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Beet and Goat Cheese Jewels

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I went to a wonderful dinner last week, here in New York, to celebrate the opening of a friends exhibition. The setting was spectacular – high above the west side highway, with sparkling views of lower Manhattan and the Hudson River. There were 10 long tables, set with white linen table cloths and candlelight, citrus coloured tulips, champagne and the most delicious food I’ve had in a long time. One of the starters was this beet and goat cheese ‘parfait’. I was so blown away at how beautiful it was, that I came home to try it for myself. It turns out it’s very easy, just a little time consuming, but worth every second. The beauty comes in the use of different coloured beets, which in turn stain the goat cheese, producing these wonderful jewel tones.
The recipe is below, but since I made it up as I went along, the quantities are not exact, just a ball park.

 
Ingredients:
About 12 beet roots, in as many different colours as you can find.
Soft goat cheese, about 500 grams / 1 pound
Salt and Pepper
olive oil
2 bread tins
Basil leaves, pistachios and any kind of edible flower for garnish
Maldon Salt for finishing.
And a VERY sharp knife

Method:
Cook the beets in boiling water until soft, about 30 minutes.
Peel and let cool.
Slice very thinly.

Line one of the bread tins with plastic wrap leaving some overhang to fold over once the terrine is completed.
Start layering the beets and goat cheese, as if you were making a lasagna, seasoning with salt and pepper and a small drizzle of olive oil between layers.
Start with the lighter coloured beets first, ie golden beets, followed by a layer of goat cheese (don’t worry if you don’t make an even smooth layer. It’s pretty hard to do that with goat cheese any way), followed by more golden beets, until they are finished.
Then repeat with the red beets and goat cheese, making sure that the last layer will be the beets.
(I also added in thinly sliced orange here and there between the layers, but I’m not sure I’d do that again. You could serve the orange as a garnish, which I think would be better.)
Don’t worry if you haven’t reached the top of the bread tin. If you do, that’s great, but if you don’t it really doesn’t matter.
Once you have finished the layering, fold the plastic over to seal.
Now the trick is to place a weight on the terrine so it compresses.
I did this by placing another bread tin the same size, on top of the terrine, and placing a can of corn, or beans, or whatever can you have to act as the weight.
Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or over night.
When you are ready to serve, pull the terrine out of the tin on to a board. Unwrap the terrine and carefully slice (with that very sharp knife), making each slice about 1/2 an inch or 15mm thick.
I trimmed the edges to make them nice and neat, but you don’t have to.
Using a spatchula, place the slices on a long platter and decorate with basil leaves. I added pistachios and sage flowers, but any nuts and edible flowers will do. Whatever you think will look pretty.
Finish off with a sprinkle of Maldon Sea Salt.
Serve with crusty bread, and a crunchy arugula salad.


Just In Time For Mother’s Day: Lesley Ann’s Famous Chicken

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About 10 years ago, in a far away land, I married the love of my life. The wedding took place on a game reserve in Johannesburg, which was owned by very dear friends. We had all sorts of people come to the wedding, from far and wide, including my husband’s family from the US. My In Laws had yet to meet my parents, and the first time this happened was 5 days before the wedding when my mom invited everyone over for lunch. This is what she served, and neither I nor anyone who was there, will forget it. I have made it 100 times since then, and always think of my mom, and that day, which is a lovely memory. So, in time for Mother’s Day, this post is dedicated to the best mother in world whom I miss so much every day. And despite the huge distance between us, 7970 miles to be exact, I am grateful that I can feel close to her through these recipes. Happy Mothers Day, Mom. I love you more than words can say.

The beauty of this dish is its simplicity. Except for a few key ingredients, you can add or take away whatever you don’t like.
Here is the recipe:

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
6 – 8 chicken thighs, preferably organic
Flour for dredging
3 tspn Mustard Powder
1 tspn thyme
1/2 tspn chilli powder (optional)
Salt and Pepper
3 large garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup olives (optional)(if the olives are not pitted, make sure to warn your guests)
1 cup roughly chopped vegetables of your choice (zuchinni, butternut, carrots,beans, whatever you like, or don’t add any at all)
I cup of low sodium chicken broth, plus extra if neccessary (organic if possible)

Preheat oven to 180 C / 350F
Grease (with spray on olive oil or butter) an oven proof dish which is big enough to hold 6 to 8 thighs.
Dredge thighs in enough flour to coat well.
Place in the dish and sprinkle with mustard, thyme, chilli and whatever other spices you like.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the chopped vegetables and the olives to the dish, placing randomly between the thighs.
Add the chicken stock – the liquid should just about cover mid-thighs, but leaving the skin untouched.
Add the garlic to the liquid, then add the lemon juice.
(if it’s easier, do these last 2 steps in a separate bowl – add the lemon juice and minced garlic to the chicken stock and pour into the ovenproof dish)
Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
Remove the foil and bake for a further 30 minutes until skin is browned and crispy.

Serve with rice, bulgur or quinoa and a crunchy green salad. Make sure to spoon lots of the lemony vegetable liquid over your chicken and rice.

PS the picture of the recipe is taken with an iPhone, so apologies for the quality :-)

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Kale Salad with Lemon Anchovy Vinaigrette

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I do realise that the minute anyone mentions ‘anchovy’, a myriad of facial expressions present themselves, from pure delight to utter horror. I was, for the longest time, in the latter category, but then my taste buds grew up. I don’t think I’m quite ready to eat them straight out the jar, in a nicoise for example, but in a dressing such as this, they are sublime.
The thing about the anchovy is that it forms a ‘base’ taste….a level of saltiness that you cannot get from salt, if that makes sense. Add them to most dishes while cooking and you will taste the difference.

I first experienced this salad at a shoot here in New York. We had ordered lunch from a well known establishment called ‘Wichcraft. Best breakfasts, and mighty good sandwiches. But along came this kale salad, purely by accident, and I was addicted. It became my breakfast and lunch, every day, for a week. I’m still not sick of it.

I got the recipe from one of my favourite blogs, FOOD52. They in turn got it from ‘Wichcraft, and I have a feeling it’s going to become one of those standard recipes that just carry on forever.

I won’t regurgitate the recipe because the ladies at FOOD52 do a magnificent job, and you can get it here, but please take note when they ask you to do things like massage the onions and fresh thyme with a large pinch of salt, and to leave for 10 minutes. And especially take note to literally massage the kale leaves with the vinaigrette. The longer you leave this salad to absorb the vinaigrette flavours, the better it will be, hence making it an excellent salad for parties. If, for some reason, you can’t find kale, you can use spinach or swiss chard….or any other hearty green leaf.

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Sirloin with Pickled Mustard Seed

Did you say Pickled Mustard Seed?
Why, yes I did! I’m talking about yellow mustard seeds that have been, well, pickled….and the result is delicious! And easy! Because I can’t be bothered with difficult.
I got the recipe from David Chang’s Momofuku cook book – David Chang, for those of you who are not native New Yorkers or frequent visitors, is a chef extraordinaire, turning Korean food upside down and inside out and giving to us a sensory over load of tastes and flavours. You really need to hunt him down on your next visit to the Big Apple, and try to eat in one or all of his restaurants.
A very inspiring and passionate man.

Here is the recipe for the pickled mustard seed:
1 c. yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c. seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1 T. salt

Combine the mustard seeds, water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the mustard seeds are plump and tender, about 45 minutes. If they look like they’re beginning to dry out, add water as needed to keep them barely submerged. Cool and refrigerate in a covered container. It will keep for months.

I halved the recipe this time round – and it worked perfectly well.

Then what I did was pair the pickled mustard seed with a wonderful piece of sirloin (you can use any cut of meat you prefer), about half a pound / 230 grams. Grilled it to medium rare, which is how I like it, but here’s the trick.
Before you take the steak out of the oven, or off the grill, do yourself this big favour.
Take a wooden chopping board, and onto that board place a small clove of garlic, minced. Some grated lemon or lime rind, course sea salt, cracked black pepper, a squeeze of the lemon or lime and a drizzle of olive oil (not too much because you’re pouring this directly on to the board). Mix it all up so the flavours meld together. Then spread it out to about the size of the steak.
Once the steak comes out the oven, place it straight on the board, on top of your mixture. What happens is as the steak is resting, it absorbs some of the flavours of the mixture, giving it a lovely lemon-y, slightly garlicky finish. So good!

Slice it thinly, place on your plate, and spoon the pickled mustard seeds over the steak.
You could also grill a bigger piece, slice thinly and serve as an hors d’oeuvre with a little spoonful of the mustard seeds and perhas a tiny sprig of cilantro/coriander.
And as you take a bite, feel the mustard seeds pop in your mouth.
It’s worth it, just for that :-)

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Yet another pizza, this time with avocado

avo_pizzaOnce again, another fabulous pizza from my pal Paul, of Sweet Paul fame. This shoot we did a few years back for his magazine, and I can vouch for how easy and delicious this pizza is.

Avocado is something we used to eat on pizza’s all the time in South Africa – my favourite one was served by Cornuti, a fabulous restaurant in Illovo, Johannesburg, and it had on it bacon, feta, spinach and avocado. The crust was thin and crisp, the toppings salty and creamy. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Paul has made an excellent substitute for the Cornuti pizza, in my humble opinion. And according to him, adding honey to the dough makes the crust extra crispy.

Just remember that these toppings are only a guideline – you could add anchovies, mozzarella, sweet peppers, olives, chillies, mushrooms, some fresh arugula/rocket instead of parsley…whatever you fancy.

Here is the recipe:

For the dough

1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon dry yeast
2.5 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil

Mix water, honey and yeast in a bowl.
Leave it for 5 minutes so that the yeast starts to work
Add flour, salt and oil
Work the dough well together until it forms a ball.
Cover with plastic and let it rise for an hour.
On a baking tray press the dough out with your fingers to form a large rectangular pizza.

Topping:
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons water
3 oz / 83 grams gorgonzola, crumbled
1 avocado peeled and cubed
fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400˚F / 200˚C
Place onions, 2 tablespoons olive oil and water into a pan and saute until the onion turns light brown and is soft
Divide it over the pizza dough together with the gorgonzola
Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bake in the oven for about 12 minutes
Take pizza out of the oven and add avocado, parsley and S&P

deepfriedavo

And for an added bonanza, why not try this delicious treat
Beer Deep Fried Avocado

Yes I know it sounds bizarre, but don’t knock it till you try it -

3 ripe avocados
1.5 cups of beer
1 cup plain flour
vegetable oil for frying
course sea salt

Peel avo’s and cut into 4 pieces
In a large bowl mix together beer and flour until it becomes a smooth batter
Heat the oil to 365˚F / 185˚C in a large pot
Working in batches, toss the avo into the batter and then into the hot oil
Fry, turning once, for about 1 to 2 minutes, until golden
Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain
Sprinkle with the course sea salt and serve while still warm.


Winter’s Delight: A Veeeeerrrryy Slow Roasted Pork, Salsa Verde and a Brussel Sprout Slaw

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I have been making this pork for years….and there is honestly nothing easier than this recipe, which takes about 20 mins of prep: rubbing the meat with garlic, olive oil, a few herbs, some salt and pepper, and sticking it in the oven at a very low temperature for a very long time. This leaves you with plenty of time to make the salsa verde and what ever other side dishes you decide on…perhaps even a little time to get your nails done :-)
We served it with some tortillas and made tacos, but a few boiled baby potatoes would be good, or fresh crusty bread. A nice green salad or roasted cauliflower. Whatever is your fancy.

But back to the pork. It requires an 8 pound  shoulder (otherwise known as a butt – why?) and a lovely fresh salsa verde (not pictured) made from parsley, celery leaves and the secret ingredient – anchovies.

The recipe for the pork and salsa verde is below.
I got it from Epicurious.com, and I would not change a thing, but here are 2 comments – I did not use a bone in shoulder; my cut of meat was deboned and it worked wonderfully. Also, the meat cooks faster than the recipe indicates (if you read the comments you’ll see that this opinion is pretty wide spread). Please use an instant read thermometer that is placed in the thickest part of the meat, and keep checking it. Once it reaches the required internal temp of 185F / 85C, take it out and let it rest. The cooking time for me was around 4 hours, not 6.5 as the recipe suggests, although I realize temperatures vary from oven to oven.

Now for the slaw.
I would never have thought to eat Brussel Sprouts raw. Now that I’m doing it, it seems to be the most obvious thing! And so easy –  just a little slicing and dicing, add some olive oil, lemon juice, freshly cracked pepper and course sea salt, and there you have  it: a delicious fresh crunchy slaw that sings when pared with the dressing. I’m sure if you experiment with other ingredients…perhaps add some toasted nuts, or goat cheese,or maybe sliced jalapenos, you’ll find that pretty much anything goes.
I’m not going to give you exact quantities – but as a side dish, for 8 people, I would say about 20 Brussell Sprouts would do the trick. Slice them thinly, place in a bowl, add a glug of best quality olive oil you have, some lemon juice or white vinegar, the salt and pepper and taste. Add a little more if necessary.
Try it – you will love it!

Roast Pork with Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde:

  • 3 anchovy fillets (don’t leave these out; you don’t taste anchovy, but what they do is lend a saltiness to the salsa that regular salt cannot do)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/3 cup (lightly packed) chopped fresh celery leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Pork Shoulder:

  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 8-pound / 3.5 kg whole bone-in heritage pork shoulder roast (Boston butt)

 

To make Salsa Verde

With processor running, drop anchovies and garlic through feed tube and finely chop. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add parsley, celery leaves, lemon juice, lemon peel, red wine vinegar, chopped rosemary, and chopped sage. Using on/off turns, process until almost smooth. With machine running, gradually add olive oil. Transfer salsa verde to bowl. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

For pork shoulder:
Position rack in lowest third of oven; preheat to 450°F / 230 C. Mix garlic, sage, rosemary, coarse kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper in small bowl. Brush oil all over pork, then rub spice mixture all over. Place pork on rack set in roasting pan. Roast 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 300°F / 150 C and continue to roast until instant read thermometer inserted into center registers 185°F / 85 C, about 6 1/2 hours*. Remove pork from oven; tent with foil to keep warm. Let rest 15 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick pieces and serve with salsa verde alongside.

* A reminder – mine took less than this – about 4 hours…please rely on your instant read thermometer.

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Super Snazzy Brocolli

Roast Brocolli

This brocolli is the perfect accompaniment to your sunday roast, your friday night dinner, your basic weeknight meal…just about anything!

The crunch of pine nuts and the tang of lemon add to the deep roasted flavour of the brocolli.

Add some red peper flakes for spice and you’re on your way to super snazzy brocolli :-)

 

Here is the recipe:

. 1 large head broccoli (1 1/2 pounds or 700 grams), cut into  florets, stems
peeled and sliced 1/4 inch / 3 cm thick
. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
. 1 1/2 tablespoons pine nuts
. 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
. 1 teaspoon minced shallots or red onion
. Thinly sliced basil leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 400° / 200 C. On a large baking sheet, toss the broccoli and stems
with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the
broccoli in the oven for about 30 minutes, tossing half way through, until
browned and tender.
2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat until light
golden all over, about 4 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the shallot and the remaining 2
tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scrape the broccoli
into a serving bowl, add the dressing, pine nuts and basil and toss to coat.
Serve.

 

Recipe originally in Food and Wine Magazine, photograph  by yours truly :-)


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