mutton & tomato stew

Mutton is meat from older sheep; about three years old. The meat is an intense color of red and quite fatty with a strong, gamey flavor. The fat makes it the perfect cut for this stew giving it big, bold flavor. Exactly what I had in mind.
Very similar to the traditional South-African tomato ‘bredie’ this stew is perfect for a cold, wet winters’ night.
Your freezer is your friend…leftovers are perfect for mutton ragu that you can use for a future pie, to toss through pappardelle or on an open pulled mutton sandwich.

Serve with a side of rice, mashed potato, roasted sweet potato or butternut mash.

ingredients | serves 6 | easy
1.3kg stewing mutton, bone in
1/2C flour
1/2t salt
1/2t white pepper
3T olive oil plus more for browning meat
1T butter
1 large white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
5 large ripe tomatoes, quartered
3 large carrots, cut into big chunks
2T paprika
3 bay leaves
2T tomato paste
1.5t dried oregano
3 rosemary stalks, leaves only
1.2C red wine
1 can crushed tomato
3C beef stock
2T brown sugar
1t salt
1t black pepper
2T fresh parsley

how to to do it
Mix the flour, salt & white pepper and dredge the meat in the flour mixture and shake excess flour off. Discard any leftover flour. Heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven and brown the meat in batches, adding more oil as needed.
Set aside.
Add two tablespoons of oil and the butter to the pot without cleaning it and saute the chopped onion until glossy, stirring occasionally. About three minutes.
Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for one minute. Pour the red wine into the pot to de-glaze. Cook for about two minutes to reduce.
Add the paprika, rosemary, garlic & dried oregano and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes and stir to coat. Pour the crushed tomato into the pot and add the bay leaves, sugar and seasoning. Stir and cook for two minutes.
Pour the stock into the pot and give it a good stir. Lastly add the meat. Stir everything together and bring it to a boil.
Turn the heat down to low for a gentle simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 2 hours, stirring a few times during cooking. Now add the carrots, place the lid back on the pot and cook for a further 1.5 – two hours.

Check the meat, which should be fall off the bone tender. If you prefer it falling off the bone completely, cook for a further 30 minutes to one hour.
Carefully remove the lid, increase the heat to a moderate simmer and cook for 30 minutes, uncovered to thicken the sauce if desired. Take care not to burn the bottom of the pot by occasionally stirring during cooking.

Once cooked, stir through the chopped fresh parsley and serve with a side of your choice.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x



pork belly – soft and deliciously crispy

i will be lying if i said that this is an old recipe of mine and a dish that i regularly cook as this was my first taste of pork belly in a little over a decade…or two.
admitting that i have missed out on very delicious food for a very long time. i have so many new dishes to look forward to!!
a relatively cheap cut of meat, pork belly is best cooked low and slow. i love the meat juicy and tender with the perfect crackling dressing the meat like a protective hat.
use a good, drinkable wine for this dish.
serve the pork belly with creamy mash, buttery vegetables, roasted sweet potato or asian slaw.
leftovers are great in pasta or with baked potato or wrapped in asian rice paper with coriander and a spicy sauce.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
2kg pork belly
4tbs olive oil (not extra virgin)
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, quartered
1 garlic bulb, cut in half, skin on
4 celery ribs, roughly chopped
2 leeks, roughly chopped
few sprigs fresh thyme
500ml good white wine
2c chicken stock
1tsp coriander seeds
1tsp fennel seeds
2tsp coarse salt
black pepper
chives or spring onion (optional)

how to do it
preheat the oven to 250 degrees C. place all of the vegetables into a large roasting tray with the thyme. set aside.
in a pestle & mortar, grind the salt, pepper, fennel & coriander seeds together until fragrant but not fine. using a sharp knife, score the skin of the belly in diamond shapes, taking care not to cut into the meat.
drizzle the olive oil over the belly and lightly rub it into the skin. now rub the salt & spices mixture into the skin and incisions. place the pork belly on top of the vegetables. place the roasting tray into the hot oven and roast for 20 minutes.
carefully remove the tray from the oven and turn the heat down to 170 degrees C. pour the white wine and chicken stock into the tray taking care not to wet the skin. the liquid should come up to the skin so that the meat is submerged but the skin untouched. if you need a little more liquid, add a little more water.
any leftover juices can be kept aside to use when making the gravy.
carefully place the tray back into the oven taking care not to wet the skin of the belly and roast for 2 hours.
after two hours, turn the heat back up to 230 degrees C and roast the belly until the skin is bubbling, browned and hard to the touch. about 20 – 30 minutes.
carefully lift the belly out of the roasting tray onto a cutting board and leave to rest while you get on with the gravy.
pour the vegetables and juices into a blender and blend until smooth. (or use a handheld blender.)
strain into a saucepan and bring to a boil. turn the heat down to a gentle simmer. check seasoning.
if desired, add more water for a thinner sauce or add a teaspoon of cornstarch and water to thicken although i doubt either will be necessary.
turn the pork belly onto its skin and cut as desired. (this makes it easier to cut through the crackling skin)
garnish with chopped chives or spring onion.

serve with the jus and your choice of starch, veggies or salad.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x



asparagus, poached egg & hollandaise sauce

this simple, yet elegant and great tasting dish is always a show stopper. less is more and that is exactly what this dish offers. simple, blanched asparagus, poached eggs and a thick, rich, buttery hollandaise…my idea of simple perfection.
i love serving this as a light, easy starter or when i serve it for breakfast i add salmon ribbons to it. smoked mackerel and kippers are also a hit with this dish and don’t forget the crusty bread to dunk into the sauce!!

asparagus
butter
salt
pepper
eggs
white wine vinegar
parmesan (garnish)
chives (garnish)

hollandaise sauce
4 egg yolks
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2c butter, melted
juice of half a lemon
1/2tsp fine salt
pinch white pepper

pour water into a large bowl and add a few blocks of ice to it. set aside.
bring water to boil in a large skillet. lower the asparagus into the boiling water and leave to cook for about 2.- 3 minutes, depending on the thickness. remove the asparagus from the skillet using tongs and plunge it into the iced water. drain on kitchen towel paper. set aside.

in a stainless steel mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice vigorously until light, thick and creamy use a double boiler or place the mixing bowl over a saucepan / small pot containing barely simmering water. (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water).
continue to whisk rapidly for about 30 seconds, taking care not to that the egg does not scramble. (this will happen if it gets too hot.). slowly drizzle the butter into the egg mixture while whisking, until the sauce is thickened and almost doubled in volume.
remove from the heat, add the cayenne, salt & pepper and whisk through.
set aside.

add about one tablespoon of white wine vinegar to a saucepan filled with water and bring it to the boil.
break the eggs into small ramekins. create a vortex in the centre of the water, add the eggs, two at a time. once the eggs are in the water, turn the heat down to a simmer. poach to your desired doneness.
remove the eggs from the water and drain on kitchen towel paper.

to assemble
heat butter in a frying pan and toss the asparagus for about one minute. season with salt & pepper.
place the asparagus on a plate. top with the poached egg and the hollandaise sauce.
garnish with shaved parmesan & chives.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x


chocolate crepes

i don’t usually celebrate valentine’s day. i feel love is meant to be celebrated every day, not only once a year. but this year is different. perhaps because now i have a little girl who loves food just as much as i do. and what better way to start my day than getting up early and baking crepes with my 9 month old!
these decadent little treats are very moreish indeed. the sweet syrup compliments the almost sour taste of the banana and the nuts add a lovely crunch. only after taking my pictures did i spoon some whipped cream on top. that made it even tastier. even more edible. even more enjoyable. even more rich.
i used lindt dark chocolate but any dark chocolate will do. you can whisk the mixture by hand but i found that a hand held mixer or blender works a little better as it breaks the chocolate down a little more.

makes about 12 crepes |
200g flour
40g dark chocolate, grated
1 egg
40g muscovado sugar
1.5tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp vanilla essence
pinch salt
250ml milk
liberal amount of butter
large bananas, thinly sliced diagonally
1/3c slivered almonds
whipped cream of double cream, optional
mint leaves, garnish

for the syrup
125ml maple syrup
125ml cream
125g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

how to do it
combine all of the ingredients, except the butter, in a mixing bowl or jug of your blender. blend until combined taking care not to over mix the batter. (if you feel you want a runnier batter, add an additional 50ml milk.)
heat about a tablespoon of butter in a non stick pan. spoon about 1/3 cup of batter into the pan per crepe. cook until you notice bubbles on the surface. turn and cook for about 45 seconds more. set aside and repeat until you have used all of the batter.
in a small sauce pan, heat the cream and maple syrup together. once warm, pour the mixture over the chocolate. let stand for 3 minutes and then mix with a whisk until smooth.
pour a little of the sauce onto the plate. place one crepe on top of the sauce. top with 3 slices of banana and continue until you have three layers, ending with sliced banana.
pour a little more of the sauce over the side of the top crepe. sprinkle the crepes with nuts.
top with cream if using and garnish with mint leaves.
serve warm.

happy valentine’s day!
from my kitchen to yours, with love x


prawn mac & cheese

i think there is big debate in the food industry about changing or personalising old favourites and traditional recipes. i, however, find this completely acceptable. i mean, how else do we find inspiration and new ideas?
macaroni & cheese is something i grew up with. wether my mother made a simple version of really only macaroni and a cheese sauce straight from the pan into our plates or a baked version with strips of fatty bacon nestled between the macaroni and very cheesy cheese sauce, it was a common dish in our home. it comes as no surprise that i, too, have my own versions of this very traditional, tasty dish.
this version is a rich, saucy, meaty, cheesy heaven. you can bake it in the oven to grill the cheese it was topped with or dish it straight from the pan simply topped with some parmesan shavings. either way, it is delicious!!

300g rigatoni pasta, cooked according to packet instructions
70g butter
30g flour
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and chopped or grated
1/2 small onion, finely chopped or grated
2tsp paprika (not smoked)
2 pinches saffron threads
100g cheddar, grated
100g ricotta
50g parmesan, grated
350ml milk
100ml cream
1/2c fish stock
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2tsp dijon mustard
1tbs worcestershire sauce
1tbs tomato puree
bunch fresh chives, chopped
bunch fresh dill, chopped
basil, leaves only
1tbs brown sugar
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp black pepper
pinch chilli flakes
500g prawns (cleaned, uncooked & shelled)

how to do it
cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente. drain and lightly oil. set aside.
bring the milk, cream & saffron to a light simmer. add the prawns and poach for about 5 minutes. remove prawns and set aside to cool. reserve the milk for the sauce.
melt the butter in a deep, oven proof skillet. add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent taking care not to burn the garlic. stir in the paprika, tomato paste & brown sugar and cook for two minutes while stirring.
stir in the fish stock and mix until thick and smooth.
slowly pour in the milk & cream mixture while stirring or lightly whisking. simmer, while stirring, until thick and creamy. stir through the worcesterchire sauce, mustard, lemon zest, cheeses & a pinch of chilli flakes.
taste now and season.
roughly chop the cooled prawns and add it to the sauce together with the pasta.
stir through the dill and chives.
top with desired amount of grated cheese. (i used about 80g)
bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes until bubbly.
garnish with shaved parmesan and fresh basil leaves.

serve with a green salad.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x