So it was my birthday a few months ago. 3rd of October to be exact. I have to say, the fact that it’s already 4 months later and I am only now sitting down to port this is a testament to how hectic life has been. Kyla and myself rowed the Orange River in Namibia November! We experienced a dust cloud/storm, torrential rainstorm (that woke us up at 1:00am and had us all drenched and standing in our underwear trying to dry our pants around a fire by 3:00am), but also made some amazing new friends, saw a beautiful country and got to sleep under the stars. What an experience. Besides that we have just been running flat with the end-of-the-year usual pace. I had a wonderful holiday, saw almost all 4 corners of our beautiful country at the end of last year and I am well rested and ready for 2017. Big changes ahead and already feels like we head screeching into 2017. Can’t believe. It’s almost the end of January. Ok maybe not the end end, but time is flying.
Anyway. Birthday. Obviously, my favourite way to celebrate anything is with friends and food. Especially food 😀 haha. So last year I hosted a mini pop-up harvest table dinner at my house. I rented tables & chairs, fairy lights and big-person crockery & cutlery (not the usual paper plates, I am an adult now.) and set up a really cute little out-door dining experience.
I spent the day in the kitchen cooking up enough food to feed 25 people, and as usual I procrastinated like I always do and only really started prepping and cooking at like 11:30am. Now, that might sound early, but getting enough food ready for that many people in only 6 hours was quite a feat. Needless to say I was still blow-drying my hair when the first people started arriving – on time, since we’re all adults now.
I must say, in theory making that much food was fine, until you see 25 bodies in one room and you’re panicking thinking there’s no way that this little table of veggies is gonna sustain this hoard of hungry people! Luckily there was JUST ENOUGH. Literally. A few people went back for seconds and there was about 1 plate of food leftover at the end. Next time will make extra beforehand and not add a panicked last-minute salad to the table at 7:45pm when everyone started dishing up! Haha.
So I haven’t made recipe cards for the food I made on the day, but I am giving a loose breakdown of the dishes here so anyone that wants to try them out can! I am writing them in the order that (I believe) they were preferred. With my (now semi-famous, but more on that later…) black rice dish to start.
(PS: sorry for the terrible blurry pics. I literally forgot to do pics till the last minute… and here we are. You’d think I would be better at this since it’s my job! >.< ).
1. Shiitake Ginger Black Rice
Cook the black rice according to packet instructions, toss together with some lemon juice & salt. Fry the Shiitake mushrooms in the minced garlic, salt and lemon juice and stir into the black rice. Add a few pieces of pickled ginger as well as a few spoonfuls of the pickled ginger juice. Crush some walnuts on top and serve!
2. Beetroot Hummus
1 – 2 cups roasted beetroot
1 can chickpeas
1 tbsp tahini
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 tsp minced garlic
Pinch of salt
Glug of olive oil
Blend everything together until it’s smooth. Add a bit of water if necessary.
3. Kale & Potato Salad
Radishes, thinly sliced
Nuts (I used walnuts, I love walnuts…)
Blanch the kale in boiling water for a few minutes, drain and toss together with some fresh minced garlic and salt. Parboil the potatoes until semi-tender. Toss the potatoes in a generous amount of olive oil and oven roast on 240°C for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and about 20 minutes before you are ready to serve your dish, re-roast the potatoes in some more olive oil on 240°C for another 20 minutes. Make your salad by stirring together the kale, potatoes, radishes and nuts.
4. Spicy Tomato Chickpeas
2 cans chickpeas
1 can chopped tomatoes
Pan fry the chickpeas in the spices & garlic until the chickpeas toast a bit. Add the canned tomatoes and pan fry until the tomato darkens, add the chillies last and serve.
5. Tenderstem Broccoli
Blanch the broccoli in boiling water until the broccoli goes bright green (about 6 minutes). Toss together with garlic, salt and a generous squeeze of lemon juice.
6. Roasted Garlic Brinjals
Quarter the brinjals and score them lengthways. Drizzle in a glug of olive oil, press in the garlic and sprinkle over salt & fresh (destalked) thyme. Oven roast for about 30 minutes on 220°C.
7. Carrot Mash
Oven roast the carrots in a heavy sprinkling of ground cumin, salt & olive oil on 220°C for 40 minutes. Blend in a food processor until smooth.
8. Sweet Potato & Rocket Salad
Oven roast the sweet potato in salt & olive oil until crispy on the outside & soft on the inside (about 45 minutes on 220°C).
Toss together with rocket & almonds with a sprinkle of extra salt.
9. Beet, Bak Choi & Sesame Salad
Beetroot (baby beets if you can get)
Oven roast the beetroot with minced garlic, thyme and olive oil until tender. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan until they go golden brown. Blanch the bak choi in boiling water with a bunch of salt. Toss everything together to serve.
10. Sweet Honey Dressing
Add about 2 tablespoons of each to a dish and whisk together.
11. Maca Dressing
1 – 2 tbsp Maca powder
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 – 3 tbsp tahini
2 – 3 tbsp lemon juice (the juice of one fresh lemon)
2 – 4 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive oil
Whisk together the Maca, apple cider vinegar, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and water.
The trick here is to add whatever nuts / seeds you have in your cupboard. But as a base – the following works really well:
Toss everything together on a baking tray and oven roast for about 15 minutes on 150°C. Can work without the cinnamon, and also you can basically add whatever nuts or seeds you have lying around. Once it’s toasted and golden brown, crush the dukkah so that all the larger nuts are broken up. Serve with sweet or savoury dishes.