LG Neochef. I’ve heard a few rumors about this machine, but it turned out I was even more impressed than I anticipated. I don’t like reviews that are too technical, so here is the bottom line: this is not only a spacious and beautiful microwave, it is also a smart oven. As in, a real oven that can bake, roast and grill. And you know what, it can even be a microwave and an oven at the same time, so your cooking times can pretty much be cut in half, if that’s what you want (that’s the “smart inverter technology” that LG is talking about).

The top reason I love this microwave so much is because of it’s superb, even heating. Food actually gets heated throughout (unlike other microwaves scorching the sides or completely overheating the middle). And butter actually gets properly softened (not half hard and half melted, like my previous microwave did, even on low heat).

I also love it because it is really spacious at 39 liter capacity, it truly looks sleek in a minimalist way, and it is very user friendly – it does everything I want it to do, without me searching for the booklet to look up a setting. I probably won’t end up doing a lot of baking in this microwave, only because I usually bake large quantities of stuff at once and that’s what my oven it for. But I do use and need a microwave daily and cannot do without it: for melting chocolate, for softening butter, for heating milk when baking sponge cakes, for defrosting meat, and so forth and so forth. It works like a dream – even the “time is up” tune sounds great.

The LG Neochef retails for R5499-R6499, depending on the retailer.

I’ll be doing a cooking video using the LG Neochef soon, so keep an eye out. Happy cooking!

 

 

If you want to read what LG says about their machine, here’s the full press release:

Combining a convenient design, subtle minimalism and the latest Smart Inverter technology from LG Electronics (LG), the new NeoChef™ takes culinary and microwave ovens to a new level. With the latest design trends, the microwave is both minimalistic and accessible, instantly bringing a touch of class to any kitchen. The ergonomic NeoChef features a simple intuitive control interface as well as a range of hygiene-enhancing features including Anti-Bacterial EasyClean™ that help users keep their ovens clean and fresh.

This elegant LG NeoChef has a unified tempered glass front, a refined matte exterior and is ergonomically designed with a rounded pocket-style handle and diamond cut dial weds form function to not only deliver the ultimate in precision and user-convenience, but to seamlessly blend in with the decor of any kitchen. To simplify operation, the NeoChef extends its usability features into input with its simple intuitive sliding touch control. The advanced microwave has received multiple world-renowned design awards including the 2015 PIN UP Design Award and the 2015 Good Design Award.

Equipped with LG’s unique Smart Inverter, there’s no cooking job the NeoChef can’t handle. The oven uses linear power control between 300 to 1,200 watts to evenly cook or defrost food, while at the same time preserving nutrients and locking in flavour. The Smart Inverter also boosts efficiency, as its motor has a 1200-watt maximum power output.

In addition, LG’s advanced microwave can be used to make healthy, lactobacilli-infused yogurt, and with its Healthy Fry feature is even capable of preserving the distinct taste of each dish while making them healthier, with less oil and 72 percent less fat.

The NeoChef also packs a number of features designed to increase cleanliness and streamline the cooking experience. The Anti-Bacterial EasyClean Coating makes it harder for dangerous contaminants to take root, eliminating 99.99 percent of harmful bacteria.

Equipped with a number of convenience-enhancing features such as its innovative, hexagonal turntable, as well as an energy efficient interior LED lamp that is three times brighter than conventional models, users can easily monitor the entire cooking process.With its compact exterior size, the microwave is at home in any kitchen while it is still able to accommodate large and tall dishes with its increased internal capacity.

“At LG, we’re dedicated to creating appliances with our consumers in mind, and as such we’ve developed this striking new microwave with functionality and beautiful design that will add a touch of class to any kitchen,” said Sofia Kim, MEA Marketing Cooking Team. “Powered by our unique Smart Inverter technology, the NeoChef efficiently and effectively reheats and defrosts food, decreases cooking times and makes it easier than ever for users to prepare delicious, highly-nutritious meals.”

 

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Afritalian braaibroodjies

4 Dec

Freshly braaied ciabatta sandwiches with fior di latte, tomato, basil, onion and chutney. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

It is officially summer in the southern hemisphere – the season to go alfresco! I have not made braaibroodjies in a while, although I’m such a fan. For those who don’t live in SA, a “braaibroodjie” is a tomato and cheese sandwich that is grilled over hot coals as part of a festive barbecue.

So, the classic South African braaibroodjie that I grew up with in Stellenbosch looks like this: two slices of store-bought soft white/brown bread, butter, chutney, cheddar cheese (grated for an even melt), thinly sliced onion, sliced tomato, salt & pepper – some might not do chutney, some might not do onion, some might add mayo, some might butter their broodjies on the outside, there are so many variations. My folks even used to do some sweet braaibroodjies on the side when we were kids, which consisted of buttered bread with cheddar and apricot jam. Those were freaking delicious too.

This time I want to bring some Italian flair into the equation, but keep a few South African essentials. So this is what my Afritalian braaibroodjie looks like: two slices of good quality wood fired ciabatta, butter, chutney, sliced fior di latte, thinly sliced onion, sliced tomato, salt & pepper and fresh basil leaves. It’s almost like a pizza Margherita and a braaibroodjie in one – the best of both worlds, in my opinion.

Here’s to some fresh fireside ideas for summer! I’d love to hear how you’ll be doing your braaibroodjies this festive season. Give me a shout in the comments below.

Note: Some people prefer buttering their bread on the outside, some only on the inside, some on both sides. I only butter on the inside. Do whatever you like.

Ingredients: (makes 1 sandwich, adjust quantities accordingly for more)

  • two slices good quality ciabatta (Italian-style slipper loaf)
  • butter, for spreading
  • about 5-10 ml fruit chutney
  • two slices of fior di latte (fresh milky mozzarella)
  • two slices of ripe tomato
  • a few thin slices of onion
  • salt & pepper
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves

Method:

Assemble the braaibroodjies by buttering your sliced bread (see note above), then spread evenly with chutney on the inside of one of the slices. Arrange sliced fior di latte, tomato & onion in layers, then season with salt & pepper and add basil. Top with the other slice, then braai on a grid (preferably closed hinge) over medium-cool coals, turning often, until golden brown on both sides and gooey on the inside. It is important that the tomato must have enough time to warm up and the cheese must be melted completely. Remove from the heat and serve at once.

More notes: Choose a ciabatta that is not too “holey” in texture, otherwise you might lose your filling in the process. The tomato will continue to soften the bread on standing as it releases liquid. This slight sogginess is part of the beauty of the braaibroodjie. Also, if you prefer to enjoy your basil leaves uncooked, add them right at the end just before serving. Enjoy!

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Kentucky-style fried chicken (double dredged)

24 Nov

Deep fried Kentucky-style chicken – done right! Served with beer and some flaky paprika salt. No cutlery required. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

This recipe is unapologetically delicious, influenced straight from the bold South of America. And no, you won’t get the same results in the oven. This is a good ol’ deep-fryin’ job. Double dredged in my not-so-secret spice & herb flour mixture, crispy fried and finger-licking awesome.

You sure won’t eat this every day (or even every week), but when it’s time for Kentucky-style fried chicken, you need to do it properly. Keep an eye on your oil temperature and you’re in for a treat: these golden beauties need to cook from scratch in the oil – they need 12-15 minutes at 180 C to work their magic.

Give them a quick drain on kitchen paper and you’re ready to rumble. No sauce, no condiments, no side dishes. Just fried chicken done right.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1 liter canola oil
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 5 ml salt
  • 2,5 ml freshly ground pepper
  • 10 ml paprika
  • 5 ml mixed herbs
  • 2,5 ml chilli powder (adjust according to your needs)
  • 2,5 ml celery seeds (optional)
  • 5 ml garlic powder (or use garlic salt and reduce salt quantity accordingly)
  • 4 XL egg whites
  • 8-12 medium size chicken pieces (legs, wings, thighs)

Method:

  1. Place the oil in a large heave-based pot over high heat. While it is heating, prepare the chicken.
  2. In a wide mixing bowl, mix the flour, salt, pepper, paprika, herbs, chilli powder, celery seeds and garlic powder.
  3. Place the egg whites in a wide bowl and whisk lightly.
  4. Take each chicken piece, dip it in the egg white, then in the spiced flour mixture, back in the egg white and again in the flour mixture. Place on a tray and repeat process until all the chicken is double-dredged.
  5. In the meantime, keep an eye on the oil. You’re looking for a temperature of 180 C. If you don’t have a thermometer, test a small piece of chicken skin to see if it bubbles when it hits the oil. When the oil starts to smoke, you’ve heated it too high – this can be dangerous, so remove it carefully from the heat (using heat protective mitts) and let it cool before adding the chicken.
  6. Add the dredged chicken pieces to the hot oil, but don’t crowd the pot. Fry for 12-15 minutes, turning them over half way through. Adjust the temperature if the chicken browns too quickly – it should spend at least 12 minutes in the oil for the meat to be cooked properly, so give the bigger pieces more time if needed.
  7. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately (with or without extra salt and lemon wedges).

Note: Always be extra careful when cooking with large amounts of oil. Don’t leave it unattended and don’t let children near it. These days I prefer deep-frying on my induction cooker where there are no flames near.

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Melon, blue cheese, prosciutto & basil canapés

20 Nov

Stacks of skewered melon, blue cheese, folded prosciutto and fresh basil. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

We’re all starting to gear up for a few weeks of entertaining and celebrating this festive season. I love spoiling my guests with some small bites before the start of a meal. If you keep it simple, it won’t take up too much time and will add so much to your gathering.

The combination of melon and ham is a true classic. I’ve added blue cheese and basil leaves for a savoury, creamy and fresh extra touch and it works like a charm. No cooking required, just cut, skewer and serve.

Treat yourself and your guests to some fabulous-looking canapés this December – it’s totally worth it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 melon, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 2 x 2 cm cubes
  • 2 x 125 g blue cheese, cut into cubes
  • about 160-200 g finely sliced prosciutto, each piece folded into a neat little stack
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves

Method:

Use small skewers to arrange the melon, blue cheese, prosciutto and basil into a neat upright stack. Serve immediately.

Tip: Cut larger slices of prosciutto in half, if necessary.

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Teriyaki Roasted Mushrooms on Steak (or on baked potatoes)

14 Nov

Whole roasted mushrooms on a pan-fried sirloin steak. Such a great alternative to a creamy mushroom sauce, and much easier to make. #festivemushrooms

These whole roasted mushrooms, marinated in Teriyaki sauce with garlic, ginger & thyme, will take your next grilled steak or baked potato to a new level – perfect for festive entertaining. Teriyaki sauce is a magical thing – just the right combination of sweet and salty – that will add even more umami to your already umami-rich mushrooms. No cutting or stirring involved, just shake them in a bag with the marinade, spread out on a baking tray and roast on a high temperature.

This recipe is a welcome alternative to a creamy mushroom sauce. Juicy and packed with flavour, these teriyaki roasted mushrooms are a crowd-pleasing favourite every time.

Brown and button mushrooms with thyme – such a great choice for making these teriyaki roasted mushrooms.

#FestiveMushrooms
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Ingredients: (serves 4)

1/2 cup (125 ml) Teriyaki sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh ginger, finely grated
3-4 thyme thyme sprigs, leaves only
400 g whole mushrooms (I used 250 g big brown mushrooms and 150 g small button mushrooms)
about 4 x 200 g beef steak (I used aged sirloin)
45 ml olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Line a standard baking tray with foil and pre-heat oven to 230 C.
  2. Pour the Teriyaki sauce into a large zip-sealing bag. Add the grated garlic, ginger & thyme, seal and give it a shake.
  3. Add the mushrooms, press out the excess air, seal and shake well to cover the mushrooms all over.
  4. Pour the marinated mushrooms out on the lined tray and arrange in a single layer, stem-side up for larger mushrooms. Roast for 20 minutes at 230 C until caramelized & tender.
  5. While the mushrooms and roasting, brush the steaks with oil on both sides and season generously with salt & pepper. Heat a large pan (preferably an iron skillet) over high heat until it reaches smoking point. Pan-fry the steaks to your preferred liking – I prefer medium-rare, which is about 3,5 minutes a side. Don’t fuss too much over the steaks, just let them do their thing and turn once – they will generate a lot of smoke, so open a kitchen window.
  6. When the steaks are done, transfer them to a plate/platter and cover with foil to rest for 5 minutes at room temperature.
  7. Remove the mushrooms from the oven once they are brown and tender with sticky darker bits on the edges of the pan.
  8. Serve the steaks immediately after resting, topped generously with the whole roasted mushrooms and served with a side salad.

Note: These Teriyaki roasted mushrooms are an excellent topping on fluffy baked potatoes, creamy polenta or risotto, but also work so well at room temperature in a salad with rocket, avo and feta. Not all Teriyaki sauces are the same – taste yours and adjust seasoning if necessary.

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Col’Cacchio Stellenbosch revamped to celebrate 25 years

23 Oct

Early evening at Col’Cacchio, Stellenbosch.

 

This year, well-known pizza franchise Col’Cacchio celebrates 25 years in the industry. They’ve updated their branding and revamped some of their flagship stores, with more revamping rolling out countrywide shortly.

I was invited to visit my local Col’Cacchio in Plein Street, Stellenbosch last week. The location of this store has always been a hit – a tranquil courtyard in the absolute centre of town, perfect for families with young kids but also walking distance from campus for students. It has a distinct European feel, yet enough privacy and safety because it is not directly on the street.

Col’Cacchio distinguishes themselves as an Italian-inspired elegant pizzeria with an extensive menu, also including generous salads, antipasto, pasta and desserts. With their menu also recently updated, you can now do half-and-half pizza options, choosing any two of your favourite pizzas on the menu or even creating your own list of toppings.

The standard thin crust of Col’Cacchio’s pizzas wins my vote. I also love the size of their pizzas and the fact that they don’t feel heavy, but still are generously topped with fresh ingredients. I’ll definitely be back for the antipasti platter – such great value and perfect for sharing. Note that there are also gluten free and vegan pasta and pizza options!

As always, kids are well catered for with complimentary pizza dough and cookie cutters to play with, as well as crayons to draw on the brown paper table cover. This literally keeps them busy for ages – I love it.

Linger longer this summer season at Col’Cacchio Stellenbosch, invite a crowd of friends to join you and sit back while you snack through their menu. Their wine selection also includes many local favourites.

Take a look at our visit in pictures:

Garlic, chilli, parmesan, Tabasco, olive oil and balsamic vinegar comes standard with every sit-down table.

Happiness is fresh dough for the kids!

My favourite of the day: a delicious antiplasti platter of caprese salad, artichokes, charcuterie and marinated peppers. This platter also includes thin, crisp, herby pizza slices, plated separately.

Prosciutto and orange salad with rocket.

My half-and-half pizza – the smoke babe (Asian deboned smoked pork ribs, rosso onion, corn, spring onion, mint and coriander) and spicotta (fior di latte, garlic, spinach, ricotta, tomatoes and parmesan).

Schalk’s half-and-half pizza: the smoke babe and the moghul (Indian butter chicken, yoghurt, fior di latte, coriander & crispy onions).

Kids playing happily in Col’Cacchio’s courtyard.

 

Where to find Col’Cacchio Stellenbosch:
Location: Shop 29-31, Simonsplein Centre, Plein Street, Stellenbosch, 7600
Telephone Number: (021) 886-7088

For more info visit www.colcacchio.co.za or hop onto these social media platforms:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ColCacchio/
Twitter: @ColCacchio
Instagram: @colcacchio

Download the Col’Cacchio Rewards app from the Apple App Store or Google Play & unlock delicious rewards.

 

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Greek-style spinach & feta phyllo triangles

19 Oct

Crispy, salty, spinach & feta triangles with phyllo pastry. #PhabPhyllo

 

One of my all-time favourite Greek dishes is spanakopita – a deep-dish spinach and feta “pie” made with layers of buttery phyllo pastry. I’ve seen so many versions of this original dish, many of them in different shapes, as individual rolls or even as small canapés. Spinach and feta make such a fabulous combo, and wins crowd-pleasing votes every time.

My version of this Greek classic contains toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese. I fold them into triangles that look like small samoosas – perfect hand-size snacks that won’t require cutlery. The buttered sheets of phyllo bake to a light, golden perfection, crunching and flaking gently when you eat it.

Salt flakes add a crunchy salty finish to these flaky delights. #PhabPhyllo

 

If you haven’t worked with phyllo pastry before – it’s so easy and so very versatile. The thin sheets thaw super quickly, they’re forgiving (you can easily mend tears by sticking another piece on top with butter/oil) and the end result is always light and flaky.

This is a great way to make “shrinking” spinach go further. This filling will yield about 24 small triangles, perfect to feed a crowd as a starter or canapé.

Note: The parmesan and pine nuts add incredible flavour, but they can be an expensive buy if you don’t have it in your pantry already. For a more economical alternative, leave these two ingredients out completely.

Cheat’s tip: If you’re feeling completely lazy, buy a ready-to-eat packet of creamed spinach and stir in some cubed feta. Use it as your filling, then advance to step 6 below!

This is how you assemble a small phyllo triangle, folding with the filling on the diagonal, then flipping it over, folding and flipping. Easy as pie! #PhabPhyllo

 

Ingredients: (makes about 24 small triangles)

  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 400 g raw spinach (I prefer using baby spinach because there’s no dirt or sand in the leaves; spinach is usually sold in packets of 200g or 400g)
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) dried oregano
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 3 rounds (about 200 g) feta cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) pine nuts, toasted
  • zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 XL egg
  • 1 x 500g packet of Mediterranean Delicacies Phyllo Pastry, thawed (you’ll use 8 sheets to make 24 triangles)
  • 125 g (1/2 cup) butter, melted
  • salt flakes, for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a wide, large pot and fry the onions over medium heat until soft and golden. Transfer the onions from the pan into a mixing bowl.
  2. Using the same pot over medium heat, add the spinach all at once and cover with a lid. Allow to steam for 3 minutes, then stir with a wooden spoon and continue to steam, covered, for a few more minutes until just wilted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes until cool enough to handle.
  3. While the spinach is cooling, add the nutmeg, oregano, grated parmesan, feta cubes, toasted pine nuts and grated lemon zest to the mixing bowl with the fried onions.
  4. Transfer the cooled spinach to a sieve and gently squeeze out any excess liquid. Transfer to a large chopping board and chop into small pieces, then add it to the mixing bowl.
  5. Mix all the ingredients together and season generously with salt & pepper. Taste the mixture and adjust if necessary. When you are happy with the seasoning, add the egg and mix well.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220 C. On a clean surface, place one sheet of pastry in front of you, landscape orientated (keep the rest of the sheets covered with a damp tea towel to prevent them from drying out). Brush lightly with butter all over, then place another sheet on top and repeat the brushed butter. Now cut the sheet vertically into 6 equal strips using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Place a heaped tablespoon of filling at the bottom of each strip, and then fold the edge over diagonally to form a triangle, and flip it over again to close the seam, and again diagonally, and flip it over until you reach the end of the pastry strip. Place each finished triangle on a lined baking tray. Continue with the rest of the filling and sheets. Brush the top of each triangle with butter and sprinkle with a few salt flakes.
  7. Bake the triangles for about 30 minutes or until golden brown in the preheated oven at 220 C. Serve warm.

This recipe was written in collaboration with Mediterranean Delicacies Phyllo Pastry. #PhabPhyllo

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No-knead pot bread with garlic butter

9 Oct

This is a party-size pot bread, so be sure to invite a crowd! Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

I love bread. I love the process of making dough. I have tremendous respect for the simplicity (and alchemy) of baking with flour, water, yeast and salt. From sour dough to brioche, each golden loaf that is made with care will continue to nurture and delight me for years to come.

I recently attended a sour dough masterclass at Loaves on Long, and learned so much about mother starters, fermentation and patience. I still need to start my own “mother” with Ciska’s recipe, feed it, and learn to understand its ways. I’ve done it twice before, and the results were incredibly satisfying. I see a post about my new efforts in the near future…

Today I would love to share a recipe for no-knead bread – a method that relies on long fermentation rather than kneading (so remember to start long in advance). This recipe featured in Donna Hay Magazine‘s 75th issue of June/July 2014. I treat her magazines as recipe books and exhibit them proudly on my recipe shelf at home, using them for references and inspiration often. I adjusted my recipe to contain 1 kg flour instead of Donna’s 675 g. Although Donna’s quantities deliver the perfect amount of rolls for a party of 6 (with one roll to spare), not everyone has digital scales and it is a lot simpler to work with whole packets of 1 kg white bread flour.

Here’s my adapted version of Donna’s beautiful recipe. I’ve added my personal touch with the addition of home-made garlic butter, adding a few generous lashings on top right after baking to seep into the warm creases for the ultimate in comfort food indulgence. Use a large iron pot if you don’t have a Le Creuset casserole dish like the one in the picture.

Note: This recipe makes a very sticky dough that is almost runny and quite difficult to handle. That’s why it is great news that you’re going to handle it minimally. The secret to the amazing texture is the long fermentation time, thus eliminating the need for manual kneading or for an expensive stand mixer. Stir the dough until mixed, then leave to proof for 4-6 hours until bubbly and airy (I use a 10 liter plastic bowl with lid, for enough rising space). Donna prefers to shape the dough into balls on a floured surface, but I found it easier to shape with oiled hands straight from the dough bowl into an oiled pot. Shaping the balls makes for an easy pull-apart roll after baking, instead of cutting into slices.

Note: If you’re not going to be catering for a crowd, just halve the recipe.

Ingredients: (makes a very large pot bread, serves 10)

  • 1 kg white bread flour
  • 10 g (15 ml) instant yeast
  • 30 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the pot
  • 15 ml salt
  • 875 ml (3 1/2 cups) water

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with a wooden spoon to form a wet, sticky dough.
  2. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for 4-6 hours (longer if it’s a cold day) until it has tripled in size and has formed large bubbles.
  3. Grease a large, wide pot (about 30cm, preferable enamel-coated iron or plain iron) generously with olive oil on the inside. Using oiled hands, shape the dough into 10-12 balls and place them alongside each other into the pot. Cover with plastic and leave to proof for a second time, around 30 minutes, until doubled in size.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 220 C while waiting for the second proof.
  5. Remove the plastic, cover with an oven-proof lid and bake for 20 minutes (the bread will steam).
  6. Remove lid and bake for another 20 minutes until golden brown with a hollow sound when tapped.
  7. Top with lashings of garlic butter when still very hot, melting the butter into the bread. Serve warm.

Tip: Use a silicon spatula to loosen the bread from the sides and bottom of the pot, if necessary.

For the garlic butter: (make ahead and refrigerate until ready to use)

  • 250 g butter, very soft but not melted
  • 15 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • a large handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together with a spatula in a mixing bowl (or use a food processor for a smoother result). Turn out onto a piece of grease-proof paper, then roll into a log and refrigerate.

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5 recipes for a sneeze-free spring!

5 Oct

I absolutely love the arrival of spring in September and October. Unfortunately, many of us struggle with allergies during this transitional season between winter and summer, so Hippo.co.za asked me for my top 5 recipes that might just help you combat a light cold or a bout of hay fever. Also check out their article titled What Happens When You Catch the Common Cold?.

Did you know that some foods contain natural antihistamines? Yup – vitamin C, flavonoids and omega 3 can help you combat the sniffles and sneezes during this time of year in the southern hemisphere when the air is filled with pollen and dust.

Here are my top 5 recipes for a sneeze-free spring. Remember to drink lots of water too!

Orange, beetroot & brown rice salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

1. Orange & beetroot salad with spinach & wild rice: Oranges are rich in vitamin C (and flavonoids); so are beetroot and spinach. What more can we ask for?

Avo, blueberry and fennel salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

2. Avo & blueberry salad with feta & fennel: Blueberries are absolutely packed with incredible nutrients; no wonder they are classified as a superfood! Along with the good oils of avocado, this salad will boost you like few other.

Baked tomatoes with feta, garlic, thyme (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

3. Baked tomatoes with feta and garlic: Tomatoes are also rich in flavonoids and vitamin C, and garlic is known to be one of the best immune boosters around.

Fresh, crunchy, beautiful to look at and oh-so-delicious Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

4. Vietnamese spring rolls with peanut sauce: These spring rolls are colourful, crunchy and filled with everything fresh and healthy that you can find. The peanut sauce is rich and savoury and contains fresh lime juice – all around so good for your immune system and well being.

So fresh, colourful and easy (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

5. Rainbow poke bowl: This colourful bowl is filled with everything that will boost your health: ginger, fresh fish, fresh vegetables, mango, seaweed and even avocado – sunshine in a bowl! It is easy to assemble and so very good for you.

While you are taking care of your health with these recipes, Hippo.co.za will help you compare Medical Aid quotes from a range of South African brands.

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Exploring terroir with DV Chocolate at Spice Route

5 Oct

Last week I was invited to join a curated chocolate and wine tasting with a special focus on terroir at Spice Route, hosted by DV Chocolate‘s Pieter de Villiers.

Surrounded by some serious wine experts, it was such an enlightening experience to be exploring the unique terroirs of DV Chocolate‘s single origin organic 70% dark chocolate bars paired with Spice Route’s 2014 and 1015 Grenache. Flavours of citrus emerged from Magadascar, earthy tones from Uganda, raspberry notes from Dominican Republic, rose buds and coconut from Peru, and incredible balance from Panama. After the tasting we were treated by a chocolate-inspired lunch prepared by chef Philip Pretorius of Barley & Biltong next door.

DV Chocolate is making waves as a proudly African bean-to-bar chocolatier. They keep expanding their range with exciting products, the latest being a dark chocolate truffle with a longer shelf life and a spicy chocolate bark made for sharing with bigger crowds around a festive table. Apart from their chocolate shop at Spice Route, their full range of chocolates are now also available from an exclusive booth in the Woolworths Waterstone store in Somerset West, and a limited range at most other Woolworths stores countrywide.

Here is my visit in pictures. Be sure to stop by DV Café at Spice Route for a cold chocolate shot or a freshly baked chocolate muffin, as well as their chocolate tasting room (Monday – Sunday, 09h00-17h00).

Greeted by freshly baked chocolate muffins at DV Café.

Interior at DV Café.

One of the iconic chocolate label designs that DV Chocolate is known for.

A perfect coffee at DV Café.

They also sell single origin coffee beans.

My choice to start the day: an ice cold chocolate shot. This was incredible!

Welcome to DV Chocolate’s factory at Spice Route.

DV Chocolate’s owner, Pieter de Villiers, tells us more about single origin beans and bars.

Chef Philip Pretorius cooked a chocolate-inpired lunch for us. (picture from spiceroute.co.za)

Pork belly and lentils in a spiced dark chocolate sauce. So rich in flavour – a stunning dish.

Dusted dark chocolate truffles with a longer shelf life – a brand new product from DV Chocolate.

The spiced chocolate bark, also a new product from DV Chocolate.

The popular DV Chocolate tasting centre at Spice Route.

Hand crafted chocolate from DV Chocolate’s chocolate shop.

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