Sunday, May 22, 2011

Comfort-food Cornbread

I'm taking a cooking course. I go weekly, at least, or whenever I possibly can. I experiment, learn as I go and let food – and cravings – be my guide. The curriculum involves inspiration from fellow bloggers and challenges from cookbooks and food magazines, one in particular being Taste Magazine. The visuals in Taste are always beautiful, the products seasonal and luxurious. And, while I regularly feel intimidated by the sheer craftsmanship of the recipes, the results are consistently delicious. And the more I test and challenge myself, the more accomplished I become.

Mariana Esterhuizen, owner of her self-titled restaurant in Stanford, is one of my teachers. Her columns offer reliable, South African comfort food with a story. Her cornbread in a skillet (Jan/Feb issue 2011) went superbly with a spicy tomato soup – great for the upcoming chilly winter. But I can imagine it will be just as good a side with a summer braai.

  • Butter for greasing
  • 1 cup maize meal/polenta
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper (I used yellow)
  • 4 Tsbp chopped coriander (I couldn't find any fresh, so used fresh parsley)
  • 3 large, free-range eggs
  • 1 cup yoghurt/buttermilk (I used yoghurt)
  • 3 Tsbp olive oil
How to make:
Preheat the oven to 180'C. Grease a (large) cast-iron skillet, with an ovenproof handle, very well with the butter. Sift the maize meal/polenta, cake flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the vegetables and coriander and stir into the dry ingredients. Beat the eggs lightly in a jug, then stir in the yoghurt and olive oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the mixing bowl and stir until combined. Pour into the greased skillet and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top has browned and it feels firm. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing straight from the skillet.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Why I Can't Follow You on Twitter

  1. Your picture is the Twitter egg. If you can't even be bothered (or are so technically inept) that you haven't posted a picture, I can't be bother to follow you. 
  2. You are almost or are actually naked in your avatar.
  3. You have not posted anything. This is a give & take relationship.
  4. You have less than 10 followers. I know this is not a popularity poll (okay, it is for some people), so I will make the exception if you are a) new to Twitter, b) my friend or c) or my mother.
  5. Your avatar is a cartoon character. Grow up.
  6. Your tweets are angry/use mostly predictive text or SMS-language/don't make sense/all of the aforementioned.
  7. You swear a lot, unnecessarily in your feed/profile. It's just not smart.
  8. Your picture has not been downscaled so it's warped. (See point 1. Once again, I will make an exception if you are my mother.)
  9. Your picture has been so professionally shot you look like an ad for yourself and this is just one big PR mission.
  10. You have nothing to say. See point 3. Oh, and while I'm into food & post about food I think is worth sharing with fellow foodies, I do not find "I am hungry" or "Eating lunch" valid posts.
  11. You overuse exclamation marks. Okay, I get it, you're a funny guy!!!!!
  12. Your entire page is filled with the same, repeated personal marketing spam.
  13. You don't have a bio. 
  14. Your bio is so full you haven't use punctuation or <3
  15. Your bio is unoriginal and there are spelling mistakes. For example, "Lover of caffiene,chocolat and life !!!"
  16. Your feed is one long chat with your friends. For the love of Jack Dorsey (creator of Twitter), pick up the phone.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

100 Day Challenge!

Inspired by a colleague, I've set myself a challenge: I have to do something active every day for 100 days. If all goes on track, August 10 will be day 100!

Today, with the sun out, it looks like it will be a run on the promenade with my new trainers. But the challenge will come when I'm blindsided by late nights at work, cold dark mornings, rainy evenings... and maybe too much red wine to combat the cold, rainy evenings! So I'm using this as my official contract. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Day in the Wineland's Hidden Valley

 An autumnal lunch at the Long Table restaurant in Stellenbosch.

One of my most favourite things to do in Cape Town, is to escape to the winelands. Depending which way you're headed, you'll be surrounded by vineyards and mountains in an hour. The area is especially exquisite at this time of year, with the trees and vines turning russet-coloured and the warm, if a little shy, autumn sun catching the mountains. We headed on a strategic mission to taste some wines off the Annandale Road in Stellenbosch.

We began the journey with a tasting at the Ernie Els wine estate, with its robust if a little tight reds and celebrated signature red blends. The beautiful weather highlighted the green terraced gardens and the golden vineyards that the tasting room and restaurant overlooks. While only offering red at the moment, the estate plans to launch a white wine range. The hot Stellenbosch region isn't optimal for white varietals, so white grapes will be purchased for the task. 

Next was Rust en Vrede, conveniently down the road! With the lush overhanging trees, deep shadows, hills of vineyards, established cellar and lazy farm dogs, you immediately relax sitting on the terrace. The estate produces renowned delicious, full-bodied red wine exclusively, which is naturally why we made a stop there for a tasting on our way to lunch.

We ended at Long Table for a late, bistro-style lunch. Sold on the lunch specials, the standard menu offers something for everyone with hearty portions. Very full (and rather lazy!) after a full lunch and wine, we skipped dessert and decided to use the drive home to digest our lunch and have some rhubarb and apple crumble when we got home instead.

The roast tomato soup starter, with it's impressive
spider web of cream. (Unfortunately it turned out to be a decorative distraction:
the temperature of the cream actually cooled the soup a little too much.)

A delicious seasonal salad: greens, pomegranates, figs, Gorgonzola and
Parma ham with a bright, fresh dressing.

The terrace of the restaurant is in the shadow of huge trees and
looks onto the vineyard and beautiful mountains.

The pork belly main course served on polenta with seasonal veg.
As can so often happen with pork belly, it was under-seasoned, so the gravy
was an important component of the dish.

Yip, the portions are not small! The oxtail served on risotto with veg.
The risotto was a creamy, subtle base that worked well with
the rich meat and the (slightly too) salty gravy.