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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 :-)


A Boozy Pear and Riesling Popsicle

Pear Riesling Pop

Pear Riesling Pop

It’s mid winter in New York, and of course all I can do is dream about summer. So much so that I started craving these popsicles. You’d have to like pears ( pear season is coming to an end where I live, all the more reason to hurry up and make this), and you’d have to like Riesling, but in case you’re not mad about a boozy pop, leave out the wine (if you’re serving to kids – yep, you guessed it – leave out the wine!). There are only 5 ingredients in this recipe, and if you can find pretty molds to freeze the mixture in, you’ll have yourself a lovely mid winter (or mid summer, depending on where you are) dessert. I don’t know about you, but the thought of something light and snappy after the excess of Christmas and New year sounds pretty appealing.
Just a quick tip – instead of the regular plastic or silicone molds, you can also use disposable paper cups or plastic drinking glasses as long as they have relatively small rims.

This recipe is from Food & Wine Magazine, and I had the joyous task of photographing the pops for an assignment:

Recipe: Riesling-Pear Pops
. 2 tablespoons sugar
. 2 tablespoons water
. 2 Bartlett pears (7 ounces / 200 grams each)—peeled, cored and chopped
. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
. 1/2 cup Riesling, preferably 10.5-percent alcohol
1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a simmer,
stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the syrup into a bowl and let cool. Add the
pears and lemon juice to the syrup and toss well.
2. Transfer the pears and syrup to a food processor and add the Riesling. Process
to a smooth puree. Pour the puree into six 1/3-cup popsicle molds and freeze
until hard, at least 1 hour.
MAKE AHEAD The pops can be frozen for up to 1 week


Whisk Pendant

So when I’m not being a photographer, or blogging, or being a mom, a wife and generally running around like a crazy person, I do this on the side.

I have an ETSY shop, the main thrust of it are solid gold pendants in the shape of various countries. I have an Africa, which I love because that is where I am from. I have an Israel, an Australia and an India. More countries to be added as time goes by. But at Christmas time, I bring out this pendant….a whisk made in sterling silver and 18k gold dipped. People seem to like it, and it gives me great joy that this is something people want to wear around their necks.

Next up, a pendant in the shape of a kitchen knife (as requested by my husband. Ask and he shall receive :-)

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa to all of you who celebrate at this time of year. And for those of you who don’t, be thankful that you aren’t hemorrhaging money on gifts. :-)Ah, but despite that, I do love this time of year and wouldn’t change it for the world. Happy Holidays!!

 

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Crunchy Christmas Salad

This salad is from a shoot I did for Food & Wine Magazine some years ago. It was actually for a Thanksgiving story, but this could be made any time of year. Of course you have to love celery if you’re going to make it, but if you don’t love it, you could always substitute cucumber, blanched beans, cooked brussels sprouts, even leafy greens such as lettuce, arugula or spinach.
The wonderful thing about this is the difference in tastes, textures and colours.The crunchy green, the salty white pecorino cheese, the sweet black dates and the nutty toasty brown walnuts. The recipe calls for walnut oil….but who just happens to have walnut oil in their kitchen cupboard? Not me, so I just used olive oil. If you don’t have shallots, use a quarter of an onion and chop very finely. This would go brilliantly with the typical full cream fatty foods that one will definitely consume at this time of year….it’s lean, green and extra clean and makes you feel, well, like you did something right.
YUM!

1 1/4 cups walnuts
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 bunches celery (2 pounds/ 900 grams), thinly sliced on the bias
3/4 cup dried pitted Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise
3 ounces / 85 grams dry pecorino cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Preheat the oven to 350° farenheit/ 175 celcius. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Let cool completely, then coarsely chop.
In a small bowl, combine the shallot with the sherry vinegar. Whisk in both oils and season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss the toasted walnuts, celery, dates and pecorino. Add the dressing and toss. Serve at once.
MAKE AHEAD The salad and dressing can be refrigerated separately for up to 1 day. Store the walnuts in an airtight container and add to the salad just before serving.


Perfect Tomato Bruschetta

Sometimes, the simple things in life are the best.
Take these bruschetta’s for example. Dress ‘em up, dress ‘em down. Make them spicy, or give them a Meditteranean feel. Add red onion, olives, preserved lemon and chilli. Some shopped thyme, a squeeze of lime. Make each bite a sensation.
Here’s how to begin:

Dice a bunch of tomatoes – make sure they are as colourful as possible: red, green, orange, yellow, dark red/purple etc.
Place in a bowl, add a splash of olive oil, sea salt and pepper.
Tear up some basil leaves, and if desired, add some chopped capers, de-pipped olives, red onion and red pepper flakes. Mix well and let sit.
Light the grill and brush some olive oil on both sides of some sliced sour dough bread.
Grill until lightly toasted on both sides.This can also be done in the oven under the broiler/grill.
BE VERY CAREFUL AS IT CAN BURN VERY EASILY- always watch it from start to finish. It will only take a few minutes.
And here is the magic step to delicious bruschetta: As it comes off the grill / out of the oven, rub a clove of peeled garlic over one side of each slice of grilled bread, using 2 cloves if necessary for the whole loaf. It will ‘melt’ into the bread.
Place the toasted bread on a platter or two and spoon the tomato mixture onto each slice.

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary…adding a little more coarse sea salt and black pepper.
Garnish with some fresh parsley (torn or chopped into smaller pieces),and sliced mozzarella or buratta cheese if desired.

Cut each slice into two for easier handling.
Squeeze half a lemon over bruschetta, this finishes it off and helps to bring all the flavours together.

Enjoy with a lovely glass of chilled white wine, or rose.

After all, what could be more simple, or more delicious!


Originally posted on :

I love artichokes. I always have. Growing up in South Africa, the season was always very short – and it happened around September or October. My mom would steam them and we’d sit by the pool tearing off the leaves and carefully dipping them into creamy salty butter.

When I think about it, there was always a mad rush to eat as many  as we could, because before you knew it, the season would be over. Not so in New York – you can get artichokes year round, even though the best time to buy them is spring. So I’m a little late with this dish, but it is one of my favourites. I always use baby artichokes although the bigger ones will do just fine.

The recipe I found in Fine Cooking, one of my fave magazines to cook from. I  love the combination of the garlic, mint and…

View original 252 more words


Bulgur Salad with Shrimp and a Lovely Cumin Dressing

Healthy and delicious! Bulgur salad with poached shrimp.
I first learned about Bulgur on a trip to Turkey where it is eaten in abundance with almost anything.
It’s a whole wheat grain, low in calories, high in protein and fiber.
And when combined with chopped raw vegetables, poached shrimp and an olive oil, lemon juice and cumin vinaigrette, it is heavenly. You can swap the shrimp with chicken or steak, and really, you can use any vegetable you have on hand…carrots, tomatoes, cooked pumpkin etc. You get the picture. It’s just about throwing everything in a bowl and dressing it. Easy.

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 cup Bulgur
1 lb/500 grams shrimp/prawns, peeled and deveined
chicken stock
one red pepper (or green, yellow, orange) diced
half of a red onion, diced
one cucumber, roughly peeled, deseeded and chopped
Handful of parsley roughly chopped
2 spring onions/green onions chopped using white and green parts
salt and pepper to taste
1 jalapeno, deseeded and sliced (optional)
Garnish with feta, avocado, olives or anything else that takes your fancy

For the dressing:
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice or vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Method:
Cook the bulgur according to the package directions
(usually one cup of bulgur to 2 cups of water placed together in a pot,
bring to boil, put lid on, turn off heat and leave to steam for 15 minutes)

Poach shrimp by placing 2 cups of chicken stock in a pot, bring to boil.
Lower heat to medium and place shrimp inside.
Take out with a slotted spoon after 5 minutes or until pink and fully cooked through.

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
Combine the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad.


Homemade Pizza with Kale, Caramelized Red Onion, Bacon and Gorgonzola

Encouraged by the abundance of Kale on the menus of New York restaurants these days, I thought it would be great to share this recipe with you. It’s from a shoot I did with my friend Paul Lowe, also known as Sweet Paul, and if you know me by now, you’ll know I’m a big fan of his work. There is nothing better than homemade pizza. Even if you don’t want to make the dough yourself, and you use the store bought variety, it still beats the taste and quality you’d find in most pizza parlours. And not only that, it will make your home smell amazing too!

This pizza has crispy bits of bacon, caramelized red onions, and plenty of melted cheese interlaced with the kale. Paul never uses tomato sauce, and he likes to use gorgonzola, but if you don’t like gorgonzola, replace it with fontina, gruyere or any other cheese that melts easily.

Ingredients For Dough: (makes one large pizza, serves 4)

Paul has a very simple recipe which I can vouch for:
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey
I tablespoon dry yeast
2.5 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of corn meal for sprinkling on the stone/baking tray

Method:
- 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
- Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature for about one hour

Or, you can buy store bought dough which really, is much easier!

Ingredients for the Toppings:
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of sugar
6 rashers of bacon
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 bunch of kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped
5 oz crumbled gorgonzola or gruyere
3 oz grated good quality mozzarella
half a cup of fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Method:
- Preheat the oven to 450 F / 230 C and place a pizza stone (if you have one) inside.
- if you don’t have a pizza stone, use an inverted baking tray/cookie sheet
- Put the onions, olive oil, and sugar into a pan over medium heat and cook,
stirring frequently, until the onions are wilted and brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Reduce the heat if the onions are browning too quickly. Set aside to cool a bit.
- In the same pan, cook the bacon until crispy (or to your liking).
- Remove and add to the onions. Pour off all but one tablespoon of the fat.
- Now place the kale in the same pan and cook until it wilts slightly, but not completely.
Add a few tablespoons of water and cover, if necessary.

- Roll out the dough, and place on the heated pizza stone* (it will be VERY HOT! PLease be careful!)
- *Sprinkle some corn meal on the stone/baking sheet to prevent sticking
- loosely place the bacon, onions and kale on the dough, making sure to get an even mix.
- sprinkle gorgonzola and mozzarella on top
- drizzle with olive oil
- place in oven and cook until cheese melts, about 12 to 15 minutes
- pull the pizza out, and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the chopped parsely on top, along with some course sea salt and black pepper
Cut the pizza up into as many slices as you like, and, for an added bonus, add half of a sliced
avocado. You won’t regret it!


Cold Pickled Fish for Lunch

This is one of those strange dishes….unless you know what it is and unless it’s been in your orbit, it probably looks a little odd. Am I right? Well, who would have thought to pickle fish? I know the Scandinavian countries do it, but not quite like this.
This is the pickled fish I grew up with in South Africa – bright yellow in colour (from the turmeric), spicy, vinegar-y, with a hint of curry and ginger. Great for any meal, any time of year. Best served cold with some farmers bread, a green salad and a glass of cold beer.
Here is the recipe (adapted from Evita Bezuidenhout’s book ‘Kossie Sikelela‘)

Pickled Fish (serves 4):
1.5 pounds / 800 grams firm white fish
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
tsp salt and tsp black pepper
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 large onions, sliced
1 green chillie, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
2 bay leaves (fresh if possible, otherwise dried)
1/2 cup white grape vinegar
3/4 cup water
2 tsp sugar

Pour flour onto a large plate, season with salt and pepper and dredge fillets until nicely coated on both sides.
Heat up a non stick pan on a medium high heat with 2 tblspns vegetable oil.
Place the mustard seeds into the pan and allow to heat up.
They will begin to pop. When they do this, add the fish and fry until cooked, about 5 minutes each side.
Remove fish from the pan and arrange in a deep dish.
For the sauce:
In the same pan, saute the onions in a tablespoon of oil until soft – about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the chillie, garlic, turmeric, curry powder, ginger and bay leaves and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the sugar, vinegar and water and bring to a boil.
Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Take off the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce over the cooked fish and once it has cooled, refrigerate for a day or 2 to allow flavours to develop.
Serve cold.


Popeye’s Best: Linguini with Broccoli, Roasted Garlic and Spinach Pesto

I love my job. Love it! I get to work in the most fabulous places and meet incredible people.
And today was no exception – lucky me I had a dream client…The Andaz Hotel on 5th Ave in Midtown Manhattan.

The extremely talented chef, Vincent Muraco, cooks exactly how I like to cook, and uses only the best locally sourced ingredients. This is a true New York love story.
Lox from Russ and Daughters, Ice Cream from Il Laboratorio Bread from Sullivan Street Bakery, Cheese from Murray’s Cheese, the list goes on.
Whatever he cannot source, he makes himself.
If you ever find yourself in Midtown and in need of a really good lunch or dinner, please head over to The Andaz Hotel. You won’t be sorry!

Today’s recipe (from my shoot) is a linguini with broccoli and spinach pesto. Chef Vincent uses wholewheat pasta which I know is not everyone’s cup of tea, but in this dish it is superb. Its nutty, gritty texture and flavour is wonderful when paired with the broccoli, roasted garlic and pesto. And the best thing about this dish is its colour….green from top to toe. Popeye would approve

Ingredients:
1lb / 500 grams of Linguini
A head of garlic
2 cups of blanched broccoli florets
For the Pesto:
2 lb / 1kg of baby spinach
2 cups pine nuts
1 cup Romano Cheese
4 cloves of garlic
3 cups olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F / 200C.
Slice off the very top of the garlic head. Place in a piece of foil and drizzle olive oil inside the head of garlic until it is completely filled and just starting to run down the side.
Wrap tightly with foil and place on a cookie sheet or baking tray and bake until tender and fragrant, roughly 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool. Peel outside off of bulb of garlic, then gently squeeze each clove out.
In the meantime, cook the whole wheat linguini according to the instructions on the package.
To blanch the brocolli, heat a large pot of salted water to a boil.
In a separate large bowl, fill with half ice and water.
Once water on the stove has boiled, carefully add in the brocolli and cook for 1 to 1.5 minutes, only until they’re slightly cooked through and tender.
Scoop out the brocolli quickly and immediately move to the ice bath, keeping them there just until they’ve cooled, about 20 to 30 seconds. Remove vegetables, drain in a colander, and set aside until ready to use.

Make the spinach pesto by combining spinach, pine nuts, romano cheese and garlic cloves in a food processor.
Pulse until combined.
While blender is on, add olive oil in a steady stream until smooth.
Season with salt & pepper.

In a saute pan add 1 tbsp oil, the blanched broccoli florets and roasted garlic and saute together for a few minutes.
Add cooked pasta, and warm through.
Take off the heat and add 6 oz / 200g of spinach pesto
Toss together, and grate fresh romano cheese on top.

Serve with a lovely cold glass of white wine. And maybe a little Olive Oyl :-)


Prego Prego

The Fabulous Prego Roll.

Thick, chewy, spicy, garlicky, luscious and the roll of my youth.

Prego Rolls are Portuguese in origin, made with steak, crusty bread and lashings of peri peri sauce.
As South African’s, we know Peri Peri from the Mozambican and Portuguese immigrants. The origin of Peri Peri is contested hotly. The Mozambican’s say they invented it (it’s made with the Bird’s Eye Chili which is grown in Africa), but the Portuguese say they invented it…and maybe they did. After all, Mozambique was a former Portuguese colony. But whomever has the legitimate claim to the sauce, I am a huge fan!
Many times we would venture as a family to the Southern Suburbs of Johannesburg, which is where all the greatest Portuguese Restaurants are based. There was a lot of Peri Peri on the menu – and because of it, Peri Peri has become something of a national condiment in South Africa. But whatever you call it, or how ever you spell it – Peri Peri, Piri Piri, Pil Pil, it’s all made from the same source – the Birds Eye Chili.

Here is the recipe, adapted from Tessa Kiros’s book ‘Piri Piri Starfish‘, one of my favourite cookbooks at the moment.

Ingredients:
(serves 4)

One pound/500g thinly sliced steak (each piece of steak being roughly the size of your palm and about 1/3 inch / 3 – 5 mm thick.)
4 to 6 Portuguese Rolls, or any crusty roll with a soft, chewy interior (a french baguette would suffice in a pinch)

Tomato Peri Peri Sauce:
3 large ripe tomatoes, diced
1 cup mild olive oil
one teaspoon butter
A generous 1/2 teaspoon of salt
Large pinch of sugar
6 dried peri peri chillies, or to taste, finely chopped or crushed in a pestle and mortar
2 large garlic cloves
Half a lemon

Heat the oil in a smallish heavy based saucepan
Add tomatoes and butter and simmer for about 25 minutes
Add salt, sugar, peri peri and garlic and simmer for a further 8 minutes.
Remove from heat and using a hand held blender , puree roughly.
Add a large squeeze of lemon juice, and taste.
If necessary, add more salt and peri peri (I did, and then some)

Cook the steak with whichever method you prefer.
I lightly sauteed my steak – it took about 10 or 15 minutes total (I did it in batches)
Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside; keep warm.

Slice rolls/bread/baguette in half, place one side of cut bread in the pan to mop up the cooking juices, making sure to leave enough for all slices of bread.

Slather some of the peri peri sauce onto the roll, place a few slices of the cooked steak, add more peri peri, a squeeze of lemon and finish with a small pinch of course sea salt. At this point I think I added even more peri peri, but you will do whatever your taste buds command. Place the other side of the bread on top and flatten the entire roll with the palm of your hand. There is no rhyme or reason to the last step, it’s just what I think you should do!

If you like, add some arugula/rocket to the sandwich, but either way, sit back in the warm sun, open a beer and thank the person who invented the Prego Roll. You won’t be sorry!


Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cake (…. aka Not for the Faint Hearted)

Chocolate Cake has a special place in my heart….on birthdays my mother would ask us what kind of meal we wanted.
Mine was always Roast Lamb with Mint Sauce, Roast Potatoes, Peas and Pumpkin, and Rice Pudding for dessert.
In addition I always had to have a chocolate cake decorated with smarties and candles. Her chocolate cake was what dreams were made of!
My mom would always oblige, and make a big fuss of us in the process. Such happy memories.
So when I did this cake shoot with my friend Paul Lowe for his magazine some time ago, he let me take the rest of the chocolate cake home.
I ate all of it, bit by bit. It did take me a while, but it was worth every calorie consumed. I’d do it again in a heart beat.
Rich, luxurious, velvety and delicious (probably not the best cake for a kids birthday party). And by now, if you’ve read anything I have to say, you’ll know how much I lerve the salty sweet combination, and Mr Sweet Paul does not mess around here with either.
Find the recipe here
* For those using Celcius, 350 F = 180 C.


Zucchini Blossom Tempura

 

These are the most beautiful blossoms, aren’t they? They look like the skirt of a fairy dress, or something Philip Treacy might find inspiration in for one of his hats…something about them is so whimsical and cheerful and delightful.
When dipped in a light batter of flour and ice water and deep fried, they taste whimsical and cheerful too, and always a hit at a party.
And with 4 or 5 ingredients, they are incredibly easy to make.
This is what you do:
A handful or two Zucchini Blossoms (make sure they are unsprayed and safe to eat)
1 cup flour
1 cup ice cold water
pinch of salt
**Feta/ricotta/mozzarella cheese for stuffing (optional)
Vegetable oil for frying

Heat up enough oil in a small saucepan so that the blossoms can be slightly submerged.
{please be cautious when handling hot oil, for all the obvious reasons}
Test if the oil is ready by dropping a little of the batter into the saucepan – if it bubbles up and cooks immediately, it’s ready.
While you are waiting for the oil to heat up, mix together the ice water and flour in a bowl and add the salt.
Don’t over mix the batter, a few lumps are fine.
**If you are stuffing the blossoms with cheese, do this BEFORE you heat up the oil.
Simply cut the cheese into bite size chunks and place carefully into each blossom.**
Dip the blossoms into the batter and straight into the oil. Do this in batches if necessary.
Leave for about a minute, turning the blossoms every now and then with a slotted spoon.
Pull the blossoms out with the slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.

Once all the blossoms have been cooked, place in a bowl and sprinkle with course sea salt and a squeeze of lemon.
You’ll instantly feel cheerful, and probably surprised at how much like zucchini they taste!


Picnic For One

There is nothing better than a simple meal of left overs, especially when it involves bread, olive oil, tomatoes and avocado.
I had visited the farmers market yesterday and came home with a beautiful sour dough baguette that was screaming to be toasted with olive oil.

Slice 2 large pieces of the bread and sprinkle generously with olive oil. Put under the grill/broiler for a few minutes, being careful not to let burn.

Take a garlic clove, peel it and rub generously over the hot toast ….this will give it an incredible depth of flavour.

Then your canvas is set….add parsley salsa, chopped tomatoes, avocado, feta cheese, cheddar cheese, seafood, steak,hard boiled eggs…. anything! Just chop it finely, mix it up and think about colour. The more colours, the prettier it will look. For garnish, add cilantro, basil, rosemary, lemon peel, jalapeno, red onion, apple, grapefruit. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and maldon salt , perhaps some red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Add a squeeze of lemon….so good!
A few olives on the side and a nice cold glass of lemony orange water…it’s a perfect picnic for one. The simple things in life, one should never forget.


Gambas Pil Pil or Peri Peri Prawns

Sometimes things get so busy, it’s hard to shoot a recipe of my own, and this week is no exception. Lots of things going on….summer is always a very busy time! That’s when I have to call on the archive I have, and what an archive it is! Full of amazing delicious recipes for me to draw on when I need them. This is another recipe from book that I photographed last summer called The Fire Island Cook Book, which is written by my friends Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jensen. Their recipe doesn’t call for actual peri peri, but the spices they use are as good. Peri Peri and Pil Pil are one and the same, it just depends where you are eating it. In Portugal and Africa, it’s Peri Peri. In Spain, it’s Pil Pil.
This makes 8 servings.

Ingredients:
1.5 cups of olive oil
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1 teaspoon Tabasco or Hot Suace
6 Tablespoons Hot Paprika
4 teaspoons course sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 cloves garlic, slivered
32 large/jumbp prawns/shrimp
or
48 to 56 slightly smaller ones
Crusty bread for dipping in the sauce

Method:
Preheat the broiler / grill
Combine the oil, butter, tobasco, paprika, salt, cayenne and garlic in a measuring cup (this is so you can divide the mixture evenly)
Place 4 shrimp in each of the 8 ovenproof ramekins or dishes.
Divide the spicy garlic oil among ramekins.
Arrange the ramekins on a baking sheet and grill or broil until the shrimp are red-pink and sizzling, about 3 to 4 minutes.
To serve, place each ramekin on a slightly larger plate (please warn your guests that the ramekins are BOILING HOT!)
Serve with the bread to soak up all the wonderful garlicky hot oil!
Great with a light fruity rosé wine.
YUMMMMM!!!!!!


Pan Seared Trout with Parsley Salsa, and a Frozen Strawberry Greek Yogurt for dessert.

The Parsley salsa is a regular feature in my kitchen…Anything that comprises fresh herbs, garlic, chili, lemon and olive oil is a total win in my book. It’s a great accompaniment to anything you might be eating, whether it be vegetables, fish, chicken, seafood or grilled meats. And because parsley is available year round, it’s good in summer and good in winter.

To make the Parsley Salsa -
Take a big bunch of parsley and roughly chop it, place in a medium bowl. I like the leaves to still retain their shape, more or less, so I don’t chop the it too finely.
Add to that 2 tablespoons of finely diced red onion, and one clove of garlic, also finely diced.
Zest some lemon peel into the bowl, and then cut that lemon in half and squeeze about one tablespoon of the juice into mixture.
Give it a good stir and then, if you like, add some red pepper flakes, or sliced jalapeno.
Sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Finally, add about 1/4 cup of olive oil, and give it a good stir.
You may need to add some more lemon juice and oil, or perhaps some more chili. Do it according to what you like.

To pan sear the trout -
Score the skin of the trout cross ways all along the length of the fish.
Season with a little bit of salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non stick pan over a medium to high heat.
Place the fish skin side down first, and sautee for about 3 minutes.
Carefully turn the fish over and cook on the other side for a further 2 to 3 minutes until golden.
Transfer to a plate and spoon over the Parsley Oil.
Serve immediately, perhaps with some boiled new potatoes and a glass of crisp white wine.

Something sweet and light for dessert?
I recently made strawberry ice cream, using the traditional ingredients of cream and half & half.
I have to say I didn’t like it. The cream leaves an oily film on your palate and it was just too heavy.
So the answer, it seems, is making it with yogurt. Wow, what a difference!
This recipe has lemon juice in it, so it’s sweet with a slight tang. I used half the amount of sugar the original recipe called for, and it was still perfect.

Frozen Strawberry Greek Yogurt -
3 cups of strawberries, sliced
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup of sugar (original recipe called for 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups of whole milk greek yogurt

Place the strawberries, lemon juice, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Use a potato masher to mash up the strawberries as the mixture is heating. As soon as all of the sugar has completely dissolved, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

 Add the Greek yogurt, and using an immersion blender (or if you don’t have one, just use a wooden spoon), mix the yogurt into the strawberry mixture.

Place in the fridge and chill for at least an hour, preferably two.
Add mixture to the ice cream machine and mix according to the manufacturers instructions, about 20 minutes.
Serve immediately or place in a freezer safe container in the freezer until ready to serve.


Salted Chocolate Caramel Brownies

Last summer I worked on a fabulous cook book called the Fire Island Cook Book.
It was written by 2 of the nicest guys I know – Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jensen, also known as The World Wine Guys. They have the awful job of travelling around the world writing about wine and food. Poor things.
This cook book was inspired by Mike and Jeff’s summers on Fire Island, which is about a 2 hour drive East of New York City. We had such fun shooting it, and with my great friend Paul Lowe aka Sweet Paul doing food and props, they were the best 4 days ever.
The recipes, by the way, are so delicious and pretty easy to make. You can buy the book here.
I’ll post more of the dishes that we shot in the next few weeks, but this one I had to do first.
Who can resist dense cake-y chocolate with salted caramel sauce.
Not me!

Recipe:

Brownies -
8 ounces / 225g unsweetened chocolate *
8 ounces / 225g butter (or 2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
* a side note – I used semi sweet chocolate chips because that is all I had. I then halved the sugar to 1 cup

Salted Caramel Sauce -
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teasoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon Fleur De Sel / Maldon Salt

Method for Brownies:
Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C
Butter a 9 x 12 inch metal baking pan

On a double boiler (make sure top container is not touching the water – see here for how to set up a double boiler), bring the water in the pan to a boil.
Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl and stir until melted.
Whisk in the sugar. Remove from the heat and let rest.
Whisk the eggs in a seperate bowl.
Little by little add the melted chocolate into the eggs, whisking constantly until completely mixed.
Slowly add flour and salt until everything is combined.
Pour the mixture into the baking pan and bake for about 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out relatively clean.
Be careful not to overcook.
Let cool for about 20 minutes.

Method for Salted Caramel Sauce:
In the meantime, heat the sugar in a heavy bottomed medium saucepan over a moderate  to high heat, whisking constantly.
When the sugar begins to bubble, stop stirring and wait until it begins to caramelize to an amber colour.
Add the butter and begin whisking again.
After all the butter is melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the heavy cream a little at a time. It is important to continue to whisk at this stage. If the cream foams up don’t worry, this is normal. Just keep mixing.
When all the cream is added and the foaming stops, add the fine sea salt and stir well.
Let the salted caramel rest until the brownies come out the oven.

While the brownies are warm and are still in the pan, pour the caramel sauce over the top until evenly coated.
If the sauce has become hard, just heat it up for a minute or two.
Sprinkle with the Fleur de Sel / Maldon Salt and let cool for 2 hours.

Now the challenge is to keep your fingers out of the pan for those 2 hours.
Who can do it?
Not me!


Thoughts on Entertaining

First of all I’d like to acknowledge that these pictures could be sharper. Not a great start for a professional food photographer. But in the interests of disclosure I had just  cooked, cleaned and set out food for 20 people, and in five minutes the doorbell would ring and the first guests would arrive. The light was low, the camera got shaky (it was a simple point and shoot). So let’s just say these are for reference only, and we’ll leave it at that!

The back story here is that a friend was having a baby (not her first) and my husband, I and a friend decided to give her a little party. We invited 20 people, they all came.

And this is the food that we served.
Very easy to prepare and so delicious.

The wonderful thing about this menu is that it’s good in summer, winter spring or fall (or autumn, as I used to say)

For 20 people I had:

2 lbs / 900g rare roast beef served with 2 kinds of mustard and cornichons

1lb / 900 g new potatoes tossed in butter and dill

1 lb / 450 g shrimp served with a spicy cocktail sauce

Home made cocktail meatballs served in a tomato sauce (recipe here)

A mushroom and fontina quiche (recipe here)

The ubiquitous cheeseboard (good idea is to mix it up. A cow, goat and sheep milk cheese OR any soft, semi soft and hard cheese such as a brie, a manchego and a cheddar.)
Serve with a bunch of grapes (looks pretty), some kind of cured meat (I used Biltong, which is like jerky) and some nuts. Of course something to eat with the cheese….crackers and thinly sliced baguette.

Crudite -
I used the following but you can use whatever is in season. Just try to make it look pretty. The more colourful, the better.
-3 bell peppers (red, green, orange)
-3 small cucumbers sliced length ways
- handful of radishes, green leaves attached
- asparagus lightly steamed
- 4 or 5 small carrots peeled, stalks left on but trimmed
All this was served with a store bought tzaziki sauce

White, Rosé and Red Wine, Beers too.

It was all pretty much eaten, but the best part about all of this was the left overs were fabulous! Cold roast beef, new potatoes and the left over crudite with a dash of tzaziki were perfect the next day.

More entertaining ideas to come. Let me know if you have any ideas to share too!

PS Anyone would be forgiven for thinking I didn’t live in New York, with the Biltong and the Steenberg Wooden Board, which was a gift from a very dear friend. The Biltong is surprisingly easy to get here. Try Braaitime


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