Just over a month ago I signed up for a weekly recipe e-mail – The Chef Project – essentially what happens is that for a year you receive an e-mail once a week that includes recipes for a 3 course meal created by some of the top chefs in the world. Awesome, I’ve been loving it. Then a couple of weeks ago they added an extra bonus! Everyday I now get an e-mail with a recipe from a chef from somewhere in the world – fantastic! The variety has been amazing and for some strange reason this is actually the first recipe I’ve tried out – Sri Lankan spiced meatballs.
There are so many different food cultures out there and I have to say that Sri Lankan has never crossed my mind or my browsing. So I’ve done a little digging in an attempt to learn more…
There is some overlap and similarity with the food of South India, but it has also been influenced by its location as a trade centre and the involvement of “colonial powers”. Rice is a major feature, as is curry and they have a reputation for having the hottest food in terms of chilli content! Coconut is also a major feature (which is what attracted me to this recipe) – the flesh is used to make coconut sambals (dried coconut, chillies, dried Maldive fish and lime juice crushed to a paste and eaten with rice) and the milk is used to make rice (a dish called Kiribath or milk rice). Coconut milk is used in most dishes and gives the food its distinctive flavour.
So, intrigued by the use of coconut in a main meal, as opposed to coconut milk which I know pretty well, I decided we had to give the meatballs a go. They stem from the Dutch influence on Sri Lankan cooking, being recipe descendents of the Dutch frikadeller. But what to have with them? Rice, of course! I found an interesting looking recipe for yellow rice or Kaha Bath, that also used coconut milk to cook the rice, which was intriguing.
The rice didn’t work out too well – it tasted delish, but was too sticky and wet for our taste. We’ll do it again but watch the water content and steam it earlier next time. The meatballs were divine – the flavour of the coconut, which is toasted, was amazing and really comes through, even against all the other flavours. Plus the kitchen smelled amazing 🙂
So try it out for yourself…
Sri Lankan Spiced Meatballs
(Adapted from The Chef Project)
● 500 g minced beef
●1/2 cup desiccated coconut
● 1 medium onion, chopped finely
● 1 clove garlic, crushed
● 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
● 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
● 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime rind (I didn’t have an actual lime, so I just used a few squirts of lime juice)
● 1 egg, beaten lightly
● 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
● 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 150 °C. Once at temperature toast the coconut for about 5 min or until golden brown. (Smells amazing!)
- In a bowl mix all the ingredients, except the eggs and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper.
- Roll small balls of the mixture and coat in the beaten egg and then dip into the breadcrumbs and place on a baking tray.
- Bake in the oven at 180 °C for about 30 minutes.
Kaha Bath (Yellow rice)
(Adapted from www.infolanka.com)
- 500 grams (2 cups) Basmati or other long grain rice
- oil, for frying
- 1 medium onion, finely sliced
- 6 cardamoms
- 6 cloves
- 8 peppercorns
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 inch piece lemon grass (We used bottled sliced lemon grass)
- 2 inch piece cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 level tsp salt
- Fry onion until transparent.
- Add all the other ingredients, including the rice, and fry for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Pour in chicken stock and coconut milk and cook until the moisture evaporates.
- The spices should rise to the top and you can just scoop them off before serving. (This didn’t work for us – boyfriend was digging around in the rice digging out spices!)
You can see in the photo below that our rice was very stodgy…but we’ll try again and get it right next time!
My boyfriend’s folks were coming to visit – we needed cake. So I whipped out the beautiful Cakes To Celebrate Love and Life and started the search – something not too rich, but still delicious. And easy wouldn’t hurt either!
The Hummingbird Cake – originating in the American South, it is a rich, fruity cake with cream cheese icing. The core ingredients are chopped nuts, crushed pineapple and mashed banana – perhaps an attractive combination for a hummingbird?!
The cream cheese icing was very rich, and the cake itself is quite rich, so my aim if baking something that wasn’t rich went a little pear-shaped, but it still went down well and was enjoyed by all 🙂
Changes for next time…less butter in the icing and perhaps less oil in the cake batter. And I will probably make it smaller, change the quantities and make only two layers – it was way to big for just the four of us! We couldn’t finish it!
(Adapted from Cakes to Celbrate Love and Life)
- 3 c (420 g) flour
- 2 c (200 g) sugar
- 5 ml bicaronate of soda
- 5 ml cinnamon
- 5 ml salt
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 and 1/2 c vegetable oil
- 1 can (400 g) crushed pineapple (with juice)
- 1 c chopped nuts (I used pecan nuts and walnuts, pecan seem to be traditional but you can use whatever you like)
- 2 c (about 6) mashed bananas
- 7.5 ml vanilla essence
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Line 3 x 23 cm cake tins with wax wrap and set aside.
- Chop the nuts and mash the bananas and set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift the flour, bicarb, sugar, cinnamon and salt together.
- Add the beaten eggs and oil to the dry ingredients and mix well by hand (No electric beaters required!)
- Add the pineapple, bananas, nuts and vanilla essence and mix well.
- Split the batter between the 3 cake pans and bake for 30 minutes or unitl a knife or cake tester comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out and allow to cool completely before icing.
Cream cheese icing
- 1 tub cream cheese (240 g)
- 250 g butter, softened
- 2 c (280 g) icing sugar
- 5 ml vanilla essence
- Beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
- Add the icing sugar and beat.
- Add the vanilla essence and beat.
- Put the icing in the fridge for about half an hour to firm up before icing the cake.
No photos of the finished product I’m afraid – my icing attempt is too embarrassing to share 😉
Lately, we seem to be buying everybody recipe books as gifts. It’s probably my influence since I am obsessed with recipe books and could spend hours paging through them being inspired and admiring the beautiful photos! Anyhow, we bought my boyfriend’s mother (and friend’s of ours for an engagement pressie) one of the latest recipe books to hit the shelves in SA – Savour.
It’s a really amazing book with tons of fantastic recipes and ideas, my head was swimming after having a sneaky browse through before we wrapped it – I couldn’t resist! The result of the browsing is that we made two of the recipes from the book and I think we’re going to have to get ourselves a copy too, because there are plenty more I want to have a go at! Hallo Father Christmas? Are you listening?!
My boyfriend spotted this pancake cake and we literally decided then and there that it was going to be our pudding for the evening…a trip to the shop and we were ready to layer cake! Our main course for the evening was rare roast beef with rocket and horseradish sauce – the topic of another blog post 🙂
We cheated a little and made the pancakes from a ready mix packet, but you can make them from scratch if you prefer 🙂
‘Scuse the photo – taken with my iPhone in the dodgy lighting in our house 😉 Boyfriend also has some cool pics taken with his fancy SLR camera…he must mail them to me 😉 Hehe ❤
(Adapted from Savour)
- 6 – 8 pancakes
- tub of marscapone cheese (about 240 g)
- tub of creme fraiche (about 240 g)
- Cinnamon and sugar, mixed
- Bananas (2 – 3)
- Gooseberries (we used frozen, couldn’t find fresh, and you could use any berries you like)
- 5 tsp vanilla essence
- Mix the marscapone cheese, creme fraiche and vanilla essence together.
- Slice up bananas.
- Mix cinnamon and sugar.
- Place your first pancake on a plate, spread it with the marscapone mixture and layer with the fruit. Sprinkle over some cinnamon sugar and squirt on some syrup.
- Place the next pancake on top and repeat until you’ve used up all your pancakes.
- Don’t add the marscapone mix to the top pancake, but decorate with some fruit and cinnamon sugar and syrup.
Considering that this recipe is actually pretty simple (if a little time consuming) it looks really impressive and we were rather chuffed with our efforts, not to mention that it tastes amazing too! And, since it keeps really well in the fridge (and is actually easier to cut after refridgeration) you can make it before you want to serve it!
So now that we have an oven we decided it was time to try it out and test ourselves by cooking a roast. It was a spur of the moment decision, weather was unusually chilly for Durban, considering we’re already well into Spring, so we figured we should jump at the opportunity to make a roast before the insanely humid Summer days strike.
A quick Google search led us to a pretty cool blog that I had not come across before – The Cottage Smallholder – lots of awesome ideas and recipes, and I’m now a follower 🙂
It was a super simple recipe and I’d say we were pretty successful – the beef was delicious, though it could have been a touch rarer for my liking – the unpredictability of oven temperatures to blame I imagine and I am now lusting over an in oven thermometer!
We served our roast beef cooled, spread with horseradish sauce (a nice coarse one) and wrapped around rocket leaves straight out of our little garden! Yum 🙂
Our pudding for the evening was Pancake Cake…also yum!
Rare roast beef
(Adapted from The Cottage Smallholder)
- 1.2kg topside beef
- Freshly ground pepper
- Coarse salt
- Rosemary sprigs
- Rub beef with olive oil, black pepper and coarse salt.
- Place is roasting dish in an open pocket of heavy duty tinfoil.
- Bake at 240 °C for 15 minutes and then turn oven down to 180 °C for 25 minutes per kg of beef.
- Take out the oven, cover with foil and bury under a pile of towels – allow to rest like this for 15 minutes.
When I was a kid my mom used to make a white loaf cake that she put glace cherries into…it was one of my favourites (although I am a chocolate cake girl through and through!). I remember eating this cherry loaf straight out of the oven, still warm and with the sweet taste of the cherries popping into my mouth.
It’s been years since she made it and it’s never occurred to me to give it a try…until now. I got the recipe from her on our last visit home and have had it safely scribbled in my Moleskine notebook waiting for opportunity to strike so that I could give it a whirl.
It’s called a “Quick Mix Cake” in my Mom’s old school recipe book, perhaps a Woman’s Institute one or something of that era. It’s really simple and as the name claims – quick!
I made a small error in my shopping and bought Marachino cherries, instead of the ridiculously sweet and sticky glace ones, but they made an ok substitution – though I think next time I will definitely return to the sickly sweetness of my childhood 😉
I also tried to make half with cherries (for me) and half with walnuts (for my boyfriend who is not a cherry fan!) – this worked ok, except that the nuts sunk to the bottom a little bit.
Here’s the recipe if you’re keen to try it out… You can pretty much add anything you like to the mixture, lemon zest, nuts, orange peel – or just make it plain!
Quick Mix Cake
- 3/4 c sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 114 g butter (make sure it’s softened out of the fridge beforehand!)
- 1 and 1/2 c flour
- 1/2 c milk
- Put all the ingredients (excluding baking powder and cherries) in a bowl and beat well. This goes against most of the “rules” of baking, in terms of certain ingredients needing to be mixed together etc etc, but so long as your ingredients have been brought to room temperature – especially the butter, it’s fine!
- Add the baking powder and mix well.
- Chop us your cherries or whatever else you’re adding, roll in a little flour and add into the mixture.
- Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan and bake at 180 C for 45 minutes before opening the over door.
Best eaten warm from the oven 🙂 Enjoy!
And again I’ve been AWOL for days, probably more like weeks! All I’ve wanted to do is blog, but work and life keep seeming to get in the way…
We made this salad a while ago, nothing fancy, just tasty and good ingredients. We weren’t looking for coppa ham in particular, but we came across it and it looked good, added some creamy blue cheese because we could and a bunch of other salady things that we had in our fridge.
It was super quick, super easy and super delicious…my kind of style!
The flavour of the coppa ham is quite strong so the power of the blue cheese worked really well, without the two of them competing for dominance, but rahter balancing each other out.
A kiff dish for summer…
This week I’m going to do something with goat’s cheese…maybe also a salad if the weather plays the game! Any ideas?!