Michael Van De Elzen: First week of Winter

Michael Van De Elzen ,
Publish Date
Sunday, 4 June 2017, 1:29PM

We are officially in winter now!

So with the colder days our kitchens come alive with soups, stews and casseroles. 

Funny as I was talking to my fishmonger this week and I asked him how was business, he said terrible ! You forget that with the colder weather people are turned off lighter seafood dishes in favour for the rich braised meat dishes.

Things like, braised lamb shoulder, sticky beef cheeks and smokey brisket come to mind. So wait for recipes including these to come throughout winter.

I personally turn to grains, as they are a great winter fuller in soups and stews. They are also cheap as chips which for a dutchman is always a bonus!

This week I'm on Bulgur wheat mission.

Bulgur wheat is a whole wheat grain that has been cracked and partially pre-cooked. As a whole grain, it is a naturally high-fiber, low-fat, low-calorie vegetarian and vegan food ingredient. 


Bulghur soup (serves 4)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 20 mins

½ cup bulghur wheat, rinsed

1 cup Puy lentils, rinsed

1 onion, roughly chopped

3 bay leaves

3 cloves

1 stock cube, chicken or vegetable

2 ltr water

2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper
1 cup chopped Italian parsley, to garnish

1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced lengthways, to garnish

Combine all ingredients except garnishes in a large pot. Bring to the boil, skim surface to remove impurities. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, skimming occasionally to avoid soup becoming cloudy. Remove chicken breasts, and shred meat back into soup by hand. Garnish with parsley and leek, and serve with oatmeal slice.


Oatmeal slice (makes 1 tray)

Prep time: 20 mins

Cooking time: 30 mins

45g dried apricots, roughly chopped

45g dates, roughly chopped

45g roasted almonds, crushed

45g pumpkin seeds

30g sesame seeds

½ tsp caraway seeds, crushed

30g LSA

190g wholemeal oats

pinch salt

95g butter

50g brown sugar

85g honey

Preheat oven to 160*C and line a 20x30cm baking tray with greaseproof paper. Soak apricots and dates in hot water for 5 minutes, then drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add nuts, seeds, LSA, oats and salt and stir. Place butter, sugar and honey in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until a light brown colour. Pour immediately over other ingredients and stir to combine. Spoon mixture into baking tray and press down lightly by hand. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Slice should still be a little soft but will firm up when cool. Cut into bars.


To serve:

2 ripe avocadoes

juice of ½ lemon



Whisk together avocado and lemon juice. Season to taste. Spread avocado over oatmeal slice and serve alongside soup.

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