Tag Archives: side dish

O’Gourmet Food Hall Sauteed Zucchini + Gratin

9 Feb

Sometimes, you read a recipe, or a friend sends you some ideas, and you immediately want to make it, bake it, taste it, create it. Other times, the idea is welcomed, is intriguing… but it sits in the memory banks awaiting a moment of inspiration and action. My friend Karo sent me an email about her version of Julia Childs’ sauteed zucchini, and how it can be transformed into a gorgeous gratin. I liked her email so much that I posted it here. And I kept the recipe in my head, waiting for a moment to be inspired.

That moment came earlier this week, when I saw the most luscious, green and gorgeous zucchini (courgettes) at O’Gourmet Food Hall. Zucchinis are a member of the squash family – and they are not actually vegetables, but fruit… the swollen ovaries of the zucchini flower. Quite sexy actually, and absolutely delicious. The specimens at O’Gourmet were lovely – crisp and bright green, a nice size and shape. My initial instinct was to bake zucchini bread. I still may do that, but Karo’s Julia inspired letter bubbled to the front of my mind. The key to the recipe is grating the zucchini – it turns it into a totally different vegetable and tastes … of pure green and sunshine.

I love the fact that Karo was inspired by Julia, and she in turn inspired me. Each version is made and remade into the cook’s own style. And each version is dependent upon the quality of ingredients, season and inspiration. Recipes are like stories – they are personal and reflect the cook’s personality and joy. Recipes like this – based on the genius of Julia Child, and her innate ability to bring the best out of simple, classic ingredients – can be deeply personalised, and joyfully shared.

This is actually a double recipe … and it is incredibly adaptable and forgiving. Use the sauteed zucchini as a wonderful side dish – or add a few tomatoes or mushrooms, and serve with rice or pasta as a main course. The gratin takes the sauteed zucchini and gilds them with cheese and cream and egg – bake this concoction, and you create a lovely crustless quiche that is satisfying and delicious. You could of course, pour the whole thing into a crust – or even saute thinly sliced rounds or stops of zucchini and create a firmer base. You could add more cheese on top – or breadcrumbs – or pine nuts. You could dot the whole thing with roasted tomatoes or mushrooms. The limits are you imagination. I do think that the gratin is best eaten at room temperature or even cold. The heat tends to flatten out the delicacy of flavour and texture.

Green Goodness

Sauteed Zucchini

Serves 4 (may be less if greedy, or served as a main course)

  • 3 – 4 medium – large zucchini (courgettes) – about 2 – 3 cups grated
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp + 1 tbsp butter (or use all olive oil if you wish it to be vegan)
  • 1 tsp + 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small white onion (or shallots or leeks), finely minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • Few tablespoons of white wine (optional)
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • White pepper

Set a strainer over a medium sized bowl. Wash the zucchini well, and top and tail them. Grate directly into the strainer. I grated half the zucchini very fine and half the zucchini quite rough – I like the contrast in texture, but do with it what you prefer. Add a pinch of salt, and allow the zucchini to drain for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, over medium heat, melt 1 tsp of butter together with 1 tsp of olive oil. Add the minced onion and garlic, and saute for at least five minutes or so, or until transparent. If you are using white wine for added flavour, add it now, and allow to bubble into the onions and garlic, and cook away. Season with herbs, salt and pepper.

Squeeze the zucchini in the strainer to remove as much liquid as possible. Reserve the liquid if you are making a gratin. Add the extra butter and olive oil, and add the zucchini to the hot pan. Spread it out in the pan so it cooks, and bring the heat up to high. Saute for five minutes or so, or until just the edges of the zucchini strands are starting to brown. You want to keep the bright green colour, but you also want to make sure that it does not taste raw.

Serve, hot or at room temperature.

Zucchini Gratin

  • Sauteed zucchini as above
  • 1/2 cup milk (or cream, coconut milk, oat milk etc)
  • About 3/4 cup reserved zucchini liquid
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pecorino plus extra for topping if you like – I used a Pecorino Sardo
  • 1 tsp mixed dried or fresh Italian herbs
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • About 1/2 cup melting cheese – I used a gorgeous Raclette from O’Gourmet – delicate enough not to overwhelm the dish. You could use a Gruyere, Emmental, even a light Brie.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Have a baking pan ready. I used a round glass baking dish.

Spread the sauteed zucchini across the bottom of the pan, ensuring that it covers the entire dish.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cream, zucchini liquid, salt and pepper, eggs, 1/2 cup pecorino, herbs and mustard. Set aside for a moment.

Chop the raclette into small chunks and dot all over the sauteed zucchini. Pour over the cream mixture, and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until puffed and browned. It will just wobble, but be firm as well. About five minutes before time is up, sprinkle some extra cheese over the top if you really want to be decadent.

Serve at room temperature or even cold, with a crisp bitter side salad.


Maple Soy Roasted Butternut

27 Nov

MmmmmMy friend GoldenOro once prepared roasted butternut by slicing it thin, leaving the skin on, and putting it in a high oven. It was gorgeous – caramelised from the butternut’s own sugars, sweet, soft, sticky, stunning. When making Thanksgiving dinner, I decided I wanted to prepare the butternut like that too – but of course, I wanted to put my own little spin on it.

I decided to marinated the sliced butternut for a few minutes in a lovely mixture of maple syrup, sesame oil and soy (and a few other things!), before roasting it in a hot oven. It turned out beautifully, and could easily be a component of an amazing salad – think sweet sticky butternut, crisp bitter arugula leaves, and salty creamy feta. A perfect lunch salad any time of the year! But of course, this butternut is gorgeous served as is – as a side dish it perfectly complements savoury dishes by adding a golden sweet counterpoint.

I also love this side dish because it can easily be prepared a day or two before hand – just cover it up, refrigerate, and bring to room temperature an hour or so before serving. It doesnt need to be hot – in fact, I think that room temperature brings out its complexities of flavour. If you want, pour a little olive oil over just before serving to bring out the orange glow of the butternut. Superb!

Serves between 8 – 10 as a side dish (or more depending on how many dishes you are serving!)

  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp roasted sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • Good grinding of pepper
  • 1 tbsp ginger powder
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 large butternut (about 1 1/2 kg – 3 lbs)

Preheat your oven to 400F (210C). Line a large baking tray with parchment/baking paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, roasted sesame oil, soy sauce, molasses, pepper, ginger powder, olive oil, balsamic and fresh sage. Whisk together, and taste. Adjust the flavours as you prefer – may be some more soy for a bit more saltiness? A touch more sesame oil for that rounded nutty taste? Its up to you – follow your own sense of taste and balance.

Prepare your butternut. Wash the skin exceedingly well, scrubbing off any dirt. Pat dry. Halve the butternut from top to tail and scoop out the seeds. Slice the butternut finely (about 1/4 inch) and place the slices into the bowl with the marinade. Once all the butternut has been prepared, use your hands to toss the butternut in the marinade and leave to soak for about ten minutes.

Take the butternut out of the marinade, and place in a single layer on your baking sheet. Use a brush, and coat the top of the butternut with the left over marinade. Reserve the rest of the marinade for later, and roast the butternut for about 15 – 20 minutes. It will start to smell absolutely delicious!

Remove the butternut from the oven, and flip over every piece. It should be pretty well cooked – the flesh will yield to a fork. Brush the now flipped butternut slices with more marinade, and reserve any additional marinade for later. Roast the butternut for a further 15 – 20 minutes or until darkly burnished, with crispy bits, and edible skin. Watch it closely because you dont want it to burn, just turn almost into a sticky candy caramelised butternut.

Remove from the oven, and let cool on the baking tray for at least 10 – 15 minutes. Serve at once, with the remainder of the marinade drizzled over, or place in a container, covered, with the remainder of the marinade drizzled over, and refrigerate for up to 2 days before serving at room temperature.

Roast Butternut Salad

26 Aug

I am exhausted tonight so this will be a short post! So it goes in a house with baby and multiple generations! I loved this salad. Perfect as a side dish – or if you want, add a few shavings of parmesan, or some salty feta, or a couple dollops of creamy sweet ricotta – or if you are vegan, a few chickpeas – for the protein, and you have lunch! Best served cold, the butternut is oven roasted ahead of time and refrigerated. So when it comes time to serving, its really a matter of putting it all together and devouring.

I love the golden orange happiness of butternut, and I adore how easy it is to cook. Its forgiving, and its natural sweetness automatically caramelises in a hot oven, so you dont really need to add anything in the way of herbs or spices – the vegetable flavours itself beautifully. This is a meal I crave over and over again. I love juxtaposition in my food – the spicy, slightly bitter bite of arugula, and the sweet creamy richness of the butternut are wonderful partners. They compliment and play off each other and make me very happy.

Serves 8 – 10 as a side  or 4 with left overs for lunch or dinner

  • 1 medium / large butternut, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 – 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 – 3 cups (I used about 1 packet) arugula / rocket or other bitter green salad leaf
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Toppings: sprouts, cheese (parmesan, feta or ricotta are my favourites, but go wild – try it with blue cheese if you want!), toasted walnuts or pine nuts, avocado

The night before (or morning before) you intend to serve the salad, prepare the butternut.

Preheat your oven to 190 C.

Peel, seed and roughly chop 1 medium to large butternut. Put in a bowl, and pour over 2 tbsp olive oil. Using your hands, mix well, ensuring that all the butternut is coated.

Arrange the butternut on a jelly roll pan or other large shallow baking pan, in a single layer. Salt and pepper well. Arrange the garlic cloves amongst the butternut.

Roast for about 45 minutes, or until you see the butternut beginning to caramelise. I usually try and flip the butternut over half way through the cooking time as well, so that both sides get a bit of browning.

Take out of the oven and let cool to room temperature. Return to bowl, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Just before serving, take the butternut out of the fridge.

Fish the garlic cloves out of the butternut mixture. They should be very soft. Pop them into a small bowl or cup and mash the garlic with a fork. Whisk in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Find a lovely large flat serving platter or plate. Strew the baby arugula over the plate in one beautiful bright green layer.

Tumble the butternut over, and pour about half the dressing over. Reserve the rest to serve on the side if you wish.

Sprinkle one or two toppings of your choice over all, and serve.

Perfect for a hot summer’s day!

Lemon Broccolini

25 Aug

Tart Bright Beautiful and Green!This is another dish from my sister’s feast – the perfect side dish as far as I am concerned. Bright, green, beautiful, and amazingly tasty. Plus, it tastes best if served cold, so you can make it up to one day ahead (though not more) and it will be gorgeous on the day. I love broccoli and broccolini (which is just the baby version)… there is no taste quite like it. I hate it when its boiled to death though, because I think it tastes of *green* and too much cooking just decimates its pure flavour.

You can use broccoli in place of broccolini here, but if you can find it, do use the baby version. Its so delicate, very sweet, and incredibly tasty. It needs very little prep too – the stalks are tender, and all you need to do is just trim the edges and slice them into 2 – 3 inch chunks. I like broccoli with anything – in a soup with some aged cheddar cheese, in a gratin (with more cheese), tossed with butter… but I think this is my absolute favourite. The lemon just enhances that very bright clear flavour – and its surprising because we usually expect the broccoli to be heavy and rich. Toasted almonds add creaminess and a nutty richness to this dish – they are a wonderful balance to the lemon and broccoli.

Two days after our birthday feast, I used the left over broccolini and almonds as the base for a cold vegetable soup (whizzed up with the help of the adored immersion blender!) – it was superb – and the almonds added texture and great depth of flavour.

You can double, triple, or even halve this recipe. Its great to take on a picnic, and wonderful to serve to hoardes of people. Its a tasty addition to a feast, and a perfect side dish for dinner or lunch.

Serves 8

  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds (I liked this to be very almondy – but use less if you like)
  • 2 – 3 cups broccolini or broccoli
  • 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Grated peel of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon

In a dry, non stick pan, over medium high heat, toast the sliced almonds. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to keep the almonds moving in the pan – they can burn in the blink of an eye! Once they are toasted, set aside to cool.

Prepare a bowl with water and ice, if possible. If not, have cold water standing by.

Also, prepare the lemon dressing. In a large-ish bowl, add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, olive oil, the grated peel of a lemon, and all its juice. Organic lemons have a huge depth of flavour that cannot be matched, and are so worth it in this recipe! Whisk together well. The lemon juice and olive oil will emulsify, and you will have a creamy looking very lemony dressing. Set aside.

Fill a large pot with water, and add 1 tsp salt. Bring to the boil.

While the water is coming to the boil, trim your broccolini or broccoli spears. For broccolini, just trim the ends, and slice into manageable chunks… I usually just cut them in half. For broccoli, divide the head into florets, and trim the woody bits off the stalk, and cut into bite sized chunks. Wash briefly in cold water.

As soon as the water has come to the boil, put all the broccolini in. Watch carefully – you may only need a minute or two. Broccoli might take longer, but you want a crisp tender vegetable, with a little bit of crunch left. Do not over boil. You will lose all the freshness!

As soon as the broccolini is snap tender, drain, and pour the bowl of ice water or the cold water over. The broccolini will still be a little warm – this is okay. Shake to drain off as much of the water as possible, and immediately dunk the broccolini into the lemon dressing. Add the almonds, and mix thoroughly. Taste for salt and pepper.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Tomato Salad

9 Aug

I know, a tomato salad. Simple, right? Well, yes, and no. Tomato salad needs only a few ingredients, but this is one dish where organic, fresh and local really count. Go to the market, or the grocery store, and really look at the vegetables on offer. Smell, feel, prod, poke. When you only use a few key ingredients, freshness is all. A good tomato is one you can actually smell – that ineffable scent that is only tomato. This is a dish to have up your sleeve when you are serving heavy foods. Its fresh, delicious – tasty and sweet. Its a perfect complement to stews and breads – the juices of the tomatoes beg to be mopped up and savoured.

This salad brightens up any meal. When I make a grilled cheese sandwich, I serve a small side salad of these tomatoes. When I have a huge hoard over and am serving stew or sausages, or anything heavy, I offer these tomatoes. Its so easy to make and is really a wonderful addition to any party meal. When you serve lots of people, you want them to feel abundance. Adding an extra dish, especially one as easy as this, makes people feel your generosity.

This dish is all about the tomato. Make sure you pick ripe, bright, red, luscious ones – and try and make them organic if possible. It really makes a difference! Cooking is not just about putting ingredients together – its about forethought when shopping!

Feeds about 12 – 14 people

  • 4 cups red cherry tomatoes
  • 4 cups yellow / mixed tomatoes
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh Basil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 very thinly sliced white onion (optional)

Please note that you should buy the best tomatoes that are available – if you see that big fat beefsteak tomatoes are the best in store at the moment, get those. Just make sure you deseed them.

Cut the tomatoes in half (if small) or in large chunks, deseeded (if large)

Let the tomatoes sit in a bowl, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. This will encourage the tomatoes to let go of a bit of their juice.

Sprinkle about 3 – 4 tablespoons lemon juice over the tomatoes.

In a separate bowl, sprinkle a few tablespoons lemon juice over the onions (if using), and let them sit until the acid in the lemon juice has mellowed out the onions.

Salt and pepper liberally.

Cut about ½ cup of fresh basil over.

Slick about ½ cup of olive oil over.

Mix. Taste. Adjust.

Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavours to meld. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

If you have any left overs, blitz in the food processor with some chili for a wonderful salsa which is great with pita chips. Or roast in a very hot oven, with a few slivers of garlic until almost blistered and burnt, and mix with some hot cream for a pasta sauce that is out of this world. Or add to a stew or soup the next day. Tomatoes are so very versatile and add a hit of sweetness and brightness to any dish.

Aioli – Garlic Mayonnaise

15 Jul

This is the Provencal version of mayonnaise. Lightly golden, thick, unctuous, and garlicky. Its delicious. Its a lot of olive oil, but the flavor of the oil, with the creamy yolks is grassy and summery and very French. Its a sophisticated delicious mayonnaise, and you should try to make it the day of eating, but it can be made ahead and stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 2 days.

The process of making aioli can be very zen, but it can also be terrifying because of the ability for it to separate and “break”. Don’t be scared. There is a very easy fix. Take a couple more egg yolks, beat them till light golden, and drip the broken aioli back into this mixture. It will firm up. Guaranteed.

  • 4 egg yolks (+ 2 more just in case the aioli breaks) – organic and free range are a must here because they will be eaten raw
  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic mixed with 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard

I use a large metal mixing bowl and a whisk to do this. Not because I am old school, but because you can control the emulsification process much better than in a blender, an electric whisk or a food processor. It doesn’t take that long.

First take the garlic and take out its germ or inner shoot. Mince and then with the flat blade of a knife puree the garlic with the salt. Leave for a while as you mix together the oil and egg. The salt breaks down the garlic, and when you come back to it, you can really squish and squash it to a fine paste.

Take a kitchen towel and centre your bowl on it. This helps prevent it from jumping around as you whisk. Take your egg yolks and whisk them until they are light gold. Using a measuring cup with a spout, start dripping infinitesimal amounts of oil into the egg, whisking all the while. Use a light hand, and keep up a steady stream of droplets. After about half a cup of oil is incorporated, you should see this coming together. It thickens, and becomes much harder to beat. Start using stronger strokes, and keep adding the oil in tiny droplets.

After a full cup of oil is added, you can start a steady, but very thin stream of oil, as opposed to droplets. Keep beating strongly. The entire process should take about 10 – 15 minutes. You can stop and take breaks if you get tired! Just give it a couple whisks before you start adding oil again! Once all the oil has been added, you should have a thick glossy goopy mayonnaise, greeny gold in colour.

Take about half the garlic and add, whisking all the while. Add the lemon juice and mustard, whisking to incorporate fully. Taste for salt, garlic, and the edge of sharpness the lemon juice brings. Adjust accordingly.

Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

This is phenomenal as a dip with fresh vegetables, and takes a sandwich to new heights. I make it when I have a dinner and want a gorgeous sexy succulent dip – and I always keep some back for me for the next day 😉 An avocado and aioli sandwich on rough brown bread is beyond wonderful.

Please note pregnant women and those with immune risks should not consume raw egg yolks. You might want to try pasteurized eggs though I personally don’t like them.

Roasted Greens (Kale, Mustard Greens, Chard, Broccoli Rabe, Collards)

13 Jul

Roasted GreensI first made this for my sister’s youngest son. He asked for roasted kale, which I had never heard of before. He said it was the only way he ate greens, and after a bit of research, a little fiddling, and a quick roasting, I understood why. This recipe (I dont even want to call it that – its just the alchemy of heat applied to greens) makes tough greens palatable to just about anyone – especially children or adults who just dont like vegetables! You need a tough green – kale is what I started with, but when my organic delivery guy said he had some mustard greens (we call it sawi hijau here in Malaysia), I wondered if you could do the same to any tough green leafy veg. Turns out you can, with stunning results!

To see which kind of greens you can use in this recipe, go to the Cook’s Thesaurus greens list.

You need a tough fibrous green leaf for the high heat of the oven. A little olive oil and some salt and pepper for seasoning creates something akin to a green chip – crispy, slightly burnt, very “green” tasting – totally delectable. And really, the whole process is completed in a matter of minutes. Its embarrassing to even give a recipe for this because its so easy, but believe me, once youve tried roasting one leafy green, you will be on the lookout for others to try!

You will need:

  • 1 kg or so of a dense green – I used kale at first, and for this go round, used mustard greens or sawi hijau
  • 1 tbsp of good olive oil
  • A sprinkling of salt

Preheat your oven to 220C. You want it very hot. The greens wont stay in there that long, so dont worry. Pop a cookie tin in the oven while you prep the greens. You want it hot as the greens hit it.

Wash your greens very well, cutting out the tough stem. You can keep the stem and use for a soup or stir fry if you like. I usually like to salt my greens as I wash them to encourage any animal life to crawl off.

Rinse the greens, but dont worry if they still have a bit of water clinging to them. This will only enhance the cooking process.

Put the greens in a bowl, and sprinkle over the olive oil and the salt and pepper. Use your hands and make sure the greens are completely coated with oil. This is quite important.

Take the cookie tin out of the oven (please remember to use an oven mitt!) and spread the greens across the tin, covering completely. You can use tongs to do this if you like. You should hear them sizzle as they hit the hot tin.

Pop in the oven for about 10 minutes. After about five minutes, take them out, and using the tongs, just give them a little stir, flip them over, etc. Watch carefully after this because depending on your oven, you might want to take them out earlier. You want them crispy, green in spots, slightly burnt and brown in spots.

Take out of the oven and serve immediately.


Beetroot Chutney

30 Jun

I like making this ahead of time, at least 3 days or so, to give the flavors time to deepen and meld. This version of beetroot chutney uses grated beetroot, onions and apples. You could cut everything into neat cubes, which may be a little more “posh”, but I like the grated, almost slaw like nature of this chutney. Its how its served in South Africa, where my mother is from, so it has echoes of home style food, bright sunshine, and seaside tang, for me.

Use the smallest beets you can find (about the size of a golfball) – these are sweetest. Feel free, as usual, to adapt — you could use molasses or maple syrup in place of the honey, different dried fruits, apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar, etc. This is the bones of a recipe that can adjust to what you have available, and what your tastes and flavors are. I have added a few tablespoons of elderflower cordial to this with amazing results, and have cooked it for a longer and shorter time for different flavor consistencies – a fresher summery version or a thick jammy one. The possibilities are endless, and its almost impossible to mess up!

This gorgeous fuchsia chutney is something to keep in the fridge at all times. Mix a tablespoon with a bit of mayo, and your plain cheese sandwich will be elevated to transcendent proportions. As an addition to vegetarian sausages, it adds brightness and sparkle. I am sure you will find lots of things to do with this (it makes a sensational door gift too!)

About 1 – 2 hours cooking time

  • 1 kg of beetroot, washed and peeled (reserve the leaves for another use) – approx. 4 cups, grated
  • 2 small red or yellow onions – approx. 1 cup, grated
  • 2 thumb sized pieces of fresh ginger root, grated
  • 8 – 10 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1 large fuji apple, cored and peeled
  • 3 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup raisins / mixed dried fruit
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 table spoons port wine (optional)
  • 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 small chili, seeded  and chopped (optional – be careful of the seeds and wash your hands well after!)
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of dijon or other prepared mustard

Grate the beetroot, and in a separate bowl, grate the onions, ginger and garlic together.

Heat olive oil on high heat in a large thick bottomed saucepan, and add onion mixture. Saute until the onions are translucent, making sure they do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Add the beetroot, and stir well to combine. Lower heat.

Add water, and stir well, and then add red wine vinegar. Grate apple straight into this mixture and stir well.

Add raisins, spices (mustard seeds, raisins, cinnamon, cumin), port wine, sugar and chili, and stir to ensure even distribution.

Allow this mixture to cook, and thicken, about 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

While mixture is thickening, add honey and dijon, and taste for sweetness and salt. It should be a perfect balance, with the fragrance of the spices coming through, and the sharp tang of the vinegar, and the surprising hit of chili.

Cook for an additional 10 – 15 minutes until it is thickened and chutney-ish to your liking. I judge that its done when all the liquid has been incorporated into the mixture, and the rest is a thick jewel like mass, studded with mustard seed.

Leave to cool before storing.

You can jar this (sterilized jars and vinegar proof caps) and keep for up to 6 months, or cool and put in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Roasted Sweet Potato

27 Jun

You dont really need a recipe on how to roast a sweet potato do you? For each person, get one sweet potato. Rinse the potatoes, making sure to scrub off all the dirt. Poke holes in the potatoes with the tines of a fork, and rub well with sea salt and olive oil. Place on a roasting tin, or cookie tray, and put in a hot oven (about 180 C) for about 35 – 45 minutes, or until a knife enters the potato like butter. For sweet potatoes (and if you can, source out the brightly orange fleshed Japanese organic sweet potato – we couldnt find it at the shops yesterday, but its a firm favourite) the trick is to serve with cold sweet butter, and soy sauce, and encourage everyone to mash away! The juxtaposition of salty soy, creamy butter, and fleshy sweet potato is indescribably wonderful. A party in your mouth!

South African Cheese Bread

25 Jun

The cheese bread is also called picnic bread in South Africa, and its so so so tasty. It’s a batter bread, and can be made up in a few minutes without much effort. South Africans take this on long car journeys or on picnics because the bread itself is good enough to eat without any filling or stuffing or even butter. Its fantastic out of the oven, and even better the next day toasted. Its usually made with uncooked chopped bacon, for flavour and fat, so I added different vegetables, spices and fats to replace that flavour and richness loss.

This is the ultimate journeymans bread. One slice is sustaining, nourishing, loving and satisfying. It has almost a puddingy quality to it – thick spoon bread or almost popover bread quality. When I was adapting this for vegetarian consumption the big stumbling block was how to replace the about 1 pound of bacon, which adds fat, and a smokey taste. I have substituted the bacon with additional butter, the full complement of buttermilk, and smoked paprika and roasted peppers. I think this tastes awesome – and you don’t have to be sad about eating Babe!

  • 3 – 4  cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder (not soda)
  • 1 cup chopped spring onion
  • 4 cups coarsely grated cheddar cheese
  • 8 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning salt
  • fresh coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Optional: About ½ cup chopped roasted red peppers

Preheat your oven to 170 C. Grease 2 bread tins very well.

Prepare your melted butter. In a separate bowl, beat your eggs, and mix in the salt, pepper, paprika, chili sauce and mustard.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, onion and cheese loosely with a fork, and then lightly combine the egg mixture and melted butter with the flour mix. You should have a pretty stiff dough. Don’t overmix, or you will have a very heavy loaf, but try and make sure everyone is acquainted.

Add the buttermilk one cup at a time, and mix well. This should look like scone dough. Taste for spice, salt, heat. Adjust accordingly.

Divide mixture equally between the bread tins.

Bake about 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Turn out and cool on a rack.

Delicious warm, amazing the next day when the flavours have melded, and freezes like a dream. Stunning toasted.

If this version is too spongey for you, add about 1 cup more flour for a more cakey version.

Photo copyright U-en Ng