Tag Archives: Tasteful Tuesday

Tasteful Tuesday: Dream Dinner Destination

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As many of you know, I spent an incredible Summer in Europe in 2013. (Can you believe that it’ll be 2 years ago soon!)… You can read about my adventures on my Contiki Tour, or see some of my travel outfits, or learn about a couple of my European Summer packing tips.

One of my most favourite cities that I was lucky enough to explore, was Florence. I had been learning about it since I was old enough to pronounce “Michelangelo”, had been oohing and aaahing over David since forever, and obviously have a very deep love affair with Italian food. Not only does FLorence offer up a plethora of art galleries and buildings – it feels alive with secrets and history. Knowing the exact streets you walk upon were once graced with the feet of those such as Dante Alighieri and Boticelli. The Arno river flows straight through the city, the Duomo sticks up above the rest of the red roofs, every hundred meters is another piazza encircled by over priced restaurants and local gelato makers who shout offers and flavours to you as you pass by, with thick, deep Italian accents. It’s simply marvelous.

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It was while spending about 5 days in this magical city in Tuscany that my mother and I decided to treat ourselves one night. We were on a backpackers budget – mostly baguettes, cheese and ham. And possibly a shared pizza or pasta here or there. But we had heard of the famous Florentinian steaks, and decided to go in search of a place to try them out. We meandered lazily through the cobbled streets, passing homes once owned by the famous Medici family, stopping here and there to gaze at the incredible architecture that adorns the city. We came across a tiny, understated entrance with a sign reading, “Little David”. Starving from a day spent wandering galleries and lying under the hot Italian sun in beautiful rose gardens, we popped inside, and ended up having what can only be described as one of the most amazing meals of our lives.

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Little David is a restaurant, wine bar and museum, run by an Italian man who is heavily passionate about what he does. You might notice that his website is entirely in Italian, and has absolutely no options to change the words to English! It’s lucky that we stumbled onto it while looking for somewhere to eat in person, and that we didn’t google search first – it may have possibly put us off from going here. We wouldn’t have had the time to ask a local to help us transcribe the words, and would simply have looked for something easier to understand. This is definitely where some international websites fail – really, they should accommodate their holiday making patrons and have the option to turn the site into english (or at least important aspects like menus, directions and contact details). Thank goodness for Little David’s Trip Advisor page!

But rest assured, website aside this is a brilliant place to go and experience some first hand flavoursome Italian food. We ordered a pretty large steak, and finished every single mouthful. The owner was quite surprised that we, two petite ladies, had managed to scoff down so much food. Florentinian steak is served rare as rare can be (which is just my style, but if you’re not into that, I’d suggest changing your order to something else. The Italians will change for no one – and why should they when they do everything so perfectly!). We got a short history lesson, while I sipped away on a glass of soft, velvet chianti, about the restaurant owner’s love of wine. He even gave us free samples to try. An interesting aspect to his wine making skills, is that he has successfully copied the exact recipes that would have been used in ancient Pompeii – vases unearthed still had traces of wine in them, that were analyzed. The owner of Little David then took it upon himself to, using these ingredients that were pinpointed, re-create the exact wines that would have been drunk by those who were covered in volcanic ash. It really is amazing.

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I was reading Dan Brown’s Inferno while I was in Venice, and had just been in Florence, so to be able to think back on every details of his book and know what it looked like in person was just incredible. There is so much of that city that I have yet to go back and discover. The gelato is sweet, the locals helpful, and the food is simply magical.

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This was our incredible view every morning from our hostel – sparrows swooped and flew over the Tuscan rooftops, and we looked at mamas hanging out the days washing to dry.RoseView

This view is from a beautiful rose garden that is situated just below the beautiful Piazza di Michelangelo. It has a wondrous view of the city, beautiful gardens to stroll through, shade to rest your weary walked-out legs and most importantly, it’s totally free.David

David’s bum is something that is never given the recognition it deserves. I sneakily took a photo while no one was looking. (But seriously, those calves though!)

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Tasteful Tuesday: Mouthwatering Meatballs

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Yummy Butternut pasta with a sage and butter sauce:

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: about 1,5 hours
Feeds: 2 people

• Lean mince
• one slice of white bread
• pepper
• salt
• penne pasta
• 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
• 1 red onion
• mozzarella ball
• 3 garlic cloves
• 1 can of chopped tomatoes
• sugar
• 1 celery stick
• 1 carrot
• olive oil
• spaghetti

1 || Turn your oven up to 180 degrees Celsius.

2 || Get all you ingredients ready – first dice your onion finely and cut up your garlic. Chop your carrots into small pieces, as well as your celery. (I like to add carrots and celery because I like to think it makes my sauce a tiny bit healthier.)

3 || Then fry half of your onion and half of your garlic in a dash of olive oil in a pan on the stove, until cooked. Take out, and drain on a paper towel.

4 || In a bowl comine the mince, onion and garlic, as well as some salt and freshly ground pepper. Tear the bread into small pieces and drop it into the mixture. Use your hands to combine the ingredients.

5 || Divide your mixture into half, and each of those halves into half – so you’re left with one quarter quadrants in your mixture. Divide each of the four quadrants in half again (you can do this with a knife, or just your fingers) and that amounts is exactly how much you’ll be using for your meatball.

6 || Roll each of the meatballs in the palm of your hands and place on an oven proof dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil and place in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes, or until cooked through. (If you find that the outside is burning while the inside is under cooked, cover with tin foil and place back in the oven.)

7 || While your meatballs cook, fry the rest of your onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a pan on the stove. Once cooked, add the can of chopped tomatoes and the basil, as well as some salt and pepper to taste (at this point you may need to add some sugar, if your mixture is too sour – depending on the brand of chopped tomatoes you used). Allow to simmer away on the stove.

8 || Cook your spaghetti as you usually would – in a pot of boiling water on the stove. Don’t forget to add salt to your water. Once cooked, drain and put it into a bowl to serve on the table and toss with a bit of olive oil.

9 || Remove your meatballs from the oven. and place them into your tomato sauce. Mix them around, so that they are covered in sauce.

10 || Take out your mozzarella, and tear it into chunks, placing them into your sauce mixture. Pop the lid onto the pan, and allow the mozzarella to melt.

11 || Once the mozzarella has melted, turn your stove off, sprinkle with some fresh basil and serve the pan straight to the table, ready for everyone to enjoy.

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Tasteful Tuesday: Butternut Pasta with Sage & Butter Sauce

I’m a total Italian food nut. While I was on holiday in Italy, I was testing and trying out every single bit of Italian food I could find. However here in the UK, I noticed that we’ve got a huge sage bush in our back yard. Naturally, being an Italian fanatic, I thought , “hell-o! Sage and butter sauce!” And so here it is. A pasta so good I made it for 2 nights in a row!

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Yummy Butternut pasta with a sage and butter sauce:

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: about 1 hour
Feeds: 4 people

• Half a large butternut 
• salt
• pepper
• ground cinnamon
• penne pasta
• 2 cups of fresh sage leaves
• half a red onion
• mozzarella ball
• 3 garlic cloves
• three quarters of a stick of butter
• olive oil

1 || Turn your oven up to 180 degrees Celsius.

2 || Get all you ingredients ready – first chop your butternut into chunks (about 1,5cm squares. Not too small, or they will cook away in the pasta), dice half an onion finely and dice up your garlic.

3 || In an oven proof dish, place your chopped butternut. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle about 3 or 4 table spoons of cinnamon, season with salt (I used rock salt) and freshly ground black pepper. Place into the oven. I suggest checking your butternut every 10/15 minutes and tossing it around to keep it from burning. Allow to cook for approx. 30 minutes, or until soft, but firm enough that when you stab it with a fork it doesn’t fall off/apart.

4 || While you wait for the butternut to cook make your pasta. Place enough penne into a pot of boiling water to feed 4 people. Once cooked, drain and put aside.

5 || Meanwhile, fry your onions and garlic in a pan. Once they are cooked, put them aside.

6 || By now, your butternut should be cooked. Remove it from the oven and leave to cool.

7 || Put 3/4 of a bar of butter into the same pan you used to fry the onions and garlic. Melt it on a medium heat. Once it has melted,roughly tear the sage leaves once – I find that this releases their flavour better than just whole leaves.

8 || Allow your butter and sage to cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes. Then add your penne pasta to the mixture. Allow it to cook for a further minute or so, to absorb the flavours into the pasta.

9 || Tear up your mozzarella ball into coin-sized pieces and turn up the heat on your stove to help them melt.

10 || Add in the onions and garlic, as well as the roasted butternut blocks. Try to fold your mixture together instead of stirring, to prevent the butternut from ‘smooching’ :)

11 || Be careful not to let your food burn. Once the mozzarella has melted and the butternut and pasta is hot, decant into a bowl to serve, or alternatively plate up yourself.

** I garnished mine with a poached egg. It was delicious having the running yolk ooze all over the pasta. I highly recommend it, if you’re not feeding too many people (or it would be too much pressure to poach eggs for loads of people AND cook & eat all of this yummy food). I also added fresh sage leaves to spruce up my plate.

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Tasteful Tuesday: Scrumptious Stew

Even though it’s positively boiling hot in Cape Town, I can’t say no to a yummy stew and mash! Even if I have to have a fan blowing on me while I eat it, to stop myself from overheating. It makes me want to run away to Alaska and live in a little wooden cabin with a fire place. Really, it does. AS with all the dishes I post on Tasteful Tuesday, this recipe isn’t too difficult to follow, it’s pretty simple. It teas a bit of time – mostly because you need to let it marinate and then you want to cook it for as long as possible so that the meat becomes super soft.

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I got this recipe off of Pintrest, which I then followed to a blog called Katie at the Kitchen Door.

Daube Provençale (French Beef Stew with Red Wine)

Recipe from Home Made Winter, by Yvette van Boven.  Serves 8.

  • 3 lb stew beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle Cote du Rhone [I used Bordeaux and it was fine, but Yvette recommends Cote du Rhone, Vacqueyras, Gigondas, or Minervois]
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 orange, washed well and cut into 8 wedges [I substituted grapefruit]
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into rings
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 3 1/2 oz. pitted black olives
  1. Season meat with salt and pepper on all sides.  Place meat in a big bowl with wine, thyme, bay leaves, carrots, orange, onion, and garlic.  Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 12 hours, and preferably 24 hours.
  2. Heat some olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot.  Remove the meat from the marinade and brown the pieces in the oil on all sides.  Pour the marinade (including the oranges, bay leaves, etc.) over the meat and bring to a boil.  Boil for 5 minutes, skimming any foam from the surface.  Lower the heat to a simmer, stir in the tomato paste, and add 4 1/2 c. water.  Cover, and let stew on low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. 15 minutes before the stew is ready, add the pitted olives.  Let cook for 15 minutes on medium heat without the lid to thicken the stew.
  4. Serve over mashed potatoes, rice, or pasta.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Serves 6-8.

  • 6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • salt
  • 8 cloves garlic, cut in quarters
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  1. Place cubed potatoes in a large saucepan.  Cover with cold water, salt liberally, and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Boil for 10-15 minutes until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, skimming starch foam from top occasionally and checking to keep from boiling over – lower heat if necessary.  Drain potatoes and place in a blender.
  2. Return saucepan to heat, lower heat to low, and add garlic and heavy cream.  Heat until garlic is fragrant and cream begins to simmer, then add to blender.  Blend until potatoes are a totally smooth puree.  Add water or skim milk as necessary to even out texture.

|| On a side note: I didn’t include the olives (don’t like them!) or the grapefruit in mine…

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Tasteful Tuesday: Bruschetta

 

I love bruschetta. They’re easy to make, but look like you’ve really put a lot of work in. I decided to whip these up for lunch on Monday, and what a treat they were!001

• 1 french loaf
• cherry tomatoes
• Goats cheese
• Fresh basil leaves
• crispy shards of onion (from Woolworths)
• Black pepper and balsamic reduction to garnish

1 || Cut the french loaf into slices just over 1cm thick.

2 || Pop the slices into the toaster, set on a low, slow heat.

3 || Slice up the cherry tomatoes. Place them in a bowl, along with goats cheese, crumbling into smaller balls.

4 || Slice up the basil, to increase the flavour. Add to the tomato and cheese, and mix.

5 || Remove french loaf from the toaster, and place on a rough, textured wooden board. spoon some of the mixture onto each bruschetta.

6 || To garnish, place the crispy onions on top of each, and add a grind of black pepper.

7 || As you’re about to serve, squeeze a little balsamic reduction over each bruschetta. I love the ‘ab’ products reductions – they’re all delicious and can be found at most supermarkets.002 003 004 005

Tasteful Tuesday – Fabulous French Toast

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You know when you wake up one morning, and you’re all like, “I’m gonna be indulgent today.”?

Wait until the next time you feel like that, and then try out this recipe. Or if you’re like me, and you believe in every day indulgence (because well fed people with happy tummies smile more than their carrot consuming friends) then try it right . now …

Now I know that it’s common practice in Europe and America to make sweet french toast, but here in South Africa there’s loads of people who turn their noses up at the idea, and are more inclined to say “Pass the tomato sauce” (thats ketchup for you American kids) rather than “Pass the maple syrup”… I was like that too, until I tried making french toast this way, and now I’m hooked.

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Fabulous French Toast:
• Thick, day old white bread
• cinnamon
• nutmeg
• eggs (1 egg for every 3 or 4 slices of bread)
• milk
• banana, sliced
• syrup
• icing sugar to garnish

1 || Mix your eggs with a dash of milk.

2 || Sprinkle in a little nutmeg and a bit of cinnamon. (I love cinnamon, so I put loads in, and then add some more later too.)

3 || Put a non-stick pan on the stove and turn it up to medium heat.

4 || Soak each of your slices of bread in the egg and spice mixture, and place them in the pan. Two at a time should fit.

5 || Flip them over after a coupe of minutes to check whether the first side is cooking. If not, then flip it back onto the first side and wait a little longer. Repeat with the other side.

6 || Pop onto a plate and put the banana right on top. Dust with a little icing sugar, and sprinkle with some extra cinnamon if you love it as much as I do…

7 || When you’re ready to eat, pour syrup over the whole lot and enjoy!

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Tasteful Tuesday – A Simple Smoothie

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Could I just explain to you for one second about how much I hate to make a fuss and a mess in the kitchen? I can’t stand the millions of dishes that go into producing a meal, however delicious said meal might be. I can’t stand the effort that goes into wiping down counters, or re-packing refrigerators, or drying dishes (I always air dry mine in the drying up rack).

Making this yummy, awesome, delicious and really simple smoothie creates none of this mess and havoc, and is a perfect morning snack, that you can even pop into a sippy cup (yes, I just said sippy cup) and have on the way to work. No fuss or mess, and a healthy, tasty, on-the-go breakfast in return.

I can’t say that by making and drinking this smoothie your day will definitely be awesome, but I can tell you that it sure as hell probably will be.

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The Simple Smoothie:
• 1 banana
• a handful of strawberries, washed and sliced into halves
• a little bit of watermelon
• some fresh mint (Plus a little more to garnish, if you love being fancy!)• a little bit of watermelon
• 1 cup of 100% orange juice (or better yet, freshly squeezed…)

1 || Pop all of these into a plastic container and blend blend blend.
2 || Pour into an ultra fancy glass just to be indulgent (it is Tuesday after all) if you’re staying home/have time and garnish with a spring of tiny baby mint. Otherwise into the sippy cup it goes, and you can head on out to work.
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Tasteful Tuesday – The Perfect Beef, Onion and Guiness Pie

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My oh my, what a pie. I know this isn’t healthy, but I never promised that Tasteful Tuesdays would be about healthy meals, and to be honest, I think pies taste better than chocolate. (Yes, I really do!) But I do promise that Tasteful Tuesdays are about manageable recipes that you can make in a timely manner and that don’t call for ingredients only found in one region in the South of Spain in a specific season (You know those recipes!). And this pie ticks those boxes.

This recipe is originally from Master Chef Australia (a program that I think I might possibly be interested in competing in at some stage of my life, if I happen to find myself Down Under). You can find the recipe here.001_secondmain

The Perfect Pie:
Filling:
• 100ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
• 5 onions, sliced
• 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
• 4 sprigs of thyme
• 3 bay leaves 
• 2 tablespoons plain flour
• 1.5kg trimmed chuck steak, cut into 5cm pieces
• Salt flakes and freshly ground white pepper
• 1 carrot, cut into large chunks
• 440ml can Guinness
• 2L home-made beef stock
• 1 egg, beaten
• Tomato sauce, to serve

Maggie Beer’s Sour-Cream Pastry:
• 200g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
• 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
• ½ cup sour cream

1 || Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced (200°C conventional).

2 || For the pies, add 40ml olive oil to an enamelled cast-iron casserole, then add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook over low heat (use a simmer mat, if necessary) for 40 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to medium-high, add bay leaves and cook until the onion is dark and caramelised. Add the flour and cook stirring often for 3-4 minutes.

3 || Season the beef generously with salt flakes and ground white pepper. Heat remaining 60ml of the olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat, then cook the beef in 2 batches until well browned on all sides. Add the carrot and cook for 5-6 minutes or until golden. Add ¾ of the Guinness and cook for 5 minutes. Tip beef and Guinness into onions. Use remaining Guinness in can to deglaze the beef pan, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom, add to the onions.

4 || Pour enough beef stock to cover the beef and vegetables and bring to the boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid, then transfer to the oven and cook for 2-2.5 hours or until tender. Leave to cool to room temperature. Remove the chunks of beef and carrot to a board and chop into 1cm pieces, then return them to the onion gravy. Refrigerate until cold.

5 || Meanwhile, to make the sour cream pastry, place the butter and flour and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle or food processor, then blend until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs. Gradually add the sour cream, mixing until the pastry just comes together. Shape into a disc, then wrap in plastic wrap then chill for at least 20 minutes.

6 || Grease 6 holes of a muffin pan with a little olive oil. Roll out the pastry to 3-5mm thick, using a little extra flour for dusting. Cut out six rounds about 4cm bigger than the muffin holes for the pie bases and six rounds 2cm bigger than the muffin holes for the pie lids. Place a pie base in each hole, then press in in lightly with your fingers, and draw the pastry up the mould a little so the pastry is 1cm above the mould. Fill each hole with some of the beef mixture, brush edges with water, then top each with a pastry lid and crimp the edges to seal in the filling.

7 || Brush the pastry tops with beaten egg, cut a small hole in the centre of each pie for steam to escape. Bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Turn out and serve with tomato sauce, if desired.

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I whipped up a quick, herby, delicious tasting salad to eat with mine (basil, mint, thyme, rocket, spinach, carrot, goats cheese and tomatoes) and popped it onto a pretty wooden board, because I’m the queen of food presentation and believe that things taste better when they look beautiful.

001_birdseyeSeriously, I know making a pie, and especially making your own pastry, seems like really hard work, and you’re busy thinking, “Yes, but I’d much rather be watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians” (Eeeeuw. Get off my blog right now.) but it’s honestly not that hard. Try it, you’ll love it!

Tasteful Tuesday – Pepperminty Perfection

Let’s just get real for a second here. I know that we all love watching the Barefoot Contessa make macaroons seem as easy as making toast, but in real life, we generally have no time for fancy frills on the dessert front. So if you’re like me, and can’t stand wasting time in the kitchen, then I’d like to welcome you to your new favourite recipe. Peppermint Crisp Tart – Caramel? Check! Cream? Check! Chocolate? Check! Peppermint? Check! It’s easy peasy, and to die for.

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Peppermint Crisp Tart:
• 1 can of Caramel Treat
• 1 large Peppermint Crisp chocolate bar
• 250ml cream
• 1 packet of tennis biscuits

– Beat your cream until it forms stiff peaks.
– Add the caramel and beat again, until smooth.
– Keep the chocolate in it’s wrapper and break into small pieces – use a rolling pin if necessary.
– Using a large dish, or martini glasses as I’ve used here, begin with a layer of biscuits, then a layer of the cream/caramel mixture, then shiver and shake of the broken up peppermint crisp chocolate.
– Repeat until the mixture is finished. (Pretty sure you’re gonna be licking out the bowl at this point)
– Place in the fridge, preferably over night, but I made one one Sunday and it set in about 5-6 hours, with a small stint in the freezer at one stage.
Photo by Ricardo Lorence Photography

Tasteful Tuesday – The Eton Mess

Right, so you and I both know that I’m bad at keeping to schedules. I can’t even complete the simple task of uploading a new Tasteful Tuesday once a frigging week. But in my defense, the big BB move has taken up so much of my time that I’ve been mega side tracked. So without further ado, here’s a Tasteful Tuesday that I had ready last week, but had no time to upload.

PS… I promise to be better in the future.

The Eton Mess is a dessert named after the British fancy pants boys school Eton College – those two cute British princes went there. It’s made from crushed meringue and cream, as well as some kind of fruit (traditionally strawberries). According to Wikipedia, a heavily reliable academic source, a popular myth is that the Eton mess was first created when a meringue dessert was accidentally crushed by a yellow labrador while traveling to a picnic at Eton College, but what could be salvaged was, and it was served as a crushed meringue with strawberries and cream.

Whether that’s true or not, I’ve included my (mom’s) meringue recipe below. It’s awesome – use it.

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Meringues:
• 225g castor sugar
• 1 egg white
• 2 tsp vinegar
• 2 Tblsp boiling water
• half tsp vanilla essence
• 1 tsp baking powder

– Turn oven up to 130ºC.
– Beat the sugar, egg white, vinegar and boiling water until stiff.
– Add baking powder & vanilla essence and beat again.
– Bake at 130ºC for half an hour.

* If you want your meringues to be tacky inside take them out the oven at this point, if you like them crispy and crumbly all the way through, turn the oven off but leave them indie for another 20 minutes or so.

– crumble into a bowl, pop in some chopped up strawberries and top it off with cream. Delisimo!

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