Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Ready Steady Cook!


7 Mystery ingredients, 3 courses, 3 weeks to prepare. The Ready Steady Cook! challenge is based on the popular television show by the same name. The challenge is to create a 3 course meal, using 7 mystery ingredients (supplied by another blogger) as well as any of the pantry ingredients specified. My mystery ingredients were supplied by Hila from Add to Taste and are as follows:

  • Black Grapes

  • Boerewors

  • Palm Hearts

  • Red Wine

  • Haloumi

  • Watermelon

  • Fennel Root

The pantry ingredients supplied were the following:

  • Stock

  • Milk/Cream

  • Eggs

  • Flour (or a flour substitute)

  • Lemons

  • Garlic

  • Ginger

  • Chillies

  • Fresh Herbs

  • Dried Herbs

  • Dried Spices

  • Sugar (or a sugar substitute)

  • Butter/margarine

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Oil – any of your choice

  • Vinegar

  • Pasta / Noodles / Rice

  • Tinned Tomatoes

  • Tinned Chickpeas

  • Chocolate / Cacao

This round of Ready Steady Cook! was kindly hosted by Tandy from Lavender & Lime, thanks Tandy!

Starter: Fried Haloumi Finger Food

  • Haloumi (a few slices about 5mm thick)

  • Butter

  • Boerewors

  • 1 Sage Leaf

  • 250ml Red Wine

  • 30ml Sugar

  • 1 Star Aniseed

  • Black Grapes, halved

  1. Start with the Red Wine Reduction, put the red wine, sugar and star aniseed in a pot and boil until reduced to a syrup. Leave to cool.

  2. Pan fry the boerewors with a few sage leaves in a pan until done.

  3. For the haloumi, heat a pan to medium heat and add a generous amount of butter to a pan (the more butter the better in this case). Add the haloumi and fry on each side until the outside is just crispy (you don't want to the cheese to get too soft, otherwise you'll have trouble turning it over!).

  4. Arrange all the items on a plate and drizzle with the red wine reduction.

Main: Fennel Root Risotto with Gingered Palm Hearts

  • 1 Fennel Root bulb, sliced finely

  • 2 Tbsp Butter

  • 1 cup Arborio Rice

  • 6 cups Chicken Stock, hot

  • 1 tin of Palm Hearts

  • 2 cm piece of Ginger, grated

  • Some more butter for frying

  1. Start with the Gingered Palm Hearts. Heat a generous amount of butter in a frying pan.

  2. Add the ginger and palm hearts and fry on a medium to low heat until the palm hearts are soft inside.

  3. For the risotto I used the fennel instead of onions in the traditional recipe and omitted the usual cheese. There are as many ways to make risotto as there are people making risotto, so feel free to use the method you find works best. I will describe the method I used.

  4. In a pot, fry the fennel with the butter until the fennel is soft.

  5. Add the arborio rice and stir until it is coated with the butter and heated through (about 1 minute).

  6. Add 1 cup of the chicken stock and stir until it is completely absorbed. Add another cup and continue in the same way until the rice is soft and creamy.

  7. Serve immediately with the palm hearts.

Dessert: Watermelon and Cardamom Chocolate Mousse

  • 80g Chocolate (use good quality chocolate, it is the main ingredient!)

  • 70ml Watermelon Juice

  • 5ml Cardamom Powder

  1. This recipe requires everything to happen at the right time, so a few things need to be prepared before starting. Get two bowls, one larger than the other. The smaller bowl should be large enough for you to whisk in. Fill the larger bowl with ice and water, this will be used as an ice bath for the smaller bowl. Get a whisk ready.

  2. To start, break the chocolate into small pieces (you want it to be able to melt quickly). Put the chocolate into the smaller bowl.

  3. For the watermelon juice, press pieces of watermelon through a sieve (throw away the pulp). Measure out the right amount of juice, mix with the cardamom and heat it until almost boiling. Add it to the chocolate and stir the mixture until all the chocolate is melted.

  4. Put the bowl into the ice bath and start whisking. The idea is for the mixture to be agitated continuously while cooling down. As it cools it will start to thicken. When it just reached mousse consistency, stop immediately and remove it from the ice bath. If you over beat it, it will become too stiff and grainy, but don't worry! You can just heat the mixture again and restart the process.

  5. Serve immediately with a few slices of watermelon.

  6. Note: Check out this video for a more detailed explanation of this method, as well as showing how it is done.


Click on the image below to see what the other bloggers did! Best of luck everyone!


  1. wow, you really did a great three course meal with your ingredients! Hope you take part in February's challenge :)

    1. Thanks Tandy, Ready Steady Cook! was great fun, and it really stretched my recipe imagination!

  2. I should not have read this blog post at 11:25 am. My stomach is aching for these delicious dishes and my mouth is watering all over the place. Looks amazing!

    1. Thanks C, always great to see your comments here :)

  3. Awesome job! I love your idea for the fennel risotto with Ginger. Take care, Bam

    1. Thanks Bam, not sure how I felt about the palm hearts, but the ginger was lovely with the fennel risotto! Will try it again when I have more 'pantry ingredients' available :P