Asian burgers


Sorry foodies that it has been so long since I last posted! I have been extremely busy riding camels in Israel, reading for class, and working on my thesis. But I made it a priority to post a new recipe this week, so here it is!

My camel

My camel

Camel in the Judaean Desert

Ty and I on our camel in the Judaean Desert

The markets in Israel were beautiful, yet chaotic and overstimulating. They were overcrowded with people and full of pungent smells, bright colours, fresh produce, and shouting, haggling, beckoning shop owners. A food adventurers heaven…

Jerusalem shuk

everyone in Jerusalem preparing for the shabbos

How we felt at the market

How we felt at the market

And now to my recipe…

I am a very traditional (I mean lazy) lunchtime cooker. I will typically choose eating leftovers from dinner the night before or throw together a sandwich with whatever fillings are in the fridge. However, my favorite thing to splurge on is a weekend gourmet sandwich made from deliciously fresh ciabatta from Knead, and layers of Woolie’s salami and edam, rocket, avo, and Pesto Princess pesto, made for Ty and I to eat while we sit on the couch watching our favorite series of the moment.

Last weekend, I was feeling adventurous, so I decided to make Asian burgers as a Sunday lunch treat. The key is to use whatever ordinary ingredients you happen to have in the fridge and turn them into something fancy and delicious.

After Ty took his first bite he said “You need to open a restaurant”. *Sigh* Maybe one day!

Asian Burgers (serves 2 + leftovers)

Asian burgers

cooking my Asian burgers

Asian burgers

The final product

Ingredients

  • 400g raw minced beef
  • 1/2 finely chopped onion
  • 1-2 sprigs finely chopped green onions
  • 1 handful finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 large brown mushroom finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot peeled and grated
  • 1 heaped tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbl sugar
  • 1 tbl soy sauce
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbl curry
  • 1 tbl jeera
  • sprinkle of chili flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. gently mix all the ingredients together, minus the salt
  2. using your hands, form large, thick patties
  3. grill the patties in a lightly oiled panned for 10-15 minutes until both sides are golden
  4. sprinkle some salt on the patties
  5. serve (with mayo if you’d like) on slices of toasted bread

My Passover Seder


I am Jewish and my upbringing was very much influenced by Judaism and all its traditions.  I believe the best part about being Jewish is the delicious food but the worst part is being a hairy girl!  My favorite Jewish holiday has always been Passover because it entails lots of eating, really fascinating food symbolism, and singing.  “Passover” means the order and it is a celebration of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.  We use a Haggadah, which means “telling”, to retell the story of Passover.  Check out this HILARIOUS rendition of the passover story.

Since moving to South Africa, I have not observed the Jewish holidays.  I think this is partly because I am unfamiliar with the Jewish community but also because I am searching for religious meaning in my life.  Ty and I were just accepted to the Birthright program, which is an awesome opportunity to travel to Israel with an organized group of young Jews to learn about our heritage, the history of Israel, and reconnect with Judaism.

This year, Ty’s parents came to visit, so it was the perfect opportunity for us to host our very first seder together.  It was really special to share something so much a part of my Jewish-American upbringing with my South African family.  All throughout our seder, memories came flooding in from all the previous years of passover seders – the huge Racow seders in Woodbridge, Grandma Jean’s mystery matzoballs, classic brisket, and enthusiasm, and me bashfully singing the four questions.

My four favorite Jewish foods are served on Passover: charoset, matzoball soup, noodle kugel, and matzo-brei.  This year, I was in charge of the Passover kitchen, which was a huge undertaking without my mom’s experience.  Luckily, Ty’s awesome mom, Beth, helped me cook and prepare for the seder. Unfortunately, I was so consumed by the cooking and preparing, that I did not take any mouth-watering, close-up foody photography, but believe me when I say it was all so so delicious!!!

My mom always made homemade chicken soup and then my sister and I made the matzoballs.  She would cook the soup and strain it in the morning before synagogue and I would burn my fingers and mouth while stealing stringy, delicious pieces of steaming hot soup chicken from the strainer.  When we got home, my sister and I would fight over who had to make the matzoballs, which usually ended up being me because I was the youngest.

I was a bit nervous to make my own matzoball soup, for fear of sinking matzoballs, but luckily Smitten Kitchen came to my rescue as usual with an insanely tasty matzoball soup recipe.  When it came time to make the matzoballs, I passed the honor on to Ty, as his rite of passage, and they floated. Success!

Matzoball Soup (serves 4 + leftovers)

Ingredients

For the chicken soup

  • Have a roast chicken for dinner the night before (I highly recommend my Chicken a la Queen recipe), then use the chicken carcass with pieces of meat still on it for the soup
  • 3-4 celery sticks cut into big chunks
  • 3-4 carrots cut into big bunks
  • 2 onions peeled and quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbl whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tbl coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3-4 liters water
For the matzoballs
  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 4 tbl oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4 tbl chicken broth
Directions
  1. Add all the soup ingredients to a very large pot
  2. bring to a boil and simmer all morning before synagogue (for about 3-5 hours)
  3. As the broth boils off, add some more water to top it up every so often
  4. My mom used to strain the soup and leave only the broth, but since I’ve grown up I have realized that the soup veggies and chicken are the best part! So, instead of straining the broth, which not only gets rid of the lovely veggies but is also a big scary mission, carefully ladle out all the chicken bones and leave the rest in!
  5. Have your favorite person mix all the matzoball ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes
  6. Then have your least favorite person use their hands to roll the mix into small ping-pong sized balls
  7. Bring salted water to a bowl, reduce the heat to a simmer, and carefully drop the matzoballs in to the water to cook for about 20 minutes (Within minutes of dropping them into the water, the matzoballs should (hopefully) begin popping up and floating on the surface and puffing up as they cook)
  8. Carefully remove the matzoballs from the water, place them in the chicken soup, and let them cook for another 10-20 minutes
  9. Serve the matzoball soup with the chunky veggies, two matzoballs to start with (so as not to lose your appetite for the main course), and freshly ground coarse salt and pepper

The best part of the seder plate is the charoset, which symbolizes the mud that the Israelites used to make bricks when they were enslaved by the Egyptians. I had also never made charoset and found a great and super easy recipe on Epicurious.com.

Charoset (serves 4 + snacks)

Ingredients 

  • 2 peeled, cored, and shredded red apples
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup sweet red wine
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbl brown sugar

Directions: Mix all the ingredients together and spoon heaping portions of charoset on matzo

Although I grew up eating Grandma Jean’s famous brisket on Passover, this year I decided to make a beef roast, so adapted a great pot roast recipe from the Pioneer Woman.

Beef Roast (serves 4 + leftovers)

Ingredients

  • beef roast
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • handful fresh rosemary
  • handful fresh thyme
  • coarse salt and pepper
  • oil
  • 4 potatoes cubed
  • half a small butternut peeled and cubed
  • 2 onion coarsely chopped
  • 4 peeled and chopped carrots
  • 2 tbl garlic diced
  • maizena (corn starch)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C
  2. Lightly oil the beef and rub lots of salt, pepper, and garlic all over it
  3. In a deep dish pan add the beef and create a bed of veggies, starch, and herbs
  4. Pour the stock and wine into the pan
  5. Cook the roast in the oven for about 1.5 hours and baste periodically
  6. When the roast is slightly pink inside, remove it from the oven
  7. Remove everything from the pan and pour the gravy into a small pot
  8. Create a maizena paste using about 2 tbl maizena and a tiny amount of water
  9. Bring the gravy to a boil, reduce the heat, add the maizena paste and stir until thickened. If the gravy has not thickened to your liking, add a bit more maizena and let thicken more until you are satisifed.
  10. Serve the beef with veggies covered in delicious gravy

My dad used to make sweet and oh-so-amazing matzo-brei as a special Passover breakfast. He taught me how to make it and I assure you that the tradition will carry on.  Then, in college, a friend taught me how to make savory matzo-brei.  So now I like to make both!

Matzo-brei (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 4 pieces of matzo
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbl sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • maple syrup or golden syrup if you live in South Africa and cannot find maple syrup

Directions

  1. Run the sheets of matzo under warm water until they soften
  2. In a bowl, break the soft matzo into small pieces
  3. In a pan, saute the onions and garlic with a bit of oil
  4. In another bowl, mix together half the soggy matzo, 3 beaten eggs, paprika, salt, and pepper
  5. In the original bowl, mix together the rest of the matzo with 3 beaten eggs, sugar, and cinnamon
  6. Leave the mixture to marinade for about 5 minutes
  7. In the same pan that you sauteed the onions and garlic, add the savory mixture and fry up for about 10 minutes
  8. In another pan, add the sweet mixture and also fry up for about 10 minutes
  9. Serve the sweet matzo-brei with syrup generously drizzled all over it

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

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!