Sunday, 31 March 2013

Mediterranean Vegetable Stack

Happy Easter! A mediterranean vegetable stack is on the menu today, as I am with the vegetarian side of the family this year. (already dreaming of the big lamb feast next year) When I close my eyes, I can imagine myself eating this in a cafĂ© in Tuscany.

This is a genius recipe which I can claim no credit for, it's my mums made-up creation. It is especially good if you are in the need for speed. I’ll admit I’m not a fan of microwave cooking, but the cooking time for this entire dish is more than halved. So it just makes sense. If you are not strapped for time, by all means do each veg in the oven or on the stove top.

Choose your veg to be of similar shape and size, this makes for a nice uniform stack that doesn’t topple over easily.

1 large aubergine
2 large tomatoes
4 mushrooms

4 tsp basil pesto
Handful of basil leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Italian herbs
Salt & Pepper

Slice aubergine in about 1-2cm discs, season well with salt and pepper.
Place in a microwavable dish cover with cling fling, pierce a few holes and microwave for 7mins.
Pop the aubergines under the grill to colour and dry out. Turn once, grilling both sides.
Cut tomatoes in similar sized rounds, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add a pinch of sugar if tomatoes are not properly ripened.
Place in a microwavable dish cover with cling fling, pierce a few holes and microwave for 3mins. Do it for longer if you prefer a more cooked tomato.
Drizzle mushrooms with a little olive oil and season with Italian herbs and salt and pepper.
Place in a microwavable dish cover with cling fling, pierce a few holes and microwave for 4mins.
Now stack, start with aubergine, a few basil leaves, tomato, mushroom and basil pesto.

Top with some nice melting cheese and grill again until cheese is melted.
Serve and scoff straight away.

Serves 4

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan Crisps

My sister is a clever old thing: Editor, cookbook writer and restaurateur. She recently launched a cookbook, ‘Roots, Shoots & Leaves’, it is a vegetarians dream and an inspiration to those of us who find potato bake an adventurous veggie dish. Cover to cover, it’s packed with heirloom vegetables, drooling soups and sexy salads.
Here is an extract from her book:

'Why do I love heirloom vegetables? What is it that attracts me to them? For a start, it’s the rich romantic history inevitably attached to these ancient varieties. By definition, a true heirloom is one that has been open-pollinated (by bees or the wind), nurtured and handed down from one family member to another. I have always been drawn to the gnarled and knobbly shapes of those ancient varietals with their quirky names – Box Car Willy tomatoes, Purple Dragon carrots, Painted Lady beans – and all the unusual colours. Who knew that once upon a time carrots where purple? Long before the Dutch started mass-producing carrots and developing strains that were orange (to suit the nation’s favourite colour), carrots were long and thin – and purple! And before mass production, vegetables tasted the way they were meant to taste – full of flavour, with vibrant colours, interesting shapes and superior texture.' 

Roots, Shoots & Leaves, by Bernadette Le Roux is available at Exclusive Books, Wordsworth and selected Pick n Pay stores countrywide. Or from her website

I am particularly fond of this recipe as it tastes like posh cauliflower and cheese sauce, but in a liquid form. I like a little melba toast with this too. Very moreish indeed!
2 leeks, finely sliced
1 small onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 ml) butter
1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil
400 g cauliflower, broken into florets
1 potato, peeled and diced
2 cups (500 ml) vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1 cup (250 ml) cream
1 tablespoon (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Dijon mustard
1 cup (250 ml) grated Parmesan, for the crisps
snipped chives, to serve
Sauté the leeks, onion and garlic in the butter and oil until softened. Add the potato and stock, bring to the boil before reducing to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, until the potato has started to soften. Add the cauliflower and simmer for another 6 to 8 minutes, adding more stock if necessary. By this time the vegetables should be tender.
Remove from the heat and blend to a silky smooth consistency. Stir in the cream, lemon and mustard, and keep warm while you make the Parmesan crisps.
Using a greased baking tray, make 4 piles with the grated Parmesan and spread out slightly. Place in the oven under the grill, and grill until the Parmesan melts down and turns golden. (Watch closely!). Remove from the oven and leave to cool. When the Parmesan cools it will harden, forming the ‘crisps’.
Garnish the soup with snipped chives and serve with Parmesan crisps on the side.

Serves 4

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Cheese Muffins

I love a cheese muffin, but when I say cheese muffin, I mean CHEESE muffin. When every single bite is packed with chewy, cheesy flavour.

Often when I go to a baby shower or kitchen tea, the invitation states to bring a plate of eats. When you get there, you find the table heaving with cake and sweet treats. So bringing a savoury plate is a welcome change and these muffins 'whoosh' off the table.

I made these cheese muffins in paper cases, but in hindsight I'd grease the muffin pans instead and forget about the paper cases. Then you can cut the muffins in half, decorate with cream cheese and smoked salmon and arrange on a platter.


1 egg
190ml milk
250ml cake flour
10ml baking powder
375ml cheddar cheese, grated
2ml dry mustard powder
1ml cayenne pepper (optional)


Preheat the oven to 220°C and grease a muffin pan.
Beat the egg and add the milk.
Sift all dry ingredients, add the cheese, then add the egg mixture. 
Mix well to make a thick batter.
Spoon mixture into muffin pan until ¾ full.

Bake at 220°C for 10 minutes

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Panettone French Toast

Happy New Year! I've got a feeling in my bones that 2013 is going to be epic. For so many friends and family 2012 was a tough year. But with a new year comes new hope and perspective. Do you know that most businesses work on a five year plan. So shouldn't we take the time to plot a road map for our own lives at least once a year? 

I like making a few New Years resolutions. I know, by February they will all be forgotten or fizzled out, but it's a good time to take stock. I am in two minds whether to post mine here, because my faithful readers will hold me to it. (yes Mom, I'm referring to you) The usual resolutions are come to mind...lose weight, go to gym more, drink less wine, spend more time as a family, save more money, count to 10 when my toddler breaks something like my iphone, be kinder to my in-laws three Maltese yapping poodles etc. I have a few others too but let's stick to these for now.

So on the first resolution to 'lose weight', I kicked off the New Year with Panettone French toast. I got it for Christmas and it would have been a sin to leave it in the cupboard, besides I have the rest of the year to stick to my resolutions. Enjoy it! It is truly delicious!


4 eggs
1 cup milk
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 180C.
Cut the panettone in half and then cut slices from it.
Beat the eggs, then stir in the milk, orange zest, cinnamon and salt.
Dip the slices of panettone briefly in the egg wash, until well coated on each side.
Melt some butter or oil in a frying pan to coat the pan.
Over medium heat, fry the slices of panettone until golden brown on both sides.
Place the slices in the oven for about 5 minutes to ensure the egg is cooked right through.
Serve with syrup, fresh berries or even mascarpone and grilled peaches.

 Makes about 8-10 slices.