In My Kitchen – March 2015

Thank goodness that February is a short month – it brings those of us in the Northern Hemisphere just a little closer to Spring! Nonetheless, I’ve had a lot going on in my kitchen despite also spending two glorious weeks in Cape Town to attend the wedding of one of my oldest friends. I thought that you might like to see some photos of the stunning table setting and the food which was divine. The last photo above, is of the first course. I brought back our name cards as a momento. (If you click on the first photo, you can see the enlarged version of each picture in the gallery.)

In my kitchen there have been blood oranges, cavolo nero and fregola from which I made a salad because earlier in the month, I together with some friends, visited a fabulous shop called Vallebona which I wrote about here. It’s full of gourmet Sardinian groceries. These are some of the goodies I brought back.

IMK March 2015 | Selma's Table

Olive oil, truffle honey, grape must

We sampled the honey with white truffle on cheese and I tried some blue cheese with the grape juice must which were both wonderful. They both went into my basket! Vallebona sell a very thin cracker that comes in huge sheets which you just break off to eat – it’s called Carta Musica and lasts forever. I also bought the green tea with cherry blossom which is lovely.

I popped into a couple of local charity shops and came away with more china bargains. It’s becoming a bit of an obsession now – how did I go from shoes to plates?

I had this beautiful purple savoy type cabbage in my Sutton Community Farm veg box – unfortunately there was no time to make anything with it before I left, so I gave to a friend.

Cape Town has a fantastic food culture and I always look forward to seeing what they are up to. This time, a friend took me to a tiny award winning restaurant called Chefs Warehouse and Canteen run by a chef Liam Tomlin and his wife Jan.  They serve a very popular tapas style menu which is what we had. Wow – such incredible food – balanced, intense flavours and beautifully presented. There are more photos on my Instagram feed.

There is also a small but well curated shop attached, full of professional cookware, ceramics, ingredients and cookbooks. I bought a gorgeous glazed tapas dish just like the one we were served calamari in and a couple of packets of fruity buttery toffees – Sour Fig and Orange and Pomegranate. I really wish that I had bought a copy of his “Tapas” book but I just can’t justify another cookbook at the moment.

The friends we were staying with took us to the Oranjezicht City Farm Market which is held on the grounds of the Premier Helen Zille’s official residence, Leeuwenhof. Every Saturday, she opens up the gardens and the pool to the general public and independent local farmers and artisanal food producers. Apparently it’s the equivalent of David Cameron opening up Chequers to the hoi polloi! The fresh produce is fantastic and I was very surprised at how delicious the cheeses were too. There was a separate tent full of stall holders making and selling gorgeous and healthy food to eat.

I bought some intensely deep flavoured honey which took me right back to my childhood in Nairobi. This honey is similar to the Arabian Sidr Honey. I also bought a bottle of fig and grape must chutney.

A couple of days after returning to London, I received a lovely Welcome Home card and pack of black garlic from Elaine of foodbod which was such a surprise and had me squealing in delight.

Well, that is it from my kitchen this month – huge thanks to the lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts this monthly event – peeking into everyone’s kitchens all over the world is so inspiring!  Make yourself a cuppa and have a little browse – all the links to the participating blogs are on the right hand side of Celia’s post. I have linked her post to her blog name so click and take a little tour!

Before you take your leave, feast your eyes on this amazing sunset – a display that Capetonians enjoy most evenings!

Sunset over the South Atlantic Ocean

Sunset over the South Atlantic Ocean from Seapoint, Cape Town

Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad

Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad | Selma's TableA couple of times a year, four of us get together and spend the day wandering around a food market, shopping and then repairing to one of our homes to cook a tasting style menu. Usually, friends and family will turn up later on for dinner – it’s such a lovely and convivial day – I wrote about it in a little more detail, last year.  I suppose it is an echo of days gone by when families, friends and neighbours would gather to celebrate a harvest, cooking and eating together. Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola SaladThis time, M suggested that we visit a Sardinian store called Vallebona, to which she had taken me before. I am not sure that I can find the words to describe the Vallebona experience but I will try. It’s like stumbling upon the most wonderful secret and realising that you have just joined the best club ever. It is family owned and run with great, enthusiasm, knowledge and style – visiting is just an utter delight and pleasure. Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad | Selma's TableVallebona in the middle of an industrial estate in Wimbledon, so finding it is the first challenge. Upon pulling up, it’s all forbidding burgundy coloured steel doors with only the signage to indicate that you are in the right place.

Upon pressing the buzzer to gain entry,  the door swings open into a stunning white space, filled with stylishly arranged Sardinian groceries and wine. The rooms have a distinct warehouse vibe with white painted brick walls and vintage shelving and accessories.

Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad | Selma's Table

Nibbles in wooden cones

You are pretty much handed a glass of wine and a few nibbles shortly after walking in which makes it a very enjoyable way to browse through the stunningly arranged warehouse rooms.

There is the most fabulous climate controlled cheese and meat room and also a kitchen from which they produce samples of their food to try and where they also cater for lunches and dinners.

Vallebona have recently started stocking fresh fruit and vegetables so it was the perfect food destination from which to make up our menu.

There were recipe suggestions galore so we decided on Spicy Sausage and Fregola main dish, a fabulous selection of cheeses and this gorgeous Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad. Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad | Selma's TableFor this recipe, you will need to segment oranges. It is really easy to do so give it a go if you haven’t tried this before. The video below shows how easy it is.

Fregola is similar to the giant Israeli couscous except that it is lightly toasted so has a wonderful flavour. Cavalo Nero is related to kale and cabbage and is used to make the classic Tuscan Ribollita Soup.

Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad | Selma's Table

Dan Lepard’s Rye Crackers

I always make something to take with me and this time I made Dan Lepard’s Rye Crackers to have with the cheese that I knew we would buy. They were delicious and easy to make but really showed up the hot spots in my oven! The recipe is in his book Short and Sweet which I highly recommend if you enjoy baking.

This Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad is a delicious marriage of flavours; sharp, sweet, salty, toasty and green. and perfect with fish too. If you can’t find blood oranges, use regular ones instead. Walnuts would also be the perfect substitution for the toasted sliced almonds. I am taking this to the virtual table at Fiesta Friday #58, hosted by the talented Angie of The Novice Gardener. Last week was sugar fuelled so a salad like this is sure to balance things out! This week we have Caroline @Caroline’s Cooking and Elaine @foodbod to thank, as our co-hosts. Both are fantastic cooks and have a wealth of recipes on their sites – do go over and take a look. If you blog, please do join in, reading the the guidelines first to get you going.

Blood Orange, Cavalo Nero and Fregola Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

adapted from Vallebona’s recipe for Cavalo Nero, Blood Orange and Almond Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 100g dried weight fregola,
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 200 g Cavalo Nero (also known as Black Kale or Black Cabbage)
  • 1 tsp flakey sea salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • handful of sliced almonds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Soak the Cavalo Nero in plenty of cold water.
  2. Cook the fregola in lots of boiling, salted water for 10 minutes; drain, rinse and set aside.
  3. in the meantime, segment the oranges by slicing off the top and bottoms, then vertically running a knife between the flesh and the pith, following the curve of the orange. Then segment by slicing out the flesh from between the membrane. Cut these segments into 2 or 3 pieces each and set aside.
  4. Squeeze all the juice out of the membranes into a separate bowl. Juice the lemon into this bowl too and set aside.
  5. Drain the Cavalo Nero and remove the stalks and discard. Slice the leaves into 1 inch pieces then chop a couple of times.
  6. Sprinkle the salt and sugar over the Cavalo Nero then pour over the combined juices. Massage (squelch) the leaves with the mix of salt, sugar and citrus juices for 4 or 5 minutes to break down the fibres and soften the leaves. Pour over the olive oil and massage again for a minute or so then set aside for 15 – 20 minutes.
  7. Toast the almond slices until golden brown.
  8. When ready to eat, toss the Cavalo Nero with the blood orange pieces, the cooked fregola and the toasted almond slices. Toss and serve.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.