Sweetcorn Fritters

Sweetcorn Fritters

Sweetcorn Fritters

I am a big time fritter fan with pumpkin fritters being a favourite of mine but I have to tell you these sweetcorn fritters are just fantastic. I had them as a breakfast after being tired of eggs and bacon/french toast and smothered them in maple syrup but they are generally used as a bed for smoked salmon with a little cream cheese instead of a rosti which makes a great starter or add a bit of parsley and chilli for  great savoury any time snack. Either way, try these. (makes 8-10 sweetcorn fritters)

The inspiration for this recipe came from one of my favourite recipe books which is Lannice Snymans Tortoises and Tumbleweeds

What you need

1 tin creamed sweetcorn (340g tin)
1 egg
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt

The process

In a large mixing bowl, add the egg and give it a light whisk, add the sweetcorn and give it a mix.

Sift in the flour and baking powder with a pinch of salt. Mix it all together and you are ready to fry them.

Heat a pan on a medium heat with about 1/2cm of oil in it and take heaped dessert spoon size blobs of the mixture fro each fritter. Fry the fritters until golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Simple as that.

Smother in syrup and devour immediately or try one of these variations.

Variations

Savoury: Add a teaspoon of mustard to the egg mix, a grind of black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg to the flour for a perfect bed for smoked salmon, prosciutto or even an egg.

Hot: Add the above ingredients along with a handful of chopped parsley and a sliced red chili.

Perfect baked potato and filling ideas

Perfect baked potato and filling ideas

perfect baked potato

Baked potato

The secret to a great baked potato is the heat of the oven.

Baked or jacket potatoes as some prefer to call them are so under rated, they can be delicious, complete meals if you bake them properly and have a fabulous filling.

To make the perfect jacket potato and by that I mean, steamy soft and fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside, this is what you need to do.

Take 4 to 6 large baking potatoes, scrub them clean and poke them with a fork all over about 5 or 6 times. Place them in a hot oven(200C) for about 50 minutes to 1 hour. They will be just perfect, a crisp outer skin and steamy soft inside.

If you want a quicker meal, poke them and then simply microwave them for 10-15 minutes first (all together) and then place them in the 200 Celsius oven for about 15-20 minutes, they will be just as good.

I generally make fillings with leftovers, like chicken, bolognaise sauce or whatever you have.

Cut the potato length wise or a cross along the top and heap over your filling. Serve with a green salad or coleslaw.

We all have certain favorite flavours, here are 2 of my favorites to fill jacket potatoes.

Chicken and spring onion

Chop up your leftover chicken(or cook boneless breasts or thighs), thinly slice a few spring onions and mix together with some cottage cheese and a generous grind of pepper and a little salt.

Mince

Whenever I make bolognese sauce I always make a bit extra. Spoon over plenty of bolognaise sauce, grate some cheese over the top and place under the grill for a few minutes.

There are endless fillings you can use for baked potatoes and are a great way to use up leftovers or vegetables when there is not enough to make a meal.

Vegetables

I often stir fry vegetables like onions, peppers, cabbage and patty pans when I only have a few of each left, cover the potato, top them off with cheese and pop under the grill.

Tonight, delve into your fridge and take out all of the leftovers or bits and pieces of vegetables that you will probably end up throwing away and make yourself a delicious baked potato.

Potato rosti

Potato rosti

Potato rosti recipe

Potato Rosti

A great potato rosti can be topped off with steak strips, an avocado salad, smoked salmon and cream cheese or anything else you really enjoy. It is such a versatile dish and can be used for breakfasts, lunches or dinners. Add a few bacon bits to the mixture and it changes, some spring onions and you are onto something else. Potato rosti’s are just the most fantastic things once you have perfected your own flavours. This potato rosti recipe is the basis for anything you want it to be. (3-4 main course meals or 8-10 starters)

What you need

5 medium potatoes
1 medium onion grated
2 tablesppons cake flour
1 extra large egg
Sunflower oil and butter for frying
Salt and pepper to taste

The process

Peel your potatoes and pop them into a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes to par boil. You want them el-dente. Then remove from the water and allow to cool on a board.

While the potatoes are boiling cook the onions in a pan on a low to medium heat in a little butter and oil to soften, then toss them in a mixing bowl.

Grate the cooled and now fairly dry potatoes, be gentle with them or you will end up with broken bits all over the place. Add the grated potato to the bowl.

Now lightly beat the egg and add to the bowl along with the flour and season with salt and pepper. At this stage, if you are adding anything to the mixture like bacon pieces(cooked), spring onions or a flavouring do it now.

Use a fork to gently combine all of the ingredients, use a lifting motion to distribute everything evenly.

Heat about a 1/2 a tablespoon each of oil and butter in a pan on a medium to hot heat and cover the base about 1 – 2cm thick with the potato rosti mixture and give it a light press into the base of the pan. (Select a pan size that you have a lid or plate that will cover the top of the pan)

Once the bottom is nicely browned, place the lid or plate over the pan holding it tightly in place and quickly flip the pan over so that the rosti is now in the plate or lid. Place the pan back on the stove, heat a little more butter and oil and then slide the rosti back into the pan and cook until the base is golden brown.

Slide it onto a plate and top it off with your favourite topping.

The steak salad or the chicken salad is brilliant as a topping and a really fantastic meal. Otherwise use your imagination, bacon and aco with a few greens and some dressing, smoked salmon with lemon wedges and a few slices of avo. Make small ones and use it as a vegetable with beef Stroganoff or You get the idea.

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna

Spinach and ricotta are such a great combination and when used in a lasagna together with a rich bechamel sauce you are in for a treat. It’s vegetarian in every way but as a confirmed meat eater this is a really fantastic lasagna recipe that leaves you satisfied in a way that only comfort food can. This makes a nice size lasagna good for 6 people.

What you need

Lasagna sheets

1 kg spinach leaves
2 tablespoons butter
250g ricotta cheese
pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 liter bechamel sauce or light cheese sauce(From Woolworths if you don’t want to make it)
150g fresh parmesan grated
1 tablespoon butter

The process

Put a pot of salted water on the stove to boil and trim down your spinach removing the stalks and hard white bits. Using baby spinach leaves is the best option but any spinach will do. Drop the spinach into the water and boil for about 2 to 3 minutes to soften.

Strain the spinach and allow to cool, then squeeze it like a rag to remove as much of the water as you can. It’s also a good idea to place it in a clean dish cloth and squeeze. Now chop it into small pieces and set aside.

Cook your pasta in salted water for 4 minutes or so (about 1/2 the cooking time on the pack), drain and allow to cool and drain. To prevent them sticking together separate while still hot and set aside to cool.

Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to a pan on a medium heat and saute the spinach and add to a bowl. Now add the ricotta, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste, mix together to distribute evenly.

Now it’s assembly time so first put on your oven to 180 Celsius and then get a baking dish that is 33cmx23cm or there abouts and spread a thin layer of the ricotta mix onto the bottom(about 4 tablespoons worth), then a layer of pasta sheets and then a thin layer of bechamel sauce. Repeat until you have filled the dish finishing off with a layer of pasta that is covered with the rest of the bechamel sauce.

Now top it off with the grated parmesan, a few dots of butter and into the oven for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and smelling fabulous.

Thats it, it is fantastic.

Easy pumpkin soup

Easy pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup

Pumpkins have been dramatically reduced at Fruit and veg city so I thought I’d try a really good pumpkin soup recipe. It’s really simple, thick and so good for you. You can also use butternut in this recipe but there is a fabulous butternut soup recipe from Nigella. The cooler weather will be closing in on shortly so get your winter soup recipes ready.

What you need
1 medium onion chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups cubed pumpkin
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt and pepper
3 cups chicken/vegetable stock
1/2 cup fresh cream (optional)

The process

Sauté the onions in the butter on a medium heat, add the stock and pumpkin cubes and simmer until the pumpkin is soft.

Add the pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper and let simmer for another minute or so.

Wizz the whole lot with a hand blender or place into a food processor and wizz until smooth. ( sometimes its great to leave a few larger pieces)

Serve it with a swirl of fresh cream or just as it is with some warm crusty bread.

Variation

For a different and more intense flavor you can roast the pumpkin with some olive oil and blend together with 1 tablespoon of sugar added to the chicken stock.

Pumpkin Fritters

Pumpkin Fritters

Pumpkin Fritters

Pumpkin Fritters

I had pumpkin fritters that were bought from Woolies and although I enjoyed them, there is nothing like home made pumpkin fritters doused in cinnamon sugar to deal with a comfort food craving. I turned to a trusty book by Lannice Snyman called tortoises and Tumbleweeds and found a really fantastic recipe that did the trick. Try them, they are real simple and the taste, well let’s just say I ate for three. (enough for 4 people if you are not me)

What you need

600g pumpkin chopped
250ml water
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
100g cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of cinnamon
Oil for frying

60ml sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

The process

Place your pumpkin cubes and water with the pinch of salt into a pot onto the stove, bring to a boil and then turn down to medium and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or so until the pumpkin is nice and soft. Drain off the water, allow it to cool for a few minutes and then mash it well.

Put a pot with about 6cm of oil in the bottom onto a medium to high heat before you continue.

Once the oil is on and the pumpkin well mashed transfer it to a mixing bowl and add the egg, flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Give it a good mix to distribute all of the ingredients.

Now take a small amount of batter and test to see that the oil is hot but not too hot. The batter should bubble gentle and not bubble over.

Take tablespoon sizes and drop them into the oil, doing about 6 at a time until they are golden brown and crisp all over.

Place the cooked pumpkin fritters onto some kitchen paper to remove some of the oil and then cover in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

There are few things that will satisfy a craving like these little beauties. I also made the Denningvleis for some friends a while back from the same book which was a real hit.

Mushroom tarts

Mushroom tarts

mushroom tarts

Mushroom tarts

These mushroom tarts are amazing, they are like little crustless quiches that you make in a muffin pan and are perfect for picnics, lunch boxes or something special for the road instead of sandwiches. You really must try these, they are fantastic and so easy. (makes 12)

What you need

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion finely chopped
500g button mushrooms chopped
hand full of parsley chopped
salt and pepper

4 extra large eggs
200ml milk
125ml cream
125ml cheddar cheese grated

The process

Heat your oven to 180 Celsius

In a pan on a medium heat, melt the butter and add the oil. Toss in the onions and cook them until they are transparent but not browned.

Now add the mushrooms and parsley and cook until the mushrooms are beginning to brown on the edges. Give it a grind of black pepper and a pinch of salt and mix again.

Remove from the heat and lightly butter your muffin trays. Evenly distribute the mushroom mixture into each muffin and set aside.

Now whisk the eggs, milk and cream with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture equally over the mushroom mix that is in each muffin tin and sprinkle the grated cheese over the top of each one.

Pop the tray into the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. The cheese will be melted and beginning to brown on the tops.

Remove from the oven and let them cool a little while before devouring. They keep for a day or two in the fridge but I doubt that will be an issue.

This is another recipe that you can have a ball with, use less mushrooms and add some bacon, spring onions or anything else that really grabs you. Serve a whole lot of different types at a party, you will be lauded I tell you. You can also fancy them up a bit by topping them with a little bit of green and adding a touch of balsamic reduction.

Try this mushroom soup recipe, its fantastic

Chilli poppers

Chilli poppers

chilli poppers

Chilli Poppers

When you make chilli poppers you want them to have a nice crunchy exterior and a stingy cheese mixture inside that bursts in your mouth when you bite into them. Jalapeno peppers that have had the seeds removed are not very hot but do have a nice cleansing bite to them if you know what I mean. Try these, they are really amazing and favourites all over the place. Be sure you do not touch your eyes or your face while preparing the peppers, you will have water streaming down your face and you won’t be able to see, so scratch or touch all you need to first and then start. These can be done in the oven or deep fried.

What you need

12 to 16 large fresh jalapeno peppers with the stems still on (available at any good supermarket)
500g cream cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 eggs beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

The process

First make the filling by adding the cream cheese, cheddar and mozzarella with the pepper to a bowl and giving it a good mix. Set it aside.

Now with a sharp knife make an incision into the length of the pepper without cutting it in half and using the back of a teaspoon, remove the seeds and the membrane, leaving a nice clean cavity for the filling. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES. When you have completed all of the peppers, throw out the seeds and the membranes and wash your hands well.

Now fill each pepper with as much of the cheese mixture as you can and set them side.

You now need three bowls, one with the beaten eggs and milk, one with the flour and another with the breadcrumbs.

Dip each pepper into the egg, shake and then coat in flour and set aside. This is a really important part… leave them for 5 minutes or so to let the flour set and harden slightly. Get another glass of wine, change the music, snuggle you child but whatever you do leave them for a few minutes.

Now dip them back into the egg and then dredge them in the breadcrumbs to get a nice uniform coating, you can pat the crumbs onto them as well and again set them aside while you heat your oil or oven.

If you are deep frying heat your oil to medium hot, they will sizzle the moment you put them in but will not be completely covered by the oil bubbles after a few seconds. Fry until golden brown and very crisp. Set aside on paper towel to drain. Do about 4 at a time so as not to cool down the oil too quickly.

If you are doing them in the oven, heat the oven to 220 Celsius, place the poppers on a baking tray that has been sprayed with cooking spray and bake until brown and crisp.

Simply delicious.

You can change the cheese mix to be your own special mixture by adding a spice like cumin for example or using more mozzarella and a stronger cheddar, you get the idea.

Creamed spinach

Creamed spinach

creamed spinach recipe

Creamed spinach

Whenever you go to a restaurant these days there is always creamed spinach as a vegetable and I personally love it. A great creamed spinach recipe will even have the die hard anti vegetable kids… or adults for that matter climbing in and enjoying it so here is a really great creamed spinach recipe for you all to get your greens the easy way. It makes quite a lot, about 6 cups but can easily be frozen for another day or simply halve the recipe.

What you need

1/2 cup finely grated onion (you are going to cry!)
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups warm milk
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese (don’t leave this out)
Pinch of finely ground black pepper or about 1/4 teaspoon
Pinch of salt
120g cream cheese
600g finely chopped cleaned spinach
butter
Olive oil

The process

Prepare all of your ingredients before you start cooking, it does not take long to cook and if you are using frozen chopped spinach, thaw it completely, place in a colander and allow all of the water to drain off, then give it a squeeze to remove the last bit of water. Dry your eyes if you grated the onion… after you washed your hands.

If you are using fresh spinach, bring a large pot of water to the boil, toss in the spinach and allow to blanch for no longer than 1 1/2 minutes, drain in a colander and give it a squeeze to remove the water.

In a large pot on a medium to high heat melt 2 heaped tablespoons butter with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and allow them to cook for about 4 or 5 minutes or so while you stir.

Add the flour and stir constantly for about another minute or two to cook the flour.

Add the milk in a slow stream while you mix very well. You need the flour to be combined well with the milk. Once it is all in, reduce your heat to low and keep stirring until you have a nice smooth mixture.

Add the parmesan and cream cheese, season with salt and pepper, combine well and then toss in the spinach. Use a folding motion to combine the spinach and creamy sauce, cook for a minute or two and you are done.

To freeze a batch, allow it to cool, place in a Jiffy bag, remove any air, seal and into the freezer. It is brilliant to have frozen for when you just don’t feel like cooking after a long day.

Fresh Pomodoro Pasta sauce

Fresh Pomodoro Pasta sauce

Pomodoro pasta sauce is a simple, fresh and perfectly summery pasta dish. The tomato is warm but still firm and when combined with the fresh basil is just spectacular. If you are not into spending hours in front of the stove and want a quick tasty pasta this is the one for you.(4 people)

What you need

400g spaghetti or Angel hair pasta
6 or 7 medium size ripe tomatoes
10 to 12 leaves of fresh basil
2 cloves fresh garlic
100ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper

The process

Place your pasta in a large pot of salted water and cook to al-dente. The bigger the pot the better.

While the pasta is cooking, remove the seeds from the tomatoes and cut into 1cm square pieces and place in a bowl (you can make the larger if you want but I find this is a great size for spaghetti)

Chop up the basil quite finely and add to the tomatoes, then slice the garlic as finely as you can and add to the tomatoes. Lastly add the Olive oil, mix it together and let it stand while your pasta finishes cooking.

Drain the pasta and return to the pot with the tomato mixture, place back on the stove and mix it for about 3 minutes or so to heat the sauce. Add a little salt and pepper to your taste and you are done.

It’s a delicious pasta recipe. Serve with warm crusty bread.