Top Food Blogs

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Grilled Chicken Breast with Butternut mash and cocktail tomato sauce

Food for thought

I have just done something that I don’t believe in and that is go on diet (yip a chef on a diet) I was kind of suckered into it, I am only 11 days into it and wishing that I never started, the thing is that I was horribly over weight, by about 20kg’s, so I guess in the bigger light of things it is for the better. Problem with all diets is that as soon as you stop you put all those pounds straight back on, so I am trying something a little different this time round, both for my kids, wife and my health. I will try to adapt into a new eating life style, very difficult being a chef and doing this as you smell all these wonderful aroma’s and scents and you just want to taste if it is as good as it smells. Basically in a nut shell I want to try to cut out fat, sugar and some carbs out of my day to day eating and only have them once a week on my “cheat” day, so this is a lovely little quick healthy lunch that I came up with today (not for myself, for my GM who is also on a eating plan) and I think that this does make a wonderful meal for lunch, it does contain some carbs in the form of butternut, but there is a whole heap of vitamin A in it as well as others and it is only 45 calories per 100g for those of you counting the calories.

Difficulty: Easy
Serves: 2
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cooking Time: 15 Minutes

2 Chicken Breast fillet about 200g each (no skin, no bones)
2 cups cocktail tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
3 cups peeled and cubed butternut
Small handful chopped oregano
Small handful chopped basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 220˚c
Season your chicken breast with salt and pepper, squash the garlic cloves, leave the peels on. Place the garlic onto a small roasting tray and place and chicken breast onto each one then place the cocktail tomatoes in the roasting tray as well, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
Whilst the chicken is roasting, place the cubed butternut into boiling salted water and boil for 15 minutes.
When the chicken is ready take it out of the oven and place on a cutting boards to rest for 5 minutes.
Take the garlic that should be nicely roasted and mash it together with the butternut, season with salt and pepper and mix in the oregano, put this neatly onto the plate.
Take the cocktail tomatoes with all the roasting juices from the roasting tray and lightly pop the tomatoes, season and mix in the basil.
Slice the chicken and arrange on top of the butternut and top it off with the cocktail tomatoes.

And there we have it, a nice simple easy Very Healthy Lunch or Dinner dish.

My tip would be to those of you who would like the mash to be a little “creamier” boil a ¼ cup of cashew nuts for about 10 minutes and blitz them in a food processor with the water that they boiled in, until they are smooth and creamy, then add this to the butternut for a really creamy butternut mash.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Naan Breads and Tzaziki

Recipe of the week……….Naan Bread with Homemade Tzaziki

This is the perfect accompaniment to curries or even as a light meal on a hot summers day with some good ham, hummus and a bottle of nice crisp chardonnay or sauvignon blanc, serve it as a starter at a braai or just to impress your friends. The secret to getting them so perfect is to have your oven as hot as possible and then you only cook them for about 5 minutes, test one and if it is not cooked through then cook it for another 4 minutes.

Difficulty: Medium
Makes: 4 big ones or 8 smaller ones
Prep Time 4 ½ hours
Cooking Time 5 minutes

Ingredients for the Naan Bread:
200g cake flour
10g Fresh yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
½  teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons of oil
3  tablespoons of plain yoghurt
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp crushed garlic
½ lemon

Cream together half the sugar and yeast, then add in the water and a tablespoon of flour mix all together and leave until it forms a layer of foam on the top.
Add other half of sugar, salt, chopped coriander, crushed garlic, lemon zest and baking soda to the flour and mix well.
Add the oil to the yogurt and mix, then add this to the flour and mix until it becomes a crumbly dough.
Add the water/yeast mixture and make into soft dough, it should be a sloppy dough.
Knead until the dough is smooth. Cover the dough and keep in a warm place for 3-4 hours. The dough should almost be double in volume.
 Heat the oven to 240˚c or the highest it will go, if you have a pizza stone place that in the oven, if not place a thick baking tray in the oven to heat up, leave for at least 20 minutes to heat up. 
Knead the dough again for about two to three minutes and divide the dough into 4 equal parts.
Take each piece of dough, one at a time, and roll into an oval shape about 1cm thick. Dust lightly with dry flour to help with the rolling.
Before putting the Naan in oven, lightly wet your hands and take the rolled Naan, and flip them between your palms and place onto your baking/pizza stone into the oven.
You can place about 2 Naan on the baking/pizza stone at a time. The Naan will take about 5 minutes to cook, depending upon your oven. After the Naan is baked(Naan should be golden brown color on top).
Take naan out of the oven and brush lightly with melted butter or ghee.
wait 2 to 3 minutes before baking the next batch of naan. It gives oven the chance to get heated again to max.

Ingredients for the Tzaziki:
500ml Greek Yoghurt
100ml Tangy Mayonnaise
1 Cucumber finely grated
1 tsp green pepper corns crushed
½ cup chopped mint
1 tsp ground cumin
½ onion grated
Salt and pepper to taste

After grating the cucumber and the onions, place in a collender for about 20 minutes to drain the excess liquid off. Then combine with all the other ingredients and mix well. It is best to leave it for about 2-3 hours to let the flavour infuse before eating but you can eat it straight away as well.

Bon Appetit

Monday, February 4, 2013

Bacon, Spinach and Feta Cannelloni with Basil Pesto Sauce

Recipe of the week………..Bacon, Spinach and Feta Cannelloni with Basil Pesto Sauce

Hello to all,
This is such a strange recipe because it involves so many little details to it, yet it doesn’t feel like a difficult dish to make, and it tastes absolutely amazing, the best part of it all is the fact that people will know you made it yourself and will be able to taste the difference in the homemade pasta, homemade basil sauce, homemade stuffing, mine goes a little further and is topped with homemade cheese and in the picture here complete with homemade ciabatta all made in my kitchen at St Francis Links by myself.

I don’t expect you to go all the way with making everything yourself as it is time consuming, but I will make this recipe as user friendly as possible, but please try the “harder” version by doing everything yourself

Difficulty: Medium
Prep Time: 2 Hours
Cooking Time: 1 ½ Hours
Serves: 4

Pasta Ingredients: (now this is where you can just buy the store bought cannelloni shells)
300g Stone Ground White Bread Flour
3 Extra Large Eggs
1 ½ tsp additive free salt
1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Combine all the ingredients together, this is quite a stiff pasta dough and if you would like you could add 2 TBSP of cold water to make it knead easier. Now knead the pasta dough on a lightly floured work surface for about 5 minutes until it is smooth, wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge to rest for 1 hour.

Basil Pesto Sauce Recipe: (now here you could buy a store bought béchamel/cheese/or white sauce and add basil pesto)
1lt milk
1 clove
1 sprig of thyme
1 cardamom pod
1 small onion
60g butter
60g stone ground cake flour or white bread flour
100g basil pesto
Place the milk, clove, onion, thyme and cardamom in a saucepan on a low heat and leave it to infuse the flavours for about an hour, then in a separate saucepan melt the butter and add the flour and stir this for about 2 minutes, you will see the flour starting to go a little whiter than before, this is when you need to take it off the heat and strain in about 250ml of the hot milk and whisk it in until all smooth, then whisk in another 250ml, then return back to the heat and whisk in the remaining 500ml only when you are sure that there are no lumps left after the first 2 additions of hot milk.
Now add in the basil pesto and check the seasoning and adjust accordingly.

Bacon, Spinach & feta stuffing Ingredients:
250g Bacon
150g Plain Feta Cubed
2 Bunches spinach, thoroughly rinse and chopped
1 tsp chopped garlic
100ml white wine
2 tomatoes cubed
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
2 sprigs oregano chopped
Oil for frying
2 onions diced
Fry off the bacon and onions for about 2 minutes then add in the garlic and fry for another 2 minutes, deglaze with the white wine and add in the rest of the ingredients except the feta cheese, let this simmer for about 5 minutes until most of the liquid has reduce away, then take this out of the pan and put it in a baking dish and leave it to cool to room temperature, then mix in the feta.

The Grand Finale
Now to make the cannelloni, you need to start by rolling out the pasta for the cannelloni, you-u can do this with a pasta machine or you can take you pasta dough ball and cut it into 4 equal parts then roll it in a long strip about 10cm wide and as long as it will go. Then do this with the second piece as well, but it will be pretty thick still so to get it thinner, take a paint brush and brush the one side of one piece with olive oil, place the second piece on top of that and carry on rolling out, you will be able to get it a lot thinner without the fear of it tearing. Now you can separate them again and you will have 2 nice thin stips, you need to cut this into squares not about 10cmx10cm, then place 3 TBSP of the Bacon mixture onto this and make sure it covers the length of the pasta then roll it up like a mat, this is so much easier than buying those shells and trying to stuff them with the filling

Now take the oven proof dish that you are going to be making the cannelloni in and pout a little of the basil sauce on the bottom, then arrange the cannelloni on top on that, then another layer, I like them to be 2 layers high, them cover them with the rest of the basil sauce and some grated parmesan cheese, bake in a pre-heated oven at 180˚c for 40minutes until there is a nice golden crust.

Bon Appetit Enjoy.

P.S you the stuffing’s you can play with as much as you like and the same goes with the sauce, gone are the days of the imagination only thinking spinach & ricotta cannelloni, try seafood with a saffron sauce, cape Malay mince with a Moroccan style apricot sauce etc

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Where is your favourite place to eat breakfast and what is it that you would eat at this place

I would like to run a small survey with all of you who do read the blog no matter where in the world you are reading it from. So I have a small list of Questions that I would like all of you to answer by sending a comment.

  1. Where is your favourite Breakfast Restaurant & why do you enjoy going there?
  2. What is your favourite Breakfast at the above mentioned Restaurant?
  3. What would your ideal Breakfast Restaurant be? Location? Pricing? Setting?
  4. What would your ideal Breakfast meal be? Description and pricing?
Many thanks for your time to read and answer this quick little survey.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Be the Chef for a day.......

Be the Chef day is going to involve 5 teams of two getting there hands dirty in the kitchen at St Francis Links for the night, we will be closed for outside business but we will be planning and preparing our own meal which we will sit down after the class and eat all together and have a discussion on food and how to make food easier and tastier for you at home as the home cook.

This month it is going to be based on Italian and how to make homemade pasta without a pasta machine, how to make ravioli's where the fillings will only be limited to your imagination, how to make carpaccio, we will also do a simple yet really tasty Italian dessert to finish it off with.

Price is R295 per person however if you book as a "couple" or "two" people we will make it only R500. there will be bar service,  you will be hands on in the kitchen with myself and we will have one cleaner to assist with washing up. So it will be up to you to chop, cut, slice, knead and cook your meal.

You be be provided with an apron, chef's hat, the use of all the kitchen equipment, as well as all the recipe for everything that you will be preparing and cooking so that you can try them out at home.

This evening to based to be a fun interactive evening, i will be wanting to do them on the last Thursday of every month.

Call the Links to enquire further, 042 200 4500, ask to speak to Olga or Eugenie

Valentines Dinner at St Francis Links.......The Menu

“My Valentine,
Shall We Dine?”
Enjoy a superb 2 or 3-course
dinner at St Francis Links
on Thursday, 14 February 2013!

R175 per person for a 2-course meal or R225 for a 3-course meal including sparkling wine on arrival and a delicious dinner

The French Kiss
fresh local mussels steamed with onion, garlic, methode cap classique and saffron, finished with cream and served with homemade ciabatta
The South African Fling
rooibos smoked chicken breast on a bed of
endives, rocket and mizuna, topped with a pineapple,
apricot and lavender salsa
The Italian Affair…
beef carpaccio on red mustard leaves with capers, crumbed
camembert, vanilla and red pepper sorbet served with melba toasts

Main Course
Love Duo
250g ox fillet roasted to perfection, sliced, with a port glaze and served with crispy roasted potatoes, onion tobacco and sautéed mushrooms
Saucy Affair
tagliatelle pasta with prawns, mussels, gurnard, leek and smoked bacon in a creamy garlic and cider sauce and topped with a tempura oyster
Pillow Talk
duck breast served on a bed of braised red cabbage, crispy potato rosti
and topped with a gooseberry reduction

…for the love of chocolate
hot Lindt 70% Ecuador Chocolate Fondant
served with salted caramel and vanilla ice-cream
Soft ending
imported French brie, creamy dolce latte gorgonzola,
served with biscotti, preserves and port

Bookings essential

Please call Eugenie or Olga on 042 – 200 4500

  • Arrival from 19h00 onwards
  • Please advise specific dietary requirements if any, at the time of booking
  • Availability is limited
  • Beverages are excluded

Are you entering the Valentine’s Golf Tournament on
Wednesday, 13 Feb?  Contact our Golf Shop for further info!


Friday, February 1, 2013

Pork Fillet stuffed with Poached Pear and Gorgonzola

Recipe of the Week………Pork Fillet stuffed with Poached Pear and Gorgonzola

I love pork, and I really do think that it is one of the most under-rated meats out there at the moment. I have learnt over the pat 3 years that most people love pork, I learnt this from my Easy Monday Dinners at the Links whenever I have pork on the menu, I am fully booked and usually sell out on it as well.

Now this dish brings out a little of my love of gorgonzola and pork, it is quite a rich meal, but it is balance beautifully with the Savoury lentils, which is also something that is not eaten much anymore except in soups and vegetarians.

I challenge you readers to try this one out and let me know if you did and what you think about it.

Serves: 4
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cooking Time: 1 Hour

…..for the Savoury lentils
400g Brown Lentils
1 Carrot finely diced
1 onion finely diced
2 sticks of celery finely diced
300g Cherry tomatoes quartered
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
4 sprigs of oregano chopped
3 springs of parsley chopped
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry off the carrot, onion & celery in a little olive oil until the onions are translucent and fragrant, add in the garlic, cherry tomatoes and lentils, add water as to cover the lentils, add in the herbs and balsamic vinegar and season slightly, let this simmer for about 45 minutes then check that the lentils are soft, then continue to simmer until all the liquid has reduced to just a couple of tablespoons, check seasoning again and adjust.

……for the pork fillet
4 porks fillets about 220g each
3 pears
2 cups of white wine
2 cups of water
1 cup of sugar
3 cloves
1 star anise
Salt and pepper to taste
4 TBSP olive oil
125g Wedge of blue cheese – best to use Fairview Blue Tower as it is a gorgonzola styled blue cheese and is very creamy, or if you can get your hands on Dolce Latte Gorgonzola that would be even better as that is a double fat gorgonzola.

Place the white wine, water, sugar, cloves and anise into a small pot, peel the pears and place them in the pot on a low heat so that it never boils but just forms bubbles at the bottom of the pot, leave this to simmer like that for 40 minutes, take out the pears and cut them into small cubes. Then crumble the blue cheese into the cubed pears.

Rub the pork fillets with the olive oil, salt and pepper and sear them off in a hot pan to put some colour on them, about 4 minutes on each side.

Rest the pork fillet for about 3 minutes, slice it into about 1cm thick slices, place on a roasting tray and top it with the pear mixture, place it under the grill in the oven for about 2 minutes until you get a wonderful crust on it.

Arrange the lentils on a plate and neatly place the pork fillet on top of this, I have drizzled this with a port and gooseberry reduction, which I will have to cover in another recipe as it is a 5 day long process of stock making then making a full glace and then to make the sauce.

Bon appetite

For those of you that are interested in cooking I have started a night called ..Be the Chef it is on the 28th February 2013 you will come into the kitchen put on a chef’s hat and apron and we will do a 3 hour cooking class, including how to design a 3 course menu, we will also prepare a meal and sit down afterwards and eat as a group. It is limited to 5 teams of 2 people, if you come on your own I will pair you up with somebody suitable.
Enquire at the Links on 042 200 4500 with Eugenie or Olga

Monday, January 28, 2013

Provencale Style Chicken Breast

Recipe of the Week…………………Provençale Style Chicken Breast

This is a little something that I made on the fly for a guest of mine and the restaurant who always phones ahead of time and asks if I can make her something different as she has a couple of dietary requirements, I am always much obliged to do so for any body that calls in ahead, I get to use my little head muscle a bit, it is always something simple and easy to make so this week I thought I would jot it down and post it before I get to do so as I normally do.

Serves: 2
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 Minutes

2 Chicken Breast Fillets (any size you would like them to be)
6 baby marrows
500g cherry tomatoes – cut in half
2 small red onions
4 nice sprigs fresh oregano - chopped
2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 TBSP Dry White Wine
1 Cup un-cooked Basmati Rice
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup pitted Black Olives – optional
Rosemary to garnish

Pre-heat your oven to 240˚c, get a pan nice and hot, rub the chicken breast with 1 TBSP olive oil, salt and pepper, then fry them in the pan until they are golden brown all the way round, about 2 minutes each side. Then place them in the oven for exactly 12 minutes if the oven is already hot.

Whilst they are in the oven, get a small pot on the stove with boiling salted water and add in the basmati rice, this takes exactly 12 minutes to cook as well, don’t oven cook the basmati. Whilst the chicken is roasting and the basmati is cooking, get another pan nice and hot, add in 1 TBSP olive oil and fry off the onion and baby marrow, when the baby marrow starts to colour add in the cherry tomatoes sautéed for a further 3-5 minutes then add in the olives if using, as well as the chopped oregano and the white wine, let this simmer until most of the white wine has reduced away, then it is ready.

When the rice is done drain off the water, place the rice on the plate (tip you can put the rice in a nicely shaped bowl and turn it out onto the plate) plate the chicken breast on top of the rice and then top it all off with the cherry tomato sauce, garnish with rosemary and sit down with a ice-cold glass of un-wooded Chardonnay.

Bon Appetit.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Chicken and Prawn Chow Mein

Recipe of the week……………. Chicken & Prawn Chow Mein

Everybody loves good Asian food, as it delivers such fresh flavours, and it is quite simple to make at home, I have always loved Chow Mein and Chop Suey, so this week I am going to do a nice simple Chow Mein recipe, essentially all that Chow Mein means is “fried noodles” so what you put in is totally up to your self, I have done a nice prawn and chicken Chow Mein

Serves: 4
Difficulty: Easy
Cooking time: 15-20 Minutes
Prep Time: 15-30 Minutes (depending on knife skills or buying in already julienne vegetables and cleaned prawns)

1kg Prawns shelled and deveined (26/30 count is a nice size prawn)
500g Chicken Breast Fillet cut into strips
3 Cups Julienne vegetables ( I used baby marrow, mixed peppers, green beans, onion, patty pans, baby gems, baby butternut and carrots, however in Spar they have a wonderful selection of already julienne'd vegetable packs, those will work fine too)
1 Pkt Chinese Egg Noodles – pre cooked in boiling salted water for 6 minutes
4 TBSP Kikkoman Soy Sauce
4 TBSP Oyster Sauce
4 TBSP Black Bean Paste
2 TBSP sesame oil
2 TBSP finely slice pickled ginger
Handful freshly chopped coriander
½ cup toasted chopped peanuts (optional for garnishing)
2 red chilli’s sliced (optional for garnishing and adding a little heat to the dish)

Sautee the chicken in a Wok or frying pan in a little olive oil, when it starts to colour and cook through add in the vegetables let these cook for about 2 minutes then add in the prawns, when the prawns turn pink add in the noodles and stir fry this for another 2 minutes, add in all the sauce ingredients along with the pickled ginger and coriander, toss this around for about 1 minute. Then serve

Chef’s Note: The sauce ingredients can be as simple as you would like them to be, I love the flavour of black bean paste and oyster sauce that’s why I included them in my recipe, but it is up to you.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Position as a Sous Chef at St Francis Links

St Francis Links, the number nine ranked private golf estate in South Africa and situated in St Francis Bay, is currently recruiting for the following position:

• A diploma in professional cookery is essential
• At least 3 years working experience as a sous or junior head chef
• Able to solely manage a busy kitchen shift in the absence of the Head Chef
• Conduct training
• Excellent cooking skills and menu planning
• Fully computer literate with experience in stock orders and control
• Staff supervision and rostering
• Would suit a motivated, team player who sets culinary trends

Start date as soon as possible.

Please note that NO TELEPHONIC ENQUIRIES will be entertained. Applicants who do not receive replies to their applications by 14 January 2013, should consider their applications unsuccessful.

please mail you CV to

Christmas Photo's by Jurgens van Wyk

Here are a couple of brilliant food photo's taken by my brother in law on christmas morning just before feeding 284 people for christmas

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Hungry Chef: Please answer the readers poll on the top right of...

The Hungry Chef: Please answer the readers poll on the top right of...: Please answer the poll on the top right of the blog, and if you can please leave a comment as well. I would like to know how many people ar...

A little Photo Blog of Recent Dishes

 Mutton Shank with a port reduction
 Making en papillote
 Cooked en papillote
 Herb Crusted Fillet of Santer with asian noodles
This is a wonderful Pear, Gorgonzola, Walnut & Rum Strudel
with honey ice-cream and berry coulis

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Please answer the readers poll on the top right of the blog

Please answer the poll on the top right of the blog, and if you can please leave a comment as well.
I would like to know how many people are aware of our sea's and the fish inside them.

Many thanks

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Who Knows How Bad the Current State of our Oceans are?

 For those of you who don't know, I recently agreed to be an ambassador for SASSI, which stands for South Africa Sustainable Seafood Initiative, as I have realized more and more how bad the fishing stocks have become, the biggest problem remains that most people are uneducated to the fact, and there fore ignorance is bliss so they say, so I have taken it apon myself to try to educate as many people as I can about the resources in our oceans, I do not get anything from SASSI for doing this, what I get out of this is to know that my kids are going to be able to grow up eating and enjoying the oceans resources as I have been fortunate to do.

SASSI has developed lists of fish that are:
"Green" meaning that there are sustainable programs in place to keep the stocks at a decent level.
"Orange" meaning that if they are not looked after closely and if programs are put into place they could be facing dia consequences.
"Red" meaning these species are near extinction and should not be eaten, bought, sold or kept if caught. Now these again are just guidelines so that you the public know what are the ethical decisions to make when buying fish or ordering fish in restaurants.

It is also the restaurateurs and chefs social responsibility to inform as many people as they can about these choices, so this is what I embarking on.

I have tried to stay away from any fish species that are orange listed and refuse to buy or sell anything that is red listed, for those of you who have eaten at St Francis Links will realize now that you have not been the normal restaurant favourites on my menu such as prawns, sole and kingklip for 3 years now, however I do not refuse to use or sell it, I just not to as if we act now it still stands a chance to recoup it stocks over the next 10 years or so, however if we do not do something now, it may very well land up like the famous 74, which you will not find anywhere anymore. So I like to choose alternatives like Cape Gurnard makes a beautiful replacement for Kingklip same texture and flavour. I am now also embarking trying to find new alternatives that are green listed species, instead of using orange listed species.

So I only have a limited amount of knowledge on the matter, I have done a training seminar with SASSI, and I have the world ocean report for 2011, but for more extensive information feel free to go to the SASSI website here is the link, also I will be hosting a spring dinner at St Francis Links on the 28th September 2012 and will be doing some cooking demos as well as an in-depth discussion on sustainable seafood, I will also be handing out some pocket cards for dinners to keep in there wallets with the different list of fish, also there is a  FISHMS number that you sms the name of the fish to and you will receive  a sms back with the current status of that species of fish, that number is 079 499 8795.

I would like to run a poll to see how many of the readers of my blog understand the critical condition of our fish stocks, so please complete the poll in the next post.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sustainable Seafood

On the 28th Sepmember 2012, I will be hosting a spring spectacular dinner at St Francis Links, 3 course dinner with a cooking demo and an in depth discussion on cooking and eating sustainable seafood, an evening not to be missed. Only R150 per person, includes a guide to buying sustainable seafood. Hope to see most of you there.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Molecular Evening at the Links

For those of you who follow me in my culinary adventures, you will be please to know that i will be hosting a molecular evening at St Francis Links on the 1 September 2012.

The evening will involve the introduction of Molecular Gastronomy into classic dishes, and how the 2 can marry together. It will include an in-depth discussion on Molecular Gastronomy as well as the perception of flavours and all that influences them.

I have been playing with molecular gastronomy for about 18 months now and have found that it can be extremely interesting, but at the same time, it takes a special kind of person to buy into the whole concept, i enjoy playing with it, but i still prefer the old classics and a classic style of cooking, so on this evening i have ventured into doing both, so kind of a "New School" meets "Old School"kind of evening, i personally think that it is going to be a winner combination.

I don't like small poncy plates of food so this will not be an evening of that.
Cost is only R150 per person, this is for a 5 course meal and a demo/talk on molecular gastronomy.

Don't miss it!!!!!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Molecular Cocktails - Translucent Bloody Mary with Tabasco and Worcestershire Sauce ravioli's

This is a little recipe that i worked on quite a while back, it is the result of a little research into molecular gastronomy. I know it looks like it can't possibly be tomato juice, but i promise it is pure tomato juice, I made this cocktail and tried it verse a normal bloody mary and out of 6 people tasting, all of them including myself preferred this version as it has much better tomato flavours and is not as bland.

Now I will explain as much of the recipe as possible, but I do not have exact measurements of everything, i am just really bad at doing that, and this was still very experimental.

Basic list of Ingredients
2kg Whole Tomatoes
Calcium Lactate
Sodium Alginate
Sodium Citrate
Agar Agar
125ml Tabasco Sauce
125ml Worcestershire Sauce
A whole lot of time
low calcium water
1 tsp salt - additive and preservative free

Basic Method,
First up you quarter the tomatoes and cut out the middle "seed" pods, this is the only part that you want to use in this recipe, salt them and leave them in a warm place for about 6 hours, this will allow all the liquid to be released from the seed pods, now strain and pour the liquid into a long clear glass and store in the fridge for about 12 hours to allow the pigments to settle, now pour off the top liquid that is clear, and strain through cheese cloth that is folded 4 times so that it is thick and catches the last of the particles, take a 1/4 cup of water and dissolve 1/4 tsp agar agar in the water whilst boiling it on a stove top. Once the agar agar was dissolved take it off the heat and leave to cool, then whisk this into the clear tomato juice and place in the fridge to set.

Take 10g of Sodium Alginate and dissolve it in 2lts of low calcium water, you will need to use a stick blender to do this as sodium alginate is hydro-phobic, once all the alginate has dissolve you need to place this mixture in the fridge and leave to settle all the bubbles out, takes about 24 hours.

Take the Tabasco sauce and mix it with 1/8 tsp of sodium citrate and 1/4 tsp of calcium lactate, mix this together and leave so that all the bubbles can settle.

Take the Worcestershire sauce and mix with 1/8 tsp of Xanthan Gum, 1/8 tsp sodium citrate and 1/4 tsp calcium lactate and also leave to settle.

Now take the set tomato juice and puree it in a food processor, this gives it the same "pulp" like texture as tomato cocktail, mix with vodka and pour into a cocktail glass with some crushed ice.

take a spoon of the Tabasco mixture and gently place it into the alginate bath, leave it for 2 minutes take it out with a slotted spoon, it will have a translucent membrane around it that will hold it, gently place this into the cocktail and repeat the process for the Worcestershire sauce.

Garnish with a celery stalk and a straw, sit back and watch in amazement at the beauty that you have created.

Got to love being a Chef!!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Basil Crusted Fillet of Red Roman with Asian Styled Noodles

I have been very lucky in being able to live at the coast most of my life, and i really appreciate the salt air, the seagulls and the seasonal smell of fish in the air. I used to fish quite alot myself, but due to mismanagement of time I have not been fishing for a long time, I love fresh fish, there's nothing quite as satisfying than filleting a fish and getting the smell of the sea, I adore it, because i know right then that the fish is going to taste the same!!!!!

I had the opportunity this week to go and visit a local fishery here is St Francis Bay called Balobi, and when we got there they were busy off loading there boat with a fresh catch of Hake, Carpenters and Red Romans, so being the fresh fish enthusiast that I am, I bought one of each to bring back to the kitchen and "test" as us Chefs like to call it. It was absolutely divine, really really fish, i used all the bones to make fresh fish stock which also has the hint of fresh salty sea air to it, got to love it.

Now there was one thing that was bothering me however and that is the fact that I am an avid supporter of SASSI and the WWF when it comes to selling sustainably caught fish and sea foods, so the first thing that I did was research the fishing method that is being employed by this specific fishery and if the fish they were selling was green, orange or red listed, as I prefer to only buy and sell green listed fish species, and as my knowledge served me I knew that Red Roman and Carpenters and Orange listed species and so is long line caught hake.

So at my visit i did ask the questions, how many hooks on your long lines, how many long lines at a time in water, what do you do with you by-catch, how many sea birds to you catch on average, what do you do to try and prevent the capture of sea birds and by-catch. Now I don't want to sound like everything is doom and gloom, you are allowed to still sell orange listed fish species but they are under threat with they are not monitored and a plan is in place to try to sustain the species.

I then phoned SASSI to find out if i would be doing the right thing from buying these fish, and the advice i got was awesome, as everything this fishery does in it's fishing practices are in line and they also explained that they cannot look at each fishery individually, but as a industry on a whole and that is why long lining is orange listed.

I believe in trying to support local where you can, it always helps boosts the towns internal economy, so i am know getting my fish from this fishery, beautiful fresh hake!!! The line fish I am staying away from for other reasons, but this is a recipe that i done with one of the amazing fresh fish that I did buy.

Basil Crusted Fillet of Red Roman with Asian Styled Noodles

Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cooking Time: 10 Minutes
Serves: 2

Part A
2 fillets of Fresh Fish
2 TBSP Basil Pesto (delish does a great one or pesto princess, as basil does not grow in winter I usually substitute with a good bought one)
4 TBSP Butter softened
1 Cup Bread Crumbs
1 clove garlic
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Part B
1 medium carrot
1 small red onion
½ each red, yellow and green pepper
1 large baby marrow
6 cherry tomatoes
1 thumb size piece of ginger
1 clove of garlic
2 blocks Chinese egg noodles (or you can use 2 minute noodles, they are the same thing really)
1 small chilli
2 TBSP Oyster Sauce
1 TBSP Soy Sauce
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp sesame oil
Handful fresh coriander
1 TBSP Olive Oil

Take all the ingredients from part A except the fish and mix them together in bowl.
Then take a piece of cling film about 40cm long and place in on the kitchen counter, put this mixture on top of the cling film and spread it out so that it is about 2 cm thick, then place another piece of cling film over that, now take a rolling pin and roll it out to form an even layer of the mixture that is about 3mm thick, place this onto a cutting board and place it in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to set. Take it out of the refrigerator place the fillet of fish on the rolled out mixture skin side up, using a sharp knife cut around the fish, now take a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil and salt, place the fish skin side down on the baking tray, peel the plastic off the crust mixture and place it perfectly over the top of the fish, place in the middle of the oven with only the grill on, and grill for about 10 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Whilst the fish is grilling cook the noodles in salted boiling water for 2 minutes.  Peel and julienne all the vegetables from part B, fry them on a high heat with the olive oil for about 5 minutes until they start to soften, now add in all the other ingredients and cook for another 30 seconds then add in the noodles and toss until everything has mixed. Place the noodles on the plate, and top with the grill fish, serve with a lemon wedge and freshly chopped coriander.

Now i must urge all of you reading this blog, please whenever you are about to order fish whether in a super market or in a restaurant, always ask the questions like is this fish green listed? if so where is it caught? i reputable supplier of fish will always be able to trace the fish back to which specific boat it was caught on. So they should always be able to tell you!!! and then if a fish is orange listed try to stay away from it as they are under threat unless there is a sustainable program in place by the specific fishery, and lastly if it is red listed report them so SASSI there information is on , as well as all the information of the listed fish species.

Bon apetite enjoy the meal

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pancetta, Parma Ham and Bacon

A little something that i have been playing with this winter is cured meats, very interesting thing this, i have played around with some bacon, I made my own smoked streaky bacon, absolutely wonderful, totally totally different to any store bought stuff that you find. I have now got curing some savoury bacon, maple bacon, parma ham and my second batch of pancetta, I have had my first batch an almost failure and have researched it a little more and found out where I went wrong so no it is off to making the parma and a second batch of pancetta that is going to be much more successful. All of this is in aid of being able to offer as much food on our menu's that is produced in house without artificial curing agents and extra added preservatives and all the other stuff that your body 1) doesn't want 2)doesn't need 3) wasn't designed to use. Salt curing of meats and the use of nitrites in curing meats has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years, it just seems that of late "my generation" is losing touch with all of these wonderful and amazing crafts like making cheese, eating organic vegetables straight out of the garden eating meat that doesn't have growth hormones and antibiotics injected into them on a regular basis.

I put this all down to people becoming more driven by money and the lust for it that globalization has reigned supreme, i know for a fact that my grand parents used to grow all of these things and produced all of these things on there own, and this was not the way that they only lived my gran father still had a job on the gold mines, but it was the norm back then to have your own chickens, a big vegetable patch, some pigs and sheep. Now all we want it live is convenience and ease of living hence nice big houses with small gardens. So it gives me great pleasure in being able to do something that is now classed as Artisan, i love making sour dough breads, my own sour dough culture i have been using for 4 months now and is thriving, I enjoy making my own sausages so much so i do not buy any in anymore, it is too easy to make and a heck of a lot cheaper. I really enjoy making my own cheeses and have now found a way to make REAL ricotta instead of throwing the whey away, so it costs me nothing to make just a little time, and then i have the advantage of using this ricotta in making some pasta dishes, which I also make my own pasta as well.

I can see by December offering a Ploughmans platter with Homemade sour Dough Bread, Homemade pork and beef sausages, homemade pickles and preserves, pancetta, parma ham and homemade cheese, and all of this in an upmarket restaurant setting. I couldn't think of anything better to be doing other than something that has been forgotten over the years, it is the same when it comes to my cooking, i love to recreate old restaurant classic - again because these things are being forgotten.

Now i know i have gone a little off the beaten track here in this blog as the main aim was to talk about the productions of hams. So let me get back to the point........

The basics of making any hams and cured meats the most important thing is hygiene and sterilization of everything used in the production process, then secondly is good salt that is free of any additives, and then thirdly is good quality pigs!!

Now this last one is the hardest one to find, i am battling tremendously to find naturally reared pigs that have only been feed on raw vegetables and natural proteins and not fed on pellets and old restaurant scraps, i have been battling so much so with this that i have now decided to rear my own little porkers to make hams and bacon and so forth with. I have a supplier and friend who i get all my organic produce from and he would love to rear them for me, the area he has for them is probably around 30m x 5m and is it totally free range, with some citrus trees on on of the boundary fences (that means lots of lovely windfall fruit for the piggies) and then it has a beautiful roofed area that we will concrete for them to sleep in, now i know that are might not sound big but it is if you consider that i only want to rear 3 pigs at a time. they will be fed on all the off cuts of the organic produce, i also have alot of vegetables peels that i keep for a worm farm at the moment that i can fed them, and also the left over whey from my cheese making to give them as protein, so it seems if all goes according to plan that i will be growing some really good A-grade pork soon.

Ok now to get back onto track again, so if you have these essentials you're more than half way to making good ham, the last thing that you need is a storage area that is around 15c and about 80% humidity, this is a lot easier than you think, I have used a double door standing fridge that has been set to 15c, and i have a  couple of buckets of water in there to create good humidity, you can buy a simple humidifier that can be set.

Now you have everything you need and you want to make ham, lets start with the most famous of them all the Parma ham, who you can only call Parma Ham if it comes from certain parts of Italy and has been through all the strict checks, so for ease i am going to call it prosciutto, which is the same thing.

You will need 1 Pork back leg whole with the trotter still attached
2kg additive free salt
500g black pepper
500g pork lard (you can buy some pork back fat from the butcher cut it up small and cook it gently for a couple of hours to render out all the fat) now if you are rearing your own pigs, this would be something to use instead of just throwing it away.

Firstly you need to cut out the aitch bone, so that the only bone that is visible is the ball joint of the hip, any exposed bones poses a higher risk of spoilage, now you must liberally salt the leg, and especially concerntrate on the exposed meat section of it, them place this into a non reactive container cover with cling film and place 10kg weight on it, you need to leave it in the refridgerator or 1 day per 500g weight, i started with a 8,2kg leg so i left it in for 17 days, you will need to check it every day and if there is any liquid at the bottom of the container you will need to pour that out, dry the container and re-salt the meat.

Once you have done this process so can wash off all the salt and pat the meat dry with some kitchen paper, once it is dry pack the exposed meat part with lard and then black pepper, the black pepper stops bugs and insects from sitting on it exposing it to bacteria.

Now comes the fun part of all of this, you need to hang this for about 12-24 months at 15c at 80% humidity.
it will lose about half its original weight when it is ready. then slice super thin and enjoy!!!!!!!!!

here is a quick little interesting thing that i am sure more people dont know about,
Proper Bacon the way it is meant to be made takes around 8-10 days to cure, commercially produced bacon from the time of starting the curing to being sliced and packed ready for resale is about 3 hours!!!!!!!