FOOD blogging has exploded around the world, and in South Africa, in recent years. And when you talk food blogging in this country then the first person you might think of is Jane-Anne Hobbs, of “Scrumptious” fame.
Jane-Anne pretty much pioneered recipe blogging in South Africa and so I was hugely excited to receive a review copy of her new book, also called “Scrumptious”.
Like me, Jane-Anne is a writer, editor and self-taught cook who has been “fervently interested” in food for most of her life. This glorious book, her third, is filled with dishes that celebrate the art of feasting, whether surrounded by family or friends.
She is no “quick-sticks” cook, I noted. She likes to take her time in the kitchen and you’ll find that many of her recipes are also quite detailed – and she is clearly not part of the “four ingredients or less” school of thought!
While I confess that for everyday cooking I prefer shorter, quicker recipes, I was nevertheless eager to try out many of the dishes in her new book because they suggested celebration in every bite! And every mealtime should be an occasion.
The first one I tried was her spicy frikkadels with minted couscous, a recipe that turned out so fabulous it was worth the extra bit of time spent in the kitchen. I now intend making it for my next dinner party as it is an exquisite dish to behold – and a most aromatic one to enjoy!
Before we get stuck into the recipe, make sure you also get your copy of Weekend Post on Saturday October 6, as we are sharing Jane-Anne’s splendid recipe for silken tuna paté with green peppercorns in the MyWeekend supplement today.
I haven’t tried the recipe myself but it is next on my list! “Scrumptious” is published by Struik Lifestyle and costs R260.
Spicy frikkadels with minted couscous
Jane-Anne says she wouldn’t normally serve mince at special feasts “because it just doesn’t seem very festive, but this dish is an exception” – and I agree! She says you can use beef, pork or lamb mince, but has found that half beef and half pork produces the “juiciest frikkadels”. The dish is lovely served with dollops of cold, creamy tzatziki, she added. The quantities given are enough for eight people, but I ended up halving the recipe to serve four. Afterwards I kicked myself as some leftovers would have been welcome, given how utterly fabulous this dish is!
Ingredients for the meatballs
2 extra-large free-range eggs; 6 Tbsp (90ml) thick natural yoghurt; 1 1/2 cups (375ml) fresh white breadcrumbs; 1.25kg minced beef, lamb or pork; 1 small onion, peeled and grated; 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed; 1/3 cup (80ml) finely chopped fresh coriander; 1 1/2 tsp (7.5ml) ground coriander; 1 1/2 tsp (7.5ml) ground cumin; finely grated zest of 1 lemon; salt and milled black pepper; 1/2 cup (125ml) chickpea flour; 1 tsp (5ml) turmeric; 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) paprika; 4 Tbsp (60ml) sunflower oil, for frying
Ingredients for the couscous
3 cups (about 500g) couscous; juice and finely grated zest of 1 large lemon; juicke and finely grated zest of 1 orange; 3/4 cup (180ml) light olive oil; 1 Tbsp (15ml) paprika; 2 Tbsp (30ml) dry mint; 1 1/2 tsp (7.5ml) dried cumin; 3/4 cup (180ml) shelled pistachio nuts; sprigs of fresh coriander
Whisk the egg and yoghurt in a large mixing bowl, stir in the breadcrumbs and leave to soak for 5 min. Add the mince, grated onion, garlic, fresh and ground coriander, cumin, lemon zest and salt and black pepper to taste. Using your hands, squish everything together to make a fairly firm paste. Test the seasoning by frying a little patty in hot oil; taste it, and add more salt, pepper and spice as required. Roll the paste into meatballs, each about the size of a litchi. Chill for 30 min.
Put the couscous into a large bowl and cover, to a depth of about 7mm, with warm water (see Notes below). Leave for 12 min, or until all the water has been absorbed, then fluff the grains out with a fork to separate them. In another bowl, whisk together the lemon and orange zest and juice, the oil, paprika, dried mint and cumin and season generously with salt. Pour three-quarters of the dressing over the warm couscous and toss well. Cool to room temperature, stir in the fresh mint and pile onto a large platter, or two smaller ones. Make a large well in the middle.
Mix the chickpea flour, turmeric and paprika on a plate. Roll the meatballs in the flour and dust off the excess. Fry in hot oil, in batches, for 3-4 min, or until crusty and golden, and cooked right through; don’t allow the meatballs to burn. Set aside.
Pile the meatballs onto the couscous and pour over the remaining dressing. Sprinkle with the pistachio nuts and coriander sprigs and serve immediately.
Jane-Anne advises: “Roll the meatballs up to 24 hours ahead and keep covered in the fridge. Make the couscous a few hours ahead, too, and keep covered at room temperature, but add the fresh mint and pistachios in at the last minute. Although they’re best fresh from the pan, the meatballs can be fried an hour or so ahead and gently reheated in the pan in which you cooked them. My method of using very warm (not boiling) water to make the couscous results in fluffy grains, but you will need to use an ‘instant’ or ‘quick-cook’ brand.”