Wintery Butternut & Mushroom Salad

With the cooler weather settling in we are all heading towards comfort food…I can hear you say “but salad is not comfort food???” Well, this one is filled with comfort goodies, and perfect as a side for a cool evening braai. This is also a great vegetarian meal with substance.

This is very versatile, you can add or take out flavours you do not like, just remember to balance the flavours.  I used my Froggit salad dressing, but you could use any light dressing. Or make your own, I would love to know what works for you!

Wintery Butternut & Mushroom Salad
served 15 – 20

2kg cubed butternut
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
honey
seasoning
olive oil
1 tbsp garlic butter
250g sliced white mushrooms
Seeds from 2 pomegranates
100g crumbed feta
200g baby spinach
1 packet rocket & watercress salad mix (from Woolworths)
100g cherry tomatoes
100g sugar snap peas
3 tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds
Froggit Pomegranate dressing

Pomegranate Dressing

Preheat the oven to 200°C

In a large roasting pan, place the butternut, garlic, olive oil, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, seasoning and honey.  Mix until the butternut is well coated and roast for 45 minutes.
Remove and set aside to cool down completely.
Fry the sliced mushrooms in garlic butter, season and set aside to cool

Once the butternut & mushrooms are cooled down completely, mix together, you can now build the salad.

Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and mix with the butternut & mushrooms.
Layer the salad now, at the bottom of the bowl put some baby spinach, rocket & watercress, a few pomegranate seeds a few sugar snap peas, the feta, pumpkin seeds, repeat layering.

Wintery Butternut & Mushroom Salad

 

Beetroot, Bacon & Goat’s Cheese Tarte Tatin

I have had a *slight* obsession with beetroot (again) these last few weeks. My poor husband has gone from not touching beetroot to tasting here and there, to thoroughly enjoying THIS dish to “enough with the beetroot…PLEASE!!!”

I have baked, roasted, pickled and juiced beetroot in all weird and wonderful ways, with all types of combinations.  Out of all my experiments with beetroot, I have to say that, apart from beetroot juice, this Beetroot, Bacon & Goat’s Cheese Tarte Tatin was my favorite and will definitely make a reappearances on my dinner table.

Now…before we get right into the recipe, let’s examine why these little balls of red (sometimes yellow, sometimes white, sometimes stripped) happiness is so good for you.

The beetroot taste is described as sweet, earthy and tender to eat. It is grown in the ground and is related to turnips, swedes and sugar beet.

If you’re considering beetroot as one of your 5-a-day, it contains potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B6 and C, folic acid, carbohydrates, protein, antioxidants and soluble fiber.

Researchers have known for some time that juice may help lower blood pressure, but in 2010 UK researchers revealed that nitrate is the special ingredient in beetroot which lowers blood pressure and may help to fight heart disease.

People with very high blood pressure can end up being on multiple tablets, so a more natural approach could prove popular if the initial research results are confirmed.

Drinking beetroot juice increases blood flow to the brain in older people, which may be able to fight the progression of dementia, a 2010 study suggested.

Beetroot contains high concentrations of nitrates, which are converted into nitrites by bacteria in the mouth. Nitrites help open blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen to places lacking in oxygen.

 Beetroot, Bacon & Goats Cheese Tarte Tatin
serves 2 – 3

beetroot & goats cheese tart tatin

½ Roll Today’s Puff Pastry
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp butter
4 medium sized beetroots, cooked and thickly sliced into rounds
4 pieces streaky bacon, cut into quarters
¼  packet Goats Cheese
Balsamic reduction
Fresh Thyme, roughly chopped
salt
black pepper
egg wash

Preheat oven to 180°C

Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface, cut slightly bigger than the pan you using to bake the tarte tatin in.

Add sugar and butter to a small, non stick pan, place over medium, heat and let caramelize. Swirl around the pan to ensure the entire bottom of the pan is coated in caramelized sugar
Remove from heat, place beetroot rings over the bottom of the pan, creating a nice even layer.
Place the pieces of bacon over the beetroot, season with black pepper and sprinkle with thyme.
Cover with puff pastry, tucking in the sides so the puff pastry fits snug in the pan.
Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until pastry is golden brown.
While still hot, carefully flip the pastry onto a plate, top with goat’s cheese that is just roughly broken up and season with salt and black pepper.

Serve hot or cold.

I added a little onion marmalade, you can find the recipe here, and drizzled with balsamic reduction.

Onion Marmalade

I have been away, traveling around KZN, a part of South Africa I have never experienced, so my blog posts have been few and far in-between, however, I am back now. Watch out for the fun adventures I had in KZN, namely, I experienced the traditional bunny chow which I will definitely post about.  But that’s for another day, today I am going to get right into a recipe I have been asked to post a few times. Onion Marmalade, now this recipe I don’t really follow any kind of measurements, I just cook with a feel, knowing when, how much and how long to cook it for, so I am going to guide you as best I can.

Cutting and slicing onions is all a personal thing, we all have our special way of doing so.  With this recipe, I cut the onions pole to pole, onion slices cut pole to pole will break down more completely as they cook, producing a more uniform texture and flavor in the finished dish.

Onion Marmalade

1kg red onions, cut pole to pole
1 bottle red wine
1 cup brown sugar – you can use white, but I find brown gives it a nice caramel flavour
2 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
5 – 8 whole cardamom pods
1 whole cinnamon stick
pinch of salt

Place all the above ingredients, expect the red wine into a large enough deep pot.

Pour in red wine, enough to just cover the onions, turn heat up to high and bring the liquid to a rolling boil.  Drop your heat and let gently simmer, this will take some time. Stir sporadically.

When the liquid has reduced and formed a sticky like consistency, this will be close to the end.  Watch while reducing further until thick and really sticky.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Remove the whole spices.  Use on sandwiches, salads, as extra topping on a pie…this is so versatile.  You can keep onion marmalade for a fair amount of time in the fridge, just ensure that it is stored in an airtight container

onion marmalade

Butternut & Bacon Mash

Those of you who are avid readers of my blog, know very well about my love affair with butternut and sweet potato by now.  This last few days I have been using butternut in any which way I can.

Readers, friend and family have this impression that I host dinner parties at least 4 times a week, and of course that a 3 course sit down meal, which is served with all the bells and whistles because it’s so easy when you are a chef.  Sorry guys, but this is definitely not the case!  There is a huge difference between a dinner party for 4 – 6 people, and a wedding where I am catering for anywhere between 80 and 180 people.

My dinner parties in my mind are normally very boring, so I do try to experiemnet and introduce something different.  Last week we invited my parents in law over for a easy dinner, which consisted of roast pork and butternut mash with bacon.

I remember having sweet potato mash as a kid, and mashed up butternut, so I kind of tried to put an idea together which I will happily do again.

Butternut & Bacon Mash

1kg butternut, cleaned and cubed
1 pkt bacon, diced
Butter
seasoning
2 tbsp golden syrup

Steam the butternut, or boil it, for about 30 – 40 minutes, but just make sure that you strain it properly as you don’t want to retain to much of the liquid otherwise your mash comes out sloppy.
Fry off the bacon until nice and crispy, this is the only time I do enjoy crispy bacon.
When the butternut is nice and soft, mash until smooth, add a nice dollop of butter, and mix through.
Add bacon and then season to taste.  Careful on the salt as the bacon will contribute to the salt factor. Add a drizzle of golden syrup, just to round off the flavours.

Serve with a little crumbled feta on top.  This is great as something different for a roast or your vegetables with any  meal.

Sherry Baked Camembert

The lovely camembert that we got at the Indaba was very well received.  I do love cheese, and often make a meal of it, breakfast, lunch or dinner. Along with the camembert, while going to the different wine estates, I picked up a few preserves and little odds and ends.  My fridge is full of jams, preserves, antipasti type goodies, I love to eat mezze style and enjoy to snack on small things.

So what I did with my Camembert.

Turned my oven on to its highest heat, and let preheat.  I cut thin slices of bread to make malba toast and grilled it under my grill.  Removed and set aside.
Taking a melon baller, I scooped out the middle of the camembert and filled the whole with sherry., baked for 7 – 9 minutes, you want it just at the point where it becomes gooey but ca still hold its shape a little when you cut it. The sherry adds a lovely aroma and a slight sweetness to the camembert.

 

By the flower on my cheese board, I have a Pinotage relish which I bought at Constantia Uitsig where we had breakfast one morning.  Made from grapes and onions, it has this beautiful sweetness about it that goes so well with the camembert.

I had rosemary & olive oil marinated olives, feta and sundried tomatoes which I found at Fairview, which added a little bitterness to board which was a lovely balance with the sweetness of the green fig and the Pinotage relish.

With that I had marinated peppers, which I have to be honest, I didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I would.

I love this style of eating, little bits and pieces, all these flavours going on, and the balance you can create with the different flavours.

 

Roasted Cardamon Orange Sweet Potato & Camembert Soup

I had this idea in my head for sweet potato soup, but I didn’t want to do the norm, I wanted to really test the flavours one can work with when you have sweet potato.

Growing up, sweet potato was baked in the oven and served with garlic parsley butter, or mashed sweet potatoes that have been beautifully caramelized in brown sugar and butter.  Then I started with sweet potato chips, which I absolutely die for, and sweet potato & pearled barley curry, now, I wanted to take it one step further and make soup with these beautiful sweet potatoes I had in my possession.

Seeing what I had laying around, I wanted to make a sweet potato and goats cheese soup, but being somewhat indecisive, and of course a true chef where I know something just doesn’t feel right, it struck me…camembert.  We had camembert soup on our honeymoon, I was very intrigued by this and now was my opportunity to use the lovely camembert I got at Fairview.

I needed something fresh in there, something that would compliment the sweet potato and enhance the flavours, so I brought out one of my all time favourit spices to work with…cardamon. And together with all these goodness, I made my Roasted Cardamon Orange Sweet Potato & Camembert Soup.  So here is the recipe…enjoy it!

Roasted Cardamon Orange Sweet Potato & Camembert Soup
serves 3 – 4

+- 1.5kg Orange Sweet potatoes
6-7 Cardamon pods crushed
1 clove crushed
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil
2 carrots, diced
2 leeks, diced
garlic
about 1L of vegetable stock (depending on how thick you want your soup)
½  wheel of good quality of camembert, cut into chunks and remove outer mould
2 tots ginger liqueur

Pre heat your oven at 180°C

Cut your sweet potatoes in half and place on roasting tray
Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and crushed cardamom & crushed clove
Roast sweet potato for an hour and a half
Once the sweet potatoes are roasted, put aside.
In a pot, sauté your carrots and leeks, add the garlic and deglaze with 1 tot of ginger liqueur and let simmer for a minute or two.
Peel the sweet potatoes and add to the pot, add your vegetable stock, blitz with a hand blender and let cook out on a low heat for about 5 – 8 minutes.
Add your camembert to the soup and let melt.
Once melted, your soup is ready!

Link

Soup & Sandwich, if you know me well enough, you will know that I absolutely love this concept.  I have slightly adapted it to something even better…in my opinion.

With the cooler weather that is surrounding us, we tend to crave warmth and comfort in our food, and why not just add a little “pazaaz” to our boring old winter food.

Soup & Quesadillas

I used my Rooibos infused  Butternut Soup recipe that you can find here. With that, I made the quesadillas. Now you can go wild and crazy with what fillings you wish desire, be creative and mix some flavours.  My quesadillas consisted of bacon, feta, cheddar and fresh basil, and let me tell you, the creamy freshness complimented the butternut soup beautifully.

What you will need to make your quesadillas…as easy as this…

Tortilla wraps
Your desired fillings

Heat a pan and place the tortilla wrap in the pan to heat, turn over as if flipping a pancake, place your filling on the one side and close the tortilla in half.  Let the bottom heat up and crisp a little before flipping over again.  You want the filling to be warm and the cheese all gooey and stringy, with the crispness on the outside…makes for that perfect bite!

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This is such a great light lunch, or the perfect easy quick dinner.  And so versatile, use your favourite soup and choose whatever filling you wish!  Tortilla wraps are a great substitute for bread, it is perfect for gluten intolerant people, and of course for anyone who is watching their weight.

Right now, I am busy cooking a delicious meat soup…recipe to follow soon!