Jane's Delicious Garden Blog

Stir fried rice with a difference

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the March 16th, 2018

Stir fried rice is one of my comfort foods. From a simple snack of just rice and egg, to a far more robust meal with cashew nuts, chicken and loads of vegetables, it is always satisfying. 

Tonight I mixed it up a bit and created a different version – and it was deeeelicious!! A vegetable stir fry topped with crispy egg rice, with a chilli sauce sprinkled on top. 

Start by making the chilli sauce:

  • Finely chop a jalapeño or two and put in a bowl with the seeds. Add 3 Tbs of fish sauce, juice of one lime and 1.5 Tbs Verjuice (or sugar dissolved in hot water). Set aside for flavours to develop. 

Stir fry the vegetables (you can use any you have)

  • Slice long purple eggplants into thin rounds and stir fry in peanut oil 
  • Add cubes of zucchini and slivers of garlic. Stir fry. 
  • Add kernels of one sweet corn and a sliced black mushroom. 
  • Add soy sauce to taste and sprinkle with Japanese chilli (nanami togarashi) to taste. 
  • Add roughly chopped cabbage. 
  • Remove from heat and keep warm. 

For the crispy rice:

  • Heat peanut oil in a wok. Over lowish heat add cooked long grain rice. Cook, stirring often,until it begins to turn brown. 
  •  Whisk two eggs  with a fork and add a dollop or two of soy sauce.  
  • Pour eggs over rice and turn heat up slightly. Keep stirring, scraping egg and rice mixture off the bottom of the pan as it cooks, until the egg is completely cooked. Add crisp fried onions and stir through.

Serve vegetables in the bottom of a bowl, topped with the rice. Sprinkle with the chilli sauce to taste. 

Jozi morning

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the March 15th, 2018

We had to go to the Fox street Magistrates’court house this morning. 

Popped into 1 Fox afterwards to Urbanologi. 

It was a bit too quiet and early to eat there so we just took some pics. 

And then went to the House of Schwarma in Fordsburg, which is always buzzing, no matter what time of day. 

Their delicious Saj  bread is made throughout the day outside the restaurant. 

Love this city.

Autumn yum

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the March 14th, 2018

I am blessed to have a walnut tree in my garden. The dogs always let me know when it’s harvest time. The walnut shells start appearing – beware of walking barefoot. 

Swiss chard with walnuts

  • Cook a couple of handfuls of walnuts in bacon fat (reserved from below)
  • Add 2Tbs pul biber and stir through
  • Add a bowl of chopped Swiss chard leaves (reserve the stems for below).
  • Sauté for a minute or two. Add (to taste) a sprinkle of salt, a dash of sugar and a squeeze of lime juice 

Autumn means it’s time for heartier meals. This recipe makes use of leftover chicken, with Swiss chard stems, apple flavoured bacon (from Linden cheese Gourmet) and fresh Scarlet Runner beans. These are neon pink when prised from their green sheaths. As they cook they turn light mauve and have a delicious meaty flavour. (Below you can see younger ones on top and more mature ones below.) 

A mix-it-up rustic stew (Spot the smiling bean in the middle!)

  • Put leftover roast chicken in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 15 minutes. 
  • Slice a fresh red onion and cut long purple eggplants into fingers.  Cook in olive oil (stirring often) until they just soften. About six minutes. 
  • Add shaved garlic and cook for few minutes more. 
  • Add sliced big black mushrooms
  • Add scarlet runner beans and chopped Bright Lights Swiss chard stems. Cook for a minute or two. 
  • Add a little butter and a couple of teaspoons of flour. Add 1Tbs dried oregano, 1tsp cumin powder, 2tsp pul biber and 2tsp paprika.  Stir through and cook for a minute or so, stirring. 
  • Shred the chicken and add to pot with the water. Add a good few glugs of beer. Stir through, cover and simmer.
  • In a separate pan, cook  apple bacon until crisp, drain (reserve the fat for above recipe)  cut into pieces and add to stew
  • Add chopped fresh parsley and basil. Add salt to taste. 
  • Serve with basmati rice and the walnut dish above. 

Fresh and Easy

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the March 12th, 2018

Creamy chicken and mushroom pasta

This is a classic. Simple and delicious. 

  • Sprinkle dried mixed Italian herbs over two skinless chicken breast fillets. Leave to sit  while you make the salad and prep other ingredients. 
  • Finely slice three large garlic cloves
  • Cut three big brown mushrooms into thick slices
  • Chop a handful of chives and parsley. 
  • Cook the chicken breasts in a cast iron pan in a little olive oil until just browned on both sides. Remove and set aside.
  • Add more olive oil and add garlic, sauté for a minute or so then add mushrooms. Keep stirring (add more oil if needed) for few more minutes. 
  • Slice chicken breasts and add to pan. Sauté and stir for a few minutes. 
  • Add a good few grinds of black pepper, a sprinkle of mild chilli flakes and salt to taste. Add a glug of beer. Stir through. Simmer a minute or two. 
  • Add a cup of cream and the fresh herbs. Stir through. Add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water.  Simmer until thickened slightly. Serve with fettuccine pasta. 

Cos lettuce, courgette shoelace and avocado salad. 

A crisp and bright salad. The  perfect complement to creamy pasta. 

  • Using a zester, strip a courgette into shoelaces. 
  • Mix with white wine vinegar (just a little), pepper, salt and sugar. Toss. 
  • Mix with torn up cos lettuce and slices of avocado pear. 
  • Top with thin shavings of Asiago cheese and a few grinds of black pepper. 

Sugar and Spice and All things Nice!

Posted in Travels by Jane Griffiths on the March 6th, 2018

One of the great joys of travelling is discovering new flavours, tastes and ingredients. In Madagascar – I was in heaven! Influenced by African, Indian, Malay, Arabic and French cultures, Malagasy cuisine is diverse and delicious. And with a sub-tropical climate, the local ingredients are intriguing.


The road south from Ankarana National Park to Nosy Be is dotted with villages and market towns. We stop to browse.

IMG_9959 (2)

THB – Three Horse Beer is very popular and quickly becomes our favourite choice.


Cheerful vendor advertising his wares.


The French legacy of delicious baked baguettes.


There is plenty of snack food to go . . .

Rice paddies (5)

We travel past many rice paddies – the staple diet of Madagascar.


And have to stop often for herds of Zebu


Until we arrive at Plantation Millot





Established by Frenchman Lucien Millot in 1904 this plantation continues the age old tradition of growing a cornucopia of fruit and spice delights, from cacao to vanilla, pepper to pineapples.


The climate and soil here are ideal for the finest cacao to be grown. Seedlings are grown in a “greenhouse” created by palm fronds. The growing medium is extremely fertile Zebu manure.

Cacao growing (6)

Cacao harvesting (7)

Cacao harvesting (8)

The rare Criollo variety that was initially introduced has evolved into hybrids such as Trinitario and Forastero, with unique fruity flavours. Cacao from Plantation Millot is used by Valrhona and Lindt as well as many smaller boutique European chocolate manufacturers.



Once harvested, beans are covered with banana leaves and hessian and go through an acid and lactic fermentation process. This flavours the inedible raw beans and changes them to a reddish brown.

Cacao beans drying

Cacao beans drying (2)

Women sorting cacao beans (1)

After a few weeks baking and drying in the sun, they are sorted, mostly by women, and packed into bags to be shipped.

After a few weeks baking and drying in the sun, they are sorted, mostly by women, and packed into bags to be shipped.

Next – I discover vanilla, bread fruit, pepper and more.

If you want to follow in our footsteps go to Animal Tracks Islandventures to book your Madagascan adventure.

A Middle Eastern Feast.

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the March 3rd, 2018

Chicken thighs roast in spicy yoghurt. 

* Mix together: yoghurt, salt, pepper, pul biber (mild Turkish pepper flakes) garlic powder (I grind my own), cumin, dried oregano and lime juice. 

* Add free range chicken thighs and rub so they are completely covered. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes and up to three hours. 

* Place in roasting pan, with marinade, and roast at 200 until cooked through (about 30-40 minutes). Place under the grill until skins are slightly blackened. 

White bean and courgette salad

* Using a zester, julienne strips off a large zucchini or similar marrow. 

* Add a can of cannellini beans (drained), sliced jalapeño, chopped parsley, chopped chives and cubes of stale ciabatta. 

* Mix together olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar. Whisk and stir into the salad. 

* Just before serving add crispy sun dried onions. 

Harissa eggplants and onion. 

* Slice two fresh red onions into quarters. 

* Slice eight small eggplants into quarters. 

* Toss together and mix with olive oil. 

* Roast at 200 until nearly soft, tossing once or twice.

* Add a spoonful of harissa paste and a couple of large dollops of yoghurt. Mix through and add salt to taste.

* Roast until eggplant is completely soft.  

Madagascan Magic

Posted in Travels by Jane Griffiths on the February 15th, 2018

I had been in Madagascar for half an hour and already could feel its magic. Our driver stopped the car a few kilometres from Nosy Be airport. As he walked into the plantation of gnarly trees on the side of the road, I thought it was for the call of nature. But no, he reappeared with a handful of creamy yellow flowers.

Ylang Ylang (3)

Ylang Ylang (1)

“Here, smell,” he said, crushing them under my nose. As the sweet fragrance filled the car, I realised this was ylang ylang, the exotic scent that gives Nosy Be its nickname of Perfume Island. Nosy Be is the largest of over 250 islands that surround Madagascar. It was our jumping off point to explore a small section of the north west of this magical country.

First stop was Vanila Hotel, one of many places named after the exotic orchid. Not surprising as 80% of the world’s vanilla comes from Madagascar.


It was a hard choice between the pool or the gorgeous ocean in front of the hotel – so we did both.


In the morning we heard thumping on our roof and when we investigated we found guys busy fixing the palm fronds. Many buildings in Madagascar are made using local materials, in particular the Traveller’s Palm or Ravenala madagascariensis.


This fascinating tree is not actually a palm – it is a close relative of our indigenous Strelitzia. The base of the leaf catches and stores rainwater, providing sustenance to a thirsty traveller – hence its name. Its symmetrical fan shape is instantly recognisable. The dried leaves create a beautiful pattern when used for thatching.



From Nosy Be we caught a boat to the mainland, getting caught in the morning rush hour.


Our destination was Ankarana National Park, a plateau on the north west of the mainland. Its 150 million year-old limestone has eroded away over the millennia to create a jagged grey spiky landscape. Getting there is not easy. The road has also eroded away and the driver of our 4×4 had to negotiate his way slowly. We averaged 20kms an hour.



On the way we stopped at a little restaurant next to a waterfall for a delicious meal made by local village women.

Beignets at the market

We ate tasty fritters followed by a chicken and tomato stew with rice. It had a leafy green in it that made my tongue tingle and mouth salivate. A unique culinary sensation. I later discovered the plant being sold everywhere in the markets and learned that it’s an Acmella oleracea, a member of the daisy family. If you eat the fresh flowers or leaves they make your mouth go numb, which is why it is also known as the toothache plant or buzz buttons.



On our lunch table was a superb hot and spicy chilli sauce in a recycled jar. If this didn’t straighten my hair nothing is going to!!!


After an eight hour journey we arrived at the park. And the next day we were ready to explore the magic of the tsingy – the local name for the karst limestone formations. To get there we hiked for a few hours through subtropical forests.



As the forest dropped away, we entered the tsingy.


It is a protected park and you have to go with a guide who knows where the designated pathways are.



Fascinating rock formations – a cross between a lunar landscape and coral.



A few tight squeezes . . .


A baobab on the way back just before sunset.


This was just day two of our Madagascan adventure, more to come . . .

If you want to follow in our footsteps go to Animal Tracks Islandventures to book your Madagascan adventure.

Veg galore!

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the February 5th, 2018

Tonight’s dinner:

* Roast eggplant with basil oil and dukkah

* Squash stuffed with cherry tomatoes, ciabatta and feta

* Crispy purple potato chips. 

* Cut a freshly picked eggplant in half lengthways. Score it deeply in a criss cross pattern. 

* Rub all over with basil blended with olive oil, mounding the basil on the cut side. Sprinkle with black pepper.  

* Sprinkle with dukkah. Bake at 200 until melting (about 30-40 minutes.)


* Cut a ‘lid’ out of a medium size round squash. Scoop out the pips and steam the squash (and lid) until just tender. 

* Mix together stuffing: cherry tomatoes (sliced in half), crumbled feta , ciabatta cubes fried in olive oil til crispy, basil blended in olive oil, pine nuts, dried crispy onions and finely sliced red onions (marinaded in red wine vinegar and dried oregano for an hour). 

* Fill steamed squash with stuffing, bake at 200 for ten minutes then place under grill for a few minutes to brown. 


* Slice two purple potatoes in thin slices. Steam with the squash til tender. 

* Sauté in olive oil, turning often, until crisp. 

* Sprinkle with sea salt. 

Fresh summer lasagna

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the February 1st, 2018

Cherry tomatoes popping with flavour. Eggplants, mellow  and melting. All wrapped up in sheets of pasta, dripping with cheesy sauce and fresh basil. On the side, a fig, feta and avo salad. I don’t want summer to end!

Summer Lasagna 

* Cut two eggplants into chunky slices. Cook in olive oil until soft, adding some chopped garlic half way through. 

* While eggplant is cooking make a white sauce with butter and flour, adding plenty of paprika and dried Italian herbs. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese, pepper and salt. 

* Cut cherry tomatoes in half and roughly chop a bunch of basil. 

* Put a little of the cheese sauce on the bottom of an oven proof dish. Add a layer of lasagna sheets. 

* Add the eggplant in one layer. Pour some of the cheese sauce over. Add a layer of lasagna sheets.  

* Add the cherry toms in one layer. Pour some of the cheese sauce over. Add a layer of lasagna sheets.  

* Pour the last of the cheese sauce on top and add  grated mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with paprika and top with a spray of cherry toms

* Bake at 200 for 20 minutes. 

Fig, avo and feta salad. 

* Slice fresh figs in quarters. 

* Cut feta and avo into chunks. 

* Toss with lettuce and serve with balsamic and olive oil. 

Falling in love (again) with phyllo.

Posted in Garden Diary by Jane Griffiths on the January 17th, 2018

I’d forgotten how delicious and easy phyllo pastry is. Tonight I made a pie using mushrooms, leftover chicken and potatoes. So easy and yum. Served with a tomato and haloumi cheese salad. 

Easy Phyllo pie 

* Slice leftover roast potatoes into cubes and sauté in olive oil. 

* Add halved portobellini mushrooms. Sauté for a few minutes. 

* Add shredded leftover roast chicken and cook over low heat. 

* Add a good few glugs of beer and sliced spring onions. Add salt,  pepper and pul biber to taste. Simmer a little more but don’t let it dry out. 

* Layer phyllo pastry in a round pie dish, brushing roughly  with melted lemon butter as you go (every second layer should be brushed). Leave  edges sticking out.

* Add mushroom mix to pie dish. Turn the edges of pastry over the top, brushing layers as you go. Put a few more buttered squares/pieces on top. 

* Bake at 200 for ten minutes or so til nicely browned. Serve with:

Haloumi and tomato salad 

* Slice haloumi and cook in butter til browned on both sides. 

* Layer the following on a platter:

  • Yellow zucchini zested into long strips.
  • Cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • Cooked haloumi cheese 
  • I added leftover diced gemsquash – optional!
  • Basil chiffonade
  • Crisp onion (from any Indian slice shop). 
  • Dukkah
  • Salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve salad with a  bowl of lettuce and olive oil and fig balsamic. 


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