What’s for dinner? Lamb shanks – that’s what!

As I was sipping my morning coffee yesterday, my Yuppiechef newsletter arrived in my inbox…
Always exciting stuff – what’s new in the world of cooking and culinary gadgets – one newsletter that I actually read!

They had a feature on lamb shank and I decided, ‘that’s what I’ll make for dinner tonight’, it’s just the perfect hearty dish for a cold winter’s evening.
I made mine with cauli mash, so it’s totally Banting-approved!

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You do need enough time for this one – so get cracking NOW – it needs to cook for at least 2.5-3hrs.

Other than that, it’s super easy – here’s what you’ll need:
4 lamb shanks
Salt & pepper {I prefer to use fine salt and white pepper with lamb}
Lemon rind of 1 lemon
Tin of whole peeled tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A handful of thyme sprigs
400ml dry red wine
Olive oil
1 large head of cauliflower
A chunk of butter {perhaps 50g or so}
1 tbs sour cream / crème fraîche

Use a medium-sized oven casserole that will snugly fit all 4 shanks.
Season the lamb shanks with salt & pepper.
Heat enough olive oil and brown the meat on all sides and set aside.
Add a bit more olive oil to the casserole and sauté the onions until they’re nice and soft.
Add the garlic, the thyme and lemon peel and cook for about another minute.
Add the tomatoes and just give them a rough chop in the pot, then add the wine.
Return the shanks to the casserole, place the lid on top and cook in a pre-heated oven of 140C for 2.5-3 hrs, until the meat is really tender and starts to fall off the bone. I cooked mine for 2.5hrs…

Serve with cauli mash:
Steam or boil the cauliflower until tender, then purée with a stick blender, season with salt & pepper, add the butter and crème fraîche and blend until smooth. Voilà!

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Best Ever Spinach Quiche

Oh my, is it June yet..?!
Where has the year gone? I turn a whopping age on Sat and it still feels a bit unreal… I just can’t cope with the fact that half the year’s gone already, I still feel as if I’m busy settling into the new year, preparing for the year ahead, meanwhile it’s halfway gone!

Anyways, moving along…

I made this fab quiche that is totally ‘good’ in every sense of the word. It’s carb-free and high fat, packed with healthy spinach.
And no, there are no ‘fillers’. I can’t stand it when you have quiche {not at my house!} and you can just taste that it’s been bulked up with flour inside the quiche.

So here’s my recipe for the ultimate spinach and feta quiche – Banting-style of course:

You will need:
200g of spinach, chopped and ready to use
1 onion, diced
100g butter
Olive oil
Nutmeg
1 cup cream
6 eggs
100g mozzarella cheese, grated
1 round of full-fat feta cheese
1/3 tub of cream cheese {Philadelphia or Lancewood}
Pink salt
Black pepper

Start by sautéing the onion in a bit of olive oil until soft, then add the spinach and wilt it down slightly. You don’t want it to be cooked dead…
Add the butter, a pinch of nutmeg and the cream.
Season to taste with pink salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Let this cool.
In the meantime, line an oven dish with baking paper and pre-heat the oven to 180C.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and add the mozzarella cheese and crumble in the feta. Mix in the spinach mixture.
Now spoon half the mixture into the baking dish. Add dollops of cream cheese evenly all over and then cover with the rest of the mixture – the cream cheese should be like a hidden centre of creaminess.
Bake for 30minutes until it is set and golden brown.

This is perfect for lunch, served with some wild rocket or other mixed lettuce and herbs, perfect to pack for a picnic, or even just a light supper.
Ok, let’s face it, you could easily have this for breakfast too – so it really is the perfect breakfast / lunch / dinner dish!

Enjoy! X

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5-ingredient Hearty Chicken Livers

I must say, I never used to like chicken livers – well, before I tasted them – in fact, I’m not very keen on most offal or organ meat… The thought really just puts me off.
Chicken livers {and only chicken livers} are now one of my favourites! I love them crispy and spicy, I love chicken liver pâté and I also enjoy them in a creamy sauce.
But, I must say, they’re not really very versatile, I’ve just listed about all the different ways to have them…
I decided to make chicken livers tonight, but I didn’t have any other ingredients to go with it – no cauliflower for cauli mash! Alert – we have NO mash!
A quick squiz around the fridge and I decided to make a hot salad with green beans and tomatoes.
This dish only has 5 ingredients and is super easy to make. The grilling of the livers takes a bit of time, but only just…

You will need:

500g chicken livers, cleaned
Green beans {about 2 cups}
Rosa tomatoes {2 cups}
1/2 an onion
Parmesan cheese {grated, to be sprinkled on top}
{Butter & olive oil for frying and salt to season}

Start by quickly boiling the green beans in some water for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat up a dollop of butter and some olive oil and sauté the onions until soft.
Add the livers and fry on both sides, using another pot to weigh them down. Season with salt.
Do the livers in 2 batches and set aside once they’re done.
In the same pot, add the tomatoes and some more olive oil and sauté them until they start to soften and release some of their juices. Add the green beans and heat them through.
Dish the green beans and tomatoes into a large serving dish. Reheat the livers in the pot and add to the dish.
Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

Perfect for a light, yet hearty weeknight dinner or even lunch.

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Caprese {stuffed} Chicken

Call me a fanatic, but I do love a caprese salad! The simple, yet bold flavours just speak to me.
I love the classics in general; I was just telling a friend the other day about how I switched from my ever-trusty Essie Mademoiselle nail varnish {super safe and classic – a nude if you like} to a more daring {!!} nude…with a hint of glitter! How wild!
My best friend also always jokes that her mom and I always go for the same outfits and we both love navy! {I’m not allowed to buy another navy coat this winter..!}
But, in my defense, her mom dresses great and navy will always be a classic.

Such is the caprese, it will always be fab and you can never go wrong – it’s a definite classic!
So, just to liven things up a bit, I decided to do a different version of the caprese – a hot version with chicken.

You will need:
6 chicken breasts, boneless {skin on or off, but to be honest I think on would be better, but what a mission to find! And when you do find it, it’s not boneless?!}
12 thin slices of mozzarella cheese
Plain cream cheese
12 basil leaves
Olive oil
Butter
Salt & pepper
Small rosa tomatoes
A handful of pine nuts, toasted

Start by slicing open the chicken breasts, but don’t cut them all the way through, it should look like a little open book, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Now, get a good chunk of butter and a splash of olive oil heated in a large pan and gently cook the inside of the chicken breast. {With the open side facing down in the pan.} This will ensure that the chicken cooks more easily and doesn’t become bone-dry. You just want the inside to be slightly cooked and golden, not cooked all the way through.
Remove from the pan and then start stuffing the chicken:
Spread a dollop of cream cheese
Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts
Place basil leaves
Place slices of cheese
Close them up and tie with string
Return these to the hot pan and cook until the outside of the chicken is golden brown.
Remove them again and set aside.
Add more olive oil to the same pan and add the tomatoes {keep them whole}. Cook on low heat until the tomatoes have gone soft and formed a reddish oil. Return the stuffed chicken to the tomatoes in the pan and let everything heat through.

So delicious- enjoy!

{Serve it with cauli mash or a simple broccoli salad: baby salad leaves with wild rocket, watercress and lightly steamed broccoli, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice.}

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Pork Stir Fry

I can’t remember the last time I made stir fry, it always seems like a lazy dish to make… Well it IS super easy, but for me, the key is to get the seasoning right, as with any dish really.
Stir fry is actually such a great weeknight dinner, it’s one of those hearty all-in-one-eat-it-in-front-of-the-TV-from-a-bowl dishes.

You will need:
Pork steaks, cut into strips
Cabbage
1 onion
2 or 3 carrots, ribboned
1 large broccoli
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Butter
Olive oil
Garlic

Start by sautéing the onions in a chunk of butter. When they’re soft, add the garlic and pork strips and brown them, season with salt & pepper. When they’re just about cooked, add the shredded cabbage and carrot ribbons. Add a dash of sesame oil and a splash of soy sauce {both to your taste, but remember the sesame oil has quite an overpowering taste, so go easy on that one – I’d say a tablespoon is good}.

Let everything cook, but don’t overcook – soggy stir fry is not a good thing!
When you’re almost ready to serve, add the broccoli florets and let it cook for another minute or so – again, do not let them go soft – just cooked and still crunchy.

Drizzle with olive oil and enjoy! X

{Little Seb just LOVED helping me cook and he enjoyed eating something that he’d cooked himself!}

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Ooey Gooey Speckled Egg Brownies to kick-start the week!

Just in case you’ve been feeling guilty about the weekend’s indulgences, here’s a great recipe to try – Speckled Egg brownies – the perfect way to start the week I’d say… {I’m saying / writing this whilst wiping the crumbs from my mouth… Chuckle chuckle…}

Ok so perhaps this is not the usual guilty-conscience-Monday-get-your-diet-back-on-track type of recipe…

Anyways, here you go: {adapted from Mikey’s in my kitchen}

1 1/4 cup flour
2tbs cocoa powder
1tsp salt
330g chocolate {2/3 dark chocolate, chopped + speckled eggs}
1cup butter, diced
1 1/2cups white granulated sugar
1/2cup brown sugar
5eggs
2tsp vanilla

Whisk together the flour, cocoa & salt and set aside. In a double boiler {heatproof bowl over simmering water}, melt the butter & chocolate. Once this has melted, turn off the heat and add the sugars. Mix it through and let it melt as much as possible, while getting to room temperature.
Once it’s room temperature, whisk in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
Fold in the flour mixture until it’s just incorporated – it doesn’t have to be perfectly mixed, as you don’t want to over mix it.
Pour into a baking pan lined with baking paper {the batter should reach about 2cm} and bake in a pre-heated oven of 175C for 35minutes.

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Wait until it has cooled completely before lifting the brownies out of the pan and cutting them. {Resist the urge!}
The result: super ooey-gooey {very} chocolate brownies with a jelly ‘swirl’ running through it.
Have it with vanilla ice cream and a few speckled eggs scattered on top – or just as is!

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Some more recipes to look forward to this week:
Thick cut grilled rump steak with halloumi and caramelised onions & tomatoes
Classic roast chicken with garlic, rosemary & lemon
Aubergine lasagna with hidden veggies {a goodie for the kids!}
Chocolate {very chocolatey!} pavlova
Pork stir fry {when last did you actually make stir fry?!}
Pork roast with sweet potato wedges and a killer salad

X

Loaded baked gem squash

The first Time Trials {running club} started tonight, so I cooked ahead…
More about dinner later. Ugh, I hurt my ankle about 3 weeks ago and have been taking it slow ever since and I actually haven’t done ANY exercise for the past 2 weeks. I decided to go for a run tonight, only 3km, to see how it feels. Well, it hurts!
Luckily I had a nice home-cooked meal to come home to {how nice is that?!} and didn’t have to spend any time on my feet.

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These beautiful little gems {no pun intended!} came straight from our veggie garden. Apart from the gem squash, you will need:
Bacon {half a pack, about 125g, diced}
Mince {I use venison, 250g}
1 onion, chopped
Peppadew spice
Sweet chili sauce
Mozzarella cheese
Salt

Boil the gem squash in water until they are cooked. In a heavy pot, sauté the onions until soft and golden brown.
Add the diced bacon and cook. Add the mince and a few shakes of Peppadew spice and cook until the mince is just done – not dry! Add about a tbs of sweet chili sauce and season with salt.

Halve the gem squash and remove the seeds. Scoop the mince mixture inside and top with grated mozzarella cheese. Bake in a pre-heated oven of 180C for 20minutes or until the cheese has turned a golden brown.

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Enjoy with a salad of rocket, basil, fresh tomato, toasted pine nuts and olive oil. Nice and simple! X

Banting day 1…

Oh dear, I didn’t fully ‘bant’ today… {blush}
Like I said, cupcakes will always hold a special place in my heart {and stomach} and I today I baked some delicious chocolate frosted cupcakes for a friend visiting from the States. But, apart from the 2 cupcakes I had today, I did pretty well!
{Look, I’ve been eating really well for the past year, almost completely cutting out all carbs such as pastas, rice, bread, potatoes and the likes, it’s just this past month during the festive season that I’ve had a bit of bread here and there, along with some other baddies… And you won’t believe, but I’ve been feeling so horrible and sluggish, so it’s time now for a clean start and renewed good eating habits – NOT DIETING.}
Tonight we had lamb chops with a chili rub, a tomato & cucumber salsa and grilled asparagus. Yum.

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For the lamb chops:
I started off by squeezing a fresh lemon onto the lamb chops and a bit of freshly ground sea salt. You need lemon with lamb chops.
For the rub, I toasted coriander seeds in a hot pan and ground those in a mortar and pestle, along with yellow mustard seeds, a fresh bird’s eye chili, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, white pepper, garlic and a bit of salt. Just grind it until it’s all mushed together and you get that great aroma – you’ll just know.
Rub the chops with the rub mixture and let it sit for about an hour before grilling.
You want to get the grill {we use a Big Green Egg, but a Weber or a regular old braai will also do. You could also use a griddle pan on the stove, but then you don’t get all the flavour…} nice and hot – to about 180C. Grill the chops for roughly 20mins {10mins each side} until they’re a golden brown and the fat has started to render nicely.

For the salsa:
Keep it simple – just chop up a few tomatoes {any variety will do, but a Roma tomato is always a great and flavorful option}, about half a cucumber and fresh sweet basil leaves. Toss with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Season with salt.

For the asparagus:
Heat a heavy griddle pan on the stove and add a few dollops of butter. When the butter has melted and the pan is hot, add the asparagus {remember to rinse them!} and grill until you get some golden char marks. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt.

Voila – nice and simple, fresh and delicious – and super healthy too!
Enjoy! X

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‘Tis the Season..!

‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa-la-la-la-laa-la-la-la-la!

Christmas is fast approaching and everyone is thinking of their holidays – lounging in the sun, eating merry puddings, drinking merry cocktails and just generally taking it easy and relaxing. if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere somewhere, you might be all wrapped up in a holiday scarf, drinking eggnog and enjoying various pumpkin-spiced-goodies. Aah – the holidays – enjoyed everywhere!

I think most people might have their Christmas trees and decorations up already, but if you’re a traditionalist the tree will only go up 12 days before Christmas (UK) or on Christmas Eve (Germany). The Americans start to ‘deck the halls’ straight after Thanksgiving, which is close to the beginning of December in any case… But honestly, some people have their homes all kitted out by the middle of November already and some even as early as the beginning of November!

Retail shops tend to put up their decorations earlier too and have their merchandise on the shelves from mid-October, which frankly, is just too early in my opinion. But then again, I suppose they only have a short period in which to sell all their Christmas merchandise.

There are no traces of Christmas in our house yet – apart from the delicious and boozy fruitcake I baked on Tuesday. Perhaps some mince pies and eggnog next week?
{This fruitcake might not make it all the way to Christmas, let alone get a cap full of brandy every week – it’s just too delicious! I even had some for breakfast this morning..!}

In the spirit of the ‘jolly season’, I made venison kebabs with figs in a Port reduction:

Venison kebabs & Port figs Venison kebabs & Port figs

 

I used venison kebabs that we had made for us – marinated in Woolies’ BBQ marinade. Of course, you can make your own marinade too! You could also use any meat for your kebabs…

For the figs, you will need:

Turkish figs, dried

Port {Cape Ruby}

Castor sugar

Water

Cover the figs in Port in a small sauce pan and bring to the boil.  Add a tbs or 2 of sugar and a splash of water and let it simmer until it has reduced to a rich, syrupy sauce and the figs are soft.

Serve with buttery butternut mash {I added a dollop of butter and a bit of water to the raw butternut and let it steam in the microwave} and a green salad {lettuce, mangetout, cucumber, avocado and feta cheese}.

Delicious – enjoy! x

Crispy Grilled Chicken Livers with Seasonal Veggies

I do love chicken livers, but hate cooking them! The way they pop and splatter everywhere… My dad taught me a nifty little trick; putting a weight on top of the livers while they fry will prevent them from popping and also make them nice and crisp. Using a lid will just make them boil… So gross!

Tonight’s dish consists of 5 components – wilted spinach, buttery grilled sweet potatoes, grilled aubergines, tomato relish and crispy grilled chicken livers. This is such a great dish – perfectly filling, bursting with flavour, yet light and delicate. {This would make a perfect meal-in-a-jar too!}

Crispy Grilled Chicken Lives

Wilted Spinach:

Roughly chop 2 handfuls of spinach and sauté in butter. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Sweet Potatoes:

Peel and thinly slice 3 sweet potatoes. Place in a baking dish, add a few dollops of butter and a sprinkle with a bit of nutmeg. Bake at 180C for about 45minutes.

Grilled Aubergines:

Slice one aubergine into 1/2cm slices, brush with olive oil and grill in a hot pan until golden and cooked.

Tomato Relish:

Slice one small onion and sauté in olive oil. Add 2tsp tomato paste and let it caramelise. Add a handful of small Roma tomatoes, cut in half. Flash fry for a few minutes, but don’t let it cook until mushy.

Crispy Grilled Chicken Livers:

I used 500g of chicken livers. Heat about 100g of butter and a splash of olive oil in a non-stick pan along with 2 red chillies and a clove of garlic, chopped. Add livers, season with salt and place a heavy pot on top. Fry until you can hear the livers starting to pop, then turn them over. Fry until both sides are crisp and brown. You might need to do them in two batches.

Assemble and enjoy! X