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