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 Good Food, Pestos, Recipe, Wine

Chickpea Cakes with Hummus Mayo & Three Bean Salad

Having been a vegetarian myself for over 10 years of my life, I know the frustration when you go out and all they can serve you at restaurants are crumbed mushrooms and a few slices of cheese and a lettuce leaf. I made it my mission to include as many vegetarian ideas in my menus as possible. Over 90% of all my products I take to the Pretoria Farmer’s Market on Saturdays are vegetarian. For World Vegetarian Day which was on 1 October 2013, I served a delightful lunch for 17 of my good vegetarian clients and we had such a great time, that I feel I want to share especially the easy main course dish with my readers.

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You really need very little skill to make this dish and it is tasty and high in protein. Make the bean salad at least the day before as it needs to stand and marinate for all the flavours to incorporate. For the hummus you can make your own or use a quality store-bought jar or follow my recipe below. Most of the recipe you can prepare in advance and just assemble once the Chickpea cakes have been fried. Surprise your vegetarian friends next time you have them over with this tasty and very simple dish. 

Prep Time: 20 mins | Cook Time: n/a | Recipe: Very Easy | Serve: 6-10

For the Bean Salad:

  • 1 tin Chickpeas, drained & washed
  • 1 tin Red Kidney Beans, drained & washed
  • 1 tin Butter Beans, drained & washed
  • 1 small Red Onion
  • 3 Peppers (red, yellow & green), short sliced
  • 3 Jalapenos, short sliced
  • Bunch of parsley, chopped
  • Bunch of Basil, chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • Juice of one lemon + zest
  • 80-100ml Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 20 mins | Recipe: Very Easy | Serve: 6-10

For the Chickpea Cakes:

  • 3 tins Chickpeas, drained & washed
  • 10ml Cumin Powder
  • 10ml coriander Powder
  • 15ml Smoked Paprika
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 80ml Olive Oil
  • 3 Jumbo Eggs
  • 5 tbsp Flour, use a stone ground organic, like Eureka Mills in South Africa
  • Little Water to help the mixture
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Bunch of Parsley, chopped
  • Extra oil for frying

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: n/a | Recipe: Very Easy | Serve: 6

For the Mayonnaise: Follow my basic recipe here, do not add the tarragon.

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: n/a | Recipe: Very Easy | Serve: 4

For the Hummus:

  • 1 tin Chickpeas, keep the water
  • 125ml Olive Oil
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • Juice of one Lemon
  • 5ml Cumin
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: n/a | Recipe: Very Easy | Serve: 6-10

For the Basil & Spinach Pesto:

  • 100g Basil Leaves
  • 60g Spinach Leaves
  • Juice of one Lemon
  • 1 Coves Garlic
  • 100ml Olive Oil + Extra
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

To make:

Bean Salad: Chop and mince everything, add the washed beans, mix well and store in fridge until needed.

Hummus: Put everything in a food processor and process until you have a smooth paste, use the water of the chickpeas to thin it out a little.

Mayonnaise: Follow our easy recipe as given, once made, weigh out equal measures of mayonnaise and hummus to make the hummus mayo. Mix well and store in fridge until needed.

Basil & Spinach Pesto: Place all the ingredients in the coffee mill attachment of your food processor and process until well mixed and you have a runny pesto, add more oil if needed. Set aside until needed

Chickpea Cakes: Mix the drained chickpeas with all the spices and oil and fry over high heat in a pan until crispy and slightly charred on the outside. Allow to cool completely before you proceed to the next step. Once cooled, roughly mash the chickpeas with a fork, add the flour, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic and parsley and mix well. If it is too dry add a little water to the mixture, but be careful not to add too much as you will then struggle to form the cakes. Once mixed, form small cakes or patties with your hands and fry them in a hot skillet until golden on both sides, drain on paper towels and keep aside until needed.

To Plate:

Bring it all together by plating the bean salad in a separate bowl, add 2-3 chickpea cakes to the plate and nice dollop of the hummus mayo and drizzle the pesto around in the plate. Finish off with a few sprigs of chives and serve. Best enjoyed with a crisp Chenin Blanc or a nutty/heavy wooded Sauvignon Blanc.

Posted in Good Food, How To, Recipe, Wine

Aubergine & Courgette Soup with Smoked Garlic Pearls to celebrate Autumn

The days are getting shorter and the nights longer and cooler as well. 1 March is officially the arrival of autumn in South Africa and very welcome so after a long hot and dry summer this year. I have two favourite times of the year, when autumn starts in March and when spring starts in September, the days have such a magnificence to it, it makes me nostalgic to the point where I always page through my mom’s handwritten recipe book to remember childhood favourites. My mom can cook, but if she had a choice she would rather not, so she wasn’t and still isn’t the most enthusiastic cook. However she had some great recipes, ok sometimes she would make them too many times and they became hated recipes by us, her four children, but one I fondly remember is her aubergine soup. She used to make it this time of the year with the end of season aubergines when the seeds inside was hard and needed some camouflage by being liquidated.

I have altered and tweaked the soup a little to be a more sexy and updated modern soup, I also added a few more flavourings, my mom wasn’t very creative when it came to flavours and her pantry was limited usually to parsley as the main herb to give flavour. Here is my version: Creamy Aubergine Soup with Courgettes and Smoked Garlic Pearl.

taste blog eggplant soup

You’ll need:

  • 3 Large Aubergines
  • 4-5 Courgettes
  • 2 Shallots, finely chopped
  • Olive Oil for frying
  • 2 Large Garlic Bulbs, keep them whole
  • 1l Chicken or Vegetable Stock
  • 250ml Cream
  • 250ml Dry White Wine
  • 10ml Smooth Dijon Mustard
  • 5ml Fine Fennel
  • 5ml Fine Cumin
  • 3ml Freshly grated Nutmeg
  • 2ml White Pepper
  • Salt to Taste
  • Fresh Chives as garnish
  • Parmesan shavings for garnish

A Bouquet Garni of:

  • 2 Fresh Bay Leaves
  • 6-8 Fresh Parsley Stalks
  • 3-4 Sprigs of Thyme
  • 6 Sage Leaves

To make:

The Smoked Garlic: If you have a smoker, follow the instructions and smoke the garlic over a mixture of wood shavings and rooibos tea, I use a very course rooibos tea from Eleven O’Clock Tea Company. Or if you don’t have a smoker see this video on how to make your own smoker by clicking here.   Smoke the garlic for 5-10 minutes on a high heat, then turn the heat down to a medium setting and smoke another 20-30 minutes. After the last smoke, remove the smoker from the heat and allow the garlic to stand another 10 minutes. Open, remove and allow to cool. Once cooled down, you can start to peel the garlic, you should have these wonderful soft pieces of garlic, ready to eat.

My Tip: Smoke more than the two bulbs in this recipe, if you are a garlic lover, you’ll adore this and you can store it in bottles filled with some olive oil in the fridge. You’ll have lovely garlic and a beautiful smoked garlic oil to use as well.

To make the Soup: Peel the aubergines, slice them and boil them for 15-20 minutes in a pot of water with 2 teaspoons of salt and one lemon quartered – this is to keep this aubergine as white as possible. Once cooked, remove from the water and liquidise until smooth, set aside. In a large soup pot, fry the chopped shallots in a little olive oil until soft, add all your spices and fry to bring out the aromas, it takes about 20-30 seconds, add the wine and mustard and allow to reduce by half. Add the stock, the liquidised aubergines and the bouquet garni to the shallots and simmer for about 20-30 minutes over a low heat, lid off. After this cooking time, remove the bouquet garni, add the sliced courgettes and simmer until the courgettes are soft but still firm. Remove from the heat, add the cream and allow to stand for about 10 minutes and then taste for salt.

To Plate:

  1. Laddle a good spoonful onto each plate.
  2. Turn about three courgettes on their sides and set a smoked garlic pearl on each one.
  3. Sprinkle the plate with some chopped chives and some whole ones too.
  4. Serve with the same dry white you used in the soup, I like to use and serve it with a Zonnebloem Sauvignon Blanc and some crostinis.

Chef’s Tips:

  • For a thicker and creamier soup, add two boiled potatoes to the aubergines when you liquidise them.
  • For a smoother soup, pass the soup through a fine sieve right at the end before serving the soup.
  • For a vegetarian option, replace the chicken stock with a strong vegetable stock.

 

Posted in Recipe, Wine

Pan-Fried Trout with Carrot & Cucumber Ribbon Salad, poached Fennel and Sesame Vinaigrette

Living in Pretoria and near prime trout towns such Dullstroom, Belfast and Lydenburg, it just makes sense to me to support trout farmers as they are closer to us in terms of freshness and accessibility of produce. Sea fish options are usually frozen due to the fact that we live far inland and nearly 700km away from the nearest coastal town. We are very fortunate to have access to quality farmed trout. Yes, I know there is this perception that farmed is not always so good, but I have found that many of the farmers are extremely conscious and sensible when it comes to the treatment of their fish and many still try to use natural farming methods where they can and I feel they add to the sustainability of trout.

I love the delicate flaky pink to orange flesh of trout and when lightly smoked the flavour is much rounder, fuller and I find more enhanced as well. I do my own smoking when I have time for it, otherwise if you don’t have time for it, Woolworths sells a lovely lightly smoked trout that will work just as well. Here is my recipe for a delectable fillet of Lightly Smoked Trout, pan fried and served on a bed of carrot and cucumber ribbons, poached fennel and a delicate sesame vinaigrette. This is a quick and easy light spring or summer, of course spring is just around the corner, and most of the components can be prepared in advanced and assembled just before serving. Enough for 4 portions. I love to pair it with La Vierge Temptation.

For the Salad:

  • 2-3 Large Carrots
  • 1 Large English Cucumber
  • 2-3 Fennel Bulbs
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Onion seed sprouts

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 90ml Olive Oil
  • 30ml Sesame Oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2ml Onion Seeds
  • 1ml powdered fennel seeds
  • Salt to taste

For the Trout:

  • 800g of Lightly Smoked Trout
  • Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste
  • 30ml Olive Oil
  • 1 pack Onion Seeds Sprout

Method:

For the Vinaigrette: Add all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until emulsified. Set aside till needed.

For the Salad: Peel the carrot and slice ribbons with a vegetable peeler. Blanch the ribbons for 1 minute and refresh in ice water, remove and set aside. Peel the cucumber and with a vegetable peeler slice ribbons off the cucumber. Add to the carrot ribbons. Cut the fennel into slices and blanch for a minute in lightly salted water with the juice of half a lemon, remove and refresh in ice water. Combine the carrot and cucumber ribbons and blanched fennel in a bowl and dress with half the vinaigrette, mix well.

For the Trout: Cut the Trout into 200g fillets and season only the skin side with the salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a pan and pan fry the trout until the skin is crispy and the fish is just cooked. Allow fish to rest while assembling the plate.

To Assemble:

  1. Add a heap of the ribbon salad to the middle of the plate.
  2. Set a piece of trout on top of the ribbons.
  3. Arrange some of the fennel around the trout.
  4. Add a small bouquet of the sprouts on top of the trout.
  5. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette around on the plate and scatter some onion seeds around on the plate.
Posted in Good Food, Wine

Simple Guidelines to get you started on pairing Food and Wine

Many self-proclaimed wine aficionados insist on drinking robust reds with all dishes. Others think all Chardonnay is perfect and yet others insist that all Riesling is sweet. (Neither is the case). Still others refuse to drink white wine at all. It’s fine to have preferences. But stubborn imbibers are in for some nasty food and wine mismatches. Sometimes the chemistry between wine and food simply doesn’t work.

For instance, matching a burly Shiraz with sole amandine rather than, say, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc is asking for trouble. Don’t get me wrong. Red wine with fish can work very well. Pinot Noir and salmon can talk to each other fantastically. And I’m a big of seared pepper-crusted tuna and Cabernet Franc.

For many pairing their wine with their food is a matter of white or red. White meats like fish and chicken are served with a white wine and red meats like mutton and beef are served with a red wine. However, most people forget that a plate of food may also have certain vegetables on it. Serving wilted spinach with your piece of fillet may not have been the best option as the furry of the tannins in the red wine may taste as though you just swallowed a mouthful of iron filings. It is important that the chef not only consider the protein serving on the plate, but the vegetables accompanying the protein as well as that can make or break a plate.

Some Tough Characters

Artichokes, asparagus, spinach and mint are unruly characters that can play havoc with red or white wine. These ingredients just need a little taming — a squeeze of lemon, a splash of cream or a sprinkle of cheese.

Pair tender asparagus omelettes with an off-dry Riesling, whose restrained alcohol, fruitiness, and zesty acidity cut through mouth-coating butter and egg while flattering the asparagus. (Riesling loves salmon, ham, pork and chicken).

Artichokes, on the other hand, fool the palate into thinking all liquids, even water, are sweet. A splash of lemon juice in your dish will encourage the thistle to make nice with zippy white wines. Try an unpretentious rosé with it!

Mint and spinach match well with crisper Chardonnay or a lighter Sauvignon Blanc, so go easy on that mint sauce with your lamb when you have a red with it! A cold lamb, spinach and sweet onion salad with a creamy lemon dressing is simply marvellous with a buttery chardonnay. Avoid cream with your spinach and then serving it with a white wine!

A word about Indian curries and chilli – if you want to drink a wine with it, go cheap as the spices in the masalas and curries just kill any good wine. There is just too much competing activity in the mouth between food and wine when comes to Indian spiced food that I would rather recommend a beer or lager with it rather than a complex wine.

My Own Pairing Pearls of Wisdom

I apologise in advance to international readers, the wines recommended here are all from excellent South African estates, either match them with wines from your own country or look out for them in your shops or if you would like to try South African wines, here is a website where you can order directly.  South Africa has over 500 wines producers and a strong and rich wine producing linage that stretch back to the time just after Van Riebeeck set foot in the Cape.

White Wines

  1. Champagne – the dry white ones such as Pongracz, Graham Beck Brut or a Pierre Jourdan – Brut –  is perfect with anything salty and makes them extra refreshing and bubbly when served with the right salty snacks.
  2. Sauvignon Blanc goes with tart dressings and tangy sauces and won’t overwhelm the crispness of wines such as Glen Carlou’s Sauvignon Blanc, Kleine Zalze Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc or Spier.
  3. Pinot Grigio pairs with light fish and seafood dishes and seems to take on more flavour and character when matched with this equally delicate white wine, my recommendations here are Van Loveren Pinot Grigio and Vrede en Lust Casey’s Ridge Pinot Grigio.
  4. Chardonnay breaks through the fatty fish or fish in a rich sauce. I love to pair it also with green vegetables such as zucchini and spinach. My top favourites here are Vrede en Lust Sarah Chardonnay, La Motte, Meerlust and Backsberg Chardonnay.
  5. Chenin Blanc pairs with dishes where you have used fruits due to the strong fruit tones of most of these wines. For example sweet melon wrapped in parma ham will do well with a Chenin Blanc. I love a goat’s cheese salad with crispy bacon and avocado complemented by a Chenin Blanc on a hot summer’s day, it is refreshing. Try Spier, Graham Beck, De Morgenzon or Springfontein.
  6. Sémillon and Viognier pair well with dishes where there is an element of smokiness that needs to be enhanced or complemented and they both marry well to Mediterranean tapas dishes. A smoked chicken or fish dish will take well to the complex notes of many of these wines. I recently had smoked haddock & mussel soup paired with Fairview’s Oom Pagel (a sémillon) and it was delectable. My sémillon recommendations are Glenwood Vigneron’s Selection, Fairview and Deetlefs 2007 Sémillon. In terms of Viognier try the Diemersfontein Carpe Diem Viognier or the Arabella Viognier.
  7. White Dessert Wines pair well with fruity dishes, but don’t like chocolate. My personal favourite and unfortunately not a South African dessert wine is Moscato d’Asti, I had it recently with a Orange Tart with ginger ice-cream and rosemary orange compote. It was lovely! South African dessert wine Klein Constantia Vin de Constance paired well with my pear and cranberry tart with a rooibos tea crème infusion. These dessert wines seem to enhance the fruits rather than the sugars in the desserts.

Rosé

  1. Rosé Champagne is great with dinner, not just hors d’oeuvres and has a depth of flavour and richness that will pair well with a range of main courses. Unfortunately I only have found two Rosé Champagnes that is drinkable and to my taste and that are Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé and Graham Beck Brut Rosé. Both are expensive, but I find the cheaper Rosés harsh and undrinkable.
  2. Dry Rosé wines go well with rich, cheesy dishes as it has the acidity of a white to cut through the fat of these dishes. Personally I like to match the beautiful orange hues of some of the Rosé wines with orange coloured fish like trout or salmon. One of my best dishes is a lightly smoked trout with a caper butter sauce served with a Meerendal Pinotage Rosé. Other Rosé wines for consideration are the Hermanuspietersfontein Bloos, Vergenoegd Runner Duck and Vrede en Lust Jess Rose.

Red Wines

  1. Merlot has the structure as well as the acidity cope well with hearty stews, fatty lamb roasts and duck. I know everybody says you can drink a Merlot young, but I find that a mature Merlot is much rounder and more satisfying than a young one. My favourite labels are Diemersdal, Spier, Villieria, Groot Constantia, Veenwouden and Meerlust.
  2. Shiraz matches with highly spiced dishes, when a meat is heavily seasoned, look for a red wine with lots of spicy notes and this is where a Shiraz can be the perfect match. Good choices are from Middelvlei, Glenwood, Kloovenburg, Backsberg Pumphouse and my personal favourite is the Boschkloof 2007 Reserve.
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon is fabulous with juicy red meats, pâtés, heavy meat terrines, venison and ostrich and if the meat is accompanied by a creamy velouté, jus or dark gravy then the firm tannins refresh the palate after each bite of meat. I can recommend a cabernet Sauvignon from Boschkloof, Van Loveren Reserve, La Motte, Stark-Condé Stellenbosch and Rust and Vrede.
  4. Cabernet Franc is not very well-known in South Africa and is difficult to get, but if you can get a bottle, as a red wine it goes well with roasted chicken. The silky tannins if the Cabernet Franc is much gentler on the palate and many has note of chocolate which makes it the perfect wine with a chocolate fondant, torte or even a mousse. Labels that carry a Franc are Ondine, Mooiplaas, Paul Cluver, Raats and Bushmanspad.
  5. Pinotage is great for dishes with earthy flavours and complement meat dishes with mushrooms and truffles very well. Beyerskloof remains my personal favourite, but Kanonkop and Simonsig Redhill are also great choices.

A Few Guidelines

  • If you can use the same adjectives to describe a wine and a dish, the pairing will often work.
  • Start by thinking about the dish or meal as a whole. What are its dominant characteristics? Is it mild or flavourful? Is it fatty or lean? Is it rich or acidic?
  • Keep flavours in balance. Match mild foods with mild wines. Match big, flavourful foods with big, flavourful wines.
  • Try to match the richness of the food and the richness of the wine. A rich chicken or fish dish will do well with the crisp acidic tones of a Chardonnay. A tannin rich red will again cut through the richness of a red meat.
  • Cleanse the palate with tannins in reds or acids in whites.
  • Match Acids with Acids. If you’re eating a dish with a strong acidic content such as Shrimp with Lemon or Pasta with Tomato Sauce pair it with an acidic wine that can keep up with the acids in the food.
  • Acidic Wines and Cream Don’t Mix!  Rich cream sauces will usually clash with an acidic wine like a Sauvignon Blanc. Think about it this way…If you squeezed lemon juice into a cup of milk, would it taste good?
  • Wine and Strong Spices such as in some Chinese or Indian food, can clash and destroy the flavours in a wine.

More About Tannins

Tannins can come from many places, including the skins of the grapes used in winemaking as well as the wood barrels a wine may have been aged in. Tannin tastes similar to the flavour you would get if you sucked on a tea bag. This astringent flavour is what helps strip the fats from your tongue and thereby cleanse the palate of the rich fats from a meal and provide a refined, refreshing drink.  Some studies have also indicated that tannin might help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Specifically, tannin might suppress the creation of a peptide that causes arteries to harden.