- It’s within walking distance of my home, so I get to burn off some of the calories on the way there and a cheap taxi home means I get to enjoy their extensive wine list.
- They have a yummy cocktail menu and make a mean Bloody Mary (if you’re so inclined).
- Love the huge “Alice in Wonderland” armchairs.
- Love the East meets West philosophy.
- Love the open-plan kitchen.
- Love, love, love the oysters with lemon tabasco snow (inspired).
- Love the seafood chowder. So delicious I could eat it every day.
- It’s great value for money. A 7-course tasting menu for only R265 per person (some of the largest tasting portions I’ve ever seen). There are so many delicious options on the tasting menu, that you can return again and again until you’ve found your perfect meal.
- Said tasting menu gets changed seasonally, so you get to start over in choosing that perfect meal.
- The service is always outstanding.
Can’t wait for my next visit to try their Summer 2013 menu. Have already decided on the Smoked Trout Ceviche, Lamb and Pineapple Green Curry, Chilled Avo Soup, Pancetta Risotto, Ginger & Lime Sorbet, Cheehou Beef and Fudge Cheesecake.
Now if only choosing the friends to invite along was that easy
Vineyard Hotel & Spa, 60 Colinton Road, Newlands, Cape Town
T: +27 21 657 4545
F: +27 21 657 4543
Open Tuesday to Saturday for
Lunch: 11:30am – 15:00pm
Dinner: 19:00pm – 22:30pm
I recently inherited both a tagine and an accompanying recipe book: “Tagine, Spicy Stews from Morocco” by Ghillie Basan. Never having used a tagine before, but having been assured that they’re dead-easy to use, I combed through the book till I found a recipe that appealed.
Creamy Shellfish Tagine with Fennel & Harissa
Serves: 4-6 (yeah right, more like 2)
Accompaniments: Rice or crusty bread
- 1 lb fresh mussels in their shells, scrubbed clean and rinsed
- 1 lb shrimp in their shells, thoroughly rinsed
- freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4-6 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons harissa paste
- 2/3 cup of cream
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- a generous bunch of coriander, finely chopped
- Put the mussels and shrimp in a wide saucepan with just enough water to cover them. Add the lemon juice, cover the pan, and bring the liquid to a boil. Shake the pan and cook the shellfish for about 3 minutes, until the shells of the mussels have opened. Drain the shellfish, reserve the liquor, and discard any mussels that have not opened. Refresh the mussels and shrimp under cold running water and shell most of them.
- Heat the olive oil in a tagine on the stovetop. Stir in the shallots and fennel and sauté until soft. Stir in the harissa paste and pour in 1 and a 1/4 cups of the reserved cooking liquor (from the shellfish). Bring the liquid to a boil and continue to boil for 2-3 minutes, reduce the heat, and stir in the cream. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes to let the flavours mingle, season to taste with salt and lots of black pepper, and stir in the mussels and shrimp. Toss in half of the coriander, cover with the lid, and cook gently for about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the remaining coriander over the top and serve immediately.
On the second go, I made some changes, which in my opinion improved the recipe
- I use New Zealand green-shell mussels, available from (my favourite) Woolworths … and no, they are not sponsoring this blog … yet
These come par-cooked and cleaned, which cuts down the prep time. I don’t like the liquid they come in though, far too murky for me to just throw into the tagine, so I strain the liquor through a paper-towel lined sieve. Well worth the 3 minutes waiting for it to seep through, as you get a lovely, clear, flavourful liquid. This changes Step 1, in that you don’t have the cook the mussels anymore, they just get heated through in Step 2.
- Thoroughly recommend swapping shrimp for Black Tiger Prawns (or any other large variety prawn available to you). Remember to clean them and then cook them in a little butter (instead of the water) and lemon juice, as per Step 1.
- I don’t know much about fennel (blush) and it isn’t always easy to get here in South Africa, so I skip this ingredient altogether and instead chop up some red chillies and spring onion, as a substitute.
- For colour and sweetness, I stir in some halved cherry tomatoes right at the end, when I add the shellfish to the tagine, to allow them to heat through, but retain their shape.
There is a recipe that has me salivating every time I think about it. Tom Yum Goong Risotto, by South Africa’s own Justin Bonello – the gorgeous Thai flavours of Tom Yum Goong combined with the creamy goodness of Risotto and firm-fleshed Tiger Prawns. Sounds yum, doesn’t it? Only problem is … try as I might, I seem completely unable to prepare a Risotto properly. I follow the instructions to the letter and the arborio rice still tastes uncooked. Have tried this twice – once cooked for the exact length of time stated and once for almost twice that – same result.
The flavours are just too damn good though (they must be because I still manage to eat my body weight in too crunchy Risotto), so I’m not giving up. As such I have spent the last hour surfing around the internet looking for advice and thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve found. Time for a disclaimer: I haven’t yet tried any of these tips, so don’t blame me if they fall flat. I will be trying these out very soon and will hopefully be able to post the recipe mentioned above, along with a photo of the successful outcome (holding thumbs).
Use the right rice – carnaroli, or a variety called vialone nano (for more robust flavours), has replaced the traditional arborio which results in a stiffer risotto. Wish I’d read that titbit before attempting risotto … twice! Now where am I going to find this elusive carnaroli?
The rice shouldn’t be allowed to brown, BUT the grains must be heated through before you add the wine – “it should sizzle as it hits the pan”.
The stock must be kept at a rolling boil. This could be the key. Once I’ve brought the stock to the boil, I always remove it from the heat. Maybe that’s why it seems uncooked after 40 minutes?
When your rice is cooked, beat in the cheese and the butter – vigorously. Then serve immediately.
All of the above tips come from the wonderful article:
How To Make the Perfect Risotto by Felicity Cloak, The Guardian
Sounds like she has done all of the legwork for me, testing all of the different methods and disproving some fallicies. Can’t wait to try again … just as soon as I can find some of that carnaroli rice!
Another useful tip I found while hunting … what to do with the leftovers (assuming there are any).
The perfect way to use up leftover risotto is to make Arancini, deep fried rice balls. Roll cold risotto around small cubes of mozzarella, coat in breadcrumbs and deep fry until they are crisp on the outside and melting in the middle. I always make a little extra risotto as this treat the next day is almost the best bit.
Has anyone else managed to make the “perfect” Risotto?
Once a month I’m going to feature a piece of kitchen equipment that I’m longing for (okay, drooling for).
So, this month I wish I had …
An Earthfire Pizza Oven
Available from Yuppiechef (one of my favourite websites), for the bargain price of only R2,150 (hence the saving up), they had the following to say about this little beauty:
“Make authentic wood-fired pizza’s in your own home, quickly and easily. Even an Italian will agree! This oven was designed first and foremost to make the best pizza this side of Napoli, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t versatile. The bottom half of the oven used with the stainless grid is a handy portable braai, pop on the lid to turn it into a kette BBQ or a smoker.”
I love that one can use charcoal or wood, and that it converts into a makeshift Smokey Joe, so braai-ing for 2 just got a lot easier! One piece of equipment, multiple uses. Now if I could just make pizza dough …
Get it at Yuppiechef, of course. See: Earthfire Pizza Oven
Email me for my physical address
If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a huge fan of Thai-style food. This is a recipe I tried for the very first time this weekend and it was so easy to make and so yummy! Don’t think I’ve ever had guests lick their plates before (they’re either very comfortable with me or it was just that good).
This recipe is from the fabulous “Good Food for Friends” recipe book by BBC GoodFood Magazine. If you don’t have it yet, I heartily recommend it, as the recipes are all simple to prepare, freeing up the entertainer so they don’t spend the whole night in the kitchen. I added one or two touches myself – my changes are marked below – two of which I think make it absolutely sublime (the mango and the toasted sesame seeds). But you be the judge.
Thai Beef Salad
Serves: 6 as a main course
For the dressing
- 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 4 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons light muscovado sugar
- 1 small red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
For the salad
- 650g piece of fillet steak
- half a cucumber
- 12 radishes
- 150g fresh beansprouts
- a cos lettuce
My changes (use ‘em, don’t use ‘em … up to you)
- Added ripe rosa tomatoes, cause they’re yum – diced
- Added mango, goes great with Thai flavours – thin slices – highly recommended, know it might sound weird, but OMG
- Added spring onions – first cut into thirds, then cut into thin strips lengthwise
- Added sesame seeds – lightly toasted
- Used palm sugar instead of muscovado, cause palm sugar is a common ingredient in Thai recipes
- Didn’t measure anything (except the first 3 dressing ingredients), based it all on how it looked and personal preference
- I only used 3 tablespoons, instead of 4, of Thai fish sauce (it’s such a pungent sauce and they differ from brand to brand, so wanted to play it safe)
- Didn’t use mint in the dressing (not a fan) and added a small amount of grated ginger (cause I just love the smell)
- Preheat a griddle pan. Season the beef with pepper (I spritzed it with olive oil first – helps the seasonings to stick to the meet and gives the meet good colour – and used salt too). Cook for 5-7 minutes, turning once, until it is cooked on the outside but still pink in the middle. Leave to rest for 15 minutes, then slice thinly.
- Make the dressing – mix together the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, chilli and garlic (and ginger if you like), then stir in the herbs.
- Using a vegetable peeler, shave the cucumber into long thin strips and then the radishes into thin circles. Mix with the beef slices and beansprouts (and tomatoes and spring onions if you elect to use them). Stir in the dressing.
- Arrange the smaller lettuce leaves onto 6 plates. Tear the large ones into pieces and add to the salad ingredients, mixing well to coat the lettuce in the dressing. Spoon the salad onto the plates (then add the mango slices if you’ve decided to try this). Garnish with coriander (or toasted sesame seeds and a few reserved radish circles).
Tried this delicious recipe by Delia Smith, from “Delia’s Complete How to Cook”.
It’s hard to believe that a recipe as simple and as quick as this could taste so good, but I can assure you it’s an absolute winner.
Stir-Fried Chicken with Lime & Coconut
Accompaniments: Thai fragrant rice
- 2 free range, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- zest and juice of 1 large lime
- 150ml (5 fl oz) tinned coconut milk
- 1 dessert spoon olive oil
- 1 green chilli – deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 dessert spoon Thai fish sauce
- handful of fresh coriander leaves
- handful of spring onions – cut into shreds, including the green parts
You’ll need a large frying pan or wok.
- Chop the chicken into bite size pieces and place them in a bowl with the lime juice and zest (I also added some Maldon salt). Stir well and leave to marinate for an hour.
- Heat the oil in your frying pan or wok and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until they’re golden.
- Add the chilli and stir-fry for another minute.
- Then add the coconut milk, fish sauce, and half the coriander and spring onions. Cook for another minute or 2.
- Garnish with the remaining coriander and spring onions and serve piping hot.
All in all a fabulous dish, though I felt it was missing a little zing (the chilli I used may have been a little mild) and some colour (red chilli garnish would have solved this).
One tiny ommission for a beginner chef like me – after the chicken is marinated, you’re supposed to brown the pieces in a little oil, but the recipe doesn’t say to separate the chicken from any left over marinade, and the juices prevented the chicken from browning. I’d suggest using a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to the wok, reserve the lime juice and then add it to the wok when adding the coconut milk.
A tip for calorie-counters: reduced fat coconut milk tastes just as good and eases the guilt (available from Woolworths).
One of my “Yum Chums” sent me this recipe which I had to share. Looks delicious and healthy at the same time (which is a tall order).
A Patrick Holford inspired recipe.
Baby spinach – shredded
Small diced orange pepper
An oat cookie
Thanks Yum Chum!
My very first blog post and the blank page (monitor, if you must quibble) is quite daunting. So I had thought I would start off with an introduction about who I am and why I’m starting yet another foodie blog (stifle your sighs and wait for it – I do have a different approach). There are hundreds of blogs out there with recipes galore to choose from, but as a newbie I am very aware that any online recipe should come with a disclaimer for the novice (should probably read useless) chef like myself, which would go something like this:
“Right, before you start, Goose (yes you, the moron who just searched online to find out how to poach eggs), please be advised that you may burn your shiniest, as yet un-used Jamie Oliver endorsed Tefal pot (which you spent way too much money on, given just how useless you are in the kitchen) to a blackened smudge while attempting this simplest of tasks, if you get distracted and walk away from the stove. Assuming that doesn’t happen, and you follow these steps perfectly, you may still end up with rubbery or slimy eggs in a puddle of water which tastes distinctly like vinegar.”
So, what I’m proposing to do with this blog is document my forays in the kitchen and provide recipes that won’t fail to other newbies who may be struggling in the kitchen as much as I always have. You’ll know they don’t fail, because I’ll have managed to pull them off. And believe me, if I can, you can.
I’m also going to feature some of my favourite restaurants, snazzy cooking utensils I come across in magazines and online, and tips for newbies (that’s assuming I pick up any along the way).