Cape Town - From sophisticated gourmet to downhome favourites, from childrens’ parties to recipes using store cupboard basics, from quick ’n easy to child-chef specials – the range is impressive.
If you start buying Christmas gifts this month you’ll find titles to please every palate and purse.
Myrna Robins has chosen four recipes from titles that add up to a delicious seasonal dinner.
The starter and dessert are easy while the main course will take time and a little effort. Finish with sweet treats that we all used to make in our childhood - and that also make a good accompaniment to after-dinner coffee.
STARTER: ANGELA DAY MODERN CLASSICS
The Angela Day kitchen team has published several best-selling cookbooks and this new title, Angela Day Modern Classics is sure to become another. This is a well-priced, well-tested collection of economical and seasonal delights, each dish illustrated in colour. Published by Struik Lifestyle.
500ml (2 cups) tomato juice
Half an English cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
10ml (2tsp) chopped garlic
15ml (1T) Worcestershire sauce
Hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)to taste
15ml (1T) white wine vinegar
30ml (2T) olive oil
10ml (2tsp) sugar
celery stalks for serving
Put all the ingredients into a blender or processor and blend until smooth. Chill the mixture in the fridge until required. Pour into serving bowls or serve in small shot glasses. Garnish with celery stalks. Serves 4-6.
MAIN COURSE: SCRUMPTIOUS
Jane-Anne Hobbs and family live in Hout Bay where she divides her time between developing recipes, writing cookbooks and updating her pioneering food blog Scrumptious. She points out that time-saving short cuts are all very well, but that great food requires both time and careful planning and preparation. This hardback illustrates the superb results that keen cooks can strive for, whether you prefer trendy fare or updated classics. Scrumptious is published by Struik Lifestyle.
Luxurious chicken pie with bacon and sage stuffing balls
Nuggets of stuffing flavoured with bacon, lemon and sage add an interesting twist to this comforting and creamy pie. This dish takes time to make, and has a lot of ingredients, but are necessary to create a sumptuous pie with a deep, satisfying flavour.
1 x 400g roll readymade puff pastry
1 extra-large free-range egg,
2 free-range chickens
salt and milled black pepper
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 onion, studded with three whole cloves
1 large sprig of thyme
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 cups (1 litre) water
11/2 cups (375ml) white wine
1 onion, peeled and very finely chopped
5 rashers streaky or back bacon, diced
2T (30ml) olive oil
finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
3 large slices day-old white bread
1 extra-large free-range egg, lightly beaten
sunflower oil for frying
6T (90ml/90g) butter
100ml cake flour
11/2 cups (375ml) milk
1/4tsp (1.25ml) grated nutmeg
2tsp (10ml) Dijon mustard
4tsp (20ml) brandy
5T (75ml) fresh cream
4T (60ml) chopped fresh parsley
a little lemon juice
salt and milled black pepper
Heat the oven to 180°C. For the filling, place the chickens in a deep roasting pan, season with salt and pepper inside and out and add the celery, bay leaves, onion and thyme. Squeeze the lemon over the chickens, then put the squeezed-out halves and the garlic cloves into the cavity. Tie the ends of the drumsticks together with string. Pour the water and wine into the pan and roast for 1 hour, 20 minutes, or until the chickens are cooked through (p123). Tip any juice from the cavity of the chickens back into the pan and set the chickens aside on a plate to cool. Strip off the flesh and tear it into large strips. Put the skin and bones back into the roasting pan, place over a moderate heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Strain the stock into a jug, cool and skim off any fat. Measure out 2 cups (500ml).
For the stuffing, fry the onion and bacon in the oil for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is soft and golden and the bacon beginning to crisp. Stir in lemon zest and sage. Tear up bread and whizz to fine crumbs. Place crumbs in a bowl, add the onion mixture and beaten egg and mix lightly together. Form the mixture into balls the size of large marbles and fry over a medium heat in a little oil until golden brown on all sides. Set aside.
Make a béchamel (or white) sauce using the butter, flour and milk. Remove from the heat and stir in the reserved stock, nutmeg, mustard, brandy, cream, parsley and a spritz of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. When the sauce has cooled, mix it with the chicken strips. Tip the filling into a large greased pie dish (or individual dishes) and arrange the stuffing balls on top. Lightly roll out the pastry so it’s about 2cm bigger on all sides, and trim to size and shape of your dish. Drape the pastry over the dish and seal the edges by lightly pressing and crimping them. Brush beaten egg and use any pastry trimmings to make leafy decorations. Cut a 1cm slit in the middle. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden and the filling is bubbling. Serves 8.
DESSERT: FRESH + FAST
Adult jellies continue to be very trendy, and this one can be made with either semi-sweet or dry rosé wine, just adjust the sugar content to taste. You could use strawberries in place of raspberries, or mixed berries. Find the recipe in Marie Claire Fresh + Fast by Michele Cranston, published by Murdoch Books. First published in 2008, this has been reissued in soft cover, just in time for summer and the festive season. It offers cooks with little time a great collection of nutritious, colourful, easily prepared dishes that will appeal to health-conscious diners.
Rose jelly with raspberries
400ml rosé wine
150g (1-and-three-quarter cups) castor sugar
25ml (1and half T) gelatine powder
Combine the wine, rosewater and sugar in a small saucepan, add the water and heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Pour 200ml of the warm liquid into a bowl and stir in the gelatin, stirring until it dissolves, then return this liquid to saucepan and stir. Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill for several hours. Spoon jelly into glasses, add fresh raspberries and serve with thin cream. Serves 4 – 6.
SWEET: COOK WITH JOSH
Josh Thirion has just celebrated his 10th birthday, having recently launched his first cookbook Cook with Josh, published by Struik Lifestyle. This young fan of TV’s MasterChef presents readers with nearly 50 of his favourite drinks and treats, all photographed in colour and interspersed with fun games, crosswords, and his own hand-drawn cartoons. Josh, who lives with his family in Cape Town’s northern suburbs, also enjoys playing sport, drawing, reading and singing. Go, Josh!
Chocolate & coconut clusters
1/2 cup (125ml) butter
2 cups (500ml) sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) cocoa powder
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
3 cups (750ml) oats
1 cup (250ml) fine desiccated coconut
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla essence
Grease a baking sheet with butter. Put the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and milk in a pot. Heat over medium heat, stirring until the mixture boils. Turn down the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the oats, coconut and vanilla essence. Stir until well mixed.
Take 2 teaspoons and form small clusters of the warm mixture on the baking sheet. Leave on the baking sheet to cool completely. The clusters should be cold and firm.
Makes 40. - Cape Argus