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Pulled lamb pitas with tomato salad & tzatziki

15 May

Juicy tender pulled lamb on freshly toasted pitas with double cream tzatziki and tomato salad. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Once you’ve tasted a proper Greek-style souvlaki, few things can beat this meaty “sandwich”: slightly sticky pieces of tender, slow roasted lamb on a toasted pita with fresh tomato and red onion, slathered with double cream tzatziki. It’s a slice of heaven.

With pulled lamb, there’s only one way to do it – slowly. Covering your leg of lamb in baking paper and two layers of foil means that the meat steams while roasting, resulting in a really tender roast that literally falls apart. I roast it overnight at 120C for 8 hours, but you can also do it even slower at 100C for 12 hours.

With pitas, there are two ways of doing it: stuffing them, or using them as a foldover. I prefer the foldover, because it tends to hold better and not break apart. You’ll be surprised to see that naan bread also works wonderfully as foldovers, because of their elongated shapes. Use whatever you prefer!

Note: Use the leftover pulled lamb to make lamb ramen or tabbouleh bowls with lamb – great for lunch/dinner the next day.

Ingredients: (serves at least 6)

For the pulled leg of lamb:

  • 1,8 – 2 kg leg of lamb (bone-in)
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 10 ml dried oregano
  • 10 ml chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, whole
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 250 ml dry white wine

For the tzatziki:

  • 500 ml double cream yoghurt
  • 1/2 English cucumber, seeds removed and roughly grated
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • a small bunch mint leaves, finely chopped
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the tomato salad:

  • about 400-500 g ripe small rosa tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons capers
  • a handful fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • a handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 10 ml red wine vinegar
  • 15 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

To assemble:

  • 6-12 round pita breads (or foldovers, or naan breads), heated or toasted

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 120 C. In a medium size roasting tray, place the leg of lamb then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with oreganum, rosemary, salt & pepper. Place the onion quarters and garlic around the sides, then add the white wine. Cover with a layer of baking paper, tucking it in around the sides of the meat, then cover the pan with 2 layers of foil. Roast for 8 hours until the meat falls from the bone. Use two forks to pull the meat apart and let it lie in the cooking juices, removing the large bones. Set aside.
  2. While the meat is roasting, prepare the tzatziki: Add the yoghurt to a medium mixing bowl. Squeeze the grated cucumber to get rid of the excess water, then add the shreds to the yoghurt along with garlic and mint. Season with salt & pepper, add the olive oil and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. For the salad: make just before serving – toss all the ingredients together and set aside (don’t make ahead, or it will draw a lot of water).
  4. To assemble: plate freshly toasted pita breads with a dollop of tzatziki, some shredded warm lamb and some tomato salad on top – it’s a nice idea to let your guests each plate/assemble their own. Fold over and enjoy.

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Tabbouleh bowl with shredded lamb

15 May

A fresh, crunchy bowl of bulgur wheat with cucumber, tomatoes and fresh herbs, topped with soft shredded lamb.

 

If you haven’t cooked with bulgur wheat before, you’ll be amazed that it only needs 20-30 min soaking (no boiling). You can’t mess it up! Apart from that, it’s a great source of plant-based protein and very high in fibre. With the addition of herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, tomatoes and cucumber, this classic Eastern Mediterranean favourite is the perfect “bed” for some juicy shreds of lamb.

Again, this dish is a great way to reuse your leftover pulled lamb or lamb roast of the weekend, turning it into a fantastic midweek office lunch or fresh, light dinner. It is bowl food at its best.

*Note: Head over to my recipe for pulled lamb pitas to cook your pulled leg of lamb from scratch, otherwise use a smaller cut of lamb like a knuckle, braised in stock & vegetables for 2-3 hours until it falls from the bone. Pan-fried or flame grilled lamb steak or chops will also do: just slice into thin slivers after frying, add a little stock to the pan and reduce for a little saucy goodness to pour over the slivers.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 1,5 cups bulgur
  • 1,5 cups boiling water
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup spring onions, finely sliced
  • 3 cups baby tomatoes, quartered
  • 1,5 cups cucumber, seeded & cubed
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 cups cooked shredded lamb, with some of the cooking liquids (if using leftovers, or see *note above for more info)

Method:

  1. Place bulgar and boiling water in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it stand for 20-30 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed, then fluff with a fork.
  2. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, parsley, mint, spring onions, tomatoes, and cucumber and mix well. Season generously with salt & pepper and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. If you are using leftover pulled lamb, place 3 cups of shreds in a small saucepan along with about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid (or mutton stock with a pinch of salt). Heat to a simmer and reduce until the liquids have almost evaporated.
  4. Plate the tabbouleh into bowls (best served at room temperature), then place the hot lamb shreds on top. Serve at once with lemon wedges on the side.

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Lamb steak salad with figs, rocket, grilled courgettes and yoghurt dill dressing

15 May

Pink slivers of lamb steak with figs and grilled courgettes on a bed of rocket, drizzled with a yoghurt dill sauce. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

There’s certainly more than one way to enjoy a good steak – and it doesn’t have to include potato chips and heavy sauces. Whether it’s Winter or Summer, a scrumptious lamb steak salad is such an enticing way of serving perfectly grilled pink meat on a beautiful platter.

Substitute the ingredients with whatever’s seasonal and to your liking – tomatoes, aubergines, mushrooms – the variations are endless. The yoghurt sauce is packed with herbs and has an extra tang thanks to fresh lemon juice and some Dijon mustard – a match made in heaven with the rich lamb flavours.

Ingredients: (serves 4 as a light meal)

  • 4-6 courgettes, thinly sliced into long ribbons
  • 600-800 g lamb steaks (or boneless leg of lamb, cut into thick steaks)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • a bunch fresh rocket leaves
  • 4-6 large ripe figs, quartered
  • for the dressing:
    • 3/4 cup double cream yoghurt
    • a few sprigs fresh dill, finely chopped
    • 15-30 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 10 ml Dijon mustard
    • 15-30 ml extra virgin olive oil
    • a pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Using a griddle pan, grill the courgette ribbons over a very high heat (without any oil) until the ribbons have charred marks on each side (can also be done over a fire). Set aside.
  2. Place the steaks on a plate, drizzle with oil and season well with salt & pepper. Grill the meat in the same hot pan for about 3 minutes a side (depending on the thickness of your steaks). Set aside to rest while you assemble the rest of the salad.
  3. On a large platter or on individual plates, arrange the rocket leaves, grilled courgette ribbons and sliced figs. Slice the lamb steaks into thin slivers, then arrange on top and season lightly with salt & pepper.
  4. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together, then drizzle over the top. Serve with more of the dressing on the side, along with fresh lemon wedges and more olive oil.

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Italian-style white bean soup with lamb knuckle

14 May

One of my favourite recipes this winter: a brothy white bean soup made with lamb knuckle and topped with salsa verde. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Although many of us know and love traditional South African bean soup made with red speckled beans, there’s another variety that you absolutely have to try. It is made with small white haricot beans (almost like Italian canellini beans, which are not very common in SA in its dried form). These beans are very smooth in texture and they tend to not fall apart as easily as their speckled cousins, resulting in a non-stodgy end result. This is a slightly thickened brothy soup with chunks of deliciously tender meat and beautiful, small, silky beans. Made with chicken stock instead of mutton or beef stock, the soup is also lighter in colour than most bean soups. A dollop of punchy green salsa verde adds just the right lift to this meal.

A single lamb knuckle, sliced by your butcher, is enough to add the meatiness that this soup needs. It’s an economical way to serve a stylish soup in a fresh way this Winter. Serve with crusty bread, if you like.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • about 600 g lamb knuckle, sliced horizontally by your butcher
  • 1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1-2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) carrots, peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 250 ml dry white wine
  • 2 liters chicken stock
  • 500 g small white beans (haricot)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • for the salsa verde:
    • a handful each parsley, basil & mint
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 2 teaspoons capers
    • 15-30 ml lemon juice
    • 45-60 ml olive oil
    • a pinch of salt
    • 10 ml Dijon mustard

Method:

  1. Heat the oil on high heat in a large wide pot (at least 6 liters capacity), then fry lamb knuckle in batches until browned on both sides (cut larger chunks of meat in half). Remove the meat from the pot and set aside, then turn down heat to  medium.
  2. Fry the onion, celery & carrot until soft, stirring often (add a little more oil if needed). Add the garlic & rosemary (add the sprigs whole, you’ll remove the woody stems later) and fry for another minute.
  3. The bottom of the pot should be coated with sticky brown bits by now. Add the white wine and stir to deglaze. Add the fried meat with all the juices back into the pot, then top with stock. Add the beans and stir. Note: Don’t add any salt until tright at he end, otherwise the beans won’t become tender.
  4. Bring to a simmer, stirring now and then, then turn heat down to low, cover with a lid and cook for about 2,5-3 hours until the meat is falling from the bone and the beans are really tender.
  5. Season generously with salt & pepper and remove from the heat to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
  6. To make the salsa verde, chop all the ingredients together by hand or in a food processor. Taste and adjust with more salt or lemon juice if needed.
  7. Serve the soup in bowls with a dollop of salsa verde (and some crusty bread for dipping, optionally).

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Broccoli, kale & spinach salad with parmesan and toasted seeds

20 Feb

Green, greener, greenest! Roasted kale & broccoli salad on fresh baby spinach with a soy dressing, shaved parmigiano and toasted seeds. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

I know a lot of people that don’t like kale. It’s a relatively new thing in South Africa (although much better known in some other parts of the world) and part of the cabbage family. Although it resembles spinach, it doesn’t wilt or shrink like spinach and can be baked in the oven until it turns crispy. And I have to say, I love it!

Last year I was invited to Longridge for a media event. One of the courses was a broccoli and kale dish with parmesan custard and an umami rich dressing that was just incredible. So this is my spin on it – roasted veg on a bed of fresh baby spinach, with an Asian-style dressing, some shaved parmigiano and toasted seeds. It’s packed with flavour and such a great alternative to regular green salads with lettuce and cucumber. And it’s fantastic served at room temperature, which means you can make it ahead. Greens for the win!

Ingredients: (adjust quantities to your liking)

  • a few broccoli spears
  • a few kale leaves
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • salt & pepper
  • a handful baby spinach leaves
  • parmesan cheese, shaved
  • mixed seeds, dry toasted
  • for the dressing:
    • 30 ml soy sauce
    • one teaspoon grated ginger
    • 15 ml olive oil
    • 10 ml lemon juice

Preheat oven to 220 C. Place the broccoli and kale on a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt & pepper, then roast for about 15 minutes until the kale starts to go crispy on the edges and the broccoli is just starting to go tender. Remove and let cool. (You can do this the day before, if you like.)

Arrange the salad: baby spinach, broccoli, kale, parmesan, toasted seeds. Drizzle the dressing over right before serving.

Note: This is also a brilliant side dish to a more elaborate main course.

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10 water wise recipes that’ll help you save

8 Feb

Never leave a running tap unattended. Use a thin stream of water with great care and intent, and only when necessary. (Photo by Kaboompics // Karolina from Pexels)

 

We’re all looking to gain smart new habits for coping with the little water left in the Western Cape. Hoping to avoid “day zero”, let’s adjust to a new normal of being truly water conscious and saving every drop that we can.

When we were struggling with power outages a few seasons ago, Private Property wrote an article, Energy savings will be crucial this winter. With the current water shortage they asked me to put together a few dos and don’ts of foods/recipes to embrace and to avoid. Check out Private Property’s houses for sale, and remember these handy tips: Keep a water-less hand cleanser in the kitchen and bathroom to minimize rinsing your hands under running water. Keep the plug in the basin plugged in (or use a larger bowl/bucket) to reuse grey water as far as you can.

Water wise foods to welcome:

  • anything braaied/grilled (remember to serve these on paper plates that won’t require any washing up)
  • oven roasted vegetables instead of boiled vegetables (remember to use a sheet of foil or baking paper on your tray to minimize dirty trays)
  • roast chicken (or other meat) that can double up as leftovers on a sandwich the next day, limiting more cooking and washing up
  • salad, fruit and vegetables that can we wiped with a damp cloth (that don’t need extensive washing)
  • “hand food” that doesn’t require plates or cutlery (minimizing dirty dishes for washing later)
  • one-pot dishes that can go from oven/stove to table to fridge (minimizing dirty dishes for washing later)

Water unwise foods to avoid:

  • foods that need to be cooked/soaked in a lot of water, like rice, legumes and pasta
  • foods that need lots of water for rinsing, like sandy mussels or spinach (unless you can minimize the rinsing water and reuse it later as grey water)
  • foods that require large amounts of stock, like soups and risottos
  • food that will dirty various bowls/pots/trays (unless you use baking paper or foil on your trays that can be discarded) and will use more water for washing up than usual

Here are some of my favourite recipes that don’t contain any water, are made in one pot/pan, or require very little (or no) washing up:

Spinach, mushrooms & cheddar frittata with sage butter. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  1. Mushroom, spinach & cheddar frittata: this is a one-pot recipe that is perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, and also as leftovers for the office the next day. It can be eaten hot or cold, so no reheating required, and no extra dirty dishes gained. And yes, you can ditch the sage butter!

    Delicious buttermilk rusks with various seeds, nuts, oats, coconut and pecan nuts.

  2. All-in-one breakfast rusks: limit your tea/coffee intake by filling up with these “waterless” rusks – dip 2 or 3 in your one cup of daily coffee, and you might not require another cup soon.

    Freshly toasted granola with cranberries. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  3. Granola with almonds & cranberries: made with no water, this granola recipe is so delicious topped with a dollop of yoghurt. To minimize dirty dishes, add a few tablespoons directly to your plastic yoghurt tub (and not other way around).

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

  4. Afritalian braaibroodjies: these can be assembled anywhere without using any water. Eaten with your hands straight from a plankie, they’re the perfect waterless food items.

    My ultimate caprese salad with soft mozzarella, an array of tomatoes, fresh basil, pesto and toasted pine nuts. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  5. Ultimate caprese salad: no rinsing necessary (unless you want to wipe the tomatoes with a damp cloth), easy to assemble, and the juices can be mopped up with crusty bread straight from the plate.

    Baked tomatoes with feta, garlic, thyme. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  6. Baked tomatoes with feta, garlic & thyme: add a sheet of foil or non-stick baking paper to the tray, which you can pop in the bin afterwards. No pre-rinsing, no washing up.

    Roast garlic prawns served with fresh limes. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  7. Roasted garlic prawns: another roasted favourite that can be done with a sheet of foil and eaten straight from the pan!

    Panzanella: a traditional Tuscan bread salad. Photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius.

  8. Panzanella with smoked chicken: what a delightful, meaty, summer salad with oodles of crunchy croutons – perfect for entertaining a crowd. Make the croutons in the oven on a baking sheet lined with foil and save on washing up!

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

  9. Vietnamese chicken & vegetable spring rolls: although these paper rounds are made of rice, they require no cooking – only one minute of soaking in a little cold water (you can use a wide bowl with 1cm deep water for the whole batch and still reuse the water left for rinsing anything that’s dirty etc.) It’s hand food at its best, dipped in a fabulously salty peanut sauce.

    Braaied lamb chops make the ultimate shawarma topping. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  10. Quick braaied lamb shawarmas: marinate in a plastic bag, braai, assemble on chopping board, eat with hands, wipe with kitchen paper – almost no dirty dishes! Perfect for outdoor entertaining.
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The easiest, cheesiest cheese sauce for cheesy fries

8 Feb

This is the stuff dreams are made of: a super silky cheese sauce made with Dalewood’s award winning Boland™ cheese (and only 2 other ingredients).

 

I’ve been having this craving for golden potato chips covered in cheese sauce ever since we returned from our annual holiday early in January this year. I restrained these thoughts because of good intentions as part of a new “exercise and under-indulgence regime” (it was a brand new year, after all). And then I received an incredible cheese hamper courtesy of Dalewood Fromage about two weeks ago. And then Eat Out published this video about Bertus Basson’s burger joint, De Vrije Burger‘s cheesy fries. Well folks, I think the universe was trying to tell me something…

Needless to say, I immediately did some research on making the easiest, cheesiest, fuss-free, silky smooth cheese sauce. I came across a fantastic feature on Alton Brown’s site SeriousEats.com (one of my favourite resources for researching recipes) by J. Kenji López-Alt where he uses evaporated milk instead of a milk/butter/flour roux as a base, ensuring an incredibly smooth end result with a slightly sweet milky tinge to it. Using a really good quality cheese is at the centre of this recipe, because it only contains 3 ingredients, the last being a tablespoon of neutral tasting corn flour. So I chose Dalewood’s Boland™ – a semi-hard cheese with a hard rind made in the style of a Port Salut. It has a relatively mild and nutty flavour; savoury and slightly sweet. With its smooth, velvety texture, it was going to make my cheesy dreams come true.

Last night I finally put the recipe to the test. At first I thought I was going to add a little Dijon mustard and perhaps a little squirt of hot sauce and a pinch of salt. But the flavour of the Dalewood Boland™ was just perfect – strong and complex enough to ensure a deep, nutty, cheese flavoured sauce without the addition of anything else. The texture was velvety, indulgent and inviting. It was even better than I could have imagined.

I’m a little hesitant to admit that my husband and I finished the whole pot of sauce (and about 650 g of fries, loaded with chopped salami and chives) by ourselves. OK, I finished the last bit by myself with a spoon, straight from the pot. It was THAT good.

So give it a go. Also incredibly good on burgers, schnitzels, broccoli, macaroni, nachos, steak etc. Watch how to make it:

Ingredients for cheese sauce:

(based on a recipe featured on SeriousEats.com)

  • 250 ml (1 cup) evaporated milk (canned)
  • 250 g Dalewood Boland™, rind removed and coarsely grated
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) corn flour / Maizena

Pour the evaporated milk into a small saucepan and place over medium heat on the stove. In the meantime, toss the grated cheese and corn flour together. When the milk starts to boil, add the cheese & corn flour, lower the heat, and stir until the cheese has melted fully and the sauce is silky smooth. Remove from heat.

To serve: Pour over freshly made golden fries (potato chips), seasoned generously with salt flakes. Optionally top with shredded salami (or crispy bacon) and chopped chives, or sliced jalapenos and guacamole.

To reheat: Place the saucepan back on the heat and stir until runny and smooth. Alternatively, heat in a microwaveable container, stirring every 15-30 seconds until runny and smooth. Store in the fridge, covered.

Substitutions for the cheese: Substitute the cheese for any other cheese that is punchy in flavour, like a mature cheddar/gouda or a slightly milder Gruyere etc. The colour of the sauce will also be affected by your choice of cheese, so if you like a yellow sauce, choose a darker, yellower cheese.

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Summer fruit caprese salad (with watermelon and nectarines)

20 Dec

This is the second recipe in a two-part series that I have created in collaboration with Galbani cheese using their soft mozzarella. I am such a fan of the classic caprese salad – an Italian crowd favourite of mozzarella, fresh tomato and basil leaves. I’ve done many caprese variations on my blog, but this is a fresh take using summer fruit instead of tomato and it works beautifully!

I’ve used a fruit baller to create beautiful watermelon balls (that almost resembles skinned tomatoes), or you can also use an ice-cream scoop. Then I added sliced nectarines, sliced mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and lastly some salt flakes and freshly ground pepper. The sweet fruit pair incredibly well with all the savoury notes of the classic caprese – such a great, fresh, summery combo!

Buen appetito!

A spin on the classic caprese salad, using watermelon and nectarines instead of tomatoes. So fresh and summery!

 

Ingredients: (serves 6 as a side salad)

  • about 4 cups fresh watermelon, scooped into balls (or sliced into blocks)
  • about 4 ripe nectarines, sliced into wedges
  • 2 x 125 g balls of Galbani mozzarella, sliced
  • a handful fresh basil leaves
  • salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • balsamic vinegar, for drizzling

Method:

  1. Arrange the scooped/sliced watermelon, nectarines and mozzarella on a large salad platter.
  2. Scatter with basil, then season with salt & pepper and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  3. Serve at once, along with crusty bread to mop up the dressing.

Note: This salad needs to be served directly after plating, as it can wilt on standing.

Galbani mozzarella.

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Roasted tomato caprese bruschetta

18 Dec

It’s no secret that I adore the way that the Italians entertain, so when the team of Galbani approached me to develop two new recipes for their soft mozzarella featuring a caprese theme, I was over the moon!

This is the first recipe of our collaboration: roasted tomato caprese bruschetta. These roasted tomatoes are so very versatile and they keep in the fridge for at least a week. Serve them at room temperature with Galbani mozzarella and fresh basil on bruschetta, over freshly cooked pasta, on a large flatbread, or any way you want. The flavour of the roasted tomatoes are so sweet and intense, and it works wonderfully with the milky mozzarella and zippy basil.

Buon appetito!

Serve these bright caprese bruschettas to kick off your next summer dinner party in style.

 

Ingredients: (serves 6 as a snack)

  • 600 g small tomatoes, halved
  • salt & pepper
  • 5 ml sugar
  • 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 15 ml red wine vinegar
  • a few sprigs thyme, stalks removed
  • 1 baguette loaf, sliced
  • olive oil for brushing
  • 1 clove garlic, for rubbing
  • 2 x 125 g Galbani mozzarella balls, sliced thinly
  • fresh basil leaves, for serving

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Place halved tomatoes on a baking tray and spread out in a single layer. Season with salt & pepper, sprinkle with sugar, olive oil, vinegar and thyme. Give it a gentle shake, then roast at 180 C for 50 minutes or until it starts to go sticky and brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and transfer to a jar.
  3. Turn the oven’s temperature up to 200 C. Arrange the sliced baguette on another baking tray. Brush the slices with oil and season with salt & pepper, then bake for 8-10 minute or lightly golden. Remove from the oven and quickly rub each slice with the garlic.
  4. Arrange slices on a serving board, top with sliced mozzarella, some roasted tomatoes and a few basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Note: These are best served at room temperature, using freshly toasted baguette. Make the tomatoes ahead and keep them in the fridge. Bring the tomatoes and mozzarella to room temperature before serving.

The classic caprese combo of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil is a firm favourite at any table.

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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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