Lazy cooking and quick meals

June 11, 2018

Lately I have been feeling very… Hungry… I feel like I am missing something and I think it is a new food adventure. I survived Lent (kind of) but in the process of Lent I picked up a bad old habit and that is eating junk food or ready to eat meals again. I had a few proud and delicious meals but WAY too little to be proud of my Lent expedition. So I’m guessing I’m hungry for proper cooked meals. Quick meals seem to be the only meals people want but I think that’s my other craving, something properly prepared. I mean, it’s fun to be able to eat in 20 minutes but why do we all rush to restaurants? To get a meal that was prepared the whole afternoon, some even for 48 hours before it is plated and served to us. We don’t go to restaurants for a quick made meal. We go for the food that we won’t make at home and I’m starting to feel like we go there too easily. I am absolutely guilty of rushing to the restaurant but since I started studying I have felt the transition from foodie to absolute obsessed student of food and the art of food. By that I don’t mean that I want to win the plating Olympics but I want to make that meal that people remember, even if they forget the actual taste, they will have the memory of how they felt because of that dish. I got it and I got it bad! It’s also very frustrating because I have not yet reached that, if there is something like that to actually be reached, surely there has to be.

I feel like DEATH and his search for the sharpest blade/scythe before his battle with the new Death begins, in Terry Pratchett’s book Reaper Man. My search will continue until I find my scythe that can cut your finger just by looking at it.

Whilst I search for (my) perfection I think I need to start new challenges to force myself to make new things, not convenient and quick meals but proper, tasteful and skillful foods.

I challenge I have been dying to try: to make the very delicious and traditional Vietnamese Phở. I would have tried this the first day I got my My Vietnamese Kitchen cookbook but I feel a bit guilty about the amount of water that needs to be used in the process and due to the drought I have not made it, I promise it’s not an excuse! When the rains fall there shall be Phở filling my house with its amazing smells and filling our souls with its amazing flavours. I am getting hungry just thinking about Phở… Oh shit! What if it’s a medical condition?! Oh well, until then I’ll just go eat something, I’ll be right back!

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Back! What did I have you ask? Chicken Pieces baked in the oven with Lemon and Butter. Shamefully, I admit, that it is one of our lazy meals that we often had for dinner… As plain and simple as it is it is in fact very delicious… All we do is place pieces of Chicken in an oven dish, squirt Lemon Juice (always fresh) over the Chicken and bake the rest of the lemon amongst the pieces, place a big piece of Butter in the middle, if I have fresh Herbs I’ll place that in there and then bake it for about 1/1:30 hour at 200°C. This is also how I make the Chicken when we make the Chicken and Leek Tarts and shred the Chicken and mix it in the Lemony Butter juices left over in the oven pan. It’s not a 20min meal but it is indeed lazy and your prep time is SUPER QUICK.

 

 

At least in my lazy Lent days I had practiced my Poached Eggs skills quite a bit. I had to eat protein daily and since Eggs are such a great source of protein I might as well just practice my favourite Egg dish, I lie, Speckled Eggs are my favourite Egg dish but I’m referring to real food now. One night I wanted to make Poached Eggs with Hollandaise Sauce and a Zucchini Rosti , so I grated Zucchini and placed it into an oven tray, instead of a Rosti I decided to mix in the Egg Whites left over from the Egg Yolks used for the Hollandaise Sauce and I baked it. I didn’t want to throw away the Egg Whites and I wasn’t going to make something different with it that night (and once something is placed in my fridge to be used again it ends up in the dustbin). My Hollandaise Sauce, however, was not that successful. In texture and sheen it was good but not in taste. Clearly I have forgotten how to make a good Hollandaise, but at least I don’t suck at making Mayonnaise. This only means one things… I need to make more breakfast! Or Brinner! And spend more time on my Hollandaise.

 

In The French Laundry Cookbook Mr Thomas Keller reveals that Hollandaise is an art that needs to be practiced and tells about his journey with Hollandaise Sauce. It’s not just a Sauce.

 

One of my proud meals that I made was Vegetable Green Curry with Jasmine Rice. It was so delicious I almost ate the whole pot, I think I even grabbed the fork out of my SO’s hand and kept eating… almost everything. If he wasn’t there… He would never have known how good it tasted. I was pleasantly surprised that I could pleasantly surprise myself.

 

One day i would like to learn how to make the paste but for now I by Green Curry Paste. How did I make this yummy dish?

 

1 sachet Green Curry Paste

2 cans Coconut Cream

1 pack Broccoli (about 300g)

1 small pack Green Beans

3 Red Chillies

125g Quinoa

2 Onions

3 Cloves Garlic

100g Frozen Peas

Jasmine Rice

 

Method:

 

Fry the Onions and Chillies in Coconut Oil and Paste. When the Onions are slightly soft add the Garlic and Beans. Fry a bit then add one can of Coconut Cream. Cook a bit then add the Quinoa and the second can of Cream. Start steaming the Jasmine Rice. Cook until Quinoa is see-through. About 5 min before serving you add the Broccoli and frozen Peas.

 

 

I placed the Broccoli in just as my SO got home but he wasn’t really hungry so it cook longer than I wanted it to. I like bright green Broccoli.

 

So, the ultimate lazy meal that I did I actually loved! My Tomato Pasta. Yes, my Tomato Pasta! My photography skills were not applied, in fact I have started eating and realized I should maybe store this meal.

 

Ingredients :

 

Cherry Tomatoes

Fresh Thyme

Butter

Salt and Pepper

Pasta (I had some colourful ones)

 

Method:

 

Melt Butter and cook the Thyme in the Butter until the Butter goes slightly brown. Throw in whole Cherry Tomatoes, close the pot and cook. Cook Pasta and when Pasta is cooked your Tomatoes should be cooked and ‘popped’. Mix and eat, blend some Basil or Rocket (fresh) in if you have any.

 

Since we’re on lazy meals, here’s another Pasta one:

Spaghetti with Avocado & Cream mix and adding some Basil Pesto into the mix then roasting Tomatoes. Add Salt Salt & Pepper…

 

 

The one meal that I did spend a bit more time on was the Fish Cakes we made. We made Hake & Sweet Potatoes Cakes with the usual perpetrators in: Chilli, Ginger, Garlic, and of course I poached the Hake in Coconut Milk. When all that was done we made a White Sauce with Chilli and Mustard.

 

 

Something else I made that took a wee bit more time, than the laziest meals on planet, was something I seem to make quite often lately, and something that I love to make and eat… Banana Bread! This specific recipe we made I had changed a bit, I added some Cacao Powder and some grated Dark Chocolate to the recipe, I also added some Hemp Seed Powder that a friend and I had bought for an assignment. It did not affect the taste at all but the Powder can be felt when you eat the bread which is a bit annoying. Taste wise everything was good and the Banana Bread was very moist.

 

 

So here is me in bed eating delicious Banana Bread. So I would like to thank this page for a very delicious Banana Bread Recipe:

Unbelievably Moist Banana Bread

I did add an extra Banana and used big Bananas. So I used about 5 big Bananas. I also used milk instead of Buttermilk. I did not add Nuts and and when I only added the Baking Powder right before I baked the Bread, I didn’t leave the Baking Powder in there for an hour. Just remember to mix the Baking Powder very well when you add it.

 

 

Now let’s have a look at what I make at the restaurant I work at over weekends

 

 

So here are some pre-desserts I made and since we had a lot of Cream that had to be used I decided to make Panna Cotta pre-desserts. The first one is Raspberry with the Raspberry Jelly on top. The second one is Rooibos Panna Cotta with Honey Jelly on top. The third pre-dessert is the delicious and fudgy Choc Brownies that I’ve made quite a few times and always lures the staff to the kitchen when we start handing out the cutoffs.

 

 

One of the Amuse Bouche I made, a little Caprese Salad with Basil Oil. Nothing major but it is kind of cute.

 

 

I am also attempting to make a delicious and beautiful Cappuccino… One day but so far my prettiest one is my ‘flamingo’ (as one of my friends pointed out). Never ask me to attempt this again but it is pretty, or pretty enough. Making a beautiful Cappuccino isn’t the only reason I practice making Cappuccino every day that I am at work, the main reason is obviously to have a good cup of Cappuccino. The first few times I tried to make a cup for myself and the Sous Chef I took one sip and threw it away. I think the Sous Chef was trying to be nice to me and had about 2 or 3 sips but then I told her that she really should not pretend, rather teach me how so I can make her a good cup every morning instead of learning SLOWLY. Sous Chef showed me and then Chef showed me as well. It’s getting better but sometimes I make the Milk way too frothy. I like it like that but I know that’s not how it is suppose to be.

 

One day, one day my Cappuccino will look as beautiful as my cover photo’s Cappuccino… One day!

 
 
So now that I’ve shared some of my foods, let me make you hungry with the foods I’ve eaten lately.
 

On Good Friday we saw some friends and it was a visit long overdue. It was also a good thing that the restaurant (that I work at) was closed for Good Friday and that this old favourite of mine was open. Yes, Spice Route was open on Good Friday and there is no resisting La Grapperia‘s Pizzas, or in my case the Vegetarian Flammkuchen because I was still on Lent. When at Spice Route you drink what you must at Spice Route… CBC Beer. Oh yes, and when we were there our waiter (very friendly) came to inform us that we need to enjoy our Beers because the gas (or something) of the keg didn’t work. Luckily for us we had a plumber at the table with all his tools and goodies and he saved the day for us and all the other guests that visited La Grapperia that day. We were there quite early so it would have been a long service for them that day. When all was fixed and saved we, of course, had another round of Beers.

 

After that we had another Beer at a place that has become a new local Craft Brewery that we love and love to support. You are probably thinking how many places can we be locals at? Apparently many. The new place is called Soul Barrel. What a delicious place, I mean what delicious Beer they have. It is something very different than what I’ve ever had before. If you ever have a day off in the Winelands I suggest you stop by and try all 4 their Beers, you will not be disappointed.

 

 

Ben’s on the Beach in Strand. I love this place! We went there last year when my SO’s mother was here to take her somewhere nice and with a great view. My mother had gone on about how much she likes the place and that is the one reason why we went, she is quite fussy with her choice of restaurant so it’s a good indication that Ben’s is worthwhile. The other reason is because they have Ox Tongue and that, my friends, is the main reason we went. I have never had Tongue at a restaurant before and I must say, this is one of the best things I have eaten in my life. Now when we went last year I did not finish the whole plate, I took some home. This year… I finished it. I finished it after I had a Bitterballen as well (they are quite big and Bitterballen are one of my favourite things in the world), we shared at the table and we also shared the Snoek Pate. I felt sick, well not really sick, I was completely Farçi’d.

 

 

 

 

The food was soooooooo delicious and such big portions. Three of us ordered the Tongue with the exception of my cousin who had ordered Peri-Peri Chicken. It looked amazing and the smell, it just reminded me of Mozambique. I did not even taste it because I only had taste buds for my Tongue but if ever there is a time that there is no Ox Tongue available I would eat the Peri-Peri Chicken, although… those Bitterballen and that Snoek Pate… I could eat more than one portion, definitely!

 

 

Where else did we go? Oh yes, Rhebokskloof where I had the delicious Berg River Brewery Beer. I’ve only seen the beer a few times and I’ve been curious about where to find it in Paarl. I was kind of fooled by the big sign but let me inform you… It’s not at Rhebokskloof but you can enjoy it on the beautiful farm and look at the beautiful gardens of Rhebokskloof. If you have a sweet tooth, they’re Desserts looked quite yummy (I was still stuffed from the Tongue I had the previous night). My aunt thoroughly enjoyed the Mousse Cake, or Mousse in the form of Cake… or something. It looks good! My cousin had the Cheesecake, I think she is on a quest to find the best Cheesecake in South Africa.

 

 

 

 

Thinking I’d never be able to eat again (and only getting to bed 3:30 AM just to get up at 7:30 AM) we went to Franschhoek because… Why the hell not? It’s beautiful and there are enough restaurants to choose from for a crazy family dinner. When in Franschhoek, this is a must see place! Of course a must taste as well… I give you Haute Cabriere up the mountain in Franschhoek. Look at this view and what better than to taste delicious MCC with this view.

 

 My family is crazy and this particular part of my family is the quirky crazy, my favourite aunt, always has been and I have not had wine with her in quite a few years… well before our previous night’s Wine drinking session that lasted until 3:30 AM. and when we walked passed Allora I knew that this would be the place for our next dining adventure. The smells coming from the kitchen and the Wood Fired Pizza Oven was all convincing that I needed (and of course making sure I can afford it).

 

First of all our waitress was very helpful because, suffering from food anxiety, none of us knew what to take. We just decided to share a Focaccia to give us time and to the love of Focaccia. Finally, after back and forth conversation with the waitress she had made suggestions and we had chosen them. My SO took Pizza, he loves a Thin Crust Wood Fired Pizza. My Cousin took a Creamy Steak Pasta, my mother and I both took the Ai Gamberi (Creamy Paprika Prawns) but I had the Pasta and she had the Risotto. Then, I think the dish that impressed me most, my aunt took Veal Escalope with a Marsala Sauce. Everyone tasted everyone’s food and I must say, as much as I ate from everyone’s the Veal was my favourite. So soft, so tasty, mouthwatering and succulent.

Look at this beautiful Ai Gamberi Risotto and Pepperoni Pizza

 

I think that’s about it for me… What I’ve cooked, eaten and farci’d myself with.

 

I greet you with the conclusion. My hunger must be fed and I know that my new challenge should be to cook more and more of what I want and what my body needs to eat with a tad of experimenting. Speaking of experimenting… I want to experiment a bit with Cocoa Nibs and Coffee and a bit more with Hemp Seed Powder.

Until next time… Eat well!

 

P.S.

Next time…

 

 

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Lazy cooking and quick meals

June 11, 2018