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There so much to say and even more to eat. Hence a blog for each was born.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Once upon a size 0 (Low-fat, egg free cupcake recipe)

Long, long, long ago when I was a size 0 (in the Jurassic age) I ate like there was no tomorrow, but unfortunately there was a tomorrow waiting for me. That tomorrow is today in a size 12 (okay, okay maybe a 14).

The thing is I like to eat. Actually, I love and live to eat. So I've tried the extreme of cutting out everything unhealthy (really I did) for 3 whole weeks and lost a ton of weight. The problem was that I dreamt about food like a mirage in the dessert and one fateful night my husband caught me gorging on chocolate brownies in my sleep (true story). I wouldn't have believed him had it not been for the streaks of chocolate on my face and the crumbs on my pillow. 

So now I go for the middle ground. I go for the healthier option if there is one, but I eat a ton of Ferrero's when the craving grabs hold (which is more often than not). 

Luckily there is help for me in one of my favourite blogs, www.jennycancook.com. She creates healthier versions of everyday classics and this is one of my favourites.


Easy Red Velvet Cupcakes (12 - 16 portions) 
adapted from http://www.jennycancook.com/recipes/easy-red-velvet-cupcakes/

Ingredients



  • 375mls cake flour, sifted
  • 60mls cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking soda, sifted
  • 250mls cup granulated white sugar (it works with brown as well)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt

  • 180mls canola oil (extra light olive oil can be substituted, but does affect the flavour)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp (10mls) vanilla essence
  • 4 tsp (20mls) red food colouring
  • 250mls low fat buttermilk (can substitute with 15mls vinegar / lemon juice and 235mls low fat milk, that has been mixed and left to stand for at least 15 minutes)

Method

1. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk until evenly distributed



2. Add all wet ingredients to a measuring jug and mix evenly



3. Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients. Mix with a spatula until lump free and combined.



4. Line muffin tin with paper cups till 2/3 filled. 
(The original recipe advises dividing the mixture evenly between the cups, but I find that it gives you a muffin top. Spray the top of the tin with Spray and Cook should you go this route. It will make removal easier and prevent breaking).



5.  Bake in a 180 degree Celsius preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.



6. Cool completely on a wire rack. 

Now if you choose the lower fat frosting route pop on over to http://www.jennycancook.com/recipes/easy-red-velvet-cupcakes/ 


Cream Cheese Frosting 

Ingredients

625g (1,25 liters) sifted icing sugar
125g fat free smooth cream cheese, whipped (room temperature)
60g softened butter, whipped  (room temperature)
5mls vanilla essence


Method:

1. Combine cream cheese and butter and mix evenly

2. Gradually add icing sugar till all combined and finally the vanilla essence

3. Refrigerate for approximately 45 - 90 minutes (generally less time in cold weather and more time in hot weather) until stiff enough to be used in a piping bag

4. Pipe a swirl on the cupcake or just smear a layer on the cupcake for a healthier alternative.



Who says you can't have your cake and eat it!




Friday, 23 May 2014

My Happy Place (Tash's Waterfront Review)

It's been one of those weeks where I've buried my head in the sand and let the wheels come off.

It all started when my hard drive of my 1 year and 1 day old laptop (yes, warranty was only for 1 year) crashed for the second time. Nothing was recoverable and back up was also busted. Then of course the kids and I get sick (it never rains, it pours down meteorites). So not only was my work piling up, but I was missing class and behind on my tests, assignments, practicals........ (Can you hear the carriage scraping the tracks?)


       



I don't know what it was about this place that made me forget everything (all the cake perhaps?)



 Everyone in this place was just smiling. The sunshine was streaming in, the music was invigorating and the decor was inspiring. 

  

                                             And of course the cake was divine.



 I had my very first slice of real red velvet cake made with beet root. The slice was soo big that I had to take home a doggy bag.




                                      I have found a new happy place :)



Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Bloody Beetroot (Roast Vegetables recipe)

My maternal grandmother has been one of my biggest culinary influences. Ma, as we affectionately called her, had this massive stone mortar and pestle. It's  pestle was easily 1m and Ma was about 1.4m (I still snicker when I see that picture in my head). Ma barely spoke Afrikaans and only used English in self defence, but I still managed to learn many cooking gems from her:

  • It's the cook who creates a great (or bad) dish, not the equipment
  • Make the best dish using what is available to you
  • It's okay to mess up as long as you clean up
  • Never underestimate the impact a side dish has on your main dish
  • Make every dish your own

Beetroot salad is for some odd reason one of the first things I remember watching her prepare in her kitchen. I have been hooked on beetroots ever since and recently try and incorporate it wherever possible (much to the horror of my kids "Why is there blood in the vegetables?").


Bloody Roasted Vegetables (serves 4 - 8)

Ingredients

1 x medium red onion, peeled and segmented
1 x green bell pepper, deseeded and cut into roughly 2cm X 3cm pieces

1 x red bell pepper, deseeded and cut into roughly 2cm X 3cm pieces
1 x yellow bell pepper, deseeded and cut into roughly 2cm X 3cm pieces
1 x 300g butternut with skin, cut into pieces of approximately 1.5cm thickness
1 x 500g sweet potato with skin, cut into pieces of approximately 1.5cm thickness
1kg cut beetroot, parboiled for 15 minutes

1 tsp fine salt
1/4 cup raw honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp mixed herbs


Method

1. Whisk together the salt, honey, olive oil and herbs




2. Toss the beetroot in 1 tablespoon if the mixture in a separate bowl and toss the remainder of the marinade in the remainder of the mixed vegetables





3. Place 1/3 of the mixed vegetables in the glass, ovenproof dish and place half the beetroot in between. Repeat with the rest of the beetroot. Place the remainder of the mixed vegetables on top with the remaining marinade




4. Baked in a 200 degree Celsius preheated oven for 45 minutes. Toss the vegetables half way thru baking time




Colourful, flavourful and will have the kids asking for more

Friday, 16 May 2014

Sumptuous Sevruga (Review)

I don't remember what it's like to have a warm meal anymore or to just focus on what's happening on my plate. To not have to trade my piece of chicken with my son (because your chicken looks better mom) just to keep the peace. Or to have my mouth checked by my baba because apparently it looks better in my mouth than on her plate.

Needless to say we keep 'dining out' strictly to eating places with play areas (All praise Spur) or even better, drive-thrus. Occasionally I get to play a grown up and go on dinner dates with a friend of mine who shows me a world  beyond play areas and with real napkins. 

So one fateful Friday night we made a date try Sevruga's, but as luck would have it we get saddled with the kids and husbands (no offence guys, we love you ;)) 



With 2 crazy kids in tow I truly expected to be 'gated'

The crown in the logo is very appropriate because from the moment we walked into the door, till we left, we were all treated like royalty. The service was legendary and the food heavenly. (They didn't even bat an eyelid at my slightly unruly kids) The waiters danced around us like ballerinas and almost instantly disappearing, but always reappearing when we needed them. 


I preferred the chicken and didn't enjoy the duck dim sum. I will definitely try the beef, coriander, ginger next time. (The kids thoroughly devoured and enjoyed the dim sum.)

Complimentary Dim Sum. (Can you say yum yum?)


I had always been curious about the sous vide method and expected a dry, tough product. I found it to be tender and juicy, with the all the flavours penetrating the steak to it's core. I would recommend a sauce on the side though.
Medium Rib-eye, cooked sous vide, with garlic herb butter and free style fries


This dish tasted like home: The mash was smooth and creamy; the vegetables added a slightly charred dimension without being too overpowering; and finally the lamb, supple and succulent.
Slow-braised lamb shoulder, deboned and rolled, lamb reduction, buttered mashed and vegetables.


My biggest regret is not trying their famous Chocolate fondant with soft, oozing centre................


Sevruga, I will be back!


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

There's a Fly in my Soup (Recipe Alert)

I miss my mom the most when I'm sick. She's luckily still alive , but avoids me like the plague when I am sick. You see I had (she says I'm old enough to look after myself now) the kind of mom who would pander to my every need when I was sick.

Don't get me wrong. We were raised to be strong, opinionated and extremely independent women ("Never depend on anyone" she says). She taught us that a woman can achieve anything a man could and encouraged our careers much further than any traditional Indian mom would. One thing that always seemed out of my reach was her standard of cooking. As a rule I avoided attempting any of her recipes, because it never came out like mom's food. She's getting older though, as cruel father time would have it, and this has become the fly in my proverbial soup. Mom forgets an ingredient here or there and so I have taken the bold step and started attempting her dishes (bearing in mind that her recipes look like shopping lists with no measurements).

Mom would make my favourite dishes and let me watch TV all day when I was sick. My dish of choice was always her hearty, winter soup.


Momma's Soup (serves 5 - 8)

Ingredients

200g mutton (trimmed of fat and cut into smaller pieces)
1 x teaspoon garlic and ginger
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of ground pepper
Optional pinch of turmeric

Thickening paste - 1/4 cup warm water, mixed with 30mls cake flour

1 x Checkers Freshmark Soup Pack (only use half the turnip)
1/2 onion, peeled and grated. Also squeeze the juice out
1 x additional carrot
1/2 tsp pepper corns (rather crush if serving to small children)
2 - 2.5 Lt's of boiling water

@CheckersSA




Method:

1. Marinade meat in salt, pepper, turmeric (optional), garlic and ginger




2. Brown meat in 1/2 tablespoon heated olive oil 



3. Add the chopped herbs, as well  the peeled and grated vegetables to the browned heat.




4. Add about 2 litres of boiling water to the pressure cooker and the whole or crushed peppercorns. Cook on low for 1 hour.
Tip - Add an additional 250mls - 500mls (depending on your pot's water retention abilities) if you are not using a pressure cooker and cook on medium to high.





5.  Add the thickening paste and simmer on medium for another 15 minutes or until done.


Bowl from @CheckersSA


Almost as good as mom's!













Monday, 12 May 2014

Flu Fighter (Naartjie Tikka Chicken recipe)

There has been quite a bit of evidence presented in the media about super bugs and the futility of antibiotics in combating them ("I told you so." My husband keeps saying).We could be facing an era where a simple infection could kill you, because antibiotics  will become useless (Scary stuff)

Prevention is always better than cure. My son has taught me to sneeze in the crook of my elbow, I try and drink enough water (I know it's killer running to the loo all day in this cold) and take my supplements (almost everyday).

Murphy's law always has flu season hitting me first and hitting me hard. Nothing seems to help like bed rest, some spicy food and a good dose of Vitamin C. 


Naartjie Tikka Chicken (serves 3 to 4)

Ingredients

800g skinless chicken thighs and drumsticks, trimmed of excess fat
2 x tsp tikka spice (salted)
1 x tsp ginger paste
1 x tablespoon honey
1 x cup orange juice

1 x peeled naartjie, segmented (poke each segment several times) 
peel of 1 naartjie, finely sliced 
1/3 cup raw cashew nuts
1/4 cup dried apricots
15mls olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped, fresh coriander




Method:

1. Whisk spice, ginger, honey and 1/2 cup orange juice in  bowl. Marinade chicken in this for at least 15 minutes.

2. Then add naartjie peel, half the cashew nuts and all the apricots. Mix evenly and marinade for another 15 minutes.




3. Separate chicken from the other ingredients. 

4. Heat olive oil in a pan on high till hot. Stir fry the peel, apricots and nuts for for a few minutes.




5.  Add chicken, naartjie segments and any juices left in the marinade container.





6.  Simmer on medium heat and turn chicken once after 15 minutes.

7. Add the rest of the orange juice and cashew nuts. Continue simmering for another 15 minutes or until done. 

8. Add coriander after removing the pan from the stove.


Serve with roti and roast potato.


Feeling better already!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Going Greek (Greek Lamb and Tzatsiki recipe)

I was an extremely fussy eater growing up (except when it came to chocolate of course). My different foods on my plate weren't allowed to touch, I didn't eat chicken for a few years (just didn't like the look or smell of it), couldn't stand dairy and had tomato sauce with everything (except chicken). This is one of the many quirks my poor son has inherited from me. 

Getting him to try anything new is mission impossible, but on the odd occasion he does try something new and  actually likes it (gasp). We had a particularly difficult patch with him a few years ago (try 2 hours to finish a side plate of food) and after dining at a Greek restaurant he proclaimed his love for all things Greek. I immediately returned home and went crazy on Google to become an expert. After much trial and error I managed to get it just the way he likes it.


Tzatziki Recipe (serves 4 - 5)

Ingredients

500mls Double fat Greek yogurt 
1/2 x tbsp (7.5mls) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 x (15cms) grated Mediterranean cucumber (squeeze juice out after grating)
1 x clove of garlic finely chopped
3/4 x tsp Italian Herbs (unsalted)
1/2 x tsp freshly ground pepper
1 x tbsp Green Leaf Olive Oil (proudly South African)




Just Add yogurt

Recipe


1. Add all ingredients together in a bowl and mix evenly






2. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve at room temperature.




Greek Lamb Recipe (serves 4 - 5)

Ingredients

1kg Lamb Leg chops
1 x Juice of lemon 
1 x tsp salt
2 x garlic cloves, minced
1 x tbsp Green Leaf Olive Oil (proudly South African)
1 x tsp black pepper 
2 x tsp Italian herbs (unsalted)
1 x chopped chili, optional (the Indian in me can't help it)




Recipe

1. Trim mutton of excess fat and marinade in the rest of the ingredients overnight



2. Turn heat up to high and add 15mls Green Leaf Olive Oil to a saute pan on the stove


3. Brown the mean once the oil is hot enough (do not discard the juices that are left in the bowl)




4. Turn the heat down to medium, remove the pan from the heat and add the left over marinade juices.

5. Simmer for 20 minutes then add 15mls freshly squeezed lemon juice and 30mls warm water. 

6. Repeat this process after another 15 minutes.

7. Simmer for 45 minutes in total or till meat is done.



Serve with pita and chopped cucumber, tomato & onion.
Mediterranean inspired plate from @CheckerSA

Now go break a plate! Opa!





Saturday, 3 May 2014

You've been Blogged (Root 44 Market)

I have fond memories of the old Grand Parade market when I was a child (yes, in the Jurassic age). The unique wares, bustling, vibey atmosphere and the fresh, delicious food (I think I've mentally blocked out the flies). Then came the era of the mall and we embraced it because of it's clinical, clean look (and clean toilets). The markets themselves were replaced by flea markets selling generic, cheap, imported products (20 stalls selling the latest bomber jacket. Don't hate I used to work at a stall like that)

The past 7 years or so has seen the rise of the local markets. Most notably the Old Biscuit Mill which has completely metamorphosised the area into the artsy hub of Cape Town (still can't get use to seeing white people in Woodstock. What? I grew in up in pre-1994 Cape Flats. Seeing a whitey was like seeing a white rhino in the street).


www.root44.co.za

Ya I know that this market has been around for a while but I always thought it was so far (It is, but worth the beautiful drive). I planned on staying an hour or 2. I ended up staying about 6 hours (my poor long suffering husband).


Here are my top picks from the market


All this food for only R140 and it tasted really good (I'm such an indian)
Baba Tunisia - chicken wrap, beef schwarma and vegetarian chickpea roti with falafel (strictly halaal)


Cheesecake brownies with Oreos (Never mind Root 44, I was on cloud 9)
Truly Scrumptious - Home of the best freaking brownies 


Red Velvet Brownies, seriously. This is genius.
Truly Scrumptious - Home of the best freaking brownies (no pork or alcohol in products)


My 21 month old daughter led us to this stall about 4 times (Love the look)
Candy Shop


2 for R75 (I think I'll take my savings and buy more brownies)



This is so innovative
www.senorchef.co.za


These place mats are so rustic and green(+++++). Made with recycled wood. 
www.senorchef.co.za


Unique, one of a kind, quirky plates. (She only makes 1 of each and makes to order)
www.celebrationplates.wozaonline.co.za


Pack in the kids, the dog and hubby (maybe some padkos too) and head down to to Root 44.

PS: Don't forget to take the train -car ride (Just make sure you have a kid with you so you don't look too weird).





Thursday, 1 May 2014

Cronuts Wars (quickie review)

The elusive cronut swam it's way and landed somewhere in South Africa. Now logic would dictate that it would land in CT (can it be?)

Bakery situated in Claremont

I arrive breathless at Coimbra (only bakery goods are halaal) only to be informed that there are only 2 flavours left, cinnamon sugar a strawberries & cream.

Cronut or a disguised doughnut?

The strawberries and cream filling was perfect (tart and rich). The cronut was an absolute disappointment. It was dense and more 90% doughnut tasting. So I would say okay (I'm being kind) tasting doughnut, but definitely not a cronut. 

Which begs the question, when is Belle's Patisserie (home of the SA cronut) coming to Cape Town?