cheat’s chicken & phyllo pie

With a little one year old running around the house, learning to walk and playing inquisitive games, time is sometimes of the essence. Meaning little time to cook something very amazing that generally takes more than an hour.
This is where my trustworthy pressure cooker comes into play. My INSTANT POT. Most likely one of the best purchases i have made since i started cooking.
Using the pressure cooker, meat cooking time is cut by less than half, and since the machine does all the work I have my hands free to focus on other little things as I pot around the kitchen or run after my daughter.
For this recipe I used chicken breast, which generally isn’t the most tender part of the chicken but the pot changes this reality completely and you are left with tender, pull apart chicken…perfect for this delicious one pan pie, topped with crispy phyllo pastry…

ingredients | easy | serves 6
4 chicken breasts
2C chicken stock
4 sprigs thyme
1/2t fine salt
3T olive oil
2T butter
1 white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
5 extra thyme sprigs, leaves only
3 leeks, sliced diagonally
1 punnet (250g) button mushrooms, sliced or halved
2 zucchini, sliced in half and chopped
1 large carrot, grated
2T all purpose flour
1.5 chicken stock
1/2C milk
1/4C cream
1/2t onion seeds
1/2t dried oregano
1/4t mustard seeds
1/2C frozen peas
salt
pepper
1 roll phyllo pastry
1/2C butter, melted (you may need more depending on the size of your skillet)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Place the chicken breasts into the pressure cooker. Cover with the two cups chicken stock. Add the thyme & salt. Cover the pot with the lid, seal the vent and set the time to 35 minutes on high pressure. Let the machine do the rest.
In a large oven proof skillet, heat the olive oil & butter until melted. Sauté the onion until glossy, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, grated carrot, leeks & zucchini and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the flour and stir. Pour the chicken stock into the skillet and stir well, while cooking on a low heat. Just bubbling. Leave to cook for about two minutes until the mixture has thickened. Add the thyme and garlic and cook, while stirring for about two minutes.
Now add the spices and season with salt & pepper. Set aside.
Manually release the pressure of your cooker. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken breast from the pressure cooker.
Place the chicken breasts on a plate and using two forks, pull the meat apart.
Bring the vegetable mixture to a gentle simmer and add the pulled chicken to the skillet. MIx. Pour the milk & cream into the skillet and stir to combine.
Add the peas and cook for about three minutes. Add more cream or milk if you desire. Flatten the top of the mixture by using a wooden spoon. Set aside to cool while preparing the phyllo pastry.

Roll the pastry out on a flat surface. Cut the pastry in blocks, about 10x10cm. Brush one sheet with the melted butter and place a second sheet on top. Brush the second sheet with butter. Fold the four sides together and place on top of the chicken mixture, like a flower. Repeat with the remaining phyllo and butter until you have covered the top of the chicken mixture.

Place the skillet into the oven and bake until the pastry is beautifully golden and crisp. About 20 minutes.

Serve the pie with basmati rice and a salad of your choice.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x




braised beef short rib with mushrooms

I am very passionate about stews and casseroles so generally look for any excuse to cook another rich, hearty one pot. (Not that i ever need an excuse to cook anything!)
Good quality meat is the perfect start to any good stew or casserole followed, of course, by fresh vegetables and drinkable red wine. I always buy good quality boxed red wine and keep it in my pantry. It lasts much longer than bottled red wine, making it cost effective.
These dishes need a lot of love and patience, which is all worth it once you lift the lid and sniff the wonderful aroma of slow cooked meat, garlic, herbs and red wine.
Short rib is a fairly inexpensive cut of meat and is beautiful served on its own in portions or pulled in a beefy BBQ sauce or use the pulled meat for a short rib pie in a puff crust.
If this kind of food does not do something for your soul, i really am not sure what will.

ingredients | serves 6 | a little effort
2kg beef short rib (portioned by your butcher)
5T plain flour
200g bacon, diced
1 punnet (250g) button mushrooms, halved
3 stalks rosemary, leaves only
1 garlic head, halved
2 medium carrots, grated
3 leeks, diced
1 large white onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, diced
2T tomato paste
1t salt
1t black pepper
3T olive oil plus extra for browning meat
2T butter
600ml drinkable red wine
2C beef stock
1T brown sugar

how to do it
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
Dredge the meat in the flour and shake off any excess. Heat about four tablespoons of olive oil in a large oven proof skillet and brown the meat in batches until it has a beautifully coloured crust. Set aside.
Add the bacon to the skillet and cook until browned and crispy. Set aside.
In the same skillet, melt the three tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter. Sauté the chopped onion until glossy. Add the garlic and press it down, releasing the garlic flavour into skillet.
Add the grated carrot, diced leeks & celery and stir. Add the tomato paste and allow this to cook for about one minute.
Add the brown sugar, salt & pepper and stir to combine.
Pour the red wine into the skillet and allow to cook for about five minutes. Now pour the stock into the pot, add the bacon and the short rib and bring the mixture to the boil.
Cover the skillet with a tight fitting lid or tin foil and carefully place in into the preheated oven to cook for 2.5 – 3 hours until the short rib is soft and almost falling off the bone. Meanwhile, heat butter and olive oil in a pan and fry the mushrooms until just cooked. Set aside.

If you prefer a smooth sauce like i do, remove the meat from the skillet and strain the sauce through a sieve. Press the garlic out into the sauce. Pour the sauce back into the skillet and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce until thickened. Add the meat and mushrooms to the skillet and gently simmer for about five minutes to heat through.
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with smooth, garlicky mashed potatoes.

If you prefer to keep the sauce in its natural form, simply remove the garlic head, press the garlic out into the sauce and do not strain. Follow steps as above.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x





south african ‘frikkadel’ in a creamy tomato broth

This dish brings back very fond childhood memories. The smell of the ‘frikkadel’ lingering through the house as it was baked in the oven sits firm in my memory bank. They always tasted the same, never different, which now tells me that it was obviously a recipe that was passed down many generations to my mother who never felt the desire to change or alter it. And rightly so, as the ‘frikkadel’ recipe i so well remember was delightfully delicious and completely moreish.
Frikkadel is a traditional AFrikaner dish, consisting of minced meat, onion, bread, eggs, vinegar & spices and then baked or sometimes deep-fried.
There are so many amazing sides to this dish although it was served with rice in our family home thus making rice the traditional side for me.
This recipe is not that of my mother as I think some things are meant to be kept secret.
I used the base of the original recipe with a few tweaks here and there and then turned it up a notch to boost it to the 21st century.
Frikkadels can be made ahead of time and freeze really well so i suggest doubling the recipe to give you extra for the freezer. Perfect for lazy days or days when you really just don’t have much time to spend behind the stove.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
500g minced beef (or pork of a mixture of the two)
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1T crushed garlic
2 medium tomatoes, centre removed and cut into small blocks
1 egg
2T chopped parsley
1.5T worcester sauce
1/2C breadcrumbs
2T chutney (i used Mrs Balls)
1/2t salt
1/2t black pepper
3T olive oil, for frying

For the tomato broth
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 can chopped tomato
1T brown sugar
1t salt
1/2t black pepper
1/2t dried oregano
1/2t dried basil
1/2t dried parsley
1/2t chilli flakes (optional)
1T butter
1T olive oil
1/2C cream
Bunch fresh parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs except the breadcrumbs & egg together. Break the egg into the mixture, add the breadcrumbs and using your hands, mix until well combined.
Form balls a little smaller than a golf ball, using the palms of your hands.
Heat the olive oil in a shallow pan and brown the frikkadels on all sides. Transfer the frikkadels to an ovenproof dish and bake for about ten minutes. Lift the frikkadels out of the skillet, pour the juices out of the skillet and set aside. (Do not clean the skillet)

Heat the olive oil & butter for the tomato broth in the same skillet of the frikkadels. (This will add more flavour to your broth)
Saute the onion until glossy. Add the oregano, basil, dried parsley & chilli flakes and cook for about one minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, brown sugar, garlic, salt & pepper and cook on a low heat for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the juices from the baked frikkadles into the broth and stir well.
Add the cream to the tomato broth and stir through.

Place the frikkadels into the tomato sauce, cover with a lid and cook for about five minutes until heated through.

Dish the frikkadels into bowl and pour the sauce around it. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with basmati rice or mashed potato.


salmon gravlax & citrus salad

Gravlax, traditionally Nordic, is a dish consisting of salmon that is cured by using sugar, salt & dill. It is served with bread or boiled potatoes and a dill & mustard sauce.
There are, however, many different gravlax recipes, personalised through taste and preference. Pernod is another great ingredient to use when curing salmon. It adds a beautiful, mild aniseed flavour to the fish very similar to that of fennel.
The recipe is easy and the process and time well worth it.
The quality of the salmon is really important here so get your hands on the best you can find from a trusted fishmonger. This is a starter portion. For a main meal simply double up the recipe.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy (starter portion for four)
600g salmon fillet, skin on
1C coarse salt
1C granulated sugar
1/2C fresh dill
1 large cucumber
3T coarse salt
1/2C cream cheese, room temperature
2T lemon juice
1/2t black pepper
3-4 oranges, sliced and skin removed
fresh chives, garnish
fresh dill, garnish
1t white sesame seeds (optional)
1t black sesame seeds (optional)

how to do it
Lay the salmon fillet skin side down in a large dish. Mix the sugar, salt & dill together and spoon this out onto the salmon. Cover the fillet well with the salt & sugar mixture.
Wrap the dish tightly with clingfilm and place into the refrigerator overnight.
Peel the cucumber with a julienne peeler, discarding the centre. Place the cucumber strips into a sieve over a bowl and strew with the two tablespoons of coarse salt. Leave to stand for about one hour. (This will remove excess moisture from the cucumber.)
Rinse the cucumber well under running water and dry on paper towel.
Mix the cream cheese, black pepper & lemon juice in a bowl. Add the cucumber ribbons and mix gently until well combined.
Slice the oranges into rounds and remove the skin with a sharp knife.
Remove the salmon from the fridge and rinse well under cold running water. Pat the fillet dry with towel paper and lay it flat on a work surface.
Slice the fillet into thin strips, against the grain.
Arrange the citrus onto a large plate. Place the gravlax on top and serve with the cucumber & cream cheese mixture.
Garnish the dish with the fresh herbs and sesame seeds.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x




lamb casserole with mustard dumplings

I love a slow cooked meat stew packed with vegetables, taste & earthiness and a lot of love. The secret to any good stew or casserole is time, patience and attention.
I had a fair amount of cooked leg of lamb in my freezer, which was perfect for this dish. The meat cooked slowly at a low heat in a thick beef & wine broth with a mixture of carrots, leeks & celery.
Good substitutes for the leg of lamb are lamb shoulder, stewing beef, lamb neck and even brisket.
The dumplings make the perfect accompaniment here, soaking up all that wonderful flavour and bringing that extra little something to an already perfect meal.

ingredients | serves 6 | easy
900g cooked leg of lamb (or any other cut, raw)
3T olive oil
3T butter
350ml good red wine
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, sliced
3 carrots, sliced diagonally or 200g baby carrots
3 celery ribs, sliced diagonally
2 large leeks, halved and sliced
3T tomato puree
3T all purpose flour
3T worcester sauce
6 sprigs thyme
2T brown sugar
500ml chicken or lamb stock
1t salt
1t black pepper

dumplings
150g self raising flour
130g plain / Greek yogurt
1.5T english or dijon mustard (or a mixture)
handful parsley, finely chopped
handful chives, finely chopped
1/2t salt
1/2t black pepper

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Slice the cooked lamb to the desired size and set aside.
Alternatively, if using uncooked meat, cut it into the desired size. Heat oil in a large skillet and brown the meat all over. Remove and set aside.
Heat the olive oil & butter in a large skillet. Fry the onion until glossy. Add the carrots, celery & leeks and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato puree, stir and cook for two minutes.
Now add the flour and stir through. Deglaze the skillet with the red wine and cook the mixture for about two minutes, while stirring. Tip the meat back into the skillet and stir to mix.
Add the worcester sauce, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper & brown sugar. Stir.
Pour the stock into the pot and bring the mixture to the boil.
Turn the heat down, cover with a tight fitting lid and carefully place the skillet into the preheated oven for two hours.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings.
Mix all the ingredient together to make a wet dough. Roll the dough into equal sized balls and set aside.

Carefully remove the casserole from the oven. Place the dumplings on top of the meat mixture and cover with the lid. Place the skillet back into the oven and cook for a further 20 – 25 minutes.

Garnish the dish with fresh parsley or chives or thyme leaves and serve with a side or couscous or rice.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x