Archive for April, 2011

Food, Glorious Food #2: Some Recipes

I love cooking. In fact, I think the fun part of food is in the preparation and getting your hands dirty. My dad inspired me to cook. He used to cook all the time for us, and was really good at it. He would always be trying new things and most of the time would come up with really awesome stuff. I am kind of the same in that regard, but I think I get a bit too experimental at times. Never while cooking for other people, but when it’s for me only I tend to be a bit more adventurous. That’s not to say I don’t experiment while cooking for other people, but not as much; in fact for my first date with my girlfriend I tried Oysters Rockefeller for the first time. Turns out they’re way better the regular raw way with a vinaigrette, but it was something I had to try…

For a while before I met my girlfriend, I had almost lost interest in cooking. You tend to be less creative when it’s just you. Now I try all sorts of things and want to do even more. Luckily we have similar tastes, and she puts me to shame with her cooking skills as well sometimes, so it definitely keeps me on my toes. A few times we have made a good team while cooking.

Anyway, once in a while I come up something worthwhile. Here are a few of my better creations, although I should warn you, when cooking I hate measuring stuff if I don’t have to, so I tend use handfuls, etc as measurements. I also cook according to the way it tastes. If a recipe says 200g and I think it needs more, I add it. If I make a stuff up, I try rectify it by adding things to get the taste right. Cooking is all about taste. If it looks good, but tastes crap, what’s the point? I taste constantly while cooking so the end result is normally just as I want it to be.

The first one is a recent experiment. I made this just a little while ago and was delicious. I am used to Mussels in a creamy sauce of sorts, so this was a pleasant change.

Mussels Mariniere

Mussels Mariniere

Mussels Mariniere

Ingredients:

  • About 500g cleaned and debearded mussels in whole shell
  • 1 large loaf of crusty bread (french loaf, etc)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large handful coarsely chopped herbs
  • 3 generous tablespoons of butter

Note: With regards to the herbs, I used basil & thyme, although parsley and thyme may be a safer bet. While looking at existing recipes for inspiration, there are plenty of different herbs recommended, so it is really up to you.

Directions:

  • In a pot large enough to hold your mussels, over medium to high heat, add the wine, 2 tablespoons of the butter, herbs, garlic & onion.
  • Heat until the butter has melted and the mixture begins to boil, then lower heat to medium-low.
  • Drain any excess liquid from the mussels and place them in the pot. Cover and steam them until ready (about 3-5 minutes) being careful not to overcook them.
  • Remove them from the pot and place in bowls ready to serve. Now strain the remaining liquid from the pot, add the remaining butter and heat until the butter has melted.
  • Pour this over the mussels and serve with the bread and a nice fresh salad and a crisp glass of the white wine.
Fresh Ciabatta with Grilled Chicken...

Fresh Ciabatta with Grilled Chicken…

Fresh Ciabatta with Grilled Chicken Breast

Ingredients: 

  • Any ciabatta bread or rolls
  • Chicken breasts marinated in choice of marinade (sweet and sour is good)
  • Onion marmalade (see below)
  • Bacon
  • Fresh cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh rocket
  • Feta Cheese

Directions:

  • Put the chicken breasts in a marinade while making the onion marmalade. I made a marinade which included some mustard, honey & some Cajun spice, but the choices are limitless.
  • For the onion marmalade, it is best to make it in larger quantities and keep in the fridge. It makes a great addition to any stew or pasta or just served as a side. Put about 8 medium sliced onions in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir infrequently, until the onions are dry and almost sticking to the pan.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of oil and a large pinch of salt and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally,until the onions are done as you like them, adding some oil to keep them from sticking without getting greasy. Cook it to suit your preferences. 10-15 minutes for a more bitter taste, up to 40 minutes for a browner sweeter onion marmalade.
  • In the meantime, prepare the bacon and grill the chicken breasts. Prepare the tomatoes (sliced raw or grilled) & the rocket and feta cheese. Cut the breasts into large slices once cooked.
  • To prepare the final meal, spread some dijon mustard on the ciabatta (slices or rolls halved) and put a large dollop of the onion marmalade. Exactly how much is a personal choice…
  • Place a generous portion of bacon & chicken on top of that and finish with the tomato, feta & rocket.

Four Cheese Taglietelle with Chilli Fried Shrimp

Four Cheese & Shrimp Taglietelle

Four Cheese & Shrimp Taglietelle

Ingredients:

  • 250-500g Shrimp (personal choice)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 finely chopped Chillis
  • Olive oil
  • Taglietelle
  • 1 cup Cream
  • 1 cup of 4 various Cheeses, finely grated
  • (I used Mozarella, Cheddar, Parmesan & Danish Regato)

Directions:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the taglietelle and cook until al dente
  • In the meantime, prepare the cheese
  • On a very hot pan, fry the shrimps with the garlic and chilli and once done set aside
  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot on the stove.
  • Add the cream and 4 cups of cheese and mix until the sauce has thickened (+/-3 mins)
  • Serve the pasta and top with the shrimp
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Food, Glorious Food #1: Flava Restaurant, Simply Awesome

Flava

Inside Flava

Last night I had the pleasure of going to a hidden gem of a restaurant in Richmond Hill here in Port Elizabeth. I had chosen to take my girlfriend out here since it was recommended to me by a colleague at work. And I am really impressed to say the least.

The vibe of the place is pretty awesome and the open kitchen is a pretty nifty touch!

I have to say, that getting the contact details anywhere was quite a mission, but since I was heading that way yesterday during the day, I popped in to make the booking. If I’d only looked on Facebook for their fan page, it would have made that a lot easier though. Hindsight is a bitch 🙂

We started off sharing a Warthog Carpaccio with some yummy pesto on the side. It was presented nicely on a bed of rocket. This was followed by a stunning main course. I had a Sole Bonne Femme served with herb & parmesan potato wedges as well as veggies roasted in a tomato pesto. My amazing girlfriend (sorry baby) had yummy Lamb Steaklets with Mint Tzatziki. That was also served with the same sides, but as an alternative to the wedges, you could have Kous Kous as well. Both were mouth-wateringly awesome! After that, neither of us felt like a dessert, even though there were options such as Smooth Chocolate Mousse with Chantilly Cream, Chocolate Chip Cookie Tower and Tiramisu Cheesecake. Next time 🙂

All in all, the vibe is great, the food is first class and I would say without hesitation that anyone in Port Elizabeth looking for a good meal, head on down to Flava. To make it easier, here are some details.

Address: 17a Bain St, Richmond Hill, Port Elizabeth

Phone number: 041 811 3528 / 082 666 7098

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/flavarestaurant


The Katalina Blog Challenge #8: Screw Yous and Other Taboos

swearing in cartoon

Image via Wikipedia

I swear… a lot! Too fucking much actually. This is in all aspects of my of my life, from conversation to writing, so my feelings about the word in general are exactly how I feel about it in writing.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am completely okay with swearing. In fact I completely endorse swearing. Sometimes saying “fuck” is better than me beating the shit out of something – human or not. I’m not a violent person, in fact I am a complete pacifist. The reason for this is my screwed up mind. Everything is going on in my head. I am imagining that I am beating you to a fucking pulp with a wooden club or blasting you away with a shotgun, while merely letting loose a mere “fuck” or “asshole” in real life. Hence my endorsement mentioned above. I used to, or still have, a t-shirt that was black with one image on it – an outline of a hand in white, pulling the middle finger. I’d walk around all day and if someone pissed me off or needed a good “fuck you”, I merely pointed. Very useful… until it stretched from wearing it too much. I don’t swear at inappropriate moments though and I can easily bury it in these situations. There are some places, however, or situations where I am used to swearing – my swearing comfort zones. Introduce a foreign element into these zones and I just can’t get it right though, I will still swear, but then feel kinda bad for doing it.

The thing I like about swear words is the their versatility and I think George Carlin described it best in his skit on the “Usage of the word fuck”.

Shit that is censored just pisses me off, in fact I spoke about this last year in a blog post on the topic of censorship. The world needs to grow a pair and stop worrying about stupid shit like swearing and sex and shit that doesn’t fucking matter and focus on the serious problems. I realise that I am kind of ranting and going crazy here, but this is a topic that really gets me going. We need to prioritise shit in our short life on this rock floating in space, otherwise it just becomes our children’s problem and then their children’s problem and on and on and on. Starvation, War, Murder, Rape and much more vs Swearing.  I realise that I will probably have a exodus of Facebook friends, but I really don’t give a shit. This is how I feel, so just deal with it.

I will write what the fuck I want. I will say what the fuck I want. I will live my life that way that I fucking feel like. All within reason obviously 😉