pasta

Bankers and Mash….choose your bankers and bangers wisely!

Yudhika's blinging up the bangers with this Meatball Macaroni

Yudhika’s blinging up the bangers with this Meatball Macaroni

There has been a lot on my mind recently. And for those of you that follow me on Facebook and Twitter, I am sure that you know that I have been asking Investec some questions. The purpose of my blog is to share not only recipes but information and experiences too. This is the common thread amongst all bloggers…we share! I have shared some of my most intimate memories on my blog…some of those memories have made me feel wretched and others have been ones that uplift the spirit. This is one that should raise a few questions around your financial security with banks.

The story with Investec began with me blocking a user’s access to my business account last year. Whether its a main account or an additional account – the user was blocked! I also moved some of my funds into an First National Bank account. P.S – I am loving FNB…banking with them has been an awesome experience! Somehow, and this part really boggles my brain, is the blocked user gained access to the Investec account and transacted through their call centre facility. Things get slightly more complicated when the blocked user is an employee at Investec and has been at the bank for decades, holding a senior position too. Surely after 30 years you are well versed in banking regulations? Is the senior management team of Investec miraculously not asking the same questions and opting to soft soap the person in question? An age before integrity stance, perhaps? Is this what is known as Banksterism?

For the record, it hasn’t actually created the business and personal hurdles intended but it has blown the lid on what seems more than just a random banking mistake! Questions around favors and privacy have been posed to the bank! The can of worms is open….and I intend on getting answers from Investec. The Ombudsman for Banking Service has also been hugely helpful in understanding procedure and the irregularities in this matter.

I would have thought that the bank would have called a meeting as a starting point to understand the issues with their employee and although there are many questions being raised, they still haven’t and prefer to claim to have exhausted all avenues in answering. My response to this was ‘the lack of a response has not gone unnoticed’. I did receive further communication with mentioned a mistake and an apology but I read through it and was left thoroughly confused. The next question posed was, ‘Exactly what are you apologizing for and what exactly is the mistake?’ There has been no response to my questions except a claim that my statements are factually incorrect and that Investec’s rights as a bank remain reserved if I make any factually inaccurate or defamatory statements. A veiled threat or is that just more generic letter writing? And why would they apologize if my statements were incorrect – surely, I should then be apologizing! Amazing how Investec never tells you what your rights are and that they also remain reserved at all times, of course! The bank now claim that they will not respond directly to me – and I should approach them through a mediator or the Ombudsman. Is it a stalling tactic and the bank assuming that I will be deterred by the admin intensive process? I have addressed this issue on social media and spoken to consumer journalists, – if it wasn’t for social media, there would actually be no response at all! Does this institution allow bankers to become banksters?

We all have bank accounts…here is some food for thought!

Do you actually think about the bank employees that access your personal account details and for what purpose? What stops somebody from asking a pal at the bank to check out his competitors account…if you find out where the payments come from, surely you find out who the clients are? How should a client feel about not being allowed access to what they call employee records? If an employee record logs queries on your account, surely the bank and the client should have access? Is this to cover up employees that actually have nothing better to do that play banking Peek-A-Boo?

Do you hold an account where your spouse is employed and have you considered what would happen if the relationship turned sour? Maybe you should consider what happens to your business and how this would affect your personal circumstances?

What regulations are in place to prevent cronyism? The ‘do me a favour and check on this account’ phenomenon? Should an employee use privileges at the bank to wage their personal wars especially in a divorce?

How do you feel about being tracked via credit card transactions? I may be completely wrong but is the moral of the story that you are not safe at a bank that employs your spouse or is it just that you’re not safe at Investec?

I requested information from Investec – a report on who accessed the account and would like to compare it to the dates of legitimate queries I have made. I want to know how many additional queries were made and if cronyism comes into play. They have refused to supply this information which in my book says plenty. Investec are aware that the reason these questions are raised is to find out if there has been an abuse of power but also, ‘What’s with the fiddling?’. If there wasn’t an issue, I wouldn’t be asking. Or am I not allowed to ask? Does Investec question the mental state of the employee and the desperate bid to fraudulently transact? And how could this employee be adding any value when they have clearly embarrassed himself and the bank by obviously focusing on his personal agenda and not his work? A case of setting the cat amongst the pigeons?

If you are an Investec ‘citizen’ as they call it and happen to be reading this, I hope that you have not indulged a staff member access and information to something he was blocked from in the first place. This applies to anyone who has worked at a bank really and after a few discussions with senior staff at other banks, one thing is really clear – insider information and meddling is a dismissible offense and so is taking a chance and transacting after an employee has been blocked from an account. It does not only bring the ‘blocked user or Investec employee’ into question, it questions the integrity of the entire Investec team and makes them accomplices too. My queries to the call centre have been discussed with the blocked user – what does ‘blocked user’ mean at a bank or is it not possible for an employee to be blocked? Shouldn’t this be made clear if it was not possible?

Who actually cares about the bank’s status or positioning and what is exclusivity without integrity to back it up? When I made queries about opening another bank account with Investec, I was given the whole nine yards with their rules, requirements and for not much in return! It got me thinking where are the rules when the back of house staff break the rules! Another instance where the rules are for the clients and but what about the citizens of Investec? Let’s get one thing straight, a bank is not doing you a favor by opening your account! And to treat a client like they are privileged is foolish and arrogant. Based on my account and previous history with FNB, I actually got a whole lot more than I was looking for! Shop around – and find a bank that will work with you and not against you! We all have our experiences…good and bad…but if you have a bad one, just move on to find the one that’s right for you! I certainly have and enjoying my banking pleasures at First National Bank.

If you are in the banking world, I would love to hear from you….and for those of you who have had similar experiences, please feel free to share them in the comments section!

I looked at a pack of bangers and it made me think of dodgy bankers…plump and arrogant…It’s no secret and not my original thought that bankers don’t have great reputations but they have much in common with a banger, chose the wrong banger and its also a whole lot of bad ingredients minced together and disguised as a tempting treat. I won’t prepare them in the same old way, grilled with a heap of buttery mashed potato. Not in the mood to flatter a banger, I chose to grab the bangers and squeeze out the sausage meat and turn them into something extraordinarily delicious…sometimes you need to squeeze the bankers, but let’s get on with a recipe that squeezes the bangers! The banger squeezing was most therapeutic!

Meatballs can be quite tasteless not unlike a bad banking experience. A combination of sausage meat and beef mince works really well and I have used some chilli flakes to spice things up. Fresh herbs also add lots of flavour and aroma to these meatballs. If you want the short version…just cook up the meatballs and serve with spaghetti! My kids love meatballs and my son, Rushil, said he could pretty much handle the meatball making on his own! Rushil has obviously been paying too much attention during my tv shoots – love the way he talks about wine and AMC Cookware! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq9YRwG8Qd8&list=UU-twiG9NWyVR9OH9F7gSbMg

Good enough to eat with spaghetti and cooked in the best AMC Cookware!

Good enough to eat with spaghetti and cooked in the best AMC Cookware!

Meatball Macaroni with Squeezed Bangers

Ingredients

700g beef mince
700g bangers, I used deli bangers from Broadacres Superspar
1 onion, chopped
Sunflower oil to fry onion
1 egg yolk
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Handful chopped coriander
Handful chopped parsley
6 sprigs fresh thyme
10ml chilli flakes, optional
Salt and black pepper to season
250ml red wine

For the meatball sauce:
50ml sunflower oil or cooking olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely chopped
5ml coarse
3 x 400g tins chopped Italian tomatoes
Salt and pepper, to season

For the sauce:
75g butter
75g flour
900ml milk
150g cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to season

500g macaroni, cooked as per packaging directions

Here’s how:

Heat a little sunflower oil in an AMC 28cm Chef’s Pan. Saute the chopped onion until translucent. Remove the onion from the pan and place it into a mixing bowl.
Place the beef mince into the mixing bowl with the onions. Squeeze the sausage meat out and discard the skins. Add this to the beef mince and then add the garlic, chopped herbs and thyme leaves, egg yolk and chilli flakes. Lightly season with salt and add black pepper.
Mix the ingredients together and then mould into meatballs.
Reheat the 28cm AMC Chef’s Pan and add a little oil.
Fry the meatballs in two batches until they are browned.
Remove from the pan and then pour in the red wine to deglaze. Stir the wine around and scrape the base of the pan.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the red wine is reduced by half.

In an AMC Paella pan, heat the sunflower oil and add the bay leaf.
Add the chopped onion, salt and saute until light golden brown.
Stir the chopped tomatoes into the sauce and add the reduce red wine.
Simmer until the tomatoes dissolve, using the back of a wooden spoon to break down the lumps.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the meatballs and reduce the heat.
Simmer until the sauce thickens.

Prepare the sauce:

Heat the butter in a 24cm AMC pot.
Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon.
Cook the flour for 2 minutes and keep stirring with a wooden spoon.
Gradually pour in the milk and keep whisking to prevent lumps from forming.
Once the all the milk has been added, continue whisking with the meat on medium.
Add half the cheese and reserve the rest for the topping.
Once the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat.

To assemble,

Place the cooked macaroni in a casserole dish.
Top with the meatballs and sauce and ensure the meatballs are evenly placed.
Pour the cheesy sauce over the meatballs.
Top with the reserved grated cheese – you can add more cheese if you like.

Bake in a hot oven until the cheese is melted and golden brown – the sauce should bubble around the edges of the casserole dish.

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Meat Free Monday’s Mushroom Macaroni

Yudhika's Meat Free Monday Mushroom Macaroni

Yudhika’s Meat Free Monday Mushroom Macaroni

I am a carnivore!  I love all things good and meaty.  With food inserts being filmed and the Post recipe page, I have to put my food wishes aside and put together a balanced recipe offering.

 

My daughter, Hetal almost 15 now…and going on 55 surprises me Sometimes they are pleasant, sometimes they are shocking!  But she has suddenly developed a love for vegetarian food.  How did she get through 14 years without me knowing that she loves paneer?

 

Sundays are busy days with the Mela food insert – you can find recipes after the show on the Mela Facebook page or get onto their twitter page too. I got into the kitchen quite early so I could clear my arvie for the Sunday dose of the show!  If you missed the food mela, click here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7d-b10Pu_s

 

I took a time capsule back to Std 6 Home Economics and decided to re-create the old Macaroni and Cheese by turning it into a gratin for Hetal yesterday.  Do you remember Home Economics from the good old days?  I almost expected her to say that she would prefer chicken…another surprise…she polished off the macaroni and went back for seconds.

 

I tasted some and although I am not a huge fan of vegetarian food, it was delicious…slightly creamy with fresh thyme to delicately flavour the sauce….then topped with a layer of golden melted cheese!  Just a word on the sauce, I added egg yolks to the sauce to add a little richness.  If you are strictly vegetarian, omit the eggs from the recipe.

Mushrooms in the AMC 28cm Chef's Pan

Mushrooms in the AMC 28cm Chef’s Pan

There are four easy steps to making up this dish, first the pasta and while that is on, I get going with the basic sauce and while that is cooling slightly, I saute the mushrooms.  Assemble and bake!  The ‘Big Mac’ just got a makeover!

 

For more pasta recipes, don’t forget to check out the Post Newspaper this week and you can also enter the AMC cookware competition!

 

All baked and ready for lunch...

All baked and ready for lunch…

Mushroom Macaroni Gratin

Serves 4

 

Ingredients

350g macaroni

Butter, to grease baking dish

45ml sunflower oil

400g button mushrooms, sliced

4 sprigs fresh thyme

5ml crushed garlic

Salt, to season

10ml Curry me Home Magic Masala or crushed chilli flakes

Black pepper, to season

100g cheddar, grated

 

 

For the sauce:

 

75g butter

50g cake flour

750ml full cream milk

1 bay leaf

100ml fresh cream

2 egg yolks, optional

50g cheddar, grated

Salt to season

 

Here’s how:

Cook the macaroni with salt and a little oil in a large AMC pot with boiling water. Check the packaging for the cooking time.

Grease the baking dish with butter.

Heat the sunflower oil in a 28cm AMC chef’s pan and add the mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms on high and add the fresh thyme.

Once the mushrooms are golden brown, add the crushed garlic and chilli flakes or Magic Masala.

Toss the mushrooms and season with salt – leave aside.

 

Heat the butter in an AMC saucepan on medium. Once the butter melts, stir in the cake flour and use a wooden spoon to mix until smooth.

Add the milk gradually and whisk well between each addition, making sure the sauce is smooth. Add the bay leaf and simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Stir the cheese into the sauce and whisk until smooth. Add the fresh cream and leave the sauce to cool slightly.

Beat the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Pour the sauce into the beaten eggs and whisk until combined.

Stir the cooked mushrooms into the macaroni, add half the sauce and mix gently to combine. Check the seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared oven dish and pour the remaining sauce over the macaroni. Sprinkle with grated cheese.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220°C for 25 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.

 

 

Back to Basics…

Yudhika..behind the scenes on Mela with AMC cookware

Yudhika..behind the scenes on Mela with AMC cookware

 

 

I simply love leftovers and even taking a few  lonely ingredients and turning them into a deliciously spicy meal.  South Africans are braai fanatics and like most homes there are always a few sausages, grilled steak and chops in the refrigerator.

 

Sausages and baked beans used to be a childhood favourite.  I am quite the ‘can fan’ and always have a well stocked pantry.  There are beans of all shapes and sizes in the cupboard….butter, baked, kidney, three beans and….my love for beans even earned me the name, ‘Bean Bomber’!

 

On Sundays episode of Mela, it was back to basics…taking a few store cupboard staples and turning them into an easy meal to deal with that nagging question, ‘What’s for Sunday Supper?’  If you missed the last episode of Mela on SABC 2, click here: https://yudhikayumyum.com/sabc-2s-mela-videos/mela-back-to-basics-with-pasta/

 

This is a one pot meal that will definitely become a Sunday night fave.  The sausages soak up the lovely tomato gravy, keeping them moist and spicing them up at the same time.  As I said on the show, allow two sausages for a greedy portion but even one would do nicely!

 

 

A big thanks to the AMC cookware team in Cape Town who keep the Holi Cow kitchen well equipped with the latest cookware!  Also a very big thanks to Mrs Pat Tarr and the Broadacres Superspar team for sponsoring the ingredients for my blog.

 

Before we move onto the recipe, just a quick update on the competitions.  The winner for the AMC competition will be drawn on Sunday, 3oth November after Mela!  Please stay tuned on twitter and Facebook for the announcement.  The KitchenAid stand mixer competition will be drawn on Sunday 13th December.

 

Yudhika's Sausage and Bean Pasta...back to basics on Mela

Sausage and Kidney Bean Pasta

 

Serves 4

 

Ingredients

 

600g cooked sausages

40ml sunflower oil

1 bay leaf

1 cinnamon stick

5ml cumin seeds

1 large onion, finely chopped

5ml coarse salt

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 cloves garlic, crushed

10 -15ml Curry Me Home Nan’s Lazy Day Masala

1 x 400g tin tomatoes, chopped

1 x400g tin red kidney beans

500g penne pasta, cooked and cooled

75ml fresh cream

Fresh coriander or curry leaves, to garnish

Here’s how:

 

Heat the sunflower oil in a AMC paella pan.

Fry the bay leaf and the cinnamon stick for few seconds.

Once the bay leaves turn a shade darker, add the cumin seeds.

Fry until the seeds begin to splutter and then saute the onion with salt until pale golden in colour.

Add the crushed garlic and stir for a few seconds, then stir in the mixed masala.

Add the tomatoes and cook until the sauce thickens – the tomatoes should break down completely.

Add the drained red kidney beans and  pour in 250ml boiled water.

Break the sausages into the sauce and simmer for another 2 – 3 minutes.

Check the seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and simmer until the pasta is heated through – add more water if the sauce is too dry.  Pour the fresh cream into the pasta sauce and stir.

Garnish with fresh coriander or curry leaves.

 

Trouble with Tomatoes

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Trouble follows me….My workload has been growing and my troubles have also been growing…more about that some other time.  The growing workload and not having a day off in about two months has made me a little grumpy – I sometimes think if it wasn’t for my fabulous speedy dinners, I wouldn’t have any fans at home!  

 

On a positive note, I was asked to be the guest chef at the Hobart Superspar in Bryanston.  I go into the store three times a week and cook up exciting new dishes.  Its been a blast.  Its also reminded me how much I love the buzz of a commercial kitchen.  Boy, do I miss my happy restaurant days at Salaam Bombay where everyday was a new adventure!  The best part of being a guest chef is I get to try loads of new products and experiment with them too. One of these products has been tinned tomatoes.  I have never been a fan of the tinned tomato but have been using them at the Spar due to a shortage of good, ripe fresh tomatoes.  Tomatoes are obviously one of the most important ingredients in preparing a delicious curry and I was pleasantly surprised that the Spar tinned variety works really well.  

 

Its no secret that I have become a Spar shopper as I am usually in store about four times a week to either promote my range of spices, Curry Me Home, or as the guest chef.  I grew up in a home where we never experimented with new foods and new brands.  We bought what we knew and what everyone else was buying.  But only buying what you are familiar with can deprive you of many new opportunities.  One thing I have learned from my travels is that South African consumers are not only spoilt for choice, but the choices are often great quality at reasonable prices.  Maybe we don’t realise this because we have been brain washed by the generations before us.  Yes, we are a Sunlight Liquid, Handy Andy and Lux Soap society!  Is it time for a change?  Look around!  Try new products!! 

Anyway, back to the troublesome tomatoes…even the local Fruit and Veg City only had the greener under- ripe firm tomatoes, so my assistant, the lovely Nothando, picked up a few tins of the Spar brand ‘Whole Peeled Tomatoes’ when she was doing my shopping.        

I got home really late and only had about fifteen minutes to prepare dinner. I rummaged through the refrigerator and found a leftover chicken which needed some rescuing.  Being short on time and without fresh tomatoes, I reluctantly opted for the tinned variety instead –my happy learning experience for the day!  Also, I am trying to make fewer creamy sauces these days –  I do get the evil eye from Rob when I use cream…he says its his cholesterol trouble.  I think its more likely a lot to do with my curvy new look!

 

Here’s how I made a speedy dinner in ten minutes….

 

40ml sunflower oil

1 onion, finely chopped

5ml coarse salt

5ml crushed garlic

1 tin Spar Whole Peeled Tomatoes, roughly chopped

125ml white wine

500g roasted deboned chicken

15ml Curry Me Home Magic Masala

Handful of fresh coriander

 

And if you want to spice things up…..

 

Grown Ups Drizzle – Optional

4 chopped chillies

50ml olive oil

Pinch of salt

 

Here’s how you do it:

 

Heat the sunflower oil in a thick bottomed pot.  Add the onions and coarse salt.  Saute until the onions are translucent.  Add the crushed garlic and fry for a few seconds until fragrant.  Add the chopped tomatoes and stir for a few seconds.  Use a wooden spoon to break the tomatoes down.  When the tomatoes soften, pour in the wine and simmer for a 2 minutes.  Add the deboned chicken and the Magic Masala.  Simmer until the chicken is heated and the wine has evaporated. Chop the fresh coriander and sprinkle it over the chicken.  Place the chopped chillies, olive oil and salt in a little bowl.  Stir well to combine.  Leave aside to infuse for a few minutes.  Serve the chicken on a bed of pasta or rice (I used macaroni – this was my only option).  Spoon some of the ‘Grown Ups Drizzle’ over if you want to spice the chicken up.  

 

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This is what I learnt: 

I think Nothando is an angel for picking up the Spar tinned tomatoes…I am thankful that she puts up with me.  

When in doubt, add tinned tomatoes rather than cream – it works and its so much better for you. 

Old is not gold in the foodie world so give some new brands a bash.