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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.

Roast cauliflower soup recipe

Roasted cauliflower soup

Roasted cauliflower soup is currently our favourite go-to meal when we don’t particularly feel like cooking. Since it’s also winter here, few meals can beat the warm comforting taste of roasted cauliflower, mixed in with a healthy dose of roasted garlic and coconut cream.

Roast cauliflower soup recipe

For those on the Banting (LCHF) meal plan, this is a winner.

This recipe calls for roasting cauliflower and garlic in the oven for about half an hour until the cauliflower is tender and just starting to brown. This gives the cauliflower a deeper and richer flavour.

roasted cauliflower soup

While the cauliflower is roasting, soften the veggies and herbs in a pot. Add the cauliflower to the veggies with the stock and cook till soft.
Roast cauliflower soup - aromatics

Blend/puree the soup mix together with a can of coconut cream.
Roast cauliflower soup blending with coconut cream

And there you have it. Roast cauliflower soup with garlic and coconut cream.

Serves: 4 adults

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, ground (we use Himalayan pink salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (may use dried)
  • 4 tablespoons of coconut oil (or use olive oil)
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 can coconut cream (optional but highly recommended)

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C. Break the cauliflower into small florets, removing the core and excess stems. Toss the cauliflower and garlic cloves with 3 tablespoons of the coconut oil and season with salt and pepper and place in a roasting try.
  2. Roast for 30 minutes until the florets are soft and just starting to colour at the edges. Don’t burn or over-roast the florets as this will leave a bitter crunchy taste in the soup.
  3. Cook the chopped leek, carrot, celery and thyme in a large pot with a tablespoon of coconut oil for about 10 minutes until tender.
  4. Once the cauliflower is ready, add it to the vegetables. Add the 3 cups of vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until all the veggies are soft and the liquid has reduced.
  5. Pour the soup mixture into a food processor or use a stick blender to puree until smooth. For a totally decadent finish, blend in a can of coconut cream (the thick stuff, unless you want to use coconut milk which makes the final product a bit more liquid)
  6. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and season to taste




    A couple of notes. We’ve made this soup a couple of times and we all love it – even the kids ask for seconds. At first I used dried thyme, which left a few stalks in the final soup. This is probably unavoidable unless you want to go through the process of straining your soup for an even silkier finish, but I think this might be slightly overkill for a hearty soup. I prefer to use fresh thyme if available.

    A blender or stick blender seems to get better results than the food processor. If you want a smoother finish go for the blender, if you like it a little more chunky, the food processor will work perfectly.

    You can add as little or as much garlic to the roasting process as you want. We once put in a whole bulb and it was fantastic. Using about 6 whole cloves is the minimum we would use to get that nice rich flavour profile.

    Experiment to your taste and enjoy.

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.

Spinach lasagna al forno

spinach lasagna al forno

Nothing quite beats the winter chill like a good lasagna or lasagne if you feel like saying it in Italian.

Growing up my mom always made “green” lasagna, leaves of spinach lasagna with a rich bolognese and béchamel (white) sauce. It was only years later that we found out lasagna also came in a non-green version. Hmm…I think my parents wanted to make sure we got some extra vegetables in. That said, when there wasn’t a lot of meat in the house, I remember my mom adding more grated carrot and other veggies into the dish to “bulk” up the dish.

Either way it was super yum.

Fast forward to today, a cold and blustery winters day in Johannesburg. The only thing that could satisfy a hungry family – a hot and hearty meal. Lasagna fit the bill perfectly. I also like to make lasagna, mac-and-cheese, bobotie etc. in bulk so I doubled up the recipe below. Except for the mince, for which I bulked up with extra veggies. This yielded about 3 freezer tins of lasagna, each tin enough to feed a family of four.

Ingredients for the bolognese sauce

  • 350g minced beef
  • approx 10 sheets of spinach lasagna
  • 80g tomato paste
  • 100g grated cheddar cheese / or parmigiano if you prefer
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 onion
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Ingredients for the béchamel sauce

  • 1lt milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 50grams flour
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • nutmeg (to taste)

Method for bolognese sauce
Melt the butter in a pan and add the finely chopped celery, carrot and onion. Fry for about 5 minutes. Add the mince and cook till browned. Add the cup of wine and cook till evaporated. Add the tomato paste and stock. Cook uncovered on a medium heat for 40 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Method for béchamel sauce
About 20 minutes into the cooking time of your bolognese sauce, start making your béchamel sauce. There are few steps, but you have to take this part easy to make sure you don’t burn the milk.

Heat up the milk in a pan – the hot milk combines better with the flour and minimises lumps forming.

In another pan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and make sure all of it combines with the butter. Now add about 2-3 ladles of hot milk at a time to the flour mixture. Whisk rapidly. Keep on adding ladles of milk and whisking. The sauce should be nice and thick. Take off the heat before it boils and add salt and pepper to taste.

Building your lasagna
Spread a ladle of béchamel on the bottom of the foil tin or a buttered ovenproof dish. Add leaves of spinach lasagna to cover the tin, taking care not to overlap too much. Cover the sheets with a layer of bolognese, followed by béchamel and some grated cheese. Continue to build up your dish alternating the layers of lasagna, filling and cheese. You should end up with a top layer of cheese.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees C.

Your dish should be golden brown on top and the pasta cooked through. Serve with a side salad and a glass of wine in front of a fire.

Slow cooker oxtail stew

We received a Kenwood slow cooker as a wedding gift a year ago, and although I’m really keen on using it more often I find that there aren’t many recipes available. My first attempt at slow cooking, coq au vin, wasn’t exactly a success… the chicken turned out to be dry and the whole thing too watery. That was a recipe directly out of the kenwood slow cooker recipe book… This time was different. We bought fresh oxtail, which was really well-priced from our favourite butcher. We also picked up some lovely fresh veggies. I looked up a recipe or two on Google, read through a few of my mom-in-law’s potjiekos recipes before beginning… and best of all spent the entire day fussing over the pot, pouring as much love in as possible!
Preparation is key with this recipe… What’s nice is that you can prepare the veggies while the meat is cooking and wash up everything before you even need to add the “hard” vegetables (carrots and potatoes). We also suggest starting this early! I started cooking at 9 (the start of the 3 hour meat cooking period) and only finished by 5.

oxtail stew 2

Ingredients:

1 or 1.5kg Oxtail (we used 0.7kg, which was not really enough for 4 people)
Butter for sauteing
2 beef stock cubes
1 litre boiling water (maybe less? – I’m not sure how the food to liquid ratio works yet, but perhaps there will be less liquid at the end if less water is added in the beginning. However, I don’t know whether this affects the ability of the meat and veggies to cook or not…)

2 dried bay leaves (I added about 4)
1 tsp fresh thyme (I love fresh herbs from my herb garden so usually just chuck in a whole lot according to how I feel)
1 tsp fresh rosemary (ditto for rosemary, my favourite herb)
1 tsp ground black peppercorns

2 cloves of garlic (I added 4 small cloves, whole)
3 large potatoes
4 medium carrots
1 cup red wine
1 onion
1 red or green pepper

A pack of assorted baby marrows (e.g. patti-pans, courgettes, etc.)
1 punnet button mushrooms
Maizena mixed with a little red wine for thickening the stew

Method:

Add the bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, ground black pepper, and garlic to the slow cooker.
Fry the oxtail in some butter until well-browned on all sides.
Dissolve the stock cubes in the boiling water and add to the pan. Bring to a boil.
Add the oxtail & broth to the slow cooker.
Turn the slow cooker on to High.
Simmer for 3 hours.
Wash the potatoes and cut them into small chunks (about 1/8ths)
Wash the carrots and cut them into slices or dice them.
Add the potatoes, carrots, and wine to the slow cooker pot.
Continue simmering on high for about 2.5 hours (hopefully softish by now).
Chop up the onion and saute in some butter until clear and soft. Add to the pot.
Chop the baby marrows.
Clean the mushrooms with a damp cloth.
Add the marrows and mushrooms (whole) to the pot. There is no need to stir them in, don’t worry if they are not covered with liquid.
Simmer for 1.5 hours on High.
Remove the lid and add the maizena mixture to the pot (enough to thicken the amount of liquid in the pot).
Season with salt according to taste.
Simmer on High with the lid off until the sauce is thickened – anything from 30 min to 1 hour. The meat should be falling off the bone by now.
Serve with rice or some chunky crusty bread.

Pasta surprise

Nico was out working late the other night, so I decided to experiment with some ingredients that were about to get up and walk out of the fridge by themselves. As appetizing as that sounds, I can’t say that my dinner was delicious. Yes, it provided nourishment and didn’t taste too bad… but delicious it was not. So I’m not going to give you the recipe, believe me if you had to taste it you’d thank me for that.

Here’s a peak at what it looked like:

Pasta surprise

Mmmmm… looks yummy.

Whilst this was a vegetarian dish I did add some smoked paprika to give a meaty flavour. For some reason though this didn’t really work and the 1/2 teaspoon paprika seemed to have dissipated by the time the sauce had finished cooking. It had disappeared even further by lunchtime the following day. I have no idea why…

My lessons learnt are to plan the meal rather than just plonking ingredients into the pot randomly, canned garden peas may seem like a good idea at the time, and to remember a bit of lemon juice next time.