Tag Archives: Cumin

It’s Pimm’s a clock.. giving the British a bit of a shock..

5 Aug

I think most of us know by now that the Brits are well known for their drinking habits.. and not necessarily their eating habits or great food!  In this case, they might feel a little bit sensitive about using their world famous Pimms in a crispy duck dish! Some of them might say that I’m “well right cheeky” for even attempting it.

If there is one thing about the British that is a guarantee ( which I hope will make this dish a selling point ) – they love fruit!  In all forms. Dried fruit, fresh fruit, fruit with chocolate, fruit as dessert, fruit as a treat, fruit & biscuits… they will have fruit with almost anything possible, even hot chocolate! So basically, this is almost like Forest Gump and Bubba with their little “shrimpin” business.

Joining in on the whole “cook only what is in season” craze, I have jumped on the bandwagon too!  If you can buy 2 punnets of blackberries for £2 –  no1, you have to buy it, it’s cheap!!  No2,  if your family,  or my (now) increased – appetite- non- stop – eating (always hungry) husband does NOT eat fruit, you have to get creative! And so we come round to the duck.. which seems to be in season for quite some time.. as it is unbelievably affordable.. and always makes me feel “well noble”!

Duck is a very fatty poultry, but exquisite when all the fattiness and crispy skin is combined with something sweet, spicy and acidic to cut through it. So, the 3 main musketeers for this recipe is Duck, Blackberries & Blackberry & Elder flower Pimms.

Crispy duck with blackberries  & Pimms

3 x duck legs

1 punnet of blackberries ( about 2 handfuls)

2 teaspoons of cumin seeds

Salt & pepper to taste

75ml blackberry & elderflower Pimms ( any blackberry liqueur if you don’t have Pimms)

4 x small wedges of lemon

Make sure your duck legs are room temperature. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Tip: The key to this dish is also to have a heavy based, shallow frying pan that can be used on the hob and in the oven.

lemon

Season your duck legs with freshly ground pepper and salt and rub it into the meat. Now, heat your frying pan. It needs to be nice and hot, similar to frying a steak. When the pan is hot, place the duck legs skin (fat) side down. You want it to fry till the skin is nice, crispy and brown.

When the skin is crispy, sprinkle the cumin seeds over the duck, before turning it over (skin side facing up)  to cook the other side of the legs. Be careful, the heat will make the cumin seeds shoot around like little popcorn kernels. As soon as you’ve turned it around, add the Pimms, making sure that you don’t pour it over the crispy skin. Pour it around the duck. The top, crispy side of the skin should be “Pimms free”.

Now, take some of the blackberries and place them around the duck in any available space. I usually place a few around the duck and then use the rest as a cushion for the duck to lie on, placing them underneath the duck.

35-blackberries

Take the lemon wedges and place the skin side up around the duck. Place in the oven for 45mins. Tip: Do not cover with a lid or foil, because you want the skin to stay crispy.

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I usually serve this with a tomato, mozzarella & basil salad, and some creamy mash with the sweet and zesty sauce cutting through the creamy mash.  You can also serve it with fresh , crusty bread and dip the bread in the blackberry and duck sauce, or even serve with some plain, simple and delicious jasmine or basmati rice. Enjoy!

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A move(d)able feast

30 Jan

Again, I am behind on my entries. I have been saving my favourite one as a little “cheery up” tool for myself in this dull grey London. Usually, when we dont travel to South Africa to spend Christmas with our family and loved ones, I invite all our friends in London that are here over Christmas, including our only family, my sister in law, and I revel in the fact that I will have a big, decorated table groaning under all the food that I have prepared with love the whole morning.

Usually I start planning the menu and designing it about 2 months before christmas. This ensures that I can still send out invitations in plenty of time before everyone gets hustling and bustling around. Naturally, it was crazy with everyone around and making sure everything is ready.. so taking photographs of all the dishes was not very high up on my list. However, over the next week or so I will be posting recipes from some of the other dishes from our Christmas feast!! For now, I think I will start with the lamb.. Celebration Lamb

Christmas Feast

Celebration lamb

1X 250 ml buttermilk
1 X leg of lamb ( 2-3 kg)
2 hands of pitted, green olives
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 tablespoons of herbes’ d Province

2 teaspoons of ground cumin
juice of one lemon
500ml of dry white wine
1 sprig of rosemary
160 Degrees Celcius

If you have time  to leave the meat to marinate overnight – then you will be using the buttermilk. Take your leg of lamb and place it in a fitted dish that can fit in your fridge. Now, pour the buttermilk over the lamb, checking that it is covered all over. Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge over night. The next day, when you are ready to start on the lamb, make sure you remove it from the fridge about 30 minutes before you start on it. Rinse the lamb, making sure you remove all the buttermilk and pat dry with paper towel. Place the lamb in a roasting dish.

Take a very sharp knife with a small, fine end, and start piercing small holes deep eoungh to push the pieces of garlic in, about 10 – 12 holes. Now, divide your garlic slices between the holes you pierced. Make sure that the garlic slices are quite deep in the pierced holes, so they won’t fall out.Pour the lemon juice over the lamb. Take the olive oil, rub it between your hands and massage into the lamb. Now, grind over salt and black pepper. Sprinkle the herbs and cumin over the lamb and massage into the lamb. Take your sprig of rosemary and place it in the middle of the lamb in one of the holes that were pierced.

Leg of lamb

Leg of lamb

Toss your olives around the lamb and pour over the white wine. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 1 hour. After one hour, scoop the juices from the roasting dish and baste the lamb with the juices. Cover with the foil again, cooking for another 40 minutes. Remove the foil, baste again and place in the oven for a final 30 minutes, and your done!

christmas lunch decoration

christmas lunch decoration

Slow cooked meatballs

31 Oct

with winter around the corner! Indeed, I wish everything was slow. Nowadays everything feels like it is moving too fast! I barely have time to daydream about what I would like to cook for supper. Nevermind writing my recipes down. As so, my blog has also been slow, as I am sure I don’t need to point out the last time I made a post. As fast paced as life is here in london, our household is “techonologically doomed”!

First, I had problems with my laptop, which is also one of the reasons you have not seen any posts. Then Ipods.. camera’s, dehumidifiers… maybe it is all a sign to let go of all this technology.

Sometimes I wish I was outside, far away from the city, with winding country roads, the warm sun on my face and the fresh breeze of wildflowers in the air. I guess this is what I was thinking about while I was enjoying a glass of lovely red wine, with the meatballs slowly bubbling away.

I believe that our thoughts influence our cooking and so my thougts inspired a heartwarming meal, that helps me to slow down and smell the wafts of the lovely spiced aroma in our home. .. I guess I sound like my mother’s daughter now.. yearning for the farm, family and friends around my table, no rush, surrounded by love and joy.

Enough of my self pity as I sit in layers of clothing in this cold.. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and as it will show, there is so much you can do with the right combination of spices

Flavourful Meatballs with Herb ‘d Provence Cous cous

1 pack of minced beef

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

1 teaspoon of turmeric

2 teaspoons of cumin seeds, ground

2 pinches of salt

2 pinches of black pepper

2 onions, finely chopped ( use a food processor)

2 slices of stale bread

1 egg

1 teaspoon of paprika

juice of half a lemon

1 cup of chicken stock

half a cup of white wine

half a cup of warm water

2 tablespoons of butter

For the Cous Cous

2 teaspoons of butter

salt and black pepper to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons of Herb ‘d Provence

 

To start, take one onion, and half a teaspoon of all the spices, including the salt and pepper ( 1 pinch) and put them in the food processor. Process fine, just before it makes a paste. Take the bread slices and break them into crumbs. Mix this with the mince, egg and your paste you made. Start rolling the mince into little balls, about the size of a walnut.

Take the remaining spices and put it in your food processor, along with the other onion. Process to the same texture as the semi-paste you made for the meatball mixture. Add your olive oil and butter to a pan. Wait for the butter to melt. Now add the onion and spice mixture. Cook for about 8 minutes. Now, add all the remaining ingredients and allow to bubble for about 5 minutes.

Add your meatballs to the pan. Swirl the pan so that the sauce moves around the meatballs. Turn the gas down to low. Put the lid on and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Now toss the meatballs around, so that the other side of the meatballs are also covered in the sauce. Simmer for another 10 – 15 minutes, or until cooked.

While the meatballs are cooking, measure the cous cous you required. Place it in a bowl. Now, take the Herb ‘d Provence herbs and sprinkle it over cous cous. Season with salt and black pepper. Boil water, enough to just cover the cous cous. When this has boiled, pour it over the cous cous, mixing it twice with a fork. Cover completely with a plate or some plastic wrap and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Lift the plate / take off the plastic wrap and take 2 teaspoons of butter and mix it through the cous cous with a fork. I served the meatballs with mixed roasted vegetables, along with the cous cous, but you can serve it with any vegetables of your choice, or even a lovely fresh rocket salad.

A refreshing change.. .. minty, fresh meatballs

15 Mar

No tomato meatball fights today!!! No energy for it to be honest. Why is it that we ( this would actually be me) get soooo excited and inspired by many things that we always want to do everything all at once and succeed with all of  it at once, immediately?

Well… its definitely not refreshing to say that it is covered in impatience as well… and a bit of disappointment. I know it is because I have been trying to do everything at once… and doing everything at once amounts to eventually getting nowhere at all.

So after a weekend filled with doing nothing….( yes, lying on the couch eating numerous amounts of  food does amount to doing nothing.)… BUT, I was very tired and exhausted and in a lot of pain.. so I would think this is a good enough of an excuse 🙂

However, this amounted to me feeling very guilty for not taking ANY photos, writing ANY blogs or making ANY food…You read it…. my Conan, hero of the household rescued me this weekend providing me with food,, the game of throne series and copious amounts of tea  ;-p

Now, feeling slightly better, I  have decided to do a new take on meatballs… especially after my Big boy and I are the new faces of Gaviscon.. less tomato.. less indegestion. SO… it is the season of spring… and it is fresh and it is green… mint.. mint … and mint… and always, naturallly, garlic 🙂 This happy dish put a smile on big boy’s face… and as always I hear him eating out of the saucepans in the kitchen again… a very familiar sound I may add.

Creamy minted meatballs

1 onion very finely chopped ( use a food processor)

2 teaspoons of fresh mint, finely chopped

1 teaspoon of garlic

2 teaspoons of cumin

2 teaspoons of dried chives

1 pack of 250g  beef mince

1 egg

3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs

2 handfuls of mushrooms, roughly chopped

3 handfuls of mixed greens, roughly chopped ( mine was cabbage and spinach)

2 cups of orzo pasta

600ml of vegetable stock, made with one cube

2 tablespoons of olive oil

250ml of cream/soya cream/ creme fraiche

Fresh parmesan for grating

1 ripe avo,cut in pieces

Chop your onion into pieces small enough to fit into your food processor and add 1 teaspoon of the garlic and all the mint. It should be processed to quite fine, until it is just almost a paste, but not a paste.

Place your mince in a mixing bowl and add the cumin, chives, breadcrumbs and egg. Flavour with salt and pepper. Mix well. Now, make them into little meatballs. Whichever size you prefer.

When this is done, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a heated pan. Now, add your onion, mint and garlic mixture to the pan. Fry gently for about 7 minutes. Now, place your meatballs in the pan with the onion mixture. Let them brown in the pan and squiggle them about.

While the meatballs are cooking, add the remaining olive oil to a heated saucepan. Add the remaining garlic and add your mushrooms. Fry them until just slightly browned, and add your greens. Mix through. Now, add your orzo and mix through and then add your vegetable stock. Keep the heat on medium while cooking the orzo and stir frequently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Do not put the lid on, keep it uncovered.

While this is cooking, check on your meatballs. If they are brown, add your cream and turn it down so that it simmers gently. Dont forget to check on your orzo.

This should be done when 90% of the liquid has been absorbed. Usually about 10 – 15 minutes.

When it is done, dish up the orzo, place the meatballs with its sauce on top, grind over some black pepper, add your avo and grate with a bit of fresh parmigiana,  and you’ve got yourself a winner!

Sweet Potato love

21 Jul

Sweet potato love

“Sweet potato is a tuberous crop and its plant is a creeper with heart shaped or lobed leaves.” Isn’t that a sign? Heart shaped leaves? Of course it is! This lovely little fellow might as well shoot little hearts out at you! It has so many great benefits that I cant include it here in my writing, otherwise you will be reading forever! A while back I went to the Gourmet Burger with the hubby – two for one, we can’t help ourselves ;-p To the point really, I decided to enjoy a slightly different burger and had a chorizo and sweet potato burger. Now my friends, of course by now you know, when it comes to eating, I don’t want the old boring, traditional thing. To me when something sounds nice, it should taste nice and my oh my, sweet potato and chorizo are a match made in heaven!!

How can you resist all that soft, sweet love! Just another example that “beauty is in the eye of beholder” or in this case, the taster ;-p Not that a sweet potato is particularly beautiful, suppose if you are into that rustic kind of thing, it might well be. ;-p Anyhow, I remember when I was little my mother would take a few sweet potatoes, wrap them in foil and place them in the oven. I never particularly wanted to eat them. I thought something that ugly and misshapen couldn’t possibly taste nice! However, when I saw my father eating it out of its skin after it was cooked to perfection, I wanted it! Since I can remember, the food he ate and enjoyed created this content expression on his face. Now how did that help anything? I’ll tell you, it made me eat my veggies! However, I never quite enjoyed it the way my dad did. When he ate veggies, it almost looked as if he was savouring a delicious, creamy chocolate! Maybe that was his special trick? Who knows, it worked!

Ever since, as the years went by, I started to love the sweet potato more and more! This is where I can start talking in my “bubba shrimp” voice from Forrest Gump – you can have sweet potato mash, sweet potato fries, sweet potato wedges, sweet potato pie, sweet potato fritters…. and I can go on and on. It is possible that something so ugly can turn into something so irresistible! Totally gobsmacked! After weeks of rain and dark, dreary miserable weather, I need my sweet potato! I am going to follow the route of my inspiration for this dish – The Gourmet Burger. However, I will make a warm chorizo and sweet potato salad, and let me tell you my friends; you will be coming back for more!! What is there to feel guilty about?

Now, I know my dad loves a sweet potato….so what would ultimately make his day besides, a sneaky, special delivery from Torino chocolates in town? He is a big fan of Spanish, Italian and French cured sausages and meat. If he could sit down to this, I am sure that when he closed his eyes he would start imagining himself in a Italian marketplace somewhere with Italians screaming at each other, children eating warm, freshly baked pastries and a few Italians singing while lazily strumming a guitar. Dad, this one is for you. Maybe,one day, soon, we will do this and all of us can turn our faces to the warm sun and enjoy a crisp glass of White Italian wine

Warm chorizo & sweet potato salad 

1 big, long chorizo sausage/ 4 small chorizo sausages cut in slices

3 sweet potatoes, cut in wedges, preboiled for 10 minutes

125g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 onion, finely sliced

2 courgettes, sliced in medium wedges

1 handful of french beans

olive oil for frying

ground cumin to sprinkle

Salt & pepper to taste

1 teaspoon of sugar

Balsamic glaze

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. Place your sweet potatoes on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with cumin and season with salt and pepper. Put in the oven for 20 minutes. While these are cooking, drizzle a bit of olive oil in a heated frying pan and add your courgettes and green beans. Cook until tender, but still firm and add your chorizo slices.

They will release lovely juices. Cook until the juices are released. Flavour with salt to taste. Now, in a seperate small frying pan, add olive oil and fry your onions over a low heat. They must start caramelizing slightly, soft, but lightly browned.

Now add your cherry tomatoes. Fry until the tomatoes start realeasing a little bit of their juice and season with salt. Now add your teaspoon of sugar and mix well. Remove your sweet potato from the oven.

Squish them slightly with a fork. Place them in your plate. Plate the tomato and onion mixture on top of the sweet potato. Finally, top off with your vegetable chorizo mix.

Drizzle with a little bit of balsamic glaze and enjoy!

She’s always a “hearty” woman to me…

11 Jul

Today’s post was inspired by my beautiful mother, which includes the song -“She’s always a woman to me” from Billy Joel. There was a recent add on tv from John Lewis and the way that they portrayed this woman, with the song, was almost a replica of my mother. It depicts how she met her husband, got married, worked, started and fed a family and how her life turned out… tune in, I will attach the video to my blog, just so all of you will know what I am talking about. This is the wikipedia explanation for Billy Joel’s song: “She’s Always a Woman” is a song from Billy Joel‘s 1977 album The Stranger. It is a love song about a modern woman, with whom he falls in love for her quirks as well as her flaws. Now, just to clarify this, my mother has NO flaws! She is the most perfect woman, and oh how I am blessed to have such a mother!

Ever heard of having your heart connected to another with a long string? That is what it feels like to me, with my mother in another country. Till this day, it amazes the hubby how my mother and I are connected. One example? I asked my mother one afternoon in a email what she was cooking that night and it turns out we were cooking the exact same dish, without even speaking to each other. We share everything, from cleaning tips to “calming down after the toilet seat was left up again” and how to make a wilting, dying plant grow again and flourish! So, this brings me to the rest of the inspiration for today, “harvest diaries”, a book I am reading about the daily chores on a organic wine and fruit farm. The way the writer describes her day is so similar to my mother. From when I was little, everything my mother grew, always flourished. She would tend to the garden, make fresh delicious food, be a shoulder to cry on, be a career woman,wife, mother, sister, a friend and make all of it seem so simple and easy. She puts her heart in everything, and that is why this blog is titled “hearty” woman to me.

In winter, we would come home and you could hear the fire crackling, which she lit earlier and smell a lovely waft of homemade lentil soup and fresh bread and when entering the kitchen be embraced by her in a warm hug. This is beauty to me. She can enjoy anything and everything, mend anything, cook anything and it is all a picture of love and contentment. Of course, I could never be close to this, but, I now live for planting flowers, herbs and vegetables, making our house a home, to cook something simple and turn it into a feast, and all the while,not thinking about not being a stick and embracing my curves, pale skin and loud personality, because this is who I am, and all of this came from my mother ( and of course I have to say my father ;-p) She showed me what is important in life. So, in her words, when I am not particularly feeling like the beauty prom queen I am ( wink wink) look at yourself in the mirror and say “hello you drop dead gorgeous, beautiful thing!”

Well, I don’t need that anymore, because I know that certain things aren’t worth fussing about. I would rather fuss about my Lentil soup and try and figure out what I would add to make it taste like something magical happened in my kitchen ;-p So on the menu today, Red split lentil soup and home made bread 🙂 This one is for you mom, still know I won’t be able to top your lentil soup, but I might come close!

Homemade bread

125ml warm water

15g instant yeast

250g strong white bread flour

1 teaspoon of salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

twig of rosemary

3 sundried tomatoes

Mix your yeast into your warm water. Set aside and allow it to stand for about 10 minutes, until it starts creating a thick froth. Sieve your flour and salt into a bowl.  Mix together with the yeast and olive oil and put it in your mixing bowl with a kneading hook. Put the machine on low and keep it going for about 10 minutes, adding flour and warm water if neccesary. The dough is correct if you touch it and it springs back immediately. Now, rub a bowl with olive oil and rub the dough ball around it. Cover with a cloth and blanket and keep in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours. Punch it back about 7 times and knead again for 4 minutes. Cover again and allow to rise double the size. Preheat your oven to 230 degrees celcius. Rub your loaftin with olive oil. Now place your dough in the tin. Push some rosemary sprigs in your bread, and put the sundried tomatoes on top. Grind some salt over. Now allow it to bake. It is done when it has a hollow sound when you tap it.

Red Split Lentil Soup

2 onions roughly chopped

4 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil

2 teaspoons of cumin seeds

2 teaspoons of curry powder

juice of 1 lemon

75g of strong mature cheddar, grated

4 teaspoons of red pesto

1.5 litre of vegetable or chicken stock

Grated parmesan for garnish

salt & pepper to taste

Heat a casserole saucepan with the oil and add your onion and cumin seeds. Fry for about 5 minutes and now add your curry powder.

Add your lentils and stock and bring to the boil. Squash your garlic slightly and add to the soup. After this, simmer your soup for about 30 minutes. Then, add the lemon juice, cheese and pesto and mix through.

Flavour with salt and pepper. Dish up, grate over some parmesan and enjoy with your freshly baked bread! Happiness! 🙂

And for those that would like to watch the add that I think resembles my mother, here you go 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYOsWWKHZVw

Cheery Chicken

5 Jul

What can possibly be cheery about chicken…. or for normal (not me) people, even food…. Well, I recieved quite a few emails from a very dear friend of mine today. I have known her for about 9 years, which still amazes me. She is probably my first foodie fan!! Whenever I had a dinner party back in South Africa, I knew she would be the first guest to confirm, well and her hubby that is, but since I see them as one person, I don’t think I have to mention him ;-p

If possible, it would be them that might have invented the “hhhhmmmmmmm” sound effects when one enjoys a great meal! It is quite possible that there might have been times where the food wasn’t that great, but I like to believe it was my cheery personality that made them forget about that ;-p Something that I admire about my friend Nikki, is that she is always cheery, enjoys to chat with me over a glass of wine about the ” terrible, hard and emotional” life of a artist – the “no one understands us” trait ! Dramaqueen no 2! ;-p  Add to this, that she always appreciates the small things in life and realises the beauty in it, makes me miss her terribly! So, after speaking to her today, I know she has had a hard day and would love a nice, warm, home cooked meal!

This is where I will start moving over to my infomercial voice – If you sign up to my blog now, you will recieve lovely and hearty FREE recipes, which no other individual will supply….. BUT there is more!! By reading this blog, you will recieve a recipe today to put everything together in only 5 minutes, put it in the oven, sit back, relax and wait for it to develop into a lovely, hearty and cheery meal! But.. there is MORE! By reading this recipe, it will also supply you with a slight smile of completely how ridiculous it is that you are finding it entertaining, for FREE!

Enough with all the bull, this recipe is dedicated to my friend Nikki, if I could, this dish would have waited for her at home already to enjoy when she walks through the door. So, this is a quick, all in one casserole, whole chicken recipe. Simple, tasty and cheers you up in no time!

1 whole chicken

juice of one lemon

3 tablespoons of malt vinegar ( if you dont have this, take redwine vinegar and mix it with a teaspoon of sugar)

1 1/2 cup of Orzo ( small grainy type of pasta)

Butter for basting

1 whole Garlic clove,broken into their normal individual cloves, skin still on

Olive oil

1 red onion, cut in quarters with skin still on

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1 teaspoon of cumin powder

salt & pepper

Tinned broad beans or fresh beans

1 glass of dry white wine

Get a nice deep casserole dish that you can use on the stove, as well as in the oven. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius. Drizzle your casserole dish with olive oil and fry your onions, garlic and cumin seeds for about 5 minutes. Now, place your chicken on top of the onions and garlic etc. Rub the top of the chicken with butter, almost massaging it. Now sprinkle your cumin over the chicken. Squeeze over your lemon juice and add the white wine. Flavour with salt and pepper and put in the oven to cook for about 40 minutes.

Remove the lid now and cook for another 10 minutes.

Now, take it out of the oven, and add your vinegar, beans and orzo and mix through. Should you need more liquid, add more white wine. Mix through.  Cover with the lid and cook for another 9 minutes. Remove from oven, cut your chicken and serve up with your beans and orzo!