Tag Archives: mince

Moroccan mince with couscous

Moroccan mince with couscous

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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.

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.

Bobotie – the way mom used to make it

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for ages now – Bobotie, the way my mum used to make it.

Bobotie is a classic, traditional South African Cape Malay dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping. It is traditionally served with sambal and garnished with coconut, chutney and bananas.

Growing up, bobotie was one of my favourite dishes. Unlike most kids, I actually enjoyed the spicy notes of the curry powder and the cooked raisins. My dad and my sister would always pick out the raisins from this dish – which resulted in my mom often just removing it from the ingredients all together. She would however then substitute them with some chopped apricots. Speaking of substituting ingredients, when the purse got a bit tight in the month, mom would often half the amount of mince and add about a cup of lentils instead.

If you are vegetarian, you could easily cut out the mince all together and replace it with lentils.

To this day though, whenever I find bobotie on a menu I feel compelled to try it out, just to see how it compares with this recipe. I am obviously biased, but I think this one stands up to the best of them.

PS: This is also a great dish to make as a batch and freeze for those nights you just don’t feel like cooking or if you long for that taste of home.

Enough jabber, on with the recipe.

Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves: 8
Traditional Bobotie - the way mom used to make it
Ingredients:
60ml curry powder
30ml ginger
30ml brown sugar
15ml turmeric
2.5ml salt and pepper
170g sultanas (or raisins if you prefer)
30ml apricot jam
30ml vinegar
60ml Worcestershire sauce
60ml chutney
3 big onions (chopped)
2 cloves garlic crushed
375ml milk
2Tbs butter
olive oil for frying
2 eggs
2 slices of crust-less white bread
1kg mince
couple of bay leaves

Method:

  1. Soak bread in milk
  2. Heat oil and butter in large pan and fry onions and garlic
  3. When onions are soft add curry powder, ginger, sugar, turmeric, salt and pepper and mix well
  4. Add sultanas, apricot jam, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and chutney and mix well
  5. Drain and mash bread and reserve milk
  6. Add bread to pan together with mince and cook for approximately 15 minutes until the meat loses its pinkness – this will be a fairly dry mixture, but don’t add water, just make sure the mixture does not burn
  7. Remove from stove and spoon into a greased baking dish and level the top (or divide between smaller dishes for freezing)
  8. Beat eggs with reserved milk, you should have approx. 300ml, pour over meat mixture and put a few bay leaves on top
  9. Stand dish in a larger pan of water to prevent it from drying out
  10. Bake at 180C for 40mins or until set

Serve with some yellow rice and sambal, garnished with coconut, chutney and bananas.