socca crepes
Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Meal, Salad, Savoury, Snack

Simple Versatile Socca Pancake Mix

I have been listening to people and the media talking about food.  Two phrases that have caught my attention lately are to do with the idea of either – breakfast for dinner and or salad for breakfast.  I love these ideas and their seems to be something comforting about them that implies ease and simplicity.  Even better they can translate to either, family feasts or simple meals for one. To make this idea work today I have been cooking simple but delicious chickpea flour pancakes called Socca or Farinata, a traditional recipe idea originating from Nice and the neighbouring Italian coastline.  These incredibly versatile pancakes can form the base of an array of meals – breakfast, lunch, pre prandial or supper – they can be folded and used as a scoop on the side of your plate, rolled with your favourite mix of fillings traditional pancake/crepe style, cooked with fillings such as teaspoons of pesto and or mozzarella or feta, and basil in the batter before flipping (see the photos at the bottom of this page), or even poured and baked in the oven and used as a simple pizza style base, and if you have some left over, keep turning them in the pan until they dry and crisp, or bake them in the oven as you would for crostini and use like a cracker.  The batter can be used after sitting for half an hour, or, it will be even better for you after soaking overnight and using […]

Japanese inspired seeded salad
Brunch, Condiments, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Spring, Summer

Popped and Toasted Seed and Nut Mix – And Salad Inspiration

Its beginning to gear up to the busy time of the year – when we all try and get prepared for the Christmas season, and, at the same time get out and enjoy the sunshine.  In my world that means lots of catering for summer, end of year break-ups, and festive parties.  It is an exciting time, full of the promise of good times with friends and family, and also, memories of the best of previous summers and Christmas seasons.  It is fun and busy,  and with the outdoor sunshine and warmth calling (you can’t take either of those things for granted here in the south) time in the kitchen can feel limited. Enter kitchen store cupboard essentials, and today I am talking about crunchy blends of  spicy toasted seeds and nuts. A jar in the pantry ready to snack on, put over salads, sprinkle on top soup, scatter over roast or mashed vegetables, tumble through your grain salad, buddha bowl,  or over your breakfast  shakshuka  –  the texture, the taste and the well seasoned spicy flavour makes food better.  If you are anything like me, you will feel better too, for eating something tasty, good for you and quick to assemble.   This – as always – is an idea more than a recipe it is a reminder to toast a batch of what you have to hand so you can have a jar ready to add some excitement and extra nutritional value to your next meal.  Of course while […]

beetroot burger patties
Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Snack, Spring, Summer

Beautiful Black Bean, Beetroot and Brown Rice Burger Patties

  Explanations to follow, but that said – you really should start making these now! They are so much more than just a vegetarian, dairy and gluten free patty.  To have them made in the refrigerator means you have an easy meal in a multitude of guises ready to go for breakfast lunch or dinner.   I was definitely a reluctant starter but I am now thoroughly in love with these. With winter now officially behind us, I am very excited to start thinking about casual spring and summer eating, barbecues and picnics.  Unfortunately the new seasons vegetables are slow to appear in these southern areas so I am reinventing those same vegetables we have enjoyed over winter in different guises – cutting them differently, cooking them in a lighter style and eating them in fresher simpler ways. With this all said the story for these patties begins with my friend and employer, Angela. Angela had requested a  vegetarian burger patty for work. To be honest I was a little under whelmed by the idea, not something I have ever really considered eating, and because of that I was slow to get going with recipe development.  Moving on though, and not prepared to say no to the challenge, I did get going and have been working on these vege burger patties for a while – there have been quite a number of unfortunate fragile fall apart piles of deliciousness around here! The challenge I made to myself was to make […]

Breakfast, Brunch, Condiments, Gluten Free, Meal, Snack

Zhoug – spicy-green-delicious

Zhoug, shakshuka, labna, all words my computer would rather I changed, but which offer a delicious look into another world of  vibrant and exciting foods and flavours. Today it is all about Zhoug. This spicy middle eastern condiment,originally from Yemen and now a favourite in Israel, had somehow missed my food radar. Happily Lily, an inspiring young work colleague – knowing my love of middle eastern foods –  bought me a small jar of both a red and a green zhoug that her father had made.   I was immediately hooked and needing to be able to make this myself, I turned to my ridiculously large collection of recipe books – (it is always good to have an excuse to justify the purchase of more though!) – and found this sauce in a number of my middle eastern recipe books.  After some further reading and research, (reality says – lying around, thumbing through recipe books and surfing the food files of the internet), I have been happily giving these recipes a try! I am sure the real deal is different in its nuances, but I am so happy with the results that I think you should give it a try too.  It will warm up just about anything you wish to eat and will be something you are happy to find in your refrigerator – my friend Lily said you can even freeze it!  Most importantly, this isn’t all about the chilli, it is a whole palate of flavours giving this […]

lentil and black bean chilli
Brunch, Gluten Free, Meal, Winter

Everyday Lentil and Black Bean Chilli

I read a phrase last week that captured my interest  “cook once eat twice”,  sort of a no-brainer,  but for some reason we have always shunned leftovers.  My cooking is spent avoiding left overs knowing that in most instances they will be abandoned mouldering in the refrigerator and one of my biggest hates is food waste!   So, thinking on this, I decided to consider meals that could be cooked in larger quantities and reinvented to seem new second time around. Where better to start looking than the young people I work with, these are busy people juggling finances, work and fun. From my conversations with these inspirational people came the idea for lentil braises – one was eating a chilli and one a Bolognese, straight away I had my idea to run with.  Thanks ladies! The next issue confronting me, and a surprising number of other people I talk to, is that of including more meat free vegetable rich meals in life that wont leave the meat eaters thinking something was missing.  Once again lentils are a great answer. If you need any further reason to make this, then that reason has to be that it is a real store cupboard / refrigerator meal.  You can change up the ingredients and use those lonely carrots, bag ends of vegetables and pulses and at the end have a delicious meal (and a good conscience for your efforts!) This is a weekend cooking-at-leisure meal that it will be better for time […]

black rice and coconut breakfast
Breakfast, Brunch, Desert, Gluten Free, Sweet

Easy and Delicious Black Rice and Coconut Breakfast

So easy and so delicious. This is creamy, chewy, sweet, and slightly exotic tasting – this is breakfast heaven.  I realise now that I am very late to the black rice breakfast idea, traditional in some cultures and popular on cafe menus, but now I have tried it I am a convert and I can see no reason why I am not going to eat this for desert as well. The black rice has an amazing flavour and natural perfume as it cooks, it is slightly sweet and even though this particular brand of rice is from Italy it is very reminiscent of Asian flavours.  I have cooked it today with cardamon as this is the flavour I had been wanting, but I love the idea of lemongrass, lime and ginger served with mango, or sweet cinnamon and nutmeg, or vanilla….  Go wild but  please let me know what  flavours you enjoy! The grains of this rice are slightly short and round with a  wonderful chewy quality that you find in brown rice, which makes it feel substantial enough to fuel your morning. I followed the rules as I read them (soaking my rice over night), this makes the rice easier to digest and faster to cook but is not absolutely necessary.  If you don’t soak the rice it will need more water and an extra half an hour or so to cook.  The cooking process is a little like risotto (but without the fuss), adding water and coconut milk […]

bloody mary steak salad
Autumn, Brunch, Gluten Free, Meal, Salad, Savoury, Seafood, Spring, Summer

Bloody Mary Steak Salad

There is snow on the hills today and definitely our first taste of winter to come. My cherry tomatoes though, are oblivious to this, and are still giving the last of their summer bounty.  Ripening on withered vines, even the black tomatoes that I had given up on, are producing delicious fruits.  Most of my friends, with orderly lives have long since discarded their withered vines but – perseverance, gluttony and a blind eye to their unsightly appearance, has paid off for me and I will enjoy all they have to offer.   I have looked at this salad on one of my favourite food sites – Food 52 – for a long time, and finally made it this week.  I loved it and I am making my slightly amended version again now to share with you.  The dressing for this salad looks to have a lot of ingredients, but work with what you have.   I didn’t have any horseradish – sadly – because I do think this would be an amazing addition.  I also think you could double the balsamic vinegar if you don’t have sherry vinegar.  The hot sauce and the Worcestershire Sauce though are must haves for authenticity in your your Bloody Mary dressing.  It is not important to use the most tender cut of beef as you will be cooking it rare to medium rare!!!!! and slicing it thinly, making sure you trim any sinew or fat as you cut it.  These cuts have a […]

pumpkin plum and walnut salad
Autumn, Brunch, Condiments, Gluten Free, Salad, Savoury

Pumpkin, Plum and Walnut Salad

Autumn is here with its mad weather swings and the end of season produce bounty.  Amid cyclone warnings and Easter holiday breaks suddenly summer – such as it was –  is definitely behind us.  I always mourn the end of summer, and then as the realities of autumn arrive with all its beauty, seasonal produce and shorter days,  I remember again that there is so much to autumn that I do enjoy.  The lawns and the garden are definitely slowing down ready for a final mow and tidy up before winter, mushrooms are popping up for foraging, there is a glut of fruit and vegetables and the kind of weather that makes it okay to hunker down in the kitchen, entertain family and friends, or find a cosy place and relax with that book I have been wanting to read. Here is a great crossover salad born of a glut of herbs, end of season omega plums and the first of the winter pumpkins.  Fresh walnuts are starting to fall, but I made this with the final handful of last seasons walnuts.   Although all the ingredients are heros here I have to pay homage to the French walnut mustard which is one of my top ten ingredient picks at the moment “Edmond Fallot Moutarde Aux Noir”, (available at Raeward Fresh in Queenstown).  So delicious, you may find yourself wanting to eat it off the spoon, I know I do this too often, but really it is that good!  It […]

cashew cream breakfast jar
Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Condiments, Desert, Gluten Free, Snack, Sweet

Breakfast to Desert – Cashew Nut, Coconut Chia Cream

I am struggling to decide where I begin telling you about this cashew, chia, coconut cream as I am so taken with everything about it. To start with it is amazing because it tastes soooo delicious, and isn’t that where we should always begin – “healthy” or not! Then it is also amazing in its versatility.  You can keep it as thick as when first made and it is spoonable enough that you could use it as a cream filling in a cake. Or you can thin it with a little of, your choice of milk, coconut water or and a little lemon juice and you  have a great yoghurt substitute. As a totally dairy free alternative it offers all the richness, mouthfeel and satisfaction of its dairy alternatives such as cream, greek yoghurt, marscapone cheese, cream cheese etc…   I love dairy products and happily include them in my diet, but it seems to me that more and more people are telling me they are intolerant to lactose or dairy.  As someone who wants to feed everyone and enjoy the widest variety of foods, I am very excited when I find delicious alternatives.  Especially alternatives that aren’t a lesser product and that taste amazing in their own right.  Anything that expands the variety of foods we eat, offers new options in how we cook and prepare our meals has to be a good thing. Lastly (I am definitely being hasty saying lastly, but for now lastly!),  it is so […]

ricotta,parmesan gnuddi
Brunch, Gluten Free, Meal, Salad, Savoury

Fresh Ricotta and Parmesan Gnuddi

Gnuddi are gnocci-like little dumplings made with ricotta rather than potatoes.  It is said to be the filling for ravioli without the pasta, which to me sounds – and is – just the good bits. These are simple and light in texture, a little rich and delicious.  A great entree or vegetarian option, which won’t leave you feeling like you have missed out on something. I did make this ricotta myself, after a conversation that set me imagining warm fresh ricotta drizzled with honey and berries for breakfast. It is very delicious I promise you but not what happened this time! I had intended to pass on the recipe for making ricotta, but after making the ricotta and waiting for the subsequent draining my timing went way past breakfast. Considering the cost when using good quality milk, it actually very similar to the wonderful Zany Zeus ricotta. I was not convinced you would want to know how to make it after that result but do  let me know if you do want to know and I will happily show you how it is made. The method as it is is very simple. I then returned to ricotta gnuddi, an idea I have been working with, and now thanks to my beautiful fresh ricotta I have a recipe worth sharing. I  served these two ways today. Firstly, with a little crisp fried sage and brown butter and a simple salad of rocket with a lemon vinaigrette, and secondly with some fresh […]