Rocket pesto pasta with salmon


Nothing uplifts me more than cooking. I spent Women’s day blowing my nose till rawness and working on my thesis instead of treating myself, so I decided to take a break and cook something special for Ty and I. Yesterday I received a delivery of Julie’s delicious fish, which motivated me to surf my favorite blog Pink Parsley for a salmon recipe.

I found a recipe for salmon pesto pasta, which was a perfect match for my latest Pesto princess addiction and the fresh Norwegian salmon in my fridge. I used the recipe as a guideline and added my own personal touch, which is my favorite part of cooking from recipes and also helps me experiment and grow as a cook.

Luckily, Ty came home with lots of medicine for me, so that by the time dinner was ready, my sinuses had clear and I could taste the flavors, which were light, fresh, and delicious. Unfortunately, my sinuses are clogging up again as I type, so I will have to unclog them tomorrow night before dinner.

Pesto pasta with salmon (serves 2 + leftovers)

Pesto pasta with salmonPesto pasta with salmonIngredients

  • 300g salmon
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • about 2 cups cubed large cherry tomatoes
  • about 300g pasta
  • about 1/2 cup rocket pesto
  • a handful of fresh rocket
  • salt & pepper

Directions

  1. saute onions in oil on medium to low heat
  2. move the oven rack to the upper-middle rung and turn on the broiler
  3. place the salmon on a baking sheet covered with tinfoil
  4. rub olive oil on the fish, and season it with freshly squeezed lemon, salt, and cracked pepper
  5. broil the fish for 10-12 minutes until it begins to brown slightly around the edges
  6. while the fish is cooking, cook the pasta
  7. when the pasta is nearly done, add the tomatoes to the sauteeing onions and gently cook until warm and slightly softened
  8. strain the pasta, put it back in the pot, and mix in the onions, tomatoes, and pesto
  9. when the fish is done, remove it from the oven and flake it into bite sized pieces
  10. gently mix the salmon into the pasta
  11. serve with a garnish of fresh rocket on top

Seafood pasta


Margaret, Ty’s wonderful aunt, had thousands of RCI timeshare points that were going to expire by the end of last year and challenged us to find holiday accommodation for ourselves. We happily took that amazing challenge and sat determined to find the perfect getaway spot close to home. We ended up booking at Kagga Kamma, a gorgeous lodge in Swartruggens Nature Reserve about 250k from Cape Town, for a week in June to celebrate the end of the semester.

From our large chalet (it just sounds so fancy and posh!), you could see rock formations, boulders, desert shrubs, and sand, as far as the eye could see. And for allegedly being the most arid place in South Africa, it sure rained a lot! It was also very chilly and the electricity turned off at 11PM, so it was the perfect occasion for a continual fire, although the wood was so wet due to the rain, that we spent a large majority of the time fanning, blowing, and pouring copious amounts of cooking oil on the wood, begging it to catch. Nonetheless, we spent the entire week eating like gods, lounging around, watching all of the movies and series that we had, playing on the boulders, and faking work.

We invited our friends up for the weekend and our plan was to have a seafood braai feast the night that everyone arrived. However, unfortunately, due to the stormy weather in Cape Town the week before, all the fishies were scared away, but luckily Julie, my awesome fish monger, organized some frozen prawns, calamari, and salmon for me. So, on the Friday that we arrived, I made absolutely divine seafood pasta for my lovely guests, inspired by the Pioneer Woman.

seafood pasta (serves 8)

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 2 tbl butter
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 heaped tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 300g chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 250g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried basil (or a small handful of freshly chopped basil)

For the seafood

  • 500g salmon cut into bitesized cubes
  • 500g calamari tubes and tentacles
  • approximately 40 prawns deheaded and deveined
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1-2 chopped fresh chillis
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 500g pasta

Directions

  1. In a large deep pan, saute the onions and garlic in butter
  2. add the tomatoes, wine, cream, basil, a dash of salt and pepper, and stir
  3. bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and let simmer for 30 minutes until thickened
  4. about 15 minutes into cooking the sauce, cook the pasta
  5. in another pan, saute the garlic and chili in butter, add the salmon and half the lemon juice, and let cook for a few minutes
  6. toss in the calamari and prawns, add the rest of the lemon juice, and add a dash of salt and pepper
  7. in a few minutes, when the prawns are just beginning to turn pink, remove the seafood from the pan
  8. add the seafood to the sauce and let simmer for another minute or so until the seafood is fully cooked (but be very careful not to overcook the seafood!)
  9. toss the pasta into the sauce and serve with warm, fresh bread

Mozambican Fish Braai


To celebrate the New Year in 2010, Ty and I went to Mozambique.  Despite getting lost for 3 hours, being forced to drive through mini-lakes with unknown depths, risking our lives on a rickety raft across a wild river, getting stuck in nearly knee-high sludge without airtime, sliding closer and closer to water-filled trenches, and putting up our tent in near hurricane weather, we woke up to cloudless skies and the woes of yesterday forgotten!

We were Queen and King of Pisane Lodge and spent 5 luxurious days lounging around, chatting, frisbeeing, playing rummikub, being looked after by 10 stray dogs who adopted us, soaking up the sun on the beautiful beach, and eating like gods.

One afternoon we spotted a spear fisherman leaving his rowboat with a gigantic catch.  We ran down to the shore and asked him what kind of fish it was and if we could buy it. It was a gorgeous, massive barracuda with shimmery scales and yes, we could buy it for a mere R70, inclusive of scaling, gutting, and de-boning! wow! We proudly walked back to camp, excitedly started up the braai, and prepped the fish with whatever goodies we had in stock.  It was the absolute best fish I’ve ever had and sustained us for 5 meals!

Last month Ty and I started ordering fresh, sustainable, local, seasonable deeeelllllliiiccciiiiiioouuusssss fish from Julie.  She is a SASSI “South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative” participant who delivers the freshest fish straight to your door anywhere in Cape Town. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  We first ordered flawless Norwegian Salmon and proceeded to make the most delectable melt-in-your-mouth salmon sushi rolls for two nights in a row.

Last week we ordered Angelfish and had an amazingly delicious reminiscent Mozambican Fish Braai after an awesome afternoon of rock climbing in Silvermine Nature Reserve with UCT’s Mountain & Ski Club!

Mozambican Fish Braai

Ingredients (serves 2 + leftovers)

  • 400g Angelfish
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 heaped tsp diced garlic
  • 1 julienned red pepper
  • 1 chopped tomato or a handful of halved cherry tomatoes
  • some oil
  • salt & pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 1 cup cheese (of your preference)
  • about 1/4 cup Mrs. Ball’s Chutney

Directions

  1. Prepare the braai
  2. Rub the fish with oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, and place it in a disposable metal deepdish pan
  3. Layer the veggies, spices, cheese, and chutney on top
  4. Cover with tinfoil and cook for 10-15 minutes until the fish is beautifully flaky and the veggies are aldente

Die Strandloper – A Pirate’s Feast


For Christmas this year, I took Ty to Langebaan for the weekend – a quaint coastal holiday destination on the West Coast.  We stayed at Quiver Tree, the same bed and breakfast where Ty took me on our first romantic getaway together and I arranged for him to go kite surfing all day Saturday in the waters of the kite surfing capital of the world.  Ty had to wait  28 excruciating days to redeem his Christmas present, so as you can imagine, when we woke up on Saturday morning without a poof of wind, Ty was utterly disappointed.  Fortunately, the weather was perfect for all other activities besides wind sports, so we spent the day on the beach and perused the shops.

To further cheer Ty up, and also to make my dreams come true, we booked dinner at Die Strandloper, an outdoor seafood restaurant famous for its incredible 10-course rustic dining experience on the shores of Langebaan beach.

We arrived at Die Strandloper and were greeted at the door. We brought a coolerbox full of drinks and were told to grab some glasses, and awesomely there was no corkage fee.  As we walked into the restaurant, we felt like we were in a pirate’s den or fisherman’s graveyard. There were nets and buoys draping over the dining areas, seafaring paraphernalia laying about,

a skull and cross bones flag waving in the air,

and a talented guitarist who started off playing random Afrikaans songs but transitioned to playing personalized and funny renditions of classics such as “Lucy in Langebaan with Diamonds” and laughter escalated throughout the night.

The four dining areas were situated around the main feature of the restaurant – a beautiful stone braai pit – gearing up for a long night ahead.  While we were waiting for the festivities to begin, we watched as the staff stoked the coals, stirred the potjie pots, and prepared the fish.

The menu

A staff member walked around to each dining area to let us know that the courses were ready and we could help ourselves.  We were given paper plates and clean mussel shells to be used as our knives and forks for the night. Minimalist and beautiful. 

The bread was baked in gigantic steel cylinder ovens encased in cement.  We helped ourselves to a slice of bread and dallops of homemade butter and jam.  It was divine but we forced ourselves to sample only a tiny piece in order to save room in our stomachs for all to come.  We also brought home a whole loaf and made awesome panzenella and breadcrumbs, which made up for only having a small bite during dinner.

Prior to Die Strandloper, I had only ever tried canned mussels while hiking in Fish River Canyon and wasn’t too impressed. However, the fresh black mussels cooked in white wine and garlic butter sauce were phenomenal and changed my opinion of mussels forever.  I so badly wanted more but restrained myself with extreme difficulty.

We disposed of our paper plates and prepared for weskus haarders, a small local fish.  We chose our fish and then had them expertly deboned in seconds using mussel shells and the skeletons were thrown to the excited scavenging seagulls.

Since I had just made seafood paella a few weeks ago, I was very interested to try theirs and compare.  The seafood paella was full of mussels, white fish, crayfish, veggies, and bright yellow rice. It was nice but Ty and I both confirmed that my paella was (of course) worlds better.

The snoek with potatoes and rolls was one of my favorite courses. The women squeezed perfectly circular dough balls from their hands and quickly cooked them on the grill.  The homemade rolls were doughy, tasty, and moreish.

The deliciously braai-charred snoek was served with soft and buttery potatoes and sweet potatoes.

The peppery and hearty waterbloemmetjie and lamb bredie was a pleasant and delicious break from the fish. Waterbloemmetjie is Afrikaans for “water flower” and they are traditionally cooked in meat stews.  They are surprisingly savory and delicious and completely intrigue me.

By this point, Ty and I were certainly getting full and began consciously pacing ourselves to ensure that we would last for the rest of the courses, especially the crayfish.

The smoked angelfish had unusual smokey woody flavors and the stompneus was very light and buttery.  We both wanted seconds, but new it would push us over the edge, so refrained.

And finally we had reach the grand finale of magnificent crayfish that we, along with everyone else, had been waiting for all night. Dozens of crayfish were piled onto a giant grill and slathered with a huge paintbrush dripping with garlic butter, which elicited a salivating response.  For any seafood lover, it was sheer heaven watching these babies cook and everyone was rapidly snapping photos as proof of the unthinkable.

Ty and I coveted the crayfish laying elegantly on our plates.  We delicately pulled off small pieces of soft meat and slowly chewed each bite, savoring the experience for as long as we possibly could.

To end the night off perfectly, we had deep fried syrup drenched koeksisters and coffee because there is always room for dessert.

I heart seafood. And Die Strandloper.

The cost: R205.00 per person. The experience: Priceless

PS – Yesterday we drove back to Langebaan and the wind was blowing, so Ty finally got his kitesurfing day!

A Seafood Story


Although I grew up on the East Coast, my sister and I loathed seafood.  I blame my parents because they didn’t expose us, being Jewish because Jews don’t eat shell fish, and seafood itself because sometimes it is smelly and chewy.  All of these factors combined produced an unwarranted prejudice against creatures of the sea.

Dullstroom Trout 2010

When I first moved to Cape Town, I desperately needed a job and kharma landed me a job at a seafood restaurant.  On a daily basis I had to handle seafood, sell it, and hear my customers rave about it, which disgusted me at first but wore me down until I finally gave in and tried white fish.  Incorporating seafood into my eating repertoire is probably the best thing I’ve ever done for my tastebuds; it is the ultimate food lover’s food-gasm!  In an attempt to make up for lost time, I eat seafood whenever I can, especially prawns, and still cannot believe I lived so long without it.

Recently I started exploring the joys of cooking seafood at home.  Last year Jacquie (my cooking buddy) and I made paella for Darren (her husband) and Ty.  Having never made it before, we clumsily went for it adding copious amounts of everything, and ended up with paella flowing out of our ears.  Luckily it was delicious because it proceeded to sustain us for quite a few days thereafter.

This year, we decided to refine our recipe and put a bit more finesse into it.

K&J’s Paella (serves 4 + some leftovers)

Ingredients

For the seafood

  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 tbl oil
  • 2 tbl margarine
  • 500g calamari
  • about 20-30 jumbo prawns (de-headed and de-vained)
  • 6 sliced crab sticks
  • 4 sliced chorizo sausages
  • 2 tsp salt
  • lots of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbl paprika
  • 1 tbl portugese chicken spice
  • 1 tbl garlic powder
  • 1-2 squeezed lemons
  • 2 cups white wine

For the veggies

  • 2 sliced onions
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1 julienned red pepper
  • 1 julienned yellow pepper
  • 250g chopped brown mushrooms

For the rice

  • 1 ½ cup jasmine rice
  • 1 tbl turmeric
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • few dashes of salt

Instructions

Cook the jasmine rice in chicken stock, turmeric, and salt for about 25 minutes.  While the rice is cooking, in a large wok, sauté the garlic in margarine and oil.  Add the seafood, chorizo, and spices, and sauté on high for a few minutes until fragrant.  Next add the white wine and lemon juice.  Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce to medium heat for about 10 minutes. At the same time while cooking the seafood, but in another pan, sauté the onions and garlic in oil until golden.  Then add the veggies and a dash of salt and pepper.  Once the veggies are partially cooked, add them to the seafood.  Stir and let the paella simmer for a few more minutes.  Spoon copious amounts of paella on top of the rice and enjoy with a glass of white wine and great company!

Our Yearly Paella Parties