Poached Pears in Red Wine

Poached pears are a lovely light dessert for spring and summer – red wine results in a glorious colour and they taste delicious – nothing like the canned variety you buy – and it’s so easy. The only real work involved is peeling the pears. I made poached pears for a friend’s recent party and the guests recalled memories of childhood when their granny used to do this. I realised that in our modern world we are depriving the next generation of many of the simple food pleasures of life. So here it is – a simple version of pears in red wine that you can introduce and share with your family and friends. This keeps in the fridge for a a few days. If you want to get a little more specialised you can add a vanilla bean and whole aniseed stars. 

Serves 6-8.

12 firm pears – its best if they are not yet ripe
2 cinnamon sticks
lemon zest strips from half a lemon or orange
1.5 cups sugar
3 cups red wine (one bottle)
1 cup water
2 vanilla beans, optional
3 aniseed stars, optional

  1. Peel pears with a potato peeler, leaving them whole with the stalk attached. Remove the eye at the bottom.
  2. Put all ingredients except pears into a pot with a 27cm (11inch) diameter.  Heat gently until sugar is dissolved and syrup boils. Boil for 1 minute.
  3. Add peeled pears, trying to submerge them in the syrup as much as possible. I lie them on their side. Bring back to the boil and poach gently for about 20minutes. Turn pears over so that other side is submerged in the syrup and poach a further 20 minutes.
  4. I then leave the pears in the syrup overnight turning after a few hours so that they can absorb the deep red colour of the wine. This is of course optional but it does look good.
  5. Remove pears and place in a wide white bowl. Boil syrup rapidly till it thickens to a coating consistency. Pour syrup over pears. Cool.
  6. Serve cold with creme fraiche, yoghurt or whipped cream.
  7. Yum.

Rubes Fruit Cake for Christmas or a Wedding

RubyChristmas is almost upon us and time to start thinking about getting those christmas cakes going. Ruby is renowned for her baking and here she shares her spectacular fruit cake recipe which is equally good for christmas or your wedding. Ruby says “Gladioli Botha,  an International Sugar Artist Judge, won first prize on the Rand Royal Show and many other shows for this Christmas Cake year after year.  I belonged to a cake decorating club called Sugar Craft for many years and Gladioli Botha was our President and and my mentor – she shared her fabulous recipe with me. I used this as a base for the wedding cakes I baked and decorated  in my wonderful little business in Johannesburg where I lived for 25 years.  I have made this cake for at least 150 brides. So here we go.”

Prepare tins
You need two tins, 8 inch square
Line each tin with a double layer of foil, shiny side to the inside.
Spread with butter.

Ingredients
4 1/2lbs of mixed fruit: raisins, sultanas, currants, candied peel(optional-I don’t use, some people don’t like it)*
1 lb dates, finely chopped *
1 1/2 lbs butter *
1 1/2 lbs brown sugar *
1/2 lb pecans
1/2 lb glazed fruit
1 lb fresh cherries,halved and pips removed

12 eggs, extra large
2 lbs cake flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
]1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon ginger
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons bi carb

2 cups brandy
1 cup masala

Method

  1. Boil together  all ingredients marked with * with 2 cups water and 1 cup brandy for 15 minutes.
  2. Turn into a large bowl and add 2 teaspoons bi carb and stir. Leave to cool completely.
  3. Cut pecans, chop glazed fruit, wash cherries, which have been halved, and add to cooled mixture.
  4. Sift dry ingredients and add to mixture alternating with the eggs which have been beaten.
  5. Fill tins 2/3rds full. Wet hands with water and pat the top of the mixture until even – it will look sort of milky.
  6. NOW HERE IS THE TRICK. Put both tins into a cooking bag (roasting bag) and tie with string.
  7. Bake at 130 deg C for about 3 hours – 8″ square or 4 – 41/2 hours for a round tin
  8. You can smell when it is cooked. Not sure – stick a  skewer into it and if it comes out clean its cooked.
  9. Take out the oven and pour remaining 1 cup brandy and 1 cup masala over the cakes whilst still in the cake tin. Put them back into the roasting bags and cover them with a blanket and allow them to cool completely (18 hours).
  10. Decorate if you are an artist or eat as is.
  11. Thank you, Ruby.

Low Calorie/ High GI Carrot and Apple Salad

This salad originated in the High Rustenburg Health Hydro and is packed with low calorie/high GI ingredients. The sweetness of the fruit makes it delicious with any spicy food. It’s also a great addition to take along to a barbecue – no one else will have anything like it, children love it, and it’s delicious with sausages. Of course it’s also ideal for a ladies luncheon along with poached chicken or fish. Enjoy.

Serves 8.

4 carrots
2 bananas
2 apples
4 stalks celery
2 cups thinly shredded iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup yoghurt
1 Tablespoon honey
3 Tablespoons lemon juice

  1. Grate apples, carrots and celery. Using the grate attachment on a food processor makes short work of this.
  2. Place in a large flat salad bowl or platter. Mix in sliced bananas. Toss with lemon juice until mixture is well coated to prevent the apples and bananas going brown. Mix in lettuce.
  3. Add honey to yoghurt. Drizzle over salad to taste. Toss and serve.
  4. This salad does not keep well. Eat immediately.

Lentil, Smoked Salmon and Preserved Lemon Salad

A lovely light lunch for warm spring days, a starter for dinner or even a side salad with chicken or fish. This is easy and quick to throw together so add to your standard repertoire. You may want to take a page out of my daughter, Bianca’s, book and make your own smoked salmon. Here is the link to her blog outlining how to do this.

Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as a side salad.

1 cup green puy lentils, boiled till tender
1/2 preserved lemon, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley
3 Tablespoons finely chopped mint
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 handfuls baby rocket
125g(4oz) smoked salmon, finely sliced
lemon juice & olive oil to dress

  1. Mix drained lentils with salt and pepper and remaining ingredients excluding salmon in a large bowl.
  2. Toss everything together and dress to taste with lemon juice and olive oil.
  3. Serve as a side salad or add finely sliced salmon for a light lunch.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Birthdays were always special times. We usually had glorious parties at home after weeks of planning. Bianca’s parties tended to feature a swimming or Halloween theme. Sven’s parties usually involved some type of sporting theme.

This is one of those everyday plain chocolate cakes that everyone loves. We used it baked in a lamington tin covered with smarties to take to school to celebrate birthdays as well as at the birthday party. It was extra special cause we only had it when someone was having a birthday cause I always suspected that chocolate wasn’t real good for you and stayed away from anything chocolate most of the time.

300g (440g) butter, cut into small cubes
200g (300g) flour
250g (400g) sugar
40g (60g) cocoa
4 (6) eggs
100ml (150ml) water
2t (3t) baking powder

  1. Heat oven to 170°C or 325°F.
  2. Butter and flour a 23cm diameter baking tin (20cmx30cm lamington tin).
  3. Place all ingredients in food processor.
  4. Process for 10 seconds.
  5. Scrape ingredients down and process for another 10 seconds.
  6. Place in baking tin and bake for about 45-50minutes until knitting needle or skewer comes out clean.
  7. Cover with chocolate icing and decorate.

Note: Quantities in brackets can be used to make the larger lamington sized cake

Chocolate IcingSvenTwo46
40g cocoa
60g butter
250g icing sugar
1 Tablespoon boiling water

  1. Process in food processor till well mixed.
  2. Spread top and sides of cake with icing immediately. It will set if not used immediately.

Liz’s Beef and Vegetable Soup for the Last of the Cooler Days

The days are warm already this year with the garden thinking that spring has arrived. However, the nights are still cool – time to enjoy my hearty homemade soup one last time before the warm spring evenings are upon us. This recipe is cobbled together from watching my mother and grandmother making soups with leftovers from the pantry and the fridge. It tastes wholesome with friends and neighbours always asking for some – it’s one of those dishes that never finishes as each day you add a little more water to top up what you ate the previous day !!!

Serves 8.

2 pieces veal osso buco
1 cup dried Italian Soup mix – you want the mixed beans and lentils with no barley
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
3 sticks celery, sliced
3 large carrots, sliced
3 medium desiree or kestrel potatoes, peeled and sliced
mixed herbs – whatever you can find; Bay leaves, Rosemary, parsley stalks, thyme, and the light green celery leaves from the heart of the bunch of celery
1/4 cabbage, shredded
800g(2lb) can diced tomatoes
2 Beef stock cubes
4 cups water
miscellaneous vegetables from fridge to add at the end; I like sliced zuchinni and green beans

  1. Brown the Osso Buco in a little olive oil and butter in a large pot; Remove.
  2. Now saute the onions and garlic. When soft add the herbs to bloom – sautéing in oil releases far more flavour than adding the herbs to the liquid at the end.
  3. Add celery and carrots and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Now add the soup mix, beef stock cubes, canned tomatoes, water and the browned so buck. Bring to the boil. Turn to a low simmer. Simmer for 60 minutes.
  5. After 60 minutes, add the potatoes and shredded cabbage. Continue cooking for another 60 to 90minutes until the soup mix is cooked.
  6. Remove the osso buco. Add marrow from bones to the soup. Remove fat from the meat and shred it. Return shredded meat to the pot. The soup should be thick but if u think it needs more liquid add some now – add half cup water at a time so that you don’t end up diluting soup too much. Bring back to boil. Taste and add seasoning as required.  It is best left for a day at this stage to improve flavour but of course can be eaten immediately.
  7. Just before serving add miscellaneous vegetables on hand; Green Beans, sliced zucchini, etc and heat. Boil for no more than one minute to keep vegetables crunchy.
  8. This soup can keep for up to a week if you reheat it every day. Reheat slowly so as not to burn. Add additional water if it gets to thick BUT add water when soup is hot. The soup thins up as it heats so you cannot be sure how much water is required.
  9. Enjoy with crusty bread.

Jeanette shares her Bean and Avocado Dip

Jeanette is a neighbour from Northbridge that makes this mean dip with a ‘mexican’ twist ideal for any barbecue or party. It’s large, made with wonderful ingredients like avocado, sour cream and kidney beans, and so easy to put together – ideal for a crowd. Thank you Jeanette.

Serves 10-12.

Layer the following:

  • 1 tin red Kidney beans, well mashed
  • 3 avocados mashed with lemon juice, garlic and pepper
  • carton sour cream mixed with 1/2 pkt taco sauce
  • Top with 2 finely chopped tomatoes and half a bunch of chives

Serve with lebanese bread, corn chips or water biscuits.

Pumpkin, Spanish Onion and Rocket Salad

Rocket adds a sharpness to the sweetness of the roast pumpkin and onions whilst the beans or asparagus add texture. The feta adds creaminess and the walnuts are a lovely surprise.  This salad works well with a Barbecue or any grilled meat – no additional accompaniments required.

Serves 6-8.

1.2kg/2.5lbs Butternut or Pumpkin, peeled and cut into 5cm/2 inch chunks
3 spanish/red onions cut into quarters
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bunch asparagus or 200g topped and tailed baby green beans
1 bunch rocket, trimmed and washed
100g/6oz Danish fetta
1/2 cup halved walnuts or pine nuts
Balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/425F.
  2. Place pumpkin and onions in a large bowl. Sprinkle over chopped garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lots of Maldon salt and ground pepper. Toss well.
  3. Arrange in a single layer on a large baking pan lined with baking paper. Roast 20 to 25 minutes until tender, turning once.
  4. Blanch asparagus or green beans.
  5. Layer rocket in a large shallow bowl or serving platter. Top with asparagus or green beans. Add pumpkin and onions ensuring an even spread. Top with crumbled feta. Drizzle with balsamic and olive oil – only a LITTLE. Sprinkle walnuts over the top.
  6. Serve – this keeps well for the next day if you omit drizzling balsamic and olive or only use a very small amount.

Debra shares the Girls’ Buttermilk Brownies

My cousin, Debra, is my Uncle Wim’s only daughter. She lives in Port Elizabeth and has three beautiful daughters. Here she writes …. “my daughter, Diane’s friend, Jenny van Heerden,  gave this recipe to her when they were in primary school. During my three daughters’ teenage years they snagged many a boyfriend with this Buttermilk Brownies recipe!!”

Serves 6-8.

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup water
½ cup butter
½ cup sunflower oil
¼ cup cocoa
2 eggs,beaten till frothy
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ cup buttermilk

  1. Place sugar and flour in a large bowl and stir with wooden spoon.
  2. Place water, butter, sunflower oil and cocoa in pot and stir over moderate heat until butter melts.
  3. Add the wet ingredients from the pot to the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix until smooth.
  4. Beat eggs with vanilla essence, bicarb and buttermilk and add to mixture. Mix well.
  5. Pour into a greased large (fairly deep) baking tray.
  6. Bake at 180 degrees C for approximately 20 minutes or until top springs back when touched.

ICING:
¼ cup butter
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 ½ tablespoons buttermilk
¼ teaspoon vanilla essence
250g of sifted icing sugar.

  1. Place butter and cocoa in a small pot and stir at moderate heat, until butter melts and mixture is smooth.
  2. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until icing is smooth and shiny.
  3. Pour over warm brownies.
  4. Once cool cut into squares.

mmmm – delicious with vanilla ice cream.

Portobello Mushrooms with Feta

Portobello mushrooms are meaty and dressed with feta and this herb and chilli dressing they are ideal as a starter or an accompaniment to a steak or any grilled meat.  Comments I have received on serving these are … “this is better than anything I have had in a restaurant”.  There you go – worthwhile compliment for a few minutes work.

Serves 4.

4 large portobello or large brown mushrooms, stalks removed
75g/3ozs Danish feta
1 long red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon chives, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

  1. Preheat barbecue or chargrill to high.
  2. Whisk olive oil, lemon, garlic, herbs, and chilli in a small bowl.
  3. Brush both sides of mushrooms with a little oil. Barbecue or girl for 1-2 minutes on each side until mushrooms are heated through.
  4. Place each mushroom on an individual plate. Top with crumbled feta. Drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.

Goulash Soup for those Cold Winter Nights

A hearty and delicious soup for even the diehard anti-soup individual. As a child my son, Sven, refused to eat soup – it was all those vegetables he abhorred. One day I found this meat based soup to convert him. It’s seriously good – try it. If you’re wanting a few more vegetables add cubed carrots at the same time as the potatoes. This soup does NOT freeze well.

Serves 6 as a meal.

1kg(2lbs) gravy beef or blade steak, trimmed and cut into 1cm(1/2 inch) cubes
2 Tablespoons paprika + 2Tablespoons extra
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 Tablespoons plain flour
1 cup dry red wine
3 onions, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2x400g (1lb) cans tomatoes
60g butter
4 cups beef stock
4 medium potatoes, cubed
1 cup sour cream or plain yoghurt
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley

  1. Marinade beef cubes in 2 tablespoons of the paprika and wine in the fridge overnight.
  2. Heat butter in large saucepan, add onions, garlic, caraway seeds and additional 2 tablespoons paprika and salute until onions are soft.
  3. Add beef. Cook stirring for 5 minutes. Then add undrained crushed tomatoes and beef stock. Mix well. Bring to the boil. Reduce temperature and simmer for an hour.
  4. Add cubed potatoes and cook a further 30 minutes or until potatoes are cooked and meat is soft.
  5. Just before serving blend flour into sour cream or yoghurt, and stir into soup. Cook around 5minutes till soup has thickened.
  6. Servie sprinkled with parsley. Yum.

 

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