South African Banquet -part one-

I was working away when my mail box chirped -  South African Tourism was wondering if I could attend a banquet tonight. "You bet I could". It took me 5 minutes to slip into my evening gown, grab my knife and fork and dash to B-Bar on Buckingham Palace Road, just on time to remember that I knew nothing about South African food.

So let me introduce you to some wonderful new (to me) flavours

 Bobotie Spring Rolls Pronounced ba-boor-tea, the national dish of South Africa is a delicious mixture of curried meat and fruit usually served with rice, here made into spring rolls

Springbok fillet with spices and crushed pepper - meat of a small gazelle which taste a little like venison but is much milder, sadly only to be found in the UK in  South African restaurants
Malva Pudding -traditional South African pudding serve warm with an indulgent butter and cream sauce drizzled on the top and the cherry on the cake is vanilla ice-cream with dried apricots also found in the pud

A Springbok crème the menthe and Amarula Cream
We had the pleasure to sample a Walker Bay Sauvignon Blanc, a beautifully made wine with many of the qualities of good Sancerre and I fell in love with the red a Hannibal Bouchard Finlayson 2006 with Black cherry aromas, cranberry & forest fruit palate.

I clutched my goody bag all the way home, in it there was the excellent Mrs balls' chutney which I will tell you more about in my next post when you get a chance to win a bottle.

Smoked Salmon Soufflé

In October, last year, it was off with the old and in with the new. Faithful Kenwood food processor had been in the kitchen for 20 years, although it had had its accessories replaced when necessary, it was time to get wheezier, newer, better.

After much searching, I opted for Dualit 88610, I must confess the look won me over. My recommendation is STAY AWAY from it. On first use, the bowl cracked slightly when I was grating parmesan. With the first wash the larger bowl marked badly and I was not using an abrasive cloth. More over the mixtures were never smooth, the way they were in the days of aging Kenwood.

I put up with it because I thought it was my fault thinking that with such a price tag, products could only be good. Wrong.

When eventually, I mustered the courage to exchange it, I opted for Magimix 4200, immediately the difference was obvious, this is a solid food processor, easy to clean, extremely performant. I am not too sure about having 3 bowls but most food processors seem to have 3 bowl sizes.

After making a few bread doughs quickly, efficiently and cleaning the accessories without a fuss I opted for a soufflé. For 2 reasons, first of all and most importantly I had promised a recipe to Valerie who is now using the old Kenwood accessories then I was curious about the egg whites. Yet again, no fuss, no problem and have a look at that picture, it speaks a thousand words.... may be that extra spoon of vodka was not entirely necessary but afterall Magimix is here to stay and had to be christened.

Smoked Salmon oufflé Preparation : 20 min

 Ingredients for 4
  • 100 g smoked salmon
  • 25 g rice flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • 100 ml milk  
  • 1 tsp tomato ketchup  
  • 1 tbsp vodka  
  • 2 drops lemon juice 
  • 1 pinch Cayenne pepper 
  • 2 pinches nutmeg 
  • 1 tbsp plain flour  
  • 1 knob butter  
  • salt & pepper

Cut the salmon into chunks and put in the mini bowl. Pulse twice, then blend for 1 min. Set aside.

Mix the milk and rice flour in a saucepan. Over a low heat, gradually bring to boiling point.

Stir into the salmon purée, together with the egg yolks, tomato ketchup, vodka, Cayenne pepper, black pepper and nutmeg.

Mix thoroughly.

Butter individual soufflé dishes and put in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 150° C (gas mark 2).

Put the egg whites, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in the bowl with the egg whisk.

Whisk for 5-10 min.

Remove the dishes from the fridge and lightly dust with flour.

Fold the egg whites into the preparation. Divide the resulting mixture between the dishes, filling each one no more than three-quarters full. Slide a knife blade between the tin and the soufflé.

Bake for 15 minutes

21st Birthday

Yaaargh, when I first met Madi she was nestled in one of  her dad's hand, gurgling away, blinking huge baby eyes. On Saturday she turned 21, she calls me shorty, studies medecine and does not gurgle in public any longer or rather I don't think she does. We had time to surprise her, time for a great big hug and a salad before we left her to change into Coco Chanel in order to meet up with a crepe, a couple of pots of Bonne Maman fruit jam, Asterix and Obelix and other French themed people who will have turned up to her fancy dress party.

Ham / Melon Salad with Honey and Balsamic vinegar

4 slice(s) Ham, Parma or otherwise 
225 g Melon, Honeydew, peeled and sliced
a handfull of roasted and chopped walnuts
1 tablespoons Honey, clear
2 teaspoons Oil, Olive
1 teaspoons Vinegar, All Types, balsamic
1 teaspoon of mustard
1/8 teaspoons (ground) Pepper
1 packet of leaves salad 

Arrange the leaves in a bowl add the ham and melon
Make the dressing by whisking together the honey, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard and vinegar. Spoon over the salad.


First thing this morning I had a bit of a shock. As I walked past the bathroom mirror, I nearly moon-walked as it was rather early I just walked backwards, planted myself in front of my reflection, rubbed my eyes, closed them, opened them again, there was no doubt it was me but it didn't look like me.
My hair is red.

It reminded me that I needed to tell you about Orzo. Orzo has the appearance of a  large grain of rice, it has the same colour as rice but it is 100% wheat. You've got it. It is not rice, it is pasta.

So how does it taste like, well the answer is "great", by the way, if you were wondering it is the same answer to "how do I look like with my new mope?" It is best served with a tomato sauce, I am back on the topic of Orzo, just in case you were still thinking about my coif. And it takes only 6 minutes to cook. So an all-round winner

Here is my best take on it
                                        Orzo in Tomato Sauce
serves 2
2 onions
Passata,or a tin of chopped tomato 
salt and pepper
little oil
150grs Merchant Gourmet Orzo
400ml boiling water
1 vegetable stock cube

Prepare stock with a cube + 400ml boiling water
In a saucepan: peel, chop, gently fry 2 onions when transparent add Passata,or a tin of chopped tomato salt and pepper and leave it to simmer for 15 minutes
in the meantime,
In a skillet, heat a little oil when very hot add 150grs of Orzo, stir for a minute, add half the stock, leave it to simmer when all the stock is absorbed add the remaining liquid and cook, stirring time to time until there is no more liquid, taste to make sure it is cooked, pour the sauce on the top

et voila, alternatively you could surprise dying your hair blue.

Black Beluga Lentils Fritters

Life went from busy to hectic but there is still time for exploring. My find of the week is Beluga lentils.  I was helped by Merchant Gourmet who sent me a goody bag filled with ingredients completly new to me. 

I am rather excited to share my finds with PebbleSoup readers.
There is no price for guessing what Beluga lentils look like. As their name suggests they are black and they glisten, turning to a kind of silky black, when cooked. The great thing about lentils -all kind of- is that no soaking is necessary, it is advised to rinse them and to pick the little stones if there are any but in the case of the ready to eat packet which I have been using, nothing is simpler. Opening the pouch is all what you have to do.

The other brilliant fact is the fat content only 1.2g per 100g at that ratio one usually gets bland/horrid food but that is certainly not the case for these lentils which are really very tasty. Though black lentils are less known they are in my opinion tastier then their green or red counterparts.

In my enthusiasm for sharing my recent find and its recipe I am linking this post with Anyone Can Cook hosted by Taste of Pearl City (recipe suited for beginners)

Black Beluga Lentil Fritters with Cherry Tomato Raita

◦100g Black Beluga Lentils
◦75g plain flour
◦1 egg
◦150ml milk
◦1 tsp freshly ground cumin seeds
◦1 tsp salt
◦2 fresh red chillies, deseeded & finely chopped
◦2 tbsp coriander, chopped
◦vegetable oil for frying
◦6 spring onions
◦5 cherry tomatoes
◦5 tbsp Greek yogurt
◦salt & pepper

1.Cook the lentils as directed on the pack until just tender but still al dente. Drain well.
2.Whisk together the flour, egg, milk, cumin and salt until smooth. Pour the batter into a bowl and stir in the lentils, one of the chopped chillies and the coriander and set aside.
3.Trim the spring onions and thinly slice, roughly chop the tomatoes and stir both into the yogurt, season with salt and pepper and add the remaining chopped chilli.

4.To cook the fritters heat three or four tbsps of the vegetable oil in a large heavy based frying pan. Take a large tablespoon and drop three or four spoonfuls of the lentil mixture into the pan. Cook over a medium heat for about 3-4 minutes until beginning to crisp and turn golden, then using a fish slice turn over to cook again the same way using more oil is needed.
5.Serve the Beluga lentils fritters with the spring onion, tomato and yogurt raita.
Pouch of 250g cost £1.79

Is this Cheese? Chantico from Wensleydale Dairy

I have a friend with superb taste. None of her plates are chipped, cutlery match and she always has the right glass or serving plate for every single occasion.

However, when it comes to the cheese course, she invariably produces these funny,  bakelite knifes from the 50's. Their handles look like tree trunks, brown and cream. It is quite hilarious to observe the dinners when they notice what I can only describe as objects straight out of the temple of bad taste where they keep Elvis Presley's possessions.

Most of the guests recoil in horror, some start to squint but turn the knife this way & that way to find if there is a better angle. In private, my friend will give one of little smile, shrug her slender shoulders and say "yeh, right, I don't care, I like them."

I feel entirely in tune with her when it comes to flavoured cheeses. People will tell me, there'nt sophisticated, these are not cheese, the manufacturer puts all sorts of stuff to sell their unwanted paste. "yeh, right......."

Chantico claims to be "the cheese that all other fear" it contains sweet chilli peppers, dried Jalapeno, herbs in a coloured cheddar cheese and I like it. I am not going to describe the taste because after one bite it is difficult to give an opinion as the chilli starts to kick in and the mild cheddar melts all over your palate.

If you would like to read more about it, have a look at Wensleydale website you might want to turn it this way and that to see if there is a better angle.

Chantico will be available in leading supermarkets and delicatessens from March. It will be available in two sizes a 180g wedge and a 1.1kg half moon with a recommended retail price of £7.15 per kilo.

Rabbit Terrine

A week ago I joined Michelle of Greedy Gourmet and Sarah of Maison Cupcake for lunch, we had a disappointing meal but great fun. Michelle gave us both a book, mine is by Julia Child "My life in France" where she advocates "Learn how to cook - try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun."  So what would be scary about cooking - an ingredient we are not used to such as rabbit, a terrifying word such as terrine but the two together, here is a recipe which trials the adage above. Will you try or will you chicken out. Let me know. What ever you do, have a look at the recipe because it is far less scary than one thinks.
Rabbit Terrine
600g/1lb 6oz rabbit, bones removed and chopped into 2.5cm/1in pieces
200g/7oz chicken livers, cleaned, trimmed and chopped
200g/7oz pork loin, trimmed and chopped
50ml/2fl oz white port
175ml/6fl oz white wine
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tsp grated fresh root ginger
1 tsp quatre épices
1 slice soft white bread
200ml/7fl oz single cream
2 free-range eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1.Preheat the oven to 180C/355F/Gas 4.
2.Place the rabbit, chicken livers and pork into a bowl. Add the port, white wine, shallots, one sprig of the rosemary, ginger and quatre épices and mix well to coat the meat. Leave to marinate for at least 5-10 minutes, then discard the marinade.
3.Place the bread into a large bowl, pour over the cream and allow to soak for five minutes, or until the bread is softened. Gently squeeze the cream out of the bread, discarding the cream, then return the bread to the bowl.
4.Add the meat to the bowl with the bread, then add the beaten eggs and mix until well combined. Season with the salt and freshly ground black pepper.
5.Spoon the mixture into a large ovenproof terrine mould, press down to pack together tightly, then press the remaining sprig of rosemary on top. Place the mould into a roasting tray and transfer to the oven. Fill the roasting tray with enough hot water to come up halfway up the sides of the mould, then bake for one hour, or until the terrine is cooked through.
6.Remove the terrine from the oven and allow to cool completely, then cover with cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 48 hours.

Recipe from Stephane Reynaud's book "Terrine" - photo of a slice of terrine sadly not rabbit-

Lentil, Goat's Cheese & Toasted Walnuts Salad

This recipe is doing the rounds. About a week ago it appeared on Good Housekeeping on line. I then thought  "hmm, Janice is coming for diner, she loves lentils, there is a bit a goat cheese in the fridge and this recipe looks easy, just the ticket"

The difficult part was to protect the goat cheese from being eaten, I considered labelling it "precious, do not touch" like other food bloggers do when they need to keep something for a photo or a dish but that  is the the house style and does not sound too friendly, so I took my chances and the cheese remained

Then the recipe appeared on twitter, Merchant Gourmet were reminding us that not only they can help with Christmas & chestnuts but they are here too when we are dreaming of salads but the weather is blooming too cold for a spring spread.

Now I would like you to pay attention to the sauce, the honey complements nicely the flavour of this salad but does not give it a sickly sweet taste really a nice combination, the original includes baby beetroots but we don't do betroots in this dwelling. In case you do just add 2 balls cooked baby beetroots but not the kind in vinegar sliced into matchstick.

Bon appetit.

Lentil, Goat's Cheese & Toasted Walnuts Salad


  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1tsp dijon mustard
  • 1tsp clear honey
  • 250g cooked Lentils
  • 2 x 110g bags mixed herb salad leaves
  • 150g (5oz) soft goat's cheese, crumbled
  • 50g (2oz) hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

 1 First, make the dressing: put the oil, vinegar, mustard and honey into a small bowl. Season and whisk together.

2 Put the lentils, and salad leaves into a large bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and toss well. Divide among four plates, then scatter with the goat's cheese and hazelnuts to serve. 


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