Mini Ham & Rocket Omelettes served with Balsamic Fig Jam

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The versatile egg once again becomes a platform for a delicious light lunch, brunch or dinner. In this recipe the omelette is used as a wrap, stuffed with beautiful Serrano Ham and peppery salad leaves. It works equally well using chopped cooked prawns in a mild curry dressing. The combinations are up to your imagination. 

 

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Serves 4

Ingredients

1 onion finely chopped (about 80g) or finely chopped spring onions white part only

Salt, a pinch

15ml olive oil

10g butter

2 extra-large eggs, gently beaten and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper

8 slices of Serrano Ham or the equivalent

A hand full of peppery salad leaves such as rocket or watercress gently tossed through a dressing of 15 ml of olive oil, a little lemon juice and a grinding of black pepper

4 thin slivers of gruyere cheese (optional)

Balsamic fig jam to serve (optional)

Method

Melt the olive oil and butter in a pan, add the chopped onion, season lightly with some salt and cook gently until softened and golden in colour. Set aside to cool slightly then add the softened onions to the beaten egg mixture.

Heat up the smallest frying pan you have, such as a one egg pan or a blini pan; add a drop or two of olive oil to the pan. Place a thin layer of the omelette mix in the pan and let cook over gentle heat until the egg mixture is almost set about 2 minutes, flip over and cook the other side for about 30 seconds. Remove and place the omelette on some grease proof paper while you continue to cook the rest.

To assemble

Place 2 slices of Serrano ham on one half side of the omelette cover with a thin slice of gruyere cheese and top with the salad leaves. Fold the other half of the omelette over the filling, giving a gentle squeeze to keep it together. Plate and serve with some balsamic fig jam.

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Smoked Salmon & Potato Blinis served with Caper & Lemon vinaigrette

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Smoked salmon is always useful to serve as either as a starter or light lunch and is one of the staples in my fridge. In this recipe I have paired smoked salmon with little potato blinis and drizzled with a refreshing caper and lemon vinaigrette.

Serves 4

For the blinis you will need the following:

230 g potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes

Sea salt for boiling the potatoes

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Salt to season, about a ¼ teaspoon

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons thick cream

1 egg, extra-large and lightly beaten

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

Method:

Place the potatoes in a pot, add sufficient water to cover the potatoes by about 2 ½ cm. add the salt and boil until the potatoes are soft, about 12 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly.

Pass the potatoes through a food mill or use a potato masher to crush the potatoes. Sprinkle the potatoes with flour, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Mix together gently with a fork, then add the cream and mix until incorporated. Add the slightly beaten egg to the mixture and blend until incorporated.

Place a frying pan over high heat; when hot add one tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and once melted reduce the heat to medium. Next drop tablespoons of the potato mixture into the pan and cook the blinis for about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Once the blinis are nicely cooked, transfer to a plate. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to cook them in batches.

To serve:

Place some rocket and lettuce on each plate; place a blinis, followed by some smoked salmon, then another blini, more smoked salmon and end with a blini.

Drizzle over the caper lemon vinaigrette and serve.

For the vinaigrette

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon capers

A pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together until well blended, drizzle over the smoked salmon and potato blinis.

Three of my Favourite Ingredients

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I love Avocado, smoked salmon and eggs, and in this recipe I have combined them to produce a dish that is full of fantastic flavour. It is healthy and easy to prepare and is one of my favourite meals for lunch or brunch.

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Ingredients

Toasted wholegrain brown bread

A few slivers of smoked salmon

A few slices of avocado

A soft boiled or poached egg

Lemon juice

Olive oil chilli dressing

Black pepper

Sea salt flakes

Method

Cut the toast in half and place the toast on a plate; drape over a few slivers of smoked salmon followed by a few slivers of avocado. Place the poached egg on the plate next to the smoked salmon and avocado.

Sprinkle over some lemon juice and dress with the chilli dressing and some black pepper. Season the egg with a little salt.

For the chilli dressing

Ingredients

2 medium hot chillies

Juice from one lime

Pinch of salt

Pinch of sugar

Olive oil

Method

Place the chillies, lime juice, salt, and sugar in a container and blitz with a hand held blender until you have a rough mixture. Stir in some olive oil and serve.

Overindulgence eventually gets to all of us

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Overindulgence eventually gets to all of us and my limit has definitely been reached. All the festive season entertaining followed by a 40th birthday celebration this week-end brought me to seeking something simple and more gentle on the constitution.

For lunch my focus was the lovely organic sweet potatoes that I picked up at the fresh produce market: these I baked in the oven, sliced into rounds and arranged on a plate with some rocket leaves, crumbled over some goat’s cheese feta and dressed with balsamic vinegar, walnut oil and a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice. Served with a zesty wine it was just perfect.

The left over sweet potato made an equally delicious breakfast, this time served on a toasted baguette, spread with horseradish paste followed by sliced sweet potatoes, crumbled feta, balsamic and walnut dressing, a sprinkle of fresh lime juice, seasoned with black pepper and salt flakes. Yummy!

Both of the following make lovely light lunches, brunches or in smaller portions could be served as a starter.

Sweet potato, goat’s cheese & Rocket Salad

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Ingredients/Method:

Baked sweet potato slices, crumbled goat’s feta served on rocket leaves, dressed with balsamic and walnut oil, drizzle over fresh lemon juice and season with black pepper and salt flakes. 

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A different way

Sweet Potato, Horseradish & Goats cheese Baguette

Ingredients/Method:

On half a toasted baguette, spread some horseradish paste, top with slices of baked sweet potato, crumble over some goats feta and drizzle with balsamic and walnut oil and a sprinkle of fresh lime juice. Season with black pepper and salt flakes.

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Chopped Egg & Onion with Lemon Thyme

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This recipe is lovely to serve as a starter or a light lunch. As simple as the ingredients may sound, the end result is high in flavour; delicious served sprinkled with chopped parsley, onion rings, and piled on toast, or used as sandwich filling. I love it just on a bed of crisp lettuce leaves.

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Serves 4-6

Ingredients

8 hardboiled eggs, shelled and finely chopped – or if you prefer coarsely chopped

6 spring onions or 1 small onion, very finely chopped

A sprig of finely chopped fresh lemon thyme – about a ¼ of a tsp. once chopped

4 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise or sufficient mayonnaise to bind the mixture together

1 tsp. French whole grain mustard

Fresh parsley finely chopped to garnish or fold into the mixture

Method

Place the chopped egg and onion in a bowl and season well with salt and black pepper

Mix the mayonnaise and mustard together, then add to the chopped eggs and onions and combine all ingredients together. Chill for 15-30 minutes to allow the flavours to develop

Serve with a garnish of parsley

Options:

You could replace the Lemon Thyme with Dill or Tarragon

You could also add some fresh cooked and flaked crab or steamed, shelled and roughly diced prawns to the mixture which will take it to a whole new level.

Tomato & Green Bean Salad served with Basil & Olive oil infusion

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With summer comes the wonderful abundance of fresh garden produce. Green beans, cherry tomatoes and beautiful sweet Basil are popped into my garden basket; with these few ingredients I will make a salad that is enormously satisfying. Infusing the basil in the olive oil brings out its wonderful aromatic flavour, and together with the tomatoes provides beautiful summery notes to this gorgeous salad.

The salad may be served as a starter or as a light lunch, the latter served with some nice French baguette and a glass of crisp white wine.

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Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a light lunch

Ingredients

2 cups of fresh green beans

½ cup fresh basil leaves

5 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil

2 cups cherry tomatoes cut into half or into quarters

Flaked sea salt & freshly ground black Pepper – season to taste

Method

Top and Tail the green beans then blanch them in boiling salted water; remove when they have turned bright green and are still slightly crisp (about 4-5 minutes), refresh in cold water. Cut the beans into three or four pieces and set aside.

Gently tear the basil leaves into small pieces; reserve a few leaves to use later as garnish.

Pour the olive oil in a pan, add the torn basil leaves and heat gently for about 1-2 minutes, until the basil begins to sizzle, change colour and crisp up slightly.

Place the chopped cherry tomatoes and cooked green beans in a bowl; pour over the basil infused oil with the gently sizzled basil leaves; season with flaked sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss together gently and leave for 15-30 minutes to allow all the flavours to infuse and for the basil infused olive oil to mingle with the tomato juices.

To serve: garnish with a few fresh basil leaves.

Food With Friends – a festive occasion

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December brought with it the usual joy of sharing meals and enjoying quality time with family and friends. Keeping things simple yet festive was as always high on my list of priorities; these are some of my favourites dishes served this season.

For Christmas day

Prawns in spicy tomato sauce, served with steamed rice and a garden salad

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Under the sway of the palms

Asparagus, red onion and blue cheese tart

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Simple but fabulous warm Potato slices and olives, tossed together in an anchovy and garlic vinaigrette served with slivers of tuna and topped with a poached egg.

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It’s Time To Light The Fires

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The weather has turned and the chilled air flowing in off the Atlantic sea has everyone reaching for sweaters. The summer remains elusive as another cold front wafts in over the Cape. It is time to light the fires and to make dinner.

I want something warming and unctuous to feed my guests. In the fridge I have mushrooms, chicken, some good quality cream, garden fresh broccoli stems and in the pantry,the thin skinned potatoes which I picked up from the market. All of these items will produce a dinner that everyone will enjoy. It is also fuss free, easy, which leaves me with time to mingle before serving dinner.

Here is the recipe

Chicken & Mushrooms with Sherry Cream Sauce

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Serves 6

Ingredients

2 packets of chicken portions

25 g butter

25 ml olive oil

2 onions finely diced

200 g shitake mushrooms sliced

250 ml dry sherry

250 ml chicken stock

4 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed

1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme finely chopped

1 Tablespoon fresh Parsley finely chopped

½ Tablespoon fresh Rosemary finely chopped

1 bay leaf

120 ml pouring cream

Salt and pepper

Method

Heat the butter and olive oil in pot or casserole dish a large enough to comfortably incorporate all the chicken pieces.

Sauté the chicken until golden brown, remove and set aside. Sauté the onions and mushrooms until softened, then add the chicken, the herbs and bay leaf, garlic and dry sherry. Let simmer until the alcohol smell has dissipated; about 5 minutes, then add the chicken stock.

Bring up to heat, then turn down to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes and the liquid has reduced by half. Add the cream, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 14-20 minutes. Check the seasoning.

Serve with boiled potatoes or rice and broccoli or a green salad

Tip: if after the cooking process the sauce is too runny, slake 2 tsps. of cornflour in 2 tablespoons water and stir into the sauce to thicken. cook for another 5 minutes.