I am an ardent fan of Kobus van der Merwe’s blog, Sardines on Toast. I envy his ability, and more to the point, the opportunity he gets to create delicate and artistic plates of food anointed with what can only be described as ‘soupçons’ of exquisite flavours. His use of indigenous plants and foraged ingredients makes my toes curl with delight and I have been promising myself for the longest time that I would make an effort to explore said indigenous plants and their flavours.
I would describe the provision of meals in la casa Tripepi as the perfect antithesis of Kobus’ artistry. It has taken years for me to introduce the mere notion of ‘meat free’ meals and plates of food that don’t cry out for a break from the tonnage deemed to be the acceptable amount of food to be served on a plate.
Once a month, Monique attends a local clinic with a friend of hers. Dressed up to the nines, Monique and friend, toddle off together like two dressed turkeys gobble-gobbling their way down the road. Their day always includes a stop at a local market that sells everything from combs to fruit and veg.
I love to mosey around shops and markets and always keep my eyes open for interesting plates, glasses etc. for my blog posts. I often see enamel kitchenware with the requisite amount of “wear and tear” as to render them totally desirable for blog posts calling out my name. One glance at the price tag and I generally drop them like a hot potato. R250, 00 for a chipped, second hand jug is just ridiculous and makes a mockery of the humble, most affordable and practical enamel ‘family’ that was designed and manufactured for the ‘lower income’ shopper. I get the whole, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure thing, but to pay such a price just doesn’t feel right!
With this in mind, I armed Monique with R150, 00 in cash and asked her to purchase a large enamel bowl at the market, a bowl big enough to serve pasta or salad to ‘la famiglia’ and guests on any given Sunday. I suggested that should she have any money left over, she could buy me some bunches or “hands” as Monique puts it, of fresh Mfino; an indigenous ‘baby leafed spinach’ equivalent.
Later on that day, Monique arrived home with a whole host of enamel-alia! One large shallow enamel basin perfect for pasta, six small enamel plates, two enamel bowls with lids and five bunches of beautiful fresh Mfino. And the cost for all of this was just R72, 00. This feels so very right and I cannot wait to fill that beautiful big bowl with homemade fettuccini bathed in a summery tomato and Mfino pasta sauce and serve up portions on the small plates. As for the required ‘wear and tear’, I could fling them around the garden a bit I suppose, but I will go ‘au naturel’ I think!
Monique and I discussed the various cooking options for our five bunches of Mfino and decided that, for a first time out, a traditional approach would be best. This would allow me to get to grips with the flavour and texture in order to invent something a little more interesting in the future. Traditionally Mfino is served one of two ways, either fried and reduced down with onion, spring onion, garlic and chilli or fried and mixed with mielie porridge.
Mfino & Ricotta Quiche
Preheat your oven to 200d
For the Mfino
5 bunches of Mfino or 500g spinach
1 onion finely chopped
6 spring onions chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 red chillies finely chopped
Salt & pepper to season
I have added two chopped chillies to my Mfino which may seem like quite a lot – and it is, but I am going to be adding this to a quiche filling so I need plenty of flavour to give the quiche a nice kick in the mouth! The 5 bunches of Mfino yielded abut 2 cups of cooked mfino, and didn’t use the whole lot in this quiche – I had about half a cup left over , which I ate! Gotta taste!
Wash and clean the Mfino in plenty of running water
In a pot large enough to take all of the Mfino, brown the onion, spring onion, garlic and chilli in a little olive oil.
Add the washed Mfino and stir well. Place a lid on the pot and cook on a moderate to high heat until all of the water has evaporated. This will only take about 10 – 15 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
The Quiche Pastry
Out comes my UTA Quiche recipe again – this pastry is rich and light and melts in your mouth.
1Tbs cold water
1Tbs olive oil
Place all of the above into your food processor and pulse about 8 times or until the ingredients form a crumbly dough. Pour this into
your greased pie dish and using your hands mould it to form a pastry base.
The Quiche Filling
150ml of cream
180g ricotta cheese
100g good strong cheddar/ pecorino/ parmesan cheese
1/4tsp grated nutmeg
Paprika to sprinkle on the top of your quiche
Arrange the ricotta cheese in the pastry shell
Add the Mfino
Add the good strong grated cheese
Whisk together the eggs, cream and nutmeg and pour over the filling
Top with a sprinkle of paprika – I just like the colour that this gives!
Baked at 200d for 30 minutes
Serve with some fresh lightly poached asparagus in garlic butter and a side salad. This would be ideal for a picnic basket to take to the beach.
The good news is that TrickyRicky woofed the quiche down and is very keen to join me in the kitchen to see what else we can make with this local herb. Monique suggested that we use the Mfino with polenta much in the same way as she cooks the Mfino with mielie meal! I have some ideas and will report back!
Dinner Divas is moving into the Semi Final Stage which sees
go head-to-head in the Diva Kitchen!
The brief is to prepare a Festive or Special Occasion Meal for 4 – 8 people in 3 hours!
Now, THAT is a lot of cooking!
See you there!
Here is the link to another quiche favourite in la casa Tripepi
We are off to Whispering Waters up in the Midlands for a long weekend to attend a wedding.
Taryn Makaab is one of the most talented dancers that I have even seen, she has danced all over the world and runs her own dance studio, Break Thru dance company in Durban. We have known Taryn all her life and are so excited and happy to see her marry the love of her life Shawn this weekend at Netherwood! I have my camera and will post some pics next week.
Congratulations to Taryn and Shawn
to Mike and Charmaine, her parents, as their family grows!
I just love weddings!
Note to self: lots of tissues for TrickyRicky!
Have a wonderful weekend.