Category Archives: Main courses

Slow braised short rib butternut puree recipe

Slow braised short ribs with butternut mash

Sundays are for…? Slow braised short ribs with butternut mash. A hearty winter warmer with fall off the bone meat and a buttery smokey honeyed butternut mash.

I always ask the guys at Country meat butchery and deli in Fourways, to cut me about 3kgs of short ribs from a full slab. I then portion them out into individual ribs, ready for braising.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

For the short ribs

  • 1.5 kg short ribs (approximately 8-12 ribs)
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

For the butternut mash

  • 1 butternut, skinned and sliced into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Coat the beef short ribs with sprinkling of salt, pepper and smoked paprika and place in a hot frying pan with the coconut oil. Brown on all sides.
  2. Cut up the onion, carrot, leek, thyme and garlic.
  3. Transfer the seared short ribs, bone side up, to an oven roasting dish or dutch oven.
  4. Add the vegetables to the frying pan and fry for about 3 minutes. Add the sugar, pepper and soy sauce and scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. After a minute or two, add the red wine and let it bubble for another minute.
  5. Pour the veggie, soy and wine mixture over the short ribs in the oven dish. Add more water just cover the ribs.
  6. Put the lid on and braise/roast the short ribs for an hour. After an hour, turn the heat down to 160 degrees C for another 2 hours.
  7. About 30 minutes before the ribs are ready, boil the butternut in salted water until soft.
  8. Drain the liquid, add the paprika, honey and butter and mash it all up. You can use a stick blender if you wish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. What you’re looking for is a buttery puree/mash with a subtle hint of smokey paprika and some sweetness from the honey.
  9. Remove the short rib from the oven and place in a roasting tray. Bump up the oven to full and grill the ribs for about 2-3 minutes – just to render and crisp up the fat.
  10. Depending on the amount of liquid left in the original oven dish, you may want to reduce some of the braising liquid.
  11. Take out the ribs, spoon over some of the braising liquid an let it rest for at least 5 minutes.
  12. Make a quick salad of chopped cucumber, tomato and avocado with a rice vinegar and olive oil dressing. This will cut through the richness of the short rib.
  13. Serve the short ribs on a bed of the mash and a spoonful of the braised vegetables and liquid.

    After this hearty meal, you will probably want to go take a nap. You deserve it.

wpid-img_9266.jpg

Roast pork belly with fennel

I have a confession to make. I love pork belly. There are few things in life that awakens the taste buds like a crunchy crackling serving of juicy pork belly. Let’s get into it…
image

Ingredients
1.3kg pork belly roast
4 sprigs rosemary, chopped
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, zest only
1½ tbsp maldon or himalyan salt
1 tbsp olive oil
4 medium carrots
2 large fennel bulbs
4 cloves garlic
200ml white wine
squeeze lemon juice

Method
For extra crispy crackling I like to make sure the pork belly is washed and patted dry. Score the skin with a sharp kitchen knife in either a diamond pattern or thin horizontal lines. Put it in a glass tray, with another one on top, weighted down with two cans or any other heavy weight. This ensures a relatively even thickness of the pork belly. Keep it in the fridge over night.

Preheat the oven to 220C

Chop the rosemary leaves, pepper, lemon zest and salt. Rub the pork all over with the oil before rubbing the herb and salt mixture into the skin, pushing it in between the scored lines. Place the pork onto a rack in a roasting tin, skin-side up, and cook for 40 minutes or until the skin starts to puff and crisp at the edges.

In the meantime, remove the stalks of the fennel (keep the fronds). Slice the bulb into thin wedges. Flatten the garlic and remove the peel, leaving the cloves whole. Cut the carrots into quarters.

Remove the pork belly from the oven and turn the oven down to 160C. Lift the rack and add the fennel, garlic, carrots and wine to base of the roasting tin and coat with any of the pork fat drippings. Set the rack with pork back on top. Return the tray to the oven and roast for a a further hour at 160C.

Remove the fennel and carrots from the oven, squeeze over some of the lemon juice, set aside and keep warm.

Turn the oven back up to 200C. Cook the pork for another 20 minutes, or until the skin is crisped up to your liking.

Remove te pork belly, rest for 5-10 minutes and slice. Serve with fennel and carrots, sprinkling over the chopped reserved fennel fronds for garnish (optional).

You’ll love it so much, you’ll probably lick the plates clean while wishing you had bought a larger pork roast. So next time, get a 3kg roast and double the recipe. Trust me on this.

pulled pork sliders Paleo

Pulled pork sliders with sweet potato buns

pulled pork sliders Paleo

I have a soft spot for anything with pulled pork in the title. I’ve eaten some of the best pulled pork at the Pitt Cue Co in Soho London. While I managed to get their cookbook to try and recreate their sublime dish at home, it is quite a lengthy process as it involves a number of sauces and a smoking process that take the better part of the week to make. The taste is completely out of this world and definitely worth your while as the sauces make up the base for many of their other dishes.

But when a pulled pork craving hits and you’re fresh out of mother sauce, you’re going to have to improvise. Below is the result of that improvisation. Bite-sized pulled pork sliders that are Paleo / Banting (LCHF) friendly, by substituting the buns with sweet potatoes. The trick though is to try and get the biggest even shaped sweet potatoes that you can find as to best mimick a mini-burger. Mine ranged between small and medium, but actually worked out perfectly well as delicious bite-sized morsels.

The list of ingredients and the three processes may seem daunting, but it’s pretty easy to make and taste delicious.

Ingredients for the pulled pork

  • 1 smoked boston butt pork roast (1kg – go bigger if you can)
  • 2 large onions – quartered
  • 1 tablespoon five-spice
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup water

Ingredients for the barbeque sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion – diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic – finely chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 tablespoons tomato sauce

Ingredients for the sweet potato buns

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch of maldon salt

To make the pulled pork

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 160 C
  2. Stir together the spices and rub all over the roast.
  3. Lay the onion slices down on the bottom of the roasting pan together with the water and bay leaf.
  4. Put the roast on top of the onions, cover with lid or foil and cook for 2 hours.
  5. When done, take the roast out and shred the meat with two forks.
  6. Keep the pan juices and onions aside as we’ll combine those with the barbeque sauce

To make the barbeque sauce

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan, add onion and garlic with some seasoning and the sugar, and fry for 5 minutes until softened.
  2. Add paprika and stir to combine.
  3. Cook for 10-15 minutes until onion is caramelising, then add vinegar and let it cook out for a few minutes.
  4. Add Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce, mix well and continue to cook for about 8 minutes until sauce has reduced.
  5. Combine the barbeque sauce with your reserved pan juices and onions from the pork roast.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning.

pulled pork sliders Paleo

At this point you can now combine the barbeque sauce with the pulled pork.

pulled pork sliders Paleo

Method for the sweet potato buns

  • Slice the sweet potato into 1/2 cm rounds. Lay them out on a roasting tray lined with baking paper.
  • Brush each slice with coconut oil and sprinkle with the spices, flip and repeat
  • Bake at 220 C for about 15 minutes, turn them over and bake for another 15 minutes until brown on the outside and cooked through.

To assemble
Top a slice of sweet potato with some lettuce, thinly sliced tomato, a generous helping of the pulled pork and finish with another slice of sweet potato. You can of course add any other toppings of your choice, but these turned out finger-licking good.

pulled pork sliders Paleo

Slow roast leg of lamb rosemary garlic smoked paprica rub

Slow roast leg of lamb with garlic, rosemary, paprika rub

Slow roast leg of lamb rosemary garlic smoked paprica rub

There’s not much to say about a slow roasted leg of lamb. It is as classic as it gets. Comfort food at its best.

I’m getting pretty partial to smoked paprika at the moment, so most of my meat-based dishes and smoky vegetables are sprinkled quite liberally with this heavenly spice. Paprika is a spice made from ground, dried fruits of bell pepper or chili pepper varieties or mixtures thereof.

I have some Spanish smoked paprika, which is rather mild but has a distinctive oak flavour. Add to that some garlic, olive oil and rosemary and you have a winning rub.

Ingredients

  • 1 leg of lamb, approximately 1.5-2 kg
  • 4 giant garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Himalayan salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
  • 2 sprigs thyme, chopped
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • olive oil
  • 3-4 large sweet potatoes, cut in rings
  • garlic clove, minced
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2 tbsp butter

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  2. Rinse the lamb and pat dry.
  3. Mix all the ingredients: garlic, rosemary, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper together in a pestle and mortar. Add enough of the olive oil to make a nice thick paste. Rub over the lamb on both sides.
  4. Place the lamb into a deep sided roasting tray and add 250ml of water to the tray.
  5. Cover the lamb with foil and roast for 3-4 hours, basting from time to time until the meat is falling off of the bone.
  6. When cooked, remove the lamb from the oven and transfer to a board or plate. Cover with foil and leave to rest for 15- 20 minutes.
  7. Preserve the pan juices for your gravy.
  8. Cut up the sweet potatoes and cook in boiling, salted water. When cooked but still firm, drain in a colander.
  9. Add butter, garlic and thyme to a pan and heat till foamy. Add the sweet potatoes and fry till just brown and crispy on the outside.

Slow roast leg of lamb rosemary garlic smoked paprica rub
To serve, carve the lamb into chunks and serve with the sweet potatoes. Pour over the pan juices.

Moroccan mince with couscous

Moroccan mince with couscous

image

After visiting Morocco earlier this year and receiving a tagine as a Christmas gift, we felt like something Moroccan inspired for our post gammon and turkey hangover. This Moroccan mince with couscous dish is extremely simple to make and ready in about 30 minutes.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 t ground turmeric
  • 100g dried apricots, chopped
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 cup couscous
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • knob of butter
  • 4 T fresh mint, chopped
  • 50g unsalted cashews, toasted

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan, add onions and cook gently for 5 minutes until soft.
  2. Stir in the spices, coating the onions, then add the mince and fry till brown.
  3. Add the apricots and stock and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and cook gently for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add couscous into a bowl and cover with just boiled water. Once it has absorbed all the water, fork through a knob of butter, lemon zest and mint to give it a nice fluffy texture. Season to taste.
  5. To assemble, spoon couscous onto serving plate, pile the mince mixture on top and scatter with the cashews.

Note
We have some Ras-el-hanout spice from Morocco which gives the dish a bit more complex flavours where up to 30 or more different spices could be in the mix, so you could use that instead of the cumin, cinnamon and turmeric suggested in the recipe. Ras-el-hanout can now be found at most good Pick-n-Pay stores.

South Africans may also have noticed some slight similarities in flavour between this Moroccan dish from North Africa and the traditional South African bobotie recipe. The kids therefore asked that we add some slices of banana and sprinkle some coconut on their portions. Nothing wrong with adding a dollop of chutney too while you’re at it.

Traditionally, Moroccans serve their couscous with seven vegetables, so if you want to bulk up the dish with some oven grilled veggies such as courgettes, red peppers, aubergines, red onions, butternut, carrots, parsnips and leeks then just chop them up, drizzle some olive oil, coat with harissa (chili kick), salt and pepper and pop them into an oven at 180 C for 30 mins or until cooked and caramelised.

Caramelised onion and blue cheese tart

Balsamic caramelised onion and blue cheese tart

Balsamic caramelised onion and blue cheese tart

A quick recipe for caramelised onion and blue cheese tarts. We normally make this on a Friday for our weekly pizza night, but this time I wanted to use light and crispy puff pastry. I served this as an accompaniment to the beetroot gazpacho. The sweetness of the balsamic caramelised onion and the creaminess of the blue cheese was a great contrast to the vinegary gazpacho.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 6 large red onions, sliced
  • 30ml thyme
  • 4 tbs brown sugar
  • 4 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 packet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg
  • wedge of blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup roasted cashew nuts

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large frypan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, thyme, a pinch of salt and pepper and cook slowly for 20 minutes. The onions cook down quite a bit, therefore the amount of onions required.
  2. When onions are softened, add sugar and balsamic. Cook over low heat for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sticky and caramelised. Set aside.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C and roll out the puff pastry to fit a baking tray. Fold over the edges to make a wall and brush with beaten egg. Pierce the base of the pastry with a fork.
  4. Spread the onions, crumbed blue cheese and cashews evenly to cover the base of the pastry.
  5. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden.

As mentioned, this complimented the beetroot gazpacho, but you can serve this with a rocket and tomato salad.

Crispy chicken goujons

You’ve watched the Food Network a number of times and heard some of the chefs mentioning goujons? What are goujons? These are basically small strips of fish or chicken, coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried – a cheffy way of saying nuggets, but much tastier and healthier. The kids love them.

Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1/2 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 100g fresh breadcrumbs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Method

  1. Cut the chicken into fingers or chunks, not too thick.
  2. Mix the yoghurt, lemon juice, zest, coriander, garlic and mustard together.
  3. In a separate dish mix the breadcrumbs and salt and pepper.
  4. Mix the chicken into the yoghurt mixture and let stand in the fridge for 30 minutes. If you can’t wait, don’t worry.
  5. Take out the chicken pieces, allowing the excess to drip off, then coat in breadcrumbs, pressing them on lightly with your fingers. Put on a plate. Repeat until all the pieces are coated.
  6. Pour a few teaspoons of oil into a non-stick frying pan and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the pieces to the pan (you’ll may need to do this in batches).
  7. Fry for about four minutes each side until golden.
  8. Drain on kitchen paper.

I served these with a fresh garden salad and a selection of dips, aioli for the adults, All-gold tomato sauce for the kiddies or even some mustard or sweet chilli sauce goes down a treat.

Stuffed roast chicken

Stuffed roast chicken for Sunday lunch

Sundays are for family. There’s nothing better than having the entire family around the lunch table. In South Africa this tradition normally involves a braai (barbeque), roast leg of lamb or as our family often does, a stuffed roast chicken with all the trimmings (think potatoes roasted in garlic and rosemary or candied thyme carrots).

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 5 rashers of bacon, diced
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 8 sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • 2 tablespoons mixed herbs
  • smoked paprika
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C
  2. Fry the bacon in a little olive oil till brown. Add the onion, garlic, herbs, sun dried tomato and chickpeas till hot.
  3. Drizzle the chicken with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.
  4. Stuff the chicken with the chickpea mix.
  5. Pour the wine and water in a roasting pot, add the chicken and cover with the lid.
  6. Cook at 200 for 1 hour.
  7. Uncover and transfer the chicken to grill for a further 25-30 minutes, until the juices run clear.
  8. Make a gravy out of the pan juices.
  9. Rest the chicken for 15 minutes.
  10. Cut the chicken up and pour over some of the gravy.
  11. Serve with the stuffing, some garlic and rosemary roast potatoes, candied carrots or a tomato, leafy green salad.

Chickpeas with bacon & sun dried tomato.

Note

I used a rose wine instead of white wine which made the gravy a tad too vinegary. If the wine is not cooked off enough to your taste, add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar and cook the gravy a little longer. The longer it cooks, the more the wine will cook off. The sugar definitely balances out the wine/vinegar taste.

spaghetti pomodoro

Tre gli spaghetti pomodoro – Three tomato spaghetti

image

Spghetti pomodoro is intended to be a quick light dish, and this one is full of tomato goodness. It is basically spaghetti tossed with three types of tomatoes – whole peeled, cherry and sundried with crispy bacon, sweet basil, garlic and topped with corriander.

Ingredients

  • Spaghetti pasta
  • Can of whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 6 sundried tomatoes
  • 4-6 slices of back bacon diced or slices
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Handful of basil leaves chopped finely or (1 tablespoon dried sweet basil)
  • Couple of sprigs corriander leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chilli flakes (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Method

  • Cook the pasta in boiling water per packet instructions
  • Heat up some oil in a pan and fry the bacon with some finely chopped garlic and half the basil
  • When almost crispy, add the cherry tomatoes and heat till they start to blister
  • Remove from pan and keep warm
  • Add the can of whole tomatoes to the hot pan and roughly break into pieces
  • When the sauce starts to bubble, add the rest of the basil, sundried tomatoes and the cherry tomatoes back to the pan
  • When heated through, take off the heat, add the bacon, season to taste and top off with the corriander.

image

By now the pasta is also ready, drain and serve with the tomato sauce. Add some chilli flakes and grated parmesan (optional).

Thai chicken curry

Thai chicken curry and white chocolate cardamom mousse for dessert

Thai chicken curry

A few weeks ago we visited the Fourways Farmers market, curious to see and sample some fresh local produce and home made treats.

Victoire was looking for cardamom pods for some time and as luck would have it, managed to not only find a vendor that had cardamom, but also a smörgåsbord of other fresh herbs, spices and tidbits for our cooking endeavours. He even made up some barbeque spice for us. Watch out though, if you don’t pay close attention you’ll end up with some really hot spices and a huge dent in your pocket.

Inspired by the cardamom find, I happened to recall a recipe for white chocolate cardamom mousse from Nigel Slater’s Real Food cookbook – something I wanted to try for a long time. So this weekend, I finally got all the ingredients together for the decadent dessert.

Check out this quick Vine video of me whipping up the white chocolate cardamom mousse.

Read more about this recipe here.

With dessert sorted, I decided to continue on the fragrant Asian theme and make a Thai chicken curry for a change.

This one is very simple and is quite adaptable to whatever vegetables you have in your fridge.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Thai curry paste (I used panang curry paste – only 15% chilli)
  • 4-6 skinless boneless chicken thighs, cubed
  • can coconut milk
  • 10 baby sweetcorn, halved lengthways
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, halving the florets
  • 1/2 head broccoli, halving the florets
  • 1/2 punnet of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 packet medium rice noodles
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
  • small handful fresh coriander leaves

Method

  1. Heat oil in saucepan. Stir in the curry paste and cook for a few seconds. Add the chicken pieces and fry gently.
  2. Add the coconut milk, baby sweetcorn, cauliflower and mushrooms and bring to the boil. Partly cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Bring a pot of water to the boil with a little oil to prevent the noodles from sticking and add the rice noodles. When it reaches boiling point, switch off the heat and let it stand for 4 minutes.
  4. Drain the noodles and add to the pan. Add the broccoli stems on top and simmer for 4 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Add the lime zest and juice, fish sauce, coriander and stir well.
  6. Serve in a bowl, garnishing with fresh coriander, lime wedge and some red chilli (optional).

The dish turned out deliciously fragrant with just a hint of heat. The family gobbled it all up with no left-overs for a snack or work lunch. That to me is a sign of a successful dish.

We ended the meal off with the white chocolate cardamom mousse – a very rich, velvety finish to a delicious meal.

Fish finger wrap

Fun fish finger wraps

Fun fish finger wraps

It’s the middle of the month and the pennies are tight. Our fridge has all kinds of leftover bits and pieces from the weekend and we were stuck for quick 15-minute dinner ideas.

In the fridge we had a handful or two of baby spinach leaves, a bunch of coriander leaves, half a green pepper, some alfalfa sprouts, an avocado, parmesan cheese and a small jar of dressing left over from the polenta crusted chicken caesar salad I made over the weekend.

So I went scratching through the freezer and found some tortilla wraps. These would go perfectly with all the vegies. Now I just needed a protein that was quick to defrost and that the kids would still enjoy. My eyes fell on a half a box of fish fingers. A perfect light-bulb moment.

So without further ado, fun (for the kids) fish finger wraps done in 15 minutes.

Ingredients (for those who like lists)

  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • 4 sprigs (or a small bunch) of coriander leaves
  • half a green pepper
  • 4 pinches of alfalfa sprouts (more to taste)
  • 1 diced avocado
  • 8 slices of parmesan cheese
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • dressing of your choice or some sweet-chili sauce
  • about 12 (or more) frozen fish fingers
  • 4 tortilla wraps

Dressing – leftover from an earlier dish

  • 2 tsp garlic-infused olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 40g parmesan cheese
  • 4 anchovy filets
  • 4 tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp red vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 bunch fresh coriander
  • Squeeze the juice from the lemons and place everything in a food processor and process.

Method

  • turn the oven on full whack and set to the grill and bake setting
  • spread out the fish fingers on a baking tray and place in the oven for 5 minutes
  • meanwhile roughly chop your baby spinach leaves
  • dice your avocado, tomatoes and green pepper and divide into four equal heaps
  • heat up each individual wrap on a plate in the microwave for 30 seconds (45 if you like it hot)
  • 5 minutes would have passed by now, so turn your oven down to 220 degrees C and set to bake
  • slice the parmesan cheese into 8 shavings
  • after 5 minutes, turn the oven on to the grill and bake setting and turn it down to 200 degrees C
  • add the parmesan shavings to the baking tray (with the fish fingers) to melt until golden crisps (it will crisp up while cooling down)
  • start assembling your wraps by spreading about a tablespoon full of the dressing, sweet chili sauce or any other sauce (mayo works well too) in a strip on the wrap
  • top with the shredded baby spinach leaves, avo, tomato and green pepper as well as a sprig of coriander,
  • sprinkle with some alfalfa sprouts
  • by now the fish fingers and parmesan crisps are done (15 minutes total), line 3 fish fingers on top of the veggies and place 2 of the parmesan crisps on top
  • roll and fold tightly, slice each wrap in half and marvel as the kids devour everything and ask for seconds

This recipe served 2 adults and 2 kids and can be prepared as a lunchtime snack or a fuss-free dinner. Works equally well with chicken or beef.

Roast leg of lamb – Heston Blumenthal style

I’m a huge fan of Heston Blumenthal‘s food, oft for the shear entertainment factor as for the ability to recreate his recipes at home. Imagine my delight then when I stumbled on Heston Blumenthal at Home at the local Exclusive Books store. The How to cook like Heston TV series also had us glued to the television on Thursday evenings.

Hands up if you’ve ever wanted to perfect the art of poaching an egg or making melt in your mouth steak. Then this cookbook is for you.

Fast forward to today, a cold wintery and misty day in Johannesburg. Real comfort food weather.
I already had a roast leg of lamb in my mind, but wanted to try something different. Perhaps not the recipe as such, but the cooking method. So I paged through Heston’s book and found his roast leg of lamb with anchovy, garlic and rosemary recipe.

At first most people may think anchovies with lamb? Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. The anchovies don’t bring a fishiness to the lamb, but rather a nice salty depth to the overall dish.

Unfortunately for me, I used up all our anchovies about two weeks ago when I made an anchovy butter for our pasta. I opted to replace the anchovies with some smoked streaky bacon. Also something that brings a smoky saltiness to the dish.

So on with the details.

Notes before you begin

  • The recipe serves 4 hungry people
  • You will need a meat thermometer
  • Cooking time: 4 hours + 30 mins for resting
  • Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1.8 –2.2kg whole leg of lamb
  • sea salt
  • 3 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 12 anchovies, sliced in half lengthways – I substituted this with 6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled, halved and de-germed
  • fresh rosemary (4 sprigs)
  • 400ml milk (semi-skimmed / 2%)

For the sauce

  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 500g lamb or chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 80 degrees Celsius. Yes, this is right, low and slow.
  2. Season the lamb with salt. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan over a high heat. When the oil is smoking hot, sear the lamb until golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and place in a roasting tray.
  3. Blanch the garlic in 100ml milk four times, using fresh 100ml milk each time.
  4. Cut the blanched garlic into slivers.
  5. Using a sharp knife, cut slits in the surface of the lamb at regular intervals. Use a small spoon to enlarge the holes and stuff them with the anchovies (or bacon), garlic and the rosemary.
  6. Place the lamb in the oven for approximately 3-4 hours until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 55 degrees Celsius.
  7. When cooked, remove the lamb from the oven, wrap it in foil and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.
  8. While the meat is resting, make the sauce. Place the roasting tray over a medium-high heat. Add the wine and use a spatula to scrape all the delicious bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow the liquid to reduce by half. Add the chicken stock and mustard and reduce to a sauce consistency.
  9. Strain and pour into a warm jug to serve with the lamb.

Tips for carving the lamb
Grip the knob of bone that juts out of the meat with your left hand (reverse if left-handed). Keeping the joint flat on the board, rounded side upwards, cut into the meat from the top downwards, until the knife meets bone, in slices of whatever thickness you prefer, all the way along the top of the meat. Then, while still gripping the bone, run the knife horizontally across the meat, just above the bone, separating the slices. Turn over and repeat on the other side.

This method of cutting across the grain actually makes the meat seem more tender as you’re biting into the grain as opposed to across the grain which will be more chewier and tougher.

Heston explains it best by comparing it to chopping a log of wood. Trying to chop the log horizontally will be all near impossible. However, standing the log vertically and chopping into the top following the grain, the log will split more easily and naturally.

Courgette lasagne

Re-post of the recipe that appeared on Aquilaonline, my other blog.


Zucchini or otherwise courgette lasagne
View Zucchini or otherwise courgette lasagne on Instagram.

Ingredients

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 can tomato and onion mix
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3 medium courgette
  • 2 cups mozzarella or cheddar cheese, shredded

Bechamel sauce (makes about double than what is required)

  • 60g butter
  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 4 1/2 cups milk
  • 75g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • good pinch ground nutmeg

Method
In a medium sauce pan, brown meat and season with salt. When cooked drain in colander to remove any fat. Add olive oil to the pan and saute garlic and onions about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 30-40 minutes, covered. Do not add extra water, the sauce should be thick.

Meanwhile, slice courgette into thin slices. I used a cheese slicer that had the perfect thickness. Lightly salt and set aside or 10 minutes. Courgette has a lot of water when cooked, salting it takes out a lot of moisture. After 10 minutes, blot excess moisture with a paper towel.

On a griddle pan, grill the courgette on each side, until cooked, about 2 minutes per side. Place on paper towels to soak any excess moisture.

Preheat oven to 180° Celsius.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes or until bubbling. Remove from heat. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth. Return to heat. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 10 to 12 minutes or until sauce comes to the boil, thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in parmesan, salt and nutmeg.

In a medium casserole dish spread some sauce on the bottom and layer the courgette to cover. Then place some of the white sauce mixture, then top with the mozzarella/cheddar cheese and repeat the process until all your ingredients are used up. Top with sauce and mozzarella/cheddar.

Bake 45 minutes. Let it stand about 5 – 10 minutes before serving.