Vegan Chocolate Mousse Smoothie

I’m always skeptical when people say that something ‘healthy’ tastes like something 'unhealthy’. That was the case until I made the smoothie below. My initial plan was breakfast, but I am pretty sure that this could pass for a dessert, no questions asked.

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Ingredients

  • half a cup of soy milk/almond milk

  • 2 small bananas

  • 4 - 6 pitted dates (fresh)

  • 1/2 avocado

  • 2 large tablespoons of cocoa (the type you use for baking)

Instructions

Whizz together in a blender or Nutribullet and then - as Jamie Oliver would say - “Bob’s your uncle!”

Parmigiana Di Melanzane With Mushrooms

In hindsight this dish is not the best idea in Januworry (i.e. January) when you take the current price of cheese into account. It can, however, feed 6 if you serve it with some ciabatta on the side to mop up the sauce.

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Ingredients

  • 3 large aubergine sliced into 1cm slices

  • 150 g mozzarella

  • 100 g Parmesan/Pecorino grated

  • 1 red onion finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped

  • 250 g mushrooms sliced

  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes / 500g cherry tomatoes halved

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil finely chopped

  • salt & pepper to taste

Method

  1. Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil and grill in a hot griddle pan for 1-2 minutes per side. Set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 200°c.

  2. To make the sauce, sauté the onion in a saucepan in a splash of oil until soft and translucent.

  3. Add the garlic and mushrooms and fry until the mushrooms are golden brown.

  4. Add the remaining ingredients and allow to simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly.

  5. To assemble the bake, layer the grilled aubergine with the sauce and cheese in an oven-proof dish, reserving some of the mozzarella to finish the bake off with.

  6. Place the dish in the oven and allow to bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.

  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then serve with salad/bread of your choice.

Recipe from: http://www.simply-delicious-food.com/parmigiana-di-melanzane/

Summer Smoothie Recipe

This smoothie came into existence as I wanted another way to get my greens, without necessarily having to cook with them. The wonder of the spinach, is that you don’t taste it, but you will see it in the interesting hue. If you want your smoothie to look pretty, you will have to up the berries and go lightly with the spinach. My motivation here is less about looks and more about functionality.

Ingredients

Servings: 3 large smoothie-bowls

  • 1 x can of coconut milk

  • 250 g strawberries

  • 100-150 g blueberries

  • 1 x pineapple

  • 1 x big handful of spinach

  • 2-3 frozen bananas (the frozen bananas have a unique texture and make your smoothie nice and cool)

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The basis of the recipe is the coconut milk, the spinach and the bananas. The sweet fruits you can experiment with and substitute. Mangoes and raspberries also work well.

Enjoy!

Vegetarian Gnocchi

I found this recipe for Vegetarian Gnocchi online from Woolworths Taste Magazine. The flour didn't really stick to my brinjals, so I would suggest dipping the brinjal in egg first and then into the flour. Other than that, it's quick to prepare (I used store-bought gnocchi), easily serves four people and it's really filling. Oh and did I say it's delicious? Bon Appetit! 

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Ingredients

  • 1 brinjal

  • 1 cup canola oil

  • 2 cloves crushed garlic

  • ½ onion

  • 1 handful cherry tomato halves

  • 1 x400 g jar ready-made Neapolitan pasta sauce

  • 1 handful chopped basil

  • 500 g cooked gnocchi

  • 125 g torn mozzarella

Method

1) Trim and cube the brinjal, lightly dust in flour and deepfry, in batches, in hot canola oil for 3 minutes, or until golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

2) Fry the crushed garlic and onion, finely chopped, in olive oil until translucent.

3) Add a handful cherry tomato halves and fry until just starting to catch. Add the ready-made Neapolitan pasta sauce, the fried brinjal and chopped basil and toss.

4) Add the cooked gnocchi, mozzarella, season to taste, toss and serve immediately.

 

Dining With Strangers – A Different Kind Of Dinner Party

A version of this post originally appeared on www.food24.com

What’s the worst that can happen when six strangers meet for dinner? It could go two ways. Either you’ll spend the night checking your phone as the minutes tick by, endure awkward silences and generally just be bored out of your mind. Or you could meet new, interesting people who share your love of good food and wine. It’s a risk, but as a sociological experiment, I just couldn’t say no when invited to attend a dining-with-strangers event in Cape Town.

The broader trends of buying and enjoying experiences rather than things and the rise of the sharing economy have been leading to the creation of such social dining ventures. With Airbnb Experiences you can book a four-course dinner in someone’s home in locales like Lisbon or Bali and on the Eatwith website you can take your pick of meals in dining rooms in London, Nairobi, Tel Aviv and more (great if you're a solo traveler!).

The dinner I joined was hosted by DINE4SIX. They have a slightly different approach as you won't be dining in someone's home. Instead, DINE4SIX allows business travellers, tourists and local “foodies” alike to find a seat at atable for six and enjoy a social dining experience, prepared and presented by a renowned chef. DINE4SIX guests enjoy an exclusive menu, specifically created for each individual event. If you’re not keen on the anonymous aspect of things, you are also allowed to fill a whole table by reserving all six seats. Events can currently be booked in South Africa (Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban), in North America (Dallas) and in Europe (Dublin). 

We savoured a 4-course menu with wine pairing at the Azure restaurant at The Twelve Apostles; menu prepared by chef Christo Pretorius. 

Amuse Bouche

"KFC"

Buttermilk fried chicken wing, sriracha mayo, sour cucumber gel

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1st Course

Venison Tartare

Confit egg yolk, burnt beetroot puree, pickled shimeji mushrooms, mustard aioli, brown butter croutons

2nd Course

Baby Calamari Risotto

Grilled baby calamari, roast tomato puree, tomato water jelly, dehydrated tomato, tomato consommé, seaweed butter, pickled onion rings

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3rd Course

Beef Rump Picanha

Chargrilled beef rump, salsa verde, beer and barley glaze, celeriac puree, grilled baby leeks, green herb gnocchi, barbeque jus

4th Course

Chocolate and Karoo Honey

Honey ice-cream, cocoa custard, Manjari aero, honeycomb, chocolate torte

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The food was delicious; the venison tartare was surprisingly good and the dessert deserves a special mention too.

Why are some people willing to try social dining? The reason why the majority of us don’t like eating alone and many people feel ‘weird’ when they find themselves solo at a table, is because eating is an inherently social activity. It’s never just about the food. Rather, it’s about sharing the experience. 

Certain studies have also found that it might actually have negative consequences on your health if you regularly eat alone. With social dining, there’s also the element of unpredictability and surprise. You know where you’ll be eating and what you’ll be eating, but you have to wait and see who you’ll be dining with. My fellow diners included a TV chef, a lifestyle blogger, two banking/insurance professionals from Johannesburg and the founder of DINE4SIX. The conversation topics ranged from “Where do you buy your meat?” to the creative destruction of cooking and eating and recommending weekend activities for those visiting from Gauteng. 

Social dining is not for you if food really is just sustenance in your book. However, if you don’t miss an episode of MasterChef, know that Ottolenghi is not an Australian animal and assuming your budget allows, then your upcoming dinner plans might be sorted. 

Where To Eat In Stellenbosch: A Foodie Day

In an ideal world you would be able to visit all these establishments in one day, but unfortunately your stomach is limited in size. So, depending on which meal you want to enjoy, whom you'll be meeting and what your budget looks like, these are my recommendations for foodie outings in Stellenbosch.

The Blue Crane and the Butterfly

Frequented by locals, the Blue Crane offers some of the best coffee and cake in town (my favourite is the Lime Courgette Cake, going for R35). The breakfast croissant with mushrooms and scrambled eggsat R70 is also a winner. I find that they often try to present combinations and flavours that are new and innovative e.g. How do you like the sound of "Pumpkin doughnut muffins with toasted pecans, blueberries and yoghurt"? If the place is full and you're sitting inside, it can be a bit lively (or noisy, depending on how you look at it). It's maybe not the best place to take grandma, unless you go late afternoon when things have quieted down. Or aim for a table on the sidewalk.

Meraki

This super stylish Scandinavian-inspired eatery has good coffee and all the classics that you would expect from a café. In fact, Meraki recently won the award for Best Coffee Shop in the 2017 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Best Everyday Eateries in the Western Cape competition. My go-to's are the eggs benedict (R65) and the quinoa burger (R75). If you pop in at Meraki, it won't break the bank and you will leave feeling inspired by the minimalism and simplicity. The acoustics could be better and the experience is definitely more enjoyable and calming for me if I go before or after peak times.

Postcard Cafe

With one of the most beautiful mountain valley views, Postcard Cafe offers the opportunity to dine away from the hustle and bustle of the CBD. Note that reservations are usually necessary. The prices at Postcard are a bit steeper than say Blue Crane, so I rather opt for late morning or afternoon tea and scones (to die for). Price-wise you'll be looking at R46 for the scone option.

The Deck

If you're in the mood for quality, take-out style burger and chips and want to enjoy a calming lunch in nature, then this is where you should go. Rivalling Postcard for majestic views, chef Bertus Basson's The Deck has a mini-menu and from what I gather the Wagyu cheese burger and chips (insane!) is the bestseller. This meal sets you back R125. Call ahead as they're only open when the weather plays along.

The Table at De Meye

Alrighty, if you are celebrating a momentous occassion and you have just been paid then you should go The Table at De Meye. It is important to book in advance though. They are not open every day and only have a set amount of people they can accommodate. In summer you can sit outside on the lawn, each dining party given enough privacy and in winter you can sit inside with a very welcoming wood-burning stove. They grow their own produce and pride themselves on using and supporting local farmers and ingredients. The three course set menu, priced at R325, is served from antique platters and brings back memories of traditional family dinners.

South African Dishes And Their International Counterparts Part II

This is Part II showcasing South African dishes and their overseas 'siblings'. Part I can be found here

Oliebollen and Vetkoek or Amagwinya

Netherlands

Raisins, currants and apple or candied fruits are mixed into the dough before it is fried and the oliebollen are finally sprinkled with icing sugar on the outside.

South Africa

A fried dough bread bun enjoyed with mince as a savoury version or with syrup or jam and possibly some grated cheese as a sweet version.

Sticky Toffee Pudding and Malva Pudding

Britain

A sponge-like pudding made using dates and served with toffee sauce and cream or custard.

South Africa

A hot pudding with a caramel taste and spongy texture. Some like it just with custard, some prefer merely ice cream. The die-hard fans want both.

Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Fritters

Canada/USA

Usually served over Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie is a dessert rather than the side dish of pumpkin fritters we have in South Africa.

South Africa

Fried pumpkin fritters dusted with cinnamon sugar, what’s not to love?

Korppu and Rusks

Finland

The Finnish version of rusks are flavoured with cinnamon and sugar. Apparently the Fins also like to dunk their korppu in their coffee.

South Africa

One of the more difficult things to explain to someone who hasn’t yet been to South Africa. A rusk is a dried-out piece of baked bread which South Africans like to dip into tea or coffee.

Hominy Corn Porridge and Mieliepap

Jamaica

With this porridge you can actually still see the corn kernels and in another twist – it’s made using coconut milk and condensed milk.

South Africa

Pap for breakfast with milk, butter and sugar – it’s the stuff dreams are made of. Otherwise it’s pap and tomato relish or chakalaka to accompany the braaivleis if you’re opting for a main meal.

Köttbullar and Meatballs or Frikadelle

Sweden

Maybe meatballs are the most universal food of all. The Germans love them. The Turks have their own version. The Swedes are pretty unique though; they eat their meatballs with lingonberry jam/sauce and it is simply majestic.

South Africa

A South African classic eaten with a dash of chutney – or am I the only one who does that?

South African Dishes And Their International Counterparts Part I

A version of this post originally appeared on www.food24.com 

Food is such a central element of cultures everywhere. What we eat and how we eat forms part of our heritage. We cook certain recipes for specific occasions. If you walk past an open window, some aromas from the kitchen immediately transport you back to a childhood memory or celebration. Looking for proof that we value the role that food plays in our lives? The last time I checked, over 2 million Instagram posts were tagged #food, 155 million #foodporn, and 86 million #foodie. In fact, #food is listed as number 25 on a list of the Top 100 Instagram hashtags

Not only do we appreciate food in our own context; we travel to other countries to taste their cuisine. Or in our globalised world, we pop out to our local grocery store to find products and ingredients from faraway lands - no more waiting for weeks on end just for a ship to dock so that you can have cinnamon all the way from Sri Lanka. A millisecond search on Google can tell you how to cook typical Uzbek cuisine. We often forget how spoiled (or simply lucky) we have become. 

On closer inspection of all the information at our fingertips, we see that our South African recipes can be surprisingly similar to international fare. While I'm tucking into my Thursday night dinner someone on the other side of the globe might be eating almost the same thing. If you look at some of the food we eat, whether it’s in Durbanville or Denmark, you can see that ultimately we're more the same than we are different. That's what I'd like to believe at least.

Moussaka and Bobotie

Greece

Moussaka is a hearty dish featuring the main ingredients of eggplant/aubergine and mince.

South Africa

Bobotie is a mince-based, curry-infused dish eaten with turmeric rice and fresh banana. Many tourists are appalled by the idea, until they try it...!

Risalamande and Sago Pudding

Denmark

Usually eaten at Christmas, Risalamande is a rice pudding served with cherry sauce.

South Africa

Sago pudding is a comfort classic created by infusing sago pearls with milk, cinnamon and vanilla.

Churros and Koeksisters

Spain

Churros are fried dough sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and often eaten with a chocolate dipping sauce.

South Africa

Koeksisters are fried dough drenched in syrup.

Tagine and Potjiekos

Morocco

Tagines are slow-cooked stews. Lamb and chicken are some of the popular proteins and fruits tend to be in the mix as well (e.g. prunes, apricots, mango).

South Africa

Potjiekos is cooked in a cast-iron pot on open fire. Meat, potatoes and veggies stew together and I've heard (and tasted) that a can of Coke elevates the flavours to a whole new level.

Pasteis de Nata and Milktart

Portugal

Pasteis de Nata are custard tarts with rich, eggy mixtures wobbling inside pastry cups.

South Africa

Milktart or Melktert is one of the nation's favourites. Lighter than it's Portuguese counterpart, but equally delicious.

Brioche and Mosbolletjies

France

Brioche is bread on steroids as the use of butter and eggs give it pastry-like status.

South Africa

Mosbolletjies are bread chunks made using unfermented grape juice and aniseed.

Lunch In The South African Countryside

The next time you’re in the mood to escape the busyness of life, I recommend you get in your car and drive to the small countryside town of Philadelphia (about 40 mins from Cape Town). As soon as you arrive your heartbeat will slow down and you’ll become mindful without starting meditation.

I usually go for lunch at Peppertree and afterwards I stroll through the few others shops in the surrounding area. Peppertree has a rustic, wholesome feel and apart from delicious food options, you can buy paintings, pantry items (like rusks, jam, olive oil, chutneys etc) and natural skincare products. The homemade lemonade is wonderfully refreshing, the apple crumble is a firm favourite and some good veggie options can be found on the lunch menu as well. They take bookings so if you don’t want to risk possible disappointment, it’s best to phone ahead. 

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Corn Fritters Recipe

This is a recipe that I saw in the PicknPay Fresh Living Magazine of April 2016. It serves well as a starter or a side dish for a main meal.

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Ingredients 

  • 4 corn cobs (kernels removed)

  • 410g creamstyle sweetcorn

  • 2 eggs

  • 125ml flour

  • salt

  • milled pepper

  • olive or sunflower oil for frying

(makes 8 fritters)

Method

1) Mix corn kernels, sweetcorn and eggs until well combined.

2) Add flour, mix well and season.

3) Heat a generous glug of oil in a pan over a medium-high heat. Fry spoonfuls of batter until golden brown.

4) Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

I topped my fritters with some cream cheese and onion marmelade or basil pesto, feta and sundried tomato dip.

Café In Somerset West: Schoon

Schoon (de Companje) has closed down in Stellenbosch, but luckily for us, they have re-opened in Bright Street in Somerset West. The new space is a lot smaller than before, but very cozy and intimate. The menu has been changed and I enjoyed one of the newcomers, mosbolletjie french toast with tahini-and-cinnamon honey, banana and clotted cream. It was delicious! For trading hours and more, visit www.schoon.co.za

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Deluxe Scrambled Eggs Brunch

Siba's good ol'scrambled eggs prove that you can create restaurant-worthy dishes in your own kitchen. Try it, you will not be sorry! 

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Ingredient

Caramelised onion:

  • 15ml oil

  • 1 onion sliced

  • 15 ml balsamic

  • 5 g sugar

Mushrooms: 

  • 2 button mushrooms, sliced in half

  • 2 portobellini mushrooms, sliced in half

  • 40g shimeji – whole

  • 20g butter

  • 80ml cream

  • Salt and pepper

Eggs:

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 tsp butter

  • 20ml cream

Bread:

  • 2 slices rye bread, toasted 

  • 2 tbsp cream cheese

Toppings: 

  • Chives cut 2cm in length

  • Grated parmesan

Method

Saute the onion at a medium heat for 5 minutes. Once slightly browned, add balsamic and sugar and saute for 2 minutes until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency. Melt the butter over a medium heat in a second pan and add the mushrooms. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until the mushrooms are slightly cooked and butter has browned.  Stir in the seasonings and cream and reduce down to a thick sauce. Whisk the eggs in with butter and cream. Into a third pan add some oil just to coat the pan.  Pour the eggs in and scramble trying to move the egg as little as possible.

To assemble: Spread the cream cheese over the toasted rye bread then spoon on 1tbsp onions then the eggs and the mushrooms. Garnish with chives and parmesan.

Recipe from: http://www.foodnetwork.co.za/recipes/recipe/1555/good-ol-scrambled-eggs

*I didn’t use rye bread, but ciabatta instead.

Mushroom Risotto Recipe

This is my go-to recipe for risotto. On a cold, wintry night there is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of this.

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Ingredients

  • 6 cups chicken broth, divided

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 pound portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced

  • 1 pound white mushrooms, thinly sliced

  • 2 shallots, diced

  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • sea salt to taste

  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.

  2. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.

  3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and stir in the shallots. Cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter, chives, and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Beef And Aubergine Fatteh Recipe

You know what's even better than food that taste good? Food that looks good and taste good. I saw this recipe from Nigella and I just had to try it out. She calls it Middle-Eastern nachos. I replaced the pita bread with naan bread, used hummus instead of tahini and instead of pine nuts I simply bought a seed/nut/brittle mixture. The dish looks impressive and it is so yummy, even on the second day.

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Ingredients

For the base

  • 4 pita breads, split open and cut into nacho-sized triangles

For the topping

  • 500g/1lb 2oz Greek-style yoghurt

  • 5 tbsp tahini, at room temperature

  • 2 lemons, juice only

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 1–2 tsp sea salt flakes, to taste

  • 125g/4½oz pomegranate seeds

  • 50g/1¾oz toasted pine nuts

  • 1 tbsp finely shredded mint leaves

For the aubergine-beef layer

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped

  • 1 aubergine, cut into small cubes

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • 2 tsp ground coriander

  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper or paprika, plus extra for sprinkling

  • 1–2 tsp sea salt flakes, to taste

  • 500g/1lb 2oz beef mince

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.

  2. Spread the pitta triangles out on a large baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10–15 minutes, or until they are crisp. You don’t need them to colour, but if they do just a little here and there, that’s not a bad thing. Set aside.

  3. To make the topping, beat the yoghurt, tahini, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, garlic and 1 teaspoon of sea salt flakes together in a heatproof bowl that will later sit over a saucepan. Taste to see if you want any more salt. Set aside.

  4. To make the aubergine-beef layer, warm the oil in a wide, though not deep, heavy-based saucepan or casserole and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to low and cook for another 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and a pale caramel colour.

  5. Turn the heat up to medium, add the aubergine cubes and stir well. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down if they look as if they’re catching.

  6. Stir in the cumin, coriander and a teaspoon each Aleppo pepper and sea salt flakes. Turn the heat up to high, add the mince and use a fork to break it up a little and turn in the pan until it’s lost its red colour. Turn the heat back down to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked through. Taste to see if you want to add more salt, then take off the heat.

  7. Pour about 3cm/1¼in of just-boiled water into a fresh pan and put over a low heat. Sit the bowl with the tahini-yoghurt mixture on top, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Beat well until the yogurt is slightly above room temperature and has the consistency of lightly whipped cream.

  8. To assemble, arrange the crisp pitta triangles on a large round plate. Top with the aubergine-beef mixture, followed by the yoghurt-tahini sauce. Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper or paprika to give a light dusting. Scatter over the pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts and, finally, strew with the finely shredded mint leaves. Eat with your fingers, nacho-style.