Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011 at 15 on Orange Hotel

Here are some of the dishes on our buffet for Christmas this year at 15 On Orange Hotel, the pictures are not great as its really busy and we have to rush to be ready for everyone. Breakfast is also always busy but here is a look at what we were up to.

Roast Beef fillet with a herb crust, fondant potatoes and wild mushroom ragout.

Deboned and rolled roast Turkey, bacon wrapped chippolatas and a redcurrant jus.

Maple glazed Gammon with poached pears and baby apples.

Grilled Kingklip, buttered leeks and thermidor sauce.

Eggplant Parmigiana, roast tomato sauce, fresh pesto and basil.

The Starter buffet and desserts with cured meats, salmon, sashimi, salads, cheeseboard and grilled vegetables.

Pictures and article copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Paleolithic Diet

I'm a chef so its almost impossible to diet and I never really have been on one as although being in a kitchen all day, my food choices are 90 percent healthy. I also suffer with a bit of lactose intolerance so I already have to cut dairy out of my diet which is tough enough. My boyfriend says he needs to watch what he eats.... well he blames me and all the goodies I make and the fact that he sits at a computer all day where I am running around at work most of the time. He asked me to check out the Paleolithic diet and see if I can try it with our meals at home.

It basically says we should eat food only of the Paleolithic period so this would be eating meat, fish, some vegetables, fruits, seeds and oils. Cut out, pulses, breads / grain products, starches, processed and sweetened foods and dairy.
Meats and fish should be organic where possible and the rule with the vegetables is that if you can eat it raw then you can eat it on this diet.

All fruits and nuts are fine however if you are trying to loose weight then cut them out. Above is an example of one of my dinners and below is a weeks menu.
I must say I am a bread and potato fan and have not even missed it with our meals yet. The meal above is seared Norwegian Salmon, sauteed baby spinach with sesame seeds, beetroot and a tomato and avocado salad.

Week 1

Bowl of berries /w coconut milk
Salad /w roasted chicken, cherry tomatoes & olive oil / lemon juice vinaigrettePaleo SpaghettiMacadamia nuts
TuesdayLeftover paleo spaghettiChicken & veggie soup /wliver pâtéBeef goulashBeef jerky
WednesdayOnion and spinach omelet /w leftover liver pâtéTuna salad wrapped in lettuce /w almondsBeef bourguignon
Dessert:Coconut ice cream
Hard boiled eggs
ThursdayBacon & eggs /w piece of fruitZucchini and sweet potato frittataGrilled trout /wbutternut squash soupPork Rinds
FridayCoconut milk smoothieCitrus beef salad stir-fryCitrus roast chicken /wsweet potato friesBowl of berries /w almonds
SaturdayCold Leftover roast chicken /w mayoLemon & garlic scallops
Dessert: Coconut ice cream
Bone marrow/w Waldorf salad
Dessert:Baked apples
Dark chocolate covered bacon
SundayTomato and egg stir-fryBacon, grape & broccoli saladButter chickenRaw veggies /w guacamole
Picture and article Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Easy Apple Cobbler

This is a simple dessert which is quick to make and uses ingredients which are always at hand in the kitchen.

You can use any fruit as the flavour which is topped with a vanilla batter and baked until golden. This dish got its name as once cooked the top of the dish looks like a cobbled street.

I served it with praline ice cream but any flavour is delicious melting into the warm pudding.

Apple Cobbler
Serves  6 - 8
Apple mix
5 cups tart apples peeled and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour

1/2 cup flour sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter softened
1 egg beaten gently

Roast the apples in a tray until lightly golden at 190 degrees mixed with the apple mix ingredients
Mix all the batter ingredients together.
Grease 6 - 8 ramekins and pour the batter in filling 3/4 full. Press a few pieces of apple into the top of each dish.
Bake the puddings for 15 - 20 minutes at 190 degrees, test with a skewer.
Serve with Ice cream and a dusting of icing sugar.

Recipe and picture Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I love real juices

I fell in love with the juicer when we purchased one at work and I made myself juices more often than I made for guests. Due to lack of space in the kitchen my boyfriend bought me the Kenwood Titanium Major and I bought all the attachments which I needed one of which was the juicer.
As we all know we need to eat 6-8 portions of fruit and vegetables per day for optimal health and some of these vitamins needed are destroyed in heating and cooking.

Above are the ingredients to one of my favorite juices however if you are overweight, have high cholesterol or diabetes it will be best to do more leafy green vegetables and less fruits. juicing is also great for people with digestive problems as more nutrients will be absorbed as it it pre digested already. these drinks are in your blood stream within 30 minutes of drinking and will up your immune system and boost the body's cleansing systems. It is best to drink these within 20 minutes of making them to get the optimal nutrients from it but it is still better than bought juice and will be fine drunk the same day.

Green juices are the best for you as they contain chlorophyll which detoxifies your body, detox the liver, rebuild blood cells and even remove cancer cells. These are cucumber, sprouts, celery, spinach, broccoli, cabbage and parley.

I have the flu at the moment so I wanted more vitamin C so I made a predominantly fruit juice, the oranges for vitamin C, apples for antioxidants, carrots are antioxidant, antiseptic and vitamin A, celery contains vitamin A and B as well as amino acids and is an alkaliser.

Its really easy you only need peel thick skinned ingredients otherwise just wash everything and cut to fit your feeding tube.

Recipe and pictures copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chicken Tikka Curry with Dosa's

A while back I went to Masala Dosa on Long street and loved the thin pancake they make called Dosa's, traditionally eaten with a potato curry and a lentil soup. The real dosa is made using a special large flat pan and a wiping action is used to spread the mix in the pan making a thin crisp pancake.
I am trying to cook with a little less carbohydrates as I am a bread, rice, pasta and potato nut so I decided to make curry and although chickpea flour has a healthy carbohydrate suitable for people with diabetes it is very high in protein, zinc and folate much healthier and lighter than a whole bowl of rice or buttery roti's.

I made a cheats version of the Dosa using chickpea flour and rice flour but it is normally made from ground lentils and rice. I will test it with the traditional potato curry next but tonight it being rainy out I wanted a saucy curry, here is the recipe enjoy eating with your hands rolling it up and dipping in the curry.
I think this will also work as a sweet alternative to pancakes for the wheat intollerant, spread with melted chocolate and sprinkle with coconut or banana.

This recipe is wheat and dairy free.

Chicken Tikka
serves 4
500g chicken breast cubed
250g baby marrow cut into thick rings
1 onion chopped
1 sachet woolworths tikka paste
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
10ml tomato paste
125ml coconut milk
15ml cornflour
salt and pepper

Brown the chicken and baby marrow in the pan and then remove and set aside.
Fry the onions until golden then add the spice paste and fry for 1 minute.
Add the tin of tomatoes and break up the whole tomatoes and add the tomato paste.
Cook for 30 minutes then blend the sauce.
Add the chicken, baby marrow and coconut milk.
Cook for 20 minutes and then thicken with cornflour slaked in water and season.
Serve with the dosa's below or rice, roti's or poppadums.

makes 8
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup cake flour / rice flour
3ml bicarb
5ml mustard seeds
2ml salt
5ml lemon juice
water to made a batter

Mix the dry ingredients then add the water until the batter is of a coating consistency.
Spray and cook a frying pan and drizzle with a dash of oil.
Pour a ladle of batter into a pan rolling the mix around the pan and cook until golden on each side.
Repeat until the batter is finished.
Serve with your favorite curry.

Recipe and pictures copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Potted Herbs

What made me decide to become a chef was visiting the school where I studied and seeing the trainee chefs dressed in their outfits picking fresh herbs from the garden and cooking with them immediately and smelling the aroma's that the herbs give while cooking in the kitchen.

Once I started studying my Mother planted a garden full of herbs for me to cook with so when I eventually graduated and later moved in with my boyfriend it was definitely something I missed, buying packets from the store is not nearly the same as snipping them yourself while walking outside in the sun and is such a waste as you never finish the whole pack before it goes off.

On my travels to Italy I noticed that everybody has herbs and tomatoes growing in the sun in their gardens amongst other vegetables and fruits too. I then decided upon my return to plant my own herbs and tomatoes although I don't have a garden the pots will be a great way to start.

Its a lot easier than you may think, I took my mother along to Stodels, bought the tomato and herb plants, pots, bases, spades,  sand, soil, herb mix and bark. This is all you need for herbs but for tomato plants you need a bamboo stick to support the plant, cable ties and scissors.

I am learning as I go, some are growing really well and others are finding it possibly too sunny but its better than buying the vacuum packs from the store.
They all need a little pruning, the herbs must be trimmed at the tips every so often and the tomato plant needs to be pruned of the bottom few stalks so it does not get too heavy with fruit.

I have chosen to plant my favorite herbs which are Basil, Thyme, Parsley, Sage, Chillies and Celery. I love coming home after work watering the pants and snipping some for our dinner in the evening. Can't wait to make a Fresh Caprese salad with my first tomatoes.

Pictures Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Friday, October 7, 2011

China Town

I visited China Town yesterday, the newer one behind Canal Walk, interested to see if there would be some good bargains or interesting goodies that can only be found there however I was a bit disappointed to see that there are loads of little shops there but they all pretty much stock the same items, there are a few which stock a mix of the items in the picture above, a few that do clothes and a few that do food but all stocking the same with a few variations. This means you have to scour through all the shops in the hope of a few hidden goodies suited to you.

I wish they had dedicated shops for different goods like a hardware store, grocery, clothing, shoes etc but when you in the mood it's fun to look at all the "junk" they have to sell.

I was hoping, as it was lunchtime that there would be some cooked food stalls like springrolls or stir fries on offer to take to go but there was only one or two restaurants offering chinese foods. I bought a packet of Simba chips for R3, a delicious coconut water in a can for R8 ( this I will go back for), I bought a little sewing kit with 16 different coloured threads as I only have one colour to fix buttons and hems which was maybe R10, I will go back to the food store for the Shaoxing wine as this I see in a lot of asian recipes, there was also rice wine and lovely frozen Dim Sum which I have had before.

Its worth a walk around even if you only visit the bottom floor like I did.

China Town
Sable Square mall, Muir St
Open 9pm - 5pm 7 days a week

Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thick Crust Pizza

There has always been a battle of the pizza crust, thin or thick, which on is better... well I would say  they are both great, thin is crispy and you can taste all the toppings and thick is gooey and hearty.
This can also be made into mini pizza bites for cocktail parties.

I decided to make this the other day as its easier to make to each persons preference,  I like mine with no cheese, my brother likes everything on top but no olives and my boyfriend wanted just tomato and cheese so I made two large pizza's and just divided it up with different toppings spread in sections. 
I made my dough but you can just order some from your local bakery, allow it to rise as per my method in the bowl and follow on from there.
This recipe contains wheat but can be made vegetarian. This dough can be used to make bread, focaccia, pizza or vetkoek.

Chicago- style thick crust pizza
Serves 6

30g fresh yeast or 3 packets instant dried yeast
30g honey or sugar
625ml tepid water
1kg strong bread flour or I used Cake Flour
30g salt
30ml olive oil
extra flour for dusting

Place the flour in your mixer / processor with the yeast, salt, honey and olive oil. mix through.
Add the tepid water and mix to a dough, if it is sticking to the mixer just add a bit more flour until it mixes without sticking but is a nice soft dough.
Mix for 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, grease the bowl with oil and place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and put in a warm place until doubled in size.
Knock the dough back and then flatten into trays, It will make 2 Swiss roll tins of about 30 cm by 20cm. Spray the tin with spray and cook and dust lightly with flour. Allow the dough to rise once again in the pans. Brush lightly with olive oil.
Par bake on 220 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes. 

Top with my fresh Pomodoro sauce but reduced until thick.
your favorite toppings, fresh herbs and mozzarella.

Picture and recipe copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Minato Sushi Restaurant Review

Lately I have been having a Sushi addiction every week but it's no longer for the usual maki's, nigiri's or California rolls, I have upgraded my choice to only eating Willoughby's and Co's four by four plate which if you have never had it, its four huge rolls with thick teriyaki sauce and four huge California rolls topped with tempura prawns tossed in a sweet chilli mayonnaise... Yum!

I was invited to meet a friend at Minato just off long street which after reading up about it I thought it may give Willoughby's some competition.

Walking in the look of the place is as they call on Diner's Drive in's and Dives, a Dive using their rating or as I call them hidden gems, it has rickety chairs, skew pictures on the walls, Asian decor everywhere and messages to the customer stuck all over the walls saying things like no children under 10 yrs, please complain directly to the owner and pages with the sushi names and prices written on it.

There are notes to the customer once again printed in the menu, it states please be patient as the place is run by the owner, who makes all the sushi, his wife and two waitresses, well there was only one waitress on this night and this is not enough to give the customers good service as this poor waitress seats guests, takes the orders, pours the drinks, serves the food, does the bill and resets the tables so luckily we only went at 9pm and some of the people in the full restaurant were leaving so we could grab her attention.

The Menu has plenty of sushi to choose from, based on my love of the four by four I chose the San Diego California roll which has tempura avocado inside and I had the Bullet roll which has Salmon and egg omelets inside then the whole roll is dipped in tempura batter and fried then drizzled with a spicy mayonnaise, high calorie but delicious.

Our food took about an hour from order to arrival but as they say it was worth the wait, the batter was thin and crisp, the rice held together and tasted great and the fresh fish was a very high standard. They were easy to eat and everybody's food at the table looked great. I just want to mention if you are sensitive to the taste of deep fried foods then don't  eat the rolls that are completely coated in tempura as it does have a slight oily flavour but for me the ginger , wasabi and soy sauce cut through the oil and I really enjoyed it.

I still put Willoughby's as my favorite but Minato is definitely a close second place.

4 Buiten street
City Centre
021- 4234712

PS. Since this post Minato's has become my favorite sushi spot where we go with great new friends and  enjoy this great place at least once a week : )

Friday, September 23, 2011

Black Lava Salt

I was invited for dinner the other day and the host's had this great salt on the table as a condiment called Black Lava Salt, it comes from a small island in Hawaii where there is no sewage runoff and the mineral balance of the ocean water is completely unpolluted. The salt is hand collected and infused in a bath of activated charcoal. This method gives the salt a unique, mild mineral flavour which is both lightly smokey and earthy.

It is said that the charcoal is a very good detoxifier, digestive aid and contains electrolytes. It's mild flavour will go with any dish but it is not used in the cooking process as it will just dissolve and the charcoal benefits will sink in the dish so its best sprinkled on after cooking.

I found the salt at Giovanni's Deli and I tried it with my home roasted red peppers in parsley olive oil and fresh bread however it will be great on a baked potato with sour cream, carpaccio's, caprese salads and meat, fish or chicken but mostly it will look great on the rim of a big glass of Margarita.

Giovanni's Deliworld
103 Main road,  Green Point
Cape Town
021 4346893

Picture and article copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Home Made Macaroni Rigate with Quick Pomodoro sauce

Well as I mentioned in my previous post, I received the amazing Kenwood Major as a birthday gift and soon after my birthday I went on holiday to Italy without trying the Kenwood out, so now I have returned from my amazing vacation it being my third time in Italy and as always I fell in love with the food and their way of life.
Eager to try out all the gadgets that you can buy for the machine, I decided to try the macaroni Rigate pasta attachment, for one I needed to smell the aroma of Pomodoro sauce slowly cooking on the stove and two because I did not believe the attachment would work very well...... as you can see it does indeed work.

Another worry for me was the amount of parts that is required to make the pasta as seen above but once again I was surprised how easy it was to assemble and how strong and sturdy the parts are, they also give you a handy gadget to clean the pasta off the parts when you are done.

The recipe for the pasta is really quick to make using the mixer bowl of the machine, it must be a crumbly dough which is then pushed down the shoot and then the Macaroni's slowly come out, the only effort was pushing it through the shoot but they cut easily and did not stick together at all.

All over Italy you will see everybody grows their own tomatoes in their gardens and my partners aunt showed me this quick tomato sauce which uses fresh tomato blended with basil and then cooked until thickened, she has so many tomatoes that she suggested blending them and freezing the pulp in ice trays for the winter months when the tomatoes plants do not produce any fruits.
This pasta shape is good with simple oil sauce, tomato, meat, creamy sauce or on salads.

This is a vegetarian dish which can be eaten dairy free by removing the cheese but does contain wheat.

Home Made Macaroni Rigate with fresh Pomodoro sauce
Serves 4

400g cake flour or 00 flour
200g egg
pinch of salt

Olive oil
Fresh Pomodoro sauce ( recipe below )
Parmesan cheese, grated
Optional, basil pesto

Place the flour in the mixer and slowly add the egg, beat for 30 seconds, scrape the bowl and beat for another 30 seconds.
The dough should look like rough breadcrumbs.
Place the attachments onto the machine and feed the crumbly dough through the feeder and cut to the length desired.
Cook in boiling salty water for 5-10 minutes.
Drain, coat in a little olive oil, the pomodoro sauce, grated parmesan cheese and if you like a little basil pesto.

Fresh Pomodoro Sauce
Serves 4

2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, only the eye removed and quartered
10ml tomato paste
fresh basil, torn
10 ml Worcestershire sauce
1ml chilli powder
salt and pepper
olive oil

Fry the garlic in a pot until light golden, remove from heat.
Add the tomatoes and blend with a stick blender until smooth, return to the heat and add tomato paste if necessary for colour.
Add the basil, worsestershire, a little seasoning, dash of olive oil, chilli and cook until thickened about 20 minutes ( thicken with cornflour if you like)
Correct the seasoning and pour over cooked pasta.
This sauce can also be used on meat, fish, pizza, melanzane, zucchini or even in place of ketchup.

Recipe and Pictures Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kenwood Titanium Major

This is my new, much awaited kitchen gadget and with a name like Titanium Major  you just know its going to be good.
I have been using my Granny's old Magimix type food processor for the last 5 years which my mother kindly kept for me, it's unfortunately no longer strong enough to beat dough or butter and sometimes does not lock properly so my boyfriend offered to buy a new one for my birthday. I was going to get the new version Magimix when I saw this Kenwood gleaming at me from the huge box on the shelf and I could not resist. I chose this because you can buy any attachment your heart desires to attach to this one machine which was the main selling point as my kitchen space has pretty much been maxed out, I bought a juicer, pasta machine, macaroni maker and a food processor attachment but there are many, many more to choose from like spice mills, slicers, graters, coffee / herb mill, ice cream machine, flour mill and mashers that I can remember, all Kenwood mixers parts fit into each other even if they are 40 years old and the parts of this machine are made really well and solid.
Please follow my blog for some new recipes made with my amazing present.

Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Quick Chicken Biryani

The onions take longer to caramelize than this Biryani or Curried Pilaf takes to make.
The reason why its more a pilaf than a Biryani is that you normally cook the rice and sauce separately and then layer them together where I just cook everything together.
This is wheat and dairy free and will work as a great vegetarian dish if you replace the chicken with vegetables and use vegetable stock.

Quick Curried Chicken Pilaf / Biryani

Serves 4
1 onion sliced and slowly caramelized in a pan
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chilli, chopped
1 pk chicken breast (4 breasts) , cubed
1 tomato, peeled and chopped or just chop it finely and you wont notice the skin
1 carrot, grated
1 baby marrow, grated
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
2ml cumin powder
2ml coriander powder
2ml turmeric
3ml garam masala
1ml cinnamon
2 cups chicken / vegetable stock or coconut milk and water
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp chutney
few sprigs fresh coriander
salt and pepper

Fry the onion, chilli and garlic.
Add chicken breast and brown.
Mix all the spices and add to pot and toast.
Add the grated vegetables, chopped tomato and the rice, stir to coat.
Add the stock / milk, vinegar and chutney.
Place the lid on and turn the pot down to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes stirring occasionally and add more liquid if it gets too dry.
Add the caramelized sliced onions and coriander.
Season to taste and serve with your choice of a tomato sambal, sliced banana, yoghurt, coconut shavings, poppadum or more chutney.

Picture and Recipe Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Saturday, August 6, 2011

& Union Beer Salon

& Union

They call themselves a Beer Salon / Charcuterie and this is what you get when you visit & Union, the best "in my opinion" Craft beer in town along with the best of everything else, food, coffee and wine.
You can find & Union on Bree St under the church in Heritage Square, there is plenty of parking outside which is an important factor for me who loathes going in search of vacant spaces.
The look is very masculine and simplistic, only the necessary with hardly any decor unless its functional, this is what I love about this place, what you see is what you get and everything they serve speaks for itself.

I have been there a few times and am now completely addicted to their food and every time somebody wants to go out for a bite I choose to go there to satisfy my craving for pretty much anything on their menu but my weakness is their Prego Rolls, both the Pork and Beef Prego's are delicious perfection, from the bread that holds the lightly smokey meat straight from the braai to the accompaniments served along side of lightly dressed rocket and watercress salad , super hot chilli sambal and crisps, making my mouth water just writing this post. They also do a great Pulled pork, slightly spicy and juicy accompanied with a dill pickle and Germanic styled Wursts, meat and cheese platters.

I never really heard about craft beer until & Union opened and now its all I hear, having tried many different varieties at the Real Beer Festival the & Union Weiss beer is still my favorite followed closely by their new addition Versus Goliath. They charge a fairly hefty R40 per beer but they have plenty of specials like the bucket 'o love at 3 for R100 and the lunch special, a sandwich, beer and Organic coffee for R95 or go on Wednesdays for their Real music night with live bands.

I highly recommend this place, you are bound to run into a few bloggers and musicians along with great vibe and excellent service its definitely worth the price.
P.S. add some chips and rocket salad to your Prego like I do in the picture above, the rocket adds some peppery flavour and the crisps, loads of crunch.

110 Bree Street
Cape Town

021- 422 2770

Review and Pictures Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Risotto a la "Milanese"

We are changing the menu at the hotel soon and this is one of the dishes that you will find on the menu. This dish was a collaboration of the head chef and myself based on the traditional risotto found in Milan, Italy, he has since left the hotel and I am posting this as a tribute to him.

The traditional version was created by accident when an artist dropped saffron into a pot of rice. If you order this dish in Italy you will get a delicious bowl of steamy risotto flavoured with Parmesan and saffron, simple as the Italians do it however we added pumpkin and some vegetables for texture.
This dish will make a great Vegetarian main course or a perfect winter starter. It contains no wheat.

Risotto a la " Milanese"

300g Risotto rice
80g Onion, diced
5g Garlic , Chopped
100ml White Wine
400ml Chicken / Vegetable Stock
1g Saffron Threads
100g Roasted Butternut Puree
1 bunch Asparagus
100g Softened Butter
80g Parmesan
salt and pepper

Bring the stock to a simmer.
Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil.
Add the rice and fry for a few minutes.
Deglaze the pan with the white wine.
Add the saffron threads and allow the alcohol to evaporate.
Add the stock ladle by ladle until the risotto is tender and creamy.
Add the butternut puree, asparagus spears, softened butter and Parmesan cheese.
Season to taste.

Photograph and recipe Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Maria's Restaurant

Maria's Restaurant
Not too long ago I was running into the Spar after work in my Chefs uniform probably to buy something very un - chef  - like for a quick dinner when a man stopped me to enquire as to where I worked and how the hotel was doing while I was trying to hide my ready meals, frozen chips and Vienna's from his sight, typical after work goodies. Turns out this friendly person is the owner of Maria's Greek Restaurant in Dunkley Square in partnership with his wife. We had a brief chat where he told me a bit about his renovations he had just done and I made a mental note to visit sometime.

We met up with a friend who told me that this place had been going for many years and in his words it is an "institution", they closed for two years to do their renovations.... not sure why it took so long but they did an excellent job, the interior is for a better word very pretty, modern and cosy. It is small with an intimate feeling. The kitchen is open and you can see and smell your meal being prepared. We were attended to by a welcoming helpful waitress who explained the dishes to us. Now I don't want to necessarily give this place a bad review but there were a few things that I would like to point out which made the experience a 5/10.

For Starters my partner and our friend ordered fried Haloumi and I ordered Spanakopita's, the haloumi was nice but I did not get Spanakopita with spinach and feta, instead they sent me cheese and leek phyllo. I did not mention it as I did not really mind but the food came very fast and it was plain with no dips or pita in sight only a lemon wedge.
For mains my partner and myself both ordered the speciality which is Lamb slowly braised in wine with artichoke and our friend ordered grilled calamari. The food once again came very quickly, the lamb was soft and tender however I could not see or taste any artichoke, it was served with a Greek salad which was nice, creamed spinach which was very brown in colour and three roast potatoes which were definitely from the day before and reheated as you can tell when a potato has come out the fridge. I am generally not fussy and always happy to be taken out for dinner ANYWHERE but this plate of food cost R135 for which I would expect it to be all the best fresh ingredients as they are charging the same price as say George Jardin would charge for lamb in his award winning establishments.
Our friend had a flour less Lindt chocolate brownie for dessert which he said was the best dessert he has ever had so in conclusion, I would go back and give it another chance but I will order something other than the lamb dish.

Maria's Restaurant
31 Barnet st 
Dunkley Square
021 - 461 8887

Review and pictures copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Great Thai Restaurant

Kitima Restaurant

Kitima is an authentic Thai Restaurant situated in Hout Bay. It is built inside an old Cape Dutch Homestead called Kroenendal Manor. From the outside it looks like a beautiful place but inside you are transported to what feels like King Bhumbibol's Palace, this restaurant has not held back on decor and finishes being a rich and elegant venue where the staff are unbeleivably friendly and polite in traditional dress and welcome you by pressing their hands together and bowing their heads respectfully.

There are different rooms or areas to sit in as well as two bar areas, some may be booked for private dining functions and each more beutiful than the next. This time we were seated in the Bangkok room covered in silk drapes with wooden floors. Kitima does a fantastic buffet on a sunday. I don't really like buffets in general, being a chef I prefer to sit, relax and not battle with the masses vying for food, this is not like that at all but a real treat, in fact I don't think I could just eat one item off the menu after being offered tastes of all the popular dishes on the menu like this.

The buffet is beautifully displayed, all the tables are laid with table clothes, topped with Thai dishes, steamers and hot chafing dishes, filled with perfectly presented Thai offerings. To start there is endless sushi, sashimi, four varieties of dim sum, duck springrolls, fried dim sum and a delicious Tom Yum Goong.

I am literally in heaven already but it does not stop there for main course is another endless assortment of Pad thai, sticky rice, stir fried vegetables, pork curry, beef stir fry, chicken stir fry and a Norwegian Salmon curry dish, the correct names I did not note down.

As everyone knows I love to eat like this nibbling and tasting everything in my sight, maybe since that is how I spend most of my days at work tasting a little here and there, but anyway there was no space left for dessert unfortunately and having eaten plenty birthday cake this weekend already we did not have the need for anything sweet but there too was a large variety.

Once again yet another restaurant to add to my favorites list. This buffet costs R160 per person, well worth it as a starter and main in any restaurant being R60 and R100 respectively except here you get to taste all that Thailand has to offer.

Kitima Restaurant
021 - 790 8004
Kroenendal Estate, 140 Main Rd
Hout Bay.

Pictures and Review Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Marika's Restaurant

Marika's Restaurant

This little gem is a family run Greek restaurant which has just relocated. Many people may recognise as the place in Bakoven, Camps Bay but has just moved to Gardens 1 month ago. Situated above the Seven Eleven on Upper Buitenkant Street near Garden Centre. Here you will find authentic Greek food prepared by the Mother of the family with the husband and sons managing the floor.

When you walk into Marika's visually you see the decor which whisks you away to a little place in Greece, just what you would imagine, white walls and blue artwork with glass tables, little trinkets and a warm welcoming greeting at the door but this is all erased when you are hit in the nose by the amazing aroma's of garlic, slow roasting meats, rosemary, oregano and lemon making my tummy rumble with a need for some mezze immediately.

Our waiter was very friendly and possibly too attentive in the beginning of our visit but as the place got full he eased off and was great. There is a large variety of starters or mezze to choose from, calamari tentacles fried or pickled, livers, prawns, keftedes, spanakopita's, mussels and fried aubergine to name a few, along with all the dips your heart desires. You can make up your own platter or choose one your favorites. I would have had the spanakopita's but since I make them often at work we went with the prawns wrapped in phyllo with a sweet chilli mayonnaise and Beef keftedes (Meatballs) but what stole the show for me was a really great, really big bowl of hummus, tangy from the lemon juice and tahini, balanced perfectly which we mopped up with the freshest warm and gooey Pita bread I have ever had. I could easily just keep eating mezze for the entire evening.

After this I was already almost full but it being my Partners birthday we were there to feast and that we did, so for mains I had the special which was soft, tender, melting pieces of lamb wrapped in phyllo with a light cream sauce which comes with a choice of Roast potatoes, Greek salad or rice pasta. I had the roast potatoes which are my weakness and satisfied my addiction, crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle. Claudio had, if its even possible, an even more tender, sticky slow roasted piece of lemon and Oregano Lamb with cabbage and a Greek salad. Both dishes were great, I am happy the special was the perfect size for a lady and the roast lamb was a really large man portion, we shared the accompaniments and happily tucked into our meals with no food envy. We washed all this down with a Marika's Sauvignon Blanc which was crisp and light, so good with all the rich tasty food. Some of the other mains on offer are Souvlaki's, Kingklip, Prawns in a tomato sauce with feta and Mousakka.

The bill came to R450 for 2 people. Well worth it and affordable for a big Greek Feast you could easily eat for R120 per person. We will definitely be back soon however I suggest you book as it fills up fast.

Marika's Restaurant
176 Corner of Buitenkant and Vredekloof rd
021 - 465 27 27

Picture's and Review Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Monday, March 21, 2011

Beef Kofta in Tomato and Coconut sauce

There are many varieties of Koftas from all nations, the most popular being the Greek version, spiced with a yoghurt sauce accompanying it. Koftas may be boiled, fried, baked, steamed or grilled . A Kofta consists mainly of ground beef or lamb, spices and onions but is also made with prawns or fish in some areas. This is an adaption of the North Indian way of preparing them with a rich tomato sauce normally with yoghurt but to make it lighter and easier to digest, I always add coconut milk instead.
I served it with a basmati rice Pilaf and Poppadoms.
This recipe is wheat and dairy free.

Beef Kofta in a Tomato and Coconut Sauce
Serves 4

1/2 onion
500g minced lean beef
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg

Tomato and coconut sauce:
4ml ground coriander
4ml ground cumin
1ml cinnamon
4 cloves
6 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
3tbsp oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
400g tin whole peeled tomatoes
150ml coconut milk
10ml cornflour
coriander leaves

Kofta: Grate the onion on the fine side and strain off the juice. Place the pulp in a bowl.
Add the mince, garlic, chilli, salt and egg.
Mix and shape into 20 balls.
Place in the freezer while you prepare the sauce so they will hold their shape while cooking.

Sauce: Fry the onion until lightly browned.
Add all the spices and fry for 30 seconds.
Add the tin of tomatoes and mash with a potato masher until roughly broken.
Add the salt, coriander and coconut milk.
Boil for 5 minutes then add the koftas and simmer for 1 hour.
Add cornflour slaked with water.
Serve with rice pilaf and poppadoms.

Rice Pilaf
Serves 4

225g Basmati rice
500ml chicken stock
100ml coconut milk
2 tbsp oil
1 ml cinnamon
4 cloves
6 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 onion sliced

Rinse the rice through a sieve until the water runs clear.
Fry the onion with the spices until golden.
Add the rice and fry for 1 minute.
Add the hot stock and coconut milk.
Simmer with the lid for 15 minutes, remove from the pan and cool.
Remove the peppercorns and cloves.
Fluff with a fork before using.

Summer "Crab" Salad

I really love salads and for some reason I also really love Crab sticks I am not sure why as they are not really crab at all but mostly blitzed white fish with crab flavouring, shaped, cured and dyed to look like crab legs.
Crab sticks are virtually fat free and very low in calories and I use them to replace tuna in some recipes.
Here is my Summer "Crab" salad which is wheat and dairy free.

Summer "Crab" Salad
Serves 2
8 crab sticks
2 tbsp Mayonnaise ( Japanese mayo also works well)
10ml Tomato sauce
6ml lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 tsp chopped parsley
1/2 pk mixed Italian leaves
120g cucumber
1 young carrot
1/2 stick celery
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Microwave the crab sticks until defrosted and warm, about 2 minutes.
Shred the sticks by hand.
Add the mayonnaise, tomato sauce, lemon juice, seasoning and parsley.
Wash the lettuce and place a handful on each plate.
Peel the carrot, discard the peel and continue peeling ribbons for the salad.
Cut a piece of cucumber and taking a fork, run it down the sides of the cucumber to help the dressing to hold on then slice thinly.
Peel and julienne the celery.
Place the carrot ribbons on the lettuce, arrange the cucumber slices and celery on top.
Season the salad now and dress with olive oil.
Place a big pile of crab on top of the salad and enjoy with a glass of white wine and crispy ciabatta.

Picture and recipe Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Friday, March 18, 2011

Five Spice Prawns and Rice Noodle Stir Fry

I received some five spice powder the other day and decided to make this stir fry as the seasoning goes very well with fatty meats like pork and duck but also with seafood, chicken and beef, in some places it is roasted with salt and used as a seasoning on dinner tables.

Five spice powder is made using equal quantities of sichuan pepper, star anise seed, cloves, fennel seed and cinnamon. It is made based on the principles of the Chinese way of cooking using sweet, sour, salty and bitter all in one spice mix or the balancing of Yin and Yang in food.

This Stir fry uses the sweet, sour, salty and bitter spice as well as soy sauce, lemon juice and honey balanced using the same principles.

This recipe is wheat and dairy free.

Five Spice Prawns and Rice Noodle Stir Fry
Serves 2

500g Peeled, deveined prawns
3ml Five spice powder
3ml Cornflour
salt and pepper
250g Rice noodles
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
1.5 tbsp runny honey
3ml sesame oil
1/2 Onion sliced
1 large garlic clove chopped
1 chili seeded and sliced
100g snow peas split in half
100g mixed mushrooms sliced ( I used Shitake, King Oyster, Shimeji and button )
80g baby broccoli split in half
80g baby corn quartered lengthwise
1/4 lemon juiced
chopped chives

Boil the noodles as described on the packet.
Sprinkle the cleaned prawns with cornflour, salt, pepper and five spice. Saute' in a hot pan for 2 minutes, set aside.
In the same pan, add soy sauce, honey and sesame oil to the pan, heat briefly then toss the noodles through the sauce.
Stir fry the vegetables either individually or in the same pan cooking the vegetables that take the longest first and add the quickest cooking last.
Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
Squeeze lemon juice over everything and chopped chives.
This may all be mixed together or plate placing the noodles on a plate, top with vegetables and prawns. Garnish with chives.

Recipe and Picture Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Friday, March 11, 2011

Harissa Chicken , Almond Cous Cous

Lately I have been on a curry and spice binge and have eaten something spicy or hot at almost every meal. I am not entirely sure why, possibly since my Masala Dosa visit, yearning for that mouth full of flavours.

Harissa paste fits the description of both spicy and hot. Originally from Tunisia, it is a chilli sauce eaten in North Africa comprising mainly of chilli, garlic, cumin and olive oil. This paste is eaten with almost every meal as an appetizer and can be used to flavour meats and fish, cous cous, soups, sandwiches and flat breads.

The heat can be adjusted by adding less paste or watering it down with olive oil. I have tried many recipes but this one is my favorite.

This recipe is wheat and dairy free.

Harissa Paste
Makes 200ml

10ml Cumin Seeds
5ml Cardamom Seeds (crush and only use the inner seeds)
5ml Caraway Seeds
5ml Coriander Seeds
5 Green Chillies, with the seeds
5 Red Chillies, with the seeds
80ml Tomato Paste
4 large garlic cloves
5ml salt
30ml Olive Oil

Grind the seeds in a Mortar and Pestle until fine.
Gently toast the spices for 1 minute until they release an aroma.
Place everything into a dish , using a hand blender, blend to a smooth paste.
This will last for 2 weeks refrigerated topped with olive oil or may be frozen.

Harissa Chicken and Almond Cous Cous
Serves 3

450g Chicken ( I used skinless deboned thigh but you may use anything from whole to breast)
50ml Harissa paste
salt and pepper
1 cup cous cous
1 cup vegetable stock ( I used Ina Parman)
40g toasted almonds
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
40ml extra virgin olive oil
5ml ground cumin
fresh mint, basil , chives and thyme (add to your liking)
Bulgarian yoghurt

Marinade the chicken in the paste for 30 minutes.
Heat the stock, pour over the cous cous , cover and allow to swell for 10 minutes.
Add the almonds, zest, juice, olive oil, cumin and herbs to the cous cous and mix with a fork.
Season to taste, more olive oil or lemon may be added.
Heat a pan, season the chicken and gently fry until golden and cooked through about 6-8 minutes for the deboned thigh. ( The method will change for different cuts of chicken)
Serve the chicken on the cous cous with lemon wedges and a fresh green salad, the bulgarian yoghurt is drizzled over the top to cool down the heat .

Recipe and Picture Copyright by Tamsyn Wells

Monday, February 28, 2011

Coconut Vegetable Curry

Here is a quick and easy Vegetable curry recipe for meat free Monday's, the vegetables can be replaced or interchanged with all your favorites as well as the beans may be replaced with chickpeas or lentils.

This recipe is wheat, meat and dairy free.

Coconut Vegetable Curry
Serves 4

800g - 1 kg Butternut, cut into cubes
20 ml olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
10ml fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 mild chilli seeded and chopped
8ml hot curry powder
4ml ground cumin
4ml ground coriander
1ml cinnamon
4ml garam masala
3 baby marrow, sliced
250g broccoli florets
1 tin 400g butter beans
1 tin 400ml coconut milk
15ml cornflour
35ml chutney
salt and pepper
Fresh Coriander

Heat the oven to 180 degrees C .
Roast the cubed butternut with olive oil and seasoning for 30 minutes.
Mix the curry powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and garam masala.
Fry the onion, ginger and garlic until softened.
Add the roasted butternut and baby marrow and fry for 5 minutes.
Add the spices and fry for 1 minute.
Add the coconut milk which has been mixed with the cornflour and add the broccoli.
Add the butter beans, place the lid on and allow to cook gently for 15 minutes.
Add chutney, fresh coriander and season to taste.
Serve with basmati rice and tomato sambal.

Recipe and Photo Copyright by Tamsyn Wells