Despite the magnificent summery day in the Western Cape some parts of the country are starting to shiver and I have a few friends complaining of the symptoms of wintery chills, aching all over, sore throat, fever and the sniffles. Obviously time to haul out the old saucepan and make some delicious chicken soup. Do try a steaming bowl of this delicious comforting and warming soup, good for the body, good for the soul……it is packed with immune boosting ingredients and really does help to make you feel better.
According to university studies home made chicken soup reduces congestion and inflammation by limiting the movement of white blood cells that produce infection-related mucus. I do hope this will help you all over the upcoming winter months – it also works for those awful summer flu bouts too!
Browniegirl’s Cold & Flu Busting Chicken Soup
1 chicken breast or 4 drum sticks (skin on and bone in)
2 Large Onions – 1 skin on (washed well) cut in 1/4’s the other peeled & finely chopped
4 stalks Celery- washed and roughly chopped (with leaves too)
4 large Carrots – 3 roughly cup up 1 finely chopped
1 Turnip – peeled & roughly chopped
1 Large Parsnip – peeled & roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves – give 4 a thump to break slightly then peel & finely grate the other 2
Thumb sized piece of fresh Ginger – thumped to break slightly
1 tsp whole Black Peppercorns
1 tsp Whole Cloves
Few sprigs fresh Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 Chillies – seeded and finely chopped (use more if you can take the heat – it is good for the dreaded lurgy)
2 medium Tomatoes, peeled seeded and chopped
½ Lemon – juice and finely grated zest
Handful fresh Parsley – finely chopped
Handful fine pasta – alphabet pasta is good or use angel hair pasta broken up into little bits
Salt and pepper, to taste
Place chicken, unpeeled onion quarters, celery, 4 bruised garlic cloves, roughly cut carrots, turnip, parsnip, bay leaves, whole cloves, peppercorns, ginger & thyme into a large saucepan.
Fill with about 4 litres cold water. Bring to boil over high heat, then cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer 1 hour until the chicken falls off the bone and the broth has reduced by about a quarter.
Strain through a sieve, keep the chicken and broth, discard all vegetables and herbs. Keep the broth or stock aside – skim off any fat that might gather on top
Place olive oil, finely sliced onions, carrots, chilli, minced garlic and some more sprigs of thyme into a large saucepan. Saute gently until the onion is limp
Add the reserved broth and tomatoes. Bring to rolling boil then reduce heat to medium. Cook until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove skin and bones from chicken. Shred meat into bite-size pieces.
Add chicken & pasta to soup. Boil another 5 minutes until noodles are soft
Stir through the chopped parsley & lemon then turn off heat
Stir through 5ml Raw Honey
Season to taste and serve piping hot.
Stay in bed, keep yourself well hydrated and drink this soup a couple times a day.
Get better soon,
The aromas of oil, sauteing onions, spices, vinegar and fish assail the nostrils as one wanders around town during the week before Good Friday. Pickled Fish! A mixture of smells that I always associate with Easter, predominantly Good Friday. Through the ages pickled fish and hot cross buns have traditionally been eaten on Good Friday – and yes, many do eat them together although it is not something that I personally fancy. I prefer to eat my hot cross buns in the morning with a cup of tea when the family returns from church, and at lunch time and dinner time I will eat my pickled fish just as it is, or sometimes with a slice of bread and fresh farm butter (totally delicious!) I say I because I am the only one in the brownie household who eats pickled fish. I have made it a few times in the past but have preferred to buy the fresh one that is sold at a particular food hall in a tub that has been for my sole consumption!
A couple of days ago someone commented that they were flying home to Durban to enjoy her mother’s pickled fish because there is no other to compare. She mentioned that it was a Mauritian Pâtwa Style pickled fish and I was immediately interested because I had never heard of that before. I immediately googled it but found no links referring to any food or recipes called Pâtwa. I couldn’t find the meaning of Pâtwa at all other than to see that it is mentioned often in place of patois. So I imagine that it is a local style of cooking among the islanders. I asked the lady what the fish was like and if she knew the ingredients for it and she very kindly replied by giving a rudimentary recipe for it, no measurements etc. I was thrilled to get it and adapted it and made up my own version. And OH.MY.WORD……..was she ever right? I don’t know how her mother’s pickled fish tastes but I can tell you I doubt that it could be any better than mine! It is that good…..
I went off to buy my fish the other day at the store (we have a fishing harbour about 5 minutes drive away from where we live but there are road works happening and that journey now takes almost half an hour there and then another half hour back so it is not an option at the moment) and picked up some lovely big fresh onions. While I was browsing in the fresh produce section I discovered a whole selection of Asian ingredients that I have never seen in the shops before, some of them looking totally alien! But what I did find, and buy, was some fresh Turmeric rizomes.
Was I ever excited? One of the core ingredients in pickled fish is, of course, Turmeric so what better time to try it? I have used the dried root before (and of course we all use the powdered form because that is all we usually find) and found it to be more pungent and nicer than the powdered Turmeric so I was very eager to try the fresh. And I am ever so glad that I did. Apparently it has all kinds of health benefits (yay me!) and is good in smoothies etc. The aroma is very strong when it is grated and the flavour is somewhat sweeter than the powdered one. It is so easy to spoil a dish and turn it bitter by adding too much of the powder. I learned (good old google again) that you can double or treble the amount of fresh to powder…so if a recipe called for 5ml of powdered Turmeric you could safely use 15ml of the Fresh one. I am looking forward very much to buying more and using it in different ways. Just a word of warning. It stains everything it touches the most amazing yellow colour….a dash of sunshine in the kitchen on a dull day but not so great to remove….anything slightly porous absorbs the colour and it sits there. My hands are a bright yellow hue and it is embedded in my finger nails. Next time I use surgical gloves!
MAURITIAN PÂTWA STYLE PICKLED FISH
Adapted by me from the recipe given by Taryn on facebook)
For the Fish:
1kg Firm White Fish filleted and cut into 10cm square portions
30ml Fish Masala
5 Cloves Garlic – crushed
1cm Fresh Ginger – finely grated
10ml Olive Oil
2 Lemons – Juice of both, finely grated zest of 1
Salt flakes and freshly cracked Black Pepper
Grind the above ingredients (except for the fish of course) in a pestle and mortar to make an aromatic paste
Coat the fish well on all sides with the paste then cover and marinate in the fridge for 2 hours
Preheat oven to 180deg Celcius
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and lightly brown the fish on both sides then place in an oven proof dish and bake for about 15 minutes
For the pickling sauce:
100ml Cooking Oil
30ml finely grated fresh Turmeric root or 15ml Turmeric Powder
5ml Ground Chilli Powder
4 Whole Cloves
4 Whole Cardamom Pods
1 Star Anise
5ml Cumin Seeds
5ml Fennel or Dill Seeds
10ml Whole Allspice Berries
15ml Mustard Seed
5ml Whole Black Peppercorns
2 Fresh Bay Leaves
Sprig of Fresh Curry Leaves or a small handful of dried leaves
6 – 8 Small Green Chillies whole (use less if you can’t take the heat)
1 small Red Chilli – deseeded and finely sliced (leave the seeds in if you CAN take the heat!)
4 Large Onions – peeled and thickly sliced
300ml Grape Vinegar
125ml Hot Water
Salt Flakes and Black Peppercorns
100g Brown Sugar
NOTE: If you are using fresh turmeric then add it towards the end of the cooking time when the onions are almost translucent. If using dried powdered turmeric add it at the beginning with the other spices
I always like to add the onions to the pan with the oil and a good splash of boiling water and allow the water to cook away, softening the onions before they start to sauté.
Enjoy! And I wish all my Christian readers a Blessed and Happy Easter. To those travelling, be safe and have a wonderful long weekend!
I am going to attempt making my own hot cross buns early tomorrow so if it works out I will post that recipe as well
PS Huge internet problems have forced me to stop blogging for the time being….my apologies to all my regular readers. I will be back as soon as Telkom fixes the underground cables near my home.
Autumn means comfort food. After all the salads and light meals throughout the hot summer our thoughts turn to casseroles, big bowls of pasta, thick velvety soups, risottos. I love this time of year. Finally, that blustery south easterly wind is blowing autumn to our shores. The nights are lengthening and the days are getting shorter. I would say this is definitely my favourite of the four seasons. I am not so keen on the rainy, windy, dark winter months but this time of year when the mornings and evenings are clear and crisp with just a hint of moisture in the air and the intense heat of the summer has disappeared to be replaced by deliciously cooler days filled with sunshine and blue skies is the time that I come into my own. I feel a renewed energy and my kitchen once again beckons me into it’s warmth and I create magic, comforting meals, steam rising in a delicious aromatic fog from the pots to envelope me. When my husband comes in from work in the evening he breathes deeply and appreciatively and settles down to tell me about his work day and ask about mine, our hands wrapped around a glass of red wine, the difficulties of the day slipping away while we chat or sit in companionable silence, sipping on our wine and enjoying the delicious meal that I prepared a bit earlier. I love a creamy risotto and could enjoy it often if I weren’t watching my carb intake but sometimes it just makes the perfect meal. Recently we have been able to purchase the most gorgeous exotic mushrooms here in South Africa and, after almost two years of not being able to eat them, I am loving them! These little babies come onto the shelves of our food stores courtesy of Nouvelle Mushrooms and are fabulous!
A couple of years ago I really got into cooking my own risottos and at the same time I also became rather keen on mild blue cheese after tasting some at a Simonsberg tasting. So, a few weeks ago, I decided to combine these wonderful ingredients and made the most deliciously creamy exotic mushroom and blue cheese risotto. I promised that I would post the recipe but then my computer started playing silly buggers and I had to wait. Anyway, my carnivore hubby asked again last night if I would make the risotto as we had picked up more mushrooms but unfortunately I did not have any arborio rice left….so instead it became a fantastic Meatless Monday meal.
CREAMY EXOTIC MUSHROOM AND BLUE CHEESE RISOTTO WITH WALNUTS
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Serves : 4
30ml Olive Oil
200g Exotic Mushrooms, wiped clean and the bigger ones chopped up
200g Baby Button Mushrooms wiped clean and thinly sliced
2 Medium sized Onions – peeled and finely chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic – peeled and finely chopped or grated
4 or 5 sprigs fresh Thyme – leaves only
500g Arborio Rice
180ml Dry White Wine
1 ½ Liters Chicken or Vegetable Stock *
30g Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese
150g Simonzola or other Blue Cheese
Freshly ground Black Pepper
15ml chopped fresh parsley
20g Walnuts – dry roasted in a pan and set aside, chop roughly when cool
*I love making my own stocks at home but if I don’t have any and time is short I only use my fave NoMU Fond product in Lamb, Beef, Chicken and Vegetable Flavours – this fabulous concentrated liquid stock product contains no artificial colourants, flavor enhancers or preservatives and are gluten-free!* WINNER!
Top o’ the mornin’ to ye all…..and a Happy St. Paddy’s Day! Help ye’selves to one of my wicked Irish Moss Cupcakes! Wash it down wit a pint of ale and be merry! Today we are all Irish!
What is tat ye all are sayin’? It’s not St. Patrick’s Day today? It’s the 18th already? How can tat be? I started workin’ on tis post so much earlier but……aaaw…ye all caught tis lazy Irish colleen nappin again. ‘Appens more and more these days. And it was all tat ‘orrible Murphy fault anyways I tell ye. He has been hangin’ around here for te better part of tree weeks now – messin’ wit me ‘puter! And messin’ someting bad wit me head too! Well tats my excuse for tat anyway. I am hopin’ tat now he will leave me be and go chat up some other milk maids…… honestly ye’d all think he’d kissed te blarney stone wit all his blabbering! I won’t miss him one little bit I tell ye!
So I’m late, well just a wee bit for St. Patrick’s Day anyway, but in some parts of the world it is STILL the 17th so let me get on with this post quickly so I can at least not hang my head too low in shame. I really have had endless problems with my computer and today was a very bad day! But I seem to have it going so while things are looking up….here goes!
Last year I came across some cupcakes called Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes and I loved the sound of the ingredients although I felt that the name was rather offensive, even though there is a recognized alcoholic drink by the same name and many many links to cupcakes made from the same three alcohols used in the cocktail. So, I decided that I was going to bake the family some of these for St. Patrick’s Day this year (leaving the whiskey out of a bit of the ganache for the little boys). But, so as not to offend any readers all over the world who may have been affected in some way by the many acts of terrorism involving that despicable cowardly act, I decided to give my cupcakes a rather delightful name more suited to the day. I asked on facebook for ideas and one Irish friend came up with the name Dublin Moss Cupcakes. I rather liked that and decided to call mine Irish Moss Cupcakes…what do you think?
Now…..strictly speaking, there is absolutely nothing Irish about my cupcakes. My hubby could not find single cans of Guinness at our local bottle store and neither of us are ale drinkers so I decided to use a bottle of local Milk Stout that I had on the shelf in my pantry. Come to think of it now though I know a few leprechauns who would have relieved us of the other 5 cans! We did not have any Jameson Irish Whiskey in this house but we did have a bottle of J&B and of course there was no Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur either. There to save the day however was half a bottle of our delicious South Africa Amarula Cream liqueur in the cupboard So hey, these are a real twist on the original but let me tell you they are delicious! And because we are ALL Irish on St Patrick’s Day these are being passed on to you as my Irish Moss Cupcakes. Tell me that makes sense in an Irish kind of way please!
IRISH MOSS CUPCAKES
(inspired by and adapted from Sugar & Snapshots Blog)
Yield: 22 Cupcakes
Stout Chocolate Cupcakes
250ml Cocoa Powder
5ml Good Quality Instant Coffee Granules
250ml Stout beer or Guinness
625ml Cake or All-Purpose Flour
10ml Baking Powder
2 Extra Large Eggs
250ml Buttermilk or Greek Style Yoghurt (Sour cream could also be used)
Preheat the oven to 180°C
Line two muffin pans with paper cupcake liners
Melt the butter, stout and sifted cocoa powder together in a small saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave on high and whisk until smooth. Set aside and allow to cool while you make the batter
Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together, add the sugar and set aside
In the bowl of your electric mixer beat the eggs and buttermilk together until smooth
Add the vinegar and mix in
Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture with the mixer running on a low speed then turn up to medium until all combined
Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed until just incorporated. Don’t over mix at this stage
Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, filling each one about ¾’s full
Bake for about 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean
Allow to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting
Whiskey Chocolate Ganache
125 ml Cream
120g Dark Chocolate (I used 70% cocoa solids) roughly chopped
15ml butter at room temperature
Heat the cream in the microwave until just below boiling point
Place butter and chocolate in a small mixing bowl
Pour the hot cream over and leave to stand for 2 minutes before whisking together until shiny and smooth
Add the whiskey and whisk in. Set aside until needed, whisking every now and again. As it cools it will thicken in consistency
3 Egg whites
185 ml Vanilla Flavoured Castor Sugar ( I always have this – fill a Consol or Mason Jar with Castor Sugar, split a Vanilla Pod and stick it into the sugar and seal. Refill as needed with sugar)
375g Butter (at room temperature)
125ml Icing (Confectioners) Sugar – sieved
80 ml cream Liqueur (I used Amarula of course)
In the metal bowl of your mixer whisk the egg whites and salt until frothy
Add the sugar and whisk on medium speed until incorporated
Now place your mixer bowl over a smallish saucepan of barely simmering water – the base must not touch the water
Continue whisking with a balloon whisk by hand until the sugar has dissolved into the egg whites and it is starting to look like meringue – test by rubbing a bit of the whites between your fingers and it is ready if no grains are felt. It doesn’t take too long to reach this stage – maybe 5 minutes
Return the bowl to the mixer stand and whisk on high until the mixture has cooled and is almost tripled in volume. It needs to be glossy and at the stiff peak stage
Divide the butter into 4 and add one portion at a time, whisking well to incorporate between each addition – it will thin the frosting down a bit but will build up again to a fluffy consistency
Add the icing sugar and beat in well
Pour in the liqueur and whisk well
I added a bit of green food colouring gel to make it a soft green shade
Fit a piping bag with a star nozzle and fill with the frosting
To decorate the cupcakes:
It seems that most people make a filling of the ganache by removing a scoop of each cupcake and piping in a bit of ganache but I was running late so just spread a thin layer of the cooled thickened ganache onto each cupcake with a spatula, allowed it to stand for 10 minutes and then piped the buttercream on top.
I have to say, this was the most amazing buttercream and I will most definitely use it often!
Enjoy! And I will be back as soon as I can with a delicious exotic mushroom and blue cheese risotto!
Happy week everyone! Almost Easter holidays and my two young hooligans will be invading my space again! Where does the time go?
So I went forth and, finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night
And He led me toward the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
So, heart, be still!
What need our little life, our human life, to know if God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife of things, both high and low, God hideth His intention.
The Desert 1908
Marie Louise Haskins 1876 – 1957
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Personally I was very happy to see the end of 2012 and I waved it goodbye last night with a smile on my face and a glass of champagne in my hand! It was a year of solitude and suffering for me (in among so many great blessings too and I do prefer to focus on those rather than the negatives) but thankfully that is at an end now and, although I am not completely healed….yet….. I am looking forward with great anticipation to 2013 and all it’s new promises. And a delicious steak that I have been promised as soon as I am able to manage it I do wish each and every one of you the very best of everything, the realization of your heart desires, happiness, love and good health throughout the year that lies ahead of all of us, a blank book, it’s pages clean and waiting for each of us to write our life story in it. I pray it is going to be a best seller, bigger and better by far than 50 Shades of Grey or whatever, and definitely in better grammatical style Speaking about “that book trilogy” my grandsons have been some of my greatest blessings this year during my enforced stay at home. For those who do not know I have been going through a series of reconstructive oral surgical procedures so socializing was out of the question….as was eating regular food. I have spent 18 months drinking smoothies and slurping up soups, custard, jelly, soft ice cream and baby gloop. Not much fun in that and so any entertaining from the grandsons and my faithful pooch, Tasha, became the highlight of my days! One day my daughter sent over the first of the Fifty Shades of Grey books for me to read (now remember I had no desire to read so she said this would definitely pique my interest and get me reading HAHA) So 4 yr old Jay brought the book in and said “Here is Fifty Shades of Grey for you to read Nan.” So I gave him a sort of smirk and said thank you (while wondering why HE had to bring the book in to me) and over the following weeks I desperately tried to get those pages to turn but somehow not even that worked for me. It was not my type of book at all (sorry darling daughter) and I just could not get into that animal Christians head at all….so the book sat on my bedside table, largely unread, I dont think I got past page 20 if that. Until the day Jay walked in and asked very conversationally “So did you enjoy Fifty Shades of Grey Nan?” And I replied that I had not read it…..his response: “WOT?? But everybody I know has read that book Nan and they all thought it was fantastic!” I panicked briefly, wondering if he had actually read the book surreptitiously and was going to ask me what parts I did NOT enjoy and then I remembered he was only 4 after all
Over and above no desire to read books I have been struggling to write and have had absolutely no inclination to read any blogs, I have been suffering from deep depression which does remove one’s ability to enjoy those simple pleasures but, with good medication, I am doing much better and I promised myself that even if I only wrote down 3 lines along with some photographs I was going to be doing a blog post today. So, here I am fulfilling that promise. And I will try, for now, to do at least 2 posts a month, if not more. I am not short of photographs of food that I have taken and laboriously edited over the past months, I certainly kept myself busy during the long days and it is something that gives me a lot of pleasure so I clung to it and did lots of photography and editing. My beloved has stood by me throughout this journey and has supported and cared for me so very well. I am indeed fortunate and very blessed to have a husband of his caliber and I appreciate him so much. Not being able to socialize means that I have not done the shopping either, he has done all of that. I am so keen to get to a mall sometime soon and just take hours of browsing to see whats new on the shelves. I have not been to church in 18 months and cannot wait to accompany him once again and sit under God’s word. So 2013 is going to hold a LOT of changes for me! And I welcome them with open arms, as I welcomed the new year in. I think, in general, among all the people I have been in communication with, 2012 has not been a great year. So many folk I know have suffered so much, certainly more than I have! My sister in law lost her beloved husband of almost 4 years very suddenly to a pulmonary embolism and she is walking into the future alone, trying to sort out her life that was thrown into such turmoil in an instant. Hubby and I will be walking alongside her so that she is NOT alone. We can encourage, support and care for her along the way. Fortunately her faith has deepened and strengthened through this. I encourage all of you to reach out to someone during this new year and to find out what their troubles are and to walk the distance with them. All is not always as it seems and so many are suffering behind the cheery, brave smiles that are the facade for the general public to see. We ALL need someone to support and help us…we all need company, we all need a shoulder sometimes…we all need someone to bounce possibly our deepest dreams and desires off to get the courage needed to go out and succeed. Maybe we are stuck in a cycle of abuse in the home and all we need is someone to tell us we are worthy of so much more and don’t deserve what is being dished out to us…..so many possibilities exist where we can come alongside someone and help lift their life’s burdens, just a little bit, and make 2013 a better year for everyone!
And on that note, caring is sharing so here is a very easy cookie recipe that I make every Christmas holiday and everyone enjoys it so much. I may have them somewhere in my blog archive on my original blog but I think they need a new introduction and a dusting off. Try them, you will be so surprised at how easy they are and they just don’t fail…..they make wonderful Christmas (or any time) gifts for family and friends, or elderly neighbors and when the boys visit their little hands are always reaching out for just one more butter cookie!
CRISPY CURRANT BUTTER COOKIES
250g Butter at room temperature
120g Castor Sugar
300g Cake Flour
125g Corn Flour
2,5ml Vanilla Extract
100g Currants – washed and dried well
Icing (Confectionery) Sugar or Castor Sugar for sprinkling
I added the finely grated zest of half a ClemenGold to my dough. It was a very good addition and gave these already delightful cookies a delicious citrus boost!
Preheat oven to 180 oC
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper
Place butter and sugar into mixing bowl and beat until very pale and creamy
Sift flour, corn flour & salt into a bowl then add to batter together with the currants
Incorporate the dry ingredients into the batter using a dough hook or a wooden spoon (I use my K blade on my Kenwood mixer)
Using your hands roll 15g amounts of dough into neat walnut sized balls and place in rows on the lined cookie sheet
Flatten each ball gently with a fork – it’s a stiff dough so will crack slightly around edges
Bake 10 – 12 minutes in the centre of the oven (mine baked for 12 exactly)
Leave to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet then sprinkle with icing or castor sugar
Remove gently with a spatula and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack
Pack into airtight containers when cold
Makes about 60 cookies – that is if you can resist the fabulous tasting dough while rolling it into balls!
Phew, I’m done, and I wrote more than 3 lines too!
Have a great week everyone, I promise I will be back soon
You may also like these recipes: