Thursday, 24 March 2011

Hearty Chorizo and Chickpea Stew


1/4 cup olive oil
250g chorizo cut into large pieces
1 large onion chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 tsp paprika
3 tins chickpeas - drained and rinsed
1 x 420g tin chopped tomatoes
A few basil leaves - torn into pieces
1 L stock (can be anything - veggie, chicken or beef)
Salt and Pepper
4 cups shredded spinach or kale


Heat oil and fry the chorizo.
Add the onions, garlic and paprika and fry for a few minutes.
Add the chickpeas and stir making sure the chickpeas are coated with the oil.
Add everything else except the spinach.
Bring to the boil the reduce heat and let the stew simmer for 30 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Add the spinach and cover the pot for a few minutes so that the spinach can wilt. Stir through the stew.

Serves 6

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Easy Crusty Bread

I made this bread yesterday and thought we'd eat it with the pot roast I made and of course take pictures.  Uhm - didn't get that far.  Both loaves were plundered before the food was cooked. Needless to say I had to bake again this morning to get this pic. This recipe is dead easy but takes patience to let the dough rise properly. The 1st rise is 1 1/2 hours but the second rise is only about 20 minutes. Don't rush it.


4 cups flour (I used bread flour but have also used cake flour) plus extra for kneading.
1 Tbsp instant dry yeast
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp oil
2 1/2 cups warm water


Preheat oven to 240C
In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix through.
Mix the water and oil together and add to the dry ingredients while mixing with a wooden spoon.  You want a soft pliable dough so add more water if required. (a good rule of thumb is when you're adding the water and mixing with a wooden spoon, the dough is soft enough when it starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl and forming a ball)
Place the dough on a floured surface and knead the dough with the heel of your hand until the dough is smooth and elastic (don't go mad and over-knead it). Form into a ball.

Place the ball into an oiled bowl and roll the dough over until it's covered with the oil.
Put a dish cloth over the bowl and leave the dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours.
Gently punch down and remove dough from the bowl.
Cut into 2 equal pieces.  Shape into loaves.  (any shape you like - short and fat or long and thin).
Place on a greased baking tray.
Cover with a dish cloth and leave to rise for another 20 minutes.
Cut slashes into the top of the dough with a sharp knife.
Spray or sprinkle water on the loaves. (this will cause the bread to be crusty)
Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 200C and bake for another 10 minutes. (At this point I throw a cup of water into the bottom of my oven).
Remove and cool on a rack.

Makes 2 loaves.

Lamb Shanks


4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic - crushed and finely chopped
6 lamb shanks
1 bottle dry white wine

4 tablespoons of olive oil

3 large onions - chopped
3 cloves of minced garlic 

4 large carrots - chopped
3 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves only)

1 liter beef stock
Salt and Pepper to taste.


Mix the wine, garlic, rosemary and bay leaves to make a marinade.  Place the lamb shanks in a large flat dish and pour the marinade over.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (the longer the better).

Preheat oven at 180C (350F). Remove the lamb from the marinade. Shake to get off as much of the marinade as possible and then pat dry with kitchen towel.
In a cast iron pot (dutch oven) heat the oil and brown the lamb shanks in batches.  Set aside.
Add the onions, garlic and carrots to the oil and fry until the onions are golden brown.
Return the lamb to the pot. Strain the marinade and add to the pot along with the remaining ingredients.
Cover the pot and place in the oven.
Cook for 2 1/2 hours  until the lamb is very tender.
Take a look occasionally and if the liquid is drying out, add hot water.
Serves 6

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Mieliemeel Bread (Corn Bread - Pao de Milho)


1 cup Mielie Meel (Polenta, grits)
3 cups flour
1 x 10g instant dry yeast (that's 1 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp salt
50g butter
250ml milk
2 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil


Preheat oven at 220C
In a large bowl mix the the dry ingredients together and stir well.
Warm the milk and butter until butter is just melted. (don't boil). Add the oil.  Allow to cool for 3 minutes. Add the eggs and beat.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix to form dough.
Place the dough on a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a dish cloth or plastic wrap.
Let the dough rise for 2 hours.
Punch down and form into a ball. (you can make smaller loaves or rolls at this point)
Place onto an oiled baking tray and allow to rise again until doubled in size - about an hour. (I used a cast iron pot - a dutch oven)
Bake for 35 minutes at 220C, lower the heat to 200C and bake for a further 15 minutes.
Cool on a rack.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Spinach Soup)

Nothing says Portugal like Caldo Verde. This is a simple but delicious soup.


4 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions very finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic crushed
250g chorizo sausages cut into rounds
6 large potatoes cut into quarters
8 cups water
2 tsp salt
500g kale spinach finely shredded


In a large pot heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent.
Add the chorizo and fry for 2 minutes.
Add the potatoes and stir so that the potatoes are coated with the oils
Add the water  and salt and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and cook until the potatoes are soft.
Once the potatoes are cooked through and soft, remove the potatoes and mash them until there are no lumps and return to the pot.
Add the spinach and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serve with crusty rolls or bread.

Serves 6 to 8

Friday, 11 March 2011

Chocolate Brownies

These are rich and gooey and sinful.


125g butter
100g dark chocolate
1 cup castor sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup self-raising flour
3/4 cup walnuts or pecan nuts, coarsely chopped


Preheat oven to 180C
Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over simmering water.
Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy
Sift in the flour and cocoa and mix well.
Add the chocolate and butter mixture.
Add the nuts.
Pour into a 20cm square oven dish
Bake for 30 minutes until top starts to crack
Cool in the dish
Cut into squares.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Chocolate Truffles


300g Chocolate broken into small pieces (you can use the chocolate you prefer, but make sure it's a good quality chocolate.)
1 1/4 cup cream (creme fraiche is really good for this recipe)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp of your favourite booze (optional)
200g cocoa powder.


Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl.
Heat 1 cup of the cream until it comes to a boil.
Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate and stir until the chocolate has completely melted. Remember the smaller the pieces of chocolate, the quicker they will melt.
Heat the remaining 1/4 cup cream and butter. Stir until the butter and cream combine.
Add to the chocolate and stir well.
Add the booze and stir well again until the chocolate is shiny.
Cover with cling film and place in the fridge until the chocolate is set.
Put the cocoa powder into a bowl and some into your hands.
Using a teaspoon (if you have a melon baller use it), scoop the truffle mixture into your hands and roll the truffle mixture into balls.
Roll in the bowl of chocolate powder. Dust off excess.

Work quickly as the chocolate melts really quickly.  If need be, return the truffle mixture to the fridge and then continue.

Makes about 50 truffles.

TIP: If you want a hard outer casing, melt more chocolate in a bowl over water and dip the truffles into the melted chocolate before rolling in the cocoa powder.