Category Archives: Dinner

Lighter French Cassoulet

Cassoulet, the name of the earthenware dish in which it is served, is an aromatic, hearty bean and meat stew with some aromatic herbs and spices, the flavor is subtle and delicate, and really comforting.
The key to a perfect cassoulet is the slow cooking process that tenderizes the meat and the beans and infuses the stew with its rich flavor. Your house will be filled with an incredible aroma that will get anyones stomach rumbling as soon as they walk thru the door.
There are many varieties of Cassoulet depending on your meat choices. My personal preference is smoked sausage, bacon, pork and chicken. You could go for Duck confit, but I find it too heavy so I have opted for the chicken instead.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

• 2 fresh small ham hocks
• 5 oz. diced smoked Bacon
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1 pounds dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight
• 2 small carrots, thinly sliced
• 1 medium onions, diced
• 1 celery stalk, sliced
• 2 Bay leaves
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
• 1 head of garlic, unpeeled, plus 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
• 1 glass of dry white wine
• 1 can chopped tomatoes
• 1/4 tsp. All spice
• 1 quart / 1 liter, chicken broth
• 4 parsley sprigs, 2 thyme sprigs and 2 bay leaf
• 4 chicken legs
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 4 pork sausages, your favourite kind
• 1 smoked kielbasa or other smoked sausage, or 2 small ones

METHOD:

• In a bowl, cover the beans with 3 inches of water and soak overnight.
• Add the bacon and ham hocks to a very large frying pan or pot and brown them all over.
• Remove and set aside.
• Add the carrots, onions and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden, about 7 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and bay leaves.
• Add the all spice.
• Add the glass of wine.
• Add the head of garlic and the tomatoes and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the broth and the herbs and bring to a boil.
• Add the beans to the pan and simmer until the beans are just tender, about 2 hours.
• Pick out the ham hocks. Cut the meats into bite-size pieces; discard the bones, skin and gristle. Pick out the head of garlic and reserve.
• Put the meat back in with the beans.
• Transfer the beans and liquid to a casserole dish
• Preheat the oven to 180 ° C / 350° F
• Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet.
• Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper.
• Add the sausages and chicken legs to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over.
• Nestle the sausages, the chicken and the kielbasa into the cassoulet.
• Put the garlic bulb in the middle.
• Bake the cassoulet for 1 hour longer, until it is richly browned on the surface. Transfer to a rack and let rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.
• Serve with plenty of crusty french bread.

Enjoy!

The best Garlicky Herbs and Cheese Fries

We had these garlicky herbs and cheese fries for the first in New York last year and loved them so much that I knew I had to make them at home. 
It’s no rocket science really, just oven fries, with good seasoning and good melting cheese on top, but so good!

For the best crispy home made fries you need to parboil the potato chips first, I know it seems like a lot of trouble but it is totally worth it.

Serves: 4 as a side

INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut
2 tbsp. Olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. oregano, dried
1/2 tsp. rosemary, dried
1/4 cup Parmesan grated
1/4 cup strong cheese like cheddar or mature gouda
1/3 cup mozzarella grated.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Peel and cut your potatoes into fries, and rinse.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil,  add a good amount of salt.
Once its boiling, add the potato chips,  bring to a boil and cook for two minutes.
Drain well, and place potato chips on a tea towel to dry completely.
Meanwhile pre heat oven to 210 C,
Get a large baking tray out and place the potato chips on it, drizzle with the olive oil and toss to cover each fry. Season with salt.
Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, turn the fries over so the brown evenly and bake for another 20 minutes. Meanwhile mix the grated cheeses with the herbs. Quickly remove the tray from the oven, push the fries a bit to the middle of the tray with a wooden spoon and sprinkle with the herbs and cheese mix. Bake for 20 more minutes until melted and golden.
Eat straight away,  these are great with some Aïoli. Enjoy!

Super simple Pastry Dough

Super simple Pastry Dough!


And when I say simple, I mean really simple and pretty much fool proof and no fail. This flaky pastry dough keeps amazing in the fridge for a few days and also in the freezer for about a month. We always have some in the freezer.
Sometimes I prepare various tins filled with dough, pop them in the freezer so I can make a pie or mini tarts at a moments notice.
What I love about this recipe is that you can use it for both sweet or savoury pies.
The most important thing with pastry is that it has to be, and stay as cold as possible at all times until it goes into the oven. When using ice water use as little as possible, a high fat content is essential in the butter you use, 80% preferably. Cut the butter in small cubes and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes while you set up your food processor and get everything ready.
After that it’s five minutes work and your done.


INGREDIENTS:

– 200 gr / 7 oz. cold butter
– 300 gr / 10 1/2 oz all purpose flour
– a pinch of salt
– about two tablespoon of ice cold water (maybe three)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Fill a glas with ice cubes and add water.
2. Cut your butter into small cubes, place them in a bowl a place this in the freezer while you get out your flour and food processor.
Measure the flour and place in the bowl of the food processor. Add all the butter, divided evenly over the flour. You want to process as little as possible and as quickly as possible.
Add the pinch of salt.
Pulse the food processor a few times until the mixture resembles sand, add the ice water one tablespoon at a time. Pulse again. To test, grab some pastry between your fingers and press together, as soon as it holds , it’s ready. Tip out on to a work surface and shape into a ball. Wrap in cling film and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before shaping.
When ready to use, roll out the pastry to desired shape, place in tin that has been oiled slightly, pierce the pastry with a fork and place a piece of parchment paper on top. Add some baking beans. Return to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes to cool completely before baking.
Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment paper and baking beans and bake for for 5 more minutes.
Now they are ready to be filled with your favourite filling, sweet or savoury.
Enjoy!

Freezer Pizza Bases

These Freezer pizza bases are so handy to have on hand, home made  pizza ready in just a few minutes, isn’t that what we all want? Just take a crust out of the freezer, heat your oven, top, and bake.

Supermarkets sell ready made crusts, but they always have the cardboard feel and taste to them so I figured if they can make them,  so can I.  Healthier,  better and cheaper. I’ve only used a small amount of yeast since this makes the Pizza’s taste better and improves the texture, also the longer rise makes a much better crust. I like to make the dough in the morning, then I let it rise until double in bulk, then I punch it down and put the dough in the fridge until ready to bake in the evening. You could make the dough in the evening and leave it to rise slowly overnight in the refrigerator, whichever suits your schedule better.

Makes 4 large/6 medium pizzas

INGREDIENTS:

1000 gr./ 6 2/3 C.  (type 00) flour
600 ml./ 2.5 C. luke warm water
15 ml./1 tbsp. honey
30 ml./2 tbsp olive oil
7 gr./2 tsp. instant yeast
20 gr./3 tsp.  salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add your warm water and stir in the honey, then sprinkle the yeast in and stir. Let sit for about five minutes until bubbly and active.
Add flour, olive oil and salt and knead for about 5 min. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about an hour or  until double in bulk.
Punch the dough down and shape into a ball and cover again, place in the refrigerator for at least five hours or until ready to use. 

Remove from the refrigerator an hour before using so the dough can come to room temperature. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times. Divide into 4 or 6 balls.

Pre heat oven to 220 C/430 F.

Cut 4 or 6 peaces of parchment paper large enough for each pizza.
Roll out each ball of dough on a piece of parchment paper that you have covered with some flour or semolina.
Spread with tomato sauce and bake each base for about 5 minutes or until just firm.
Remove from oven and let cool on a rack before freezing (I freeze them with the parchment paper as extra protection). 

Once they are completely frozen,  place them in a zip lock bag or wrap them in cling film. Keep in the freezer until ready to use. They will keep for at least a month.
When ready to use, remove from freezer and top with your favorite ingredients,  bake at 220 C/430 F for 12 to 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Greek Steak Souvlaki with Feta and Cucumber Pomegranate salsa

Now that summer is here I can’t wait to get the Bbq on, and these Steak Souvlaki skewers are perfect for grilling. Tender pieces of Beef are marinated for a few hours with Greek herbs and spices. The marinade is so amazing that you can use it on any kind of meat. The red wine vinegar is a key ingredient as it tenderizes the meat and gives the dish that typical Greek flavour.  
The smell when the beef is grilling is insane – you can really smell the oregano and it’s almost as if your in a Greek Tavern, (with a bit of imagination and perhaps a glass of Retsina in your hand).   If you ever go to Greece make sure to bring back some Oregano, they sell it dried in bushes and it’s the best you’ll ever find.

Serves: 4 – 6

INGREDIENTS:

• 2 lb / 1 kg beef (steak), thinly sliced
Marinade
• 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and grated
• 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
• 1 tsp. smoked paprika
• 1½ tbsp dried oregano
• a pinch of cinnamon
• a pinch of ground cloves
• a pinch of dry mint
• 1/2 tsp dry chili flakes
• salt and pepper


Cucumber Pomegranate Salsa:
• 1 large beef tomato, de-seeded and diced
• 1 cucumber, peeled, de=seeded and diced
• 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
• 1/2 red spanish onion, peeled and finely chopped
• a pinch of sugar
• salt and pepper
• a drizzle of olive oil
• a little squeeze of lemon juice
• 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
• 1/2 tsp.dry mint
• 1/2 tsp. dry oregano


To serve:
• 4 – 6 Pitas or baguette
• extra lettuce
• more Feta to crumble on top

INSTRUCTIONS:


1. Place the Marinade ingredients and the beef in a ziplock bag and massage to mix. Marinate for at least 2 hours or up to 6. Remove from marinade and skewer on to wooden or metal pins alternating with pepper and onion pieces.
Salsa
1. Combine ingredients in a bowl.
Cook Beef
1. Heat a griddle pan over high heat.
2. Cook the skewers on high for a few minutes until crispy and brown then turn them over and cook for an other two minutes.
3. Remove and serve straight away. Serve with lots of Pita or Baguette

Enjoy!


Mediterranean Roast Lamb with Mint Chimichurri

Mediterranean Roast Lamb with Mint Chimichurri, what’s not to love?

This recipe is simple, fuss-free and turns out perfect every time, lamb is very forgiving since it’s quit a fatty cut of meat so it will not dry out easily. However I do put a small baking dish at the bottom of the oven filled with water to humidify the oven.
If you can, buy a piece of lamb with the bone still in, and although carving without the bone may be easier, the bone adds a lot of flavour to the meat during cooking.
Also it adds so much flavour to the potatoes and onions on the bottom, they are basically being cooked in all the lamb juices and drippings.

Personal I prefer the lamb medium done with a hint of pink. But you may cook it longer if you prefer.
________________________________________
Serves : 4-6
Total cooking time : ca. 2 hours
Roasting Temperature: First 20 minutes 200° C / 395° F.
Remaining time : 160° C / 320° F
________________________________________

General cooking times:
Rare: about 15 minutes per pound
Medium-Rare: about 20 minutes per pound
Medium: about 25 minutes per pound
Well-Done: about 30 minutes per pound
These times are only guidelines. It is best to check with a thermometer since not all cuts cook the same.

INGREDIENTS:


• 1 (4 pound) bone-in leg of lamb
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 large cloves garlic, minced or grated
• 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
• 2 tsp. chopped fine fresh rosemary
• 1 tsp. thyme leafs
• 1 tsp. mustard
• 1 glass of dry white wine
• 1/2 cup of stock
• 3 medium onions peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch / 1/2 cm.
• 5 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced in 1/2 inch / 1 cm
• 1 x Chimichurri sauce recipe

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

Take the leg of lamb out of the refrigerator about an hour before cooking to let it get to room temperature.
Pre heat the oven to 200° C / 395° F.
Remove any excess skin from the leg of lamb and discard. Pat dry with kitchen paper.
Cut incisions with a sharp knife all over the leg of lamb, just a few times to make cooking more even and so the herbs and flavouring can penetrate into the lamb.
Season the lamb liberally with salt and pepper all over.
In a small bowl mix the olive oil, mustard, chopped herbs and grated garlic.
Rub the lamb with the olive oil and herb mixture.
Cover your baking tray with parchment paper and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Prepare your onions and potatoes.
Place the slices of onion on the bottom and then top with the potato slices.
Place the lamb on top. Pour the remaining herb and olive oil mix over the potatoes.
Add the wine and stock and place the lamb in the middle of the oven.
Roast for 20 minutes then lower the heat to 160° C / 320° F and cook for another 100 minutes (1 hr and 40 min) .
If the lamb gets to dark cover loosely with foil. Make sure to baste the lamb with the juices every 30 minutes.
Uncover the lamb for the last 15 to 20 minutes for a crispy outside, if you used foil.
Depending on how you like your lamb done; Continue cooking the lamb until it has reaches your desired internal temperature, (if using a thermometer) , checking the temperature every 20 minutes. The other way to test is by pulling/cutting off a piece of meat.
Let the lamb rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.
To carve the lamb. Place the lamb on a cutting board. Turn it so the bone is parallel to the cutting board.
Cut the lamb off the bone by slicing with your knife parallel to the bone. Serve with the potatoes and onions.
Serve the Mint Chimichurri sauce along side.

Enjoy!

Myra XO