Posted in Best Find, Fish, Good Food, Wine

Banting Sunday at Taste Café – 17 July

We invite all our banting clients (and non-banting, you will enjoy this menu just as much) to an exceptional Banting Three Course Menu. It is a great menu with awesome foodie delights on it and we would like to pack our restaurant this Sunday with Banting Foodies!

BOOKINGS ARE ESSENTIAL: 083 730 8344

Where: 217 Soutpansberg Road, Rietondale, Pretoria (Laughing Chefs Restaurant)

Time: 11am – 4pm

Three Course Banting Menu: R255 per person or eat individual courses of which one must be a main.

Starter: R75
Smoked Mackerel
Beetroot Tartare | Micro Salad | Avo Cream | Basil Oil

Main: R150
Aubergine & Pork Canneloni
Red Pepper & Jalapeno Sauce | Mozzarella & Dolce Latte | Onion, Pumpkin Seed Crumble | Enoki Mushrooms

Dessert: R50
Pear & Cranberry Crumble
Date & Almond Crumble | Chai Ice Cream

Methods of Payment: Cash or SnapScan only.

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Posted in Best Find

Market Food – Taste Café is in it!

coverimage-Market-Food

The market scene in South Africa is busy exploding. The plethora of markets from which visitors can pick and choose are just amazing at the moment and the influence of markets on how people eat, drink and socialize is huge. When Jessica Cairns visited my stall at the Pretoria Boeremark about two years ago with this fabulous idea to do a book about the different markets and the food you can find on these markets, I was thrilled with idea and fell very privileged to be a contributor to Market Food South Africa. 

Taste Café and owner Willie Cloete is featured in Market Food  where I share a delicious recipe for Brinjals roasted with Garlic and Sumac and we would like to encourage all our clients, readers, supporters and friends to support this publication by ordering it, buying it or downloading it!

Click here for a link to a review of the book. Market Food is available from Exclusive Books, CNA and other independent bookstores. On-line stores such as Kalahari, Look, Take-a-lot and Red Pepper should also list the book shortly.

Posted in Best Find, Recipe

Must Have Cookbooks for your Kitchen

I love books! As a student I worked in Exclusive Books in Sunnypark and when there were no customers in the shop I would page through the many beautiful books and wish I could afford them all! My favourite books then were the cookbooks, something in me was always drawn to that shelf. I always wanted to be a chef even at school, but somehow life decided to make a different turn with me before I could get to being a chef. But, paging through those beautiful cookbooks, which I read like story books, just confirmed deep down for me what I want to be one day when I am all grown up.

However, I first had to make a detour through the world of teaching Public Relations and Writing for the Communications Industry. Followed by a 12 year career as a graphic designer and at that point I appreciated the design and layout more than the actual recipes. Just before my 40th birthday I went on holiday to India and in Madurai I visited and old Hindu palm reader. He foretold many things, even a career change a few months later and initially I didn’t belief a word he said, but it turned out most of what he predicted has manifested so far. The greatest of them all was the career change he showed me on my hand a few months after I turned 40.

I am turning soon 45 and the old gentleman foretold that I would take until my 45th birthday to learn my new trade and the industry. I followed short courses here and there, but time and money lacks for a long protracted chef’s course, so 90% of what I know is self taught. However, I have money for books and I go less for big names like Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson and more for what the book inside has to offer in terms of advice, useful tips as I had to learn a lot at a very late stage in my life. But what a journey it has been so far and I am not regretting one moment of it. I love using fresh and local ingredients, focusing on great and strong flavours and above all recipes had to be easy and inventive. The 10 books on my list encapsulate for me the essence of my culinary journey and I hope they will inspire you as well.

Taste Blog Cookbooks

Posted in Best Find

Solving the Butter Dilemma

It is winter in South Africa and one of my biggest headaches is hard butter and I think it is so for most South Africans who love their butter on almost anything. Most South African homes are not built to withstand any winter freeze as we have a long summer and most people build their houses to be cool in summer and even colder in winter. This results in a hard butter no matter where you leave it in your house, come next morning it is as hard a brick. Try to spread it on toast and you’ll destroy that delicate looking piece of toast into oblivion, end up with half the toast spread over your shirt or worse in your lap and in the process you most probably knocked your tea or coffee over! At most you might have mashed toast with some butter and marmalade.

Anyway, here I was searching the web for some kind of solution to this age old dilemma of butter-loving mankind and the advise range from a few seconds in the microwave to leaving next to the stove to ensure a softer spread. In a moment of desperation I used Google Images and search for an image and low and behold found this amazing little gadget! Now first of all I have to unfortunately admit I am a bit of a gadget queen, I like a good kitchen gadget and when I saw this Japanese invention I decided that I must have one! Ok, so I am still searching for a supplier in SA!

But just look at this thing, the Easy Butter Former is the work of a genius, stick the hard butter in one side, turn and the other side produce the beautiful soft butter strands. So it is grated, much thinner and will reach room temperature in seconds and you can spread it with ease or if you love nutter that much just eat it as is! That is how the butter fairies do their work actually!

butterthing_0(1)

Butter

I love it and I want one! Yuppiechef? Anyone?

Posted in Best Find, Recipe

Best Food Find – Black Garlic

About a year ago I first encountered black garlic in a recipe that called for it and ever since I was intrigued. Eventually I was able to get a company in SA who import it and got myself a few bulbs to experiment with and I must say I am hooked on this mild black garlic with the sweet aromas of reduced balsamic vinegar. And the best part of it, that strong garlic pungent odour is absent.

Though not as well known as its white counterpart, black garlic is enjoying a rise in popularity in gastronomic circles and the alternative medicine field. Introduced to the health and food markets about 5 years ago by the Koreans, garlic becomes “black garlic” through a month-long process of fermentation under strictly controlled heat and humidity. The health benefits of black garlic are being touted by natural medicine practitioners and herbalists.

taste blog black garlic

Recipe for Black Garlic Café de Paris Butter:

Makes about 300g of butter.

  • 6-7 Black Garlic Cloves, crushed or mashed
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • ½ tsp Chopped Capers
  • 1 Small Shallot Chopped
  • 1tsp Chopped Chives
  • 1 tsp Chopped tarragon
  • 2 Anchovy Fillets (optional)
  • 1 tsp Cognac
  • 1 tsp Madeira
  • ¼ tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 200g Soft Unsalted Butter

To make:

  1. Place all the ingredients, except the butter and paprika in a bowl and mix well. Season with salt and the paprika and allow to stand for 24 hours in a warm place to allow all the flavours to infuse.
  2. Using a wooden spoon, beat the infused mixture into the softened butter until well mixed.
  3. Once mixed, roll the butter mix in grease proof paper into a sausage shape, secure the ends and chill in the fridge until needed.
  4. To serve, cut a large piece of butter and place on the meat or fish. The butter will slowly melt over the food adding wonderful  flavour and aroma to the dish.

taste blog butter paris

 

More Black Garlic Facts: 

  1. Cancer Protection and Cholesterol Benefits: – The month-long fermentation process in creating black garlic contributes to creating a kind of super-garlic. The compound S-allylcysteine, a natural component of fresh garlic and a derivative of the amino acid cysteine, was found in much greater concentrations in black garlic, and is thought to help lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of cancer.
  2. Infection Protection: – White garlic contains anti-microbial, antibiotic and anti-fungal agents in its active ingredient, allicin. In black garlic, S-allylcysteine assists with the absorption of allicin, helping it metabolize more easily which could offer boosted protection against infections.
  3. Disease Protection:- Garlic is also high in antioxidants. Black garlic has been found to have twice the antioxidant properties of conventional garlic. Antioxidants protect the cells from disease and are thought to slow down the aging process. Because black garlic is so potent, the heightened levels of antioxidants offering protection from free radical damage make it an ideal food for thwarting chronic disease. Free radicals damage cells leading to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, circulatory problems, rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases.
  4. Other Characteristics: –The fermentation that produces black garlic reduces the pungent odour and strong flavour, making it more palatable and appealing to some people. The taste of black garlic has been compared to that of a dried fruit, smoky, sweet and slightly chewy. Conventional garlic, even in freeze-dried capsules, emits a strong garlic odour that permeates the skin, causing objectionable body and breath odour in people using garlic as a health supplement. Black garlic has none of the strong odour of white garlic and can be consumed in large quantities without the olfactory effects.
Posted in Best Find, Good Food, Recipe

A Festive Trio of Fennel

First of all apologies for not being on my blog for the last two weeks, but it is winter in South Africa and I took my winter hibernating break! Well, it wasn’t that much hibernating as I went on a short holiday to the Cape, which is the wine producing region of SA and I tasted some lovely wines from a variety of vineyards, will write later more in detail about it. Back again I worked on my spring and summer catering menu, which I will publish shortly, some of the photos didn’t come out the way I wanted it so I have to make some of the recipes again, style the food, re-shoot and hope for a better set this time around.

Everybody always rave about the liquorice smell and taste of fennel and yes it is the primary smell and taste, but fennel transports me back to Parys (not in France, but the one in the Free State province of SA) where my grandparents lived. The ground is rich from the fertile waters of the Vaal River and my grandfather’s mulch of good compost and around this time of the year during the winter school break we would go and visit. Above ground stood the proud fennel stalks with these beautiful and most delicate leaves, fragrant and sweet when you start to chew on it. O, and the the best part was when my grandfather would lift a bulb out of the ground, pure white and so inviting to use as best as you could.

One of my grandmother’s recipes was roasted fennel with the Sunday lamb roast and I thought I would like to repeat her recipe for you here as it really goes so well with about anything. All three recipes are vegetarian and part of my dedication to and support of Meat Free Mondays. Enjoy and hope they’ll bring you as much nourishment both physically and emotionally and spiritually as they do for me! Woolworths and most of the good Fruit and Veggie Shops have these fat bulbs available at the moment, so pack them in and try these recipes for Meat Free Monday!

Oven Roasted Fennel

You’ll need:

  • 3-4 large fennel bulbs
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 40ml balsamic vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Additional olive oil

Method:

  1. Cut the long stalks off and quarter the bulbs lengthwise.
  2. Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic and rub the fennel quarters with this mixture and then add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Drizzle some of the additional oil on your baking sheet, arrange the fennel on the tray and bake in the oven for 40-50minutes at 180°C.
  4. Serves about 4-6 people and great with a roasted chicken, fish or beef.

Fennel Terrine

This is a wonderful terrine and goes well with trout and salmon. It can be served cold or once sliced you can pan fry the slices if you would prefer it hot. The great advantage of this recipe is that you must make it the day before as the terrine needs a good 24hours to set in the fridge. If you want to you can add more layers of other vegetables such as spinach leaves or ribboned carrots that have been blanched. It will add flavour and colour.

You’ll need:

  • 6 – 8 medium potatoes (choose a waxy variety which will give you the sticky type of consistency)
  • 1 Fennel bulb
  • 1 punnet (250g) of Shitake Mushrooms
  • 5ml crushed garlic
  • 125ml Milk
  • 150g Butter
  • 1ml Grounded Fennel Seeds Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Additional olive oil

 Method:

Potatoes: Peel and quarter the potatoes and boil in salt water until soft but still firm. While waiting for potatoes to cook, drizzle some olive oil in a 220x110x65mm loaf tin, with your fingers rub the oil to cover the whole pan and then line with about two lengths of perforated glad wrap, some of the glad wrap must overlap the pan to cover the terrine once made. Also finely chop a good handful of the fennel leaves to be added to your mash. Once the potatoes are cooked, remove and drain and make your mash by adding salt, pepper and the ground fennel seeds as well as 75g of the butter and adding the milk as needed. You need a fairly firm mash, so add just enough milk to make the mash bind together. You’ll need 700g of mash to make the terrine. Set a side.

Mushrooms: Remove the stems of the mushrooms and then heat 75g of butter in a pan and add some olive oil as well. Once the oil is hot place the mushrooms bottoms down in the pan and fry, once they have absorbed all the oil and butter and start to smell smoky, turn around and fry until soft. Once fried, add salt & pepper to taste and the garlic, set aside on paper towels to allow excess water to drain away.

Fennel: Remove the stalks and wash. Reserve a good bunch of the fine hair like leaves if the fennel to be chopped and added to your mash. With a mandolin slicer, thinly slice your fennel lengthwise. Bring 2 litres of water, 10ml salt and 5ml lemon juice to the boil. Once the water is boiling, blanch the sliced fennel for 3-4 minutes, remove and refresh in cold water. Set aside.

To assemble: Spread 220g of the mash in the bottom of the loaf tin. Then layer the whole mushrooms. Spread another 220g layer of mash. Now add your layer of blanched fennel. Finally spread the remaining 260g of mash on top of the fennel layer. Take the overlapping pieces of glad wrap and cover your terrine. Once covered, use your hands and firmly press the terrine to ensure that you have a well compacted terrine. Refrigerate for 24hours. After the refrigeration, remove your terrine from the loaf tine, the glad wrap should make it very easy to remove, set and slice on a platter and decorate with some reserved fennel leaves. Serve about 6-8 portions.

Fennel & Potato Pot Pie

This is such and easy recipe and can also be made well in advanced. If I don’t serve it on its own as part of a vegetarian dish, I like to serve it with roasted pork belly or mackerel. There is a little cheating in terms of the pastry, but still a great way to present it to your guests. Serves 4-6 depending on the size of your ramekins.

You’ll need:

  • 1 roll of puff pastry 400g
  • 1 egg
  • 5ml Maldon Salt (it must be the large flaky salt)
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 3ml fennel seeds
  • 5-6 spring onions
  • 250g sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 2ml crushed garlic
  • 50g butter and 30ml olive oil
  • 125ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 60ml dry white wine
  • 30ml Cognac or good brandy
  • 125ml double cream or Crème Fraiche
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Method:

For the Pastry: Defrost and thaw your pastry. Flour a work surface well, unroll the dough onto the flour and using a cookie cutter, cut 4-6 forms that will fit on top of your pie. Transfer to a baking tray, egg washes the pastries and sprinkle with salt. Bake in the oven at 180°C for 15-20minutes until golden brown and puffed. Set aside. Note: You can reheat them for a few minutes in the oven if they have cooled down too much.

For the Pie: Peel and quarter the potatoes and boil in salt water until soft but still firm. Slice the fennel with some of the stalks and the spring onions. Fry them in the oil and butter mix with the fennel seeds and mushrooms until soft. Add your stock of choice, cognac, white wine and potatoes and reduce by half. Add your cream and seasoning and reduce the liquid until your have a stew like consistency. Remove from the heat and divide into individual ramekins. Set a pastry on top and serve immediately with pan-fried ostrich fillets, duck or beef fillet or smoked mackerel.

Posted in Best Find, Good Food

Best Food Find – Limes

A few years ago two of my very good foodie friends each planted a lime tree and so started the wait for these amazing limes to appear, but to our great disappointment for the first three years either tree produced any fruit. This year, suddenly there is an explosion of fruit on both trees and I am very happy to be on the receiving end of bags of fresh and organic limes this season.

I adore this small, green citrus fruit, which is a staple of Asian cuisine and is used mainly for its juice, although lime zest and leaves are also used in cooking. It has a stronger, more bitter taste than lemon. The juice can be squeezed into cocktails or sprinkled over finished dishes to enhance their flavour; it effectively ‘cooks’ raw fish in a ceviche.

Probably the most tart of fruits, limes, like lemons are rarely eaten alone. But their tart juice adds life to everything from salads to pies. This gives them carte blanche by perking up all the freshness and goodness of your dishes. And as they are very low in calories, they are the perfect accompaniment on your new diet!

Selection and Storage

Look for firm, unblemished fruit that’s heavy for its size – an indicator of juiciness. Thin-skinned fruit yield the most juice. Refrigerated, they keep for a month or two. Unlike lemons that can be kept at room temperature, limes prefer to be refrigerated. The key lime – of pie fame – packs much more flavour than other lime varieties because of its greater acidity. Key limes are small and round; other varieties look more like green lemons. Limes typically turn yellowish as they ripen. When you select your limes, go for the greenest ones as they have the best flavour.

Preparation and Serving Tips

To get more juice from a lemon or lime, bring it to room temperature, and then roll it back and forth under the palm of your hand before you cut and squeeze it. The most flavourful part of the fruit is its “zest,” or skin. Scrape it off with a grater, knife, or zester, and use it to enhance desserts and fruit salads. A twist of lemon adds zing to fish and to bean dishes, drastically reducing the amount of salt typically used to flavour beans.

One of the most refreshing drinks on a hot day is Salted Lime & Soda, which I learned to drink on my three trips to India since 2005.  And here is my very easy recipe for this great drink:

Per glass of 300ml you’ll need:

  • Juice of two limes
  • ½ teaspoon of organic sea salt
  • 250ml chilled soda water
  • A slice of lime for decoration

To make:

Simply squeeze the juice of the limes into your glass, add the salt and mix until the salt has dissolved. Slowly add the soda water and serve immediately with a thin slice of lime. For a more adult version add a splash of vodka, it makes for a refreshing drink!

Benefits of Lime

The first fruit that comes to our minds when it comes to medicinal uses is perhaps the good old lime. This sour citrus fruit can do what many specialist medicines cannot. Lime, bearing the scientific name Citrus Aurantifolia, is being used for ages for treatment of various ailments.

The health benefits of lime include weight loss, skin care, good digestion, relief from constipation, eye care, and treatment of scurvy, piles, peptic ulcer, respiratory disorders, gout, and urinary disorders. If you suffer from heartburn, try the juice of one lime every morning in a glass of luke warm water.

Lime is consumed throughout the world in sorbets, beverages, refreshing drinks, pickles, jams, jellies, snacks, candies, sugar boiled confectionaries and culinary and the oil extracted from its peel or skin is extensively used in soft drink concentrates, body oils, cosmetics, hair oils, tooth pastes, toilet and beauty soaps, disinfectants, mouth washes, deodorants and innumerable other products.