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Baked risotto with chicken, broccoli & blue cheese

7 Mar

This is the first time I’ve attempted to make a baked risotto, after being quite skeptical about a non-stir method of making one of my favourite dishes on earth – one that many people feel quite sacred about. And I have to admit: for this little effort, the results are fantastic.

I’d say the texture is more like that of a beautifully “wet” paella, than a classic risotto. It’s all in the timing, so remove this dish from the oven when it’s still slightly saucy – it will continue to thicken on standing.

For the chicken, I’ve used a packet of free-range, deboned, skinless chicken drumsticks from Woolworths – a stunning product that is economically priced compared to deboned thighs and so very versatile and convenient.

Also featured in this recipe is the brand new extra virgin cold pressed canola oil from Cape Canola – a stunning new product with the most luminous deep yellow colour that I drizzled over the risotto just before serving. It’s also fantastic on salads, dips like hummus or even over pasta. It has a buttery, nutty flavour, and I’m sure it will make killer roast potatoes and dreamy mayonnaise. It is available from Pick ‘n Pay in 1 liter glass bottles, as well as 3 liter and 5 liter tins.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 15 ml extra virgin cold pressed canola oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
  • 700-750 g boneless skinless chicken, cut into large chunks
  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cups arborio rice (or other risotto rice)
  • 125 g blue cheese, roughly crumbled
  • 125 ml cream
  • 1 liter chicken stock, warm
  • a handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped, to serve


  1. Preheat oven to 200 C.
  2. In a large, wide, ovenproof dish (about 3 liter capacity), brush the base with oil, then arrange the chicken & broccoli in a single layer and season generously with salt & pepper.
  3. Pour the uncooked rice all over evenly, then arrange the blue cheese crumbs all over.
  4. Mix the cream and chicken stock, then pour most of it over the arranged ingredients (if your dish won’t take all of the liquid, leave some to add later when some of it has been absorbed). Gently press any ingredients down that stick out, to be covered by the liquid.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until the rice is just al dente (still a gentle bite in the centre). If the top becomes too dark, cover it with foil. If it becomes too dry, add more liquid. You should remove it from the oven when it has not absorbed all of the liquid, because it will continue to absorb liquid apon standing.
  6. Let it stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve hot with a drizzle of extra virgin canola oil (or olive oil or melted butter),  scattered with parsley.
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10 water wise recipes that’ll help you save

8 Feb

Never leave a running tap unattended. Use a thin stream of water with great care and intent, and only when necessary. (Photo by Kaboompics // Karolina from Pexels)


We’re all looking to gain smart new habits for coping with the little water left in the Western Cape. Hoping to avoid “day zero”, let’s adjust to a new normal of being truly water conscious and saving every drop that we can.

When we were struggling with power outages a few seasons ago, Private Property wrote an article, Energy savings will be crucial this winter. With the current water shortage they asked me to put together a few dos and don’ts of foods/recipes to embrace and to avoid. Check out Private Property’s houses for sale, and remember these handy tips: Keep a water-less hand cleanser in the kitchen and bathroom to minimize rinsing your hands under running water. Keep the plug in the basin plugged in (or use a larger bowl/bucket) to reuse grey water as far as you can.

Water wise foods to welcome:

  • anything braaied/grilled (remember to serve these on paper plates that won’t require any washing up)
  • oven roasted vegetables instead of boiled vegetables (remember to use a sheet of foil or baking paper on your tray to minimize dirty trays)
  • roast chicken (or other meat) that can double up as leftovers on a sandwich the next day, limiting more cooking and washing up
  • salad, fruit and vegetables that can we wiped with a damp cloth (that don’t need extensive washing)
  • “hand food” that doesn’t require plates or cutlery (minimizing dirty dishes for washing later)
  • one-pot dishes that can go from oven/stove to table to fridge (minimizing dirty dishes for washing later)

Water unwise foods to avoid:

  • foods that need to be cooked/soaked in a lot of water, like rice, legumes and pasta
  • foods that need lots of water for rinsing, like sandy mussels or spinach (unless you can minimize the rinsing water and reuse it later as grey water)
  • foods that require large amounts of stock, like soups and risottos
  • food that will dirty various bowls/pots/trays (unless you use baking paper or foil on your trays that can be discarded) and will use more water for washing up than usual

Here are some of my favourite recipes that don’t contain any water, are made in one pot/pan, or require very little (or no) washing up:

Spinach, mushrooms & cheddar frittata with sage butter. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  1. Mushroom, spinach & cheddar frittata: this is a one-pot recipe that is perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, and also as leftovers for the office the next day. It can be eaten hot or cold, so no reheating required, and no extra dirty dishes gained. And yes, you can ditch the sage butter!

    Delicious buttermilk rusks with various seeds, nuts, oats, coconut and pecan nuts.

  2. All-in-one breakfast rusks: limit your tea/coffee intake by filling up with these “waterless” rusks – dip 2 or 3 in your one cup of daily coffee, and you might not require another cup soon.

    Freshly toasted granola with cranberries. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  3. Granola with almonds & cranberries: made with no water, this granola recipe is so delicious topped with a dollop of yoghurt. To minimize dirty dishes, add a few tablespoons directly to your plastic yoghurt tub (and not other way around).

    Freshly braaied ciabatta sandwiches with fior di latte, tomato, basil and chutney. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  4. Afritalian braaibroodjies: these can be assembled anywhere without using any water. Eaten with your hands straight from a plankie, they’re the perfect waterless food items.

    My ultimate caprese salad with soft mozzarella, an array of tomatoes, fresh basil, pesto and toasted pine nuts. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  5. Ultimate caprese salad: no rinsing necessary (unless you want to wipe the tomatoes with a damp cloth), easy to assemble, and the juices can be mopped up with crusty bread straight from the plate.

    Baked tomatoes with feta, garlic, thyme. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  6. Baked tomatoes with feta, garlic & thyme: add a sheet of foil or non-stick baking paper to the tray, which you can pop in the bin afterwards. No pre-rinsing, no washing up.

    Roast garlic prawns served with fresh limes. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  7. Roasted garlic prawns: another roasted favourite that can be done with a sheet of foil and eaten straight from the pan!

    Panzanella: a traditional Tuscan bread salad. Photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius.

  8. Panzanella with smoked chicken: what a delightful, meaty, summer salad with oodles of crunchy croutons – perfect for entertaining a crowd. Make the croutons in the oven on a baking sheet lined with foil and save on washing up!

    Fresh, crunchy, beautiful to look at and oh-so-delicious Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

  9. Vietnamese chicken & vegetable spring rolls: although these paper rounds are made of rice, they require no cooking – only one minute of soaking in a little cold water (you can use a wide bowl with 1cm deep water for the whole batch and still reuse the water left for rinsing anything that’s dirty etc.) It’s hand food at its best, dipped in a fabulously salty peanut sauce.

    Braaied lamb chops make the ultimate shawarma topping. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

  10. Quick braaied lamb shawarmas: marinate in a plastic bag, braai, assemble on chopping board, eat with hands, wipe with kitchen paper – almost no dirty dishes! Perfect for outdoor entertaining.
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Kentucky-style fried chicken (double dredged)

24 Nov

Deep fried Kentucky-style chicken – done right! Served with beer and some flaky paprika salt. No cutlery required. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.


This recipe is unapologetically delicious, influenced straight from the bold South of America. And no, you won’t get the same results in the oven. This is a good ol’ deep-fryin’ job. Double dredged in my not-so-secret spice & herb flour mixture, crispy fried and finger-licking awesome.

You sure won’t eat this every day (or even every week), but when it’s time for Kentucky-style fried chicken, you need to do it properly. Keep an eye on your oil temperature and you’re in for a treat: these golden beauties need to cook from scratch in the oil – they need 12-15 minutes at 180 C to work their magic.

Give them a quick drain on kitchen paper and you’re ready to rumble. No sauce, no condiments, no side dishes. Just fried chicken done right.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1 liter canola oil
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 5 ml salt
  • 2,5 ml freshly ground pepper
  • 10 ml paprika
  • 5 ml mixed herbs
  • 2,5 ml chilli powder (adjust according to your needs)
  • 2,5 ml celery seeds (optional)
  • 5 ml garlic powder (or use garlic salt and reduce salt quantity accordingly)
  • 4 XL egg whites
  • 8-12 medium size chicken pieces (legs, wings, thighs)


  1. Place the oil in a large heave-based pot over high heat. While it is heating, prepare the chicken.
  2. In a wide mixing bowl, mix the flour, salt, pepper, paprika, herbs, chilli powder, celery seeds and garlic powder.
  3. Place the egg whites in a wide bowl and whisk lightly.
  4. Take each chicken piece, dip it in the egg white, then in the spiced flour mixture, back in the egg white and again in the flour mixture. Place on a tray and repeat process until all the chicken is double-dredged.
  5. In the meantime, keep an eye on the oil. You’re looking for a temperature of 180 C. If you don’t have a thermometer, test a small piece of chicken skin to see if it bubbles when it hits the oil. When the oil starts to smoke, you’ve heated it too high – this can be dangerous, so remove it carefully from the heat (using heat protective mitts) and let it cool before adding the chicken.
  6. Add the dredged chicken pieces to the hot oil, but don’t crowd the pot. Fry for 12-15 minutes, turning them over half way through. Adjust the temperature if the chicken browns too quickly – it should spend at least 12 minutes in the oil for the meat to be cooked properly, so give the bigger pieces more time if needed.
  7. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately (with or without extra salt and lemon wedges).

Note: Always be extra careful when cooking with large amounts of oil. Don’t leave it unattended and don’t let children near it. These days I prefer deep-frying on my induction cooker where there are no flames near.

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Melon, blue cheese, prosciutto & basil canapés

20 Nov

Stacks of skewered melon, blue cheese, folded prosciutto and fresh basil. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.


We’re all starting to gear up for a few weeks of entertaining and celebrating this festive season. I love spoiling my guests with some small bites before the start of a meal. If you keep it simple, it won’t take up too much time and will add so much to your gathering.

The combination of melon and ham is a true classic. I’ve added blue cheese and basil leaves for a savoury, creamy and fresh extra touch and it works like a charm. No cooking required, just cut, skewer and serve.

Treat yourself and your guests to some fabulous-looking canapés this December – it’s totally worth it!


  • 1 melon, peeled, seeds removed and cut into 2 x 2 cm cubes
  • 2 x 125 g blue cheese, cut into cubes
  • about 160-200 g finely sliced prosciutto, each piece folded into a neat little stack
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves


Use small skewers to arrange the melon, blue cheese, prosciutto and basil into a neat upright stack. Serve immediately.

Tip: Cut larger slices of prosciutto in half, if necessary.

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Teriyaki Roasted Mushrooms on Steak (or on baked potatoes)

14 Nov

Whole roasted mushrooms on a pan-fried sirloin steak. Such a great alternative to a creamy mushroom sauce, and much easier to make. #festivemushrooms

These whole roasted mushrooms, marinated in Teriyaki sauce with garlic, ginger & thyme, will take your next grilled steak or baked potato to a new level – perfect for festive entertaining. Teriyaki sauce is a magical thing – just the right combination of sweet and salty – that will add even more umami to your already umami-rich mushrooms. No cutting or stirring involved, just shake them in a bag with the marinade, spread out on a baking tray and roast on a high temperature.

This recipe is a welcome alternative to a creamy mushroom sauce. Juicy and packed with flavour, these teriyaki roasted mushrooms are a crowd-pleasing favourite every time.

Brown and button mushrooms with thyme – such a great choice for making these teriyaki roasted mushrooms.

Cooking time: 25 minutes
Ingredients: (serves 4)

1/2 cup (125 ml) Teriyaki sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh ginger, finely grated
3-4 thyme thyme sprigs, leaves only
400 g whole mushrooms (I used 250 g big brown mushrooms and 150 g small button mushrooms)
about 4 x 200 g beef steak (I used aged sirloin)
45 ml olive oil
salt & pepper to taste


  1. Line a standard baking tray with foil and pre-heat oven to 230 C.
  2. Pour the Teriyaki sauce into a large zip-sealing bag. Add the grated garlic, ginger & thyme, seal and give it a shake.
  3. Add the mushrooms, press out the excess air, seal and shake well to cover the mushrooms all over.
  4. Pour the marinated mushrooms out on the lined tray and arrange in a single layer, stem-side up for larger mushrooms. Roast for 20 minutes at 230 C until caramelized & tender.
  5. While the mushrooms and roasting, brush the steaks with oil on both sides and season generously with salt & pepper. Heat a large pan (preferably an iron skillet) over high heat until it reaches smoking point. Pan-fry the steaks to your preferred liking – I prefer medium-rare, which is about 3,5 minutes a side. Don’t fuss too much over the steaks, just let them do their thing and turn once – they will generate a lot of smoke, so open a kitchen window.
  6. When the steaks are done, transfer them to a plate/platter and cover with foil to rest for 5 minutes at room temperature.
  7. Remove the mushrooms from the oven once they are brown and tender with sticky darker bits on the edges of the pan.
  8. Serve the steaks immediately after resting, topped generously with the whole roasted mushrooms and served with a side salad.

Note: These Teriyaki roasted mushrooms are an excellent topping on fluffy baked potatoes, creamy polenta or risotto, but also work so well at room temperature in a salad with rocket, avo and feta. Not all Teriyaki sauces are the same – taste yours and adjust seasoning if necessary.

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Beef & stout pie with sour cream & thyme pastry

17 Jul

There are few things as comforting than a homemade pie on a cold winters day. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.


I wish I was in a winter cabin in the woods somewhere, slowly simmering this pie filling while attending to the beautiful sour cream pastry. You don’t need to actually be in a cabin to enjoy these, but wouldn’t it be fantastic if we all could linger for a few days in a woodlands hideaway, sipping on steamy drinks next to a fireplace, slowly preparing comforting dishes throughout the day to enjoy when the sun goes down. Time stands still, the quietness fills the air with tranquility and the earthy smell of the thick pine needle carpet outside seeps into your clothes.

This hearty beef & stout pie with sour cream & thyme pastry is simply perfect for a cosy winters holiday. Don’t rush it – enjoy every moment of the preparation process like healing therapy for your soul. It’s totally worth it.

Beef & stout pie with sour cream & thyme pastry: (serves 4-6)

Tip: Start making this pie in the morning if you want to serve it for dinner. It takes a few hours to prepare, but I promise it is worth every minute.

For the filling:

Time: 30 minutes prep plus 3 hours simmering plus cooling.

Tip: Make the pastry while the filling is simmering.

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 kg beef cubes
  • salt & pepper
  • 30 ml flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 15 ml tomato paste
  • 440 ml stout
  • 500 ml beef stock
  • 15 ml Worcestershire sauce
  1. In a large dutch oven / cast iron pot, heat the oil and fry the meat over high heat in batches, giving it some colour and seasoning it with salt & pepper as you fry. Add a little flour to each batch as it is frying, using all the flour by the last batch. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside (it will still be raw on the inside).
  2. If the pot is smoking hot at this point, remove it from the heat and give it a few minutes to cool. Turn the heat down to medium, then add a little more oil and fry the onion, garlic and celery until soft.
  3. Add the bay leaf, cloves, tomato paste, stout, stock and Worcester sauce, stir well and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom to loosen and dissolve any sticky bits (covering the pot with a lid will help).
  4. Return the meat to the pot, then simmer over low heat for 3 hours, covered, until the meat is very soft and the gravy is dark brown and rich (stir once or twice during the process).  Pour some excess liquid off and keep aside for serving as gravy later. Use a fork to pull some of the meat apart, keeping some cubes whole.
  5. Cool the filling completely before baking in the pastry.

For the sour cream & thyme pastry:

Time: 30 min prep plus 2h30 resting.

Tip: For a more classic version, leave out the thyme leaves.

  • 3 cups (750 ml) white bread flour
  • 5 ml salt
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 250 ml cold butter, cubed
  • 250 g sour cream
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked, for brushing
  1. Mix the flour, salt & thyme together. Rub the butter into the flour mixture using your fingers. When it starts to resemble coarse bread crumbs, add the sour cream and cut it in with a knife. Continue to mix until the mixture comes together in a non-smooth ball of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangular shape. Turn the dough so that it lies horizontally in front of you (divide it into thirds in your mind), then fold the right side over to the middle, and the left side over the folded part, to form three layers. Turn the dough over, turn it 90 degrees, and roll out again, folding it in the same way. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Remove from the fridge and repeat the rolling and folding process. Return to the fridge for another hour.

To assemble the pie:

Time: 20 min assembling plus 1 hour baking.

  1. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface (the dough should be very smooth by now) to a long rectangle with a thickness of about 5 mm.
  2. Spray a medium size deep pie tin with non-stick spray, then line the bottom of the tin with pastry, easing it gently into the corners and taking care to not stretch the dough too much (leave the edges overhanging for now).
  3. Fill with the beef & stout mixture, then use a pastry brush to lightly brush the edges where the top layer needs to stick. Lay the rest of the pastry on top, cutting a hole in the middle or making slits here and there for steam to escape.
  4. Use a sharp knife to neatly trim the sides, then use a fork to press grooves into the edges. Use any leftover pastry to cut out shapes, or to make a plait for decoration. Brush with egg all over, then bake at 180 C for about 1 hour or until golden brown and cooked.
  5. Serve hot, with steamed veggies, the reserved gravy and mashed potato.

Beef and stout pie, perfect to make on a cosy winter holiday. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.



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Indian Made Easy with Poetry Stores

6 Jun

An easy Indian spread from Amandip Uppal’s new book Indian Made Easy, available from Poetry Stores (photography by Tasha Seccombe)


This new book from Amandip Uppal, Indian Made Easy (available from Poetry Stores), is simply stunning. I love the lay-out, the fonts, the simplicity of the colours and the photographs too. Amandip also chose to do something interesting with her recipe lists, listing fresh ingredients together, spices together, and pantry ingredients together. It makes a lot of sense when you shop for the ingredients, or when you get everything together before cooking, but I found that some inexperienced cooks might become confused mid-cooking when an ingredient is mentioned but it does not appear in the order of the cooking process.

For my readers’s ease, I’ve rearranged the ingredients below in the order of how it will be used. Amandip’s recipes are really flavorful and beautiful to look at – an easy intro to the fabulous world of Indian cooking. Plate up on Poetry‘s beautiful new dark blue “lace” tableware.

Charred Broccoli with Chilli and Fennel (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Charred Broccoli with Chilli and Fennel (serves 4)

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 large red chilli, seeded (optional) and thinly sliced
  • 600 g broccoli spears, cut down the middle lengthways
  • salt, to taste
  • 2,5 cm piece ginger, peeled and cut into julienne
  • toasted coconut, pomegranate seed and coriander (page 238, for garnish)
  • handful of coriander (for garnish)

Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan over low-medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and fennel seeds and fry until the crackle and pop.
Add the garlic, chili and broccoli and fry until the broccoli is slightly charred in colour. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes, until cook the through.
Uncover, season with salt to taste and add the ginger. Toss through and gently cook for 20 seconds.
Garnish with a scattering of tasted coconut, pomegranate seeds and coriander and more coriander leaves and stalks.

My notes: This recipes is also excellent served at room temperature.

Plain naan bread with spinach & mint yoghurt (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Spinach & Mint Yoghurt

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 5-6 mint leaves
  • a large pinch of dried mint
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
  • a large pinch of salt
  • 225 g cooked spinach, chopped
  • 225 g natural or Greek-style yoghurt
  • 2 cm piece ginger, peeled & grated (for garnish, optional)
  • fine slivers of red chili (for garnish, optional)

Put the mint leaves, dried mint, garlic, cumin seeds and salt in a mortar. Grind with the pestle to make a smooth paste. Place the spinach into the bowl, together with the mint paste and stir in the yoghurt. Garnish with the ginger and chilli, if liked.

Plain Naan (makes 7-8)

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 7 g sachet dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon golden caster sugar
  • 200 ml warm water
  • 400 g strong bread flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 2 tablespoons melted ghee or oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or melted butter, for brushing after baking

Mix the yeast, sugar and water. Stir well with a fork and leave for a few minutes. Place the flour, 2 tablespoons gee or oil and salt into a wide bowl and make a well in the centre.
Using one hand, pour in a little of the yeast mixture and with the other hand use a fork to gradually bring the flour in and mix together. Keep pouring a little water while mixing. Flour your hands and begin to knead and form a ball. Add enough water to make a soft, but not sticky dough and keep kneading for about 5 minutes, or until smooth pliable and soft. The consistency should bot be very soft or hard. Cover and rest for 20-25 minutes.
Using slightly oiled hands, divide the dough into about 8-10 equal sized balls. Place on a lightly oiled tray, leaving gaps in between each ball and over with a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place for about 20 minutes until the balls have doubled in size.
Preheat the grill to medium-high with a heavy based baking tray on the top shelf. Roll out the dough balls thinly and evenly. One by one, place the rolled out naan onto the baking tray, brush lightly with water and grill for about 1-2 minutes on both sides, or until lightly browned and puffed up. Lightly brush with ghee and serve hot.

My notes: The recipe didn’t state how/where to roll out the dough, so I did it on a floured working surface (some naan recipes call for an oiled surface). Be sure to also dust the baking tray lightly with flour to prevent the naan from sticking to it.

Classic lamb curry (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Classic Lamb Curry (serves 4)

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 small green chillies
  • 4 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 x 250 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, plus a large pinch for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 kg leg of lamb, chopped into 2,5 cm cubes
  • 2 tablespoons Greek-style yoghurt, whisked with 200 ml water
  • 3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

In a blender or using a mortar and pestle, grind the onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic, oil and tinned tomatoes into a smooth paste.
Mix the paste with the garam masala, cumin, ground coriander, chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Place the lamb in a large bowl and cover in the paste, making sure all the pieces of lamb are well coated.
Put the lamb in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, cover and cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring frequently until the meat is tender and the oil has separated.
Add the yoghurt, then cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring constantly over a low-medium heat.
Remove from the heat, then sprinkle with the chopped coriander and a large pinch of ground cumin and serve.

My notes: I’ve found that the meat needed longer time to cook than mentioned 35-40 minutes. I cooked mine over a low heat, covered, stirring every now and then to prevent the bottom of the pot from turning too dark, for about 2,5 hours until it was really tender.


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Mothers Day Lunch with Poetry Stores

12 May

A delectable home cooked feast from Barbara Joubert’s book KOSTALGIE, available from Poetry Stores. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

There’s nothing that says “I love you” like a thoughtful, scrumptious and beautiful home-cooked meal. The recipes in Barbara Joubert’s (Afrikaans) book Kostalgie are the perfect choices for a Mothers Day lunch at home, with flavours and influences from her travels all around the world.

I have never made caramelized figs before, and they truly are just magnificent to look at. Almost too beautiful to eat! With the creamy custard tart, they are the stuff dreams are made of.

I love slow roasted pork – it seems to always get raving reviews in my house. I opted for serving the pork with buttery beans instead of potatoes, because of my choice of pasta and tomatoes as a side dish (a stunning meal on its own too).

Have a happy Mothers Day everyone!

Barbara’s book, the homeware and beautiful black floral scarf are all available online and in store from Poetry Stores.

Tagliatelle with burst tomatoes, blue cheese and rocket. Photography by Tasha Seccombe

Homemade tagliatelle with burst tomatoes and blue cheese (serves 6)

(Recipe from Barbara Joubert’s Kostalgie)

For the tagliatelle:
300 g (535 ml) cake flour
3 eggs
20 ml olive oil
10 ml water

For the burst tomatoes:
125 ml olive oil
3 garlic cloves
550 g small red and yellow rosa tomatoes
salt and freshly ground pepper
a handful fresh basil leaves
100 g blue cheese
40 g rocket

For the tagliatelle:
Place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer with dough hook. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs. Switch the machine on at low speed. Add the olive oil and water. Increase the speed until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too stiff, you can add a little water. Knead for 10 minutes with the machine, then take the dough out and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest for 1 hour at room temperature. If you have a pasta machine, sprinkle a little flour on your working surface and on the rollers of the machine. Cut the dough into smaller pieces. Set your machine on number 7 and feed the dough through. Set it one setting lower, feeding the dough through until you get to number 1 (the thinnest setting). Hang the pasta sheets over the back of chairs for about 20 minutes to dry out a little. Attach the tagliatelle attachment to the machine, then feed the sheets through the cutter. Place the bundles of cut tagliatelle onto a baking tray sprinkled with flour. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a little olive oil, then add the pasta and cook for 3-5 minutes. Drain and top with the roasted saucy tomatoes.

For the burst tomatoes:
Heat olive oil in a large deep pan. Add the garlic whole and fry for about 2 minutes to flavour the oil. Add the tomatoes and fry until they burst. Season with salt & pepper. Tear basil leaves in pieces and mix with the sauce. Cut slices of blue cheese and arrange on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with rocket and serve.

My notes: A good quality store bought tagliatelle will also work well, if you don’t have a pasta machine.

Overnight leg of pork, so soft that you can pull it with a fork. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Overnight leg of pork (serves 6)

(Recipe from Barbara Joubert’s Kostalgie)

100 ml olive oil
2 kg leg of pork (I used boneless)
juice of a lemon
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 bay leaves
250 ml white wine
8 baby leeks
1 x 439 g can chestnuts

Preheat oven to 200 C. Place half the olive oil in a roasting tray. Place the pork in the bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Rub the garlic all over. Season with salt & pepper, then add the rest of the olive oil. Place in oven with skin side down. Remove after 30 minutes, then turn the leg over with skin side up. Cover with foil. Lower heat to 140 C, then roast for 6 hours.
Remove the netting around the meat, then add the bay leaves, wine, leeks and chestnuts. Roast uncovered for an hour at 180 C. Remember the skin won’t be crispy. The meat will be soft enough to pull apart with forks.

My notes: The original recipe calls for leeks, which were unfortunately out of stock everywhere at the time of the shoot, so I substituted these with slices of red onion. I also couldn’t find chestnuts, but I’m sure these will be stocked at a good exotic speciality store.

Custard tart with caramelized figs. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Custard tart with caramelized figs (serves 8-10)

(Recipe from Barbara Joubert’s Kostalgie)

For the dough:
200 g (360 ml) cake flour
50 g (60 ml) caster sugar
100 g (110 ml) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
45-60 ml cold water

Place the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor. Mix until the butter is well incorporated. Add the yolk and mix. With the motor running, add the water spoon by spoon, until it just comes together. Remove from mixer and cover with plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 200 C. Roll out dough on a floured surface. Line a greased 18 cm tart tin with the dough, then prick with a fork all over. Line with baking paper on top and fill with dried beans. Bake blink for 10 minutes at 200 C. Remove paper and beans and bake for another 5 minutes until the base is cooked.

For the filling:
10 egg yolks
20 g (40 ml) cornflour
125 g (150 g) caster sugar
2 ml vanilla powder
200 ml milk
500 ml cream

Whisk the yolks, cornflour, sugar and vanilla together with an electric mixer in a mixing bowl. Heat the milk and cream together in a pot, but don’t let it boil. Add the cream mixture to the egg mixture and mix well. Pour back into the pot, then continue stirring over medium heat until the custard thickens. (You don’t want to make scrambled eggs!) Pour the custard into another bowl and place a piece of wax paper on top to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool to room temperature. Pour filling in baked tart base and bake for 20 minutes at 180 C. Let it cool overnight, preferable in the fridge.

For the caramelized figs:
500 g (625 ml) sugar
100 ml water
about 25 small figs

Put the sugar and water in a large pot with a lid and place over medium heat until the sugar has melted. Now remove the lid and let it boil until it reaches a light caramel colour. The caramel will continue to darken, so remove from the heat immediately. Carefully dip the figs into the hot caramel and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper to cool. Place on top of the cooled tart when ready to serve.

My notes: The recipe doesn’t mention what size eggs to use, but I found that XL is adequate. I found that I needed to increase the baking time for the base and for the assembled tart to achieve a golden brown result. I couldn’t find small figs, so 9 large ones were enough as a substitute. Don’t caramelize the figs long before you’ll be serving the tart, as the caramel will eventually start to melt as the figs release steam and water, and you’ll be left with syrupy half-coated figs. (Remember, the caramel will harden on standing in the pot, so when you’re done dipping the figs, carefully add some boiling water to the caramel and leave to soften before cleaning.)

This post was created in collaboration with Poetry Stores.

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Caprese salad, triple cheese beef lasagne & tiramisu jars with Galbani Cheese

3 May

Caprese salad, triple cheese beef lasagne and individual tiramisu jars – my ultimate Italian-style feast! Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

When it comes to laid-back, festive, scrumptious food that’s packed with flavour, the Italians just know how. I’ve taken a few tips from their most popular traditional cheese-themed recipes to come up with my favourite three-course Italian-inspired feast: an over-the-top caprese salad, triple cheese beef lasagne (made with mozzarella, cheddar and mascarpone) and individual tiramisu cups with chocolate flakes and fresh raspberries. You can assemble the lasagne and tiramisu ahead so that you have more time to spend with your guests – the most important thing when hosting friends and family!

All my recipes serve 8, because they deserve a crowd. If you’re keen on a smaller gathering, just halve the ingredients to serve 4.

And don’t miss my video below – it shows how to make this killer lasagne.

Buon appetito!

My ultimate caprese salad with soft mozzarella, an array of tomatoes, fresh basil, pesto, toasted pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, salt flakes and ground black pepper. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Ultimate caprese salad (serves 8)

  • 3 very big ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • about 400 g smaller tomatoes on the vine
  • a handful baby tomatoes, halved
  • 3 x 125 g Galbani soft white mozzarella, sliced into rounds
  • a handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • 3-4 tablespoons basil pesto
  • extra virgin olive oil, for serving
  • balsamic vinegar, for serving (optional)
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Arrange the tomatoes on a large platter, interleaved with slices of mozzarella. Scatter with basil leaves and pine nuts, then drizzle with pesto (add a little olive oil to the pesto if it is very thick). Serve with olive oil and balsamic on the side, seasoned with salt & pepper. Serve immediately.

Note: The tomatoes will wilt on standing, so this salad is best served straight after assembling.

Triple cheese beef lasagne (made with mascarpone, cheddar and mozzarella). Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Triple cheese beef lasagne (serves 8)

For the beef Bolognese sauce:

  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 1 onion, skinned & finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled & finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 kg lean beef mince
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, stalks removed & finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried origanum)
  • 375 ml (half a bottle) dry red wine
  • 1 beef stock cube dissolved in 250 ml boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cans whole Italian tomatoes, blended to a pulp
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

For the white sauce (béchamel):

  • 80 g (80 ml / 1/3 cup) President Butter
  • 80 ml (1/3/ cup) plain/cake flour
  • 1 liter full cream milk
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • a generous tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 250 g Galbani Mascarpone
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

For assembling:

  • 1 batch Bolognese sauce
  • 1 batch white sauce
  • 500 g fresh/dried pasta sheets
  • 200 g President Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 300 g Galbani Creamy Mozzarella (semi-hard), grated

For the Bolognese sauce: Heat the olive oil in a wide, large pot with a heavy base. Fry the onion, carrot and celery over medium-high heat until soft and lightly brown. Add the garlic and stir. Add the mince and stir, breaking up any lumps and scraping the bottom to loosen any sticky bits. Add the rosemary and thyme. Continue to fry on high heat to brown the meat slightly, then add the red wine, stock, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar and stir well. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 2 hours, stirring every now and then.

For the white sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat, then add the flour and cook for a minute, stirring. Add the milk and stir with a whisk until the mixture becomes smooth and thickens slightly. Add the nutmeg, mustard and mascarpone and season well with salt & pepper. Set aside.

To assemble: Preheat oven to 180 C. In a large rectangular roasting tray or oven dish, start with a thin layer of white sauce, then a layer of pasta sheets (they will swell so don’t fit them too snugly), a layer of meat sauce, more white sauce, a layer of cheddar, etc. Continue and repeat, ending with a layer of white sauce and the grated mozzarella on top. Bake for 45 minutes until golden on top, then let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Note: I sometimes chop my onion, carrot and celery together in a food processor to save time. The cooked lasagne will continue to stabilize on standing, becoming firmer and easier to serve. The assembled lasagne (cooked or uncooked) freezes well – thaw completely before returning to the oven.

Individual jars of tiramisu, made with mascarpone, brandy and some chocolate flakes. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Individual tiramisu cups: (serves 8)

  • 5 XL eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
  • 2 x 250 g Galbani Mascarpone
  • 1 Italian-style sponge finger biscuits (Boudoir/ladyfinger)
  • 375 ml strong coffee, warm
  • 75 ml brandy
  • cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 2-3 chocolate flake bars, for serving
  • fresh raspberries, for serving

Place the egg yolks and caster sugar in a large bowl. Use and electric whisk to mix until it is very thick and creamy. Add the mascarpone and whisk until smooth.
Clean and dry this whisk, then whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff. Add half the egg whites to the mascarpone mixture and fold in with a large spoon, continuing with the second half and folding until you have a smooth, creamy, mousse-like mixture. Set aside.
Working quickly, cut the finger biscuits into thirds, and divide the pieces into 8 groups of 9 pieces each (for 8 cups of 250 ml capacity each). Place the coffee and brandy in a shallow flat bowl, then dip 4 cookie pieces at a time into the coffee mixture, and place them into the bottom of each dessert glass/jar. Top with a dollop of the mascarpone mix, then a sifting of cocoa powder. Top with a second round of 5 dipped biscuit pieces, then place the remaining half of the mascarpone mix into a piping bag and pipe dollops of the mixture at the top of each glass to cover the biscuits. Dust some cocoa powder over the top, then cover with plastic or lids (not touching the mixture) and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
To serve, add some chocolate flakes and berries on top and serve straight from the fridge.

Note: The biscuits need time to soften in the fridge. If you serve them too soon, the cookies will still be tough. The tiramisu cups keep very well in the fridge for up to 3 days and the flavour improves with time.

(This post was created in collaboration with Galbani Cheese.)




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A Simple Italian Feast with Poetry Stores

1 May

A collection of Roman-style recipes from Eleonora Galasso’s new book As The Romans Do, available from Poetry Stores. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.


Rain or shine, summer or winter – Italian cooking wins my vote every single time. There’s just something generously simple about the food culture of Italy: not too many ingredients, comforting and robust, fragrant and delicious.

I recently had a look through Eleonora Galasso’s new book As The Romans Do: La Dolce Vita in a Cookbook – Classic and Reinvented Recipes from Rome, available from Poetry Stores. The book is positively vibrant, filled with familiar Italian favourites like saltimbocca, panzanella, semifreddo, various pastas and porchetta. She puts a playful twist on many of the recipes, accompanied with excellent photographs of the dishes as well as her beautiful surrounds in Rome. She’s an international Instagram sensation, so her pictures are stunning.

Here are three of Eleonora’s recipes – easy and accessible enough to make all year round. In the photographs you’ll see some of Poetry’s new black and gold tableware that made these vibrant dishes look even more delicious. Everything is available online and in store from Poetry – look out for the noir and petra ranges.

Pizette Rosse. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Mini pizzas with tomato sauce (pizzette rosse): makes about 40 pizette

Recipe from As The Romans Do by Eeleonora Galasso.

  • 250 g passata (sieved tomatoes)
  • small handful of basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 100  mozzarella, cut into cubes

For the dough:

  • 500 g strong flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 250 ml lukewarm water
  • 30 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

To prepare the dough, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl with the sugar. Dissolve the yeast into 250 ml lukewarm water, add it to the flour and sugar and mix together for 5 minutes. Add the butter, oil and salt and mix for a further 2-3 minutes to form a soft, sticky dough. Add up to 50 ml more water as needed, the goth should feel neither sticky not dry. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 200 C. Mix the passata, basil, oil and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

To make the pizzette, roll out the risen dough on a clean, floured surface, to a 1 cm thickness. Press down on the surface of the dough with a small cup of glass of your choice to form your pizzette circles. Spoon a little of the passata over the centre of each pizetta, being sure to leave the edges empty so that you have that typical white/red contrast of a good margherita.

Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes, adding a few mozzarella cubes to the top of each pizzetta halfway through cooking, until the cheese is bubbling and the pizzetta bases are crisp. Enjoy.

My notes: I prefer the pizzette a little thinner, so I roll out the dough to a thickness of 5 mm.

Panzanella. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Bread salad (panzanella): serves 4

Recipe from As The Romans Do by Eeleonora Galasso.

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 200 g rustic bread loaf, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 4 firm tomatoes
  • 2 large red onions, peeled
  • 1 celery stick, trimmed and cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 15 pitted black olives, finely chopped
  • 40 g rocket leaves, finely chopped
  • small handful of basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 20 ml white or red wine vinegar
  • 100 g pecorino romano cheese, cut into 2 cm cubes
  • salt & pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the bread pieces and fry, turning occasionally, for 5 minutes until crisp and golden all over. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the tomatoes in a bowl and pour over boiling water to cover. Leave for 1-2 minutes, then drain, cut a cross at the stem end of each tomato and peel off the skins. Cut the tomatoes roughly into 5 mm cubes, discarding the seeds.

Slice the onions and place them in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes. Drain and dry on a clean tea towel. In a salad bowl, mix together the sliced onions, chopped cucumber, celery, tomatoes and olives, then add the chopped rocket an basil leaves, pour over the vinegar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt & pepper. Finish the panzanella by adding the toasted bread pieces and giving everything a final gentle mix to ensure the bread is covered in all the juices. This salad is delicious served immediately, or you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, letting it absorb the mix of aromatic flavours. Scatter over the pecorino before serving.

My notes: Peeling and deseeding the tomatoes are not always necessary – I love serving them unpeeled and with seeds. I also love serving the herbs and olives whole and not chopped.

Braised sausages with lentils, leeks & fennel. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Braised sausages with lentils, leeks & fennel: serves 4

Recipe from As The Romans Do by Eeleonora Galasso.

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, trimmed, leanend and finely sliced lengthways
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into rough strips
  • 400 pork sausages
  • 250 Castelluccio or Puy lentils
  • 350 ml vegetable stock
  • 10 g fennel seeds
  • small handful of chives, chopped
  • salt & pepper

Warm the oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add the leek and fry for 5 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the fennel and sausages and cook for 5 minutes until the sausages are browned on all sides.

Add the lentils to the pan and pour over the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and leave to cook for 25 minutes, or until the lentils have softened and the sausages are cooking through. Divide the lentils and sausages between plates and scatter over the fennel seeds and chopped chives to finish. Serve.

My notes: I used black lentils.


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