cumin baked chicken

Cumin, a spice often used in my kitchen for various dishes, is an earthy, warm spice that adds the most beautiful hearty depth to any dish. A delicious match for meat, it also adds complexity to vegetarian dishes.

As part of last night’s dinner, I served these flavourful baked thighs and drumsticks with my lentil and grilled vegetable salad. This is a delicious and healthy dish that is as easy to prepare as it is to eat. With the skin moreishly crispy, the meat is succulent , tender and flavourful. A perfect and easy family go-to meal!

Serve with couscous, salad or grilled vegetables for a healthy family mid-week meal or serve it with a cucumber & yogurt dressing for a delicious, heart warming snack.

ingredients | serves 3-4 | easy
8 chicken thighs & drumsticks
2t crushed garlic
2t ground cumin
1t cumin seeds, crushed in a pestle & mortar
1T black pepper
1/3C olive oil
juice & zest of 1 lemon
1T fresh thyme leaves
1/2t red pepper flakes, optional
fresh cilantro/coriander to serve

method
Place all of the ingredients into a large freezer bag and shake well to coat.
Place the bag into the fridge to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Arrange the chicken pieces in a baking tray, season with a little salt and bake for about 40 minutes until cooked through.

Drizzle the roasting juices over the chicken pieces and garnish with fresh coriander/cilantro.

Serve warm.


pork sausage & veg tray bake

I do love the simplicity of a tray bake and, admitting, that it is a meal frequently enjoyed around our dinner table.
This is a meal that I return to again and again and will not easily tire of.
A great time saver as you can put it all together, store it in the fridge and then just pop it into the preheated oven come dinner time.

The added bonus, of course, is the clean kitchen after dinner. And this alone gets a very high mark in my book.
A healthy, comforting and nutritious meal that your family will love, without having to spend hours in the kitchen.

Good alternatives to pork sausage are beef / chicken sausage or chicken breast.

Serve with a side of couscous or buckwheat.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
8 pork sausages
300g baby potatoes, halved
400g chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 red onions, quartered
6 garlic cloves, whole
punnet baby carrots, scrubbed
200g mushrooms
6-8 sweetcorn mini cobs
1/2C olive oil
2t paprika
1t dried oregano
1t dried thyme
1t cumin seeds, crushed
1/2t salt
good grind of black pepper
4 rosemary stalks
150ml white wine

handful fresh parsley, chopped (garnish)

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Put the rosemary stalks onto a large sheet pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, herbs, salt & pepper. Add the vegetables to the herb mixture and toss through to coat well.
Tip the vegetables onto the roasting tray and arrange in an even layer.
Rub the pork sausages with a little more olive oil and nestle them between the vegetables.

Roast in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes until the sausages are golden brown. Carefully remove the tray from the oven, turn the sausages over and toss the vegetables.
Pour the wine into the roasting tray and roast or a further 20 minutes until the sausages are cooked and the potatoes are tender.

Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve with your choice of side.


porcupine beef meatballs

Porcupine meatballs, an American dish consisting of ground beef & rice were a staple during the Great Depression. Rice was added as a way of stretching the beef to yield more meatballs.
So called because the cooked rice sticks out of the sides of the meatballs.

To accommodate my 16 month old daughters’ palate and also include her in family dinners rather than cooking her a completely different meal, I like to keep weekday dinners simple yet delicious, flavourful and still nutritious.
Having a curious little human run around the house while trying to make a great meal can sometimes be a little challenging so I always suggest having a few easy, no-fail recipes that simplifies life and meal prep.

This is a hearty and comforting meal, cooked in a rich tomato sauce. Since the rice is added to the meat there is no need to cook a starch to serve alongside. You can, however, serve these on sweet potato or butternut mash.
As a vegetable side I suggest sweet roasted carrots or a mixture of buttered broccoli and cauliflower.

To make these meatballs extra nutritious you can add grated zucchini or carrot to the meat mixture. And for extra flavour, try adding finely grated parmesan or any hard, rich cheese.

ingredients | makes about 15 | easy
for the meatballs
500g lean beef mince
1/2 white onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
1/2C long grain rice
1t dried oregano
1T fresh thyme leaves
1/2C milk
1 egg
1/2t fine salt
black pepper
olive oil, for browning

for the tomato sauce
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 can crushed tomato
400ml beef stock
2T tomato paste
2t paprika
2t mixed dried herbs / italian seasoning
1T brown sugar
2T Worcestershire sauce
1t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
handful fresh parsley, garnish
fresh cilantro to serve (optional)
1T olive oil
2T butter

method
In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients together except the olive oil.
Mix well using your hands and then roll into balls the size of a golf ball.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet or pan with a lid and brown the meatballs on all sides. Set aside.
Without wiping the pan clean, add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and the butter. Heat and saute the onion & garlic until glossy. Add the tomato paste & brown sugar and cook for about one minute. Add the paprika and dried herbs and stir to combine.
Pour the crushed tomato into the skillet followed by the Worcestershire sauce & beef stock. Stir to combine.
Season with salt & pepper.
Drop the meatballs into the sauce and bring the mixture to the boil.
Reduce the heat, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about one hour until the rice is cooked and most of the moisture have been absorbed.

Garnish with the chopped parsley and cilantro.







chickpea, walnut & wild rice stuffed chicken

Chicken is a low fat, versatile and healthy meat option, high in protein and nutritious. The mild flavour of chicken works as the perfect base for a variety of beautiful flavours that will leave the mouth watering.
The cooked carcass can be turned into a basic chicken stock, meaning that very little is wasted.
This dish is a guilt-free, healthy and nutritious meal, perfect for any family dinner table.

Serve with a side of green buttered vegetables, roasted butternut or a salad and a beurre blanc sauce or chicken gravy or lemon butter.

ingredients | serves 6 | a little effort
1 whole chicken
2 red onions, quartered
6 whole garlic cloves, skin on & lightly crushed
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2t crushed garlic
80g walnuts, finely chopped
12g thyme, leaves only + more for garnish
200g cooked wild rice
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 lemon, halved
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2t crushed cumin seeds
1/2t salt
good grind of black pepper
olive oil
2T butter
fresh cilantro / coriander, to serve

method
Preheat the oven to 200C/180 with fan. Cook the wild rice according to package instruction or use ready cooked wild rice from your local grocer.
Heat about one tablespoon olive oil with the butter & sauté the onion & garlic. About three minutes, until just cooked.
Add the chickpeas, walnuts & thyme and cook, while stirring, for about 8 minutes. Add a knob of butter and then roughly mash the mixture with a masher.
Tip the chickpea mixture into the rice, add the lemon zest and juice, parsley, cumin seeds, salt & pepper and mix to combine.
Using your hands, fill the cavity of the chicken with the stuffing, ensuring that it is not packed too tightly. Then stuff the chicken under the skin.

Rub olive oil into the skin of the chicken and season with salt & pepper.

Spoon the remaining stuffing into an ovenproof dish and place the chicken on top.
Add the quartered red onion & whole garlic cloves to the dish.
Stuff the halved lemon into the cavity so to close the cavity.

Cover the dish with tinfoil and cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 180C/160 with fan, remove the tin foil and roast for a further 1 hour, 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the skin is beautifully browned and crispy.

Rest the chicken for at least 15 minutes before carving and garnish with lots of fresh cilantro/coriander and thyme.


herby beef fillet with flavoured butter

Rosemary, thyme, garlic &. butter are four key ingredients to a super delicious, flavourful steak and are four ingredients I seldom cook without. Steak is rarely cooked in my kitchen as we prefer to cook it outside, on the ‘braai’ which is customary to our heritage and tradition.
In fact, ‘braai’ is such a big part of South-African tradition there is a day that has been dedicated to it. (Heritage Day.)

Although you can easily cook this recipe on the fire my preferred method is in a griddle pan on the stove.
A griddle pan uses less oil, ensures even cooking and provides those beautiful char marks we all find so very appealing. The compound butter enhanced and complemented the meat beautifully and since you serve the steak topped with extra butter, you don’t need a sauce.

ingredients | serves 4 | a little effort
for the fillet
4 portions beef fillet
8 rosemary stalks
16 thyme sprigs
3T olive oil
salt to taste
black pepper

for the compound butter
130g butter, room temperature
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
zest of 1 lemon
1/2t crushed cumin seeds
1/4t red pepper flakes
1/2t onion powder

method
In a bowl, combine the compound butter ingredients and mix well using a wooden spoon. Lie a piece of clingfilm on a work surface and spoon the butter mixture onto the centre of the clingfilm. Roll the butter into a log and twist the ends to seal well.
Place into the freezer for at least one hour.

Tie the rosemary & thyme around the fillet steaks using cooking string.
Drizzle the steaks with the olive oil and gently rub it into the meat, around the herbs. Season with salt & pepper.

Slice the compound butter into rounds using a sharp knife and discard the clingfilm.
Cook the steak in a hot griddle pan, turning as you go. Add about half of the compound butter halfway through cooking to baste the steaks until you have reached the preferred doneness.

Rest the meat for at least ten minutes before serving, topped with a round of compound butter.


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