Mini eggplant pizzas

eggplant pizzas

I adore eggplant and pizza, so what could be better then combining the two? That’s a rhetorical question… because obviously nothing! The great thing about this recipe is that it’s vegetarian and gluten-free, so really it’ll make everyone happy. You can just use the ingredients in your fridge for the topping – spinach, mushroom, capsicum, etc… I personally love the combination of sour cherry tomatoes with salty black olives. Of course cheese is a must; haloumi, goats cheese, mozzarella, cheddar – the options are endless! Let me know what you top your eggplant pizzas with!

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • 1/4 jar passata sauce
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, chopped into quarters
  • 1/2 jar black pitted olives, sliced in halves
  • mozzarella cheese, grated
  • basil, torn

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Arrange the sliced eggplants onto a tray and brush with olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Remove the baked eggplant from the oven. Spread 1 teaspoon of passata sauce over each eggplant then arrange cherry tomatoes, olives, cheese and basil. Place eggplant back in the oven and cook until cheese has melted. Enjoy hot, hot, hot!!

Happy cooking, love Jem x

Mushroom, onion and mustard gravy

mushroom-gravy

A great gravy transforms the classic meat and three veg into a simple yet delicious meal. This little winner is especially scrumptious on top of a good medium rare steak with sweet potato mash  – the English mustard just gives the gravy a real pop! This recipe is as easy as pie (actually easier) and you’ll probably have all of the ingredients in your fridge.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • olive oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 tbl English mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • basil leaves, torn

Method

Fry the onion, garlic and mushrooms in olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the mushrooms are tender add the stock, mustard, salt and pepper and turn the heat down to low. Keep the gravy on low heat for about half an hour, stirring occasionally. Add the basil just before serving.

Happy cooking, love Jem x

Homemade ravioli with spinach and ricotta

  

Nothing beats that melt in the mouth beautiful fresh pasta taste. I know I’ve posted a spinach and ricotta ravioli recipe a couple of years back now but this is my “new and improved” and it’s damn delicious… As you can see from the above picture I don’t own a pasta rack so my washing line just had to do haha. This recipe is great for dinner parties or a weekend evening dish for your other half.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 4 eggs

Filling

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 800g ricotta cheese
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 2 egg yolks
  • salt and pepper

Sauce 

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 jar passata
  • salt and pepper

Serves 6

Method

To make the dough use your hands to shape the flour into a circular mound and make a well in the centre. Place the eggs in the well and use a fork to lightly whisk. Use your fingertips to gradually blend a little flour into the egg mixture. Working with your fingertips, continue to gradually draw the flour into the centre (being careful the egg mixture does not run out of the well) until the mixture forms a dough. To check if the dough is the right consistency, press a clean, dry finger into the centre of the dough. If it comes out clean without being sticky, it is the right consistency. If not, knead in a little more flour and test again.

Lightly flour the surface if necessary. Firmly knead the dough by using the heel of your hand to firmly push down into it and then away from you. Lift the dough with your fingertips and fold it back on itself towards you. Turn the dough a half turn and repeat. Continue kneading the dough for 6-7 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and set aside for an hour.

To make the filling heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the spinach and toss for 1-2 minutes or just until wilted, then drain well. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as possible. Finely chop the spinach, then place in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and stir to combine well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the passata, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and stir for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the passata, salt and pepper and simmer. Reheat just before serving.

Divide the pasta dough into 4 portions, then working with one piece at a time flatten the dough firmly with the heel of your hand on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the pasta several times through the widest setting on a pasta machine and continue feeding it through reducing the settings one notch at time until you come to the second last setting. The pasta should feel silky and smooth. Use a wine glass to cut even circular shapes in the dough.

Start adding a teaspoon of filling to each circle of dough (making sure you don’t add too much filling or the ravioli won’t hold). Wet the outside with a little bit of egg so the dough sticks together. Place another circle dough on the top and press the sides then fork around the edge until the pasta is firmly stuck together.

To cook, carefully drop the ravioli into a large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes or until al dente, then pour into a colander and drain well. Transfer the ravioli to a large serving dish, spoon over the hot passata, and top with grated Parmesan. ONE WORD: YUM!

Happy cooking, love Jem x

Corn fritters with salmon

I love a good corn fritter! Such a simple dish and it’s got my mouth watering right now. You can add any vegetable to a fritter really and it’ll taste so damn good. To spice them up I like to add chili and top with either Greek yoghurt and smoked salmon, or a tomato chutney! The salmon adds another element of flavour and the combination is perfect – although I may be bias…

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 4 shallots, chopped finely
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • basil, torn finely
  • 2 tsp chilli
  • olive oil, for frying
  • salt and pepper
  • natural yoghurt, smoked salmon, dill and lemon to serve

Serves 3

Method

Combine the flour, milk, eggs and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the vegetables and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.

To cook the fritters, grease a non-stick frypan with olive oil over medium heat. Ladle the fritter mixture into the pan, spreading the ingredients out and cook until both sides are a deep golden with crispy edges.

Keep the cooked fritters in the oven to stay hot then serve with yoghurt, salmon, dill and lemon. One word – YUM!

Alternatively if vegetarian serve with a sweet tomato chutney – https://morefoodblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/sweet-tomato-chutney/

Happy cooking, love Jem x

Babel Babylonstoren – review

 

R45 Simondium 7670, South Africa

I’ve recently just returned from an absolutely amazing trip to South Africa. Cape Town has to be one of the most naturally beautiful and scenic cities I’ve ever travelled to – every direction you face is a breathtaking sight and I haven’t even started talking about the food yet… If you love seafood, Cape Town definitely has to be on your travel list – from the fresh produce at Babylonstoren (which I’ll get in to very soon), to sautéed smoked paprika calamari overlooking Kalk Bay, to the best cream and white wine mussels at Kirstonbosch Gardens Moyo restaurant – you’ll definitely be in foodie heaven!

Babylonstoren is one of those places you go to and can’t stop raving about for months afterwards, or even years… The concept of the fresh produce picked on the day, where you walk through the endless vegetable gardens, taste the beautiful wine from the vineyard and then of course eat and drink until your stomach and heart is content – it’s a real delight for every sense. “We have a ‘farm to fork’ philosophy, which means we like to serve food that is seasonal and that reflects our ‘pick, clean and serve’ approach.” Dining at Babel, Babylonstoren is a culinary experience not to be missed.

We started with three gorgeous sharing salads:

Green – gorgonzola, mascarpone with toasted nuts and  vine leaf with a drizzle of carob and grape dressing.

Red – baked aubergine terrine with a sesame and ginger dressing and pickled rhubarb.

Yellow – terrine of smoked trout and fresh horseradish with a nectarine and Babylonstoren vinegar dressing.

For main I had the delicious double lamb cutlets with a spicy herb sauce and crisp curry leaves served with baked parsnip and beetroot.

If these dishes don’t give you the urge to get on the next flight out to Cape Town I’m not sure what will… Seriously an incredible foodie experience – from the atmosphere in the restaurant which was an old cow shed, to the surroundings of the lush gardens and vineyard, to chickens roaming around, to every hand picked gorgeous ingredient on the plate – just wow! I also just realised I haven’t even touched on their desserts, which of course change depending on the season but they subscribe to four different dishes; salty, bitter, sweet and sour – each uniquely scrumptious.  I highly recommend the 40 minute drive out of Cape Town to dine and experience Babel, Babylonstoren.

I rate Babel, Babylonstoren 5/5.

Happy eating, love Jem x

Traditional Nigiri sushi

sushi

I recently came back from any foodies dream trip to Japan… One of our days in Tokyo we spent at Buddha Bellies Cooking School learning the art of traditional sushi making and the history. Did you know that the original type of sushi, known today as ‘nare-zushi’ was developed in Southeast Asia along the Mekong River and then spread to southern China before Japan. So technically we can’t thank Japan for our favourite little snack… This is the perfect recipe for a dinner party – I mean who doesn’t love sushi? Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 40ml rice vinegar
  • 20g sugar
  • 3g salt
  • wasabi
  • sashimi – thinly sliced salmon and tuna

Makes 20 – 25 pieces

Method

Start by washing the rice thoroughly until the water comes clear. Place the rice and water in a pot and let it soak for 60 minutes – this will allow the grains to absorb moisture.

Put the rice and water in a pot with a tight fitting lid. Bring the mixture to a boil over a high heat then turn down the heat to low until the water disappears. Turn off the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

For the vinegar sauce place the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix well.

Using a rice paddle, spoon the rice into a wide bowl. Spread it out evenly and cut the rice from side to side, then from top to bottom. Add the sushi vinegar and continue cutting the rice. Fan the rice whilst cutting to cool down.

Put down a sheet of paper and using about 1 and 1/2 tsps (20g) rice form a shape of sushi by gently pushing.

Spread a touch of wasabi over the rice and place the sashimi on top pressing down slightly.

Happy cooking, love Jem x