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In The Kitchen with Cookbook Author Chantal Lascaris

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In The Kitchen with Cookbook Author Chantal Lascaris

In The Kitchen with Cookbook Author Chantal Lascaris

Chantal Lascaris is the woman behind the All Sorts series of cookbooks – Salads, Healthy Dishes, One Dish Wonders and the latest addition All Sorts of Tapas. Despite having four cookbooks under her name, she insists she is a home cook, not a chef. She is also a qualified Pilates instructor and her interests in health, nutrition and travel are big influences in the recipes she creates.

 

On the heels of her latest cookbook, I asked Chantal a few questions on her cooking inspiration, cooking tips and must have kitchen items.

 

Q

Where did the inspiration for All Sorts of Tapas come from?

 

A

My inspiration comes straight from the source ? the bustling nightlife of the Spanish tapas bars and, especially the pintxos bars of San Sebastian that I adore for their exquisite flavours. I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time in Spain and love the enthusiasm that the Spaniards have for the sheer joy of eating and drinking. They seem to approach each dish as if it were a celebration.

 

I love the way that eating tapas is not a solo affair; they are meant to be enjoyed with the people around you. You’re not all just focused on your own dish, rather you’re passing plates around and constantly connecting and sharing while you eat.

Tapas are also the perfect way to satisfy those indecisive taste buds and avoid your food FOMO when you can’t quite decide what you want to eat. What I also enjoy about this way of eating is that I don’t only have to eat them when I’m entertaining or cooking for others, they’re just as good to snack on all by myself.

So, I brought these ideas home and created my own more South African version of Tapas, which resulted in this my latest book in the All Sorts series.

 

Q

What is your best tip to make food that is tasty, healthier?

 

A

I like to use healthy substitutions where I can. If you’re eating a wrap, make it wholewheat. The same applies to pasta, rather use the wholewheat varieties. When sugar is required for sweetening, rather use honey and when you need mayonnaise think about using Greek yoghurt instead.

Another point to remember is just because it tastes good, doesn’t mean you have to have second or even third helpings, it’s best to eat in moderation.

 

Q

What is your first food memory?

 

A

Sitting around the kitchen table in my grandparents’ house. Dipping home-made rusks into very weak tea. I still make those rusks today!

 

Q

What role does food play in your life?

 

A

For a long time while I was still in the clothing business, I enjoyed good food, but never really enjoyed cooking. I then renovated my kitchen and realised that the kitchen has more to it than the fridge which keeps the milk for my tea.

 

Now food is an integral part of my life, both as enjoyment and for staying healthy. Food also brings people together. Mealtimes are perfect for family bonding and reducing stress.

 

I love the creativity around food, experimenting with flavours and textures is a real joy for me.

 

Q

What items do you always keep in your fridge?

 

A

I always have fresh lemon juice in my fridge…. and my freezer. I’m lucky enough to have a number of lemon trees in my garden so when the lemons are ripe, I like to squeeze them and I put their juice into ice trays. One or two blocks are perfect for salad dressings.

 

I also have 2 other staples, that don’t sit in the fridge, but I can’t go without, that’s garlic and olive oil.

 

Q

What is your favourite recipe from All sorts of Tapas?

 

A

Gosh that’s a difficult one, I enjoy them all! But I guess from the desserts, I really enjoy the rooibos pana cotta. I actually served that to some friends last weekend and it’s always really popular. It’s also not too sweet so it goes well with a variety of main courses. For a savoury dish, I really enjoy the pepper crusted tuna with wasabi mayo. It looks quite fancy but is surprisingly easy to put together and there’s just enough bite with the wasabi which you can easily get in supermarkets nowadays.

Q

What is your favourite kitchen appliance?

 

A

I have 2 – My hand blender and my mezzaluna. I find a hand blender is a lot quicker to use than say a liquidiser or a food processor and is easier to clean.

 

The mezzaluna (It’s a knife with 2 curved blades with a handle on each end, which you rock back and forth chopping to chop the herbs). I’m not a chef, I’m more a home cook, so to be honest, I can’t chop things quickly like the professionals. So this really helps me finely cut herbs and nuts etc in quite a short space of time.

 

Q

What is your go to healthy meal that’s quick and easy?

 

A

Wraps are readily available and so useful, I always have them in my fridge, especially the wholewheat variety for added health benefits.

 

In All Sorts of One Dish Wonders there’s a recipe called ‘Pork and Black Bean Fold-overs’ which is one of my favourite quick and easy meals. I sometimes substitute the pork with a different protein, which makes it so versatile. You can always use ready-made salsa but there is nothing better than making your own.

 

Q

A lot of the recipes in your cookbook are perfect for entertaining, what is your advice on catering for different food tastes?

 

A

I always make the time to check with my guests beforehand on their eating preferences or whether they’re allergic to anything. This way I don’t get any unwanted surprises when serving – like putting lamb in front of a vegan! Also, I don’t try to be too exotic as not everyone will either know what is in front of them, or they’ll feel uncomfortable with what’s been presented. So I don’t serve tripe or anything like that.

 

I think simple food that is lovingly prepared and beautifully presented is the best.

 

In The Kitchen with Cookbook Author Chantal Lascaris

 

All Sorts of Tapas is published by Penguin Random House and is available here. Get Chantal’s recipe for Spicy Keema Cups from her latest cookbook here

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