Writing to you on a rather bright but grey day. There were grand plans to somehow write and send out this email last week… but of course that did not happen. I did actually manage to take one day off (ok, 70% of a day) to recover from Tonsillitis but the rest of the week ended up being a mad work filled frenzy! The weekend was particularly nuts, especially when I had a customer come pick up an order on Sunday morning that I had completely forgotten to make! Cue frantic thinking, apologizing and speed cooking. The customer got their order just in time but CLEARLY, I need a better system to keep track of when I’m making what. But enough about my small business growth/woes/development and on to the FOOD!
Here’s a bright and beautiful Vol.37!
So I’ve got two *new* frozen meals on the menu today. Original descriptions coming up for those. Digging into the archives for the rest of them.
Lamb siniyah – When I first made this is was kicking myself for not having a portion available to have as my dinner because this stew smelled sooooooooo good. Literally gazing out of my window longingly just at the thought of it.
Lamb siniyah is a Middle Eastern dish. Basically, a lamb stew topped with a tahini crust. The stew consists of a base of onion and celery mixed with tomato and Baharat spice blend. Baharat being another Middle Eastern spice blend of allspice, black peppercorns, cardamom seeds, cassia bark, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, nutmeg, turmeric, saffron, ginger, dried red chili peppers or paprika (this according to Wikipedia). Baharat is actually the Arabic word for spices – so calling it a spice blend is like saying “spices spice blend” . Anyway, you then brown the lamb pieces, add the base mixture back and in goes tomato, paprika and good old S&P. Next step is to simmer until tender, add toasted pine nuts and parsley and the final step is to add the tahini topping. The topping is just tahini mixed with lemon juice, water and garlic. If any of you have mixed lemon juice into tahini, you’ll know that it has a strange effect – the tahini almost goes solid. So that water is very necessary. When you bake it at home, you’ll bake it covered for 20min and then uncovered for 20min. You’ll end up with a thick golden crust and juicy lamb underneath.
Southwest Veggie Quesadilla – When I asked for menu suggestions, I got a request for more quick dish options. A quesadilla is about as quick at it can get – you can fry it from frozen and then takes about 8-10min until ready for you to wolf down. Just about enough time to mush up and season an avocado. In any case, I had the smoky white bean quesadilla on the menu not too long ago so I decided to look for another variation. And voilà! Here we are. The Southwest part of the description simply refers to the region of the USA someone decided this combination of ingredients is from. It’s a fairly classic combination – red and green peppers, black beans, sweet corn, onion, garlic and spices are fried until softened. This vegetable mixture is combined with a healthy helping of cheese and a bit of coriander. Then it’s spread between two tortillas and done! All you have to do is fry them at home and the result will be a cheesy, slightly crunchy, aromatic mouthful of yumminess.
Conchiglioni stuffed with spinach and ricotta in tomato ragu – This was another idea from one of my customers. She mentioned a pumpkin stuffed version that is available at Franco’s in Parkview. Having just had dinner there recently I was immediately sold. Conchiglioni are large pasta shells. The pasta shells are cooked and then filled with a creamy mixture of spinach, ricotta, chives, parmesan and fior di latte (stretched cow’s milk cheese that melts like a dream). I decided to go with spinach and ricotta as I just really like the look of the green against the red tomato ragu that the shells are then nestled in. The shells are topped with a little more ragu and some mozzarella and parmesan. Bake at home covered with tin foil and finish off without the tin foil to melt the cheese and turn it golden. Oh yeah! I know this is going to become a favourite.
On to the fresh options. There was really only one factor that influenced putting the udon noodles back on the menu – which was the availability of limes. In case you don’t shop at least twice a week (one of my favourite parts of this job) you may not have noticed, but limes were nowhere to be found for about 3 weeks. I asked the owner/manager/person-who-looks-to-be-in-charge of the Randburg Wholesale Market whether he had stock and he mentioned that there was a shortage due to a disease. My interactions with this man are always extremely short and the information extremely vague. I would have loved to know what the disease was, will limes ever re-appear, is there mass panic regarding lime production? But alas, I’ll never know and will simply have to make due with these titbits and let my imagination fill in the rest. In any case – limes are back so crisis averted!!
Udon noodles with orange Nam Jim and tried tofu – I don’t think I’ll be able to find the blood oranges for this dish but since normal oranges are happily substituted, the dish is bound to be as yummy as ever. This was first featured in Vol.11! This description from that Food Letter:
This week however I’m not going to pretend this dish won’t be hot hot hot . Udon noodles are a delicious type of noodle I first ate in Japan (ah remember when international travel was a thing?) and I was so excited to find them in my Asian food store. I frequently buy a packet for myself and have them as a quick dinner. They are wonderfully chewy and just perfect topped with a fried egg, some fried vegetables and a drizzle of chilli oil. Anyway, the ones on this menu with be served with tofu marinated in a mixture of soy sauce and maple syrup. Nam Jim is a Thai sauce – combining sweet, sour, spicy and salty and this one will be made up of oranges (sweet), tamarind (sour), fresh chilli (spicy) and fish sauce (salty). The latter is the only ingredient which makes this dish not vegan so please let me know if you want it left out otherwise assume it’s in there. Oh and of course there’s some fresh basil and coriander on top.
Aubergine Pollichattu with naan and crunchy sambal – The first time this dish made an appearance on the menu, the feedback from you guys was without a doubt – really good. Not to blow my own horn (what am I saying, I’m totally blowing my own horn) but here a direct quote: “Hey Jess, you have mastered the art of cooking aubergines! The last 2 aubergine dishes are better than any aubergine dishes I have ever eaten in a restaurant and that includes Istanbul” So yeah, I’m pretty confident you’ll be a fan of this one. The description in the Vol.29 Food Letter feature the first ever vegetable personality reveal. Have removed it this time as I’m just after that food explanation.
It features quite a unique way of cooking the mighty aubergine ! First you make a rich sauce flavoured with onion, garlic, curry leaves, tamarind and coconut cream. Then you slice the aubergines. Then spread a layer of sauce on a sliced of aubergine. Then you place another slice of aubergine on top of that. Then you add more sauce. And so on, and so on. The layers of aubergine and sauce are then wrapped in baking paper and baked in the oven. This results in the aubergine being part baked, part steamed – so it goes silky soft and creamy. To balance out the softness of the aubergine I’m serving it with a crunchy salad – tomato, cucumber, radish, onion. And to mop up all those aubergine/saucy juices? Well, it’s gotta be those trusty old naans. De-licious!
On to dessert – and guys… I don’t know if you’ve seen them yet but IT’S CHERRY SEASON! I have so many great memories/emotions associated with cherries. First – they look so good! I mean, the taught red skin, the deep crimson, the cute little stem – so sexy. Second – my grandparents in Austria had a huge cherry tree in their garden. When we visited in summer there were many days spent picking the cherries, making cherry earrings, basically just pure happiness (a little ashamed to say I never really ate them – I’ve always been a bit fruit-hesitant – I mean I didn’t eat strawberries until well into my teens because I didn’t like the seeds. What a wasted opportunity past-little Jess!). Third – they never ever fail to remind of the song Cheri Cheri Lady by Modern Talking.
I did gymnastics for most of my childhood and we had a Chinese coach – Yang Yun Fang. She did not speak any English when she initially started coaching us. Her husband used to come along to translate her instructions. I remember her for many many reasons but one particular one is the dance she choreographed for us – to this song! I must have heard it a hundred times. And I just watched the music video for the first time – click here for an absolutely delightful representation of 80’s glamour, smoke machines, mysterious mansion interiors, gorgeous full-bodied, lush, perfectly blow-dried hair on a man, and a truly weird bit where an old man’s cello bursts into flames and he does not look happy about it. Anyway – cherries! I’ve been waiting for them to be in season because it means I can make those most delicious Sweet Cherry and Marzipan buns!! Here the description from last year:
I found a recipe for sweet cherry and marzipan buns a while ago and having made a dozen of these lovely soft, pillow-y, sweet and tart buns today I can safely say I’ll be making them every cherry season. So yummy. To flesh it out a bit – the super soft, pillow-y bun is topped with a thin round of marzipan (got some from someone who was in Germany recently and then found MORE at my German butcher) followed by some seriously red stewed, sweet cherries. Once out the oven the buns are iced and guys guys guys – they are so worth the wait!!
Orders will be open until Wednesday morning. With a menu packed full of yumminess I’m so excited to get cooking for you (and me). Go
Now that you’ve read all about the meals, why not order!?