Green bean, red onion and rosa tomato salad……. Let’s cook for 50 at a good friend’s 50th…. Part 3 of 9…

For the Green bean, red onion and rosa tomato salad you need a “fairy” to finely chop the red onions for you, as per part 1 of 9, I demanded that a “fairy” chop the onions for me (2 bags full), as we made this salad four fold….

A very special thanks to my fairy, Evelyn Rust…

For the Green bean, red onion and rosa tomato salad you will need:
1 x bag fine green beans
1 x small punnet red rosa tomatoes
1 x red onion finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Maldon salt
Black pepper
Olive oil +/- 4 tablespoons

This salad can be made up to 4 hours in advance….

Cook the beans by adding them to rapid boiling water, +/- 4 cm’s deep.

There is really no ideal cooking time as the beans we used at the party cooked within 1 minute, but sometimes it takes up to 4 minutes depending on the beans you use. I test them every minute as you really don’t want to “over cook” them. They need to be just semi cooked and still firm. If you “over cook” the beans they will be grey in colour and too soft and not visually appealing.

Once cooked immediately drain and rinse under cold running water until completely cooled down. This will ensure the cooking process to stop and the beans will keep their bright green colour once cooled quickly.

Add the cooled beans to a big “zip lock” bag, add the tomatoes, chopped red onion, maldon salt, pepper and olive oil.

Seal the bag and give it a good shake, leave at room temperature to infuse…

This was one of four salads that featured at Mike’s 50th, more visual appealing recipes to follow…..

Visual yummynesssssss

This salad was a real hit with the girls…

Mediterranean skewers….. Let’s cook for 50 at a good friend’s 50th… Part 2 of 9

The Mediterranean skewers was on one of the “moodboards” I made for Shannon, it said at the bottom …….. “I don’t want you to feel you HAVE to use any of the ideas on the moodboards, I just want to get your brain going on something that might spark an idea you might like….” the skewers made it all the way to our lunch table…

Storyboard 1
(click on “storyboard-1” for a Microsoft Office Word version of one of the pre party storyboard/moodboards..)

We decided to serve “hand starters”, easier to get everyone to mingle….

For starters we served…
Smoked Salmon mousse served in espresso cups with cheese straws
Mediterranean skewers drizzled with a Red Wine vinegar reduction

The “birthday boy” busy busy busy, 2 hours before the guests arrive…

For the Mediterranean skewers you will need:
Medium length “sosatie” sticks
Green olives
Salami
Mozzarella blocks
Small Rosa tomatoes
Artichokes cut into small pieces
Red olives

Skewer one of each on the “sosatie” sticks and drizzle with reduced Red Wine vinegar reduction.

Skewer them all in the same pattern….

For the Red Wine vinegar reduction….
Boil together 125ml Red Wine vinegar and 60ml brown sugar, until slightly thick and reduced, remember it will thicken as it cools down.

We also served

Smoked salmon mousse in espresso cups… served with cheese straws.

The mousse was prepared the night before and the skewers about 3 hours before the lunch…. this gave us enough time to focus on the main meal…

The guests….

Time to start decorating the lunch table with visual appealing platters of yummy lunch…..

Let’s cook for 50 … the prep work…… Part 1 of 9….. endless hours of fun planning and cooking for a good friends 50th!

Mike started off by saying “I want everyone at my 50th who will attend my funeral”….. then it swinged around to supper for 4 couples and it ended off with “Let’s cook for 50 for Mike’s 50th” in his backyard. From the start I knew that this would be one of those “lets go all out” planning and fun filled events, with me assisting my blog partner in cooking for her husbands 50th…..

The menu was decided upon by Shannon, the “file” was prepped by myself with moodboards, shopping lists, table plans ect….

We started cooking after work on Friday afternoon, the menu was planned around a semi-cold lunch… just so much easier if you can prepare everything in advance, especially if you cook for 50, at home…

Friday late afternoon, lets start cooking…

Shannon and Evelyn started cooking at 4 in the afternoon, I phoned and asked them to ask “the fairies” to please start chopping the red onions for me ….

I arrived at Shannon’s house with Evie “my fairy” busy with the first item on my “to do” list…

We opened a bottle of bubbles……

The Menu
Salmon mousse cups with cheese straws
Mediteranian skewers drizzled with a red wine vinegar reduction

Fillet with salsa verde
Coronation chicken salad
Roasted balsamic beetroot and red onions
Cakestands packed with beautiful caprese basil and pesto tomatoes
Green beans with rosa tomatoes
Luke warm baby potatoes with pesto and parmesan

Wooden dessert boards overflowing with chocolate brownies, strawberries, turkish delight, nougat and shotglasses with lemon mousse…

Wooden cheese boards filled with Brie, Gorgonzola and cheddar blocks, biscuits, grapes, firm ripe red figs and almonds…

AND a small coffee table with plunger coffee and “Ouma Babsie’s Caramel biscuits”…..

So, lets start cooking….

Stefan (4Every Event) and Shannon setting up the tent in front of the Garage….

4 Every Event, the ALL YOU NEED for any event company…. located in Grabouw…. and supplying all over the Western Cape, we are soooo lucky having Stefan and Nadia close to us, with their stores filled with anything from bedouin tents to cutlery and stunnnning decor items, and Nadia, always there to give you that very inspiring idea to make any party a big stylish success….

The tables specially designed by “the birthday boy” …

The seating plan was carefully planned by the birthday boy, with a little help by myself in the form of a table plan and names, there’s just no other way to do this and get a good “visual” of who needs to sit where, so VERY important for the flow of the day…

The Birthday Boy…. and the seating plan…

We’ve decided for a set the table without tablecloths, to use lovely paper placemats, potted succulents and white roses…. with some odds and ends from 4 Every Event and our kitchen cupboards….

Evelyn, busy with another “job for the fairies” I just don’t have the patience….tie knots for the boys and bows for the girls

The tables, seating 25 each….

After a very long Friday evening it was time to go home, an early start tomorrow morning, and I told Shannon that I’ve arranged the weather, little did I know that I will meet a REAL Meteorologist at the party, all the way from Denmark, (some of you might know that I am a bit of a WEATER person…) who could have given me an insiders report on THE VALLEY FARM’S weather ……

Decadent chocolate tart……. part 5 of 5, Nieuview Paternoster

Let me start by saying, this is one of those recipes that will haunt me at night, and my mind will not rest until I taste it again and again…..

We found this “new version” of the Chocolate Tart on The Pretty Blog about two weeks before our weekend away, we did amend it slightly but it introduced us to one magical ingredient….. I think that this tart ended the weekend with a BIG smile on my face, and the secret ingredient, the very simple “nutti crust biscuit base”.

For the Chocolate Tart you will need:
1 x loose bottom fluited quiche / tart tin, preferably one that is about 4 cm high…
400g very fine nutti crust biscuits (a caramel flavoured dry biscuit)
120 g melted butter
200g dark chocolate, chopped finely
300g normal milk chocolate, chopped finely
500ml cream
butter for greasing the tin
A little bit of whipped cream for serving

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Grease the tin well with butter. Mix together the fine nutti crust biscuits and melted butter, line the base and the sides of the tin with the biscuit mixture, we used our fingers and a flat bottomed glass to firmly even out the biscuit base, it is quite important to seal the whole bottom and the sides with the mixture as the filling is very liquid and will seep through if the base is not properly lined with the buttery biscuit mixture….

Bake the biscuit base for about 15 minutes, make sure the biscuits don’t turn too brown, all the ingredients are already cooked, but the butter and biscuit mixture needs to “seal” during the baking process…

In a small saucepan, heat the cream until just before boiling point, add the chopped chocolate and stir through, keep on stirring slowly until all the chocolate has melted. Initially it will look as if it won’t melt, but just keep on stirring. It should turn into a glossy chocolate liquid….. If the warm cream don’t melt the chocolate completely, hang the mixing bowl over a pot with hot water, make sure the water in the pot don’t touch the bottom of your bowl… but this should not be necessary… the melting process can take up to 5 minutes so don’t rush it.

Pour this glossy chocolate mixture onto the biscuit base and refrigerate of at least 6 hours….. It should set firmly….

Once set, and ready to serve, remove the side of the loose bottom tin, and with one firm but gentle movement slide the tart off the base of the thin onto a serving platter. Decorate with fresh berries and dust with icing surgar. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Nieuview in the evening light

We closed off this festive weekend with writing messages on sky lanterns and sending them up in the air….

Our “chef” and her hubby…

You cannot turn 40 without a couple of friends dancing for you, this was quite funny and very late…

And this is me, ending my day doing what i love… on the beach, late at night taking pictures of Nieuview….

I could not have asked for a better weekend or a nicer 40th Birthday. Surprising my friends with an early morning kayak trip, a lovely breakfast at a different guest house, a lazy afternoon at the pool and Shannon cooking up a storm for my 40th dinner, sending sky lanterns with messages and taking pictures on the beach at midnight….

If i can have my 40th over again, I will do everything exactly the same…

Just a pity that tomorrow morning we all need to go back home, but Nieuview had a special extra surprise waiting for us…

Nieuview saying “goodbye” … pic taken from the veranda at Nieuview…

Thanks to a very special group of friends for making my birthday a weekend I will remember for the rest of my life..

Peach and tomato summer salad………. part 4 of 5 at Nieuview, Paternoster

As part of the Main Birthday dinner at Nieuview, we made this lovely zingy Peach and Tomato salad, i will be making this a lot this coming summer, there’s something brave about the combination of a sweet peach and a zingy red wine vinegar soaked, salty tomato…. one of those taste combinations that takes your breath away, mmm or it might be the red wine vinegar that took my breath away…

For the Peach and tomato summer salad you will need:
4 Firm but sweet and ripe peaches, preferably the soft fleshy ones, don’t use yellow cling peaches…sliced with skin on.
2 cups of tomatoes, use small rosa tomatoes chopped in half
1 red chilli, finely chopped
Juice of one lemon
a handfull of finely chopped parsley
one red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
olive oil
Maldon sea salt and black pepper

Prepare all the ingredients, try to cut the peaches over a bowl in order to catch all the juices running off, add the peach juice, if any, to the salad.

Mix all the ingredients together and serve at room temperature……

The only rule of the weekend was, “on Sunday morning, the day of my Birthday, everyone had to be on the beach at 6:30, in their costumes”, no questions asked, no matter what time we got to bed the night before, BE ON THE BEACH AT 6:30…………

I’ve arranged with Dianne Heesomgreen to take us paddling early Sunday morning as a surprise to my guests on my Birthday, it was a perfect morning and when Dianne “told” me to go and put my camera away, I told her that my camera goes where I go, and so we went off on the kayak’s with our camera’s in zip lock bags….

Surprise Kayak trip for my friends on my birthday…

Some of us have done this before…

I cannot think of a better way to start my birthday, this was truly beautifull….

And back at Nieuview, after a couple of “kayak rolls” coming back to the beach, we had a lazy sun filled day, full of laughs and yet more gifts….

Shannon, time to go and play in the kitchen…..

We’ve decided that we will be cooking a late afternoon Birthday dinner, this is what we do, we love cooking, and this house was so perfect for just that, all open plan with 360 degree sea views. I am not tooo sure how this happened, but between Evie and myself, we somehow missed capturing the prepping of the main birthday dinner as well as the meal itself, BUT I did capture the finale to this special weekend, THE chocolate tart….. to follow a bit later….

Mango and Raspberry skewers….. part 2 of 5 at Nieuview, Paternoster

Waking up on Saturday morning, hearing someone busy in the kitchen, and this is the view from the front stoep……

The view from our stoep at Nieuview, Paternoster…

How decadent to have a “starter” to our Breakfast…

For the Mango and Raspberry skewers you will need:

Firm but ripe Mango’s
Raspberries
Medium length sosatie sticks
A little bit of lemon juice

Skewer cubes of mango and raspberries, drizzle with a little bit of lemon juice.

The breakfast table…. thanks Shannon, Evie and Issie

Serve with ICE COLD Genevieve MCC, a match made in heaven…

ICE COLD Genevieve MCC…

And then, being surprised by some “early morning” gifts before Breakfast, and it is not even my Birthday yet…

Very special “one day in advance” gifts, feeling very spoil by my friends…matching PJ’s, thanks EVIE

And now it is BREAKFAST time, and guess what’s on the menu, obviously Eggs Benedict “with bacon”…. this recipe will follow at a later stage, it deserves a “special” spot on the blog….

Eggs Benedict, as Shannon knows, this was just one of several things that made this weekend extra special…

Wonder what’s for lunch Evie??

Purple figs wrapped in prosciutto with creamy Gorgonzola …. part 1 of 5 at Nieuview, Paternoster

The decision, a party or a weekend away with my friends for a special “you only turn 40 once” birthday celebration….

I chose a weekend away with friends, I supplied the accommodation and they cooked for me…. 4 blissful days at Nieuview, Paternoster.

These yummy soft warm figs were served by Shannon as snacks at the pool, overlooking the Paternoster beach…

For the Purple figs wrapped in prosciutto with creamy gorgonzola you will need:

8 soft purple figs
one small block of gorgonzola cheese
8 slices of prosciutto or parma ham

Cut the figs open, only halfway in a cross shape.
Place 2 x small pieces of gorgonzola inside each fig.
Gently wrap with prosciutto.
Bake at 180 degrees for about 10 – 15 minutes until the prosciutto is crispy and the soft gorgonzola oozes out….

Serve immediately….

Issie was in charge of the blueberry mojitos…

More “pool snacks” by Shannon…

Melon, Parma Ham and sweet white balsamic sauce, see recipe already on the blog…

NOW, let me show you Nieuview…. the secret destination… no one knew where we were going….

From the moment that i walked into Nieuview, i knew that i’ve made the right choice, this was the spot, EVERYTHING i wanted and soooo much more than expected….

Nieuview, situated on South Africa’s West Coast in the coastal town of Paternoster, the last house on the right…. it consists out of three units, sleeping 8, (adults only)… the units can be booked individually or as one large house, linked together with a covered entertainment area and small private pool overlooking the beach… as fully equipped as you can get… with a nearly 360 degree see view…

Nieuview… last house on the right, Paternoster, West Coast of South Africa…

Our bedroom, with a view…

A kitchen WITH A VIEW, …… the main cottage…

Main Cottage open plan kitchen and living area…

The “interleading area” between the three cottages overlooking the small splash pool and beach…

Pure relaxation with Shannon’s “pool snacks” on hand…

Over the next 4 posts I will show you more of “Nieuview”, i can really recommend this house for a “special weekend away” you need at least 3 days to fully enjoy this house, let your hair down and breathe in some fresh sea air…..

THIS is going to be one fun filled pure relaxation weekend…. i could not have asked for more….

A 40’th girly breakfast feast….

I’ve decided earlier this year NOT to have a big 40th Birthday party, but to rather go away for a long weekend (Paternoster Birthday weekend to follow on the blog a bit later).

Shannon on the otherhand had other ideas, as you will see in the pics to follow, not a lot of words needed here, i will let the pics speak for themselves.

Me and my “mystery” speaker…

I know my limitations and asked a friend to make my speach….. the best decision ever, I wrote it and Lee did a brilliant job of making the speach on my behalf, with all the emotion and laughs added…. thanks Lee, listening to my own speach was one of several highlights of the day, so glad I’ve managed to convince you to do it.

Table decor by “the princess” ….

The table set for a real girly breakfast feast..

Beautifull pic by “Carol Bradley”

I am lucky enough to have 3 friends that’s as happy snappy crazy about photography as myself, thanks for all the pics girls, I had 2000 pictures of this special day in my life, I knew I could completely relax as every moment would be captured for me, ….. that by itself was a huge gift..

The start of the breakfast starter… by my fellow blog partner… Shannon… or sometimes referred to as “the princess”

The princess at work…. doing what she does best….

I think Shannon aged a couple of years in the days building up to the breakfast, she is such a special friend, i know she wanted it to be perfect, and i know that is very stressful, Shannon, you know how much this meant to me, you are a truly special friend….

The Breakfast starter…

Thanks Evie…

Gifts galore, feeling VERY spoilt…

Carol you know what makes me happy…

VERY spoilt…

I had to think twice about posting this one, but i think it really captures the true emotion of the day…

The surprises just never stopped, a beautifull birthday cake by “Janis Viljoen”, thanks Shannon, Issie and Evie…..

These cakes by “Janis” don’t only look pretty, they tastes like heaven..

The biggest and nicest birthday cake I’ve ever had…

My speach, thanks Lee….

Me, enjoying my own speach, thanks to Lee

Lots and lots and lots of bubbles consumed…

My very special friend, how do i thank you ….

Shannon, this is what makes life extra special, ….. to have friends that gives their ALL and more for you…..

Big boy’s Birthday surprise!

This blog is not only about recipes and photography, it is about ideas i like and inspirational people in my life. Evelyn is one of those creative, inspirational, artistic friends….. when she plans a party, it will be different and as we can see in this “Big boy’s Birthday surprise” post, a great idea does not always have to cost a lot, it is the IDEA that counts, the different’ness from the rest….

About a year ago, Evelyn told me that she want’s to surprise her husband and his cycling friends with a picnic high up in the mountains… when Evie wants to do something, she makes it happen, and what better time to do it on the morning of Albert’s birthday. The friends who went cycling with Albert on his Birthday got more than what they bargained for, and Albert got a “new bike” from his friends and family about 5 minutes before the start of the ride.

I assume I don’t have to say how much fun me and Evie had, rushing up the mountain, getting the table ready before the first cyclists arrive at “the spot” we told them to cycle past…

Luckily we were very high up and could see them coming from far…

A quick stretch by the “Dr” on hand….

Let me tell you these guys could not believe their luck, i am sure they all thought that they also want a “birthday, cycle, picnic surprise” for their birthdays…. Evie, please keep these ideas coming, it is THAT DIFFERENT IDEA and the little bit of extra effort that makes memories forever like this one surely will be….