Monday, September 13, 2010

Plenty of Ottolenghi...

Saturday was Cape Town's first real taste of summer, and I decided the only appropriate way to celebrate was to run out and buy a tube of self-tan. Ah, there's nothing quite like the chemical aroma of dihydroxyacetone delicately singing one's nostril hairs to fill one with the joys of the season...

In 4-6 hours I would be a few inches closer to resembling a healthy, hot-pant-wearing, roller-blading native Californian, rather than something that lives at the bottom of the sea. I needed a venue. I needed to be seen. I needed to find a location where the sun meets the alcohol amidst discreet sycophants and white linen.

We brainstormed and, after a few heated disagreements, I remembered reading a review on Casa Labia in Muizenberg, so we decided to make a booking... Boy was that a mistake.

We got there to discover that they only served wine by the glass (one kind), and bubbly by the bottle (one kind), and the reason for this was that they do not have a liquor licence. They couldn't have told us this over the phone when we made our booking?

The service was disinterested, the food average, and in general I felt my new tan was just not getting the attention it deserved. For future reference, Casa Labia is probably safest for breakfast.

They do have a very pretty museum though, which is worth a look...

And an even prettier view...

On to more uplifting matters — Yotam Ottolenghi's PLENTY has infected my brain. I can't stop thinking about it, and it took me two full weeks to decide which dish to make first.

This is the one I chose. Green pancakes with lime butter. Beautiful for brunch. I really don't think I need to say any more than that.

Green pancakes with lime butter
Serves 3 to 4

250g spinach, washed
110g self raising flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 free range egg
50g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
150ml milk
6 medium spring onion (100g in total), finely sliced
2 fresh green chillies, thinly sliced
1 free range egg white
olive oil

Lime butter
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
grated zest of 1 lime
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 tsp chilli flakes

1. First, make the lime butter. Put the butter in a medium bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until it turns soft and creamy. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Tip everything out on to a sheet of clingfilm and roll into a sausage shape. Twist the ends to seal the flavoured butter. Chill until firm.
2. Wilt the spinach in a pan with a splash of water. Drain in a sieve and, when cool, squeeze hard with your hands to remove as much moisture as possible. Roughly chop and put aside
3. For the pancake batter, put the flour, baking powder, whole egg, melted butter, salt, cumin and milk in a mixing bowl, and whisk until smooth. Add the spring onion, chillies and spinach and mix with a fork. Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and carefully fold it in to the batter.
4. Pour a small amount of oil into a heavy frying pan and place on medium-high heat. For each pancake, ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan and press down gently. You should get smallish pancakes, about 7cm in diameter and 1cm thick. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until you get a good golden-green colour. Transfer to kitchen paper and keep warm. Continue making pancakes, adding oil to the pan as needed, until the batter is used up.
5. To serve, pile up three pancakes per person and place a slice of flavoured butter on top to melt.


PS: I wish I could take credit for the image of the pancakes, but I can't — I scanned it from the book.

PPS: Don't miss out on this fabulous Eat Out competition — you could 'win the dining experience of a lifetime'. Doesn't that sound nice?

PPPS: Voting for the 2010 SA Blog Awards closes on Friday 17 September. I feel so dirty asking you this, but if you wouldn't mind voting just one last time...  (you can vote every 24 hours) x


  1. It is so bad that a restaurant does not tell you that when you book! Thanks for the recipe :)

  2. Those a fabulous pancakes! A wonderful way of celebrating the arrival of summer.



  3. The smell of self-tan will always remind me of my highschool days when my friends and I used to apply atleast 3 layers of the stuff in order to be properly brown...only resulting in very ORANGE legs after about 4 hours lol.

    Those pancakes look absolutely summer-licious! :)

  4. Ooh, love the recipe! Yotam inspires us to cook more wherever we live the world. Thanks for the beautiful and soothing post :)

  5. Savory pancakes-hhhmm...You've given me an inspiration for this weekend as we just entered Fall. I've voted several times-good luck I know you HAVE to win!!

  6. :) Love the 1st day of summer = fake tan story.., sharing the same hemisphere as you I know what you mean about wanting to celebrate & get rid of this Casper the ghost look I've had going on this winter. Bring on the summer!!!
    Green pancakes are pretty nifty too... & big pity about the restaurant not measuring up. Nothing worse.

  7. Mmm Green Pancakes look SO good, and lime butter? sista, yes. btw, don't worry, i live in california, and it is winter in sf right now.

  8. ottolenghi, i love his book and his style! in london i went to his lovely shop and had a wonderful lunch! he is soooo talented!
    your interpretation of his dish looks just great :)
    have a sweet day,

  9. Yup, I'm also of the whiter shade of pale variety, so all too familiar with the self tanner smell!

    Those pancakes look lovely with the flecks of spinach.

  10. These pancakes look so good! I was laughing as I was reading the self tanning drama LOL.

  11. so sorry that the restaurant was a let down always hard when you cook well to eat out LOL these pancakes look amazing

    have a great weekend Robyn Rebecca

  12. These green pancakes with the lime butter just look DIVINE, Robyn!!

    Too bad for the restaurant experience!!

  13. You and I share the obsession with that book. I love it so much that I have trouble making decisions about what to make. Glad you blazed the trail here and now I can't wait to try that recipe!

  14. Ottolenghi and his Palestinian right-hand man make a great team and the recipes are a harmonious blend of cultures, always with enough restraint. Love these pancakes, as they remind me of our Lebanese eggah, just Americanized.

  15. These pancakes look amazing - I have the first Ottolenghi book which is my most favourite cookbook (still saving up to get Plenty).

    Hope you are enjoying your break.