Two quiet Americans eating Vietnamese noodles

A case of "Holy Guacamole"?

The good, well-paid jobs Mexicans are stealing

Beginner's luck?

Aymara peasants discover commercial farming

Quinoa & Quail Egg Salad: Q Clucks Clan?

“It was Autumn, and incessant piped the quails from shocks and sheaves, and, like living coals, the apples burned among the withering leaves.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

 

Quinoa – along with kale - has become the butt of countless jokes for all the wrong reasons. This protein-packed grain from the Andes contains every amino acid, and is particularly rich in vitamins, minerals and lysine, which promotes healthy tissue growth throughout the body. Quinoa looks a bit like couscous and is as versatile as rice, but quinoa has a richer, nuttier flavor than either of them. So far, so good. But over the past decade or so Western yuppies have become obsessed with fitness and nutrition, and in the process have become early adopters of any “wonder diet” or “superfood” being touted by the burgeoning health food industry.

In industrialized countries where food is plentiful, food consumption doesn’t rise as their incomes grow. Unlike sales of, say, personal computers in the 1990s or smart phones in the 2010s, overall First World food spending simply tracks population growth. People can only eat so much! One way the industry responds to this stagnation is to roll out “new and improved” products – including superfoods such as goji berries, chia seeds, quinoa and kale. Unlike traditional fruits and vegetables, these exotic ingredients are not regarded as commodities subject to the normal rules of supply and demand, Suppliers can charge exorbitant premiums for them.

Criticism and barbs were not long in the making. Stand-up comics started pointing out the fun side of some of the world’s brightest people paying fortunes for less-than-delicious foods, not all of which are sustainably produced. Conan O’Brien summarized it as follows: “Scientists are hoping to use quinoa to fight world hunger. After hearing this, hungry people all around the world said, ‘Actually, we’re good.’ “ Today, I’d like to introduce you to a recipe that might prove Mr O’Brien wrong. Try it out; I think you’ll agree with me!  

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 6

 

For the salad:

125g Red quinoa

12 Quail eggs (preferably fresh, but cooked tinned ones can be used too)

8 Large green olives, coarsely chopped

1 Garlic clove, crushed

1 Large shallot, thinly sliced

12 Green asparagus shoots, cut into small batons

½ Cup mint leaves, chopped

½ Cup Italian parsley, chopped

1 Tsp. powdered sumac (or 1 tsp. lemon zest and ¼ tsp. ground black pepper)

For the vinaigrette:

3 Anchovy fillets, finely chopped then pounded with a pestle and mortar

Juice of 1 lemon

60ml Olive oil

Salt to taste

 

  • Cook the quinoa in boiling salted water until tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain and spread on a tray to dry.
  • Meanwhile – if you are using raw eggs - cook the eggs in boiling water until medium-boiled, about 3 minutes.
  • Drain the eggs, refresh in ice cold water, peel and set aside.
  • Blanch the asparagus for 3 minutes, then refresh and set aside.
  • For anchovy and lemon vinaigrette, whisk the ingredients in a bowl to combine. Season to taste and set aside.
  • Combine all the ingredients (except the sumac and vinaigrette) in a bowl and mix.
  • Add the quinoa, asparagus and vinaigrette and toss to combine.
  • Spread the mixture evenly on a platter.
  • Halve eggs and arrange on top.
  • Sprinkle with the sumac and serve.

 

“It was like a dam of musical critique had broken. Imasu turned on him with eyes that flashed instead of shining. "It is worse than you can possibly imagine! When you play, all of my mother's flowers lose the will to live and expire on the instant. The quinoa has no flavour now. The llamas are migrating because of your music, and llamas are not a migratory animal.” – Cassandra Clare.

 

Roast Mushroom Salad: the Caesar of Salads

“If a man prepares dinner for you and the salad contains three or more types of lettuce, he is serious.” – Rita Rudner.

 

Distinguishing between edible and poisonous mushrooms is something one should preferably not learn through trial and error – you’re only allowed one error! Despite the awful consequences of mistaken identity, mushrooms have been prized by nearly all civilisations for millennia. The Romans even named one of the edible Amanita species Amanita Caesarea after their Emperor, and it was colloquially known as Cibus Deorem – Food of the Gods. The author Martialis stated that he would sooner decline gold and silver than turn down the offer of a plate of well-cooked mushrooms! Interestingly – and prudently – the Caesars of Rome employed official food tasters to ensure that they wouldn’t be poisoned. This precaution was not, however, always successful. Pliny the Elder claims that Agrippina, wife of the Emperor Claudius, murdered him by serving him a hearty meal of lethal Amanita mushrooms on the day of his death in CE 54.

Eating mushrooms is indeed one of life’s real pleasures, as long as one goes about it the right way. Observing a few basic principles will help you extract maximum pleasure at minim risk. Some of the key truisms include never eat what you don’t know, rather cooked than raw, avoid mushy-looking, overripe ones, slice them evenly for more rapid cooking and water loss, use unsalted butter when cooking them, only add salt towards the end of cooking (since it makes them watery) and making sure most of the mushroom’s fluids are cooked off to ensure maximum intensity flavour. Lastly, and most importantly, do not rinse mushrooms – wipe them with a brush or a slightly damp cloth. You are, after all, trying to get rid of water, not add it!

This warm salad recipe strikes a perfect balance between the tender texture and umami flavor of the mushrooms and the crisp, peppery character of the salad greens.

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 6

 

8 Cups bitter salad greens, such as frisée or rocket

450g Portobello or button mushrooms, quartered

2 Garlic cloves, crushed

1 Medium onion, finely sliced

3 Tbsp. dry sherry

2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

2 Tsp. chopped fresh thyme, or ½ tsp. dried

½ Tsp. salt

¼ Tsp. freshly-ground black pepper

 

  • Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they release their juices, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • While the mushrooms are cooking, arrange the salad greens in a large serving bowl.
  • Add the garlic and thyme to the mushrooms and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the sherry and cook until mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat.
  • Stir in the remaining 1 tbsp. oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and allow to heat through for 3 minutes.
  • Pour over the greens and toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve.

 

“A salad is not a meal. It’s a style.” – Fran Lebovitz.

 

Chorizo & Bean Salad: the Gulf meets the Med

“You have to live life to its full chorizo.” - Mario Batali.

 

Many cuisines have a signature sausage. Afrikaners have their Boerewors, the English Bangers, the French Boudin and Andouille, the Poles Kielbasa and the Germans Bratwurst. In the Hispanic world, the Chorizo reigns supreme.  Chorizo is a coarsely textured spiced pork sausage widely used in Spanish and Mexican cooking. It is made from coarsely chopped pork and red pepper and seasoned with chilli and paprika. Mexican chorizo is made with fresh pork while Spanish chorizo uses smoked pork. It is sold as a whole sausage of either soft cooking chorizo, which must be cooked before eating, or a firmer, drier cured sausage which can be sliced and eaten without cooking. The latter is often thinly sliced, like salami, to be enjoyed raw as tapas.

On the western side of the Atlantic, beans are fundamental to Mexican and Central American cooking – so much so that chauvinist yanquis refers to Hispanic-Americans as “Beaners”. Thanks to Hollywood the Chicanos’ love of beans is well known the world over. Less publicised is the importance of beans in the cuisine of the Old Country. After the Conquistadores brought them to Spain from the Americas, cultivation spread fast and by the middle of the 16th Century, they had become acclimatised in the wetter, northerly parts of the country. Amongst the varieties grown in Spain, the two most highly prized varieties are Barco de Ávila from Castile-León and Granja Asturiana from Asturias, known locally as fabas (pronounced “favas”). Internationally these broad beans are better known as Fava Beans ever since Anthony Hopkins popularized them in that movie. Favas are large and kidney-shaped, with a creamy-white color.

In the warm days ahead, consider combining chorizo and fava beans in a quick and easy summer salad bursting with the spicy Mediterranean flavours of smoked paprika, tomatoes, red onion and peppers.

 

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a chilled dry Rosé

 

350g Canned Fava or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

200g Chorizo, thinly sliced and shinned

150ml Dry white wine

8 Small vine tomatoes, quartered

4 Spring onions, trimmed and sliced

2 Shallots, peeled and finely chopped

2 Celery stalks, finely sliced

1 Yellow or red sweet pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks

1 Small red onion, finely sliced

2 Tsp. olive oil

A handful of chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnishing

Crusty bread, to serve

 

  • Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the chorizo.
  • Fry for 3 minutes over medium-high heat, then add the shallot, onion, celery and sweet pepper, and stir-fry for another 5 minutes.
  • Pour in the wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half.
  • Stir in the beans and simmer for a few minutes to warm them through.
  • Turn off the heat, then add the tomato and spring onion. Allow to cool to just above room temperature.
  • Spoon into a serving bowl and top with the parsley.
  • Enjoy with the crusty bread.

 

“Having grown up in the Middle East, eating beans for breakfast always seemed like a bizarre British eccentricity.” – Yotam Ottolenghi.

 

Broccoli & Guacamole Salad: what vegan Mexicans eat on Cinco de Mayo

“Broccoli may get stuck in your teeth, but French fries will get stuck on your ASS.” – Earl Dibbles Jr.

 

Guacamole is an avocado-based dip/spread/salad first made by the Aztecs in what is now Mexico. In addition to its use in modern Mexican cuisine, it has become part of US and international cuisine as well. The name comes from an Aztec dialect and literally means "avocado sauce". It is a combination of the words āhuacatl ("avocado") and mole ("sauce"). Guacamole dip is traditionally made by mashing ripe avocados and sea salt with a pestle and mortar. Some modern recipes call for tomato, onion, garlic, lemon juice, chillies and coriander leaf. Some even contain sour cream. Mexicans love eating guacamole encased in maize tortillas as an on-the-go snack, and at sports events it is nearly as popular as that gringo favourite, the hot dog.

This following recipe combines all of my favourite guacamole ingredients with a crisp lettuce and cabbage base to make one huge bowl of goodness. For a little healthy boost, chunks of oven-roasted broccoli are also tossed through. Topping the salad with tortilla chips is totally optional but if you don’t mind eating a small amount of starch, I recommend it to give you that crunchy, authentic guacamole & chips experience. The recipe is vegan, but it can accommodate protein with aplomb - it’s equally great with a few slices of grilled halloumi, chicken or salmon.

 

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves 2

 

1 Head broccoli of about 250 grams, divided into florets

1 Large ripe avocado

1 Medium red onion, chopped

1 Lime, halved

½ Head romaine lettuce, roughly shredded

60g Corn tortilla chips

1 ½ Cups red cabbage, thinly shredded

1 Cup cherry tomatoes

½ Cup fresh coriander, chopped

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC and line a small baking tray with baking paper.
  • Coat the broccoli in the olive oil.
  • Spread out evenly over the baking tray and roast until tender and just browning at the edges, approximately 20 - 30 minutes depending on the size of the florets. Set aside and allow to cool.
  • Halve the baby tomatoes and finely dice the onion.
  • Combine the lettuce, cabbage, coriander, tomatoes and onion in a large bowl.
  • Scoop out the whole avocado, slice into chunks and add this to the contents of the bowl.
  • Fold the avocado gently into the salad so everything is creamy and coated.
  • Squeeze the juice of the lime over the salad.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Once the broccoli has cooled down to room temperature, toss it into the salad as well.
  • To serve, divide the salad in half and crumble over the tortilla chips (if you're not eating it right away, you can leave the chips separate so they stay super crunchy).

 

“Happy Cinco de Mayo. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, mayor Bill de Blasio is filling all New York City potholes with guacamole.” – David Letterman.

 

Vietnamese Seafood Salad: Oriental Frutti di Mare

“I love how Vietnamese food always tastes like flowers, and how they had the ingenious idea of pairing that floral flavor with seafood; such a combination shouldn't work as well as it does.” - Hanya Yanagihara.

 

Spring is approaching fast; time to start thinking about cooling, rather than comforting, food. On particularly hot days I favour upgrading salads from side dishes to main courses. A “mains” salad should be light and refreshing, but also filling. Green leaves don’t really measure up to this on their own, so bulking up with ingredients like pasta, meats, cheese and eggs comes into play.

Bear in mind that different ingredients respond differently to a particular dressing. For example, pasta salads made Italian-style wheat noodles don’t “click” with vinegary dressings. Asian rice noodles, on the other hand, are totally compatible with vinaigrettes. The recipe below is a case in point. It fuses two classic dishes – an Italian-style seafood salad and a refreshing pasta salad. It is a perfect summer dish, bright with lemon and olive oil. A mix of lightly cooked seafood flavoured with olive oil, lemon, and herbs provides plenty of bright, fresh flavor, and Vietnamese-style rice noodles pair perfectly with the springy texture of the seafood while also absorbing the flavour.

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a Cape Riesling or unwooded Chardonnay

 

450g Thin rice noodles

450g King-sized large prawns, peeled and deveined

450g Small squid (bodies and tentacles), bodies thinly sliced crosswise

250g White crab meat, cooked

10 Large mint leaves, very thinly sliced

2 Medium garlic cloves, crushed

1 Medium hot chilli, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped

¾ Cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling

½ Cup fresh lemon juice

Zest of 1 lemon

3 Tbsp. flat leaf parsley leaves and tender stems, chopped

3 Tbsp. French chives, chopped

Coarse sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

 

  • Cook the noodles until tender in a large pot of salted boiling water.
  • Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water to chill. Set aside and allow to drain thoroughly.
  • In a medium pot of salted boiling water, cook the prawns until just cooked through and pink all over, about 2 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to an ice bath to chill.
  • Cook the squid in the same pot of boiling water until tender and cooked through, about 3 minutes; transfer them to the ice bath as well.
  • Drain the prawns and squid and pat them dry with paper towel.
  • Combine the prawns, squid, crab meat, olive oil, lemon juice, zest, chili, garlic, parsley, mint, and chives in a large mixing bowl. Toss well to combine.
  • Season with salt and pepper, then add the noodles and toss again to combine.
  • Season once more with salt and pepper, and drizzle more olive oil on top as desired.
  • Serve lightly chilled or at room temperature.

 

“When eating a fruit, think of him who planted the tree; when drinking water think of him who dug the well.” – Vietnamese proverb.

 

Halloween? KISS fans? No, Day of the Dead in Guatemala

The Wahoo is the giant of the Mackerel family

There's one born every day...

Tuna are not just tasty; they make great fish bras

Tuna and Avocado Salad: a real power couple

“I love things that are indescribable, like the taste of an avocado or the smell of a gardenia.” - Barbra Streisand.

 

Many people I know think of tuna as a single species of fish, and their only interaction with tuna has been eating canned tuna in a salad or sandwich. There are actually five species of tuna (bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye, longfin and skipjack) that are commercially exploited in the oceans of the world, and the annual catch amounts to about 4.5 million tons. And to see a live fish – or even a whole dead one – is a memorable experience. This is how Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda described a large tuna he saw in Santiago’s Mercado Central: “Here, among the market vegetables, this torpedo from the ocean depths, a missile that swam, now lies before me, dead. Your flanks and prow are black and slippery, as if you were still a well-oiled ship of the wind, the only true machine of the sea: unflawed, undefiled, navigating now the waters of death.”

Fresh tuna are not just beautiful; they are delicious when prepared properly. Whether as sashimi or sushi, smoked, grilled or barbecued, their flesh is firm and full of flavour. A great way of doing justice to this majestic fish is to serve it in a salad alongside another icon, the avocado. The avocado (Persea americana), believed to have originated in Mexico, is classified botanically as a “berry”, and widely regarded as a “super fruit” because it is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Avocados have a perfect balance of healthy fatty acids which are known to have a benefit in controlling high cholesterol. Whilst this fruit is rich in energy, it is certainly not fattening if eaten in moderation as part of a healthy eating plan. While not to everyone’s liking, most food lovers – yours truly included - go gaga over them. Their umami flavor pairs exceptionally well with the slightly salty tuna.

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes 

Serves 4

 

1 Tuna steak of about 450g, about 3cm thick

4 Hass avocados, halved and pitted

2 Celery stalks, sliced crosswise about 5mm thick

2 Anchovy fillets, minced

1 Small red onion, finely diced

1 Garlic clove, minced

½ Cup mayonnaise plus 2 tbsp. extra

½ Cup extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. pitted oil-cured black olives, chopped

2 Tbsp. capers, drained and chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. fennel seeds

1 Tbsp. black peppercorns

Salt for seasoning

Pea shoots for garnish

 

  • Combine the olive oil, fennel seeds and peppercorns in a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer over moderately low heat.
  • Season the tuna with salt and place it in the saucepan.
  • Simmer it over low heat, turning once, until barely pink in the center, about 15 minutes.
  • Transfer to a plate and scrape off the fennel and peppercorns. Strain and reserve the oil.
  • Meanwhile, blend the mayonnaise with the minced anchovies, capers, garlic and 1 tbsp. of the fresh lemon juice in a large bowl.
  • Stir the celery, onion and olives into the dressing.
  • Using a fork, break the tuna into bite-sized pieces, then fold them into the dressing. Season with salt.
  • Set 2 avocado halves on each of 4 plates, skin side down.
  • Drizzle the avocado flesh with some of the reserved spice-infused olive oil and the remaining 1 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice.
  • Spoon about ½ cup of the tuna salad into the middle of each avocado half.
  • Top the tuna salad with the pea shoots and serve.

 

“The cucumber and the tomato are both fruit; the avocado is a nut. To assist with the dietary requirements of vegetarians, on the first Tuesday of the month a chicken is officially a vegetable.” – Jasper Fforde.

 

Butternut and pepita salad: a tale of mistaken identity

“The pumpkin itself is a symbol for mortality. Like mortals, the pumpkin seed is planted in the darkness of the earth, where it is left to search for the light. When the plant finally sprouts, it travels along the ground, as if in search of its place in the world. Then, once the pumpkin has found its place, it blossoms into a fruit that towers above all others. And when the pumpkin is ripe, it's a veritable life-giving force.” – Seth Adam Smith.

 

Butternut squash, like the tomato, is technically a fruit, but it is used as if a vegetable. It that can be roasted, sautéed, toasted, pureed for soups, or mashed and used in casseroles, breads, and muffins. It is also erroneously called “butternut pumpkin” in Australia and New Zealand, whereas it is strictly speaking a winter squash that grows on a vine. Butternut has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a true pumpkin.

One of the most common ways to prepare butternut squash is roasting. Once roasted, it can be eaten in a variety of ways, including as a warm salad. Although the flesh is obviously the main attraction, the skin is also edible – and quite tasty - and so are the seeds (aka pepitas) which are usually eaten roasted. The following recipe makes use of all three parts, and goes exceptionally well with savoury meat dishes.

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves 4

 

750g Butternut squash, whole

150g Feta, drained

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. honey

2 Tsp. apple cider vinegar

Fresh mint leaves for garnishing

 

  • Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.
  • Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  • Remove the seeds from the butternut and set them aside.
  • Cut the squash into 2cm-thick slices and place them on the prepared tray.
  • Drizzle the slices with 1 tbsp. olive oil.
  • Roast, turning halfway, for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, rinse the seeds and pat them dry.
  • Add the seeds to the tray with the butternut and roast for a further 20 minutes or until golden.
  • Transfer the butternut and seeds to a serving plate.
  • Combine the honey, apple cider vinegar and remaining olive oil in the warm baking tray. Stir well to make a dressing.
  • Drizzle half the dressing over the butternut mixture, and season to taste.
  • Top with feta and mint and drizzle with the remaining dressing.

 

“I will defend pumpkin until the day I die. It's delicious. It's healthy. I don't understand the backlash. How did pumpkin become this embarrassing thing to love but bacon is still the cool flavor to add to everything? I don't have anything against bacon; just don't come after pumpkin like it's a crime to love an American staple.” – Anna Kendrick.

 

Duck Gizzard Salad: yummy from the tummy

“My dear Mama, you are definitely the hen who hatched a famous duck.” - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

 

In a country full of people who refuse to try tripe and brawn, the next recipe might not hit the spot with everybody. Even in good restaurants, it is not a common sight. More’s the pity, because it’s worth knowing what salade de gésiers de canard is, because it is extraordinarily tasty. If you ever do see it in a restaurant, please consider ordering it. Any decent cook would be able to make this at home, if only the ingredients weren’t so difficult to source. Duck gizzards aren’t expensive or rare; it’s just that they are almost unobtainable unless you know a good butcher or specialty shop.

South African and Portuguese readers will be familiar with moelas, chicken gizzards stewed butter soft in a spicy red wine sauce. Duck gizzards can best be described as moelas on steroids. Imagine if the dark meat of a duck was distilled so it had double the depth of taste and flavor. Because it is so packed with flavour, a little goes a long way. Served as part of this salad it is not overpowering, and balanced well by the other flavours. The salad itself is deceptively simple for something so tasty. Cooked until tender, duck gizzards are basically umami delivery mechanisms. Their wonderfully savoury flavor is complemented by the earthy mixed greens and the light acidity of the vinaigrette. A handful of fresh nuts goes a long way, rounding out the textures in the salad.

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Serves 4

 

8 Duck gizzards

8 Medium roasting potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes

Mixed baby salad greens

French vinaigrette salad dressing

½ Cup crushed walnuts

2 Tbsp. sunflower oil plus 1 tbsp. extra

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper for seasoning

 

  • Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.
  • Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large roasting tin.
  • Roast the potatoes for 45 minutes, when they should be golden brown. Turn the potatoes after 25 minutes.
  • Season the potatoes to taste and keep them warm.
  • While the potatoes are roasting, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  • Cut the gizzards into wedges and transfer them to the pan.
  • Cook for about 15 minutes, or until slightly browned. Season to taste.
  • Arrange the salad leaves in a large bowl.
  • Add the potatoes and most of the nuts.
  • Drizzle with the salad dressing, then stir to coat everything with a thin layer of the dressing.
  • Arrange a bed of dressing on each plate, and place some of the cooked gizzards on top.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining nuts and serve.

 

“Celebrity should not be a scale for the election of politicians. If it would depend on popularity, Donald Duck and The Muppets would take seats in the Senate.” - Orson Welles.

 

Mackerel and Couscous Salad: one of the plenty

“There's lots of good fish in the sea...maybe...but the vast masses seem to be mackerel or herring, and if you're not mackerel or herring yourself, you are likely to find very few good fish in the sea.” – DH Lawrence.

 

Despite the popular legend, General George Custer’s last words at Little Big Horn were not “Holy mackerel, where did all them effing Injuns come from?” Nevertheless, the expression “Holy mackerel” has forever been etched into everyday English. It is a prime example of the Victorian custom of taking the first sound of an unacceptable expletive and turning it into something more innocuous. For example. “God” became “gosh” or “goodness”, “Christ” “crikey” or “crumbs” while “Jesus” has produced many alternatives, ranging from “gee” to “Jumping Jehosophat”. Holy mackerel is said to have substituted for “'Holy Mary” or “Holy Moses.'

The mackerel may not be holy, but it is nonetheless an important food fish, with a worldwide following. The flesh of mackerel spoils quickly, especially in warmer climes. Accordingly, it should be eaten on the day of capture, unless properly refrigerated or cured. In the days before industrial refrigeration, mackerel used to be the only fish Cape Town’s line fishermen could sell on Sundays. Mackerel preservation is not simple. Before the 19th-Century development of canning and the widespread availability of refrigeration, salting and smoking were the principal preservation methods available. My personal favourite is hot-smoked mackerel strewn with black pepper. This I often use to make a tasty paté, or the following salad.  

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Serves 4

 

2 Hot-smoked mackerel fillets, flaked

2 Israeli cucumbers, peeled into ribbons

3 Spring onions, thinly sliced diagonally

300g Couscous

250g Cooked beetroot, cut into wedges

200g Cherry tomatoes, halved

60g Baby spinach leaves

50g Crumbled feta

375ml Boiling water

3 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. olive oil plus extra for drizzling

¼ Cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

White sherry vinegar for drizzling

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper for seasoning

 

  • Place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl.
  • Stir in the boiling water.
  • Cover the bowl and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
  • Uncover and separate the grains with a fork.
  • Set aside for another 10 minutes to cool.
  • Add the spring onion, spinach, tomato, cucumber, lemon juice and oil to the couscous. Season to taste.
  • Toss vigorously to combine everything.
  • Transfer the salad to a serving platter.
  • Arrange the beetroot, mackerel, parsley and feta on top of the couscous mixture.
  • Drizzle with sherry vinegar and/or olive oil before serving.

 

“The Mediterranean has the color of mackerel, changeable I mean. You don’t always know if it is green or violet, you can’t even say it’s blue, because the next moment the changing reflection has taken on a tint of rose or gray.” - Vincent van Gogh.

 

Fiambre: Picnic with the Departed

“The Indians are a marginal people in Guatemala just like I am a marginal person in the first world.” – Luis Gonzalez.

 

Guatemala is a country of striking scenery and a strong indigenous culture. Mountainous, heavily forested and dotted with Mayan ruins, lakes, volcanoes, orchids and exotic birds, Guatemala is one of the most beautiful countries in Central America. Despite this, its most capable people keep streaming north to seek a better life among the Yanquis – mostly illegally. A combination of inequality and oppression triggered a 36-year-long civil war between Mayan insurgents and the Hispanic-dominated government. The indigenous Maya make up about half of the population, but human rights campaigners say they face extreme inequality and exclusion. During this conflict, which ended in 1996, the military and police - backed by the US - waged a vicious campaign to eliminate the guerrillas. More than 200,000 people - most of them civilians - were killed or disappeared. To add insult to injury, drug cartels seized on the instability in Guatemala and turned the country into a major conduit for drugs destined for North America.

Despite (or perhaps because of?) the violence, crime and grime most ordinary Guatemalans are devout Roman Catholics who observe sacraments and holy days with great enthusiasm. Two days not particularly well known or understood by Protestants and non-Christians are the Day of the Dead and All Saints Day. On these two days it is Guatemalan custom to serve Fiambre, a chilled salad made from up to 50 ingredients. It evolved from the tradition in Guatemala of taking the favorite dishes of dead family members to cemeteries on the Day of the Dead. As many different families brought food to these celebrations, the offerings often became mixed. In time people started mixing their food into an all-encompassing salad as a matter of course. Ingredients usually include a variety of sausages and cold cuts, pickled baby corm and vegetables, olives, cheeses, chicken and cold steamed vegetables. As can be expected from such an eclectic dish, the recipe varies from family to family, with each passing on its own to younger generations. On the Day of The Dead, it is customary to share one’s fiambre with other families and relatives.

 

Preparation time: 3 hours

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Serves 8

 

For the vegetables:

450g Cauliflower, broken into florets

450g Carrots, peeled and sliced thinly

250g Fresh green beans

250g Beets, tops and roots trimmed

150g Fresh pearl onions, peeled

1 Tbsp. capers

For the meats and cheeses:

1kg Cubed (not sliced) assorted cold meats: Ham; Turkey; Chicken; Roast Beef

250g Feta cubes

250g White aged cheese (Manchego, Emmenthal, Muenster etc.)

200g Salami, cubed (not sliced)

200g Dried Spanish chorizo, cut into thick slices

For the garnish:

4 Hard-boiled eggs, quartered

250g Fresh radishes, sliced

150g Roasted red bell peppers, cut into strips

150g Gherkin pickles

150g Mixed olives

For the dressing:

3 Sprigs fresh thyme

3 Sprigs fresh oregano

2 Bay leaves

1 Cup olive Oil

¾ Cup red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp. chopped parsley

1 Tbsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard

½ Tsp. brown sugar

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

 

  • First prepare the dressing: whisk the red wine vinegar and mustard together in a small mixing bowl.
  • Strip the leaves from the thyme and oregano, and add to the vinegar, discarding the stems.
  • Add the parsley, then whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and then add the bay leaves. Set aside.
  • Fill a large saucepan with water, and bring the boil.
  • Add the pearl onions, boil for 2 minutes, then remove them with a slotted spoon and place in a small bowl.
  • Plunge the cauliflower into the boiling water and blanche for 2 minutes.
  • Remove the cauliflower with a slotted spoon, and set aside in a separate, large bowl.
  • Boil the green beans for 3 minutes, remove, and then cook the carrots in the same fashion.
  • Remove them from the boiling water, and place them in the large bowl with the other boiled vegetables.
  • Place the beets in the boiling water, and allow to boil for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the beets from the boiling water, and set aside in a separate bowl, so as not to stain the other vegetables.
  • Once the pearl onions are cool, trim off the root ends and peel.
  • Add the peeled pearl onions to the large bowl of vegetables, along with the capers.
  • Once the beets are cool, peel off the outer skins, and cut them into quarters. Set aside in a separate bowl.
  • Pour the dressing over the vegetables in the large bowl, toss and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Remember to store the beets in a separate bowl!
  • Arrange the cubes of meats, sausages and cheeses on a large platter.
  • Arrange the marinated vegetables from the large bowl on top.
  • Garnish the platter with the beets, eggs, red peppers, gherkins, olives and radishes.
  • Once the platter is laid out with all of the ingredients, pour over the dressing left in the large bowl.
  • Serve immediately.

 

“Soft rock music isn't rock, and it ain't even music. It's just soft. Reminds me of something my third-grade teacher said to us. She said, "You show me a tropical fruit and I'll show you a faggot from Guatemala." – George Carlin.

 

I wonder what turkey sh#t tastes like...

You know I hate it when you call me Dr Morel!

Of course there's no blood on my hands; I wear gloves!

She's a tax payer too

He actually prefers fruit salad

Macedonia de Frutas Tropicales: fruit that punch!

“God loves everyone, but probably prefers ‘fruits of the spirit’ over ‘religious nuts’.” – Sybil Coble.

 

I am a sucker for fruit salad. I grew up on the Mpumalanga Escarpment, and we had ready access to the wonderful sub-tropical fruit grown in the Lowveld. As a result, I have always preferred to use these as opposed to deciduous fruit from cooler climes. My favourite version of fruit salad is what the Spanish would call a macedonia de frutas tropicales.

In Spain, fresh fruit is commonly served as both an entrée and a dessert; both at home and in restaurants. Spaniards prefer whatever is in season, but popular choices include green melon, watermelon, mango, papaya and pineapple. This recipe is perfect for a family treat, but you may want to omit the bubbly if you are concerned about small children. It makes the perfect snack, dessert, or champagne brunch item.

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Serves 6

 

2 Kiwi fruit

1 Papaya

1 Mango

1 Small pineapple

1 Orange

1 Lemon

½ Cup strawberries

½ Cup lychees, peeled and pitted

1 Tbsp. honey (alternatively cane or maple syrup)

375ml Semi-sweet sparkling wine

 

  • Peel the Kiwi fruit, papaya, pineapple, and mango. Be sure to cut off the “eyes” of the pineapple.
  • Slice the Kiwi fruit into thin roundels, and divide each in half.
  • Cut the papaya, pineapple, and mango into bite-size pieces and place in a ceramic mixing bowl, along with the Kiwi fruit and lychees.
  • Rinse the strawberries and remove the leaves, then cut each into quarters and place in the bowl with the other fruit.
  • Juice the orange and lemon and pour over the fruit.
  • Drizzle the honey over the fruit and mix thoroughly. Be careful not to bruise or break any of the pieces.
  • Pour the sparkling wine over the finished salad.
  • Place the salad in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before you serve it.

 

“Women are like fruits. Each one has its own unique colour, shape, aroma and taste. The problem is… men like fruit salad!” – Jack Nicholson.

 

Seared Tuna Salad: when the bus doesn't get away

“The best meal I've ever had was in Tavarua, an island in Fiji. It was just before sunset. A bunch of guys had just caught all this yellow fin tuna; they brought a huge wooden table down to the sand, dropped the tuna on top of the table, pulled the skin off and sliced the fish up.” - Rob Machado.

 

I have empathy for the proverbial dog that’s chased and caught a bus. For many years I dreamed of catching a big tuna, only to come agonisingly close – but no cigar - several times. My nemesis was usually the “tax man”; large sharks that lurk under boats and tax your tuna at a marginal rate of 80%. Earlier this month I finally broke the drought with a 20kg Yellowfin on the Agulhas Bank. Once the excitement had abated, I realised that I was now faced with a “bus” – two enormous sides of tuna that needed to be utilised while still fresh.

Step 1 was easy: Jakki and I had sashimi, and what an unforgettable experience it was! I am fairly certain that very few people ever get to eat fish within four hours after it was caught. The sashimi took care of about 2% of the filleted tuna. Cold smoking took care of half a fillet, and ceviche, pan-seared steaks and kebabs all have their part to play. The other treat on my list is imminent: a salad of seared tuna with apple and celery. Here’s my take on it.

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a chilled Merlot Rosé

 

2 Fresh tuna steaks, about 250g each

2 Stalks celery, finely chopped

1 Granny Smith apple, unpeeled and finely chopped

2 Scallions, thinly sliced

2 Radishes, sliced wafer-thin

4 Firm inner radicchio (or other suitable lettuce) leaves for serving cups

½ Cup tangy mayonnaise

3 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, finely slivered

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Toasted slices of rusticata or panini bread

 

  • Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Sear the tuna on the first side for 5 minutes, until lightly browned.
  • Turn with a spatula and sear for another 3 minutes.
  • Remove the tuna and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Flake the tuna into 3 x 2cm pieces and transfer to a large bowl.
  • Toss the tuna chunks gently with the celery, apple, and scallions. Season with salt.
  • Gently fold the mayonnaise and basil into the tuna mixture.
  • Serve in the radicchio cups, garnished with radish slices, with the toasted bread on the side.

 

“Eating a tuna roll at a sushi restaurant should be considered no more environmentally benign than driving a Hummer or harpooning a manatee.” - Daniel Pauly.

 

Ensalada Chilena: when simple isn't simpel

“Pinochet buried many of us, but he didn’t realise we were seeds.” – Michelle Bachelet.

 

Perhaps because of their geographic isolation and cultural homogeneity, Chileans are not fond of spicy food or exotic combinations. They prefer plain dishes, made with fresh ingredients and flavoured with salt, pepper, cilantro (coriander leaves) and Ají Chileno (a local chilli sauce). Because their food is so simplistic, the quality and freshness of the ingredients are paramount, as can be seen in ensalada chilena, the ubiquitous Chilean salad.

 

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Serves 6

 

2 White onions

5 Ripe tomatoes

½ Cup cilantro, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. olive oil

½ Tsp. salt

 

  • Cut the onion in thin slices and halve each slice crosswise.
  • Rinse the onion in a colander under running cold water for a few minutes. Squeeze the onion slices several times; this will sweeten the onion and remove some of the “bite.”
  • Drain the onion and set aside.
  • Peel the tomatoes, then cut them in thin wedges.
  • Arrange the onion and tomato in your guest’s individual serving bowls: first the tomato, then a layer of onion.
  • Dress with the oil, and season to taste with the salt and cilantro.

 

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.” - Pablo Neruda.

 

Roasted Mushroom Salad: it won't leave you cold

“Salad got a bad rap. People think of bland and watery iceberg lettuce, but in fact, salads are an art form, from the simplest rendition to a colourful kitchen-sink approach.” - Marcus Samuelsson.

 

I must confess I am not a great aficionado of the traditional garden salad. The thought of a bowl of lettuce, tomato, olives and feta cheese with a vinaigrette dressing doesn’t exactly blow my hair back. Having said that, I must add, in my defence, that there are a number of other salads that do get me excited. My mother’s potato salad is one. Peri peri chicken is not the finished article without coleslaw, and I am very fond of Caesar Salad and Salade Niçoise as well. Still - as much as I appreciate the need to consume a daily ration of roughage, specifically salad greens and crisp vegetables - there are certain damp and blustery days when the idea of a chilled, crunchy salad is about as tempting as root canal work.

Warm salads are a different matter altogether. They allow us to ingest much-needed greens and other vegetables in a hearty, savoury guise, and make ideal light lunches on their own or substantial accompaniments to a main course at dinner. An added bonus is that they provide an outlet for leftovers. Any kind of leftover meat, whether turkey, steak, lamb or chicken, can be turned into a savoury warm salad by sautéing it in butter or bacon fat and adding it to a salad with a warm dressing. The secret to making appetising, attractive warm salads is using varying textures and colours; like combining white endive, vibrant red radicchio and green Cos lettuce, and then laying over them thin strips of warm lamb, steak, duck or chicken.

Unsurprisingly, the masters of the warm salad are North Europeans. In the Low Countries, Northern France and the Baltic states of Germany winters are bitterly cold, and where even in summer the sun can be a skittish visitor. Some of the classic warm salads include hot German potato salad with bacon, French duck breast or gizzard salad, Belgian Salade Liegeoise (sliced potatoes, green beans, bacon, onions, parsley and a bacon fat vinaigrette) and frisée aux lardons (curly endive tossed with bacon, garlic croutons and a bacon-fat vinaigrette).

The recipe below might come as a surprise to many of you, as the pride of place does not go to a meat but to the oyster mushroom. To me, properly cooked mushrooms are as appetising as rare duck breast or a juicy steak. Try this one out; it is technically not vegetarian, but it is so tasty and aesthetically pleasing that even vegans might be tempted…

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 90 minutes

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by a medium-bodied Pinotage or Cinsaut

 

500g Mixed wild mushrooms (or cultivated exotics) like oyster, enoki and shiitake, thick stems discarded and caps thickly sliced

250g Thickly sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 10mm strips

200g Sturdy baby greens, such as rocket, mustard green or spinach

75g Cold goat’s cheese or feta, crumbled

1 Large leek - only the white and tender green parts, thinly sliced

1 Garlic bulb, cloves crushed but not peeled

¾ Cup pecan nuts

½ Cup cider vinegar

½ Cup olive oil

½ Cup canola or sunflower oil

1 Tsp. molasses

1 Tsp. lemon juice

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

 

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180⁰C.
  • Bring both the oils to a simmer in a saucepan, then add the garlic.
  • Cook over low heat until fragrant, 15 minutes.
  • Strain the oil and discard the garlic.
  • Toss the mushrooms with 6 tablespoons of the garlic oil in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. (Reserve the remaining garlic oil for later use.)
  • Spread the mushrooms out on a baking tray and roast for 35 minutes, stirring once or twice, until crisp and golden.
  • Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast for 7 minutes, until fragrant. Allow them to cool.
  • Cook the bacon in a large frying pan over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until crisp, about 8 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Strain the fat into a heatproof bowl and return half of it to the frying pan.
  • Add the leek and cook over moderately low heat until softened, about 6 minutes.
  • Add the vinegar and simmer until reduced to 3 tablespoons, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and whisk in the molasses, lemon juice and the remaining bacon fat.
  • Toss the greens with the vinaigrette, mushrooms and pecans in a large bowl.
  • Season with salt and pepper and toss again.
  • Sprinkle with the bacon and goat’s cheese and serve.

 

“People aren't either wicked or noble. They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.” – Lemony Snicket.

 

Tarragon Chicken Salad: LBJ would have recognised it

“I left Chicago many years ago to move to California. You can't help but live a healthy lifestyle here if you want to fit in. I find myself eating chicken and salad and salad and chicken and salad and salad, like a monk." - James Belushi.

 

Chicken salad is a versatile, healthy dish which need not be bland just because it’s healthy. There is no generic chicken salad recipe; the term is a catch-all for any salad with chicken as a main ingredient. Other ingredients commonly included include mayonnaise, hard-boiled egg, onion, gherkins, celery and tomato. Like tuna or egg salad, it is usually served on a base of lettuce, bread, crackers, avocado, or some combination of these. It is also great as a sandwich filling.

Chicken salad is typically made with leftover chicken, but in my household it is so popular that I regularly buy chicken for the sole purpose of turning it into salad or chicken mayo sandwiches! While the majority of chicken salads or made of chicken and a binder like mayonnaise, the term may also refer to a green garden salad with fried, grilled, or roasted chicken (usually cut up or diced) on top.

The recipe below is my interpretation of the first chicken salad to be sold commercially. It was first served by Town Meats in Wakefield, Rhode Island in 1863. The original owner, Liam Gray, mixed his leftover chicken with mayonnaise, tarragon, and grapes. This became such a popular item that the meat market was converted to a delicatessen. This recipe has truly stood the test of time; the combination of the yogurt and mayonnaise with the faint liquorice flavour of the tarragon gives the whole dish more zip.

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a chilled Chenin Blanc or Pinot Gris

 

3 Cups rotisserie chicken – shredded, skinless and boneless

100g Whole-grain crackers

½ Cup natural yogurt

½ Cup mayonnaise

½ Cup red onion, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, chopped plus extra for garnishing

½ Tsp. coarse sea salt

½ Tsp. freshly-ground black pepper

 

  • Combine all the ingredients – except the chicken, onion and crackers - in a mixing bowl.
  • Add the chicken and onion, and toss to combine.
  • Serve on the crackers, garnished with some of the extra tarragon.

 

“Boys, I may not know much, but I know chicken shit from chicken salad.” – Lyndon B Johnson.

Grand Theft Mango

La Cavolfiore Nostra is big in Sicily

I hear the Amerikanoi put lettuce & cucumber in theirs!

Of course Mexican food makes your pechugas bigger!

German white gold

Roasted Asparagus Salad: magnificent minimalism

“Good asparagus needs minimal treatment and is best eaten with few other ingredients.” - Yotam Ottolenghi.

 

The finest vegetable dish I have ever eaten was a simple plate of steamed white asparagus topped with cream and chopped chives at Les Templiers in Angers. It was in late April, which (unbeknown to me) is right at the start of the Season. My love affair with this wonderful vegetable has remained passionate ever since. Asparagus are the young shoots of a cultivated lily plant – first cousins to our wild Veldkool” (in days gone by, “Hotnotskool”), Trachyandra Falcata. They're considered to be one of the delicacies of the vegetable world, with a price tag to match, as they are labour-intensive to grow.

Asparagus have a distinct, intense umami flavour. All types pack a nutritional punch, with high levels of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and calcium, and they're also diuretic, giving urine an unmistakable aroma (which, curiously, not everyone can smell!) French asparagus is purple, while the British and American varieties are green. In contrast, German, Spanish and most Dutch asparagus are white, being grown beneath the soil and cut just as the tips emerge.

Green asparagus is eaten worldwide, though the availability of imports throughout the year has made it less of a delicacy than it once was. In Europe, however, the "asparagus season” is a highlight of the culinary calendar; in the UK this traditionally begins on 23 April and ends on Midsummer’s Day. As in continental Europe, due to the short growing season and demand for local produce, asparagus commands a premium price. Asparagus is very popular in Continental Europe, and is almost exclusively white. If not, it is specified by the local language term for "green asparagus".

Only seasonally on the menu, asparagus dishes are advertised outside many restaurants, usually from late April to June. For the French style, asparagus is often boiled or steamed and served with Hollandaise sauce, melted butter or cream. Tall, narrow asparagus cooking pots allow the shoots to be steamed gently, their tips staying out of the water. Personally, I will always want my white asparagus steamed, but I like to vary the way in which I cook the green variety. Roasting them skilfully results in a really tasty product, as you will find in the following recipe.

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by a chilled Sauvignon Blanc

 

450g Medium green asparagus

250g Mixed spring lettuces

50g Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved into curls with a vegetable peeler

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tsp. lemon zest, finely grated

5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper

 

  • Pre-heat your oven to 230⁰C.
  • Toss the asparagus with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil and the lemon zest, and season to taste with the salt and pepper.
  • Place them in a rimmed baking tray.
  • Roast the asparagus in the oven for about 8 minutes, until the tips begin to turn brown.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the mustard and the remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  • In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with all but 2 Tbsp. of the dressing.
  • Arrange the salad on plates and top with the roasted asparagus and cheese curls.
  • Drizzle the remaining dressing over the asparagus and serve.

 

“I look forward to the spring vegetables because the season is so short. Mushrooms, edible foraged herbs, wild leeks, early season asparagus.” – David Chang.

 

Mexican Bean Salad: Magic from South of the Wall

"You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans." – Tom Robbins.

 

Mexicans are the objects of a myriad stereotypes, and the butt of even more jokes. Many Yanqui Gringos call Mexicans “Beaners”, a label that Chicanos don’t seem to mind too much, as it is very descriptive. Beans and maize have long been the two main foods of indigenous Mexicans, and much of Mexican cuisine is based on these two ingredients. This combination is a fortuitous one, as beans and maize complimentary amino acids.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which the human body needs. If any one of several amino acids is missing from a person's diet, then the production of protein is restricted and the body performs at a diminished level. It so happens that neither maize nor beans supply the full complement of amino acids needed for protein synthesis. However, combine the two and you magically gain the full complement of amino acids needed. Put rice and maize together, or wheat and rice, or maize and potatoes, or potatoes and beans, and you don't. Eat maize with beans, and you do.

The following recipe does exactly that, and more. It is the ultimate summer salad, and it's perfect for entertaining. Not only is it festive and colourful, but you can make it ahead of time—in fact, you should, because it gets better and better with time. It is a perfect accompaniment for a summer braai (where I come from, “barbecue” is a flavour of Simba chips!)

 

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Serves 6

 

2 Tins black beans, rinsed and drained

2 Cups frozen corn kernels

1 Avocado - peeled, pitted and diced

1 Red bell pepper, chopped

2 Tomatoes, chopped

6 Scallions, thinly sliced

1 Clove garlic, finely chopped

A pinch of Cayenne pepper

½ Cup olive oil

1/3 Cup fresh lime juice

1 Tsp. salt

½ Cup fresh cilantro (coriander leaves), chopped

 

  • Place the lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small jar.
  • Screw on the lid, and shake until all the ingredients are well mixed.
  • In a salad bowl, combine the beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, scallions and cilantro.
  • Shake the lime dressing some more, and pour it over the salad.
  • Stir the salad to coat the vegetables and beans with the dressing, and serve.

 

“Are you coming to my party tonight? I'm making a three-bean salad, but it's bring your own bean. Can I put you down for garbanzo?” – Teddy, in ‘Bob’s Burgers.’

My big, fat Greek-American Salad

“My heart says chocolate and wine but my jeans say: ‘for the love of God woman, eat a salad!’ “ – Fran Lebovitz.

 

“Real” Greek salad is a simple construct, made with pieces of tomato, sliced cucumber, onion, feta cheese and olives, seasoned with salt and oregano, and dressed with olive oil. On special occasions slices of green bell pepper and capers may be added. This minimalist Greek salad often serves as a farmer's breakfast or lunch, as its ingredients are things that a typical Greek peasant farmer would have on hand. Outside Greece, what restaurant menus call "Greek salad" is generally a lettuce salad with Greek-inspired ingredients, even though the original dish is distinguished by the absence of lettuce. The traditional variant without lettuce is called horiatiki, (peasant salad) by Greeks.

Lettuce, vine tomatoes, feta, and olives are the most standard elements in an Anglo-Saxon-style Greek salad, but cucumbers, bell peppers and onions are common additions .Rather than simple olive oil and vinegar, as in a normal Greek salad, prepared dressings containing various herbs and seasonings are now regarded as standard. Needless to say, this style of Greek salad is rarely encountered in Greece! The following recipe is not for authentic horiatiki, but should appeal to non-purist lovers of Mediterranean flavours.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

 

1 Head of Romaine lettuce, trimmed of tough stems and torn into bite-sized pieces

1 English (seedless) cucumber, trimmed and cut into 2 cm-thick chunks

1 Small red onion, roughly chopped

1 Green bell pepper, trimmed, seeded, and diced

300g Vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, halved

200g Calamata olives, about 1 cup

200g Feta cheese, crumbled

3 Cloves garlic, crushed

1 Cup olive oil

6 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 Tsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped

2 Tsp. coarse salt, plus more to taste

Freshly-ground black pepper

 

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, salt, and oil.
  • Stir in the oregano and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  • When ready to serve, toss the lettuce lightly in a bowl with some of the dressing.
  • Divide the lettuce among 4 salad bowls.
  • Scatter the olives, cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and peppers over the top of the greens.
  • Serve and pass the remaining dressing around at the table.

 

“A well-made salad must have a certain uniformity; it should make perfect sense for those ingredients to share a bowl.” – Yotam Ottolenghi.

Savoury Cauliflower Salad: Bliss for Banters

“Some girls seem to take the stuffing right out of you. There is something about their personality that paralyses the vocal cords and reduces the contents of the brain to cauliflower.” – PG Wodehouse.

 

Thanks to the Banting craze, the previously much-maligned cauliflower is now the flavour of the season. People on low-carbohydrate regimes often use cauliflower as a substitute for potatoes or rice; while it produces a similar texture they lack the starch of the originals. Like certain legumes (including chickpeas), it can be turned into a flour from which such foods as pizza or biscuits are made.

Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the family Brassicaceae, which also includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens and kale. You may be interested to know that cauliflowers are not all white; there are white, orange, green and purple varieties. Cauliflower can be roasted, boiled, fried, steamed, pickled, or eaten raw. When cooking, the outer leaves and thick stalks are removed, leaving only the florets. The florets should be broken into similar-sized pieces so they are cooked evenly. After eight minutes of steaming, or five minutes of boiling, the florets should be soft, but not mushy (depending on size). Stirring while cooking can break the florets into smaller, uneven pieces.

This recipe should appeal to both low-carb and “normal” palates:

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves 4

 

1 Medium cauliflower

1 Red bell pepper, cored, deseeded and chopped

2 Cloves garlic, crushed

2 Tbsp. scallions, chopped

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. Sherry or white wine vinegar

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

 

  • Divide the cauliflower into florets.
  • Cook in well-salted water until nearly tender. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the bell pepper, garlic and scallions and sauté for about 3 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, then add the still-warm cauliflower and vinegar.
  • Gently stir everything together, and allow to cool.
  • This is a great companion to rich meat or poultry dishes and even cheese.

 

“The woman I love she got a prize fighter nose, cauliflower ears and a run in her hose.” – Bob Dylan.

 

Lychee and Mango Salad: the Taste of Summer

“Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone.” – Oscar Wilde.

 

Summer is upon us, and to me one of its highlights is the abundance of subtropical fruit our country affords us. If I had to pick one fruit above all else, it would be a toss-up between the lychee and the mango. Fortunately, this dish contains both, so what’s not to like?

 

Preparation time: 12 ½ hours

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by a chilled Gewürztraminer

 

For the yogurt cream:

500 ml Greek yogurt

60 ml honey

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

For the salad:

2 Small ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into thin strips

8 Fresh lychees, peeled and quartered

2 Tbsp. honey

2 Tbsp. shredded coconut

Small garden mint leaves for garnish

 

  • To make the yogurt cream, combine the three ingredients in a bowl.
  • Line the inside of a strainer with three layers of cheesecloth or two layers of paper towel.
  • Place the strainer over an empty bowl, and pour the yogurt mixture into the strainer.
  • Cover and let drain in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
  • To toast the shredded coconut, place it on a plate and heat it in your microwave oven for 45 to 60 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds, until golden brown.
  • When the yogurt mixture is ready, combine the fruit with the honey.
  • Spread the yogurt in the centre of each plate, and garnish with the fruit salad.
  • Sprinkle with the toasted coconut and mint leaves.

 

“Wisdom is in yourself, just like a sweet ripe mango is already in a green young one.” – Ajahn Chah.

 

Eid as much as you like

Amadumbe is big in Hawaii

Eaten while things are going pearshaped for lambs

Peru got the "Titi" side of Lake Titicaca

Getting high in Nepal

Aloo ko Acha: something completely different!

"High fashion has the shelf life of potato salad. And when past its prime, it is similarly deadly." – Barbara Kingsolver.

 

As you know, I am a potato salad junkie and have previously posted my mother’s special recipe for the traditional potato-and-mayonnaise version. And now, as Monty Python’s voice-over would say, for something completely different. This hot and spicy potato salad is one of the most common dishes in Nepal. Every Nepali would have had Aloo ko Acha at least once in his/her lifetime. It's one of the cheapest and easiest dishes to prepare, and tastes seriously good!

 

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves 5

 

500 g Small potatoes

50 g Green peas, blanched and chilled in cold water

1 Long green Thai chilli, chopped

2 Tsp. black sesame seeds

1 Tsp.turmeric

1 Tsp. fenugreek seeds

½ Tsp. chilli flakes

60 ml Lemon juice

2 Tbsp. canola or sunflower oil

½ Cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Finely chopped carrots and cucumber for garnish

 

  • Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with salted water and bring to the boil.
  • Simmer gently until cooked through.
  • Set aside until cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into cubes.
  • Mix the potato with the peas, both types of chilli, lemon juice and sesame seeds. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil into a small frying pan over medium heat.
  • When the oil is hot, add the turmeric powder and fenugreek seeds.
  • Once the fenugreek seeds turn slightly brown, pour the contents of the pan, including oil, into the bowl containing the potatoes and mix in.
  • Garnish with the coriander and chopped vegetables and serve.

 

"Remember the '90s? We had voted the Clintons into office, terrorism was something Third World people did to each other, everybody was using AOL, Apple was seriously uncool, and most of us thought Oasis was fantastic. In hindsight, we were all a bunch of potato-salad-eating jackasses." - Julie Klausner.

 

Quinoa Salad with Citrus Dressing

Never eat ingredients you can't pronounce. Except quinoa.” – Jennifer Aniston.

 

Quinoa was unknown in most of the world until a few years ago. This cereal has been grown by the Amerindians of the Andes and Central America since time immemorial, and was a staple food of both the Incas and Aztecs. After centuries of obscurity, the growing focus on healthier eating in the Western World has since seen it achieve the status of a “superfood”. It is packed with protein and gluten free, which makes it ideal for vegetarians and people who suffer from gluten intolerance.

Nowadays it is available from most health food shops and leading supermarkets, but be prepared – it is not cheap! We use it mainly in salads that require a starch, and I prefer it to couscous. The following recipe has Peruvian roots and is attractive, tasty and wholesome.

 

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Serves 6

 

175 g Quinoa

1 Large tomato, seeded and cubed

1 Small cucumber, peeled

4 Scallions, thinly sliced

2 Fresh green chillies, seeded and chopped

2 Garlic cloves, crushed

Juice of 1 large orange

Juice of 2 limes

2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped

1 Tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped

6 Tbsp. olive oil

Sea salt for seasoning

 

  • Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse it thoroughly under cold water.
  • Tip into a large saucepan, and cover with cold water.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer gently until tender. This should take 10 – 12 minutes.
  • Drain and allow to cool.
  • To make the dressing, whisk the oil and citrus juices together, then add the chillies and garlic and season with the salt.
  • Cut the cucumber in half lengthways, and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon.
  • Cut the cucumber halves into thin (5 mm) slices.
  • Add the cucumber, tomato, scallions and herbs to the cooled quinoa and toss well.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad and toss again until well mixed.
  • Check the seasoning and serve.

 

“You can drastically reduce the time spent on preparing a kale and quinoa salad by buying a bag of chips and getting the f*ck over yourself.” – Cassie White.

 

Slaphakskeentjies: why lambs don't like it...

 

“Acting is like peeling an onion. You have to peel away each layer to reveal another.” - Juliette Binoche.

 

One of Afrikanerdom’s iconic side dishes is a ​​sweet-and-sour cooked onion salad with Dutch origins called “Slap Hakskeentjies” (literally “limp shins” in English). There are two popular theories about its etymology. The more fastidious one holds that the soft-boiled onions resemble calves with little or no muscle tone. Another, slightly controversial explanation is that the dish was mostly made with young onions in Springtime, which is also lambing season. Baby rams would usually be neutered to turn them into “hamels” (Eng. “wethers”). The lamb’s testes not only resemble small boiled onions, but a newly-snipped wether does indeed walk mincingly – as if his hind legs are feeble. Regardless of which theory you subscribe to, this is how one makes this tasty salad:  

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves 8

 

1.5 kg Small pickling onions

3 Large eggs, beaten

½ Cup white sugar

1 Tsp. mustard powder

1 Tsp. salt

250 ml Water

125 ml White wine vinegar

 

  • Put the onions into a bowl. 
  • Pour enough boiling water to cover them, and leave alone for 5 minutes. 
  • Drain and pull the onions' peels off. 
  • Gently boil the onions in a pot of lightly-salted water until they are just tender - do not overcook them or they will disintegrate.
  • Transfer the onions carefully with a slotted spoon into a colander, and allow them to drain well. 
  • Once the onions are dry, place them in a salad bowl.
  • Heat the water, vinegar, salt, sugar, and mustard in a large saucepan and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. 
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. 
  • Allow to cool, then stir half of the lukewarm vinegar sauce into the beaten eggs bit by bit, whisking gently all the while. 
  • Stir the egg mixture into the rest of the vinegar sauce in the saucepan and bring slowly to a gentle boil while stirring. The sauce must simmer very gently and not boil, as it curdles easily.
  • Simmer, stirring continually, until the sauce thickens. 
  • Let it cool slightly and pour over the onions.
  • The salad may be served cold or warm.

 

“A woman's chastity consists, like an onion, of a series of coats.” - Nathaniel Hawthorne.


AmaDumbe Salad: not a cure for AIDS but very tasty!

“Plenty sits still. Hunger is a wanderer.” – Zulu proverb.

 

As readers will know by now, I am a big fan of our indigenous foodstuffs. They are not only robust and easy to cultivate, but – more importantly – they are authentic. Among the most useful from a culinary perspective are AmaDumbe, the corms of the Elephant’s Ear plant (Colocasia esculenta). Also colloquially known as the African Potato, the plant achieved notoriety when a former Minister of Health erroneously claimed that – eaten in combination with beetroot, olive oil and garlic – it could cure AIDS. It is a particular favourite of the Zulu people, who have long seemed to prefer Amadumbe over potatoes or sweet potatoes. Today the starch-rich, tasty corms are also a staple diet in many other parts of Southern Africa. They are also widely available, and even mainstream supermarkets like Pick & Pay now offer them for sale.

The Elephant’s Ear is one of the most useful staple foods in the world because it is hardy, all parts can be used and it can be harvested at any time of the year. It is a robust perennial plant with a large corm on or just below the ground surface and it has very large, heart-shaped leaves that are borne on thick stalks – hence the name. AmaDumbe corms are very rich in starch and they are a good source of dietary fibre. In African cuisine, the corms are usually roasted, baked, or fried as ersatz potato chips.

AmaDumbe, properly prepared, has wonderful taste and flavour. They combine the best elements of potato, parsnips and roasted chestnuts They can be used as a substitute for parsnips – which are difficult to come by in South Africa - in most recipes. The following recipe is tailor-made for African Potato: a low-fat, rustic root vegetable salad flavoured with honey vinaigrette and rosemary. It makes a great accompaniment a roast dinner.

 

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves 6

 

10 AmaDumbe corms, peeled and each cut into 6 wedges lengthwise

200 g Cooked and peeled chestnuts (alternatively 200 g roasted, cracked Cashew nuts)

150 g Mixed salad leaves (I like rocket, watercress and oakleaf)

2 Rosemary sprigs, coarsely chopped

2 Tbsp. sherry or cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tsp. clear honey

Salt and white pepper for seasoning

 

  • Pre-heat your oven to 200°C.
  • Toss the AmaDumbe wedges with 2 tsp. of the oil, season and place on a baking tray.
  • Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile whisk the honey and vinegar together.
  • Remove from the oven and stir in the chestnuts and rosemary.
  • Drizzle over the honey vinaigrette, and roast for another 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Toss the leaves with the remaining oil and some seasoning, and pile onto a serving plate.
  • Top with the AmaDumbe, chestnuts and any juices left in the baking tray.

 

“Chestnuts are delicacies for princes and a lusty and masculine food for rusticks.” – John Evelyn.

 

Baba Ghanouj: Donald Trump repellant

“Middle Eastern cuisine has the same depth of ingredients and processes as other cuisines. They just haven't had as much exposure”. - Yotam Ottolenghi.

Few cultures have ever suffered such bad press in the West as the Arabs. Not only have they been stereotyped mercilessly for centuries, but the Crazed Muslim Terrorist has replaced the Wandering Jew as Christianity’s pet bogeyman. The mutual distrust between the descendants of the “Franks” and “Saracens” has resulted in massive ignorance and misconceptions on both sides. Not only does this bedevil geo-politics, but it has denied most Western food lovers the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the treasure trove that is Arab cuisine. There is so much more to it than Shawarmas, Shish Kebabs and Couscous Salad!

If you are tired of potato salad or coleslaw with you weekend Braai, try out this tasty, attractive and nutritious side dish. It is refreshing, contains a medley of textures and flavours and features the classic sweet and sour contrast typical of many Middle Eastern dishes. Also known as Salatet al Raheb, Baba Ghanouj is one of the jewels of Mediterranean cooking.   

 

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Serves 6

 

4 Medium aubergines

4 Spring onions, thinly sliced (only the white parts)

1 Shallot, finely chopped

3 Medium garlic cloves, crushed

20 Cherry tomatoes, quartered and deseeded

½ Cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

½ Cup pomegranate seeds

½ Cup parsley, chopped

¼ Cup fresh mint, finely chopped

3 Tbsp. lemon juice

Extra virgin olive oil for dressing

Coarse sea salt for seasoning

 

  • Pierce the eggplants all over with a fork.
  • Place them over your braai flames or under a hot grill, turning occasionally until it is charred all over.
  • Remove from the heat and place on a rack where it can drain.
  • When cooled, slice the aubergines in half.
  • Peel off the charred skin and place the halves in a colander to drain.
  • After draining for about 10 minutes, chop the aubergine into small chunks and place them in a mixing bowl.
  • Add the spring onions, shallot, salt and lemon juice.
  • Sprinkle the tomato quarters on top, and toss the salad lightly. Be careful not to crush the aubergine.
  • Spoon the mixture into individual serving plates, and garnish with the herbs, walnuts and pomegranate.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

“Some days are honey, and some are onions.” – Arabian proverb.

Daytona Beach biker chicks busy coleslaw wrestling

Sweet fruits of summer

Lyon's "Bouchon" Quarter

Blue & Green cabbages

A forager cleans her prize

Porcini and Artichoke Salad

“Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art is a mushroom.” – Thomas Carlyle.

Porcini and artichokes are two of my favourite umami-rich foods. With both in season at the moment, why not combine these two supreme delicacies in a summer salad? Fresh porcini are sweet, woodsy, and delicious when thinly sliced and served raw, and they make a great duo with artichokes. If you can't get hold of fresh porcini, Portobello or brown mushrooms will work too.

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Serves 6

 

250 g Fresh porcini (or substitute) mushrooms, thinly sliced on a mandolin

2 Large artichokes (350 – 400 g each)

½ Cup Parmesan, Pecorino or Sprienz cheese, thinly sliced on a mandolin

1 Anchovy fillet, finely chopped

½ Cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 Tsp. fresh thyme leaves

½ Cup extra virgin olive oil

½ Cup fresh lemon juice

½ Tsp. freshly-ground black pepper

½ Tsp. salt

2 Cups water 

 

  • Combine the water and half the lemon juice in a large bowl.
  • Cut the stem of each artichoke to within 2 cm of the base and peel the stems.
  • Remove the bottom leaves and tough outer leaves, leaving only the tender heart and bottom.
  • Cut each artichoke in half lengthwise. Remove the fuzzy thistle with a spoon.
  • Thinly slice each artichoke heart into 5 mm thick slices and place the slices in the lemon water.
  • Combine the remaining lemon juice, thyme, pepper, salt, and anchovy in a small bowl.
  • While whisking constantly, gradually add the oil, and keep whisking until combined.
  • Drain the artichoke hearts and pat them dry with paper towel.
  • Combine the sliced artichoke hearts, anchovy mixture, parsley, and mushrooms in a large bowl and toss gently.
  • Divide the mixture among 6 small plates and sprinkle each serving with about 2 teaspoons of cheese slices.

“Cats are like mushrooms, only you'll rarely ever hear me scream, "Get off my pizza!" to a pack of mushrooms.” - Jarod Kintz.

 

Red Cabbage Salad

“The insufferable arrogance of people to think that nature was merely made for their benefit; to believe that the sun was merely set ablaze to ripen their apples and help their cabbage along.” – Gustave Flaubert.

The red cabbage (Brassica oleracea) is a coloured variety of the common green cabbage, and is also known as purple cabbage, red kraut, or blue kraut (after cooking). Its leaves are coloured dark red to purple, depending on terroir. In acidic soils, the leaves grow more reddish, in neutral soils they will grow more purple, while an alkaline soil will produce rather greenish-yellow coloured cabbages. On cooking, red cabbage will normally turn blue. To retain the red colour it is necessary to add vinegar or acidic fruit to the pot. Red cabbage is a better keeper than its "white" relative and does not need to be converted to sauerkraut to last the winter.

I have never really been a fan of “common” cabbage because of their rather gamey smell when cooked, and coleslaw is the only way I really enjoy it. Red cabbage is a different proposition altogether. My love affair with it began after watching Rick Stein making braised red cabbage with apples next to the Canal du Midi in one of his TV series. Since then I have used it in numerous ways, growing fonder of it every time. This simple salad brings out the best in red cabbage.

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Resting time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

 

3 Cups red cabbage, finely shredded

1 Cup zucchini, finely grated

1 Cup Granny Smith apple, finely grated

2 Tbsp.fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp (5 mL) grated orange rind

2 tbsp (30 mL) liquid honey

75ml Cider vinegar

60ml Orange juice

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

½ Tsp. salt

½ Tsp. black pepper

 

  • Combine the vinegar, orange rind and juice, oil, honey, salt and pepper in a salad bowl.
  • Whisk vigorously until emulsified.
  • Add the cabbage, apple, zucchini and parsley.
  • Toss to combine the ingredients.
  • Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before serving.

 

“I have but one rule at my table. You can leave your cabbage, but you’ll sit still until I’ve finished mine.” – Laurie Graham.

Salade Lyonnaise

“Lettuce is like conversation; it must be fresh and crisp, so sparkling that you scarcely notice the bitterness in it.” – Charles D Warner.

A Lyonnaise salad  is a very simple dish from France’s third-largest city, Lyon. It consists of fresh salad leaves - traditionally frisée lettuce - and pieces of lardons with a lightly poached egg resting on the top. Some fried bread croutons are often added to give the salad more body. It is dressed with an oil, vinegar and mustard dressing which is very easy to make yourself, so there is no need to go out and buy expensive bottles of French dressings. The salad is often served as a starter or hors d'oeuvre and is perfect for or a light lunch.

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a chilled dry Rosé

 

250 g Frisée lettuce, rocket and lamb’s lettuce

4 Fresh free-range eggs

½ Cup lardons, or 4 streaky bacon rashers cut into 5 cm lengths

4 Slices of white bread, crusts removed and cut into cubes

1 Clove of garlic, coarsely chopped

60ml Olive oil

80ml Red wine vinegar

2-3 Tsp. whole grain mustard

Olive oil for frying the bread

 

  • Arrange the salad leaves in the bowl in which the salad will be served, and set aside.
  • Fry the garlic in a little oil until it releases its flavour into the oil. Discard the garlic.
  • Fry the bread cubes in the flavoured oil until brown and crisp.
  • Remove the croutons from the pan, drain on paper towel and keep them warm.
  • Fry the lardons (or bacon) in the same oil until crispy.
  • Add the mustard and vinegar, and cook until reduced by two thirds.
  • Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for five minutes.
  • Heat 2 cups of water in a saucepan, and add ½ Tbsp. of spirit vinegar.
  • When the water reached simmering point, crack the eggs individually into 4 ramekins or small bowls.
  • Slide the eggs gently into the water and poach them gently until barely set – the yolks must still be runny.
  • Arrange the dressed salad leaves equally on four plates, and sprinkle with the croutons.
  • Place a poached egg on top of each helping.

“I was born in the Mid-West, where ‘salad’ meant Cherry Jell-O with bananas in it.” – Candy Crowley.

 

Coleslaw with Summer Fruit

 “I think pineapples are very sexy. They remind me of bikinis and the beach.” – Penn Badgley.

As we all know, Coleslaw is big in America. Americans not only eat it as a side dish, but often substitute lettuce for it in burgers, wraps and sandwiches. This recipe takes traditional slaw one step further by adding juicy summer fruit to it, including two of my all-time favourites: pineapple and mango. My version is slightly more tart than the creamy version made with Mayonnaise, and makes an excellent side to rich meat or chicken dishes.

 

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Resting time: 18 – 24 hours

Serves 12

 

½ Medium green cabbage, shredded

½ Medium red cabbage, shredded

1 Large red onion, diced

4 Fresh pineapple rings, diced

1 Mango, diced

1 Small Granny Smith apple, diced

1 Cup carrots, grated

2 Celery stalks, chopped

½ Cup white sugar

1 Cup white wine vinegar

200ml Canola oil

1 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp mustard powder (the mild American recipe)

 

  • In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, onion, pineapple, mango, apple, carrots and celery.
  • Sprinkle with the sugar, and mix well.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, oil, salt, dry mustard, and pepper, and bring to the boil.
  • Remove from the heat, and let it cool down for 10 minutes.
  • Pour the warm dressing over the cabbage mixture, and mix well.
  • Let it cool down, cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate.

This recipe works best if the coleslaw is made the day before.

 

“Be a pineapple. Stand tall, wear a crown and be sweet on the inside.” – Queen Latifah. 

Coleslaw: when Manhattan was still Nieuw Amsterdam

“Cabbage: a familiar kitchen-garden vegetable with a head about as large and wise as a man’s head.” – Ambrose Bierce.

Coleslaw is big in America, and was one of the earliest dishes introduced by European colonists. Pieter Stuyvesant (1592 – 1672) and his Dutch settlers were probably the first people to make and eat “slaw” in Manhattan! The name is a derivative of the Dutch Koolsalade or Koolsla which literally means “cabbage salad”. The massive influx of Germanic immigrants in the 19th Century, who had grown up eating Krautsalad in their motherland, assured the place of this North European staple in the Pantheon of American cooking. Interestingly, Americans not only eat it as a side dish, but often substitute lettuce for it in burgers, wraps and sandwiches. My version is slightly more tart than the creamy version made with Mayonnaise, and makes an excellent side to rich meat or chicken dishes.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Serves 12

½ Medium green cabbage, shredded

½ Medium red cabbage, shredded

1 Large red onion, diced

1 Cup carrots, grated

2 Celery stalks, chopped

1 Cup white sugar

1 Cup white wine vinegar

200ml Canola oil

1 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp mustard powder (the mild American recipe)

  • In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, onion, carrots, and celery.
  • Sprinkle with the sugar, and mix well.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, oil, salt, dry mustard, and pepper, and bring to the boil.
  • Pour the hot dressing over the cabbage mixture, and mix well.

This recipe works best if the coleslaw is made at least 48 hours in advance. It will comfortably last 10 days in the refrigerator.

“Horny old men are like coleslaw. Unwanted, with a lot of gas.” – Fran Lebowitz. 

The original Brown Derby in Wilshire Bvd, Hollywood

Relaxing with my parents in Roodewal Camp, KNP

Caesar's in Tijuana, birthplace of Caesar Salad

Prof Tim ("Banting") Noakes

The "Bo-Kaap" (Malay Quarter) of Cape Town

Kerrieboontjies: another Malay gift to Cape cooking

“It was in the making of ‘kerriesous’ or curry sauce that the Malay cook demonstrated the highest skill of his craft.” – Dr C Louis Leipoldt.

Curried bean salad (or “brand-ertjies” as my little sister used to call it many years ago) combines two of my favourite foodstuffs: mild and sweet Cape Malay curry and green beans. Because the end product is spicy, sweet and sour at the same time it goes very well with pretty much any main dish. One of the first items we pack for any extended trip to a game reserve is a jar of curried bean salad. It really comes into its own in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park; by the time we get to Grootkolk at its northern tip our fresh fruit and veggies are normally depleted. It has become standard operating procedure for us to have Kassler chops, pan-fried (tinned) pineapple and curried bean salad as our final brunch there.  

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Serves 6

250 g Fresh green beans

1 Medium onion (approximately 125 g), finely chopped

1 Tsp mild curry powder

1 Tsp turmeric

2 Tsp Maizena corn flour

90ml White wine vinegar

90ml White sugar

½ Tsp salt

  •  Fry the onion in a little olive oil or butter until soft in a large saucepan.
  • Turn off the heat.
  • Rinse the beans and snap off their stems.
  • Slice the beans finely, then add them to the fried onion.
  • Re-heat the pan and cook the contents together until the beans start to soften. Take care not to overcook the beans – the need to be al dente.
  • Make the sauce while the onion and beans cook together: use the Maizena and a tablespoon of warm water to make a smooth paste.
  • Heat the rest of the sauce ingredients gently in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Increase the temperature until it starts boiling, then add the Maizena paste and stir until thickened.
  • Combine the sauce with the bean and onion mix.
  • Bring it to the boil, remove immediately and let it cool down.

Serve cold as a salad.

“You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans.” – Tom Robbins.

The dish Prof Tim would almost like...

“Cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education” – Mark Twain.

Pearl wheat (Stampkoring in Afrikaans) is a wholesome, versatile foodstuff that was neglected for too long, but is making a comeback with today’s greater focus on healthy eating. I used to eat it often as a child, and remember enjoying the coarse texture. The dish I describe here was originally made with Farro (a wheat cultivar eaten whole, husk and all, in Italy) but works just as well with Pearl Wheat. It would probably leave Prof Tim Noakes in two minds: he would love the cauliflower but be repelled by the starch!

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves 6+

450 g Pearl Wheat, rinsed and drained

2 Large heads of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets

250 g Prosciutto, sliced 5 mm thick and diced

2 Carrots, halved lengthwise

1 Small onion, halved

1 Celery rib, halved lengthwise

2 Garlic cloves, crushed

3 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped

2 Tsp marjoram, chopped

1 Bay leaf

150ml Olive oil

5 Tbsp lemon juice

Canola oil for frying

Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • In a large saucepan, combine the wheat, carrots, onion, celery, garlic and bay leaf.
  • Add enough cold water to cover the wheat by 5 cm and bring to a simmer over high heat.
  • Reduce the heat to moderate and cook until the wheat is tender but chewy – this should take about 15 minutes.
  • Drain the wheat, then spread it on a rimmed baking tray to cool.
  • Discard the carrots, onion, celery, garlic and bay leaf.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 2.5 cm of oil over moderately high heat until it reaches 180°C.
  • Fry the cauliflower in batches until golden, 5 minutes per batch. Drain the florets on paper towel.
  • In a bowl, mix the wheat, cauliflower, prosciutto, olive oil, lemon juice and herbs.
  • Season with the salt and pepper and serve.
  • Some people like to add olives and/or slices of avocado at this point - it's your call.

“Reason clears and plants the wilderness of the imagination to harvest the wheat of art.” – Austin O’Malley.

Hail Caesar!

“Puberty for me was graduating from Thousand Island dressing to Ceasar Salad, going from hamburgers to Filet Mignon or from ice cream in a cone to Crème Brulée.” – Richard Simmons.  

The Chicken Caesar salad originated in Tijuana, Mexico. The town – just south of the USA/Mexican border – was a popular destination among thirsty Californians who went there the wine and dine legally during the Prohibition era of the 1920s and 30s.  The salad's creation is generally attributed to restaurateur Caesar Cardini, who operated restaurants in both Mexico and the Western United States. His daughter Rosa  remembered her father inventing the dish when an Independence Day rush in 1924 depleted the kitchen's supplies. Cardini made do with what he had, adding the dramatic flair of the table-side tossing "by the chef." To this day, it is normally made and tossed at the diner’s table. Many variations of the salad exist; for example, by topping a Caesar salad with grilled bacon, steak, or seafood.  This is my interpretation, made with the addition of crispy bacon:

Takes 30 minutes to make

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a chilled crisp white wine of a Mexican beer

1 Medium Ciabatta loaf

2 Chicken breasts, deboned and skinless

2 Tbsp crispy bacon lardons, roughly chopped

1 Large Cos or Romaine lettuce, leaves separated

A medium block Parmesan or Grano Padano cheese

2 Pickled anchovies

1 Garlic clove, crushed

5 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

3 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper for seasoning

  • Heat oven to 200˚C.
  • Cut the bread into croutons with a bread knife.
  • Spread the croutons out on a large baking sheet or tray and sprinkle over 2 tbsp olive oil.
  • Rub the oil into the bread and season with a little salt.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, turning the croutons a few times so they brown evenly.
  • Rub the chicken breasts with the remaining oil and season.
  • Place a frying pan over medium heat for 1 min, until hot, but not smoking.
  • Lay the chicken on the pan and sear for 4 minutes.
  • Turn the chicken and cook for 4 minutes more.
  • Check that the chicken is cooked – there should be no sign of pink, and the juices should run clear.
  • Mash the anchovies and crushed garlic with a fork against the side of a small bowl.
  • Grate a handful of cheese and mix with the rest of the dressing ingredients.
  • Season the dressing to taste. It should be the consistency of yogurt – if yours is thicker, stir in a few teaspoons of water to dilute it.
  • Shave some slivers off the cheese with a peeler.
  • Tear the lettuce into large, irregular pieces and put it in a large bowl.
  • Pull or chop the chicken into bite-sized strips.
  • Scatter half the chicken over the leaves, along with half the croutons.
  • Add most of the dressing and toss with your fingers.
  • Scatter the rest of the chicken and croutons on top, as well as the bits of bacon.
  • Drizzle with the remaining dressing.
  • Sprinkle the cheese shavings on top and serve straight away.

“Going to McDonald’s for a salad is like going to a brothel for a hug.” – Conan O’Brien. 

Ouma Louise's legendary Potato Salad

“The same boiling water that softens potatoes hardens eggs. It’s all about what you’re made of – not your circumstances.” – Anthony Hopkins.

One of my family’s favourite dishes is my mother’s scrumptious potato salad. Whenever the Rossouws plan a get-together, by popular demand the first item on the menu is always Ouma Louise se Aartappelslaai. As you’ve probably surmised by now, we are a family that loves and appreciates food, and most of us fancy ourselves as pretty decent cooks. There is nonetheless one dish that we all freely admit we haven’t mastered yet, and that is my mom’s incomparable potato salad. It is a work of art in its simplicity, and I suspect the rest of us try too hard – that is, we cannot stop ourselves from adding bells and whistles that are not in the original recipe. Try out the following two recipes – my mother’s and mine – and judge for yourself:

Ouma Louise:

Cooking time: 1 hour

Preparation and resting: 2 ½ hours

Serves 4 - 6

6 Medium potatoes (skin on)

1 Onion, finely chopped

3 Tbsp Italian parsley, finely chopped

300ml Mayonnaise

1 Tbsp Aromat seasoning (the traditional flavor)

2 Tsp Paprika

  • Put the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water and stir in the Aromat.
  • Bring to the boil and cook until a fork penetrates the potato with ease.
  • Drain the potatoes and allow them to cool for at least an hour.
  • Remove the skins, cut the potatoes in half lengthways, and slice the halves laterally into 2 cm-thick slices.
  • Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the bottom of the salad, and cover it with the first layer of potato slices.
  • Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over the potatoes, and sprinkle with a pinches of onion and parsley.
  • Repeat the process until all the potato, onion and parsley has been used. Make sure you have enough mayonnaise to cover the top layer.
  • Sprinkle generously with the paprika, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

This is an absolute winner with braaivleis or a Sunday roast.

Louis’ version:

Cooking time: 1 hour

Preparation and resting: 2 ½ hours

Serves 4 - 6

6 Medium potatoes (skin on)

1 Onion, finely chopped

3 Tbsp Italian parsley, finely chopped

300ml Mayonnaise

125ml Plain Bulgarian yogurt

1 Tbsp Mustard sauce (I prefer the Steers sauce)

2 Hard-boiled eggs

1 Roundel of Feta cheese, finely chopped

Tabasco

1 Tbsp Aromat seasoning (the traditional flavor)

Salt and pepper for seasoning

2 Tsp Paprika

  • Put the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water and stir in the Aromat.
  • Bring to the boil and cook until a fork penetrates the potato with ease.
  • Drain the potatoes and allow them to cool for at least an hour.
  • Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise, yogurt and mustard.
  • Remove the shells from the eggs and chop or grate them into small pieces.
  • Remove the skins, cut the potatoes in half lengthways, and slice the halves laterally into 2 cm-thick slices.
  • Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the bottom of the salad, and cover it with the first layer of potato slices.
  • Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over the potatoes, and sprinkle with a pinches of egg, onion and parsley.
  • Sprinkle a few tiny drops of Tabasco over the finished layer.
  • Repeat the process until all the potato, onion and parsley has been used. Make sure you have enough mayonnaise to cover the top layer.
  • Sprinkle generously with the Feta and then paprika, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

While not as tasty as my mothers’, this one can certainly be used as a substitute in an emergency!

“Money is the root of all evil, but it is such a useful root that we cannot get on without it any more than we can without potatoes.” – Louisa May Alcott.

Cobb Salad: Strictly Come Hungry!

“To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist – the problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know how much oil one must mix with one’s vinegar.” – Oscar Wilde.

The Cobb salad is one of the heavyweights of the salad world; many people have it as a light main course. Rumour has it that it was invented by Robert Howard Cobb, owner of the then Los Angeles landmark Brown Derby restaurant when he needed to feed Sid Grauman late one night (1937). Because the kitchen was already closed, Cobb assembled a filling salad from what he found in the fridge. It was such a hit, that other movie stars started requesting “Cobb’s salad”, and soon its popularity spread. A simple way to remember the ingredients of the original salad is to use the mnemonic EAT COBB: Egg, Avocado, Tomato, Chicken, Onion, Bacon, Blue (cheese) - then add lettuce. Here is how to make it:

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Serves 4.

Tastes best with a Bloody Mary or a dry Rosé

½ Head of Cos (aka “Romaine”) lettuce

½ Head of Butter (aka “Boston”) lettuce

1 Small bunch of curly endive leaves

½ Bunch of watercress, coarse stems discarded

NB: All lettuces should be rinsed, spun or patted dry, and coarsely chopped

6 Slices of bacon

2 Ripe avocados, peeled and pitted, and cut into wedges and then into 1 ½ cm-thick slices

400 g Cooked chicken breast, diced

1 Tomato, seeded and chopped fine

2 Hard-boiled large eggs, finely chopped

150ml Roquefort, finely grated

2 Tbsp fresh French chives, chopped

125ml Red wine or Sherry vinegar

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

250ml Olive oil

1-2 Tsp sugar

Salt and pepper

  • Cook the bacon in a pan over medium heat until crisp on both sides.
  • Remove from the bacon and lay it out on paper towels to absorb the excess fat.
  • Allow the bacon to cool, then crumble it and set aside.
  • In a large salad bowl, toss together well the lettuce, endive and watercress.
  • Arrange the chicken, bacon, tomato, and avocado decoratively over the greens
  • Garnish the salad with the grated egg and the chives.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.
  • Add the oil in a slow stream, whisking all the while.
  • Whisk the dressing until it is emulsified.
  • Stir in the Roquefort.
  • Add sugar to taste, 1/2 teaspoon at a time.
  • Whisk the dressing one last time.
  • Serve separately or toss in with the salad.

“Vulgarity is the garlic in the salad bowl of life.” – Cyril Connolly.

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Perigord Duck Salad

“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.” – Miles Kington.

Perigord Salad, (Salade Périgourdine) is a traditional French recipe from the region of Périgord, in South-Western France. It is a regional favourite in this area, which is famous for its consumption of duck and geese, not to mention Foie Gras. It's one of the top gastronomic regions of France, and this salad combines some of the tastiest quintessentially French ingredients. Its key ingredients are slices of duck breast and duck gizzards (gésiers de canard), in the form of cooked, preserved duck giblets (confit de gésiers). If you have never tasted them before you are really missing something. They are tender and full of flavour. Try the recipe and judge for yourself...

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 3 minutes
Serves 4

Tastes best with a noble cultivar Rosé (or Beaujolais, if you can get hold of some)

1 Smoked duck breast, sliced laterally into 1 cm thick slices
4 Confit duck gizzards
1 Head of lettuce
4 Large ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters (or 8-12 cherry tomatoes)
A 250g tin of whole kernel corn
20 Walnuts

24 Lardons (small, crispy bits of bacon)
½  Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp balsamic or sherry vinegar
3 Tbsp walnut or avocado oil
Salt and ground black pepper

  • Wash the lettuce, drain it, and place it in a salad bowl.
  • Prepare a vinaigrette with a pinch of salt, a little pepper, the mustard, the vinegar and the oil.
  • Pour the dressing over the lettuce and mix lightly.
  • Cook the gizzards gently in a little bit of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Season lightly.
  • While the gizzards cook, arrange the lettuce on plates, sprinkle it with walnuts, lardons and corn, and arrange the tomato quarters (or whole if they are cherry tomatoes).
  • Arrange the thin slices of duck breast on the edges of the plates.
  • Once the gizzards are cooked, place them on top of the salad. Hint: Take them out of the pan with tongs and allow the excess fat to drip off
  • Serve while the gizzards are still hot.

“Friends are the bacon pieces in the salad bowl of life.” – Helen Rowland.

The Waldorf Salad

American guest: “I want you to fix me a Waldorf salad!” Basil Fawlty: “I’m afraid we just ran out of Waldorfs...” – Fawlty Towers, Season 2 Episode 2.

Thanks to the best TV Sitcom ever made, the Waldorf is one of the best-known salads on earth. According to the American Century Cookbook, the first Waldorf Salad was created in New York City in 1893, by Oscar Tschirky, the maître d’hôtel of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The original recipe consisted only of diced red-skinned apples, celery, and mayonnaise. Chopped walnuts were added later to this now American classic. Some people prefer their Waldorf salad made with yogurt, instead of mayo. Personally, I fall firmly in the mayonnaise camp. Here is a basic recipe, but feel free to experiment with added extras like feta or blue cheese, and even pomegranate seeds.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Serves 2, but can be multiplied as required.

1/2 Cup chopped, lightly toasted walnuts

 1/2 Cup celery, thinly sliced

 1/2 Cup seedless fresh white grapes or dried sultanas

 1 Golden Delicious apple, cored and chopped. Alternatives include Granny Smith and Star King.

 3 Tablespoon mayonnaise

 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

 1 Teaspoon salt

 A pinch of ground black pepper

 Crisp lettuce, enough to cover two side plates

  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and the vinegar and season with the salt and pepper.
  • Mix in the apple, celery, grapes, and walnuts.
  • Serve on a bed of fresh lettuce.

“Oh terrific! We’ll celebrate! We’ll have an apple party! Everyone cores his own apple and stuffs it down someone’s throat!” – Basil Fawlty, “The Waldorf Salad”. 

Salade Nicoise: another cold classic for hot days

“To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist – the problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know how much oil one must mix with one’s vinegar.” – Oscar Wilde.

My lasting sensory impression of Provence will always be the sound of cigales. These ubiquitous sunbeetles make a load, screeching noise not unlike a Blue Grass band on a major acid trip. They were in top form on the scorching hot day I got to know the famous Salad of Nice, and I can still remember the food and the "background music" vividly. 

Salade Niçoise is a very simple dish to prepare, provided one has access to the right ingredients. Like most Mediterranean dishes, it is crucial to use fresh, seasonal produce for best effect. While the basic recipe is fairly standard, I am one of those who, like Madame Benoit, believe that a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation. My method entails the following:

Prepation time: 30 minutes.

Serves 4 adults as a main course, or 6 – 8 as an hors d’oeuvre.

Tastes best accompanied by a well-chilled Portuguese vinho verde or an unwooded Chardonnay.

200 g Flaked tuna – ideally fresh and poached; alternatively canned solid meat.

6 Anchovy fillets, soaked for two hours in warm milk. If you don’t like the sharpness of anchovies, smoked mussels/oysters or a dozen or so pan-fried snails make fine substitutes.

12 Medium prawns, poached and shelled.

6 Chopped salad onions.

12 Miniature Italian tomatoes, halved.

½ Cup of chopped green beans, cooked until al dente and then cooled in ice cold water.

12 Black olives, pitted and halved.

12 Capers.

2 Hard boiled eggs, cooled and sliced thinly.

1 Small, crisp head of lettuce, roughly torn up.

½ Cucumber, sliced thinly.

1 Small green (bell) pepper, chopped into small pieces.

1 Tablespoon of chopped parsley.

Olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dressing.

Salt and Cayenne pepper for seasoning.

Please note: The prawns, capers and eggs are a personal touch and not essential for the classical version of the dish.

  • Arrange alternate layers of the green ingredients and everything else (except the eggs, parsley, dressing and seasoning) in a salad bowl. Keep a few prawns and olives for garnishing.   
  • Line the rim of the bowl with cucumber roundels.
  • Decorate the top with the egg and a few prawns and olives.
  • Dress with olive oil and vinegar according to taste.
  • Sprinkle with parsley, salt and Cayenne pepper.

“The whole Mediterranean, the wine, the ships, the moonlight, the bronze men, the philosophers – all of it seems to rise in the sour, pungent taste of these black olives. A taste older than meat, older than wine. A taste as old as cold water.” – Lawrence Durrell.

Aïoli Buffet: a perfect summer lunch

"Aïoli epitomises the heat, the power, and the joy of the Provençal sun, but it also has another virtue – it drives away flies.” – Frédéric Mistral.

Aïoli is traditionally served with a variety of cold dishes, not just seafood. It is an ideal common denominator for a cold buffet meal which could include seafood, cured meats, chicken, pickles and seasonal vegetables like green beans, artichokes and asparagus. It also makes an exceptionally tasty dip for French fries. Here is my aïoli recipe:

Prepation time: 45 minutes.

Sufficient for a buffet serving 6 adults.

Although the good people of Provence insist on having this type of buffet accompanied by a dry Rose, I prefer it accompanied by a well-chilled Portuguese vinho verde or an unwooded Chardonnay.

 Aïoli:

 4 Egg yolks.

4 Cloves of garlic, chopped.

3 Teaspoons of coarse sea salt.

2 Cups olive oil.

2 Tablespoons lemon juice.

  •  Pound the garlic and salt into a paste with a pestle and mortar.
  • Whisk the egg yolks, garlic paste and lemon juice briskly until it is a smooth, uniform mixture. Use a heavy bowl to prevent slippage, and the resultant spillage.
  • Keep whisking and start adding a slow trickle of olive oil. The longer it takes before all the oil is blended in, the better the final product.

 Buffet:

 12 Medium prawns, poached in their shells.

12 Poached vine snails or whelks.

3 Hard boiled eggs, quartered into wedges.

12 Baby carrots, trimmed.

12  Raw sugar snap peas.

12 Steamed green asparagus shoots.

6 Steamed artichoke hearts.

6 Large button mushrooms, halved.

12 Haricot beans, trimmed and blanched.

1 Medium cucumber, halved and cut lengthwise into batons.

  •  Arrange the raw and cooked ingredients on a large serving platter, with the aïoli in the middle. For a nice extra touch, garnish with lavender and/or nasturtium flowers.
  • Dip the morsel of your choice into the aïoli and enjoy!
  • If you work in a profession where you serve clients or customers directly, take the next day off…

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea, and their faint metallic taste, … and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy, and make plans.” – Ernest Hemingway.

 

Jamie Oliver's Andalucian Tomato Salad

“Eat well, laugh often, love a lot.” – Spanish proverb.

I must confess I was part of the minority of viewers who didn’t particularly enjoy Jamie Oliver’s studio-recorded cookery shows. His travel shows were a different kettle of fish, so to speak. In them, he combined Rick Stein’s passion, Keith Floyd’s humour and Andreas Viestad’s ability to look relaxed while cooking in daunting locations. One of my favourite episodes was set in Andalucia, where he utilised the wonderful produce of Southern Spain in a series of scrumptious dishes that are quick and easy to make. Here then is the recipe for a salad that can easily be served as a light meal in summer

Prepation time: 10 minutes.

Cooking time: 10 minutes.

Serves 4 adults.

Tastes best accompanied by a medium-bodied Tempanillo or Malbec.

 

2 Chorizo sausages, about 15cm long each. Look for the variety that contains lots of paprika.

2 Ripe Roma tomatoes.

1 Roughly chopped shallot or salad onion.

Olive oil for drizzling.

Sherry vinegar for drizzling.

½ Tbsp chopped Italian parsley.

1 Tsp chopped young basil leaves.

½ Tsp freshly ground black pepper.

1 Tsp Coarse sea salt.

2 Cloves of garlic, sliced.

1 Tbsp olive oil for frying.

2 Tbsp sherry vinegar for the sauce.

  • Slice the Chorizo into 1-2cm lengths.
  • Fry the slices in the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Meanwhile, roughly chop the tomatoes.
  • Add the shallot/scallion.
  • Mix lightly, then sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.
  • Lightly mix again and let the salad rest.
  • When the Chorizo pieces have rendered most of their fat, add the sliced garlic.
  • The moment the garlic starts discolouring, add the sherry vinegar and remove the pan from the heat.
  • Scoop out the Chorizo pieces, and sprinkle over the salad.
  • Once the oil/fat/sherry mixture has cooled a bit, drizzle a few dessert spoons of the liquid over the salad.

 Serve as a side dish on its own, or with ham, goat’s cheese and crusty bread as a light main course.

 “Laughter is brightest where the food is best.” – Spanish proverb.

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