Tag Archives: lamb

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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Review: Merino lamb terroir tasting with Bertus Basson

3 Mar

Yesterday I attended the first merino tasting session hosted by well known Stellenbosch Chef Bertus Basson and Cape wine master Bennie Howard of Veritas, in collaboration with Agri-Expo and Lamb & Mutton SA as part of the Woordfees 2018 in Stellenbosch.

Four legs of lamb, taken from animals of the same age, farmed in different areas (Hamtam, Kamdeboo, Overberg and Boland) were cooked at 68 °C sous vide for 12 hours, with no salt/herbs/spices and served at room temperature. This way the unique terroir of each of the meats can be identified, tasted and appreciated. In case you didn’t know, most of the mutton that we find in SA is free range. Along with the four meats, a tasting of four Veritas awarded wines were presented by Bennie Howard: Holden Manz Big G 2013, Ridgeback Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Diemersdal Pinotage 2016 and Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Shiraz 2013. All four incredible wines could be paired with your choice of meat, and the differences in tastes in the audience were interesting to see.

Some notes on the terroir of each of the meats:

1. Hantam (Calvinia, Great Karoo): hard, sun scorched, dry, biodiverse hotspot, winter rainfall, animals mainly eat karoo bossies.

2. Kamdeboo (Graaf Reinet, Eastern Cape): succulent Karoo, grass lands, cold winters, summer rainfall.

3. Overberg (Swellendam): fynbos territory, the heart of merino territory, winter rainfall, cold winters.

4. Boland: animals feed on “stoppellande” after harvest season, receive additional feed because of current drought, very hot summers.

When you taste lamb or mutton meat, you’re looking for the following qualities: herbaciousness, minerality, fat content and grain. It was eye opening to taste and experience the unique differences in each of the meats and to see the differences in grain (like they say in Afrikaans: “Daar’s ‘n skaap vir elke smaak”). According to Bertus, his personal favourite mutton cuts are neck, rib and shoulders. He also said that mutton chops should be braaied crispy and seasoned only with salt. This way you can really appreciate the taste of the meat and enjoy the unique fatty edges. No fancy-shmancy pink chops for him! I like that.

Get your tickets for the upcoming exclusive merino tasting sessions with Bertus & Bennie from Computicket – next sessions on Thursday 8 March 12h00 and Sunday 11 March 12h00, R160 pre-bought or R180 at the door. #CookingWithLamb #Lambassador #WeLoveLamb #TheWayNatureIntended

Here is my taste experience in pictures:

The tables at Die Khaya, Woordfees 2018, almost ready for a merino tasting session.

Tasting notes and more information about the Veritas wines.

Our four Veritas wines as part of the tasting experience, to be paired with four different marino lamb meats.

Paper plates with four different lamb meats for the tasting session, served at room temperature with no flavourings or seasonings.

My tasting station at the merino tasting session.

Bennie Howard of Veritas tells us more about the four red wines that he has selected for the tasting.

Chef Bertus Basson tells us more about his love of South African mutton and lamb.

Bertus listens to Bennie’s expert wine tasting notes.

Marina Bester of Lamb & Mutton SA takes a picture of Bertus for social media. It’s always great to see a few behind-the-scene shots! What a great afternoon in the company of experts!

 

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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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(review) Lunch and dinner at Stellenbosch Kitchen

16 May

The entrance to Stellenbosch Kitchen on Andringa Street, early evening.

This year, I’ll be celebrating my 40th year in Stellenbosch. A year ago we made a move from the outskirts of town to the beautiful bustling historical centre. While we gave up a chunk of living space (in size) in the process, we gained the incredible European-like lifestyle of locking up our apartment and walking a short distance to the best coffee shops and restaurants the Winelands has to offer.

Dorp Street and Church Street is where it’s at: the centre of my beautiful town when it comes to tourism, social hotspots, food and wine. Right in the middle of it all is Stellenbosch Hotel and its recently renovated restaurant Stellenbosch Kitchen – pretty much back to back with its sister-hotel Coopmanhuijs Hotel & Spa featuring Helena’s Restaurant. I recently had the opportunity to visit Stellenbosch Kitchen for dinner and lunch respectively, and would love to share my experiences with you.

The landmark veranda of Stellenbosch Kitchen on Andringa Street, early evening, just before the arrival of dinner guests.

Stellenbosch Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in town, built on Simon van der Stel’s property (a grant) between 1692 and 1701. It has since been restored in 1987 and declared a national monument. After the refurbishment in 2016, the name Jan Cats Restaurant was replaced by Stellenbosch Kitchen, featuring an eclectic yet contemporary spin on the existing historical eatery.

The space that is now called Stellenbosch Kitchen has forever been a local hotspot to both students, the mid-town working crowd and the wealthy. Their bistro-style fare has been a favourite for decades, being enjoyed on the tree-rich veranda that envelopes their landmark corner on Dorp and Andringa streets.

Here are my lunch and dinner experiences in pictures.

One of the massive old oak trees that surround Stellenbosch Hotel.

Our 18h00 arrival at Stellenbosch Kitchen meets a neatly prepped restaurant space.

Chef at work – the service hatch at Stellenbosch Kitchen.

Bread board with red wine butter and hummus. All bread baked in-house.

The dinner menu at Stellenbosch Kitchen. This menu changes seasonally.

An exceptional wine list is one of the attractions at Stellenbosch Kitchen. Here we’re enjoying Adi Badenhorst’s Secateurs Shiraz.

Potato gnocchi, butternut, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, goat’s milk feta, basil pesto. Beautifully cooked gnocchi with a mixture of very punchy ingredients.

Pan-seared line fish, fennel velouté, prawn barley risotto, grilled prawn, red pepper fondue. Perfectly cooked line fish, and I really enjoyed the texture of the barley risotto.

Ale-battered hake, hand-cut potato chips, sauce tartare, charred lemon, mushy peas. A stunning dish, yet so simple. Perfect tartare, fluffy hake, super crunchy chips – what more do you want?

Fondant of black cherry and Valrhona chocolate, Bulgarian yoghurt ice cream. Excellent texture and an interesting spin on the classic fondant – maybe a little too bitter and sour for my personal preference. Beautiful plating and delicious ice cream.

Our second visit was an early lunch at 11h30 – also much better lighting by day for my camera!

A buttery yellow glass of Jordan Chardonnay for me.

Roasted rack of Karoo Lamb, carrot purée, spiced pear chutney, polenta, fine beans. This dish is from the dinner menu, but was made for us on special request over lunch. It is one of the most popular dishes on the menu and well worth ordering (for dinner).

Osso bucco with risotto milanese. This dish certainly won’t win any prizes for plating, but it is hearty and moorish and hits all the right spots for comforting winter fare.

Apple and almond tart, vanilla bean ice cream, ginger crumble, crème anglaise – definitely my favourite dessert on the menu. They should serve this delicious pastry for breakfast too!

Coconut panna cotta, compressed pineapple, mango caviar, passion fruit mushrooms.

Stellenbosch Kitchen is well worth a regular visit, whether for a mid-week lunch, a lazy weekend dinner, or a special occasion with friends from abroad.

Thank you to the staff and management of Stellenbosch Kitchen for hosting us. We’ll certainly be back for more.

Make your booking:

Tel: +27 (0)21 883-2893
Address: Corner of Dorp & Andringa Streets, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa

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A Timeless Festive Dinner with Poetry Stores

9 Dec

The new Noir homeware range from Poetry Stores with recipes from the book "The Story of a House" (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

The new Noir homeware range from Poetry Stores with recipes from the book “The Story of a House” (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

If you like adding a touch of drama to your festive table this December, don’t miss out on the new black homeware range available from Poetry Stores, Noir, imported from Portugal. It is simply breathtaking and the perfect choice to pair with a few gold accessories.

I’ve had the pleasure of creating a timeless festive dinner spread in collaboration with Poetry Stores using these beautiful pieces of homeware and three recipes from the stunning book The Story of a House – Fables and Feasts from La Creuzette by Louis Jansen van Vuuren & Hardy Olivier. Most of the recipes are French-inspired and perfect for entertaining a crowd for a grand occasion.

Here are three of Louis and Hardy’s recipes from their book, fit for royalty:

Salmon tartare from the book “The Story of a House” (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Salmon Tartare (serves 4)

  • 480 g smoked salmon, cut into 1 cm cubes
  • 80 g cucumber, diced
  • 80 g radish, diced
  • a large pinch of toasted sesame seeds
  • a large pinch of chopped pink peppercorns
  • 120 g Granny Smith apple, diced
  • fresh mint, chopped (optional)

For the vinaigrette:

  • 100 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 150 ml sesame oil
  • juice of 2 large lemons
  • freshly ground salt & pepper

Mix all the ingredients for the tartare. Make the vinaigrette by mixing all the ingredients together and serving with the tartare. The tartare is also delicious with finely chopped mint sprinkled on top.

Leg of lamb with gremolata from the book "The Story of a House" (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Leg of lamb with gremolata from the book “The Story of a House” (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Double Leg of Lamb (serves 12)

  • 1 double leg of lamb or 2 individual legs of lamb

For the seasoning:

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped rosemary leaves, plus sprigs for garnishing
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (500 ml) lamb stock or water

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup (250 ml) dry red wine
  • 1 litre stock from the oven dish
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cornflour

For the gremolata:

  • grated or finely chopped peel of 4 lemons
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Remove most of the fat from the leg of lamb, but not all of it, as it lends delicious flavour to the sauce.

With a sharp knife, make small incisions about 1 cm long and 2 cm deep all over the legs,. Make the seasoning by mixing the salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and mustard. Rub it into the meat, particularly into the incisions, and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 200 C.

Place the legs in a large, deep oven dish. Combine the olive oil and lamb stock and pour over the meat. Roast uncovered for 20-30 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 160 C. Cover with a lid or seal it tightly with foil. Roast for approximately another 90 minutes. Test the meat by inserting a meat thermometer close to the bone – it is done when the temperature is 60 C, as the flesh will still be beautifully pink.

Pour some of the pan juices over the meat, place it on a rack (so that the meat doesn’t lie in the liquid) and roast in a hot oven (200 C) for 5-7 minutes to form a lovely crispy crust. Turn off the oven and pour all the liquid out of the oven dish, but let the meat rest in the oven while you make the sauce.

Heat the wine and 3 cups (750 ml) of the stock over a low heat and boil it to let the alcohol evaporate. Stir the cornflour into the remaining cup (250 ml) of stock, stir it into the rest and cook the sauce until thickened.

Combine all the gremolata ingredients. Serve the meat with the gremolata sprinkled on top and the thickened pan juices in a separate jug.

Variation: Soak 2 handfuls of half-dried prunes in brandy overnight and add to the liquid in the oven dish about 40 minutes before you plan to remove the meat from the oven and serve it.

Fig clafoutis from the book "The Story of a House" (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Fig clafoutis from the book “The Story of a House” (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Fig Clafoutis (serves 6)

  • 700 g purple figs
  • 30 g soft butter, plus a little extra to grease the dish
  • 120 g cake flour, plus 10 g for the dish
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup (250 ml) milk
  • 120 g castor sugar

Heat the oven to 180 C. Cut off the fig stalks. Cut a cross into the top of each fig and press so that it gapes slightly. Grease an oven dish or ceramic dish (not too deep) with a little butter, sprinkle in 10 g of flour and arrange the figs in the dish. Beat the eggs, milk, sugar and butter together and sift in the flour. Fold the flour into the mixture.

Pour the mixture over the figs and bake for 30-40 minutes. Serve hot with a scoop of crème fraîche.

Get The Story of a House – Fables and Feasts from La Creuzette by Louis Jansen van Vuuren & Hardy Olivier available online from Poetry stores at R599.

All homeware, cutlery, glassware and accessories available from Poetry Stores, except small dessert plate. (Linen not included.)

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Quick braaied lamb shawarmas

14 Jan

Braaied lamb chops make the ultimate shawarma topping.

Braaied lamb chops make the ultimate shawarma topping (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Whenever I go to the Stellenbosch Slowmarket, I order a lamb shawarma for lunch. The guys at this stall make seriously awesome shawarmas, dripping with juicy marinated meat and tahini, their pitas stuffed with cucumber and red onion.

I don’t have a fabulous upright skewered shawarma grill at home – none of us do. So this is my take on an easier and quicker version, where you can marinate your lamb and give it a quick braai over hot coals. Use lamb steaks, or just cut the bone from your favourite lamb chops. The marinade is also great for a deboned leg of lamb.

Note: If you don’t have time to marinate your meat, just generously baste it with the marinade while braaing.

For the Middle-Eastern inspired shawarma marinade:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • a knob of ginger, peeled & finely grated
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled & finely grated
  • 10 ml smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
  • 5 ml ground cumin
  • 5 ml ground cinnamon
  • 5 ml ground fennel / barishap
  • 2,5 ml ground nutmeg
  • 5 ml ground sumac (optional)
  • 5 ml salt flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper

Mix it all together (use a glass jar and shake it up!). Leave your meat to marinade in the sauce, covered, in the fridge for about 3 hours or overnight. Then remove from the fridge and braai until cooked to your desired liking.

To serve: (adjust quantities according to your needs)

  • marinated braaied lamb steaks (1 per person)
  • pita bread (1-2 per person)
  • sliced cucumber
  • sliced tomato (optional)
  • chopped mint leaves
  • sliced red onion
  • toasted pine nuts
  • Greek yoghurt
  • tahini (sesame paste)
  • lemon wedges (optional)

Cut meat into thin strips and serve in warm pita breads, stuffed with cucumber, chopped mint leaves, finely sliced red onion, pine nuts and creamy Greek yoghurt. Drizzle with tahini and a squirt of lemon juice.

Credits:

Recipe, food preparation, food styling & text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography, food styling & prop styling: Tasha Seccombe

This post has also been featured on The Pretty Blog.

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Lamb & feta burger with mint pesto & yoghurt

25 Mar

Lamb & feta burger with  mint pesto (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Lamb & feta burger with mint pesto (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Being able to make a really good burger at home is one of the most satisfying things any meat-lover can do. Many of us grew up having take-away burgers as a special treat on weekends when we were children. My siblings and I loved almost any take-away burger, because the ones we tried to make at home just never tasted as good.

Well, the tables have turned. I now believe that anyone can make a burger at home that can beat the best gourmet burger in most restaurants. If you use care and source the best ingredients you can find, you can make a pretty amazing burger – so amazing that you might not want to get take-aways ever again.

Although I’m a huge fan of the classic beef burger with cheddar cheese and pickles, this juicy lamb burger is a total knock-out for a special occasion.

Here are my top 3 tips for creating an awesome burger:

  1. Buy fresh, soft burger buns, and always toast the sliced sides with butter before assembling your burger.
  2. Use coarsely ground great quality fresh meat for your pattie. That means 100% leg of lamb or 100% pure beef rump.
  3. Don’t overcook your meat – it should still be juicy in the middle.

Ingredients: (makes 4 large burgers)

  • 600 g boneless leg of lamb, minced (ask your butcher to do that for you)
  • 2 rounds (about 80g) of feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 punnet fresh mint
  • 1 punnet fresh parsley
  • 50 g cashew nuts
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 round soft hamburger rolls, buttered and toasted in a pan
  • double cream yoghurt (the thickest you can find)
  • a handful of watercress
  • finely sliced cucumber

Method:

  1. Mix the lamb mince, crumbled feta, salt & pepper in a mixing bowl – using clean hands works best. Divide the mixture into 4 balls, then flatten them carefully, shaping the edges to form a round disk. Always make the pattie a bit wider and thinner than the end product that you have in mind, because they shrink back to a thicker, smaller pattie in the pan. Set aside.
  2. For the pesto: in a food processor, add the mint, parsley, cashews and olive oil. Season with salt & pepper, then process to a course paste. Scoop into a smaller serving bowl and set aside.
  3. In a non-stick pan, heat some olive oil over moderately high heat, then fry the patties about 3-4 minutes a side, taking care when you flip them over because the feta tends to stick (use a spatula). You are looking for a crisp outer layer and a juicy center. I prefer my center to still be pink. Remove from the heat and transfer to a plate to rest.
  4. To assemble the burgers: Place the bottom half of a toasted bun on a plate, then add the watercress, burger pattie, some yoghurt, some pesto, some cucumber and then the top half of the bun. Enjoy!

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

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A dried fruit feast with Cecilia’s Farm

23 Sep

A few weeks ago I hosted 12 guests at the demo KITCHEN in Stellenbosch for a night of deliciousness in colaboration with Cecilia’s Farm. These guys make the most amazing selection of soft dried fruit and nuts, and recently also launched their online store.

I decided on a menu that would showcase their fruit to the fullest:

Canapés:

Turkish apricot delights with goat’s cheese, basil, almonds & honey

Starter:

Bon Chretien pear & blue cheese salad with roasted almonds & rocket

Main course:

Fragrant lamb tagine with prunes, peaches & figs

Dessert:

Apple tartlets with almond paste & vanilla ice cream

Click on the images below to view:

As part of the meal, we enjoyed the most delicious wines from Koelfontein Farm – a wooded chardonnay and a bold shiraz. The guests each got to take home a goodie bag filled with vouchers for Cecilia’s Farm’s online shop, and a homemade luxury breakfast bar to enjoy the next morning.

Thank you so much Cecilia’s Farm and Hatch PR for providing me with this delightful opportunity to discover these superior products, it was such a pleasure to cook with.

Here is a short video of how we made the salad on the night:

Check out how we made the lamb tagine:

And last but not least, here’s a peek into the dessert on the night:

And here are the recipes for our three courses:

Pear & cashew salad with blue cheese & rocket (serves 6)
• a large bunch of rocket leaves
• 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
• Salt & pepper
• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm Bon Chretien pears, sliced
• 100 g Cecilia’s Farm cashew nuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan
• 120 g blue cheese, crumbled
Preparation:
1. In a large mixing bowl, add the leaves, olive oil, lemon juice and toss to coat. Season with salt & pepper, then arrange on a large flat salad plate.
2. Top with sliced pears, warm nuts, and crumbled blue cheese. Serve immediately.

Lamb tagine with prunes & peaches (serves 6)
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 3 cinnamon sticks
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1 teaspoon sumac (optional)
• 1,25 kg boneless lamb (shoulder or leg), cut into 5cm cubes
• ½ cup (125 ml) white wine (or water)
• about 2 cups water
• 1 teaspoon salt
• freshly ground pepper
• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm prunes
• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm peeled cling peaches
• 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
• cooked cous-cous, to serve
• fresh coriander, to serve (optional)
Preparation
1. Pre-heat oven to 170 ˚C.
2. Add oil in a large iron pot or authentic tagine over medium-high heat, then add onions and fry until soft. Add spices and fry for another minute, stirring.
3. Increase heat to high, then add meat cubes and fry until the meat changes colour (you don’t have to brown it too much). Add wine/water, stir and bring to the boil. Cover pot with oven-proof lid, then roast for 1 ½ hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
4. Season with salt and pepper, then add the peaches, prunes and honey. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 45 minutes or until the meat is completely tender and the fruit are plump and soft.
5. Serve the tagine with cous-cous, topped with toasted sesame seeds and fresh coriander leaves.
Note: Tagine can be cooked 1 day ahead and chilled (covered once cool). Reheat gently, thinning with water if needed.

Pink Lady Apple and Almond Tartlets
Makes 12 tartlets
For the almond paste:
• 100 g (250 ml) ground almonds
• 250 ml icing sugar
• ¼ teaspoon almond essence
• 1 egg white (large egg)

For the tartlet:

• 250 g Cecilia’s Farm apple rings
• 400 g all- butter puff pastry, defrosted
• 125 ml apricot jam (to glaze)
• vanilla ice cream (to serve)
Method:
1. For the almond paste: Place all the ingredients together in a food processor. Process until it comes together into a ball (add more icing sugar if your mixture is too sticky). Remove and refrigerate (for at least an hour) in an airtight plastic bowl.
2. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
3. Bring 1 litre water to the boil in a small sauce pan, then add the dried apple wedges and boil for 5 minutes to soften. Drain the water off and set aside.
4. Lay the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface, then cut into rectangles of 12 x 6 cm each.
5. Prick each of the rectangles carefully with a fork, leaving a border of about 1 cm around the edges, unpricked.
6. Grate the almond paste generously over each of the pastry rectangles (within the borders), then lay about 6 cooked apple wedges on top of the paste of each tartlet.
7. Place the tartlets on a baking tray lined with baking paper, then bake for 10 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and brush with fine apricot jam, then return to the oven for another 2-5 minutes to turn brown on the edges. Remove from the oven, then allow to cool slightly and serve with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream on top.

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