Tanya Visser launched her first show, The Gardener Live, at the Pretoria Botanical Gardens last week. I am not much of a gardener and certainly don’t have green fingers. I once killed my cactus – although I followed the care instructions on the tag, it just seemed to wither away. I go through phases where I feel I should try harder with gardening. My latest attempt is herb gardening. There were the stock standard herbs like parsley and thyme but also exotic herbs like Makrut lime and Vietnamese mint. I will keep you posted on the developments in the herb garden.
I booked a stand at the Gardener Live to promote the Curry Me Home spices and recipe books. The space was situated next to the Sun City team which was manned by the Executive Chef, Andrew Robertson. So here I was happily enjoying the great weather when Chef Andrew challenged me to a curry cook off. I know I make a pretty good curry but he is the Executive Chef!
Yudhika preparing for the Curry Cook Off
I was quite unprepared so I just moved my AMC electric cookware over to his stand with some spices and a few other ingredients. And we were off – the challenge had begun.
On your marks…
Chef Andrew made a chicken curry with Indian spices, some wine and lashings of cream and butter. The aroma was heavenly and he really made me curious – I have never made a curry with wine before. I would best describe it as a Mauritian style curry. It was completely different to the more traditional curries – he used red onions and marinated the chicken first.
I went with a Malaysian Chicken Curry with Curry Me Home spices, coconut milk, tamarind paste, fresh lime leaves and coriander. This was a curry that I tasted in Kuala Lampur – the speed in which it was prepared makes it a winner! It takes just ten minutes to prepare and is perfect for a midweek dinner.
Yudhika cooking up the Malayasian Curry
Chef Andrew cooked on gas with a non stick frying pan and I opted for the tried and tested option which was my fabulous AMC electric pan.
Ready Steady Plate
The audience was enthusiastic about the show and were keen to sample the dishes especially after the aromas wafted through the Botanical Gardens. We plated our curries and placed them on the tasting table. The speed at which the curries were devoured made choosing a winner unnecessary.
Chef Andrew’s Decadent Chicken Curry
Yudhika’s Malaysian Curry
Anyway, I have now decided to promote myself to Executive Chef Yudhika.
One day that has always troubled me is Mother’s Day (and maybe Father’s Day too). The advertisements start coming out weeks before, to create feelings of guilt and obligation. I don’t see articles full of constructive family bonding activities – it is rather about buying gifts, flowers or going out to lunch.
Well, I have decided to boycott the commercialism that surrounds Mother’s Day. Flowers are always fabulous, but they are devilishly expensive and half the price at any other time. Gifts – I would prefer to skip the fragrant soap and get a better birthday present rather. And as for going out on Mother’s Day – you have to be joking! Overcrowded restaurants, bad tempered and slow service, and disappointing quality food turned out by kitchens that are battling to cope with the volumes. I don’t want another meal served at 3pm while sitting around being aggravated by kids who constantly zoom by me in their scooters! I detest those scooters and parents who take their kids out with scooters to restaurants are a menace! What are they thinking???
Take your mother out for a meal, of course you should. But just don’t do it on Mother’s Day! Make your own Mother’s Day a week earlier or later, or you could try my favourite – dining out on a Monday! It chases away the Monday blues and gets the week off to a good start.
Ok, so now that we have agreed not to go out on Mother’s Day, what shall we do? Mother’s Day is not about commercialism but it has become a day when families get together. So, get a few bottles of mom’s favourite wine or champagne and get into the kitchen to cook something fabulous – in fact, go the whole hog and prepare a family feast – starters, mains and desserts. Obviously, this is a good time to choose your mother’s favourite meal and not your own.
On Sunday, my family will be celebrating a family day and I will be preparing this quick and easy Chicken Breyani. This is the cheats version so you can get in and out of the kitchen and really spend quality time with your family. Chicken layered with basmati rice, lentils, aromatic spices and a few good glugs of cream – it is delicious. The saffron infusion creates a perfumed aroma that wafts through our home. Here is the video:
Spending too much time in the kitchen defeats the purpose of a get together on Mother’s Day. End the meal with a Raspberry Meringue Cake. This light, airy sponge is smothered in a meringue frosting and baked for a few minutes – it looks like a gooey marshmallow cake!
Raspberry Meringue Cake
225ml castor sugar
5ml vanilla essence
375ml cake flour
15ml baking powder
Pinch of salt
90ml cold water
185ml sunflower oil
Raspberry jam, to sandwich cakes
Fresh raspberries to serve
Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius. Grease and line three 20cm (8 inch) cake tins. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and cornflour twice.
Place the eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat using a hand held egg beater. Gradually add in the castor sugar and continue beating. The mixture must be light and should leave a trail on the surface that is visible for three seconds.
Add vanilla essence and fold in half the sifted dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Add the cold water and then the remaining sifted flour.
Lastly fold in the sunflower oil. Ensure that you have folded in the ingredients properly especially the batter at the bottom of the bowl.
Divide between the three cake tins and bake in a preheated oven for 12 – 15 minutes until the cake slightly shrinks away from the tin.
Let the cakes stand for a minute or two before turning them out onto a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.
To assemble the cake:
Spread the raspberry jam over two of the sponges and sandwich the cakes together.
To make the meringue frosting:
Whisk 4 egg whites until soft peaks form. Add 185ml sugar a little at a time until the meringue is stiff and holds its shape. and sieve icing sugar over. Place the cake on a baking tray and frost the cake with the meringue mixture. Bake at 200 degrees celsius until the meringue is pale golden brown in colour.
Decorate with fresh raspberries.
Use strawberry jam and fresh strawberries to garnish if raspberries are not available.
I usually serve this with whipped cream on the side or drizzled with woolies double thick cream.
Always make sure that your ingredients are thoroughly mixed before pouring the batter into the cake tins. The oil tends to sink to the bottom so make sure you lift the batter from the bottom of the bowl to ensure it is well combined.
My personal choice for Mother’s Day – a pimped out scone! I would always choose to kick off Mother’s Day with a delicious home baked scone with lashings of fresh cream and strawberry jam. Here is my extra special recipe:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Lightly beat the eggs and cream together. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl.
Cut the butter into little blocks and add to the sifted dry ingredients. Lightly rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. When the mixture resembles crumbs, pour in the egg and cream mixture.
Gently mix the ingredients together and work into a soft dough. Do not knead the dough. The dough will be soft but not perfectly smooth.
Roll the dough into a ball. Lightly flour the work surface and roll out the dough. It should be about 2cm thick.
Dip the scone cutter into flour and cut out rounds or hearts. Gather the off cuts and gently knead into a ball. Repeat the process until all the dough has been used up.
Place the rounds on a greased baking tray. Leave the tray in the refrigerator for 10 – 15 minutes.
Beat the egg and milk together and brush the top of the scones with this egg wash.
Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until the scones are golden brown on the top and at the bottom. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Serve warm scones with butter, strawberry jam, cream or with grated cheese.
Keeping the ingredients and dough as cold is possible is the secret to making good scones.
Buttermilk can be used instead of fresh cream.
Try not to let the egg wash drip onto the sides of the scones as it affects the shape when baking.
These scones can be frozen. Remove scones from the oven before they begin to brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack and then freeze. Defrost the scones and then bake for 4 – 5 minutes in a hot oven until golden brown and heated through.