Sunday, 28 March 2010

Rasberry Balsamic Roasted Butternut, Spicy Chicken and Couscous Salad

Phew, what a mouthful! At the recent South African Food Bloggers Conference I received a bottle of Rasberry Balsamic Vinegar Reduction with Lemon Infused Olive Oil from Verlaque in my goody bag that I was itching to try out.

The salad is pretty much a combination of anything I could find in my fridge at the time. The result was very tasty, the olive oil flavour was subtle but definitely there although in my eyes you can't go wrong with butternut! For a salad you don't really need to be as precise with your ingredient quantities as with baking so the values I list are really only a rough estimate of what I used.

Rasberry Balsamic Roasted Butternut, Spicy Chicken and Couscous Salad
Serves 2

  • 2 cups of Butternut cubed
  • 1 cup of Baby Tomatoes
  • 1 Purple Onion
  • Handful of well aged cubed Gouda
  • 2 cups of mixed leaves(Watercress, Rocket, Red Chard and Mizuna mix)
  • 0.5 cup of raw couscous prepared according to instructions on packet
  • 4 Cooked Chicken breasts
  • Verlaque Splash Rasberry Balsamic Vinegar Reduction with Lemon Infused Olive Oil

  1. Toss the butternut and tomatoes in some of the olive oil. Place them in an ovenproof dish and roast at 200 degrees celcius for about 30 minutes.
  2. Cut the onion into rings and fry slowly until soft and sweet.
  3. Toss the leaves in olive oil just before the butternut is done.
  4. Assemble your salad however you like!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Apple Cake

I am a firm believer that a recipe never needs a much oil/butter as the instructions claim. The original recipe called for 150ml of oil, I reduced it to 100ml and the cake still came out lovely! Win for me! My cake baked for almost an hour before it was ready.

Apple Cake


  • 2-3 Apples
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Honey(I used syrup)
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar


  • 4 eggs
  • 200g Sugar
  • 100ml Oil
  • 250g Cake Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Salt

  1. Chop apples finely, mix with honey, cinnamon and sugar and leave for 30 minutes
  2. Beat sugar and eggs until fluffy.
  3. Add oil, sift in dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Drain the apples, reduce the liquid to a syrup in a pan.
  5. Pour batter into greased 25x30cm pan. Sprinkle the apples on top of the batter. Lastly drizzle the syrup over the apples.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees celcius for 30 minutes.

The kitchen unfortunately is not a very pretty place for taking pictures, outside is much nicer!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Buttermilk Cluster

Recently I have become interested in using yeast in recipes. Yeast, the baking ingredient shrouded in mystery, feared by many, used by few. My interest in yeast started when I was in Belgium and found a block of fresh yeast (something I have been told existed in my grandmothers time but sadly I have never seen on local store shelves). In Belgium I tried my hand at cinnamon rolls. They exceeded my expectations and thus my fear of yeast started to subside.

Fast forward back to sunny South Africa where I found a bread recipe that looked idiot proof enough. I had a bit of trouble combining the flour with the wet ingredients, but that was just because my mixing bowl is a bit undersized. The yeast performed well, the dough rose even better than I expected (although the day was exceptionally hot).

The only criticism I have is that the bread was a little bland to my taste. Next time I'll add a bit more salt to the recipe and perhaps more honey. As you can see I didn't have a round dish, the oval one worked just fine though! The egg wash on my bread look a bit spotty because I don't have a proper egg brush either (the life of a student..!).

Buttermilk Clusters

  • 750g Bread flour
  • 0.5 Tablespoon salt
  • 2.5 Teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon warm water
  • 2 Cups buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon honey

Extra: 1 egg for glaze, oats or bran for topping

  1. Combine water and yeast, leave for 10 minutes (bubbles will form).
  2. Combine flour and salt.
  3. Pour yeast mixture, buttermilk and honey into the flour mixture.
  4. Knead dough for 10 minutes.
  5. Cover dough and let it rise until it is double in size, or 90 minutes.
  6. Divide dough in 12-18 pieces, shape then into balls and place into a round 30cm dish close together.
  7. Cover dough and let it rise for 45 minutes.
  8. Brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle with topping
  9. Bake for 30min at 200 degrees celcius. When the bread is done it will sound hollow when knocked on.

The Tiny Oven

This is the tiny oven that I have to my disposal. It may not be much but it's mine! As I'm living in a student house, this spacious 25l oven is pretty much the best I can do at the moment.