Archive for the ‘Summer Dining’ Category

Happy New Year everybody!

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I’m so relieved that 2010 is behind me.  Personally, it was a rough year and I sure hope that this new year has some nicer surprises in store for us all!

So in case you didn’t know, I went home for the holidays.  Home being my place of birth: the sleepy hollow of Bulawayo, in Zimbabaloo.  (That’s the new official name, by the way.  Write it down.)  I’ve not been back over Christmas for a number of years now, and normally miss the party bus mass exodus of Zimbos heading home for the holidays.  This results in missing special drinking time with friends from long, long ago.  There are a number of insanely awesome parties that take place (I know, right?), and I usually get to read about them over social networking channels, resulting in my achieving a non-Zen-like state of loser-dom.  It’s vicious.

Sista Bliss and I booked our tickets on a relatively new, low-cost (read dodgy & suspicious) airline called Kumba, operated by Air Namibia.  We overnighted in Jozi with family & flew into Bulawayo on a sunshiny Tuesday.  Or was it a Thursday?  I forget, mashed potato brains as a result of holiday-mode – nevertheless, unimportant.  We flew in, it was awesome, The End.  Here’s what we arrived to:

A rocking metropolis, you’ll agree?

Suffice to say that 10 days with our family consisted of a massive amount of bikini-time, good food and much needed rest. And the occasional scream through the house each day at a staggeringly earlier than normal time, “Its GIN O’CLOCK baby!”, culminating in a keen gathering at my dad’s bar.

Christmas Day was no different.  However, waking up to a very cheeky power cut at 7am and a mountain of food to cook didn’t do much to encourage our loving Christmas spirits; we bundled begrudgingly into the car and sped off to church in the hopes that whilst we were away giving thanks for all our blessings, the electricity fairies would magically come in, wave their ZESA wands, and all would be well again.  Yeah… not so much.  We had to move to Plan B, which came in the form of a Weber kettle braai and shoved the turkey and lamb in there for a few hours in the hopes that we could at least eat some meat with our cranberry jelly and mint sauce.  The power eventually came back on at 2pm, and we were able to furiously rattle the side dishes together, and enjoyed a wonderful, truly African Christmas lunch.

My mum bashed out a complete cracker of a festive punch, and I managed to smuggle the recipe out of the country to bring back and share with you all! I’m calling it Di’s Cherry Blossom Sherbet. You’re welcome!

What you’ll need: (serves 6)

4 Cherry Blossom tea bags

2 Rooibos tea bags

2 liters of water (you can substitute 1L of water for champagne at the last minute if you’re that way inclined)

100ml red berry juice

Juice of 1 lemon

Lots of ice

To garnish: sprigs of mint & miniature rose blossoms

And then…

Boil the water & allow the tea bags to steep for about 10 minutes.  Discard the tea bags and allow the tea to reach room temperature – this can be done the day before.  Add the remaining ingredients just before your guests arrive & decant into a large jug or punch bowl.

After an incredible holiday with our family, Sista Bliss and I reluctantly began the perilous trip home – it consisted of a delay of epic proportions on the first leg of our journey; our plane to Johannesburg had technical problems (read hung-over technicians) and we eventually departed Bulawayo 3 ½ hours behind schedule, resulting in our missing our connecting flights to Cape Town.  Being the silly season, there were no available seats left on any other flights that evening, and we had to again call upon our awesome family to put us up for the night until we could get back to the airport at 5am the next morning to be put on standby.  Here’s a snapshot of Sista Bliss and I two hours into aforementioned delay:

All smiles, see?  I unfortunately cannot show you smiles on the ass-end of our journey.  They simply did not exist. All I know is, by default 2011 is going to be a much happier year, I’m sure of it!


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Since the picnic season is upon us, I thought it would be nice to include ideas suitable for pack-up-and-go-ness.  Wait.  No, scratch that.  It’s not nice.  Mrs Jones down the road is nice. It’s a grand idea in fact!  These babies are also fab at a braai as a curtain raiser to fend off the hunger pangs before the main event.

If you’re not mad about lamb, what’s wrong with you? you can substitute it with beef – a well matured rump or rib eye will do the job.  If you don’t have a griddle pan, shame on you.  That’s completely unforgivable.  Only kidding, darlings!  Heat the grill element in your oven and set up a rack as close to the hot stuff as possible.  Alternatively, toast the pita on your braai grid.


What you’ll need… (serves 4)

450g lamb leg or rump, cubed into bite-sized pieces

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp ground cumin

½ tbsp paprika (if you have smoked paprika, this would also be nice grand, just halve the quantity as it’s very potent)

1 tsp coarse black pepper

Fresh mint leaves, chopped finely

1-2 tbsp red pepper pesto or sun-dried tomato pesto (you’re looking for something punchy, kittens)

A 200 g tub of tzatziki (I always go for low fat tzatziki, because it still has that rich mouthfeel and doesn’t get as cosy with my hips)

8-10 mini pita

And then…

Heat a non-stick (griddle) pan to our favourite setting: blady hot.  In a bowl, coat the lamb in the salt, cumin, paprika, pepper & mint.  No need for oil to fry your lamb, as the rump and leg cuts contain enough fat to get the meat frying & keep it moist.  Throw in the marinated bits of lamb, ensuring the pan is not overcrowded.  Leave the meat alone for at least 3 minutes.  If you are scared the meat will stick, you’re right.  It will.  But it will eventually UN-stick itself in time.  You just need to exercise some patience, darlings.  All good things… blah blah fish paste.  Turn the meat once it’s stopped sticking and brown the other side.  Remove once this is done & transfer to a bowl.  Repeat with the remaining lamb bits.  Once the meat is cooked, toss this in the red pepper or sun-dried tomato pesto & set aside while you toast the pita.

If you have a griddle pan, clean it and re-heat it to create those lovely charred lines we all love in food styling so much.  Alternatively, heat your grill & toast each pocket, turning regularly so they don’t burn.  When the pita are ready, they will puff up.  Carefully slice them open (not all the way, just half way) & be aware that steam will most likely escape from the pocket.

Spoon some tzatziki & some lamb into each pocket and you’re done!  See how easy that was?  Happy picnicking!


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I’m really getting into these summer vibes, my angels. South Africa is a wondrous place to live – we literally have a smorgasbord of sun-ripened fruit & vegetables available at the moment.  This is our time to get greedy on locally grown produce. No need for the big retailers to be importing naughty fruits n veggies from lands faraway…  All those gorgeous things are now all at the tip of our fingers, it’s so incredibly exciting, don’t you think?!

In light of this, I took a drive down to my favourite fish shop Fish4Africa, which is just off Roodebloem Road in Woodstock. If you’re a fish lover like me and you haven’t been here, step to my darlings. The good folk who run the show will even sort you out with SMS updates to let you know when your favourite fish is in stock. You just need to scribble your details down for them, and let them know what fishies you’re keen on, and they’ll do the rest. They also prepare your fish to your exact specifications – they have a team of talented & keen fishmongers with extraordinarily sharp knives at the ready. Honestly, why go anywhere else?

This is one of the simplest and easiest dishes I could share with you. It’s one of those really versatile meals, where it could be played down slightly for a simple meal for 1, or taken up a few skoochy notches for a dinner party.

Here’s what you’ll need… (Serves 4)

1x500g side/fillet of hake* (fresh is the only option, preferably scaled and filleted the same day) *You could also use yellowtail/kob/gurnard/panga – all these fish are fished or farmed in our waters & are on SASSI’s green list.

½ medium onion, chopped

Paprika, salt and black pepper

1 cup Roma tomatoes, halved

1 cup basil leaves, torn

½ cup black olives, pitted

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp good white wine (we used Du Toitskloof Chardonnay)

And then…

Preheat your oven to 220`C. You’re going to need to create a bag for your fish to bake in. This should be done with foil, as you’ll be creating a lovely sauce in the bottom of the bag to pour over your fish. Make your foil bag deep and strong. Alternatively you could use a roasting bag, but ensure the fish is not cramped inside the bag. Cramping a fish’s style is just not cricket man.

Sprinkle the onions down the center of the foil before placing your fillet of fish on top. Season the fish well with the paprika, salt & pepper before scattering & drizzling all the remaining ingredients over. Seal the fish completely so that no steam will escape, but don’t wrap the fish up tight. There should be enough space for the fish to have a nice sauna in there.

Place the fish bag on a baking tray & bung it in the oven. Depending on the size of your fish, your cooking time will vary. Our 500g fillet of fish took 20 minutes to cook. Once the fish is cooked – remove it from the oven and tear the foil open neatly so that the fish is exposed, yet the juices are still contained to sauce each portion. Top with a few more torn basil leaves and some creamy Danish feta cheese if you’re feeling crazy. Serve it with garlicky new potatoes tossed in olive oil & loads of fresh Italian parsley. I’d have died for some aioli to spoon over the potatoes instead, but I’m trying very hard to avoid the fattynomnoms of life, but you can totally go for your badge if you like?

As BondJamesBond would say, “Born up a Tree.”

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Fynbos, cityscape & ocean views. Paradise!

Boy-o-boy did I enjoy myself this weekend!  I’m not sure if it was the long weekend or National Braai Day or the fact that I got to hang out with The Co-Pilot all weekend long, but wowaweewa I had a good time!  I hope you guys did too!  I heard someone mention last week that they thought it was interesting that the biggest thing we have in common culturally in this country (or at least that which all the focus has been put on surrounding Heritage Day) is turning raw meat on an open flame, but I think there’s so much more to it than that, don’t you think?

After a wonderful day of braai-ing on Friday there were lots of yummy leftovers which were surreptitiously packed up into a picnic basket & bundled into the car which sped off in the direction of Deer Park.  I’d never been there before, yet heard so many people gush over how lovely it is, so was super stoked when The Co-Pilot suggested we take our carcinogenic picnicings there..


Our little corner of picnicdom next to a lovely burbling stream.

It must be said at this point in time that The Co-Pilot is a master of sandwich-making.  The man is known far and wide for his magical skills with bread and fillings.  No two sandwiches are the same, and ingredients range from random to exotic & always delight the salivary glands.  My cue to down tools, pick up a refreshing beverage & assume a position of chillage.

Assuming the position. Boom!

Some of the ingredients we used: Paul's Chilli; Tarragon Mustard; char-grilled peppers; mixed wild mushrooms & fine beans

We also took along some red onions, tomatoes, some old-school iceberg lettuce (LOVE that stuff) & a big chunk of medium-rare rib eye steak.  Earlier that day we’d got a fresh loaf of ciabatta from the blokes selling bread out their Venter trailer at the Biscuit Mill.  You guys know who I mean right? Of course you do!

Here’s what went down on my sandie:

And The Co-Pilot’s sandie… (it should be noted at this stage that off-camera I am guzzling 1 x nomalicious sandie!)

Go on, tell me you're not drooling?

The Big Kahuna of Yumminess

And then there was none. Well, not much, anyway. Nom!

As you can see, much nomming & chillaxing done.  I recommend you get your picnic baskets out this summer & take advantage of all the beautiful places our beautiful city offers.  Happy Heritage Day!

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(…and no, this ain’t the colonel’s famous recipe, it’s MY famous recipe)

What you’ll need… (serves 2)

8 pork* short ribs (cut them to separate them if they’re still on the rack)

3cm piece of very fresh ginger

1 small onion

Juice and zest of 1 lime (lemon could work too, but limes just pop!)

1 star anise

2 tbsp soy sauce (we only endorse Kikkoman here, baby)

1 small cinnamon stick, broken

1 tbsp peanut oil

1 fresh green chilli

1 tbsp molasses (you’ll find this in the health foods aisle or in the veeeeeery back of your mum’s pantry)

60ml pineapple juice

and then…

Pop the ribs into a large freezer bag with a zip lock. Cut the onion into eight wedges and add to the ribs along with the star anise and the broken cinnamon stick.

Roughly chop up the chilli, (you’re a really clever bunch, I don’t need to tell you not to rub things hey?) and peel and finely slice the ginger.  Bung all that in your baggy too.  Zest and juice the lime and add the soy sauce, peanut oil, molasses and the pineapple juice, and stir that all together in a jug or small bowl before adding to the bag.  Zip up the bag and get shaking bebe!!  You have my full permission to do a little dance, make a little…  Leave your bag of ribs in the fridge overnight if you’re a plan-ahead Type A personality like me, otherwise pretend that you did – a healthy imagination is hugely vital!

Preheat your oven to 200’C.  If your ribs chilled out in the fridge for the night, bring them out and let them come to room temperature before cooking them.  Pour the entire contents into a foil tray or a foil-lined roasting tin (oh, how I loathe having to clean baked-on nonsense from my roasting trays) and bung those babies in the oven for an hour. Turn your ribs over halfway thru the cooking time.  If you prefer them very crispy or more caramelized, then let them go for a bit longer, but be warned, the meat won’t be as tender & juicy ok?  My little version of a disclaimer.  It would be best to hook yourself up with one of those lekker full-length crab bibs like our funny friends the Americans have, cause it’s about to get messy!

* you could use beef short ribs instead, but the quantity of marbled fat on the pork ribs gives a better end result.

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There’s no way to fully explain how fabulous these babies are, you just have to make them & tuck in to really get the full effect.  I joined one of those recipe email syndicates (yes, syndicate –read on).  I’m the nerd in the school yard when it comes to those things, because I always send off a winner of a recipe, and get back the most horrendous excuse for a dish ever.  I’m convinced these things are initiated by bossy non-foodies who sit in front of their computers and laugh like Dr Evil at people like me.  Except this time.  This time I hit the big-time.  The jackpot, baby.  The shiny Aston Martin DBS hanging precariously from the ceiling.  Alright, I admit – it’s not that amazing.  But try it out anyway, you won’t be sorry.

This is how it goes… (serves 6)

1 ½ cups seedless raspberry jam – quality in, quality out, so St. Dalfour if you can!

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp soy sauce – we only endorse Kikkoman here, ok?

1 ½ tsp crushed dried red chillies

2 kg chicken wings, tips removed (I know a gal who has a small addiction to crunching on the wing tips, so perhaps remove them at your peril?)

And then…

It’s really simple: Preheat your oven to 180’C.  Combine all the ingredients together in a big bowl – get in there with your hands to get the flavours deep into those flappers.  Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until wings are crispy and cooked through.

You could serve them as a snack at a braai to hold everybody over until the meat has been cooked.  For a more swanky ‘do, separate the joints & discard the wing tips before you cook them – they’ll turn into bit-size pieces of heaven.  Bang!

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I spotted this awesome canapé idea in a magazine a few years ago, scanned it & held onto it for dear life. I’ve used it many times, but cannot remember which mag it came from. Sorry whoever you are, but I’m plugging your amazing idea. It’s not my own. See how honest I am?

Ain’t it pretty? So, the way I make mine is by first sourcing the wonton sheets from a Chinese supermarket. There’s a great one in Claremont near Cavendish Square up a one-way street. You’ll find these babies in the freezers, wrapped in paper & plastic. Defrost them & remove however many you think you’ll need, and then re-wrap them with cling wrap & bung them back in the freezer. They’ll handle this a good number of times but make sure you wrap ‘em up tight. Freezer burn ain’t cool at all.

You’ll need a mini muffin tray for these guys. If you don’t have anything resembling these, buy some mini cupcake/muffin sleeves – they’ll work just the same except the sesame seeds will have to go on the inside otherwise they’ll stick.

Place the wonton wrappers on a flat, dry surface & grease the top surface lightly with sesame oil, just so the sesame seeds stick. If you’re not too keen on the strong nutty flavour of sesame oil, you can brush the wontons with egg white – it does the same job. Sprinkle your greased wontons with black & white sesame seeds. Pick up each wonton gently using a round-edged knife to lift the corners. Place the wontons sesame seeds-side down into your muffin tray, or if you’re using the sleeves, you’ll want the sesame seeds on the inside. Make sure they are lying flush with the base of the tray, and that the corners are upright.

Place the wontons into a hot oven (180′C) & watch them carefully. I find 5-8 minutes does the job, but ensure your fan assist is off unless you want burnt sesame seeds coating the inside of your oven! Once they have gone crispy and are a lovely golden brown colour, take them out of the oven. You’ll want to remove them from the muffin tin immediately so that they don’t continue to colour from the heat of the metal tray. Let them cool on a cooling rack. Chilled!!

At this point you could pop them into an airtight container lined with kitchen paper. They will keep for 24 hours before losing their crunch. I love catering this way, because it give me more time to choose which killer heels I’m going to wear before the guests arrive.

So you’re good to go with your fillings! You can honestly put anything you like in these little dudes, but try keep it Asian-inspired in keeping with the whole sesame seed/wonton vibe. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Spicy prawn, mango & avocado salsa
  • Salmon, lime & soy tartare
  • Shredded Asian chicken with peanuts & vermicelli noodles
  • Crunchy vegetable spaghetti with soy-mirin dressing (I use cucumber, daikon, carrots, bean sprouts, peppers, spring onions, red cabbage & slice them within an inch of their lives)

Bang them onto gorgeous platters & go ahead & wow your guests. You’re welcome!

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