Monday, July 25, 2011

Romanesco, Trout, Leek & Champagne Risotto

We just love all the interesting fruit and veggies making appearances at our local markets – like Romanesco!
Romanesco with its Christmas Tree like florets 

It looks really funky with its spiky florets and bright green colour, but it’s much less scary to cook with than it looks. Basically a cross between Broccoli and Cauliflower, Romanesco is nuttier and creamier in flavour than Broccoli. It’s perfect raw as crudités or steamed – but never cooked to a pulp!

We made this divine risotto – the colours are just gorgeous!

Romanesco, Trout, Leek & Champagne Risotto
Serves 4


1 Cup Leeks, thinly sliced
2 Tbls Butter
1 Tbls Garlic, chopped
300g Arborio Rice
½ Cup Champagne (or sparkling wine or white wine)
4 Cups Vegetable Stock
250g Smoked Trout, flaked
½ Cup Yogurt
2 Cups Romanesco, cut into individual florets and steamed until just tender
Salt flakes and Cracked Black Pepper

How to make it

In a heavy based pan fry the leeks in butter until soft and translucent. Add garlic and fry for another minute.
Add Arborio rice, cook and stir until translucent.
Add Champagne and cook rice until the liquid has been absorbed.
Start adding the hot vegetable stock about 1 ½ cups at a time, allowing all the liquid to be absorbed before adding more – stirring almost constantly.
Once the rice is soft but still has some bite to it it’s ready – taste often. It takes about 20 – 25 minutes.
Season well with salt & pepper.
Add the trout, yogurt & Romanecso, stir in gently and cover with a lid. Turn off the heat and leave for about 5 minutes for the trout and Romanesco to heat through.

Serve as is or topped with more smoked trout.

  • Prepare your vegetable stock in a pot next the one you are cooking the rice in and keep it on the verge of boiling during your cooking process.
  • Don’t leave the pot unattended, you need to stir constantly and make sure it doesn’t burn or dry out.
  • If you are going to use store bought vegetable stock we recommend Numo or Ina Parman’s.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Good Food Studio - French Cooking Class

We just love going to cooking classes, and to our delight many studios are popping up all over Joburg! Pick ‘n Pay recently opened their flagship store on William Nicol, and if you haven’t been there do yourself a favour! The fiancé nearly died when he saw the cheese section J

The Good Food Studio is located on the upper level of PnP on Nicol, and boasts one of the most impressive kitchens I’ve ever seen. The venue is well decorated and professionally run – so these cooking classes really are a pleasure.

We opted for the 3 hour French Cooking Class and we made a French Onion Soup, Dauphinois Potatoes, Chicken in a white wine sauce with black olives, flambéed pearl onions and green beans with toasted almonds. For desert we were taught the art of the French pancake by making Crepes Suzette. French cooking is delightful – packed with butter, cream, booze and fire theatrics!

As far as the cooking class goes you really can’t ask for a better venue – open, clean and professional. They also make it really easy by prepping most of the ingredients for you – so you won’t be wasting time grating garlic. We also picked up quite a few good tips from Chef Nikki. The food was delicious, and I’m sure we’ll be recreating some of the dishes at home. The only critique is that we don’t mind sharing a cooking station, but would prefer to make our own individual dishes. 

All and all we really enjoyed the experience and would love to go back for some more classes (we’re thinking Bread Making…) They also have great kids options and even classes for Bachelors.

Click here for more info (classes cost between R300 – R400) There is also a studio in Cape Town.

You cook in pairs

French Onion Soup with Gruyère Croutons 

Chef Nikki demonstrating 

Ingredients for the main & Pearl Onions blanching 

Wiets flambéing the Pearl Onions in Brandy

Main course

 Central island where you taste your creations

 VERY impressive kitchen

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jamie Oliver's La Trattoria menu - drool worthy!

You know that your friends know you well when they start bringing you menus from fab restaurants abroad – either to make you jealous or to inspire you J Hannes and Melissa were in London recently and brought back a copy of Jamie Oliver’s La Trattoria menu. I just love the look of it, not to mention the actual dishes! In true Jamie style the offerings are simple with a focus on great fresh produce, nothing too fancy and sans the pretentious descriptors. If I could pick something off the menu today it would have to be the Risotto of English strawberries with basil, parmesan and Belazu balsamic – sounds delish!

Thanks for the thoughtful token – I think you guys may have inspired a new collecting hobby, and if I can’t ‘take away’ a copy of all the menus that we sample I’ll be sure to take photos of them J

PS The fiancé and I were so inspired this weekend that we baked our own Focaccia style breads – SO DELICIOUS! Will definitely be doing it again!

Read more about La Trattoria here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Winter in South Africa is a highlight on the culinary calendar because of one thing: Biltong and Venison. Hunting trips are common during the colder months, and along with them loads of venison (often MANY kilograms of it) and inevitably Biltong {dried cured meat}.

The youngest member of the family, Arné, brought back an Impala from a Bow and Arrow hunting trip, and true to LekkerBek style the cooking (and curing) commenced. We were treated to a massive Leg of Impala that Wirie baked for a couple of hours – just delicious!

Most of the meat was turned into Biltong and Dry Wors – quite different to the Beef variety as it contains much less fat and also has a ‘wilder’ flavour.

If you have leftover biltong, this recipe is a great way to make a tasty paté.

Biltong Paté


120g very dry Biltong, chopped very finely
250g Button Mushrooms, sliced
60g Mayonnaise
50g plain Cream Cheese
¼ Medium Onion, Chopped
Salt and Pepper

How to make it

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until well mixed and as smooth as you like it.

Serve with bread or Melba toast and beer.

  • If your biltong isn’t very salty or spiced, add salt and pepper to taste once the ingredients have been blitzed.
  • Experiment with flavoured cream cheese (like biltong flavour) for different variations.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Masterchef Australia

Ok, so initially we thought the Australian Masterchef wasn’t worth watching – too much dramatic editing, stressful pauses and not to mention the hideously corny title soundtrack! Slowly but surely we started watching a few episodes a week, and now we are seriously addicted, setting our PRV to record every episode! The ultimate show so far was when the contestants had to recreate some of Heston Blumenthal’s signature dishes AND serve them to him – I can’t imagine that level of stress! Heston is one of the most amazing contemporary chefs in the world, and we think he is super awesome because he has roots in South Africa and he often uses South African ingredients like Rooi Bos and Biltong J

Much to our surprise the show’s focus really is on the food and cooking and not so much the politics and ‘characters’ as we expected. It’s interesting to see how many people have been inspired to hit the kitchen by this show, and in my mind, anything that inspires cooking whilst entertaining is sure fire winner!

We will be sure to watch a third season from the very beginning if they ever decide to make one!