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An African Festive Feast

CELEBRATE WITH US AT OUR CHRISTMAS FEAST!🥂🌟☃🍾🎄🎁

So many are, and I cannot imagine what it is like for those without family or friends to share a toast and a roast. We can do a little to change that! 💖

COME ONE COME ALL to our family Christmas Feast. 🥂 As you may or may not know, I host supper clubs and dinner parties where strangers come together and enjoy a feast of vibrant African inspired food as friends. 🥂

For Christmas, I will like to invite those who are alone, those who have no chance of celebrating with Christmas cheer, for a warming roast on Dec 22nd, with African warmth and hospitality in our home on the southern coast in Eastbourne.

Tickets are available here for those who can afford to book tickets. This way we can welcome as many as possible to dine with us. BOOK HERE on WEFIFO.

You can also write to me at lerato@leratolovesfood.com to nominate yourself, refer others or of you have booked a place, bring someone in need for a special treat at no cost and we will treat them to a wonderful Christmas lunch! ☃❄🍽🎄🎁🤗

Christmas is very special to many of us, and I cannot think of a better time to share what I and many of you cherish so dearly, good food with friends and family!

Menu

Vegan Moroccan Pumpkin Soup with Plantain Crisps

 

My Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Plantain Crisps is just perfect for the season with warming and aromatic spices, and crispy sweet plantains. All lovingly and easily homemade. This is a great recipe to customise with more chilli if you want more heat, and with coconut cream for a lighter and creamier texture. This soup is on my winter cookery class menu, and at my dinner parties, I often serve Pumpkin Pepper Soup, my Nigerian version of this using pepper soup spices. I will share this recipe soon. This is fabulous served as a starter, a soup course or in cute little cups as canapes. Plantain crisps make these a wonderful marriage of North African and West African flavours and I love any excuse to enjoy them as crouton substitutes in salads, soups and in baked goods. The list is endless!

Click here for the recipe for my healthy baked plantain crisps and use it in this soup and in all your other favourites.

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Baked Plantain Crisps

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Sumptuous blended soup

My secret to enjoying seasonal cooking is using the best of the season. Picking the right produce makes all the difference in your roasts, soups and stews. Like kids in a candy store, Thurston and I went to Sharnfold Farm, a lovely farm and shop in Hailsham, just a few miles from Eastbourne where local produce and seductive pots of condiments are just waiting for food lovers to enjoy.

Pumpkins picked, now let’s get cooking!

Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Plantain Crisps

Cooking time: 60 – 70 minutes

Feeds 4 – 5 people

Ingredients

1 – 1.5 kg pumpkin

120 ml olive oil

1tsp cumin

1tsp coriander

1tsp cinnamon

1tsb turmeric

1tsp paprika

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

½ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2 shallots,

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

1 celery stick, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 red chilies, destalked and chopped

800 ml vegetable stock, or 1 stock cube dissolved in water

1 tsp fine sea salt

Plantain crisps  (see recipe here)

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

 

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Cut off the top and bottom of the pumpkin so that it sits flat on your chopping board. Cut into 4 – 5 wedges, pull apart and scoop out the pulp and seeds using a spoon. Save the seeds and roast later at 180C with olive oil. Since my pumpkin is about 2 kilograms, I’ll use about half, while I peel and chop the rest into cubes and freeze for another delicious recipe. Place your pumpkin wedges in a baking dish or baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, brush the fleshy part with olive oil and turn skin side up to roast. This way the fleshy part of the pumpkin steam cooks without browning excessively. Roast for 40 minutes in the middle of the oven.

2. While the pumpkin is roasting prepare the base for your soup. Chop one onion, three shallots and mince the garlic. I like using both onions and shallots as they have varying flavours and I particularly love shallots for their sweetness. Chop the celery, carrots, red chilies and set aside.

3. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil, on low heat sweat the onions, shallots, and garlic for 5 minutes. As they turn a light golden hue, add the dry spices but leave out the salt for now. Add the chopped carrots and celery and red chilies, stir and add a splash of water, cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.

4. Once the pumpkin is roasted, check for doneness by poking into it with a small knife. If it goes in and out with no resistance, it is cooked. If not cooked through, not to worry, you can finish it off in the pot. Peel and discard the skin of the pumpkin and add the roasted flesh to the pot.

5. Add 800ml of stock and bring to the boil, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Take it off the heat and taste for seasoning. Add a teaspoon of salt if required. I left salt for last because sometimes the salt in the stock is just sufficient. Carefully transfer to a blender or using a hand blender, and whizz until silky smooth. Pour your soup back into the pot and serve to your heart’s delight!

Serve with a final flourish of crumbled plantain crisps and pumpkin seeds. You can roast the seeds from your pumpkins for 15 minutes at 180C or use store-bought seeds which are perfectly alright.

Now tuck into this warm hug in a bowl!

Cook’s tip: Add more chili for a hotter soup and after blending add 200ml coconut cream or for a creamier texture, although this soup is quite creamy already! 

If you enjoyed this recipe, do like and share it with friends and family. I love reading from you and sharing recipe photos, so do share yours along with questions & ideas in the comment section below and on twitter @leratotomato or Instagram @lerato_tomato

Remember to use the hashtag #leratolovesfood so I can find your posts.

Happy cooking! x

Enjoy a Vibrant Contemporary African Feast at Home with my Private Dining Experience

 

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Jollof Quinoa, Salmon with Grains of Paradise, Radish, Red Chicory & Kale Efo

For a special treat this season, book my PRIVATE FESTIVE DINING EXPERIENCE with a 4 Course customised menu including Canapés & Cooking Demonstration for £65pp.

Exclusive vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian menus and options are available at your request.

Please send an email to bespoke@leratolovesfood.com with your request or fill out the form below and you will be contacted as soon as possible to plan your special treat.

*This package is for a minimum of 10 people. Bookings for a lower number of people can also be discussed.

*Price excludes service charge, any additional hire of crockery, special menu with more courses or entertainment requests. Subject to availability and location.*

Recipe on Youtube: How to make healthy plantain chips

I am yet to meet anyone who does not love plantain crisps or chips! A joy to eat, they are so delicious and are a popular street snack in West Africa. They can be fried or baked and seasoned for both sweet and savoury snacks. Plantains are in the banana family, but they have a much higher starch content and need to be cooked in order to be properly digested.

For this recipe, I used ripe plantains which are yellow and softer than the unripe green variety. These are dehydrated for up to two hours at 100C (fan). Yes, two hours! Low and slow will produce the perfect crispness. Be prepared to use more than one tray for two plantains. Unripe plantains take less time to dehydrate but are not always easy to find or to keep unripe for too long.

Plantain crisps are just wonderful as snacks, as croutons in soups and salads for a lovely sweetness and a light crunch. You can also try this recipe for my Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Plantain Crisps, ( coming soon). A hearty seasonal soup that is a hit at my dinner parties.

Let’s get cooking!

Cooking time: 1 – 2 hours

For 0.5l jar

Ingredients

2 large ripe (yellow) plantains 

1 tsp fine sea salt 

Freshly ground black pepper 

1 tsp paprika 

 

1. Pre-heat your oven to 100C.

2. Cut 1-2cm off both ends of the plantain. Using the tip of your knife, lightly cut into the skin from the top to the bottom. Use your thumb to pull the peel apart and discard.

3. Use a mandolin to cut the plantain into thin rounds or use a knife if, like me, you are terribly old-fashioned.

4. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, place the cut plantains onto the tray and bake for 2 hours at 100C. Watch careful every 30 minutes and turn if one side is sufficiently browned. 10 minutes before end of cooking time, crank up the heat to 110C to brown the plantain crisps.

5. Once ready take out of the tray to cool. Season whilst still warm, with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and paprika for extra heat. You can spray a bit of olive oil onto yours before seasoning if you wish.

Cook’s tip: Season your crisps with a variety of spices for a different treat every time. Try nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves for a Christmassy treat or olive oil, fresh rosemary and thyme for a wonderful herb infusion. 

 

If you enjoyed this recipe, do like and share it with friends and family. I love reading from you and sharing recipe photos, so do share yours along with questions & ideas in the comment section below and on twitter @leratotomato or Instagram @lerato_tomato

Remember to use the hashtag #leratolovesfood so I can find your posts.

Happy cooking! x

Lerato Loves Food Channel on Youtube

Hurrah! Finally I am so excited to share my new channel on youtube. There will be lots of cooking, eating and sharing African vibrancy with you all.

I hope you enjoy this journey with me as I will not only share recipes but also my relationship with food and what it means to me, Thurston, my husband, family and friends.

In the midst of my work and life running my food company I often forget to eat. Imagine that! Join me on this culinary journey to good health and a wealth of delightful food inspired by my beautiful continent shared with loved ones.

For new recipes each week, subscribe to my channel and click on the bell for instant notifications.

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Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Plantain Crisps

I’ve got a glowing recipe for Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin Soup and the perfect Plantain Crisps coming up, quite the marriage of some of the best of North and West African cuisine. Don’t miss it!

So exciting!

Happy cooking! x