Hello there!

Back again after what seems, and most probably is, a very long break. No real excuse really besides the pandemic I suppose. It is not that I have not been cooking; quite the contrary actually. I am no exception to all the rest of the world as it seems everyone was cooking way more. With no restaurants to go to and most things being closed and limited entertaining allowed, we all took to lots of cooking, recipe testing and developing. But, things are getting back to normal and I have been doing quite a bit of traveling, Alabama, Italy, Czech Republic and South Africa. It feels so good to be able to travel, experience new places, new foods, new wines etc. And I have also started giving cooking lessons again – on a more personal and limited scale but it is such fun to be back. The most recent ones much been South African, Mexican and Thai cuisine. I must admit that I had not really given much thought about starting the blog again but due to numerous requests from students and friends to share the recipes and new ones I have discovered and developed in the past two years, I have decided to go for it. Unfortunately, I have not been very good about photographing my recipes so it might take me a while to get everything up on the blog but I will get there. I do hope to hear from many of my loyal followers who have been in touch in the past. Here’s to our continued cooking adventures together.

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Baked eggs with cream and salt cured ham

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This must be one of the easiest and most delicious ways to serve eggs for breakfast. You can obviously use different types of ham but using prosciutto, Jamon Iberico, Serrano or Bayonne ham is best for this recipe.

I used Jambon de Bayonne, a salty boneless French ham, named after the southwestern France port city of Bayonne. This ham is still produced according to regulations founded on ancient practices and is still preserved exclusively with inland “mountain salt” found at the base of the Pyrenees mountains. The ham is aged for about 9 to 12 months.

According to a legend in the south of France, the Count of Foix was out hunting wild boar in the 14th century and wounded a boar. The animal escaped. Months later its carcass was found in the hot, salty spring water in the town of Salies-de-Béarn. The meat was apparently preserved and still edible! This discovery of the preservative qualities of salting pork led to a ham production industry in the area that still thrives today.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
4 eggs
4 slices ham
¼ cup cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley

Method:

Preheat your oven to 160°C / 325°F
Generously butter 2 large ramekins and place on a baking sheet
Place 2 slices of ham in the base of each dish
Crack 2 eggs in each dish
Divide the cream and pour into each dish
Add some black pepper and salt if desired (but remember the ham is already salty)
Bake until eggs are cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes (depending on how runny you like your yolks)
Sprinkle on some parsley and serve with a crusty baguette
Bon Appetit!

Thai vegetable salad

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Crunchy, zingy, tasty and good for you too.  Now, how good is that?  Before lock-down, I had invited six friends over for a Thai style lunch.  I love Asian cooking but it is not something I often do.  A good friend of mine, Sally Sprinkle, had recently returned from a vacation in Thailand and had brought me back some spices and pastes and I was chomping at the bit to start experimenting with some new ideas. The main course was decided – that was the easy part- we would make a classic Shrimp Pad Thai and a Green Thai chicken curry with coconut rice.  But, what to serve as a starter?  I wanted something light and fresh and full of flavour and preferably vegetarian.  I tried out a few ideas and settled on a very simple vegetable salad which I tossed in a Thai dressing.  It hit the spot perfectly and was thoroughly enjoyed by all, so much so that there was not one peanut or bean sprout left on the serving platter.

If you wanted to serve this by itself you could simply add some cooked shrimp or chicken or even some chilled egg noodles.  If you do not want to add peanut butter to the dressing, simply leave it out and the tasty will still be as delicious, more citrusy but just as good.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the Salad

  • 3 cups finely sliced Chinese or Savoy or Napa cabbage
  • 1 cup sprouts
  • 1 finely sliced green and/or red pepper
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves or arugula or both
  • 1 finely sliced, seeded red chilli
  • 1 small English cucumber, halved lengthwise, gutted and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded or finely sliced carrots (optional)
  • 1 cup whole sugar snap peas or edamame beans (optional)
  • 2 medium scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil, mint and cilantro
  • For the Thai Peanut Dressing

    • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter (use unsweetened)
    • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
    • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
    • 2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
    • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
    • 1 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely sliced or ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • Handful of fresh cilantro and basil, chopped

Handful of toasted cashew nuts and/or peanuts

Method:

Place all the fresh vegetables and herbs in a large bowl and toss to combine
In a small glass bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients and whisk well, this can be done using a sticker or immersion blender
Dress the salad with the dressing just before serving
Sprinkle on some toasted cashew nuts and/or peanuts
Bon Appetit!