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

Cheesy savory breakfast potatoes with eggs


My favorite meal of the day is breakfast, which is synonymous for eggs, either in a fry up full of veggies or simply sunny side up, sometimes with cheese, sometimes with beans if I’m craving a taste of England, but always served with some sort of carb.  A true breakfast, in my sense of the word, only happens during the weekend, because I am too lazy and too rushed in the morning to even contemplate cooking breakfast during the week.

The other day I decided to wake my Ty up with breakfast in bed with a fried egg sunny side up served with cheesy savory breakfast potatoes.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 tbl oil
  • 1 chopped onion (or a few stalks of spring onions)
  • 1 heaped tsp garlic
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup cheese of your liking
  • 4 eggs
  • fresh rocket
  • salt & pepper

Directions

  1. In a pan, add 2 tbl oil and sautee the garlic and onions until soft and lightly browned
  2. While the garlic and onions are cooking, thinly slice up the potatoes, put them in a bowl, add a drop of water, and microwave for 2 minutes until parcooked
  3. Once the garlic and onions are cooked, add the potatoes to the pan and toss with salt, pepper, paprika, and chili flakes, cover, and let cook on low heat for about 5 minutes
  4. Transfer the potatoes to an oven friendly baking dish, generously sprinkle with grated cheese, and grill in the oven on high until the cheese is fully melted, bubbly, and starting to brown a bit
  5. while the cheese is melting, in the pan you used to cook your potatoes, cook your eggs any way your heart desires with some salt and pepper
  6. when the eggs are finished cooking, pull out the potatoes and serve together with a garnish of rocket

Veggie Risotto


The very first time I had risotto was during my second year of university.  I can’t believe I went 19 years without eating it!  A friend made asparagus risotto and it ended in violent food poisoning for him but a content tummy and a whole new world of risotto cooked with everything for me.  Food poisoning will always mystify me despite that I took epidemiology of infectious diseases last year and learned all about the nasty culprits – food handlers – and how to track a food poisoning outbreak.

Renee (who taught me how to make grape pizza) also made a killerrrrrrr veggie risotto that was so delicious, so foodgasmic, and so moreish in every way.  When I moved to South Africa I tried my hand at making risotto for Ty and I.  No pun intended, because making risotto entails pretty much continual stirring for about 40 minutes that ends in a dead arm. Risotto is kind of like a baby. You feed it, nurture it, and help it grow.  My all time favorite risotto is chicken marsala risotto but I struggle to find marsala wine here in South Africa, so the next best thing is risotto with anything else.

One major barrier to making risotto is that Ty passionately hates parmesan cheese, which is a critical ingredient.  He cannot bare the unpleasant smell and taste produced by Butyric acid, the same ingredient found in vomit.  I on the other hand, love parmesan regardless and am appalled by Ty’s distaste.  Nevertheless, to appease him, I add a small handful of whatever cheese we have in stock instead of parmesan.

This is my Veggie Risotto recipe.  I tend to just add whatever veggies I have in the fridge and so I encourage you to go crazy and add whatever your heart desires.

Ingredients (serves 2 + leftovers)

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 heaped tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tbl butter
  • 1 cup risotto rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup cheese (gouda, cheddar, edam)
  • 125g brown mushrooms coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped squash (zucchini, patty pan, round zucchini)
  • 1 chopped red or yellow pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • salt and pepper
Directions
  1. melt the butter in a pan and sautee the onions and garlic until lightly browned
  2. add the dry risotto and stir for about 5 minutes
  3. mix together the wine and chicken broth
  4. turn the heat down and add about 1/4 cup broth at a time and stir until the broth is absorbed
  5. while the risotto is cooking, in a separate pan, add some oil and sautee the veggies with salt, pepper, garlic salt, and paprika until al dente
  6. if you run out of broth and the risotto is still not fully cooked (a bit crunchy in the center), add more water and let it absorb. it should take about 40 minutes for the risotto to fully cook
  7. when the risotto is almost done (fluffy and gooey), stir in the veggies and cheese
  8. enjoy!

End-of-Block Foodie-Fiesta


The Public Health Master’s program at UCT accommodates working professionals by holding what is called “Block” scheduling, AKA HELL.  For each of your courses, you sit in lectures for 2.5 consecutive days and cover approximately 50% of the course material.  Although this dramatically reduces lecture time for the remainder of the semester and enables working professionals, like myself, to do an MPH while working full-time, it is incredibly non-conducive to learning and is an exhaustive exercise.

This year, Block was even more hellish than usual, because I had two courses back to back, which equated to an entire week of 8:30AM-4:00PM classes. So you can imagine that by Friday my brain was absolutely FRIED. To celebrate the end of Block, Ty and I had a garden party at our house and invited MPHers from my cohort and this year’s new cohort to unwind and get to know one another.

The party was a success – great people, great vibes, great drinks, and great food=the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Everyone brought something to munch on and here are some of the highlights…

I am not such a big fan of cocktails but rather am more of a wine/beer girl, so when I say Whitney’s Pimm’s Cocktails were totally awesome, you know they are worth it.  But beware, they are deliciously deadly!

Ingredients

  • Pimm’s
  • Dry Gin
  • Fresh Lemonade (Which we couldn’t find but carbonated lemonade did the trick)
  • Cucumber
  • Lemon
  • Mint

Instructions

Mix together 1 part Pimm’s, 1 part Gin, and 3-4 parts Lemonade.  Add a few slices of cucumber and lemon, a few leaves of mint, and mash it all together to release the flavors.

Kirsty’s Chocolate Fudge Squares are a delicious traditional South African dessert with smooth chocolate and soft biscuits in every bite.

Ingredients

  • 250g butter
  • 1 packet (500g) icing sugar
  • 40g (100ml) cocoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 packets Marie biscuits

Instructions

Place the butter in a bowl and microwave for about 1 minute until melted.  Sift together the icing sugar and cocoa to remove the lumps and stir into the butter until fully blended.  Beat the eggs and stir into the chocolate mixture. Microwave the mixture, uncovered, for about 2 minutes and stir.  Break up the biscuits and stir into the mixture. Transfer to a small deep dish, smooth with spatula, and allow to cool. Then place the mixture in the fridge to harden and cut into squares.

Kirsty’s Bruschetta, adapted from Jamie Oliver, is a simple yet delicious hor d’oeuvre for a dinner party and was gobbled up within minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 french loaf cut into slices
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lots of chopped garlic
  • 2 finely chopped and seeded tomatoes
  • 1 cup of fresh finely chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 packet of mozzarella thinly sliced

 Instructions

Preheat the oven to 200C.  Spread the sliced bread on a pan.  Mix together the garlic and olive oil and then spread onto the bread. Bake the bread in the oven for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix together the tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper.  When the bread is getting crusty, remove from the oven, spread the tomato mix onto each slice, and top with a slice of mozzarella. Put the bruschetta back into the oven until the cheese has fully melted and serve while still warm.  If you are feeling lazy, you can substitute the tomato-mix for ready-made basil pesto or tomato tapenade.

For my contribution, I made a variety of home-made gourmet Pizzas throughout the evening.  At one point, I had 5 excited girls standing around me asking questions as I built my pizzas, which was a truly blissful moment for me.

I don’t remember where I got this full-proof Pizza Dough recipe but I am completely against buying pre-made bases because of how easy it is to make and the fun-factor of rolling it out to my desired thickness, depending on my mood.

Ingredients (yields 4 big pizzas)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (white, wheat, or a mixture)
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaped tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

Instructions

Combine flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Add the oil and warm water, stir a bit, and then remove from the bowl and go wild kneading the dough with your hands.  No need to wait for the dough to rise.  Roll the dough out, place in a greased pizza pan, and add toppings.  Bake at 180C for about 25 minutes until desired brownness.

I found the Barbeque Chicken Pizza recipe on The Pioneer Woman’s blog, which was modeled from the California Pizza Kitchen version but even better.

Ingredients (for 1 pizza)

  • About 1 cup of rotisserie chicken cut into bite size pieces (or 2 raw chicken breasts)
  • About 1 cup of your favorite barbeque sauce
  • About 1 tbl of honey
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 thinly sliced purple onion
  • 1/2 thinly julienned red pepper
  • a dash of dried basil
  • a dash of salt
  • a handful of chopped coriander

Instructions

Note: You can bake your own chicken directly in BBQ sauce but I used already cooked rotisserie chicken for convenience-sake.

Preheat the oven to about 180C.  In a bowl, mix together the BBQ sauce and honey.  In a separate bowl, mix together the chicken and half the sauce.  Lightly grease your pizza pan, roll out the dough to your desired thickness, and gently place the base in the pan.  Drizzle the remainder of the sauce all over the pizza base, then add a layer of mozzerella cheese, chicken, purple onion, red pepper, and a dash of salt.  Bake the pizza for about 25 minutes or until your desired brownness.  Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle a generous amount of fresh coriander all over the pizza and serve while still hot, or cold because nothin’s better than cold pizza for breakfast.

I also got a few ideas for Mushroom Garlic Pizza from Jamie Oliver and Rachel Ray but created a culmination of the two using my own personal pazazz.

Ingredients (for 1 pizza)

  • 3 tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
  • a dash of red chili flakes
  • a dash of salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 250g assorted mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • a handful of fresh rocket

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180C.  In a pan, mix together the EVO, garlic, chili flakes, salt, and pepper and saute on medium heat for about 3 to release the flavors.  Add the mushrooms and paprika and cook until the mushrooms are brown and tender.  Lightly grease your pizza pan, roll out the dough to your desired thickness, and gently place the base in the pan.  Add a layer of mozzarella, mushrooms, and drizzle the remaining garlic sauce on top (but do not add too much oil or else the pizza will become oily).  Cook for about 25 minutes or until your desired brownness and top with rocket.

My dearest friend Renee introduced the Grape Pizza to me many years ago during University and it completely changed my perception that pizza is strictly a savory meal.  When I visited the US in August, Renee, Kate, and I had a reunion and of course made Grape Pizza and devoured every last piece.

The Grape Pizza Original with Renee and Kate

I wished to spread the love of Grape Pizza internationally, so made it for my garden party guests, and everyone was pleasantly surprised by the unique combination of sweet and  savory flavors that produced an almost dessert-like pizza.

Ingredients (for 1 pizza)

  • 1 cup halved purple seeded grapes
  • 1 small block of gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 small packet of fresh rosemary
  • honey to drizzle
  • A small handful of mozzarella (optional)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Lightly grease a baking sheet or pizza pan, roll out the dough to your desired thickness, and gently place the base in the pan.  Push the grapes gently into the dough facing downward and bake for about 10 minutes.  Pull the pizza out and sprinkle gorgonzola, mozzarella (optional), and rosemary all over the pizza. Lastly, lightly drizzle honey all over.  Place back in the oven for another 10-15 or until desired brownness.

Enjoy!