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Monday, 24 December 2012

Garlic and Rosemary stuffed Leg of Lamb

A recent comment on my last blog by Minasek inspired me to try something with Lamb! Thanks for the nudge!

This is not really a new idea, but for those who maybe struggle to get a tender well cooked Lamb roast, this recipe works really well. It can also be a complete meal in one Baking dish. I added Butternut, mushrooms, baby potatoes, Beetroot and aubergine for the last hour and a half. Total cooking time was two and a half hours at 190C/370F
Wash and pat Dry your Leg of Lamb and using a Chefs Knife or a broud blade knife make inscisions all over the top side of the roast. Push the tip of the knife straight down until it reaches the cutting board. Then fill each incision with fresh garlic and Rosemary. I had to use dried Rosemary this weekend because I had no fresh. It worked out fine. You could also use fresh thyme instead of Rosemary. Thyme goes really well with Lamb. Dont ever mix such dominant flavors though..Sprinkle and press fresh ground black pepper and more rosemary over the leg and put it into a large roasting pan.
Then stuff with garlic and Herbs.....
Into the oven for two and a half hours. If it looks like it is burning a bit during the cooking then cover the top of the meat only with a little silver foil. Ovens vary. Add the roast vegetables for the last hour and a half.
Then using the pan juices make your gravy. I skimmed off most of the fat and added a glass of white Chardonnay and thickened it with a little flour paste. Season carefully and don't be afraid to add a dash of Balsamic vinegar or a teaspoon of brown sugar or jam to get a nice tang. I did!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Spinach, Mushroom and Herb stuffed Beef

Here is a very elegant meal that can be made for a special occasion. It is something a bit beyond the normal Sunday Roast and you will definitely get lots of "Wows" because it is looks good, is meltingly tender and tastes incredible!

Buy the very best Beef you can afford. For this recipe I recommend a large whole rump. I made the pictured rolled roast with a 4kg prime rump. Always buy meat with white fat and plenty of it. It will melt off during roasting and you can trim any off that you don't want.

You will need:
3 to 4 kg whole rump
250 grammes sliced button mushrooms. (slice to keep the mushroom profile)
250 grammes chopped bacon
2 cups cooked and drained chopped swiss chard or spinach.
150ml cream
cup of chopped leeks or onion. (Leeks make for something a little interesting)
about 20 pieces of garlic chopped.
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Fresh thyme or dried.
Two teaspoons ground black pepper.
Some cotton string

Start by cutting the roast into a long flat slab. I do that by cutting ALONG the grain, NOT across it. Cut down about an inch and then keep cutting to make a unrolled roast. The best way I can describe this is to thing of a swiss roll cake.
You are going to put the spinach/bacon stuffing in instead of Jam!

Start by frying the bacon,leeks and mushrooms together. Add the spinach and cream and reduce it until there is almost no liquid.  Be careful not to burn it. Use a thick bottom pan or pot and very low heat and be patient. You can also add a little flour paste to thicken, but be careful not to mush up the texture.

Finally un-roll your Beef Rump on a flat surface. Spread the filling over it evenly. sprinkle a little dried thyme and a few sprigs of Rosemary on. Sprinkle the raw garlic on. Add any other seasoning that you like at this time like the black pepper. I always avoid putting salt in during any cooking because it tends to draw out juices. Keep the filling a little back from the end of the roll otherwise it squishes out when you roll and tie it.

Roll the rump back up and secure it with 3 or 4 cotton strings.

Place it in a large roasting dish, fat uppermost, and roast it for 3 hours at 200C (390F)  Baste with the juices every 30 minutes. If it looks like it is drying out (depends on the grade of beef) cover just the top of the meat with a square of foil. In the last hour add your roast veg. I used peeled and quartered Beetroot, large whole carrots and butternut.
Finally make your gravy out of the pan juices a cup of semi sweet wine (add a little sugar or syrup if using a dry wine) and cornflour. Season and taste your is a key to a perfect roast!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Tiger Fish!

I have to digress slightly here! I have been on 10 days leave and spent some of the time exploring the beautiful Chobe game reserve as well as fishing. The fishing has not been good. I have literally caught two in the entire 10 days. HOWEVER....The one I caught was this..

Nearly eight kilograms of Tiger Fish. Well because I fish strictly for food I am going to have an interesting time finding ways of preparing and cooking this. I will give at least half of it away to some Zimbabwean friends who love fish.

I will blog as I turn this fish into delicious meals. In the mean time, like all other base lying fishermen I have to tell you the story of catching this particular fish! As I am not a sport fisherman, I do not have an accurate scale, but this fish weighs 7kg on our new bathroom scale. I think it is closer to 8kg. As Tiger Fish go in our region, that is way above average for fish caught here. A good fish is often 3 maybe 4kg. A fish this size is not particulary the best meat. However I was compelled to kill it due to a bite it sustained from a crocodile whilst I was landing it. No jokes and this is not a fishermans tale! Here goes...
I was spinning using a spoon I designed and made myself. Here it is..

After a fairly classic smashing strike the fish ran off about 120 meters of line. I was using 8kg braided line. A very dodgy line I have had some breakages with so I was playing the fish very carefully. I had a few airborne leaps, but tried to avoid them by giving a bit of slack when I saw the line angling towards the surface. After 35 minutes the fish was close by. The water shallowed and there were a lot of rocks I had to steer the fish through. The fish was splashing around a lot and it must have attracted some crocodiles.All of a sudden there was a crashing of spray and a huge croc lunged at the fish and grabbed it just behind the gills. I screamed and waved my hands and fortunately the croc was as surprised as I was and dropped the fish and plunged back. At this point I noticed 3 other crocs, all around 10 or 12 foot on the surface surrounding the action. Here is one my daughter photographed last week the same size.

The big one I had just driven off didn't go far but circled and began coming in again. Well all this was happening in seconds! Adrenaline was rushing, my heart was pumping! Holding the rod with one hand I managed to pick up rocks and hurl them at the crocs until they submerged. Not sure if that was a good idea because I didn't know where they were now. To cut a long story short I managed to tussle the fish over the rocks to a fairly rocky place in the water where I hoped I was protected from the crocs. I managed to get hold of the steel trace and towed the fish onto the bank where I dispatched it. Fortunately the bite from the croc did not damage much meat. I had to carry that fish nearly a kilometer to reach the car on shaking legs.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Pork and Beef Shish Kebabs

Over the last couple of months I have prepared and perfected a kebab recipe to my liking.  Shish kebab  is the Armenian word for "skewer," It is a dish consisting of meat threaded on a skewer and grilled. Any kind of meat may be used; cubes of fruit or vegetables are often threaded on the spit as well. Typical vegetables include tomato, bell pepper, onions, and mushrooms.
In Southern Africa they are often made using pork, beef, lamb and chicken. Onion slices, bell pepper, pineapple and mushrooms are often added to the skewer. I love a mixture of vegetables and meat with something sweet also added. On different occasions have used plum slices, peach slices and pineapple.
 Photo courtesy Jenn whos photo was better than mine and whose excellent recipe is here
I always cook Shish Kebabs over wood coals, but of course it can be done over charcoal, gas or in the oven. Try and just "catch" the caramel sauce so that you get a very slight charring.

The marinade is quite important and there are many variations. Here is a recipe which works really well and I recently prepared for my family visiting from New Zealand and Zimbabwe.

Serves 6 with plenty of left-overs


1kg pork fillet, leg chops, shoulder or whatever cut is cheap. I used leg chops. Cut into matchbox size chunks.
1 kg of beef rump steak. You can also use ribeye or fillet. Cut into matchbox size chunks.
3 onions cut in half lengthways and separated into flakes. Then spend a bit of time trimming the flakes to roughly round shapes, sort of matchbox size.
1 large bell pepper also cut to round matchbox sizes
20 button mushrooms, stalks removed or trimmed flush
(by the way, keep all the above trimmings in the fridge for a soup, stew or similar dish)
Pineapple slices cut into suitable matchbox size rounds. I use fresh pineapple if available.Try peach halves if you can get them, either canned or fresh.

marinade ingredients

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato puree concentrate.
half cup good red wine. Cabernet or Pinotage or a Claret
half cup brown sugar or preferably honey.
about 2 tablespoons grated fresh garlic
about 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3 chillies chopped finely
Pinch of ground cloves.
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary.
2 teaspoons salt.


Mix the marinade ingredients well making sure all the sugar is dissolved. Put the meat cubes into the marinade and then toss them every hour or so for a whole day. (Start this in the morning if you are going to barbeque in the evening)

Starting with meat alternately skewer pork, pineapple,beef,onion,mushroom,pork, pepper etc. Obviously this order is entirely to your taste, but as a general guide, pork is best next to the sweet pineapple or other fruit and beef next to savoury onion or pepper.
I then pile all the shish kebabs up on a dish and pour the marinade over them a few times.

Put the marinade into a small sauce pan and add a quarter cup of good olive oil. (this will prevent the meat drying out during cooking) make a roux of one heaped teaspoon of flour mixed with a little water and add stir it into the sauce. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly and reduce to a thick sauce. This what you baste onto the shish kebabs whils cooking. If you dont have a basting brush, GET ONE! It is invaluable for so many types of cooking. After trying many I have found a 2 inch pure bristle paint brush works best.

Next. Get cooking and basting. Turn the skewers once or twice and try and end up slightly  burning some tips and edges of the meat for flavour.
 I served these with sweetcorn boiled, and tumbled in butter, cracked black pepper and a teaspoon of lemon zest.

photo credit emily of food porn

Monday, 6 August 2012

Lambassa's Cameroon Chicken

This is really a great looking and a genuine African recipe. It come from a little further North than strictly Southern Africa, but it is so similar to many of our ethnic chicken dishes that I thought I would include it. Visit her blog at lambassaa It is in French but is easy to follow. If you prefer, use Google translate which is found here
She has beautiful step by step photos of the preparation. Give it a go! try a little taste of real Africa!
Here is her finished dish.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Pork Hock Ragoût with Cabbage

This is a favorite cut of pork for me. It is also one of the cheapest and tastiest pork cuts. The bone and gristle and skin break down during slow cooking to make a rich succulent broth. I call it a  Ragoût because I had some Fench  influence when I was researching it. It also meets my "Health Food" requirements because the Skin and fat is skimmed off before serving, leaving very little fat.
Here you see it half way through cooking...
And here it is for the final 30 minute after removing the fat and adding the cabbage and baby peas...

1 large pork hock or 2 or three pigs trotters (with hoofy bits removed please!)
1 large carrot peeled and cut into rounds.
2 medium onions chopped coarsely
1 cup fresh or frozen baby peas.
3 cups chopped cabbage.
6 or 7 fresh green curry leaves. (this is a bit of a secret ingredient for a unique flavour and is rather special, however 7 or 8 bay leaves can be used instead)
5 garlic segments chopped
1 heaped tablespoon fresh grated ginger.
1 chopped green chilly. I would use 3 but my wife does not like spicy food.
1 glass sweet or semi sweet wine.

It very simple really and is a dish that can be left to "Get On With Itself"
Cook the onions in a little oil until lightly browned. Add the Hock, the carrots, and cover with water and the glass of sweet wine. Sprinkle the herbs and garlic on top and arrange the curry leaves so that they are easy to remove during cooking. Now bring to simmer for 3 hours. Let the liquid reduce as much as possible without burning the meat. Half way through remove the curry leaves or leave in longer according to taste. Halfway though is about right though. Let it cool slightly and then break up all the meat. Remove the bones and skin and any floating fat. Leave a few globules floating though because a lot of the aromatic oils found in the herbs are trapped in the fat. Add the chopped cabbage and baby peas and bring back to simmer for a further 30 to 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Carefully turn the vegetables into the meat broth during this final cooking. Season to taste and serve.
I served this last week as a savory relish with Firm Polenta. We call it Sadza or Nshima in our region.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Lasagna a la Roger

I am happy to say that all three of my boys have followed my love of cuisine and producing special meals. Roger is a talented Wild Life Artist and his artistic streak has affected his cooking too! Visit his blog , Roger Brown Art of The Wild. It is in my links on the right hand side of this page.
There are many cultural influences that have caused the slow evolution of uniquely Southern African food, and Italian is one of them. There are many Italians in Southern Africa. However in the early years many of the real Italian ingredients were not always found very easily. Things like Roma tomatoes, the proper pungent purple garlic, fresh pesto ingredients and even the right flour to make Pasta.
South African cooks improvised. Here is Rogers version of Lasagna. His addition of pork sausage meat makes this particularly tasty. He has used easily available dried herbs and canned tomatoes.

Meat sauce
500 g lean beef mince
500g pork sausages
800g tin chopped tomatoes
2 onions
Heaped tespoon dried Origanum (half cup chopped fresh if available)
Sweet basil (half cup chopped fresh if available)
3 cloves garlic
Salt black
250g Lasagne sheets
White sauce
1 litre milk
2 large table spoons butter
2 table spoons cake flour
Black pepper heaped teaspoon.
Half cup grated mozarella and cheddar mixed.

Start off frying the onions in a little olive oil
Add chopped up pork sausages and then the mince ,brown them well.

Add garlic, origanum and sweet basil and the salt and a tablespoon of sugar
Once all brown  add the tinned tomatoes, tomatoe paste and tomatoe sauce
Let it simmer for about 30 min or more.

While that is simmering make the white sauce..
I do this by making a roux. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter on low heat ,then add 2 table spoons cake flour. Add the milk very slowly, adding more only when all lumps have been mixed out. Keep stirring continuously until thick then add salt and pepper and the grated cheese.

Put 3 cm layer of meat sauce in the bottom of a large rectangular baking dish. Then layer the lasagne sheets (Soak them in warm water for 5 min beforehand to soften)
Next layer white sauce then meat sauce then sheets and continue as many times possible. I normally get two layers of each. Finish layer should be white sauce with cheese on top. Grind fresh parmesan cheese over the top if you can get it. Bake in oven for 30 min or until top is well browned at 250C (480F)