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Friday, December 8, 2017

Everyone has their own unique tips and techniques for saving on preparation and cooking time and making restaurant quality food. But even the most seasoned cooks know that effortlessly floating around a kitchen is a learning process, one that takes a fair amount of time and practice and there’s always room for new tricks. Here are some more that you may or may not know to add to your cooking arsenal.

Recipe for disaster

If you haven’t tried a recipe before, take the time to read through it thoroughly before you begin. That said, a recipe is a guideline so, with time, allow yourself to unleash your confident inner chef by replacing ingredients with other similar ingredients. For example, in certain sauces you could use plain yoghurt instead of cream. Try not to be to hard on yourself. Sometimes a mistake can enhance a dish.

Punishable by rolling pin

However, some bakers would argue that baking is a science that requires strict measurement. Most serious bakers would argue that there are no shortcuts when it comes to baking and that you should always have your ingredients prepared on your counter.

Sharpest tools in the cooking shed

A sharp knife being better than a dull knife is stating the obvious but statistics show that a sharp knife incurs less cutting mishaps than a dull one. Chefs tend to agree that a dull knife is more likely to slip off the food item being sliced, diced or chopped. When this happens, fingers tend to suffer. In addition to being safer, a sharp knife also requires less pressure, which saves time and makes cooking more pleasurable.

The shocking truth about vegetables

If you place your veggies in ice water after blanching them, the ice water shocks them into remaining crisp and retaining their bright colour. Speaking of colour, if you’re cooking cauliflower, adding a splash of milk to the water will help to preserve its colour.

Surefire crispy-skin fish

The simple trick to crispy fish skin is to allow the skin to dry out pre-cooking it. This can be done in various ways: including placing them on a plate, skin side up and putting them in the fridge or resting them on paper towel skin side down for a minute or two. In a pan, sauté your fillets skin side down and flip them over for the last few minutes. Always make sure the handle of your pan is turned away from you so that you don’t bump and knock it from the stove, to avoid ruining your meal and injuring yourself in the process.

A marriage of pasta and sauce

Federico Fellini, the famous screenwriter and director said, “Life is a combination of magic and pasta”. And let’s be hones, pasta is the perfect go-to dish, if cooked properly. Underdone pasta is akin to chewing gum. Overcooked and it’s mush. Drain your pasta a minute or two earlier than the recipe calls for, and allow it to cook the rest of the way in the pan containing your pasta sauce. Delizioso!


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Morocco is often associated with pointy-top tagines imbued with bold flavours, subtle spices, usually served with couscous. The Arabic food language of Morocco sounds as delicious as the cuisine tastes. Without even knowing what the words, kefta, bastilla, rfisa and zeilook (also referred to as Zaalook) mean, at the very least, one cannot help but be intrigued. This particular dish, also popular with Moroccans and our diners, is a fresh-tasting dip consisting of aubergines, fresh coriander and tomatoes.

Recipe by: GOLD Restaurant
Serves: 8-10 people (as a starter, side dish or party snack)
Difficulty: Easy
Preparation: 40 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes

Ingredients

t = teaspoon
T= tablespoon

900g fresh aubergines (egg plant or brinjal)
3 t salt
½ cup olive oil
2 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped
5 large garlic cloves, minced
2 t ground cumin
1 t sweet paprika
½ cup lemon juice
1 large bunch fresh coriander (depending on taste preference you could use more or less)

Method

Vertically remove strips of skin from each eggplant thus leaving the inner flesh exposed.
Cut the flesh into 1cm-thick slices.
Salt the slices and leave to drain for 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed pan and fry your aubergine slices until each side is well browned. Place the browned fried pieces on paper for 2-3 minutes or so to drain excess oil – aubergine absorbs oil.
Using a blender, mash the fried aubergine, tomatoes, garlic, spices, fresh coriander and lemon juice. Serve warm or cold.

Tip: You can make it in advance. Sealed zeilook keeps very well in the refrigerator for a week.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Collective nouns are one of the most endearing eccentricities to emerge from the English language. Dating back to the fifteenth century, the earliest records of collective noun usage probably extended to animals and birds mostly. They reveal both obvious and peculiar associations with the groups they classify. Little has changed since then except that over time, more collective nouns have been added to the English lexicon, growing exponentially to classify practically anything.

What lurks behind the odd collective labels?

Whether from the Middle Ages or more modern times, some appropriately derive from relatable physical or behavioural characteristics, such as a colony of bats, a murmuration of starlings or a prickle of porcupines. Others such as a murder of cows require a rack-like stretch of the imagination to fathom the source of inspiration.

At some point in their lives, most animals, even the most solitary come together to mate or to protect themselves against predators. This is why “birds of a feather (literally) flock together”. When this clustering happens, humans give them bizarre names, which are seldom referenced by scientists. Nonetheless, the sometimes odd and often humorous collective labels say something about humanity’s affinity for nature and our fondness for using language creatively.

Out on an African Safari you’re likely to come across an array of animals, birds and even plants with collective nouns to describe them. These include everything from knots, cackles, skulks and barrels to leaps, whoops, romps and confusions.

Animals
Ape - Shrewdness (or troop) of apes
Aardvark - Armoury of aardvarks
Baboon - Flange (or troop) of baboons
Bat - Cauldron (colony or cloud) of bats
Buffalo - Obstinancy (herd, troop or gang) of buffalo
Cheetahs - Coalition of cheetahs
Cobra - Quiver of cobras
Crocodile - Float (or bask) of crocodiles
Elephants - Memory (or herd) of elephants
Fox - Skulk (lease, earth, lead or troop) of foxes
Frogs - Knot of frogs
Giraffe - Journey of giraffe (if moving)
Giraffe - Tower of giraffe (if standing still)
Gorilla - Band (whoop or troop) of gorillas
Hippo - Bloat (or pod) of hippos
Hyena - Cackle (clan or sisterhood) of hyenas
Leopard - Leap of leopards
Lizard - Lounge of lizards
Lion - Pride (sault or troop) of lions
Monkey - A barrel of monkeys
Mongoose - Business of mongooses
Otter - Romp of otters
Porcupine - Prickle of porcupines
Rhinoceros - Crash of rhinoceros
Shark - Shiver (school or shoal) of sharks
Whales - A pod (gam or herd) of whales
Wildebeest - Confusion of wildebeest
Zebra - Dazzle (crossing, cohort or herd) of zebra

Birds

Cormorants - Gulp of cormorants
Eagle - Convocation (or aerie) of eagles
Guinea fowl - Confusion of guinea fowl
Gulls - Screech (or colony) of gulls
Heron - Siege of herons
Flamingoes - Flamboyance of flamingoes
Lark - Exultation (or ascension) of larks
Magpie - Tiding (gulp, murder or charm) of magpies
Owl - Parliament of owls
Oxpecker - Fling of oxpeckers
Peacocks - Muster (ostentation or pride) of peacocks
Pelican - Pod of pelicans
Stork - Mustering of storks
Southern Black Tit - Cleavage of Southern Black Tits
Vulture - A wake of vultures
Woodpecker - A descent of woodpeckers


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Travel writer Dave Barry said, “It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity”. Billions would agree. After all, second to water, coffee is the most consumed beverage in the world, beating out wine, Coca Cola, beer, orange juice, and tea. It’s also the most traded commodity on the planet.

How well do you know your coffee history trivia? Test your ability to separate the beans from the granules with these surprising did you know coffee facts.

1.Goats in Africa discovered coffee

Historians suggest that coffee imbibing first took place in Ethiopia. According to legend, a ninth-century goat herder named Kaldi was kept up all night by his goats bleating and dancing about the place after they consumed red coffee berries.

Shortly thereafter, some local monks tried the berries and discovered that they were able to pray for longer. The use of coffee berries spread to other monasteries and energised more monks. Coffee began its spread throughout the world but it wasn’t until the thirteenth century that people began to roast coffee beans, signalling the first step in the coffee making process, as we know it today.

2.Coffee was originally chewed not sipped

Initially coffee berries were ground, mixed with animal fat and fashioned into bite-sized edible balls. These snacks were chewed and ingested for nutrition and energy during hunts, while farming and on long journeys.

3.Dying for a cup of coffee

Coffee has been banned at various turns throughout history for everything from being satanic to inspiring radical thinking. One such ban by Italian clergyman in the sixteenth-century was overturned by Pope Clement VII because he couldn’t do without his beloved coffee. He even had it baptised. 

Apparently, Ottoman leader Murad IV created the first known official punishments for coffee transgression in the 1620s. These included beatings and being hurled into the sea.

In the mid 1700s, the Swedish government declared not just coffee illegal but cups and saucers too.

4.Beer not coffee with breakfast

A couple of decades later, Frederick the Great of Prussia became increasingly concerned about the effects of coffee. It is said that he believed that it interfered with his soldiers’ dependability and with the country’s beer consumption. Issuing a manifesto declaring the superiority of beer over wine, he argued that alcohol would replace caffeine at the breakfast table.

But you can’t keep a man from his coffee and the illegal trade in coffee flourished. So the wily king ordered a special task force to identify and summarily deal with coffee smugglers. The task force was allegedly known as the Kaffee Schnuffler.

5.Beethoven’s coffee bombs

Beethoven is best known for his nine symphonies, but not as well known for his peculiar coffee preparation habits. Unable to begin his day without enjoying a cup of coffee (nothing peculiar about that) he would count his coffee beans, insisting on 60 per cup. This is still not all that peculiar for those in the know, as 60 beans is a mere 10 beans more than the average cup contains.

However, he would simply grind the beans up and pour boiling water over them. Thus, in comparison to modern coffee, which goes through various processes, the caffeine quantity in Beethoven’s cup would have been sufficient to have your heart detonate in your chest.

6.Coffee bean or coffee fruit?

Interestingly, while resembling a bean, coffee ‘beans’ are actually berry pits or seeds. The obvious questions is so what? Does it make a difference if we refer to it as a bean or a seed? Surely coffee is coffee no matter how we label the bean or seed from whence it comes?

Actually, it does make a difference. You may be surprised to discover how different coffee can taste when it is light roasted. In dark roasted coffee the main flavour is the roast. Light roasted coffee yields more delicate, floral and fruity notes. But the best part is this: Regardless of your preference for light, medium or dark roasted coffee you can happily consume your java any way you like without being hunted by coffee Schnufflers or being thrown into the sea.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Elephants are the undisputed giants of the savannah and forest. Frequently depicted in mythology and revered as a symbols of power and strength, they’ve also become universally immortalized in beloved pop culture characters such as Dumbo and Horton. So where do these huge truncated, floppy-eared goliaths come from originally?

African elephants and their smaller Asian cousins are descendant of a common ancestor, the extinct woolly mammoth. That’s the most likely answer if you ferret about for an answer based in science. African legend and lore would have it that the elephant’s origin story has various more poetic narratives, depending on which country or region you’re in.

What the Kamba tribe of Kenya believes

One of the more intriguing elephant origin tales goes something like this. First, in keeping with oral storytelling tradition, you need to imagine yourself sitting at a fire under the stars with the wizened, soulful voice of a narrator lulling you into quiet, concentrated awe as he or she retells how the elephant evolved from man.

A poor man seeking to change his circumstances heard a tale about “Ivonya-Ngia”, “He that feeds the poor”. Intrigued, he decided to seek out Ivonya-Ngia and embarked on a long and treacherous journey. Finally, tired and weary, he summited a hill and realised he’d reached his destination.

As far as the eye could see he there were endless herds of cattle and sheep and a lush expanse of green pastures. In the midst of these pastures he clapped eyes on a large residence. It was the home of Ivonya-Ngia who received the poor man graciously and, in a demonstration of compassion and generosity, ordered his men to bestow on the poor man one hundred sheep and an equal number of cows.

“Thank you, but no”, said the poor man. “I don’t want your charity. I want you to share with me the secret to becoming rich”. Ivonya-Ngia reflected on this for a time and then, handing the poor man a small jar containing some ointment he said, “Rub this on the teeth of your wife’s two pointed teeth of her upper jaw (incisors). Wait until they grow and then sell them”.

The poor man was dubious at first but he believed Ivonya-Ngia to be a man of integrity and undoubtedly great wealth. So, he journeyed home and promising his incredulous but loving wife that they would become rich, she allowed him to carry out the strange instructions. Nothing happened at first but the poor man continued to apply the ointment to his wife’s pointed teeth. After some weeks, her teeth began to grow. Eventually, they grew into tusks as thick and long as the poor man’s arm. He persuaded his wife to allow him to remove the tusks and took them to the market and sold them for a tribe of goats. 

Continuing to apply the ointment, the no longer poor man’s wife’s pointed teeth soon grew into tusks that were even longer than the previous pair. This time she refused to let her husband touch them. With time her body became larger and heavier and her skin turned thick and grey. One day, she burst through the front door of their house and lumbered into the forest. There she gave birth to their son. He was an elephant.

From time to time the man visited his wife and son in the forest. Each time he implored her to return and each time she refused. She continued to birth more elephants and her children became the first herd of elephants on earth.

Image courtesy of Jan van Huyssteen


Monday, October 2, 2017

If asked to name the most hunted animal on the planet you might guess whale, elephant, lion, rhino, shark, cheetah or the Chinese Salamander perhaps? And yes, while hunted in droves for various reasons including what some define as sport, for status or imagined medicinal cures, the aforementioned animals are high up on the most hunted list but they do not top it. The number one spot is reserved for the humble and lesser-known Pangolin.

How to recognise a Pangolin

Affectionately described by Amy Attenborough as, “Somewhere between a dinosaur, an artichoke and a small dog with giant toenails”, the Pangolin is ruthlessly hunted and trafficked primarily for its large armour-like scales. Like rhino horn, the Pangolin’s scales are believed by some to treat various conditions from increasing lactation, draining pus, stabilising blood pressure and curing everything from palsy to cancer. The fact is, none of the Pangolin’s curious-looking body parts, including their delightfully large ‘toenails’ have any curative qualities.

Impenetrable armour

Pangolin means “something that rolls up” and for good reason. When threatened by its main adversaries - which apart from humans are big cats - it curls into itself. Thus shielded, even a lion’s ferocious fangs cannot pierce its impenetrable armour. Unfortunately, curling into a foetal position also renders it vulnerable to being easily picked up and cuddled or stolen.

Sometimes when threatened, the Pangolin lashes out with its tail, the scales on which can nick an enemy’s skin. Alternatively, much like a skunk, they are also known to give off a nasty-smelling gas from glands near the anus.

Ear and nose specialists

Having appalling eyesight, the Pangolin relies on a well-developed sense of smell and hearing to locate dining areas in the form of termite mounds and ant hills. Using its enormous claws and strong forearms it roots out in excess of 70 million insects per year. In fact, their sense of smell is so good that the Pangolin is able to close its ears and nostrils when feeding to keep out the hordes of insects while feeding.

Retractable built-in cutlery

When not required to lap up insects, its long and sticky tongue retracts into a sheath located in its chest. Interestingly, the tongue is attached almost as far back as its pelvis and last set of ribs and, in some of the smaller Pangolin species, the tongue is longer than their total body length. Being toothless, their food is ground by keratinous scales inside their robust stomach. They ingest minute pebbles and soil during mealtimes to aid the digestive process.

The dating game

Pangolins are believed to live a relatively short life of twenty years or so and dating is rudimentary but effective. Males attract females by urinating to mark their territory and then leave it to the ladies to come and find them. Other than mating for procreation the Pangolin is a loner. Females give birth to one offspring at a time. Children get carted about on Mum’s tail and are weaned at three months.

Among David Attenborough’s favourites

Of the eight species of Pangolin, four reside in Africa. Of the African varieties, one resides in South Africa, surprising and delighting people fortunate enough to spot them. Their reptilian appearance belies the fact that they are in fact mammals; the only mammals covered in scales. Predating humans, the earliest Pangolin fossils indicate that they probably arrived shortly after the extinction of the dinosaur. David Attenborough famously said that if he were to select ten animals to save from extinction the Pangolin (more specifically the Sunda Pangolin from Asia) would be one. While relatively unknown and not grabbing centre stage, these ancient precious creatures are deserving of our protection.


Friday, September 22, 2017

The story of Cape Malay cuisine starts with the involuntary migration of people in the 17th century from various parts of South East Asia - including Malaysia and Indonesia. Brought to the Cape as slaves, they brought with them age-old recipes, cooking techniques and spices. A satay consists of a skewered slice of meat or poultry usually served with a peanut dipping sauce.

Recipe by: GOLD Restaurant
Serves: 6 – 8 people (as a starter or party snack)
Difficulty: Easy
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Chicken satays

5 medium-sized chicken breasts
Vegetable oil for drizzling
Roasted masala mixed with a little salt
25 stay sticks (20 cm in length)

Peanut sauce

100 g roasted and salted peanuts
6 spring onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced
30 ml soya sauce
Finely grated zest and juice of ½ a lemon
5 ml brown sugar
2 ml ground cumin
125 ml coconut milk
60 ml chopped coriander
45 ml crunchy peanut butter

Method

Chicken satays

Slice each chicken breast on the diagonal – aim for approximately 5 – 6 slices per breast.
Thread each chicken strip on the end of a satay stick.
Drizzle a little oil over each chicken satay.
Generously dust each satay with roasted masala spice that has been mixed with a little salt.
Grill chicken satays in a sandwich grill for a few seconds until just cooked through.
Serve with peanut satay sauce.

Peanut sauce

Grind the peanuts, spring onions, garlic and chilli into a coarse paste.
Mix in the soya sauce, lemon zest and juice, brown sugar, cumin and coconut cream.
Stir in the coriander and peanut butter.
Cover and chill until you’re ready to serve.


Tip: If you don’t have a sandwich grill, grill your chicken satays in the oven on a high heat for a minute or so on each side.

Edible Gold © 2013 | 5D