Simple Days

28 01 2010

Some times you just have to simplify. That doesn’t mean you slack off, take short cuts or take the easy way. For me, it means you get back to basics. Recently I have been experimenting with using the food and flavors of our recent South African trip. Just like you can   fatigue your nose and taste buds trying to sample too many wines you can exasperate yourself with culinary fatigue. When that happens I go simple. And what is more simple than a loaf of bread; yeast, water and flour. So I pulled the bread recipe from Julia Child’s Cookbook and got to work. The simple ingredients, the dough in your hands and the incredible aroma create a relaxed and happy mindset. All is then rewarded with the simple hot fresh bread and a slather of truffle butter. When it all seems too much, just bake the bread!

South African Spiced Roast Pork Stew

26 01 2010

South African Spiced Roast Pork Stew on Wild Mushroom Fettuccine

One of the truly amazing things about South Africa was the diversity of cultures. The area, especially the Capetown area, is a real melting pot. There are influences from Asia, India, Portugal, Netherlands, France, Germany and England but to name a few that just scratch the surface. I had some very interesting dishes that combined some Asian/Indian flavors with some “native” South African. As it is a cold, dreary and rainy day a warm bowl of “comfort” food is what is called for. Here is a roast pork stew that comforts me by taking me back to the Dark Continent.

  • 4-5 pounds trimmed pork (I use the end cuts of the loin)
  • 2 -3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp anchovy paste
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp Doc’s African 5 Spice
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp hot paprika
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 ½ cups thinly sliced onion
  • 1 ½ cups carrots in ~ 1 inch chunks
  • ¼ cup AP flour
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  •  2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 1 pound potatoes, chopped into ~ 1 inch cubes
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  •  ½ cups pearl onion
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Cut the pork into rough ~ 1 inch bits and set aside. Combine anchovy, garlic and tomato paste in a small bowl and set aside. Using a Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed oven proof pot, heat the oil until smoking. Brown the pork in batches and remove. Add back the meat, the carrots and onions to the Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook until onions have softened, around 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic, anchovy, and tomato paste mixture as well as the 5-spice, garam masala, paprika and turmeric and cook another 30 seconds. Add the flour, coating the components and cook another 30 seconds. Add the wine, and increase the heat to high and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the liquid has slightly thickened. Add the chicken stock. Add the bay leaves, thyme and cilantro and bring to a simmer. Transfer to the oven and cook for 90 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for another 45 minutes. While this is cooking, bloom 1 packet of unflavored gelatin in a separate bowl. After the potatoes have cooked for 45 minutes, remove from the oven and place over medium heat on the stovetop. Add the peas and pearl onions and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the gelatin and stir until dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Just Desserts

25 01 2010

Coconut Custard with Chocolate Chip Cookie, Raspberry Coulee, Caramel Sauce and Chambord Sweet Whipped Cream

I don’t post a whole lot on desserts. Yet every now and then the mood hits for a sweet treat. Every now and then there is a good reason to do so. With that in mind and a full day of football, I put together a delicious little sweet treat. It was so yummy I thought I’d share because it is quite easy. I made some chocolate chip cookies. Just use your favorite recipe, but when you make the cookies double the  size. You need the cookies to be wide enough to accomodate the fillings of a 6 oz ramekin. For the next phase, I made a coconut custard. Again, use your favorite custard recipe. Mine uses 1  cup of cream and 1 cup of milk, for the coconut flavor I used 1 cup of cream, 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of canned cream of coconut. Prior to pouring the custard to bake, I put a layer of toasted coconut and macadamia nuts on the bottom of the greased ramekins. After the custards have cooled, invert the ramekins and remove the custards onto the cookies. I topped with a sweet fresh whipped cream flavored with Chambord and some home made caramel sauce. Yum 

The Drive Part 2-The Cape of Good Hope

24 01 2010

We now take you to The Cape of Good Hope. The whole area is a large National Park, and we met the “guardian baboons” as we entered. They roam quite freely here. Then it is onto The Cape of Good Hope, an odd name considering its history. Here, through the raw power of nature much of the destiny of mankind was shaped. It was because of the geography (and the lack of a Suez Canal) at the time that Europeans were forced around this treacherous cape to trade with India and Asia. Here the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean and the result are truly treacherous currents. Although, as Reggie explained, there is ongoing debate as to whether that occurs here or at Cape Agulhas. Regardless, here  lies the remains of many a wreck. which have been occurring since the cape was first  conquered  in 1488 by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias. He originally named the cape, The Cape of Storms (for obvious reasons). But the King of Portugal (John II)  wanted a positive spin on things to encourage continued traffic on the trade route (politics never changes) so he renamed it the Cape of Good Hope.  Through this path the first slaves (which were actually from India, Asia and Indonesia) were brought to Capetown. You can get an appreciation as you gaze out from the Cape over the ocean (next stop that way, Antarctica). And if the weather is right, and your eye sharp enough, legend says you may catch a glimpse of the ship forever cursed to sail the perilous waters around The Cape unsuccessfully. And if you harken your ear the wind may carry you the curses of those damned sailors of The Flying Dutchman….

The Drive

23 01 2010

Here’s some video and pics from The Drive with Reggie Phillips. Reggie is a native South African, who grew up with apartheid, saw Mandela come to  power and continues to live and work in present-day Capetown. He is a wealth of knowledge and experience. We spent a day with him as we traveled from Camps Bay to The Cape of Good Hope and back again. The drive was  long so I’ve broken it up into segments. On the way there, segment 1, we travel  by “the Beverly Hills of South Africa”. It is filled with beautiful beaches and beautiful people; Elton John among others owns one of the many mansions you can view from the heights. We visited Hout Bay, which I noted in a previous post (see Ezard House) comes from the Afrikaans word for Wood. It was here that ships loaded the valuable wood bound for Europe and other places. Today it remains a functioning seaport where the ships come in with their fresh daily catch. Ships also leave to take people to “Seal Island”, which is really just a rock as Reggie points out. We cruise along Chapman Drive, which is past Chapman’s Peak and one of the most scenic drives in the world, as well as the site of many car commercials. The whales visit the waters you see in the African  winter (we were there in summer). The sentinel is one of the famous peaks and there were rumors that Oprah had looked to purchase it. Someone did, causing quite an uproar, but their identity is unknown. From there it is past Monkeytown, home of huge white sandy beaches and horse farms. People often ride the horses along those vast expanses of soft white sand. We also pass Misty Town, so named because of local geology that  produces a constant ocean mist. We also stopped by the artisans from  Zimbabwe, who do the amazing soapstone carvings. Prior to entering The Cape, we saw the ostrich farms. So enjoy the tour and the stop after this is the infamous Cape of Good Hope.

Special Thanks!-An Award!

22 01 2010

Ok, we need to give a hollah out to our buddy at Caveman Cooking. He is responsible for this blog’s very first (and so far only) award-The Honest Award. Per The Caveman , the “rules of the award state that I need to list 10 honest things about myself and then pass the award on to ten other deserving bloggers.” You can read more about the  this on the Caveman blog ( , which you should be reading anyway, so here it goes:

  1. I am a real doctor
  2. I have a real culinary degree
  3. I really have done martial arts for almost 30 years and do have a black belt
  4. The awesome pictures on the blog are done by my beautiful wife
  5. I often waste too much time playing X-box
  6. I am actually a frustrated writer (obviously)
  7. The current government approach (Repub & Dem) to solving health care issues scares me
  8. I also have an MBA so I know what I am talking about with respect to above
  9. More days than not lately I miss cooking professionally/running a restaurant-especially the wine tastings and given #7
  10. I love to travel

Ok, now for 1o blogs to pass this onto (in no particular order-please note, I was going to send to Chow and Chatter but they’ve already gotten it!)

  1. Mystic thyme (
  2. Chef Ryan (
  3. Kitchen Hacker (
  4. Cook Appeal (
  5. Spice  Guy’s Kitchen (
  6. Foodie Buddha (
  7. Chez What? (
  8. Londolozi (
  9. Grape Advice (
  10. In Vino We Trust (

Piri Piri Chicken Livers

21 01 2010

Piri Piri Chicken Livers

One of the most common appetizer items I saw around South Africa, was different versions of piri piri chicken livers. One of my favorites had a bit of Asian/Indian influence. I used up some frozen chicken livers I had been saving after using the giblets and carcasses for stock. It’s simple, easy and delicious with some dipping crackers, pita or other flatbreads. There should be pictures, but it was so good I ate it all before we could take any!

  • 2- 3 chicken livers, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1 tbsp finely minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Doc’s African 5-Spice
  • 1 tsp curry or masala
  • 2 tsp of piri-piri (or more depending on your heat preference)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Chop the chicken livers and set aside.  Cook the onions until translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chopped chicken livers, 5-spice, curry or masala and piri piri. Cook another 3-5 minutes until the livers are done. Add the sour cream and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.