Recipes

15 September 2017

Peas, asparagus and broad beans with spicy mint and chilli

Serves 8

Ingredients 

For the yogurt:
250g (9oz) Greek yogurt
2 garlic cloves
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tbsp chopped dill

For the vegetables:
400g (14oz) broad beans, podded weight
400g (14oz) asparagus
125g (4½oz) peas, podded weight (you can use frozen)
5 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves
2 red chillis, halved, deseeded and finely sliced
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
handful of torn mint leaves

To serve:
bought Arab flatbreads

Method
Stir together everything for the yogurt, but don’t overmix – it’s nice to see streaks of olive oil. Chill.

Cook the broad beans in boiling water for about two minutes. Rinse in cold water then slip off the skins.

Heat the flatbreads in the oven at a low temperature.

Trim the woody ends from the asparagus. Boil or steam, covered, for about four minutes, or until only just tender. Put the peas into boiling water and cook for a minute, adding the skinned broad beans to the pan halfway to heat through. Drain.

Heat the olive oil in a frying-pan and cook the garlic and fresh and dried chilli over a medium-high heat until the garlic is just pale gold, then quickly add the lemon juice and balsamic, and season.

Gently toss the warm vegetables with the mint and dressing and serve with the chilled yogurt and hot flatbread.

Lamb shoulder with broad beans and herbs

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1.5kg new-season lamb shoulder, bone removed and rolled
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • Maldon sea salt and black pepper
  • 60g fresh parsley, leaves and stalks
  • 30g fresh mint, leaves only
  • 60g fresh coriander, leaves and stalk
  • 200ml white wine
  • 1½ tsp cumin
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 375g broad beans (fresh or frozen), blanched and skins removed

Method

Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5.

Press the garlic slices into the crevices in the lamb, then rub in two tablespoons of the oil, a tablespoon of salt and plenty of pepper.

Put half the amount of each herb over the base of a small ovenproof dish (around 21cm x 27cm) and pour over the wine.

Lay the lamb on top of the herbs and roast for an hour, until cooked on the outside but still pink in the centre; baste every 20 minutes.

Once the lamb is done, lift it from the dish, transfer to a small oven tray, sprinkle with a little salt and grill for four minutes on each side to brown.

Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

Strain the cooking juices from the roasting dish and skim off the fat – there should be about 100ml of liquid.

Put the remaining herbs in the bowl of a food processor, add the cumin, the remaining oil, a teaspoon of Maldon salt (or half a teaspoon of fine salt) and some pepper, turn on the motor and slowly add the liquid. Work to a smooth sauce.

To serve, slice the warm lamb and arrange on a platter. Stir the lemon juice and broad beans into the sauce, taste for seasoning and spoon over the lamb. Serve at once.

24 March 2017

Farm-style Green Beans

Ingredients

  • 4 rashers streaky bacon (it says rindless but I haven’t seen bacon with the rind on for yonks)
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 500 g green beans, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • Chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Simmer bacon in water with garlic, chilli, onion and potatoes for 10 minutes. Add beans and cook for about 12 minutes, until beans are just tender. Add butter, parsley, salt and pepper and lightly break up the potato with a fork so that it binds the mixture.

 

03 November 2016

Asparagus Cream Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 250 ml tub cream
  • 2 garlic clove, peeled, but left whole
  • 50g Parmesan, some grated, some shaved
  • 6 rashers of streaky bacon, fried and cut into pieces
  • 250g tagliatelle

Method

To prepare the asparagus, cut off and discard the woody ends, then neatly cut the tips away from the stalks. Keep the tips and stalks separate. In a small saucepan bring the cream and garlic to the boil. Take off the heat, remove the garlic, then set the pan aside.

Cook the stalks in boiling salted water for about 4-5 mins until tender, drain, then tip into the cream. Blitz with a hand blender until smooth and stir in the grated parmesan.

Cook the pasta according to instructions and add the asparagus tips 2 minutes before the end of cooking time. Gently reheat the cream sauce, drain the pasta, then tip into a bowl with the cream and bacon bits. Toss, top with parmesan shavings and serve.

16 September 2016

Carrot Cake

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil (I used light olive oil)
  • ⅓ cup golden syrup
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 ½ cups firmly packed grated carrot
  • ½ cup drained crushed canned pineapple
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Lightly grease a 23 cm round cake tin (I have a springform pan which is ideal) and line the base with baking paper (I didn’t have baking paper and the cake came away from the base quite easily without it).

In a large mixing bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs and the sugar until the mixture is frothy. Stir in the oil and syrup and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Sift both flours, the bicarb and cinnamon into the egg mixture and mix until smooth. Stir in the carrot, pineapple and pecans. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and level the top. Bake for 1 – 1 ¼ hours, or until golden and firm to the touch. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

I’m not a great fan of very sweet cake icing but I do like cream cheese icing, despite it being loaded with icing sugar. To make cream cheese icing, beat 175 g of cream cheese with 60 g of  butter until combined. Continue to beat while gradually adding 1½ cups of sifted icing sugar, 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon rind and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Poached Eggs

Half-fill a medium-size pot with water, add a teaspoon of vinegar and salt and bring to a light simmer. Place the eggs in their shells in the water and roll them around for about 10 seconds. Take the eggs out and break each egg into its own small bowl / saucer. Swirl the water to create a medium-strength circular current (I used a balloon whisk which worked well) and gently slide the eggs, one by one, into the heart of the whirlpool. Allow them to poach for about three to four minutes or until the whites are set. Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs and dab them with a dry cloth or paper towel before serving. Only cook four eggs at a time.

Spinach Tart

Get the recipe here.

19 February 2016

Nigel Slater’s Classic Caldo Verde recipe

THE RECIPE

Cook a finely chopped onion and clove of garlic in a little olive oil for 2 minutes. Add 3 or 4 large potatoes, peeled and diced, cook them for a minute or two, then pour in a litre of water or stock. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft (if they break up then all to the good). Thickly slice 150g of spicy sausage then fry briefly in a non-stick pan. Remove the sausage, leaving the fat behind, and drop it into the soup. Finely shred 2 generous handfuls of kale and stir it into the hot soup. Serve with a small pool of olive oil floating on the surface. Serves 4.

THE TRICK

Traditionalists will make this with water, but vegetable or chicken stock deepens the flavour immeasurably. The trick is knowing when to stop tinkering. Caldo verde was a soup born to cope with an empty store cupboard, and gussying it up too much will lose its rustic soul.

THE TWIST

Complete as it stands, this warming greens-based broth could be embellished with a few ingredients of your choice. Hide a round of garlic toast in the bottom before you ladle in the broth; introduce some cooked pasta – perhaps the diminutive rice-shaped orzo – or stir in some rinsed canned cannellini beans. Kale is standard, but any of the brassica family will work – the tougher and more fibrous the better.

Note:

  1. Kiera used a stick blender to purée the soup (à la Donna Hay) before adding chorizo and kale.
  2. I’ve made it with Swiss chard instead of kale and added some chopped chilli for extra voema (depending on how spicy the sausage is). This requires a bit more cooking after the chard and chilli have been added.     

Sausage & Gnocchi One Pan

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 large pork sausages
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 fat garlic clove, chopped
  • 150g gnocchi
  • 1 x 410g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • Salt & pepper
  • Large handful of baby spinach
  1. Heat oil in pan and fry the sausages and onion until golden.
  2. Stir in the garlic, gnocchi, cannellini beans, stock and plenty of seasoning. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes or until the sausages are cooked through.
  3. Lift the sausages out of the mixture and slice diagonally into 1cm thick slices. Return the slices to the pan and fold through the spinach. Check the seasoning and serve with some crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Pesto and Tomato Tart

(from Super Foods for Children by Michael van Straten & Barbara Griggs – the blurb reads: Boost your child’s HEALTH and BRAIN POWER with over 120 nutrient-packed superfoods.)

  • 375 g frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 300 ml passata
  • 180g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 100g pesto sauce
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Fresh basil to garnish

Preheat oven to 200ºC. Roll out the pastry onto a floured baking tray. Crimp the edges with a knife and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 5 minutes or until lightly golden. Take the baking tray out of the oven and allow the pastry to cool.

Spread the passata over the cooled pastry. Toss the cherry tomatoes in a drizzle of olive oil and lay them, flat side down, on the passata. Season with salt and pepper and dot generously with pesto. Return the baking tray to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes. Serve the tart garnished with basil leaves.

Note: The last time I made this, I added sliced mozzarella cheese which made it a bit more filling as a meal.

This next recipe may sound like a bit of a palaver but it is well worth it; sweet, sour, salty and vinegary not to mention fresh, crispy and delicious.

Kylie Kwong’s recipe for Celery, Carrot and Cabbage Salad

  • 1 small cucumber
  • 3 small carrot, peeled
  • 1 t white sugar
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 2 sticks celery, sliced on the diagonal
  • ½ cup (125 ml) malt vinegar
  • 2 Tsp white sugar, extra
  • Finely shredded cabbage (preferably Savoy)
  • Julienned spring onion
  • Beans sprouts
  • Mint leaves
  • 2 Tsp light soy sauce
  • 2 Tsp lemon juice
  • Pinch Sichuan pepper and salt
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Using a vegetable peeler, finely slice the cucumber and carrots lengthways into ribbons. Set aside cucumber and cut carrot into a fine julienne.

Combine the carrot with salt and sugar in a medium bowl, mix well and leave to stand for 15 minutes.

Blanch celery in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and refresh under cold water. Drain and set aside.

Combine vinegar and extra sugar in a small saucepan and stir over heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer uncovered for about 1 minute or until slightly reduced. Set aside to cool before stirring through the pickled carrot.

In a large serving bowl, combine the pickled carrot mixture, celery, cabbage, onion, bean sprouts and most of the mint. Pour over combined soy sauce and lemon juice. Mix well and season to taste. Top with the reserved cucumber, remaining mint and sprinkle with seeds.

And for now something a little bit sweet:

Brûléed Fruit with Liqueur and Mascarpone / Greek Yoghurt

  • 125g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 – 3 Tbs fruit liqueur (I use crème de cassis)
  • 4 peaches or nectarines, stoned and cut into wedges
  • 3 fresh, ripe figs, quartered
  • 250 g mascarpone (or full cream, Greek yoghurt)

Place half the sugar and the liqueur in a saucepan over a moderate heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the peaches or nectarines and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat, stir in the figs and transfer the fruit and juices to a heatproof serving dish. Allow to cool. Spread the mascarpone (or yoghurt) over the fruit and sprinkle over the remaining sugar.

Now you can either place it under a preheated grill for 2-3 minutes until the sugar has melted and caramelised or simply put it in the fridge for a couple of hours until the sugar melts.

Note:

  • I’ve made this with nectarines, peaches, Cape gooseberries, raspberries – whatever fruit is on hand really, especially if it is starting to get a bit past it.
  • I usually make it in individual ramekins.

10 December 2015

Honey-and-Brandy Caramelised Pineapple

Ingredients

  • 2 small pineapples, quartered with stems and skin intact
  • 100g butter
  • 200ml honey
  • 30ml brandy

In a large wok, heat the butter and honey. Add the pineapple quarters and caramelise on both cut sides. Drizzle with brandy and carefully light to flambé. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, cut into wedges and serve on the pineapple skin shell.

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Eggless Nog

Serves 2 – 4 depending on size of the glasses

Ingredients

  • 375ml (1½ cups) milk
  • ½ x 385g can condensed milk
  • 5ml (½ tsp) nutmeg
  • 5ml (½ tsp) ground cinnamon
  • 125ml (½ cup) Amarula liqueur

Bring the milk, condensed milk and spices to a gentle boil in a pan on the stove. Remove from the heat, add the liqueur and stir well. Serve warm with an extra sprinkling of spices; or cool completely and serve in tall glasses with lots of ice.

23 August 2015

Banana Muffins

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 4 medium bananas
  • 200 ml (¾ cup) sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) melted butter
  • 375 ml (1½ cups) flour
  • 5 ml (1 t) baking powder
  • 5 ml (1t) baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Mash the bananas and add the sugar and egg. Mix in the butter. Add mixture to sifted dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Spoon into greased muffin tins and bake at 180ºC  for 20 minutes.

Sometimes I add a handful of chopped pecan nuts.

Notes on the above

  1. According to Limon and Zarenda, “the secret to successful muffins lies in the mixing. To mix, the liquid ingredients are added to the dry ingredients in a few quick strokes. Mixing is kept to a minimum. This will leave the batter lumpy, but this is how it should be. If the mixture is overbeaten, the gluten in the flour will develop and toughen the dough, causing tunnels. The batter should not be mixed until it can be poured from a spoon, but should rather break into coarse globs.”
  1. I’ve started using Champagne Valley, stoneground flour (GMO free, unbleached with no preservatives or additives). And organic sugar. And it really does improve the flavour.

Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 300 ml (1¼ cups) flour
  • 5 ml (1 t) baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 125 ml (½ cup) oil
  • 250 ml (1 cup) sugar
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Sift together the flour and baking soda. Mix together the remaining ingredients and add to the flour. Stir until blended. Pour into a greased medium loaf tin and bake at 180ºC for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to 160ºC and bake for a further 15 minutes

No-Bake No-Cheese Blueberry “Cheesecake”

Ingredients

  • 1 packet digestive biscuits
  • 80 g butter, melted
  • 250 ml (1 cup) fresh cream
  • 1 x 385 g can of condensed milk
  • 180 ml (¾ cup) fresh lemon juice
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 250 g (1 punnet) blueberries
  • 50 g (¼ cup) caster sugar

Crush the biscuits in a food processor and blend with the butter. Press into a 20 cm loose-bottomed cake tin sprayed with cooking spray. Beat the cream until it starts to thicken, then stir in the condensed milk. Add the lemon juice and rind and blend until the mixture thickens. Pour over the biscuits and chill for at least 2 hours. The cake freezes well and is delicious served frozen.

Rinse the blueberries, place in a pot with the sugar and cook over a gentle heat until the berries soften and release juice. Cool completely. Spoon berry mixture over cheesecake just before serving.

Notes on the above

  1. I came across a recipe by Mary-Ann Shearer for a wheat-free crust. I have adjusted the quantities for my 20 cm cake tin. It is delicious and I often use it instead of the digestive biscuits:
  • 1 cup almonds
  • ¼ cup pitted dates
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • ± 2 Tbsp water

Grind almonds and dates in a coffee grinder until fairly fine. Add cinnamon and then mix with your hands while gradually adding enough water to form a dough. Press into the cake tin and chill.

  1. To make the berries a bit more luxurious a fruit liqueur can be added. Put 60 ml (¼ cup) dark brown soft sugar and 2–3 Tbsp fruit liqueur (I use Crème de Cassis) in a saucepan over a moderate heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the berries, or any fruit for that matter, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

And finally, the recipe for Seed Crackers from the Real Meal Revolution which I copied from food lovers recipes.

CRACKERS

Ingredients

  • 200 g sunflower seeds
  • 60 g flax seeds
  • 100 g sesame seeds
  • 30 ml psyllium husks
  • 500 ml water
  • 5 ml salt

Preheat oven to 160ºC – do not make it any warmer.
Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and leave the mixture to stand until it is thick and pliable – about 10 minutes. Spread the mixture out as thinly as possible onto a silicone mat on a baking tray (I used 2 baking trays). If you do not have a silicone mat, use the dull side of tinfoil but be sure to use a lot of spray and cook on it otherwise it will stick to the tinfoil. Once spread it should have no holes in it. Bake for 1 hour. If outer edges pretty dry and hard, break them off and spread open the remainder and return to oven. You can continue to bake them till all nicely and seriously crisp and dried out. It took me approximately 1 to 1½ hours to get to this stage – depending on your oven. Once all done remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cooled, break them into any size you like and store in airtight container.
Nice to use with any pates or dips or use as bread with any topping you would have used on bread.

Note on the above

  • I use 1 ½ packets of the Breakfast Seed Mix from Woolworths – it is a blend of pumpkin, sesame, flax and sunflower seeds.

08 April 2015

Oopsies

Ingredients

  • 3 Eggs
  • 100g Cream Cheese
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • ½ Tbsp Psyllium Husk
  • ½ tsp Baking Powder

Preheat your oven to 150ºC.

Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites together with the salt until very stiff. Blend the egg yolks and cream cheese together until smooth and stir in the psyllium husk and baking powder. Gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolk and cream cheese mix.

Use a large spoon to scoop out your mixture into rounds on a greased baking pan. You should be able to make approximately six. You can also bake them in mini loaf pans.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes.

oopsies

oopsies

Sauté of Calamari and Chorizo

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 tomatoes
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 100g chorizo, sliced
  • 200g calamari tubes or squid, cut in half
  • 1 x 400g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 250ml (1 cup) roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 100g butter
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Put the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Blanch for 30 seconds, drain, remove the skins and roughly chop the flesh. Heat a little oil in a frying pan. Fry the chorizo until it begins to take on some colour, then add the calamari / squid followed by the tomatoes. As the tomato starts to break down, add the beans, garlic, parsley, butter and lemon juice. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and season to taste before serving.

Boulangere Potatoes

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

  • 1 kg potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced (James, I hear you are a dab hand with the mandolin slicer!)
  • 2 large onions, sliced into rings
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 400 ml chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Thoroughly grease a 1-litre gratin dish and arrange a layer of overlapping potato slices in the base of the dish. Add a little of the crushed garlic, a layer of onion rings and season. Repeat the layers, finishing with a layer of potatoes. Pour the stock over the potatoes, dot with some butter and bake for 1 hour, uncovered, or until the potato is tender and the top crisp and brown.

24 February 2015

Cauliflower and Mustard Seed Soup

from the Low Carb Revolution – Comfort Eating for Good Health – by Annie Bell. I first came across Annie Bell when she used to write food articles for  Country Living (UK) magazine. Her food has always erred on the side of wholesome. (I have adapted the recipe ever so slightly.)

Serves 4

Ingredients

  •  25 g unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 600g cauliflower florets (1 medium cauli)
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 3 strips of lemon zest, removed with a potato peeler
  • Sea salt
  • 2 heaped tsp grainy mustard

Method

Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onions for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add the cauliflower for another couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock, lemon zest and salt, bring to the boil, cover and simmer over a low heat for 10 – 15 minutes.

Discard the strips of lemon zest, then puree in batches in a liquidiser. Pour back into the saucepan and stir in the mustard. Taste and season with more salt (and pepper) if necessary.

Bread in a Cup

1 egg
3 Tbs almond flour
1 Tbs coconut flour
½ tsp baking powder
2½ Tbs melted butter/olive oil
2 Tbs water
Optional: 50 g grated cheddar cheese / crumbled feta

Beat egg well. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Put in well buttered cup/mug (I use a Consol jar) and microwave for 1 minute 20 secs. Slice into 4 slices.

07 November 2014

Savoury Dip

Mix together the following:

  •  250g cream cheese
  • 2½ Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp tomato sauce
  • 3 Tbsp green pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • Pinch of celery salt
  • A few drops of Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and pepper

 Bacon and Egg Salad

I saw Nigella prepare this on one of her shows.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 250 g mixed salad leaves (the Italian mix with radicchio is nice)
  • 1 teaspoon cooking olive oil
  • 1 packet smoked bacon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 teaspoons wine / cider vinegar
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. Put the eggs into a saucepan of water, over medium heat. Bring to boil, then turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of cold water. Peel the eggs once they feel cool to the touch.
  2. Meanwhile, tear the salad leaves into bite-sized pieces and drop them into a serving bowl.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, over medium heat. Cut the bacon into chunks and fry until crisp, about 5 minutes or so. Transfer the bacon with a slotted spatula to some paper towels to drain, while you make the dressing.
  4. Add the Dijon mustard to the bacon juices in the pan and whisk to combine, then add the vinegar and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Whisk again, then pour it over the salad leaves, tossing to mix.
  5. Sprinkle in the bacon chunks. Quarter the eggs and add them. Gently mix to combine, trying not to break up the eggs.

I love the combination of avo and bacon but not so much avo and egg, so sometimes I substitute avo for the eggs.

Serve it with some slices of crispy ciabatta to mop up the juices.

 Calamari Salad

  • 1 packet frozen calamari rings
  • 70 ml olive oil
  • 10 ml lemon juice
  • 45 ml wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • A few drops of Tabasco
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 20 ml tomato sauce
  • Paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Cook calamari according to the instructions on the packet.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together.
  3. Marinate the calamari in the dressing.
  4. Serve with lettuce and sliced red/ yellow pepper.

Sliced Steak

This recipe for sliced steak is adapted from Nigella’s Tagliata for Two recipe. Adding a splash of acid to the steak really seems to brings out all the sweetness of the meat.

Serves 2

  • 400 g rib eye
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried chilli
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  1. Pour the oil, vinegar, oregano and chilli in a small dish about the size of the steak.
  2. Coat the steak in a little olive oil and cook in a hot frying pan for 3 – 5 minutes. Then pop the steak into the oil vinegar mixture and rest for two minutes on each side to absorb the flavours.
  3. Take the steak out and add the tomatoes cut side down into the oil mixture.
  4. Slice the steak and pour the tomato and juices over.

 Yam Nua / Thai Beef Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 500 g beef fillet or rump
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • Handful of chopped spring onions
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • Handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced

Dressing

  • 1 tsp ‘crashed’ garlic
  • 2 small red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp thinly sliced and pounded lemon grass stems
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp soft brown or palm sugar
  1. Cook the beef in a hot frying pan for 3 – 5 minutes each side, or until cooked to your liking. Allow to cool and then slice into thin strips.
  2. Place the dressing ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake well to combine.
  3. To serve, mix together the salad ingredients, place on a large platter and top with the slices of beef. Pour over the dressing.

Yesterday I sliced two roasted chicken breasts into strips to make a Thai Chicken Salad, using the Yam Nua recipe above. I poured half the dressing over the chicken strips while they were still warm and let them marinate while I made the salad, to which I added finely sliced, home-grown cabbage for crunch. Once the chicken strips had cooled down I added them to the salad and poured over the remaining dressing.

Roasting chicken breasts on the bone is easy peasy:

Place the chicken pieces in a roasting pan and rub them with olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and any dried herbs languishing in your kitchen. To keep the chicken from drying out, simply tent the pan with some aluminium foil. Cook in the oven at 180°C for about 45 minutes.

 Hot Dog Relish

Ingredients

  •  1 Tbsp cooking olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped (to skin a tomato, make a slit in the skin on the stem side and cover with boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and peel)
  • 1 Tbsp hot chilli sauce (I use Wellington’s)
  • 1 Tbsp Mrs Ball’s chutney
  • 1 Tbsp tomato sauce
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a frying pan and soften the onion.
  2. Add the mustard seeds and when they start jumping out of the pan, add the tomatoes and cook until they start to break down.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes or until all the ingredients have combined

04 August 2014

Roast Chicken

(adapted from Sarah Graham’s book Bitten)

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp finely chopped mixed herbs (Sarah Graham uses fresh lavender leaves and fresh thyme leaves, but I like to use chives, sage & thyme)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • About 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Mix the butter with the herbs and seasoning.
  3. Use your fingers to stuff the herb butter under the skin of the chicken.
  4. Place the lemon halves and any leftover fresh herb leaves and stalks in the cavity.
  5. Place the chicken in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, add in the onion and garlic and pour in half the wine. Cover with a lid or tin foil and cook for 45 minutes.
  6. After 45 minutes, pour the juices from the chicken into a small saucepan, and then return the chicken to the oven, uncovered. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy.
  7. Add the remainder of the wine and the chicken stock to the saucepan, and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes until it starts to thicken. (I know it is not the done thing in foodie circles but I have to confess that I always use a bit of Bisto to thicken gravy.)

Herb Butter

I like to keep ready-made herb butter in the freezer. It’s a good way to preserve herbs and since butter is back in favour (yay!) you can pop it into any number of veggie dishes as well. You simply mix 250 g butter with chopped herbs (you can do this in the food processor – chop up the herbs first and then add the diced butter). And a tip from Jamie Oliver is to:

“Get yourself a good-sized piece of greaseproof paper and place the butter into the centre. Fold the paper over and roll it around until you have an even-sized log. Twist up the ends to seal then pop in the fridge or freezer until needed.”

Mediterranean Vegetable Bake

(an adapted Jamie Oliver recipe)

Ingredients

(basically anything will do as long as they are roughly the same size, but here are some suggestions)

  • 1 red and/or 1 yellow/orange pepper, halved, deseeded and cut into 4 pieces.
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges.
  • 2 courgettes, sliced into 2cm chunks
  • 1 brinjal / aubergine, cut it into quarters, then into 2cm chunks.
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes
  • 1 handful button mushrooms
  • 3 cloves of garlic, in their skins but squashed
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Arrange the vegetables in a large roasting tray and season with salt and pepper. (I like using Melissa’s Cook’s Sea Salt with Chilli, Lime and Coriander.)
  3. Scatter the rosemary over the veggies and drizzle well with olive oil. Toss to coat thoroughly.
  4. Roast the veggies for about 50 minutes (so put them in at the same time as the chicken). Give them a good stir every now and then to ensure that they cook evenly. They should be soft and caramelised.

And here is another tip from Jamie:

“If the vegetables seem crowded in a single roasting pan, divide them between two. Overcrowding the pan will stop enough heat getting to the vegetables and they will steam rather than roast.”

23 May 2014

Christina’s Chicken & Chickpea Curry

(This recipe serves 8 and even if you are not cooking for that many people it is worth it to cook up a big pot because the leftovers are even more delicious the next day and the day after that.)

Ingredients

  •  16 deboned, skinned chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
  • 4 tbsp medium curry powder (Osmans if you can get it)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 500 ml Italian tomato passata/ purée (not tomato paste)
  • 2 medium brinjals, cubed
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped (don’t leave this out, the dhania makes the dish)
  • Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pot (I use my mother’s old pressure cooker pot). Add the onions, garlic and ginger and stir until very lightly coloured, about 2 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, cook for 1 minute then add the chicken pieces, tomatoes, passata, brinjals, and chickpeas. Stir to combine all the ingredients well, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in half the fresh coriander. Cook over a low heat for 30 minutes, stir in the balance of the fresh coriander and cook for one minute.

Serve with basmati rice, tomato & onion sambals and Mrs Ball’s chutney.

The other recipe of Christina’s that I would like to include is the delicious   

Butternut Cannelloni with Sundried Tomato Sauce

serves 8

It is well worth cooking if you are going to be feeding appreciative guests but not something I would rustle up for a family dinner.

Ingredients

  •  Firstly track down a packet of cannelloni shells – you need 250 g
  • 1 kg butternut, peeled, cubed and steamed
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 ml nutmeg, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Sundried Tomato Sauce

  •  200 g sundried tomatoes
  • 500 ml passata
  • Bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 250 ml cream
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Mash/purée the cooked butternut, together with the butter, sugar and nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the butternut in a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle (or a ziplock bag with the corner cut off), pipe the butternut into the uncooked cannelloni shells and place them in a well oiled, rectangular oven-proof dish.

Bring the cream, garlic and salt and pepper to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes.

Make the sundried tomato sauce: Soften the sundried tomatoes in boiling water for 15 minutes, then purée the sundried tomatoes together with the passata, fresh basil, garlic and season to taste.

Pour the cream carefully over the filled cannelloni and ladle the tomato sauce between the rows. Cook for 30 – 40 minutes, until the pasta is tender.

Rougaille of Sausages

(serves 4)

  •  8 pork sausages
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, crushed
  • 1 tin chopped tomato
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (these days of course I use fresh!)
  • Salt & pepper
  • 300 ml beef stock

Heat oil in a deep frying pan and fry the sausages until browned. Remove the sausages and reserve. In the same pan, fry the onions, green pepper and garlic. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, salt, pepper and herbs. Allow mixture to cook until the oil separates. Add stock and Worcestershire sauce and simmer for a few minutes. Replace the sausages, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Chicken baked in Spicy Yoghurt

serves 4

Ingredients

  •  8 deboned, skinned chicken thighs
  • 125 ml Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 fresh chilli chopped / 2 tsp dried, crushed chilli
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp Mrs Ball’s chutney
  • Dhania, chopped

Place chicken in a roasting tin. Season. Mix remaining ingredients and spread over the chicken. Marinate for as long as is possible. Bake in a preheated oven 160ºC for 30 – 45 minutes.

Don’t be tempted to pump the temp up, it will curdle the yoghurt.

A tip for those of you who shop at Woolies (Alex, I know you sneak in to Cavendish from time to time). You can buy a pack of crushed garlic, ginger and chilli which lasts, I may add, way beyond its use by date. It  is excellent for this recipe because you can just add a square of ginger, garlic and chillli to this dish – no fuss.

20 May 2014

Delia Smith’s no fuss white sauce

Ingredients:

  • 40 g cake flour
  • 50 g butter
  • 750 ml milk
  • Bayleaf, nutmeg, salt and pepper

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk continuously over a medium heat until the sauce boils and thickens. Then turn the heat down to its lowest and let the sauce cook for 2 minutes.  That’s it.

To make this into a basic cheese sauce, remove from the heat and stir in a cup of grated mature cheddar. However to make a more luxurious cheese sauce, whisk in 1 tbsp Dijon mustard and 150 g crème fraîche instead.

Mac and Cheese / Pasta Gratin with Wild Mushrooms and Bacon

  •  200 g pasta
  • 20 g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250 g meaty mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 150 g sliced Fontina cheese (Fontina is pricey in SA but it does add a lovely flavour – skip this if your budget is tight)
  • 6 rindless slices streaky bacon (add more if you can)
  1.  Heat the oven to 210ºC (190ºC fan oven). Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta, give it a stir and cook until almost tender. Drain it into a sieve, quite thoroughly, and then return it to the pan.
  2. At the same time, heat the 20 g butter and the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms to the pan, season with salt and pepper and sauté for several minutes until soft and starting to colour. If they give out any liquid, cook until this evaporates.
  3. Toss the pasta with the hot cheese sauce and the mushrooms. Tip into a 35cm shallow ovenproof dish and mix in the sliced Fontina.  Lay the bacon on top (as much as you can squeeze in) and cook for 15 minutes, then give it a few minutes under the grill until golden.

Cauli-Mash

  •  1 head (1kg cauliflower) broken into florets
  • 300 ml milk
  • 100 g butter
  • Salt and peper
  1. Steam the cauliflower until it is mushy
  2. Add the butter and the milk and mash with a potato masher
  3. Season to taste

The recipe actually calls for the cauli to be puréed with a stick blender or in a food processor before adding the milk and the butter. However I didn’t find that necessary.

14 May 2014

Edna’s Shortcut Lamb Hot Pot

serve 4

  • Cooking time: 2 hours
  • Oven: 160°C
  • 700g lamb chops (Edna only ever used loin chops, expensive I know for a casserole so look for what is best for your budget and remove excess fat)
  • Oil for cooking
  • 2 x 400g tins lamb & vegetable soup (Heinz does a very nice one called Big Soup). Sometimes it is called Scotch broth
  • 3 large / 4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 1 cup butternut chunks
  • Salt and pepper
  • Knob of butter

Arrange an overlapping layer of potatoes on the base of a casserole dish and top with the sliced onions. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the lamb chops until brown. Place on top of the potato and onion slices and add the butternut chunks. Pour the 2 tins of soup over the chops and butternut and season. Arrange another layer of potatoes on top and pour over about half a soup tin of water. Dot the potatoes with butter, cover and cook for 1½ hours at 160°C. Remove the lid, check the liquid and add more water if necessary. Cook for another ½ hour with the lid off, until the potatoes go crispy on top.

NOTE: If you can’t find any tins of Scotch broth / lamb & veg soup, then add ½ a cup of 4-in-1 Soup Mix, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 cup of chopped veggies (carrots / beans) and 2 cups chicken stock instead.

 Leek and Lamb Casserole

serve 4

This recipe comes from a cookbook called Casserole Cooking by Myra Street, which I bought from Marks and Sparks for £2.59 when Peter and I were living in Canterbury in 1981.

  • Cooking time: 2¼ hours
  • Oven: 160°C
  •  700g lamb chops (the recipe calls for middle or best end neck of lamb, which I think is what we would call rib chops in SA)
  • 50g flour
  • 1 x tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 x tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 leeks, coarsely sliced
  • 410g tin tomatoes
  • 300ml water / chicken stock (please don’t use cheap stock which has MSG in it)
  • 1 x tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 x teaspoons mixed herbs

Toss the lamb in seasoned flour, until lightly coated. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large pan and fry the lamb on all sides to brown. Place in a casserole dish. Add another tbsp of oil in the pan and fry the leeks gently for 2 minutes and place in the casserole with the drained tomatoes, keeping the juice. Add another tbsp of oil, if necessary, to the pan and add the remaining flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in water or stock, juice from tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs and seasoning. Bring to the boil, stirring. Pour over the lamb. Cover and cook for 2 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.

This is nice served with crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Hearty Beef Soup

serve 4

Cooking time: at least 1½ hours on the hob

  •  4 x medium sized beef shin pieces (choose fresh not frozen and cut the sinew surrounding the meat to stop the meat from curling up)
  • 2 x tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 x 410g tin tomatoes
  • Garlic, chilli and chopped fresh herbs to taste
  • 1½ litres beef stock (organic if possible and definitely no MSG please)
  • 250ml /1 cup 4-in-1 soup mix (dried peas, barley, lentils and groats)
  • Salt & pepper

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pot and brown the shin pieces. Remove and keep to one side, on a plate. Add another tbsp of oil to the pan and gently soften the onion, carrots and celery. Add the garlic, chilli and fresh herbs and then add the tomatoes. Put the beef back in the pan (with any juices on the plate), and stir it all around. Add the beef stock and soup mix and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook on the stovetop for at least 1½ hours, add water if necessary. When the meat is falling off the bone, it’s ready. Take out the shin, remove the bones and any fat or gristle, cut the meat up and add to the soup. Taste and season accordingly.

Serve with crispy bread smeared with butter – yes, butter.

NOTE: Instead of the 4-in-1 Soup Mix you can add 2 x tins of beans (any beans will do, just rinse and drain them first). Don’t add Soup Mix and beans together though because the soup will become too claggy.

Bean and Salad Wrap

  •  1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin[1]
  • 1 tsp ground coriander[2]
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes[3]
  • 1 x 410g tin beans, drained and rinsed
  • A handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • 4 tortillas / wraps, warmed
  • 1 medium avocado, peeled and sliced
  • Shredded crispy lettuce
  • Full cream Greek yoghurt[4]

Heat oil in a frying pan and cook spring onions, garlic and chilli for 2 minutes over a medium heat. Add the spices and cook for a further minute then add the tomatoes and beans. Simmer until you have a thick sauce. Stir in the fresh coriander. Lay the tortillas / wraps out on the counter and spread with a thin layer of yoghurt. Add some bean mixture and top with avocado and lettuce. Roll the tortillas / wraps up, tucking in the ends. Slice diagonally in half and eat warm or leave them to cool then wrap in grease-proof paper for transporting.

[1] Growing up in Durban I always knew cumin by its Indian name “jeera”

[2] The same with coriander, which I still call “dhania” – I believe it’s known as cilantro in America.

[3] Tinned chopped tomatoes are more expensive than tinned whole tomatoes. A trick I learned from Jamie Oliver is to simply stick a sharp knife into a tin of whole tomatoes (of course it should be opened first), jiggle it around to chop up the tomatoes and there you have it, tinned chopped tomatoes and no mess involved.

15 February 2013

Chris’ something interesting you can do with a carrot

Par boil about 6 to 8 medium carrots for 5 mins. Drain dry and add to an oiled roasting pan together with a couple of quartered onions still in their skins (they stay together better). Coat lightly with oil and bake for about 30 mins at 180 deg C (add 20 deg for non fan oven). Now add a tablespoon of soy sauce, shake about (the veg that is) and bake for another 20 to 30 mins until the carrots are going a bit brown. Cheap but delicious.

18 September 2011

Asperges a la Flamande

(asparagus Flemish-style)

SERVES 4

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • 12 spears asparagus, woody ends snapped off
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 60 g unsalted butter, softened
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring 1 large and 1 small saucepan of water to simmering point over medium heat. Add salt to the large saucepan. Slip eggs still in their shells into the smaller saucepan and cook for 5 minutes exactly. Drop asparagus into large pan of salted simmering water.

After 5 minutes lift eggs from the water and put into a bowl, then cover with cold water for 1 minute. Drain eggs and carefully peel. Lift out asparagus spears and drain for a moment on a dry tea towel, then divide among 4 warmed plates.

Roughly mash eggs with a fork; the yolks should still be very moist. Work in softened butter, a little lemon juice and plenty of parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop a quarter of this pretty green, yellow and white sauce beside each asparagus portion. Serve

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