Zesty lemon and butter baked angelfish

As I was wandering through my favourite Woolies food on Thursday and found an irresistible bargain- two pieces of fresh angelfish fillets (with an expiry date for the next day) for the price of one.  I love angelfish, and knowing that it is on the SASSI green list, as well as caught responsibly for Woolies, it was a must have.  I don’t often eat fish and have stopped eating canned tuna altogether. Unfortunately, all of our SA caught tuna is canned in Thailand, and although I know Woolworths goes out of their way to ensure that it is done in a sustainable and dolphin-friendly manner, the carbon footprint of canned tuna is too big to support with a good conscience.

 

Hence my excitement about the angelfish!  Caught locally and sustainably, I could dig into my angelfish with a clean conscience and had a fantastic time trying new recipes… I cooked the first angelfish in a more traditional manner: I lightly floured the fish, heated butter in the pan, and grilled the fish in the pan until done and golden on both sides. I added some lemon zest and parsley to the fish, and removed it form the pan. I then deglazed the pan with a drop of white wine, added two blobs of butter, and reheated the fish in the sauce.  Although delicious, this is not the recipe I am sharing with you today.  The next fish fillet was done in the oven and this is how I did it:

 

1 large angel fish fillet

lemon zest of 1/4-1/2 a lemon

handful fresh, chopped parsley

70 grams butter

juice of 1/4-1/2 a lemon

handful breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grate the lemon zest, and add to the breadcrumbs. Add the parsley to the breadcrumbs and mix well.  Melt the butter in a microwave proof dish in the microwave, and mix well with the lemon juice.  Lightly flour the fish, and place in a greased, oven proof dish. Cover the fish completely with the lemon-butter sauce, and cover with the breadcrumb mix.  Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes or until done.  I switched the grill on in the last 2 minutes to ensure y breadcrumb coating is crunchy. The fish dries out very easily so it is important to keep an eye on it whilst in the oven. It is ready when the fish is flaky and can easily be pulled apart with a fork.  I tested it at 10 minutes where after I gave it another 3 minutes and 2 under the grill. Serve with fresh lemon and a side of salad.

 

Delicious vegetarian cottage pie

This is one my favourite winter recipes- easy to make, delicious and nutritious. And of course, completely vegetarian! It is also great for left overs. This recipe gives 4-6 portions and will fit any budget.

For the potato mash topping:

3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

a pinch of salt

a dollop of butter

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon milk

Bring water with a pinch of salt to boil on the stove. Once boiling, add the cubed potatoes and cook until soft. Decant the water, and the milk and butter to the potatoes and mash until fine. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

For the cottage pie:

1 cup brown or black lentils, cooked

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 table spoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tin/sachet tomato paste

3/4 cup frozen peas

1 carrot, grated

lemon zest and juice of half a lemon

2 tablespoon fruit chutney

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Heat a dash of olive oil in a large pan. Once heated, sauté the onion and garlic for 5-8 minutes. Add the coriander and paprika and sauté for another minute. Add the lentils, carrot and peas and fry for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and 1/3 cup water and mix well. Allow to simmer for another 5-10 minutes before adding the chutney, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add a bit more water if the mixture is too dry. Allow to simmer for another minute or two and add salt and pepper to taste.

Grease a large baking dish. Spread the cottage pie mixture evenly and top with mashed potato. Grate some cheese over, if you want to. Bake for 30-40 minutes and 180 degrees Celsius or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm with a fresh salad on the side.

Roasted chicken breasts on the bone stuffed with spinach, bacon and mozzarella

There are so many stuffed chicken recipes available and they all look delicious!  Of course, most of them require the chicken to be skinned and boneless (which is good), and covered with bread crumbs and deep fried or baked which is not so good, when you are trying to cut on the carbs.  This recipe should make any person that follows the LCHF (#banting) diet very happy, although I could not resist adding a creamy white mushroom sauce, which the more disciplined among us can leave out, of course.

There is something very comforting about the smell of slow roasted chicken permeating through the house. It reminds me of big family dinners and a warm kitchen and puts me in the mood to invite friends over and open a bottle of wine. It is, of course, also perfect when entertaining- the chicken can be prepared before hand, popped into the oven, and give you a good hour and a half of wine and chatting before serving up.

I decided to keep the chicken on the bone to add more flavour and prevent it from drying out, and made an incision above and along the bone to form a pocket for the stuffing. I served this with a creamy mushroom sauce, but the pan juices that cook out of the chicken is sufficient as a sauce on its own. For this recipe, I only used two chicken breasts but it can easily be increased for more portions.

Stuffing:

8-10 baby spinach leafs, finely chopped

3-4 chives, finely chopped

2 slices smoked shoulder bacon, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Melt the butter over moderate heat. Sauté the chives and bacon until done, and add the spinach. Sauté for another 3-4 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Remove from the heat, and add the grated mozzarella. Stir through, until every thing comes together (the cheese doesn’t have to melt completely, you just want everything to stick together). Add black pepper for taste.

Chicken:

2 large chicken breasts on the bone or 4 thighs on the bone

a dash of olive oil

1 tablespoon butter, cut into small blocks

3 small sprigs of thyme

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Make an incision above the bone along the length of the chicken breast to form a pocket. The same can be don for thighs which works just as well.

Remove any excess fat and skin.  Gently lift some of the remaining skin and insert 2 very small blocks of butter just below the skin as well as 2-3 thyme leafs. Insert a tablespoon of stuffing into the pocket, but without overfilling it.  Repeat for each chicken breast or thigh. Rub the top of the chicken with a drop of olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste and place in a prepared oven-proof dish that can be covered.  Cover the dish and place in the oven.  Bake covered for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover the chicken with any juices that has cooked out and bake uncovered for another 40 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Mushroom sauce:

125 grams white button mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup double thick Greek yoghurt

Melt the butter over moderate heat before adding the mushrooms. Fry the mushroom until softened and add the yoghurt.  Stir for another 3-4 minutes until heated through and it starts to boil. Remove from the heat.

I served the chicken with cous cous but it can be served with only a green salad on the side, and will still make for a very fulfilling meal!

 

Hungarian Pörkölt (or what we wrongly refer to as goulash)

I was very privileged to visit the incredibly colourful country of Hungary two years ago- steeped in rich history with remnants of a communist past and filled with colour to banish that dark history. It is here that Danube flows ever so blue dividing the two great cities of Buda and Pest that only become one late in the 19th century.

The history of Hungary is one filled with occupation, war, and revolutions, and it is evident throughout the city.  They did however, successfully maintain their own identity, and it can be seen in the art and architecture throughout the country. It is also very evident in their food and goulash, paprikash and pörkölt are some of their most famous dishes today. There is also, of course, a strong historical influence found in dishes such as speatzle which has a German/Austrian origin.

I was very surprised to learn that the meaty stew that we commonly refer to as goulash is actually a soup that contains meat and vegetables, whilst the meat stew is called pörkölt and does not contain vegetables. There seems to be some debate surrounding this, but I base my recipe on what I was told at a cultural centre in the Hungarian countryside. There we got to sample some of their fantastic dishes and were entertained by traditional Hungarian dances and music. On a different note, the countryside and historical oak forests are well worth a visit with very rich history and architecture dating back to almost a millennium ago.

 

Back in Budapest I  retried all of the dishes (as far as I know paprikash refers to a creamy paprika based sauce which is often served with chicken), and came back to South Africa knowing that beef pörkölt is one of my new favourite dishes.  I attempted to recreate what I tasted in Hungary several times and this recipe is the closest that I have gotten. This is also where my love for paprika originated and when I refer to good quality paprika in recipes, I have the real Hungarian stuff in mind.

With easter weekend upon us, and time to spend in the kitchen this is the perfect slow food recipe for a great family meal.  Like all good things in life, it requires a lot of patience and some good quality paprika!  This recipe serves 4-6 people.

600 grams cubed beef (on the bone works just as well, and have a bit of fat on the meat doesn’t hurt either)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tin tomato paste (70 grams; fresh tomatoes can also be used)

2-4 large tablespoons of both spicy and sweet good quality paprika

Enough stock or water to cover the meat completely

sour cream to serve (optional)

Heat the oil over moderate heat.  Brown the meat (I do dust mine in flour, but this is not the Hungarian way to do it), and remove from the pot. Add the butter, and sauté the onions and garlic for 5-8 minutes. Add the paprika, and saute for another minute. Place the meat back in the pot, add the tomato paste and stir well. Add enough stock or water (I use water), to cover the meat completely and turn down the heat.  Allow to simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours over low heat, stirring occasionally to ensure that it does not burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. The sauce will gradually change in colour, becoming a darker red and almost shiny (glisten).  If the meat is butter soft, and the sauce has thickened the  pörkölt is ready to serve. I serve it with egg noodles (german speatzle or known as nokledi in Hungarian) but I will give you the recipe (and manner to make it) that I was taught by a very good German friend of mine.

1 cup flour

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

To prepare:

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup fresh, chopped parsley

white pepper, salt and nutmeg to taste

Sift the flour in a large bowl and add the nutmeg, white pepper and salt to taste.  Whisk the egg and milk together in a separate container and slowly add to the flour whilst stirring to prevent lumps forming.  It should be the consistancy of thick pancake batter.  Bring water to boil in a large pot.  Spread some of the batter on a cutting board, and using a long, sharp knife separate the batter and flick it into the pot using a quick motion. This should result in something that is a longish noodle shape. Don’t make them to thick! Allow the noodles to boil until they float to the top and remove with a slotted spoon.  Once all the noddles are cooked, melt butter in a pan over high heat, add the noodles and fry them for 5-10 minutes until golden brown. Add a large handful of freshly chopped parsley and mix well.  Pörkölt is traditionally served with buttered egg noodles.

Creamy chickpea and spinach curry

Autumn is slowly creeping up on us- leafs are starting to change colour and there is a bite in the air.  It is the perfect time to harvest the last of my spinach, pinch back the coriander and dig out the curry recipes.  This is a fragrant, wholesome vegetarian curry with chickpeas as the star of the dish.  Of course it is also a highly adaptable recipe and can be made more or less spicy to taste. You can also skip the yoghurt and still have a very delicious result.

I use double greek yoghurt instead of coconut milk-it contributes towards the same creamy taste but cost much less and is more versatile.  I still add desiccated coconut for that authentic indian curry taste.

This recipe gives four to six large portions. I served it with rice but it will go just as well with rootis or cous cous.

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked for at least 6-8 hours

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely grated

1-2 birds eye chillies, finely chopped (optional)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon turmeric

3-5 pods cardamom, skins removed

1 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoon fresh, chopped coriander

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley

1/4 desiccated coconut

1/2 cup double greek yoghurt (bulgarian or unsweetened plain yoghurt should also work)

small bunch spinach, finely chopped

1 can whole, peeled tomatoes

water

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large casserole or pot.  Add the onion, garlic and chilli and sauté for 5-8 minutes. Add the cardamom, cumin, turmeric and allspice and sauté for another minute or 2. Add the chickpeas, tomato, yoghurt and coconut.  Stir well and allow to simmer over low heat for approximately for 45-60 minutes or until the chickpeas are cooked.  Add the cilantro (coriander) and parsley as well as salt and pepper to taste and stir well. Simmer for another 15 minutes.  It can be served as is, or with rice or cous cous.

 

Delicious and spicy lentil and sweet potato curry

I haven’t been spending a lot of time in the kitchen recently because of a 1000 other things that kept me busy and distracted.  Luckily, life is back to normal now, and I can happily return to blogging, especially with the weather that has gone from fabulous summer to typical rainy Cape Town weather.  Please note, I am not complaining because I have been craving a decent curry for quite a while now!

So, this is what we had for meat-free Monday last night- a creamy, economical curry with just enough bite to heat up and loads of flavour. It really is the spices that makes the dish, and is so easy to make! This recipe is also of course, very low in carbohydrates, has a low G. I., and is more than filling enough to be served without rice or cous cous.  This recipe is enough for 4 large portions.

1 tabelspoon olive oil

1 large brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely crushed or chopped

3-4 chillies, finely chopped and depending on taste

1 tablespoon cumin, grounded

1 tablespoon coriander, grounded

2 tablespoons good quality garam masala

1 tablespoon turmeric

3-5 pods cardamom, finely grounded and skins remove

1/2 teaspoon allspice, grounded

1 tin tomato paste (70 grams)

3-4 cups water, divided

1 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons fresh, chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon fresh, chopped parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over moderate heat. Sauté the onions, garlic and chilli for 5-8 minutes, before adding all the dried spices. Sauté for another minute or 2, then add the lentils.  Add the tomato paste, mix well, then add the 3 cups of water. Turn down the heat, and bring to boil. Once everything boils, add the sweet potato, and allow to simmer for an hour.  If it cooks dry in the meantime, add another bit of water. After simmering for an hour, add freshly chopped cilantro and parsley, and allow to simmer for another 15-30 minutes until most of the fluid has thickened into a thick sauce. Serve as is, or with rice, cous cous or indian naan bread.

 

 

Spaghetti Bolognaise

I often make a bolognaise sauce, which I use in many recipes, including pancakes and lasagne. You can opt for a vegetarian bolognaise sauce and replace the beef mince with lentils, which lends the sauce a more nutty flavour and is also high in protein and low in carbs.  This recipe includes spaghetti, which is of course high in carbs, but I absolutely love pasta and the fresh Mediterranean tastes associated with Italian food.

My bolognaise recipe has been developed over years- it started based on my mom’s recipe, but has grown to include friends’ recipes based on what their mothers or grans used to do.  This is my fail safe recipe and is my boyfriend’s favourite type of food. The trick for me lies in how long I cook the bolognaise sauce (the longer the better!), and the addition of red wine. This is a rich, meaty sauce that is filled with fresh flavours and can be served with pasta or rice, or used for lasagne or cannelloni.

This recipe gives four large portions:

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

400 grams lean beef mince

50 grams diced, smoked bacon

1 carrot, finely grated

1 tin tomato paste (70 grams)

1 can cherry tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 cup wine

3/4 cup water

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon fresh, finely chopped basil

1 tablespoon fresh, chopped parsley

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat a dash of olive oil in a large pot over moderate heat.  Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 5-8 minutes. Add the bacon and brown.  Now add the mince and brown.  Add the tomato paste and carrot and mix well. Add the canned tomato, wine, water and oregano.  Turn down the heat and simmer for approximately 40 minutes to an hour or until most of the fluid has reduced and thickened. Add all of the fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for another 5 minutes and remove from the heat.

Prepare pasta of your choice according to the instructions and serve with the bolognaise sauce and a fresh green salad on the side. The spaghetti bolognaise featured here was also served with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Basil potato gnocchi with roasted exotic tomatoes

I got very excited last week about the Woolworths Exotic tomatoes that I found at my local Woolworths Food.  Not only were they incredibly pretty, but tasty as well.  I used them in my Mixed Tomato, basil and pea garden salad, which was very popular, and decided that they would also be perfect for #meatfreemonday. So, with little further ado, here is my recipe for potato gnocchi with roasted exotic tomatoes.

This recipe gives 3-4 portions:

Potato gnocchi:

3 medium to large potatoes, cooked and skins removed

1 scant cup flour, sifted

1 egg

Salt to taste

Once the potatoes are cooled, mash it very finely but do not use a blender. Add the egg and salt and mix well with a spoon.  Add the flour to the potato mixture and gently mix through (you do not want to over mix in order to keep the gnocchi light and fluffy). Once the flour has been incorporated, remove a handful, and gently role it into a sausage shape on a lightly floured surface.  Cut 1 cm pieces off the potato sausage (they should be shaped like little pillows), and lightly press with a fork.  Once you have made all the gnocchi, bring a pot of water to boil on the stove and add the gnocchi to the boiling water. As soon as the gnocchi floats to the surface, they are ready and can be removed with a slotted spoon and place in a colander in order to drain any excess water.  Set aside.

Roasted tomatoes:

1 green tomato (a specific type of tomato, not an unripe red tomato), cut into wedges

2 pink tomato, cut into wedges and halved

handful vine-ripened tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsuis.  Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a roasting tray.  Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes or until done.  Remove for the oven and set aside.

Dish assembly:

2 tablespoons fresh, finely chopped basil

1 tablespoon olive oil

cooked gnocchi

roasted tomatoes

Heat a dash of olive oil in a pan.  Add the gnocchi, and fry for 3-5 minutes. Add the basil and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Remove form the heat, and add the tomatoes. Toss lightly and serve. I served my gnocchi with freshly grated parmesan.

Mixed tomato, basil and pea garden salad

O, Woolworths, how I love thee! I went to Woolworths Food this past weekend in search of something (I can’t even remember what!) when I discovered boxes and boxes of the most beautiful, mixed tomatoes.  I love tomatoes-they form the base of most salads and sauces and are so versatile that they can be served up from anything like a sweet jam to a savoury sauce or tart.

You can thus imagine my joy at purchasing a box of vine-ripened tomatoes, tiger-stripe tomatoes and yellow, green and pink tomatoes, each perfectly shaped and flawless. I immediately decided to continue celebrating summer with a tomato, basil and pea salad, with fresh mixed lettuce and basil from my garden. The end result was delicious- the sweetness of the tomato was complimented very well with the fresh basil (one of my favourite combinations) and off set by the acidity of the balsamic vinegar.

This recipe gives 3-4 large portions:

1 cup frozen peas, blanched and cooled

a large bunch of lettuce such as Boston, Romaine, Green and Red leaf lettuce

1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced and halved

1 cup, quartered or halved Tiger stripe and vine ripened tomatoes, tossed in salt and allowed to rest for 15 minutes

5-6 leafs fresh basil, finely chopped

3-4 sprigs chives, finely chopped

Parmesan shavings for garnish

Basil vinaigrette:

50 ml extra virgin olive oil

50 ml good quality balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons, fresh, finely chopped basil

Arrange the lettuce in a large bowl and add the peas and cucumber.  Poor off any water that formed after tossing the tomatoes with salt, and add to the lettuce. Add the chives and basil, and toss lightly.  Add the parmesan shavings and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Cumin lentils and honey pumpkin salad

At the last moment last night, we decided to braai.  There wasn’t a lot in the fridge or cupboard to make up a side dish (it being almost the end of the month).  That, for me, is the perfect challenge and a great opportunity to be creative. I mentioned in a previous post that I have a lot of frozen Hubbard squash in my freezer (one Hubbard and two people means at least 4X 500 grams frozen portions of squash that takes a while to work through).  Some lentils, and beautiful baby Swiss chard from my garden plus a basil vinaigrette as well as the squash does make the salad!

A perfect companion to grilled mustard pepper steak, or as a meal on its own. This salad really stole the show and can easily serve four.

3/4 cup brown lentils, cooked

1 tablespoon roughly grounded cumin

1 tablespoon roughly ground coriander

2 tablespoons olive oil

350-400 grams cubed cooked squash

2 tablespoons heated, runny honey

8-10 leafs baby spinach/ Swiss chard

Parmesan slivers and chives for garnish

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place the cooked, cubed squash in a greased baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and honey.  Flavour with salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Remove for the oven, and allow to cool.

In the meantime, heat a dash of oil over moderate heat.  Add the cumin and coriander and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils and fry for another 5-8 minutes. Remove from the stove, and allow to cool.

Basil vinaigrette:

50 ml olive

50 ml balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

5 ml white wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons fresh, chopped basil

Mix all the ingredients together, and whisk well.

Assembly of the salad:

Rinse the baby spinach/chard and place in a salad bowl. Add the cooled pumpkin and lentils and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Toss lightly and serve immediately.