Tag Archives: chicken

Bits and pieces – catching up

It’s again been a while since I last found / made the time to try and catch up with the many notes I have made of ideas for this blog.  This posting comprises a number of bits and pieces, covering various meals and dishes, some of which I’ll write up in detail in separate posts.

I’m writing this late on Sunday afternoon, outside on my patio enjoying the last of the winter sun’s warmth.  Johannesburg has superb weather in winter, but it can be a little chilly. Lunch today was some of that soup I wrote about in my last post, “Winter food – time for soup”, jazzed up with some of Dave’s Devil Juice (more of that shortly), and a slice or two of the focaccia bread I made yesterday.

I spoilt myself earlier this week and bought a KitchenAid mixer.  Until now, I have made do in the kitchen with a liquidiser, an old food processor (with a few slicing / chopping blades), a handheld mixer and a mini food processor (very useful for preparing sauces or chopping up a handful of ingredients).  I had been wanting to make bread for a while and had tired of all the hard work in making pasta dough, so wanted a machine with a dough hook that could do the hard work for me.  I also wanted to get back into baking, which I had largely ignored since my childhood (when I learnt to bake out of sheer desperation, because my mother was not that good at baking cakes or anything that involved yeast or dough).

My new kitchen toy, complete with accessories

My new kitchen toy, complete with accessories

The little orange Le Creuset pan to the right of the picture was a gift from Kitty this week, as a thank-you for some DIY I’d done at her place.  I’d seen a mate using a similar small pan to make some sauce for dinner last Saturday, and had told Kitty I’d like something similar.  (I also bought myself a mandolin, which I have to even unpack, but I have some ideas for its use shortly).

Rosemary and olive oil focaccia dough

Rosemary and olive oil focaccia dough

I put my new toy to work on a recipe for rosemary and olive oil focaccia bread, which I had seen in a recent newspaper article (http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/food-drink/recipes/impress-with-olive-oil-recipes-1.1530052#.Ub3ENPmno4c).  I cannot recall when I last (if ever) cooked anything involving yeast – I am sure I must have cooked with it before, but cannot recall when.  Anyway, when I saw the recipe in the ‘paper I decided to give it a bash – an expensive bash, given the cost of a KitchenAid…

The focaccia bread, drizzled with olive oil, ready to go into the oven

The focaccia bread, drizzled with olive oil, ready to go into the oven

Making the dough was a pleasure, thanks to my new toy and its dough hook.

The focaccia bread, hot out of the oven

The focaccia bread, hot out of the oven












A large paint scraper or putty knife makes short work of cleaning flour off the work surface after making dough or pastry

A large paint scraper or putty knife makes short work of cleaning flour off the work surface after making dough or pastry


Here’s a tip for cleaning up after making dough or pastry:  a large flat paint scraper or putty knife makes short work of scraping all the flour and dough / pastry scraps together.





I mentioned “Dave’s Devil Juice” in my last posting, about the soup, and earlier today.  Like the soup, it is named after B’s father, Dave.  When I first met B, I enjoyed a bit of heat and some chillies, but her family introduced me to the “habit” of chewing on fresh chillies, as a quick accompaniment to a snack, or a curry, or something else needing spicing up.  Another thing they had was this fearsome chilli sauce – so hot that a mere drop or two would blow a bowl of soup up the taste-bud Richter Scale!  Dave’s recipe was deceptively simple:  a few handfuls of dried bird’s eye or peri-peri chillies, which he ground to a fine powder, mixed with Old Brown Sherry, and bottled for several months.  He would then filter the resulting flame-red sauce through a fine sieve before bottling it in a little decanter.

A bottle of Dave's Devil Juice, lurking oh-so-innocently in the sun...

A bottle of Dave’s Devil Juice, lurking oh-so-innocently in the sun…

The alcohol in the sherry extracts all of the lovely heat from the chillies.   I made some a few months ago.  Sadly, I could not get the very hot, dried chillies, so bought a few packs of fresh red chillies which I dried in the Jo’burg summer sun.

The resulting sauce, depicted alongside, is not as hot as I remember Dave’s being, but still has a superb kick.  As you can see, it is being consumed – this decanter started out full a month or so back.

Kitty and I made pelmeni for dinner last night.  B and I grew to love pelmeni when we lived in Moscow, and it was a dish we both missed after returning to South Africa.  Of course, there is no chance of finding a bag of frozen pelmeni in one of our local supermarkets, so, for the first few years after coming back, the only place we enjoyed pelmeni was during trips to Moscow.  Last year sometime I tired of that, so did some research on the ‘web, where I found a vast number of pelmeni recipes, and started making my own.  I’ll post my recipes for the dough and filling one day soon.  After I introduced Kitty to pelmeni, she also wanted to make them.  Her boys are now also big fans of pelmeni, served with “smetana” (sour cream or creme fraiche), vinegar and some chopped herbs.  She follows a dough recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen (http://natashaskitchen.com/) and has adapted my meat mixture as well.  As I said, I will write it all up in a separate posting, soon…

Last weekend I was hankering after some roast chicken.  Kitty and I were busy with a number of chores and DIY tasks across our respective houses, so we needed something that did not involve a lot of effort.  Thankfully, a charcoal-roasted Weber chicken fits the bill nicely:  cover a suitably-sized chicken with peri-peri marinade or sauce, pop it into a roasting bag, and put it into a Weber kettle braai / barbecue (using the indirect method) for an hour (cutting the bag open 10 minutes from the end so that the skin can crisp up).

Kitty also cooked dinner on Wednesday night, trying a new and tasty dish which she’d eaten previously in Egypt.  She made some small meatballs (using seasoned lamb mince, I think, with some chopped onions and herbs), which we grilled under that (in)famous TV grill.  The mealballs were served wrapped in chickpea pancakes, with spoonfuls of cucumber / yoghurt raita or tzatziki.  Very yummy indeed, and certainly a dish to be repeated.

Another new dish I tried during the week was pilau rice.  I did cheat, however, as I used a pack of pilau seasoning that I’d bought from Woolworths some time before.  I made a half-batch, to try, and quite enjoyed it.  When I cook it again, however, I think I’ll saute some onions, perhaps some peppers, and definitely some chilli to put into the mixture before adding the water.

Something else I’ve eaten recently is sweetcorn, on the cob.  Boil them for 8 to 10 minutes, slap on some butter and sprinkle on some salt, and eat with your hands – preferably in the sun somewhere.  Lovely as a quick lunch or snack – and my kids love it, too.

I have taken so long to write this post that the sun has gone down, it has got distinctly colder, and I have retreated indoors, where the fire is now lit and the sherry bottle is calling.  I still have lots to write about, so will put up another post or two during the course of the evening (hopefully).

Before I go, a punt, if I may, for my favourite Japanese restaurant – one which many rate as one of the best, if not the best, Japanese restaurant in Johannesburg – Tsuyu, in the Pineslopes Shopping Centre in Fourways.  Roger and Sandi run a small but great operation.  Their sushi is excellent and their teppanyaki table turns out one treat after another.  Find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tsuyu.za?hc_location=stream.  When B and I lived in Moscow, we would fantasize about the Tsuyu sushi, and made a point of going there on every trip back to SA.




Fantastic plastic (and leftovers)

Fantastic plastic!  Tupperware, Addis and other manufacturers of those useful plastic containers with tight-fitting lids are the saviour of the single cook and parent, or the workaholic who also wants to eat well in the office.

I’ve become a fan of the newer containers with the lids that include the tabs to lock the lid in place and a gasket to ensure that it does not leak.  They are (rather, were, when I was a wage-slave) very useful for taking prepared meals into the office.  I used to cook up meals like soups (gazpacho in summer, or vegetable in winter), curries (with rice), pastas or even flash-fried steak or chicken breast, and pack them into 400ml containers.  Some would get frozen, others would go straight into the office.  A few minutes in the microwave and I’d have a healthy, well-price lunch – often paired with fruit or nuts, or juice.

Earlier this week, Kitty and I had Thai green curry for dinner.  I cheated (again), using the Woolworths pouch of Thia Green Curry sauce as my base.  I started, however, with some olive oil, chopped onions and chillies, to which I added several spoonfuls of green curry paste.  Once that had warmed through and started to smell good, I added some prawns (thanks, again, Woolies, which provided de-shelled, de-veined prawn tails) and chicken thigh meat.  I poured the contents of the sauce pouch into the pot and added sliced mushrooms, snap peas and baby corn, some extra coconut cream and fish sauce.  Just before the end (it all only needed less than 10 minutes’ of cooking time), I stirred in some chopped fresh basil and coriander.  Served over some basmati rice, it made for a superb meal.  The left-overs, of course, went into those beloved plastic containers – rice first, followed by the curry – to serve as lunch the following day for Kitty (at work) and me.

Continuing the theme of left-overs, that roast pork belly from last Sunday is not quite finished.  In an earlier post I spoke of having some of it as sandwiches, on crispy fresh bread rolls.  Last night I felt like something warmer.  I sliced off the remaining crackling and put that under that battered old TV grill to crisp up (sadly, the TV grill has come to the end of its life, unless I can buy or have a new element made – it tripped the electrics twice, in spite of having had the cord repaired, so there is obviously a problem somewhere…)

Getting back to the pork – I chopped the remaining meat into chunks, after slicing off some of the fat that lay under the crackling.  The fat went into a little cast-iron saucepan along with some chillies (yup, these appear regularly in my diet), sliced red onion and some chopped chourizo sausage (to add colour to the gravy).  I left that lot to fry slowly for a while whilst I prepared a little salad.  Oh – and I had some brown rice on the go already.  Once the onions had softened, I added the pieces of cold pork to warm through.  The “cheat” arrived in the form of some instant brown onion gravy I had lurking in the cupboard – mixed with boiling water and added to the pork / onion mixture, I had instant sauce.  I served that over some of the brown rice, with the salad and some left-over red lentils – and there was enough left over to go into yet another of my favourite plastic tubs for lunch today.

If you like tuna, have a look at the “Sicilian-style Tuna” recipe I will post after this – the recipe is courtesy of B, my recently-ex-wife.  We made this a number of times when we lived in Moscow a few years ago.