Aaah, the South African braai. That thing of legends that strikes fear into the hearts of English neighbours but brings South African neighbours together. The cross-cultural, non- language-biased, age-neutral activity that all South Africans indulge in with an equal fervour. Because, let’s be honest – who can resist the smell of food cooking over an open fire carried on the breeze of a warm summer’s day? In fact, we love it so much, we even created a day to celebrate them. You see, 24 September every year is Heritage Day, the day when we celebrate South Africa’s rich cultural heritage and diversity. But as interesting as what makes us diverse, is what makes us the same: we all love a good braai. So a couple of years ago, we also started celebrating a cheeky unofficial holiday on 24 September: National Braai Day. This year, we even have a braai anthem (WARNING: this video contains images that may produce extreme homesickness in South African expats!)
Even though Braai Day falls in deepest darkest Autumn over here in the Northern hemisphere, it falls in Spring in the South – so in fact if you are lucky, it is the brief window when BOTH hemispheres actually have the weather to braai. And when I invited my darling readers to submit their favourite braai recipe for Braai, the Beloved Country (my annual event and a pun on the title of a very famous South African book by Alan Paton), they did so with enthusiasm. Let’s se what’s on the grill today…
My lovely friend Barbara from Winos and Foodies joined us from Down Under to make dsomething I have meant to make for the longest time… but still have not: Beer butt chicken. Call me juvenile, but I can’t look at the pic without giggling Still, all that beautifully crispy skin is no laughing matter!
My DARLING blogMamma Colleen from Browniegirl came up trumps with not only one but TWO recipes – citrussy baked sweet potatoes AND baked smoked rainbow trout fillets! I can just imagine how well the sweet potatoes went with the salty smoked fish…
Over in Dubai, Edwina of the beautiful blog My Mezzaluna treats us to some gorgeous smoky photos and her recipe for a rosemary rub for lamb chops. As she says: “You cannot be South African and not love a good braai!”
Staying in Dubai for the next one, my friend Sally of My Custard Pie leaves behind all the carnivorous dishes we’ve had so far and does breakfast (or dessert!) on the braai. Her clever combo of grilled gingerbread with grilled pears gets my vote for the most indulgent braai breakfast ever!
Heading to the home of the braai now as we visit Rachel (aka Blondie) of Can Cook, Won’t Cook. Despite telling us in the post title that she’s “all braaied out”, she still comes up trumps with both pork sausage in mustard and bacon; and a salad of balsamic-roasted rosa tomato salad with spring onions. Doesn’t sound all braaied out to me at all
Across the Atlantic, my lovely poetry-loving friend Erin of The Endive Chronicles came skidding in the door just in time for the extended deadline with her amazing-sounding Spicy apricot pork ribs. The ribs were sooooo good that they were devoured before they could be photographed – but at least we get a pic of the sauce
Back in South Africa, my dear friend Kit of Food and Family fired up the braai and decided to push the boat out a little with ostrich fillet. She makes the most of a relatively expensive cut by creating Ostrich fillet and butternut kebabs - it’s a great flavour combination and well worth a try (especially since ostrich is increasingly available in other countries – we even have ostrich farms here in the UK!)
Closer to Cooksister HQ, right here in London, Abraham and Susan Chacko of Chacko’s Kitchen share some tips for cooking vegetables on the barbecue for vegetarian guests, as well as showcasing an amazing-sounding recipe for barbecue chicken with Indian spices. My mouth was watering at the very thought of all those flavours!
And an honourary mention must surely also go to Her Royal Highness the Pesto Princess herself Contessa Candice, who did not braai this time but posted her vegetarian braaier’s oath on her Facebook page. Beyond the call of duty!
And last but by no means least… there was ME, the CookSister, and my easy peasy recipe for whole seabass on the barbecue, written as part of my Corfu holiday impressions post.
So there you have it – the braaing done and dusted for another year (well, no, not really – we are actually braaing again TONIGHT as London is having a mini-heatwave!) A huge thank you to all who took part in this celebration of grilling and till next time – MAY THE BRAAI BE WITH YOU! (Click here if you want to se the 2010 braai recipe roundup.)
On another note, one of the things that has been keeping me and the other ladies of the Plate to Page workshop team (Meeta, Ilva and Jamie) busy over the summer has been the construction of our shiny new Plate to Page website! The good news is that the site is now up and running – do go and take a look and have abrowse around! We have also been hard at work sourcing sponsorship for the event and the all-important goodie bags – it’s always a long road building a sponsor relationship and in these economic times it is often difficult to persuade any company to make a marketing outlay. But it is wonderful to see that a number of international companies have been happy to put their faith in our abilities as instructors and creators of this workshop, sponsoring food and kitchen items for our participants. We are eternally grateful to them: THANK YOU to ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS, Sunchowder’s Emporia, Taste of Home, Gourmelli,Smaromi Spices, OXO and most recently, South African superstars Peppadew. You rock our world. (read more about each sponsor here on the Tuscany sponsor page on our website.
Although the workshop has been fully booked for some months, earlier this week we also surprised the people on our HUGE waiting list by offering them 2 final places for the Tuscan workshop. Imagine our surprise then the places were gone within 5 minutes!! So with one month to go, we are literally counting down the days till we can welcome our 12 new participants – the incoming Plate to Page, Class of Tuscany 2011.