Category: Meatless Monday

This is the winning soup of the charity event really. More people picked it than any other soup as the winner. The mushroom soup was joint first only because the people who picked it felt so strongly that it should win. Quality vs quantity of votes really.

This is a crowd pleaser of note.

You need:


1 chopped onion, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 450g of peeled chopped tomatoes. Chop these up small as you will eat them as is.

2 tsp gound cumin, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp groun ginger, 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley

2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, or your own soaked boiled chickpeas

1 litre stock

juice of half a lemon


You do:

Fry the onion and garlic gently in the oil. Add the dry spices and cook until it smells fabulous. Then add half the chickpeas, the tomatoes and 800ml of the stock. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes.

Whizz the remaining stock and chickpeas to a smooth puree. Add this to the soup. Heat. Add parsley and lemon juice and serve


It’s so much nicer than it is difficult – a meal in a bowl


I am off tomorrow to buy blankets – have been too busy to do it before.

will post photos of the pile we get

I can’t find the recipe I used to make the gammon and leek soup which came third in the Charity Soup off so  here instead is the recipe for the joint first place soup.

But before that – a blanket update.

There isn’t one.

I was in Cape Town all of last week and this week my co blanket buyer and hander outer is writing her psychology masters mid-year exams so i have to wait for her before we can go spend the money and start dishing out the warmth. But this will happen next week. and photos shall follow.


But – back to the soup

Wild mushroom soup with sage

(only i bought the mushrooms from Pick n Pay and didn’t have sage)

You need:

25g butter

1 chopped onion, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 6 fresh sage leaves (if you can find them. i couldn’t so i used parsley. a different taste but it was still delicious)

1 Tablespoon flour, 1 litre veggie or chicken stock. (I have bought a bottle of organic veggie stock which i don’t for one second belive is really organic but it is much less salty than normal stock so i think worth it)

750g of assorted mushrooms. (I used a mixture of brown mushrooms, button mushrooms and those fancy shmancy mushrooms you get at Pick n Pay now.)

120ml of white wine (like anyone ever measures the wine they put in food), 120ml double cream (i used plain yoghurt)

salt, pepper and parsley to garnish


You do:

Melt the butter in the pot you will cook the soup in. Gently fry the onion and garlic until the onion softens. about 4 minutes-ish. Add the flour and cook for a bit. Then add the stock slowly, stirring away. Add the chopped mushroom and bring to the boil. Here I went my own way because i was making the soup in advance. I added all but one packet of those skinny mushrooms with the little ball heads. They look like these enoki mushrooms but I don’t remember that that was what PnP called them.


Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for about twenty minutes. It is surprising that it really does take that long for the mushrooms to get soft.

Use a food processor or wand to whizz the soup up. It never gets completely smooth but whizz until it is as you like it. Ten minutes before serving I added the rest of the mushrooms  and a handful of chopped parsley, and allowed the soup to simmer. Then I added the yoghurt and the recipe asked for the wine at this stage. I didn’t much fancy raw wine in the soup so I left it out!

I know – shocking!

Once the yoghurt was added you can’t let the soup boil, so warm it through, season with salt and pepper and serve with a parsley garnish.

Was a very filling, creamy, rich and delicious bowl of soup.



Last night I had a little gathering at my home to collect blankets and raise money to buy more blankets for cold homeless people in Durban.

It was a wonderful success in many ways – we collected 10 blankets, R1100 to buy more blankets, 1 person landed up under the table giggling and 3 of the guests tried to use  mind power to fly the couch home.

I made 4 soups which everyone enjoyed. There was much conversation about soup strategy and how best to attack the options, about which flavours should be eaten in what order, and about how to make sure you had enough space in your tummy to try all four.

Votes were cast and soups rated

in fourth place was spinach & coconut soup

You need:

2 tsp oil

1 chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves, 2 green chillies. I used seeds and all and could have used an extra chilli.

2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp tumeric, 1/2 tsp ground ginger. All of these are rough amounts. When I make the soup again I will use more of each.

600ml stock, 600ml coconut milk, juice of 1/2 lemon. Again I will use more next time.

500g spinach. This is a lot of spinach! More than one bunch – almost all of two.


You do:

Heat the oil. Add onion, garlic and chillies. Cook gently for a while – like 4 minutes or so until the onions are getting soft. Stir in the spices and then add the stock and coconut milk. Bring to the boil and then cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Clean and shred the spinach. Add to the liquid and cook for a few minutes until the spinach is wilted. The recipe requires you remove 2/3 of the soup and blend in a food processor and then add to the original soup. What I did was use my wand blender and whizzed the soup up until it was the kind of smooth I like. You will never get all the spinach whizzed up so don’t expect a completely smooth, even coloured and textured soup.

Once the soup is smooth enough for you, add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Heat again if necessary and serve. The recipe called for coconut shavings to serve but I have no idea where you would these from and the soup was fine without them. You could possible use desiccated coconut.

I served the soup with french crusty bread.

This soup may have come 4th out of 4 but it was not a loser. Was very nice – the rest were just better.

Recipes 3, 2 and 1 will follow over the next while. As will pictures of the blankets etc

No photos cos we forgot – and then continued to forget as we drank wine, ate soup and giggled

Last week the MasterChef contestants had to use fish, fish, fish. David, one of the MasterChef Stalkers does not like fish. at all. and it was his turn to cook yesterday.

Luckily for him our rules are gentler than the actual rules so he was allowed to pick from the original choice of main ingredients for a curry. the options were fish, duck or lentils and tofu and pulsey-type things.


Last night he served us butternut and lentil curry. very yummy indeed.

here is his recipe taken from the interwebz

1 butternut
1 T olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
3 chopped shallots
1 T butter
Olive oil
1 T curry powder
4 fresh curry leaves
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup vegetable stock
1 cup red lentils
Cooking instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Peel and cut butternut into bite-sized cubes, then toss with olive oil and cloves crushed garlic. Roast for 40 minutes, or until tender.

Place chopped shallots in a pan with butter and a little drizzle of olive oil. Soften over a low heat for 5 minutes, then stir in curry powder and fresh curry leaves and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add coconut milk, vegetable stock and red lentils and gently simmer for 10–15 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked. Serve hot with the caramelised butternut

was very nice indeed

Next week Leaza has to make magic with pork – she is threatening pig’s ear but i am hoping for a pork roast.

we’ll see

As I said yesterday, I made beetroot leaf bread to go with the soup.

I have cooked with beetroot leaves before so I knew I liked them – and that they were generally edible. When I bought the beets for the soup, the stalks and leaves just looked way too delicious to throw away.

So I found a spinach bread recipe and modified it.

You need:

1 cup water

2 tightly packed cups of cleaned, stemmed beet leaves or spinach

4 Tablespoons of butter and 1 teaspoon of butter

7g of active yeast. This is a pain – it seems yeast used to come in 7g bags cos all old recipes ask for multiples of 7g. It now comes in 10g bags so you waste a little. But at less than R3 a bag I guess its okay (ish)

1 egg

1 Tablespoon sugar. I used brown sugar cos that’s what I have at home.

1 teaspoon salt

Black pepper

3 ¾ cups of flour. The recipe didn’t way what flour so I used 3 cups of white bread flour and ¾ cup of whole wheat bread flour. I guess cake flour might work too.

1 Tablespoon of kosher salt. I don’t; have kosher salt so I used course ground salt instead

Grated Parmesan

You do:

Wilt the leaves in the water. Take them off the heat and remove the leaves. Keep the liquid. Pour it into a bowl and add the 4 Tablespoons of butter. When the leaves have cooled a bit, squeeze out every bit of liquid you can. Add to the butter liquid mix.

Stir the yeast into the liquid and dissolve. Add the beaten egg, the 1 teaspoon of salt (the kosher salt is for later), the sugar and a twist or two of black pepper. Chop the leaves up quite finely and add.

Then add the flour and stir with a spoon until the dough pulls off the bowl. Have an oiled bowl ready. Take the sticky dough out of the bowl and put directly into the oiled bowl. Turn it once to get oil on all side and cover with cling film. Cover the actual dough and bot the edge of the bowl.

Leave for about an hour until it has double in size.

The recipe said this was enough for 6 over-sized muffins. I thought it was much much more. I made 6 large muffin and a small loaf of bread from the dough. Maybe over-sized muffin trays are larger than I know – but it is a lot of dough.

After an hour or so, tip the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface. Punch it down and fold over itself a few times. It is really quite sticky and because it is not kneaded this stickiness does not go away.

Place in the muffin tray or loaf trays or on an oiled baking sheet in a loaf shape. Sprinkle with the kosher, or course ground, salt and Parmesan. Cover and allow to rise again. And be warned – a lot of rising happens.

Bake at 190 for about 30 minutes.

I baked mine in an oven not my own and it wasn’t hot enough. So while the breads tasted great they were a bit pale. I am learning about baking still – seems bread is delicate even if it seems such a robust product.

The bread and soup were a hit at dinner – but I did only come 2nd!

Winning meal to follow

So, Friday night was our taster menu meal, except the boys seem not to understand the term ‘taster’. I have seldom eaten so much in one evening!


I drew the veggie straw and decided to make a soup. I think soup can easily be a main course, and would work well as part of a taster menu. I wanted to be seasonal so I decided on beetroot soup. It seems beetroots like being in cold soup only but I decided, after consultation with my mother, to make a warm soup.

So I made beetroot and cumin soup.


You need:


500g of beetroot. I found baby ones – it was two Pick n Pay bunches.

600ml boiling water. This is to make the stock so if you use homemade stock just have as much.

1 large onion – sliced

250g sweet potato, peeled and sliced. In real life we buy potatoes by the individual and not weight. This was a medium sized thin skinned potato. I think it doesn’t matter if you have a bit more or less.

425ml milk

Ground cumin. I used a generous teaspoon


Salt and pepper

1 stock cube – only if you don’t use your own stock

Juice of half a lemon – about a tablespoon.


You do:

Boil the beetroot until cooked. I learnt a good trick for boiling beetroot. Cut the stalk off leaving that rough bit behind. Then, to check if the beets are cooked, rub a finger along one rather than poke with a fork. The beets are cooked when the skin comes off easily. If you don’t do the poking thing, less of the colour and flavour escapes.

Once they are cooked take the beets out of the water. Keep the water. Let me repeat that – Keep the water. Do not drain the beets into the sink and remember half way through you were supposed to keep the water. Peel them by sliding the skins off while still warm.


Cook the onions in the butter in a large saucepan until just turning colour. Add the peeled and sliced sweet potato . cook over a medium heat for a while and then add the milk, stock and cumin. Let this simmer until the potatoes are really soft.


Whizz the beets in a food processor with their cooking liquid. Then add the potato mix. It’s best to let it cool a bit or you may have splattered beet and potato mush on your walls. And I learnt not to over load the food processor with beet – a mighty mess was only just avoided.


Add the lemon juice, and salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with a swirl of cream and chopped chives or parsley.


I decided to get fancy and made bread with the beetroot stalks. Recipe tomorrow

So busy

Stupid deadlines

Family gatherings

All combine and result in me not doing too much interesting cooking really

So here is another dish from the dinner party from a while ago.

My friend Tania ( was here for the dinner party and she is Portuguese – so obviously we made the classic Spanish dish of patatas bravas. The interwebz is awash with recipes for this tapas dish, but this happens to be the one we used. They differ somewhat, but apparently in Spain each place has a slightly different version anyway. So you can’t actually be wrong.

The recipe makes more sauce than you need and trust me, you will be glad. We ate it on pretty much everything for two days and were sad when it was finished.

So – you need:

500g potatoes, unpeeled and chopped into chunks or wedges

I big onion, sliced. I thought they meant chopped but they meant sliced – the slices are delicious

2 gloves or garlic, or, if you are like me and think 2 cloves of garlic are not worth getting garlicky fingers for, four cloves

1 or 2 chillis chopped small. Pips in or out depending on how butch your taste buds are. Mine are big girls so 1 small chill with no pips was enough.

2 bay leaves

4 tomatoes, unpeeled and chopped. The ones we used were big table tomatoes, but not those monster beef ones. You could peel them if you wanted but the skins were completely inoffensive once everything was cooked.

Tomato puree – if I had a jar or that squeezey tube you get I’d have used about a tablespoon. I had a small tin and I never remember to use the left overs so I put it all in

1 glass white wine. This is for the food – drink the rest of the bottle

Soya sauce – according to taste really. We probably used about a tot.

2 heaped tablespoons of sugar

1 heaped tablespoon of mayo

Olive oil for cooking

Parsley to make pretty

You do:

Par boil the potatoes. I read somewhere that to get even cooked potatoes you should put them in cold water and then allow the water to heat around them. We did that and then let them boil for about 6 minutes or so. You don’t want them cooked through. Drain them, put them on a baking tray, sprinkle with olive oil and put in a 180-ish oven for about 40 minutes.

Fry the sliced onions, garlic and bay leaf til the onion is soft. Then add the soya sauce, sugar, wine, tomato puree and chill and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the tomatoes and let it simmer over a low heat for about 20 minutes.

When the potatoes are ready and the sauce is bubbling away, season the sauce with a little salt and pepper if needed – do taste it first cos of the soya sauce. Dish the potatoes up, pour the sauce over the top and add a dollop of mayo and a sprinkle of parsley.

Serve with napkins

skillet bread

I am busy sorting out my collection of recipes torn from magazines and making my own recipe file.

This means I am being bombarded by a wide variety of often unexpected recipes I once liked the look of.

It is making for a very eclectic menu.

On Saturday I made lamb shank cooked in Guinness and had quite a bit of the delicious cooking liquid left over. I knew it would make a great gravy so when I found a recipe for skillet corn bread I could see dinner happening.

You could make this bread on a braai or in a fire too I’d think – you’d just need a lid for the skillet.

You need:

1 cup mealie meal or polenta. I used mealie meal and it was lovely. I am sure polenta would be too – and a little more upmarket too.

1 cup cake flour. I used half cake flour and half self-raising flour – by accident really.

3 tsp baking powder. To compensate for the flour mess up I used half the amount. It worked just fine.

1 tsp fine salt. I tried to use ground salt but it wouldn’t go through the sieve, so I learnt that when the recipe says fine salt, it means it

2 cups of veggies. I used 1 cup sweet corn kernels (you could use canned if you had to I guess), ½ cup onion and ½ cup peppers. You could use anything I’d think.

4 Tbsp chopped coriander

3 jumbo eggs. I only had large so I used 4. Worked out fine.

1 cup yoghurt or buttermilk. I used buttermilk.

3 Tbsp olive oil.

You do:

Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together. Chop the veggies up and add them and the coriander to the dry ingredients. Whisk the eggs and mix with the yoghurt or buttermilk and oil. Mix the dry and wet ingredients until combined. Pour into a butterered skillet and put in a preheated oven at 180C

Cook for about 35 minutes. It goes all golden brown when ready and the top is firm.

Take out and let cool for about ten minutes and serve.

I served with mutton sausages and the sauce from the shank made into gravy. The bread is thirsty in all the right kinds of ways, so prepare more gravy than you think you will need.

I had a slice with butter for lunch today and it was delicious all over again

Bf gave the bread a 3 helpings score.

Low effort high yield – perfect

Despite the dearth of posts, I have been cooking up some little storms of late. I just haven’t been writing about the meals.

A few weeks ago a friend was visiting from Jhb and we spent most of Saturday preparing for a little dinner party on Saturday evening. The meal was largely vegetarian as one of the guests is a veggie. This made it an interesting challenge.


We did a mezze-type meal rather than a single meal. I like this way of eating and it makes for slow, relaxed meals.

The menu was as follows:

White gazpacho to start

Veggie crudités with various dips

Zucchini poppers with a sour cream dip

Chickpea and lentil balls

Patatas bravas

Chicken skewers with a satay

Stuffed peppers


Was all very nice but I didn’t take very many pictures so you will have to just believe me that it looked good too. One of my favourite bits was the zucchini poppers. I am not a huge fan of baby marrow but I do try to eat them cos they must be good for me or something. I really liked them like this. They are really balls and not poppers in the ‘jalapeno-filled-with-cheese’ kind of popper-way.


You need:

A pack of zucchini. I found the recipe asked for few too few. It claimed three marrows made 3 cups of grated marrow. It didn’t. I used 5 and only had 2 cups.

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

150ml or so of flour – that’s 2/3 of a cup

½ cup of Parmesan cheese – and be generous, it adds such a delicious creamy cheesy goodness to the balls.

Garlic – as much as you like


Sage leaves if you have. I didn’t – we used parsley instead


You do:

Grate the marrows and then put them into a clean dish cloth. Squeeze the dishcloth to get as much of the juice out as possible. And then squeeze once more just to be sure.

Put the now dry marrow bits in a bowl and add the eggs, the flour, the cheese, the herb and the garlic. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together and then make small balls.

I then put them in the fridge for a bit but they got a tad soggy so maybe don’t do that.


The balls are friend in hot oil – I shallow fried them, turning them once only. You could probably deep fry them if your arteries could cope.


They were delicious right out of the pan, ½ an hour later when served, and the next day on a picnic.


The dipping sauce we made had sour cream, sugar, lime juice, parsley, salt and pepper all mixed up until it tasted amazing.


Very yummy indeed

white gazpacho

I always assumed that gazpacho meant cold tomato soup. Seems I have always been wrong. When I was told by a friend she would be serving white gazpacho I could not work out how tomatoes could ever produce a white soup. They didn’t need to as it seems gazpacho really means any cold vegetable soup; it just usually means tomato based.

This white cold soup has become a favourite very quickly; in addition to having it at my friend’s home, I have served it twice in the last month, both time to rave reviews.

It is also really easy.

You need: stock (2 cups), stale (or not) bread (2 cups), blanched almonds (1 cup), seedless white grapes (2 cups), cucumbers (2), garlic (as much as makes you happy – I use about 4 cloves), olive oil (1/4 cup), salt, sheery or cider vinegar (2 – 3 Tablespoons), a food processor.

You do:

Heat the stock and then break the crustless bread into it. The recipe says use good bread so I have used French loaf. A long french loaf is about the right amount of insides. (And the crusty outsides are not very hard to dispose of with butter and cheese.)

While the stock and bread are getting soggy together, whizz the almonds, garlic and salt in a food processor.

Add the cooled stock bread mush and all (if there is any) unabsorbed stock. Whizz that up with the skinned, seeded, chopped cucumber and halved grapes. Stop when it is all mixed and a rough-looking puree. My food processor can do half of this at a time only. Check the capacity of yours and if that is true for you too, I advise you actually make two distinct batches rather than try to divide the stock and bread, or the garlic, almonds and salt after combining them.

Add about a tablespoon of vinegar to the mix and taste. I have not needed to add more than 2 Tablespoons but apparently some grapes need more. Then drizzle in the oil while the food processor is on.

The most recent time I made this I used half chilli and garlic oil, and half plain oil. The little bit of a bite it added was a nice addition, but it is not necessary if you are not a chilli fan.

Taste and add salt if necessary (I have never found it necessary) and chill.

Serve in teacups (if you wish) garnished with chives, almonds or grapes

Absolutely delicious. A perfect starter to a meal and in summer could be a whole meal very easily. But hard to photograph especially after drinking wine while cooking :-). You can google images it if you want to see better pics

The soup is textured and filling.

It got high scores at both outing at my house, and at my friend’s house.