Stuffed Mushrooms

What with February and the month of Valentine almost on it’s head, I think a romantic table setting is in order. Time she is a flying!

Table setting at Morrells Farm House, Johannesburg

Table setting at Morrells Farm House, Johannesburg

I bought a piece of Colby Cheese at Hillcrest Berry Orchard, Stellenbosch recently and had to read up about this gentle creamy cheese as I did not know it at all. It is very similar to cheddar but it does not undergo the cheddaring (I don’t even know if this is a word) process leaving it softer, moister and milder than cheddar. Perfect for what I had in mind.

Colby Cheese, Hillcrest Berry Orchard

Colby Cheese, Hillcrest Berry Orchard

Use:

Big brown mushrooms- top and tail them. The stems were so big that I diced and fried it separately in butter for garnishing.

Frozen creamed spinach or make your own

Onion

Feta cheese

Colby Cheese or any cheese of your choice

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Fry onion in butter, mix in the thawed creamed spinach and heat through. Add feta and Colby cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Scoop into mushroom “shells” and sprinkle with the fried mushroom stems and more Colby cheese, of course. Bake in a warm oven until the mushrooms are cooked through and serve as a mains with salad or as a sides. I topped the lot with a bit of tomato relish for a bit of colour.

Stuffed mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms

Feasting!

Kingklip and stuffed Mushrooms

Kingklip and stuffed Mushrooms

My one and only post( it seems) for the too busy February is being submitted to the Cheese Please! monthly because I discovered the new Colby Cheese…..just because!

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Below random photo: My office

I am a keen supporter of designer Michael Chandler in Cape Town with his beautiful shop, Chandler House around the corner of mine. His phrenology vases light up my day in my office and I constantly fill them with all sorts of things. Funny how the facial expressions on the identical vases change depending on what I fill them with. The lady with the flower head looks so feminine compared with the nutty guy. Anything just not to see those files……as if…..

Flower head and picking brains?

Flower head and picking brains?

Sweet Potato Fish Cakes and Asian Cabbage Salad

See the dainty spoon also from Korea!

See the dainty spoon also from Korea!

It feels like I am either getting onto a plane or exiting a plane as I am again preparing for a work trip away for a week, away from my precious Cape Town-UUURGGHH. Away for work once a month or more means at least 24 flights a year without any personal travelling, not funny let me tell you.I would definitely not make a very good air hostess, or any other hostess come to think of it!

out of the suitcase!

out of the suitcase!

What with the loot I brought home from my travels in December, I could not wait to start using the food isle worth of products that came out of my suitcase. I fell in love with the simplicity of the finely shredded cabbage salad, garnished with micro greens and with a light green mayonaise dressing or also served with an Asian soy dressing in most of the Korean restaurants. I could not figure out what was in the light green dressing to make it light green but saw in the food shops that they sell the dressing with a picture of kiwi fruit on the lable, which I bought but it tasted too sweet and not like the good stuff in the restaurants-will need to google to try and find out more about this.

Round pears!

Round pears!

I took this photo in Korea as whilst there, I already started making the salad, but just see the massive ROUND pears you get there, biggest I have seen in my life and although slightly different in taste from our normal pear shaped pears, also very delicious and juicy. Which makes me think I want to make a pear and blue cheese salad tonight, have to have blue cheese after reading 2 blog posts this morning featuring the blues!

Sweet potato fish cakes

Sweet potato fish cakes

But back to the current post. I ” needed” fish cakes with the Asian cabbage salad ( with pineapple added) and I prefer a decent sized fish cake and not these dainty little things served as a starter in the restaurants here. I wish they would put fish cakes on the menu’s as a mains and not only as a taster/starter as is the way here in our “hood”.

imageUse own quantities of the following for the fish cakes (sorry but I do not measure-therefore I rarely bake…..)

Boiled and roughly mashed sweet potato

Deboned and skinless hake and salmon, poach in milk and dill until soft and flaky

Finely grated carrots and flash fry it just to take the moist out

Chopped chives, spring onions and parsley

Fish spice, salt and pepper to taste

2 eggs( ore more to bind the mixture depending on your quantities)

Flour to roll in

Dried bread crumbs to coat

Oil for frying

The process is easy, mix the ingredients and spice to taste. Roll in decent size balls and roll in the flower, dip into beaten egg and roll into the bread crumbs.

If you have time, place in the fridge for 30 minutes to set. Press lightly into warm shallow oil to flatten the ball into a round fish cake shape and fry until golden brown.

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It went well with a green salad with pomegranate, grapes and lemon wedges followed by lemon coconut cream desert posted here (any excuse to use my new spoons!).

Coconut lemon cream

Coconut lemon cream

Random photo of the day:

late afternoon Paternoster

late afternoon Paternoster

Home at last and Cheese Please!

I do not want to be in anything with wheels or wings soon. Back at home at last after 36 hours of continuous travel, which to say the least, was nauseating. Very. I am still dazed and confused or just more so than usual.

Seoul Airport- leg 2 of 4

Seoul Airport- leg 2 of 4

Morning coffee. Home sweet home!

Morning Cape Town!

Morning Cape Town!

Unpacking the suitcases took me two days, what with dragging an entire food isle worth of sauces, bits and bobs, Asian products and cool kitchen stuffs with me and even 2 liters of shower gel…., I liked the smell and it was on a special. What can I say, I have problems!

In my still sleepless state and a day and night body clock on the blink, I at least have time to catch up with blog reading, obsess about the recipes I am reading and put coal to the fire of my cheese craving, cheese of any kind! The South Koreans are not big on cheese and I need to catch up on my cheese backlog.

Chef Mimi posted her Easy Baked Brie recipe and I intended making it and eating it, the whole thing, even if it killed me. Full details here:http://chefmimiblog.com/2014/01/01/easy-baked-brie/

I used for the topping:

Honey and nuts with dried cranberries and cinnamon.

Tasted it and then decided that it was too sweet and added carrot and lemon chutney/ marmalade courtesy of my sister’s preserving skills.

It of course then need a punch and I added chili sauce- kid you not it all worked well!

I placed the cheese in the oven just like Chef Mimi said I should in an old and trusted glass dish that has seen better days, my sister visited and I forgot about my precious cheese!

Disaster, the dish cracked, the over-baked cheese burst open and the cheese and pieces of glass oozed and dripped all over the place. Unholy mess and I did not have another brie. But I did have a local soft blue cheese, yes I did.

Not baked blue cheese with topping

Not baked blue cheese with topping

The topping mixture went on top of the unbaked( of course) soft blue cheese and ooh it was nice! I almost forgot to take a photo(dazed) and these are the only two I have( half eaten). I do have manners, shared the cheese with the family in the end, just.

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Not cheese challenge excellence but I decided to enter it anyway in the http://fromagehomage.co.uk/cheese-please-recipe-challenge/, which by the way is one of my favourite blogs, not only the cheese bits, but the whole thing.

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Nice to be back home. New year, new experiences.

Mist rolling in late afternoon Cape Town, fog horn blaring.

Late afternoon mist Cape Town

Late afternoon mist Cape Town

Festive Greetings from South Korea

We are feasting and travelling through South Korea. Seoul was ice cold as expected but the tastes and trimmings more than made up fot the freezing cold.

Christmas trimmings Seoul

Christmas trimmings Seoul

Definitely more Christmas trimmings than expected and beautiful decorations all over  Myeongdong, Seoul.

Korean Food

Korean Food

I will need to go and read up about all of the Asian dishes I am eating as English is very limited and I am ordering blindly! I love the food, especially the cabage salads and kimchi dumplings with chicken and pork kebabs.

Ilsan Beach in Ulsan

Ilsan Beach in Ulsan

Ilsan Beach on Christmas Day kitted out in thick coats on the beach!

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A Korean barbecue for Christmas dinner and for more heat in a very cold Ulsan.

KTX train ride to the south.

KTX Train to Ulsan

KTX Train to Ulsan

I hope everyone had as much fun for Christmas as we did. I wish you a wonderful year-end.

Carrot Flan

This recipe posted by Sally http://bewitchingkitchen.com/2013/06/23/secret-recipe-club-carrot-flan-with-greens-and-lemon-vinaigrette/ is one of those that you see and you want to make, NOW. I have never tasted carrots prepared like this and I am smitten. Endless possibilities yet again. Such a tasty, elegant way to serve carrots and with very little ingredients.

Carrot Flan

Carrot Flan

I added shallots to the carrots and cooked it together until soft and in went n blob of butter. The rest of the recipe I followed just as posted, as it is perfect in its simplicity. Rarely will I follow a recipe in its original form but really, with this one, no need to change or tinker.

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Mine was served with a garden herb and dill vinaigrette and I am already thinking along the lines of a light curry-mayonaise for the next round! The flans are as light as feathers and will make a good souffle if cheese is added, but there I go again.

Feather light carrot flan

Feather light carrot flan

On a recent trip to Franschhoek I was so impressed and swooned so much about a carrot preserve served at Cafe Bon Bon as a condiment to a cheese platter, that the waiter sent me home with a jar of the stuff( nice people!). I am now on the hunt for a recipe to recreate it. All in the carrot theme, maybe it is the orange that does it for me.

Carrot Preserve

Carrot Preserve

Cookies and Gift Ideas

My gift idea

My gift idea

I had this bright idea to give home baked cookies to a few clients and colleages as end of year/Christmas/New Years gifts. That is as long as I did not have to bake them, not me, not cookies! I cook, but baking I do only on the odd occasion and then I like it. And I very much like other peoples baked goods of course. Enter my dear sister of http://www.nowathome.wordpress.com and the way to get her going is to give her a challenge! My other sister, the natural baker in the family got scot free on this one because she lives too far away.

Choc dipped shortbread

Choc dipped shortbread

So Aletta baked, and she dipped and she dried the most delicious shortbread choc dipped cookies and she swears she will never take up a challenge I give her again……….but I know she will, because she blogs……. image I jazzed up pretty boxes with tissue paper and ribbon and placed the cookies each in an individual ribboned bag inside. The boxes were delivered with a hand written note. The clients swooned, I am happy and my sister is tired. image Now I’m thinking, the cookie thing can become my trademark client gift, maybe flower shapes for spring or pink dipped cookies for Women’s Day all jazzed up in different gift containers!  I am trying to think of ways to convince nowathome that she needs another challege, soon…… Check out her recipe(uhm challenge) on her blog.

RIP Madiba:

We feel a profound sense of loss with the passing of Nelson Mandela. Our hero and icon. South Africa and the world will miss you. image

French Pear and Ginger Tart

I am sure the French will make their own dough, but I am not French. Store bought full butter puff pastry is good enough for me.

French pear&ginger tart

French pear&ginger tart

This tart is extremely easy and replace the jam and preserve or even the pears with whatever is available in your pantry. I made this tart as a breakfast pastry for a hello and goodbye breakfast for my niece Alda, on her way to go and live with her brother in New Zealand. We had a lot of good byes this year and it is certainly not getting easier.

We shall miss you dearly Alda!

We shall miss you dearly Alda!

I used the following:

puff pastry sheets

6 pears thinly sliced

beat 1 x egg

apricot jam

ginger preserve in a thin syrup

confectioner sugar to sprinkle ( I used vanilla flavour)

Puff pastry

Puff pastry

Place the pastry sheets in a greased baking tray and score the edges to form a rim/ edge and brush egg on the rim. Brush the bottom of the tart with apricot jam and arrange the sliced pears in rows or whatever pattern grabs you. Put a few pieces of diced preserved ginger here and there and brush the lot with the ginger syrup missing the edge/ rim.bake for 45 min to 60 min on 180 C. Brush again with the ginger syrup for a shine and sprinkle with vanilla sugar.

Breakfast feast

Breakfast feast

It went really well with the tomato and chorizo egg dish and yogurt smoothies.

Random photo’s: taken of James by Kim, all the way in far away New Zealand. Have fun with them Alda.

Have fun

Have fun

and be nosy!

and be nosy!

Crispy Butternut Slices

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Butternut is such a robust and proud thing. It sits there and it says loud and clear” I am a vegetable!”  We all do a million and ten things with it, but my favourite way with this pumpkin is to just slice it in thin slices ( something between n slither and a chunk) with skin and all.

Crispy butternut

Crispy butternut

Into a baking tray with the lot and sprinkle with pumkin spice ( and if you can’t find pumkin spice, any spice will do, even a spicy chilli mix).

I am a vegetable

I am a vegetable

Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 180 C until crispy at the edges (45 min or more).

Crispy Butternut Slices

Crispy Butternut Slices

Side dish or main dish or snack, any old which way and it always looks and tastes good. And what’s more, it is ORANGE, and I love it!

Random photo taken by my husband earlier this year:

Rainy day Hout Bay, Western Cape

Rainy day Hout Bay, Western Cape

Coconut-lime Cream Dessert

Coconut-lime Cream

Coconut-lime Cream

I’ve been making this dessert fot a while after I first landed in cream heaven at my friends dinner table when she served a similar one. Ina gave me the recipe and we both started tweaking and adjusting and I suppose we shall forever keep on doing so as we dream up new varieties of the same theme. It is just so versatile. Her original recipe uses full cream yogurt and evaporated milk and I adjusted it to use coconut cream for that subtle coconut flavour together with whatever fruit flavour I choose to use. This time it was lime and drumrrrrroll…pomegranate-chilli preserve, which I was lucky enough to find at a local market.

Steps coconut- lime cream

Steps coconut- lime cream

Scoop your choice of fruit compote/ preserve in the bottom of a glass.

On high speed beat together:

1x tin (400 ml) coconut cream-beat until thick and then add

250ml cream and 2 packets of jelly(flavour of your choice)- beat all together until thick and creamy

Pour into individual glasses, garnish and refrigerate (who am I kidding, we never even reach the refrigeration stage!)

Coconut-lime cream & Chili-pomegranate

Coconut-lime cream & Chili-pomegranate

I have made it in various flavours but must say, the best one yet is the lime and I dread the day that my jar of pomegranate-chilli preserve is finished. Check out the producer and all of their great product at http://www.passionatepomegranate.co.za.

Coconut-lime cream. Thank you Ina!

Coconut-lime cream. Thank you Ina!

*I paid for all of the products used in this post.

Random photo for today: Penguins! Ahhhh, just love the way they shuffle.

Feb 2013 at Boulder's Beach, Simon's Town, Western Cape

Feb 2013 at Boulder’s Beach, Simon’s Town, Western Cape

Baked Crumbed Chicken Strips

I try to avoid deep frying and this recipe on recipe.com for the baked strips grabbed my interest. Also different ( or to me at least) is the “marinade” used in the original recipe which I adjusted. I have absolutely NO problem using blue cheese in anything and couple that with chili/pepper and I am happy.

Crumbed Chicken Strips with blue cheese dip

Crumbed Chicken Strips with blue cheese dip

Ingredients:

1/3 cup blue cheese salad dressing

(the recipe referred to the bottled variety which I am not keen on so I used my own dressing which I previously posted as Blue Cheese Salad Dressing and just made it into a thicker consistency and added to that a generous squirt of red Tabasco Sauce + chili flakes)

blue cheese salad dressing

blue cheese salad dressing

2 to 3 teaspoons of bottled hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)

4 deboned chicken breasts cut into strips

1 cup crumbed corn flakes ( the packeted crumbs works fine)

1 Table spoon chopped parsley

Salt to taste.

Salt the chicken and place in a deep bowl,mix in the blue cheese dressing.

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Coat the marinated chicken with the crumb-parsley mix and place in a foil lined (or use Spray&Cook) baking tray in the freezer for 2 hours. As usual I did not have 2 hours to do that so I left it in the fridge(not even the freezer) for 30 minutes.

Bake at 200 C for approximately 30 minutes until cooked through.

Serve with a blue cheese dipping sauce.

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Something happens when the blue cheese, hot pepper sauce and chili is combined-a deep rich creamy sauce which my husband says will work well with chicken livers.

And now the Random Photo:

Last weekend in Table Bay with Table Mountain open and clear

Last weekend in Table Bay with Table Mountain open and clear