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Sweet & sour pork

22 Oct

Deep fried pork in a batter, with sweet & sour sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Deep fried pork in a batter, with sweet & sour sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

In 2003 I started working in Belville with my friend Albert du Plessis, from his home. We started a partnership music booking agency for local rock ‘n roll artists. It was a very exciting time in my life and I enjoyed being part of this small and vibrant growing industry. During that time I also discovered a few take-away spots in the Northern Suburbs, one of which is Ho-Ho Take-Aways in Kenridge. It was run by a soft-spoken tiny Chinese woman, and she was a legend in the way that she stuffed your foamalite take-away container full of freshly cooked food. My favourite was always her sweet & sour pork – warm, crispy, golden nuggets with a small container of sweet and sour dipping sauce. I would stand in her shop, mesmerized, looking at the way she filled the containers with her scoop. More, more, always more. It was a value-for-money bonanza, and the best sweet & sour pork that I’ve ever tasted. She’s still there as far as I know, but sadly I don’t frequent that neck of the woods that often anymore.

This is the closest I could come to Ho-Ho’s legendary sweet & sour pork. Be sure to eat it straight from the fryer, as it becomes a bit softer on standing. If you’re feeling lazy, buy some sweet & sour sauce from your local speciality store instead of making your own.

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) white vinegar
  • 10-15 ml soy sauce
  • 45 ml tomato sauce (I prefer All Gold)
  • 20 ml corn flour, mixed with 125 ml cold water

Mix the sugar, vinegar, soy and tomato sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the cornflour/water mixture, then turn down to a simmer and stir until thickened – it will happen quite quickly. Remove from the heat and set aside. Serve warm or cold as a dipping sauce.

Ingredients for the pork: (serves 2)

  • 2 XL eggs
  • 60 ml cake flour
  • 60 ml corn flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • canola oil for deep-frying
  • 250 g lean pork meat (like fillet or steak), trimmed and cubed (about 2 x 2 cm)
  1. Mix the eggs, cake flour, corn flour and salt together to a sticky batter.
  2. Heat the oil over medium high heat until it reaches around 180 C.
  3. Dip the cubes of pork into the batter and carefully drop into the hot oil, frying until golden on all sides. Drain on kitchen paper. Serve immediately with sweet & sour sauce.
Deep fried pork in a batter, with sweet & sour sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Deep fried pork in a batter, with sweet & sour sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Credits:

Recipe, food preparation & text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Assistant: Scott Armstrong

PEPPADEW® Pasta Sauce Recipe: Chicken tikka masala marinade

7 Oct

Peppadew® chicken tikka masala marinade for super tender chicken sosaties (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

Peppadew® chicken tikka masala marinade for super tender chicken sosaties (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

I recently had the pleasure of creating a few new recipes for Peppadew®, using their convenient pasta sauce range. This first recipe is an easy tikka masala marinade for chicken, so fantastic for entertaining a crowd over the festive season – you just mix up all the ingredients and your marinade is ready to use.

Marinating boneless chicken in yoghurt and lemon juice is the secret to extra juicy, tender and delicious sosaties. This recipe contains all the right spices for a fragrant mild tikka sauce. Add extra chilli if you love things more spicy!

Prep time: marinating – minimum 3 hours, cooking – 10 minutes.

Serves: 6

You’ll need:

  • 1 jar Peppadew® Green Pepper & Garlic Pasta Sauce
  • 500 ml double cream unflavoured yoghurt
  • 60 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • a knob of fresh ginger, peeled & finely grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled & finely grated
  • 5 ml ground coriander
  • 2,5 ml ground cumin
  • 5 ml ground turmeric
  • 30 ml garam masala
  • 10 ml salt
  • 5 ml freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large boneless chicken breasts, cut into large cubes
  • 6 large or 12 medium sosatie sticks/skewers
  • a handful of fresh coriander, for garnish

Method:
In a large glass/ceramic/plastic bowl, mix all of the ingredients for the marinade together (except the chicken, sosatie sticks and fresh coriander).
Add the chicken cubes to the sauce and mix well to cover all over. Cover the bowl with a tight fitting lid or plastic wrap and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Bring the meat to room temperature by leaving it on the kitchen counter for an hour. Place the marinated cubes on your sosatie sticks, taking care not to overcrowd the sticks.
Braai the sosaties on a hot fire/grill, turning frequently to prevent burning. Braai until just done (do not overcook), then scatter with fresh coriander and serve hot.

Tips:
This marinade will also work very well for bone-in chicken pieces. Make small slits in the chicken pieces through the skin, so that the marinade can penetrate the meat. Braai the marinated chicken pieces over a medium hot fire for at least 40 minutes, turning frequently until cooked through and golden brown on both sides.

The versatile Peppadew® pasta sauce range.

The versatile Peppadew® pasta sauce range.

“Lekkerbek” bobotie

18 Sep

Fragrant spiced beef mince baked with raisins, bay leaves and a savoury custard topping (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Fragrant spiced beef mince baked with raisins, bay leaves and a savoury custard topping (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Bobotie is one of those South African dishes that most of us know and love. But I’ve had some pretty bland boboties in my life, ranging from under seasoned to just plain boring. I love a bobotie with lots of fruity flavours, fragrant spices, zesty with lemon juice, moist with all the right oils and sugars.
I found this recipe many years ago in the Huisgenoot Top 500 Wenresepte, published in 2006. It’s a compilation of Huisgenoot magazine’s most loved recipes over a couple of years, as compiled by their legendary food editor Carmen Niehaus. Carmen’s husband was my grade 5 teacher at Stellenbosch Primary school – blast from the past. She is one of my food icons in South Africa and I recently had the privilege of hosting her for lunch as part of a product showcase at The Demo Kitchen in Stellenbosch.
This recipe for traditional South African bobotie is the best I’ve come across. The list of ingredients seem endless, but each one on this list is essential and creates the most delicious and flavoursome bobotie, everytime. Don’t be alarmed by the large quantity of milk in the custard topping – it really works.
Serve with your choice of sambals (sliced banana, desiccated coconut, chopped tomatoes with red onion), chutney and yellow rice.

Ingredients: (serves 8)
TIP: Before your start, measure out the dry spices together in a small bowl, and the wet ingredients together in another small bowl.

  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 15 ml fresh ginger, finely grated
  • dry spices:
    • 15 ml mild curry powder
    • 5 ml ground turmeric
    • 5 ml ground coriander
    • 5 ml ground ginger
  • 2,5 ml ground cumin
  • 1 kg beef mince (lean)
  • salt & pepper
  • wet ingredients:
    • 30 ml lemon juice
    • 30 ml apricot jam
    • 60 ml fruit chutney
    • 30 ml Worcestershire sauce
    • 30 ml tomato paste
    • 2 slices white bread, soaked in water, pressed to a pulp
  • 30 ml soft brown sugar
  • 250 ml pitless raisins

For the custard:

  • 500 ml milk
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4 bay leaves

Method:

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil and fry the onions until soft and starting to brown lightly.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger and dry spices and fry for another minute until the bottom of the pot goes dry and sticky.
  3. Add the beef bit by bit, breaking up any lumpy pieces. Fry, stirring, until it just starts to change colour from pink to light brown before adding more meat. The meat shouldn’t brown too much. Season generously with salt & pepper.
  4. Add the wet ingredients, sugar and raisins and give it a good stir. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often and taking care not to burn the bottom of the pot. Add a touch of water if the mixture is too dry.
  5. In the meantime, pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  6. Prepare the custard topping: mix the milk & eggs and season with salt & pepper. Set aside.
  7. When the bobotie is ready, transfer it to a large oven-proof baking dish and flatten the surface with a spatula. Press the bay leaves into the bobotie, then pour the custard mixture over the top. Carefully place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes until the custard is set. Remove from oven and let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Credits:

Food preparation & text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Lamb & feta burger with mint pesto & yoghurt

25 Mar

Lamb & feta burger with  mint pesto (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Lamb & feta burger with mint pesto (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Being able to make a really good burger at home is one of the most satisfying things any meat-lover can do. Many of us grew up having take-away burgers as a special treat on weekends when we were children. My siblings and I loved almost any take-away burger, because the ones we tried to make at home just never tasted as good.

Well, the tables have turned. I now believe that anyone can make a burger at home that can beat the best gourmet burger in most restaurants. If you use care and source the best ingredients you can find, you can make a pretty amazing burger – so amazing that you might not want to get take-aways ever again.

Although I’m a huge fan of the classic beef burger with cheddar cheese and pickles, this juicy lamb burger is a total knock-out for a special occasion.

Here are my top 3 tips for creating an awesome burger:

  1. Buy fresh, soft burger buns, and always toast the sliced sides with butter before assembling your burger.
  2. Use coarsely ground great quality fresh meat for your pattie. That means 100% leg of lamb or 100% pure beef rump.
  3. Don’t overcook your meat – it should still be juicy in the middle.

Ingredients: (makes 4 large burgers)

  • 600 g boneless leg of lamb, minced (ask your butcher to do that for you)
  • 2 rounds (about 80g) of feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 punnet fresh mint
  • 1 punnet fresh parsley
  • 50 g cashew nuts
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 round soft hamburger rolls, buttered and toasted in a pan
  • double cream yoghurt (the thickest you can find)
  • a handful of watercress
  • finely sliced cucumber

Method:

  1. Mix the lamb mince, crumbled feta, salt & pepper in a mixing bowl – using clean hands works best. Divide the mixture into 4 balls, then flatten them carefully, shaping the edges to form a round disk. Always make the pattie a bit wider and thinner than the end product that you have in mind, because they shrink back to a thicker, smaller pattie in the pan. Set aside.
  2. For the pesto: in a food processor, add the mint, parsley, cashews and olive oil. Season with salt & pepper, then process to a course paste. Scoop into a smaller serving bowl and set aside.
  3. In a non-stick pan, heat some olive oil over moderately high heat, then fry the patties about 3-4 minutes a side, taking care when you flip them over because the feta tends to stick (use a spatula). You are looking for a crisp outer layer and a juicy center. I prefer my center to still be pink. Remove from the heat and transfer to a plate to rest.
  4. To assemble the burgers: Place the bottom half of a toasted bun on a plate, then add the watercress, burger pattie, some yoghurt, some pesto, some cucumber and then the top half of the bun. Enjoy!

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

A festive table from “Share: The Cookbook” with Poetry stores

15 Dec

A festive table loaded with delicious dishes out of "Share: The Cookbook" (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A festive table loaded with delicious dishes out of “Share: The Cookbook” (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

It was such a treat to discover this new book on the shelf at Poetry stores – Share: The Cookbook. ShareIt is a celebration of women who have survived war and conflicts, but also a celebration of the foods that nourish and bring us together. Recipes such as Nigerian Beef and Okra Soup, Rwandan Chicken Casserole as well as magical images  of real people are laid out in surrounding pages. Between the beautifully simple recipes, women tell their stories of survival, determination and how they came to take part in programs offered by Women for Women International. A host of celebrities such as Jamie Oliver to Annie Lennox have contributed recipes bringing a diverse array of flavours and personalities to this unique book. 100% of the publisher’s profits go to Women for Woman International. Share is much more than just a cookbook, it’s written for people that are interested in issues of women’s rights whilst celebrating our common humanity.

I’ve chosen a range of recipes as part of a festive spread in association with Poetry stores, using some of their beautiful homeware but also one of their fabulous new table cloths. The recipes are bright and tasty, yet simple and inexpensive. The flavour inspiration come deep from the hearts of Africa and India, intertwined by a common love of sharing food, recipes and love around our tables.

This book makes a great Christmas gift, and will remain a favourite in your kitchen but also on your coffee table.

Tomato & spinach dahl (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tomato & spinach dahl (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Spinach & tomato dahl, by Peter Kindersley

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled & grated
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 250 g red lentils
  • 400g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 900 ml vegetable stock or water
  • 400 g baby spinach
  • to serve: steamed basmati rice, naan bread, natural yoghurt, fresh coriander leaves and fresh lemon/lime wedges

Method:

Heat the oil in a large heavy lidded pan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and salt. Cook and stir for 2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the lentils, tomatoes and stock/water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 min when the lentils are thick. Stir often to prevent sticking on the bottom. Fold in the spinach and cook for about 2 minutes or until just wilted. Adjust seasoning and serve with steamed rice, naan bread, natural yoghurt, coriander leaves and fresh lemon/lime wedges.

Kachumbari salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Kachumbari salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Kachumbari salad, by Craig Kielburger

  • 450 g ripe, firm tomatoes, sliced or diced
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 25 g fresh coriander
  • 1 chilli, sliced
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Place the tomatoes in a salad bowl. Top with the sliced onion, coriander & chilli.
  2. Drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil and season with salt & pepper.
Tandoori yoghurt chicken (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tandoori yoghurt chicken (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tandoori yoghurt chicken, by Bill McKibben

  • 1 whole chicken (about 1,5kg) cut into 8 pieces, skin removed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • juice of a lemon
  • 500 ml Greek yoghurt
  • 1 onion, coursely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3cm piece of ginger, peeled & grated
  • 1-2 red chillies, deseeded & chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • a drop of red food colouring (optional)
  • to serve: coriander leaves & lemon/lime wedges

Method:

  1. Using a sharp small knife, cut deep slashes into the thickest part of the chicken, but do not cut as far as the bone. Place in a large mixing bowl, then sprinkle with salt & lemon juice. Set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the marinade: place yoghurt, onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric & garam masala in a food processor and process to a smooth sauce. Add the red colouring, if using.
  3. Pour over the chicken, and rub into the slits. Cover and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
  4. Pre-heat the grill or fire, then cook the chicken for 20-25 minutes turning regularly. The chicken is cooked when there is no pink flesh and the juices run clear. Serve with fresh coriander and some lemon/lime wedges.
Orange, almond & olive oil cake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Orange, almond & olive oil cake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Orange scented olive oil almond cake, by Nell Newman

  • 100 g almonds (or ground almonds)
  • 100 g white rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 175 g white sugar
  • 120 ml olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 60 ml orange juice
  • 60 ml sherry
  • to decorate: orange segments/slices

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Grease/line a 20cm springform round cake tin.
  2. Toast the almonds in a dry pan over medium heat until lightly brown, then grind in a food processor. (alternatively use ground almonds)
  3. In a mixing bowl, sieve the rice flour and almonds with the baking powder & salt.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy. Now add the olive oil in a thin stream while whisking, following with the vanilla, almond extract, zest, orange juice and sherry. Fold into the dry sieved ingredients.
  5. Using clean electric beaters, whisk the egg whites in another clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Now fold this into the yolk/flour mixture. Pour into the prepared tin, then bake for 30-40 minutes until light brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven, then allow to cool for 15 minutes before turning out on a clean folded tea towel. Invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Garnish with flaked almonds and/or orange segments/slices, and serve with whipped cream or creme fraiche.

All recipes from “Share: The Cookbook”, available from Poetry stores at R395.

All homeware, Wonkiware & wooden boards (except vintage brass cake plate, ladle and silver knife) available from Poetry stores.

Table cloth available from Poetry stores at R499 – available in blue or green.

Photography & styling: Tasha Seccombe

Text, propping, food preparation & styling: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant & food preparation: Elsebé Cronjé

This post was written and executed in association with Poetry stores.

Spicy chicken livers on creamy polenta

26 Jul

Spicy pan-fired chicken livers on creamy polenta (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Spicy pan-fired chicken livers on creamy polenta (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Although mealtimes are mostly considered occasions of togetherness and sharing, there are some things that I love to eat when I’m all on my own. One of these companionless meals include a sticky cinnabon at Meraki in Stellenbosch (I love having sweet pastries for breakfast or lunch) – a messy affair that includes inherent licking of fingers. That leaves no space for talking or sharing, of course, so I choose to go there on my own.

Another solitary eating preference is take-away burgers. I am convinced that they taste better in my car, parked outside the burger joint, with the radio on. The other dish is pan-fried chicken livers. My husband doesn’t like them, so I always make them when he’s away on business, when I can have the pan of creamy goodness all to myself without making any substitute dishes for him.

So if you also love chicken livers, here’s my recipe for one of the best ways to enjoy them: in a creamy, spicy sauce, on a bed of creamy polenta. If you don’t like polenta, just get some crusty bread and dip away. This is a dish best enjoyed without any guilt or time limits – company optional.

Ingredients: (serves 1 very hungry person, or 2 people as a light meal)

For the creamy polenta:

  • 500 ml (2 cups) water
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) salt
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) polenta
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) fresh cream
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the water & salt over high heat to boiling point, then add polenta and stir well. Lower heat to a slow simmer, then cook for 5-10 minutes until it starts to thicken, stirring often to prevent burning.
  2.  Add cream and parmesan cheese, then stir until the cheese has melted. Season with salt & pepper. Polenta will thicken on standing, so if yours solidifies after leaving it for too long, just add a little boiling water and stir well.

For the spicy chicken livers:

  • 30ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 250 g chicken livers
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) garam masala
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) paprika or smoked paprika
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) tomato paste
  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) Worcester sauce
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) fresh cream
  • salt & pepper for seasoning
  • a handful of chopped coriander leaves (or parsley)

Method:

  1. In a medium size pan on the stove top, heat oil over medium heat then fry onion until soft and translucent.
  2. Add chicken livers, then fry until for about 5 minutes until it is golden brown outside.
  3. Add masala, paprika, tomato paste and Worcester sauce and stir well. Add cream and bring to the boil. Cook for about 3-5 minutes uncovered until the cream has thickened. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve immediately on a bed of polenta, or with crusty bread. Top with some chopped coriander leaves.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Easy English pork pies with onion gravy

15 May

Individual pork pies with onion gravy (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Individual pork pies with onion gravy (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

I’ve always had a special interest in comfort food, and the Brits do it so well with their traditional pub fare. The idea of proper bangers with buttery mash and savoury gravy makes me want to grab a warm blanket and head for the couch.

Although I’ve never been to the UK, I’ve seen so many beautiful pork pies on TV and in recipe books. In Britain, they make their traditional pork pies in a round baking mould, rather than a flat pie dish. I’ve used my metal dariole moulds (also used for chocolate fondants etc.) to bake these pies, as they are the perfect size and shape to produce a nice round pork pie. You can use a large muffin tin if you don’t have these. The English also mostly use homemade shortcrust pastry, but in this case I took a shortcut and used store-bought puff pastry.

Making onion gravy takes a little patience, but it really isn’t difficult the result is totally worth it! If you prefer a smooth gravy, just give it a blitz with your stick blender.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 600g fresh pork sausage (coarsely textured)
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 x rolls puff pastry or shortcrust pastry (400g each)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten for egg wash

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion & thyme and fry until it is soft but not too brown – about 15-20 minutes. Remove and cool slightly.
  2. In the meantime, remove the sausage meat from the casings (cut it open lengthways with kitchen sears), and place in a mixing bowl. Add the fried onions, allspice & nutmeg, then mix well (you can use your clean hands).
  3. Butter/grease 6 dariole moulds, then use the pastry to line each mould, pressing down gently. Fill each pastry case with pie filling, then place a round of pastry on top of each pie and pinch it together. Trim away any excess pastry, then brush with the egg wash on the tops.
  4. Place the prepared pies on a baking sheet, then bake at 220C for 25 minutes. Carefully turn the pies out of the moulds (I use a clean tea towel to assist), then turn them upside down place on a baking tray. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes to brown the bottoms.
  5. Remove from the oven and serve with mashed potatoes & gravy.

For the onion gravy:

  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) butter
  • 30ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 4 onions, peeled and finely sliced (not chopped)
  • 10ml (2 teaspoons) brown sugar
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) balsamic vinegar
  • 250ml (1 cup) chicken stock
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) Worcestershire sauce
  • salt & pepper
  • 10ml (2 teaspoons) cornflour/Maizena mixed with 15ml (1 tablespoon) cold water – optional

Method:

  1. In a medium size saucepan over medium-low heat, add the butter & olive oil. Now add the onions and stir well. Cook, covered, for about 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. You’re looking for very soft and slightly golden onions.
  2. Turn the heat up to high, then add the brown sugar & balsamic vinegar. Cook for 2-3 minutes until it reduces and starts to caramelize.
  3. Now add the stock & Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer (turn the heat down to medium). Simmer for 5 minutes without a lid, then season to taste with salt & pepper. If you like to thicken your gravy, you can now add the cornflour/water mixture and stir to thicken. If you like a smooth gravy, use a stick blender to create a smooth sauce. Transfer to a small gravy jug and serve hot.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Crumbed whole-grain paprika chicken strips

9 Apr

Crispy crumbed chicken strips with lemon juice & honey mustard mayo (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Crispy crumbed chicken strips with lemon juice & honey mustard mayo (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

My 3-year old daughter is not a big meat lover. I’ve always had to find inventive ways of getting her to eat more proteins, so when I discovered that she liked my paprika chicken strips I was over the moon.

I started making these strips because I simply love the taste of a crispy crumbed piece of chicken, and they make amazing snacks for my husband’s favourite pastime (watching rugby). I found that really fresh chicken breasts (never frozen, preferably free range) give the best results, and that a whole-grain loaf of bread gives fantastic extra crunch in terms of the crispy outer coating – yes, it’s really better than regular white.

Although I’m sure you could also bake these in the oven, I prefer to deep-fry my chicken strips in canola oil. We don’t eat deep fried food often in my house, but the effect in this case is so light and perfect that I would really recommend it. And remember, canola oil is very high in Omega 3 and 6, so we’re cooking with the good stuff!

These strips are a great way of stretching a regular packet of 4 chicken breasts – you’ll be surprised how many mouths it will feed as a snack, especially if you add a dip like my honey mustard yoghurt mayo (or guacamole, or any dip of your choice). Very addictive for old and young alike. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • about 8 slices of whole grain bread, processed to crumbs in a food processor
  • 1/2 cup flour (white or whole wheat)
  • 10-15 ml smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and some freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 XL eggs, lightly whisked
  • 4 medium size chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
  • about 750 ml canola oil for frying

Method:

  1. Place the breadcrumbs in a wide shallow bowl (I use a few pasta bowls to create a nice prepping station).
  2. In a second wide bowl, mix the flour, paprika, salt & pepper.
  3. In a third wide bowl, place the whisked eggs. You should now have a prepping station of 3 bowls.
  4. Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips of about 0.5 cm thick, against the grain of the meat. Take one strip at a time, then firstly dip it into the flour mixture, then the egg mixture, and directly into the crumbs. Lightly pat the crumbs onto the eggy chicken strip to ensure the crumbs stay in place, then lay the crumbed strip on a tray/platter. Continue until all of the strips are coated and ready for frying.
  5. In a medium size pot, heat the oil over medium high heat (we’re looking for about 180 C, if you have a thermometer). Carefully add about 6-8 strips into the hot oil at a time, frying them for about 2-3 minutes a side until they are golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat in batches with the remaining prepared strips, changing the kitchen paper when necessary.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dip of your choice.

For my honey mustard yoghurt mayo: Take about 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1/2 cup of Greek yoghurt, 2 heaped teaspoons of whole grain mustard, and a good squirt of honey. Mix together and serve as a dip with the chicken strips.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Toasted sourdough sandwich with herbed chicken mayo

14 Mar

My favourite sandwich: a toasted herbed chicken mayo on sourdough bread (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

If there is one sandwich that I cannot resist, it’s a good chicken mayonnaise. Sometimes I buy a cheap one at my local supermarket when I don’t have time for lunch – some days they even have chicken mayo vetkoek (almost like a massive doughnut filled with chicken mayo). But some days I sit down for a proper chicken mayo at Schoon de Compagne. Nothing beats a proper sourdough toasted sarmie. And when it’s filled with freshly roasted chunks of chicken swirled in homemade mayonnaise, it’s the king of sandwiches.

If you’re feeling lazy, use your favourite good quality store-bought mayonnaise and a ready roasted chicken. I won’t tell a soul.

Ingredients: (makes 2 large sandwiches)

  •  2 chicken breasts, bone in and skin on
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • about 1/2 cup (125 ml) home-made mayonnaise (see below)
  • about 1/2 cup (125 ml) finely chopped herbs (I used a mixture of parsley & chives)
  • 1 medium size sweet & tangy dill cucumber, finely chopped (optional)
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 4 slices of sourdough bread (I use the middle of a round loaf to get the largest slices possible)
  • butter for spreading

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 220 C.
  2. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Use a pastry brush to coat them with olive oil, then sprinkle generously with salt & pepper (I sometimes use a Cajun spice when I’m in the mood for a kick). Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the skin is golden and the thickest part of the breast is just cooked (juices should run clear). Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the roasted chicken from the bone, then cut the meat into chunky slices. If the skin is nice and crispy, I like to leave the skin on – it adds a whole lot of flavour. Place the chicken slices/chunks in a mixing bowl, then add the mayonnaise and herbs and mix well. Season with a little extra salt & pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  4. Butter the slices of bread on both sides, then fill each sandwich with a generous amount of filling. Use a hot griddle pan (or normal pan) to toast the closed sandwiches on each side until they’re crisp and golden – press down gently on the sandwich using an egg lifter, while toasting. Serve at once.

For homemade mayonnaise: (makes about 1 cup)

  • 1 whole free range egg, as fresh as you can get
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 30 ml lemon juice
  • 10 ml Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) canola oil

Method for mayonnaise: Using a stick blender and tall cup (or a food processor) add the eggs, lemon juice, mustard and salt & pepper. Give it a good whizz, then start adding the oil in a very thin stream while blending. Continue to blend until you get a thick, creamy consistency. Use immediately or store in a closed container in the fridge for a few days.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Bobotie with yellow pappardelle and poached egg

17 Feb

Yellow pappardelle with bobotie, poached egg and spekboom leaves (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

This month we are celebrating Cape Town as the World Design Capital for 2014. One of the four themes of design month is “Beautiful Things. Beautiful Spaces.” It’s a celebration of all the beautiful things from our beautiful continent: inspiring and original architecture, interiors, landscaping, food, furniture, fashion, jewellery, craft, art, publications, illustration, film, photography and creativity. And the colour scheme: yellow.

In that light, I’ve decided to take an old classic – bobotie, and put a new jacket on it. Bobotie with yellow rice is synonymous with Cape Town and the Bo-Kaap. Most of us grew up with this fragrant, fruity beef mince dish, and it is still a favourite in so many households. Instead of yellow rice, I’ve made bright yellow pappardelle pasta, and topped it with a softly poached egg instead of the traditional layer of baked egg custard. Not only does it look beautiful, but it will certainly put a smile on anyone’s face that realises that this is their much loved bobotie with a new dress on.

My favourite recipe for a traditional bobotie comes from Huisgenoot’s Top 500 Wenresepte, called “Lekkerbekbobotie”. It contains a seemingly long list of ingredients, but every single one of them is necessary in creating a slightly sticky, fragrant, fruity meat dish that is just scrumptious. I’ve made this bobotie many many times over the past 7 years, and it is fool proof.

For this recipe twist, I don’t transfer the bobotie from the pot to a baking dish, and I don’t cover it with a layer of baked custard. I simply dish it up on the pappardelle, top it with a soft gooey poached egg and serve it with sambals as usual. The colour of the turmeric-stained papperdelle is just gorgeous, and your guests will love this new approach to a South African classic.

For the bobotie: (“Lekkerbekbobotie” from Huisgenoot Top 500 Wenresepte, compiled by Carmen Niehaus)

Serves 8 with papperdelle

  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 15 ml finely grated fresh ginger
  • 15 ml curry powder (mild or spicy, whatever you prefer)
  • 5 ml each turmeric powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground ginger, ground cinnamon
  • 1 kg lean beef mince
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 30 ml lemon juice
  • 30 ml fine apricot jam
  • 60 ml fruit chutney
  • 30 ml soft brown sugar
  • 30 ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 30 ml tomato paste
  • 2 slices white bread, processed to crumbs and soaked in water
  • 250 ml seedless raisins
  • 250 ml grated apple
  • 1 bay leaf

Method for bobotie:

  1. In a large heavy based pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions until they are soft and translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for another minute.
  3. Add the dry spices and fry for another minute.
  4. Now add the beef mince in small batches, breaking up any lumps and frying until it changes colour from pink to pale brown, taking care not to let it brown too much. Season well with salt & pepper.
  5. Now add the rest of the ingredients, stir well, and bring to a simmer. Turn down heat to very low, then cover and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring ever now and then to prevent it from burning. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the papperdelle:

  • 500g cake flour
  • 15 ml turmeric powder
  • 5 XL eggs
  • 15 ml vegetable oil to prevent sticking, drizzled over pasta after cooking

Method for pappardelle:

  1. Place the flour, turmeric and eggs in a food processor. Process until the mixture resembles large couscous grains, then turn it out on a wooden surface and press into a ball.
  2. Using a pasta machine, roll the dough out in batches, making long thin sheets (I roll it out to my thinnest setting). Use extra flour if necessary. Place each sheet on a lightly floured surface, then cut into wide strips. If you are not going to cook them immediately, hang the strips on a rack to prevent sticking.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta all at once, then cook for about 3-4 minutes until al dente (do not overcook). Drain and lightly drizzle with flavourless oil (like canola) to prevent sticking. NB: Don’t leave it unattended, it is best served at once.

For serving:

  • 1 softly poached egg per person
  • freshly sliced banana
  • desiccated coconut
  • fruit chutney

To serve: Place two strips of pappardelle on a plate, then top with a spoonful of bobotie, then another strip or 2 of papperdelle and another spoonful of bobotie. Top with a softly poached egg and serve with freshly sliced banana, desiccated coconut, and fruit chutney.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Prop Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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