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

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

Egg roll ‘Dashimaki Tamago’

   

Wanting to make that delicious sushi with the traditional Japanese omelet topped on rice with the seaweed surrounding…or in other words Dashimaki Tamago? Well here you go – photo by photo instructions! I had such a lovely afternoon last week at Buddha Bellies Cooking school in Tokyo learning the art of sushi making. It amazes me how with so few ingredients you can make such a delicious little dish.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp fish stock
  • 2 drops soya sauce
  • 1 pinch salt
  • oil for cooking

Method

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and beat well. Heat a square pan and brush oil on the base so it doesn’t stick.

Pour just enough egg to cover the base of the pan and once cooked fold over carefully with chop sticks pushing the egg to one side of the pan. Repeat pouring the egg to cover the base and fold – making one big layered omelet. You should roll it about four times.

Let the layered omelet cool down and slice into desired size. Place egg on top of a small square of rice and wrap with a thin nori piece around. This omelet is also delicious on top of curries, rice dishes or even by itself. Enjoy!

Happy cooking, love Jem x

Oregano knotted rolls

bread

I’ll admit I am a little excited as my first time baking bread tasted pretty damn delicious! Bread in my opinion is one of the few baked foods that many people steer clear of – I mean why would an average home cook like myself master bread when I can just go down to the local bakery?  It was surprisingly simple to make, beautifully soft on the inside, very tasty and the perfect accompaniment to my hot winters soup. Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread wafting out of the oven! Besides who doesn’t love food that is acceptable to eat at any time of the day…

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 11g dried yeast
  • 1 tbl oregano
  • 3 tbl brown sugar
  • 3 pinches salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tbl olive oil

Makes 4 rolls

Method

Sift the flour and mix in with the other dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then stir in the water, milk and egg. Mix until a soft dough is formed and then rest in an oiled bowl with a tea towel covering for an hour.

Once the dough has rested break it evenly into eight balls. Roll out each ball of dough to form long sausage like shapes. Hold two dough pieces at the top and wrap one around the other, then join the ends to tie into a knot.

Place the dough on a baking tray in a preheated oven at 200 degrees, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked.

Happy baking, love Jem x

The Grounds of Alexandria – review

image 2 Screenshot 2015-03-06 16.30.46 image 3

Building 7A No 2 Huntley St, Alexandria

I’m sure you are all aware of how amazing The Grounds of Alexandria are, but I couldn’t resist posting a glowing review anyway! I am lucky enough that I live in Waterloo so the café is actually in walking distance. I went on Sunday with my friend who had never been before and I think she fell in love with the spot – as do us all…

It is such a beautiful venue that it’s almost a little world of its own – I could close my eyes and easily be in Europe. It’s a treat for all senses – the eyes, nose and of course taste buds!

We arrived at 12pm so as expected we would have to wait an hour for our table – normally I’m quite an impatient person and would just forget it, but the surroundings are just as spectacular. We headed on over to the Salt Meats Cheese shop and boy was I in foodie heaven! Shelves stocked head to toe with my favourite Italian ingredients. We even got to try samples of the very best olives, chili chorizo and delicious jalapeno sauces. I recommend the ‘Harvest Olives’ – Sicilian olives with thyme, oregano, Spanish onion and capers; oh my lord they were to die for!

After our taste buds had finished salivating from the samples, we decided to cool down with a fresh lemonade and wander the grounds. The atmosphere was oozing with foodies, and everyone seemed to be enjoying their experience. You can’t walk past a food stall without your mouth-watering, especially the desserts – or maybe I’m just a sucker for sweets. The flower stall is exquisite too and of course don’t forget about Kevin Bacon the old pig.

We didn’t even realize an hour had past when the buzzer went off for our table. The staff were very friendly and recommended us dishes before we even had to ask. I ordered the ‘Grilled Crab Bruschetta’ and my friend ordered the ‘Smoked Chicken Salad’ with a side of ‘Polenta Chips’.

Our lunch came out fairly quickly considering how busy the café was and it definitely didn’t disappoint! My dish wasn’t what I was expecting – the crab looked more like tuna, but it was the best damn looking tuna I’d ever eaten. It was served on grilled seeded bread with smashed avo (my favourite), lime aioli and wild rocket. I would happily order this dish again tomorrow! All of the flavours were so perfectly thought out as each ingredient complemented each other. The crunch of the seeded bread with the pickled crab was divine, and the aioli had just the right amount of lime without over powering the dish.

I had a bite of my friends salad and the fennel dressing was incredibly tasty on the smoked chicken – she wolfed it down without any complaints, so I gathered it’s a yes from her too. Also if you haven’t had polenta chips yet I’m disappointed in you – they are too addictive to write about, so go on and enjoy some!

Our lovely afternoon ended with a naughty Nutella donut each as we sat in silence, licking our lips clean of chocolate and soaking up the sun.

I always come away from The Grounds feeling full/slightly in a food coma (from pure over indulgence) and totally inspired – if you want to spend half a day in foodie heaven then I recommend no other location more.

I rate The Grounds of Alexandria 5/5.

Happy eating, love Jem x