Moving back to South-Africa I was looking forward to eating some fresh seasonal and most importantly ripe fruit and vegetables, after all everything grows in SA. We have it all, from tropical climates (think bananas, sugar cane, pineapples etc) ,dry and hot climates (watermelons, melons etc), the ‘lowveld’, home to all citrus and also some mild climates, home to apples, pears and very importantly Chardonnay. However what I did not have in mind was harmful pesticides, preservatives, colourants, stabilisers, emulsifiers, flavourings and the all important MSG (not the Heston type!) making their way into food. Oh boy, oh boy and don’t get me started on the battery chickens.
Okay so don’t panic I tell myself- so it is not the over regulated country I have grown use to, but a bit of a cowboy country, it’s a little bit rock and roll down here. But I can handle it, it only means that sourcing my food will take some planning. Convenience is not my friend and I better shake of all those kitchen equipment in the back of the cupboard (read cheese making kit) and start cooking from scratch, and by scratch I mean, yogurt, soft cheeses, dough starters, sprouting and I am going to have a go at Kefir and oh that process which happens if you leave vegetable scraps to ferment.
This is what I made this week,
Chicken Bone Broth with Ginger and Vegetables
The Bone Broth is a two day process and the result is a wonderful versatile stock which forms the basis of all my risotto’s and most of my soups. Nothing is ever forced or squeezed and the initial blanching of the chicken is an excellent way of removing any impurities and therefore producing a clear stock. I then infuse the stock while it’s warm, not hot to maximise the flavour of freshness, with fresh julienned ginger and any fresh veg I have delivered. I reduce the stock to maximise the flavour and because of this only a little (if any) salt is used.
Freekeh Rainbow Bowl with Spicy Harissa Citrus Dressing
For the Rainbow Bowl my grain of choice was Freekeh, which means ‘rubbed’ in Arabic, this grain has been around since BC and is quite special. Freekeh is made from young green durum wheat which is roasted, resulting in a unique smoky taste, packed full of protein and fibre and slow-burning carbs. After cooking I seasoned this lightly with some Italian New Harvest Lemon Olive Oil from Tuscany and some Lemon Zest. The beetroot was roasted in individual parcels with fresh dill and orange zest (see if you can taste the slight infusion of both). I find the kale in SA very tough and stringy, I can’t imagine your tummy will love you after having it raw! I lightly blanched the kale to soften the ‘harshness’ and lightly seasoned the leaves (after spinning numerous time to release excess water) with some fresh lime juice to perk them up. The patty pans was blanched and then roasted with a little garlic oil for flavour. Slow-roasting tomatoes bring out all sort of flavours, I love the complete taste sensation of salt and sweet. I let them slowly roast in a low oven overnight. For the dressing, I went a bit conservative, and only added a small amount of Harissa. The dressing is made with olive oil, honey, lemon and orange juice and my homemade Harissa made from BBQ Habanero Chilis – they have a serious kick. Aah the pretty pink radishes – I love to pickle and this is one of my favourite jars to have handy in the fridge. They perk up any mezze platter and are gorgeous with cold meats.