Archive for April, 2012
Burgers are great for Friday Night Supper. We are big burger fans and I must be honest, if I'm watching the weight a bit I just make the whole thing minus the bun. But mostly, I can't resist and so I go the "whole hog" and eat it bun and all with the rest of the family.
You can, of course, make your own burger patties, but I, mostly, am not that organised. I pick up some really great patties from my favorite butcher and go from there.
Burgers really allow you to use your imagination. Basically, you can put almost anything on a burger and it will be fantastic.
You can also use any type of bun that takes your fancy. You can get a traditional sesame seed burger bun, mini ciabatta, ordinary round rolls or, my favourite, a portuguese roll. Sometimes I cut them open and toast them and at other times I just split the bun in half and pile things onto it.
Building your burger:
Grill or fry your patties. I always grill them as it seems the healthier option and I don't feel as guilty.
Cut the buns in half and toast if you want to. I always toast them if I know I'm putting a lot of stuff on!
Place sliced onion on the bottom half of the bun. Add your patty and then start layering. I added in this order:
- Mushroom sauce (recipe below)
- Blue Cheese
Put the lid on and serve this ultimate burger with chips. Again, as the guilt talks to me, I use ovenbake chips. They are quick and convenient and I must be honest, there is something entirely too unhealthy about deep-frying!
Quick Mushroom Sauce
Place sliced mushrooms in a dish with a bit of butter and microwave until cooked. Stir in about a tablespoon of flour. Add about a cup of milk slowly, stirring all the time. Put the dish back in the microwave and cook until the sauce has thickened, stirring every now and then. I sometimes add a splash of cream to make a richer sauce. You can also add chopped garlic, sundried tomatoes or grated cheese. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.
Sausage and Mash has to be one of the ultimate comfort foods. It is easy to make and can happen at short notice. However, I find there's only so many times you can make it without getting bored - hence the naartjie twist. Pork and fruit go very well together. The citrus fruits will cut through the richness of the pork and they really compliment each other.
For this recipe I cut an onion into wedges and placed into an ovenproof dish. Using a potato peeler I peeled a naartjie and cut the peeled skin into thin strips. I then peeled the naartjie and segmented it, before adding it to the dish. Add the pork sausages, naartjie peel,star aniseed, a teaspoon of brown sugar and a splash of sherry to the dish. If it's a cold night - pour yourself a glass of sherry!
Bake in a hot oven (about 200°C) until the sausages are browned and the onions are cooked. Meanwhile cook peeled, cubed potatoes in salted water until they are soft. Drain and mash the potatoes with some butter, milk and a little cream.
If you like gravy with your food (which my family do) use the juices from the sausage dish and thicken it with some gravy powder. I always use an ice-cream scoop to serve mash as it makes a lovely, presentable mound on the plate. Enjoy your bangers with a real south African twist!
My mom and dad are avid travellers and quite serious foodies as well. They love discovering interesting restaurants in little towns.They also explore the area thoroughly and check out all the local food producers, farmers markets and anything else "food related". I guess that's where my love for food comes from as well as the need to try all sorts of different things.
On their last trip they travelled 20km down a rutted dirt road to a fig farm. Now figs don't really feature in South African cuisine unless you are talking about fig jam. In fact, it's quite difficult to even find fresh figs in the shops. I would like to urge you - if you find them (and you can afford them) buy some fresh figs, especially the black ones.
My folks came back from holiday with a box of lovely, ripe black figs. We all went around for lunch to help eat the figs amongst other things.
Family lunches are an occasion in our house. The children play and the adults sit on the stoep under the shade of an umbrella, chat, sip wine or swig beer and enjoy my mom's cooking. For this particular lunch I was in charge of making a starter with the figs.
I cut each fig into quarters till halfway down. I then stuffed a generous portion of camembert cheese into each fig and wrapped it in streaky bacon. When we were almost ready to eat I popped them under a hot grill until the bacon was crispy. We served it with toasted ciabatta drizzled in olive oil.
Because I'd never made this before, I wasn't sure about the seasoning, but figured the bacon would provide saltiness. However when we tried it my brother-in-law made the suggestion of some black pepper and a splash of tabasco. Perfect! It was exactly what was needed to round off the dish and bring out all the delicious flavours. Thanks, Kip!
This Bacon and Chicken pie was a roaring success in my house. It has all the taste of a home made roast chicken pie like Mom used to make but took about 20 minutes to put together. That's my kind of cooking - no mess, no fuss! I used the food processor to chop things a little finer that normal. It also gives the chicken a great texture for the pie.
- Skinned, deboned chicken breasts and thighs
- Bacon, chopped
- Chicken stock cube
- Roll of puff pastry
Fry bacon in a pan until it starts to go crispy. Chop onions, carrots and celery in a food processor and add to the bacon.Fry until soft. Add whole pieces of chicken to the pan and fry until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken pieces and blitz into rough chunks in the food processor. Put the chicken back into the pan and sprinkle with some flour. Add the milk and stir until you have a thick, creamy chicken filling. Add a dash of sherry. Put the mixture into individual pots, let them cool a little,then cover each pot with puff pastry and bake. Serve with potato wedges and salad.
Stir fry is probably the closest you will get to "instant" food at home!
The other night I was heading home after a training session at the track. It was already nearly 7 o'clock and I was tired,sweaty and cold.I also had no idea what we were going to eat. With three males in the house this becomes a crisis.There is no way they'll fall for a peanut butter sandwich. Also,I'm desperately trying to rear my children to healthy adults which means you need to feed them on a regular basis!
Eventually about a kilometer from home inspiration struck - stir fry!
There are certain ingredients that ensure a fantastic tasting stir fry - fresh garlic, fresh ginger, hoisin sauce and a good soy sauce. I always have these ingredients handy as a stir fry has warded off hunger on many occasions in my house. The other thing that I have is a supply of chopsticks - it adds fun and a bit of a wow factor to something quite ordinary.
I make stir fry by frying freshly grated garlic and ginger in a little oil. I then add sliced onion, green pepper and what ever meat I am using. In this case I used finely sliced pork - but you can use chicken breasts or beef. I fried the meat with some hoisin sauce and then added some shredded vegetables. You can use anything - cabbage, spinach, carrots, baby marrow, leeks, sugar snap peas - anything that's not too starchy. Stir fry the veggies until they are crispy and use the soy sauce to season.
I usually cook a couple of packets of instant noodles or rice vermicelli - anything that cooks quickly and add it to the stir fry. If you wanted to you could cook rice and add it to the stir fry, but I find that I don't usually have the time to do that. To give it a really authentic feel, serve in deep bowls with chopsticks - it's lots of fun and I'm sure it works wonders on improving fine motor skills!
This casserole is quick and easy but definitely stick-to-your-ribs hearty. I would also like to believe it's good for you as bean dishes are high in fibre and good for the heart.
Of course, true to form though - I have taken the quick and easy route. Don't be alarmed at the number of tins you will be opening - it does still count as cooking - I promise!
I took some chippolata sausages and fried them in a little oil.I then added some cubed brinjals to fry with them.I must be honest - I never treat the brinjals in the way you are supposed to. I never have time to sweat brinjals in salt (supposedly to take out the bitterness). I guess I've always been lucky and never bought a bitter brinjal! I try to buy them as fresh as possible, nice and shiny with a green stem and that seems to be okay.
I added a tin of chopped tomatoes to the sausages and brinjals as well as a stick cube. I popped 2 potatoes in the microwave to cook for a few minutes, then peeled and diced them. I added the potatoes and two tins of mixed beans to the pan.I used mixed beans for variety, but you could put any beans in (except baked beans - I don't think that would taste nice). Add a splash of red wine - and pour yourself a glass!
To finish off the casserole stir through some cream and serve with some toasted french bread. I use my sandwich press to toast my bread but you could also put chunks under the grill to toast.
Clearing your plate is an easy way to become "greener" in your kitchen. Research has shown that we waste up to one third of food produced for consumption.
At a recent Reuters Food and Agricultural Summit it was estimated that the average American throws away about 15kg of food per month. That is over 200kg a year - which is the size of a large Gorilla! All the food waste ends up at landfills, rotting and releasing harmful methane gasses into the air.
Remember when your Mom used to say "Finish everything on your plate - there's starving children"? Although you can't feed those children directly, by eating everything you cook or using all the food you buy you can prevent food wastage and save money.
Here's some tips to make you a more responsible shopper and cook:
- Only buy enough fresh produce to be used before it goes off.
- Buy food well within the sell-by-date, or plan to use it quickly.
- Use overripe fruit such as bananas in banana bread, muffins and smoothies.
- Go through your fridge after each shop and move the older products to the front so that they get used first.
- Check that your fridge is cold enough (between 1-5°C) to store food safely.
- Use your freezer - it's great for storing meat bought in bulk of freezing extra portions of meals.
Although we don't want to seem stingy and also don't want to starve the family, try and cook the right amounts so that there isn't food wastage, or if there are leftovers, see how to incorporate them into another meal. Some of my most innovative meals have come from leftovers!
So remember - clear your plate and you could be saving the planet!
Everyone loves pancakes - no matter the season!
I only have one rule, if I make pancakes for supper they need to eat at least one with a substantial, healthy filling. Keeping this in mind I normally make pancakes when I have some left-over savoury mince. At least they get something wholesome in the stomach before filling up on cinnamon sugar, syrup, cream, ice cream and chocolate (normally all rolled up into one pancake!)
Some of the fillings I like to put into pancakes are savoury mince, chicken mayonnaise, fried mushrooms in a creamy sauce, creamed spinach. And for the sweet tooth: cinnamon sugar, bananas, fresh berries, peanut butter,ice cream, chocolate spread, Milo.... the list is endless- if you have it in your cupboard you can put it in a pancake!
This recipe was given to me by a friend and colleague - Sandra. She has since moved on and opened her own,very successful pancake wagon, using liters of this mixture every day.
The nice thing about this pancake batter is that it can be mixed and doesn't need to stand for longer than 15 minutes.In fact, if I don't have a lot of time I don't even wait that long. The best thing is every single pancake is a success - I have never had a flop yet!
- 2 Cups Flour
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Tsp Baking Powder
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1/2 Dessert Spoon Oil
- 2 Tsp Vinegar
- 3 Cups Water
Beat eggs and water together. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat together. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes. Fry pancakes in a good frying pan and use Spray and Cook to grease the pan.
Place cooked pancakes on a plate and cover with a clean cloth to keep warm until serving. Stand guard over them with a spatula and beat anyone who tries to steal them!
The one-pot wonder is truly the answer for the busy mom.
I try to add as much as possible to one dish before cooking.This means almost everything is cooking together and I can get on with other things. I've also found that it is also a great way to add vegetable to a dish without them being too noticeable. Actually I spend a great deal of my meal-planning trying to figure out how to get my kids to eat vegetables. I must say as they get older so they get a little better,but I still can't push it by putting separate mounds of vegetables on the plate.
Put any roasting vegetables, such as carrots, butternut, onion, pepper, baby marrow, garlic cloves, sun-dried tomatoes or anything else you fancy, in an oven dish. Layer chicken pieces over the top. Season with salt and pepper.I added a sprig of rosemary as it goes really well with both chicken and roasting veg. Cover with foil and roast in a fairly hot oven (190°c) for about 45 minutes or until everything is cooked. Remove the foil and allow the chicken to brown and crisp.
Meanwhile boil some water and cook a couple of handfuls of pasta such as shells, screws etc. When the pasta is cooked drain and stir into the roast chicken dish. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese(as my friend Jackie suggested) and serve. You have a wholesome healthy well-balanced meal all on one plate with very little effort -and it tastes great!
Although I love spicy foods my youngest quivers at the sight of a chilli!
A biryani is a perfect dish to make when you are looking for the tastes of India without the fire. Biryanis can be made with any type of meat - in my case, I had beef in the freezer! It is very important to use basmati rice in the biryani, as nothing compares to its taste and texture in a dish like this. Although I normally try to make things as easy as possible a biryani is a little bit time consuming - but worth it in the end.
- Onion, chopped
- Garlic, crushed
- Fresh ginger grated
- A few whole cloves, cardommon pods, cinnamon stick, dried red chilli
- Tinned tomatoes
- Ground tumeric,cumin, garrum masala
- Stock cube
- Cubed, boneless beef
- 2 Potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 Cup natural yoghurt
- Basmati rice
- Hard boiled eggs
- Onion rings, fried
Fry onions, garlic and ginger in a little oil until transparent in a heavy bottomed pan. Add whole spices and let them pop in the hot oil. Add the meat and brown.
Put the tin of tomatoes, a tin of water and stock cube in the pan and allow to simmer. Add the ground spices and potatoes to the pan and simmer until everything is tender. Stir in the natural yoghurt.
Meanwhile cook the basmati rice according to the packet instructions. Preheat the oven to 180°C. In an ovenproof dish layer the rice and meat mixture. Cut hard boiled eggs into wedges and place on top of the layered dish with the fried onion rings. Cover with tin foil and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. Garnish with some fresh coriander and enjoy with sambals and pompadums.
The weather has turned quite cool and I'm already starting to crave warming, thick, comforting soups and stews! Because of the cooler weather my husband bought some Guinness, as it's dark, heavy and warming. I know that typical pub-grub would be a Beef and Guinness pie but I thought a stew with dumplings would just add a bit of a twist to an old favourite. Also, as it was a week night I didn't have much time.
I have discovered the pressure cooker and it is brilliant! I think you either grew up with a pressure cooker or you didn't.I didn't and I've always been quite wary of them as you hear all these horror stories of them blowing up and artistically displaying your supper on the ceiling! But, last winter spent a lot of time in the early evenings watching my son train for athletics. It becomes very cold and dark and the last thing you want to eat after that is a light meal. You need something warm that will stick to your ribs. And that's when I decided to invest in a pressure cooker. In under and hour we can be eating a succulent stew.Mmmm
So back to the meal. I fried chopped onion, green pepper and celery in my pressure cooker. I then added some stewing beef (bone-in, in chunks) that had been lightly tossed in flour and browned it. I added about 300ml of Guinness and a few bay leaves and put the lid on. I let it cook for about 30 minutes until the meat was starting to get soft.
I added some chopped carrots, potatoes and butternut (sneakily adding vegetables for the non-vegetable eating offspring),put the lid back on and cooked until the veggies were tender ( approx. 20 min). Now for the dumplings.
This dumpling recipe is so easy and never fails!
- 250ml flour
- 5ml baking powder
- Big pinch of salt
- Pinch of nutmeg (adds awesome flavour)
- 30gm butter
- 100ml milk
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the milk until you have a stiff batter (must not be runny). Add spoonfuls of the batter onto the top of the stew, put the lid back on and cook for about 10 minutes or until the dumplings are firm.
Serve and enjoy!
My mom always believed that her children should be able to do anything in the house whether they were a boy or girl. Hence, my brother could bake cakes, iron shirts and vacuum a carpet with the best of them!
We always had cakes and cookies in the house and they were mostly made by my brother and me. My sister was the youngest and she figured out that if she baked really badly she would get off the hook.It worked, her stuff was truly horrible.
We made this crunchie recipe so often we knew it off-by-heart, and it always made lovely cookies. They are a great snack and they fill a hole in the nicest way if you feel like a slightly sweet snack. So, thanks mom, for teaching us to bake because I know this recipe is a hit in my home, and I'm sure in my brother's as well!
- 240gm margerine
- 2 dessert spoons syrup
- 240 gm flour
- 180 gm sugar
- 150 gm oats
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Preheat oven to 170°c. Melt the margerine and sugar together. Mix all dry ingredients together. Pour melted margerine over and mix. Place teaspoonfuls on a baking tray and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Remove when they are golden brown and let them cool. As they cool they will become crunchy. Should make at least thirty cookies.
My youngest went on a swimming trip and parents were asked to each supply a tin of crunchies for the squad to nibble on between races. As they were small children who were racing in an outdoor pool in the middle of winter I thought they would need as much energy as possible. I added a cup of peanuts to my batter to boost the calorie value of each cookie. It worked out well and the kids enjoyed the variation for the normal crunchie.