Last month I received an invitation to participate in the Two Oceans Simple Snacking Challenge, where Western Cape food bloggers were challenged to create a tasty snacking solution for four people with a budget of R100. The prize is a 2 night stay at Paternoster's Strandloper Ocean Boutique or Birkenhead House in Hermanus, how could I say no?
I received a bottle of Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot to get me started. I enjoyed being back in "challenge mode" and soon had a long list of ideas buzzing around in my head. In the end I settled on three dishes that I felt would complement the wine best. I'm also pleased to say that I came in under budget, as the total cost of the ingredients was R79.00.
Now onto the dishes! Bruschetta is a classic appetizer, and I made my version with roasted red peppers and aubergine topped with fresh, minty gremolata - I love the variety of textures and full flavour in each bite! Roasted chickpeas are something that I have wanted to try for a very long time, and this challenge seemed like the perfect opportunity. The combination of garlic, curry powder and rosemary takes the humble chickpea to new flavour heights but be warned, they are addictive! My final dish of sweet potato parcels was inspired by a recent visit to Sinns Restaurant on Long. We were served mini sweet potato springrolls as part of our starter and I couldn't wait to attempt my own version at home. The soft, fragrant potato filling encased in a crispy pastry shell is my idea of snack heaven.
If you think that these dishes look like too much work then don't be fooled - they really are very easy to prepare with no special skills required. And they are so easy serve - just pop them on the table and let your guests tuck in - no cutlery required!
Party season is here, and I hope that these recipes will inspire you as you plan your next get together with friends. (And fingers crossed that the judges will like them too!)
Cook's note - remember when working with phyllo pastry that you need to work quickly as the pastry dries out when exposed to air. Only defrost what you need and use a damp tea towel to cover any sheets that you are not working with.
~ CAPE TOWN FESTIVAL OF BEER GIVEAWAY ~ Thank you to everyone who emailed, liked, commented, shared and tweeted so enthusiastically! Unfortunately there could only be one winner, and congratulations go to Tandy Sinclair! Tandy says that she is most looking forward to getting to know the new breweries at the Festival.
THE SIMPLE SNACKING CHALLENGE
Roasted vegetable bruschetta with minty gremolata
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley leaves
2 tbsp roughly chopped mint
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 French loaf
2 large cloves garlic
Step 1.) Preheat your oven to 190°C. Place the red pepper chunks and aubergine in a small roasting pan and drizzle with half of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cover the tray with foil. Roast for 45 minutes or until tender.
Step 2.) Prepare the gremolata by placing the parsley, mint, lemon zest and garlic on a chopping board. Chop together until fine, then transfer to a bowl and set aside in the fridge.
Step 3.) Cut the french loaf into 8 slices (cut at an angle to get long slices). Drizzle the slices on both sides with the remaining olive oil. Place the slices on a hot griddle pan for a few minutes until they start to char, then turn them over and cook the other side.
Step 4.) Peel the garlic cloves and cut in half lengthways. Rub the cloves cut side down on both sides of the slices of bread. Season the slices with some salt and pepper.
Step 5.) Chop the roasted peppers and aubergine roughly and pile on top of the warm breads. Top each slice with about 1/2 a tablespoon of the gremolata and serve.
Spiced roasted chickpeas
1 x 400g tin chickpeas
1 tsp medium curry powder
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp olive oil
Step 1.) Preheat your oven to 200°C. Drain the chickpeas, then place in a colander and rinse in cold water. Pat dry with kitchen towel (be sure to remove as much water as you can).
Step 2.) Combine the curry powder, salt, rosemary and brown sugar in a bowl. Grind some black pepper over the top. Add the crushed garlic and olive oil and mix to form a paste.
Step 3.) Toss the chickpeas in the paste until evenly coated. Transfer to a small roasting pan and pop in the oven for 20 minutes. Toss the chickpeas then return them to the oven for a further 20- 25 minutes or until crunchy.
Step 4.) Allow to cool slightly before transferring into a bowl. Serve on the same day.
Sweet potato parcels
1 large sweet potato (about 500g), peeled and cut into chunks
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp finely chopped parsley
25g English spinach, steamed and roughly chopped
4 sheets phyllo pastry
Step 1.) Boil the sweet potato chunks in salted water until tender. Drain well and mash until smooth. Preheat your oven to 190°C.
Step 2.) Stir the crushed garlic, cumin and parsley into the mashed potato. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the spinach.
Step 3.) Melt the butter. Brush one sheet of phyllo pastry with melted butter and place another sheet of phyllo on top. Cut into quarters. Place about an eighth of the potato filling in the middle of each piece of phyllo pastry. Fold the phyllo pieces in half diagonally, squashing the filling into a sausage shape as you fold. Tuck the edges in and roll into a parcel. Secure the end with a little butter if necessary. Repeat with remaining 2 sheets of phyllo and filling.
Step 4.) Place the parcels on a greased baking tray and brush with a little more melted butter. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden and crispy.