Olive and Feta Garlic Bread
Olive and Feta Garlic Bread - perfect for a braai or even a starter with another meal.
- Butter/margarine at room temperature
- Garlic chopped or crushed
- Feta cheese crumbled
- Green olives chopped
Stir some garlic into your butter - how much, depends on your taste!
Make slices in your panini, but don't cut right through.
Spread a good amount of garlic butter in each slice.
Fill up with feta cheese and olives
Wrap in foil, and bake on the braai, or pop it in the oven for a few minutes, until the butter is melted and the crust slightly crispy. (about ten minutes, at 180 degrees.)
Winter is curry time.
Well, any time is curry time, but curry in a Cape winter just pushes the happiness meter way up. I am an avid curry lover, from Rogan Josh to Balti, Korma, Vindaloo, Jalfrezi and all the rest. Not that I always know all the differences, but I do know what tastes good! I learned to make them from various Indian friends in all parts of the world. That only covers the Indian curries! Sometimes I am seriously happy that humans have to eat so often because there are so many amazing curries in the world.
In SA, as a child, I associated curry mostly with the mince curry and rice that we used to get at church bazaars and school functions. We always ate it with Mrs. Ball’s chutney, sliced banana, and desiccated coconut. Which reminds me, I haven’t had that in ages! Must make a plan… My mum also cooked good beef and mutton curries but they were all flavoured with the same spices from the Rajah packet. At least until my dad started traveling to Durban often, for work, and brought back big bags of curry spices from the Indian spice market. Now remember, those were the days before Google. Also, long before eating out was a thing. The only “thing” it was, was a thing we did maybe once or twice a year, on a special occasion, and Indian restaurants didn’t exist in Kempton Park in the 70’s and 80’s as far as I know.
That means we didn’t know about different curries. All we knew was beef, mutton, and sometimes, chicken curry, and it was either handstands-in-the-shower hot, or not.
Then I discovered real Durban curry… And Malaysian curry, and Japanese, Indonesian and Thai curry. A whole new world of curries opened up for me, and I have been experimenting with them all ever since.
The other day Bev was complaining that her Durban curry masala was almost finished, and we decided to try and make our own. It was a sort of off-the-cuff attempt, based on what I could taste in the real Mc Coy. Not a totally bad attempt, I think, but it made me wonder for the first time what the difference actually is between a Durban curry and a Cape curry.
To find those subtle but flavourful differences, I have compared more than 50 recipes for the three main, basic curry masala mixes we use in South Africa, and the curries we cook with them. There are more variations than we can count; probably one for every single cook who has ever mixed their own curry spices. Yet, there seems to be silent consent about which spices are most often used for which type of curry, with the main variations probably being in the quantities.
The chart here below explains which spices are most often used in masala for Durban Curry, Cape Malay Curry and Garam Masala. It’s handy guide for everyone interested in the differences between Durban Curry and Cape Malay Curry.
Other differences between Durban curry and Cape Malay curry:
- Durban curry is generally hotter than Cape curry, so add more chillies or chilli powder.
- Some spices, like whole star anise, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks are not necessarily added to the masala mix, but can still be added whole to the curry.
- Durban curry is more red, due to the extra chili powder but also because tomato is an important ingredient. Durban curry makers put fresh, chopped tomato or canned tomato in their curries. Often both.
- Garam Masala is often used in both curries, combined with other spices.
- Garam means “warmth” but it shouldn’t be confused with hot or spicy. “Warmth” refers to the feeling of warmth and comfort the spices symbolise, and also to the fact that the whole spices for garam masala are toasted before they are ground to a powder.
- Garam masala is most often not spicy hot. It doesn’t have much of a “burn.”
- Garam masala is used in two ways, in the same curry. Some of the masala is added and sauteed with the onions right at the beginning of cooking your curry. More garam masala is added after cooking the dish; sometimes even at the table. It brings out the warm taste and aroma of all the spices and packs a rich, flavourful punch.
- It is not unusual for Cape Malay curry to have more of a sweetness, either from chutneys or coconut milk.
- Don’t be in a hurry when cooking a curry. Meat should be soft and fall off the bone. Add your vegetables at a later stage so they don’t get soggy and overcooked.
- Potatoes are an essential ingredient in most curries. It adds flavour and texture, and can also be a natural thickener for the gravy in your curry.
For our curry recipes, please click on the links, or browse through the recipe section.
Cape Malay Curry
Black Bean Curry
I think I need to cook a curry right now! Typing can make you hungry, especially typing about delicious food!
I’m an activist of sorts… I won’t elaborate because I don’t want to end up in jail. Well, I’ll elaborate a bit. I’ve marched in the Gay Pride long before it was Gay-Friendly Pride. On those marches we were literally spat at by certain of the soon to be previously disadvantaged masses. On one occasion a few bible toting parents arrived with their tiny tots and a megaphone, to politely explain to us why we were being frowned upon from above…. Actually, it was more about burning in hell and a lot of judgments backed up by misquoted Leviticus (yaaaawwwnnnn) BS. Sorry – but a lifetime of bigotry will make one grumpy. Long story short – the Megaphone Mouth assumed that the gay folk were vulnerable and passive and did not expect a group of gay skinheads to beat the crap out of them. I don’t support violence but, on that day, I was rooting for team skinheads. I’ve been teargassed for being gay and there was the scary day when I was given 24 hours to vacate my flat as a student because my partner was not the correct shade of “I’m the boss of you” beige. So yes, there are signs of activist anarchist in me.
I’m also a bit of a feminist. I’ll stand up for women’s rights. If needed. I’m not sure if I’m needed now in the world of wine tasting, but I’ve noticed a strange new way of describing Shiraz that’s suddenly appeared on the scene. I mean suddenly! Analize and I have been regularly wine tasting for over a year now and I have never heard a Shiraz being described as a “Ladies” shiraz before. Suddenly I’ve heard it twice in one week. On both occasions I’ve been shocked and asked “what do you mean, ladies shiraz?”. They can’t explain what they mean. One person described it as having less “oomph”. Another said “ladies” like their wine to be less spicy, implying easy drinking I guess.
I can’t find the top of my head. It’s blown off with WTFness!! So… I suspect that some idiot in the industry has decided to market the more subtle Shiraz wines to women, with the selling point of it being not terribly challenging to the taste buds and not very complex, for us little ladies. At last! Thank goodness! A complex spicy wine that us women can finally enjoy, because it’s not complex and spicy. Where the fuck is the top of my head?? Ok… I’m calming down… trying to calm down.
I decided to research /Google if women and men experience taste differently, to see if this was scientifically based BS or just an idiot’s idea to sell more wine. Once I got past the google results about the taste of vagina… (I kid you not… You type in the words “men” and “women” and “taste” and google assumes you’re referring to vagina) I discovered some interesting views on this subject. (BTW – I know I’m being way more crass and “in your face” rude today but I will explain why later) Ok, where was I? Oh yes – so it turns out that women are better at tasting than men (food and wine that is), supposedly because they need to be, for the survival of the species… Something to do with poisonous berries and vrot food. There is some debate though that it’s because women are more able to focus on the task of tasting than men. Given time, men will catch up, apparently. Women are more likely to be supertasters than men, which could explain the assumption that women would prefer a more subtle shiraz, since supertasters avoid spicy foods.
I’m not buying it though – the “subtle shiraz for ladies” story. I’ve been told that I’m quite male in my makeup – not my actual makeup – I’m not a drag queen… but I admit I have many male characteristics. For instance – I get better looking the older I get (not) and I get a beer paunch in October. If I enjoy a shiraz, is it because of this? Probably not! Analize loves a complex, spicy shiraz, and she is definitely not a male. My mother, who is 78 years old and puts actual face makeup on every day, loves a complex, spicy shiraz. Also, not a male. So, I reject this notion that women are “weak” and lacking “oomph” as opposed to those strong, shiraz-tasting males of our society. Anyone located the top of my head yet?
I’m watching this shiraz space now. The next person who describes a shiraz as a “ladies shiraz” is going to have to explain the concept, outside of the context of our South African patriarchal society. Explain it to us please in wine speak – in a way that doesn’t insult me – a woman who enjoys complex and spicy, nuanced and intriguing wines.
And – the reason I’m rude and crude and in your face today is because this is what unapologetic women writers do and should do. Women traditionally censor their writing to appease others – instead of just writing all of their words. So, this is what I sound like when I’m hacked off! Did I say “hacked”? I meant f…..
Our decisions about which wine farm to visit on a particular day, are, in one word, random. Most often, we stumble onto a wine farm, and when it is the third wine farm for the day, I mean that literally! The one that happens to be open, or the one that happens to be…. well, there. There where we are, wherever that may be. Then, at other times, it is the one we have heard of, the one of which we know the wines well, or simply the one that has a festival taking place.
Not Avontuur though. We planned to go to Avontuur because Bev dreamed of horses and we decided to go and find horses. Sommer net, because horses are amazing and Avontuur is known for their horses. What’s more, their wines all carry the name of one of their horses. It was another emotional day because my ex and I have been to Avontuur before and I had good memories that were going to haunt me.
This time I was in extremely good hands though! The good hands of my bestie, Bev, and then the good hands of my therapist, or ex therapist, Kate. She no longer worked at the institution where I saw her for therapy sessions, and we decided to hang out now that she was not my shrink.
I was a bit nervous. I mean, what do you say to your shrink when you are not baring your soul, using up all her tissues in ten minutes while crying about your existential crisis, and now you suddenly have to hide said existential crisis in a wine bottle? What do you talk about? What if she knew nothing about the weather, or wine, or Karlien’s pregnancy? Then I rethought the part about hiding my existential crisis in a wine bottle, and I knew everything would be fine. Well, that, and the fact that I don’t even know who Karlien is; I only saw on Facebook it is one of the things one apparently has to know about.
At Avontuur, Bev and Kate teamed up against me! They went straight for the reds, while I started with the MCC (Méthode Cap Classique) and moved on to the Chardonnay.
Bev and Kate were like – wháát? It is getting colder and more overcast by the minute. How can you drink chilled wines, don’t you know anything about the weather?
Okay, they didn’t actually suggest that I know nothing about the weather, but I could see it in their eyes. They were thinking it!
When the tasting room person – we call them winies – came to pour my first red, a beautiful Cabernet Merlot, she asked if we heard that Karlien was pregnant. Ag, allright, I will stop it now. Of course she didn’t talk about Karlien. The Cab Merlot part actually happened though and what a warm, happy moment on a cloudy day!
One of the first things I learned about Kate outside the therapy room is that she actually tastes wine. Whereas Bev and I taste wine as well as drink wine. Kate would take a few sips and toss the rest, to our horror. Besides that, it turned out Bev and Kate were wine twins. They were drawn to tasting the same wines, and liked a few of the same ones.
We ended up talking about all kinds of things, from our children, to cooking, hiking, psychics and atheism. And lemons. At one point, when Bev and I had one of our famous heated debates, I looked over at Kate and told her not to worry, that this sort of thing was very normal for us. She just sat there listening, not sipping her wine (because it was in the spittoon) and said, “Oh, I am not worried.”
Kate decided to skip the second wine farm we wanted to visit, because it was getting late and she wanted to beat the traffic. A fine, misty rain had started, and it was cold. Bev and I still wanted to go and say hi to the Avontuur horses, and then go on to Somerbosch Wines, just up the road.
We walked Kate to her car when the rain gave us a gap, and then we got stuck in the parking lot. Stuck, as in, we were standing there talking a lot more. I love those parking lot chats! It just shows there is a lot more to talk about and you all have to get together again, soon. We all left when the cold started creeping into our bones. Kate was standing there shivering in the parking lot, wishing she had a warmer jacket. Turns out the woman knew absolutely nothing about Cape Town weather. 😉
I’m not a foodie like Analize. Apparently some people are supertasters, and I always thought Analize was one, but I think I may be wrong. Supertasters taste foods with greater intensity, according to research, and (shock! horror!) tend to avoid alcohol or salty, fatty foods. That pretty much disqualifies Analize, because she is a food adventurer who will go where no other person will willingly go, as far as food is concerned. And life, come to think of it. I think she simply has such a vast knowledge of food and tastes and the talent to make taste associations that many of us lack. Perhaps she is both. I am definitely not a supertaster. I gravitate towards the heavier, structured tannic wines, such as cabernet sauvignon and syrah, which supertasters will avoid like the plaque, because of the strongly astringent taste of these reds. One can do a supertaster test which involves staining your tongue with wine (actually, it’s blue dye, but wine will do) then counting the pink papillae taste buds on your tongue. Taste buds don’t stain as much, so will be the pink ones. Supertasters will have more than 30 pink papillae visible. Analize – you need to do the test! We need to know if you are over 30!
And so, because I’m not a supertaster, I’m on a mission now to create the perfect Devil Wears Prada Jarlsberg Toasted Cheese Sandwich (DWPJTCS). I had a long discussion with Analize about this at a braai once, in front of a friend who tried so hard to engage in the conversation. Eventually she just said “you two are completely nuts!”, before moving off to join a raucous rugby debate instead. She has no idea! She should have been there the day we debated for ages about the best wine to pair with a nutpuff.
I find it very disconcerting though that nobody remembers that scene in The Devil Wears Prada, when Nate makes Andrea a Jarlsberg cheese toasty, and she doesn’t want it, which flags the beginning of the end for them. It’s a sad moment that nobody notices, but for some reason I did. Maybe because for me, how I experience love is very bound up in food. If someone cooks a meal for me with care and love, it means everything to me. If someone experiments with food recipes and shares the meal with me, I interpret that as trust. If someone takes me to an unusual vege restaurant (like Raw and Roxy) and takes photos of my happy reaction to the crazy original tastes, I experience that as tribe-love. I think because I have such trust issues, I will push my metaphorical plate away at the first hint of “something being rotten in Denmark”.
So, in the mix of the rejection I saw in that Devil Wears Prada scene, the word “Jarlsberg” became imprinted in my memory, and triggered some weird healing necessity in me, which has manifested in my quest for the best DWPJTCS. It was not a total surprise then, years later, to find myself in a gallery in the MOMA museum in New York, standing next to Stanley Tucci, who plays Nigel in the movie. We were both staring engrossed at a Kandinsky. He didn’t recognise me from that time I watched him in the movie, and I didn’t want to embarrass him by saying “Hi, it’s me”, so I just quietly enjoyed the synchronicity of the DWPJTCS moment.
Jarlsberg is not a Danish cheese, which means Shakespeare’s warning of rottenness does not apply, however it does originate from the Scandinavian country of Norway. It’s semi-hard (but mostly soft) with a nuttiness and big gaping holes. It melts easily and its initial sweetness grows into a basket of complex flavours, which some people may not enjoy after a few bites. My very distant ancestors originate from Norway. I wonder if maybe I’m a Jarlsberg cheese trapped in a human body?
Jarlsberg cheese is not readily available in South Africa, so it was a long journey of searching before I finally had a chance to create the best DWPJTCS. The woman at the cheese factory was a bit worried when I started dancing and whooping in front of the imported cheese fridge, the day I stumbled upon my “worth gold” cheese… such happiness. There’s no way a supertaster would ever be that happy over cheese.
My first attempt was a flop. White sweet dough bread. Epic fail. I had this idea that Jarlsberg is a salty cheese and easy to pair up with a simple bread, but it’s so much more layered in flavour than that. It needs a particular type of bread, with a unique complexity…. a bread with holes of its own to allow the melted cheese the freedom to flow wherever it must. Analize had suggested a ciabatta. I chose an olive ciabatta. It turned out to be the perfect match. I sprinkled Hot English Mustard onto the cheese and added a half a twist of coarse salt. The real secret though is to spread a ton of salty butter on the outside of the bread, so that when the melted cheese oozes out between the holes in the olive ciabatta, it mixes with the butter, to form golden brown, crispy pockets of popping flavours to the toasty. Nate would have known this.
According to the wise foodies, because Jarlsberg is a semi-hard, medium aged cheese, it should pair nicely with a medium-bodied, slightly fruity wine – a chardonnay or merlot perhaps. I decided to try pairing my DWPJTCS with a wine that I recently discovered and love – The Old Man’s Blend from Groote Post. It’s a red blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Shiraz, 3% Cabernet Franc and is aged in 300 litre 3rd fill French oak barrels for 12 months. This wine is a little gem in my opinion. Restaurants will offer it as their cheaper option red blend, ahead of what I consider to be not so great wines. I was out and about over the weekend, with a friend from Jozi, who insisted on paying and asked me to choose the wine. Normally, if someone else is paying, I’d choose the cheaper wine and be not exactly happy with the choice, but when I saw The Old Man’s Blend on the menu, I was all smiles… big grins actually.
As it turned out though, The Old Man’s Blend wasn’t the best wine to pair with my DWPJTCS. Obviously the flavours contributed by the salty butter and olive ciabatta, along with the mustard, added more complexity to the toasty, and somehow the fruitiness of the wine became enhanced, which did not compliment the DWPJTCS. I’ll try to pair it next time with a subtle Waterkloof syrah or maybe a Paul Cluver pinot noir. Perhaps it would go spectacularly well with the Morgenster 2005 merlot, which has a hint of spiciness. And so the journey continues…
I can’t say that my current DWPJTCS is the best and final version, but it did fill me with happiness to savour the taste combinations, so I assume I’m on the right track. Let me know if you create your own DWPJTCS, how it turned out and what wine you paired it with. First challenge though… finding that Jarlsberg! Second challenge… convincing Anne Hathaway to share it with me.