beetroot Spaghetti and chicken Meatballs

Always looking for ways to create quick and delicious carb-conscious weeknight meals, I was pleasantly surprised to see beetroot spaghetti at Woolies yesterday. I grabbed a packet and while running around the store in my usual haphazard fashion tried to decide what to make with it. It was late and the chicken section was very empty, but I spotted chicken meatballs and hatched a cunning plan.

I decided that if the spaghetti is red, I need to put a white version of a red topping on it and garnish it with greens; Italian flag, unexpected colours and all that.

It’s terribly easy to make and was quite delicious.

Take the chicken balls and brown them in olive oil in a large pan for which you have a lid. (I use a non-stick 28cm Le Creuset pan.)

While this is happening chop a shallot or two and some garlic and add this to the pan, sauté them until transparent. Put the lid on on turn the heat to medium low.

Meanwhile, grate some parmesan (or Woolies Hard Italian Cheese) in a bowl and grate a bit of nutmeg into it.

When the balls are cooked (10-15 minutes), turn the heat down very low and add the parmesan and nutmeg and some double thick cream and season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stir or shake and replace the lid.

Microwave the beetroot spaghetti according to the instructions. Check the seasoning of the sauce.

Put the beetroot in a pasta bowl, place some meatballs and the sauce on top and finish with roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley and some pea shoots.

Voila! You’re welcome.

I served it with a Lomond Impromptu Merlot Rosé.

 

 

Annual Starfish Greathearts Foundation Charity Dinner

Rather late than never, I’ve decided to post some pics of the dishes from this year’s Starfish charity dinner that Tiron Eloff and I created.

Every year we donate our services and a multi-course dinner gets auctioned at a gala event.

This year we planned a rather special menu with our wonderful hosts loosely based on a “classics-with-a-twist” theme.

After the guests had some oysters and champagne in the foyer, we started the dinner off with a Beet Tartare

Beet Tartare

and followed up with a Heston classic Chicken Consommé poured at the table of a jasmine flower.

Chicken Consomme

The salad course was a Duck and Smoked Cherry salad with Mano purèe.

Duck and Smoked Cherry Salad with Mango Puree

A quick palate cleanser of Champagne Sorbet preceded the main events.

Champagne Sorbet

These were a fillet of Sea Bass on Jet-black purèe (made with lentils and squid ink) with seared endive.

Sea Bass with Jet-black Puree

This was followed by the most decadent Beef Wellington ever, made with prosciutto and foie gras (Get the recipe here) and plated with some inspiration from Dexter .

Beef Wellington

The composed cheese plate consisted of whipped ricotta, aged Gouda, Saint André, gorgonzola, grilled nectarines, fresh figs, baguette crisps and candied walnuts.

Composed Cheese Plate

The lovely, sweet end to the night consisted of a silky-smooth Crème Brûlée (cooked sous-vide at 80C for an hour).

Creme Brulee

It was a marvellous evening and we can’t wait to do it all over again.

Orange Polenta Cake

Had to bake my favourite recipe from Ottolenghi for the soccer final tonight. (Someone had to tell me who was playing, but I’m always game for cake and bubbly.)

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Tapas Testing

It’s an open secret that I adore the food of Sam & Sam Clarke of Moro fame. The Moorish-inspired recipes from their brilliant cookbooks are delicious without fail and obviously very lovingly put together.

They recently opened Morito, a tapas restaurant next to Moro in Exmouth, London. I plan to go there in December, but was excited to hear that they had published a book of tapas recipes, aptly named Morito (little Moro).

On Saturday I did a test run with a friend of a few of the recipes. A few hours later we were stuffed to the gills, but very happily so. The recipes are easy to follow, even for novice cooks, and the dishes look great and taste little little pieces of heaven on a plate.

Here are a few pics from the day.

Morito, the recipe book

Morito, the recipe book

Matrimonio

Matrimonio

Pintxos: Boquerones, caper berries and piquillo peppers.

Pintxos: Boquerones, caper berries and piquillo peppers.

Grilled courgette, sumac and pine nut salad

Grilled courgette, sumac and pine nut salad

An italian interlude - not from the book. Prosciutto, fig and gorgonzola.

An italian interlude – not from the book. Prosciutto, fig and gorgonzola.

Chicken and preserved lemon tagine.

Chicken and preserved lemon tagine.

Fabulous savoury Rose (Mourvèdre, Grenache, Carignan, Syrah) to wash it all down.

Fabulous savoury Rose (Mourvèdre, Grenache, Carignan, Syrah) to wash it all down.

Patatas Bravas with Alioli

Patatas Bravas with Alioli

Quick Update from Limpopo

Hi All

I have been beavering away at all sort of exciting projects that I’ll update you about soon. At the moment I’m in Limpopo. We are actually near the banks of the Limpopo River on the Botswana border. I’m cooking up a storm for a group of sound artists (for lack of a better term) and musicians from 11 different countries who are doing field recordings as part of a workshop. I mostly don’t have access to internet or mail, or even telephone, and it’s all quite lovely.

Somebody was kind enough to nominate my fledgling blog for the SA Blog Awards. Voting opens on Monday the 2nd of December, so please start voting then! Here’s the link… SA Blog Awards Badge

In the meanwhile, here are some photos to keep you entertained. See you soon…

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Harvard EdX Course: Science and Cooking

scienceandfooducla

cooking_course

If you’ve ever wanted to take a class at Harvard, here’s your chance! Harvard is offering an online EdX version of its popular course “SPU27x: Science and Cooking – From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Physics.”Class starts October 8th and registration for the course is FREE.

During each week of the course, Ferran Adrià and other top chefs will reveal the secrets of some of their most famous culinary creations—often right in their own restaurants. Alongside this cooking mastery, the Harvard instructors will explain the science behind the recipe. Other guest instructors include David Chang, Wylie Dufresne, Dave Arnold, and Harold McGee.

Register for “Science and Cooking” at EdX

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How To Peel a Head of Garlic in 30 Seconds

1. Take one head of garlic

1. Take one head of garlic

2. Press down hard on it to separate the cloves.

2. Press down hard on it to separate the cloves.

3. Separate any cloves that are still attached.

3. Separate any cloves that are still attached.

4. Place the separated cloves in a bowl.

4. Place the separated cloves in a bowl.

5. Place another bowl on top of the first one.

5. Place another bowl on top of the first one.

6. Shake it!

7. Magically peeled cloves.

7. Magically peeled cloves.

8. Separate the cloves from the peels. QED.

8. Separate the cloves from the peels. QED.

Garlic Confit – My first product

Lunch on Mars Garlic Confit

Inspired by a recipe in Modernist Cuisine at Home, I have created my first Lunch on Mars product – Garlic Confit in Garlic Oil. This is a seriously delicious condiment that consists of rosemary, thyme and garlic pressure cooked for a looooong time in extra virgin olive oil. It is delicious with any roast, or simply spread on bread with a sprinkling of flaky salt. Use the garlic oil to add deep flavour to vegetarian stews and soups, even when the garlic is finished.

Contact me if you’d like to find out where to get it, either in the comments, on twitter (@NeilLowe) or via email on neil [dot] lowe [at] me [dot] com.

I’m planning to launch a shop section so that you can purchase online, but one step at a time…

Making the Black Death Macaroons that sent two Masterchefs home

I was delighted and horrified by the wicked dessert that David Higgs presented for the five contestants to replicate in last Wednesday’s pressure test on MasterChef SA.

The dish was beautiful. I loved the complementary black and white colours and the flavours of liquorice and litchi. It was painful, though, watching people that I have grown very close to struggle with a slightly sketchy recipe and only two hours within which to recreate it.

Full of empathy and bravado, I decided to attempt it myself. Because I don’t have an ice cream machine and neither does my masochistic streak extend that far, I ignored the time constraints.

Here’s a link to the recipe: Liquorice Macaroon with Litchi Panna Cotta, Lichi Sorbet and Black Crumble

Here’s the result:

Liqurice and Litchi Dessert of Death

Not too shabby, I suppose. David himself remarked on Twitter (@David_Higgs) that it looked good enough to eat. I’ll take that as high praise.

What a mission it was though! I’m very glad that I wasn’t in that pressure test.

Will I be silly enough to try any of the other challenges coming up? We’ll have to wait and see.

My stab at David Higgs' dessert

JIA-Emptiness-Dinner-Plate
The JIA Emptiness dinner plate was kindly supplied by entrepo Hyde Park. Tel. 087 150 5369
entrepo
R 279.95

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
Magimix-LeGlacier
I wish I had one of these. I had to churn the sorbet by hand in a bowl over ice and salt. Old skool.

Magimix
Le Glacier Turbine Ice Cream Maker
yuppiechef
R 6 960

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

You’ll also need a stand mixer (Kenwood, Kitchen Aid), silicone macaron baking sheet (Silpat, Tescoma, Sweetly Does It), piping bag, whipping siphon with NO2 chargers (iSi, Ibili), isomalt and black gel colouring. These last two are available at good baking shops.

Happy baking!?

P.S. (2013/07/30) The liquorice and white chocolate ganache filling for the macaroons is the most delicious thing ever. It’s seriously addictive. Be warned.