Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Revisiting an old favorite

I have been craving and eating a lot of fish recently, which is odd, cause I'm not the biggest fish or sea food fan. This Sunday I spent a lazy day at home doing a home spa and just chilling, so I didn't want to spend much time cooking. This old favorite of mine popped into my head and man did it hit the spot. 

It's pretty light but has all the rich flavours of a comfort food pasta dish. Although it may sound like an odd flavour combination, they just work so well together. 

Creamy tuna veggie pasta
Serves 2 large portions

250g of your favourite pasta (mine is Barilla spaghettini - the thin one)
1 Tbsp of oil
1 small onion, cut in half and thinly sliced in half rings
1 can of tuna chunks (in brine), drained
200g baby marrows, halved and thinly sliced into ribbons
½ a red pepper, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup of crumbled Feta Cheese
¼ cup of milk

Get your pasta cooking according to packet instructions. Heat the oil on high heat in a medium pan and fry the onion for a minute or two. Add the veggies and fry gently for a minute or two, add the tuna. Turn down the heat. Finely crumble the feta over the mixture, add the milk and gently stir until the feta has melted and the sauce has slightly thickened. Season with black pepper. Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Kids love chicken schnitzel (most adults too!)

I am teaching a lesson next week for a family with 4 kids. Each child and the parents have differing dietary preferences, hence the mom calling me in to train up her housekeepers to help with the cooking. 

The one dish all the kids unanimously love are chicken schnitzel but I had never made them before. Today I experimented and think the below recipe is just delicious. Kids and adults alike will just love them. Super tender and well flavoured chicken, coated in golden crispy batter. 

The process is pretty messy in terms of the amount of dishes one needs to dirty, using ones hands to batter and frying in batches, so make sure your maid is coming the next day. 

Prep up all your side dishes, set the table and get yourself well organised before frying the schnitzel. All the planning will be well worth it when you see the enjoyment of your family and friends. 

Chicken Schnitzel
Makes 8 small schnitzels

4 chicken breasts, skinless boneless
1 cup of bread flour
1 ½ cups of bread crumbs of choice

2 large eggs
2 tsp of Dijon mustard
1 tsp of Worchester sauce
½ tsp of dried thyme
¼ tsp of salt
2 tsp of olive oil
½ tsp of sesame oil

½ cup of vegetable oil for frying

Pre heat the oven to 80°C, place the rack in the middle of the oven and put the serving dish you plan to serve the schnitzels on in the oven.

Place a wire rack onto a baking sheet. This is where the chicken will rest before frying. Set out four dinner plates and a chopping board. In one dinner plate, line it with paper towel and have more standing ready; in two dinner plates sprinkle the one with the flour and the other with the bread crumbs. Season each with a pinch or two of salt. Whisk together the egg wash ingredients until well combined, pour that into the last dinner plate.

On the chopping board trim the little fillets out of each chicken breast reserving them for another dish. Trim any fat or gristle too. Cut each breast slightly on the diagonal into two fairly equal sized pieces. Using a meat mallet flatten one piece of chicken until it is about ½ - ¾ cm all over. Dredge that through the flour shaking all the excess flour off. Then lay it into the egg wash on each side and allow the egg to drip off. Lay it into the bread crumbs pressing firmly down in order to build up the crust. Flip it a few times coating it evenly with crumbs. Then shake off the loose bits and lay it on the wire rack. Repeat with one more piece of chicken.

Get a large frying pan heating to medium high heat. Add about 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil – more if you not shy of oil. Once the pan is hot lay both pieces of chicken into the pan and allow them to fry for about 2 – 3 minutes until they are deep golden brown. Then flip and drop the heat to medium and continue frying on that side for about 2 minutes. Once they are ready place them onto the kitchen towel lined plate and drain off the extra oil. Place them into the oven to keep warm.

While frying the first schnitzels, flatted and batter the next two. Fully clean out the pan and add fresh oil before frying the next batch. Keep going in this order until all 8 schnitzels are cooked. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and the sides of your choice.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Meaty samp and bean stew

My husband has been travelling a lot recently, leaving me aaaall alooooone at home... poor me! 

I try to make the best of it. I watch all the chick flicks and series I need to catch up on. I have girly suppers with lots of giggling and silliness. And I eat meat. Lots of meat! My husband is a full vegetarian so I only have meat in the house if I am catering or when he's away. 

The one meaty dish I made recently is a dish I have loved since childhood: Samp and beans! I have taught my housekeeper to make a delicious vegetarian version which is the one we always eat. But while my husband was away, I thought it was time to make a hearty meaty samp and bean stew. 

It was delicious! Add to it a quick chopped salad and its a fabulously balanced, healthy and economical meal too. 

Samp and beans
Serves 6 - 8 (it freezes beautifully)

2 cups of dried samp and beans
1 cup of sugar beans
2 Tbsp of oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
500g beef shin off the bone, diced
1.5 liters of boiling water
2 oxtail stock cubes, crumbled 
2 tsp of smoked paprika
2 tsp of mild curry powder
1 Tbsp of soya sacue
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 cups of grated carrot
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the samp and beans in water over-night or for a few hours. You can cook them from dry but it will just take longer and you will need to add more water to the recipe. 

In a medium sized heavy bottomed pot with a lid, fry the onion and garlic in the oil. Add the beef and fry for a few minutes. Add the water and stock cubes. Drain and add the samp and beans.

Add all the remaining ingredients except the salt a and sugar. Simmer for at least 2 hours, with the lid on stirring from time to time, until the beef and beans are soft and the sauce has formed a thick gravy. Season with salt and sugar to taste and allow this to simmer for a further half an hour or so until the flavors are fully combined. 

Serve with a chopped salad of your choice.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The yummiest stew I've ever eaten!

On Friday night I was invited to have dinner at the home of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Danielle Raubenheimer. She is an outstanding cook and hostess, so I knew I would be in for a treat. The meal she made blew my socks off so much I simply had to get her to share it with you. So over to Danielle.  

"Given the plummeting temperatures and my lack of villa in Ibiza, I felt something comforting and nostalgic was in order to lift the winter blues.  My Ouma's Tomato Bredie (lamb and tomato stew for you Englse out there) has been on my mind and I wanted to set about perfecting the recipe which I have only received by word of mouth from various family members. With the below recipe I think I may have nailed it. Memory lane, in a plate. 

I suggest cooking it the day before you intend on eating it. It gets better with gentle maturing.

Apart from adding your cardiologist on speed-dial and making sure your extractor fan is working, you will need the following:


1 x spatter shield
1 x Large stewing pot
Wooden spoon


1 bottle of good, dry, white wine. One glass is for you to drink whilst following the recipe. I suggest you do that first ;-) Use 2.5 cups of the wine in the bredie.
2 Tbsp of vegetable oil
1,5 kgs of lamb knuckle chunks (you can use lamb neck too)
1 tin of chopped and peeled tomatoes (400g)
1 tin of tomato paste (70g)
2 tsp Mixed Italian herbs
1 tsp Aromat
Half a tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tsp of Black pepper
Half a tsp Salt
5 tsp of Sugar
2 tsp Nomu lamb stock
2 peeled and diced potatoes (3cm x 3cm approximately)  


Heat the oil on medium high heat in your stewing pot. Brown the lamb in batches, ensuring that you don't over crowd the pot. Fry for about 1.5 - 2 minutes on each side or until nicely browned all over. Keep your browned meat on plate toy our side while you continue browning the next batches.
This is where your spatter shield and extractor fan will come in handy!
Then combine the meat, can of tomatoes, tomato paste and wine in your stewing pot and simmer with the lid off for 15 mins, this will allow the alcohol to cook off.
Add one cup of water, the Italian herbs, aromat, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt and sugar and simmer cook on low heat (it must bubble slightly)  for 1 and a half hours or so, with the lid on but slightly askew to release the steam.
You can switch the stove off, secure the lid and call it a night. Leave the pot standing overnight. By this stage the stew should already be going a rich reddy-brown colour and the smells should start making you salivate ;-)

Start heating the stew up about an 1 hour and 45 minutes before you want to eat. I use a medium to low heat and add another 2 cups of water plus the lamb stock. The goal here is to have a thick rich stew with not too many flavours. The character the lamb takes on is flavour enough.
Add the potatoes half an hour or so before serving. Keep an eye out for any burning at this point as the gravy should be thick and sticky by now!
I like to serve my bredie with basmati rice and a sprinkling of fresh, flat leaf parsley.