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This is a very elegant dinner party dish that looks impressive but is surprisingly simple to make. It is perfect for the festive season because it can be prepared in advance and served when you are ready.
Feta & Pomegranate Cheesecake with Pistachio, Mint & Parsley
Serves 2, Vegetarian
- 2 unsweetened oat biscuits (I used Paterson’s Olive Oil Oatcakes)
- about 25 gr shelled pistachios (45 gr with shells)
- 1 tbsp honey
- 100 gr Greek feta
- 100 gr cream cheese (I used Philadelphia light)
- 2 or 3 tbsp creme fraiche (or queso fresco batido)
- a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 5 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- pinch dried oregano
- pinch dried mint
- pinch sumac (optional)
- pinch ground cumin
- salt & black pepper
- 1/2 pomegranate
Blitz the oatcakes and pistachios in a blender until sandy then add the honey and blend again. I used two 3 inch/7cm diameter chef rings which I oiled inside. You could put this in a ramekin too but you may have to serve it in it aswell, I’m not sure if it would come out cleanly.
Put the oiled rings on a sheet of greaseproof on a flat plate and spoon half the biscuit mix into each ring. Push it down and spread it out evenly.
Blend the feta, cream cheese and 2 tbsp creme fraiche until smooth. Only add the third tbsp if your mix is really stiff, remember that it has to stand up by itself. Add in the herbs and spices and season with a little salt & some black pepper. Blend again and taste for seasoning.
Spoon half of the cheese mix into each ring, pushing it down evenly and smoothing out the top. Put them in the fridge for at least an hour preferably longer so they set.
To remove the pomegranate kernels: cut it in half widthways through its middle. Hold the pomegranate half in your palm, cut side down over a bowl. Using a wooden spoon smack the back of the pomegranate to release the kernels into the bowl. Continue until all the kernels are out and remove any bits of white membrane that may be attached to them.
Just before serving remove the cheesecakes from the fridge and slide the rings onto your serving plates. Lift the ring slowly and carefully and the cheesecake should slide out of the bottom and onto the plate. (Don’t do this until you are about to serve or they may start to sag or collapse). Top with a tumbling pile of pomegranate jewels, a halved pistachio and a parsley leaf. Serve immediately.
Tandoori Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpea Quiche Recipe
Makes 1 large quiche, Vegetarian
Tandoori Spice Mix Adapted from My New Roots
You only need 1 Tbsp for this recipe
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 Tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
- 1/4 whole nutmeg grated
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 1 1/2 sticks cinnamon, broken
- 1 Tbsp turmeric
- 1 Tbsp paprika
Grind everything except last 2 ingredients in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder to a powder then mix with the turmeric & paprika. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.
- 350-400 g cauliflower florets
- 200 g cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
- 1 Tbsp tandoori spice mix (recipe above)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 pot (125 ml) goats or Greek yoghurt
- 50 gr toasted almonds or cashews
- a handful of fresh coriander
Tip all the ingredients except the nuts into a plastic freezer bag, seal and mix together well by smushing it about in the bag with your hands. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour minimum.
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Tip the contents of the freezer bag onto the tray and spread out evenly. Roast for 25-30 minutes until dried and slightly browned then leave to cool. Stir through the toasted almonds/cashews and chopped coriander. Taste and add more salt & lemon juice as required.
You can use the cooled mixture as a filling for samosas, see recipe here or continue on to make the quiche.
Makes a 28-30 cm quiche. Vegetarian. Pastry recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini
- 250 g spelt or wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp tandoori spice mix (see above)
- 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) olive oil
- up to 120 ml (1/2 cup) cold water
- 3 eggs
- 1 pot (125 gr) goat’s yoghurt (or greek yoghurt)
- milk ( I used oat milk)
- salt & black pepper
- a handful of grated manchego/cheddar (optional)
Lightly oil & flour your tart tin. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and spices, drizzle in the olive oil mixing/mashing it in with a fork until well combined (a bit like crumble mix). Measure out the water then drizzle slowly into the flour a bit at a time and mix it in with the fork until just absorbed then bring it together with one hand kneading a little just until it forms a cohesive ball. you may not need all the water. Do not over work or it will be tough. You can refrigerate it now if it is warm.
Preheat the oven to 190C. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface, turning it quarter turns as you go to stop it sticking, to the correct size about 2-3 mm thick. Flour your rolling-pin and roll the pastry onto it lifting it gently over to the tart tin and unroll the pastry onto the tin. Push the pastry into the tin (do not stretch it) and trim off the excess. Keep it to make a little tart if you have enough.
Prick the base of the tart all over with a fork. Separate one of the eggs and use the white to brush all over the base of the pastry and the sides. Bake for about 8 -10 minutes until the egg white is cooked and the pastry is starting to dry out. This creates a barrier and stops the bottom from becoming soggy when you add the liquidy filling.
Spread the roasted cauliflower chickpea mix over the base of the pastry in an evenish layer, you will probably not need all of it. In a measuring jug whisk together the two remaining whole eggs and the extra yolk then add the goat’s yoghurt and whisk again. Add enough milk to take it to the 450 ml mark, season well with salt & black pepper and mix again.
Open the oven, put the tart on the middle oven shelf, pull it out and then pour the egg mixture into the tart, top with the grated cheese (if using), gently push the shelf in and close the door. This stops the mixture slopping everywhere hopefully.
Bake until the quiche is just set and nicely browned about 30-40 minutes. Leave to cool slightly and serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature.
This was one of the five different vegetarian curries we had the pleasure of trying at Indochine restaurant on the Delaire Graff Wine Estate. The whole experience was out of this world but this curry was the best I have ever had. And I’ve had a lot. I’d even go so far as to say it is one of the best dishes I have ever tried from anywhere in the world.
It’s unusual, elegant, fragrant, well-balanced, exotic, beautiful and totally delicious. It’s not actually on the menu, the chef on the evening that we were there, Virgil prepared a special selection of vegetarian curries for us to try. If anyone is listening from Indochine, you should definitely put it on your menu. It is really fantastic.
You will have to make your own curry paste and coriander puree but don’t let that put you off it is not difficult and it is so worth it. You will also need to get a melon baller if you haven’t already got one leftover from the Seventies. You can serve it with plain rice or some thick rice (stick) noodles like I did.
Indochine Melon Coconut Curry with Rice Noodles
Serves 4, Vegan, Gluten-free. Adapted from the Indochine recipe
Prep time: 25 mins Cooking time: 20 mins
For the curry paste:
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 cardamom pod
- 5 white peppercorns
- 1 pinch grated nutmeg
- 4 small green chillies, deseeded and chopped (depending on the chilli)
- 1 tbsp finely chopped/minced lemongrass
- 1/2 tbsp minced ginger
- 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp garlic (about 3 cloves) finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp lime/lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp finely chopped coriander stalks
- a big pinch of salt
Blend everything together in a mortar and pestle or food processor until you get a smooth- ish paste. Set aside.
For the Coriander Puree:
- a bunch of fresh coriander leaves(or a mix of coriander & basil), roughly chopped
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
- 1 bowl of iced water
Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the bicarb. Plunge the coriander into the hot water and leave until the water starts to turn green. Drain off most of the water and blend to a smooth puree in a measuring jug. Cool down by putting the measuring jug in the iced water.
For the Curry:
You can use which ever melon is available, two different colours is nice.
- about 500 gr (rind on weight) watermelon
- about 500 gr (rind on weight) green melon
- 2 cans coconut milk (do not shake before opening), I used low-fat
- 2 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
- the juice of half a lemon
- coriander puree (see above) I used about 2 or 3 tbsp
- thick rice (stick) noodles for 4 people (or rice)
- fresh mint leaves, rolled up & finely shredded for garnish
- toasted coconut for garnish
- vermicelli rice noodles deep-fried for garnish (optional)
Scoop out balls of melon flesh with the melon baller but leave the excess on the rind. Scrape out the excess flesh into a food processor and blend to a smooth puree.
To a large pan over a medium high heat, add the tops of the coconut milk (the thick cream bit) and cook until bubbling and starting to reduce. Add the curry paste and stir for 3 minutes until fragrant. Add the rest of the tins of coconut milk, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
Cook the rice noodles according to the instructions on the packet.
Add the palm sugar, lemon juice and salt to the sauce then stir in the coriander puree and melon puree and taste. Adjust salt, lemon juice as required. Then add the melon balls, stirring to coat them in the sauce and heat through.
To make the vermicelli garnish, heat some oil in deep-frying pan until it sizzles when you test it with a dried noodle. Carefully drop a bunch of the dried rice vermicelli into the oil , it will puff up straight away. Remove immediately with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on kitchen paper.
Serve the curry over rice noodles, garnished with the shredded mint leaves, toasted coconut and fried vermicelli (if using).
Indochine restaurant has some of the best food I have ever tasted. It is daring, exquisite and mouth-wateringly good. If you live in SA and you haven’t been, you need to go. Exceptional food and service in luxurious surroundings. Go on, treat yourself you know you want to. For more details and menus check out their website here.