Archive for November, 2009

Shamini’s Crab Curry

November 26, 2009 1 comment

Hello there Radio Helderberg listeners. For those of you who listened to me on my show this afdternoon, here’s the recipe I presented.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 20 minutes Yield: 6

Dear friend Shamini Pillay married Dr Michael Schaaf (lucky Michael) who, after living in South Africa for a few years, whisked her off to Germany, where they lived for the next six years. They returned to South Africa on Christmas Day last year, and the next day they arrived for the long awaited visit.

A forewarning telephone from Shamini (now Schaaf) caused me to visit my favourite fishmonger, Claudio Paioni, from whom I acquired two packs of dressed crab. For the uninitiated, “dressed” means beautifully cleaned and ready to cook; not dolled up in a tutu and ballet pumps, or a little black number and stilettos.

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Categories: Food, Travel, Wine

Chikin Biznis: Stock and soup

November 26, 2009 1 comment
Preparation Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 3 hours Yield: 4

Jointing a chicken in order to squeeze three meals out of it means that one of those meals is going to be a soup. To make soup, you need to make stock, and a small portion of that stock will also be needed for the casserole or curry that will constitute one of the other two meals.

If you’ve followed me down the “four into one makes three” road thus far, you’ll have jointed a chicken by now. The next step is to make the stock, followed by the soup. If you do not want to have the soup as a meal at the time of making it, it does freeze particularly well, as does the stock.

The protein ingredients you’ll use are the chicken carcass, neck and wing tips. You may add the liver, heart and gizzard if you so choose, but I tend not to use them, as I find the resulting stock too brown and perhaps even slightly bitter. What Eppie does, is simmer them in a small saucepan with a cup of rice, a grated carrot and a crushed garlic clove which is turned into a number of “puppy meal supplements” for daughter Alex’s beloved Jack Russell, Lola. A third of a cup with Lola’s usual eye-wateringly expensive “scientifically formulated” dog cubes makes for a much enjoyed meal. In this fashion, virtually every scrap of the chicken is used.

The stock flavourants you might need: Carrot, pearl onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, a mace blade and celery

Stock flavourants are, of course, a matter of personal choice, but there are a number of “musts”. Add to or take away from my recipe as you see fit, but do consider carefully the impact in each instance, on the final flavour outcome.

The style of soup you choose to make is also a matter of personal preference. Some people, like dear wife, Eppie, prefer a broth type soup with chunky bits of chicken and veg in it. Daughter Alex and I, on the other hand, prefer a creamy soup, which requires judicious application of the stab blender. Fortunately, both are possible, in that you can dish up for the broth adherents, before blitzing for the creamers!

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Categories: Uncategorized

A small piece of Eden in Robertson

November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

First published in Bolander Lifestyle & Property, November 25, 2009

Topping the pass with no name, between the N2 and Bonnievale, the valley opens up before you with breathtaking suddenness. Gone are the extensive fruit orchards which dominated the area in years gone by, replaced by a patchwork of neat vineyards. Wine has come to the valley with a vengeance.

Proximity to the Breede River means water in considerable abundance, and many of the vineyards are drip irrigated. The blocks of vines range from bare, through a smattering of tender green shoots, to an abundance of new growth, as spring quickens. It is mid-September, and we’re on the way to Robertson, for what turns out to be a remarkable experience.

In a quiet suburban street away from the bustle of the busy town centre, the Robertson Small Hotel nestles discretely amongst quaint suburban homes. A refreshing strawberry welcome cocktail awaits, as we enter the reception area to a cheerful greeting from Deonè Rossouw, front of house manager and urbane barman Alvin Fluks. In short order, we’ve signed in, and ensconced in our beautiful room.

The compact yet spacious ten room establishment opened its doors on August 4, offering exclusive accommodation which epitomises understated elegance, in the heart of a fast growing wine region, that twenty years ago produced only fruit.

The main dwelling houses three elegant rooms – one with bath two with shower only, the beautifully appointed and well stocked bar, and Reuben’s at the Robertson Small Hotel, the sister to Reuben Riffel’s iconic eatery in Franschhoek. The main house is, I suspect under the control of Heritage Western Cape, because according to Deonè, no walls were allowed to be broken down during the conversion from house to exclusive hotel. The one thing I just couldn’t figure out was the broad white stripe painted on the floor – so reminiscent of an airport runway – from the front door right into the restaurant. Little other than an artistic moue, which jars with the rest of the décor. Read more…

Categories: Food, Travel, Wine

Whole oven roasted wild Alaskan salmon

November 19, 2009 1 comment
Preparation Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 30-45 minutes Yield: 4

Roast wild Alaskan salmon, fresh from the oven. Notice the delicate pink of the flesh, typical of wild salmon.

For those of us who like fish, the number of really healthy and ethical choices available to us is beginning to shrink, and quite alarmingly at that.

If you keep an eye on the press, you’ll periodically see warnings about limiting the consumption of a wide variety of fish types because of increasing levels of toxic substances. The contaminant levels in local fish and seafood are a matter of speculation, but the US is far more attentive to such issues. This guide published by the Environmental Defence Fund is most enlightening. It lists wild Alaskan salmon as the safest to eat from a contaminant point of view. Read more…

Planet Chicken: The shameful story of the bird on your plate

November 13, 2009 1 comment

First published in Bolander Lifestyle & Property, November 11, 2009

By Hattie Ellis

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

ISBN: 9 780340 921883

Reviewer: Norman McFarlane

Some eighteen months ago I bought two packs of chicken breasts from a major retailer, and upon opening them the following day, discovered that they were, to put it delicately, off. Since it was a Sunday I froze them, planning to return them to the store the next day.

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Decadent Creamy Prawns

November 12, 2009 2 comments
Preparation Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 15 minutes Yield: 6-8

What a treat!

The weather is sublime as I sit writing this, and a gentle breeze ruffles the tranquil waters of Swartvlei, beckoning me to bait a hook and wet a line, in pursuit of some of the large spotted grunter that are rumoured to frequent these tranquil waters.

Sitting watching the water birds paddling lazily by, a mere 50 odd metres from our chalet, reminds me that the high tide is eminent, and if I do plan to go fishing today, I’d better get a move on! To quote the inimitable American author and journalist, William Zinsser, I must perforce seek in my recipe, three of “the four basic premises of writing: clarity, brevity and simplicity”. Read more…

Categories: Food, Travel, Wine

Chikin Biznis: Four into one makes three

November 12, 2009 1 comment
Preparation Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 0 minutes Yield: 0

The jointed chicken prior to freezing seperately

What’s the title of Ntshavheni wa Luruli’s hilarious 1999 movie about chicken seller Sipho’s (Fats Bookholane) often shady business dealings and frequently dubious liaisons in Soweto, got to do with food and cooking, you might ask?

Well, nothing actually, except that the title catchily describes what Man in the Kitchen is about for the next few weeks. Having just read Hattie Ellis’ disturbing yet thought provoking “Planet Chicken” (see my book review here) about the chicken business worldwide, I was intrigued by her suggestion that it is possible to feed a family of four, three times with a single two kg free range chicken. Although she is thin on the detail of how to do so, it got me to thinking, and I set out to put her hypothesis to the test. The result? Yes, it is entirely possible. Read more…