Polenta Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Cherry Tomatoes and Feta

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Healthy carbs guys!  Healthy carbs, and it is all in a pizza !!!

This pizza just had to happen. Load it up with whatever your heart desires and you are sorted. Pizzas are one of those things you can go all out with and do loads of crazy, delicious toppings and stuff but I was in the mood for simple, so simple it was :-). For awhile now, I have had this thing for caramelized onions, so I just had to top mine up with them. Then, some cherry tomatoes, I love the baby ones and once the pizza is in the oven, I watch through the glass window of the oven (Yes, I am weird, it is like I am stalking the pizza !  I am a Pizza Stalker !) and eventually those baby tomatoes pop and get all wrinkly.  There is a method in my madness,  with the oven on, I keep warm and I get to make sure nothing burns (because I have a thing with my oven…long story, don’t ask).  Then of course the basil leaves, I mean of course…tomatoes and basil, need I say more, and then of course you have guessed…. feta cheese.  I mean, there has to be cheese on a pizza right? well not really I suppose,  I have had loads of pizzas without cheese, but on this pizza, cheese was just an added bonus.

Okay, so this is not your usual pizza base, but it is a nice light option, if you want to try something a bit different, and it is even gluten free.  What is that saying…don’t knock it, till you’ve tried it ! 🙂

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Polenta Pizza With Caramelized Onions, Cherry Tomatoes and Feta

Preparation time:  3 minutes

Cooking time:  35 minutes

Total time:  38 minutes

Serves 2 or 3

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked polenta

dash of salt

2 cups water

Topping:

4 medium-sized onions, sliced thinly

125 grams cherry tomatoes (or more if you like)

200 grams feta cheese (or more if you like)

fresh basil leaves

fresh rocket leaves

To caramelize the onions:

a little olive oil

1 – 2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 -2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

a little water (if needed)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large pan, with a little olive oil, saute the onions.  Add a teaspoon or two of brown sugar and allow to cook. Stir continuously to prevent burning.  If you feel the onions are sticking a bit, add a little water. I personally like my onions to be nicely browned, and just before the cooking process is done, I add the balsamic vinegar, stir it in, and then take the pan off the oven and set aside.

To cook the Polenta:  Add polenta to the boiled water and reduce the heat down to simmer.  Using a whisk, whisk for about 5 minutes continuously until the polenta starts to thicken.  The polenta will start to pull away from the sides of the pot.

Once the polenta is cooked, spread it into an oven proof dish approximately 18 x 28 centimetres/7 x 11 inches in size.  Flatten as best as possible and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place toppings on. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or until the topping has cooked.

Add fresh basil and rocket leaves.  Serve either on its own or with a salad.

Enjoy 🙂

 

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Broccoli Salad with Bacon

 

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This is by far one of my favourite salads.  I could literally eat a bowl of this and not feel a pang of guilt.  Oh, and by the way, this salad is equally as nice without the bacon, so it can be vegetarian friendly too…just saying 🙂 .

Raw broccoli never excited me up until these last few years.  It was this very recipe that changed my perception of raw broccoli.

We were at a braai (barbecue) and a friend of a friend had made a Brocolli Salad. I think I fell in love that night with the salad …quite sad hey, but it happens. I got the basic recipe from her and have slightly adapted it with regards to ingredients and quantities. This recipe has become a family favourite.  It is just one of those salads that I could never tire from. It is just perfect on its own with nothing else.  It is THAT good !!! It is totally adaptable as well and can easily be increased for a bigger crowd, also if you want more crunch, you can add more toasted sunflower seeds, and basically just play with the flavours and quantities.

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I make this salad with my Homemade Mayonnaise but using a store-bought mayo is equally as good and tasty.  Although this is not a time-consuming salad, time can be cut down even further by toasting the sunflower seeds, prior to doing the salad and by storing them in a sealed container in the refrigerator. I am a sunflower seed freak and love them on my salads, or for a snack attack, so I permanently have a container of toasted sunflower seeds sitting in my refrigerator.  Also, the bacon can be cooked until crispy and kept in the refrigerator until needed. If the seeds and bacon are cooked and stored before-hand, this salad can be made in the blink of an eyelid.

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Broccoli Salad with Bacon

Preparation time:  20 minutes

Refrigeration time:  2 hours

Total time:  2 hours 20 minutes

Serves 2

Ingredients:

250 grams chopped bacon bits

150 grams sunflower seeds

1 head of fresh broccoli

1/4 cup chopped white onion

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1- 2 tablespoons white vinegar (or white wine vinegar)*

1 tablespoon sugar (I used brown sugar)

Instructions:

Cook bacon bits until crisp and set aside.

Toast sunflower seeds, by using a small pan on top of the stove on medium heat. Do not use any oil as the seeds have their own.  Constantly keep turning and moving the seeds around in the pan, to prevent burning.  Once done, set aside to cool.

Cut the broccoli florets into bite size pieces.

Chop and dice the onion into small pieces.

Combine the broccoli florets and the onion in a medium-sized bowl.

Then, in a separate small bowl, add the mayonnaise, vinegar and the sugar (this is where I use only half of the vinegar and half of the sugar, then I taste) and mix together with a tablespoon until it is of a smooth consistency and evenly combined. Taste again at this point, and if you feel you need a bit more vinegar or sugar, add a little extra).

Gradually and cautiously mix the mayonnaise mixture in with the broccoli and onion. The mixture must not be a mayonnaise, creamy, watery mess. It must rather be on the dry side, to play it safe, as remember, as this salad sits, natural juices will form. You may find you have too much mayonnaise for the broccoli (I usually always do), if so, don’t use the balance, rather set it aside and place it back in the fridge.  Once you have the consistency correct, and you are happy, toss the mixture together thoroughly.

If possible at this point, place the salad in the refrigerator for at least two hours.  This helps combine all the flavours together.

After two hours, or best just before serving, add the crisp bacon bits and the toasted sunflower seeds, just for some added crunch.

This salad is divine even a couple of days afterwards, so it is nice to know that this salad can be made in advance if necessary.

Enjoy 🙂

*  Decrease the white vinegar to 1 tablespoon if the mayonnaise you use has vinegar in it.  (I use my Homemade Mayo, where there is no vinegar, so feel it needs that extra)

 

 

 

 

Roasted Baby Cabbages

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I thoroughly enjoy roasted baby cabbages, it could be my favorite roasted veggie at this time, and most of all, I enjoy them without any dressings or a bunch of sauces!  Often the dressings and sauces can over-shadow the actual taste of the veggie… just my opinion, maybe I haven’t found the right dressing or sauce to enhance the veggie…. oh well, for now…. I am into simple roasted veggies. This way, I am able to enjoy the real taste of the veggies.

These little guys, are to die for. Basically all I do is baste with a little olive oil on the cut wedges, and add freshly ground black peppercorns and salt, pop them in the oven for about half an hour (or until golden brown).

These make the perfect side veggie for any roast, and that slight crunch of the leaves as you bite into it…. is just amazing!!

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When I think back to when my mom used to cook cabbage, in those days it was a matter of stripping the leaves, cutting out the main veins and bombing them into a pot of salted water and from there they got boiled radically to the extent I am sure all the nutrients were boiled out, but that is how a lot of vegetables were cooked. Over time, things have changed.  I basically did the same, but on a much smaller scale, I just used a lot less boiled water. I practically would tease the leaves in the boiling water for a few minutes, then take them out, but as much as I still enjoyed the cabbage, at times I did feel that I had not done the cabbage justice.  Then roasting cabbage was experimented with and I have never looked back! 🙂  I especially love roasting the baby cabbages, and just adore the red ones (I think they look more purple though).

Cabbages are loaded with vitamin C.  So, with that fact alone, they are a standard vegetable in my household.  The red (purple) cabbages, apparently, actually have a higher vitamin C content than the green/white cabbages (that is probably why the red cabbages are more expensive here 🙂 …. but no matter what, the bottom line is, they are healthy, nutritious and unbelievably good for you.

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Roasted Baby Cabbages

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time:  25 minutes

Total time:  30 minutes

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

2 small baby cabbages

Freshly ground peppercorns

Freshly ground salt

a little olive oil for basting

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F

Place the cabbage with the hard stem on counter top, and slice from the top to the stem, down.  The cabbage will be in half now.  Then cut each half again, so there are four quarters.

Repeat this for the other baby cabbage.

Baste the cut sides with a little olive oil.

Grind salt and pepper on the cabbage wedges.

Place on an oven proof dish and place in oven to cook.

Remove from oven, once the cabbage wedges are golden brown and crisp (about 25/30 minutes)

Enjoy 🙂

NB*  If you are only wanting to do half the quantity, but want both the red and the green cabbage wedges, just cut each baby cabbage in half, and then cling wrap two of the halves and refrigerate and then cut the other halves into wedges.

 

Hazelnut and Toffee Sauce Ice-Cream Loaf

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I could not resist this ice-cream loaf today.  It just seemed so apt.  The weather here is absolutely magnificent, even though it is supposed to be winter.  The days are sunny, not overly hot, just really pleasant.  From where I am, looking out at the sea, it almost looks like a lake…just beautiful, with the odd ship far out at sea.

This ice-cream dessert, I cheated (a bit….okay….a lot).  I did not make my own ice-cream (sorry), and I did not make my own toffee sauce (oops…another sorry).  Instead, I took the easy way out and used my Ola Ice-Cream which I had in my freezer, and then my Illovo Toffee Sauce which I had in my grocery cupboard….(I actually am feeling a bit bad, as I am writing this….its like confession time). Sigh, anyway, it still worked out and is just as tasty.

Whenever I do ice-cream desserts, I always find I have to work super quickly, especially if it is warm outside…so having all what I am planning on using has to be measured out and chopped or whatever….and lets not talk about the photography…oh my…always a disaster !  I have yet to master the art of photographing ice-cream…but I will get it…eventually.

This ice-cream loaf is loaded with crunchy nuts and shortbread biscuits or cookies (in South Africa we tend to use the word ‘biscuit’ more so than cookie). The toffee sauce, I piled on in abundance.  With it being bought (yes, pure laziness, I know, but…hey….it happens) and in a squeezy bottle, it was so easy just to squirt on.

This dessert really could not have been easier, with literally only four ingredients. It is a matter of throwing it together in layers and allowing it to freeze. The results are an impressive, good-looking nutty, crunchy dessert.  It is a dessert excellent for those hot summers’ nights and equally as excellent for us sitting in the middle of winter but experiencing summer weather. 🙂

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Hazelnut, Toffee Sauce Ice-Cream Loaf

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Total time:  3 hours and 15 minutes (including freezing time)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 liters Ola Vanilla Ice-Cream

200 grams Bakers Shortbread biscuits/cookies, roughly chopped and broken up into pieces

200 grams Illovo Toffee Sauce (Home-made Toffee Sauce would be great as well)

200 grams Hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Instructions:

Take ice-cream out from freezer and set aside.

Line a loaf tin approximately  5.25 x 9 x 2.75 inches/13.5 x 23 x 7 centimeters   in size with cling wrap, allowing extra over the sides.  Alternatively use spray n’ cook only to grease.

For the layering:

Sprinkle some toasted hazelnuts into the loaf tin.

Cover with some ice-cream.

Top with a good covering of chopped shortbread biscuits/cookies.

Pour some toffee sauce over the biscuits/cookies.

Repeat these layers until all ingredients are finished with ice-cream being the last layer.

Cover the ice-cream loaf with the over-lapping cling wrap.  If you used spray n’ cook to grease, cover the ice-cream loaf with some aluminium foil and place in the freezer for at least 3 hours or until completely set.

Once set, and ready to serve, if you used cling wrap, tip the loaf onto a chilled serving plate. Alternatively, if you used spray n’ cook, run a knife around the edges and sides of the ice-cream loaf, to help loosen, and then tip the loaf onto a chilled serving plate. You may want to add a few more toasted hazelnuts for decoration and then cut the loaf into slices.

Additional toffee sauce can be added.

Enjoy 🙂

 

Quinoa, Carrot and Baby Marrow Cakes

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I was in desperate need of something healthy to snack on for lunch.

Basically I had carrots that would have been looking sad in a day or two and a tray of baby marrows which wouldn’t have made even a mini baby marrow pizza! So my options were limited apart from making a stew or whatever.

I decided to concoct a little vegetable cake.  These are so simple to do and can be done in a flash, especially if you have the quinoa cooked already or whilst the quinoa is cooking the rest can be prepared. With regards to the baby marrow, these I did not cook initially at all, instead they were just grated and squeezed in a dish towel to get as much water out of them.  There is also a trick to this, sprinkle the grated baby marrow with salt, let it sit awhile, and then twist and turn the dish towel and squeeze.  Baby Marrows contain water, and it is amazing how much water will be released. The squeezing of the baby marrows is probably the hardest part of these veggie cakes, but there is nothing wrong with a bit of an arm workout.

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Quinoa, Carrot and Baby Marrow Cakes

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes (quinoa)

Total time: 40 minutes, excluding frying

Makes 10

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa

4 medium sized onions, grated

350 grams baby marrows, grated

3/4 spring onions, sliced

1 jumbo sized free range egg

origanum (either dry or fresh, chopped)

salt and pepper to taste

3 very heaped tablespoons Gluten Free Tapioca Flour (cake wheat flour will work just as well)

and extra Tapioca Flour to roll cakes in before frying (cake wheat flour will work just as well)

Oil for frying

Instructions:

Cook Quinoa as per packet instructions, but using only 1/2 cup quinoa to 1 cup of boiling water, let simmer until done, approximately 15 minutes.

Grate the carrots, and set aside.

Slice the spring onions, and set aside

Grate the baby marrows.  Place on a dish towel and sprinkle with salt.  Let it sit awhile, the longer the better, and then squeeze the baby marrows to help draw out the water content.  Be careful not to pile on the salt otherwise your veggie cakes will be overly salty.

Once the water is all out as best you can, place the quinoa, carrots, baby marrow, spring onions, egg, a good sprinkling of origanum, salt and pepper into a medium sized bowl.

Mix the ingredients until combined.

Then, add a heaped tablespoon of flour at a time, mixing well, after each addition.

Shape into balls with the help of a tablespoon.

Coat each ball with a little of the extra flour and set aside.  (If you need more flour, to coat, just add accordingly)

In a large frying pan, heat up a little oil.  I used vegetable oil and fry the veggie cakes until crisp and golden brown.

Serve with a crisp salad for a healthy lunch or with baby potatoes and vegetables for dinner.

Enjoy 🙂

 

 

 

Grilled Pork Sausages and Polenta Chips with Rosemary, Onion and Apple Gravy

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Shew, that is quite a title.  I didn’t realise. It is quite a mouthful.

This dish came as a surprise really.  I had Pork Sausages but wanted to do something a little different other than the usual Pork Sausages and Mash. I had made a pot of Gluten Free Polenta for the first time the night before and loved it and apart from that had the left-overs in a container in the fridge. The thought of Pork Sausages and Polenta, crossed my mind, thinking the Polenta would be soft and mushy like mash, once I had heated it up, well….not quite, in fact quite the opposite.  It was so solid so the thinking began…and Polenta Chips were discovered.  I had no idea how they would turn out, so I cut the Polenta into chips and put a few in a shallow pan with a little oil for a test.  I was amazed, they crisped up beautifully and not only that they were delicious. So that part of the meal was successful. Then more pondering was done.  I felt I was on a good thinking streak….what compliments pork? Hmmm… onion and apple of course, thinking back to a Pork Chop dish I do and so the Rosemary, Onion and Apple Gravy was made.  I was a bit dubious at first, thinking this meal would be a bit ‘bitty’ but it all worked together and ended up being really really tasty and very different to the usual Pork Sausages and Mash.

Grilled Pork Sausages and Polenta Chips with Rosemary, Onion and Apple Gravy

Preparation time: 15 minutes (if Polenta is cooked the night before) This includes the preparation for the gravy as well

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

Serves 2 (this recipe can easily be doubled)

Ingredients:

For the Polenta.  Cook the Polenta according to the packet instructions.  (I made mine quite a thick consistency) I strongly suggest this is done the night before and stored in a sealed container in the fridge.  That way it will be stiff enough to cut the chips when needed.

For the Pork Sausages.  Cook the sausages your preferred way.  I personally like to bake them initially in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F, for about 20/30 minutes until they are turning a golden brown on the one side.  I then turn my oven to the grill mode, and allow the sausages to grill, but leaving them still on the middle oven rack. That ensures they are cooked well and are a nice golden brown colour.

(Whilst the Pork Sausages are cooking, I fried the Polenta Chips and had the gravy cooking)

For the gravy.

1 medium onion, sliced thinly

2 medium apples of your choice, diced

1 cup homemade vegetable stock or beef stock (stock cube will be fine)

1 teaspoon chopped rosemary

1 medium sized garlic clove , chopped

Saute the onion and garlic together in a small pan.

Add the diced apple and bring to the boil.

Add the stock, and bring to the boil.  Then simmer until the apple is soft and the stock is reduced.

Mash the apple with a fork in the gravy.  This acts as a thickener.  If you find it too thick, use a little water to thin it out to your liking.

Enjoy 🙂

NB*  I have not tried baked Polenta Chips.  I would assume they would take longer in the oven though than the frying, and then also wouldn’t be as crispy.