Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cape Malay Cuisine

I've now prepared three dishes from South Africa's Cape Malay cuisine, so I think it's appropriate to post a few words about this wonderful cuisine. It originates with the slaves whom the Dutch East India Company brought from Sumatra in present-day Indonesia to work the farms near their provisioning station in the area of the Cape of Good Hope. These slaves brought with them spices and other ingredients coriander, cumin, cardamom, and ginger. They also used local ingredients in South Africa. So their cooking is a fusion of both.

For more information on this cuisine, see

Malva Pudding - A Delicious South African Dessert

In order to complete a South African meal I just prepared, I tried a dessert called Malva Pudding. It was terrific, and very easy to make. It is a cake rather than a pudding in the American sense of the word. In the UK and Commonwealth countries, "pudding" means "dessert." This pudding originated with the Dutch colonists of South Africa. It is often served with vanilla ice cream.

Initially, I forgot the whipping cream that is used in the sauce. After our guests left, I mixed some whipping cream into the remaining sauce and my wife and I had another piece of cake with the proper sauce. It was delicious both ways, but better with the cream. It serves 6 people.

I found this recipe at
For the pudding
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon apricot jam
- 5 ounces (1 cup & 3 tbsp) all-purpose flour  
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon butter (a generous tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1/3 cup milk

For the sauce
- 3/4 cup fresh cream  
- 3 1/2 ounces butter  
- 5 1/2 to 9 tbsps  sugar (I used 7)
- 1/3 cup hot water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla essence

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease an oven dish. I used an 8 x 8 x 1 1/2 inch Pyrex dish.
3. Beat or whip the sugar and eggs. It's quickest in a food processor, or use electric beaters. Beat until thick and lemon colored, then add the jam and mix through.
4.  Melt the butter (don't boil) and add the butter and vinegar to the wet mixture.
5. Sieve, or simply mix together: the flour, soda and salt.
6. Add this mixture with the milk to the egg mixture in the processor or mixing bowl. Beat well.
7. Pour into an oven-proof dish and bake until pudding is brown and well-risen -- depending on your oven and oven dish this will be between 30 - 45 minutes. (Like the author of this recipe, mine was done in 30 minutes'.
8. In a pot, melt together the ingredients for the sauce, and stir well.
9. Pour it over the pudding as soon as it comes out of the oven.
10. Leave to stand awhile before serving. Serve warm.

Tomato Bredie - Another Delicious Cape Malay Stew

The first Cape Malay stew I tried was Bo-Kaap Kerrie, a curry stew. It was wonderful. I've just tried a second - Tomato Bredie (tamatiebredie). It was very tasty and is very easy to prepare. It easily serves six.

Bredie is the Afrikaans word for "stew." There are a number of variants on the web, so you might look at a couple of them to see which ingredients best suit your tastes. I found this one at


- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 lbs meat (chicken or lamb) (I used lamb.)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup wine (red or white)
- 1 lb Yukon gold potato (sliced)
- 28 ounces chopped tomatoes (I used delicious Pomi Italian imported chopped tomatoes from Publix.)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon marjoram


In a dutch oven or other large pot, sauté onions and garlic in oil, until brown.

Add meat and sauté until brown, add salt, pepper and wine, cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve over rice, couscous or noodles. (I used couscous.)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Athena Cantaloupes - Really Good

There is a type of delicious sweet cantaloupe coming into season, They're called Athena Cantaloupes. They are currently available at Publix, where they are on sale at two for $4. I bought one this afternoon  and we had half for dinner. We loved it.

When we were at the produce store at Yoder's Amish Village two days ago, they said they were expecting their first batch in very soon.

Strawberries Romanoff

This is a delicious, fast, and easy strawberry dessert. I saw several varieties. Most of the one I used was from ( However, I modified it slightly with an ingredient from an Emeril Lagasse version on ( There are other Emeril ingredients worth considering, like vanilla ice cream and chocolate shavings.

Aside from cutting up the strawberries, preparing this recipe is very fast.


- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier (This is from the Emeril recipe. The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of brandy or 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 4 cups fresh strawberries


1. Mix sour cream, brown sugar, and brandy in a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, whip cream until it starts to thicken. Add sugar, and whip until thick.
3. Fold cream into sour cream mixture, and blend well.
4. Serve mixture atop fresh strawberries.

Grilled Tilapia with Mango Salsa

Thanks to ( for yet another excellent recipe. This delicious tilapia recipe has a lot of ingredients and takes a bit of time, but is easy to make and worth the effort. If you include an hour to let the fish marinate, total time from start to finish is about 2 hours.

This version serves two, although the salsa is probably enough to serve 4, and the marinade would probably work for 3-4 servings.

Instead of grilling the fish on an outdoor grill, I used a grill pan on our gas stove top. It worked fine.


Marinade Ingredients & Fish

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (I used dried parsley flakes)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 6 oz. tilapia fillets

Salsa Ingredients

1 large ripe mango - peeled, pitted, and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons lime juice (I used a small, fresh lemon)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste


1. Whisk together the extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, parsley, garlic, basil, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl and pour into a resealable plastic bag. Add the tilapia fillets, coat with the marinade, squeeze out excess air, and seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

2. Prepare the mango salsa by combining the mango, red bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper in a bowl. Add the lime juice and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and toss well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, and lightly oil grate.
4. Remove the tilapia from the marinade, and shake off excess. Discard the remaining marinade. Grill the fillets until the fish is no longer translucent in the center, and flakes easily with a fork, 3 to 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Serve the tilapia topped with mango salsa.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tarpon Pointe Grill and Tiki Bar on the Manatee River

Tarpon Pointe Grill and Tiki Bar ( on the Manatee River is a great place to spend a pleasant afternoon or evening. Although the food gets mixed reviews on line, it will get a nice review from me. We discovered it recently thanks to our niece, who arranged a surprise birthday party there for her deserving husband. We enjoyed it so much that we returned with friends a short time later.

All of us enjoyed our meals. My wife and I had fish and chips; one friend had a grouper sandwich, and another had barbecued ribs. The first time I had the fish and chips, the fish was among the best I have had for that type of dish. The second time, it was very tasty, but not quite as good as the first time.

The restaurant is located on a point on a very wide section of the Manatee River. It has a 3,000 square foot tiki bar, an observation deck, in-door and out-door dining, lots of dock, a play area for children, volley ball courts, etc., etc.

Both times that we were there, we saw dolphins swimming nearby.

The first time we were there was on a Friday night, and it was packed. The second time was on a Sunday evening, and it was not crowded.

They do not take reservations, but they do have a call-ahead waiting list.

It is very easy to find. From I-75, take State Rd. 64 west to 6th St. East. Turn right on 6th St. and drive a few blocks to the end of the street.

The phone nr. is 941-746-8700.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mushrooms Sauteed in White Wine Sauce - Another Nice and Easy Mushroom Side

I love mushrooms, onions, and wine, so I knew this easy side would work out. I found it at (Note the spelling of the last word.)

The recipe serves 4.

- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 lb Cremini mushrooms. (I used 12 oz. white mushrooms)
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper to taste. (Lemon pepper works well)
- fresh minced herbs for garnish if desired (parsley, thyme, oregano)


1. Heat up the olive oil in a large enameled cast iron sauté pan over medium flame. Add the onion to the pan and cook until it starts to get some color all over, making sure not to burn it. (approx. 15 minutes)

2. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan with a pinch of sea salt and give them a nice stir. (The salt will help bring out the moisture from the mushrooms). Allow to cook uncovered until all the liquid has evaporated and they start to brown a little.

3. Add the wine, and with a spatula scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Season with the sea salt and allow to cook until the wine has evaporated and the flavors have concentrated. Add the black pepper to your taste and serve as a side dish or a topping for burgers, chicken or roasts.

Modena-Style Meatballs

For dinner tonight, I decided to make an authentic Italian meatball recipe. There are many, many variations of meatball recipes in Italy. They are different from Italian-American meatballs, and are typically not served with spaghetti or other pasta. Instead, they are either served as a main course or in soup.

I looked for a recipe that sounded relatively easy to make and that sounded good. I found one that claims to be in the style of Modena, Italy. Modena is a city in the Po Valley in the region of Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy. Inter alia, Modena is famous for its balsamic vinegar.

I found the recipe on a unique web site: It has one page that is devoted entirely to meatball recipes from around the world: There are links to nearly 60 meatball recipes on that page - from Mexico, Finland, Lebanon, Afghanistan, China, etc., etc., etc.

This recipe serves 4-6 people. They can be served with or without tomato sauce. I tried both ways, and preferred it without.

I liked the results and I found it fairly easy to do. One of the main ingredients is mashed potato, so it will taste very different from Italian-American meatballs.

I have added a few comments to the recipe based on my experience with it.

1. Ingredients for making the meatballs
- 2 cups finely chopped leftover cooked meats (chicken, pork, beef). I did not have leftover meat. I bought a mixture of ground beef and pork. The two cups equated to about a pound.
- 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 2 small eggs (I used two large eggs because I did not have small ones)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1 medium potato, boiled and mashed
- 1/2 teaspoon beef bouillon
2. Ingredients for coating the meatballs
- 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs (I recommend 2/3 cup)
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (I recommend 1/2 cup)
(I recommend the larger amounts because I ran out of coating when I used the original amounts.)
3. Ingredients for coating the pan
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup olive oil

1. I'm adding directions for mashing the potato: peel the potato and cut it into quarters lengthwise. Put it in a sauce pan and cover with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes - until tender, and you can easily put a fork into it. Put the potato into a bowl and mash it.
2. Combine meat, breadcrumbs, cheese, eggs, nutmeg, and bouillon in the bowl with the potato. Mix well by hand. Make small meatballs by rolling in the palm of your hand. (I recommend that they be 1.5 inches in diameter or smaller.)
3. On a plate, blend together the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese for coating the meatballs. Roll the meatballs in this mixture.
4. In a large frying pan, heat the butter and olive oil. When hot, add the meatballs and brown on all sides.
5. Add you favorite marina sauce, if you want sauce.

According to the recipe, these meatballs freeze well.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Detwiler's Farm market - Great Produce in Sarasota

Thanks to our friend Helen D., one of our go-to places for produce in Sarasota is Detwiler's Farm Market ( They have a superb selection of very reasonably priced produce, as well as:
- Amish noodles, flours, preserves, peanut butters, candies, etc., etc.
- A smallish seafood counter with outstanding looking fresh seafood
- A variety of dairy products, bacons, lunch meat
- An ice cream counter

It's located on Palmer just off of Cattlemen and just west of I-75, between Fruitville and Bee Ridge.

I highly recommend it.

Hydro-Taste Hydroponic Farm, Manatee County - Great Produce

The Hydro-Taste Hydroponic Farm ( in Manatee County is a great place to get fresh produce. It offers a wide variety of excellent produce that is grown at its Manatee County farm or its farm near Lakeland.

Some of the produce, like strawberries and blueberries, is produce which you pick yourself. This is much easier to do at Hydro-Taste because of the way the plants are grown. You do not have to bend over.

The strawberries I've picked there are among the very best I've tasted, and are certainly far superior to supermarket strawberries, even those from Florida farms.

You can find a list of currently available produce at this page on their web site:

The farm store also sells are variety of Amish noodles, preserves, etc.

The farm and its store are about 13 miles east of I-75 between state roads 64 and 70. Directions are available at:

The farm gives tours. For small groups, no reservations are necessary. For larger groups, reservations are required.

Guacamole-Salsa Salad

This tasty and easy Guacamole-Salsa Salad recipe from Publix served as a very nice side to the chicken enchiladas I made for Cinco de Mayo.

Ingredients (all available at Publix)
- 3 medium avocados
- 2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
- juice of 1 lime
- 3/4 cup of mild salsa
- 1 8-oz bag of shredded lettuce

- chop avocados into bite-size pieces
- squeeze lime over avocados
- gently stir in salsa
- serve over shredded lettuce

Chicken Enchiladas, Our Cinco de Mayo Dinner

After tasting a nice sample of a chicken enchiladas recipe at Publix the day before Cinco de Mayo, I decided to try that recipe and an guacamole-salsa salad. (I'll post the salad in a separate article.) accompanying salad. I was very happy with the results. I have a particular affection for Publix recipes because I learned to cook at Publix Aprons cooking school.

As is typical of Publix recipes, this one, which is titled, "Rotisserie Chicken Enchiladas," was very easy to make. Needless to say, all of the ingredients are available at Publix.

It makes six servings.

- Cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
- 1 small tomato, finely chopped
- 2 cups of chopped chicken breast from a (Publix or other) cooked rotisserie chicken. This took about all of the breast of the chicken. (Of course, an easy substitute would be to cook a single chicken breast and cut it into bite-size pieces.)
- 3/4 cup refried beans (from a small can)
- 2 10-oz cans of enchilada sauce
- 6 10-inch flour tortillas
- 1 2.5 oz can of slice black olives with jalapeño (drained)
- 1&1/2 cups of shredded Mexican blend cheese
- aluminum foil

- Preheat oven to 350
- Coat 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray
- Chop cilantro and place in medium bowl.
- Chop tomato and set aside.
- Remove chicken breast from bones; cut into bite-size pieces, and add to cilantro.
- Stir refried beans and 1 can of enchilada sauce into the chicken and cilantro mixture.
- Spoon the chicken mixture equally down the center of the tortillas.
- Roll the tortillas around the chicken mixture and place seam side down in the baking dish.
- Pour the remaining can of enchilada sauce over the enchiladas.
- Sprinkle the tomatoes, olives, and cheese over the enchiladas.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes
- Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 4-10 minutes or until thoroughly heated and the cheese is melted.

Delicious Chicken Quesadillas (On the Second Try)

I decided to try chicken quesadillas to use chicken, tortillas, and cilantro leftover from making chicken enchiladas recently. On, I found a great-sounding chicken quesadilla recipe, with pico de gallo, which I had never tried before. The results were really tasty. However, it took me two attempts to get it right. I'll explain why in the useful tips below.

The URL for the recipe is I have added my own comments to the recipe and reworded it a little.

The pico de gallo sauce was wonderful. It is an uncooked condiment that contains tomato, white onion, peppers such as jalapeños or serranos, and may contain other ingredients. This version contained additional ingredients. The name means, "rooster's beak." It is also called, "salsa fresca." A full description is available on Wikipedia at

The following are some useful tips for making this recipe. Thanks to my daughter for her contribution:
1. When cooking the tortillas with filling, either use a non-stick skillet or coat the bottom of the skillet with a cooking spray. My big mistake the first time was to use a regular skillet without cooking spray. The bottom tortilla stuck to the pan. The second time, I used a non-stick skillet and cooking spray.
2. Remember that the cheese is the "glue" that holds the quesadilla together. Therefore, spread cheese evenly across the bottom tortilla and then evenly across the top of the filling.
3. When putting the filling in, try not to include too much liquid, which would make the bottom tortilla soggy.
4. Let the bottom tortilla get a bit stiff before trying to flip the quesadilla over. Otherwise, it can be difficult to flip.
5. An easier approach is to use only one tortilla for each quesadilla, and to fold one half of the tortilla over the filling. That makes it much easier to flip.
6. An even easier approach would be to use a double-sided frying pan. I may have to buy one.


a. Pico de Gallo

- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 limes, juiced
- 2 tablespoons of chopped, fresh cilantro
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded & minced
- salt & pepper to taste

b. Remainder of recipe

- 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves cut into strips. (I did not cut the chicken into strips until after I cooked it. I feel it's juicier that way.)
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 12-inch tortillas (I used flour tortillas)
- 1 cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
- 1/4 cup sour cream, for topping


1. In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeño. This is the pico de gallo.
2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add chicken and sauté until cooked through and juices run clear. (When I cooked the chicken before slicing, 7 minutes on each side at medium heat on a gas stove worked. I had only done 6 minutes per side, and it needed another minute per side. It's best to let the chicken rest a couple of minutes before slicing.)
3. Put the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the hot skillet, and sauté the sliced onion and green pepper until tender. Stir in the minced garlic and sauté until the aroma is strong. Mix in half the pico de gallo and chicken breast meat. Set aside and keep warm.
4. In a heavy skillet, heat one flour tortilla. Spread 1/4 shredded cheese on the tortilla, and top with half of the chicken mixture. Sprinkle another 1/4 cup of cheese over the chicken mixture, and then top with another tortilla.
5. When the bottom tortilla is lightly brown, and the cheese has started to melt, flip the quesadilla and cook on the opposite side.
6. Remove the quesadilla from the skillet and cut into quarters.
7. Use the remaining ingredients to make a second quesadilla.
8. Serve the quesadillas topped with the remaining pico de gallo and the sour cream.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Grilled Portabella Mushrooms - Another Nice and Easy Side

I needed a nice and easy side to go with the lamb chops I made tonight. I felt like something with portabella mushrooms. I came up with this winner at ( It was a perfect accompaniment for the lamb chops. The recipe called for large portabellas, but Publix did not have them, so I used baby portabellas, that were actually more like medium in size. There were about 10 of these instead of the three large ones called for in the recipe. That worked out fine for the two of us. (Well, sort of. I could have eaten them all.) This one takes only a couple of minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook. However, it has to marinate for an hour.


3 portabella mushrooms
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons chopped onion
4 cloves of garlic, minced
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

- Clean mushrooms and removes stems. (The recipe says to reserve these for other use. I tossed them.)
- Place caps on a plate with the gills up
- In a small bowl, combine the oil, onion, garlic, and vinegar. Pour mixture evenly over the mushroom caps and let them stand for 1 hour.
- Grill over hot grill for 10 minutes. (I used a sauté pan because I was using the our grill pan for the lamb chops. The mushrooms cooked over the high heat left a coating that I had to scrub a bit to remove.)
- Serve immediately

Terrific, Eay Lamb Chops - Thanks Giada

My first attempt at lamb chops had one major shortcoming - I didn't make enough. I did my usual Google search for good recipes and came across this wonderful offering from Giada de Laurentiis. It was really easy and tasted great. The cooking time is only a few minutes, but it takes an hour to marinate and another 20 minutes to come to room temperature. The marinade is extremely easy to make. This dish is high on my list to make again (and again and again). I found the recipe at

I prepared the recipe for two of us. The package of lamb chops I bought at Publix had five chops. Next time, I'll get two packages (and double the amount of marinade to accommodate the extra chops).


- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary (had this in our yard)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- pinch cayenne pepper
- coarse sea salt (to taste - I used about a tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 lamb chops about 3/4 inch thick

- In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, cayenne, and salt. Pulse until combined.
- Pour in the olive oil and pulse into a paste. Rub the paste on both sides of the lamb chops and let them marinate for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
- Remove the lamb chops from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature. It will take about 20 minutes.
- Heat a grill pan over high heat until smoking. Add the chops and sear for about 2 minutes.
- Flip the chops and cook for another 3 minutes for medium rare and 3 1/2 minutes for medium.