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.







chocolate ganache tart

If you are, like me, a lover of chocolate and all things simple and beautiful, then this tart is for you!!
My no-fuss, no-bake chocolate ganache tart is a simple, delicious and decadent five ingredient tart that is a real crowd pleaser. It is so simple to put together and I am almost certain you will not be able to resist seconds.
It is the perfect dessert to brighten up any table and great for any impromptu occasion.

Serve this moreish beauty topped with fresh mixed berries, toasted nuts or fruit compote and double thick cream.

This is, undeniably, a dessert you will return to again and again.

ingredients | makes one large tart | easy
tart shell
200g tennis biscuits
115g melted butter

ganache filling
270g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
45g unsalted butter, blocks
1 1/2C full fat cream (room temperature)

berries to serve, optional
cocoa powder / icing sugar to serve, optional

method
Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until it resembles bread crumbs. Pour the melted butter over the biscuit crumbs and mix until well combined.
Grease a 25cm loose bottom tart tin with non-stick spray and line the base with parchment paper. Tip the biscuit crumbs into the tart shell and press it down and into the tin grooves using the back of a spoon.
Place the tart shell into the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water and gently melt while stirring.
Once melted, pour the cream into the chocolate mixture, turn off the heat, and stir until well combined and smooth.
Pour the ganache into the tart shell, leave to stand for 15 minutes, and then place into the fridge to set for at least an hour before serving.

Serve topped with beautiful colourful berries, fresh mint and a dusting of cocoa powder or icing sugar.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x



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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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.






mushroom soup

Meat free Mondays doesn’t have to be boring nor tasteless. With a few simple ingredients and beautiful fresh produce, you can enjoy a flavourful vegetarian dish, without feeling you have missed out on life.
By building a strong foundation, adding the right spices and umami for richness, you can create a sensational meal.
Mushrooms are a rich, low calorie source of protein, fiber and antioxidants and may reduce the risk of developing serious health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
This soup has a strong, earthy taste and smell with beautiful umami flavour from the shitake mushrooms and soy sauce. It is creamy and comforting with a complex texture.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2 leeks, halved and sliced
2t garlic, crushed
250g button mushrooms, sliced, halved & quartered
150g shitake mushrooms, halved, sliced & quartered
200g brown mushrooms, sliced
1/3C soy sauce
6 thyme stalks, leaves only + extra for garnish
3C chicken stock
1t paprika
1/2t smoked paprika
1/2C cream
salt
pepper
2T olive oil
2T butter
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
creme fraiche, optional

method
In a large pot, heat the olive oil and butter and sauté the onion until glossy. Add the leeks & garlic and cook for a further two minutes while stirring.
Add the mushrooms, stir to coat and then add the paprika and cook for two minutes while stirring.
Pour the stock and soy sauce into the pot followed by the thyme.
Stir and bring the mixture to the boil. Turn the temperature down to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until the mushrooms are fork tender.
Remove the pot from the heat and using a stick blender, puree only half of the soup. Taste and season with salt & black pepper.
Return the pot to the heat and stir in the cream. Cook for 5 more minutes on a low heat.
Stir the chopped parsley through the soup.

Serve warm with a dollop of creme fraiche, additional black pepper and thyme leaves.