Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Smoked Turkey – South African Style!

The fiancé and I have been watching a few too many festive cooking shows and although Turkey is more a British Christmas tradition than South African, we found ourselves slightly obsessed with the idea of smoking a Turkey over open flames for a few hours…

So we bought a plump 4.something kg Turkey and some wood chips for smoking and got the process started. After defrosting in the fridge for 24 hours (although it’s advisable to defrost for 48 hours), we washed him, patted him dry and started seasoning.

Our South African twist on Stuffing:
4 x Skilpadjies (Spiced lambs liver wrapped in fatty netting), slightly browned on the fire and finely chopped.
4 Fresh Apricots, finely diced.
1 Medium onion, finely diced.
4 Garlic Cloves, finely sliced.
1 tsp Dried Oregano.
2 Tbls Braai Seasoning.
1 Egg.
2 Cups Bread Crumbs.

After seasoning, stuffing, basting every half hour and hot smoking for 4 hours, we ended up with this:

Delicious! (Way too much for two, so needless to say, we’ll be eating Turkey the whole week – yum!)

Happy Festive Season!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pita Pocket Tapas

We are busy planning our Christmas Menu, and if, like us, you are hosting a lunch event, these pitas are perfect as table snacks or as part of a cold Tapas spread.

Pita Pocket Tapas
Serves 6-8

You will need
Mini Pita Pockets (Buy at least 3 -4 per person)
Buy the little triangular ones or small round ones, and make sure they are fresh and puffy.

2 Spicy Sausages of your choice. Chorizo works well.

Butternut Filling
250g Butternut, cut in small blocks
20ml Olive Oil
5ml Cumin, powdered
Treacle Sugar

Caramelized Red Onion Filling
1 Spanish Onion, finely sliced
30ml Caramel Sugar or Treacle Sugar
30ml Balsamic Vinegar

Lentil Filling
1 White onion, chopped
1 Garlic Clove, chopped
1 Tin Lentils, drained
2 Big Tomatoes, chopped
15ml Tomato Puree
60ml Water

Chickpea Dip
1 Can Chickpeas, drained
1 Garlic Clove, chopped
20ml Olive Oil
10ml Lemon Juice

Bunch of fresh young Beetroot
Treacle Sugar
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper

How to make it

Slice open tops of pitas - you can butter the inside a bit if you wish.

Place Butternut blocks on oven tray, sprinkle with Olive Oil, Salt and a little bit of Treacle Sugar.
Bake at 180°C until soft, but not mushy. About 20 min.
Toss every now and then.

Peel and cut into small blocks.
Place on oven tray, sprinkle with Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil, Treacle Sugar and drizzle with Balsamic Vinegar.
Bake at the same time as the butternut (saves some electricity).
Toss every now and then, until soft (not mushy) and glazed.

Caramelized Onion
Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot or pan.
Cook slowly until caramelized.

Fry onion and garlic in pan, when cooked add all the other ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add Salt and Pepper to taste.

Chickpea Dip
Whirr everything in a food processor until smooth.
Season to taste.

Slice Sausages.

To Serve
Dish all your fillings in separate little dishes with the pita pockets on the side.
Guests can stuff their pitas with a little bit of this or a little bit of that.

  • You can buy Mini Pitas at your nearest Spar.
  • To save time, buy pre-prepared butternut and just chop them a bit smaller.
  • Serve a chilli sauce on the side to add some bite. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Andanté Reviews: Heston’s Fantastical Feasts

Title:                             Heston’s Fantastical Feasts
General idea:              This is not a recipe book, it’s a detailed account of Heston’s quest to create 6 of the most creative and fantastical feasts ever.
Easy reading:               Once you accept the fact that you will probably never be able to cook like Heston or recreate any of the dishes, it’s really inspiring and easy to read – much like a story book.
Recipes:                       Unless you have easy access to liquid nitrogen and water baths, don’t even try!
Buy it if:                        You’d like to become inspired by a different way of thinking about food.
Don’t buy it if:             You’re looking for easy new recipes to prepare after work.
PS:                               Heston’s dad is South African, and he even makes a reference to Biltong in the book!


As I opened the tightly sealed box from Exclusive Books, I was secretly hoping they hadn’t sent us ‘just another recipe book’, and much to my delight it was exactly the opposite. Wrapped up snugly was the new offering by Heston Blumenthal – owner of one of the best restaurants in the world (The Fat Duck) and Culinary Alchemist. I love watching his shows: In Search of PerfectionBig Chef takes on Little Chef and Heston’s Feasts on BBC Lifestyle, so I was excited to see what he was up to this time…

The book is designed to look like an old Fairytale novel, complete with monochrome hard cover, gold foiling & scripty fonts. Usually when I buy a cook book I would look at the cover, the list of recipes and some of the pictures – and if I had not known who Heston Blumenthal was, and I had found this book in the cooking section I probably wouldn’t buy it. One of the first pictures I opened up on was of an eye ball on a table, and the second was of Heston setting something on fire… Doesn’t exactly make me want to hit the kitchen and start cooking! But that isn’t the point of this book.

In Heston’s own words: “This is not so much a cook book as a culinary adventure story with recipes.” Each chapter in the book represents a different feast: A Fairy Tale Feast; A Gothic Horror Feast; A Titanic Feast; A Chocolate Factory Feast; A Seventies Feast and An Eighties Feast. Each of these feasts is then served to a (very lucky) group of guests to experience.

Heston’s style is very scientific, technical and almost arrogant, but once you get used to it, he is actually quite charming and it becomes clear that he is very talented. In Heston’s Fantastical Feasts he uses much the same approach as he did in the previous ‘Feasts’ TV series. Essentially he decides on a theme and pushes it to its limits – delving into its history, travelling to its country of origin, meeting with experts on the topic; he literally does everything to really get to the crux of a theme. And then he starts cooking. Heston has a kitchen (or rather lab) with every imaginable gadget and cooking tool, and along with a team of dedicated chefs they put Heston’s wacky ideas into edible form.

What I appreciate about him is that he doesn’t profess to get everything right every time, and most importantly, it doesn’t matter how way out his concepts are, it always boils down to the taste and quality of the food. He won’t create something just for the sake of shock value that doesn’t taste great. (There is an incident with Leaches in the book that illustrates this perfectly…)

From Lickable Wallpaper, to flaming Pumpkin Carriages, to edible Graveyards – Heston takes dining to a whole new level. And although he does give you the recipes to his Fantastical dishes, they are not really meant to be recreated (unless you have a massive budget, some liquid nitrogen, a water bath and some other complicated gadgets), they are meant to inspire.

Heston makes you think about food in a way you never even considered, and even if it makes you add just a small touch of magic to your next dinner party, I think he did a job well done. All I can say is that I can’t wait for this series to air on BBC, even if it’s just to see the guest’s reactions to the dishes!

For some fun Top Ten weirdest creations from this book, click here.

Heston’s Fantastical Feasts will be screened on BBC Lifestyle through January and December - can't wait to see the feasts I read about! 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

3 Weeks to the Holidays!

There is electricity in the air as South Africans count the days to their annual December Holidays which are now only 3 weeks away!

We have been baking and packaging hundreds of gifts over the past few weeks – the house is filled with delicious smells of melted chocolate, vanilla cookies and pistachio biscotti. This jar filled with our scrumptious Gold Dust Cranberry Cookies is so nifty because you can write your own message on it – we like!

If you haven’t done your Festive Gift shopping yet, 
check out our selection of yummy goodies here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wild Mushroom Risotto with Truffle Oil

Joburg has been hit by a cold front and rainy weather like this just calls for comfort food!

Wild Mushroom Risotto with Truffle Oil
(Serves 4)

440g Arborio Rice
500g Mixed Mushrooms, sliced
60g Parmesan
60g Pecorini
2 Tbls Butter
2 Tbls Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 Leek, finely sliced
1 L Chicken Stock
125 ml White Wine
Zest of 1 Lemon
2 Tbls Parsley, chopped

Truffle Oil (Optional)

How to make it

Before you start on the rice, shallow fry the mushrooms in some butter and set aside.

Heat stock and keep on the boil.
Fry leek and garlic in the oil for 5-6min.
Add Arborio rice and stir until coated.
Add 125 ml stock and stir until absorbed.
Add wine stir until absorbed.
Add the rest of stock 125 ml at a time stir until absorbed and rice is tender and creamy
(Once you start cooking the rice, you can’t leave it unattended, it may become dry and sticky if you don’t keep an eye on it.)
* Taste the rice, it should be soft but still offer some resistance when you bite into it. If you feel that it is still too undercooked and your liquid is finished just add some boiling water until it reaches the right consistency. 

Stir in mushrooms, and cheese (you can use less if you’d like).
Stir in lemon zest and parsley or
Add little cream or mascarpone for a more indulgent version.

Drizzle with Truffle Oil for a superb flavour.

  • Wild mushrooms are in season, so you should be able to buy some from most greengrocers (Impala Fruitiers on Beyers Naude has a fantastic selection). Woolworths also sells punnets of mixed exotic mushrooms.
  • Truffle Oil can be bought at delicatessens and some specialist stores.
  • Wild mushrooms are expensive, so use portabelinni and big brown mushrooms with one punnet of wild mushrooms instead.
  • For a more intense mushroom flavour, soak dried Porchini mushrooms in 500ml hot water and combine with 500ml chicken stock.
  • If you can get fresh Porchini (considered the marrow of the mushroom world), shallow fry thick slices in butter and some garlic, and use as garnish on the risotto.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Andanté’s longing for exotic fresh food markets…

Over the weekend the fiancé and I served up a three course meal for my soon to be sister in law and her husband. The entire feast was inspired by dishes we learnt to cook or tasted while touring the East. We made deep fried Thai prawn and chicken golden bags as a starter, a Vietnamese beef fillet Hot Pot (with stock made from scratch and cooked for 8 hours!) for mains and grilled bananas in coconut milk for dessert.

The evening was wonderful and the food really tasted much like we’d remembered. The only problem with exotic dishes like these is finding the right ingredients (the Chinese Supermarket at The Wedge shopping center on Rivonia Road in Jhb was very useful), and that just made me long for the markets we’d visited, especially in Vietnam. All the produce is super fresh – most of the seafood is still alive when you buy it and we even saw a couple of prawns jump out of the buckets while we were walking around! The variety of fresh vegetables, noodles, rice, meat and fish is endless – I just wish we had something so inspiring here in Johannesburg!

Check out some of our pics from the Ben Than Market in Ho Chi Minh City:

They keep everything alive with air pumps

A snail escaped!

Beautiful crayfish 

Fresh herbs & spices

Live crabs all tied up

Variety of shellfish

Live Prawns

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Like chocolate? Then you will LOVE these!

This must be one of the yummiest things to come out of the LekkerBek kitchen yet! Real dark chocolate smothering sugared orange peel, pecan nuts & raisins… Delish!

We liked it so much that we've added it to our 2010 Festive Gift Range – check it out here!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Leisure Options 'Best of Joburg' – We’re in it!

We were voted one of the best local websites by Leisure Options readers! Check it out:

or get you hands on the latest copy.

Thanks Leisure Options readers!! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thai Chillies

Andanté recently returned from a culinary adventure to South East Asia, and for the next couple of weeks you can expect a lot of Thai, Vietnamese and Malay inspired foodie blogs. Here is her first story…

Endless selections of chillies in the Thai markets.

We really love chillies - we’ve blogged about them, used them in recipes and grow them ourselves, but the trip to Thailand just inspired us even more!

Chillies are a central ingredient in Thai cooking, ranging from large decorative peppers to small (and very powerfull) Thai or bird’s eye chillies. They use them in pastes, fresh, as garnish, marinated and cooked in – adding a distinctive punch and flavour to dishes. The Thai chilli measures around 50,000 to 100,000 units on the Scoville scale (the measurement of the spicy heat in peppers), compared to the hottest pepper, Naga Jolokia or Ghost chilli, that measures a potent 855,000 to 1,075,000 units (Tabasco Sauce averages about 2500). Locally it is called Prik Kee Noo, or ‘Mouse Poo Peppers’ because of its small size and appearance. We attended a cooking class in Bangkok where the chef didn’t even touch the chillies with his bare hands, but rather used two knives to handle them to avoid contact with his skin.

We were mesmerised by all the chillies on offer in the local markets, and couldn’t resist bringing home a selection to cultivate ourselves!

Chillies that we bought in Thailand and are going to try and grow.  (The small ones are the Thai Chillies)

A display of hot peppers and a humorous board explaining the Scoville Scale at the HEB Central Market location in Houston, Texas.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This is what we want for dinner tonight!

Treat your family or friends to this delicious (and easy!) pasta dish. 

Bacon & Blue Cheese Fusilli Pasta with Roasted Baby Tomatoes
(Serves 4 -6) 

Shopping List
360g (about) Baby Rosa Tomatoes
300g Fusilli Pasta
125g Blue Cheese
125g Cream Cheese
200g Baby Spinach Leaves
125g Bacon Bits
1 cup Parmesan (grated)
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Brown Treacle Sugar
Black Pepper

How to make it
Heat oven to 180 degrees.
Wash Rosa Tomatoes - place in roasting pan.
Season tomatoes with salt and black pepper, sprinkle with half a hand full of brown treacle sugar, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Roast until they are sort of soft and slightly wrinkled and sauce starts to caramelize - toss every now and then.
Keep warm or reheat in your microwave once ready to serve.

In the meantime bring big pot of water to the boil - when bubbling add pasta and a shot of salt.
Cook until just tender - drain (if they stick together drizzle with olive oil and toss).
Fry bacon in nice big pan with a dash of olive oil or butter until just cooked.
Add crumbled blue cheese, cream cheese, spinach and half the parmesan to the fried bacon.
Heat slowly until blended - add pasta and toss gently.

Place the pasta mixture in oiled shallow dish, sprinkle with remaining parmesan, drizzle with a wee bit of olive oil and grill until the top browns slightly.

Open a bottle of red wine and serve your pasta with the yummy roasted tomatoes.

  • For a vegetarian option, leave out the bacon.
  • Use Penne instead of Fusilli.
  • If you don't like blue cheese, use mozzarella chopped into little pieces (it does not melt as well).
  • Use smooth Low Fat Cottage Cheese for a lighter option.
  • Spinach us one of the healthiest ingredients around - so use as much as you like.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Woolworths Living Wall

We just love this initiative by Woolies! Visit this site (www.woolworthslivingwall.co.za), choose a Strawberry, Spinach, Basil or Tomato seedling and plant it on the virtual garden wall. Woolworths will match the virtual plant contributions by donating real life plants to South African Schools with premaculture food gardens. It’s fun, easy and free – do it!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mexican Fresh

We get very excited when a restaurant opens that offers something different to the usual take out fare, and Mexican Fresh is exactly that. The general perception around Mexican food is that it is very spicy and often oily, but this new fast food venture is putting Mexican cuisine on the South African map as flavoursome and healthy.

The concept is simple, you can choose from STYLES & FILLINGS. Burrito, Crunchy Taco, Soft Taco, Fajita, Nachos and Quesadilla filled/topped with Grilled Veg, Chicken, Beef or Prawn.

It’s more of a fast food outlet than a restaurant, but there is ample seating to enjoy your meal there, with the added bonus that the Fajita is served in a hot steel pan! Even though the food isn’t very spicy, they supply you with a selection of chilli sauces to turn up the heat should you wish. The service is also very friendly and attentive – pity it’s on such a busy road.

A very enjoyable meal indeed – we will definitely be back to try some new combinations.

Visit www.mexicanfresh.co.za for more info.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Basil Mania

We are so chuffed with our little basil plants! We started from seeds, and now have juvenile plants almost 10 cm high - we just can’t wait to use those fragrant leaves in some of our dishes!

The progress of our basil plants so far…

Here is a simple and quick recipe using fresh basil:

Torn Basil Salad

Fresh Basil Leaves (a handful)
Fresh Baby tomatoes (a handful)
Black or green olives (to your taste)
Olive Oil (optional)
Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
Salt & Pepper

Tear the baby tomatoes, basil leaves and pitted olives into bite size pieces. Toss lightly. Season with salt, pepper, olive oil & balsamic vinegar to taste


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Andanté’s Birthday Spoils

I was TOTALLY spoilt on my birthday last week – the family got together for a feast of anti-pasti platters, steamed Artichokes, Fillet with a wild mushroom sauce and dark chocolate truffles, SUPER DELICIOUS! And to top it all off, an amazing bottle of 1982 (yes, it’s my age) Meerlust Cabernet Sauvignon…

Not only was I treated to freshly baked chocolate muffins in bed (J) and the best dinner ever, but I also received two of the coolest gifts!

Check out my Chocolate Cook Book by Willie Harcourt-Cooze (can’t wait to try the recipes) complete with 2 blocks of 100% Cacao – watch this space as the experiments begin!

And my pink, yes PINK chef’s knife – awesomeness it is!

Thanks to my wonderful family for making my day so super special – and knowing exactly how to make me feel like a princess!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

24 September is National Braai Day!

Braai (or Barbeque) is a South African pastime, and it’s almost certainly something most of us do at least once a week. Braai4Heritage is a concept encouraging South Africans to gather in good spirits around a fire on 24 September – and we don’t think it’s going to take much convincing!
Here are just some of the delicious braais we’ve had:

Happy Braaing!! 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thai Green Curry

In just 2 weeks, Andanté will be bouncing around South East Asia on a culinary adventure, and just to whet our pallets (and inspiration) we made this Thai Green Chicken Curry...

A green curry is a creamy and fragrant dish. There are many ways to make it, and this is our version – very saucy with crunchy fresh vegetables.

Thai Green Chicken Curry
(Serves 6)
30 minutes  prep
30 minutes cooking

5 Chicken Fillets
4 Tbls Green Curry Paste
2 Cans Coconut Milk
2 Tbls Garlic, chopped
2 Tbls Ginger, grated
1 Chilli, copped
Grated rind of 1 Lime (or 2 Kaffir Lime Leaves, torn)
Juice of ½ a Lime
Lemon Grass, 10cm stalk, sliced in half and bashed to release the flavour.
1 ½ Cup Baby Marrow, sliced
1 ½ Cup Butternut, diced
½ Cup Patty Pans, sliced
½ Cup Sugar Snap Peas or Mange Tout
2 Tbls Fish Sauce
1 Tbls Palm Sugar (or Brown Sugar)
1 Tbls Salt
1 Tbls Dry Vegetable Stock (we like Ina Parman’s)
Vegetable Oil for frying

How to make it

Slice Chicken (1.5 – 2cm thick) and marinade in 2 Tbls Green Curry paste.
Fry Garlic, Ginger, Lime Rind, Lemon Grass, Chilli and remaining Green Curry Paste  for about 2 minutes until wonderfully fragrant.
Add Coconut Milk, Fish Sauce, Lime Juice, Sugar, Salt, dry Vegetable Stock and Butternut.
Bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and add the chicken pieces. Poach for about 15 minutes.
Add Baby Marrows, Patty pans and Peas and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Remove the big hard pieces of Lemongrass.

** Leave curry to rest for 5 minutes before serving – the flavours are much better when slightly cooled.

Serve with Jasmine or Basmati rice.
Garnish with fresh Coriander and Lime wedges.

  • You’ll be able to buy all the ingredients at your local supermarket, but there are quite a few Asian specialty shops in Johannesburg that are well worth a visit (we like the one at the Wedge Shopping Centre on Rivonia Road).
  • For a lower fat version, use 1 part Coconut Milk and 1 part Evaporated Milk.
  • You can make a seafood version by using Prawns instead of Chicken – but add the prawns 10 minutes before the end of cooking.
  • Add more chillies for more bite, or leave them out for less.