Cooking up a storm

Over the long weekend I had an opportunity to do something I haven’t had a chance to do in a really long time: cook up a storm. Because it was Father’s Day on Sunday I decided I’d really make the extra effort to make it a special day for my Mister – it being his first one. We decided to have a braai on Sunday and, because I’m a vegetarian, my ‘meat substitute’ dish was mushroom steaks. They were amazing!

First Father's Day.

First Father’s Day.

4 giant mushrooms
salt and pepper for seasoning
baby spinach
gorgonzola
home made tomato sauce or napolitana sauce
Olive oil

Clean mushrooms and season with salt and pepper
Place mushrooms on matte side of aluminium foil.
Place spinach on top of mushrooms and add some cheese.
Top off with a little tomato sauce and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
Wrap tightly in foil and place on braai grid to cook. Alternatively, bake in the oven at 180°C for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through.

Pear and gorgonzola salad with pecans and dried cranberries.

Pear and gorgonzola salad with pecans and dried cranberries.

On Friday I was chatting to our features and travel editor, Taryn and she mentioned how she always makes a pear and Parmesan salad to serve at dinner parties because it looks impressive and is so easy to put together. So I decided to give it a try.

Ingredients – serves two
mixed salad leaves including baby spinach, rocket and watercress
a sweet and ripe pear
Parmesan cheese, blue cheese or another strong tasting cheese
dried cranberries
pecan nuts, or any other of your favourite nuts (not peanuts though), roughly chopped or broken into pieces
olive oil
salt and pepper to season

Place washed salad leaves on a beautiful plate.
Cut pear into smallish (about 3cm) pieces.
Break pieces of cheese off and sprinkle over the salad leaves and pear.
Add dried cranberries and broken-up nuts.
Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

I needed something to go along with my mushrooms and salad so I made an old family favourite: curried beans. I’m not even 100% sure where this recipe comes from but it’s either from my mom’s mom, my Ouma, or from my mom’s sister, my aunty Pre. Anyway, regardless of its origins, it’s delicious and, although every branch of our family has a slightly different variation, we very seldom have a family braai without it. It may not be the most chic of dishes, but it’s one of those ‘classics’ that’s a family tradition and a fall-back-on side dish.

Ingredients – serves three or four
olive oil
1 small onion, chopped quite finely
a tin of butter beans
a teaspoon of curry powder
3 tablespoons of tomato sauce (you can use the homemade one you used with your mushrooms or All Gold also works well)
1 tablespoon of vinegar
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
Salt and pepper to season

Fry onion in a little olive oil for a few minutes until just turning golden.

Add butter beans with their juice and turn down heat to a simmer. Add curry powder and cook until fragrant. Add tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and seasoning to beans and simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring every so often. Leave to cool and serve with braai.

We had an absolutely amazing wine with our lunch. It was Bosman Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 and it was a really special bottle of wine that we certainly won’t be glugging while watching Greys.

A really special bottle for a special day.

A really special bottle for a special day.

These are the winemaker’s comment…

COLOUR: Deep berry red with a purple rim.
NOSE: Elegant raspberry, blackberry and concentrated plum aromas. Slight pencil shaving notes.
PALATE: Beautiful mouth feel with a long fruit crammed, persistent finish.
FOOD: Pair with lamb casseroles, hearty stews or as a conversation point in front of a winter’s fireplace.
AGEING: To be enjoyed 2-3 years after the year of vintage and for up to 7 years thereafter.

On Monday night, because it was a public holiday, neither me or my Mister felt like cooking so we decided on an easy dish that takes only a few minutes to put together: vegetable stirfry.

Veggie stirfry with red cabbage and green beans.

Veggie stirfry with red cabbage and green beans.

Ingredients – Vegetable stirfry
olive oil
onion, finely sliced
julienne green, red or yellow pepper
julienne baby marrow
brinjal, cubed
mushrooms, wiped and sliced
red cabbage, shredded
crushed garlic and ginger
veggie stock
sweet chilli sauce
soy sauce

Fry onion in a little olive oil for a few minute.
Add peppers, baby marrow and brinjal and fry until just soft.
Add mushrooms and cabbage and fry until cooked. Then add crushed garlic and ginger.

Add a little veggie stock, sweet chilli and soy sauce with a little water to deglaze the frying pan or wok.

If you want a little chicken or beef in your stirfry, then fry it off first before adding the onion and the rest of the veggies.

One of my very favourite red wines to enjoy is the Allée Bleue Starlette Pinotage 2012, about R42. The wine has an intense ruby red colour, abundant strawberry and ripe cherry flavours on the nose. A slight hint of chocolate, liquorice and coffee gives added complexity. The palate is smooth and soft with beautiful fruit that lingers.

Haute Cabriere

But if you feel like something a little lighter but still full of flavour, try the Haute Cabriere Unwooded Pinot Noir 2011, about R80. It has a brilliant red colour, indicative of the elegant red berry aromas and enticing, concentrated ripe cherry and cranberry flavours.

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