Thursday, 22 July 2010

Sticky Balsamic Reduction Tomato Relish

The first time I heard of Verlaque was at the South African Food Bloggers Conference earlier this year where I received one of their products in my goody bag. I've posted about using Verlaque products on my blog before(Rasberry Balsamic Roasted Butternut) and I will probably post again, but today is a special post. Verlaque is having a competition to see who can come up with the tastiest original recipe using one of the products from the "Balsamic Reduction" range.

I came up with this tomato relish just a few days before the challenge was posted (just in time). I was having dinner at my mother's house, we planned on making salad but when we got home from the shop the baby tomatoes we bought were so bland and flavourless that they just wouldn't cut it in a salad. And so my recipe was born...

My mother was very sceptical when she saw how much balsamic vinegar I added to the tomatoes but after she tasted it she was an instant fan! She even got all enthusiastic about buying salad stuff for when I made the relish again with the Verlaque Balsamic Reduction!

Enough about my family, by now you must be wondering what flavour I used? Originally I wanted to use the Fynbos/Wild Flower Honey Balsamic Reduction but unfortunately I couldn't find any in the Woolworths stores near my home. Second choice was the Sundried Turkish Figs Balsamic Reduction which I luckily did find in store (but in all honesty, I think you can use any flavour that tickles your fancy). The fig flavour turned out pretty tasty, especially when I served it with blue cheese and glazed figs on some rocket leaves. The tomato relish would also work nicely on some bread, perhaps with some cheese and...let me rather stop there and let your imagination dream up the ideal accompaniment to this tomato concoction!

Sticky Balsamic Reduction Tomato Relish
Serves 2 as a salad topping

  • 17 Baby Tomatoes (more or less)
  • 50ml Balsamic Vinegar
  • 25ml Verlaque Sundried Turkish Figs Balsamic Reduction
  • 25ml Chutney
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Cut the tomatoes in half, place cut side down in a pan.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour over the tomatoes.
  3. Simmer on a medium heat. Don't stir the tomatoes while cooking, just move them around from time to time so that they don't stick to your pan and that they stay intact. Your relish is done when the tomatoes are cooked through and the sauce had become nice and sticky.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Meaty Slow Cooker Bean Soup

I made this bean soup for a challenge at the Kleine Zalze For The Love Of Wine website. The soup is very economical, the beans and the eisbein cost me about R40 and the soup was enough for 8 hungry students!

Meaty Bean Slow cooker Soup
Serves 8 hungry male students

  • 2 Packets Red Speckled Sugar Beans
  • 1 Smoked Eisbein
  • 2 Mutton Stock Cubes

  1. Put the beans in a pot. Add water to the pot until the beans are covered with at least 5cm of water. Soak overnight.
  2. Drain the beans and put them in a slow cooker with the eisbein.
  3. Add enough water to cover the beans and the eisbein.
  4. Put the slow cooker on auto and let it cook for at least 8 hours.
  5. When the beans are soft add the stock cubes and salt to taste. At this stage I like to mash some beans so that the soup becomes a bit thicker.
  6. Remove the eisbein bone from the soup and serve.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Homemade Chive and Peppadew Cheese: JessiKaas!

Homemade cheese! And it tastes good! I feel so chuffed with myself! Okay, enough exclamation marks already. Making cheese sounds hard, people look at you in awe upon hearing that the tasty cheese is your own creation but really the process is quite simple; all that you need is a little bit of patience and something heavy. (The patience is for waiting while the milk boils and the curds drain and the heavy object is to compress the curds to get all the whey out.) The cheese has the texture of cream cheese, it is tasty spread on bread and a great conversation topic in a crowd!

For the non-Afrikaans readers, "kaas" is Afrikaans for "cheese", and my name is Jessica so I cleverly combined the two to create JessiKaas! (Creative genius am I right? Right? Yes I'm here all week folks. *ba da dum*)

Homemade Chive and Peppadew Cheese aka JessiKaas
Makes about 1 cup of cheese

  • 1 litre Full Cream Milk
  • 250ml Buttermilk
  • Chopped Chives to taste
  • Chopped Peppadews to taste
  • Salt (plain or flavoured) to taste
  • Cheesecloth

  1. Heat the milk in a saucepan until it just starts boiling.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the buttermilk. White clumps should start forming, this is the curds. The liquid is the whey, it should become clearer as more curds form.
  3. Leave for about 10 minutes for the curds and whey to fully separate.
  4. Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour in the curds and whey. Rinse the curds with water for a few minutes to remove all of the whey.
  5. Knot the cheesecloth with the curds and place under a heavy object for an hour. I placed the cheesecloth under a cutting board and weighed it down with a box containing six full wine bottles for this step.
  6. Remove the curds and place in a mixing bowl. Work the curds (knead) with your hands until the texture changes from rubbery to creamy and smooth. This takes about 5 minutes.
  7. Add flavoring to taste, place the cheese in an airtight container and refrigerate.