Ingredients

Slaphakskeetjies

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Onion and shallots

Back with my friend Steve and this time he manages to sell me the most beautiful shallots and manages to squeeze in a bag of small limes from a neighbours farm which I am dying to use on a ceviche. As the morning conversation with Steve mostly revolved around growing onions, shallots and how he came about growing shallots. I could not help wondering what to cook with them, we have used the banana shallots from Steve for a number of years now, love the way they make our springbok dish shine with sour and sweet notes not mushy but firm and crisp. For years we were not so spoilt being mostly exposed to  yellow onions which  pretty much was used for everything.  So when Wednesday arrived I was so excited when we received our delivery of golden and red shallots.

I must make it clear that if my kitchen does not have onions it is a catastrophe, the world will come to an end, I cannot imagine cooking without onions, it is an essential  seasoning, building block in creating layers of flavour in any dish, just like the addition of spice and stock. Leave it out and the dish will lack the required depth it needs to be complete. Imagine an Indian curry without onion, how will it be possible to create a proper thickness in the sauce?

Shallots form part of the allium family and I find them milder than large onions. They have a great way of bringing flavours together and melt away so beautifully when cooked. They grow in sulphur rich soil in clusters similar to garlic. They are more pricy and they do take a little more effort, but so worth it.

I still wanted to cook something that was only going to make the onion shine, why not make  Slaphakskeetjies with the shallots, I have not cooked this in years, the last time with baby onions. It has been in the back of my mind for months after eating it at Overture, Bertus made me jealous!

Slaphakskeetjies is basically onions in a sweet and sour mustard sauce and very South African. The sour sauce also works well with green beans. Great served at room temperature.

Typically the recipe is straight forward with sugar, vinegar and English mustard. Over the years the recipe I now use has changed a couple of times, I now add a little cayenne pepper and turmeric after trying a recipe from Peter Veldsman from Emily’s.  The sauce is thickened with egg yolk and corn flour.

ONIONS

1.2 kg pickling onions, peeled but kept whole with the base intact. Place in hot water for a couple of minutes this will make them easier to peel.

SWEET SOUR SAUCE
80ml sugar
15 ml mustard powder
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
1½ Tbsp (22.5 ml) corn flour
¼ tsp turmeric
Pinch cayenne
4 egg yolks
1 egg
80ml white wine vinegar
125 ml water
2 bay leaves

100 ml fresh cream (optional, and can be substituted with water)

METHOD
Place the peeled onions in boiling water, bring back to the boil for 2 minutes, remove and leave in water for about 10 minutes until soft. Drain.

METHOD
Mix the salt, mustard, half sugar and corn flour together.
Over a double boiler add the eggs and half sugar, whisk over a double boiler until doubles in volume and is nice and thick.
Bring the vinegar and water to boil, make sure corn flour is well incorporated and cooked out.
Temper the egg mixture with a little mustard mixture, before adding all together.
Adjust seasoning
Add the cream
Pour the sauce over the onions and serve .

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Artichokes

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 For weeks now Steve has been nagging me to take artichokes, I don’t know if I have been holding off because of the price hoping that it will become cheaper or the fact that it is a very tedious task, that requires a lot of hands. So this week they arrived the first 100kg. If you want to see chefs disappear, deliver 100kg of artichokes…..even the guy in pot wash runs. The trainee in the corner just hopes that you do not look his way.
We cannot deny that they are beautiful. Love them with olive oil, garlic and lemon. For me they have to be served cold and is essential as part of a mezze.
What went through the mind of the first person to eat an artichoke? How many leaves did he eat before he got to the heart, never mind the choke and the thorns.
100kg of artichoke will yield maybe 10kg of edible heart, and lower leaves. We do not get many varieties, we get ours from Porterville, from the Magic man’s back yard. Packed with goodness, and a list full of healthy facts. The leaves should be tightly compacted squeaky and should not be loose.
This is not a recipe on how to prepare artichoke hearts but rather how to enjoy the whole thing. This is less intimidating.
Cut away part of the stem leaving about a 1 cm, peel the stem and peel through to the smaller leaves, remove the smaller leaves at the base working up two rows. Then trim about 1 cm from the top leaves of the artichokes , this is where most of the thorns would be. Rinse under running cold water.
In a large pot, put in about two litres of water, ½ whole lemon sliced, bay leave, one -two garlic cloves, sea salt and crushed pepper. Add the artichokes. Bring to a boil and simmer. Cook for about 30 -35 minutes . The outer leaves should come off easily.
We often trim away most of the leaves for our recipes and preparations but this is where most of the fun lies when having a dinner party. Place cooked whole artichokes in the middle of the table, each leaf is pulled from the choke, with leaf in hand pull the inside of the leaf between your teeth. Have some handy dips available like aioli, and a simple vinaigrette made from lemon juice and olive oil. Continue until you get to the centre. Scoop out the choke(hairy bits) then eat the globe.
Be on the look out as we feature more dishes with artichoke on our menu this month

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Andante Olive oil

wereld geluk

Wereld Geluk

Andante Olive oil
Every now and then you find a real gem, in this case liquid gold. My friend Steve introduced me to Andante olive oil about five years ago. As I mentioned before, Steve always gets you to buy everything in his back yard, this includes liquid gold. Steve introduced me to Willie Duminy and his wonderful selection of olive oils from the foothills of the Winterhoek mountain range. We tend to forget that olive oil does not come from a bottle, great care needs to be given from start to finish. This is evident on Wêreldsgeluk (‘earthly joy’) – Having the right varietals and caring for them, harvesting at just the right time, just like with grapes!
Walking through the olive trees on Wêreldsgeluk on very rocky terrain one senses that it is a passion and a love for olives and doing things the right way that makes the oil so successful. Willie takes his oil very seriously, when I visited the farm a couple of years ago, he made me taste the leaves from about 7 varietals from Mission, Kalamata, frantoio, Nocellara del Belice, Leccino and Coratina. I was not allowed to taste the berries, first the leaves each more bitter than the next as I longed for an IPA.
We are fortunate in South Africa as we have some of the best olive oils in the world, this is why we keep at least 12 different olive oils in our kitchen, four of these come from Willie’s farm. Olive oil is a little like wine, each works differently on different applications. I like having a choice.
The Andante Standard Extra virgin olive oil Is a robust oil with a medium intense aroma laced with green spicy nutty and bitterness, we love using this when making A simple dressing for baby marrow and patty pan salad with toasted nuts and seeds (recipe next week) and when we make napolitana sauce with loads of garlic it works well.
Andante Intenso is a little more expensive, similar to the standard extra virgin olive oil but with a more nutty finish. We prefer this with a hanger steak with chili, garlic and fresh rocket. This is my personal favourite on my side plate with fresh sour dough.
Andante Forte not as strong as the other two and is a little more fruity, works well for dressing almost any salad. Partners well with lemon and is fantastic with fish.
Andante Delicate as the name suggests, is a lot more delicate with a beautiful spiced aftertaste I prefer using this one with a buffalo mozzarella and baby beetroot with toasted sunflower seeds
In addition to olive oils they also produce fantastic olives: a Green table olive – Nocellara del Belice and black table olives both Kalamata and Mission
The Andante olive oil and Wêreldsgeluk Olive Estate selection has achieved wonderful success over the years. Decorated with loads of awards locally as well as internationally.
Notable highlights:
SA Olive Award
Andante Delicate 2013 Gold
Andante Medium 2013 Gold
Andante Forte 2013 Gold
Andante Intenso 2013 Gold
Flos Olei
Andante oils and Wêreldsgeluk Olive Estate featured amongst the world’s premier olive producers
ABSA Top Five Awards 2013
Andante Intenso
Andante Forte
Note to self, don’t eat the leaves from the seven different olive trees without IPA in hand

andante olive oil

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Eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Inside egg mobile

In egg mobile collecting eggs

Eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Slow cooked, poached fried, custard or as a Chef Brad from Bistro 1682 referred to one of our favourite egg dishes “green eggs and ham”, slow cooked egg dish with bacon hash, and a beautiful rich spinach and watercress sauce with Parmesan. We have had egg on the dinner menu in different formats for the last couple of years. It is the perfect ingredient! No other single ingredient has so many possible applications and uses.
So why should we settle for second best, why buy just a normal egg laid by chicken who eat GMO food that are confined to the smallest of spaces with no natural sunlight.
We sneer when we have to pay more than a rand for an egg and then complain when it is a poor quality.
But then you come across a farmer who really cares and if you are prepared to pay a little more it is worth every cent. A couple of years ago I met Farmer Angus a far cry from an accounting back-ground. He brought me a chicken and 6 eggs, his sales pitch was made easy as I had just finished reading the “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” written by Michael Pollan who traced the ingredients of four different meals. The most important in my mind was the sustainable farm In Virginia called Stearns. Normally when I get shown a new product it needs really be impressive before I will change my mind. I was completely and utterly sold! It is a journey in discovering new ingredients and suppliers, to find ethical honest suppliers takes even longer. When you find them you hold on to them.
So what is it about the eggs from Angus, one thing….they are free to walk around in the pasture as they like…

everyday you should ask “where do we get our food?”

Holding Chicken

Me Holding Chicken

 

 

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Celeriac

Photo 2014-04-29, 9 37 50 AM

Celeriac and remoulade
Almost alien looking! But what a vegetable! In a soup or roasted with butter, garlic and thyme. I love making a thick creamy puree instead of a mashed potato. But probably my favourite is raw shredded in a salad and the best is part of a remoulade. Remoulade is similar to the famous tartare sauce with the addition of peeled and julienned celeriac with a little anchovy and mustard.
I like eating it as soon as it has been made, must have a little crunch to it. One of my favourites is to add cooked prawns or plain as an accompaniment to pastrami.

Basic Remoulade
1 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tablespoons prepared horseradish sauce
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tbsp onion chopped very fine
1 tsp chopped chives
1 egg boiled grated
2 tsp capers
2 tbsp chopped gherkins (well drained)
1 ea anchovy minced
3 -5 drops Tabasco
+/- 80g celeriac grated or julienned
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
After celeriac has been grated season with salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice.
Mix all the ingredients together and adjust seasoning.

This recipe is a guideline and can be adjusted to suite personal preferences.

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Mussels

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Cultivated blue mussels farmed in Saldanha, still a green listed species and under review from SASSI (South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative).  It will be a big blow to our menu’s if mussels get moved to the orange list. Last year we saw how our beloved crayfish was moved from the green to orange list, this did not go down well. I had to break some promises made to SASSI and serve crayfish to some of our regulars, how do you explain this to guests. Soon we will have only the sand and an empty ocean. Thank goodness we still have stability with mussel supply. They might a little time consuming to clean, but so worth it. I have three conditions for eating mussels, must have good bread, must have a good wine and must make a mess.  Best sharing with friends, we see this every time we put a pot in the middle of our chefs table you can see how the mood changes and the noise levels increase.
My favourite mussels ever eaten was lunch at LQF served in a light tomato broth and then the surreal moment was in Bruges, Belgium. I just remember how a huge pot full of mussels was dumped in front of me with no cutlery and the rest was a little bit of a blur. NOTE eating and buying half shell mussels does not count as an experience!

Yield: 4 pax
Ensure that mussels are tightly closed an undamaged. Fresh mussels smell like the sea and feel heavy for their size. In the recipe below I have 2 slight variations with or with out cream.
INGREDIENTS
One
2 kg Mussels
400ml white wine
60g Diced celery and fennel (optional)
6 cloves garlic crushed
4 sprigs thyme picked
2 bay leaf
1 small onion chopped
3 tbsp butter
15 ml olive oil
½ bunch chopped flat leaf parsley
1 -2 tbsp lemon juice to taste
Lemon zest to taste
3 spring onion sliced
Fresh ground black pepper
Sliced fresh crusty bread

METHOD
To clean mussels remove the beard, rip towards the hinge end of the mussel. Discard beard and with a brush remove additional sand and barnacles, rinse under running water.

Heat large sauce pan with a wide base add butter, oil, onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, zest and pepper. Cook gently for 2 minutes with out giving colour. Add wine and bring to a rapid boil add mussels and salt stir to combine, cover and allow to steam allowing all the mussels to open, this should take about 2- 4 minutes. Add parsley and spring onion and a squeeze of lemon juice. Don’t over cook mussels as they become tough and grainy.
Serve with lots of crusty bread or some french fries

With cream
After the the juices have been separated from the mussels add 250 ml cream to liquid bring to a simmer reduce for about two minutes, if you like your sauce a little thicker reduce further, place mussels back into sauce, heat through and finish with parsley and serve with bread.

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