I’m going to be dead honest. I am not handling this coved-19, lockdown bullshit well. I have been an anxious wreck, and have had more than one, not so little breakdowns. A small comfort in all this is, is that I know that I’m not alone. No matter what productive Peggy with her Polly Anna on steroids personality keep posting on Instagram. I am not alone feeling less than fabulous during this time.

The finish product, incredible rolls.

Between the idea of a kak flu that can kill my loved ones or me, and staring down a cancelled season. I feel that its perfectly ok to feel less than fabulous. No matter what this Covid shit has put you in. It’s ok to not feel on top of the world, to not learn seven languages, and master the bagpipes during lockdown. Just look after you, and your loved ones the best you can. Even if that means everyday is pj day.

In fact for the sake of your neighbours sanity, please don’t try master the bagpipes.

Now the way I’ve been making myself feel better is cooking. Absolutely everything, and eating it all! Guilt free. Because its lockdown, fuck diets.

The posts that have gotten the most responses are the ones about bread. Am I popping out to the store just to get rolls? I’m incredibly anxious, so absolutely not. One of great things about having worked in the middle of no where is I have been taught incredible, simple bread recipes. This one I adapted from a combination of them, added steam to the oven, dusted the result with flour and boom baby I had Portuguese Rolls! Or Pao.

After flattening the pieces of dough, bring edges into the center to form a ball.

That being said, this recipe can be used to make a loaf of bread, or any kind of roll you wish. You can leave out the steam for a soft roll. If you choose to do this, I do recommend brushing the rolls (or loaf) with an egg wash to get it all gorgeous and golden. I feel that I don’t need to say this but I will, your cooking time will change for a loaf to about 30 minutes depending on size.

Using the side of your hand, and a circular motion. Roll and shape the roll.

This is a super simple recipe. Anyone can do it. I really mean that. The only thing is the steam in the oven. There are two methods to do this at home. The first is a spray gun, the kind that you use on plants. As you put the rolls in, give the oven seven to ten sprays as quick as you can. Then close the door to trap the steam, and heat inside.

Shaped rolls ready to proof.

The second method is, as you turn the oven on to heat, place a roasting tray or sheet pan at the bottom of the oven. As you put the rolls in the oven pour about a quarter of a cup of boiling water into the heated tray, and close the door quickly to trap the steam.

Why is the steam so important? It’s what makes the rolls all crusty and fabulous.

So, without further chit chat, here’s the recipe! When you make and fall in love with them, don’t forget to tag me in photos of your creations.

Stay home! Stay safe!

Wishing only the best to you and yours, love

The Gourmet Hippo

  • Caitlin Booker

Happy St Patrick’s Day everybody!

This day has special importance to anyone with Irish heritage (I get mine from my momma). As it is the day we celebrate the Patron Saint of Ireland, St Patrick. There are many legends about St Patrick, which I won’t go into here. But a nugget for any potential pub quiz you might find yourself in, his birth name is believed to be Maewyn Succat.

Me & my Mum when I was a youngen

Globally the day has become synonymous with boozy celebrations. But it is also a day to celebrate all aspects of Irish culture. The most important (in my opinion) being the food.

Irish cuisine is known for being flavorful, no fuss, and comforting. The dishes really are perfect for feeding families, or for when you feel like you need a hug.

The stereotype is that Irish people love potatoes. It isn’t far from the truth, as a lot of traditional dishes do contain potatoes. But, who doesn’t love a potatoe? Fresh, fried or fermented they are the VIP of vegetables.

Speaking of their versatility, today I’m going to share with you a potato bread recipe (also known as potato farl, or potato cake). This is the same recipe that my Grandfather made for my Mom when she was a tiny tot.

So, without further a due, here it is...

  • Caitlin Booker

Well cheers February! *sips wine*

Speaking of February, it‘s a leap year! Ladies you can propose to your man. If you’re born on the 29th Happy Real Birthday! I know a thirty-one year old turning 8.

(Did you have to think about that a bit? So did I *sips wine*)

Now if you are buttering up your man to say yes, or getting to celebrate a birthday for the first time in four years. There’s a sure fire way to make it delicious. I’m talking about my go to chill out, big group, small group, family or client favourite - a potjie.

I feel as if it’s time for a story detour! clears throat, sips wine*.

The first time I made this, it wasn’t a taste test with the family. But, for clients on my first ever catering gig in the bush. A group of super hungry men. Now, the South African guys in the group were very skeptical of my ability to produce a potjie of standard. Afterall, a potjie can go incredibly well, or come out a tasteless mushy mess. Thus, I was bombarded with a lot of unsolicited advice.

Being a stubborn little ass, I ignored all of it. Went with my gut, and produced this the potjie of potjies. This recipe led to one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received, not just a request to have it again; but the following comment: “I feel like I‘m a little child again, eating with my Grandmother.” I cannot express how happy that comment made me, and I will cherish it forever.

On to the potjie!

The basics. What size pot?

Potjie pots (cooking ones, not the decorative table ones) range from size 1/4 which can feed one person with side dishes, to a size 25 which has th capacity of 70,5 liters and can feed over 100 people with side dishes. The standard potjie I use is a size 4, which feeds up to 16 people with side dishes and about 8 people without.

How much meat?

This depends on your crowd. If they are big eaters up to 400 grams per person - think oh big burly men here. If they are is smaller eaters you can get away with 250 grams per person. If you are using meat with a lot of bones, go for a larger amount to be on the safe side.

What kind of meat?

Stewing meat is perfect, after all a potjie is a form of stew. However, be sure to add pieces with bone, from the neck, tail, or skenkel as the marrow from the bones adds incredible flavour. Most butchers in South Africa have packets of potjie kos these have a mix of bone in, and stewing chunks.

As is well documented I love cooking with venison. No surprise here, but this recipe was developed using venison. Because venison is incredibly lean I add fat in, in the form of cubed pork, or bacon, I have even used pork chops and pork sausages before. This enhances the flavour of the potjie. Using butter, or lard instead of cooking oil is also a nifty trick.

What about sides?

This is super easy, you want something that will absorb some of the sauce. Pap, or mashed potatoes are the best options in my opinion. But if you’d prefer rice, or small pasta shells you won’t be struck down by the culinary gods.

A fresh salad makes a great contrast to the homey comfort of the potjie, but don’t be offended if no one eats it because the potjie is too delicious.

Don’t forget a good bread such as a ciabatta or sourdough to mop up your plate with.

How long does it take?

As with all stews, and most curries the longer it cooks for, the more the flavours develope and the better it tastes. I start mine as early as possible, and aim for a cooking time not shorter than 4 hours.

Basics covered lets get cooking.

With love,

The Gourmet Hippo


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