Jamie Who is a blog about everything. Except current affairs. And politics. Also science, sport, religion, celebrities, movies, media and marketing, technology, business and design. So...basically Jamie Who is a blog about food. All things food.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

tray-baked hake with runner beans and pine nuts

I got this from Jamie Oliver's first book. (You know, that other Jamie...) I made it a bit healthier by using gammon steak instead of bacon. It was super-tasty and really easy. Anyone can make this. If you mess this one up you need to take a long hard look at yourself.

Stuff you'll need to feed four people:
  • About 850g firm, filleted white fish. (Kingklip, hake, Kobeljou etc)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Two packets of runner beans (about 700g), topped-and-tailed and sliced diagonally
  • 200g of cubed gammon steaks
  • A handful of pine nuts
  • 3 lemons, halved
  • About 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
What to do:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius

2. Put the runner beans in a roasting tin with the garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Coat the beans in olive oil and season well.

3. Place the fish in the beans and place gammon on and around the fillets. Sprinkle with pine nuts and drizzle with olive oil. If you are using too much oil use a bit of water instead. Place the lemon halves in the tray.

4. Cover with foil and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for a further 20 minutes or until cooked. Serve by spooning the fish out and pouring the juices on top. The lemon halves will be soft and sticky - you will be amazed at how the juice from them will add to the fish.

So there you go. Nice and easy. And washing up is a pleasure.

Jamie Who

Green tea - the shizniz

I drink about 6 cups of green tea every day. I have been doing that for about 3 years and I have noticed incredible changes in my health. I always knew it was good for you and that it boosted your metabolism so I thought I would look into a bit more. I was amazed at what I found. 

There is a shitload of information on the web about the health benefits of tea generally. Green tea is one of a family of varieties which include green, black and oolong. All teas include powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols with green tea containing the highest concentration. These help in reducing the effects of aging, lowering cholesterol and decreasing your risk of heart disease and cancer. Green tea is also used to control blood sugar levels in diabetics. There is further research to suggest that green tea's polyphenols are more beneficial than Vitamin C. This is partly due to the fact that green tea is unfermented and is the least processed of all teas.  

As with most things food-related, if it's this healthy it must taste terrible surely? Well, I'm afraid so. The same compounds that give it such awesome health benefits are responsible for making it taste pretty shocking. Bitter, bitter, bitter. Luckily I've gotten used to it and can drink it 'neat', but if you need to, why not try this... 
  • Make a pot of green tea and let it cool before mixing it with cranberry juice. Drink 3 cups a day. Once you are used to the taste start diluting the tea with less juice. Eventually drink the tea warm with a spoon of honey. 
Try and get into it, and if you don't believe me check out one of MANY articles about the miracle drink on :


Jamie Who

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tom Yum Soup

The key to Tom Yum Soup is a good stock. The great thing about this recipe is that you make your own. The soup is known to be a potent immune-booster and with winter around the corner it is the perfect time to break it out. 

As with some of my recipes, the ingredients are guidelines. This is a dish where you have to taste constantly and add as you want to. It is a balance of heat, sweetness, saltiness and sourness. That balance is up to you. 

Stuff you'll need to make a pot of soup:
  • Roughly chopped carrots (two handfuls) 
  • One roughly chopped onion 
  • Roughly chopped celery (same amount as above) 
  • Two quartered tomatoes
  • A few whole cloves
  • Two star aniseeds
  • 2 chopped chillies
  • Roughly chopped wild mushrooms (two handfuls) 
  • Three cloves of crushed garlic
  • About 2 thumbnails of chopped ginger
  • Two teaspoons of fish sauce
  • Two teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 300g of shelled, de-vained prawns 
  • Salt and pepper
  • A handful of cooked noodles
  • Two tablespoons of organic honey
  • Halved cherry tomatoes (A handful) 
  • Coriander (For garnishing)
What to do:

1. In your largest pot place the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, chillies, tomatoes (not the cherry ones), cloves, aniseeds, honey, salt and pepper. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn heat down and let it simmer for a few hours. The longer the better. 

2. Keep tasting. As I said, there must be a balance between sour, sweet, hot and salty. When you are happy with the flavours drain the stock and discard the vegetables and spices. 

3. Bring the stock back to a gentle boil and add the cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. After a few minutes add the prawns. The prawns must only cook for a few minutes. When they are done add the noodles and lemon juice. Garnish with coriander and extra chilli sliced diagonally.

So there you go. No need to rush out to your Thai local - this will be better. Make it yourself, save some money and enjoy every bite with a smug satisfaction. 

Jamie Who  

peanut butter and banana rye loaf

My brother's girlfriend is also obsessed with her health and is more than handy in the kitchen. She sent me this recipe which I tweaked a bit by adding the peanut butter for extra protein. I remembered seeing banana bread served with mascarpone at Melissa's and this is my interpretation. I have used rye and whole-wheat flour, no sugar and fat free cottage cheese instead of the mascarpone.

Stuff you'll need to make a decent sized loaf:
  • 1 and a half cups rye flour
  • Half a cup whole-wheat flour
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • Half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • One teaspoon of baking powder
  • Three bananas
  • Two organic eggs
  • Two tablespoons of sugar-free organic peanut butter
  • Half a cup of honey
  • Half a cup of skim milk
  • A handful of crushed/roughly chopped almonds
  • A teaspoon or two of vanilla paste (or vanilla essence if you can't find the paste)
What to do:

1. Set the oven to 220 degrees celsius.

2. In a bowl mix together the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder.

3. In another bowl mash the bananas and mix in the peanut butter, eggs, honey, milk and vanilla. I used a blender for this. If you do the same just be careful not to overmix the ingredients. You want a bit of texture.

4. Mix together wet and dry ingredients. The dough that you are left with will be wet and sticky. Pour into a bread tin (try and use the rubber ones - they don't need to be greased with butter). If you are using a metal tin make sure it is properly greased to stop the mixture from sticking.

5. Sprinkle the top of the mixture with the crushed almonds and whack it into the oven. After about 5 minutes reduce the temperature to 180 degrees and bake for about 50 minutes. Check if the bread is done by pushing a metal skewer/knife into the middle of the loaf. When it comes out easily with no dough stuck to it you're in the game.

Leave it to cool properly before slicing. Serve with the fat-free cottage cheese and a drizzle of organic honey. How easy was that? A simple, well-balanced breakfast that you can eat for a couple of days afterwards. Try it for tea with some fresh figs and cinnamon or grated apple and peanut butter.

Jamie Who

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dassiesfontein. Keep your eyes on the road.

I've headed down to Plett for a week so expect loads of reviews from some of my favourite places to eat in the country. The Garden Route is heaven for a foodie. There are loads of restaurants, fisheries, butchers and delis and a couple of fresh produce markets if you know where to look.

To get to Plett you pass a couple of farm-stalls along the way, with The Houw Hoek Inn and The Blue Crane being two of the most popular. This time I decided to stop at Dassiesfontein. You know the place. It has always intrigued me so I gave it a try. Oops...

There is a very fine line between laid-back, country vibe and chicken-shit on the floor vibe. Surely any kitchen cooking food should have some sense of pride and cleanliness? Apparently not. I must say the fresh bread smelt really good but I just couldn't see the appeal as I concentrated on dodging the livestock. The pre-made stuff looked good with jams and preserves on offer but again I was left wondering what conditions they were prepared in. Oh, did I mention the FISH DRYING ON STRING BY THE ENTRANCE? Not great. I passed.

Do you yourself a favour and pull into The Blue Crane. They have nailed the rustic, country food and are exactly halfway between CT and Plett.

Jamie Who

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Showroom and Riboville call it a day

So The Showroom and Riboville have closed down. Bruce Robertson has recently opened his Showroom Cafe in Long Street so one can only assume he is planning on focusing on this and possibly other projects in the future. Riboville, however, was apparently liquidated. When you consider the huge space, expansive menu and the number of staff in that place you can understand why. Oh yeah, and the fact that is was always empty. 

I will miss The Showroom. I think Bruce Robertson is a genius so let's hope he has some plans for the future. Riboville, for me, was great when it opened but has been disappointing for a while now. 

There is also a rumour that Paranga is closing down. This is speculation at the moment but I will let you know if I hear more. 

Let's hope there aren't too many more casualties for the CT restaurant scene. Times are tough as the industry starts to feel the effects of the world-wide recession.  

Jamie Who

Pomegranate and raspberry smoothie

I have this thing called the taste: health ratio. It's a bit of a food mantra that I try and live by. Basically, my theory is that you very rarely find something that tastes good and is healthy. You are invariably going to sacrifice either taste, or the health aspect. For example, Melissa's chocolate-chip cookies. Tastes amazing but will make you fat. Fact. Watercress salad. Boring, but almost zero calories. So I spend my time trying to find ingredients that score well in both categories. I try and cook meals that score well in both categories. Luckily, I have found plenty of answers. Most of them taste so good I eat them happily - the fact that they are so healthy is just a bonus. One of these things is smoothies. I f-ing love them. They are so easy to make at home and the beauty of them is that you can throw in any combinations of flavours you want. My only rule is to pick what's in season as the main ingredient.  So here's a recipe to get you started...

Stuff you'll need to make 2 large smoothies:
  • 1 pomegranate 
  • 2 small tubs of fat free yoghurt
  • A handful of your favourite nuts (raw)
  • A handful of raspberries
  • A dash of honey
  • Half a cup of milk
  • A few ice blocks
What to do:

1. Empty the yoghurt into a blender and add all the ingredients except the pomegranate. 

2. Cut the pomegranate in half. Empty the one half's seeds into the blender by hitting the back of the fruit with a wooden spoon. Get aggressive her, you need to give it a good smack to get the good stuff out. Squeeze the juice out too. Empty the other half's seeds out and put them aside.

3. Blend everything together. When it has the right consistency, pour into two large glasses and garnish with the remaining pomegranate and maybe an extra swirl of honey if you want it. 

Drink it up. It will taste awesome and you will feel amazing knowing how good it is for you. 

Jamie Who


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Carne - yes please

I know I'm always going on about health and how important it is but I think what's just as important is not to get too anal about it. It's easy to get obsessive and forget that food is there to be enjoyed. If I'm craving something I never deny myself from having it. I just work a bit harder at the gym the day after, or if I know I'm going out for dinner I will go on a good run in the morning. That way I feel like I've earned it and I can go big. Friday night was one of those days, except I didn't go big...I went huge.

Not to be patronising, but for those of you who didn't know, Carne is Italian for meat and when you arrive at this place, you will understand why they have gone with that name. With the same owner as 95 Keerom Street, the menu has got every cut, type and style of meat you can imagine. (And a few you probably can't) The usual suspects like fillet, sirloin, rib-eye etc. are all there but things like tongue, lamb-shoulder, baby chickens, ostrich lasagne, veal livers and more make an appearance. Now, it is really important that I stress this place is not a steakhouse. It is a celebration of meat, sure, but the dishes are elegant and well thought out. There are also items like a caprese salad with authentic buffalo mozzarella and grilled asparagus with a poached egg to keep vegetarians happy.

I started with the kudu tartare and was blown away with the depth of flavour. This was far more than raw meat on a plate. My fiance ordered the ravioli stuffed with lamb shoulder and dressed with a sage butter sauce. Rid-ic-u-lous. One of the best dishes I have seen in a long time. For mains, the waitress presented us with a selection of meats recommended by the chef for that day. I went with a hanger steak. Hanger steak is an unusual cut of beef often referred to as the butcher's cut, supposedly because it's so good the butcher keeps it for himself. The meat is found on the front of the rib near the kidney so the flavour is quite 'gamey'. It's not as tender as the fillet or sirloin, or even rump actually, but the flavour in my opinion is the best. It is phenomenal. If you ever see it on a menu, give it a try.

I thought I would start a new paragraph for desserts because mine deserved it. A chocolate souffle that arrived warm, wobbled just enough, and oozed chocolate sauce when I broke it open. My fiance had something too but to be honest, I was too involved to pay it any attention.

My verdict is that this place is a winner. It was pricey, but the food was out of the top drawer. My only complaint would be the winelist. Although broad, I found it a bit steep. That said, I will absolutely be returning.

Jamie Who

Friday, April 24, 2009

Five CT restaurants in the world's top 100 list

I'm often heard saying to basically anyone who will listen how incredible Cape Town is. As a city it has to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Sitting at Caprice on a good day can surely compare to anywhere else on the planet, and I have always thought the restaurants are of an international standard, even before Gordon Ramsay's Maze and the world-famous Nobu recently opened. It seems I was right...

At the annual S.Pellegrino Top 50 awards (where they celebrate the world's best restaurants), Cape Town cleaned up. 5 restaurants were named in the top 100, with two in the top 50. That's pretty incredible for a relatively small city. I guess you want to know who they were, and where they came. Fair enough.

Le Quartier Francais led the charge in 37th place, one place ahead of La Colombe. Jardine came in at number 79, with Aubergine (96th) and Rust en Vrede (98th) scraping in there. Margot Janse from LQF also won the award for best restaurant in the Middle East and Africa.

El Bulli retained the number 1 spot, and The Fat Duck stayed at number 2. For the full list go to http://www.theworlds50best.com/. I see number 51 is a place in China called Zuma. It seems our boy digs his food too. He he.

Jamie who

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Riebeek Valley Olive Festival

I recently wrote about the cheese festival coming up in Franschoek. Turns out there is another weekend to diarise. From 1 - 3 May, the Riebeek Valley is holding their olive festival. Now, for those of you who havent been out to that part of the world, take it from me - it is awesome. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, guesthouses and wine farms and of course olives everywhere. The town has got that cool, every-day-is-Sunday kind of vibe about it and the people are SUPER chilled. Not too much to stress about there.

The olive festival is the perfect time to go check it out. As well as all the tastings there will be a South African food village serving traditional SA chow and also an art exhibition showcasing internationally-renowned local artists. The organisers say there will be plenty of parking, as well as a shuttle service lifting people to the various venues.

I'm really bummed I can't make it this year but if you're looking for something to do you should go. Trust me, it is worth the trip.

Jamie Who

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Square - Come hungry

One of the coolest things about a good hotel is the breakfast spread that they put on. On Sunday I needed a big brunch and cruised to The Vineyard Hotel to check out what they had on offer. Their restaurant, The Square, has recently been renovated and has done well to lose the stale, country-club vibe. There is now a funky bar, awesome modern chandeliers and UV lights.

Food-wise, I was not disappoined. The continental breakfast buffet had basically everything you can imagine. Loads of muffins, cold meats, pastries, cereals, nuts, fresh fruit, dried fruit, a huge variety of breads etc. You pay R98 for all you can handle from the buffet. For R125 you can have the continental breakfast as well as a cooked course from a set menu. This made sense to me so I went mad at the buffet and then ordered an egg-white omelette with salmon and cream cheese. Judging by the food arriving at the tables around me anything would have been a good bet. There were eggs prepared in every way you can imagine (poached, scrambled, benedict etc) and plenty of omelettes with fillings like black forest ham, spinach, peas, chorizo, and more.
R125 might seem a bit steep but considering how much food I had got through I was more than happy to pay it. If you feel like a bit of a treat and need a big breakfast or brunch, this is a winner.

Jamie Who

SA Cheese Festival

I personally never need an excuse to go to Franschoek. With some of the country's best restaurants, killer hotels and winefarms everywhere you look it's not too kak. As one of the most beautiful little towns you're ever likely to visit, it makes sense that they host plenty of food festivals. One of these happens to be this weekend.

The South African Cheese Festival runs from the 24th to the 27th and has all the makings of a quality weekend away. Set on Bien Donne wine farm there are loads of exhibitors, cooking lessons, wine pairings etc. with huge industry names like George Jardine and Peter Goffe-Wood pushing the envelope with their flavour combinations.

Unfortunately I can't make the trip this year but I can't think of a better way to spend the long-weekend. Cheese? Check. Wine? Check. That'll do...

For more info check out http://www.cheesefestival.co.za/

Jamie Who

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jamie Who catering

So I have finally taken the massive step of starting a catering company. It has always been my dream and I have eventually been brave enough to do it. At the moment it is obviously tiny but I was stoked to get job number one, a hen's party, under the belt this weekend. My fiance (who will be running the new company) and I spent the whole day on Saturday in the kitchen and the end result was:

  • Massive green salad platters of asian leaves, brocolli, asparagus, peas and avocado topped off with shavings of pecorino. The visual impact of all the greenery on the plate was incredible.

  • Three homemade breads. Two ciabatta loaves - one stuffed with garlic, pesto and sundried tomatoes, the other stuffed with olives and rosemary - and a soda bread.

  • A chicken and brocolli fusilli bake

  • An aubergine spinach lasagne

We also did thank you packs for the guests. The theme was pink, black and white so we made boxes and filled them with sweets in those three colours. Packaging and design is an area that we want to focus on with the new company and I was really happy with the way these turned out.

After a long hard day of work, it was so rewarding to hear the amazing feedback we got. People loved the food we loved making it. Here's to the start of hopefully a new chapter.


Jamie Who

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Kingklip and chickpea curry

A curry doesn't have to be unhealthy.

The problem ordering one at a restaurant is the way the meat is cooked. Probably covered in butter or deep-fried in oil with extra butter added to the sauce to give it shine. Also, the naan bread is often greasy which also plays its part in contributing to a fatty dinner. But you can make a killer curry at home that is extremely healthy. I've used fish in this recipe and added chickpeas. Both are awesome sources of low-fat protein and both are perfect for a curry. Instead of the naan bread try making your own sambals. Thinks like chopped onion and tomato salsa, sliced bananas, fat-free yoghurt, mango chutney, flaked almonds etc. are all way better options and all will add amazing layers of flavour to your curry. In the recipe below I'm giving you measurements but they are more of a guideline than exact amounts. A curry is definitely a good example of a food where you can do your own thing. If you like a particular spice, add more of it. If there's something you don't dig, leave it out. It really is a personal thing, so don't be shy to express yourself.

Okay, stuff you'll need to feed 4 people:
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder (heat is up to you.)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground tumeric

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 3 curry leaves

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • chopped carrots (the same amount as the onion)

  • chopped celery (the same amount as above)

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • teaspoon of fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped

  • 2 tins of tomatoes

  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained

  • A handful of spinach

  • A handful of brocolli

  • 300g kingklip, cubed (or any firm white fish)

Okay, what to do:

1. In a large pot, soften the onion, celery and carrot over a medium heat. You don't want any colour on the vegetables.

2. Add the cumin, mustard seeds, tumeric, cinnamon, curry powder, curry leaves and stir. If the spices are sticking add some tap water. Cook these for a few minutes. The smells should be incredible at this stage. After a few minutes add the garlic and ginger.

3. Add the tinned tomatoes and a 500ml glass of water. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat so that the sauce is simmering. Add the brocolli.

4. Put the lid on and chill out for about 20 minutes. The sauce will have to be stirred every now and again but do not increase the heat. You want this sauce to cook slowly. The longer you can leave it simmering the better.

5. As long as you keep checking the sauce you don't need to do anything until about 10 minutes before you want to serve it. When you are ready, add the kingklip, the chickpeas and the spinach. Let the heat from the sauce wilt the spinach and poach the fish. All this is a gentle process and should take about 6-10 minutes. When the fish is ready, serve it up with a selection of sambals in little bowls.

It's not too difficult and once you've nailed this you can start experimenting with additional spices and different meats. There are so many versions of curry but the principles are all the same. Go with it.

Jamie Who

Raspberry pancakes

I am big into my breakfasts. In fact, I am huge into my breakfasts. A good breakfast sets me up for the day and with the proper ingredients can help keep you satisfied for longer, which will then obviously stop you craving food later in the day.

When you hear pancakes you don't normally think of a healthy breakfast but these are. The basis of the pancake mix is oats which are a great source of fibre and protein. You get a sweet fix from the natural sugars in the fruit and more protein and dairy from the cottage cheese. I have used raspberries here but you can pretty much use any fruit. Bananas, blueberries, strawberries etc. Just make sure they are fresh and in season.

Okay, stuff you'll need to make about 10 pancakes:
  • 1 cup rolled oats

  • Half a cup smooth, fat-free cottage cheese

  • 1 egg

  • A good pinch of cinnamon

  • A teaspoon of vanilla paste

  • About 2 tablepoons of fat free milk

  • A handful of raspberries

  • 200ml of fat free yoghurt
What to do:

1. Throw all the ingredients except the raspberries and the yoghurt in a blender and blitz them for a few minutes. If you need to loosen it up add some more milk slowly.

2. Add half the raspberries and stir them through the mixture. You don't want to break these up too much.

3. Using a large seving spoon, spoon the mixture one spoon at a time into a pan over gentle heat. Cook for a few minutes and gently flip them over. Cook for a minute or so more. Take the pancakes out and keep them warm. Repeat until all the mixture has been cooked.

4. To serve, stir the remainder of the raspberries through the yoghurt. Use this to create layers between the pancakes.

One of the most complete breakfasts you can have. Easy to make, super-healthy and tastes amazing. Enjoy.


Jamie Who

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pick 'n Pay - Healthy food revolution

So I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to catch on but I have only recently realised the awesome savings that are there for the taking at Pick 'n Pay if you have Discovery Medical Aid. Basically, what Discovery have done is form a partnership with Pick 'n Pay which is aimed at encouraging healthy eating. This is done by offering 25% of your cash back when you spend it on certain foods. All the foods have been identified by a team of professionals (doctors, nutritionalists, professors, dietitians etc) as the healthiest options available. Some examples of the categories of foods that are included are: fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy carbohydrates, dairy and dairy alternatives, proteins, lentils and legumes and oils, spreads, nuts and seeds. You also earn Discovery points when you buy these foods. So, in a nutshell, Pick 'n Pay takes the hassle out of shopping because they have already identified the foods that will benefit your health the most, you then pay 25% less for these goods and earn Discovery points while doing it. It sounds too good to be true.

You have to apply for your Discovery/Pick 'n Pay Healthy Eating card which I have done. It takes 10 days to arrive and then you can start swiping it at the nearest Pick 'n Pay. It was super-easy to apply for the card online at http://www.discovery.co.za/ and I am looking forward to giving it a go. You can also call 0860 99 88 77. What are you waiting for?

Jamie Who

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Knead - breakfast heaven

On Good Friday my fiance and I headed out to Muizenberg for breakfast at Knead. I figured they would be doing something special for Easter and I was not disappointed. They had freshly baked hot-cross buns as well as loads of pre-made ones to take home. There is always such a good vibe at this place and it is always worth a trip. For me, it is by far the best Knead and can't even be compared to other branches.

For breakfast, you sort of build your own plate using scrambled eggs as the base. You add ingredients like roasted tomatoes, black forest ham and smoked salmon and choose from awesome artisan breads like sourdough, rye, crushed seeds etc. to finish it off. All the breads are freshly baked and all of them are ridiculously good. They are for sale to take home and I would be surprised if you left without a loaf.

They also have bircher muesli which I'm a big fan of. Basically, Bircher muesli is a combination of oats, spices, nuts and dried fruit which is soaked overnight before serving with youghurt and fresh fruit. Their version includes orange zest, cinnamon, fresh strawberries and apple and is seriously good. I had this and was impressed but I must be honest I was a bit jealous of the cooked breakfast my fiance had put together.

With a quirky menu and brilliant food, this place always delivers for me. I always leave happy and I love the staff's vibe there too. If you haven't been there, check it out next time you're looking for a Sunday breakfast spot.

Jamie Who

Thursday, April 9, 2009

NOVA - worth the hype

Richard Carstens, head chef at NOVA, has racked up a few accolades in his career. Regarded as The Oscars of the South African food scene, the Eat Out Awards have seen him win chef of the year, as well as his past restaurants being named in the Eat Out's top 10 restaurant's three times while he was head chef.

So, when he opened NOVA it came with a massive reputation. He has responded with some brilliant food and a trendy, modern setting. Remember Relish? That place in town that was cool for about 6 months but you haven't been to in about 2 years? Well, NOVA has taken over half of the ground floor. It still has that beautiful view of Table Mountain, and now it has the food to match.

The flavour combinations are extreme, unique and often a bit strange when reading from a menu. But once you taste his creations you cannot help but appreciate that the guy is a genius. The venison with pear, plum and apricot was perfection while scallops were given an interesting twist with carrots, ginger and mustard. Words don't do the food justice though, and neither the presentation, which was breathtaking.

If it's a special occasion spoil yourself and try the 6-course degustation menu with the option of a recommended wine for each course to fully enhance the flavours.

A masterpiece that will surely be rewarded with a spot on next year's top 10.

Jamie Who

Vitamin water

I'm not sure when exactly Vitamin Water snuck onto our shelves but I am absolutely amazed at the fact that there was no marketing or PR at all. Maybe I missed it, or maybe it is still coming, but you'd think more of a fuss would've been kicked up by Glaceau (the Coca-cola subsidiary who owns it.) In the States the brand is huge, with celebs like 50 Cent, Carrie Underwood - and Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Shaq O'Neal from the NBA - endorsing it.

You may have gathered from the name, but the drink is basically a vitamin-enriched water, which claims massive health benefits. We all know how important drinking water is, so the added nutrients make sense. With lowish calories and loads of flavours with different health benefits it's pretty obvious why the brand has done so well overseas. Admittedly, a lot of the success has been because of their marketing and advertising drive. With no apparent effort being made here, it'll be interesting to see if the drink can compete with the local energy drinks.

Jamie Who

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Homemade granola

Let's start with the difference between granola and muesli. Basically, although both are predominantly oats, granola is sweetened and baked while muesli is not and has a softer texture. Personally, I love the crunchy bits that come with granola and I think the different textures make it way more interesting than muesli. The problem is that most versions on the shelves are high in either fat, sugar or both. So, I experimented a bit and have come up with a recipe for homemade granola that will blow your mind. Low in calories and big on flavour, this granola is easy to make, will save you money and tastes phenomenal. If it's not sweet enough you can add honey afterwards, but I would be surprised if you need to. The natural, unrefined sugar from the dried fruits and apple juice should do it.

You'll notice an ingredient called quinoa, which I use often. It's a grain that traces back to South America. High in protein, full of nutrients, low in fat, packed with fiber and as easy to prepare as normal rice it is an awesome ingredient. Check out a health shop and use it in salads, soups, stews etc. Here I have used quinoa flakes instead of oatbran which worked beautifully. With the seeds, nuts and dried fruit just use whatever combination you like. As long as the amounts are the same as below, the granola will be perfect.

Okay, stuff you'll need to full a good sized container:
  • 2 Tablespoons Light olive oil

  • 200 ml organic apple juice

  • 120 ml of the best honey you can find

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste (if you can't find it just use a few drops of vanilla essence)

  • 350g rolled oats

  • 100g quinoa flakes (or oatbran)

  • 50g sesame seeds

  • 50g pumpkin seeds

  • 50g sunflower seeds

  • 25g linseeds

  • 25g flaxseeds

  • 200g of dried fruit (I used mango, prunes and cranberries)

  • A handful or two of chopped nuts. (I went for cashews)

What to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius and line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2. Gently warm the olive oil, the apple juice, the honey, the vanilla and a pinch of salt in a pan until they are all combined.

3. Mix the oats, quinoa flakes, and all the seeds and nuts in a large bowl. Pour warm liquid over and stir to combine. Spread granola out on baking tray. (Use your hands to squeeze a few clusters of the granola together.)

4. Bake for 45 minutes , turning and stirring the mixture every 10 minutes or so. The granola should be browning nicely but not burning.

5. After 45 minutes, add dried fruit and mix in. Cook for a further 15-20 minutes until you are happy with the colour. Remember that the granola will harden once cooled, and even more overnight.

6. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.

7. When you're ready to eat it, serve with plain fat-free yoghurt and some fresh fruit. If you're feeling fancy, crush some rasberries into the yoghurt and swirl them around. It will look incredible. It should taste even better.

Jamie Who

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

chilli con carne

This is not the prettiest looking dish around, but the fact that Gordon Ramsay, Nigella and Jamie O have all got their own versions in their latest books speaks for itself. Simple comfort food is always popular and often the tastiest. My twist on the original version is to use ostrich mince. Ostrich is a killer source of protein and really low in calories and fat. It's one of the leanest meats around.

I made some corn-bread to serve with it and substituted fat-free yogurt for buttermilk to make it healthier. I figured they had similar textures so it wouldn't make that much difference. Luckily I was right and the corn-bread came out nicely. Perfect for mopping up the sauce, getting your hands dirty and not feeling guilty. Like I said, this is not a sophisticated vibe we're going for.

Okay, stuff you'll need to serve 4 people:

For the chilli con carne:

  • 500g ostrich mince

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 large carrot, chopped

  • Celery, chopped (the same amount as the onion and carrot)

  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed

  • Chilli powder (the heat depends on how brave you are)

  • Paprika

  • Cumin

  • A can of chopped tomatoes

  • A handful of cherry tomatoes

  • Fresh parsley

  • Dried mixed herbs

  • Tomato paste

  • A can of red kidney beans

What to do:

1. In the biggest pot you have add a glug of olive oil and start cooking your onion, carrot and celery over a medium heat. Cook until the vegetables are softened, but not changing colour.

2. Add your garlic, chilli powder, paprika and cumin. Just start with a teaspoon of the spices and back yourself to add more later if you want to. Cook the spices for about 5 minutes, stirring often so that it doesn't burn. Add a few teaspoons of tap water if you need to.

3. Add your mince and brown it, breaking it up and stirring it all in. The mince must change colour and there should be a sizzling noise so you might want to turn the heat up. What you don't want is to stew the meat.

4. Make the sauce. Throw in the tinned tomatoes, a handful of cherry tomatoes, the tomato paste, the dried spices and season well with salt and pepper. Don't be shy here, it will need a lot of seasoning. Just be sensible, keep tasting the sauce and add as you go. Add some chilli if you want to. Add a glass of tap water and stir well.

5. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly. Once the sauce is bubbling and you are happy with the seasoning, turn the heat down and put the lid on the pot. Check the sauce every now and again to stop it sticking at the bottom of the pot or from drying out. If it looks dry, add some water - don't worry about it, the sauce will thicken up with time.

6. Chill - other than stirring the sauce don't do a thing. The longer you leave this sauce for the better it will taste.

7. When you are ready to serve it, add some chopped parsley and the tin of beans. Serve it up with some cornbread.

The cornbread, stuff you'll need:

  • 280g polenta

  • 85g plain flour

  • 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda

  • 1 egg

  • 150 ml milk

  • 450 ml fat-free yoghurt

  • Dried herbs

What to do:

1. Heat oven to 190 Degrees Celsius and butter a 25cm x 16cm baking tin.

2. Mix polenta, bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl and season.

3. Mix the milk, yoghurt and egg together and pour into the polenta mixture. Stir gently to combine. Be delicate here, mixing it too aggresively will mean your bread will be tough.

4. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake for 35 - 40 minutes. When it's ready, cut it up and serve with the chilli sauce.

If there's any left over, freeze it. You'll thank me in a few weeks when winter really kicks in.


Jamie Who

1890 House Sushi and Grill - glory

When talking about restaurants, a 'little gem' is normally a place that nobody else seems to have heard of. A place you keep going back to because the prices are affordable and the food is awesome. A 'little gem' is a place where you keep asking yourself: "What's the catch?" But most importantly, the definition of this type of restaurant is a place that you love so much you don't want to tell anyone about it in case the secret gets out... so it's a bit weird for me to be telling all of you about one such gem, but I have to. It's that good.

1890 is a sushi bar in Obs. It is in Trill Road and the seedy location seems to make it even cooler. Once you find it (it's a bit off the beaten track) you won't be disappointed. As well as literally the best sushi in Cape Town, they have pork and beef wontons, crispy fried tuna, spicy calamari etc. The food is brilliant and the prices are insane. For the same meal in a more fashionable part of Cape Town you could easily pay three times as much. Plates of sushi on the conveyor belt range from R12 to R30 which is refreshing value-for-money. You can have a plate or two of sushi, some tuna, a couple of beers or glasses of wine and be in for under R80 which comparatively is a steal.
Next time that sushi craving hits - and you know it will - keep this place in mind. Like I said, it's a gem. Just don't tell too many people...

Jamie Who

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sugar free hot cross buns

I made these on Sunday as a gift. Homemade food is always a good bet when you're stuck for a present. It's personal and chances are the person receiving it will really appreciate the effort. The point here is that the food doesn't have to look perfect. If it tastes good and it is presented well your present should be a hit.

I bought a basket from Mr. Price for about R20 and put them in there which added to the rustic vibe.

Okay, stuff you'll need to make about 12-14 buns
  • Half a cup of milk

  • A tablespoon of yeast

  • About a quarter of a cup of the best honey you can find

  • A teaspoon of salt

  • 50g butter, melted in the microwave

  • A teaspoon of cinnamon

  • Half a teaspoon of nutmeg

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 and a half cups of flour

  • Dried fruit (Raisins are the traditional choice. I used dried cranberries and dried apricots)

  • 1 egg white

For the glaze:

  • Honey

  • Zest from 2 lemons

  • Juice from 2 lemons

  • About a tablespoon of milk

What to do:

1. Heat milk in microwave and add yeast to dissolve.

2. Pour milk into a mixing bowl and while beating slowly, add honey, salt, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and eggs. Slowly add flour and keep kneading the mixture. The dough should be quite wet but beginning to look a lot smoother. After about 5 minutes of kneading cover the bowl with clingwrap. Walk away, pour a drink or whatever, and let the dough relax for 45 minutes to an hour. Do not touch it. Do not think about it. After an hour the dough should roughly double in size.

3. Knead the dough some more. Work it for about 3 minutes and then add your dried fruit, mixing it all in. Shape the dough into a ball and cover for a further 30 minutes.

4. Divide the dough into about 12 round portions and arrange on a greased baking tray or baking paper. Make sure they are not on top of each other - if everything goes according to plan they will expand and rise. Now make a deep cross in the dough for each bun. Cover them and leave them to rise again for about 35 minutes.

5. Brush the buns with the egg white and bake them in the oven at 220 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. Remove them, whisk together the glaze ingredients and spoon some over the buns. Put the buns back in the oven for about 10 minutes, watching them carefully. With the glaze on it is easy to burn them so be careful. What you want is a sticky, golden-brown bun. When they are done take them out and let them cool. With no sugar and some healthy dried fruit packed with anti-oxidants you could do worse I promise.


Jamie Who

The winners and the losers

I really can't go into too much detail about what I ate at the Taste of Cape Town festival this weekend, except to say that on the whole it was an awesome experience. We went on Saturday night and found it a lot vibier than last year, when we took on a day time session.

A brief summary of the best food on offer includes Coca-Cola basted pork ribs from Bruce Robertson's Showroom Cafe, La Colombe's Asian beef tartare, the laquered lamb neck from Le Quartier Francais, Bread and Wine's version of bangers and mash (which included truffles!) and George Jardine's cauliflower puree with crispy duck. The disappointment of the evening was without a doubt the crumbed chicken breast stuffed with Gorgonzola from Five Flies. It was a shocker. Basically a glorified schnitzel, this dish summed up why the restaurant that was once one of the best in the country has been left way behind in Cape Town's culinary scene. Wang Thai was also there, and hideous little bowls of deep-fried stuff were being passed around to anyone brave enough. I can't tell you what lurked inside those bowls, but it wasn't pretty...

The booze guys were also well represented, with Grolsch and Jack Daniels having the most impressive stalls.

All in all, the night was one where it's best if you leave your diet at the door. Sometimes you just have to relax and enjoy, which is exactly what we did.

Good times, good people.


Jamie Who

Friday, April 3, 2009

Crayfish and roast chicken salad

This salad is a showstopper. It looks amazing on the plate, tastes beautiful and isn't really very difficult to prepare. It's perfect for a dinner party because (a) Your guests will think you're pretty special and (b) You can do it all before they arrive and then simply plate it up when you need to.

I got the idea for this from Kylie Kwong and then just tweaked it a bit. Her website is http://www.kyliekwong.org/. Check her out, her food is awesome.

Ok, stuff you'll need to serve 8 people:

  • 3 crayfish (Obviously live is best but if not the fresher the better.) If you can't get Crayfish get a few high-quality prawns.

  • A chicken that has been roasted and then shredded

  • A pack of asparagus

  • A packet of rocket/watercress/mixed leaves

  • A packet of baby spinach

  • Half a finely diced red onion

  • About 3 teaspoons of good Dijon mustard

  • Sea salt

  • Extra virgin Olive Oil

  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • White wine vinegar

  • Chopped parsley

1. Alright, so you take your crayfish if they are alive and put them in the freezer for one hour. This will "put them to sleep". After that, place them in a large pot of salted boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK THEM!! Remove them carefully with tongs and let them cool before removing them from their shell. They should be firmish and pink in colour. If they seem undercooked gently fry them in a pan for a minute at most but whatever you do do not overcook them. Once done, gently break the meat into pieces and put aside.

2. Make your dressing for the salad by mixing the onion, mustard, some sea salt, a bit of lemon juice, olive oil (a good amount. Say 5 tablespoons), vinegar and parsley.

3. Cook your asparagus in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Again, do not overcook it. You want it to be firm and bright green. Once you've done this, place the asparagus in some water with ice cubes. This keeps the asparagus a bright green colour.

4. Blitz some baby spinach in a blender with some olive oil. This is for presentation.

5. Plate it up. Arrange mixed leaves on plates and top with cooked asparagus, the crayfish meat and the chicken. Spoon some dressing over each plate and using a spoon dribble some of the bright green liquid from the spinach around the plate.

It's a pretty easy process with impressive looking results. Give it a shot. Don't be scared of the ingredients. The worst thing you can do here is not trust yourself with the crayfish. Overcooked crayfish is terrible and rubbery, but, like all cooking, just keep tasting as you go and trust your instinct. Enjoy.


Jamie Who

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Taste of Cape Town

So this weekend sees the Taste of Cape Town festival moving from last year's Camps Bay High School to Jan Van Riebeeck Sports fields just off Kloof Nek. With a ridiculous lineup featuring restaurants like La Colombe, Jardine, Le Quartier Francais, Aubergine and more and chefs like Bruce Robertson, Margot Janse and Richard Carstens working their magic the food is bound to be phenomenal.

Entrance is R80 for a standard ticket. Once inside, you buy tokens called crowns. Each crown is worth R5 and dishes range from 4 crowns (umm...R20) to 8 crowns (That would be R40).

If it's anything like last year this is an awesome event and worth going to. All the cool kids will be there. As well as the food stalls the booze will be flowing freely, with things like the Grolsch beer academy and a Checkers Wine Route to keep you busy.

For more info, dates, times etc. check out the official site at www.tasteofcapetown.com

See you there.

Jamie Who

Healthy substitutes

My health is really important to me. I spend loads of time either on the road or in the gym but I spend as much time (if not more) on researching, developing and tweaking recipes to find alternative ingredients for unhealthy ones. It's amazing but if you look hard enough and think a bit laterally you can pretty much substitute anything unhealthy completely, and if not you can at least limit the damage by finding a healthier option. Believe me, with the recipes on this site you won't even know the difference. Except in the way you feel and the way you look.

Stay tuned for some examples of what I'm talking about. We're just getting to know each other so we'll take it easy. I don't want to rush into a relationship, I'd rather you got to know me a bit better first.

Jamie Who

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Thanks for coming

Ok, alright, so this is it. Quite a weird feeling actually. Let's start with why I'm here...

I'm here to share my passion for food. You see, I believe food can make you smile. Food can bring back memories of childhood, anniversaries, favourite birthdays and more. Food can change your mood instantly. But food is simple. So, my job is to show you how easy it is to prepare it properly. My philosophy is simple - treat the ingredients with respect. Get the freshest produce you can and let them speak fothemselves. I hate food that is overstyled and overworked. Sure, there is a place for "pretty" food but if you buy high quality and keep it simple trust me, you're off to a good start.

So now you know why I'm here. Let's try figure out what you're doing here. Maybe you are clueless in the kitchen. Maybe you are awesome and want to be better. Maybe you love eating out as much as I do but want to try something new. Hopefully we can help each other. You see, as well as sharing recipe ideas I'll be giving my opinion on restaurants I've visited, throwing out a few news stories, interviewing a featured chef of the month and listing hot new places as they open. The food community in this country is growing every day and I just want to be a part of it. Here's to the start of a beautiful friendship.

Jamie Who