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Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Kos & Wyn | Food & Wine > Resepte | Recipes

The Pick 'n Pay | LitNet Virtual Shopping Basket: Izak de Vries's recipes

Izak de Vries - 2007-10-17

The courses

• Starters: Asparagus with Norwegian Salmon à la Mariam
• Main course: Lazy Aged Rump Stir-fry à la Colleen
• Dessert: Camembert Pockets on Strawberries à la Elma

I enjoy cooking, because I enjoy being with friends. That is why my recipes are quick and easy to make.

Only the dessert course needs an earlier intervention – and only if you really feel like it. (I cut and cured the strawberries on Friday morning before I left for work – see below.)

The occasion
There are two reasons why I decided to participate:

• I like LitNet and Elma likes buying our groceries at the local Pick ’n Pay. (I, too, go shopping there, but I generally shy away from stores.)
• I recently met up with a good friend from my student days. Colleen and I studied under Etienne van Heerden long before the internet, long before virtual shopping baskets and long before LitNet. So when Colleen and Mariam agreed to come to dinner, Elma and I decided that it would be a good occasion to test the Pick ’n Pay hamper.

The method
Elma and I both work very long hours, so food should not get in the way of a lekker kuier – the food should enhance the togetherness.

I mention Elma’s involvement, as this was a team effort. I did most of the cooking on the night, but we always help each other in the kitchen when we decide to cook up a storm.

I started chopping the meat and the green peppers about twenty minutes before our guests arrived, and the strawberries were cured earlier that morning.

The rest simply happened while Colleen and Mariam relaxed and chatted to us. (We have an open plan kitchen.)

The photographs
I used a bounce flash and ISO 1600 in order not to get bad shadows. Normally I would have used a much lower ISO and possibly even a tripod, but Friday night’s pics were not for a glossy print, so I really just plonked the stuff down, Mariam and Colleen helped to arrange the plates and then we gobbled up the food while it was hot.

What we used from the Pick ’n Pay virtual basket

• Lazy Aged Beef – Rump
• Norwegian Salmon
• Pick ’n Pay Choice Green Olives
• Pick ’n Pay Choice Plain Yoghurt
• Pick ’n Pay Choice Basmati Rice
• Strawberries
• Pick ’n Pay Choice Camembert.

The wines
We chose to buy only two wines, mainly because there were only four of us and our guests had to drive home. (We offered a bed, but Colleen had to get up before dawn on Saturday.) Our choice:

• Swartland Tinta Barocca
• Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel.

The recipes
Okay, here goes. I cooked for four, because my son, who is four, decided early on not to look enthusiastic. He had watermelon and Milo instead.

Starters: Asparagus with Norwegian Salmon à la Mariam
Serves four

This is a really easy dish to make.


• Fresh asparagus (three bunches)
• Norwegian Smoked Salmon from the Pick ’n Pay Foodhall (200 g)
• Boiling water (1,5 litres)
• Salt (a pinch)
• Butter (four tablespoons)
• Lemon Juice (one tablespoon)
• Pick ’n Pay Choice Green Olives
• A few slices of Red Pepper for garnish.

Salt and pepper for the table.

Selecting and treating the asparagus
I like a slightly firmer stem on the asparagus, but there are no rights or wrongs.

You will notice that my method is simple; I do not use fancy things to prepare them with.

Before you cook them, check each one individually.

• Make sure the head is clean and fresh, not gooey. Even in a good pack one or two may feel a bit dodgy; if it is, chuck the entire asparagus into the compost bin.
• Test the bottom of the stem with your fingers. If it breaks easily, it means that part is harder and it will be unappetising. Discard that part.

This takes a little bit of time, but I did it while chatting to my guests. It ensures better results.

Boiling the asparagus
Forget the fancy methods and cookers you see on the internet. I simply selected a pot that is big enough for the asparagus to lie in without having to bend.

Do not place the asparagus in the pot at this stage. (Use one to test for size, and then remove it.)

Pour the boiling water into the pot, add a pinch of salt to the water and place the pot on the stove with the plate on maximum. The moment the water boils again, chuck in the asparagus.

Do not overcook your asparagus. Mine was in there for about five minutes, but it depends on the variety and the thickness of the stems.

Start testing after three minutes. The moment you can gently poke a fork through the stem, you’re there. To make sure, take one out and eat it. If your teeth don’t break, the asparagus is ready.

Pour off the water (“adult supervision needed” should now flash on the screen), but leave the asparagus in the pot.

Add the butter and drip the lemon juice over them.

Put the lid back on and gently shake the pot sideways, not up and down.

Preparing the dish for the table
Wash your hands and take out clumps of asparagus with a fork and your fingers. Arrange the asparagus so that the tops open out in a fan-like shape.

Take the salmon slivers from the pack and drape them over the lower ends of the asparagus. I folded them in ever so slightly to make the salmon look like a quiver.

Garnish with green olives and red pepper. (The pepper was Mariam’s idea.)

The wine
We used the bubbly on this one, and that is to be recommended, but a cold Delheim Pinotage Rosé would also work.

Main course: Lazy Aged Rump Stir-fry à la Colleen
Serves four

This is an easy dish that can be cooked with a glass of wine in your hand and a good conversation going on around you.


• Lazy Aged Beef – Rump (about 500 g)
• Pick ’n Pay Choice Plain Yoghurt (200 ml)
• Pick ’n Pay Choice Basmati Rice (one cup)
• Water (four cups)
• A red pepper
• A yellow pepper
• A green pepper
• Crushed garlic from the Pick ’n Pay Foodhall (one large tablespoon)
• Onions (I used two medium-sized ones)
• Fresh ginger, chopped (one heaped tablespoon full, or double that if you really like ginger)
• Honey (two tablespoons). By the way, make sure that your supermarket supports badger-friendly honey farmers.
• Soy sauce (one tablespoon)
• Avocado oil (four tablespoons, see note below)
• Pick ’n Pay Choice Roasted Cashew Nuts, salted (100 g)
• Nutmeg (half a teaspoon)
• Coriander (half a teaspoon)
• Salt (a pinch).

Preparing the meat, peppers, onions and ginger
I chopped these before our guests arrived.

The meat is simple: I removed all the fat and cut the steaks into slivers about 5 mm thick.

The onions: I removed the skins, sliced them in half and sliced them across the breadth into semicircles about 5 mm think.

The peppers: I sliced these in half, removed the pips and carved them into strips about 5 mm thick.

Ginger is a root, so it can be treated like a carrot. Simply choose a section (about 2 cm x 2 cm x 2 cm), cut or break it off, cut off the skin and chop up the flesh into tiny pieces – the finer the better.

Preparing the rice
Cooking with basmati rice is fairly easy. Pour one cup of rice and four cups of water into a pot, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and allow it to cook for 15–20 minutes with the lid off. Make sure it does not burn and make sure it continues cooking gently, but otherwise forget about it while making the stir-fry.

Hint: It is a good idea to start the rice before you start cooking the meat, but make sure all your ingredients are chopped up first.

Avocado oil
Here is a hint for lovers of stir-fry, potjiekos or steaks. You may have noticed how quickly olive oil and butter burn at high temperatures. Well, here is the solution. Avocado oil has a remarkable resistance to heat. You can abuse this oil, for you will find it hard to burn it. That is why I use it for a stir-fry and for frying beef or tuna steaks. The oil is also tasty.

Look out for avocado oil on the Pick ’n Pay shelves; they stock it.

You may choose to substitute avocado oil with sesame oil. Butter is okay, but fatty, and sunflower oil will do if you have nothing else in the cupboard. Be careful of olive oil, though; it is likely to turn brown at these high temperatures.

Stirring up a passion
We have a wok in which I do my stir-fries, but when we were younger, and poorer, I sommer used any old pot – as long as it was big enough.

Add two spoons of avocado oil and heat it until really hot. (I cheat by dropping a tiny piece of onion into the oil. When the onion starts fizzling, the oil is ready.)

Chuck in the meat and stir continuously until all the strips are nice and brown. They may still be a tad pink inside. If in doubt, eat a strip to make sure they are okay.

When the meat is done, remove it from the wok. Pour two more spoons of avocado oil into the wok. Give it a few seconds and chuck in your onions, garlic and ginger. Stir well at a very high temperature.

When the onions are done, add the peppers and cook until they are hot.

Put the meat back in and mix well.

Sprinkle the nutmeg and coriander over the mix. (If you like a somewhat hotter flavour, add a teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper as well.) Mix well.

Add the honey, mix it again and put on the lid.

Pour the soy sauce into a cup, add the yoghurt and mix. Pour this mixture into the stir-fry and mix well.

You will see a longish sauce forming in the wok. It is okay, we are not going to thicken it, because the sauce will flavour the basmati rice.

Check your basmati rice. It should be done by now.

If the rice is not ready, turn down the heat and allow the stir-fry to simmer for a minute or two. This will allow the flavours to mingle, but this dish should not be overcooked.

Dishing it up
We used large soup plates for this course.

Divide the rice into the plates and spoon the stir-fry on top of that. Use a big enough spoon to ladle to sauce into the plates as well.

Sprinkle the Pick ’n Pay Choice Roasted Cashew Nuts over the top and add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy while hot.

The wine
We opened and enjoyed the Swartland Tinta Barocca with this course and it was a beauty, but the Groot Constantia Pinotage would also have worked.

Dessert: Camembert Pockets on Strawberries à la Elma
Serves four


• Strawberries
• Pick ’n Pay Choice Camembert
• Pick ’n Pay Choice Phyllo Pastry
• Very dark chocolate (half a slab)
• White sugar (three to four tablespoons)
• Brandy (one tablespoon)
• Sweet Muscadel (two tablespoons)
• Olive oil (about 100 ml)
• Spray and cook.

This is a fun dish and not as difficult as it may look. Elma is the undisputed phyllo pastry queen in our house, so I allowed her to create the pockets, but even I can do them if I have to.

Preparing the strawberries
I did this before I left for work on Friday morning.

It is simple, really. I washed the strawberries, cut off their tops and sliced them into thin slices (about 1 mm thick).

I placed the strawberry slices in a sealable plastic container. After a third of the strawberries were done, I sprinkled a tablespoon of white sugar over them, the same after the second third and ditto when they were all done.

The sugar draws the juice from the strawberries and this creates a tasty, good-looking syrup.

Now I dripped a tablespoon full of KWV 10-year-old brandy over everything, and added two tablespoons of De Wet Kelder’s Sweet Muscadel. Should you not have any of these in your cupboard, use a sweet sherry.

Seal the container and place in the fridge.

Preheat your oven
Switch on the oven as soon as you start preparing the phyllo pastry. Heat it to 200°C.

Preparing the phyllo pastry
Elma started after we had our main meal. We chatted to our friends while preparing this course.

Phyllo pastry is fun to work with. You need a good little brush to make light work of it, but in our poorer days we used a spoon to scoop the olive oil on to the pastry and spread the oil with the back of the spoon.

We were going to make four pockets, so Elma used three sheets of phyllo pastry and cut four squares from each. (The Pick ’n Pay Choice Phyllo Pastry is about 40 cm wide, so Elma simply used half the width as her guideline.) She therefore ended up with twelve squares of about 20 x 20 cm.

Each square is lightly brushed with olive oil. (One could use melted butter as well, but eish, it is rich and the flavour of the olive oil certainly enhances the flavour of the camembert.)

Place three squares on top of one another. You’ll end up with four squares consisting of three layers each.

Creating the pockets
Cut the Pick ’n Pay Choice Camembert into four quarters. Place one quarter camembert in the middle of each of your layered phyllo pastry squares.

Fold the pastry around the camembert. Be as creative about this as you wish. We just pinched the pastry together at the top to make them look like little gift-wrapped parcels.

Elma sprayed a muffin pan with Spray and Cook (outside, where it would not trigger an asthma attack on hubby) and placed each pocket in a sprayed hollow.

When the oven reached 200°C we placed the pockets in it and baked them for 20 minutes.

Creating the base
As soon as the phyllo and camembert was in the oven, I took the strawberries from the fridge and divided them equally into four dessert bowls.

The sugar had created a long, sweet syrup which I also divided up between the four bowls.

Now for the fun part.

Grate the dark chocolate. (I used just less than half a slab, my son ate the rest.) Use a coarse grater – similar to one that you’d grate cheddar with.

I used my hands to sprinkle the grated chocolate over the strawberries. Afterwards I sucked my fingers clean before I washed them.

The bell rang, 20 minutes was up and the phyllo pockets were done. We placed a pocket on to each strawberry base, took a picture (which my by-now-tired son nearly ruined) and ate our dessert (after retrieving it from my son, who threatened to have it all by himself).

You get the best results when the camembert is still very hot and the strawberries very cold.

Wine to go with the course
My guests had to drive, so we did not have more wine with this one. I would suggest the Fleur de Cap Noble Late Harvest, though. Or if you had a Rosé with the starter course, this would be the time to open the Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel.

I made plunger coffee and we kuiered some more while Jabu had a bath. Pick ’n Pay has a wonderful selection of coffees – check them out.

 Cooked on Friday 12 October 2007

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