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Moroccan-style lamb tagine with harissa and preserved lemon

3 May

This lamb tagine is fragrant and mild, topped with zesty preserved lemon. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

There are few things as inviting as the smell of a fragrant, spicy, exotic lamb tagine bubbling away in your kitchen. I used a dry harissa spice blend that you’ll be able to find in most supermarkets, but a fresh harissa paste will also work well. Adjust the heat by adding more dried/fresh chillies to your liking, if necessary. I prefer a fragrant tagine that is more spicy than hot.

Preserved lemon is a magical yet common Middle Eastern and Mediterranean ingredient made with lemons, coarse salt and water. It has a very distinctive taste – you only use the rind, sliced. Specialty stores stock it now and then in SA, but you can also easily make your own (it takes 3 months to mature, but it will last for years on the shelf, unopened). If you cannot find preserved lemon, substitute it with fresh lemon rind, finely grated.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

60 ml olive oil
1,2 kg boneless lamb (or mutton), cubed into bite size portions
salt & pepper
10 ml cake flour
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
10 ml dried ground harissa spice blend (or 15 ml harissa paste)
10 ml ground cumin
10 ml ground coriander
5 ml ground ginger
15 ml ground paprika
1 liter warm lamb stock (or chicken stock)
1/2 cup dried pitted dates (or dried apricots, sliced)
1/2 preserved lemon, skin only, sliced into strips (plus more for serving)
a handful flaked almonds, toasted, for serving
a handful mint and/or coriander leaves, for serving
cooked cousous or rice, for serving

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy based large pot (or tagine) over high heat. Fry the meat cubes in batches, seasoning with salt & pepper. Add the flour to the last batch and stir well for one minute before removing the cubes from the pot. Turn down the heat to low.
  2. Add the onion & garlic and fry for about 3-5 minutes until it is soft. Turn up the heat to medium, then add the harissa, cumin, coriander, ginger and paprika. Stir for one minute.
  3. Add the stock and stir well with a wooden spoon to loosen all the sticky bits on the bottom. Add the fried meat back to the pot, along with the dates and preserved lemon. Stir and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cover with a lid and cook for 2 hours or until the meat is really tender, stirring every 20 minutes to prevent the bottom from burning (the dates have a high sugar content).
  4. When the meat is tender, remove from the heat and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot with couscous or rice, topped with more preserved lemon rind, toasted flaked almonds and fresh mint/coriander.

Note: This tagine can be made a day ahead and reheated before serving as the flavours improve on standing (store in the refigerator overnight). Freezes very well.

This is the fourth recipe in a series of four Mediterranean-inspired Autumn/Winter dishes for Lamb & Mutton SA. Also check out my recipes for Greek-style 8-hour leg of lamb with origanum & lemon, Italian-style lamb & tomato ragu with gnocchi, and easy lamb chop bourguignon.

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Easy lamb chop bouguignon (French-style stew in red wine)

20 Apr

This hearty lamb chop stew in red wine is based on the classic French beef bourguignon, perfect for colder evenings. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Beef bourguignon is probably one of the best-known classic French dishes, also famously featured in the movie Julie & Julia. This fuss-free version is made with delicious lamb chops – a hearty, upgraded “plan B” for when the weather is not ideal for a braai. Yes, there’s more than one way to enjoy a chop. Bring on winter, please!

This recipe is also perfect for making in a cast iron potjie over the fire, if you prefer.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

45 ml olive oil
1,2 kg lamb chops
salt & pepper
250 g streaky bacon, chopped
2 large onions, peeled & quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
5 sprigs thyme, woody stalks removed
30 ml tomato paste
10 ml cake flour
750 ml dry red wine (a Bordeaux-style blend works well)
250 g small mushrooms (or halved if bigger)
500 g tagliatelle, cooked & buttered, for serving
a handful fresh parsley, chopped, for serving

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 C.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy based large pot (that has a lid) over high heat. Fry the chops in batched, browning them on both sides and seasoning with salt & pepper. Remove from the pot and turn down the heat to low.
  3. Add the bacon, onions, garlic & thyme and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring.
  4. Add the tomato paste & flour, stirring.
  5. Add the red wine and stir to loosen any sticky bits on the bottom of the pot. Now add the browned meat and juices back to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and braise for about 2,5-3 hours or until the meat is just starting to fall from the bone. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  6. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 10-15 minutes (covered), then remove from the oven.
    Serve hot with freshly cooked tagliatelle (or rice or potatoes) and scattered parsley.

Note: This tagine can be made a day ahead and reheated before serving as the flavours improve on standing (store in the refigerator overnight). Freezes very well.

This is the third recipe in a series of four Mediterranean-inspired Autumn/Winter dishes for Lamb & Mutton SA. Also check out my recipes for Greek-style 8-hour leg of lamb with origanum & preserved lemon and Italian-style lamb & tomato ragu with gnocchi.

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Lamb & tomato ragu with gnocchi

5 Apr

Lamb & tomato ragu with gnocchi, basil and parmesan (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

 

This is hands-down one of the most comforting dishes I’ve ever eaten. It is made with boneless lamb that’s been cubed into 1 x 1 cm blocks – don’t stress about the labour, it goes quickly and it’s actually quite therapeutic (read: pour yourself a glass of wine while you do it). You can use chops, leg or even stewing meat, just remove the bones and chop-chop-chop. The result is a chunkier ragu than those made with ground meat, very tender with an incredible mouth-feel and packed with simple, robust flavours. Just the way the Italians intended.

I love serving this ragu with gnocchi, but it also works well with pasta – homemade is best. Fresh basil and grated parmigiano is compulsory. Bellissima!

Ingredients: (serves 6)

45 ml olive oil
1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped
1-2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled & finely chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, woody stems removed & finely chopped
1 kg boneless lamb/mutton, cubed into 1 x 1 cm pieces
1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine
2 cans whole Italian tomatoes, roughly chopped, with juice
salt & pepper
5 ml sugar
about 750g-1 kg fresh gnocchi, cooked, to serve (or 500 g dried pasta, cooked)
a handful fresh basil leaves, to serve
grated parmesan cheese, to serve

Method:

  1. In a heavy based large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and fry the onion, celery, carrot and rosemary until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add the cubed meat and turn up the heat. Fry until it starts to catch (get brown and sticky) on the bottom stirring often – this is important, so be patient. It takes about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and stir to deglaze. Add the chopped tomatoes with juice, season with salt & pepper, add the sugar and stir. Bring so a simmer, then turn the heat down low, cover and cook for 2-3 hours until very soft. Stir every now and then.
  4. Serve with cooked gnocchi or pasta, with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese.

Note: Store-bought gnocchi don’t pan-fry well and should rather be boiled briefly in salted water until they pop to the surface. Freshly made gnocchi can be directly pan-fried in butter until golden, it only take a few minutes over medium heat and it is most definitely my preference.

This is the second recipe in a series of four Mediterranean-inspired Autumn/Winter dishes for Lamb & Mutton SA. Also check out my recipe for Greek-style 8-hour leg of lamb with origanum & preserved lemon.

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Greek-style 8 hour leg of lamb with lemon & origanum

29 Mar

The most lemony leg of lamb, slow braised for 8 hours, Greek-style. (Photography & co-styling by Tasha Seccombe. Food preparation and co-styling by Ilse van der Merwe.)

 

Easter weekend is here and many of us are getting ready to feast generously with friends and family. To me, entertaining a crowd is all about fuss-free choices so that you can cut back on the stress of catering and actually enjoy the feast as much as everyone else.

One of my choices for a low effort / big result showstopping roast is this Greek-style lemony leg of lamb. In Greek cooking, simplicity reigns supreme. There are very few ingredients in this recipe, making sure the flavour of the meat remains the most important: only lemon, dried origanum, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a touch of water. The meat releases so much of its own juices, so you actually braise the meat and potatoes slowly in a lemony lamb broth. The result is just magnificent, because although the meat falls apart completely, it is still pink in colour and super juicy.

Use leftovers to make the most incredible lemony lamb sandwiches the next day. A generous dollop of tzatziki won’t hurt either.

Happy Easter everybody!

Note: Remember to start this dish very early in the morning if you’re having it for lunch, or late morning if you’re having it for dinner. You can even cook it overnight (without the potatoes) and reheat before serving.

Ingredients: (serves 6-8)

  • 2-2,5 kg leg of lamb (ask your butcher to hack the shank bone so it will be able to bend and fit in your tray)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 4-6 lemons)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 15 ml dried origanum
  • 10 ml salt
  • 5 ml ground black pepper
  • about 1,5 kg small-medium potatoes, peeled (and halved, if big)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 120 C.
  2. Place the leg of lamb in a large non-corrosive (stainless steel or ceramic) deep roasting tray, fat side up. Pour over the lemon juice, water and olive oil, then sprinkle all over with origanum. Season generously with salt & pepper. (I like to also add some of the juiced lemon halves to the tray, but it is optional.)
  3. Cover with a layer of non-stick baking paper, tucking the sides in around the leg. Cover tightly with 2 layers of foil. Place in the oven and roast for 4 hours at 120 C, then add the potatoes and return to the oven for 4 more hours.
  4. Remove the foil and baking paper. Crank the heat up to 220 C, then roast uncovered for 15 minutes.
  5. To serve, press the meat here and there to gently fall apart and suck up more of the lemony broth. Serve with the potatoes, a Greek salad, perhaps some tzatziki and optionally some toasted pita bread to soak up the runny juices.

This recipe is part of a Mediterranean-inspired series for Lamb & Mutton South Africa. To learn more about South African lamb and mutton and to find more recipes, go to www.cookingwithlamb.co.za.

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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

Method:

  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)

Method:

  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!

Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

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.

#FestiveMushrooms
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

Method:

  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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