Supplied by McCain
Genevieve seems to love it when it’s her turn to cook for our Wednesday night dinner club, always showing off some fancy new recipe from a celebrity chef. Karabo often presents a creative twist on a beloved classic, and Lee sticks to the traditional family recipes she’s been practising since she was old enough to cook. I, however, find myself really dreading every fourth Wednesday night. I know it’s not a competition, but it always feels like one.
I can’t believe I have to go after Genevieve! She always pulls off these delicious meals, beautifully decorates the table and still has time to put on mascara. She hardly spends any time in the kitchen and makes the whole thing look effortless. That’s the type of thing that will win her the competition, not that there is one! And get me sent home, even though I am at home, and no one is ever eliminated, anyway!
I start cooking long before I think I need to, spend ages chopping and peeling, completing the meal only after my friends have arrived. The antics of Karabo’s son, Lee’s mother-in-law dramas, and Genevieve’s bad date sagas – I miss all the best stories while I’m trying to put the finishing touches on our dinner.
Based on the comments made in previous rounds, to really earn the recognition of a great home chef, you have to excel in three areas: presentation, nutrition, and flavour. The latter is my cooking Achilles’ heel. It’s not just the time it takes me to prepare my meals, but I always feel that it tastes just a bit bland. It’s such a simple thing, but I constantly doubt my ability to add the right amount of spices and flavourings to really enhance the taste of the food. I second-guess myself to the point where Gordon gets frustrated with me. (Not the angry British chef, my husband Gordon.)
This week was different, though. This week, it felt like I entered the competition with an advantage. It was as if I won a special reward challenge the last time I went shopping and came home with a bag of the new McCain Roast Vegetable Mix range. Who even needs an immunity apron? It’s not just that the perfect mix of vegetables was already conveniently peeled and cut, saving me lots of time, but it came with a sachet of harissa glaze too. (I went with the Mediterranean option, but there’s also a classic version with a balsamic glaze.) The harissa glaze perfectly complemented the natural flavour of the vegetables, which were so vibrant that they made the whole plate pop with colour. I didn’t have to overthink anything. All I had to do was pop it in the oven and serve.
There’s always that moment, after you have presented the food, that you watch as that first mouthful is sampled. I find myself carefully examining and reading into even the subtlest expressions on the judges’ faces – I mean my friends’ – for any clue as to what they really think of it. Instead of the poker faces I’ve come to expect, this time I could tell they were impressed. How could they not be? It was packed with nutrition, colour and flavour, and prepared in a short enough space of time for me to hear all the latest news and banter. This time the flavours of the harissa glaze whisked me away to North Africa – instead of back to the kitchen for more of that one sauce or seasoning that I thought it was lacking.
“You’re a master chef!” says Genevieve, “Your kitchen rules!” exclaims Karabo, “I want to come dine with you all the time,” says Lee. I agree! It’s as though McCain’s new Roast Vegetable Mix range was cooked up in heaven’s kitchen!
To learn more about the wide range of McCain frozen products, visit https://www.mccain.co.za/retail/products/