Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bread and Butter Pudding from England

This is my family specialty. My Granny used to make it. Even my brothers can make it and that is saying a lot as they don't make anything else in the kitchen, except maybe a mess. This tasty pudding is easy to conjure up quickly if you have uninvited guests dropping by for dinner and you want to impress them with your culinary skills. This is what you have to scrounge in the kitchen:
2 cans condensed milk
10 slices bread
butter or marge for spreading
handful of raisins (optional)
2 cans boiling water (just pour the water into the empty condensed milk cans)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence or some orange essence if you want a citrussy flavour
If you thought the ingredients were easy then you'll be even more impressed with the method. It doesn't get much easier than this.
• lightly butter both sides of the slices of bread
• cut off the crusts and dice the slices into small
• grease a baking dish and put the oven onto about 180 degrees Celsius
• throw the bread squares into the greased dish so it covers the dish quite evenly
• mix together in another bowl the condensed milk, boiling water, eggs and essence
• pour the liquid mixture over the bread squares
• you can sprinkle a little cinnamon on if you want
• put into the oven for about 45 minutes or until golden brown
• serve just like that or with cream or ice cream or custard
Cindy Vine is a South African living in Ukraine and is the author of Hush Baby, Defective and C U @ 8. All her books are available on Amazon in print and on Kindle.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Split Pea Soup from Netherlands

This typical Dutch winter meal is also known as Ertwensoep or Snert.  This soup is traditionally served so thick that you can stand a spoon upright in it, but if you prefer it thinner then add more water.  If you are making this the day before serving it, just know that it does thicken considerably overnight.  Shop-bought pea and ham soup doesn’t come close to this.  Homemade is much tastier.
You can add carrots, potatoes and celery into the soup as well.  I usually don’t bother as the soup is filling just as it is.  Traditionally served with rye bread.

You need:
2 cups dried split peas
1 onion finely chopped
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
10 cups water
Stock cube
4 rashers bacon
1 packet frankfurters or other smoked sausage

You do not need to soak the split peas overnight.  Add all ingredients, except the frankfurters, into a big pot.  Bring to the boil and let it boil for an hour stirring regularly so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom.  Taste to see if it needs more salt and pepper and add if needed according to taste.  When split peas are soft, turn heat down to simmer.  Slice the frankfurters into thick slices and add to the soup.  Simmer for another 15-20 minutes.  Serve in a bowl with a sprig of celery leaves if you want to make it look very Dutch.

Cindy Vine is a South African author and teacher currently living in Ukraine.  She is the author of Hush Baby, The Colorful Art of Pain, Defective and The Case of Billy B.  All her books are available on Amazon in both kindle and print format.

Crunchies from South Africa

Along with buttermilk rusks, Crunchies are a classic South African sweet treat to enjoy with a cup of hot coffee or tea. This quick and easy recipe makes a healthy snack that is ideal to put in your kids’ school lunches.  You can leave out the dried apricot and raisins as that isn’t in the traditional recipe.  I just like to add it in to give my Crunchies something extra.  What I have also done in the past is add on a layer of melted chocolate after they’ve come out of the oven but that makes them too irresistible and not as healthy.

180g butter
2 cups oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of salt
Handful of raisins or sultanas
Handful of chopped dried apricots

Preheat the oven to 180 ºC.
Melt the butter and honey together.  Add the bicarbonate of soda and stir until it froths.  Add in the cinnamon, ginger, salt, raisins and dried apricots.  Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients.
Use the heel of your hand to flatten the mixture out on a greased baking tray.  Press down firmly so that it is quite compacted.  (If you make them as individual cookies then you have created Anzac cookies.)

Cook at 180ºC for 20-30 minutes.  Allow to cool a little and then cut into squares.  Only remove when completely hardened.

Cindy Vine is a South African author and teacher currently living in Ukraine.  She is the author of Hush Baby, The Colorful Art of Pain, Defective and The Case of Billy B.  All her books are available on Amazon in both kindle and print format.

Bobotie from South Africa

This has always been one of my family's favourite South African meals.  Bobotie is Cape Malay cuisine which has its roots in Cape Town, and as Cape Town is my home...
Bobotie can probably be made with any kind of minced meat, although some prefer beef and others prefer mutton.  I once had the pleasure of eating ostrich bobotie and it was orgasmic.
The Recipe
All the ingredients listed below are easy to come by and found in most kitchens. The thing with bobotie, is that you can use the basic idea and add in some of your own curry and spice combinations to create your own unique flavour. The basic bobotie recipe is this:
2 onions, peeled and sliced
1kg good quality lean ground beef
1 thickish slice of white bread
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons curry powder the strength of which is too your taste, mild or hot, no worries
1/2 teaspoon chili powder for some zing
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
freshly grated pepper (about a half teaspoon)
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup seedless raisins
3 tablespoons strong chutney or apricot jam or a combination of both(fruit chutney is another famous Cape Malay thingie)
2 bay leaves (or fresh lemon leaves if available just for decoration to tart it up a bit)
2 medium eggs
Preheat oven to 350°F or 180C.
Chop up the onions and add to your ground beef/mince which should be in a mixing bowl.
Soak bread in half the milk and mash with a fork. Set the rest of the milk aside for later, and add mushy milk bread to the meat mixture.
Add curry powder, sugar, salt, pepper, turmeric, vinegar, raisins, chutney (apricot or peach jam) to the meat mixture. Spoon the mixture into a greased baking dish, and place bay leaves on top. (Tip: I usually add in some garlic and ginger as well but it is not necessary)
Bake for 25 - 30 minutes in preheated 350°F oven.
Beat egg with remaining milk and pour over your half-baked bobotie and bake for another 25-30 minutes
Serve with steamed yellow rice and extra chutney. To make the rice yellow, add a little turmeric when it is steaming. You can also add some raisins into the rice as well.  Wash down with copious amounts or South African red wine.
Cindy Vine is a South African author and teacher currently living in Ukraine.  She is the author of Hush Baby, The Colorful Art of Pain, Defective and The Case of Billy B.  All her books are available on Amazon in both kindle and print format.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Pizza from Italy

There is absolutely no reason why you should be ordering in pizza.  It's easy to make pizza and your own tastes a lot better and you can put on your own topping combinations to suit your palate.  So no excuses.  From now on you can make your own.  Pizza parties are good fun.  You can prepare the bases beforehand and your guests choose their own toppings.
This is a thin crust pizza.
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
You can add Italian herbs into the dough
Preheat the over to about 270 degrees Celsius.  In a mixing bowl add all the dry ingredients with the exception of the yeast.  Add the yeast to the lukewarm water.  Make a well in the centre of the flour and slowly pour in the yeast/water mixture, combining everything together.  Add in the olive oil.  Knead until it it not sticky and forms a ball.  Let your dough rest for about 10-20 minutes.  You can wrap it up in clingfilm and keep it in the fridge until you need to use it.  I've kept mine in the fridge for up to a week before using it.  Decide on the size of the pizzas you are making, and divide the dough up into balls.  This recipe make two large pizzas or 4 medium pizzas or 12 mini pizzas.  I pre-bake the bases for a couple of minutes until they are firm.  This stops the bases from getting soggy if you load them with toppings.  Brushing the pre-baked bases with olive oil before putting on the topping also stops them from getting soggy.
This is entirely up to you.  I cheat and buy tomato-based pasta sauce and spoon that onto the base.  I add in some finely chopped garlic.  Then I sprinkle on a combination of grated cheddar and grated mozzarella cheese so that the tomato pasta sauce is covered.  Sprinkle on a little black pepper and Italian herb mix.  Add on the other toppings of your choice.
Pop it into the oven and bake until the cheese melts.
Cindy Vine is the author of The Colorful Art of Pain, The Great Mountain to Mountain Safari and Hush Baby.  All her books are available on Amazon in both Kindle and print format.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tom Yum Gai from Thailand

Tom Yum is one of Thailand's most famous dishes.  Tom Yum Goong is with prawns, and Tom Yum Gai is with chicken.  Tom Yum is a soup that combines many flavours.  Sweet, sour, salty, spicy - it's all there.  Different regions of Thailand have different variations on making this soup.  They are all delicious.  If you do not have a handy well-stocked Asian or Thai section in your supermarket then you may battle to get some of the ingredients in a traditional Tom Yum.  My version of Tom Yum gives similar flavours without all the specialist ingredients.
6 cups chicken stock
3 boneless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons chopped kaffir lime leaves or 1 tablespoon lime zest
6 tablespoons lemon juice
6 large mushrooms slices
6 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger finely chopped
2 chilies seeded and diced.
1 tablespoon chili powder (add in another if you want it very spicy)

1/3 each of red, yellow and green capsicum to give colour
1 onion sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tomatoes cut into quarters
large handful of fresh coriander chopped
1 can coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
(If you have fish sauce then use 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 2 tablespoons fish sauce)
Add everything into a large pot except the tomato, coriander, capsicum and coconut milk.  Bring to the boil and then reduce to medium heat until the chicken is cooked.  Add the tomato, capsicum and half the coriander and let it simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the coconut milk and let it simmer for another 2 minutes.  What you do now is taste test.  To get the balance of flavours just right you might have to add a little more lemon juice, sugar, fish sauce or chili, but that you'll only know by tasting, and only add a little at a time if it's needed.  Serve in bowls and decorate with some of the fresh coriander.
Cindy Vine is a South African author and teacher currently living in Ukraine.  She is the author of Hush Baby, Defective and The Colorful Art of Pain - all available on Amazon in kindle and print format.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pork Curry from Northern Thailand

Sometimes cooking Thai food can be a challenge when you can't always get the ingredients you need when you want to make something from scratch.  That's when we reach for the ready-made sauces on the supermarket shelf.  But there is no need for that, sometimes we can substitute or add in other ingredients which will create similar flavours to the original you loved on a visit to Thailand or a Thai Restaurant.
In the traditional recipe I needed tamarind paste, fish sauce, bean paste, turmeric and lemongrass.  I can't find any of those where I stay so this recipe is my take on this classic Northern Thailand dish using ingredients I can find easily.  For those who don't eat pork you can use chicken instead.
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 onion sliced thinly
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons cooking oil
500g pork cut into thin slices
1/3 red chili seeded and sliced
1/3 green chili seeded and sliced
2 eggplant cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 handful chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped kaffir lime leaves
2 teaspoons chutney
1/4 each of a green, red and yellow capsicum
1 can coconut milk.
salt and pepper to taste
Put the cooking oil in the pot or wok.  Add in the onion, garlic, ginger and chili and cook until soft.  Add the pork and brown it a little.  Add all the ingredients except the coconut milk.  Once it starts to boil let it simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add the coconut milk and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Season to taste.  Serve with rice.
Cindy Vine is a South African teacher currently living in Kyiv Ukraine.  She is the author of Hush Baby, Defective, C U @ 8, Not Telling and The Colorful Art of Pain.  All her books are available on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback format.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pork Menudo from Philippines

There are stews and there are stews but this pork stew has to be one of the best.  For those who don't eat pork you can substitute the pork with chicken if you wish.  The traditional way of cooking this dish is to have half pork/half liver.  Many people don't cook liver or much like the taste of it, so I have cooked this menudo without liver.  Don't confuse this dish with Mexican menudo as it's very different.  Mexican menudo is a sort of a soup cooked with tripe.  This is nothing like that.  No offal in this version at all.  Although this dish tastes divinely exotic, it is extremely simple to make.  I gather it is a staple in the Philippines.  You can serve it with rice or bread.  I chose to have it with rice.
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon fruit chutney
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons raisins
500g pork cut into cubes
1 large onion sliced
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 potatoes cut into cubes
1 carrot diced
1 large handful frozen peas
half a cup water
salt and pepper to taste
Coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil and add the onion and garlic.  Fry until it becomes soft.  Add the pork, carrot and potato cubes.  Brown the meat a little.  Add the water and the rest of the ingredients.  Mix together, bring to the boil then allow to simmer until the potatoes are soft.  Serve with steamed rice.

Cindy Vine is a South African currently living in Ukraine and is the author of Not Telling, The Case of Billy B, Defective and Hush Baby.  All her books are available on Amazon is both kindle and print format.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie from USA

The concept of a meat pie has been around for centuries and doesn't come from the USA.  However, they have perfected the pot pie and made it their own.  Chicken pot pie has become an American classic.  A great use for left-over chicken from a roast.  Easy to make, it doesn't take much skill.  The pie crust on top can be a homemade biscuit crust, your own pastry or frozen puff pastry crust from your local supermarket.  As the aim of this is to show you the easiest and simplest way to make delicious food from around the world, I have opted to use the supermarket pie crust.  But there is nothing stopping you from making your own if you have time on your hands.
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion finely diced
2 potatoes cut into small blocks
Vegetables you have in your kitchen/garden or use frozen vegetables from your freezer
3 cups of shredded chicken
2 cups water
1 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried cilantro
cream is optional
1/4 cup flour
1 pie crust
1 egg for egg wash
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.  In a large pot melt the butter and fry the onions until translucent.  Add in potatoes, shredded chicken,vegetables and water.  Cook for a couple of minutes and then add seasonings and white wine.  Let that simmer until the potatoes and vegetables are cooked through.  Sprinkle the flour on the top of the chicken/vegetable mixture and stir it in so it thickens.  You can add some cream if you want it rich and creamy, but I found this was not necessary.  Transfer to
a casserole dish.  Cover with the pie crust.  Beat the egg and brush over the top of the raw pie crust.  With a knife cut a few slits into the pie crust.  Put into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the crust is golden brown.  I served this with a little homemade chutney and it was delicious!

Cindy Vine is the author of Hush Baby, Defective, C U @ 8 and The great Mountain to Mountain Safari.  All her books are available on Amazon in both kindle and paperback formats.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sweet and Sour Pork from China

This is a classic.  When you think of Chinese food you think of Sweet and Sour Pork.  Of course in Mainland China it tastes very different to the Sweet and Sour Pork you get from your neighborhood Chinese Take-away.  I have made this with pork, chicken and prawns.  I would imagine vegetarians could use vegetables instead of the meat.  This recipe is very simple to make and is delicious!  
Sweet and Sour Sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup stock (water with a stock cube in)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons tomato sauce/ketchup ( or 2 tomato sauce and 2 fruit chutney)
1 teaspoon apricot jam
1 finely chopped onion
1 carrot sliced into julienne strips
a half a green or red capsicum or mixture of both, chopped into small blocks
ginger and garlic to taste
a liberal dash of chili
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed to a thin paste with a little water
Put everything in a pot except the cornstarch paste, and bring to the boil stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to a simmer and add the cornstarch paste.  Keep stirring until it has the desired thickness.
2 eggs
1/2 cup apple cider
1 cup flour
dash of chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients together, as easy as that. I use chopsticks to hold the meat when dipping into the batter.
Preparing the meat
If using shrimps keep them whole.  Chicken or pork dice into bite-sized cubes.  I marinate them for a little bit in a mixture of 2 tablespoons apple cider, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil and a pinch of ginger, garlic and chili.
Deep fry the batter-covered meat cubes in hot oil until golden brown.  Serve with sweet and sour sauce and steamed rice.

"Other reciies and Bloggers/Writers from Abroad"
Cindy Vine is the author of Hush Baby, C U @ 8, Defective and The Colorful Art of Pain.  You can find out more about her books by visiting her website

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fruit Chutney from South Africa

Most South Africans grew up with Mrs Ball's Chutney. Now this isn't Mrs Ball's, but it's my own take on it. Wherever I've lived and Mrs Ball's or something similar hasn't been available, or if I've had a glut of fruit or tomatoes from the garden, I've made my own chutney. Chutney is not just an accompaniment to a good curry. It is very versatile. You can have a cheese and chutney sandwich, add chutney to a dip, mix it with mayonnaise and cover chicken pieces to bake in the oven, add to stews and casseroles, eat with cold meats, use it when making stuffed eggs or stuffed baked potatoes, add it to bobotie or to a marinade, use it when making monkeygland sauce for your steak... as you can see chutney is a very valuable addition to any kitchen.
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup raisins
5 apples peeled, cored and diced
6 tomatoes cut into slices
3 onions cut into slices
4 large garlic cloves finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 cups vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon paprika
3 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon french mustard
1 teaspoon coriander
Use a large enamel or stainless steel pot. Add the water, raisins, dried apricots, onions and apples. Bring to the boil so that they start to go soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 3 hours. Stir quite often with a wooden spoon to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. When it's thick, soft and sticky and most of the liquid has gone it's ready. Ladle into sterilised jars when done. It lasts for about 6 weeks in the fridge, however if it's very delicious it might not last that long. You can add more chili powder if you want more bite.  Brown sugar gives it a darker colour.

Cindy Vine is the author of both fiction and non-fiction including The Colorful Art of Pain, Hush Baby, Defective, C U @ 8, and The Great Mountain to Mountain Safari. All her books are available on Amazon in both kindle and print format.

Why this blog?

Besides writing I like cooking and traveling the world.  This past week I was visiting the beautiful old city of Lviv in Western Ukraine.  The many cafes, restaurants and themed bars make this city a gastronomic delight.  While there relaxing in cafes with some friends, drinking delicious Lviv spiced coffee, I got the idea to combine my love of writing, traveling, cooking, eating and photography into one book.  The title, Around the World on 80 Plates, came into my mind and I quite like it.
What I propose to do is find food I have encountered on my travels around the world that appeals to me, experiment with different recipes and create my version of that meal.  Once I have cooked it I'll take photographs and voila - an internationally-minded global cook book.
Of course I am going to have to do a lot of tasting.
My goal is to make the recipes as simple as possible.  Too often we balk at trying to cook something new and exotic as we think it will be too difficult.  We'll have to follow the KISS method.  Keep It Simple and Stupid.
The more I think about this the more excited I get.
Let's get cooking!

Cindy Vine is the author of both fiction and non-fiction including The Colorful Art of Pain, Hush Baby, Defective, C U @ 8, and The Great Mountain to Mountain Safari.  All her books are available on Amazon in both kindle and print format.