Friday, February 26, 2010

Hazel Food Market

Pretorians looking for somewhere close to spend an hour or so on a Saturday morning can meander over to Pinaster Street in Hazelwood for some brekkie, live music and veggie shopping (08:00 to 13:00). Update: Hazel Food Market has relocated to Greenlyn Village Centre, Cnr. Mackenzie and Thomas Edison Streets, Menlo Park.

While the variety of "instant" items aren't huge in terms of allergy-friendliness (particularly gluten), the market's heart is in the right place, and is worth a little visit if you feel like doing something different.

Gluten-free offering: Roasted butternut, feta cheese,
ginger, garlic with a cappuccino.

Hubby's brekkie: Italian bread filled with
fried egg, grilled aubergine and roasted peppers.

My take-home loot: Beetroot, green beans, sweet potatoes,
potatoes and aubergines
(bought from the cool produce stall
with the very friendly
and very, very tall vendor who offers great cooking tips!)

Watch this space in the coming week
for recipes/photos of my market-veg creations.

Have a fab weekend everyone!

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Mamie's Biryani

My hubby and I love stopping by my parents' house on the weekends for some good, old-fashioned down-home cookin' and visiting :-)

My Mom knew Sim and I had been having a bit of a tough week, what with him being booked off with a nasty sinus infection and me being a bit stressed-out with work and whatnot, so she went all out with her very first, homemade chicken biryani - one of my all time fave comfort foods!

Her friend, Roslyn, was consulted for guidance on the general rules and ingredients of biryani-making. According to her: "You need to put lots of spice. The secret's in the spice" (thanks, Ros).

I must say, the finished product was absolutely brilliant (thanks, Mom). This was true soul-food (and sans any possible ingredients that I am intolerant to, guaranteeing nourishment to the cellular level!)

Sylvia's Chicken Biryani
(Serves 6 generously)

  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 2 cups brown lentils (dal)
  • 8 chicken breasts (boneless)
  • 8 potatoes (medium)
  • 4 onions (small)
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • masala (Mom used a gluten-free blend from The Cape Herb & Spice Company called "Cape Country Curry Blend" which contains: coriander seeds; turmeric; cumin seeds (jeera); ginger; fenugreek; yellow mustard seeds; chillies, sea salt, cinnamon; garlic; cloves; bay leaf, turmeric oil; curry leaf)
  • rice spice (again, from the Cape Herb & Spice Co., a blend called "Malay Rice Spice" which contains: onion; sea salt; turmeric; coriander (dhania); garlic; fennel; chilli; cumin (jeera); mustard seeds; ginger; cinnamon)
  • olive oil


Step 1:
  • Cut the chicken breasts into chunks and rub with masala and salt. Set aside (in the fridge).
Step 2:
  • Put the rice on to boil (follow packet instructions) with the rice spice and salt.
  • In a seperate pot, put the brown lentils on to boil (follow packet instructions). Once they are cooked, add masala to taste.
  • Peel and cut the potatoes. Boil in a third pot with salt till soft.
Step 3:
  • Fry the onions, garlic and ginger in olive oil over low heat till translucent.
  • Add the chicken and cook till done (my mom added some of the boiling water from the lentils and potatoes), adding salt/pepper/masala to taste.
Step 4:
  • Assemble the biryani by layering rice - lentils - potatoes - chicken - rice (apparently boiled eggs are also an optional extra).
  • Cover with tin foil and pop into the oven to steam (about 175 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes).
  • Take out the oven and sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander (dhania) (if you can handle the taste, which I can't).
Mom served this delicious biryani with a simple side salad of lettuce and sprouted legumes/lentils.

Hubby and I got to take home the extra biryani, and recaptured the yum for dinner! :-)

I hope you all have a great week, filled with nourishing moments and good food.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Resolution Evolution

It would seem as if the tide turned somewhere along the road and my blog suddenly took on a foodie edge. Not that I'm complaining - I've enjoyed the re-awakening of this part of my skill set, which was once my day job, now purely used for reasons of enjoyment and sustenance.

Of course, it stands to reason that cranking out sugar-filled baked goods over and over in a perfectionistic effort to create a (mostly) flawless end-product isn't exactly great for one's waistline. Thus, in an effort to "curb my enthusiasm" (pun intended for those who ever watched the rather strange tv programme of almost the same name), I enrolled in ABC's Adventure Boot Camp for Women.

Enter one hour a day, five days a week, totalling four weeks of butt-kicking, sweat-drenched outdoor exercise at 05:45 every morning.

Now, never having been a morning person in any sense of the word, this has been an eye-opening experience in terms of how one's body clock adapts to such time changes (which doesn't stop just because it's weekend, btw - I mean, what is one supposed to be doing at 05:30 on a Saturday morning when everyone else, including the dog, is still asleep?) The perks of this new time-space continuum (other than the perkiness, of course)? I've seen more sunrises in the past two weeks than I've seen in the past ten years!

Nevertheless, it's nearing the end of week two, and I am beginning to see the changes not only in my less snug clothing and newfound fitness, but also in the food choices I'm making. I am the first to agree that food has its place as a mechanism for comfort (not to an unhealthy degree, of course, but sometimes you just want a piece of chocolate cake for the sake of enjoyment after a tough day). However, food takes on a slightly different meaning when it becomes something that has to fuel you for the sake of a tough morning workout rather than just appeal to your tastebuds (which I realise is a luxury in itself when many people are battling just to put basics on the table).

My cravings have begun to lean towards the protenacious - with cheese featuring higher on my list of "yes please" treats than chocolate (I never thought I would lay eyes on that day). My cooking habits have changed too, becoming simpler and healthier.

So I guess, at least for the moment anyway, it's likely that when I post a recipe, it's going to be running on the healthier side of the eating gamut. That being said, my challenge now is to add flavoursomeness (if that's a word) to even the simplest of ingredients so that healthy eating doesn't become a bore, but rather an appreciation of the fact that something can be good, and good for you!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Quick, tasty, healthy, unfussy eating!

I tossed this little ditty together one time-pressed day after work and really enjoyed the flavoursome outcome of what are, essentially, very simple yet very comforting ingredients.

  • 1 red onion
  • 800g green peas
  • 3 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1/2 lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Saute the red onion in olive oil over low-medium heat for about 3 - 5 mins till glossy but still al dente.
  2. Toss in the peas and saute on higher heat.
  3. Once the peas are al dente (about 2 mins), add the baby spinach and allow to wilt (takes about 1 minute).
  4. Drizzle with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  5. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Love Day!

Homemade gluten-free shortbread (crumbled)
topped with berry coulis and a cashew nut
(to be eaten with a heart spoon, of course!)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Little bites of chocolate heaven

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's Chocolate Charm Cookies. I have tried it twice: The first time, substituting the 2 cups of flour for a pre-made mix of gluten-free flour (Nature's Choice GF Cake Flour); and the second time, I used 1.5 cups of rice flour (Entice Rice) and 0.5 cups potato flour. Both versions worked. Both tasted yummy.

If you want flatter, crisper cookies then chill the dough for less time. If you want ones that are puffier and more cake-like (similar to the pics from Martha Stewart's recipe site), then chill the dough for an hour or more. Personally, I prefer a crunchier cookie.

Funny thing about this recipe: regardless of which type you want, all you do is roll the dough in a ball and put it on the cookie sheet. The temperature of the dough BEFORE you put it in the oven determines how flat/puffy your cookie will come out. Cool, right? :-)


Chocolate Charm Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 36 - 40

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter (2 US sticks = 226g)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius, with rack on the bottom quarter of the oven (one notch below the middle).
  2. Sift flour, cocoa, salt in a bowl.
  3. Beat butter and sugar in a seperate bowl till fluffly.
  4. Add vanilla and flour to butter/sugar. Mix till just incorporated and dough sticks together.
  5. Chill for 15 mins (flatter cookie) to 1 hour (puffy cookie).
  6. Form balls and place on a lined baking sheet.
  7. As soon as you put the baking sheet in the oven, put the temperature down to 150 degrees Celsius for the duration of the baking time for that baking sheet. When you take it out, turn the oven back up to 175 while you put your cookies on the cooling rack and roll more dough balls. Then turn it down again to 150 as soon as the new sheet goes in. You'll find a rhythm (Like the granny said from the movie Strictly Ballroom: "Feel da rhythm, don't be scared.")
  8. Bake for approximately 13 minutes and then put on a wire cooling rack.
  9. Dust with cocoa powder for prettiness.
  10. Store in an air-tight container at room temp for 5 days.
  11. Note: The original recipe says 20 - 25 minutes ----- this would be a bad thing unless you like your biscuits burnt! It also says to turn the cookies halfway through the baking time ---- this is not necessary. It also says you can store these for up to a week, but by day 6 they are tasting a bit stale, so I don't recommend pushing it past 5 days of storage.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Julie and Julia

Highly recommended!
I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did.
Incredible how Meryl Streep managed to capture
Julia Child's mannerisms.
Oh, and LOVE the pink, heart-shaped Le Creuset
pots available in shops
(they focus on the round, orange one in the movie).
Pity they are so darn expensive though!

Friday, February 05, 2010


A flower from my liebchen

I filled-in for my boss today who teaches English and Afrikaans at the school I'm employed at. I had forgotten how much fun teaching English poetry could be!

We analysed Edmund Spenser's Sonnet nr. 75 in preparation for a critical appreciation essay the students had to write, and I have to say, I think my scientific brain got it's heiney kicked for an hour or so while I luxuriated in the romanticism of English once more.

Sonnet 75
One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
Vain man, said she, that doest in vain assay
A mortal thing so to immortalize,
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eke my name be wiped out likewise.
Not so (quode I), let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your virtues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name.
Where whenas Death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.
(Edmund Spenser)

Tres romantic, n'est-ce pas?

On that note, have a great weekend in the month of lurve ;-)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Bryanston Organic Market

  • Thursdays and Saturdays from 9:00 to 15:00
Pagoda-ish stalls...

Trees to sit under and stare at the world...

Lots of different types of munchies, clothes and crafts...

Well-behaved dogs are welcome too...

Masala dosas from Chai's Place (stall 39)...

And some chai too, of course!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Cheese Scones

Adapted from my Mom's recipe
(Makes 12)

  • 250ml flour (I used 3/4 rice flour + 1/4 potato flour)
  • 250ml cheese (cheddar/feta/etc.)
  • 185ml milk (if you use potato flour, you'll need 200ml milk)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (1/2 tsp bicarb + 1/2 tsp creme of tartar)
  • pinch of salt/pepper/mixed herbs
  • Mix all ingredients together (no mixer/whisk necessary).
  • Spoon into a greased muffin tin.
  • Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 12 - 15 minutes.