Archive for February, 2011



February 7, 2011 Tips 2 Comments

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.

— Eleanor Smallwood for Good Food Channel

Has anyone else managed to make the “perfect” Risotto?

I Wish I Had …


February 3, 2011 Cooking Equipment 6 Comments

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 :)

Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad

February 1, 2011 for a Gaggle, Main, Salad, to impress the Gander 3 Comments

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).

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