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

Rosemary Marinated Olive, Feta & Sundried Tomatoes Bread

We all have those certain smells or songs that trigger of a great memory or a moment that just triggers of a smile that is unexplainable.  For me, the aromas that fill my house when bread is baking, perfectly exhibits one of those moments.  Fresh bread brings feelings of warmth, comfort, happiness and family…and most importantly simplicity.

I don’t often get the opportunity to bake bread at home, having some time off, I just had to grab the chance with both hands.  I have a few things in my pantry and fridge that I am trying to use in all weird and wonderful ways.  One of these said items are rosemary marinated olives & feta & sundried tomatoes.  Lovely to use for cheese platters or other anti pasti’s, but why not more!

Rosemary Marinated Olive, Feta & Sundried Tomatoes Bread

I have just a basic white bread loaf recipe that I use when baking.  This recipe makes 1 loaf.

500g stone ground white bread flour
1 pk dried yeast
1 tsp fine salt
375ml tepid water
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp Olive oil
2 eggs

Tepid water is basically water that is the heat of bath water.  You don’t want it to hot or it will kill the yeast, but if it’s too cold it wont activate.

Place the yeast and sugar into the tepid water, whisk and set aside for 10 -  15 minutes.  It will create a layer of foam on top.

Mix the flour, salt olive oil in a bowl.

Crake the eggs into the yeast and whisk lightly.  Pour yeast mixture into the flour, incorporate until you have a stiff dough.

Knead for about 15 – 20 minutes.  I do this by hand, but if you have a machine, use a dough hook, and you probably looking at about 10 minutes.

Set aside in a warm place, in a bowl that has been wiped with olive oil, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to double in size +- 45 minutes

Knock back down.  At this point you add the olives, feta, sundried tomatoes and rosemary.  Break it up and just place all over, fold the dough and place another layer.  This is all estimated, you can use a lot for a string flavour, or you can keep it subtle.  Roll into a ball and place under the tea towel again and let double in size again.

Knock back down one last time, and shape, you can either place in a baking tin or bread tin, I like to keep it a little more artisan style.  Score the top and set aside to rise, +- 30 minutes

Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Place loaf into the oven and bake for 25 minutes, turn the oven down to 180°C for another 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.

Now 2 tips on bread:

Never place bread in the fridge, it will go stale over night.

Eat bread in moderation.  Bread is not only a carbohydrate, but your body breaks up break into sugars, so for a diabetic, rye bread is your healthiest option.

Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup and some Chia Seeds

This is my contribution to international soup day which recently just passed.

Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

1 kg tomatoes
2 biggish red peppers (deseeded)
1 onion
1 tsp garlic
½ spring fresh rosemary, chopped
1 cup beef / vegetable stock
2 tots sherry
1 tin tomato paste
olive Oil
salt
pepper
sugar
fresh basil

Cut a cross into the top of the tomatoes, with the peppers place onto a roasting tray, sprinkle salt, pepper olive oil and rosemary. Roast at 200°C for 45 minutes.

Chop onions and fry off in a little olive oil and a sprinkle of sugar until nicely caramelized, deglaze the pot with 1 tot of sherry, add garlic and tomato paste, fry until the oils starts slowly splitting from the tomato paste, deglaze the pot once more with the 2nd tot of sherry.

Add your roasted tomatoes and peppers and cook off for 10 minutes.  Add  salt & pepper and blitz up.  Add the fresh basil and blitz more until smooth.  Your soup at this stage will be really thick.

Add 1 cup of stock of choice and cook over a low heat for about 3 hours.  If your soup thickens up to much, just add a little more stock and cook out more.  You want the end result to be thick but not to chunky.

Add desired seasoning to taste and enjoy with fresh bread.

I roasted 2 or 3 cloves of garlic and just rubbed my ciabatta with it, with some fresh goats cheese, and it complimented the soup wonderfully.

I like to add Chia seeds to my soup.  I had done a little post about Chia seeds before, but here is a some more that I learnt and a slight update on how I am using it.

After further research on chia seeds, I have learnt the more nutritional way to use them.  Take 1/3 cup of chia seeds to 2 cups of water, mix and place in the fridge.  You are looking for a gel type substance that can last in your fridge for 3 weeks.  That is the substance you add to your smoothies or soups to really get the full punch of the chia seeds.  The gel that is formed is ready to eat in 10 minutes, however the longer the chia seeds stand in a liquid (water, juice smoothies etc) the more you will benefit from the nutritional value of it. Just an update on how chia seeds improve your lifestyle:
Provides energy
Boosts strength
Bolsters endurance
Levels blood sugar
Induces weight loss
Aids intestinal regularity

So I am going to start with a new challenge I have set myself this winter.  I am going to start with having chia seeds 3 times a day, eat healthy and properly, and slowly bring in basic exercise again, and of course, take my yoga seriously again.  Time for a change of life, maybe that will motivate me again!

Get yourself some!

Apple Marmalade with Rosemary & Vanilla Infused Vodka

I got a couple of packets of apples from one friend, and a bag of oranges from another…I thought well, how could I combine these two…my mind went straight to marmalade…but I wanted something different…so I thought about the vodka flavours I have been infusing, trying to come up with the perfect welcome cocktail for the wedding in January…all these thoughts brought on this…

Apple Marmalade, with Rosemary & Vanilla Infused Vodka

Firstly, you have to infuse the vodka, and let it stand for at least 3 days.

½ cup Vodka
2 Rosemary Sprigs
Place vodka and rosemary together in a glass bottle, and keep in a cool dark area

½ cup Vodka
1 Vanilla Pod, split
In a separate jar, place vodka and vanilla together, and keep in a cool dark area

Let infuse for 3 days, remove the rosemary and vanilla and pour the two flavours together. I let the combination infuse for another day.

If you not going to cook with it, add a can of Sprite and you have a beautiful refreshing drink.

Apple Marmalade

1kg Apples (mixed) – Peeled, cored & sliced
1 large Orange, sliced, seeds removed
1 Large Lemon, sliced, seeds removed
2 cups white sugar
1 cup Rosemary & Vanilla Infused Vodka
2 Sterilize Jars (Read Tandy’s Post on how to quickly sterilize glass jars)

Place the citrus slices in a pot and pour 1 – 2 cups of cold water over, just until covered. Bring to a boil, add apples to pot, add more water, just to make sure apples are covered so they do not discolour.

Bring back to a boil and reduce head, let simmer until reduced by ¼, add the sugar stir until dissolved and let reduce until at least half, and your citrus slices are soft and sticky, stir gently occasionally.

Remove from heat, pour in vodka and leave to cool.

For the scones, follow this link to my Easy Peasy Scones

And while I am about it….Lavender & Lime has a regional & seasonal challenge for the month of September…this will be my entry…oranges being my season ingredient!

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