Thyme, Mustard & Crème Fraîche Baked St Joseph

St Joseph aka the Elephant Fish.  I had never heard of this before, which of course made me want to try it even more. I found this strange fish at my closest Food Lovers Market,  I was not sure how to handle it, fish is not that simple, you must treat certain flavours with certain types of fish otherwise you loose the true flavour of the meat.

After doing some research, and finally finding the info in a book from my father in law, I was educated with the information that the Elephant fish should be treated like Kingklip.

These fillets are rather large so 1 fillet could easily feed 4 people.

Thyme, Mustard & Crème Fraîche Baked St Joseph

 

st joseph fillets cooked

400g St Joseph fillet , cleaned and rinsed
1 tub Crème Fraîche
5 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp freshly chopped thyme
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup cheddar & mozzarella mixed, grated
seasoning

Preheat the oven to 240°C

Spray an oven proof dish, large enough to hold the fillet, with olive oil or run the bottom with butter, to ensure the fish doesn’t stick. You may have to cut the fillet to fit into the dish.

st joseph fillets

In a large mixing bowl, combine the Crème Fraîche, mustard, thyme, lemon juice, lemon zest and cheese.

Place the fillets in the dish and season.  Pour the mustard mixture over the fillets, ensuring that the whole fillet is covered.

Bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes.  This may seem a little excessive for fish, however the fillets are rather thick, so you will have to keep them in the oven for some time. If you are using different fish for this, you have to determine the time by the thickness of the fillet.

The mixture on top of the fillet creates a nice crust over the fish, with so much flavour however, personally I did not enjoy the texture of the fish or the flavour of the meat. It was a little to stringy for me, I am very picky when it comes to fish and sadly I enjoy boring old hake.

 

Food Love at Meade Cafe, George, Gardenroute

Meade Cafe has been around for a while in the Garden Route.  I remember being fresh out of high scholl we all flocked there for the signature “Jamie Oliver Sandwich”.  Since then it has changed hands, turned into a more interior decorating spot, and now recently back into a cafe in its original spot and even more impressive!

Being slightly warmer, we decided to sit outside in the garden, which I absolutely love.  Looking around you would never imagine you are sitting in the middle of George’s CBD, you forget the world outside of those walls.  With Spring in the air, the flowers are starting to bloom, the smells of fresh Spring surrounds you, and you are taken into a magical world.


 

Inside if fit with a few tables, a counter full of wonderful pastries, quiche of the day, and the entrance to the kitchen simple says “the best kitchen staff works here” I absolutely love the positivity and friendliness, and most importantly the warm Meade Cafe gives you, inside and out!

The menu is small, nothing over the top, printed on recycled paper, all so simple and absolutely perfect!  They have a few adverts from different businesses in the close vicinity, so while sitting and looking over the menu, you can book a spa treatment or think about booking a photographer…

The fishcakes were highly recommended, so we had to order these!  Along with the fishcakes, we ordered the grilled polenta.  Both dishes blew me away.

The homemade fishcakes served on a baby potato and leaf salad, homemade tartar sauce and salsa

A mixture of hake & snoek, with fresh parsley and lemon zest gave these fishcakes so fresh and light!

Grilled Polenta topped with Ratatouille & olives and a touch of anchovies just had me squirming with delight.  Such a simple dish and my mouth was watering with delight!

This is a perfect example of the type of food I love.  Often you go to a restaurant and you have the restaurant classics, but nothing excites you…I love the excitement of food, of that something that really makes you think, feel and fall in love!

Rawlicious Challenge – Mung Bean & Goji Berry Sweet Potato and Day 31 of March Food Photo Challenge

I rolled both Tandy’s challenge as well as the final day of March Food Photo Challenge into one today. My recipe is for Mung Bean & Goji berry Sweet Potato, topped with Roasted Beetroot Yogurt Dressing.

The whole Raw Food concept really does intrigue me, however, I do find it really difficult to to go complete raw, hence why my recipe is not 100% Raw, but again, you can just make the salad part and that would be classified as Raw.
I did a lot of research for this challenge, and chose certain ingredients for reasons.

The sweet potato, I admit freely that it has to be my top 5 ingredients to work with. I have to try and stick to low GI due to the insulin resistance I have in my body, so the sweet potato is my replacement for potatoes. The sweet potato stabilizes blood sugar & improves response to insulin; it is high in vitamin A & beta carotene, which therefore results as a great superfood for the skin.

I used Mung Beans, instead of cooking, I just sprouted them, when you do this, you release Vitamin C in them, to add to the other packed vitamins A, K and B6, mung beans are high in fibre and slow down the release of calories into the blood stream, as well as slow down of digestion which also stabilizes blood sugar. Although a bean, it has a low content of protein so you can’t use it as a complete meal.

Goji Berries are recently acquired goodness. I have to admit, I do enjoy them. Also known as one of the superfoods, Goji berried are great for stamina, weight loss and maintain blood glucose levels. These little berries are a great immune system booster and enhance the body to fight off diseases, lowers blood cholesterol, as well as great for the skin.

Beetroot, being not only on my list of top 5, is also a great antioxidants. Beetroot is a rich source of carbohydrates, a good source of protein, and has high levels of important vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. It is a good source of dietary fibre, has practically no fat, and no cholesterol. This makes beetroot relatively low in calories

Mung Bean & Goji Berry Sweet Potato with Roasted Beetroot Yogurt Dressing
Serves 4 – 6

4 medum size sweet potato
½ cup mung beans
40g yellow & 40g red peppers
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 tbsp goji berries
½ cup spinach
½ yellow cling peach
1 small fresh chilli
2 button mushrooms
1 large beetroot
½ cup plain low fat yogurt
seasoning
fresh rosemary
balsamic vinegar
fete cheese
Chia seeds

Wrap the sweet potato and beetroot (with a splash of balsamic vinegar) individually with tin foil and roast off in the oven for 60 minutes at 200 C. ( Now this part is not part of a normal Raw Diet, so you can either omit this part and have this as a salad, or you can cook your sweet potato at 47 C for I am going to guess a good 5 – 6 hours, and you can use raw beetroot.)

Dice up the yellow pepper, ginger, peach, mushrooms, and chilli, add to the mung beans. You want it all more or less the same size. Crumb the feta cheese into the mixture and add goji berries.

Once the beetroot is ready, cut up and place into a food processor with the yogurt, and some chopped rosemary. Season. You want a smooth consistency.

Cut open the sweet potato and scoop some out so you have a hollowing which you can fill. Shred the spinach and add to the mung bean salad. I like to add a little of the dressing in the pocket, and then add the mixture on top, drizzled with a little more dressing. Of course you have to finish it off with some chia seeds sprinkled on top, just because they are so good for you!

boring tuna sandwich gets a little face lift

We have this wonderful little bakery in the village which does a variety of different breads which is made with stone ground flour. There is a lot of debate regarding flour and the usage of it. We only use stone ground in the restaurant, by far a much more superior quality in your product.

My last little stop, I picked up a crackly wheat bread, which has to be one of my favourit breads…well top 5 at least because nothing beats a proper sourdough cibatta.

With this, I was having a conversation with a friend, and she mentioned she always makes a boring tuna sandwich, which I never understand. To me, sandwiches are such a fun thing, you can go wild and just have fun with different toppings. I love gourmet sandwiches! So I took her boring tuna sandwich and gave it a slight face lift and sent her a picture…

Boring Tuna Sandwich to a more upbeat sandwich

1 can shredded tuna in water
1 green chilli
1 heaped tbsp mayo of choice
Danish feta
1 tbsp chia seeds
lettuce
tomato
seasoning
balsamic reduction

Drain the tuna, dice up the chilli and mix together with tuna and mayo. Build your sandwich from there. It’s such a quick lunch and a healthy option.

Ravioli stuffed with Mussels & Homemade Tomato Sauce

The challenge set by Tandy from Lavender & Lime is to use one of your many recipe books that you have not experimented with, and make something. Now, I have so many recipe books, magazines, pieces of paper and often in my diary at a recipe or two. I love looking at pictures and going “I want to make that my way”.

It was hard choosing which book to use, considering I have a few that I have not played around with…after looking through all of them, and deciding on recipes I would like to try, I finally decided that I will start with my Justin Bonello – Cooked in Africa. If you remember, I did a short post when I received this book.

The first recipe I decided was Ravioli stuffed with Mussels & Homemade Tomato Sauce. Having discussed this book with a few people, and being my first time ever using a Bonello book, I found that his recipes are wonderful and simple, yet, I don’t always see them working out. So I tweaked the recipe here and there.

This recipe was inspired by Tandy who loves to make pasta. My brother bought me a pasta machine for my birthday 2 years ago, and I have used it very little, I am going to make it my personal mission to use it more often as nothing beats homemade pasta.

For the pasta dough

200g flour – the best to use is MN100, however I didn’t have, so I just used cake flour
2 eggs (or 3 egg yolks)
1tsp olive oil
2 tsp fine salt

Sprinkle the flour onto your work surface and make a well, add salt and kind of mix in, add the eggs and oil and slowly bring the edges of the well together by stirring the eggs into the flour. Carry on until you have a nice crumb, start kneading your dough together, you want a slightly dry dough, but not overly dry, if you find your dough is to wet, add a little more flour, if your dough is to dry, add a dash more oil. It’s all about feel. Knead your dough for about 10 minutes, you want smooth dough. Place in fridge to let rest. I did this in the morning, that way by the time I get home, all I have to do is bring it to room temperature and work it through my pasta machine.

If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can roll the dough out with a rolling pin, this is a very tedious task, so be warned, you will hate it!!

For the Mussels
I used frozen, as I don’t have fresh – if you can get your hands on fresh, definitely go that route!

Mussels
2 glasses of dry white wine
fresh parsley
knob of butter

Place your mussels in the pot with a handful of parsley, add the wine. And let simmer for a few minutes over a medium heat. Remove mussels and place the liquid one side to add to the tomato sauce later.

Finish of the ravioli

Mix a knob of butter and parsley and a 1 clove of garlic until well incorporated.

Work your dough through the pasta machine until you have thin, roughly 3-4 cm thick pasta sheets. Cut into squares, big enough to hold a mussel. Using an egg wash, brush the edges of the pasta squares, place a mussel in the middle with a little of the parsley garlic butter and cover with another piece of dough. Using a fork pressed the edge so that it seals.

For the homemade tomato sauce

1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic
2 tomatoes
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
3 anchovy fillets, just tear up the fillets with your fingers
Olive oil

Fry of the onions and garlic until transparent, add the tomatoes and can of tomatoes, and the liquid from the mussels, let simmer over a low heat. Cook out for about an hour and half, add the anchovy fillets and cook for a further 20 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to boil and salt the water, gently drop the ravioli and cook for about 4 – 5 minutes, plate the ravioli, with a nice spoonful of the sauce, some parmesan and top with fresh parsley.

Now…what did I think of this pasta. It is a very interesting dish, and I have to admit, very time consuming, the anchovy & mussels work beautifully together, I just find that it was missing that something special. Next time, I would like to add some fresh chili to the sauce, I think it will take the sauce to a new level and will work wonderfully with the mussels. With this, I just had a small salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and feta, with Verlaque Mango Chili Dressing.


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life slowly returning to normal…as a Mrs now…

What a beautiful view to come home to…

When we got engaged in April 2011, I said that there is no ways I will be one of those stressed brides…and I was very successful until the Thursday before the wedding…but I am told that that is normally the day that the freak out happen, well it happened to me. We are very blessed to have wonderful friends and most importantly the most amazing family whom support and love us, and who can now find the humour in it all.

The wedding…was everything and more we could ever ask for. I felt like a princess and most importantly, we both felt so loved, not just love from our family and friends, but our love for each other. We were blessed to be able to share that love with everyone who attended.

I get our photos on Friday, so I will do a nice post over the weekend regarding the wedding and share some lovely photos, this post…I want to share some honeymoon moments.
I didn’t know where we were going for the honeymoon, it was kept a surprise, and I only found out where we were once we had driven for 8 hours and had taken then final turn off. Justin surprised me by taking me to Umngazi River Bungalows. What a magical place…we spent 3 days doing nothing but eating, relaxing, enjoying the sun and just being with each other…perfect.

The food was way too much, breakfasts were continental spreads and of course a few hot dishes, the best was a breakfast cruise we did, where we went up the river and had breakfast under the trees.

Lunches were spreads of salads, pates, breads, pasta or wraps with so many options of fillings, sitting on the deck over looking the pool, having lunch and drinking wine and relaxing.

Dinners were 6 courses, every night it was different, beautiful dinning room, filled with wonderful aromas from the kitchen. The one evening, we opted to have the private dinner in the wine cellar.
Of course we had to enjoy this occasion with my favourite wine…I love the 2009, bit the 2011 is just as wonderful. The meal was greatly complimented by this bottle of wine.

We started with salads, a Greek salad and a spinach & haloumi salad, with freshly baked breads and a whole grain mustard butter and herbed butter.


Followed by pan fried calamari, with a sweet chilli sauce. So tender, it was buttery, I loved it.

The main course was a seafood platter, which we could not finish, I am not a huge fan of prawns and often Justin ends up eating them all, but these were done to perfection, unfortunately the calamari was crumbed with breadcrumbs so I didn’t enjoy that too much, but what a wonderful meal.

Dessert is always the last thing I think about, I had the lemon meringue and Justin had the chocolate brownie, neither were great, not a great end to the meal, but the rest of the meal was wonderful, and eliminated the dessert part for us.

We enjoyed ourselves with back massages, and spa baths, overlooking the Indian Ocean, and wow, what a view to sip bubbly while enjoying the view.

This was the first 3 days….I will blog the rest of the honeymoon tomorrow…

Sunday Lunch at Hankey Hotel

I don’t often write about a place I have eaten at, unless I am completely blown away, or I am horribly disappointed. In this case, The Hankey Hotel just blew me away…I don’t often get the chance to go off the beaten track, so when I do, I grasp it with both hands.

The Hankey Hotel is in the little town of Hankey, in the Eastern Cape, not far from where I currently live. Having heard so much about the Sunday Lunch Buffet that gets served at this establishment, and all the praise it gets, I was determined to experience it for myself. Let me tell you, it’s such a gem.

The owner, Mario, welcomes you shows you through to the bar for a pre lunch drink, the doors to the hall where the food is served only opens at 12:30 on the dot, there is only one sitting, so you arrive a little early and you enjoy a drink in the real small town type bar. The bar is so quaint, with 2L bottles as opposed to the 330ml cans we are so use to, and beer in cans ( I can honestly not remember the last time I saw a beer in a can.) Mario then comes around to each table and tells us that they are ready and we may go through.

The dinning room is exactly that…a large dinning hall, the type that would remind you of your assembly’s in primary school. In the one corner there is a grand piano, and a gentleman on a guitar who gets your foot tapping happily along to the classics. You are then once again welcomed by Mario, who proceeds to explain the way the buffet works. You typical course for course, but all set out in buffet style, with the mismatched plates and service gear…I have to admit, it was absolutely charming.

Starters consist of choices of either minestrone soup or fish soup, served with rosterkook, or a choice of brown or white farmstyle bread.
Mario and his lovely wife do all the cleaning of the tables, they cook and serve, and are just gracious hosts! They know everyone by their first name and make you feel so welcome.

Then comes your fish course with your salads, on offer were a garden salad, curried pineapples, smoked snoek, mussels in half shell with a creamy sauce or crumbed, pickled fish, snoek kookies, fish nuggets, deep fried calamari, deep fried fish, potato salad, beetroot and an arrangements of little sauces.

After your fish course, you are encouraged to the hot mains. Mario knew that my father in law wanted “afval” and therefore brought him a small portion, it is not always available, but he knew we were coming so he made a plan. Other than the afval, which is on my list of “no no’s” there was so much on offer. Creamed spinach, cinnamon pumpkin, cauliflower, green beans, sweet carrots, rice, roast chicken, roast pork, beef stirfry, brisket and roast potatoes, which Mario refers to as His Roast Potatoes, and were delicious!

In the middle of mains, Mario too a break from clearing tables and climbed on the grand piano and proceeded to entertain us with his musical ways accompanied by the gentleman with his guitar, the atmosphere was so friendly, so family orientated, took me back to the days when I grew up in Vryburg and our Sunday lunches which was also such a large affair, with all the food and family. The home cooked meal vibe took me far back into my childhood, my grandparents and how, at the age of 8 I would sit and watch my father cook like this.

Dessert, which is not really my forte, but I had to go and try because of the peppermint fridge tart which I have been told about, consisted of another large selection. Along with the peppermint tart, there was a lemon meringue, marshmallow and pineapple tart, banana tart, fruit salad, sago pudding, jelly and custard and last but not least, poached pears.

This spread of home cooked food sets you back R100 per person. I can say, very well worth it! I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. If you are in the area on a Sunday, I would recommend a visit! Contact Mario +27 (0) 42 284 0325