Category Archives: Vegetarian

Apricot and vanilla jam

Apricot Jam

Apricot Jam

I found some apricots at our Food Lover’s market yesterday and bought two boxes.  One of the boxes are reserved for my children’s fibre and vitamin intake, the other I decided to transform into Apricot Jam to capture a bit of Summer for when the season turns again.  I added some vanilla just for fun and a little bit of (like one of our local heroines from our local TV soap-drama would say) Je ne sais quoi.  I don’t speak French but I have gathered that it must be something good…

 Apricot and Vanilla Jam

Apricot and Vanilla Jam

I was  intimidated for a long time by the thought of bottling and preserving and have had my fair share of overcooked, very sticky preserves until a friend of mine showed me what the exact consistency of preserves  should be before bottling  (Thank you Mariana!).  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it is not necessary to cook the fruit for hours without end.  Stick to the recommended half an hour and you will end up with a beautiful clear jam with just the right consistency and a pretty sunshiny orange colour.  Do a quick test by cooling a small plate in your fridge, drop a teaspoon of the jam on the plate and let it cool for 2-3 minutes.  When you push your finger in the preserve it must make little ripples, then it is ready to bottle.  (But mostly stick to the time limit of 30 minutes).  Oh yes, and do remember to sterilize your jars, you don’t want a jam explosion in your pantry cupboard or even worse end up with food-poisoning in hospital. 🙂

 Apricot and Vanilla Jam

Apricot and Vanilla Jam

So if you currently have an oversupply of apricots gather your empty bottles and cook some preserve.  I filled about ten small jam jars and will be giving some of them out to fiends and family that pass through my house this festive season!  So HO-HO-HO!

Ingredients:

  • 2 kg of apricots
  • 2 kg of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 vanilla pod (seeds scraped out)
  • 2 t of vanilla extract
Method:
  1. Place apricots, sugar, water, vanilla-seeds, vanilla-pod and the vanilla essence all in a big pot.
  2. Heat all together gently on a medium heat and stir continuously to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil. (Brace yourself, as this can be time-consuming)
  3. Start timing half an hour, the moment the mixture comes to a boil.
  4. Scoop the foam of the the surface throughout the whole cooking process.  Don’t be alarmed if some of the liquid is scooped out as well.
  5. After the 30 minutes have lapsed, do a ripple test (See above)
  6. Place the jam into sterilized jars (Google if you are not sure!) seal and turn jars upside down until cool.
Apricot and Vanilla Jam

Apricot and Vanilla Jam

Beautiful Blogger Award reality blog award

Oh yes, and last but not least, I want to say many thanks to Loving Home Made as well as Lovely Buns  for nominating me for the Beautiful Blogger- and the Reality Award.  If you have not run across their blogs yet, go and have a peek.  They are cooking!

Roasted Vegetables under Phyllo Pastry

Roast veg under Filo

Roast veg under phyllo

 My dearest baby sister is currently dating a very descent guy.  So what on earth would this have to do with the not so skinny cook I hear you say.  Well naturally one doesn’t want to look like a complete hill billy when being introduced to who might be your new brother-in-law.  So I invited the lovely couple over for a Sunday lunch.  Although I made all sorts of traditional Sunday foods like roast chicken and potatoes I also included this as a side dish….  I am however quite sure that this would also suffice as a light lunch when served with a green salad.

Roast veg under Filo

Roast veg under Phyllo

The roses are made by shaping sheets of phyllo into roses , don’t worry it is much easier than it looks and will impress your guests endlessly.  Phyllo is quite easy to work with as long as it is brought to room temperature beforehand.  I used olive oil in a spray bottle between the sheets of phyllo thus creating a more healthy version, lower in fat and calories, than when you use butter.  The phyllo was still delish and beautifully brown, and no-one missed the butter.

oast veg under phyllo

Roast veg under Phyllo

This can be prepared a day in advanced, just don’t bake once the phyllo roses has been placed on.  Place into your refrigerator and cover loosely with foil to prevent drying out and spoiling.  Bake 1/2 an hour before lunch in a pre-heated oven of 180° c.

Roast veg under Phyllo

Roast veg under Phyllo

So here is how you go about to create this showstopper:

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of frozen phyllo pastry (defrosted and brought to room temperature)
  • 500g butternut cubed
  • 2 red onions peeled and shopped roughly
  • 1 red pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1 small bunch of spinach remove the large stems and chop
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1/3 cup of pine kernels toasted in a pan for about 2 minutes until brown
  • one small roll of goat’s cheese (optional) cut into small chunks
  • Vegetable spice of choice  (I use Ina Paarman’s Vegetable Spices)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive oil

Method:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 220° c
  2. Place all the veg (excluding the spinach) on a roasting tray and toss together with about 3 Tbsps of olive oil,  sprinkle with the vegetable spice, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Roast in the pre-heated oven until all veg are soft and caramelized. (About 40 minutes)
  4. In the mean time heat 2 Tbsps of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic.  Add one-third of the spinach and stir while cooking.  When the spinach has wilted remove and place aside.  Add more spinach and repeat the process until all the spinach has been wilted.
  5. To assemble the dish place the roasted vegetables in a rectangular oven dish, mix the pine kernels through, add the goat’s cheese and stir through gently.  Place the spinach in a layer on top.
  6. Remove the phyllo sheets from the packaging and place a wet, clean tea towel over the remaining pastry.
  7. Separate the sheets placing one sheet on a clean working surface.  Brush or spray with a thin layer of  olive oil.  Place onto the baking tray and trim off at the sides to fit snugly into the dish.  Repeat with at least 4 layers of phyllo.
Folding a phyllo rose

Folding a phyllo rose

8. To fold a phyllo rose: Take both hands and pull phyllo up in the centre to make a fold.

Folding a phyllo rose

Folding a phyllo rose

9. Twist the phyllo around this fold and form a rose.  Place roses on top of the phyllo layer to fit snugly.

Phyllo roses

Phyllo roses

10.  Finally,  bake at 180° c until the phyllo is crispy and brown.  Serve immediately.

Wild Mushroom Risotto and a Reward for the Notsoskinnycook

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Wild Mushroom Risotto

I am happy to report to all my dear readers that I am still on holiday getting well rested and also eating very well.  I am also very happy and proud to announce that I have been awarded the Versatile Blogger award by Jennifer who writes a beautiful blog called the Foodery.  Thank you very much Jennifer.  Yay!!!

Here are the rules of the Versatile Blogger Award:

Thank the award giver(s) and link back to them in your post

– Share 7 things about yourself

– Pass this award along to 15 or 20 bloggers you read and admire

– Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award
Now one of the rules for receiving this award states that you need to share seven things about yourself…. I must admit I am not all that interesting but I will give it my best shot:

  1. I am a Christian that loves God very much and believes that everything I am and have in my life is through His grace alone.
  2. I have a kitchen gadget fetish…I can spend hours in the kitchen department of stores, checking out different kitchen tools 🙂
  3. Besides cooking and blogging I am also a potter-er who loves to create beautiful  ceramics.
  4. I not only love to read cooking books but also devour novels by the stacks
  5. I have been married to my dear husband for ten years now and not a day goes by without me thinking how lucky I am.
  6. My favorite meal is definitely a  bowl of freshly made pasta, finished by a hot chocolate pudding.
  7. I love a good glass of red wine

I would also like to nominate the following fellow bloggers for this award:

Heidi who writes a blog called Lightly Crunchy

Heidi and her family lives on a beautiful farm and is really encouraging us to live a simpler life, being more self-efficient by creating a lot of our products that we use every day ourselves.  She has a great sense of humor and spoils her readers with beautiful photos of her creations and family.

My second nomination goes to Anastasia, the writer of a blog called While Chasing Kids

This is a photo of her Cherry Galette.  Now does this not just look delectable?  Do yourself a favor and drop by for her mouth-watering dishes and oh- so- gorgeous photos.

Lastly you have to go and peek in at Shari’s My fancy Pantry

Pan Seared Scallops With Sweet Pea, Tarragon and Lemon Risotto

Shari will awe you with all her unique ingredients, recipes and photos, so please visit her beautiful blog.

So dear readers expand your horizons and go and visit these girls….  oh yes, and cook this Wild mushroom Risotto!

When I saw Rachel Allen do a version of this recipe last night on the homechannel  I simply knew I had to make this.  I was even lucky enough to find fresh wild mushrooms at our local supermarket this morning.

I have to admit that I have never cooked risotto myself before, so this was a first for me.  Don’t fear all first- time- risotto- cookers it is really easy!  Hubby took a few photos so you will be able to do this all by yourself at home!  You will be rewarded with a creamy comforting risotto full of buttery flavor.  Absolutely, definitely worth the effort!

You will need:

  • 1.5 l of chicken stock
  • 200g fresh wild mushrooms sliced
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 Tbsps butter
  • 3 Tbsps olive oil
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 500g Arborio Rice
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper freshly ground

Here is how to:

  1. Bring the stock to a boil
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and sweat the onions with some salt until soft.  Add in the mushroom and cook until soft.
Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto: Add in the risotto and stir through.

3. Add the risotto rice and stir for one minute.  Add the cup of wine .

4. Add the stock, about 200 ml at a time, and stir in allowing the rice to absorb it, continue adding it in like this until all the  stock has been stirred in and absorbed.  This will take about 40 minutes.  If you run out of stock just add a little boiled water until the rice is cooked through.

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

5. When the rice has been cooked through it will have a beautiful creamy consistency and it will be soft.  Taste after about 35 minutes to make determine whether it has been cooked through.  Adjust the taste with salt and pepper to taste.  Lastly add the  parmesan cheese and stir through.

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

6.  Remove from heat and enjoy with your favorite glass of wine.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Broccoli soup

Broccoli soup

It has all of a sudden, after a lovely autumn weekend with blue skies and sunshine, turned into cold winter weather.  So out comes our gas heater, wood for the fire-place and hot chocolate as we bid salads goodbye and say hello to soups. Little things are as comforting during the cold months as a bowl of warm soup and a piece of warm home-made bread! A definite favorite of mine  is this  broccoli and cheese  soup.   It is really velvety and rich with delicious flavors leaving you comforted and satisfied.

Broccoli soup

Broccoli soup

This soup is also a real weekday winner as it is very quick to prepare and does not leave you with a lot of washing up! So three cheers for broccoli soup!

Broccoli soup

Broccoli soup

I served this soup with fresh bread and  croutons.  Also add a little cheese for garnish.  Feta will also work well.

This recipe is enough for 2 adults and 2  children.

Ingredients:
  • 500g  fresh broccoli
  • 1  onion chopped (1 cup full)
  • 1 stick of celery chopped
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  a pinch of  freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t freshly ground pepper
  • 1 t chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T good quality olive oil
  • 3 T all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup fresh thick cream
  • 1 T  butter for decadence  ( no, this is not optional! )
  • 1 1/4 cups of grated mature cheddar cheese
  • a little extra cheese for garnish
Method:
  1. Melt the butter over medium heat together, with the olive oil in a heavy based sauce pan.
  2. Add the onions, celery, garlic and fry until translucent
  3. Add the salt, nutmeg, pepper and thyme and fry another half a minute
  4. Add the three tablespoons of flour and stir well, cook  for about two minutes until it becomes fragrant and thickens
  5. Add the chicken stock   1/2 cup at a time and stir continually while bringing the liquid to a boil.  Reduce the heat and add the broccoli, simmering it for about 10 minutes until tender.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat and puree the broccoli and liquid with a stick blender. ( You can also puree it in batches in a food processor)
  7. Return to the heat and add the cream, the extra butter and cheese stirring until the cheese has melted
  8. Remove from the heat and serve in soup bowls with fresh bread and croutons.  Garnish with some more grated cheese

    Broccoli soup

    Broccoli soup

I adapted the above recipe  from Food Network.com.

Sunday Evening Mediterranean Open Sarmies

On a Sunday evening just before all the madness of another week starts again, I like to just kick back and relax!  That is why I usually choose something easy like sandwiches for dinner.  Please don’t frown! Nobody said sandwiches had to be boring!

Sunday Eve Mediterranean Open Sandwiches

Sunday Eve Mediterranean Sandwiches Read the rest of this entry

Fresh Hake in Beer Batter

We all know that fish is good for us, right?  Right!  What is not so good is  fish in batter, loaded with preservatives and trans-fats, that we buy in our local supermarkets.  As a mom that is trying to improve the quality of my children’s food I am on the lookout for the above mentioned nasties most of the time.  It is however true that my children, like most other children I’m sure, loves a batter of sorts around their hake.  Hey, lets face it: somehow it just seems more exiting to have a golden crusty batter around soft steamy fish.  Yes yes, I know, deep-fried is not the preferred choice of cooking method but every once in a while I break our normal regime of hake grilled with lemon and herbs and splash out! Read the rest of this entry

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