Tag Archives: goats cheese

Lentil salad with roasted vegetables, lemon & goats cheese

20 Mar

An earthy salad of lentils, roasted seasonal veggies, chunks of creamy goats cheese, lemon rind and parsley (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

When I heard the word “lentils” when I was in my twenties, I immediately associated it with people who go over-the-top on health foods. Lentils sounded boring, brown and tasteless. My mother never cooked it for us as kids, so I had no frame of reference in terms of moorish lentil dishes at all. I saw lentils only as a poor substitute for meat – like a lentil patty on a burger bun. How horrible.

Then I discovered dhal – an Indian lentil side dish with as much flavour as the best meat curry that you’ll ever have (if it’s proper dhal). Glorious dhal, with a side of naan bread and lots of extra coriander leaves. It’s a close contender for my “last meal” choice – after my first choice of fresh ciabatta with extra virgin olive oil and a nugget of extra mature gouda.

So then I began experimenting with lentil soup, lentil bobotie en even lentil salad. As Autumn settled into Stellenbosch with its magnificently milder days and cooler nights, I longed for food that is more nourishing than a crisp, leafy salad. That is how my earthy lentil salad was born.

I absolutely love roasted vegetable (above steamed, boiled or fried). Together, the lentils and the veg and the goats cheese make for a super satisfying, wholesome and nourishing meal. Add glugs of extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste and serve with toasted pine nuts – the perfect meatless Monday dish or the perfect side dish to your larger feast. It’s going to be on my go-to list all Autumn and Winter long.

Note: Always remember that vegetables will shrink in the oven when roasted. Start with more than you think you’ll need.

For the lentils: (serves 4 as a main meal)

  • 250 g brown lentils (half a packet)
  • water, to cover
  • 45 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • juice and finely grated rind of a medium lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • a handful parsley, chopped

Method: Place lentils in a large pot and cover with cold water (about 5 cm above the lentils). Cook for about 30 minutes until tender, then drain and rinse well. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, then add the olive oil, lemon juice & rind and season generously with salt & pepper. Add the parsley and stir well.

For the roasted vegetables:

  • an assortment of your favourite vegetables, peeled and cut into bite size chunks (I’ve used beetroot, carrots, brussels sprout and leeks – enough to fill a standard roasting tray in a single layer)
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Method: Roast at 220 C for 30 minutes or until golden brown and tender.

To assemble:

  • 100g plain goats cheese (chevin)
  • a handful of pine nuts, toasted
  • more parsley to scatter over

Method: Add the roasted veg to the cooked lentils, add chunks of goats cheese, then scatter with more parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Beetroot salad with marinated tomatoes and goats cheese

10 Jan

The most colourful salad that you can imagine: shaved beetroot with marinated tomatoes and goats cheese (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A few weeks ago I had a lovely wine tasting at Babylonstoren. They serve the most delightful snack platters at their tasting room, packed with fantastic fresh produce from their breathtaking, abundant gardens as well as a selection of locally sourced charcuterie and cheeses. It’s totally worth a visit and great value for money.

One of the most memorable items on these snack platters was a jar of marinated baby tomatoes. I assumed that they were slow roasted because of the intense flavour, but after enquiring about them the management confided that they were simply marinated overnight in a mixture of lots of red wine vinegar, olive oil and fresh herbs.

I decided to give it a go at home, and after marinating a jar overnight I served it with a few greens, some shaved multicoloured raw beetroot and a few slices of crottin (goats cheese). What a magnificently colourful picture! I loved the crunchy, earthiness of the beetroot, the tang of the crottin and the bursting sweetness of the tomatoes. Such a stunning looking salad for summer entertaining.

Marinated rosa tomatoes with red wine vinegar & extra virgin olive oil (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients for the marinated tomatoes: (serves 4)

  • about 250 g rosa/cherry tomatoes, halved
  • a sprig of rosemary, stalk removed, finely chopped
  • 1/2 clove garlic, finely grated (optional)
  • 2/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 45 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Place the tomatoes, rosemary and garlic in a 500g glass jar. Add the vinegar and oil and season with salt & pepper. Close the jar and tilt it over to mix all the ingredients. Refrigerate overnight to marinate (or for at least 6 hours).

For the salad: (serves 4)

  • a handful green leaves, washed
  • a few baby beets, peeled & finely sliced/shaved (mandolin cutter works best)
  • a few radishes, finely shaved
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • a chunk of crottin (goats cheese), sliced
  • one batch of marinated tomatoes (see above)
  • a handful mixed micro herbs (optional)

Method:

Arrange the leaves, beets, radishes, red onion, crottin and tomatoes on a salad platter or on individual plates. Top with micro herbs and dress with the tomato marinade. Serve immediately.

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Goats cheese, green fig & walnut log

21 Dec

Make your own festive cheese roll with chunks of green fig and nuts (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

There’s no easier way to entertain than with cheese and crackers – perfect for a lazy glass of wine, a simple starter or even an elegant dessert. Although there’s nothing wrong with just unwrapping a few blocks of your favourite cheese and serving them on a platter, this recipe goes the extra mile and delivers something beautifully tasty that looks like a lot more effort than it actually is (always a good thing).

If you love blue cheese, goats cheese and green figs, this simple recipe will have you longing for more opportunities to entertain friends and family. The mixture firms up quickly in the fridge so you don’t need hours to prepare. A stunner for special occasions like Christmas, Easter and everything in-between.

Preparation time: 10 minutes plus 1 hour for chilling
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 200 g creamy blue cheese (gorgonzola, Simonzola or similar)
  • 100 g plain, soft goats cheese log (chevin)
  • 2-3 preserved green figs in syrup, drained and cut into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) brandy
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 50 g shelled walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds, for coating on the outside (I’ve used a mixture of black & white, lightly toasted)
  • melba toast, for serving (or crackers of your choice)
  • fresh fruit and/or preserves, to serve (optional)

Method:

  1. In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together the blue cheese, goats cheese, figs, brandy, nutmeg and walnuts using a wooden spoon.
  2. Spoon the chunky mixture onto a sheet of grease-proof baking paper and carefully roll into a neat sausage shape. Place in the fridge to firm up until ready to serve – at least 1 hour.
  3. Spread the sesame seeds out in a thin layer on a large plate. When ready to serve, unroll the cheese log from the wrapping paper, then roll it in the sesame seeds to cover all sides. Place on a serving board and serve immediately with melba toast or crackers, fresh fruit and preserves.

A Portuguese Summer Feast with Poetry Stores

29 Nov

Portuguese feast

Piri-piri chicken, roasted sweet potato salad and fig ice cream from the book “My Portuguese Feast” by Mimi Jardim (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

portuguese-feastOne of the most beautiful recipe books on the shelves this festive season is Mimi Jardim’s My Portuguese Feast – Recipes From The Heart, available from Poetry stores. Mimi is a living legend when it comes to Portuguese cooking in SA: she has run her own cooking school for over 50 years and is also a representative of the Nando’s restaurant chain. Her book is a tribute to her years of cooking, teaching, loving, exploring and sharing. “It highlights the flavours and tastes of Portuguese food and showcases the way the Portuguese cook – with their hearts and their souls, and not always in exact proportions!”

Here is a splendid Portuguese summer feast out of Mimi’s book, complete with the most beautiful, brand new Portuguese homeware available from Poetry stores. You will agree that the tableware and linen in the photographs are some of the most beautiful ranges that Poetry has ever stocked and a must for your festive table this season. Happy cooking!

Roasted sweet potato salad

Roasted sweet potato salad with goats cheese and pomegranate seeds (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Roasted sweet potato salad (serves 4)

  • 150 g whole blanched almonds
  • 125 ml olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • 1 kg sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 red onions, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 125 ml orange juice
  • salt & pepper
  • about 100 g baby spinach
  • about 100 g rocket
  • 250 g goats cheese
  • 250 ml pomegranate seeds
  • orange zest, to garnish

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Place the almonds in a roasting pan and drizzle with some of the olive oil and coarse salt. Roast for 5 minutes, turning then2-3 times. Remove from the oven and drain the almonds on paper towel. Reduce oven temp to 180 C. Place the sweet potato in a baking dish, add the red onions, garlic, cinnamon and orange juice and drizzle with a little more of the olive oil. Season to taste and salt and pepper and mix well. Bake for about 40 minutes, stirring twice. Line a salad bowl with baby spinach and rocket. Top with roasted sweet potatoes and pour over any juices from the baking dish. Crumble over the cheese, sprinkle with the roasted almonds and garnish with pomegranate jewels. Drizzle with the last of the olive oil, sprinkle with orange zest and serve.

Portuguese Feast chicken

Raymond’s Piri-piri chicken (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Raymond’s Travelling Piri-Piri Chicken (serves 4-6)

  • 1 medium-sized (1-1,2kg) chicken
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 100 G soft butter
  • whole piri-piri chillies, crushed (use 3-5 for medium and 5-10 for hot)
  • 10 ml lemon juice
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5 ml paprika
  • 12,5 ml olive oil
  • sprigs rosemay and thyme tied together to form a brush

For the sauce:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 20 ml butter (plus 12,5 ml olive oil, optional)
  • piri-piri chillies (or peri-peri sauce) to taste
  • juice of hal a lemon
  • 5 ml chopped parsley

Method:

Rinse and dry the chicken and spatchcock it (cut open through the back and flatten it). Cut slashes into the flesh of the thick parts of the chicken. Make a paste of the remaining ingredients (other than the rosemary and thyme and the sauce ingredients) and rub it over the inside and outside of the chicken. Allow to marinate for 2 hours. Grill of braai the chicken, turning regularly and using the rosemary and thyme brush to baste it with the marinade/paste every time it is turned. Serve with the sauce.

To make the sauce, fry the garlic cloves in the butter. Add the piri-piri chillies or sauce, lemon juice and parsley. Remove the garlic and serve.

Portuguese Feast ice cream

Port, peri-peri & fig ice cream loaf cake with fresh figs and almond slivers (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Peri-Peri, Port & Fig Ice Cream (serves 6-8)

  • 10 moist dried figs
  • 40 g almonds, toasted
  • 60 ml honey, plus extra to garnish
  • 50 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 20 ml port
  • 15 ml Nando’s Hot Peri-Peri Sauce
  • 1 x 2 liter tub soft vanilla ice cream
  • 100 ml chocolate morsels or grated chocolate
  • toasted flaked almonds, to serve
  • ground cinnamon, to serve

Method:

Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and line with plastic wrap. Place in the freezer while you prepare the mixture. Pulse figs and almonds in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Dissolve the honey in the lemon juice, then add the port, peri-peri sauce, figs and almonds. Fold into the ice cream, working quickly so that it doesn’t melt. Fold into the chocolate, pour the mixture into the prepared pan and freeze for 24 hours. Unmould the dessert onto a serving platter. Drizzle it with honey and sprinkle with almonds and cinnamon. Serve immediately.

Get Mimi Jardim’s My Portuguese Feast – Recipes From The Heart, available online from Poetry stores at R385.

All homeware, linen, cutlery, glassware and wooden boards available from Poetry Stores.

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Turkish apricots with goats cheese, basil, almonds & honey

30 Mar

Soft dried apricots topped with basil goats cheese & almonds, drizzled with honey (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Soft dried apricots topped with basil goats cheese & almonds, drizzled with honey (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

In July last year with the launch of the demo KITCHEN, my wingwoman Elsebé Cronjé suggested that we make these beauties. She got the recipe via her chef friend Ruan, who saw it on the internet somewhere. When I started searching for the origin, it seemed like there were many similar recipes around with no specific credit as to who originally came up with the idea.

Needless to say, these soft apricots with goats cheese, basil, almonds & honey were such a hit that they are now one of our favourite canapés for guests. So very simple to make, but with an intriguing combination of sweet & savoury flavour tones and beautiful textures of soft, crunchy and creamy.

Be sure to buy soft Turkish dried apricots (they are imported by the team of Cecilia’s Farm and also available from Woolworths) and not the hard ones. This is a total must for festive entertaining, anytime of the year.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g plain goats cheese (log of chevin)
  • 250 g plain cream cheese
  • a large handful of fresh basil leaves (about 20g)
  • 250 g soft dried Turkish apricots
  • 100 g raw almonds, lightly toasted in a dry pan
  • 1/4 honey

Method:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the goats cheese and cream cheese with a wooden spoon or electric beaters until well combined.
  2. Wash and dry the basil leaves, then chop finely and add to the cheese. Mix through.
  3. With a small spatula or knife, smear each dried apricot with a good dollop of the cheese.
  4. Roughly chop the almonds and scatter over the apricot canapes.
  5. Liberally drizzle with honey and serve.

Credits:

Text: Ilse van der Merwe

Food preparation & assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

A Christmas picnic table with Poetry Stores: Part 2

17 Dec

My Christmas picnic spread (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

With only one week to go until Christmas, everyone’s planning their spreads and feasts. A lot of us will not only have a Christmas eve dinner, but also a Christmas day lunch. I love to go traditional for a Christmas dinner with a hot roast and lots of sides, but when it is daytime I really prefer a cold Christmas spread, casual yet indulgent – something that you can even take on the road and have as a picnic in a beautiful location.

My choices for the perfect Christmas picnic table comes from The Picnic Cookbook by Annie Bell (R285 from Poetry Stores). Annie’s recipes are simple but scrumptious, and her book is a great choice for any al fresco feast. The maple roast ham is glazed with a beautifully dark mixture of black treacle, maple syrup and English mustard – easy to make ahead and simply delicious served cold or at room temperature. I’ve also chosen Annie’s recipe for gravadlax, a wonderful alternative to cold smoked fish. I used locally farmed trout instead of salmon for the gravadlax – use what you prefer and what you can afford. For a salad I chose Annie’s couscous salad with pistachios and pomegranate – one of the most beautiful salads to look at with bright green and red specs! I also made her aubergine veggie roast with goat’s cheese and tomatoes.

For dessert I tried Annie’s recipe for salted caramel millionaire’s shortbread – my favourite recipe of the day. These indulgent treats are totally amazing, a little over the top but perfect for a Christmas feast.

Me and Tasha used a selection of Poetry‘s beautiful wooden boards (oval wooden board = R399) to put this spread together, as well as some of their pretty colourful little bowls and placemats (pom-pom placemat = R99). For the shortbread we used a dainty white cake stand (R250) which also comes with a glass dome lid. All of these make beautiful Christmas gifts, so get to Poetry Stores this week and browse their full collection.

Maple roast ham with Dijon mustard, and aubergines with goat’s cheese and tomatoes (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Maple roast ham: (serves 6-8)

  • 1 x 2kg unsmoked gammon, boned and rolled
  • 3 outer stalks of celery, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 carrots, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 leek, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 30 ml maple syrup
  • 5 ml black treacle
  • 10 ml English mustard
  1. Place the gammon in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Discard the water and start again with fresh water to cover, this time adding the chopped vegetables and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then maintain at a gently simmer over a low heat for  50 minutes. If necessay, top up with boiling water halfway through.
  2. Heat the oven to 180C. Tranfer the gammon from the saucepan onto a board using two forks. Remove any string around the ham and pull off the rind. Slice the fat at 2cm intervals with a criss-cross pattern, without cutting down as far as the flesh.
  3. Blend the maple syrup, treacle and mustard in a bowl and use this to coat the ham evenly oall over. Place the ham in a roasting tin and pour some stock to cover the base and prevent the drippings burning. Roast for 35-45 minutes until the glaze is mahogany coloured and dry. Leave to cool, then carve at home before your picnic.

Gravadlax with mustard sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Gravadlax: (serves 6-8)

  • 100 g rock salt
  • 100 caster sugar
  • 20 g yellow mustard seeds
  • a small bunch of dill, finely chopped, plus some to serve
  • 900 g salmon/trout fillet, skin-on, pin boned
  • little gem heart leaves or buttered rye bread to serve

Method:

  1. Comine the salt, sugar, mustard seeds and dill in a bowl. Scatter a quarter of the salt mixture over a piece of clingfilm large enough to wrap the two fillets up in when placed on top of each other. Place one fillet skin-down on top, scatter over 2/3 of the reamining mixture, then lay the second fillet on top so the thick part of the fillet is on top of the thin part of the fillet, and they lie flesh to flesh. Scatter over the remaining salt mixture, wrap in the salmon up tightly and then in foil.
  2. Weight the salmon down by placing something heavy on top, then refrigerate for 48 hours, turning the parcel every 12 hours. The sugar and salt will draw the juices out of the salmon and turn into a sticky bring.
  3. Unwrap the salmon and rinse the marinade off the fresh side. ome of the mustard seeds and dill should remain but you will get rid of the excess salt and sugar. Place the fillets skin-side down on the work surface, then pat dry with kitchen paper. Press some chopped dill into the surface.
  4. Trim the edges of the fillets, then slice the gravadlax diagonally off the skin, thicker than you would slice a smoked salmon. Serve with mustard sauce.

Mustard sauce:

  • 150 g soured cream
  • heaped tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • heaped tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • 15 ml caster sugar

Mix it all together, then leave to stand for 15 minutes for the sugar to melt. Stir again and serve cold.

Couscous salad with pistachios and pomegranates (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Couscous salad with pistachios and pomegranate:

  • 250 ml vegetable stock
  • sea salt
  • a pinch of saffron filaments
  • 200 g couscous
  • seeds of 1 medium pomegranate
  • 75 g shelled pistachios
  • 90 ml chopped coriander
  • 90 ml chopped mint
  • zest of a lemon (finely grated)
  • 15 ml lemon juice
  • 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • pomegranate syrup, to serve (optional)

Method:

  1. Bring the stock to the boil in a small saucepan, season with salt, and add the saffron. Pout this over the couscous in a large bowl, then cover and set aside for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through to break up the lumps. Leave to cool completely.
  2. Mix the pomegranate seeds, pistachios, herbs and lemon zest into the couscous. Whisk the lemon juice with the olive oil and some salt, them pour over the salad and toss to coat well.

Aubergine veggie roast with goat’s cheese and tomatoes: (serves 6)

  •  3 aubergines, sliced into 3cm thick rounds
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 300 g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 150 g young firm goat’s cheese, cut into 1cm thick dice
  • coarsely chopped parsley

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
  2. Lay the aubergine slices out on a couple of baking trays. Brush with oil on both sides and season with salt & pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, then turn and cook for another 15 minutes until golden brown.
  3. At the same time, scatter a little salt over the tomatoes in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Transfer the aubergines to a large roasting dish that holds them in a single layer. Pour 3 tablespoons of oil over the tomatoes, and gently toss, then mix with the goats cheese. Pile this on top of the aubergines, them return to the oven for 5 minutes to warm through. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Scatter with parsley.

Salt caramel millionaire’s shortbread (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Salted caramel millionaire’s shortbread:

For the shortbread:

  • 225 g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 200 g plain flour
  • 115 g ground almonds
  • 5 ml vanilla extract

For the caramel:

  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 70 g caster sugar
  • 15 ml golden syrup
  • 275 g Caramel Treat (or dulce de leche)
  • 1/3 teaspoon sea salt

For the top:

  • 200 g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 25 g white chocolate chips (optional)

Method:

  • Place all the ingredients for the shortbread in a food processor and whizz to form a dough. Press into a buttered baking tin (27 x 18 cm), then prick with a fork and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Pre-heat oven to 140 C, then bake the shortbread for 45 minutes. Leave to cool.
  • Place all the ingredients for the caramel in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring well. Simmer gently for 8 minutes, stirring often, then pour over the shortbread base and leave to cool completely.
  • Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, then pour over the caramel and smooth the top. If you want to marble the surface, melt the white chocolate in the same way, then drop 1/4 teaspoons on top of the dark, marbling it with a cocktail stick. Work quickly.
  • Set aside in a cool place until set but still soft, then cut into squares and chill. Store in an airtight container.

 

Credits:

All recipes by Annie Bell, from her book The Picnic Cookbook.

Food preparation & text: Ilse van der Merwe of The Food Fox

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Ilse van der Merwe & Tasha Seccombe

Homeware: Poetry Stores

Bruschetta with grilled marinated peppers

19 Jun

Toasted bruschetta with goats cheese, marinated roasted peppers and fresh basil.

Even though most of us are snuggled up inside our cosy homes this winter, there’s no reason to stop eating like you’re on a Mediterranean holiday. To me, alfresco foods like grilled vegetables on bruschetta is the perfect snack all year round. And with the intensely bright red, orange and yellow hues that comes with grilling really fresh peppers, it’s like a piece of sunshine on a plate.

You can certainly serve these peppers warm on a very cold day, grilling the goat’s cheese to toasty perfection, but I mostly prefer to eat my marinated peppers at room temperature. Freshly toasted warm bruschetta is obligatory though, as it really soaks up the lovely sharp marinade.

Buon appetito!

Baguette from De Oude Bank Bakkerij, perfect for making bruschetta.

Ingredients for grilled marinated peppers:

  • 4 large red/orange/yellow peppers (or 6 medium)
  • olive oil for greasing
  • about 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • about 30-45 ml cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper

To serve:

  • slices of baguette (or sour dough or ciabatta)
  • soft goats cheese
  • fresh basil leaves

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 230 C.
  2. Remove the seeds and pith of the peppers, then slice into large flat “panels”.
  3. Grease a baking tray with olive oil, then arrange the peppers skin side up.
  4. Roast the peppers for about 25 minutes, or until the skin starts to blister and turn black.
  5. Remove the peppers from the oven, then place them immediately (with all the juices from the pan) in a plastic container that can seal tightly. Close the lid and leave to steam and cool for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Now remove the skins from the peppers – they should peel off easily. Discard the skins.
  7. Cut the soft fleshy peppers into smaller strips, then place them back into the plastic container. Add the olive oil and vinegar, then season well with salt and pepper. Mix well with a spoon, taking care not to break up the peppers.
  8. Leave to marinate for a few hours – flavours will improve with time. Refrigerate until ready to use, then return to room temperature before serving.
  9. Serve on slices of toasted bruschetta, topped with goats cheese, peppers and some fresh basil leaves.

Credits:

This post was written especially for The Pretty Blog.

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

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius.

Roasted beetroot and goats cheese salad

15 Aug

Beetroot salat with goats cheese and pine nuts (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

Beetroot can be the most boring thing on your plate, or the most magnificent. As a child, I used to hate beetroot. We always had the store-bought grated version, and I couldn’t stand it. As I got older, I discovered that beets could taste so different if you just cook it properly and serve it simply.

One of my favourite combinations for beetroot, is to serve it with goats cheese. The roasted beetroot is so sweet and fragrant, and the goats cheese is ultra creamy and tangy. Coupled with peppery rocket leaves and crunchy nuts it is such a fantastic starter or side salad, and it really looks breathtaking.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands all purple – it comes off after a few washes. Otherwise use rubber gloves.

Ingredients:

  • roughly 10 medium-sized beets (or 15 small beets)
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 80-100 ml olive oil
  • 45 ml balsamic vinegar
  • juice and rind of a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 100 g soft goats cheese (I used a log of Fairview Chevin)
  • a bunch of rocket/baby spinach/watercress leaves
  • a handful of pine nuts, toasted (or cashew nuts)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220 C.
  2. Peel the beetroot, and cut off the ends. Cut in halves, or leave whole if they are small.
  3. Arrange peeled beetroot in a roasting tray, then sprinkle with thyme leaves, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice & rind. Season well with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the beetroot well.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes, then add about 1/2 a cup of water and cover with foil. Return to the oven at 180 C and bake for a further 20 – 30 minutes until the beets are tender (test with a small, sharp knife). Remove from oven and cool in the pan. Do not discard juices.
  5. In a large salad bowl, arrange green leaves (I like to dress the leaves in a little olive oil and lemon juice with a pinch of salt & pepper). Slice the beetroot in smaller wedges if necessary, then coat in their juices before arranging them on the leaves. Top with crumbled chevin and toasted nuts. Serve with extra olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

Fig, goats cheese and onion marmalade pizza

12 Mar

Fresh fig, goatscheese and onion marmalade pizza (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

I grew up in a beautiful family-home in Uniepark, Stellenbosch. I was the second of 4 kids, and we had many fruit trees in our garden: peaches, prunes, lychees, grapes, lemons and figs. I absolutely HATED figs back then: the ripe fruit would fall from the trees (there were two fig trees and they each carried hundreds of fruit), attracting those huge yellow and black beatles. I started associating figs with the smell of spoilt fruit and bugs, and didn’t eat them for many years after moving from that house. I cannot believe I had been so silly!

Now, figs are a delicacy to me. They are beautiful to look at, beautiful to photograph, beautiful to eat. They’re expensive, and not always easy to find. These days I would pay good money for one of those trees from my childhood! I would eat them fresh every morning for breakfast, cook them in jams, serve them in salads, and bake them in tarts.

But today, I want fig pizza. I couldn’t decide whether to serve it as a fresh pizza (fresh toppings on a pre-baked base), or as a baked pizza, so I did both. My advice would be this: if you want to serve this as a starter or snack to a number of guests, serve it fresh. You can pre-bake the base, and assemble the pizza before your guests arrive. It is a winner for warm summer night feasts. But, if you want to make it a main meal, be sure to add mozzarella and bake it in a blistering hot oven. The slices of fig almost resemble salami if you take a quick glance! But this meatless, sweet and salty pizza combo is an absolute dream dish – and stunning to look at.

Make the most of summer’s fig harvests and try these two pizza combinations – hot or cold, figs are simply fantastic.

Baked fig, goats cheese and onion marmalade pizza (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients for pizza base: (makes 2 large pizzas)

  • 2 cups (500 ml) flour
  • 2 t (10 ml) instant yeast
  • 1 t (5 ml) sugar
  • 1/2 t (2,5 ml) salt
  • 3/4 cup (185 ml) lukewarm water
  • 1 T (15 ml) olive oil

Ingredients for the topping: (for 2 pizzas, one hot and one cold)

  • 6 ripe figs
  • 4-6 T onion marmelade (I used the one from Woolworths)
  • 200 g chevin goats cheese (I used Fairview’s traditional chevin)
  • a bunch of fresh watercress leaves (or rocket)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic glaze (it’s the concentrated, sweeter version of balsamic vinegar)
  • 120 g grated mozzarella cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method for the pizza base:

  1. In a large bowl, mix flour, yeast, sugar and salt together. Add water and olive oil and mix untill a sticky dough forms. Knead untill the dough becomes soft and pliable. Cover and let it rise in a warm area for about 15-30 minutes until doubled in size.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 240 degrees Celsius for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Divide dough in 2. On a well floured surface, roll out one piece at a time into circular shapes, adding a little more flour to make sure the dough doesn’t stick. Transfer to a large baking tin lined with baking paper.

Option 1: fresh fig pizza with the pre-baked base:

  1. Bake the pizza base for about 7-10 minutes or untill lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with olive oil (if the pizza puffs up in the oven, just flatten it slightly after you remove it from the oven). Let it cool.
  2. Arrange sliced figs, pieces of goats cheese and slivers of onion marmalade on the pizza, then add watercress leaves and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Slice and serve.

Option 2: baked fig pizza with extra mozzarella cheese:

  1. Spread the unbaked pizza base with a thin layer of onion marmalade (instead of traditional tomato sauce), then cover with mozzarella cheese.
  2. Arrange sliced figs and pieces of goats cheese on pizza base, then bake for 10-12 minutes or untill the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 3 minutes.
  3. Arrange watercress leaves, season with salt and pepper, slice, then serve immediately.

Credits:

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


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