Blue Elephant Royal Thai Cuisine: Tom Yam Sour & Spicy Soup Meal Kit

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Product Review:

Blue Elephant Royal Thai Cuisine: Tom Yam Sour & Spicy Soup Meal Kit

Cook at home like in Bangkok

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Includes 2 packs each of:

  • Tom Yam Soup Paste
  • Fish Sauce
  • Dried spices (dried Thai lime leaves, dried galangal, dried lemongrass)

My night at The Blue Elephant Restaurant in London was one of my fondest dining experience memories. I tried crocodile Carpaccio for the first time which was mouth watering, fall off the bone fish arrived at your table wrapped inside the bamboo leaf that it was steamed in, and the middle of the room was the most beautiful lush garden scene of an actual bridge crossing over a koi fish pond. Aaahh..I miss you London..or I miss you Phuket?

So anyway, when I came across this Blue Elephant meal kit I was intrigued, but because I prefer to make my Thai soups and curries from scratch, I skipped it. A few weeks ago though, I moved and as a house warming gift, my sister and her hubby sponsored a R500 Woolworths online shop and of course when you’ve just moved, the easier and quicker the meals, the better (without sacrificing taste of course), so needless to say this was one of the first items in my basket.

Each box’s contents are enough for 4 meals so is definitely worth the price. The recipe on the box advises you to simply add 1 Tbsp. lime juice, 8 mushrooms and 200g headless prawns.

I won’t take you through the whole recipe on the box as you can simply follow the instructions when or if you buy the product yourself, but I will tell you how I adjusted the recipe slightly and added my own twist to the dish.

  • First I defrosted 10 large prawns from Checkers (for 2 servings) in the fridge for a day. I then washed them off and patted them dry (water and hot oil don’t play nice).
  • When I was ready for dinner, I fried my shell-on prawns (prawns are much tastier with their shells still in-tact) in some olive oil on medium to high heat for 1 minute. I added in some chunky onion bits (fried onions soak up so much flavour and sweeten any dish), 8 plum tomatoes quartered and a pack of exotic mushrooms (shitake and oyster) from Checkers and continued frying this all together on medium heat, while constantly stirring for about 2 more minutes.
  • I then added the boiling water to the pot, as well as the tom yam paste, the full sachet of fish sauce (the recipe says to not be heavy handed with the fish sauce but this sachet amount I found very mild), and 1 Tbsp. sugar (I added an extra ½ Tbsp. sugar later too as the tom yam paste was overpowering the sweetness). After 30 seconds I removed the prawns to avoid them overcooking.
  • I brought the mixture to the boil without the prawns and allowed it to simmer on medium to low heat for about 5 minutes to get the max flavour out of the spices.
  • I then added ½ Tbsp. lime juice (but ended up adding another 2 limes worth of juice to the mixture as the sweet and sour taste was not prominent enough).
  • I then threw the prawns back in for the last 1 minute just to warm up.
  • After ladling the soup into two bowls, I sprinkled some chopped up spring onion over the top

On the first night, I thought it was pretty tasty but that it still needed some more lime (but I do love my sour in this kind of soup) and I also didn’t think it was hot enough. The box shows 3 chilli’s worth of heat and even recommends using less paste if you don’t like chilli, but I could hardly taste the chilli at all. So next time I think I will add some chopped up red chilli too.

Overall I really loved the flavours though and as I thought, the fried onions, the tomatoes, the extra lime and extra sugar gave it that additional oomph that I really love in Thai soups.

On the second night, I enjoyed my left overs even more! Like with most dishes with a sauce or a soup, an additional day standing enhances the flavours of the dish. In this dish, time allowed the flavours from the dried herbs and prawns to be absorbed into the mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and soup itself even more, and the result was incredible! A Lemongrass and kaffir lime delight!

I will definitely be buying this meal kit again, but I think next time I may make it on Saturday and then enjoy the whole two servings all on my own for Sunday lunch!

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The Boston Beer Party, Durban

 

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Boston Breweries, situated in Paarden Eiland, Cape Town, Western Cape has been brewing expertly crafted beers for many, many years now, but they were officially registered in 2000 when they took Slaapstad by storm. And man! Have they come a long way in 17 years! They won popular acclaim in South Africa so quickly that to keep up with the demand, they had to advance from a modest 100 litre system to the production of 8000 litres per month, and then even further to an impressive current brewing capacity of 32000 litres of beer in just 1 month.

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Chris Barnard, the Chief Brewer and founder of Boston Breweries was always passionate about beer, but after travelling the world, tasting many a foreign beer and catching a mere glimpse of the potential that South African beer could have, he made a decision that would change not only his life, but also take the craft beer scene in Cape Town, and now South Africa, to a whole nother level.

Boston Breweries now boasts 12 different types of craft beer, that not only have beautifully designed labels to match that beer’s individual personality, but also offer their own unique flavours and distinct tasting notes that make them stand out from the rest of the craft beers on the market.

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But what really makes Boston Brewery beers so special? If it’s not enough that their range of crisp, tasty craft beers offer something for everyone, even the non-beer lovers, then maybe the fact that all their beers are 100% hand made and naturally brewed using malted barley, water, yeast and hops will win you over? Or the fact that Chris Barnard himself personally checks and tastes every single batch of beer that is brewed before it is approved for production. Or maybe that the equipment maintenance at all their supplier restaurants and pubs is closely monitored by Boston to ensure it is methodically carried out in a meticulously timeous manner. What more could you ask for? Try one today!

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But first let me tell you about the party that I had the pleasure of throwing last weekend, sponsored by Boston Breweries, centred around a taste testing of their 12 varieties of beers. Hear the opinions of the people, first hand, right here, right now.

We got the party off to a great start in the late afternoon. It was a typically sweltering hot and humid Durban summer day when even the evening approaching doesn’t offer any sort of relief. But we did have one form of relief. The hot and bothered guests arrived to not only a glistening pool begging to be embraced, but also an assortment of free freezing cold Boston Beers chilling in cooler boxes overflowing with ice blocks. Accompanied by some party tunes, girl talk and guy talk around the pool, there was nothing more we needed for a night we would never forget (except for maybe some Tequila shots to get everybody even more loosened up and into both the competitive and social spirit).

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Why competitive you say? Well for the Boston Breweries Beer Tasting Challenge of course. It’s hilarious the different sides that come out as soon as you mention a test. All the super competitive over-achievers start filling in their forms before everyone else, looking over their shoulders to make sure nobody is copying them, the panickers get sweaty palms and start stuttering, and the cheaters stand out like sore thumbs. It was Team 1 vs. Team 2. Each team tasted 5 different beers and then had to guess the tasting notes. Team 1 consisted of 3 guys and 2 girls, and Team 2 of 2 guys and 3 girls. And the ages ranged from 25 to 41. We had a nice cultural mix of South Africans, Americans, Dutch-Indonesion/ Germans, English and Swiss to ensure we had a fair worldly case study (just kidding, that was totally by accident). All the ladies except 2 were beer drinkers, but those who did like beer said that they preferred lighter, more fruity beers with less of a hops aftertaste. Of course all the guys love beer and most also agreed that lighter, easy to drink beers were their favourite.

Each team had to rate the beers allocated to them on a scale from 1 to 5 and tell us what they liked about each beer. In Team 1 the Wild Honey Blonde came out tops and even when comparing what the 2 ladies liked vs. the 3 guys, this drink STILL took the top spot. The team described it as light, with very little hops aftertaste, and sweet with pleasant undertones of honey, mead and molasses.

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In Team 2, Whale Tale Ale shot to first place by a long shot but when comparing the 3 ladies to the 2 guys’ opinions, even though the girls still favoured Whale Tale Ale because it was light, easy drinking, the guys raved about the Arid Light, giving it full marks, interestingly also stating that it was light, easy drinking with absolutely nothing to complain about.

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Then came the really fun part, hearing who could guess the correct tasting notes or alternatively what the perfect paired food was for each beer. Well which team had the most sensitive and experienced palates? It was a close call, but in the end it was a fair draw, which meant Kit Kats for everyone! Woohoo…sugar!

In addition to that, there were some surprising outcomes from the girls. Alexa may have discovered her new favourite beer – the Wild Honey Blonde and Minette fell in love with the Pumpkin Ale. She really enjoyed the clear notes of Pumpkin & Cinnamon – something she said she could see herself serving to family and friends at Christmas time. Minette is an Art Director come Graphic Designer for Mr Price so it definitely means something when she says she also loved all the label designs!

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After consuming a fair amount of beer, we were definitely ready to eat and line our stomachs for some more beer! As is customary with SA braais, far too much braai meat was passed around with delicious sides of Greek salad with homemade croutons and a blue cheese & bacon potato salad dished up onto paper plates with plastic cutlery (is there any other way? Roughing it & loving it!) The group spread themselves out around the pool, legs dangling in the water and sipping on their next beer, chatting about anything and everything, and feeling very excited about the band now having full bellies and getting ready to perform.

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Johnny & Gabriel from the Holy Smokes & the Godforsaken Rollers, all the way from the States, graced us with an unforgettable acoustic performance and had us in a trance with their hauntingly beautiful voices, totally on-key whistling and catchy melodies you can’t help but tap your foot to. Their “dirty south” music fueled by a harmonica, a banjo, a guitar, and a violin was absolute goosebump material and we felt so honoured to have had them play and set the mood at our party (for free Boston Breweries beer of course).

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We were having such a good time that we didn’t even get around to playing Beer Pong. Chilled vibes on the lounger chairs under the starry sky & banana trees, with crazy dogs entertaining you, tends to do that to you.

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We finished the night off with some dancing around the pool and a late night dip. True friendships and tight connections were formed that night and it was all thanks to Boston Breweries. Thank you to Jacqui & the team for giving me this opportunity and for sponsoring the beers. It was an absolute pleasure hosting the party and exposing people from all over the globe to your gorgeous beers. Thank you also to all my friends especially Karen & Andre for opening up their home to us and Tatiana from lekkerness.com for spending all that time snapping so many of the party photos.

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For more info on their range, please read on (descriptions were supplied by Boston Breweries, and photographs taken by myself). For any further info on Boston Breweries, please contact jacqui@bostonbreweries.co.za while their website http://www.bostonbreweries.co.za/ is under construction. Follow me @my_insatiable_appetite on Instagram for more non-stop food porn and subscribe to my blog to receive notifications of upcoming blog posts on recipes and product / restaurant reviews.

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Now what you waiting for?! Go get you some of that Boston Breweries refreshment!

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Lemon & Parsley Prawn Spaghetti

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Nobody wants to come home after work and cook a two to three hour meal, then still have to clean up or fit in gym or help the kids with homework or finish that assignment that you’ve been pushing aside for a week. Not even the biggest foodies can protest to that. So I’ll be posting quite a few recipes this year that all the busy bodies out there will be able to very easily replicate and enjoy. The dishes that take a little bit longer and need a bit more love and attention can be left for the weekend 🙂

This Lemon & Parsley Prawn Spaghetti is the first addition to the quick fix dishes, and is one of those easy mid-week meals that is so tasty you’ll want to add it to your list of regular home cooked meals. It’s all about perfectly cooked prawns, complimented by beautiful citrus notes and fresh flat leaf parsley that just lifts all the flavours to that next level.

I hope you enjoy it!

RECIPE

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • Enough tagliatelle or spaghetti for 2 servings
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Approximately 16 prawns if large or more if medium or small sized (fully defrosted, deshelled and deveined)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • A handful of Italian parsley (half roughly chopped, the rest left as loose leaves)
  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed and chopped)
  • Freshly ground salt & pepper
  • Ina Paarman Pasta Spice

Method:

  • Pat your prawns dry with a clean cloth to remove as much moisture as possible (otherwise you’ll end up boiling your prawns instead of searing them)
  • Start boiling your pasta in a pot of water, salt & olive oil and cook until al dente
  • Meanwhile, on high heat, in a large frying pan, melt some butter and fry up your prawns to get a nice char on both sides then set aside before they are fully cooked through.
  • Turn your pan down to low to medium heat and add some more butter to the pan
  • Fry your garlic until just cooked, turn the heat up to medium to high while adding the prawns, chopped parsley, lemon zest and juice
  • As it starts boiling, add your al dente pasta to the pan and toss to distribute (you can also dish your pasta into 2 serving bowls first then pour the prawn mixture and juice over the top)
  • Split the mixture between two serving bowls, and garnish with the loose parsley leaves, salt & pepper to taste and a sprinkling of Ina Paarman Pasta spice
  • Enjoy!

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Christmas Corned Tongue, with Carrot & Cauliflower Purée

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Pickled Tongue with Carrot Purée

For me, Christmas has never been about the gifts and the tree. Sure we spent a few nights as a family listening to Boney-M and Mariah Carey Merry Xmas, while decorating the Christmas tree and wrapping presents, but this was not what I looked forward to the most. I’m sure you’ve already guessed it, but of course it’s the food that was only served on Christmas and New Years Day, that really got me excited about the holidays. Mama’s table was always predicably but satisfyingly filled with the same delights every year: mock crayfish cocktail, corned beef, smoked gammon, crispy roast chicken and trifle, but the pièce de résistance for me was always the pickled tongue. The December holidays were incomplete without it.

I always kept a close eye on the tongue once it was brought to the table and strategically positioned myself so that I was within arm’s reach of it once the serving started. I truly believe there was an unspoken competition amongst the tongue lovers in the family (the majority of us) to see who was going to get the most tongue onto their plate without looking like a glutton, and who could finish their first helping fast enough to get in there for seconds. I have always been a slow eater so I never got seconds but I just made sure that I had enough on my plate from the get go. And who could blame us for this culinary tug of war? Warm lashings of pickled beef tongue, slightly salty, slightly sweet and tenderness for days. And what better time to indulge and savour this meat delicacy than during the Festive Season.

I would go as far as to say I prefer this offal to a fillet steak. Yes, I just said that. So if you haven’t tried it yet, you really need to. Be sure to buy the right accompaniments though and never buy a tongue that isn’t already pickled unless you plan to make a homemade brine and pickle it yourself in herbs & spices for at least 14 days.

I love both sweet and sour flavour combinations with my tongue so I usually make a sweet carrot purée  or orange and parsley soaked carrots with slightly salty creamed spinach and serve that with an array of mustards including the amazing sour tarragon Dijon mustard my sister and brother-in-law bought us from Yuppiechef, and sweet Wholegrain and Honey Mustard. If you like a hit of heat in your meals, then a little Hot English Mustard is also delicious.

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Pickled Tongue with Orange juice & Parsley soaked Carrots and Creamed Spinach
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Tarragon Dijon Mustard

This year I am adding cauliflower purée because I just HAVE to try and recreate the Masterchef Australia plate smear using George Calombaris’s cauliflower purée recipe 🙂

Enjoy and have a most delicious Xmas!

RECIPE

Serves: 3 – 5 (depending on everyone’s level of gluttony)

Ingredients:

For the tongue:

  • 1kg pickled beef tongue
  • 4 bay leaves
  • A handful parsley
  • ½ onion, halved
  • 1 heaped tsp. wholegrain mustard
  • 2 heaped tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. whole peppercorns
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • 3 carrots (peeled and cut into 1/3s) from a 1 kg bag
  • 3 garlic cloves (halved and squashed)

For the purées:

  • Approximately 30g butter
  • The rest of the 1kg bag of carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 200g cauliflower (finely chopped)
  • ½ cup milk (I used vanilla milk which was delicious)
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly ground salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

For serving:

  • Tarragon Dijon Mustard or Honey Mustard or Wholegrain Mustard or Hot English Mustard

 

Method:

Pickled Tongue:

  • Throw all of the tongue ingredients above into a large pot of water, stir and bring to the boil while covered
  • Turn the heat down to 3 or 4, replace the lid and cook the tongue for 30 minutes per 500g plus an extra hour, turning the tongue over halfway through. The tongue must be very soft when piercing it with a fork. If not, let it cook for another 30 min until tender
  • In the last 30 mins, start cooking your carrots and cauliflower as per below
  • When the tongue is done, remove it from the pot, place on a heat proof surface and allow to cool slightly before you carefully start removing the skin
  • Place the peeled tongue back in the pot to soak up the flavours left in the water until your carrots & cauliflower purées are ready to be served.

Carrot Purée:

  • Steam the carrot chunks until just soft
  • Purée the carrots in a blender and season with salt & pepper
  • If your carrots are sweet, there is no need to add anything else, but you may want to run some butter and brown sugar through your purée if it tickles your fancy
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Carrot Purée

Cauliflower Purée

  • Add 20g butter to a sauce pan or pot that has a lid and melt over medium heat
  • Once melted, add the cauliflower, pinch of salt and milk
  • Cover the pan or pot with a lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 8-10 min or until the cauliflower is soft
  • Transfer the cauliflower alone to a blender and add a drizzle of olive oil, 10g butter and a small amount of the leftover milk from the pot
  • Process the cauliflower until smooth and add more of the milk if required.
  • Keep warm until dinner is served

To serve:

  • Using an electric knife, thickly slice the tongue
  • Smear the cauliflower and carrot purée across each plate and lay the tongue slices on top
  • Serve with the mustard sides and enjoy!
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Carrot & Cauliflower Purée smears
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Corned Tongue with cauliflower & carrot purée smears

The Good Food & Wine Show 2016

The Good Food & Wine show is probably one of the most exciting annual events for SA Foodies and Wine lovers alike. And man has it come a long way. It’s no longer only about exploring new flavours, discovering new food and wine brands, meeting your favourite Culinary Celebrities and attending as many food theatre programmes as possible. It now hugely focuses on healthy living and sustainability which is becoming increasingly important to extend not just our own lifespans and quality of life, but also our children’s and our children’s children. We need to start looking after the earth people and that can mean starting small like recycling or as much as possible supporting brands that source their products from farms or companies that practice sustainability. Even if your budget is tight, there are ways and means to contribute to the cause.

Wow! That just got very serious, seriously fast! But back to the delicious food, mouth-watering wine & talented people that made the Good Food & Wine Show such a fabulous experience for me this year.

A few years ago, all I remember about the GFWS was the Gin Tastings at the Inverroche Gin stall. Inverroche Gin is made from hand harvested Fynbos botanicals and has the most palatable and smooth taste of all the gins I’ve tried. One of their reps took my husband and I through their three gin varieties and warned us to refrain from adding slices of orange, lime or lemon flesh to our gin, and instead to add a small slice of the peel alone. This is the best way to enhance the flavour of gin, instead of overpowering it. We were hooked. I never considered myself a gin lover, but this stuff was good! You can find their gin at most bottle stores these days and you can check them out at http://www.inverroche.co.za Please do yourself a favour though and don’t use any old tonic water in your G&T. Rather buy Fitch & Leeds Indian Tonic OR buy one of Fever Tree’s assorted new tonic water flavours from Woolworths, including Elderflower which is my personal favourite. Make every G&T an occasion!

So this year, I was pleasantly surprised to leave the Expo with far more stand out memories than that.

It began with getting an email response from Rose and Thirza at Fiera Milano, the company that organises the GFWS every year, to inform me that I will have two complimentary press passes waiting for me at the door. Being a Durban Food Blogger definitely has its perks! On top of that, I was also invited to the GFWS Networking dinner taking place the Wednesday before the Expo. This was probably the most daunting thing that introverted ol’ me has ever had to do, but it turned out to be a great learning experience and opportunity to be exposed to celebrities and brand representatives who are great to have as connections in the food industry. The event took place in the heart of the Umlazi township, at Max’s Lifestyle, 1 of the top 200 restaurants in the world. They boast an upmarket Shisanyama offering of which their Jeqe bread was an absolute stand out for me. That buttermilk flavour, a hint of sweet carrots and that fresh, moist texture left me wanting more and more. Forget the braai meat; just give me more of that bread!

Thank goodness I had Rose from Fiera Milano to look after me, otherwise I may not have had the guts to introduce myself to Jenny Morris, the Giggling Gourmet, SA celebrity chef & radio personality. She was also one of the first chefs to headline the GFWS. What an amazing woman! She invited me to eat at her table, and was so welcoming and down to earth. When asked, her advice to me was to remain humble no matter how successful I become and when it comes to staying fit and healthy, to remember “everything in moderation”. She was happy to hear that my gran used to say the exact same thing. I also plucked up the courage to speak to Kamini Pather when she wasn’t surrounded by adoring fans or other celebs. This Masterchef SA 2013 winner also know for her 10 part series show Girl Eat World and I’m pretty impressed with what she has achieved considering she claims to be a social introvert. Radio host, restaurant reviewer, TV personality and trend writer – how do they do it all? I also spent some time chatting to Kobie from Premier Foods about blogging for Spekko rice and Chef Shaun Smith about the amazing Fusion Cooking School and one of their restaurants just up the road from us, which I’m dying to try, the Fusion French Cafe. Other speakers at the dinner including the likes of Claire Allen, the skinny counterpart from Short Chef, Skinny Chef and Sherwyn Weaich, also known as the Gourmet Bushie. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Sarah Graham from My Food Safari and Neill Anthony from The Private Chef but I would just have to make do with seeing George Calombaris in the flesh come Sunday morning.

The day had come, and Craig and I thought we would beat the crowds and get to the GFWS at 9:30. I think we underestimated the amount of Foodies in Durban that would literally kill to be within a few metres of George from Masterchef Australia. There were already fifty people in the queues, but at least we were in time to be safely under cover from the rains. You could feel the excited anticipation in the air, and once the tickets started getting stamped, people were gunning for the open theatre that George would soon be performing in. We ended up tenth in the queue and sitting 5 rows up next to the middle aisle – perfect for photos (for short people like me). Usually international Chefs like George would not be speaking in the free open theatres but thankfully this year, the GFWS decided to treat us. If you wanted a more up close and personal fine dining experience with either George or Neill Anthony, then for a price you could have a seat at the VIP Chef’s table next door. But that didn’t faze me because I got to go up on stage and taste one of George’s signature dishes called the Hill’s Hoist, a mini washing line of individually pegged gorgeous crisps. Eek! He told us it was inspired by how he used to run and swing on his mother’s washing line when he was a boy while she screamed at him to stop. This really epitomizes George’s style of cooking. He told us that he cooks to make people smile and connect to happy memories. He encouraged us cook what we love, and that if you’re not enjoying it, it will show in your food. He also said that it’s ok to mess up every now and again – just keep learning from it. Wise words. He loved his stay in SA and kept throwing in words like braai and Boere-worst. He was really funny. But back to the food! From the Hill’s hoist, I got to sample the Saganaki Crisp, made from a mature Greek cheese, which was incredible. Also on the line was a sweet potato crisp, puffed black rice puff with miso melitzanosalata, kolrahbi, pear and walnut cone and a sesame pastelaki with fennel seed fetta. Mmm..crunchy… He also quickly whipped up a Beef Moussaka and a modern celebration of traditional tzatziki, which was plated as beautifully as only George could, using his trusty micro herb tweezers.

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After George had wet our appetites, we couldn’t wait to get stuck into some yummy food. There was so much to choose from, but thankfully the stalls were laid out really well with ample personal space in walkways, and it was pretty easy to navigate the space and make sure you covered all areas. We had a quick squiz around to get a feel for what was on offer and there was everything from assorted cow & goat’s milk cheeses, biltong and droëwors, pestos & sauces, olives, styled cakes, spiked cupcakes, DIY macaroons, artisanal pizzas, Greek lamb buns, gourmet burgers, vegan dishes, coffee in a cone, craft beer and girly beers, G&T on tap, wine galore, liquid N2 Ice-cream, airtight silicone suction lids to protect your precious left overs to Black Insomnia Coffee, the strongest coffee in the world #sleepingischeating

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We immediately got pounced on by a friendly and informative sales rep from Epa! Sauces. Their huge variety of sauces are preservative free and made from only fresh and uncooked ingredients, so are not only tang-tastic, but good for you too! We immediately got stuck into some bread and dips and all I need to say to explain how delicious these sauces are, is that we left our very first stall with two large bottles of Lemayo Basil and Sweet Jalapeno Zing. The latter by the way is almost dry.

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We decided to start with a caffeine & chocolate injection to get our energy levels back up! What else, but a coffee in a cone from the Grind & Clover stall? I’d seen pics of these on Instagram and couldn’t wait to try it: A sugar cone with a chocolate lining and a solid chocolate tip, filled with cappuccino or hot chocolate. Pure indulgence! Thankfully you don’t have go through messy trial and error to figure out how to eat and drink it. They had a step-by-step guide to help you out. Strangely, the hot coffee does not seep through the cone, giving you just enough time to enjoy your chocolate sweetened coffee as well as your crunchy cone and solid dark chocolate tip.

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With energy levels high, we raced around taste-testing some macarons made from Luqibons ready-mix. Now everybody can make flop-proof macarons at home! No more Pinterest fails!

We then passed by and admired the walls of the Listen & Smell Food Sharing Memories Wall. Each glass bottle had a flavour of Durban that you were encouraged to smell, while listening to some soothing tunes, and then you were asked to write down what food memory the experience elicited. What a lovely way to challenge your senses and reminisce about tasty past-times.

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Next we bought some droëwors from the Begk’s Smoked Food as their biltong just looked the most enticing of all the stalls. I am always on the hunt for droëwors that is still slightly pink in the middle and that’s exactly what I got. Great flavours of coriander but not so overpowering that I couldn’t taste the quality of the actual meat. Can’t wait to try their smoked turkey leg when I next encounter their stall.

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We then headed over to The Standeaven Brewery that never seems to disappoint. They are literally everywhere in Durban from the new Shongweni Market to 8 Morrison Street and no matter what your taste, they’ve got you covered: G&T on tap, to No11. Best Black Gold and Watermelon or Litchi Lager, beer for those who don’t enjoy that hops aftertaste. Delicious, crisp and refreshing stuff!

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We sipped on our drinks and munched on droëwors while watching a show about healthy juices at the Eat Well theatre. Ironic I know 😉 I loved that the seats were turned over green plastic crates. Re-use, Re-cycle and Re-duce!

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After that we were absolutely ravenous. We passed by a stall called Prawn Star, and of cause both of us working in advertising get drawn in by the clever name and well designed logo. I chatted to the owner,Yunus, about his menu, which other markets he frequents and introduced myself as a Durban Food Blogger. He immediately asked his ladies to whip up a seafood boat for us on the house and to “make it nice!” which I was totally blown away by. I was in heaven! Crunchy and perfectly cooked Panko prawns, golden crispy on the outside, soft on the inside tempura calamari and scrumptious battered and deep-fried hake coc-tails on a bed of mint and herb-fried rice topped with toasted sesame seeds and a chilli mayo. So SO good! I’ll definitely be eagerly waiting in line at his stall at the Musgrave night market the first Friday of every month, and so should you!

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That was like a starter for Craig so we headed over to the Greek stall for a lamb bun for him, which he devoured and loved. Thankfully there was ample seating available for those who had meals too messy to walk and eat, so we sat next to a nice couple and chatted about how impressed we were with the whole event. At this point I was stuffed, so decided to get up, walk it off and take some pics of the decor, tempting peppermint crisp brownies and ooey gooey cheesy pizzas. I definitely still had space for wine and cake though so we resumed our adventures.

 

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We passed J’Something running a cooking class and the Short Chef Skinny Chef educating some excited listeners on money-saving cooking tips, then came across the Wine Connoisseur Wall and became wine experts in 5 minutes! The wall consisted of glass beakers each containing a different wine packed with the aromas of a specific wine note. When you squeezed down on a rubber pump attached to a pipe leading into the beaker, the wine released its dominant aroma, labelled on the wall. It was a unique experience and really fun making our way through the 12 most common wine notes just before putting our now vastly more refined and developed sense of smell to the test in the Wine Tasting area.

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When purchasing our R50 GFWS limited edition wine glasses, we received 5 complimentary tasting vouchers, which I thought was more than generous (especially if you didn’t plan to spit anything out).

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I never know where to start with wine tastings but this time around I decided to choose by label design, my preferred wine type and what stall looked the most young and vibey. First up was the Wildekrans Brut Rosé 2013, because it had a very pretty and feminine pink label and I love most Rosés. I obviously failed to take into account the fact that it was brut, and was surprised by just how dry this drink was. It wasn’t exactly what I expect from a Rosé, which is sweet with undertones of berries, but if you like your very dry white wines, then this is one to try.

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Next up was Frohlich Cabernet Sauvignon, which was recommended to satisfy my love for dry red wine. I’m not the biggest fan of woody undertones in wines, but if you are, then give this one a go.

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In the middle of our wine tasting, we heard a commotion coming from the Spekko Rice Open Theatre and spotted Jenny Morris getting everyone on their feet, jolling and singing to stand a chance to win a bag of rice. Only Jenny has the personality to get a crowd this excited over rice. Although I must say that I’ve been loving the Spekko Basmati and Spekko Brown Rice that I have at home, chosen for their new and improved Around the World looking labels. I managed to chat to her briefly again after her show while the paparazzi snapped some shots. What a great lady!

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We then came across the D’aria Wine stall, which was adorned with young reps sporting “How Merlot can you go?” tops. Just my kind of humour! They had many wines on offer with beautifully designed labels and very clever names so I decided to try the two wines that stood out from the rest – D’aria Rock Song, and D’aria Pop Song. The Pop song was a dry white, which I would definitely ask for again while chilling at a restaurant on a hot Durban Summer afternoon. But the D’aria Rock Song without a doubt stole the show for me. It combined two separate wine attributes that I absolutely love – bubbles and dry red. They’ve managed to concoct a dry red wine with just enough sparkling flair to add a touch of salty and sweet to each sip. It was so good I just HAD to take a bottle home with me.

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My fifth and final tasting needed to be a palate cleanser, something not overly alcoholic, something fruity and sweet, but not gassy. I settled for an old faithful, which I remembered tasting at the last GFWS for the first time – Ice Tropez, a French wine-based cocktail cooler which was exactly what the doctor ordered.

We were buggered. Magies vol, ogies toe! But not before we got some take away dessert. A quick look at all the stalls, left us with the obvious decision of spiked cup-tail cupcakes. Never heard of them? Well Lana’s Cakery really outdid themselves with not only these amazing adults-only alcoholic cupcakes, but also their donut cupcakes, macaron cupcakes, Oreo cupcakes, caramel & fudge cupcakes, lemon cupcakes and chocolate cherry cupcakes. So there is something for everybody! Even though there were very tempting cup-tail Amarula’s, we opted for the Lemon Tequila cup-tail and the Rose Champagne cup-tail. You can clearly tell what our flavours of the month are. When we got home, totally bushed, we immediately got into comfy clothes and settled down for our desserts. Craig’s Tequila cupcake took my breath away but he really enjoyed it – must be a guy thing! But mine was incredible! It was like having a sip of the lightest sweet Rosé bubbly while biting into a Turkish Delight. It really put a smile on my face – the perfect ending to a glorious food-filled day!

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So I hope this has convinced you to not miss out next year. I’ll definitely be there! Maybe they’ll even use one of my suggestions and fly Adam Liaw or Heston Blumenthal in!

Thank you again to the Good Food & Wine Show and Fiera Milano for having me at the Networking Dinner and for the press passes to the show. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I feel so privileged to have been exposed to all of these amazing brands and people first hand, to help spread the good word.

The BEEFED UP Burger

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I’m not a burger girl. Weird way to start a burger post, I know. But there is a method to my madness. Firstly, my mouth is too small to fit a full burger bite in. Ever tried to eat a burger with a knife and fork? Ya. Then there’s how long I take to eat anything. Lots of little bites and lots of chewing. Before I know it, it’s all cold, the roll is soggy from onion ring oil and that’s super appetizing. What’s with the roll anyway? A mediocre semi-fresh roll is used to house a selection of beautiful ingredients, for what, just to keep them all in place while you gorge yourself? The fillings don’t taste nearly as good with a mouthful of sub-standard bread anyway! Lastly, why fill up on unnecessary carbohydrates when you already have a side of fries? I much prefer a deconstructed, bun-less burger myself.

Then there’s the predicament of the DIY burger. How big or small or thick or thin do you make the patty to get an evenly cooked, sizzled to perfection burger than doesn’t fall apart while frying it? It’s not as easy as you think.

So now that you’re questioning your long-standing love for burgers and whether they are worth all the effort, let me tell you how I recently developed a deeper appreciation for burgers and burger-making, with the help of the Progressive Perfect Burger Press, a Jamie Oliver recipe and some magic ingredients.

I recently posted a recipe that featured the Progressive Spiraliser. Progressive loved my post so much that they sent me a little gift to say thank you. It was the Progressive Perfect Burger Press! Thank you very much Progressive – you guys rock!

So even though burgers are not at the top of my list of favourite fast foods, I still couldn’t wait to test this gadget out. Must be that inner-scientist creeping out again. My husband was just as excited because I think he is secretly competing to be the world’s biggest burger fan. So, we turned to an old faithful beef patty recipe from Jamie Oliver and threw in a few extra ingredients which I wouldn’t normally choose to add to a burger, just cos I had a hunch they may be amazing together. And let me tell you, the combination of these delicious ingredients, the Progressive Burger Press, and my version of the “Cracking Burger” recipe resolved all my burger issues.

It was deliciously juicy, and the flavour and texture combination of all the ingredients, although unusual, just worked. I used one crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside buttered ciabatta bun half as the base to make the bite more manageable and tastier, onion rings which were de-oiled with paper towel and evenly sized and shaped patties made with the Perfect Burger Press. They didn’t break apart in the pan, they cooked quickly, they didn’t need to be pressed down in the pan to fry them evenly and they didn’t burn on the outside before cooking through the centre. This is owed to the dimple in the centre of the patty created by The Perfect Burger Press dimple insert. It’s an essential tool for all those OCD Burger-makers & loyal Burger-lovers out there.

To get your hands on one of these babies, go to

http://progressivekitchenware.co.za/product/perfect-burger-press/ OR search for ‘Progressive Perfect Burger Press’ on Yuppiechef, Boardmans or Takealot.

 

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The Beefed up Beef Burger Recipe

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 12 Salticrax or Woolworths Water Biscuits
  • handful of Italian parsley (finely chopped stalks & leaves)
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 egg
  • a dash of freshly ground salt & pepper
  • a dash of Ina Paarman meat spice
  • olive oil
  • 2 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
  • baby spinach
  • Melrose cheese slices
  • Jalapeno Hummus (from Food Lovers Market)
  • 2 onions (sliced into rings)
  • butter
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 4 Portobello mushrooms
  • 2 Woolworths ciabatta rolls
  • Woolworths plain salted crisps

Method:

  • Turn your oven to 180°c
  • Throw your crackers into a Ziploc bag or something similar. Close the bag and using a rolling pin, break the crackers until they have a fine consistency
  • Add the cracker crumbs, egg, parsley, mustard, meat spice, salt & pepper and mince into a large bowl, and use your hands to mix well.
  • Divide the mixture into 4 balls
  • 1 at a time, place each ball into the centre of the burger press non-skid base

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  • Using the comfort grip pusher, squash the ball until it cannot be squashed any further

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  • Lift the press comfort grip pusher, leaving behind the patty, and lift the dimple insert by the overhanging handle

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  • Turn the dimple insert over and using your fingers, lightly turn the patty out onto a non-stick surface. Repeat with the last 3 mince balls

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  • Heat up olive oil in a large pan on medium to high heat
  • Fry the patties until just cooked through, about 3 – 4 min on each side, while frying the onion rings in the same pan, then place in a dish on some paper towel to absorb excess oil

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  • Meanwhile coat your mushrooms with olive oil, place them onto an oven tray stalk side up and shave some butter and garlic evenly into each of them. Bake for 20 min or until soft and cooked through. Then remove from oven and set aside on paper towel
  • Place the ciabatta rolls into the oven and bake for 5-8 min
  • Meanwhile, get all your burger toppings ready
  • When the ciabatta rolls are done, slice them in half, butter them and place butter side up onto 4 serving plates
  • Layer your burger toppings in this order: ciabatta half, Portobello mushroom, baby spinach leaves, a patty, a melty cheese slice, onion rings, topped with a large dollop of jalapeno hummus
  • Serve each burger with a side of Woolworths plain salted crisps
  • Tuck in and enjoy!

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Some like it hot & cold: Spicy Red Pepper Soup

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So yet again we are stuck in that awkward season somewhere between Winter and Spring where just as you’re about to pack away your Winter clothing for the third time, here comes the cold again. So I thought I’d share a dish with you that can be served both hot or cold. Because the weather forecast may say scorching, clear 30°c today for your weekend dinner party, but it may very well turn out to be a cold, rainy 18°c day. You just don’t know. And the last thing you want to have to do is change your menu at the last minute and waste both time and ingredients. Plus, you’ll find it difficult indeed to impress your Vegetarian guest as much with any other vegetable soup.

This recipe is inspired by one I got off BBCgoodfood.com when I was craving a gazpacho-style soup, but a warm version of it. I find just plain vegetable soups very one dimensional so I needed something with a bit more flavour, a bit more texture, and that Wow! factor.

And what I stumbled upon was the perfect combination of a hot, spicy red pepper, tomato & carrot soup topped with a cool, refreshing cucumber yoghurt. And then recently, to add some crunch, we bought a bag of crispy jalapeños from Woolworths and sprinkled some of that on top. To serve alongside the soup, I popped a few Woolies Ciabatta slices into the oven, and once they were crunchy enough, I smothered them with butter while they were still piping hot. Nothing quite like biting into crusty, soft hot bread and melted butter hey?

Flavour √

Texture √

Wow! Factor – definitely √

Prepare to have your mind and mouth blown!

 

Recipe:

Hot & Spicy Red Pepper Soup

Topped with a dollop of Cucumber Yoghurt & Crispy Jalapeños

  • Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Woolworths Ciabatta
  • Woolworths Lightly Salted Crispy Jalapeños
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 large red peppers, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red chili, sliced
  • 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 850ml – 1L vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 2 x 175g tubs of cold plain yoghurt
  • ½ cold cucumber, halved, deseeded, coarsely grated and squeezed of excess water
  • dried garlic flakes
  • Ina Paarman Garlic & Herb Spice
  • Ina Paarman Chili Garlic Spice
  • salt & pepper
  • Tabasco

 

Method:

  • Turn your oven to 200°c
  • In a large pot on medium heat, heat the oil, then fry the carrots, onions & peppers with a dash of garlic & herb spice
  • Cook for approximately 10 min or until the vegetables are soft
  • Add the garlic & chili, mix in and cook for a further few minutes
  • Add 800ml of the stock and the chopped tomatoes, bring to the boil and cook for a further 10 min
  • Meanwhile, mix the yoghurt and cucumber in a bowl, then cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve
  • While the soup is still hot, very carefully blitz with the hand blender until smooth consistency. If the soup is too thick, you can add some more of the left over stock. I never need to do this.
  • Pop the ciabatta slices into the oven on an oven rack for 10-15min
  • Meanwhile return the soup to the pot and slowly reheat on medium heat while taste testing. Now here’s the fun part. Add as much chili garlic spice, garlic flakes and Tabasco as you feel is necessary to give it a punchy hot & spicy kick.
  • Ladle the soup into 4 bowls, and serve with a side of buttered ciabatta slices
  • At the table, spoon a large dollop of yoghurt gently into the centre of the soup bowl and sprinkle some crispy jalapeños over the top. Keep the bag handy as the guys may want some more.
  • Enjoy!

 

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Quick tip:

This soup is incredible just as it is, but if you’re a Mexican fan or simply love jalapeños on pretty much anything, then you need to get your hands on a bag of Woolworths Lightly Salted Crispy Jalapeños. It’s perfect for soups, salads, home-made burritos, tacos and nachos. Or you can have them just as they are, straight out of the bag and into your mouth. Either way, they are delicious and addictive the way only hot jalapeños can be.

 

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Dragon Fiery Ginger Beer: Feel the burn!

It’s not everyday that one of your absolute favourite brands sends you something for free. But two weeks ago, I was one of the lucky few to have actually experienced such a day, when I received a complimentary delivery from the Dragon Brewing Company: a 24 pack of 440ml Dragon Fiery Ginger Beers. All because a little nobody like me dedicated a post to them on Instagram. To show them just how bowled over I was by this gesture, I decided to share my bounty with my colleagues and write a full review for them on my blog. In doing so, I’m hoping to convert as many people as possible, especially Durbanites to Dragon Fiery Ginger Beer lovers.

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I’m born and raised Cape Tonian, and I don’t have nearly as many good childhood memories linked to other soft drinks as I do to Ginger Beer. Every family braai next to the pool. Every summer day spent at Silver Mines or Tokai Forest. Every New Years day at Kirstenbosch Gardens. Every Friday afternoon after school spent with my Gran, eating Pick n Pay pies and drinking our Stoney’s in the car under a nearby tree. Every time my grandpa was asked how he is: “fair to fine, sort of middling” while drinking a ginger beer he had just added extra sugar to. Mad!

Now, living in Durban and asking locals about whether they enjoy ginger beer or not, it’s become apparent that Ginger Beer might be more of a Cape Town thing. When asked if they like ginger beer, most Durbanites have an “on the fence” response. Some even look like they’ve just been force-fed a spoonful of horrible medicine. Ginger! In a soft drink?! Why?!

Because it’s incredible, that’s why! That uniquely distinct burn, that indescribable spiciness, that celebratory fizziness and that satisfying sweetness: the perfect combination to literally take your breath away. This was probably one of the first recipes to combine sweet and savoury with a success story.

Now that I’m all grown up, soft drinks are fine, but what really gets the party started is a little percentage. So imagine my excitement when I first discovered Dragon Fiery Ginger Beer with 5% alcohol! It’s become a favourite of mine at Union Square in Broadway, and Bellevue Café in Kloof, and is now also available at Buxtons La Cave Liquors in La Lucia Mall as single 440ml bottles or 4 packs to take with to braais or even enjoy after a long hard day at work.

For those of you that don’t really like the taste of alcohol and are partial to a fizzy drink, this one’s ideal for you. Lovers of sweet & savoury combinations, those obsessed with everything ginger, the adventurous, the brave, those who aren’t afraid to put some hair on their chests, and all those Stoney Ginger Beer die hards out there, this one’s for you too

The Dragon Brewing Company’s story started 3 years ago in a garage in Cape Town, believe it or not! Warren Harries-Jones, the founder of Dragon, had a boundless love for ginger beer and a dream of producing a successful home-brewed alcoholic ginger beer, but he also had a day job to endure. Through persistence, dedication and tenacity, he and his team were able to overcome this and all sorts of other barriers, and skyrocket from accidental chemical reaction explosions to explosions in sales. To date, they have sold over 60,000 bottles and retail through over 130 outlets nationally. With their traditional slow brewing process, selection of quality ingredients, and a lotta love, they have managed to produce a hugely popular drink that is slightly sweet and packs a serious ginger punch with a burn that is made to linger: perfect for both keeping it cool on a hot summer day, and for lighting a fire in your belly on a cold winter’s night.

To contact the Dragon Brewing Company for your closest retailer OR if you own a restaurant or pub and would like to stock Dragon Fiery Ginger Beer, check out their website http://www.dragonbrewingco.co.za/

Pssst…watch out for their other two variants: Dragon Fiery Apple & Double Dragon!

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Basil Cashew Pesto, Prawn & Pine Nut Zucchini Noodles

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For those of you that read my last post, you may remember that I was patiently waiting for my Progressive spiralizer to be delivered by Yuppiechef. Because I had already bought all my ingredients for the weekend, I decided to go ahead anyway and make my dish without a noodle maker. I ended up using all types of slicers and dicers and graters to replicate a similar texture in my cabbage, carrots & baby marrows. It was impossible to get the exact same result, but it got me experimenting which is always fun, and I still ended up with a beautiful, tasty, textured dish regardless. But now that I’ve used my new toy, there’s no going back.

For my latest vegetable noodle recipe, I was armed and ready to spiralize the sh*t out of any available vegetables, and thankfully that week Woolworths had some massive zucchinis on sale, which were the perfect size. For those of you that are spiralizer virgins, the thicker and longer the carrot or zucchini, the better. Oh, stop it with your dirty mind! While you are getting the hang of it, you should also buy a few more vegetables than the recipe requires, as there is definitely more trial and error and technique involved than you’d think.

To test out my spiralizer, the dish I decided to make is inspired by a combination of a basil & cashew pesto (taste.com.au), which I usually make as a topping for steak and hash browns, and a prawn & zucchini noodles dish I found on diethood.com. And then just because I absolutely LOVE pine nuts (and because I found them for R30 a bag at Food Lover’s Market), I added this to the shopping cart too.

Pine nuts conjure up so many good memories for me. They are usually so expensive and hard to find now, but back in the good old days, they were easy pickings. Well, kind of. Many a fine day was spent as a family trawling Silver Mines Forest and pine tree clusters in Camps Bay for as many pine cones as we could possibly collect. We would come home with hessian bags filled to the brim and my dad would immediately get to work in the garage, removing each and every seemingly impenetrable pine kernel from each pine cone and using a brick or a nutcracker to apply just the right amount of pressure to release the tiny delicate pine nut from it’s shell without obliterating it. We would all take turns helping, but we would either lose interest quite quickly as kids do, or if that didn’t send us on our way, my dad would soon be shooing us away for our lack of skill and patience. Later that day we would absolutely gorge ourselves on all these delectable, slightly sweet, salty & creamy little pieces of heaven. So you can imagine my excitement when I got them so cheap for this dish.

The real bonus with this dish is that it’s like having a bowl of moreish pasta, but instead you’re eating low carb, nutritious vegetables. The difference is so slight that your mouth and your brain won’t even know the difference. Pine nuts are also a healthy addition to this meal. Apart from their beautiful flavour, they are also known to trigger the release of a hormone that suppresses the appetite so can assist with weight loss. They also help boost energy due to their high magnesium content. But wait. There’s more. They also contain anti-aging antioxidants, so get snacking ladies cos they sound like the perfect in-between-meals treat. And what you don’t gobble up at work, sprinkle over the top of this dish for dinner. But be sure to get them from Food Lovers where they are more affordable.

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I hope you enjoy this tasty combination of plump prawns & soft zucchini noodles, swimming in a yummy, crunchy, doubly nutty basil pesto.

Cashew Basil Pesto recipe:

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 full cup of basil leaves (stalk removed)
  • 1 garlic clove (quartered and crushed)
  • ½ cup roasted cashew nuts (roughly chopped into large pieces)
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Ina Paarman Pasta Spice (to taste)

Method:

  1. Use a food processor or hand blender to break down and combine all the ingredients above except the spice. When everything is sufficiently mixed together, transfer to a bowl, cover and set aside.
  2. Add the Ina Paarman Pasta spice to taste. It brings all the flavours together so nicely.

Prawn, Pine Nut & Zucchini Noodles recipe:

Ingredients:

  • knob butter
  • olive oil
  • sufficient deveined, deshelled, defrosted prawns for two servings (patted dry with some paper towel to avoid the hot oil splattering when combined with water)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 4 large zucchinis (spiralized)
  • freshly ground salt & pepper
  • handful of pine nuts
  • Ina Paarman Pasta Spice (to taste)

Method:

  1. Heat up half of your butter and olive oil mixture on high in a large pan.
  2. Season your prawns with salt & pepper, then sear on high heat to give them a nice golden and charred exterior. Then turn the heat down to medium. After a few minutes, when they are cooked through and white, remove them from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Always cut open one of your largest prawns to ensure it has cooked all the way through
  3. In the same pan, still on medium heat, fry your garlic with the rest of the butter for a few minutes, then add your zucchini noodles.
  4. Cook until tender while constantly tossing the mixture
  5. Add the prawns and pesto mixture, combine and heat through
  6. Divide mixture into 2 bowls and sprinkle with pine nuts and some extra Ina Paarman Pasta Spice
  7. Serve and enjoy!

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If you like what you see, and you’d like to give it a go, I would definitely recommend you buy the Progressive Vegetable Noodle Maker from Yuppiechef like I did, at the affordable price of R159. There are more expensive spiralizers out there but there is no need when this one gets the job done just fine. It also has a second blade for shaving vegetables including cucumber into long, wide sheets like parpadelle (broad sheets of fettuccine pasta). It pops open for easy manual cleaning of the blade and is dishwasher safe too. Check out the link below to order.

https://www.yuppiechef.com/progressive.htm?id=21309&name=Progressive-Vegetable-Noodle-Maker&ref=search

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Thai Carrot & Zucchini Salad

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We absolutely love our wontons and dumplings, bought frozen from one of the two Chinese shops in Umhlanga Rocks drive, then deep-fried or steamed in our bamboo steamer. But what to have on the side? Regularly having these little parcels of deliciousness on the menu, means that I get to experiment with new side salads all the time. During my trawl of the net, all I came across was spiralized this and spiralized that. It’s all the rage right now to be eating the same things but cut, cooked or presented in different ways. Probably because there aren’t any new foods to introduce to the market, so we need to fool our eyes and tongues into thinking we are trying something new and intriguing. And you know what, I think they are actually onto something. When I’m sick of eating carrots cut into cross section chunks, I find raw julienned carrots more appetizing and if I don’t feel like raw carrots, nor steamed slices, I am more than happy to have warm carrot puree. Essentially, it’s the same thing. It’s still carrots. But when you change the cut, the temperature, the texture and the plating, it just feels like something new altogether.

So I decided to jump on the bandwagon and see what everyone is going so crazy about. I ordered a very simple, affordable Spiralizer from Yuppiechef and bought the ingredients for this Thai Carrot & Zucchini Salad, which would be accompanying our dumplings. But sadly it didn’t arrive before the weekend, so I had to improvise. I used a carrot/ potato peeler and a multi-grating gadget that we got from Craig’s dad to cut the cabbage, carrots and zucchinis in three different ways to transform a very plain salad into a very pretty, satisfyingly crunchy and tantalizingly tasty Asian flavoured side salad. It just shows that you don’t actually need to buy a whole new contraption to mix it up; those everyday tools have so many other uses for other foods. You just need to be presented with a situation like this where you need to make an alternative plan.

RECIPE

Serves: 4 sides

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 zucchinis (you can also use baby marrows if you aren’t using a spiralizer) – spiralized OR sliced lengthways using a potato peeler
  • ½ cup red cabbage (grated or roughly chopped or thinly sliced)
  • ½ cup white cabbage (grated or roughly chopped or thinly sliced)
  • 1 large carrot (grated or thinly sliced – choose a different texture to the cabbage)

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp Ina Paarman’s chilli garlic spice
  • brown sugar (to taste, and if necessary)

Method:

  • When cutting or grating or spiralizing your veggies, try to produce as many different textures/ cuts as possible to produce the most appealing salad.
  • Throw all the veggies (except the red cabbage because it stains the other veggies) into a big salad bowl and toss
  • Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a small jug and pour over the veggies, the toss again
  • Add the red cabbage and give a very light toss to mix up
  • Serve on the side of your deep fried and steamed dumplings, and enjoy!

 

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