Steamed broccoli, sesame seed and mature cheddar salad

IMG_1774Broccoli is ridiculously healthy and can be delicious, yet it seems so often just be boiled into oblivion. We eat broccoli all the time, but I realised that I haven’t posted any of the many variations of steamed broccoli salad we devour. I also have a new camera that I wanted to test in very very poor light – the kitchen light has blown but the ceiling is very high and we don’t own a ladder tall enough to change the bulb. So I was cooking with a bed side lamp and the pictures turned out surprisingly well. This is possibly the simplest version of the salad because this is all we had lying about the fridge amongst the partially rotten baby food that the small one has been rejecting.

Ingredients:

  • I head of broccoli
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Shaved mature cheddar
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Dash of soy and balsamic
  • Squish of honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Lightly steam the broccoli. Toast the sesame seeds. Mix up the salad ingredients. Toss together and shave the cheese over the top.

Vegan version: ditch the cheese and honey

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Black eyes and bloody birthday cakes

all

Picture credit: thanks brother K

I haven’t written in ages, mostly because my camera died of old age and humidity (does anyone want to donate a Canon Powershot G10/11/12 to the cause? Thanks). This post has only been possible because someone took pictures on my sister’s camera, and my brother took pics with his larney phone.

In February, suddenly our kid’s one year birthday was upon us. Suckers for a good theme, we decided to have a bit of a gory birthday, and asked everyone to wear red and black (purely for the photos of course… that barely ended up happening in the chaos that is 30 adults and around 15 smaller humans). Although the general advice is not to bother with anything until the kid is at least 2/3, it makes it so much more fun for us. Even for our not-a-baby-shower picnic in the park in Durban we had cupcakes with plastic maggots and flies crawling out of them.

On the actual birthday a few days before, as Z and I were dancing around the lounge to the Cramps, he did a spin-and-run and rebounded off the side of a wooden chair, leaving him with a massive shiner. Worst black eye I have seen on anyone in a while. And of course then there is the shame of it happening on my watch. But it somehow fitted with the gore theme and I almost painted a black eye in solidarity for the party (but forgot at the last minute, armpit deep in icing).

These were the main grossnesses we constructed.

cake

The cake was adapted from this recipe. We doubled the recipe and then added blueberries so the inside would look more like pink mushy brains, with a possible clot or two. We cut the skull out with a homemade stencil and filled the sockets and surrounded the skull with bleeding cooked mixed berries. Licorice for the nose and mouth. The table cloth was from our wedding.

cupcakes

The cupcakes were all simple chocolate cupcakes. Then we turned them into stitched up wounds and blood shot eyeballs with different coloured butter icing and licorice.

fingersThe severed fingers were all the captain’s doing. He fried up some Fry’s veggie sausages and broke them gruesomely, and used pieces of raw onion as finger nails. All Gold tomato sauce for blood.

The token meat was a pile of ‘scabs’ (biltong). There were also some beautiful biscuits brought by a cookie fiend we know. I will try and track down someone who took photos of them because they were beautiful. In keeping with the red and black theme, we also had a bucket of sangria to keep the parents sane amidst the mayhem.

Now to start planning number 2…

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Roasted sweetcorn, red onion, parsley and sour cream salad

What is it about tasty mush at the moment? It seems to be all I am capable of in the kitchen. I thought a jaunty piece of parsley would help make it look less mushy, but it still looks like miscellaneous goop. It tasted great though, and I decided to include it due to the insistence from my lovely dinner guest, Adi. The idea sort of came from an even mushier version made by my friend the Swedish stay-at-home dad and house-husband extraordinaire, but I couldn’t remember what he had used, and my internet wasn’t working and my phone was out of batteries, so I resorted to improvising.

Ingredients:

  • 3 roasted sweetcorn cobs
  • half a chopped red onion
  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • 1 green chilli
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • lots of salt and pepper

Roast the sweetcorn in a 180 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes. They can go in straight on the rack. Cut the kernels off the cob. Crush the garlic and finely chop the chilli and onion. Rinse and finely chop the parsley. Add the sour cream and mix. Season with a lot of salt and black pepper.

I made this as part of a bigger meal of salady things to stuff into pitas. I also made brinjal and yoghurt, and baby spinach salad.

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Quinoa, green beans, fancy-pants mushrooms, creme fraiche, sunflower seeds and fresh herb salad

No I haven’t stopped eating. I have just been making the same dishes over and over again, or forgetting to take photos, or taking photos halfway and then forgetting in my ongoing sleep deprived state of parenthood, but recently I bought some quinoa for the little guy. He doesn’t each much yet, so I have been throwing various things at it for us. Fancy-pants mushrooms were on special, and I have had a bit of a creme fraiche thing of late, so this is what we had for dinner the other night.

Before I get on to how I compiled the delicious mush presented before you, I wanted to respond to something someone said to me recently. I was asked whether I have ever considered food styling for the blog. The answer was oh god no. Imagine having to painstakingly prepare not only the food, but each shot… I get tired thinking about it… I would hate cooking in an instance. So to avoid any confusion, the purpose of this blog is not to make food that can only be prepared in a well lit studio by the rich and well resourced (although wealth is relative and I am still comparably wealthy and suggest checking out where you are on the richness scale for a bit of perspective). Although I do love a bit of good food porn, gibberlicious  aims to share the kinds of vegetarian food me and my friends and family throw together with whatever we have at hand.

For the most part the veg I buy is whatever is seasonal: from markets, stall traders or fruit and veg shops like Madeira and Balmoral in Woodstock (which stock the same veg as Fruit and Veg City but cheaper, and since our car was stolen we have to go for the walking distance, and whatever can be squished in the pocket underneath the pram).  Occasionally, like with this recipe, the ingredients are somewhat fancier.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 punnet fancy pants (or any mushrooms)
  • 2 handfuls green beans
  • half a big garlic / 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 handful parsley (this could be a handful of dhanya or basil or any other fresh green herb)
  • 2 generous tablespoons creme fraiche
  • toasted sunflower seeds

Cook the quinoa as per instructions. This packet said 1quinoa:2water. I still feel like I am making it a bit clumsily so any suggestions most welcome. I didn’t add any salt so I could take some out for the dudeguy, so I had to salt everything later. I then steamed the green beans. I coarsely shopped the mushrooms and fried them in the garlic with some butter and seasoned with a lot of black pepper and salt. I then chopped the herbs and toasted the sunflower seeds. And then when everything was done I mixed everything together and stirred in the creme fraiche.

It is nice to serve with something like this beetroot salad, so the quinoa gets dyed all gory-like.

Vegan version: leave out the creme fraiche and fry in olive oil instead.

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Happy 100 posts and birthday louvi

Around this time last year my family was in Cyprus. It was warm and I swam and ate ice cream every day. I was looking through some photos of summer in the hopes that I could warm myself and found these pics. I had misplaced these photos for a whole year.

On my birthday in Cyprus I requested one of my favourite meals of all time: fresh louvi. It is one of my family’s staples and was my first post on Gibberlicious so I thought it was fitting it was also my 100th.

Before my yiayia died we would gather on their balcony in the evenings as the day cooled down and we would do things with our hands. Sometimes it was threading lavendar into these bulb like things for the linen cupboard. Sometimes it was crocheting or knitting. And sometimes it was shelling black-eyed beans. It became a ritual of sorts, especially seeing as we don’t really get fresh black-eyed beans here. It became such a thing of pleasure that my 90 year old grandfather tried to bring several kilos of unshelled beans through customs when he came to visit. Needless to say they were confiscated (along with several pieces of village haloumi).

So on my birthday, my mum, sister, cousin and I shelled the blackeyed beans in the 35 degree heat. In South Africa we usually cook the beans with spinach, but in Cyprus you get these massive marrows which we used instead. I can’t find the rest of the photos of the meal, but needless to say it was amazing. The fresh beans and marrows and the delicious olive oil…

I miss my yiayia.

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Steamed green beans and balsamic roast tomato and olive salad with feta and almonds

On these cold winter nights the usual go-to salads are not all that appealing. Oh the coldness! I am still not completely used to being so cold most of the time. I also always seem to be cooking in a rush. So I have been experimenting with warm salads to eat collapsed in a sleep deprived coma, huddled by the fire.

Ingredients:

  • green beans
  • about 10 baby tomatoes
  • 10 olives
  • feta
  • almonds
  • balsamic vinegar

Steam the green beans. Halve the tomatoes and put into a pan with salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Take the pips out of the olives and cut the pieces in half and add to the tomatoes. Roast the tomatoes and olives until the peels are popping and browned. Put the tomatoes into a salad bowl. Add the steamed green beans. Crumble the feta into the salad bowl. In this case I used black pepper feta. I am not usually a fan of flavoured feta, but these were off-cuts which were ridiculously cheap from the Foodlovers Market. Roast and add the almonds (you could use any nut here). Mix through. The tomatoes pop a little when the salad is stirred which creates a very flavourful dressing.

Vegan version: exclude the feta

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Anari and mint spaghetti

Dinner tasted like Cyprus! Dean cleaned out the fridge this weekend (oh the horror…) and he found some fully seeled anari (Cypriot cheese) and mint, which made up for the evil lurking in a puddle that may have once been a baby marrow. The best before date on the anari had just passed, but we thought, what the hell, and tried it. It tasted perfect so we threw together a very simple Cypriot pasta dish.

In Cyprus we would often eat the butter, mint and anari with ravioli stuffed with haloumi and herbs. One day I will take on that challenge, but for now I am very pleased with such a quick meal. It meant the little dudeguy and I were in bed, him asleep and me with my novel, by 8pm (the meal took way shorter to make and eat than this blog post took to put together).

Ingredients

  • 150g spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • dried mint from Cyprus
  • grated anari (Cypriot cheese that is like dried ricotta)

Boil the spaghetti in water with salt and some olive oil. Drain the pasta. Melt the butter through while the spaghetti is still hot. Sprinkle the dried mint and grate the anari.

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