Savoury Pap

First I just want to apologise for the long silence…life has just been crazy busy that I just don’t seem to find time to take pics and sit down to write a blog post of the recipes I try out. All I want to do mostly is just finishing cooking so we can eat 🙂

However, there is this one recipe I have been meaning to share on the blog for a while, and I finally found time to take pics while making it. This is a recipe that my family and I absolutely love, especially when we have a braai (South African word for barbecue). I got this recipe from my dear friend Phetsile (who is a great cook!). It’s so easy to make — and delicious — I had to share it with you guys!

It a basically a twist to the regular pap recipe which is staple in most South African homes. The twist comes in adding cheese, butter and sweetcorn to it. You can even eat it on its own without gravy.

So this is how you make it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre of water
  • 3 cups of mealie meal (ground maize)
  • 1 cup of grated mature cheddar cheese
  • 100g of butter
  • 1 can (410g) of cream style corn
  • Salt to taste

Method:

1. Pour the water into a pot and bring it to a boil.

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2. Add a pinch of salt, stir in the mealie meal and combine (it may seem a bit stiff at first but it will soften). Cook for 15 minutes with the lid on.

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3. Add the can of corn and butter; combine everything and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Please excuse the messy pot! For those that make pap will know it can get messy sometimes.
Please excuse the messy pot! For those that make pap will know it can get messy sometimes.

4. Add the cheese and allow it to cook for a few more minutes.Then serve while hot.

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I served mine with Chakalaka gravy and pork chops 🙂

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Lemon, Ginger, Cucumber & Mint Detox Water

Yip, it’s that time of the year again; where we try to reboot and start the year on a healthy note! (Side note: I actually wrote this post about 2 weeks ago but I was just not getting the chance to post it…so please bear with me…but I do think the topic is still relevant for anytime of the year :-))

So if you are like me and indulged a lot on the not-so-healthy stuff (alcohol, sugary and fatty foods) over the festive season, you are probably paying for it now and feeling it through your clothes not fitting so well or just feeling bloated and sluggish!

About three weeks ago, a week before I was due to go back to work from my annual leave, I was just not liking the heavy feeling I had in my tummy and I also wanted to get started on not only eating more healthier but to also try flush out any remaining toxins from the festive binge. I have always heard about the benefits of drinking warm lemon water first thing in the morning or before you have your breakfast. According to what I have read, lemon is good for detoxing and getting rid of all the “gunk” from your system.

I then decided to take things up a notch and not only drink lemon water first thing in the water, but to also up my overall intake of water a day (it is recommended that we drink 8 glasses of water a day). Now, I am not a great fan of water and to help make my water taste a lot better, while still helping my body flush out any remaining gunk from my body, I decided to make myself a cucumber, mint, ginger and lemon drink. Cucumber, mint, ginger are also all known to have detoxing properties and they make for a refreshing and thirst-quenching drink. I drink this mixture everyday and I try to finish the entire jug by the end of the day.

The ingredients are as follows:

  • 1 litre of water (or more depending on the size of your jug)
  • 1 thumb of peeled ginger
  • half a cucumber, cut into slices (with the skin on)
  • 1/3 cup of fresh mint leaves
  • half a lemon, cut into thin slices

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Method

1. Fill up a jug with water.

2. Add all the above ingredients into the jug of water. Put the jug of water in the fridge to chill for about an hour before drinking. This also allows for all the nutrients from the cucumber, ginger, lemon and cucumber to be infused in the water.

3. You can keep refilling the jug everyday and discard the used ingredients after 2-3 days; then make a fresh batch.

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I hope this recipe will help you drink more water everyday and help you towards starting a healthy lifestyle! Here is to a fabulous 2015!

Half price sushi & dim sum at Beluga, Pretoria

A few Sundays ago my friend, Yolanda, and I visited Beluga restaurant in Waterkloof, Pretoria for an overdue catch-up session.

We had a limited budget and at the same time we also wanted to try out a place we had never been to before. We both love sushi so after a recommendation from a colleague of mine about an amazing half price special at Beluga on ALL their sushi and dim sum, ALL day Sunday, we were sold! What is even better, cocktails are half price too!

I actually reserved our table the day before because I was nervous we wouldn’t find space if we just pitched up on the day (I mean this is half price sushi we are talking about here; imagine how many people come here for this special!). However, when we arrived the Sunday afternoon it was not full at all so it really wasn’t necessary to book in advance after all.

Beluga is situated in the trendy and vibey “The Club Lifestyle Centre” and there are quite a few other interesting restaurant nearby which I would love to go back and try out someday.

When we arrived we were led to the upstairs part of the restaurant. The restaurant has two levels, the ground level where the entrance is situated and the upstairs section which also leads to an outside wooden deck. It was a bit nippy that day so we opted to stay inside.

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The upstairs area.

 

The door leading to the balcony.
The door leading to the outside wooden deck.

Once we were seated, our host came to welcome us and were presented with two glasses of sparkling wine — on the house 🙂 Now, this I did not expect! I must say I was thoroughly impressed.

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As we perused our menu and I drank my refreshing glass of sparkling wine a waiter brought some bread for us to nibble on. The bread tasted delicious and was different from what I’ve had before. I can’t really remember now what it was made of but it tasted good. I had to stop myself from eating all of it!

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We decided to first order some dim sum and we each ordered something different so we could have a variety. I had Pot Stickers (duck, honey, ginger pan-fried dumplings) and Yolanda had Har Gau (chicken, coriander, corn translucent steamed dumplings).  I must say we both particularly did not like the mushy texture of the dim sum and mine was quite bland, not much flavour. The Har Gau was a lot better.

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Dim sum

Next we ordered sushi (the main reason we were there in the first place). We each ordered different ones and shared.

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The pics do not do it justice! The sushi was amazing — fresh and delicious! The portions we had were also quite filling.

And of course we had to have cocktails. I had Lime Bubbles (at the recommendation of the host) and Yolanda had the virgin Apple and Cinnamon Mojito.

Yummy cocktails!

We both had a great time and we will definitely go back!

Beluga can be more on the expensive side but if you are on really tight budget I suggest you try out their half price sushi and dim sum special on Sundays. Our bill came to a total of about R290.00; now that’s not too bad 😉

What is also great to know is that if you can’t make it to Beluga on Sundays, then you can still take advantage of their half price sushi and dim sum (plus cocktails) special from Monday to Saturday between 12h00 and 19h00.

Beluga (Pretoria) restaurant details:

The Club, 109 Cnr of 18th Street and Pinaster Avenue,

109 18th St, Pretoria, 0081, South Africa

Website: www.beluga.co.za

Menu

The Perfect Fried Steak

I have always been interested in making the perfect fried steak but somehow I could never get it right. The meat will either be too hard and almost burnt or raw inside and chewy!

So I decided to go on a search…and I managed to find just the right recipe for making the best fried steak (thank you Google!).

This wonderful recipe is from The Pioneer Woman website and it is pretty straight forward. What I also like the most about this recipe (besides it being so easy and quick; and tasty!)  is that you don’t have to dip the steaks in egg — less messier!

Ingredients

  • 3 pieces of tenderized steak ( remember the steak has to be tenderized)
  • a cup of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • seasoned salt ( I used the Robertsons Succulent Red Meat seasoning spice)
  • salt and lots of ground black pepper

Method

1. Firstly, start off by pouring your oil onto a frying pan and heat it up on medium heat.

2. While the pan is heating up, take your flour and pour it into a big bowl. Add your seasoned salt and lots of ground black pepper. Add the salt and pepper according to your liking. I probably added about 2 teaspoons of the seasoned salt and about 1 tablespoon of ground black pepper (the more pepper, the better). Then mix everything together.

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3. Then on a separate plate, season both sides of your steak with salt and pepper (again, according to your taste buds).

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4. Then take one piece of the seasoned steak at a time and place it in the seasoned flour.

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5. Thereafter, make sure you coat the steak very well with the flour. You can use a fork to get as much flour as possible onto the steak or you can use your fingers. Make sure to coat both sides of the steak.

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6. The frying pan should be nice and hot by now.  Now add about 2 tablespoons of butter, the butter should melt and sizzle.

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7. Once the butter has melted and is sizzling, quickly place all three steaks onto the pan and as soon as they hit the pan, they should also sizzle.

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8. Let the steaks fry on one side for about 3 minutes or until the edges start turning golden brown. Then turn the steaks around and continue frying the other side until the steaks are cooked and golden brown. When you turn the steaks around, you can add another tablespoon of butter to ensure you have enough butter on the pan to continue frying. The butter really helps to give your steaks a great taste and a lovely golden colour!

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Once you are done, you can transfer your fried steaks to a plate and serve with any starch of your choice. I had mine with fried chips and fried egg; and I topped the steak with white sauce. Black pepper or mushroom sauce also works very well with these steaks.

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Enjoy!

Lotus Thai Restaurant

About two weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated 7 years of marriage! 🙂

We thought it fitting to have our anniversary celebration dinner at Lotus Thai and we were not disappointed at all!  Lotus Thai is a restaurant that specializes in Thai cuisine but they also have a sushi bar. My sister and I have visited this place a couple of times before (whenever we were in a celebratory mood – and when the budget allowed!) and each time we were always in for a great treat.

Our anniversary fell on a Monday but we decided to go anyway…We arrived just after 5pm and the restaurant was still empty so we had the luxury of choosing any table we wanted.

The outside entrance of Lotus Thai

I liked the decor inside the restaurant – very warm and inviting. The fact that it was just the two of us in the restaurant made the setting even more romantic.

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How lovely are those umbrella lights?!
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I really loved the small attention to detail.

We had a lovely waitress; I think she is Thai. She was very friendly and gave us such wonderful service. I don’t know if it was because it was just the two of us in the restaurant but she always stood by the side of the wall (not too far from us, but still gave us enough space) and she was always ready for us whenever we needed her. At around 6pm a few people started arriving and even then our waitress still paid good attention to us.

Now, the food! 🙂

We both ordered starters and we each ordered something different so we can try out the different dishes.

I ordered a dish called: Kha – Nom – Jeeb . This dish is described as “steamed minced chicken and shrimp in pastry bags served with soy sauce”.

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Kha – Nom – Jeeb

My husband ordered: Khung – Hom – Pha. This is “deep fried prawns, cheddar cheese wrapped with spring roll pastry, served with chilli sauce”.

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Khung – Hom – Pha

Shortly after having our starters, we moved on to the main course….

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Kaeng – Panang (Khung, Pla); Panang curry with (Fish / prawns), peanut , kaffai lime leaves in coconut milk
Kaeng – Phed ; Red curry with meat of your choice, (Chicken / Pork / Beef),  green bean bamboo shoot, carrot, baby marrow and Thai  basil in coconut milk
Kaeng – Phed ; Red curry with meat of your choice, (Chicken / Pork / Beef), green bean bamboo shoot, carrot, baby marrow and Thai basil in coconut milk

The starters were delicious and I love the combination of flavours – it worked really well. However, we felt a bit full after having our starters and I think next time we will just order one plate of starters to share.

The main course was just devine! Thai spices are just the best. I had the Panang curry with prawns and hubby had the red curry with pork. We both thoroughly enjoyed our meals and the spiciness was just enough; not too hot or too bland. They do ask you beforehand if you want your curry to be mild, medium or hot. I think we both opted for medium. Both of our meals were served with rice but they do also have noodle dishes.

Their prices are on the steep side but since we were giving ourselves a treat and celebrating a milestone in our marriage, we thought it was worth it.

…And of course we had to end our anniversary dinner with a bottle of sparkling wine 🙂

Cheers!
Cheers!

Lotus Thai details:

No 45 – 47 Glen Village North

Cnr Solomon Mahlangu & Olympus drive

Faerie Glen, Pretoria

Tel: 012 991 5406/10

Email: info@lotusthai.co.za

Website: www.lotusthai.co.za

Roasted broccoli with red kidney beans & bacon

I actually got inspiration for this recipe from a colleague of mine at work — we love sharing recipe ideas with each other.

Her version of the recipe is similar to this one but as always I usually add my own spin, depending on what I have in my kitchen. Her recipe has pecan nuts but I decided to use canned red kidney beans in place of the pecan nuts.

The idea to use red kidney beans actually came from watching an episode of Siba’s Table in which she used these beans in a green salad. I loved how the dark red colour of the beans complemented the green lettuce leaves.

So this how I made my recipe…

Ingredients

  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1/2 of a can of red kidney beans (drained)
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
  • 5 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

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Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

2. In a pan, fry the bacon until almost crispy. Set aside and once cooled down, chop into small pieces.

3. Place the broccoli on a chopping board. Chop off the stalks and cut the broccoli into small florets.

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4. Take a casserole dish and layer the broccoli into a single layer. First sprinkle the red kidney beans on top of the broccoli, then scatter the bacon bits on top of the broccoli and beans. Add your garlic and oil. Stir the dish so that the oil coats the broccoli well. Then finish off with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

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5. Place the dish into the preheated oven and bake/roast at 180 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until the broccoli starts to brown and is tender.

6. Remove the dish from the oven and squeeze the lemon over your dish (to release the lemon juice) and finish it off by sprinkling the grated Parmesan cheese over everything. Yum!

20140930_191239You can have this as a meal on its own or as a side dish.

Spinach, Tomato & Feta Frittata

I’m back! 🙂

It feels like forever since I last posted a recipe on the blog. I am still cooking (since we need to eat :-)) but I haven’t had time really to document all my recipes. My baby boy has been ill on and off with the flu and teething in the past month and you know how the little ones want their mommies all the time when they are not feeling well. So taking pics, and so on, while cooking was just not happening.lol. However, in the midst of all of that I did manage to capture this recipe while he was taking a very long & late nap one afternoon 🙂

Now on to the recipe…You may be asking “what is a frittata?”. Well, basically all that it is, it’s a “crustless quiche” and according to Google “frittata” is an Italian word which mean “egg-cake”.

I am huge fan of super easy (and quick!) recipes, so this is no different. It is just a matter of mixing everything together, cooking it and eating it a few minutes later. I came across this recipe from Jamie Oliver’s website (as you may have noticed, I am a big fan) when I had some leftover spinach in the fridge and I wanted to make something different and quick. You can find the original recipe here. I improvised a bit on my recipe and added cherry tomatoes but you can really add any veggie of your choice like broccoli  or mushrooms.

Ingredients

  • A cup of uncooked chopped baby spinach (any spinach will do)
  • 5 eggs
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 1x block of feta cheese (I used the feta with sundried tomato and basil)
  • 1x teaspoon of minced garlic and ginger
  • A half of an onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • A pinch of salt and pepper for seasoning

 Method

1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan. Add chopped onion and fry until soft. Add the minced garlic & ginger and fry for 1 minute on a low heat. Then add your chopped spinach and cook on a medium heat until almost wilted. Set aside the spinach to cool down. Thereafter set your oven on grill on 180 degrees.

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2. In a bowl beat together all the eggs. Then cut up the cherry tomatoes in half and the feta cheese into small blocks.

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3. Then add the feta, tomatoes and spinach to the eggs. Add salt and pepper for taste.

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4. In the same pan use used to fry the onion and spinach, pour one tablespoon of oil and transfer the egg and spinach mixture to the pan. Let it cook on a medium heat until the eggs start to set at the bottom of the pan. Use a spatula to test.

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5. Once the bottom has started to set (the top should still be runny) put your pan into the oven to grill the top part of your frittata. Make sure to put just the pan part and not the handle and leave the oven door open. The top part should harden and become slightly brown. Test with a fork to see if the eggs are cooked. Since the oven was already set on grill earlier it should be done within 3 minutes.

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6. Once the top of the frittata has set. Take out the pan from oven, place a plate on top of the pan and while holding on to the plate turn the pan upside down so that the frittata is on the plate.

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All you need to do now is just cut up the frittata into 4.

As Jamie says on his site, you can have this for breakfast, lunch or supper. Enjoy!

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Asian-Inspired Chicken

This is a super easy and delicious recipe! All you need is some soy sauce, brown sugar (or you can use honey), garlic, ginger, oil, black pepper – and chicken of course 🙂

The recipe is Asian-inspired because I used the ingredients typically used in most Asian meals – ginger, garlic and soy sauce…The trick of this recipe is in the marinade, so the longer you leave the chicken in the marinade, the better.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) of brown sugar or honey
  • 2 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of salt ( I like my chicken to be flavourful. You can skip the salt if you don’t want too much salt; the soy sauce has enough salt already)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil (you can use any oil)
  • 8 pieces of chicken pieces (preferably the drumstick and thigh portions)

Method

1.  In an oven-proof dish, mix together all the ingredients, except the chicken. Then place the chicken pieces into the marinade and make sure the chicken pieces are coated well with the marinade.

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2. Cover the dish and leave the chicken to marinate in the mixture for about 2 hours. You can turn the chicken pieces around after an hour. For even better results you can leave the chicken to marinate overnight in the fridge.

3. After 2 hours remove the cover and place the oven-proof dish, with the marinated chicken, into a pre-heated oven and bake at 180 degrees for 45 minutes or until the chicken turns crispy golden brown.

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4. Remove dish from oven and serve. You can use the left over marinade as a side sauce or drizzle over the chicken.

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Banana & Peanut Butter French Toast

If you are a great fan of banana sandwiches, then read on…this recipe is for you 🙂

I love banana…and I love bread…but I am not too sure yet if I like their combination.

Over the weekend I tried to be adventurous and made French Toast with banana and peanut butter spread. Sounds yummy right? It sounds yummy but I think because I had never tried eating banana on bread before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was keen to try it out.

I saw this recipe on one of the cooking shows on the Food channel on DStv – Roadtrip with G. Garvin – and it looked super easy and delicious! I am fan of french toast but all I do is dip slices of bread into a beaten eggs mixture, fry away and voila I have french toast 🙂

So if you absolutely love having banana on your bread, then I think you will love this recipe.

Ingredients

  • bread (preferably white bread)
  • peanut butter (enough to spread on your bread)
  • 1 ripe banana (you can mash it so it is easier to spread on the bread)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Method

1. Put eggs, milk, cinnamon, sugar and salt into a large bowl and beat well. Put aside.

2. Butter each slice of bread on one side. You can spread peanut butter on the one slice and mashed banana on the other slice. Then join the two slices together.

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3. Take the peanut butter & banana bread and dip it into the egg and milk mixture. Make sure the bread soaks up all the liquid very well. Then turn the bread around and dip it on the other side as well.

4. Melt your butter on a non-stick pan and once it has melted transfer your soaked up bread onto the pan and fry each side of the bread until golden brown or to your liking.

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4. Take the bread off the pan and drizzle with syrup and enjoy!

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I must say I wasn’t too wild about the sweet taste of the banana in my bread but the peanut butter was very nice and made up for it. I think next time I will just leave out the banana.