Tag Archives: butter

Potato gnocchi with panfried mushrooms & sage butter

30 May

Potato gnocchi with panfried mushrooms and a drizzle of sage butter (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Potato gnocchi with panfried mushrooms and a drizzle of sage butter (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Potato gnocchi has a bad reputation for being difficult and temperamental. I recently got the hang of it and it is now a regular favourite in my household. It’s amazing how the humble potato can be turned into something so delicately soft and dreamy – little pillows of potato delight! I also sometimes serve them on top of a hearty roasted tomato & chorizo stew with lots of extra parmigiano – my husband’s favourite.

I recently bought myself a potato ricer for making proper potato gnocchi. It’s a weird contraption that almost looks like a giant garlic press. But it works like a charm to get rid of any lumpy cooked potato bits. If you want a smooth result but you don’t have a ricer, press the cooked potato through a sieve (you’ll need a bit of elbow grease for this, but the result is worth the effort).

For the gnocchi:

  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 300 g cake flour (you might not need all of it)
  • 10 ml salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Cook the potatoes in a large pot filled with salted water (in their skins) until tender. Drain off water and leave to cool slightly.
  2. Remove potato skins, then press through a potato ricer or a sieve to remove any lumps. Set aside (you can leave it to cool completely if you want to).
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add riced potatoes, beaten egg, 1/3 of the flour, the salt and pepper. Mix with a fork, then continue to knead to a smooth dough, adding a little extra flour as you go, if necessary. You are looking for a workable consistency that feels like a very soft dough, but not sticky at all. Don’t add too much flour at this time as you want to keep a light texture.
  4. Divide the mixture into 4 balls, then roll each ball out into long strips, using extra flour on your surface to prevent sticking. Carefully cut into little squares/pillows and sprinkle with a little extra flour to prevent them from sticking together (I like to toss them around a bit in the flour to make sure they are fully covered).
  5. Heat a large pot filled with salted water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the gnocchi and cook for 1-2 minutes or until it rises to the surface. Do not overcook – they will become sticky and soggy. Drain and serve immediately with cream sauce and/or sage butter and pan-fried mushrooms.

For the sage butter:

  • 125 g butter
  • a large handful of fresh sage leaves

Place the butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil until the butter starts to turn golden brown and starts to smell nutty. Add sage leaves and remove from heat at once, swirling the butter round to fry the leaves evenly. Set aside.

For the pan-fried mushrooms:

  • 45 ml olive oil
  •  about 500 g mixed exotic mushrooms (break/cut larger mushrooms into bite-size pieces)
  • 125 ml cream
  • salt & pepper
  • grated parmesan cheese, to serve

Heat the oil on high heat in a large pan, then add the mushrooms and fry for about 5 minutes until golden brown. Add cream and reduce a little to form a thicker sauce that will coat the mushrooms. Season with salt & pepper. Note: the mushrooms with absorb the cream on standing, so serve this immediately.

To assemble: Have the sage butter and mushrooms warm and ready before you cook your gnocchi. Serve the gnocchi in bowl topped with pan fried mushrooms and a drizzle of sage butter. Top with some grated parmesan cheese.

Credits:

This post was written especially by Ilse van der Merwe for The Pretty Blog.

Recipe, text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Peach galette

28 Feb

Seasonal peach galette with vanilla ice cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Today is the last official day of summer in SA, so I’m going to sneak in one last sunny recipe. When summer fruit is abundant, there’s just no better way to use them than in a rustic French fruit galette (or crostata, like the Italians call it). The pastry is buttery and flaky, the fruit is tender and intense, and the result is just so much more than the sum of its original parts.

To make this galette even tastier, I make a batch of almond paste (marzipan) and coarsely grate this over the prepared pastry base before arranging the fruit. This adds a delicious soft and gooey aspect to the tart, as well as that almond flavour that I love so much. If you don’t like almonds, you can leave this out completely.

The recipe for the pastry comes from one of my food icons, Ina Garten. She had a specialty food store called The Barefoot Contessa for many years (now also the name of her famous American TV show), and baked hundreds of crostatas in her years. I love the texture of this pastry and didn’t want to change a thing about it. Ina’s recipe makes enough for two delicious galettes, so you can freeze the second half for another time if you like.

Pastry: (makes 2 standard sized galettes)

(Recipe for pastry by Ina Garten)

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 250 g cold butter, diced
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) ice water

Almond paste: (enough for 2 galettes)

  • 100 g (250 ml) ground almonds
  • 250 ml icing sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon almond essence
  • 1 egg white (large egg)

Filling: (enough for 2 galettes)

  • 1 egg, lightly whisked (for brushing)
  • 6 large cling peaches, peeled and sliced (pits removed) – or use any other seasonal fruit except strawberries and bananas
  • 15-30 ml cinnamon sugar

Method:

For the pastry: Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add the iced water all at once while the motor is running. As soon as the dough starts to come together, remove it from the bowl onto a floured surface. Press into a disk shape, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the almond paste: Place all the ingredients together in a food processor. Process until it comes together into a ball (add more icing sugar if your mixture is too sticky). Remove and refrigerate (for at least an hour) in an airtight plastic bowl.

To assemble: Pre-heat oven to 220 C. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of about 5 mm. Transfer carefully onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush the top of the pastry with egg, leaving a 3cm border around the edges. Coarsely grate the almond paste all over the brushed egg pastry surface, then cover with peach slices. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack before serving with vanilla ice cream (serve hot or at room temperature).

 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

Butter chicken curry

12 Aug

Rich butter chicken curry with roti’s and fresh coriander (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Of all the butter chicken recipes I have come across over the years, this one remains my absolute favourite. I have made it many, many times at home, and everytime I am amazed at how easy it is to create such a fragrant and satisfying feast.

Butter chicken curry is a mild, rich dish. It is made with lots of butter, ground cashew nuts, and cream – definitely not for the calorie conscious! But the result is an absolutely dreamy mixture of fragrant exotic spices (especially cardamom), rich gravy and succulent boneless chicken. It is fantastic served on basmati rice, but also great served with naan bread or wrapped up in a roti.

Tasha, our photographer, told me that they had recently used butter chicken curry as a filling for soft white rolls on a road trip. Now that sounds brilliant! Don’t forget the fresh coriander, it adds a welcome fresh touch to the richness of the sauce.

Ingredients: (recipe adapted from Huisgenoot magazine, 16 April 2009)

  • 1 kg boneless chicken thighs (or breasts)
  • 45 ml grated fresh ginger
  • 5 ml salt
  • 5 ml ground turmeric (or 2,5 ml yellow food colouring)
  • 125 g butter plus 15 ml vegetable oil
  • 30 ml butter
  • 10 ml ground fennel (barishap)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  • 5 ml minced red chilli (I use John West, but you can also just cut up a fresh small red chilli, very finely chopped)
  • 100 ml raw cashew nuts, finely processed (reserve a few whole nuts for decoration, if you want to)
  • 1 can (410 ml) tomato puree (NOT tomato paste)
  • 5 cardamom pods, skins removed and seeds crushed in a pestle & mortar
  • 250 ml fresh cream (or Ideal Milk or plain yoghurt)
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh coriander leaves, to serve
  • cooked basmati rice or naan bread, to serve

Method:

  1. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and place it in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the ginger, salt and turmeric, then mix well to coat the chicken.
  3. Add the 125 ml butter and oil to a large pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the chicken and fry until it has changed colour but not cooked through all the way – about 5-7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside until later.
  4. In the same pan, add another 30 ml of butter. Add the fennel and onion, then fry over low to medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent (very important to not do this over high heat).
  5. Now add the garlic and chilli paste, and fry for 1 minute. Add the cashew nuts and tomato puree and stir well. Turn the heat up slightly and bring the mixture to the boil.
  6. Now add the chicken pieces and cardamom seeds, and lower the heat to a simmer. Add the cream, then stir through and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Season to taste with salt (if necessary) and black pepper. Remove from the heat, top with coriander leaves and serve with rice or bread.

Credits:

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

Food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

West Coast mussels with Café de Paris butter

29 Jul

A pan full of West Coast mussels with Neil Jewell’s Café de Paris butter sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I’m a huge fan of the culinary treasure chest that sits in the Franschhoek Valley. The wine, the restaurants, the majestic mountains, the chefs, the whole Franschhoek experience. I recently had the pleasure of being invited to the launch of Leopard’s Leap‘s new Culinaria wine range, coupled with a cooking demo of one of my absolute culinary heros, Neil Jewell.

Neil is the magician behind the charcuterie, bakery, deli and restaurant (Bread and Wine) on Moreson Wine Estate. His cooking  is “perfectly balanced, seasonally influenced and surroundings inspired” – always an amazing experience. Leopard’s Leap invited a handful of Franschhoek’s biggest culinary talents to develop food pairings for their new wine range, and Neil got to work with their truly versatile Culinaria Chenin Blanc Grenache Blanc 2012. This wine is light with loads of fruity characteristics, and it paired well with almost all of the food that we tasted that day at Leopard’s Leap.

Neil showed us how to cook West Coast mussels with his home-made Café de Paris butter and some of the Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Chenin – an absolutely amazing combination! I’ve always loved simple steamed mussels in white wine, garlic and maybe some cream, but this recipe took the flavour of the mussels to a place where it became just heavenly; slightly curried and astringent, yet rich and buttery and layered with deep flavours.

This recipe takes a bit of time to prepare, but it is really rewarding and I simply had to share it. Be sure to have a large glass of Leopard’s Leap Chenin Blanc Grenache Blanc handy while cooking!

Ingredients for the Café de Paris butter: (recipe by Neil Jewell)

  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 20 ml garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 15 ml grated fresh ginger
  • 2.5 ml curry powder
  • 60 ml Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Chenin Blanc Grenache Blanc
  • 200 g soft butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 gherkin, finely chopped
  • 5 ml capers, finely chopped
  • 2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 30 ml parsley, finely chopped

Ingredients for the mussels:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 10 ml garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 15 ml grated fresh ginger
  • 1 green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 250 ml Leopard’s Leap Culinaria Chenin Blanc Grenache Blanc
  • 1 kg fresh black mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
  • a handful of torn basil leaves, to serve
  • a handful of chopped chives, to serve
  • a handful of coriander leaves, to serve

Method:

  1. For the butter, sauté the onions, garlic and ginger in a little oil in a saucepan until soft and translucent. Add the curry powder and dry fry for 1 minute. De-glaze the pan with the wine and leave to cook until dry.
  2. Place the butter, gherkin, capers, anchovy, parsley and cooled onions mixture in a food processor and blend until combined. Set aside.
  3. For the mussels: heat a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and wine. Bring to the boil, then add the mussels. Place a lid on the pan and cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until the mussels are open. Discard any mussels that fail to open.
  4. Add knobs of the Café de Paris butter over the mussels, stir to melt, and serve hot with the basil, chives and coriander leaves. (I add all of the butter to the mussels, but it’s up to you!) Crusty bread will come in handy to mop up the sauces.

(photography by Tasha Seccombe)

 

Celebrating the launch of Leopard’s Leap’s Culinaria Collection. Hein Koegelenberg (CEO Leopard’s Leap), me, Neil Jewell (Bread & Wine Restaurant) & Eugene van Zyl (Leopard’s Leap wine maker) – picture courtesy of Amplicon PR and Leopard’s Leap

Credits:

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

Food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

Baklava

21 Jan

Baklava with walnuts and almonds, soaked in a fragrant syrup (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

If you have a serious sweet tooth like me, I can recommend a culinary trip to Greece. These people really know their confectionery, and baklava is only one of many amazing delights that you will find at the bakeries and tavernas all over the country.

In Greece, you will specifically find a lot of baked goods made with filo pastry. They love to fill it with chunky, nutty, syrupy goodies, but also sometimes a fantastic almond paste. Many times these pastries are also topped with Nutella – there are just no limits to the decadence!

Baklava is such a classic Greek delicacy, although you would also find fabulous baklava all over the Mediterranean and Middle East, especially in Turkey (where baklava has it’s origins). Traditionally, Greek baklava is made with 33 layers of filo pastry, but any commercial 500g packet of filo will suffice. In this recipe, I used crushed walnuts and almonds, but you can use almost any nuts of your preference. Pistachios also work very well, and the green specs look spectacular. The syrup is infused with cloves, cinnamon and lemon rind – such a fragrant addition to the richness of the nuts and the pastry.

The baklava will keep, unrefrigerated, for at least a week (covered).

Ingredients for syrup:

  • 500 ml sugar
  • 500 ml water
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 15 ml lemon juice
  •  2 strips of lemon rind
  • 30 ml honey

Ingredients for pastry:

  • 500 g filo pastry sheets (phyllo)
  • 200 g butter, melted
  • 200 g crushed walnuts (finely chopped, but with some texture)
  • 100 g crushed almonds (finely chopped, but with some texture)
  • 60 ml castor sugar
  • 10 ml ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of ground cloves

Method:

  1. For the syrup: place all ingredients in a saucepan/pot and stir over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Do not boil before sugar has dissolved. Now, bring to the boil for 10 minutes, then remove from heat, strain and cool.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 160 C.
  3. Unwrap filo sheets, then spread them flat on a slightly damp tea towel. Cover the top with another slightly damp tea towel while working.
  4. Using a buttered baking dish that is roughly the same size as your filo sheets, place one sheet of filo inside and brush all over with melted butter. Continue placing about half of the filo sheets on top of each other, buttering each sheet (I used 6 layers).
  5. Mix nuts with sugar and spices, then spread half the mixture over the buttered filo stack. Cover with 2 layers of buttered filo, then spread remaining half of nut mixture over buttered filo sheets. Cover with remaining filo sheets (I used another 6), buttering each layer. Make sure to butter the top layer as well.
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut layers into diamond squares. Sprinkle with a little water over the surface to keep the pastry flat while baking.
  7. Bake in the centre of the oven for 60 minutes. If the top is browning too quickly, cover with foil for the last 30 minutes of baking time, but do not reduce baking time.
  8. Spoon syrup over baklava as soon as it comes from the oven. Allow to cool before serving. Serve with an extra drizzle of honey, if preferred.

Credits:

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

Food & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

Herbed mackerel butter

5 Jul

Mackerel butter with lemon and parsley

Cured mackerel fillets must be the Mediterranean version of smoked Cape snoek! These fabulous little fish fillets are much smaller than snoek, but can be used very much in the same way.

Rather than making a regular pateé, I opted for making a rich herbed mackerel butter instead. With no cream or soft cheese added, this buttery spread really melts in your mouth, and is the perfect topping for warm toasted bread. Most Mediterreanean foods are quite light, so the rich contrast of this spread works very well when used as a starter to a long, lazy meal with many courses.

It keeps well in the fridge for at least a week, depending on the freshness of the fillets.

Ingredients:

  • 2 x medium-sized Mediterranean Delicacies Herb Mackerel fillets (skins removed)
  • 150-200 g butter, softened, but not melted
  • a generous handful of Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • juice and grated rind of half a lemon
  • 2 T (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • toasted ciabatta to serve

Method:

  1. In a food processor, blend mackerel fillets, butter, parsley, lemon juice & rind, olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Blend to a smooth paste.
  2. Serve at room temperature with warm, freshly toasted ciabatta.

WIN this hamper!

This post is the second in a 4-week series that I am doing in association with Mediterranean Delicacies.

WIN a fabulous Medi Deli hamper by entering their competition on Facebook! Competition have been extended untill end of of July 2012. Hamper includes a gourmet pasta maker, cheese board and a selection of delicious wines and Mediterranean Delicacies’ products.

Ultimate chicken liver pâté with brandy and cream

26 Mar

Smooth chicken liver paté with brandy, butter, cream and thyme (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

Liver is a strange subject: either you love it or you don’t. I love it, my husband doesn’t. My parents love it, my siblings don’t. My 1-year-old  daughter surprisingly loves it! (she’s always been an adventurous eater like her mom)

I remember the first time I ever ate liver was in 1995: a chicken liver starter on basmati rice at the legendary Rustic Café (now closed) in Stellenbosch. It was served in a rich, spicy gravy, and was so wonderfully comforting that I couldn’t get enough. I also loved the spicy chicken liver salad at Julian’s Coffee Shop (now called something else), back in the days when I was still waitressing there as a student. Wonderful pan-fried chicken livers in a spicy sauce served on fresh greens and tomatoes. I then tried to copy the sauce in my mom’s kitchen, using barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and lots of other household condiments, along with a touch of cream. It was marvellous.

Then I discovered the magic of liver pâté – my favourite being the wonderfully affordable chicken liver variety. So great for parties! I must mention though, that I once bought a glass jar of duck liver pâté from Cotage Fromage at Vrede en Lust Wine Estate in Simondium. It was the silkiest jar of buttery, sweet, rich pâté that I had ever tasted. I then learnt from the chef that liver pâté needs a LOT of butter to become really smooth and spreadable – up to 50% of the finished product! I don’t put that much butter in my chicken liver pâté, but don’t ever be afraid of adding more butter to yours!

This recipe contains all the great ingredients for a fabulous grown-up pâté: chicken livers, onions, garlic, butter, fresh thyme, cream and brandy. Use a stick blender or food processor to process it to a very smooth pulp, then refrigerate untill set. It is great on toasted ciabatta, and I can eat it morning, noon and night.

Tip: Don’t ever overcook the livers (for pâté) over too high heat – they shouldn’t brown, they should just change colour. Your finished pâté should still be a touch of pink!

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 500 g chicken livers (rinse and pat dry)
  • 90 g butter at room temperature
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 t chopped fresh thyme
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) brandy
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) cream
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. In a large frying pan, melt half the butter over medium heat. Add onion & garlic and cook over low heat until soft and transparent but not brown.
  2. Add livers and thyme, then stir over moderate heat untill they change colour. Add brandy and simmer for 2 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat.
  3. Place livers and liquid in a food processor and process untill smooth. Add other half of butter (at room temperature) and cream, season with salt and pepper, and process until just incorporated.
  4. Spoon into a glass jar or porcelain dish, smoothing the surface. Cover and refrigerate untill firm. Serve with toasted bread.

PS: If you want to keep the pâté for more than a day, pour clarified butter over the surface, then cover and refrigerate.

Credits:

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

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Pictures: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.


Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram
YouTube