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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Eggnog is not for everyone. You either love it or hate it. However, eggnog die-hards argue that those who do not enjoy chugging it have yet to taste the real thing.

While its lineage is contentious most egg-noggers agree it began as posset, a hot milky drink curdled with wine or ale and flavoured with spices. Over time eggs made their way into the mix. Eventually, milk and eggs became expensive commodities and eggnog all but died out.

Nogging became seriously popular again thanks to the colonists in the United States. There were vast tracts of land for cows and chickens and plenty of rum. Even George Washington is known to have written his own eggnog recipe - said to be alcohol-heavy but less detailed about the number of eggs required.

Recipe by: GOLD Restaurant
Serves: 10
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 5 minutes

Ingredients

8 egg large yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
750 ml full cream milk
500 ml double thick cream
2 t nutmeg, ground or grated
125 ml brandy, bourbon or cognac
125 ml Amarula
1t vanilla essence or paste
Cinnamon sticks (optional)

Method

On a medium to high heat in a medium saucepan, bring milk, cream and vanilla essence or paste, 1 cinnamon stick, and half the nutmeg to a simmer (not quite boiling).
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar until completely combined and slightly frothy and put to one side.
Whisk half the milk and cream mixture into the sugar and egg bowl.
Whisk the rest of the milk and cream mixture into the egg yolks.
Transfer the entire mixture back to the pot over a medium heat and stir gently with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened and smooth.
Do not let the mixture boil.
Remove your pot from the heat and with a wooden spoon stir in the brandy (bourbon or cognac), Amarula and nutmeg.
Allow it to steep (the liquid to take on the flavours of the spices) and cool uncovered.
Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.* Serve in small glass tumblers, garnished with a shake of nutmeg and a stick of cinnamon.

Tips:
To make a child-friendly batch, replace the brandy and Amarula with rum extract. Eggnog can keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
*Egg whites are optional but if you want to add yours, remove from the fridge and bring them to room temperature. Just before serving beat the egg whites in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold them into the eggnog until combined. Garnish and serve.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Mother Nature’s credibility as a master architect is exemplified in the natural Seven Wonders of the World. These are: the Grand Canyon in the United States; the Rio de Janeiro harbour; Mount Everest in Nepal; the Paricutin volcano in Mexico; the Northern Lights; the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and the Victoria Falls, which straddles the African countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Although the list of wonders is sometimes disputed the locations - the seven major landmasses or continents that comprise the globe - are not. Famous for its contrastive, natural beauty Africa has its own list of seven wonders. So, if you’re planning a Cape to Cairo adventure you may want to plot your trip using the following list as a guide.

1.The Okavango Delta (Botswana)

As author, Alexander McCall-Smith aptly put it, “The Okavango Delta is an astonishing site: the great Okavango River, rather than flow towards the sea, flows inland into the sands of the Kalahari”. This spectacular natural anomaly, is caused by annual flooding, making it the largest inland delta on earth, which, with a variation of less than seven feet, is flat and vast. Swelling to three times its usual size, it attracts an enormous concentration of wildlife and provides opportunity for various on water activities.

2.Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)

At a height of 5 895 metres, Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain on earth. Climbing it has a lot to do with guts and determination as opposed to triathlon-like fitness. Those who have ventured up one or more of its seven routes have unanimously raved about the dichotomous snow covered peaks and deep green forest amid savannah at its base.

3.Ngorongoro Crater (Tanzania)

“Africa’s Garden of Eden”, is the site of the largest inactive and intact volcanic caldera in the world. Covering 260 square kilometers and approximately 600 metres deep, it shelters more than 25 000 animals, including the Big 5. Once rivalling Kilimanjaro in size, it was formed when the top of the mountain collapsed in on itself.

4.Serengeti Migration (Kenya and Tanzania)

‘Serengeti’ means endless plains and for good reason. Stretching 30 000 square kilometers and crossing Tanzania and Kenya, the annual wildlife exodus across the Serengeti is the longest and largest overland migration in the world. The event is subject to annual rain, so timing is critical. 5.Sahara Desert (Algeria – Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan, and Tunisia) Stretching across eleven countries - covering an area of more than 9 200 000 square kilometers - the Sahara Desert is the world’s largest hot desert. Think slow camel or 4X4 jeep, shifting sand sea dunes rising to 180 metres, sunset campfires, and the ultimate starry nights.

6.Nile River (Egypt)

The River Nile conjures every kind of fantasy from flesh-eating crocodiles to pyramids, temples, mummies and tombs. The two sources of the Nile flow from Uganda and Ethiopia to the Nile Delta in the north covering a distance of 6 650 kilometres. And, if you haven’t tried it, nothing beats a waft down the Nile in an Agatha Christie-style dahabiya.

7.The Red Sea Coral Reef (Egypt)

Covering more than 438 000 square kilometers, the Red Sea Coral Reef is approximately 2 250 metres long and approximately 355 kilometres at its widest. Of the more than 1 100 fish species, 1 in 10 can only be found in this spectacularly beautiful, coral-rich underwater world.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Everyone has their own unique tips and techniques for saving on preparation and cooking time and making restaurant quality food. But even the most seasoned cooks know that effortlessly floating around a kitchen is a learning process, one that takes a fair amount of time and practice and there’s always room for new tricks. Here are some more that you may or may not know to add to your cooking arsenal.

Recipe for disaster

If you haven’t tried a recipe before, take the time to read through it thoroughly before you begin. That said, a recipe is a guideline so, with time, allow yourself to unleash your confident inner chef by replacing ingredients with other similar ingredients. For example, in certain sauces you could use plain yoghurt instead of cream. Try not to be to hard on yourself. Sometimes a mistake can enhance a dish.

Punishable by rolling pin

However, some bakers would argue that baking is a science that requires strict measurement. Most serious bakers would argue that there are no shortcuts when it comes to baking and that you should always have your ingredients prepared on your counter.

Sharpest tools in the cooking shed

A sharp knife being better than a dull knife is stating the obvious but statistics show that a sharp knife incurs less cutting mishaps than a dull one. Chefs tend to agree that a dull knife is more likely to slip off the food item being sliced, diced or chopped. When this happens, fingers tend to suffer. In addition to being safer, a sharp knife also requires less pressure, which saves time and makes cooking more pleasurable.

The shocking truth about vegetables

If you place your veggies in ice water after blanching them, the ice water shocks them into remaining crisp and retaining their bright colour. Speaking of colour, if you’re cooking cauliflower, adding a splash of milk to the water will help to preserve its colour.

Surefire crispy-skin fish

The simple trick to crispy fish skin is to allow the skin to dry out pre-cooking it. This can be done in various ways: including placing them on a plate, skin side up and putting them in the fridge or resting them on paper towel skin side down for a minute or two. In a pan, sauté your fillets skin side down and flip them over for the last few minutes. Always make sure the handle of your pan is turned away from you so that you don’t bump and knock it from the stove, to avoid ruining your meal and injuring yourself in the process.

A marriage of pasta and sauce

Federico Fellini, the famous screenwriter and director said, “Life is a combination of magic and pasta”. And let’s be hones, pasta is the perfect go-to dish, if cooked properly. Underdone pasta is akin to chewing gum. Overcooked and it’s mush. Drain your pasta a minute or two earlier than the recipe calls for, and allow it to cook the rest of the way in the pan containing your pasta sauce. Delizioso!


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Morocco is often associated with pointy-top tagines imbued with bold flavours, subtle spices, usually served with couscous. The Arabic food language of Morocco sounds as delicious as the cuisine tastes. Without even knowing what the words, kefta, bastilla, rfisa and zeilook (also referred to as Zaalook) mean, at the very least, one cannot help but be intrigued. This particular dish, also popular with Moroccans and our diners, is a fresh-tasting dip consisting of aubergines, fresh coriander and tomatoes.

Recipe by: GOLD Restaurant
Serves: 8-10 people (as a starter, side dish or party snack)
Difficulty: Easy
Preparation: 40 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes

Ingredients

t = teaspoon
T= tablespoon

900g fresh aubergines (egg plant or brinjal)
3 t salt
½ cup olive oil
2 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped
5 large garlic cloves, minced
2 t ground cumin
1 t sweet paprika
½ cup lemon juice
1 large bunch fresh coriander (depending on taste preference you could use more or less)

Method

Vertically remove strips of skin from each eggplant thus leaving the inner flesh exposed.
Cut the flesh into 1cm-thick slices.
Salt the slices and leave to drain for 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed pan and fry your aubergine slices until each side is well browned. Place the browned fried pieces on paper for 2-3 minutes or so to drain excess oil – aubergine absorbs oil.
Using a blender, mash the fried aubergine, tomatoes, garlic, spices, fresh coriander and lemon juice. Serve warm or cold.

Tip: You can make it in advance. Sealed zeilook keeps very well in the refrigerator for a week.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Collective nouns are one of the most endearing eccentricities to emerge from the English language. Dating back to the fifteenth century, the earliest records of collective noun usage probably extended to animals and birds mostly. They reveal both obvious and peculiar associations with the groups they classify. Little has changed since then except that over time, more collective nouns have been added to the English lexicon, growing exponentially to classify practically anything.

What lurks behind the odd collective labels?

Whether from the Middle Ages or more modern times, some appropriately derive from relatable physical or behavioural characteristics, such as a colony of bats, a murmuration of starlings or a prickle of porcupines. Others such as a murder of cows require a rack-like stretch of the imagination to fathom the source of inspiration.

At some point in their lives, most animals, even the most solitary come together to mate or to protect themselves against predators. This is why “birds of a feather (literally) flock together”. When this clustering happens, humans give them bizarre names, which are seldom referenced by scientists. Nonetheless, the sometimes odd and often humorous collective labels say something about humanity’s affinity for nature and our fondness for using language creatively.

Out on an African Safari you’re likely to come across an array of animals, birds and even plants with collective nouns to describe them. These include everything from knots, cackles, skulks and barrels to leaps, whoops, romps and confusions.

Animals
Ape - Shrewdness (or troop) of apes
Aardvark - Armoury of aardvarks
Baboon - Flange (or troop) of baboons
Bat - Cauldron (colony or cloud) of bats
Buffalo - Obstinancy (herd, troop or gang) of buffalo
Cheetahs - Coalition of cheetahs
Cobra - Quiver of cobras
Crocodile - Float (or bask) of crocodiles
Elephants - Memory (or herd) of elephants
Fox - Skulk (lease, earth, lead or troop) of foxes
Frogs - Knot of frogs
Giraffe - Journey of giraffe (if moving)
Giraffe - Tower of giraffe (if standing still)
Gorilla - Band (whoop or troop) of gorillas
Hippo - Bloat (or pod) of hippos
Hyena - Cackle (clan or sisterhood) of hyenas
Leopard - Leap of leopards
Lizard - Lounge of lizards
Lion - Pride (sault or troop) of lions
Monkey - A barrel of monkeys
Mongoose - Business of mongooses
Otter - Romp of otters
Porcupine - Prickle of porcupines
Rhinoceros - Crash of rhinoceros
Shark - Shiver (school or shoal) of sharks
Whales - A pod (gam or herd) of whales
Wildebeest - Confusion of wildebeest
Zebra - Dazzle (crossing, cohort or herd) of zebra

Birds

Cormorants - Gulp of cormorants
Eagle - Convocation (or aerie) of eagles
Guinea fowl - Confusion of guinea fowl
Gulls - Screech (or colony) of gulls
Heron - Siege of herons
Flamingoes - Flamboyance of flamingoes
Lark - Exultation (or ascension) of larks
Magpie - Tiding (gulp, murder or charm) of magpies
Owl - Parliament of owls
Oxpecker - Fling of oxpeckers
Peacocks - Muster (ostentation or pride) of peacocks
Pelican - Pod of pelicans
Stork - Mustering of storks
Southern Black Tit - Cleavage of Southern Black Tits
Vulture - A wake of vultures
Woodpecker - A descent of woodpeckers


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Travel writer Dave Barry said, “It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity”. Billions would agree. After all, second to water, coffee is the most consumed beverage in the world, beating out wine, Coca Cola, beer, orange juice, and tea. It’s also the most traded commodity on the planet.

How well do you know your coffee history trivia? Test your ability to separate the beans from the granules with these surprising did you know coffee facts.

1.Goats in Africa discovered coffee

Historians suggest that coffee imbibing first took place in Ethiopia. According to legend, a ninth-century goat herder named Kaldi was kept up all night by his goats bleating and dancing about the place after they consumed red coffee berries.

Shortly thereafter, some local monks tried the berries and discovered that they were able to pray for longer. The use of coffee berries spread to other monasteries and energised more monks. Coffee began its spread throughout the world but it wasn’t until the thirteenth century that people began to roast coffee beans, signalling the first step in the coffee making process, as we know it today.

2.Coffee was originally chewed not sipped

Initially coffee berries were ground, mixed with animal fat and fashioned into bite-sized edible balls. These snacks were chewed and ingested for nutrition and energy during hunts, while farming and on long journeys.

3.Dying for a cup of coffee

Coffee has been banned at various turns throughout history for everything from being satanic to inspiring radical thinking. One such ban by Italian clergyman in the sixteenth-century was overturned by Pope Clement VII because he couldn’t do without his beloved coffee. He even had it baptised. 

Apparently, Ottoman leader Murad IV created the first known official punishments for coffee transgression in the 1620s. These included beatings and being hurled into the sea.

In the mid 1700s, the Swedish government declared not just coffee illegal but cups and saucers too.

4.Beer not coffee with breakfast

A couple of decades later, Frederick the Great of Prussia became increasingly concerned about the effects of coffee. It is said that he believed that it interfered with his soldiers’ dependability and with the country’s beer consumption. Issuing a manifesto declaring the superiority of beer over wine, he argued that alcohol would replace caffeine at the breakfast table.

But you can’t keep a man from his coffee and the illegal trade in coffee flourished. So the wily king ordered a special task force to identify and summarily deal with coffee smugglers. The task force was allegedly known as the Kaffee Schnuffler.

5.Beethoven’s coffee bombs

Beethoven is best known for his nine symphonies, but not as well known for his peculiar coffee preparation habits. Unable to begin his day without enjoying a cup of coffee (nothing peculiar about that) he would count his coffee beans, insisting on 60 per cup. This is still not all that peculiar for those in the know, as 60 beans is a mere 10 beans more than the average cup contains.

However, he would simply grind the beans up and pour boiling water over them. Thus, in comparison to modern coffee, which goes through various processes, the caffeine quantity in Beethoven’s cup would have been sufficient to have your heart detonate in your chest.

6.Coffee bean or coffee fruit?

Interestingly, while resembling a bean, coffee ‘beans’ are actually berry pits or seeds. The obvious questions is so what? Does it make a difference if we refer to it as a bean or a seed? Surely coffee is coffee no matter how we label the bean or seed from whence it comes?

Actually, it does make a difference. You may be surprised to discover how different coffee can taste when it is light roasted. In dark roasted coffee the main flavour is the roast. Light roasted coffee yields more delicate, floral and fruity notes. But the best part is this: Regardless of your preference for light, medium or dark roasted coffee you can happily consume your java any way you like without being hunted by coffee Schnufflers or being thrown into the sea.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Elephants are the undisputed giants of the savannah and forest. Frequently depicted in mythology and revered as a symbols of power and strength, they’ve also become universally immortalized in beloved pop culture characters such as Dumbo and Horton. So where do these huge truncated, floppy-eared goliaths come from originally?

African elephants and their smaller Asian cousins are descendant of a common ancestor, the extinct woolly mammoth. That’s the most likely answer if you ferret about for an answer based in science. African legend and lore would have it that the elephant’s origin story has various more poetic narratives, depending on which country or region you’re in.

What the Kamba tribe of Kenya believes

One of the more intriguing elephant origin tales goes something like this. First, in keeping with oral storytelling tradition, you need to imagine yourself sitting at a fire under the stars with the wizened, soulful voice of a narrator lulling you into quiet, concentrated awe as he or she retells how the elephant evolved from man.

A poor man seeking to change his circumstances heard a tale about “Ivonya-Ngia”, “He that feeds the poor”. Intrigued, he decided to seek out Ivonya-Ngia and embarked on a long and treacherous journey. Finally, tired and weary, he summited a hill and realised he’d reached his destination.

As far as the eye could see he there were endless herds of cattle and sheep and a lush expanse of green pastures. In the midst of these pastures he clapped eyes on a large residence. It was the home of Ivonya-Ngia who received the poor man graciously and, in a demonstration of compassion and generosity, ordered his men to bestow on the poor man one hundred sheep and an equal number of cows.

“Thank you, but no”, said the poor man. “I don’t want your charity. I want you to share with me the secret to becoming rich”. Ivonya-Ngia reflected on this for a time and then, handing the poor man a small jar containing some ointment he said, “Rub this on the teeth of your wife’s two pointed teeth of her upper jaw (incisors). Wait until they grow and then sell them”.

The poor man was dubious at first but he believed Ivonya-Ngia to be a man of integrity and undoubtedly great wealth. So, he journeyed home and promising his incredulous but loving wife that they would become rich, she allowed him to carry out the strange instructions. Nothing happened at first but the poor man continued to apply the ointment to his wife’s pointed teeth. After some weeks, her teeth began to grow. Eventually, they grew into tusks as thick and long as the poor man’s arm. He persuaded his wife to allow him to remove the tusks and took them to the market and sold them for a tribe of goats. 

Continuing to apply the ointment, the no longer poor man’s wife’s pointed teeth soon grew into tusks that were even longer than the previous pair. This time she refused to let her husband touch them. With time her body became larger and heavier and her skin turned thick and grey. One day, she burst through the front door of their house and lumbered into the forest. There she gave birth to their son. He was an elephant.

From time to time the man visited his wife and son in the forest. Each time he implored her to return and each time she refused. She continued to birth more elephants and her children became the first herd of elephants on earth.

Image courtesy of Jan van Huyssteen


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