Recipe: Beer Battered Pemba Bay Kob

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Pemba Bay Kob has quickly become one of my favourite things. Supplied exclusively by a company called Ocean Mile who are based in Germiston in Jozi, the Kob is reared in Mozambique and is ridiculously delicious. (Excuse the pic above – this little guy’s eye was frozen when I took the shot.)

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The fish’s flesh is firm and has a great game flavour to it and can literally be cooked any way. Luckily for me, I visited Ocean Mile last week Friday to see what they were all about and got handed three fat Pemba Bay Kob fillets. What an amazing catch!

Now, the first question on any real foodie’s mind will be “Is it SASSI Green listed?” Well, no, it’s not. (Bear with me here, I am quite passionate about animal welfare.) At the moment, there is no one in Mozambique policing this sort of thing, so Aqua Pemba (who rear the Kob) have taken it upon themselves to meet with the WWF (who control SASSI) and discuss the way forward.

Ocean Mile’s managing director, Ed, showed me something fascinating while I was at their offices. The picture below shows two Dusky Kob’s – both from the same batch of hatchling eggs. The top fish is a Pemba Bay Kob (let’s call him Benjamin) and the bottom one is from another supplier in South Africa. The bottom fish (let’s call him Gary) is listed as ‘green’ by SASSI because it is land-reared in SA. If Ben were reared in SA, he would be listed as ‘orange’ on SASSi’s list because he is sea-reared. Now, without getting into the whole thing too deeply, let me just say that the way these so-called ‘green’ listed Kob are reared is really not great. Gary’s life was shit.

He and his fishy brothers are reared on land in a tank filled to the absolute brim with Kob – so full that they can barely move. They ‘swim’ around in this tank and are unable to grow to their full size because there is not enough space for them to do much of anything. Notice how the Gary’s head is slightly bent upwards? Yup – he couldn’t swim properly and became deformed. You can’t see it in the picture, but his poor fins are all chewed up too. I feel so sorry for them.

Aqua Pemba’s Kob are sea-reared and about a fifth of the amount of Kob are in a tank the same size as the ‘green’ listed Kob. So they have four times more space to swim around in. And guys – it shows. Even a fool could see that.

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Ben was 18 months old when he was harvested. Gary was 2 years old. And literally less than half the size. That speaks volumes for the way Aqua Pemba treat their fish. Animal welfare is a huge thing for them.

I can compare the way Gary was reared to one thing – Rainbow Chicken Farming. It sickens me that SASSI see this as a ‘green’ way of farming. It’s another long, involved story, but they think that sea-farming ruins the ocean. Luckily for Gary and his brothers, Aqua Pemba are getting an expert in to test all of this very soon, so that sea-rearing becomes the ‘green’ way, and Gary’s family can live in the sea and have space to mission…

My point to this whole story is – green is not always the best way to go. Read up on things, guys. Don’t just believe the hype. Ask your supplier about your fish and every product you buy. Poor Gary is being sold to one of SA’s biggest chain stores at the moment – I can tell you right now that Ben tastes 4011 times better and had a happy life.

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Okay, enough information. Let’s get to the food itself. Like I said, Pemba Bay Kob can be cooked any way, because the flesh is so firm, it can withstand anything. But, being slightly hungover and jonesing for crisp, battered fish, I decided to deep-fry Ben. (Shem, sorry Ben. Love you.)

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Firstly, get a pot onto a medium heat and fill about halfway with canola or sunflower oil. Now. Batter. The batter is SO straightforward, it’s actually silly. Chuck a bit of flour into a bowl (about half a cup), a tablespoon or so of cornflour and some salt and pepper. Chop a whole bunch of dill (coriander also works really well) and add it to the dry mix. Crack open an ice-cold beer (I used a Laurentina) and slowly pour it into the dry ingredients, mixing lightly until you get a pancake batter consistency.

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Toss matchbox sized pieces of Pemba Bay Kob into seasoned flour (salt and pepper) and then dunk into the beer batter. I use chopsticks to play around with the fish in the batter and the hot oil. Test the oil out by dropping a small dollop of batter into it – if it starts to sizzle and floats to the top after a few minutes, it’s ready.

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Fry just a few pieces of Pemba Bay Kob in hot oil until the batter is crisp and golden. While the fish is frying, heat a soft tortilla in the microwave (pretty much all I use my microwave for) and pile it high with greens. I used lettuce, coriander and spring onion – mainly because I was too lazy to prep anything else.

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Drain the fried fish, sprinkle with Maldon salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime and then fold into the tortilla. I used a lime and coriander mayonnaise to finish the wrap off. Yoh. Delicious. Combination. And so simple.

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Now I know that not everyone is as luck as me and gets handed over 2kg’s of fish to use over a weekend. Ocean Mile also sells wholesale at the moment, so to get your hands on Pemba Bay Kob, you’ll have to make your way to a restaurant. I know that Coobs in Parkhurst currently have it on their menu.

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For more information on Aqua Pemba, click here. Follow Aqua Pemba on Twitter and Ocean Mile on Twitter and Facebook. Ocean Mile’s website is currently under construction, but will be up and running shortly.

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Recipe: Paleo BLT on Coconut Bread

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Those of you who know me will be a little shocked that I’ve used the word ‘Paleo’ in a blog post. You all know that I love food and I love good food.

So when I signed up for the SleekGeek challenge in the middle of August, I had to start rethinking my food choices a bit. I decided to do the 30 day Reboot Detox which meant no sugar, carbs, booze, grains, dairy or basically anything that tasted great for the next 30 days. Following that I would be doing a further 30 days of the Paleo Low Carb eating plan – which is pretty much the same as the Reboot Detox.

Luckily for me, I am not a big fan of anything sugary and don’t eat many carbs anyway. I could deal with the no booze thing for a while (barring a few special occasions) and grains were also doable. Dairy was going to be my biggest issue. I love milk more than anything. I’m kind of going strong (with a couple of slip-ups here and there) – but so far, so good.

Point on the story is, Paleo. A word I had heard thrown around my social circle quite a bit, but had not really taken in.

Three weeks down the line and I’m loving it. Working for a catering company while on a Paleo eating plan is not exactly ideal (especially when part of my job description is to make sure that the menus I design are up to standard when prepped by the kitchen) – so there have been a few days where I haven’t been completely Paleo, but such is life.

Now, for the recipe. Who doesn’t love a good BLT? Obviously regular bread is not allowed on a Paleo eating plan, so when my cousin found this recipe I was pretty excited.

The original recipe can be found here – I struggled to find almond flour and flax – both which I substituted with coconut flour. The bread is a lot denser when made with the almond flour (which I prefer) but is still delicious using only coconut.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup soaked almond butter (I used macadamia butter)
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup golden flax, ground
  • 1/4 cup almond (or other nut) flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a smallish loaf pan with oil or greaseproof paper (Even Spray ‘ Cook.)
  2. In a large bowl, with a handheld mixer (I used a whisk), blend the first four ingredients.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and blend again.
  4. Pour into the greased loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Run a knife along the edges and remove from pan. Cool completely or eat warm.
  6. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days, in the fridge for 7-10 days or in the freezer for a month or so.

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It’s as simple as cooking a few strips of bacon until they’re super crispy (I do mine in a hot oven) and piling the bread high with crunchy lettuce, juicy tomatoes, bacon and homemade mayonnaise. (I’ll be posting a homemade mayonnaise recipe soon.)

And that’s it! As simple as that and a pretty great substitute for regular bread.

Megs

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Oh, Breakfast.

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Oh, breakfast. How I love you so.

Maybe it has something to do with my indescribable love for eggs, I don’t know – but I could eat breakfast all day, every day. And this particular breakfast is one of my favourites and has so many good memories attached to it.

Tattie scones are a breakfast item that I’m sure not many people know of. Coming from a Scottish heritage, I grew up eating them and absolutely adore them. Basically, they are potato ‘scones’ and so simple to make.

All you need is three ingredients – mashed potato, flour and butter. I use leftover mash from dinner the night before, but you can make a fresh batch if you’re that way inclined. Warm the mash through so it is quite pliable and add flour until it forms a dough. Roll the dough out and cut tatties using a round cutter – any size you want. Don’t make them too thick – roughly the thickness of a flapjack. Or a pound coin.

Fry the tatties in some butter until they are golden. Once fried, they can be frozen and reheated quickly – either in a microwave or oven.

Now, the best part is you can literally put anything on them. My mom has this thing where she scores them with a knife, spreads butter over them until it melts into the cuts and eats them with Bovril. But anything goes – scrambled eggs, bacon, poached eggs, fried eggs, mince. Anything. I love mine with butter and Worcestershire sauce.

Could there be any easier way to enjoy a good brekkie? No.

Megs

(Oh, I used my silly Blackberry to take these photos because my camera battery was dead. Can’t wait to get my iPhone so I can take some decent pics!)

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Saucy!

Salsa Verde

 

I have this friend. This super health conscious, skinny-ass friend who has the most incredible willpower. I’ve never seen anything like it and I have NO idea how she does it. She spent eight months of her life exercising like a maniac and eating all of the right things (no dairy, no carbs, no sugar, no alcohol – nothing) and she looks amazing. Kudos to her. I couldn’t have done it. Not a chance in hell.

The point is, she’s at a healthy weight now and would like to maintain it and possibly lose a few more kilos. She doesn’t need to, but hey, such is life. She has an extremely strict eating plan that she needs to stick to and she sent it to me this morning. Mother. Of. God. The woman can eat nothing. It’s a one page list. Of all of the amazing, tasty things in the world – she gets to eat one page worth.

That’s where I come in. The subject line of the email was: “MAKE MY FOOD INTERESTING, MEG.” In caps, nogal. It’s a cry for help.

The basis of her meals will be grilled protein and vegetables. My idea is to zhoosh each meal up with a fresh, vibrant sauce or salsa – something healthy and super tasty. Here are a few ideas:

 

Tomato and Chilli Salsa

My favourite thing in the world. And so easy to make! Dice two large ripe tomatoes – removed the seeds if you’re in the mood, but I don’t. (I find that after a few hours the juice from the seeds creates a lovely sauce.) Finely chop one red onion, a small green chilli and then smash a clove of garlic and dice finely. Add to the diced tomatoes and dress with a splash of vinegar, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper. Finish off with loads of freshly chopped coriander. Let it sit for at least half an hour before using. The salsa should last for a couple of days in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge.

Chimichurri

There are quite a few variations of this Argentinian herb sauce – the main ingredients being flat-leaf parsley, garlic, fresh oregano, olive oil and seasoning. I like to add a bit of red onion and dried chilli flakes to mine, but it’s up to you.

On a large wooden board, finely chop a small red onion and a few garlic cloves until they’re minced. Add a pile of flat-leaf parsley and a few sprigs of fresh oregano (dried can be substituted if you can’t find fresh) and chop finely using a sharp knife. Add a dash of olive oil, salt, pepper and a pinch of dried chilli flakes. Chop everything together on the board until everything is mixed and fine. Transfer to a bowl and add a splash of red wine vinegar and a little more olive oil.

Salsa Verde

Salsa verde translates to ‘green sauce’ and is a mix of fresh herbs. Similar to the chimichurri, it is made up of parsley, garlic, capers, lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning. Yeah, yeah, I know you hate capers my friend – but try it anyway!  Using the same method, chop all of the ingredients on a large wooden board. Nice additions to a salsa verde are herbs like basil and mint. Add a bit of mustard for a slight kick. If you would prefer a smoother sauce, blend everything in a food processor until fine and runny.

Cauliflower Dip

I love cauliflower. No, I adore cauliflower. I think it has such a subtle flavour and can be used in so many different ways. My idea here is to create a cream-like sauce without using cream.

Clean a few cauliflower florets and add to a small pot. Cook slowly in a small amount of milk until the cauliflower is soft. Using a food processor or stick blender, blend the cauliflower until it is smooth – adding in a touch of milk every now and then. The most amazing thing to add to this would be piles of smelly gorgonzola (while the cauliflower is still warm) but that’s not very health conscious. So again, fresh herbs will do the trick. Or thinly sliced spring onions and lemon zest. Or just tons of cracked black pepper. Or roasted garlic. This one is more of a dip than a sauce, but it can be used in other ways. Check out my Cauliflower Carbonara recipe here.

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The next best way to get flavour into any dish is to use a spice rub. I would make my own, but who needs to when there are products like NoMU around?? They have a wide range of spice rubs to compliment anything and everything, and I’m addicted. My favourite is their Mexican rub and I use it to make the most simple and delicious calamari dish. Recipe here. (I think she’ll like this one.)

Those are just a few ideas I had for now. I also came across this recipe that my friend Sam posted on her own blog Drizzle and Dip this morning. It sounds amazing!

I hope this helped, Just.

Megs

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We’ve been bad…

Wow.

It has been nearly three months since I’ve blogged. I’m sorry guys – life is just super crazy hectic mad at the moment.

I have so many recipes, reviews and ideas that I need to post and promise I will get to them all as soon as possible.

There are a few wonderful restaurants that I need to write about – Coobs in Parkhurst and El Burro in Greenpoint for a start. Fantastic places with phenomenal food and great service.

Then I have a few lovely new products that I’m dying to tell you about. Again, the incredible El Burro’s range of chilli sauces. Black garlic. Strawberry daiquiri mixes. (Yes.)

New hot spots in Jozi, so many of them! Stanley Beer Yard. Three Marys.

Events coming up, and past events. Jozi Craft Beer Fest on the 4th of May.

SO MUCH TO TELL YOU ALL!

Coming soon…

Megs

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Quick and Easy Meals (Part Four)

Noodles

This is going to be a quick one.

While watching River Cottage the other day (genius, genius, genius) I ‘stumbled’ across this ingenious idea for work lunch. Homemade Pot Noodles. The concept is simple – add dried egg noodles to a  heatproof jar (I am using a Console jar), add a few cool ingredients and some hot water, and you have a meal. A meal that is synonymous with being quick and easy, but not laden with MSG and disgusting dehydrated vegetables.

Here’s what I added to mine:

  • Egg noodles
  • Sliced chourizo
  • Sliced spring onion
  • Vegetable stock (For flavour – otherwise the noodles are bland)
  • Thinly sliced spinach
  • Kalamata olives
  • Sliced chilli
  • Tomato paste (Homemade)

It goes without saying that the tomato paste needs to be kept separate to everything else until you add the hot water – unless you want soggy noodles. Gross. So do all of this the night before and just grab the jar from the fridge when you’re leaving for work. Once lunch time finally comes around – add some hot water to the jar and allow to sit for about five minutes, stirring all of the ingredients in.

You can literally go wild with flavour combinations – go Asian (wafer thin carrot slices, freshly grated ginger, smashed lemongrass, chilli, bean sprouts, spring onion, coriander, chicken stock), go Mediterranean (couscous instead of noodles, roasted butternut, feta, vegetable stock, basil), go Indian (shredded Tikka chicken, coriander, tomato paste, chicken stock) – try everything and anything and see which flavour you like best.

This is really one recipe worth trying out – especially if you’re a lazy cook. You could bottle up your lunch for the week and just grab a different flavour every morning before you’re out the door. Not that I suggest eating noodles every day – but some people can get away with crazy stuff like that.

Give it a shot…

Megs

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Quick and Easy Meals (Part Three)

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been three weeks since my last blog post.

So, it’s January. Which means pretty much everyone (myself included) is on some sort of detox and desperately trying to lose  Christmas weight. I have been on a serious health kick for the past month or so and wanted to share a few quick and easy recipes that don’t make you feel like you’re ‘deprived’ of delicious food.

Banana and Peanut Butter Smoothie

Hell, but I am a slut for a good smoothie, and this one is just decadent. Firstly – freeze a few bananas. That’s the trick to a good smoothie – frozen fruit. Blend one frozen banana with a small tub of plain yoghurt, a big spoon of peanut butter, a splash of milk and two tablespoons of the Jungle Oats ‘Oat Fibre’. The oat fibre isn’t completely necessary, but I like that it bulks everything up a bit. Add a bit of honey for extra sweetness (if you would like) and drink immediately. This smoothie is filling enough to replace a meal and is a great breakfast idea.

Breakfast for Dinner

New rule in my house – have breakfast for dinner once a week. I love breakfast more than anything – crispy bacon, soft egg, juicy pork sausages. Phwoar. Just thinking about breakfast makes me drool a little.

Breakfast for dinner is usually a quick fix for me – if I get home late from work, or am just not in the mood to cook I’ll scramble a few eggs, fry a bit of bacon and tomato and voila! Dinner! It is also a great protein kick which is something I need every now and then. If I’m feeling more indulgent, I may make something a little more zhoosh, like this:

Courgette, Corn & Chilli Fritter with Poached Egg

In a bowl, mix about half a cup of corn (frozen is fine) with three grated courgettes, a finely chopped chilli and some spring onion. Add about two tablespoons of flour, half a teaspoon of baking powder and a dash of milk. Maldon salt (always) and cracked black pepper. Usually with a fritter batter an egg would be added – but it’s not entirely necessary with this. The ‘batter’ should be sticky and thick – try to use as little flour as possible and make it more about the veggies. The flour should just bind the ingredients together.

Now, bacon. I’ve gone over how bacon should be cooked in this blog post – follow those rules. Get a small pot of water on the stove, add a dash of white vinegar and bring to a gentle simmer. Then, get a frying pan quite hot, add a splash of olive oil and drop in the fritter batter. I like my fritters quite thin because they cook quickly, but you can make it as thick as you would like. Allow it to brown on the bottom before flipping it and browning the top. Make sure that the pan is not too hot – you don’t want a burn fritter with a gooey centre.

Poached eggs. Bloody delicious and easier to make than you think. Once the bacon is near cooked and the fritter is nearly ready, crack an egg into a small bowl. Create a ‘whirlwind’ in the simmering pot of water and slowly drop the egg in. With a spoon push the egg white over the top of the yolk and cook for about two minutes – depending on the size of your egg. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Assemble the fritter by adding a few slices of the bacon and topping with a poached egg. Fresh herbs are always a winner too. BEST.

Tips

The egg needs to be extremely fresh in order for it to poach properly and not just fall apart in the water.

Don’t add too much vinegar to the poaching water – that will also break up the egg and give it that siff vinegar flavour.

Grated courgette is amazing and adds a different texture to dishes, rather than chopped courgette.

If your fritter is quite thick, I would suggest you finish it off in the oven.

Cauliflower Carbonara

Another one of my favourite dishes – Carbonara. So creamy, so decadent, so rich. Yum. Also – so not a friend to your health.

I have a new found love for cauliflower these days. The texture is divine whether you roast it, puree it or just steam it. The flavour is extremely mellow and goes with everything. It lends itself to big flavours too – just imagine a perfectly cooked rib-eye with cauliflower puree and Gorgonzola. Heaven! So when I found myself staring into my fridge the other day desperate for a delicious yet healthy meal, I decided on something cauliflower based. The I spotted the bacon and the rest was history.

Okay, so pasta is not the best thing for your health – but I try to make my own as often as I can and somehow feel that this makes it kind of healthy. Not that I eat pasta all that often, but still. Here’s a great pasta recipe to use. The rest of the prep was so easy that it is actually laughable.

Clean a few cauliflower florets (a handful did fine for my small bowl of pasta) and cook them gently in a small pot with a touch of milk and some salt. Once the florets are soft, puree them in a jug with a handheld blender (or an actual blender if you are making a larger quantity) – add the milk that the cauliflower was cooked in, a little at a time until the mix is smooth and lump-free. Essentially it should look like baby food. Season with Maldon salt and white pepper.

Cook a few strips of bacon (you should have this down pat by now) and get some pasta on the boil. If it’s fresh pasta it will only take a few minutes – if not, it will take longer. But no stress on the timing factor – the dish is really easy to put together. Obviously.

Once the pasta is cooked, add the cauliflower puree and heat it through in a pan. Add the crispy bacon and loads of black pepper. And that’s it. Seriously.

Tips

Add a dash of cream to the dish if you want a little more decadence. It’s really, really not necessary though.

Mexican Squid with Tomato Salsa

Yoh, yoh, yoh. This is my new favourite dish and it literally takes five minutes to make.

First things first – you have got to get your hands on the NoMU Mexican Rub. This stuff is insanely flavourful and I cannot live without it. Secondly – fresh squid. Find a good Fishmonger in your hood: Jozi – Fisherman’s Deli, Dunkeld. Cape Town – Ocean Jewels, Woodstock. Build a relationship with all of your suppliers and reap the rewards of freshly caught fish, interesting cuts of meat and gorgeous vegetables. It’s worth the extra smile, believe me.

This is one seriously healthy meal and I find myself eating it once a week. Make a fresh tomato salsa – recipe here – and allow it to sit in the fridge for half an hour or so. Dust the squid (heads and tubes preferably) in the NoMU rub. Get a non-stick frying pan really hot, add a little olive oil, and then toss in the squid heads and tubes. Fry for literally a minute or two, season with Maldon salt and serve with a big dollop of salsa.

And that’s it!

Megs

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Foodie Resolutions

Eating-LocallyI’m sure we all make resolutions as each new year comes around – ‘drink less’, ‘exercise more’, ‘be happier’, ‘pay off my credit card’ (which I totally did in December – that was one resolution I actually stuck to!) etc. etc. But I’m sure not many of us will focus on one aspect of our lives and form resolutions based around it. I’m making your life easier by sharing my Foodie Resolutions with you – some I already follow and some are new.

So this year I suggest we all do the following:

  1. Eat More Local Produce. My God, we are surrounded by some of the most incredible locally grown ingredients yet we spend our time seeking out imported goodies. Why?! Some of you may even be buying imported without realising it – check the labels guys. Local ingredients are cheaper and reduce your carbon footprint too. There are a few suppliers that deliver free-range/organic produce right to your door. Cape Town – try Wild Organics. Jozi, give Organic Emporium a go. I also love Monaghan Farm’s produce, but they are a little way outside of Jozi and I don’t think they do home deliveries.
  2. Eat Seasonally. This should be a no-brainer. Products that are out of season don’t taste as good as they should and they cost more. Get to know which fruit and veg are in season and you will thank me. If you’re buying avo in summer, you’re buying imported avos AND they taste pretty shitty, right? Right. They’re out of season, that’s why. Food & Home usually outline seasonal fruits and veggies in their mag each month – get to know what’s good when.
  3. Grow Your Own. I must admit that I do not have green fingers at all. I somehow manage to kill everything that I grow in my little garden, but I still try. With the help of my cousin, I planted a little veggie garden a few months ago and most of the veg and herbs are still alive – lettuce, basil, coriander, spinach and rocket. There is no better feeling than eating something you’ve grown yourself. Plus, it’s cheaper. My goal is to one day have a big veggie garden in my backyard. One that flourishes, a la Matt Allison. The man is a genius.
  4. Buy Free Range or Organic. Okay, I know this is sometimes easier said than done. But this is a really, really important one. The way most animals are treated before they get to our plates is absolutely atrocious – if most of you could see this, you would never eat that meat again. Believe me. The more people who buy free range or organic meat, the better. Capetonians are rather lucky as they have Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants who not only sell free range or organic produce, but they believe in head-to-toe eating. Nothing goes to waste…I’m dying to try out the pork cheeks. Jozi, I suggest you head out to Braeside Butchery in Parkhurst.
  5. Follow the SASSI List. This is an easy one to follow. Don’t eat any of the fish on the red list and try to stick to the green list as much as possible. Here’s the list.
  6. Stop Eating Junk. The fact that we’re stuffing our faces with cheap convenience food is the exact reason these animals are being treated the way they are. Producers need to keep up with the demand. STOP EATING SHIT. We all have our vices, that’s for sure (God damn Wimpy hashbrowns) but we need to slow down. Dramatically. Make your junk food at home – I’ll blog a few recipes for you soon. You will definitely feel much better about yourself.
  7. Make it Yourself. Homemade is always better, don’t you agree? I want to concentrate on making more myself this year – pastes, stocks, pastas and so on.
  8. Drink More Water. And not bottled water. Again, I get that sometimes we can’t help ourselves, but the fact that we have some of the cleanest tap water in the wolrd should motivate us all to drink it. I keep a few big glass bottles in my fridge that I fill with tap water. Everything tastes better out of glass.
  9. Eat Less Sugar. I don’t put sugar in anything unless a recipe calls for it. That little white grain is so bad for you, wow. Don’t even get me started on artificial sweeteners – they will deteriorate your body quicker than a daily KFC meal will. Sies. Use honey or natural sugars if you must.
  10. Be More Green. Reduce, reuse, recycle. I’m committing myself to this one – different bins for plastic, paper, glass and a compost bin somewhere in my kitchen.
  11. Eat More. Eat Less. Eat more vegetables, protein, fresh fish and fibre. Eat less dairy (dairy is my favourite, but it makes me so sneezy) and ‘bad’ fats.

That’s all I can think of for now. What are your foodie resolutions?

Megs

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Product Review: Kelly’s Revenge

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I have quite an addictive personality, which is not  a great thing at times. But when it comes to Kelly’s Revenge there is no option but to be addicted.

I first met Kelly over a year ago when we started selling our goodies at Market on Main in the CBD. Besides being absolutely crazy (a trait that most of us ‘foodies’ seem to have) she is one of the most genuine people I have ever met and I love her to bits. If you want to know more about Kelly and how she started Kelly’s Revenge then read this article.

Here’s my opinion on Kelly’s chilli –  this stuff is incredible. I eat it on everything. Kelly somehow managed to get the perfect amount of heat alongside tangy ginger, sweet garlic and tart lemon. It’s not too hot, but it’s not wimpy either – Kelly’s Revenge definitely packs a punch. At around R50 for a bottle it’s a bargain – homemade items that are consistently good are hard to come by but Kelly hits the nail on the head with every batch.

There really is nothing more to say – go out and buy a bottle now. (I currently have four in my fridge.)

You won’t regret it.

Megs

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Quick and Easy Meals (Part Two)

This week let’s focus on salads. It is summer after all and most of you are frantically trying to get into shape before spending your time at some fabulous holiday destination.So here goes…

Chickpea and Basil Pesto Salad

Chickpeas are naturally low in fat and full of zinc and protein. This is good news for all of the vegetarians/vegans out there. Drain a can of chickpeas and rinse them under some cold water. In a bowl, season the chickpeas with salt and pepper and add a big spoon of homemade basil pesto (we’ll get to this recipe). And then go crazy with whatever ingredients you have lying around. One of my favourites (so good I even put it onto Higher Ground’s new summer menu) is smoked salmon, red onion, feta and avocado. Another goodie – smoked chicken, rocket and slow roasted Rosa tomatoes. Or kalamata olives, cucumber, spring onion and Parmesan. It doesn’t even have to be basil pesto – as long as you flavour the chickpeas well with something – even a little lemon zest will do.

Bang Bang Chicken Salad

This is the best salad ever. THE BEST. First you need to make a marinade using soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, honey, chilli, ginger, garlic and lemon juice. Split the sauce into two bowls and marinate sliced chicken breast in one of the sauce bowls. Thinly slice the following ingredients – green cabbage, spring onion, carrot and cucumber – and add mung bean sprouts, whole leaves of mint and coriander to the mix. The chicken should marinate for about an hour – fry it in a little oil until it’s sticky and perfectly cooked. Dress the cabbage mixture with a few spoons of the leftover marinade and toss everything together with the chicken. Top with salted roasted peanuts (crushed slightly) and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Tips

The dressing/marinade needs to have that perfect balance of salty, sweet, hot and sour. Taste it before you use it.

Please stop using that crushed ‘garlic’ that you buy in stores – that stuff is actually turnip, flavoured with garlic oil. Either by freshly crushed garlic (you can see the difference in colour) from Spar or Woolies, or crush your own cloves.

To get thinly sliced carrot either just grate it (after you have peeled it) or using a vegetable peeler, run it up and down the carrot back and forth to get really thin shavings.

If you’re not eating the salad straight away be sure to remove the soft seeds of the cucumber. If they sit for too long they’ll just make everything mushy.

The cabbage, carrot, coriander and mint mixture will keep for a few days in the fridge as long as it has no dressing on it. Cucumber and mung beans tend to go off quite quickly so add these just before you use them.

Butternut and Boursin Salad

If you have never had Boursin cheese then your life is not complete. There are really no words to describe this rich, soft, garlic and herb cheese – you just have to taste it and you’ll know what I mean. To start – roast cubes of butternut in an oven with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme for around 40 minutes on about 180 degrees. You can either buy the packets of prepared butternut or just dice up a whole one – I love the skin on a butternut when it has been roasted, so for me that’s preferable.

Let the butternut cool slightly and crumble the Boursin cheese into it, mixing it carefully. Add a big handful of wild rocket to the salad and enjoy. Couldn’t be easier.

Tips

If you do this when the butternut is too hot the cheese will just melt – so be patient.

Boursin cheese is quite pricey and sometimes a little elusive. If you can’t find it just mix garlic and your favourite herbs (finely chopped) into cream cheese.

Sweet Potato and Coriander Salad

Toss cubes of sweet potato in a sprinkling of turmeric, salt, pepper and some olive oil. Roast in a 180 degree oven for around 40 minutes or until the sweet potato is cooked through. Let it warm slightly and then mix with sweet chilli sauce and chopped coriander. It sounds odd, I know, but it works. And it works WELL.

Tips

Turmeric is extremely bitter so use it sparingly.

It will also stain your fingers and clothes bright yellow so be careful when using it.

This salad is delicious served warm or cold.

Spinach and Bacon Salad

Spinach and bacon salad reminds me of my childhood. My folks used to entertain a lot and my Auntie Debbie would always make this when they came over for a braai. I’m sure all of you have had it at some stage, but here’s a recap anyway.

You can use any type of spinach as long as it is washed and dried properly and cut into manageable pieces. Add crispy fried bacon bits to the spinach, along with thinly sliced red onion and avocado. Make a simple dressing using lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper.

Tips

There is only one way to cook bacon – I wrote it about it in this recipe.

Avocado isn’t always in season and I don’t encourage using anything that is out of season – the price usually doubles and the taste is below average. Replace the avo with feta in the summer months.

The rules for making any vinaigrette is to follow the 3 to 1 ratio – 3 parts of oil to 1 part of whichever acid you go for. I prefer to make this dressing with olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Whisk until it emulsifies – the mustard will help with this.

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And that’s that. Five simple and super yummy salads that can be eaten as a meal or used as side dishes for any meal.

Megs

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