Tag Archive: cooking

when i reinvented myself at 45 and decided to cook for a living, one of the decisions I made was to use as few processed items as possible. To this end, we make our own stock, our own breads and even our own ‘tinned’ tomatoes.

We hardly ever use our tin opener at all

Tomatoes have been stupid expensive of late so it was with great joy that I saw this when shopping

We also have a new freezer so trays and trays of tomatoes are waiting to be roasted, blitzed and turned into ‘tinned’ tomatoes with nothing other than tomatoes in them.


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Braai -ing (how do you spell that?) is part of South African life. We all braai – even vegetarians with their stuffed butternut and home-made holey jerseys that smell of lentils. Even them.

My boyfriend and I have been to many braais in the 18 months we’ve been together. And we have eaten chops, steaks, wors, chicken and probably even fish and pork off the grill. But we have never had a braai – the flat owner I was renting from may have objected to coals on her laminated wooden floors.

But now we have a tiny little fake garden with the world’s smallest built-in-braai. And shopping yesterday I suddenly realised I don’t know what he particularly likes on a braai. Is he a lamb chops man? Does he like a chicken kebab with his garlic bread? Is it worth murdering a rump on the open coals to light his heart up? Or is chicken the answer? And if so – does he believe in nuking it first?

18 months into this South African relationship but living on the 4th floor means I don’t know some very basic deal-breaking info about this man.

What a person likes cooked on open flames says a lot about him. Now we have the opportunity to light our own fire, I hope he does not disappoint. If he nukes a flattie I may have to braai his ass!

My bestie, David, and I are stalking Masterchef SA. By this I mean we are watching it, talking about and then copying it – very SWF for those of us old enough to remember that movie.


So what we do is watch the program together on a Tuesday and take turns feeding each other doing what the contestants had to do the previous week. The stalking game is only in its infancy – obviously – but we already have a third stalker cook join in.


Last week David cooked his meal to impress while we watch the contestants chop onions, separate eggs and make potatoes special.

This week I had to do all of that for dinner last night.


So I made gnocchi with a carbonara sauce. Not a usual combo maybe but this is Masterchef after all and you have to take risks.


For the gnocchi I baked 5 big starchy-type potatoes. I dunno how you know – I just believed what was on the packet. I read that baking them keeps the flesh drier, and it helps to poke many holes in the skin too. So I did.

Once baked I peeled them while still warm – and have the blister to prove it.

Then I mashed them. The recipe says use a fork. I say yeah right – um no! I used a potato squasher but really I needed a ricer. They weighed 900g once peeled so I sieved 150g of flour into them with some salt. The recipe gave amounts which indicated 1 part flour to 6 parts potato.


Then I made the sauce – recipe just now. but back to the gnocchi.

I rolled the potato flour mix into sausages – not as easy as they make out on Jamie Oliver shows, but possible. I cut them sausage into little pieces and pressed a fork into the top to make a dip and grooves. Into boiling salted water they went and out they came when they popped to the surface.

They were not a total success but were nice enough for people to want more. And nice enough for me to be determined to try again.


And now the sauce:

I cracked and separated 4 eggs, keeping the yolks. I fried a whole pile of smoked bacon chopped into bits. You are supposed to use pancetta but, well, I didn’t.

I also chopped a little onion cos Masterchef said I had to. These fried together and when cooked and slightly cooled, I put them in with the eggs and stirred. You have to cool the meat down so you don’t get scrambled eggs.

Then I put a goodly heaped tablespoon of crème fraiche into the mixture and some parsley. The recipe called for thyme but thyme makes me go yuck. Seasoning is in the form of salt, pepper and grated lemon zest.


As the gnocchi surfaced I dished them and poured sauce over the top.


I was surprised that 5 potatoes, 150g flour, 4 eggs and a whole pack of bacon did not make enough food for 4 adults. Here options – we are pigs; the food was really good; I mismeasured. I am going for the middle option – obviously.


I did get through though – and will be in the next round of Home Masterchef. And lucky David has to braai next week!