Festive Entertaining Tips 10/25


Indian style blinis

These little savoury flapjacks are perfect for meat free Mondays. Quick and easy to prepare too. I whip them up for unexpected guests or for afternoon tea on a rainy day. It also makes an excellent accompaniment to vegetarian meals.


1 box chilli bite mix (available at Indian spice shops and grocers)

1 can cream style sweet corn

1 teaspoon ground ginger and garlic paste (or make or own)

1 teaspoon ground cumin powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander powder

3 sprigs of spring onions chopped

Small bunch of coriander chopped

Method –

1. Preheat non stick pan on medium heat.

2. Combine all the ingridients in a mixing bown to form a thick batter. You may require a few spoonfuls of room temperature water to reach the desired consistency.

3. When the pan is moderately hot (not smoking) add 1 teaspoon of oil to the the pan. I use coconut oil for this but sunflower works well too.

4. Dollop tablespoons of the mixture onto the pan and fry for 90 seconds per side or until cooked. As you would do with flapjacks or blinis.

5. Serve as desired.

Foodscapades – Bacon Jam at Mugg and Bean

I’m indifferent when it comes to Mugg and Bean. I think they are a little pricey but I like the standard of food they serve and look forward to the creative additions to their menu which are line with food trends.

A quick mid week breakfast stop tempted to step out of my savoury muffin comfort zone and try their latest addition – bacon jam. I opted for the sandwich with baby spinach, mozzarella and cheddar, on rye with sweet potato fries.

The smearing of bacon jam was more than generous but sadly the taste was far to tart to the extent that it hurt my tongue! I will try it again anlt another store before making a decision on a condiment I was looking forward to. This time my expectations were not met.

Super Slaw

Coleslaw can be such a great accompaniment to grilled meat, sandwiches or on its own.

In South Africa we have a tendency to drown it in mayonnaise! Not my favourite. Switch mayonnaise for plain yoghurt with a little mustard.

I also like to add extra crunch with walnuts and even out the tang with sweet currants or raisins.

Beautiful Brownies

I copied this recipe from a class mate in high school some 17 years ago. It was a time before 24/7 Internet access, Google,  apps and there were no cooking channels on South African television. She had been given it by a family friend in the USA and had told me these were ‘real American brownies ‘! And they sure are!

This recipe didn’t have any additions,  however over time I’ve stirred in chocolate chips, caramel,  pecan and peanuts all with great success!
Ingredients –

1 cup margarine, melted 

1 cup white sugar 

7/8 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon vanilla essence 

4 eggs

1 & 1/2 cups flour 

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup broken peanuts

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius 

2. Combine melted margarine and sugar. Stir.

3. Sift in cocoa powder and stir

4. Stir in vanilla essence 

5. Stir in eggs one at a time

6. Sift in flour and salt and stir

7. Add peanuts and stir. The batter will be quite firm.

8. Pour batter into greased 16cm x 16cm square pan

9. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes for softer texture and 20-25 minutes for a more firm, cake like brownie

Grilled burgers -Easy Peasy #simplecooking

Instead of frying burgers (avoiding spatter and shrinking patties) and avoiding the hassle of setting up the grill or braai,  place burger patties on well oiled oven tray and place in preheated oven on 220 degrees Celsius for 6 minutes on one side, turn and cook for 1 minute on the other side. This is for well done. I use Woolworths Beef Burgers. Tastiest supermarket burgers in SA!

Corn Chowder – Version 2

​This is a tweaked version of my original recipie posted in 2013…

Corn chowder is a chunky, filling corn soup. Its generaly made with bacon as a base but this is a completely vegetarian version. Over time I have played around with the recipie and have omitted flour as a thickening agent and opten to use cream style sweetcorn instead.


2 mains with leftovers or 4-6 started portions

30g butter or margarine 
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 large or 2 medium potatoes, skin removed, cut into cubes
1 cups frozen corn kernals, thawed
1 can cream styled sweetcorn
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup milk
Black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

On medium heat, melt butter and brown onion


Add potatoes and corn kernels and fry for a few minutes until browned


Add all the other ingridients and stir to combine


Cover with lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until potatoes are cooked
Remove from heat, cool slight
Blend if you prefer a smoother texture
Garnish with cream or paprika or even fried corn for texture

Broccoli & Cauliflower Soup

Yum yum yum! The union of these two cruciferous besties is heavenly on a cold day with a thick slice of your favourite crusty bread or on its own. Topped with cheese or a dash of cream makes it the perfect starter.

Ingredients – 

Portion size 4-6 starters or 2 main course

1 rounded, tablespoon of butter

1 teaspoon of sunflower oil

1 small head of broccoli, chopped finely in food processor 

1 small head of cauliflower, chopped finely in food processor 

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup of flour

Pinch of ground nutmeg or all spice 

500ml in stand vegetable stock

250 ml milk


1. In a deep pot, on medium heat, melt the oil and butter

2. Add onion and place lid on and allow to cook for 5 minutes until translucent,  stir

3. Add broccoli and cauliflower and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently 

4. Add the flour and nutmeg. Stir well to coat all the broccoli and cauliflower.  There must be no lumps present

5. Add the vegetable stock and allow to  cook with the lid on for 10-12 minutes

6. Stir in milk and lower heat. Cook for a further 10 minutes.

7. Serve topped with grated cheese and crusty bread

Rice Paper Spring Rolls (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)

(Picture – Rice Paper Prawn Rolls with Noodle wrapped Prawns)

I first in love with these fresh, crunchy babies at Taste of Thai in Pietermaritzburg a few years ago. Their version is a starter dish called ‘The Little Mermaid’ – carrot, cucumber,  prawn and rice vermicelli loosely bound in a rice paper wrapper served with a dipping sauce. 

During my pregnancy in 2016, I decided to attempt my own version with some advise from my great aunt who is vegetarian and makes her own versions as well.

Ingredients –

Portion size 3 starters or 1 main course

3 rice paper wrappers (comes in a pack from Asian grocers)

6 Large prawns or 12 small prawns (shelled, deviened and fried) Note I fry my prawns on a high heat in margarine with garlic salt and cayenne until just cooked. Around 2 minutes.

1 large carrot, cut into julienne strips

1 large piece of cucumber  (10 cm), cut into julienne strips

Few sprigs of coriander  (depending on your taste)


1. Lay out all the prepared ingredients 

2. Moisten a clean dish cloth with water and lay flat. (I keep a new dish cloth specifically for food prep such as this)

3. Fill a bowl large enough in diameter to accommodate the rice paper sheets with lukewarm water

4. Working quickly,  immerse a single rice paper wrapper in the water for 7 to 10 seconds

5. Remove wrapper from water. Shake off excess water and lay on dish cloth.

6. Working towards the bottom edge of the wrapper, lay out one third of the coriander in a row, allowing for at least 2 cm border on the edges. 

7. Place one third of the prawns on top of the coriander and repeat this process with one third of the carrot and cucumber. 

8. Roll up the bottom of the wrapper to completely cover the layer of filling 

10. Fold the sides of the wrapper inwards to cover the rolled filling tightly

11. Roll the filled portion from.the bottom up to create a spring roll and transfer to a plate 

12. Using a sharp knife, cut rolls in half

13. Serve immediately with sweet chilli or plum sauce

Note: These rolls can be made with any filling of your choice. Other options such as crab sticks, bean sprouts, beetroot, ginger, peanuts etc can be used. I have tried a few variations and my favourite is the one shown above. The rolls are best eaten as fresh as possible as too much time in the fridge will change the texture of the wrapper. 

Serve one per person as a starter or 3 or more as part of a main course.


Sunday Lunch Suggestions 

I had a very different Christmas this year.

  • The first time in 15 years I didn’t prepare a 4 course sit down lunch!

However some pre and post Christmas day sit down entertaining was done. And a hit at both – Chutney Glazed Leg of Lamb!

Super simple

Super tasty

Seconds please…


1 kg leg of lamb, washed and trimmed

1 cup of water

2-3 tablespoons of Mrs Balls or any other peach / fruit chutney

Roasting pan with a lid

  1. Pre heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Place the lamb in the roasting pan
  3. Pour water into the bottom of the pan
  4. Cover with lid
  5. Roast for 45 minutes 
  6. Remove lid and cooking liquid from the pan. This can we used to make gravy.
  7. Cover both sides of the leg with the fruit chutney 
  8. Return to the pan and cook for 10 minutes
  9. Allow lamb to rest, to let the juices settle, before serving 


Cooking guide for lamb is 180 degrees Celsius 

Medium – 20 minutes per 500g

Well done – 30 minutes per 500g

I prefer to steam the lamb in water as I always make gravy and I feel this method keeps the meat sofy5and juicy. This us also why I don’t season with salt prior to cooking  as it draws out moisture. 9