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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Lamb Loin Chops ala Angie

In the last week we have enjoyed incredible South African Lamb. It has to be some of the most flavorsome and meltingly tender lamb available in the world! I think the only comparable lamb is found in countries like Greece and Turkey where the animals get to graze a lot of natural and aromatic herbs like wild sage.
My wife Angie, cooked such a simple, delicious meal of lamb chops last night, that I am inspired to record it here, as well as the barbecued version I did over the last weekend.

photo credits thanks to and
All she did was place them in the oven, close under the grill for 30 minutes. I detected a dash of freshly ground black pepper. She served it with Mashed Butternut squash and fried potato cubes and it was really awesome. It humbled me a little because it reminded me that sometimes we tend to "overwork" our herbs and flavors.
With the same batch of Lamb Loin Chops, I put together a barbecue, or braai as we call it here in Southern Africa.
Mt lamb chops were sprinkled with chopped rosemary, freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar. This was then braaied over medium coals (strictly no flame) for about 10 minutes each side. They were INCREDIBLE! We ate them by the fireside with freshly roasted sweetcorn. Just that.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Mussels. Quick and very delicious!

Back to South African seafood..
Mussels in South Africa are still very cheap and easily found. They are frozen but that is fine. They are also farmed extensively and to be quite honest, the farmed mussels are far nicer than freshly collected in my opinion. Maybe its just because there is no grit, no beardy bits and no sore hands!! Just a tip for collected mussels. Put them in a netting bag overnight in a rock pool. They will purge any sand. Dont even try and pull off the beardy bits like all the cook books tell you...snip them off with kitchen scissors. To open and remove the half shell, just dump the mussels into a large pot of boiling water for a minute, then drain them. Use a small sharp knife and sever the muscle on the inside of one shell half and break off that same shell half. But like I said. Rather buy frozen prepared half shell mussels!


For a good large snack or light meal for 4 people, use one and a half kilo of half shell mussels.
4 segments of finely chopped garlic
if you can get, fresh dill finely chopped
bread crumbs
cayenne pepper
250ml butter melted. You can also use a light olive oil which gives a whole different flavor slant. I often use half and half as I find butter a bit rich for me personally.

Melt the butter and add the garlic, black pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper. DONT cook the garlic. You need pure flavor here.
Lay all the shells out on a baking tray and spoon the melted butter and garlic into each shell. Sprinkle with the chopped dill and a pinch of breadcrumbs which helps capture the juices. Grill until the mussels just start to shrink and serve immediately in the pan with fingers of fresh bread to mop up the juices! There will be No complaints I promise you!

Peri Peri Parcels

Well on the weekend I tried a slight variation on two of my recipes. Peri Peri Chicken and sticky pork ribs.
This makes them super succulent. As usual, slow cooking is the key.
Ingredients are not critical, but try my peri peri chicken recipe.
On two different days I wrapped pork rashers in foil and chicken legs and thighs in foil. The herbs and spices were as always, fresh grated ginger, chopped chillis and chopped garlic. You will see a sprinkling of fresh chopped basil on the pork rashers. It was an interesting flavor, but I am going to try it with Cilantro next time.The pork rashers were covered and tightly sealed with foil. The peri peri chicken, I wrapped completely in foil. Cooking time was about one and a half to two hours at 180 C. Then 20 minutes unwrapped under the grill to brown.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012


Found on the West Coast as well as the East coast (different species) Rock Lobster or Crayfish are widely eaten. They are very similar to Lobsters and so are easily substituted if you are not from Africa.

It is best as always to use fresh or live Lobster. If live, merely drop them into a container of fresh water for 10 minutes. Painless, stress free for both Lobster and Cook! No stabbing in the right spot with knives etc!

If you are convinced of their freshness, frozen raw crayfish is also fine.
For the size commonly sold in Southern Africa (400g or about three quarter of a lb) you will need to drop them into briskly boiling water for 7 minutes. Put a cup of brown sugar into the does all sorts of good things to the flavour! Remove and plunge into cold water and allow to drain on draining board. lightly larger Fish cook for 10 minutes. These are blanched semi cooked fish.

From here you need to twist off the tail from the abdomen firmly and draw it apart. Break off the claws and feelers and crack open the abdomen and rinse under flowing water. (all this if you have the patience to pick out the meat which I don't) Use kitchen shears and slip it under the carapace where it is broken from the body. Snip along the belly to the tail. Pull the shell away and reserve it for garnish.

Photo credit Andrew

There are now a few ways of continuing. Check out this method by Chef Hansen who is an extremely promising South African Chef  here: Curried crayfish is a popular dish in Southern Africa, but it is more commonly eaten very simply with butter lemon and a touch of garlic.
Here is a variation that is delicious:

4 prepared blanched tails (one per person.)
Whole lemon zest grated and juice reserved.
One heaped teaspoon chopped garlic. (never overpower the delicate flavor of the fish)
A heaped tablespoon finely chopped dill.
A good chunk of butter or olive oil if you prefer.
Black pepper.
Half wine glass good brandy.

Split the individual tails into two "C" shapes and remove the vein.

Heat a large pan or cast iron griddle and heat the butter until starting to color. Throw in the garlic. Then work quickly and Immediately add all the tails if they fit. Cook for about a minute and turn the tail halves over. Throw in the dill and lemon zest and a good twist of fresh black pepper. Squeeze your two lemon halves over the tails and add the half glass of brandy. Light it and keep tilting the pan until the flame goes out. Another minute and remove from the pan. Serve immediately if possible either on rice with the pan juices or with french fries(my personal favorite!) It is also nice to snip the shells into similar shaped halves and serve the tails in the shells.