Asparagus, Artichoke and Roast Pepper Salad with Feta, Olives and Parmesan

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So there are a few cheats in this one, but honestly one of the yummiest flavour combinations that will transform your mid week meals into something special! Super quick to make and packed with deliciousness!

  • 3 cups of baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tub of marinated artichokes
  • 1 Roasted red pepper with skin removed
  • About 10 pitted black olives
  • 1 round of feta cheese
  • 2 cups of fresh green asparagus
  • Fresh Parmesan Shavings
  • Rocket leaves (Arugula) to garnish
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle
  • Balsamic Glaze to drizzle

Wash and drain the spinach leaves and arrange on a serving plate / dish and drizzle a teeny bit of balsamic glaze over to dress lightly.

Steam the asparagus for 5 -6 minutes and then add them to ice water to cool. Then remove and pat dry and season with salt and pepper and put aside.

Arrange the sliced roast pepper, olives, feta, artichokes and seasoned asparagus on top of the spinach leaves and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Top with parmesan shavings and rocket leaves and then drizzle the balsamic glaze over the top and serve.

Enjoy x

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Homemade Flatbread with Bacon Jam, Camembert, Roast balsamic figs and walnuts.

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The beauty of flatbread is that you can pretty much imagine your favourite ingredients and pile them on! This is a topping that I did because I just love these ingredients together and they worked beautifully on the flatbread. Bacon Jam might sound strange but it is just crispy bacon blended with caramelised onions and it is ridiculously addictive!

For the Bacon Jam 

  • 500g bacon
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper

Cook the bacon in a frying pan until nice and crispy and the fat has rendered well. Take the bacon out and set aside. Keep the bacon grease in the pan.

Slice the onions thinly and add to the pan and stir to coat well with the bacon fat. Turn the heat low and cook for an hour stirring every now and then. When the onions have darkened then add the balsamic vinegar and sugar and season with salt and pepper and stir for about 5 – 10 minutes until it thickens.

Add the onion mixture and bacon into a food processor and blend until the desired consistency is formed.

For the roasted figs

  • 8 – 10 fresh figs
  • Balsamic glaze

Cut the figs into quarters and lay on a baking sheet and drizzle with balsamic glaze and grill in the oven until browned and set aside.

For the rest of the toppings

  • 2 rounds of camembert cheese (at room temperature)
  • 100g chopped walnuts, roasted in a dry frying pan for a few minutes
  • Fresh Rocket (Arugula) to garnish

Spread a layer of bacon jam on the flatbreads, sprinkle on the roasted figs and chopped camembert and top with the walnuts and rocket and serve immediately.

Serves 4 -5

 

 

 

Pan-Fried Gnocchi and Blue Cheese Salad

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I am LOVING blue cheese at the moment and am loving experimenting with different ways of using it. I came across this recipe and juggled it slightly and was super stoked with the outcome! All  the beautiful flavours of blue cheese buddies with the soft comforting yumminess of the soft, scrumptious gnocchi.

Ingredients

  • 4 – 5 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 1 Package of dried gnocchi
  • A pinch of salt
  • 50g Walnuts
  • 200g or a small pack of streaky bacon
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 50g Dried cranberries
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • A big bunch of fresh Rocket (Arugula)
  • 80g Blue cheese of your choice

 

Method 

  • Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the gnocchi straight from the packaging to the hot melted butter and saute until golden brown. (5 – 10 minutes)
  • Add the walnuts and garlic to the pan with the gnocchi and cook for about 3 minutes
  • Put the gnocchi and walnuts into a warm dish and return the pan with any juice to the stove and add the bacon, onions and cranberries and saute until the onions are soft. add the Gnocchi and walnuts and toss and leave to cool for a little bit.
  • Add the rocket and toss together and crumble the blue cheese on top with a bit more rocket to garnish and serve immediately.

 

Seared Asian Tuna, Coconut Rice and Jiggy Jiggy Greens

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Another one from the fabulous Jamie Oliver! This recipe has rocketed right to the top of my favourites list!

WOW. . .

It was date night on Saturday and I wanted to make my husband something delicious and special for dinner without having to spend hours in the kitchen! (not on date night! come on!) I had planned to do this meal as it seemed to tick all the boxes. It was quick, easy and man oh man…. the flavours!  We were in heaven. The beautiful freshness of the grapefruit juice adds something amazing and the green tea (strange I know) and sesame crust is just to die for.

What a treat!! I just can not recommend this one enough….

Rice

1 x 400g tin light coconut milk

1 x coconut tin (300g) of basmati rice or jasmin rice

1 lime

Tuna

1 x 450g piece of yellowfin tuna steak

2 x green tea bags

1 tbsp black and white sesame seeds (mixed)

Olive oil

Pickled ginger

2 spring onions

1 fresh red chilli

The juice of 1 small pink grapefruit

low salt soy sauce

½ bunch fresh coriander

Greens

2 bok choi

1 large bunch of asparagus (300g)

200g tenderstem broccoli

2 tsp sesame oil, plus extra to serve

3 cloves garlic

1 tbsp teriyaki sauce

  • Pour the coconut milk, 1 tins worth of rice and 1 tin of boiling water into a small pan. Season with salt and pepper, stir well, cover and cook for roughly 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then turn the heat off.
  • Halve the tuna lengthways, then empty the contents of the tea bags on to a board with the sesame seeds and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roll and press the tuna in the flavours to coat, then put in the frying pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sear for about 40 seconds on each side, then remove to a plate, leaving the pan on the heat.
  • Halve the bok choi, then finely slice in a food processor with the trimmed asparagus and broccoli.
  • Put the sesame oil into the frying pan and turn the heat up to high. Squash in the unpeeled garlic through a garlic crusher, then tip in the sliced greens. Toss and move around for 2 minutes, then season to taste with Teriyaki Sauce and remove from heat.
  • Arrange pieces of pickled ginger around a serving platter and about a tablespoon of the juice.
  • Finely slice the trimmed spring onions and chilli and sprinkle over the top.
  • Squeeze over the grapefruit juice and season to taste.
  • Slice the tuna 1cm thick and place on the dressing, drizzle with a little soy sauce, then sprinkle with coriander leaves and a few dribbles  of sesame oil.
  • Serve with the rice, lime wedges and greens.

Serves 4

Recipe and photo by Jamie Oliver

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with White Chocolate and Cream Cheese Icing

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with White Chocolate and Cream Cheese Icing

I made these cupcakes for a family wedding recently.  Because it was a special wedding – I really wanted to make them a bit special. I love the red velvet cupcake icing so I wanted to use that with a bit of a twist to fancy it up a bit! So I did some research and came across a few recipes and merged them all together and came up with these beauties!  The white chocolate really did add that something decadent (if you can get more decadent than cream cheese icing!) – they were a hit and my first official wedding baking experience may have left me with a few grey hairs, but they were delicious and the beautiful bride and groom were happy! PHEW!

For the Vanilla Bean Cupcakes:

2 ¼  cups cake flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 ¼  cups full cream milk (room temperature)

4 large egg whites (room temperature)

120g unsalted butter (room temperature)

1 ½  cups sugar

Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the White Chocolate and Cream Cheese Icing:

175g white chocolate, chopped

250g cream cheese, softened

¼ cup (50ml) butter softened

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 cups (500ml) icing sugar

For the Cupcakes:

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 180 C.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla bean seeds at medium speed for 3 minutes, or until the butter and sugar are very light.
  • Add in the vanilla extract and one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until well incorporated.
  • Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter fully incorporated and smooth, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
  • Once ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
  • Fill about 18 free-standing muffin cases with about 2 heaped tablespoons of the batter.
  • Place the muffin cases onto a baking tray and bake for 18-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean. Cool on wire rack

For the icing:

  • Place the white chocolate in a glass bowl that fits snuggly on a small saucepan filled with a little bit of water (don’t let the glass bowl touch the water) and bring the water to a simmer and the chocolate will slowly melt. Stir occasionally until completely melted. Take off the heat and saucepan and let it stand and cool for a few minutes. Stirring occasionally. Don’t let it stand too long and start setting! It must be luke warm.
  • In a clean mixing bowl, beat the butter and the cream cheese together and then pour in the chocolate and vanilla and combine everything together.
  • Slowly add the icing sugar and beat well.
  • Place the icing into a piping bag and let it cool in the fridge for about 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Ice and decorate as desired!

This was the final result 🙂

Wedding cupcakes

Oxtail with chickpeas

Oxtail

This recipe was given to me years ago by my cooking hero! It’s not the prettiest dish, but you need to take my word for it, this is a little bit of heaven on a plate!  Oxtail is amazing on a cold winter’s night served with fluffy basmati rice and some lovely veggies on the side.

 

2 Punnets Oxtail

2 Onions

Olive Oil

2 Bay leaves

2 oxtail stock cubes

1 lemon

1 tsp crushed garlic

1 tin tomato paste

2 tbs dried parsley

3 tbs sugar

2 tins chickpeas (drained)

Basmati rice

 

  1. Brown the oxtail in a little oil and set aside to drain on paper towels
  2. Add 2 finely chopped onions to the oil in the pot
  3. Add the browned oxtail
  4. Mix the stock cubes in one litre of boiling water and add to the onions and oxtail together with the bayleaves. Make sure that the meat is covered by the stock.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce to a low heat and allow to cook and lessen for 4 – 5 hours , stirring every 20 mins
  6. Once the mixture has reduced, add the juice of 1 fresh lemon, the tomato paste, the garlic, parsley and sugar and cook for 45 mins at a gentle simmer
  7. Add the drained chickpeas and allow them to heat through in the mixture but turn the stove off.
  8. This dish is best served the day after with Basmati Rice.

 

Serves 4

Recipe by Rene Kairuz

Lindsay’s Rebellious Salad of Walnut, Avo, Feta and Bacon… and a whole lot of other ‘stuff’

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I once went on a diet that required me to eat salad (but the boring lettuce, tomato cucumber type things) day in and day out. When I stopped the diet I fiercely disliked salad. When people asked me to bring a salad to a braai I would secretly groan as I just couldn’t bring myself to look at a lettuce, let alone get creative with it. But then, in my rebellion to the ordinary salad, I created this guy. It became a hit at social events. It has a LOT of awesome goodies in it. But that’s what makes it!

Layer the salad in the following steps, starting from the bottom layer working your way up!  This makes enough for 8 – 10 people, so you can scale it down accordingly 🙂

1)    A mixture of butter lettuce and Crisp water lettuce and baby spinach – enough to cover your salad platter

2)    1/2 a cucumber, sliced

3)    a handful or two of baby carrots sliced in half lengthways

4)    a handful of cherry tomatoes – halved

5)    1/2 of each (Red, yellow and orange peppers) sliced  julienne

6)    1 packet of bacon chopped into small chunks– fried and cooled

7)    3 or 4 rounds of black pepper feta cheese crumbled

8)    1 packet of black, pitted (if possible) marinated olives

9)    2 Avos – cubed. or sliced

10)   1 packet of thinly sliced sundried tomatoes in vinaigrette

11)    100g raw walnuts

12)    1 packet of Woolies Salad nut and seed sprinkle (or any seed and nut salad sprinkle)

13)   Croutons or veggie chips to garnish

14 ) Balsamic glaze to finish it off.

 

Tandoori Chicken Curry

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I am by no means a curry expert, but it is a cuisine that intrigues me greatly and I am on a bit of a mission to understand it more! But this recipe is one that I have kind of tweaked and changed along the way and it has become somewhat of a hit in my home and with my friends. It has great flavour and the creamy decadent sauce is delicious with gorgeous fresh naan bread!

12  large chicken breast fillets or 12 chicken thighs on the bone with the skin

For the Marinade: 

1 tbsp cumin powder

1 tbsp tandoori masala (or garam masala, or tandoori spice mix)

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp tumeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1/4 tsp chilli powder

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

500ml buttermilk (or natural plain yoghurt – but I find buttermilk is best)

1 tsp red food colouring

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 3cm piece of ginger, grated

For the sauce: 

1 large onion, diced and mixed with 1.5 tsp brown sugar

1 tbsp cumin powder

1 tbsp tandoori masala (or garam masala)

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp tumeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

1/4 tsp chilli powder (you can leave this out if you want a mild curry, or add extra if you want it very hot)

1 tin chopped tomatoes

4 fresh tomatoes, chopped

2 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp salt

Remaining marinade

250 mls fresh cream

3 tbsp butter

– Score the chicken fillets (or the thighs)

– Mix all the marinade ingredients together, place the chicken into the marinade – making sure all the pieces are submerged.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

– Heat the oven to 180 C and line a baking tray with some tin foil.

– Take the chicken out of the marinade and shake it a bit to get rid of excess marinade (not too much because you want it to cook with some marinade)

– Place the chicken fillets (or thighs) onto the baking tray and bake until done. The fillets only take about 15 – 20 minutes, please watch it carefully and don’t over cook them! The thighs will take about 35 – 40 minutes.

– Take the chicken out and set aside

– When you have put the chicken in the oven, start the sauce – the longer it simmers the better.

– Fry the chopped onions and sugar in about 2 tbsp of butter. then add the dry spices and stir until fragrant.

– Add the remaining marinade and stir well.

– Add the tinned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, sugar and salt and stir well. Bring it to the boil and then reduce the heat and let the curry simmer slowly for about 45 minutes.

– Blitz the sauce in either a food processor or with a hand held blender until smooth.

– Add 1 – 2 tbsp pf butter and the cream and then taste and adjust the seasoning.

– If you have used fillets, chop them up into bite sizes pieces and then add them to the sauce and let the chicken heat through. Or if you have used thighs, just pop them in the sauce and heat through.

– Serve with white basmati rice and naan bread or popadoms.

Serves 4

Recipe & Photo by Lindsay Dunne

Char-grilled Baby Butternut Salad with Lemon, Garlic, Feta and Mint

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I have been eyeing out these little baby butternuts for ages now and finally my curiosity got the better of me and I bought them. They are teeeeny tiny little butternuts. About the size of a small baby marrow. But once I had bought then, I didn’t have a clue what to do with them.

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I did a bit of research and came across Jane-Anne Hobbs’ Scrumptious blog. She has a recipe for them that really appealed to my flavour senses. I tried it, I loved it and I will make this again and again! It was amazing! And so great to find and try a new veggie that tastes and looks great on a plate! If you don’t have baby butternut you could substitute with baby marrows. I served this with some plain old ordinary baked fish fillets. I topped the fish with this salad and then gave it all another drizzle of the dressing that was left over and it worked amazingly well and elevated those boring old fillets to a much higher standard! But I can imagine it going well with anything really! Absolutely gorgeous flavours!

10 baby butternut squashes

Olive oil for rubbing

Juice of a lemon

For the dressing:

4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled

Juice of a large lemon (about 3 T; 45 ml)

130 ml fruity olive oil

a pinch of salt

freshly milled black pepper

3 T (45 ml) fresh, finely chopped mint

A dash of green Tabasco sauce

crumbled feta cheese

salt and freshly milled black pepper

–   Heat a ridged griddle pan on a hot plate for 7-10 minutes, or until very, very hot. Wash and wipe each little butternut squash well to remove any furry bits. Cut the squashes, lengthways into four ‘leaves’. Using your fingers, rub each slice, top and bottom, with a little olive oil.

–   Place the slices on the griddle, in batches, and cook until dark-gold lines appear on the underside, and the edges of each slice begin to darken. Add more olive oil, if necessary. Flip the slices over. When they are nicely striped on both sides, remove them from the pan and put aside on a plate. When all the slices have been browned, pile them back into the griddle pan, turn the heat down to medium-low, wait for a few minutes for the pan to cool slightly, and squeeze over the juice of one lemon, plus a tablespoon of water. Cover the griddle pan a saucepan lid of the right size. Leave the slices to steam gently until they are just cooked: that is, tender-crisp, but not raw, and certainly not mushy.

–   In the meantime, make the dressing. Finely chop the garlic, or smash it to pieces with a mortar and pestle. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, mint and bash it all together in the pestle and mortar until smooth and slightly creamy. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar you can blitz it in a small food processor. Let the mixture sit and infuse for ten minutes while you finish cooking the butternut slices.

–   Lift the cooked baby butternut slices from the pan, arrange on a big platter, drizzle the dressing over it and allow to cool for five minutes. Crumble the feta cheese over the salad, and set aside, at room temperature, for 20 minutes to an hour or two so the flavours can mingle.  Don’t put it in the fridge.

Serves 6

Original recipe by Jane-Anne Hobbs, slightly tweaked by me.

Photo courtesy of Jane-Anne Hobbs

Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken

Years ago I bought a cookbook that was written by two dietitians. I have used a few of their recipes often over the years as they are healthy and tasty and very easy to make. This is one of them. Its gorgeous with some roast veggies and rice if you want to do something healthy and quick for a mid week meal! 🙂

5 mls (1 tsp) mild wholegrain mustard

Juice of 1/2 lemon

5ml dried basil

5ml dried thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

15ml soy sauce

4 – 6 skinless chicken breasts

5ml cornflour

125ml fat-free plain yoghurt

Freshly ground black pepper

Zest of 1 lemon

– Preheat your oven to 200 C

– Mix together the mustard, lemon juice, basil, thyme, salt, pepper and say sauce.

– Baste the chicken well with this basting sauce, then bake in an ovenproof dish for 15 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time.

– Mix the cornflour and yoghurt together well.

– Remove the chicken from the oven, pour over the yoghurt, season with black pepper to taste and the lemon zest.

– Bake for a further 7 minutes.

Serves 4 – 6

Recipe from the  “The Ultimate Diet Solution Cookbook”