Sunday, 29 December 2013

Tikka Masala Lamb Tagine

I was lucky enough to get a Tagine ( from Santa this year, and admittedly, I had to Google to find out how to cook in it.  Here is a great tummy warmer this winter, where Tikka Masala Curry meets Moroccan Tagine. It is about low and slow, here we go ...

Tikka Masala Lamb Tagine

1,5kg lamb, cubed
420g Tikka Masala store-bought cooking sauce
3 large carrots, peeled, small dice
2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 shallots, small dice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Zest of 1 clementine
1 tin whole tomatoes in liquid
1 tbsp cornstarch or flour

Preheat over to 160'c
In a big bowl, pour 1/2 Masala sauce over the meat and mix well
Cover and leave at room temp to marinade for 2 hours (overnight is best)
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in Tagine or Dutch Oven ( )
Add lamb and brown well in small batches
Add some more oil if necessary
Add carrots, onions, ginger, garlic, shallots and cinnamon and cook for 4 min
Return lamb to pot and add clementine zest, whole tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to the boil
In a small bowl mix cornstarch, tomato liquid and balance of Masala sauce until smooth
Add to lamb and stir in well
Cover with lid and cook for 2 - 3 hrs or until lamb is tender

Serve with some fluffy white rice or couscous and scatter some salted almonds on top
Glass of Cabernet Sauvignon poured, time to enjoy!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Mediterranean Vegetables

This is one of those easy side dishes that you can serve with absolutely anything.  Great for a dinner for 2 like we have just done or casual entertaining.  It is easy, quick and a show stopper.  Here we go, Mediterranean vegetable serving 2 people ...

3 tbsp olive oil
Red pepper, large rough dice
Yellow pepper, large rough dice
Green pepper, large rough dice
2 red onions, quartered
2 shallots, quartered
6 giant button mushrooms, quartered
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
30g herb butter, store- bought
100g goat cheese feta, large dice

Preheat oven to 180'c
Place all veg in a deep roasting plan, single layer
Add olive oil and seasoning and toss well with your hands
Bake for 30 min
Remove from oven and immediately add butter to melt in hot veg
Add cheese and toss
Serve immediately

This is awesome next to a roast chicken

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Panetonne Bread Pudding

Christmas eve dinner with friends tonight: Salmon & Beetroot Blinis, 3-bird roast with walnut & wild mushroom stuffing and this awesome dessert, Panettone bread pudding with double vanilla ice-cram. Comfort food at its best this Festive Season.  Here we go ... 

500g Italian Panettone 
Butter for greasing dish
3 large eggs
8 egg yolks
3 cups milk
2 cups cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp sherry
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat over to 180'C
Cut Panettone into thick slices and then 1 inch cubes
Arrange single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 8 min until just brown
Grease a 22cm x 30cm x 5cm baking dish and place cubes herein
In a bowl whisk whole eggs, egg yolks, milk, cream, vanilla, sherry and sugar
Pour mix over cubes and allow to draw for 10 min
Place baking dish in a larger dish
Add very hot tap water in the large dish until it's halfway up the sides of the baking dish
Cover large dish with aluminium foil, tented so it does not touch the cubes
Punch a few whole in the foil to allow for steaming
Bake 45 min
Uncover and bake a further  40 min until custard is set and top is golden brown
Allow to cool for 15 min before serving

For those celebrating Christmas ... wishing you and your loved ones a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

French Onion Soup with Beef and Barley

This take on a true classic is full of fibre rich barley, loaded with protein and perfect for winter or a lazy Sunday evening dinner with some baguette. There are a few ingredients, but it is worth the 'little' effort and it freezes well up to 2-months. You can omit the sherry and replace with white wine if you like. Here you go ...

1 cup boiling water
20g shiitake mushrooms
Olive oil
2 medium onions, cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup shallots, chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp brown sugar
340g sirloin steak, cut into 2 inch strips
4 cups water
125g uncooked barley
1/4 cup sherry
3 tbsp soy sauce
300ml beef stock
1 tbsp sesame oil
Baguette cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
3/4 cup Gruyere cheese, grated

Combine water and Shiitake mushrooms in a bowl, cover and stand for 30min
Drain, reserve liquid, slice mushrooms
Heat some oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat
Add onions, shallots, ginger and garlic and saute for 10 min on medium
Add Shiitake, button mushrooms, sugar and beef and saute on high for 7 min
Add reserved mushroom liquid, water, barley, sherry, soy sauce and stock and bring to the boil
Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 50 min until barley is is tender
Stir in sesame oil
Place cheese over bread slices and grill until cheese has melted
Place 1 slice of bread in each serving bowl and ladle soup over to serve

Need to go and grab a bowl ...

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Salmon en Croute (in pastry)

There is no need for a festive offering this season to be pricey.  This is a classic, easy and very affordable for a small group of 4 or even 6.  It is a crowd pleaser and looks very impressive.  Here we go ...

2 medium potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced and pre cooked
25g butter
120g spinach, washed, coarsely chopped
1 red onion, chopped
60ml cream
60ml natural yoghurt
2 tsp dill, finely chopped
2 x rolls puff pastry
800g fresh Salmon fillet, skinned
2tsp store bought pesto
1 egg, beaten

150ml lite cream
Juice 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp pesto
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

Heat oven to 200'C
Heat large baking tray in oven
Melt butter in pan and add spinach, cook quickly until wilted and transfer to a cooling dish
Season to taste with salt & pepper and leave to cool, squeeze out excess moisture
Add onions to pan and gently fry for 6 - 7 min
Stir in cream, yoghurt and dill for 1 min
Add cooked potatoes and gently stir for 1 min
Roll out pastry thin to a long rectangle on baking paper
Line with potato mix leaving a 5cm border
Place salmon onto the centre of the pastry and potato mix
Smear pesto over fish and add spinach
Season  to taste with salt & pepper
Brush edge of pastry with egg
Roll out 2nd layer of pastry and carefully place over salmon, trim excess and seal edges
Brush pastry with egg
Place on pre heated baking tray
Bake 30 - 40 min until brown, allow to rest for 10 min

Heat cream, add lemon juice and pesto.  Season to taste.  Add basil just before serving


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Salami, Mushroom and Leek Carbonara

Here is a tummy pleaser and ideal for a-meal-for-one or a family of 6.  The perfect Sunday weekend winner when you just don't feel like spending too much time in the kitchen. This is made for 2 people so adjust accordingly. Here we go ...

Salami, Mushroom and Leek Carbonara
200g Linguini/ Spaghetti ( 100g pp)
1tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup leeks, chopped
150g strong flavoured salami, large dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 Shiitake mushroom, roughly chopped
2 egg yolks
250ml lite cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Cup of Parmesan, grated

Cook pasta according to instructions on the packet, however add a drizzle of olive oil, salt and a sprig of rosemary to the pot as well.
Heat oil and butter in a saucepan.
Sauté leeks, salami, garlic and mushrooms on medium heat for 5 min.
Mix egg yolks, cream, salt, pepper and cheese in a bowl.
Strain past when cooked then add quickly back to the pot.
Quickly add leek mix and egg custard to the pot and stir well through pasta for 2 min.
The heat of the pasta will actually cook the egg, that is why you need to work quickly.

Add some more fresh Parmesan on top and bon appetite!

Enjoy with a little Chianti on the side.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Sweet Sherry Chicken Liver Pate

I generally don't like pate ... either it is dry or saturated in butter. This recipe is neither. It is smooth, light and so easy to make.  It is also ideal for entertaining and goes a long way.  Another one of my mom's recipes. Here we go ...

3 tbsp butter
2 spring onions, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
450g fresh chicken livers
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp ginger powder
3 tbsp sweet sherry
1/4 cup cream
100g butter

Heat butter in a pan on medium heat
Add onions and garlic and cook for 2 min
Increase heat, add chicken livers and cook for 6 min
Add salt, pepper, thyme, ginger, sherry and cook for 2 min
Stir in cream and cook for 1 min
Allow to cool before adding to a blender and give it a good whizz until smooth
Melt remaining butter and pour over the top to form a seal over the pate
Refrigerate for at least 2 hrs before serving

Awesome with biscuits or garlic smeared baguette and is a great party pleaser this holiday season


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Traditional South African Oxtail Stew

Oxtail (rundstaart) is inexpensive, nourishing and rich fatty meat, perfect for winter.  It needs a long low cooking time but the end result is well worth it. This is my mom's recipe.  Here we go ...

2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 kg oxtail
2 onions, thinly sliced
3 carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, quartered
2 bay leaf
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1tsp sugar
1 cup water
1 cup red wine

Pre heat oven to 160'c
Place flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag, free of holes
Add meat and tie a knot in the bag
Shake bag in all directions to cover meat with flour mix
Remove meat and discard bag
Heat oil in a pot and brown meat in batches for 5 min turning all the time
Transfer to a deep casserole dish
Add a little oil and fry onions and carrots until lightly browned in same pot
Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, sugar, water and wine and heat through for 5 min
Pour over meat
Cover casserole tightly and cook for 3 hrs or until tender

Enjoy a good glass of red with it ...

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Prosciutto, Apricot, Pesto rolled Pork

Christmas decorations are up, festive songs in the background and I am trying out a few new festive feasts, with a few of my usual tweaks.  My first victim, a block of pork.  Here we go ....

1kg pork roast, bone out
6tsp Dijon mustard
1tsp black pepper
100g Prosciutto
1/4 cup dried apricots, fine dice
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup parsley, rough chop
3 tbsp red pesto
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brandy
4 springs fresh thyme

Heat over to 160'c
Butterfly pork open lengthwise
Cover with cling film and bash with a rolling pin until even in thickness
On one side smear 3tsp mustard and pepper
Place some baking paper on a clean surface
Layer Prosciutto on top of baking paper in a line with sides overlapping
Place pork on top, mustard side down
Smear balance of mustard on side facing up
Add apricots, Parmesan, salt, pepper, parsley and dollops of pesto
Starting one end carefully roll pork up, keeping it tight all the way
Secure with some string, so nothing unravels
Brown all sides in a little oil on top of the stove for 5 minutes in a Dutch oven
Add juice, brand and thyme, lid on and pop in the oven
Cook for 2 hours or until 145'c is reached on a meat thermometer

Slice think and serve with some apple sauce on the side, pasta and veg.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Gluwein ... home-made and awesome!

Yes, I know it is easy and so freely available to buy Gluwein in a bottle to cope with the cold winter days, but a great home-made version is really DELISH  and oh so easy.  Give it a try ... I have made a few bottles with seasonal greeting cards for my neighbours this year. Here we go ...

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 whole cloves
4 cinnamon  sticks, broken into pieces
2 bottles red wine
Juice of 2 oranges
1 tsp Speculoos /all spice
1/2 tsp instant coffee
2 orange peels, sliced
2 lemon peels, sliced

Mix sugar, water, cloves, cinnamon, wine, juice of orange, Speculoos and coffee in a heavy pot
Bring up the heat, but do not boil
Add orange and lemon peel and simmer for 15 min
Serve in warm mugs

Enjoy .... Bbbrrrr and happy holidays!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Home-made Chicken Pie to die for!

What better way to end a wonderful weekend of travelling around Europe than with this easy whip me up and a definite crowd pleaser. Use store-bought chicken, it is perfect and makes this really easy!

1 pkt puff pastry
1 cooked chicken
1 leek, chopped
200g bacon bits
8 mushrooms, spliced
2 large cloves garlic
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp French tarragon
1/2 tsp paprika
1tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock (home-made if possible)
1/2 cream
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg for brushing

Preheat oven to 200'c
Strip carcass of chicken into large pieces.
Saute leek, bacon, mushrooms and garlic in butter until soft
Add spices
Add flour and stir well
Add stock and cream and allow to thicken stirring all the time
Add chicken and coat well in sauce
Transfer to 4 individual pie dishes
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
Brush dish rims with beaten egg
Cover each dish with pastry and make a vent in the middle
Brush pie surface with remaining egg
Bake for 25min or until golden brown

Enjoy with a great salad of greens on the side

Friday, 29 November 2013

Festive Fruit Mince

If there is one essential thing you need in your fridge this festive season it is definitely home-made Christmas mince.  There is nothing better than a warm croissant with a thick slice of Brie and some festive fruit mince on it Christmas morning. It keeps for up to 6 weeks in a seal-tight jar as well. Here we go ...

75g brown sugar
60ml ruby port
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
75g currents
75g raisins
30g dried cranberries
1 clementine, zest and juice
25ml brandy
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey

In a large pan dissolve sugar in port over gentle heat.
Add cinnamon, ginger, cloves, currents, raisins, cranberries, zest and juice of a clementine.
Bring to a gentle simmer for 20 min.
Break fruit with the back of a spoon in the pan.
Remove from heat and cool.
Add brandy, vanilla and honey and stir well in.
Spoon into a sterilised jar and store in the fridge.

Best ways to enjoy this:
    As a dip for a cheese straw
    Alongside a slice of pork or gammon
    Smeared on a toasted Raisin bread
    As a base with some deep fried Camembert on top

Happy holiday eating!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Butternut, Bacon & Feta Bake

Just had a special friend from New York pop in for an overnight stay.  It was awesome to catch up but being a work day there was no time to cook a big dinner.  Store bought roast chicken, rosemary potato wedges and this great winter side dish was perfect to serve.  Quick, easy and gave us loads of time to enjoy a few bottles of red wine in front of the fire - with @Angus Pitkethley.  Here we go ...    

1 tbsp olive oil
250g bacon bits
800g butternut, medium dice
1tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp fresh thyme
200g goat feta cheese
250 ml lite cream

Heat oven to 190'c
Add oil in a pan and fry bacon until a crispy
Add butternut and the spices to a bowl and mix
Add bacon and all the juices from the browning
Crumble 100g cheese into mix and stir through
Transfer to an oven proof dish
Rough crumble rest of the feta on top
Pour cream evenly over
Bake for 60 min until butternut is tender
Stir allowing liquid to be absorbed and serve

Enjoy as a winter side dish with almost anything.
It is even better cold the day after.

Miss you already AP, see you in a few weeks time!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Super Cheat Two-Minute Triffle

It was a total accident whipping this one up.  Needed a little sweet something to enjoy after an afternoon roast and this is what I found myself doing playing in the kitchen today.

1 pkt instant pudding, caramel flavour
4 large digestive biscuits, roughly broken
4 tsp good chunky strawberry jam
Fresh cream, firmly whipped

Follow cooking instructions of instant pudding, should take 2-3 min max
Divide biscuits evenly into the bottom of 2 dessert or parfait glasses
Heat strawberry jam for 40 seconds in the microwave to soften a little
Add 2 tsp jam per glass on top of the biscuits, making sure some trickles down the sides
Pour pudding mix over and place in the fridge to set
If using a really chunky jam, the syrup will stay at the bottom and the strawberries will float to the top of the pudding. which is perfect
Whip up cream, add and garnish with whatever you have

Delish ... and a 100% cheat, which is also fine sometimes.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Easy homemade pizza with 2 toppings

I have never made pizza before as it looks like a lot of hard work, you might as well just go buy one. However, today was the day, I rolled my sleeves to give it a bash and it was surprisingly easy.  Don't be afraid, try it ... here we go:
Making Weekends Count

250g all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp yeast
110 warm water
1/2 tsp dried mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp oil
Salt, generous pinch

Add all of the above into an electric mixer with a hook attachment and mix well until dough pulls away from the edges.
Drop in a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling warp and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 min.
Knead a little with floured hand before rolling out on a floured surface.
Add your favourite topping.
Bake on a pizza tray or baking sheet lined with baking paper, lightly dusted with flour at 220'c for 20-25 min until golden brown.

My favourite 2 toppings:

Spread base with tomato sauce
Add lots of grated mozzarella on top

  1. Serrano Spanish ham, black pepper, minced garlic, blocks of Camembert cheese
  2. Slithers of smoked salmon, fresh chopped dill, black pepper, dollops of cream cheese

Yummy, your family will love this one!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Soup'ilicious: Hunter's Minestrone

It is Friday so it is another SOUP'ILICIOUS night.  This is the best winter soup ever ... a take on the classic minestrone with a few tweaks.  It does have a lot of ingredients, but it is worth it.  Make a huge pot - it freezes well.

300g small pasta shells
2 litres chicken stock, homemade
6 cloves garlic, halved
4 tsp dried sage
1 sprig rosemary
3 sweet Italian sausages or chorizo sausage, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tins whole tomatoes
2 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
4 - 6 shin bones
2 tins white bean

Cook pasta according to pkt instructions
In a large pot combine stock, garlic and herbs and bring to the boil.
Simmer for 15 min and then strain.
Add sausage, carrots, celery, onion, tomato, bay leaf, salt, pepper and shin to the stock.
Cook until meat is tender.
Remove bones, stir in beans and pasta and heat through.
Process half the soup and add back to the pot - this will thicken it.

Enjoy with some whole wheat baguette and a good bottle of wine... just what we need after a hectic week at work!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Smoked Salmon, Camembert and Dill Omelette

Who says an omelette has to be a breakfast serving? They are easy, healthy and so ideal for a quick whip-up early Sunday dinner.  Using left overs, usually make the best ones that you can never repeat. Dinner tonight, Here we go ...

3 tables herb oil
3 eggs
1/4 cup cream
2tbsp chopped dill
1/2 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
100g smoked salmon, large rough strips
75g Camembert cheese, thinly sliced

Heat oil in a frying pan..
Meanwhile mix eggs, cream, dill, paprika, salt and pepper with a fork.
Do not over mix or the protein will start to breakdown and the eggs will become tough.
Pour into hot pan and turn heat down to medium.
Add salmon evenly.
Allow to cook for 1 - 2 min, scraping away from the sides allowing liquid to fill the gaps.
Once the bottom seems solid add cheese and pop under a grill for a further 1 min to cook the top until golden and fluffy.

Fold over and serve with some seasonal salad greens and crackers on the side for crunch.

This is delish.
I am enjoying it with a glass of  Macon Villages Chardonnay - thanks @Jayne Hillner, awesome wine!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Soup'ilicious: Pea & Bacon Soup

Temps are shocking this weekend and dropping!  All I am thinking is soup, soup and then again a little more soup.  Fresh country loaf, glass of Chardonnay and a log fire served on the side.  Keeping it 'soup'ilicious', dinner tonight. Here we go ...
Photograph: Amy Neunsinger

500g split peas, rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 leek, rinsed and sliced
200g bacon, large dice
2 medium carrots, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 bay leaf
2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
9 cups chicken stock, homemade if possible

Place peas in a pot, cover with water.
Bring to the boil, cover, remove from heat and set aside for 1 hour
Heat oil in a large pot.
Add onions, leek, bacon, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, paprika, salt, pepper.
Cook for 15 min until softened and golden brown, turning occasionally.
Drain peas and add to vegetables with stock.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 min until peas have softened.
Set aside to cool, remove bay leaf.
Transfer to a blender and whizz in batches until smooth.
Return to pot and heat through on medium for 10 min.

Garnish with some twigs of fresh Thyme and croutons.
Yummy, tummy warmer!

Recipe freezes for up to 2-months.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Mustard and Parmesan Baked Fish

How simple it this.  Tasty, easy, very healthy and just perfect for me, myself and I as my hubby is travelling.

300g white fish of your choice
Salt and pepper to taste
100g smooth cream cheese
1tsp Dijon mustard
1tbsp French Tarragon
1/4 cup grate Parmesan cheese
Paprika for dusting

Preheat oven to 200'c
Generously season one side of the fish with salt and pepper
In a bowl mix cream cheese, mustard, tarragon and Parmesan until well mixed
Spread evenly over fish
Sprinkle with a little paprika
Bake for 20 min until just done

Serve with some healthy stir fry veg ....

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Pepper Grilled Salmon

My absolute all-time-favourite, healthy and oh, so easy!  Definitely a weekend dinner winner.  Did you know that Salmon is a highly nutritious food that is high in protein and the 'good fats'.  For every 4 z serving,  it provides a full day's requirements of vitamin D?  Here we go ...

Making Weekends Count: Peppered Grilled Salmon

500g Salmon, skin off
Olive oil
10ml pepper garlic seasoning
5ml coriander, crushed
5ml Cajun spice

Preheat over to 200'C
Place salmon on a plate and drizzle with oil 
Season with all the spices rubbing them in well
Leave for 20 min at room temperature to draw
Heat skillet on the stove to hot
Add fish, meat side down and cook for 1 minute
Carefully flip and cook on the other side for 1 min
Pop into the pre heated oven and cook for a further 3 minutes - no longer!
Remove from oven, cover with aluminium foil and stand for 5 min before serving

Serve with a little white rice sprinkled with parsley and a squirt of fresh lemon

Bon appetite!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Soup'ilicious: Roasted Butternut Coconut Milk Soup

There is an Autumn icy wind blowing outside today, so what better way to warm up than with a bowl of butternut soup, warm farm style bread with some fresh salted butter. Did you know that a butternut is actually a fruit that grows on a vine?  The more ripe it becomes, its colour and sweetness enhances making it richer!  Try and use some really ripe fruits for this recipe. Here we go ...

2 large onions, large dice
1 apple, peeled, cored, large dice

2 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1.5 kg butternut, peeled and cubed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1,5 litres chicken stock
400ml coconut milk
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp hot/chilli sauce

Preheat oven to 200'C
Place onions, apples, carrots, garlic, butternut, salt and pepper on a baking sheet
Drizzle with oil and toss well
Roast for 45 min tossing occasionally until tender
Add veg to a blender with some of the stock and blend until smooth
Add to a large pot with remainder of stock, coconut milk, paprika, turmeric, sugar and hot sauce and simmer for 10 min

Time for a nice big bowl for lunch!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Classic Meatloaf

A weekend winner that will never let you down has to be meatloaf.  Did you know it has European origin and was mentioned in the renowned Roman cookery collection 'Apicius' as early back as the 5th century?  It is a traditional German and Belgian dish, and a cousin to the Dutch meatball.  It also happens to be our dinner tonight, here we go ...

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
24 slices smoked black ham / pancetta
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 egg
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
500g beef mince
1/2 cup ham / pancetta, extra
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat over to 180'C
Heat oil in a pan and saute onion and garlic until soft, allow to cool
Line a 22 x 8 x 7cm tin with ham (all sides and bottom) slightly overlapping
Place breadcrumbs and milk in a bowl, mix and stand for 5 min
Add onion mix, rosemary, 1 tsp mustard, egg, Parmesan, mince, chopped ham, salt & pepper and mix well
Press down firmly in the time with the back of a spoon
Cut some aluminium foil to size of the pan and cover the top to fit exactly
Bake 40 min
Leave to rest for 5 min before turning it out on a lined tray with non-stick baking paper
Smear top with balance of the Dijon mustard
Bake for another 8 min until golden brown.

Serve hot with some lovely thick gravy and mash .... delish!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Smoked Salmon Cheesy Wraps

Don't feel like cooking today to be honest with you.  So it is a case of opening the fridge and seeing what is in there for dinner tonight.  Now here is something simple, quick and supa dupa easy. It doesn't seem like much, but it is very rich with the cheese and salmon. Here we go ...

2 large store-bought wraps
English cucumber, thinly sliced
125g herb cottage cheese
Mixed salad green leaves
1/2 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp fresh dill
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
250g smoked salmon

Pop the wraps on a plate and microwave for 20 seconds until soft
On one side evenly smear cottage cheese over the entire surface of both wraps
Add cucumber in a single layer down the centre on each
Generously place salad greens on top of the cucumber
Lightly with a fork mix Panko, lemon zest, dill, salt and pepper
Sprinkle evenly over salad greens
Place smoked salmon on top

To fold wrap:
Turn both side in to almost touch
Fold bottom upwards to halfway
Carefully tucking the filling as you roll, roll bottom up towards the top
Tuck all in tightly
Cut diagonally once or twice, pending size of the wrap


Sunday, 13 October 2013

Hearty Roasted Potato, Leek and Saffron Soup

I absolutely love enjoying a big bowl of soup with warm farm-style bread and salted butter on cold days.  Today is about 3'C so I think soup is definitely the order-of-the-day for dinner tonight.  Besides, I have just made 12 litres of homemade chicken stock.  Remember, your soup is only as good as the stock you put in it.  Here we go ...

1kg potatoes, skin on and big dice
4 cups chopped leeks, cleaned well
1/4 cup olive oil
Lots of salt & pepper
2 cups baby arugula/rocket
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups homemade chicken stock
500ml light cream
Pinch Saffron
1 tsp paprika
250ml yoghurt

Preheat over to 200'C
Place potatoes and leeks in a deep baking tray
Add oil, salt and pepper and toss well
Bake 45 min until tender, turning a few times during baking
Add  arugula/rocket, toss to combine and bake for 4 min
Add wine and stock scrapping bits off the bottom of the tray
Place in a processor and whizz in batches until smooth
Transfer to a large pot adding cream, saffron, paprika and yoghurt and heat through without boiling
Add more salt & pepper to taste

Enjoy with some freshly grated Parmesan on top.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Oriental Green Bean and Ginger Chicken

Having spent a great two weeks vacation in Cape Town, South Africa I am back in Belgium and the Autumn temps are plummeting. Our low tonight is 3'c bbbrrrr.  Here is a great tummy warmer.

1 tsp olive oil
1inch fresh ginger, peeled, cut into matchsticks
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 onion, thinly sliced into half moons
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp flour
250g skinless chicken thighs, cut in thick cubes
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp brown sugar
200ml chicken stock
80gm green beans, trimmed, cut into 2cm lengths
1tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Heat oil and fry ginger, garlic, onion, nutmeg, turmeric and pepper for 5 min.
Add flour and chicken and stir for 2 min.
Add fish sauce, sugar, chicken and stock and cook on medium to low heat for 15min.
For last 3 min of cooking, add beans and heat through.
Add half coriander and stir.
Serve with steamed rice and sprinkle with remaining coriander .

How easy was that?  Enjoy .... 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Pea, Parmesan and Bacon Penne Rigate

So I am knee deep in washing and ironing as I start planning what clothes to pack for next week's travel back to sunny South Africa to see my folks and best friend Jen and Patrick.  Whipping up a quick and easy tummy warmer that freezes well.  Shaun is happy, he will have some heat-and-eats whilst I am away. Here we go ...

Penne Rigate pasta (1 cup pp)
100g bacon,diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, chopped
Stalk celery, chopped
125g sugar snaps, whole
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Bottle store-bought pf 3 cheese pasta sauce (250g)
1/2 cup Parmesan grated

Cook pasta as per instructions on the packet.
Heat a little olive oil in a pan and saute bacon until crispy.
Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 min
Add celery, sugar snaps, peas, mint, salt and pepper and cook for another minute.
Add cheese pasta sauce and heat through on a simmer for 2 min.
Add Parmesan and pasta off the stove and mix well.

Voila ... as we say here.  Enjoy.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Spicy Sausage and Prawn Jambalaya

Playing in the kitchen today I had so much fun with this one.  I felt like something tummy warming with a good kick.  Jambalaya is traditionally a Louisiana Creole dish of Spanish and French influence and is also a close cousin to the well- known saffron coloured paella, also of Spain origin.  This is my easy and affordable take on it ...

3 good spicy sausages (Chorizo)
Olive oil for frying
2 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
1 tbsp Paprika
1 red Chilli (optional)
250g long grain rice
1 can tomatoes with garlic & herbs
1 tsp sugar
400ml chicken stock
200g cooked prawns, shells off

Fry sausages for 3 - 4 min in a little oil in a deep frying pan, remove from pan.
Cook onions for 5 min or until soft (add a little oil if needed)
Add red pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and chilli and cook for a few minutes.
Stir in the uncooked rice to coat grains well.
Add tomatoes, sugar and enough stock to cover rice.
Pop on the lid and simmer for about 12-14 minutes until rice is tender.
5 min before cooking time ends, add Chorizo sausage and stir in well.
Cover and continue to cook for the balance of the 5 min.
Stir in prawns and heat through, lid on.

Serve straight away

Can't wait to do this again in winter when the snow is falling with a good bottle of red.
Hope you had a super weekend!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Boeuf Bourguignonne

Recently I enjoyed a 48hr whirl-wind weekend in Paris.  We had no pre-made plans except to see all the famous sites in one day - which we did, and only eat in restaurants that were 'red', be it in their chairs, table clothes or awnings and we were not disappointed once!  I can honestly say that I ate the best Boeuf Bourguignonne I have ever eaten in a simple little side street cafe.  And yes, with my persuasive ways, got their secret ingredient  in their recipe.  Here it is, with a little tweak from me are going to need a slow cooker for this one.

(This is for you John Quinan)

1 1/2 kg stewing beef
60g butter
2 tbsp brandy
1 carrot peeled, grated
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups red wine (Full bodied - Bordeaux or Burgundy)
1 cup port
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 cup tomato puree
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Sprig thyme
120g smoked ham, cubed (smoked)
200g baby onions, stalks removed, peeled

Cut beef into cubes.
Heat butter in a large saute pan and add meat in small quantities and brown.
Return all meat to the pan, add brandy and cook off for 2 min.
Add carrots, salt, pepper,wine, port, stock, tomato puree, bay leaves, garlic, thyme and ham, and bring to the boil.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour on top of the stove.
Transfer meat and liquid into a slow cooker.
Stir in blended corn flour with remainder stock, stir well.
Add onions, cover and cook for 6 hours on automatic.

Bon Appetite ... and here is to the beautiful, friendly city of Paris.


Saturday, 31 August 2013

Bruschetta with Sweet Peppers, Italian Ham and Parmesan

I am having a wonderful day playing in the kitchen testing (and tweaking) a few recipes I found in Paris last week to share with you. Feeling a little hungry though, so time to make one of Shaun and my favourite snacks.  It is so easy and also great as an appetiser when entertaining.  Here we go ...

Good olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded & sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded & sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp fresh basil, cut into slithers
Salt & pepper to taste
1 baguette
2 garlic cloves for rubbing
8 slices Italian ham
Parmesan, shaved
Dill for garnish

Heat 2 tbsp oil on a medium heat in a saute pan.
Add peppers, onion and cook until soft - about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with sugar and cook for a further 2 min.
Stir in basil and season with salt & pepper.
Slice baguette 1 inch thick on the diagonal and brush lightly with a little olive oil.
Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 5 min at 180'C until lightly browned.
Whilst still hot rub one side with the garlic cloves.
Top each slice with ham, WARM pepper mix and a generous amount of shaved Parmesan.
Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle some dill and serve immediately.

This is oh-so-delicious.  Try it and let me know how if you like it!


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Rolled Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Hubby and I are off to Paris tomorrow for the weekend, and I can't wait.  So I am whipping up a FAST FRIDAY FABULOUS meal on a Thursday, because tomorrow I will be dining with kings.  Easiest meal for me would be stuffed chicken breasts - using whatever is in the fridge.  You really can use anything.  This is what I am doing:

2 chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
Cajun pepper to taste
2 tbsp soft goats cheese
4 slices salami
2 tsp tomato pesto
Few fresh basil leave
100 ml cream

Place chicken breasts on some cling film.
Generally season with salt, pepper and Cajun pepper.
Cover with another piece of cling film and hit them with a rolling pin to make them thin.
Add 1 tbsp cheese on each breast and spread evenly.
Add 2 salami pieces on each breast.
Add 1 tsp pesto to each breast and spread over the salami.
Add  some basil leaves on top.
Starting at one end, carefully roll chicken breasts and secure with tooth pics or a skewer.
Don't worry if some of the filling oozes out - this makes a great sauce!
Heat a skillet pan (metal handle) with a little olive oil.
Brown each side of the breasts for 4 min until nice and brown.
Bake at 180'C for 10 min.
Remove from oven, pour cream around the breast, mix to de-glaze pan to make a sauce.
Allow to stand for 5 min and serve.

Time to go and pack ... what should I wear???? 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Lemon Tart Cheat

#eatloveplaywithfood : Lemon Tart Cheat
This is the best dessert cheat ever - thanks #Nigella Lawson - and it only takes 5 minutes to make.  You can use any fruit really, I had tinned mangoes in the pantry, so voila they are.  

1 pkt digestive biscuits
150g butter
400g Philadelphia Light Cheese
150g lemon curd (store bought)
Vanilla sweetener sachet (optional)
2 ripe mango, sliced

  • Place biscuits and butter in a processor and blend to fine crumbs
  • Pour into a pie dish and using a spoon press crumbs over bottom and up the sides
  • Place in the fridge to cool
  • In a bowl mix cheese and lemon curd until well combined
  • Pour mix into chilled base
  • Sprinkle vanilla sweetener over the top
  • Place mango over topping
  • Return to fridge until serving

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Home-made Lemonade ... with a kick

Stunning Saturday ... I am in my shorts and cozzy (AKA costume to the rest of the world) and playing in the garden.  Okay I believe it now, a lemon tree cannot grow in a pot!  I have been nursing my baby for 4-months now, and I have fruit but it is falling off before maturing.  Yes, I have done the cardinal sin of transplanting my baby in summer and in fruit. Let's hold thumbs she survives the move to the garden.  
Talking lemons .... I thought I would whip up some home-made lemonade ... with a twist/kick of course.  Here we go ... 

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tots Amaretto liqueur
Handful of fresh mint leaves
Cold water and ice to dilute to taste

Dissolve sugar in water in a small saucepan on a medium heat, stirring all the time.
Add lemon juice and Amaretto and remove from the heat.
Add bruised whole leaves of mint
Before serving add cold water and ice to taste ....

Very refreshing ..... quick awesome actually!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Crunchy Baked Chicken Fingers

It has been a hectic week at work and I am so glad to be able to embrace the weekend. Time to take a big breath.  Have just whipped up a great fabulous Friday fast dinner, ideal to end a busy week.

2 chicken breasts

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup curry paste
2 tbsp milk
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 cup breakfast cornflakes
1/2 cup Panko or breadcrumbs
1/2 cup salted almonds

Preheat oven to 230'C.
Cover breast with cling wrap and hit with a rolling pin to 1/4 inch thick.
Cut into thick fingers.
Mix together mayonnaise, curry paste, milk, spring onion, salt, pepper and paprika.
Blend cornflakes, Panko and nuts in a food processor to make crumbs.
Dip each finger into paste and then roll in coating until covered.
Line a baking sheet and bake for 15 min each side until crispy and brown.

Serve with a mustard and dill guacamole: blog label - recipes; dips

Chunky Avocardo Dip

2 ripe avos
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
8 dashes hot sauce
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 med garlic glove, minced
2 tbsp dill, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped

Cut avos in half.
Remove pip and take flesh out of the skin.
Immediately add lemon juice, hot sauce, mustard, onion, garlic, dill, salt and pepper.
Using a sharp pairing knife, slice through avo making chunks.
Add tomatoes and mix well.
Adjust seasoning.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Easy Apple Tart and Champagne Cocktail

So I just bumped into some friends in town who are popping around shortly for a leisurely Sunday drink and catch-up.  No need for panic, I always have some pastry in the freezer, fruit in the kitchen and chilled bubbles in the fridge. Going to whip up a very easy apple delight to be enjoyed with a fruit champagne cocktail ... here we go:

4 tbsp raisins
20ml rum
10ml vanilla essence
2 apples, skin on thinly sliced
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp orange zest
1 tsp flour
50g melted butter
1 sheet ready-made puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
Double vanilla ice-cream

  • Preheat oven to 200'C.
  • Place raisins, rum and vanilla essence in a bowl and microwave for 30 sec.  Allow to cool.
  • Place apples, sugar, cinnamon, orange zest and flour in a bowl and mix to combine.
  • Add melted butter and raisins with their juice and mix well.
  • Cut pastry into a big circle using a dinner plate as a guide.
  • Layer apple mixture leaving 1 1/2 inch border.
  • Gently fold the border over to enclose apple edges and brush pastry and fruit with egg.
  • Place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper, bake for 20 min.
  • Serve with double vanilla ice-cream.

Elderflower Champagne Cocktail:
Place 4 mint leaves in a champagne flute.  Bruise leaves with a back of a spoon to release flavours.  Add 2 tbsp Elderflower concentrate syrup (or similar) and top up with you favourite bubbles.

Just a perfect Sunday something to share with some good friends.  Make it count ...

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Amaretto Sour

Just back from dropping my folks off at Midi Station, they are on their way back to South Africa after a stunning 3-week stay.  Sun is still high, temp is 25'c, humidity at 50% so bearable, and a light wind blowing.  Perfect time for a cool cocktail and a little R&R to get the emotions all back where they belong.  Hubby is whipping me up a refreshing, cool Mediterranean favourite ....

Picture courtesy Quinten Veerman

Pour 40ml Amaretto liqueur into a cocktail shaker, half filled with ice.  Add 15ml fresh lime juice, some sugar to taste and shake .... shake very well.  Strain and pour into an old fashioned glass and of course the best part ...sit back and enjoy!

Had an awesome weekend. Hope you made yours count!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Chunky Shepherd's Pie

1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 white onions, chopped
900g minced lamb
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 small tin tomato paste
1 large tin beef / oxtail soup
2 tbsp hot sauce
Salt & pepper
6 potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp butter
125ml milk
3 tbsp cream cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Heat oil and butter in a large pot.
Add garlic, onions, mince, celery, carrots and cook until browned well about 10 min
Add tomato paste, soup, hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste.  Not too much salt.
Simmer for 10 min.
Remove from stove and place mince in an oven proof dish and allow to cool.
Boil potatoes in salt water until soft.
Season with salt and pepper, add butter, milk, cream cheese and mash
Sprinkle grated cheese on mince and cover with mash.
Brush top with a little milk and cook uncovered  for 20 min at 200'C until brown.

Comfort food and family together just works don't you think?

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Chilli Buffalo Wings with a Chèvre Dipping Sauce

It is 27 degrees, clear skies and I'm cleaning my golf clubs from 2 yrs storage in prep for a round at the driving range tomorrow. The BBQ is lit and check out what I am grilling...

1kg chicken wings (cut last little winglet off  and discard as they tend to burn)
1 bottle beer
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1tbsp chilli powder
1tsp coriander, freshly crushed
2tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp chilli sauce
1 tbsp butter, melted

Get the BBQ going and burn coals down to a hot / moderate heat.
Marinade chicken in beer for a hour or so and then drain.
Mix salt, pepper, paprika, chilli powder and coriander in a bowl and add drained chicken.
Add olive oil and mix with your hands to lock in spice.
Grill wings until tender.
Remove from grill, dowse with chilli sauce and melted butter and mix with your hands.

Chèvre dipping sauce:
Mix 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 tbsp chopped spring onions, salt & pepper, 1 tbsp vinegar.  Crumble 60g chèvre cheese (aka goats cheese) and mix well to remove all lumps.  Serve on the side with your wings.

Today's reason to celebrate a weekend!