Tag Archive: dinner


Last night’s dinner was a winner winner chicken dinner – both literally and idiomatically.

So today’s post is a recipe

Roast chicken portions in coconut curry sauce

dav

This may be the easiest meals you will ever make that has the maximum impact. Feel free to pretend it was way harder than it is

The first prize recipe is obvs the best option, but the options in brackets are actually fine too – just do what you can.

So, you need:

Chicken portions. I use thighs and legs but breasts would work too. Wings may not work so well but they wouldn’t be bad. And you want skin on portions.

A can of coconut milk

1 tsp curry paste. I used green thai curry paste but you could use anything.

1 stalk lemon grass, cleaned and bashed flat  (if you don’t have, don’t panic)

1 or 2 limes – use the juice and the zest  (again, if you don’t have limes you could use lemons. Fresh is the best option but I don’t think the bottled stuff would run the meal.)

1 tsp fish sauce (this gives the meal a deep, satisfying seasoning without blasting your blood pressure through the roof with salt. But salt is okay too)

1 or 2 potatoes – grated (I added this to make the sauce thicker. You could leave it out if you are anti potato, just know the sauce will remain the consistency of the coconut milk)

salt and pepper to your liking.

 

You do:

 

In a bowl, mix the coconut milk, all the other bits and pieces (not the chicken) and the grated potato. Put this mixture in an oven proof bowl or casserole. Put the chicken pieces in, skin side up with the skin showing above the sauce. I like to spray the skin with some olive oil and sprinkle it with salt to up the crispiness but that’s not entirely necessary

Put it all in the oven at 180 for about an hour, until the chicken is cooked

 

And there you have it – roasted chicken portions in a coconut curry sauce

 

I served it with cauli/broc rice with beans.

 

You can make it even more of a one dish meal by putting veg in, around the chicken,

about half way through the cooking. Cauliflower florets, broccoli florets, beans and even baby marrows would quite happily cook partly submerged in the sauce at the same temperature.

And if you are really determined to do a one pot dish, once the chicken is cooked, take the chicken (and veg if you added them) out of the sauce, and stir cous cous into it. Leave for a few minutes and your starch and sauce will be one lovely, gloopy taste sensation. If you plan to do this, omit the potato as the cous cous will do the thickening for you

 

There you have it – an easy, adaptable recipe which is very tasty and truly quick to make

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dav

headache had me on my knees

Aaaaah, the headache. The day three headache. The ‘where the fuck is my sugar’ headache. The headache that makes you realise that sugar clearly does something to your brain, and makes you not care at all, that’s how much you want some. The headache that makes you understand why druggies sell kidneys for a hit. The headache that makes you question this whole stupid bloody thing.

For me, the fact that the lack of sugar gives me such a headache is why I need to do this. I need not to be a slave to the sugar, a slave who thought she was a free person making her own decisions. Obviously not if just two and a bit days of no sugar can make me want to kill my partner for simply being there, in his chair, in our living room. How very dare he!!!!!

By 4pm I decided that I no longer had to power through the headache (not sure why I thought I wasn’t allowed pain killers) and I finally took a headache tablet. Sweet relief. In hindsight, I am glad I didn’t mask the pain until it became a question of social sanity, because I need to know and remember what sugar does to me. I don’t want to have to kick it again so the best thing would be to not start eating it again.

But I say that at the start of Day 4 – let’s check that attitude until Day 28 shall we? Easy to be brave when strong.

My meals:

dav

Left over livers and onion, mash potato cake, poached eggs and tomatoes

dav

Salad with lamb ribbies

dav

prawns with veg cabbage (instead of rice)

Not the easiest day but 10% done

On I go

Day 2 was not fun but that’s not the eating challenge’s fault. No siree – its mine. Well, mine and the loads of strange men wandering around my property.

Let’s go back to the evening of Day 1. I had some shaved coconut in a jar I sat and nibbled on after dinner. I may have got carried away by the fact that my until very recently very sore tooth was managing to chew the coconut and I think I ate too much of it.

So Day 2 started okay but my belly got progressively more and more bloated and sore until I wasn’t sure if it was my intestines, my lower back, my uterus or my kidneys that were sore, because everything was.

Put that with the fact that we are having work done on the house, specifically the windows, so at any stage any number of men may be peering into a window. This situation does not make for comfortable toilet trips at all.

So it seems my excretion system has shut up shop with severe stage fright.

A winning combination that ended with a rather uncomfortable midriff.

Aside for the self inflicted agony, the day was a good one. I went out before eating breakfast – rookie error – so got home at 10am hangry as hell. But I didn’t cheat and scoff down something quick and carby. Nope, I bothered to make a proper breakfast – broken fried eggs and all.

I had to modify dinner when I realised I hadn’t thought the beef livers I bought through well enough. No milk allowed and no bacon at the moment until I find one that doesn’t contain sugar, so I used pork shank and fried that with mushrooms and onion and a grated apple, and added the very thinly sliced livers. Was very nice and I am glad I didn’t just decide fuckit and use the bacon, milk. And red wine for a gravy of course. I need to make some good stock to replace the wine in recipes – non-drinkers manage so surely I can.

2 or 30 done and dusted – feeling good and will feel much better once this belly ache is gone

I am sure I just need a huge fart

 

My meals:

dav

breakfast was pork shank instead of bacon with a veggie hash and two fried eggs

dav

breakfast was similar to yesterday’s lunch – coconut crusted chicken breast with salad and home made lemon mayo

 

dav

dinner is often my favourite meal that is the worst pic of the day. a lack of natural light makes it hard to get good pics. this is the liver with pork shank, onion, mushrooms and apple on mashed potato with brussel sprouts. was delicious

This is the winning soup of the charity event really. More people picked it than any other soup as the winner. The mushroom soup was joint first only because the people who picked it felt so strongly that it should win. Quality vs quantity of votes really.

This is a crowd pleaser of note.

You need:

oil

1 chopped onion, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 450g of peeled chopped tomatoes. Chop these up small as you will eat them as is.

2 tsp gound cumin, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp groun ginger, 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley

2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, or your own soaked boiled chickpeas

1 litre stock

juice of half a lemon

 

You do:

Fry the onion and garlic gently in the oil. Add the dry spices and cook until it smells fabulous. Then add half the chickpeas, the tomatoes and 800ml of the stock. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes.

Whizz the remaining stock and chickpeas to a smooth puree. Add this to the soup. Heat. Add parsley and lemon juice and serve

 

It’s so much nicer than it is difficult – a meal in a bowl

 

I am off tomorrow to buy blankets – have been too busy to do it before.

will post photos of the pile we get

Last night I had a little gathering at my home to collect blankets and raise money to buy more blankets for cold homeless people in Durban.

It was a wonderful success in many ways – we collected 10 blankets, R1100 to buy more blankets, 1 person landed up under the table giggling and 3 of the guests tried to use  mind power to fly the couch home.

I made 4 soups which everyone enjoyed. There was much conversation about soup strategy and how best to attack the options, about which flavours should be eaten in what order, and about how to make sure you had enough space in your tummy to try all four.

Votes were cast and soups rated

in fourth place was spinach & coconut soup

You need:

2 tsp oil

1 chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves, 2 green chillies. I used seeds and all and could have used an extra chilli.

2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp tumeric, 1/2 tsp ground ginger. All of these are rough amounts. When I make the soup again I will use more of each.

600ml stock, 600ml coconut milk, juice of 1/2 lemon. Again I will use more next time.

500g spinach. This is a lot of spinach! More than one bunch – almost all of two.

salt

You do:

Heat the oil. Add onion, garlic and chillies. Cook gently for a while – like 4 minutes or so until the onions are getting soft. Stir in the spices and then add the stock and coconut milk. Bring to the boil and then cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Clean and shred the spinach. Add to the liquid and cook for a few minutes until the spinach is wilted. The recipe requires you remove 2/3 of the soup and blend in a food processor and then add to the original soup. What I did was use my wand blender and whizzed the soup up until it was the kind of smooth I like. You will never get all the spinach whizzed up so don’t expect a completely smooth, even coloured and textured soup.

Once the soup is smooth enough for you, add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Heat again if necessary and serve. The recipe called for coconut shavings to serve but I have no idea where you would these from and the soup was fine without them. You could possible use desiccated coconut.

I served the soup with french crusty bread.

This soup may have come 4th out of 4 but it was not a loser. Was very nice – the rest were just better.

Recipes 3, 2 and 1 will follow over the next while. As will pictures of the blankets etc

No photos cos we forgot – and then continued to forget as we drank wine, ate soup and giggled

Hamster loins

so – last night was Stalk MasterChef dinner at my house. Using last week’s show as inspiration I had to feed my friends. a recap of last week may be useful here – two teams had to feed a bunch of wine farm workers on a two course meal. The Blue team cheated and made three courses. Red team leader picked three people, herself included, to go into the pressure test. the pressure test was lamb loin, lamb rack, babaganoush, pistachio nuts bread crumbs and a jus thingie.

I went to the MasterChef site for the recipe for the lamb and saw that it was only half a recipe really – and even the half was a bit weird. what exactly is 25/64 teaspoons of something anyway? so it was time to be inspired by the show rather than dictated to by it.

 

I decided to do the rack and loin rather than the platter thing of the team competition. i went off to buy the bits and pieces and got what i thought must’ve been the smallest ever lamb loin. I didn’t know that a loin and a rack are the same thing; one with bones, one without. The tiny things I got looked like a hamster loin and rack so I decided, once again to be inspired by the relevant episode of MC – and cheat. I made a starter, the hamster meat and even had dessert. I’d have hated for my guests to leave hungry and since when does 1 course, or 2 courses ever mean that anyway? Pfft to the rules, this is my game after all.

For starters I made an assortment of bruchetta, which is really just fancy stale french bread let’s be honest.

I did start with fresh r bread and did the toasting on one side thing. I made three toppings.

1. chickpeas, flat-leaf parsley, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Food process to your taste

2. peas and mint. cook peas and then blend together with mint, olive oil, salt and pepper

3. blue cheese and honey. slice the cheese, put on bread and drizzle with honey.

Now for the main course

The menu was crusted lamb rack, whole boneless lamb loin, pistachio cous cous, wild mushrooms and green beans and a red wine reduction served with a salad on the side. Impressive huh!

Crusted lamb rack

To prep: I made a spice mix of paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, organum, garlic slices and spring onion. I put this onto the inside of the loin and then wrapped it up and stuck it closed with tooth picks. I rubbed coriander and cumin onto the outside with some salt.

To cook: I seared the loin on all sides in a hot but not smoking pan of oil and then cooked in the oven at 200C for about 25 minutes.

The result: perfectly pink really delicious lamb

Crusted lamb rack

To prepare: The rack probably should have had the bones cleaned but the hamster rack was so small I thought every guest would want ever scrap of meat available. and I don’t know how to do it. I mixed fresh french loaf bread crumbs with salt and pepper and rolled the rack in the crumbs. (I just saw i forgot to smear mustard on the meat first – damn). Anyway, the crumb-coated rack went into the over for much longer than i expected. after about 25 minutes we cut into it and it was till too rare so it went back in for a bit.

The result: really nice lamb chops with a lovely crust – eventually.

Remember to let the lamb rest after cooking before serving. It really does make a difference

The sides

Wild mushrooms and beans.

I soaked dehydrated mushrooms in water and then sautéed them in the oil used for the searing of the lamb loin, and additional butter. The beans i put into boiling water for a while and then ice water. I drained them and sautéed them with the mushrooms.

Red wine reduction

I sautéed chopped onions until soft. Then i added vegetable stock and red wine and a rosemary twig or too and let reduce. I strained the sauce and reheated adding small chunks of butter and whisking them in. Added about a table-spoon of butter in total, in four bits.

Pistachio-mint cous cous

I mixed 3 tablespoons of shelled and roughly chopped nuts with 1/4 cup of mint. 2 1/4 cups of hot water went into 300g of cous cous and left to cook. Once the water was absorbed, i fluffed the cous cous up and added the nuts and mint.

The table:

One plate:

 

The verdict: I got through to the next round of Stalk MasterChef

 

 

delicious baked beans

Let me start this blog by i how much I hate HATE HATE baked beans. Those revolting orange squishy things in snot-like sauce just make me gag.

But one day my mom asked if I wanted baked beans for dinner and after I had scowled at her she explained they were home made baked beans, not these things: [cue gagging reflex]

They were delicious. So yesterday I made some for myself. They are a night and day job but a very passive one so don’t balk

You need:

4 cups of beans – I used speckled beans. This is 2 cups after cooking, which is a dumb measurement to have really. A bag is 3 dry cup and about 6 cooked ones. I soaked a whole bag and made the recipe and have some beans left over.

500g streaky bacon. If you are a veggie, jewish or muslim you can leave this out.

2 onions finely diced

6 Tablespons of molasses. You can get molasses at Everfresh or Fruit and Veg City (same name different provinces). Buy crude molasses – in addition to being less sweet, the jokes on the way home are worth it.

1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard. I discovered too late that I didn’t have any so i used 2 generous teaspoons of English mustard

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce. You can use 1 cup of tomato sauce only if you want. Or 3/4 – 1/4 or what ever proportions take your fancy.

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar.

You do:

Day 1.

Soak the beans overnight. Soak them in the pot you will cook them in as you cook them in the soaking water.

Day 2.

Simmer the beans in their soaking water for about 2 hours until tender. When cooked, drain and keep the cooking water.

Then:

Preheat the oven to 165.

Put the molasses, salt, pepper, mustard, tomato sauce, chilli sauce, worcestershire sauce and brown sugar in a pot. Bring to the boil.

When scraping the molasses out of the spoon, do not lick your fingers expecting sweet syrupy molasses – as I discovered molasses is not yummy. I expected syrup on steriods but did not get that. It clearly needs to be cooked or something. Yuck

Dice the onions.

Put a layer of beans in an over proof dish – pyrex is good. I used a rectangular dish about 15cm x 30cm. Put a layer of bacon over this layer of beans, if you are using bacon. Then scatter half the onions. Pour some of the molasses mixture over the layers.

Repeat. Make sure the liquid just covers the beans. Use some of the cooking liquid if necessary.

Cover with foil or a lid and put into the oven.

Bake for 3 -4 hours in total. Mine took 3 hours. My mom warns that it is a good idea to check them after 1 1/2 hours and add more liquid if necessary. I didn’t need to but I may have put too much liquid in to start.

Really really delicious and they don’t take much work but your house will smell amazingly nutritious.

Serve on rice, toast, mash, baked potatoes, pasta etc etc.

Enjoy

So, Friday night was our taster menu meal, except the boys seem not to understand the term ‘taster’. I have seldom eaten so much in one evening!

 

I drew the veggie straw and decided to make a soup. I think soup can easily be a main course, and would work well as part of a taster menu. I wanted to be seasonal so I decided on beetroot soup. It seems beetroots like being in cold soup only but I decided, after consultation with my mother, to make a warm soup.

So I made beetroot and cumin soup.

 

You need:

 

500g of beetroot. I found baby ones – it was two Pick n Pay bunches.

600ml boiling water. This is to make the stock so if you use homemade stock just have as much.

1 large onion – sliced

250g sweet potato, peeled and sliced. In real life we buy potatoes by the individual and not weight. This was a medium sized thin skinned potato. I think it doesn’t matter if you have a bit more or less.

425ml milk

Ground cumin. I used a generous teaspoon

Butter

Salt and pepper

1 stock cube – only if you don’t use your own stock

Juice of half a lemon – about a tablespoon.

 

You do:

Boil the beetroot until cooked. I learnt a good trick for boiling beetroot. Cut the stalk off leaving that rough bit behind. Then, to check if the beets are cooked, rub a finger along one rather than poke with a fork. The beets are cooked when the skin comes off easily. If you don’t do the poking thing, less of the colour and flavour escapes.

Once they are cooked take the beets out of the water. Keep the water. Let me repeat that – Keep the water. Do not drain the beets into the sink and remember half way through you were supposed to keep the water. Peel them by sliding the skins off while still warm.

 

Cook the onions in the butter in a large saucepan until just turning colour. Add the peeled and sliced sweet potato . cook over a medium heat for a while and then add the milk, stock and cumin. Let this simmer until the potatoes are really soft.

 

Whizz the beets in a food processor with their cooking liquid. Then add the potato mix. It’s best to let it cool a bit or you may have splattered beet and potato mush on your walls. And I learnt not to over load the food processor with beet – a mighty mess was only just avoided.

 

Add the lemon juice, and salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with a swirl of cream and chopped chives or parsley.

 

I decided to get fancy and made bread with the beetroot stalks. Recipe tomorrow

So busy

Stupid deadlines

Family gatherings

All combine and result in me not doing too much interesting cooking really

So here is another dish from the dinner party from a while ago.

My friend Tania (http://thebadjogger.com/) was here for the dinner party and she is Portuguese – so obviously we made the classic Spanish dish of patatas bravas. The interwebz is awash with recipes for this tapas dish, but this happens to be the one we used. They differ somewhat, but apparently in Spain each place has a slightly different version anyway. So you can’t actually be wrong.

The recipe makes more sauce than you need and trust me, you will be glad. We ate it on pretty much everything for two days and were sad when it was finished.

So – you need:

500g potatoes, unpeeled and chopped into chunks or wedges

I big onion, sliced. I thought they meant chopped but they meant sliced – the slices are delicious

2 gloves or garlic, or, if you are like me and think 2 cloves of garlic are not worth getting garlicky fingers for, four cloves

1 or 2 chillis chopped small. Pips in or out depending on how butch your taste buds are. Mine are big girls so 1 small chill with no pips was enough.

2 bay leaves

4 tomatoes, unpeeled and chopped. The ones we used were big table tomatoes, but not those monster beef ones. You could peel them if you wanted but the skins were completely inoffensive once everything was cooked.

Tomato puree – if I had a jar or that squeezey tube you get I’d have used about a tablespoon. I had a small tin and I never remember to use the left overs so I put it all in

1 glass white wine. This is for the food – drink the rest of the bottle

Soya sauce – according to taste really. We probably used about a tot.

2 heaped tablespoons of sugar

1 heaped tablespoon of mayo

Olive oil for cooking

Parsley to make pretty

You do:

Par boil the potatoes. I read somewhere that to get even cooked potatoes you should put them in cold water and then allow the water to heat around them. We did that and then let them boil for about 6 minutes or so. You don’t want them cooked through. Drain them, put them on a baking tray, sprinkle with olive oil and put in a 180-ish oven for about 40 minutes.

Fry the sliced onions, garlic and bay leaf til the onion is soft. Then add the soya sauce, sugar, wine, tomato puree and chill and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the tomatoes and let it simmer over a low heat for about 20 minutes.

When the potatoes are ready and the sauce is bubbling away, season the sauce with a little salt and pepper if needed – do taste it first cos of the soya sauce. Dish the potatoes up, pour the sauce over the top and add a dollop of mayo and a sprinkle of parsley.

Serve with napkins

My bestie, David, and I are stalking Masterchef SA. By this I mean we are watching it, talking about and then copying it – very SWF for those of us old enough to remember that movie.

 

So what we do is watch the program together on a Tuesday and take turns feeding each other doing what the contestants had to do the previous week. The stalking game is only in its infancy – obviously – but we already have a third stalker cook join in.

 

Last week David cooked his meal to impress while we watch the contestants chop onions, separate eggs and make potatoes special.

This week I had to do all of that for dinner last night.

 

So I made gnocchi with a carbonara sauce. Not a usual combo maybe but this is Masterchef after all and you have to take risks.

 

For the gnocchi I baked 5 big starchy-type potatoes. I dunno how you know – I just believed what was on the packet. I read that baking them keeps the flesh drier, and it helps to poke many holes in the skin too. So I did.

Once baked I peeled them while still warm – and have the blister to prove it.

Then I mashed them. The recipe says use a fork. I say yeah right – um no! I used a potato squasher but really I needed a ricer. They weighed 900g once peeled so I sieved 150g of flour into them with some salt. The recipe gave amounts which indicated 1 part flour to 6 parts potato.

 

Then I made the sauce – recipe just now. but back to the gnocchi.

I rolled the potato flour mix into sausages – not as easy as they make out on Jamie Oliver shows, but possible. I cut them sausage into little pieces and pressed a fork into the top to make a dip and grooves. Into boiling salted water they went and out they came when they popped to the surface.

They were not a total success but were nice enough for people to want more. And nice enough for me to be determined to try again.

 

And now the sauce:

I cracked and separated 4 eggs, keeping the yolks. I fried a whole pile of smoked bacon chopped into bits. You are supposed to use pancetta but, well, I didn’t.

I also chopped a little onion cos Masterchef said I had to. These fried together and when cooked and slightly cooled, I put them in with the eggs and stirred. You have to cool the meat down so you don’t get scrambled eggs.

Then I put a goodly heaped tablespoon of crème fraiche into the mixture and some parsley. The recipe called for thyme but thyme makes me go yuck. Seasoning is in the form of salt, pepper and grated lemon zest.

 

As the gnocchi surfaced I dished them and poured sauce over the top.

 

I was surprised that 5 potatoes, 150g flour, 4 eggs and a whole pack of bacon did not make enough food for 4 adults. Here options – we are pigs; the food was really good; I mismeasured. I am going for the middle option – obviously.

 

I did get through though – and will be in the next round of Home Masterchef. And lucky David has to braai next week!