chicken & rice tray bake

This is my idea of a simple, delicious, no-fuss family meal that can be on the table in almost no time at all. It is, undoubtedly, a firm favourite in our home. Just an easy, deletable home-cooked meal that goes in the centre of the table so that everyone can tuck in at their leisure.

I like to use leg quarters for this recipe but really, any part of the chicken is just as delicious. The meat is tender and juicy with a lovely spice. The skin is gorgeously browned and crispy and the rice deliciously fluffy, flavourful and buttery.
Make sure to coat the chicken liberally with the spice rub so that the flavour soaks into the rice.

You can combine all of the ingredients in a roasting tray and put it straight into the oven although I like to brown the chicken first to ensure an extra crispy skin. I then cook the onion & garlic in a little oil and butter before adding the rice and mixing everything together.

Everything you need is in this dish but if you want to serve something alongside, opt for something minimalistic like a tomato & avocado salad.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
for the spice rub
1t onion powder
1t garlic powder
1t paprika
1t salt
1/2t pepper
2T olive oil

Combine all the ingredients together except the oil. Mix and set aside.

For the tray bake
4T olive oil
80g butter
4-6 chicken leg quarters
1 white onion, chopped
3t crushed garlic
120g long grain or basmati rice
1t cumin seeds, crushed
1t dried thyme
1t dried oregano
1t fine salt
1t black pepper
400ml chicken stock
1C frozen peas
fresh cilantro / coriander leaves, garnish
fresh parsley, chopped, garnish

method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Drizzle the two tablespoons olive oil over the meat. Using your hands, rub the spice rub into the skin.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Set aside.
In the same pan, without wiping it clean, heat the remaining two tablespoons olive oil and about 30g of the butter. Sauté the onion & garlic until glossy and fragrant, while stirring. About three minutes.
Add the remaining butter, crushed cumin, oregano & thyme to the skillet / roasting tray and add the rice. Stir to melt the butter and coat the rice and then season with the salt & pepper.
Tip the mixture into a roasting tray or ovenproof dish if needed.
Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the rice and then pour the stock into the dish, around the meat.
Cover the roasting tray or dish with tin foil and bake for about 40 minutes.
Remove the tray from the oven and carefully remove the foil, taking care the steam doesn’t burn your hand.

Test the rice to see if it is cooked. If it is not perfectly tender, cover with foil again and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Now remove the chicken pieces and set aside.
Stir the frozen peas through the rice, replace the chicken pieces and place the dish back into the oven, uncovered, and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven, garnish with the fresh cilantro and parsley and serve.






parmesan loaded meatball & orecchiette skillet

As pastas go I don’t have one specific favorite. I love all kinds, for very different reasons.
The general rule of thumb is that wide, flat pastas like pappardelle or tagliatelle love cream based sauces and long, round pastas, like spaghetti, are best served with a good drizzle of olive oil or draped in tomato based sauces, which beautifully coats each strand evenly.
“Rigate” means ridges, which makes it easy for sauces like pesto to cling to the pasta.
Short shaped pasta varieties, which includes orecchiette, are ideal for holding rich, hearty sauces with textures from vegetables or proteins.

Since making meatballs can be a little time consuming I make it worth my while by making two batches. One to use immediately and the other to freeze for a different occasion or dish. They freeze really well and bake beautifully straight from frozen.

These mini meatballs are packed with parmesan and herbs giving them a lot of flavor so they are perfect on their own as a snack or canape, served with spaghetti or in a beautiful creamy pasta dish such as this one.

ingredients | makes about 30-35 mini meatballs | a little effort
500g beef mince
1/2 white onion, very finely chopped
1t finely chopped garlic
5 thyme stalks, leaves only
2 rosemary stalks, leaves finely chopped
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2C finely grated parmesan
1/2C fine breadcrumbs
1 whole egg
1T worcester sauce
2T chutney (I used Mrs Balls, original)
1/2t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
2-3T olive oil for frying

for the sauce
2T butter
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1t crushed garlic
3T sun-dried tomato pesto (optional)
1 can crushed tomato
1 1/2C – 2C beef stock
1 1/2t dried oregano
1T brown sugar
1t fine salt
black pepper to taste
1 1/2C orecchiette pasta shells
1/2C cream, full fat
fresh parsley, garnish
fresh cilantro, garnish
fresh parmesan, garnish

the method
Combine all of the meatball ingredients in large bowl. Using your hands, mix well until combined and then, with the palms of your hands, roll into balls just larger than bite size.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown the meatballs on all sides. Set aside.

In the same skillet, heat and melt the butter and cook the onion until glossy. About two minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the oregano & pesto and cook for another minute, while stirring.
Pour the beef stock & crushed tomato into the skillet, add the brown sugar, salt & pepper and stir. Add the pasta shells, stir to coat and then nestle the meatballs into the sauce.
Turn the heat down to a low simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 20 – 25 minutes, while occasionally stirring, until the pasta is cooked. Stir the cream through the pasta mixture.

Garnish with fresh parsley & cilantro and top with large shavings of parmesan.



rib-eye top roast

There is something quite special about a good roast. For me it brings back many beautiful childhood memories visiting our grandparents on their farm in a little place called Citrusdal, situated at the base of the Cederburg mountains.
Although we were very young and spent most of our time outside in the orchards eating kumquats or chasing chickens and collecting eggs, I have fond memories of great tasting beef roasts served with all kinds of dipping sauces and gravies.

This rib-eye roast is definitely a shorter version of the beef roasts my grandmother used to cook. However, considering my age then, my recollection of her beef roasts may even be a little blurred.
Childhood memories are there to be cherished even if they may not always be one hundred percent accurate.

I served this roast with buttered green beans, crispy potatoes cooked in duck fat and a creamy mushroom & truffle sauce.

ingredients | serves 6 | easy
2kg beef rib eye top roast
2t garlic powder
2t onion powder
1t dried sage
1 1/2t coriander seeds, crushed
2t dried thyme
1t dried rosemary
1t crushed black pepper
salt to taste
1/3C or a even a little more of olive oil

Combine all of the dry ingredients except the salt in a small bowl. Add the olive oil and combine to make a paste.
Using your hands, rub the paste into the roast.
Wrap the roast with clingfilm and place it in the fridge to marinate for a minimum of one hour. Remove the roast from the fridge and allow it to come up to room temperature. (About an hour).
Preheat the oven to 240 degrees C.
Remove the clingfilm, season with salt and place the roast, fat side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.
Roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 165 degrees C and continue to roast for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
(This depends on the size of the meat. As a guide, roasting time should be about 20 minutes per 500g.)
If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature of the meat should read 65 degrees C for medium rare.

Carefully remove the roast from the oven, loosely cover with tin foil and leave to rest for about 20 minutes before slicing into beautiful thick slices.



easy & quick chicken a la king

There are only so many hours in a day and I like making them count, especially since I so love spending time with my 15 month old. I am therefore always thinking of new, exciting recipes that are easy and simple to make. Meals that I can have on the table in almost no time at all but that are still delicious and impressive.
Thanks to modern poultry raising, chicken has been put on everyone’s table at a reasonable price. It remains one of the most convenient meats that is most adaptable.

I had leftover roast chicken, which was perfect here as it saved me a lot of time not having to cook chicken prior to making this dish.
There are hundreds of different chicken a la king variations, all of which really come down to the same thing. Some just like the chicken roasted while others prefer it poached. This is simply a matter of personal taste.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
50g butter
45ml flour
200ml chicken stock
175ml full fat cream
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
60g sliced red or yellow pepper
1/2 white onion, chopped
1t crushed garlic
3 thyme sprigs, leaves only
200g button mushrooms, sliced
1T olive oil
1T butter
1c frozen peas
small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1/2C walnuts, roughly chopped (optional)

how to
Heat the olive oil and tablespoon of butter in a pot. Add the chopped onion and saute until glossy. Add the sliced mushrooms and sliced red/yellow pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further two minutes. Set aside.
Melt the 45g butter in the same pot, add the flour and stir to make a roux. Remove the pot from the heat and, using a whisk, add the chicken stock. Continue to whisk until you have a smooth sauce. Pour the cream into the pot, stir and cook for about ten minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.
Tip the mushroom mixture and diced chicken into the pot, add the thyme leaves, stir and simmer for about ten minutes until thickened and heated through. Add the peas, stir and cook for two minutes.
Stir in the chopped parsley and top with chopped walnuts if using.

Serve with basmati rice or pasta.


traditional south-african ‘bobotie’

Traditionally South-African and undoubtedly a favourite in just about any home in South-Africa, bobotie consists of curried / spiced minced meat, topped with an egg custard and baked.
Some bobotie recipes have been passed down many generations and are kept secret in most families.
There are so many recipe variations of which most contain raisins or sultanas. I, however, prefer it with grated apple or pear. (Dried peaches or apricots are also used as an alternative.)
Most bobotie recipes use milk soaked bread to add extra moisture to the dish and is traditionally served with yellow rice, which is rice cooked with turmeric.
This dish is not particularly spicy and incorporates a variety of flavours thus adding complexity.

ingredients | serves 6 | easy
1kg minced meat
3T olive oil
2T butter
2 medium onions, sliced
1T crushed garlic
1/2C dried bread crumbs
1/2C beef broth
1/5T mild curry powder
1t turmeric
1t ground cumin
1t ground coriander
1.5t dried thyme & oregano mix
2 red apples, cored & grated
1/4C chutney (Mrs. Balls)
3T apricot jam
2T worcester sauce
2 medium carrots, grated
zest & juice of 1 lemon
1/2C flaked almonds
1t fine salt
1t black pepper

for the egg custard
3 large eggs
5 bay leaves
1/2c (125ml) cream
1/2c (125ml) milk
1/3c flaked almonds

how to do it
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Heat the olive oil & butter in a large ovenproof skillet. Sauté the onion until glossy. Add the curry powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander, thyme & oregano to the skillet and cook for about one minute until fragrant. Add the minced meat to the pan and cook until browned. Add the carrots & grated apple and cook for 5 minutes.
Mix the chutney, Worcester sauce, lemon juice & zest and apricot jam together and add it to the mince mixture. Stir to combine, cover with a lid and cook for about 15 minutes, on a gentle simmer.
Remove the lid.
Pour the half cup of beef broth into the mixture, stir and then add the bread crumbs. Stir to combine and cook for two minutes. Remove from the heat.
Season with salt & black pepper and stir.
Using the back of a spoon, press the mixture down to even it out.
Make the egg custard by whisking the eggs, milk & cream together. Gently pour the custard onto the mince mixture, over the back of a spoon. Place the bay leaves in the centre or where you prefer and add the flaked almonds.
Gently place the skillet into the oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden and the custard have set.
Remove from the oven, rest for five minutes and serve with yellow rice.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x