Proudly South African Pizza

Happy Heritage Day South Africans! And isn’t it just the most gorgeous sunny day to be celebrating our cultural heritage?

So in honour of the occasion, I give to you … Boerewors Pizza! I figure there is just no point posting braai (barbecue, for the non-South-Africans) recipes since every single South African has their own special recipe/equipment/technique/fuel of choice etc., which are all highly-flammable topics prone to heated debate.

I made this pizza for visitors from the Netherlands, whom I was fortunate enough to host for a night; on the day that they were due to arrive I was so excited that they were visiting that I woke up at the crack of dawn. I needed something to keep me busy and so made a batch of pizza dough – pizza dough is the best thing to have hanging around the freezer, and far, far superior to the alien plastic-tasting biscuit-y discs they sell in the freezer section of the supermarket under the name “Pizza Bases”. I generally freeze mine in the baking pan to keep them flat and round, then wrap them and stack them for future use. They can go straight from the freezer to the oven – this never fails to impress unexpected guests, you will earn some serious domestic-goddess points (I hear that if you rack up enough of these you can have your name changed to “Nigella”).

Anyway, so I then had all this pizza dough and got to thinking maybe it would make a nice light lunch for my guests before we launched into the braai-proper with all the meaty bells and whistles. And then I thought “well, the pizza is round, and the boerewors is in a round spiral shape” and that led to this awesome pizza. It’s kind of a cross between a Boerie Roll and a pizza, which makes it slightly fancier and it’s much more attractive with it’s boerewors “stripes” on each slice.

 

For one Proudly South African Pizza: (plus 2 or 3 spare pizza bases for the freezer)

1kg cake flour

1 sachet (10g) instant yeast

2 tablespoons of sugar

4 teaspoons of salt

2 tablespoons of olive oil

3 cups of warm NOT HOT water (if it’s hot it will kill the yeast)

1 spiral boerewors (if you aren’t fortunate enough to be South African, get a big fat coarse sausage, and shape it into a spiral. Shame.)

1 large onion, plus some sugar and vinegar

Tomato puree from a can

Cheese – I used grated cheddar and mozzarella (you can’t have a pizza without mozzarella, if the Mafia gets wind of it they will throw you in a cement mixer).

Large handful of fresh coriander leaves

Mrs. Ball’s chutney for serving

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then make a well in the centre. Add the oil and half of the water into the well and mix, pulling flour into the middle. Add more water little by little as needed. It will form a sticky icky dough – have hot soapy water waiting in the kitchen sink in case you need to use your hands for something else. There must be some kind of law that says that as soon as your hands are covered in gloopy dough, your phone will ring or your nose will itch.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface, then take a deep breath and flex your muscles in preparation for the next step – 10 minutes of energetic kneading until it becomes smooth and elastic. Place the ball of dough in a bowl and cover lightly with clingfilm, then leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until it’s doubled in size. You know how if you go to gym and don’t go the next day, you are even more stiff on the second day after the workout? So now that you’ve given your arms a serious workout, you need to keep them moving so they don’t end up stiff and sore. I recommend lifting a wine bottle with one hand and pouring the contents into a large glass in the other hand, then alternate hands to lift the glass to your mouth.

This is also the time to cook the boerewors and the onion. Put the boerewors in a medium-heat pan (no fat needed – it’s got plenty) and cook slowly, turning occasionally until it’s cooked through and well browned (you could do this on the braai too, by the way, but I didn’t want to start a fire just for one sausage). Peel the onion and slice in half, then finely slice. When the boerewors is done, remove it and set it aside to cool then fry the onions in the boerewors fat until it’s really soft. Add a bit of sugar followed by a splash of vinegar, and keep cooking until it’s sticky and soft and caramelised (keep tasting and add more sugar, vinegar or salt as needed) (but don’t eat all of it!). When the boerewors is cool, slice it in half through the middle – if it’s kept whole it will be far too heavy and filling. Now you have an excuse to make a second boerewors pizza!

When the dough’s ready, divide it up into 3 or 4 equal pieces (the number of pizza bases will depend on how big and how thin your want your pizza to be). This pizza will be quite rich so when you start rolling the pieces out, put some elbow-grease into it and get it as thin as possible – I’m talking thin to the point of transparency, about 3mm at most.

Spread a bit of tomato puree over the pizza base. A note on the tomato concoction used on pizza’s – there are hundreds of recipes for the perfect tomato sauce, but to me it’s not the focal point of the dish hence not worth spending tons of time over the stove for. No-one’s ever complained that the pizza is lacking in tomato-ness.

Evenly sprinkle lots of grated cheese over the tomato – it will act as a delicious ooey-gooey glue, holding the toppings in place when you cut the pizza. Then sprinkle the caramelised onion over the cheese, followed by the halved boerewors spiral.

Heat the oven to maximum temperature (mine is 230 degrees Celsius) then bake the pizza for 10-15 minutes or until the base is golden at the edges and everything is hot and bubbling.

Scatter ripped-up coriander over the top (coriander, because there’s lots of coriander seed in the boerewors), slice into wedges, and serve with Mrs. Balls chutney for dolloping over the top. Wash it down with a big fat red wine or large quantities of beer, out in the sun on a picnic blanket while you start the braai. Sing the national anthem, if you like (nevermind the neighbours, the song’s not that long).

Later, when everyone’s stumbled off home, have a slice of cold leftover pizza while patriotically reading a bit of Herman Charles Bosman’s Voorkamer Stories (my favourite so far is “A Bekkersdal Marathon”). Wash it down with a little keelnatmakertjie of OBS :-).

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The FRIKKIN’ AWESOME Food and Wine Show!

Ok, ok, so it’s actually called the Good Food and Wine Show but the word “Good” is so completely inadequate!

I suspect that it’s the use of the lukewarm adjective “good” that resulted in my total lack of interest in the show in past years: somehow it didn’t really bleep on my radar. Until this year when I found my most amazing cheffy friend Gill from Foodiction busy making arrangements for the Masterchef stand using names like “Adam Liaw” and “Callum Hann” as if they were normal people she bumps into every other day (this gives an indication of what an  important fancy-pants person she is!).

{the mastermind behind the masterchef stand}

So here’s the thing:

I have had the sickest crush on Adam ever since the Masterchef Australia 2010 season aired – isn’t he just the cutest, most adorablest celebrity chef? He’s just so happy and upbeat, and it doesn’t hurt that he posts pictures of cute baby animals to his Facebook page. Right from the soles of his tatty sneakers to the very pinnacle of his top-knot, he is pure undiluted AWESOMENESS!! When I saw him doing his live cooking show today, I was totally starstruck.

So of course when I had my chance to actually walk up to him and be in his space and breathe the same air, I had a total brain stutter and I couldn’t remember how to talk or think. I completely forgot to grab a chicken wing from the plateful he had just prepared, I even forgot to ask politely for a hug (in retrospect maybe that was better, since it would have taken several muscular security men to prise me off of Adam’s person with a crowbar and the jaws of life)… but I’m so glad I got to meet him anyway and I can’t wait to make from-scratch Laksa paste from my copy of his book My Two Asian Kitchens. Hang on, let me re-phrase – my autographed copy of his book! Neener neener neener!!

{yes, that is my “about to keel over with joy” face}

{go get yourself a copy already!}

After this amazing experience I wandered off, in a happy daze with wobbly knees and a stupid grin plastered across my face… a little while later I started to regain some of my mental faculties, and began to realise what an awesome event I was participating in. I spent several hours getting pleasantly lost between stands, scoffing samples of everything and swooning over some of the goodies on offer. Many of the products are so simple but so clever – well done to the smartypants people who thought to turn them into business opportunities! I had lots of “why didn’t I think of that?” moments.

{The quality of the photographs is absolutely appalling, but that’s all due to being totally and utterly Adam-struck}.

{fruit bouquets – who’d-a thunk it}

{the amazing promo guys at Grater Plate – they looked like they were having so much fun!}

{the Grater-Plate… it’s great… and it’s a plate}

{DIY hot chocolate and marshmallows, from Koko Chocolate Company}

{love retro, and when it’s in pink it’s even better! the nice people at Snappy Chef took great pains in helping me get a good shot}

{all i want for Christmas…}

The show is on until Monday 24th, so if you are in Johannesburg do yourself a favour this long weekend – dislodge your bottom from the couch and get down to the Coca-Cola Dome. Go look for the Masterchef stand and cheer loudly for Foodiction’s amazing team! Then go to the Kitchenaid stand and buy me one of everything!

PS: If you’re a fellow Adam-fan – let’s do our hair like his! Top-knots are very fashionable nowadays so we’ll be considered “fashion-forward”.

Five Things: Panda to My Every Wish

{Bakerella makes it look so easy}

Why on earth pandas? is probably what you are thinking. Well it all started when I joined a friend at his very modern church this past weekend (no, I was not struck down by lightning as I entered, in case you were wondering).

Anyway, it’s a long story and what I really wanted to say is that the mascot is an enormous 6-foot panda that scared the bejeezus out of me and so I thought I needed some positive panda-ness in my life this week.

{I had such a giggle – the website advertising “Kotobuki Panda” products says: If your child is very difficult to eat, you must try the panda kitchen appliance to add their eating taste.}

{panda wine bottle holder from Lighthouses Unlimited}

{Bakerella again – frikkin’ overachiever!}

{Today I’m Making Mostly Chocolate Apron at zazzle.com}

Fong Kong Chicken

This is my take on my Gran’s Hong Kong Chicken and as we all know, nothing beats your own Granny’s cooking – even if the name is misleading.

This is literally finger-licking good, because you WILL end up using your hands to get into the savoury stickiness surrounding the chicken – it’s sticky and gloopy and salty and sweet and tangy… kind of like Marmite and jam fell in love and had a beautiful, if freakish, baby. It’s like Black Gold and if I could figure out a way to mass-produce and bottle it, I’m fairly certain I would be a gazillionaire (only fairly because I would probably gobble up all the stock before it reached a shop shelf).

{if I was Nigella, this is where I would use the word “burnished”}

(Talking of Marmite and Jam – apparently, there’s a huge Marmite vs. Jam thing going on. Like Team Angelina vs. Team Jennifer. Or Team Edward vs. Team Jacob. Maybe this recipe will bridge the gap? Anway, there are lots of amazing artists out there using Marmite and Jam in their masterpieces, so just imagine what they could do with this Hong Kong sauce!).

{Welsh artist Nathan Wyburn}

{another weird coincidence – this is toast art in Hong Kong…}

As for the name: this dish has nothing to do with Hong Kong despite the soy sauce Asian factor. According to the PE Herald, it originated in Port Elizabeth – which is so richly bizarre because half my family lives in PE, and I was there just last week! I will have to go back and research this some more, methinks.

Here’s an excerpt from the news article by Gillian McAinsh:

 

For enough Hong Kong Chicken to give four people deliciously sticky fingers:

One chicken’s worth of chicken parts with skin and bones (you could use about 500g skinless, boneless breasts instead but it will of course be less rich)

~200ml Soy Sauce – not the fancy flavoured kinds, or speciality ones all the way from Asia. I’m talking the cheap local ones that don’t come with fancy descriptive terms on the front.

A handful or so of brown sugar

2 teaspoons chopped fresh garlic

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a roasting tin, mix the sauce, sugar and garlic. There should be quite a lot of undissolved sugar in the bottom still (look at the spoon in the photo). It should look like a lovely salty night sky with little twinkling garlic constellations… launch the chicken portions into this starry starry night, turning to coat them all over.

Then, pop the lot into the hot oven with the chicken ugly-side (non-skin-side) up – this is so that when you turn it right way up before serving it will look better. Bake for an hour, turning the chicken once about halfway through. Toss the chicken a bit to coat in the by-now thick syrupy sticky sauce. Serve with something which will help get all the sauce off the plate – it is not to be wasted! If there’s any left call me and I’ll help you out. Lick your plate clean if necessary. Nobody will look down on you for doing this, because they will all be doing it too. Finger-licking lip-smackingly good!

PS: I’ve even tried the sauce on toast, to check if it was any good as a Marmite/jam substitute – I’m happy to report that it’s even better.

PPS: This chicken makes a-MA-zing leftovers for lunch over Fong Kong couscous (recipe coming soon!) with crispy steamed veggies.

Seriously Sesame Cookies

When you are in a serious, pensive frame of mind and require a a cookie to match, might I suggest these crispy crunchy Sesame Lemon cookies – they are not the sugary frilly kind that appeal to kids (which means more for you, of course). They are grown-up sophisticated cookies which are the perfect partners for deeply serious thought and meaningful contemplation. A yoga mat might be necessary. That, or you  could offer these round when you have very serious sombre visitors such as accountants or headmistresses.

All of this was prompted by a contemplative mood, a cold evening requiring the oven to be in use, and the following thought-provoking question by Mitch Hedberg (with a bit of subtle editing by myself):

“What’s a sesame grow into? I don’t know, we never give them a chance, what the *fudge* is a sesame? It’s a street… It’s a way to open *ship*…”

Yes, there is more to sesame seeds than just being the speckles on fast-food burger buns – they make pretty awesome cookies too.

For about 30 Crisp Sesame Cookies:

1 cup sesame seeds (I used the kind with the husks on, extra fibre is always good – wholewheat? whole-sesame, maybe?)

1 cup butter, melted and cooled

1 cup brown sugar

1.5 teaspoons fresh lemon zest

Juice of a lemon

1 egg, beaten

1 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Spread the sesame seeds out on a baking pan and put them into the hot oven for 10 minutes (don’t let them burn now – these are sesame cookies, not charred remains cookies) to toast. Remove them from the oven and let them cool down a bit.

While the seeds are having a break, stir all the other ingredients into the melted butter then add the cooled sesame seeds. Be warned – it will not look attractive at this point. It will look suspiciously like Maille’s wholegrain mustard, or something that came out the back end of a bird with digestive health troubles. Soldier on, it will work out fine.

Drop the mix by teaspoonfuls on a well greased baking sheet (silicon liners are THE BEST), spacing them quite far apart (5cm or so) to leave room for spreading. Bake for about 7 minutes – as soon as the edges brown, whip them out; they will continue to cook on the hot tray. Leave them to rest for at least 2 minutes before carefully removing them to cool down and crisp up on a cooling rack. They will be crisp and taste almost peanut-buttery, with the acidity of the lemon preventing it from becoming monotonously stodgy.

Prepare whichever type of tea you find most conducive to sage reflection on life, the universe, and everything – I’m into Organic Chai at the moment with the teeniest trifle of honey. Grab an appropriate book which suits your pensive mood (Kahlil Gibran is very good for profound thoughts) and sink into deep thought as you sink your teeth into a seriously sesame cookie…

 

PS: Mitch Hedberg’s question has been at the back of my mind all day. Especially the bit that says ‘we never give them a chance”. Surely everyone deserves a chance, even a sesame seed… I don’t have green fingers but figured it’s worth a shot, watch this space:

Say Cheese!

If you are a fellow cheese-fan (and who isn’t?) then this is the recipe for you… a gorgeous, golden, puffy, fluffy Cheese Bread Pudding which has all the nose-in-the-air appearance of a fancypants cheese souffle but in reality is so easy to make that it feels very much like cheating. I used to avoid giving the recipe out because I found it so embarrassing to admit that no carefully constructed roux or delicate folding-in of fragile egg whites was involved… until I realised I was doing everyone a favour by providing an alternative to the nerve-wracking experience that is a dinner-party souffle. There is nothing more dismal than a souffle that doesn’t rise to the occasion, all because you looked at it funny; they are such finnicky oversensitive little things.

Anyway, the faux-souffle; the secret is to really beat the bejeezus out of the egg/milk mixture and not to open the oven while it’s building up it’s volume. It’s supposed to go particularly well with roast meat (like a Boozy Bird), but it’s so popular that I serve it with just about anything (my sister described it as “toast that Jesus touched” – I think she was a little overwhelmed by the whole experience).

Ring the changes with different cheeses, as long as there’s far too much of it you can’t go wrong. This faux-souffle is cheesier than a Pauly Shore movie (and if you don’t get this joke then I urge you to go out and find the movies Biodome, Son in Law and California Man and watch them with immediate effect).

 

 

 

 

 

For one large Savoury Cheesy Bread Pudding:

1 long stick of French bread, or 1.5 – 2 baguettes, of the stale crusty variety

Lots of butter, for spreading

200g cheese – I recommend a mix of a nice sharp Cheddar, Mozzarella and Parmesan as a start

Crushed garlic – about a tablespoon (optional)

500ml milk

3 large eggs

salt and freshly-ground black pepper

A bit more cheese, since you will have been nibbling off the initial 200g

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, then grease a suitable receptacle with butter – I use a large round glass dish, which won’t look horrible on the table once the pudding is done.

Then slice the bread into 1cm thick slices. Eat the pointy end bits with some of the butter – you are the one doing all the hard work here, you need to keep your energy levels up. Now for some unadulterated gluttony: butter the bread lavishly on both sides of each slice. If you are using the garlic, sprinkle a little on some of the slices.

Exercising huge restraint, grate the cheeses. Wear a bib if necessary.

Place a layer of buttery bread in the bottom of the dish, followed by a sprinkling of cheese. Continue layering (like a lasagna – but so much better) and end with a nice dense layer of cheesy goodness, and embellishments of your choice if preferred – I added finely chopped parsley, for some pizzazz.

Now, summoning Herculean strength, beat the eggs, milk and seasoning together until frothy and foamy, and your arm feels like the bones have been replaced with elastic bands. The best way to do it and save your arm is to put it into a bottle, seal tightly, then shake it like crazy, until you are exhausted by the effort. And just when you’re think you’re quite done, give it five more minutes.

Pour this aerated egginess over the assembled bread pudding, and allow it to sink in for just a few minutes. Then pop it into the oven (not too close to the top as it can rise very high and you don’t want it touching the element – unless you enjoy cleaning burnt remains off the inside of the oven) and watch magic happen – it will start to puff and puff some more and become a rich gold colour. It will be done after 45 minutes and should be served fairly quickly as it will deflate a little on cooling. Not that this will change the taste of course, but it is very impressive when it’s in all it’s souffle-y glory and you can expect some spontaneous applause at the table.

Normally I have my nose wedged into a book while eating but in this case, full attention must be paid, and sufficient quantities should be eaten to necessitate a nap shortly after consumption…

“A meal without some cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye”

– Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin,  late 1700′s famous French philosopher, gourmand, and avid cheese lover

Head-Over-Heels Pear Cake

WHOOP WHOOP for pear season! Don’t you just love them? I do – so much so that my own shape resembles theirs – but they are very temperamental fruit; there’s just no way of telling if they are ready for you to eat them or not and they either turn out to be tasteless mush, or else they have the same texture as granite and will chip your teeth.

So how to circumnavigate the dilemma of the imperfect pear? Put it in a good old-fashioned upside-down cake. It doesn’t matter what they start out as, somehow the cake transforms even the most stubborn pear into something yummy and beautiful. And it doesn’t need any further embellishment by way of icing or whatnot, perfect for when you don’t really want to spend a nice spring day beating buttercream into submission in a stuffy kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For one Head Over Heels cake:

3 small or 2 large pears – any variety, any degree of ripeness, this cake will sort them out good and proper

200g softened butter

200g castor sugar (although I find that regular sugar works just as well, just make sure it’s really fluffy after creaming)

3 eggs, room temperature

200g self-raising flour

3 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and thoroughly grease a suitable cake receptacle. I have baked this in a regular cake tin, two small loaf pans and even a pyrex dish – no problem at all.

Then prepare the pears; peel them and core them and then slice them into wedges. I don’t own a corer, so I kind of slice the wedges off of the core. If you are quite greedy, cut big fat wedges, so that when it comes to cutting the cake you have get a nice big slice.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and pale, then beat the eggs in well one by one (for the beating, use an electric beater – I love a good wooden spoon but if you want a nice fluffy cake you would have to beat until you have blisters). Fold in the flour with a spatula, then stir in the milk.

Arrange the pears in a pretty pattern in the baking dish, then spoon the batter evenly over the top. Don’t pour it in, or you will move the pear wedgies out of position when you try to push the batter to the edges of the pan. Bake for about 45 minutes – this may seem long but trust me, it really is 45 minutes. If you remove it any sooner the cake will still be gloopy in the middle and this is not ideal for slicing later. The cake will be golden brown and the sides will start to pull away from the pan, and the pear-infused steam will smell divine.

Remove from the oven, let it stand for 5-10 minutes, then turn it out onto a pretty serving plate. It’s very good served warm, with a little icing sugar sifted over the top. If you really want to take this cake from Upside-Down to Head-Over-Heels, serve it with creamy caramel sauce *eyes unfocus and drool happens*.

Settle in with a book about head-over-heel-edness: I recommend The Man With The Dancing Eyes by Sophie Dahl. It’ll take about two slices of cake to read it from cover to cover, and it’s as yummy as the cake is. It had horrible reviews but I strongly suspect that that’s because the reviewers did not have access to cake while reading it. Shame.

Sassy Molassy Cookies

After my initial exuberance (and much foraging in the wardrobe for sundresses and flip-flops) about Spring having Sprung, I realised I may be jumping the gun just a little. The days are lovely and warm and sunny but the evenings are still a little nippy and require a bit of central heating in the form of a steaming cuppa and it’s carbohydrate-rich sidekick.

{sassy sidekick}

I became interested in molasses last year (long story…) – I always thought it was revolting sticky medicinal gunk but on further inspection it turns out to be rich, slightly tangy, sweet yummity yumness. Black Velvet, indeed.

Now of course one cannot eat all by its lonesome little self, so what better way to get it inside your insides than in the form of a big chewy American-style cookie (I’m not sure if it’s because of the song, but molasses has always had some sort of mental association with the American Deep South to me) (even the name of this cookie is significantly improved if you say it with a nice Southern drawl, ya’ll) (you just said it out loud with an accent didn’t you? Bet you did!!).

The only drawback (which is minor, considering the outcome) is that you need to plan ahead for these as they need a bit of standing time; having had a senior moment I forgot this once but they worked fine despite having only an hour of repose.

They make fantastic homemade Christmas gifts topped with red and green sweeties and stacked in a pretty jar. They are soft and chewy, not crisp and snappy – apparently, if they do get too crisp, storing a slice of fresh bread in the tin with them will return them to their original texture . I can’t verify this because despite making double batches, I’ve never had any stick around long enough to turn crunchy. These really are sassy cookies – full of big flavour, not too sweet, with a nice spicy note. These are no prissy little pinky-out vanilla cookies that’s for sure.

For a sufficiently large quantity of Sassy Molassy Cookies:

1 and a half cups butter or margarine

2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup molasses (if you can find it use blackstrap – its the strong manly stuff that will put hair on any cookies chest) (not literally, of course. Ew!)

2 eggs

4 cups cake flour

4 teaspoons baking soda (SODA not POWDER)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

Sugar, for coating

Melt the butter in the microwave, then allow it to cool. When its about room temperature, add the sugar, molasses and eggs and beat well to combine. Tan its hide!

In a separate bowl, sift and mix the dry ingredients together then add to the liquid ingredients. Mix well, then cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight – yes, it will look like something from the Poop on Toast blog post, but it will turn out just fine.

When the dough has had enough time loafing around the fridge, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Pour sugar (I use soft brown sugar to keep the molasses theme going) into a small bowl, then form blobs of dough into balls and roll them in the sugar. I make them quite big – maybe 4 or 5cm diameter? This gives cookies the size of a small saucer. That way you can put your goody-two-shoes face on and say “I shall have just this one cookie” and mean it.

Anyway, so put the sugar-coated balls (there’s a nice blog post topic) and place them AT LEAST 5cm apart on a greased cookie sheet, and if they’re quite large you want to keep them as far apart as possible. Bake for 8-10 minutes, and allow them to cool a little before carefully removing from the sheet before putting the next lot in – remember, they’re not crispy and crunchy and they must be handled with care while warm.

Store them in an airtight container that’s out of your reach, otherwise you WILL eat too many in one go.

Now on one of these chill-in-the-air Spring evenings, when the sun is setting like molasses in the sky, sit yourself down with a hot cup of coffee and a cookie, and tuck in while reading a book set in the Deep South… try The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells – its far better than the movie (wasn’t Maggie Smith’s accent just – appalling? I don’t use that word lightly). It is quite a thick book, so you may need another cookie or two or five to see you through it :-).

Five Things: Spring in the Kitchen

Typically one would spring-clean in spring…

So I say once you’ve turfed all the wonky forks, battered baking tins and assorted jars containing last-little-bits of expired ingredients, fill up all that prime kitchen real estate with some fresh new spring goodies!

{Scoops of Flower measuring spoons from modcloth}

{cute cookie cutters from yuppiechef}

{Fresh Skills utensil set from modcloth}

{Cake Pop pan from yuppiechef ~ i LOVE!}

{Bloom for Improvement kitchen brush from modcloth}

A Salad for Spring Day

Happy Spring Day everyone!

Also, Happy Braai Day if you’re South African!!

In an ode to both Spring Day and Braai Day (and bikini season looming on the horison, boo-hoo!) here’s the recipe for my favourite salad. It’s the only green salad I know of that gets people returning for seconds; it’s got the sweet earthiness of the butternut balanced with the salty creamy cheese, which in turn is balanced with crisp red onion and crunchy pumpkin seeds, with a nice bite coming from peppadews and balsamic vinegar – all against a backdrop of peppery leaves. And it’s so pretty too!

If you want to go all-out with it, try adding thinly sliced biltong or smoked chicken, or how about replacing the feta with a nice stinky gorgonzola?

 

 

To make a big bowl of Roast Butternut & Feta salad (serves 4-6):

(all quantities are approximate by the way – it’s salad for crying out loud!)

250g butternut, peeled and diced

1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced

150g Danish feta, cubed

Handful of raw pumpkin seeds

Handful of hot peppadews (the pickled kind, but drain the liquid off), sliced into strips

Herby mixed salad leaves (things like rocket, mizuna, baby spinach, radicchio, etc.), torn up if the leaves are very big

If you’ve bought pre-packed butternut cubes (life is too short to try to peel butternut), then they are most likely enormous chunks which need some taken off the back and sides – using a sharp knife, cut them into 2 x 2cm cubes. Toss them in a tiny amount of olive oil with salt and pepper, then roast at 180 degrees Celsius for about 45 minutes – they need to be cooked through but not mushy and falling to pieces. Let the cubelets cool to room temperature before assembling the salad (cold butternut cubes seem slimy to me, but maybe that’s just me).

While the butternut is roasting, heat a dry pan and toast the pumpkin seeds. As they heat up, the oils will come to the surface and they will become shiny and darken slightly – watch them carefully, because burnt pumpkin seeds have a very different taste to toasted pumpkin seeds! When they are ready they will sound dry and crispy as you move them round the pan. Decant them into a dish so that they don’t end up burning in the residual heat of the pan.

Then assemble the salad while nibbling on 50g of the feta:

Scatter the leaves into a pretty salad dish, followed by a sprinkling of onion, butternut, feta, peppadews, and the toasted seeds. Try to make sure that you can see all the different ingredients for a pretty salad. Then, splash gently with a bit of balsamic just before serving, and watch in amazement as everyone gobbles it up and comes back for more.

Serve at a braai with lots of good friends and cold beer!