Category Archives: Slightly unusual

Explosion of taste

We take a break from our usual recipe posts to bring you something pretty awesome. What happens when you rig a couple of tons of herbs and spices to explosives, shoot it with high speed cameras and set the result to music?

You get The Sound of Taste from Grey London.

Several tons of black peppercorns, cardamom, turmeric, paprika, cumin seeds, ginger, chilli and coriander were rigged to explode in perfect sync with a bespoke musical composition. Each explosion represents an individual piano note or chord, which when filmed at high speed, creates a surreal three dimensional sound scape.

Makes you want to go blow up your spice rack for the fun of it. Please do not try this at home.

Quick and easy duck liver pâté

Quick and easy duck liver pâté recipe

Duck liver pâté ingredients

For some odd reason I’ve been craving a chicken on duck liver pâté for the last few weeks. Perhaps this might be an underlying iron, vitamin A or B deficiency, or simply just a longing for a rich and hearty feel-good treat.

Either way, on my recent trip to the shops to stock up on some essentials for the weekend, I happened on some free range duck livers from Woolworths. They’re less than R20 for 250g so this turns out to be an inexpensive dish.

Of course, if you don’t like duck liver, you can always use chicken livers.

Ingredients

  • 250g free range duck livers
  • 50g butter
  • 10ml olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 red onion
  • 25ml brandy or port
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 50g butter to seal

Method

  1. Trim the livers of any fat and sinew, this means all the white or green bits. It’s not as scary as it seems – trust me.
  2. Add olive oil and butter in a frying pan on a medium high heat.
  3. Once the butter has melted, add the onion and cook for a few minutes till soft.
  4. Add the livers and cook gently for about five minutes total, turning so they brown on all sides. It’s quite important to get a good sear on the livers as the caramelisation definitely adds to the final flavour profile of your pâté.
  5. Add the garlic to the pan after 4 minutes and fry.
  6. Add the brandy and thyme. Watch out though, the brandy makes everything bubble and splatter. Bubble for a minute to allow the alcohol to burn off.
  7. Transfer to a liquidiser and puree until your desired consistency. Once smooth, season with salt and pepper and transfer to a ramekin.
  8. If you want a smoother, more silky texture you could always pass the mixture through a sieve, but I like it a bit more rustic.
  9. Melt the extra 50g of butter and pour on top of the pâté to seal.
  10. Cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge to cool down.

When you’re ready to serve the pâté, take it out of the fridge a bit before you’re ready to serve it with some toast. You can certainly play around by adding a couple of capers, cracked sea salt and pepper and dressing it up with a few sprigs of micro-greens.

Best served at room temperature.

Duck liver pâté serving suggestion

Duck liver pâté serving suggestion


Note
Once the butter seal has broken the pâté must be eaten within a couple of days, but can remain in the fridge for a week or more with the seal intact.

This is such a versatile recipe that you could also add any other favour profile you like. Play around with classic sage instead of thyme, add some porchini mushrooms, cream, mustard, raisins, cranberries…etc.

Moroccan style mince with couscous

image

After visiting Morocco earlier this year and receiving a tagine as a Christmas gift, we felt like something Moroccan inspired for our post gammon and turkey hangover. This dish is extremely simple to make and ready in about 30 minutes.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 t ground turmeric
  • 100g dried apricots, chopped
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 cup couscous
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • knob of butter
  • 4 T fresh mint, chopped
  • 50g unsalted cashews, toasted

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan, add onions and cook gently for 5 minutes until soft.
  2. Stir in the spices, coating the onions, then add the mince and fry till brown.
  3. Add the apricots and stock and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and cook gently for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add couscous into a bowl and cover with just boiled water. Once it has absorbed all the water, fork through a knob of butter, lemon zest and mint to give it a nice fluffy texture. Season to taste.
  5. To assemble, spoon couscous onto serving plate, pile the mince mixture on top and scatter with the cashews.

Note
We have some Ras-el-hanout spice from Morocco which gives the dish a bit more complex flavours where up to 30 or more different spices could be in the mix, so you could use that instead of the cumin, cinnamon and turmeric suggested in the recipe. Ras-el-hanout can now be found at most good Pick-n-Pay stores.

South Africans may also have noticed some slight similarities in flavour between this Moroccan dish from North Africa and the traditional South African bobotie recipe. The kids therefore asked that we add some slices of banana and sprinkle some coconut on their portions. Nothing wrong with adding a dollop of chutney too while you’re at it.

Traditionally, Moroccans serve their couscous with seven vegetables, so if you want to bulk up the dish with some oven grilled veggies such as courgettes, red peppers, aubergines, red onions, butternut, carrots, parsnips and leeks then just chop them up, drizzle some olive oil, coat with harissa (chili kick), salt and pepper and pop them into an oven at 180 C for 30 mins or until cooked and caramelised.

Beetroot gazpacho – a summer treat

Beetroot gazpacho

South African’s will know that summer can become incredibly hot. While it’s only spring time, the temperature is already soaring in the mid 30 degrees C.

Of course this poses some challenges for dinners and meals. I hardly feel like having something heavy during summer. So light, vegetarian meals come in to play. Also, since we try to get as much veggies into the children, we’re always looking for ways to incorporate these into our meals.

I recently got some beetroot, with the idea of making beetroot chips, but completely forgot about it. So when Victoire asked about our dinner plans earlier this week, I immediately thought about soup. Then she mentioned the beetroot. It was 35 degrees outside and I felt like something cool and refreshing. I remembered seeing beetroot gazpacho on the Food Network once. The perfect dinner. A combination of sweet and sour, slightly chilled and packed full of veggies.

The recipe is incredibly easy and a real purse pleaser, considering we had all the ingredients in our cupboards.

Ingredients
6 small to medium sized beets
1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 small onion, quartered
1 garlic clove,
4 teaspoons olive oil
5 sprigs of coriander
1.5 cups of vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of vinegar
Few tablespoons of low-fat greek yoghurt

Method

  1. Cook the beetroot in the oven at 220 C until and tender. It took around 45 minutes. Set aside to cool down. Then peel and quarter.
  2. Place all the ingredients, except yoghurt, into a blender and blend until smooth. It shouldn’t be too thick like oats, just smooth enough so you don’t have to chew.
  3. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes while you make a balsamic caramelised onion and blue cheese tart. More on that in the next post.
  4. Taste again and adjust seasoning as required. Pour into bowls and top with 2 tablespoons of the yoghurt and a sprig of coriander (I forgot to put that on in the above photo)

Enjoy!

slow cooker oxtail stew

We received a Kenwood slow cooker as a wedding gift a year ago, and although I’m really keen on using it more often I find that there aren’t many recipes available. My first attempt at slow cooking, coq au vin, wasn’t exactly a success… the chicken turned out to be dry and the whole thing too watery. That was a recipe directly out of the kenwood slow cooker recipe book… This time was different. We bought fresh oxtail, which was really well-priced from our favourite butcher. We also picked up some lovely fresh veggies. I looked up a recipe or two on Google, read through a few of my mom-in-law’s potjiekos recipes before beginning… and best of all spent the entire day fussing over the pot, pouring as much love in as possible!
Preparation is key with this recipe… What’s nice is that you can prepare the veggies while the meat is cooking and wash up everything before you even need to add the “hard” vegetables (carrots and potatoes). We also suggest starting this early! I started cooking at 9 (the start of the 3 hour meat cooking period) and only finished by 5.

oxtail stew 2

Ingredients:

1 or 1.5kg Oxtail (we used 0.7kg, which was not really enough for 4 people)
Butter for sauteing
2 beef stock cubes
1 litre boiling water (maybe less? – I’m not sure how the food to liquid ratio works yet, but perhaps there will be less liquid at the end if less water is added in the beginning. However, I don’t know whether this affects the ability of the meat and veggies to cook or not…)

2 dried bay leaves (I added about 4)
1 tsp fresh thyme (I love fresh herbs from my herb garden so usually just chuck in a whole lot according to how I feel)
1 tsp fresh rosemary (ditto for rosemary, my favourite herb)
1 tsp ground black peppercorns

2 cloves of garlic (I added 4 small cloves, whole)
3 large potatoes
4 medium carrots
1 cup red wine
1 onion
1 red or green pepper

A pack of assorted baby marrows (e.g. patti-pans, courgettes, etc.)
1 punnet button mushrooms
Maizena mixed with a little red wine for thickening the stew

Method:

Add the bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, ground black pepper, and garlic to the slow cooker.
Fry the oxtail in some butter until well-browned on all sides.
Dissolve the stock cubes in the boiling water and add to the pan. Bring to a boil.
Add the oxtail & broth to the slow cooker.
Turn the slow cooker on to High.
Simmer for 3 hours.
Wash the potatoes and cut them into small chunks (about 1/8ths)
Wash the carrots and cut them into slices or dice them.
Add the potatoes, carrots, and wine to the slow cooker pot.
Continue simmering on high for about 2.5 hours (hopefully softish by now).
Chop up the onion and saute in some butter until clear and soft. Add to the pot.
Chop the baby marrows.
Clean the mushrooms with a damp cloth.
Add the marrows and mushrooms (whole) to the pot. There is no need to stir them in, don’t worry if they are not covered with liquid.
Simmer for 1.5 hours on High.
Remove the lid and add the maizena mixture to the pot (enough to thicken the amount of liquid in the pot).
Season with salt according to taste.
Simmer on High with the lid off until the sauce is thickened – anything from 30 min to 1 hour. The meat should be falling off the bone by now.
Serve with rice or some chunky crusty bread.