Quinoa Fritters with Avo Salsa

Quinoa Fritters with Avo Salsa

Quinoa Fritters with Avo Salsa

I am firmly in the camp that believes the only interesting thing about quinoa is the spelling. But once in a while against my better judgement I end up buying a pack and then have to look at it every time I open the cupboard. On the last look I decided to try and make something interesting as camouflaging it in a salad does not work. I devised these fritters and they are really tasty.

I decided to go the whole hog and made it gluten free and used some almond flour which I had but any standard flour or gluten free flour would work.

Quinoa Fritters with Avo Salsa

Quinoa Fritters with Avo Salsa

Fritters

1 cup uncooked quinoa

half a cup finely chopped broccoli

2 spring onions chopped

1 clove garlic, mashed

1 teaspoon lemon zest

half a teaspoon mixed spice

quarter teaspoon salt

150 ml almond flour

2 eggs, beaten

oil for frying

Salsa

handful of parsley, roughly chopped

1 avocado, stoned and cubed

2 tomatoes, diced

half a red onion thinly sliced

1 red chili chopped (optional)

a good squeeze lemon juice

salt and black pepper to season

Cook the quinoa as per the packet instructions (do not add salt). Let it cool down and mix in all the fritter ingredients except the eggs. Mix in the beaten eggs and shape into fritters. (They won’t roll like a meatball so you have to shape them in your hands). Place on a baking tray covered in clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

Make the salsa by mixing all the ingredients and check the seasoning.

Heat the oil in a pan and shallow fry the fritters until golden brown on each side. Place on wax paper to drain while you fry the next batch and keep warm.

Spoon some salsa on top of each fritter and eat while still warm.

Makes about 16 fritters

If there are any leftovers, sprinkle each fritter with some grated cheese and heat in the microwave for a minute until warm and the cheese has melted. Top with salsa and eat as a quick snack.

Wine suggestion from Conrad Louw: The rich creaminess of the avocado, together with the zesty lemon rind needs a wine with good acidity such as a Sauvignon Blanc. Yet, together with the nuttiness of the quinoa fritters, I will go very different and try something like Jordan’s ‘The Outlier Sauvignon Blanc’. Being barrel fermented, it still retains its freshness and all the elements in the dish will be complimented by this savoury wine with its zesty fruit.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread with Peanut Streusel

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

It is so easy to find a recipe online these days but there remains a certain joy to paging through a recipe book and there are always a few  books I reach for (hand written notes of recipes flying out as I open them) when I am looking for something a bit more old school. And then I find myself changing the recipe completely!

I am by no means a master baker and misunderstood science at school too much to even attempt to change a baking recipe but I always tell myself I can make a trifle if it does not work.

My first instinct is always to cut the sugar – I find too sweet masks other flavours and in this recipe the bananas adds a lot of their own sweetness plus the streusel on top packs a sweet punch. I wanted to cut the butter and thought peanut butter would add a good flavour. The peanut butter does not overwhelm and adds some depth to the banana flavour. I think adding the streusel on top works really well. It carries the peanut flavour and adds a wonderful sweet crunchy texture which elevates the humble banana bread.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Bread

2 eggs

¾ cup sugar

½ cup peanut butter

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon salt

4 medium ripe bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup Greek style yoghurt

Streusel

¼ cup peanuts roughly grinded

¼ cup flour

¼ cup soft brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 2l loaf pan and line the base with baking paper.

Combined all the streusel ingredients and rub between your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs and set aside.

Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and thick. Add the peanut butter and beat until combined. Mix in the bananas, vanilla extract and yoghurt.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the streusel on to the batter and press it lightly down.

Bake for 50 – 60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Let it cool a bit and turn out onto a wire rack. Remove the baking paper and let the loaf cool completely.

Makes 1 medium loaf. The bread freezes very well. Slice it once cooled down and freeze in small batches. It does not take long to defrost and is still wonderfully moist.

Balsamic Roasted Beetroot Soup

Balsamic Roasted Beetroot Soup

Balsamic Roasted Beetroot Soup

This soup is so good. Much better than I thought it would be and so versatile as it tastes equally good hot or cold. And of course the colour. It is so easy to go completely Nigella about the colour!

If you serve it hot, some toast with garlic butter will be great. Cold, I think some melba toast with a dollop of cream cheese sprinkled with chives will be just perfect.

Balsamic Roasted Beetroot Soup

Balsamic Roasted Beetroot Soup

1 kg baby beetroot

10 baby carrots

4 cloves of garlic, peeled

2 red onions, quartered

5 sprigs of thyme

100 ml balsamic vinegar

olive oil for roasting

1 liter vegetable stock

sugar, salt and black pepper to season

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Wash the beetroot but do not peel. Place in a roasting tray with the carrots, garlic, onion and thyme and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Pour over the balsamic vinegar and give the vegetables a mix through and roast uncovered until the beetroot is cooked – about 60  to 80 minutes. Remove from the oven and discard the thyme sprigs.

Once he beetroot has cooled down enough that you can handle them remove the skins. Divide all the vegetables into two batches (including any leftover liquid in the roasting pan) and puree each half with half of the stock until smooth. For a smoother consistency, pass half of the pureed mixture through a wire sieve.

Check the seasoning of the soup (depending on the vinegar you might need to add some sugar), reheat if necessary and serve.

Wine suggestion from Conrad Louw :

It is the warm and sweet earthiness of the oven-grilled beetroot that gives this soup its wow-factor, which would ask for a wine with equal earthy notes. Chamonix’s Pinot Noir ‘11 is exactly the wine which will further compliment it with its red berries and levels of spiciness. As liquor stores are fairly low on stock, Cathy Marshall’s Pinot Noir ’11 will do equally well. Should you want to serve the soup cold during a hot lazy summer lunch, try a crisp dry Rosé such as Delaire’s.

Beer and Nuts Ice Cream

Beer and Nuts Ice Cream

Beer and Nuts Ice Cream

If there ever was a “man” ice cream I think this is pretty close!

I am quite a big fan of David Lebovitz and a friend told me about his book The Perfect Scoop which is packed with ice cream recipes. In there he has a Guinness-Milk Chocolate ice cream recipe which formed the base idea of this Beer and Nuts Ice Cream. I am quite surprised that with the huge interest in craft beer we do not see more beer ice cream. It seems like such a logical step to me but there doesn’t seem to be that many recipes out there.

I am very happy with how this ice cream turned out. It certainly has a good beer taste and I think the secret was to cut back on the fat content of the custard by using milk in stead of cream for half of the custard base. I was a bit worried that with the water content of the beer the ice cream would have large crystals but it was not an issue. In retrospect the 100g nuts is quite a lot of nuts for this quantity of ice cream so amend the quantity to your taste.

Next experiments will be with some lagers and IPAs. Boston Breweries makes a delicious Pumpkin Ale which I think will make a special ice cream.

Beer and Nuts Ice Cream

Beer and Nuts Ice Cream

250ml full cream milk
100g sugar (half a cup)
pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
250ml cream
250ml Stout Beer (I used Mitchell’s Raven Stout)
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
50g – 100g roasted mixed nuts, roughly chopped

Gently warm the milk, sugar and salt over a medium heat while stirring to dissolve the sugar. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk over the eggs while whisking briskly and return to the saucepan. Stir the mixture constantly over a medium heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream until well combined. Then add the stout beer and vanilla seeds and mix until well combined. Chill the mixture in the fridge for at least 6 hours – overnight is best – and prepare in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions. As soon as the mixture has churned, mix in the nuts and freeze.

Wine suggestion from Conrad Louw:

Stout will tone down the sweetness of the ice cream, thus the focus of this dish is rather on ‘nutty & nice’ and not ‘rich & creamy’.  So I would prefer to compliment the beer and nuts and accordingly stay away from overly sweet sticky dessert wines.  Therefore, I will move towards nutty fortified wines to compliment the ice cream  – something like Monis Medium Cream Sherry, slightly sweet but boasts with richness and nutty complexity.  De Krans Tawny Port is another alternative.

Lunch at Overture

I am always looking for a reason to go to Overture at the Hidden Valley wine estate in Stellenbosch. The beautiful setting, fantastic view, good and friendly service and above all the excellent food makes it my favourite splurge restaurant.

A friend from Jozi was in town and Friday again did not disappoint. It was a beautiful sunny winter’s day and after spending a few hours walking Babylonstoren’s garden, lunch at Overture was the perfect follow up destination.

We chose a 5 course tasting menu and the stand out dishes were the Sauteed Gnocchi, Braised Springbok and the superb desserts. In all honesty I would have been happy with just the chocolate sauce for lunch. Just sublime! And since my mother won’t read this I can admit that I did finish it out of the jug.

You can do a wine pairing with each dish on the tasting menu and as much as I understand the concept I am not quite sure that it is such a good idea. By the third course you are getting more and more tipsy and you tend to lose focus on the food. Having done a few pairings, I now prefer to rather get a glass or two of my favourite wine and to enjoy it through all the courses.

Overture

Overture

Crumbed squid, sweet corn, Asian flavours, pak choi

Roasted pimento & aubergine roulade, smoked ashed camembert, basil, pine nuts, olive

Pea soup, lemon cream, pancetta, pea tendrils

Braised Springbok, linguini, gem squash puree, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil

Braised Springbok, linguini, gem squash puree, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil

Sauteed gnocchi, mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes, thyme, garlic, parmesan

Jersey rump, parsnip, turnip, celery

Horseradish crusted Angelfish, mussel mariniere, Swiss chard

Guava granita and foam

Apple crumble, caramel mousse, vanilla ice cream

Orange souffle, orange ice cream, chocolate sauce (the chocolate sauce carefully poured into the souffle at the table)

Chocolate sauce (what’s left of it)

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Of all my (many) favourite things to eat, delicate and beautiful zucchini flowers are very high on the list. Eating them takes me back to Rome immediately and somehow soothes my seemingly daily longing for Italy. We still have quite a bit of time before it is summer in the southern hemisphere but when I saw a tweet from Ethical Co-op that they had the flowers on the delivery list for the week I had to order some. I immediately tweeted my friend Hande in Rome to ask her advice on what was the best way to prepare them and she suggested stuffed with mozzarella and anchovy and recommended I use the batter recipe from her friend Rachel to dip them in. I have used a ricotta stuffing before which tasted great but I think the anchovy and mozzarella combination is fantastic. The saltiness of the anchovy just marries perfectly. Even for non anchovy lovers like myself.

The only proviso with this dish is that it has to be eaten straight out of the hot oil, scattered with some sea salt and a good squeeze of lemon.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

To serve 4 people you will need about 16 flowers

16 small pieces of mozzarella

8 anchovy fillets cut in half

oil for frying

Batter (from Rachel Eats):

100g flour

200ml warm water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

pinch of salt

2 egg whites beaten to very stiff peaks

Remove the pistils (female flowers) and stamens (male flowers) from the flowers. Gently wash the flowers in a bowl of cold water and pat dry.

Whisk the water and flour and add the olive oil. Let the batter rest for 2 hours in the fridge.

Stuff each flower with a piece of mozzarella and anchovy. Gently squeeze and twist the petals together to make a small parcel.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold in the rested batter with a metal spoon. Add the pinch of salt.

Heat the oil to about 190 degrees C. Test the oil by dropping a small amount of batter into the oil. If it browns after about a minute it is ready. Dip the flower in the batter and place in the oil to fry until puffed and a golden colour. Fry about 4 at a time.

Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place the fried flowers on kitchen towel to drain the excess oil.

Sprinkle with sea salt, squeeze some lemon juice over it and eat immediately.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Lemon and Pomegranate Cheesecake

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To be totally honest this is more of a fridge tart than a cheesecake but definitely delivers the same tangy smoothness and richness of a cheesecake. I did not want to bake a traditional cheesecake neither wanted to use gelatin so used a base of condensed milk and lemon juice to set the mixture.

I drained the yoghurt overnight to make sure the filling is as thick as possible since I was not using any gelatin. Just line a wire mesh strainer with cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Put the yoghurt into the lined strainer, cover and leave in the fridge overnight.

The pomegranate topping adds texture, a beautiful colour and a bit more zing. I made a syrup with more pomegranate seeds but not sure if the tart really needs it. It does look very pretty on the plate though. I used the syrup recipe from drizzle and dip and added a good squeeze of lemon juice. She also has some really good tips for seeding and juicing pomegranates.

The mixture is more than enough for a 36cm x 12cm rectangular flan tin. For a 30cm (12 inch) round flan tin the filling should be doubled.

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For the pastry I used left over pastry from the Chocolate and Orange Curd Tart. Any leftover pastry can be frozen for up to 3 months. Just defrost overnight in the fridge.

Tina Bester’s Well Behaved Pastry (you will only need about half of this but make the full recipe and freeze what you don’t need)

225g butter

200g castor sugar

2 large eggs

500g flour

Filling

1 tub smooth cream cheese (250g), let it stand at room temperature for an hour to soften

500ml plain low fat yoghurt – drained overnight

1 tin condensed milk (385g)

125 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 heaped tablespoon lemon zest

Topping

seeds from 1 pomegranate

 

Make the pastry by combining the butter and sugar in a food processor and while still running, add the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour and blend until it forms a dough. Remove from the processor, mould into a ball, cover with cling wrap and rest in the fridge for 1 hour. 

Preheat the oven the 180 degrees C.

Take the pastry out of the fridge, roll out and gently line the flan dish. Let the pastry overlap the edge of the dish by a cm or so. Prick the base with a fork, place in the fridge for 30 minutes and then bake for 15 minutes until the pastry is light golden brown (no need to fill with beans etc). Once it has cooled down for a few minutes gently trim the edge of the dish with a sharp knife and remove any extra pastry.

While the pastry is baking make the filling.

Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth with an electric mixer. Add the strained yoghurt and beat until well combined. Slowly add the condensed milk while beating then slowly add the lemon juice. Keep beating for a few minutes until the mixture has thickened. Fold in the lemon zest.

Scoop the filling into the cooled pastry case and place in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.

Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and extra lemon zest if desired and serve.

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