Saturday, 9 June 2012

Lazy Chicken Cordon Bleu and Creamed Spinach

And so I make my return to lazy blogging with a Lazy Chicken Cordon Bleu (not Blew as the spell-checker tried to convince me! ) The past few(?!) months, as much as I like cooking and baking and eating and telling people about it, I just wasn't feeling the blogging. A good chunk of my time was devoted to preparing and baking a wedding cake for one of my close friends, but more about that in a future post... 

 Why Lazy Chicken Cordon Bleu you ask? The traditional way of preparing Chicken Cordon Bleu involves rolling the flattened chicken breast around a piece of pork meat (like ham or prosciutto) and a soft cheese, then crumbing the entire parcel and deep frying it (sjoe!). I decided to rather just fold the chicken over on the filling, and making a crust for the top.

 I recently bought a Bamix with a wonderful food processor attachment; its nut grinding abilities lead to this recipe one evening my boyfriend came over to make dinner. I assigned him the task of making the accompanying Creamed Spinach, along with the official title, 'Vice President of Spinach' :P 

 I used almonds and coconut for the crust which gave it a lovely subtle, exotic flavour, as well as robust Gouda which provided a good base flavour. 

 On the accompaniment side, the Vice President of Spinach did an excellent job by adding a bit of NoMU Black Pepper and Pistachio Dipper to the creamed spinach which really took the dish to the next level! I've made the Creamed Spinach a few times since, it will definitely become part of my regular cooking repertoire.

The best part of making this meal for two people, was that I had delicious leftovers to enjoy all over again the next day!


  Lazy Chicken Cordon Bleu Makes 4 portions
  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • 1/2 cup Dessicated Coconut
  • 1/2 cup Blanched Almonds
  • 1/4 cup Strong Cheese, grated (I used matured Gouda)
  • 8 Bacon strips
  • Cream Cheese
  • a few sprigs of Thyme
  1. Preheat the oven to 180'C on bake.
  2. Place the coconut, almonds and cheese in a food processor, process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. (The quantities indicated are just a rough guideline, don't worry too much about being accurate here)
  3. Place a chicken breast between 2 sheets of cling wrap. Use a heavy bottomed pan to flatten the meat until it is about half it's original thickness.(Whack the meat with the pan!) Do this with the rest of the breasts as well.
  4. To assemble: Take a chicken breast, place 2 strips of bacon on so that they cover the whole breast. Place a spoonful of cream cheese in the center of the breast, add a few sprigs of thyme, and fold the breast over. (The fold should be perpendicular to the long edge of the breast.)
  5. Put the chicken on a baking tray, bake until the bottom edge is just cooked through. Remove the tray and turn the chicken around(cooked side should be on top). Spoon the crumb mix evenly over all the pieces of chicken, use your fingers to pat it down a bit. Return the chicken to the oven and bake it until the bottom edge cooked. I turned on the grill for the last few minutes to get a nice brown crust.

Creamed Spinach
  • 300g Spinach (white stems removed)
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
  • Half a pack of Bacon (I used the bacon left over from the chicken!)
  • 30g Cream Cheese (2 portions)
  • 1 heaped tsp of NoMU Black Pepper & Pistachio Dipper
  1. In a pan, fry the onions,garlic and bacon until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the spinach bit for bit until everything is in the pan. (The volume of the spinach decreases a lot when it is cooked, thus the volume of fresh spinach is too much to add to the pan in one batch)
  3. After all the spinach has been added, add the cream cheese and dukkah, and cook until the spinach is done to your liking.

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!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Any Fruit Crumble

I seemed to have bought a self replicating bag of guavas. This is strange, because there appeared to be a finite amount of fruit in the bag when I got it.

Despite this, self replication appears to be the only explanation, because after two weeks of taking guavas to work every day, there's still a whole bunch of guavas stinking up my fridge (the smell of ripe guavas are amazing, but there's something about the smell of *ripening* guavas in large groups that makes my nostrils shudder).

This situation has forced me to make this dessert on a Sunday afternoon, after a huge lunch and pudding, just to get rid of my seemingly endless supply of fruit. I usually make the recipe with an assortment of different seasonal fruit, but this batch only contained guavas (desperate times...).

The recipe is very forgiving in terms of precise measurements. My usual method involves combining twice as much flour as sugar, then crumbing in butter until the mixture clumps when pressed together in my fist (shown in photo at the bottom of the post). However, in the name of science I have provided ingredient quantities here for the specified dish size (and because I had to type up the recipe for a friend!).

Note: I got the baking dish and the ramekin from Le Creuset at one of their Food Bloggers evenings at Silwood Kitchen, gorgeous aren't they? :)

Any Fruit Crumble
Serves 4

  • 1 cup flour
  • 0.5 cup sugar
  • 0.3(one third) - 0.5 cup butter (depends on how 'cookie-like' you want your crust, I used 0.3 in the photos)
  • Fruit of your choice to fill a dish with 1.2l capacity (the dish in the photos is 0.6l)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180'C.
  2. Cut your fruit into pieces about 2-3cm big. Put them in a shallow baking dish. If the fruit is very tart, sprinkle some sugar on.
  3. Put the fruit into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. I do this so the fruit has enough time to soften without me worrying that I'm burning the crumble. The initial baking can be omitted.
  4. Combine the flour and the sugar in a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the mixture until it resembles fine crumbs.
  5. Remove the fruit from the oven and sprinkle the mixture over. Be sure to move the fruit around a bit so the crumble can get in between the fruit as well.
  6. Put the dish back into the oven and bake until the crumble topping is crisp (takes about 20 minutes in my oven). Depending on how impatient I am, I put on the grill as well to finish it quicker, however I do recommend baking it longer rather that shorter as the fruit caramelises and turns nice and gooey the longer you bake it (as long as it doesn't burn!).

Sunday, 12 June 2011


According to the internet, Melkkos is a "milk-based South African dessert". Pfft. Anyone who has eaten Melkkos knows that this description falls miles short in describing the creamy, milky, comforting, cinnamony (is that even a word?) dish that is Melkkos.

Melkkos is a milk based dish which is either thickened with flour & butter crumbs or or with a dough which has been cut into strips. It is served with a generous helping of cinnamon sugar sprinkled over the top. The version with the dough strips is apparently the traditional way of preparing Melkkos, but the only recipes I've found have been the crumb version. Personally I've never eaten it as a dessert, but rather a light evening meal.

Most people have fond childhood memories of Melkkos, I managed to make it all the way to university without even knowing it exists! I can clearly remember booking my meals for the week at the eetsaal (dining room/cafeteria) one week and seeing this Melkkos thing on the menu and being utterly perplexed. It was love at first bite, after that I never missed a meal where Melkkos would be served, even if the accompanying food was of a more questionable nature... (eetsaal food isn't known for it's outstanding culinary accolades!)

After several years at university, I walked away with lots of life experience, great memories, a degree or two, many huisdans glasses and an eetsaal bowl that accidentally (*cough*) got packed in with the rest of my things. The portions we got were never as generous as in the photographs, and the Melkkos was never as good as a homemade batch, but I still love making Melkkos at home, taking out my borrowed bowl and reminiscing about the cold winter evenings back at res where I was first introduced to Melkkos.

Serves 4

  • 1l Milk
  • 15ml Butter
  • 150ml Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Cinnamon Sugar for serving

  1. Rub the butter into the flour and salt until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  2. Bring milk to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Once the milk has boiled, add the flour mixture and mix with a whisk. (don't worry about it being lumpy, that's how it's supposed to be!)
  4. Cook the mixture until it has thickened, and remember to stir to prevent the base burning!
  5. Serve immediately with a good sprinkling of cinnamon sugar!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Franschhoek Lions Amazing Race Treasure Hunt

On Saturday the 29th of May my friends and I participated in the most fun, amazing, entertaining and tasty event in Franschhoek namely the Lions Amazing Race!

The Franschhoek Lions Club organised the event in order to raise money to buy a sorely needed Electrocardiogram (ECG) machine for the Franschhoek community. Twenty-two wine farms in the region participated in the event. The 'Amazing Race' format was used; at each farm we did a wine tasting after which we had to perform a wine related task that was timed. At the end of the day the team with the best time would walk away with the grand prize of 15 cases of wine! Every team also had to have a color scheme and dress accordingly.

At 9:30 we received our first clue and the pink & black team aka The Samurai Pizza Cats was off to My Wyn!

As we drove closer to our first stop, the house at My Wyn appeared out of the thick vegetation and mist high on the mountain slopes. My Wyn is the smallest wine cellar in Franschhoek, Jacoline Haasbroek runs the place and produces all the wines herself using traditional wine making equipment.

Our first task was hand dipping wine bottles in wax in order to seal them. Due to the weather being typical Cape-like it was raining, so the whole operation moved into the cellar. We each sealed one bottle and affixed a label to it. We even got to keep our own bottle!

After successfully completing the sealing we received our second clue which lead us to...Glenwood!

Glenwood is the home of the Blushing Bride Protea, a rare species that was once thought extinct! Apparently the higher in the mountain the flower grows, the darker shade of pink the blossoms are. There is a little folklore attached to the flower:
Historically it is reputed that French Hugenots farmers would approach their girlfriends with a S. florida flower in their lapels when about to ask for their hand in marriage. The common name, Blushing Bride, apart from the obvious inference of the flowers colour, derives from the fact that the suitor’s intention was apparent to all who met him, much to the embarrassment of his bride to be. The deeper the pink colour the more serious the intentions of the suitor.
Source:Haut Espoir Fynbos Friday

At Glenwood our task was to throw boules so that they land within a circle, once that was finished our clue pointed us in the direction of Holden Manz.

Guy Kedian welcomed us at Holden Manz with a lovely platter of cured meats, fresh bread and butternut soup. For the task each of us had to catch a grape in our mouth thrown by the other members of the team who had to stand about 7 meters away. Much hilarity ensued!

The next stop for the day was L'Ormarins where we had to run around looking for answers between the old car exhibits! Each of us drew a random piece of paper with a clue on and I got the task of changing a car's tyre! Afterwards we were directed to La Motte.

We tasted wine in a private tasting room at La Motte at a beautifully set table. Afterward we were taken to the Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant where we were served a truffled white bean soup with goats cheese foam at the Chef's table by the chef, Chris Erasmus, himself!

It was wonderful sitting at the table as you can see right into the kitchen (and I'll refrain from adding 'where the magic happens'... *cough*).

Next we went to the museum to find some elephants (as Franschhoek was first called Olifantshoop) in one of the paintings. Then we set off to Vrede en Lust.

We had to listen carefully during the wine tasting as we were quizzed afterwards (the original plan involved running around the farm to find the answers but the weather wasn't playing along). It was even harder to pay attention as we had been served a cheese platter with 5 different cheeses served with preserves, tempura olives and bread basket in their beautiful tasting room. All the cheeses come from Cotage Fromage, a deli and cheese shop situated on the farm.

Our last stop for the day was at Chamonix where they decided to give us Schnapps shots instead of wine...

Our task at Chamonix was to each down a shot of Schnapps (this is after the initial tasting) and then push another team member in a wheelbarrow around the parking area.

Each team member had to have a turn pushing the wheelbarrow and in turn being the cargo.The Schnapps burning in my stomach fueled my desire to get the running bit over with as soon as possible!

Seven clues, seven wine farms, seven wine tastings and seven timed wine related tasks were done! After admiring the view, we returned to Goederust for the prize giving. Dinner was then served which included the famous Goederust farm bread.

The Lions Club did a fantastic job organising the Amazing Race. Everyone I spoke to had a ball of a time and definitely discovered some new Franschhoek gems! I truly felt like we were treated like royalty at every farm we visited. The Lions Club also raised enough money to be able to buy the much needed ECG machine.
Thank you very much to Lodine Maske for all the hours she put into organising the event as well as all the other members of the Lions Club Franschhoek, you'll definitely be seeing all of us next year!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Smoked Snoek Pate

I've had a craving for smoked snoek for quite a while now, smoked snoek pate specifically. It took one lazy Saturday afternoon and 15 minutes to make a fresh, creamy, smokey, lemony pate that is great immediately, and even better once it has had time for the flavours to develop.

I bought myself a new camera a few days ago. I've been having so much fun playing with it, and I really enjoyed taking these photos! <3 dSLR :)

Smoked Snoek Pate
Makes about 1 cup

  • 200g Packet of Smoked Snoek
  • 2 Heaped tablespoons Creamed Cottage Cheese
  • 2 Heaped teaspoons Mayonaise
  • 1 Clove of garlic, cut finely
  • 0.25 Onion, grated or cut finely
  • 0.5 Pickle, grated or cut finely
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • Juice of 0.5 Lemon
  • 0.25 Cup of Dill (cut into small pieces)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Flake the fish and carefully remove all the bones.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together. That is all!

Note: These quantities are only a guideline. I devised the recipe by adding ingredients and tasting until I was happy, I highly recommend you do the same!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Blueberry Macarons

Blueberry macarons. Tasty tasty blueberry macarons.

If there is one thing that I learned at the 2010 Food Bloggers Conference, it is that you should always start your posts with a sentence relevant to the subject matter. Fortunately I learned more than one thing, and you can too! Colleen aka browniegirl has taken the momentous task upon herself again this year to organize the 2011 Food Bloggers Indaba! Please go check it out if you have a blog, or intend to start one, or if you just want to go have a ball for a day!

Now back another subject matter.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax,
Of cabbages and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot
And whether pigs have wings."

From The Walrus and the Carpenter - Lewis Carroll

For me, the time has come for many things...

The time for my student days has almost come to an end, only one presentation stands between me and the end of my degree. So instead of working on the presentation I am blogging, hellooooo procrastination!

I kid, the time is long overdue for posting again for me too. I have so many photos that are just sitting patiently on my harddrive just waiting to be published, bad blogger! The time has definitely come for more blogging.

The time has also come for me to change my blog's theme. It's a bit of a work in progress at the moment, so expect more changes in the future!

And now, the time has come for me to share the macaron recipe that I have been using!

Source: Daydreamer Desserts
Makes about two baking trays

  • 90 grams egg whites (aged for 2 days)
  • 200g powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  • 110g finely ground almonds
  • 25g granulated sugar

  1. The first and most important step: Weigh out all your ingredients before starting and line two baking trays with baking sheets! (don't use tinfoil, just trust me on that one) Also prepare a pastry bag with a round nozzle (approximately 1cm in diameter). This is just going to make your life much easier later...
  2. Sift the powdered sugar and ground almonds together and set aside. I don't own a sieve so I just use a fork to mix everything together well, making sure there are no lumps in the mixture.
  3. Place your egg whites in the most pristine clean mixing bowl you can find. (*cough* you can trust me on that one as well...) Beat the egg whites until foamy but not yet resembling anything stiff.
  4. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating and mix until the texture resembles that of shaving cream. (Be careful not to over beat!)
  5. Add all of the powdered sugar/almond mixture to the egg whites in one go. Use a spatula to fold everything together. A good rule of thumb not to over mix is to not use more than 50 strokes to incorporate everything. The end result has been described as having the consistency of "thick pancake batter", I think foamy/runny mousse also describes it well.
  6. Spoon the batter into the pastry bag and pipe round on to the baking trays prepared earlier. I prefer my macarons smaller, so I pipe my round to be about 2cm in diameter.
  7. Now, mac batter has so stand outside a bit before baking in order for the finished product to have nice little feet. Some recipes recommend letting the batter rest for about an hour, but since that depends heavily on how the weather is, I leave mine until the tops aren't sticky to the touch anymore.
  8. After resting, bake the macarons in a preheated oven at 140 degrees C for about 15 minutes. This part is also a bit tricky. I recommend watching your oven temperature like a hawk (mine varies with about 20 degrees within the heating cycle, so lots of opening and closing of the oven door for me). If the oven is too warm the tops of the macs will crack, too cool and they won't rise sufficiently. I'd recommend just getting a chair and sitting in front of the oven while they bake!
  9. Once they are done, leave them to cool a bit before removing them from the baking sheet. Let them cool then sandwich together with the filling of your choice!


  • To age the egg whites, place them in a bowl, cover them then either leave them outside for a day or refrigerate for two days. I'm too lazy to do this so I heat the egg whites in the microwave for 10 seconds on medium then mix. I repeat this until white flecks just start appearing in the egg whites. (Be careful, egg whites cook pretty quickly!)
  • Instead of trying to get exactly 90 grams of egg whites, I break 2 or 3 eggs and weigh the resulting egg whites. I then just adjust the rest of the ingredients according to the egg whites weight.
  • An accurate scale (digital) is pretty important for this recipe, get one!

Chocolate Ganache

  • 85 grams chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 60ml cream

  1. Heat the cream until just before boiling point. (I do this in the microwave)
  2. Add the chocolate to the hot cream, leave for about 2 minutes until melted.
  3. Stir the mixture until mixed well, put into the refrigerator until set. (about 1 hour)
  4. When cooled, beat the mixture a bit before using.


  • For the blueberry filling I used white chocolate and added some cooked, squashed blueberries to the mix.
  • I like adding a drop of jam in the centre of the macarons, makes for interesting eating!