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by Blondie

Take-5 … March – Steak with Halloumi Potato Bake

March 21, 2012 in Mains, Take-5

Last month I decided to set myself a monthly challenge to post a recipe using only 5 ingredients (not counting ‘everyday’ kitchen ingredients).

With today being a public holiday and ‘taking it easy’ being on my to-do list, it was the perfect day to do my Take-5 Challenge for March. Rummaging through my fridge & freezer I found a smallish rump steak, a piece of halloumi cheese and a punnet of mushrooms, which I thought could be used together somehow. Adding a few potatoes and an onion brought me to the prescribed 5 ingredients, to which I added some ‘everyday’ ingredients – garlic, chilli, black pepper & olive oil. The result was a really tasty meal that took no effort to make (and didn’t require a trip to the shops).

You could adapt this recipe by adding/removing any number of ingredients … I’m tempted to try adding cooked chippolata sausages next time, to make this a one-dish-meal.


Rump steak (1 per person)

3 medium potatoes, peeled & cut into 1-inch cubes

1 large onion, halved then each half cut into 6 rough slices

1/2 punnet button mushrooms, quartered

5 cloves garlic, sliced

2 red chillies, seeded & sliced

olive oil

freshly-ground black pepper

About 150g halloumi cheese, sliced fairly thinly (I also cut a bit into cubes, which I fried & had on my salad – halloumi overload)!

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Toss the potato cubes, onion slices, mushrooms, garlic & chilli together in an ovenproof dish with a couple of glugs of olive oil and a generous grinding of black pepper then cook in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked (mixing them again once or twice whilst cooking).

Turn on the grill & top the potato mixture with slices of halloumi – pop under the grill for 5 – 10 minutes, or until the cheese is soft and browned.

Whilst grilling, cook the steak. I fried a few extra cubes of halloumi at the same time – these were delicious, but I should probably have left them out with the amount of halloumi I’d put onto the potatoes (and I will NOT be standing on the scale for at least a week)!

Serve immediately.


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by Blondie

Meat-free Monday – Summery Gazpacho

February 26, 2012 in Mains, Veggies

It’s been too hot to even think of cooking this weekend … that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it! :)

I adapted this recipe from one I copied yonks ago from one of the many diet-books I’ve owned over the years. It’s absolutely delicious, with no hint of being a ‘diet’ recipe. It’s also a perfect light & refreshing meal for a baking-hot meat-free Monday.


Finely chop the following ingredients & toss them all into a large glass bowl (I always use my 2 litre Pyrex jug, which is the ideal size):

2 large tomatoes, peeled & seeded

6 – 8 celery fingers

5 inches cucumber, seeded

1 green pepper, seeded

120g spring onions

1 large clove garlic

The finely-chopped veggies, waiting for the liquids to be added!

To the chopped vegetables, add the following:

1 litre tomato juice

2 Tblspns white wine vinegar

2 Tblspns olive oil

2 Tblspns chopped parsley

1 tspn salt

1/2 tspn freshly-ground black pepper

1 tspn Worcestershire sauce

Combine everything, cover with clingwrap and refrigerate overnight.

Serve cold.

Chilled gazpacho - refreshing & healthy!



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by Blondie

Slow-cooked Lamb Shanks

February 11, 2012 in Mains

The temperature has suddenly dropped after weeks of intense heat and it’s been cool, misty & rainy since I woke up early this morning. My Younger Teen is home from boarding school for the whole weekend, which is a real treat for both of us … one of the things he looks forward to most about our weekends together is his mom’s cooking (which his mom tends to avoid when she’s not in mom-mode)!

I spotted some succulent meaty lamb shanks in the supermarket earlier this week & immediately bought 2 of them, not knowing that the weekend would provide ideal weather for this kind of comfort food. For once, Murphy wasn’t anywhere to be seen!

This recipe is adapted from one in Jamie Oliver’s first recipe book, ‘The Naked Chef’ – you can easily double these quantities for 4 people.


2 lamb shanks

freshly ground salt & black pepper

1/2 tspn whole coriander seeds

1/2 tspn Robertsons crushed chillies

1/2 Tblspn finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 tspn dried marjoram

1/2 Tblspn flour

2 Tblspns olive oil

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Season the shanks with the ground salt & pepper.

Crush the coriander and chilli together in a pestle & mortar then mix in the rosemary & marjoram – rub this mixture all over the shanks then dust them with the flour.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed casserole dish. Brown the shanks all over then remove from the pan & set aside.

Add the following to the remaining oil in the pan and cook until softened:

1 large onion, quartered & thinly sliced

1 carrot, quartered & thinly sliced

4 stalks of celery, thinly sliced

1 red pepper, seeded & diced

10 whole cloves garlic, peeled

pinch of salt

Once the veggies are softened, add 1 Tblspn balsamic vinegar & allow it to reduce slightly before adding 100ml white wine – cook for another minute or two then add the following:

6 whole anchovy fillets (you won’t taste these, but they will enhance the lamb flavour)

1 tin whole cherry tomatoes with their juice

100ml water

Bring to the boil then return the shanks to the mixture, put the lid onto the casserole dish and cook in the preheated oven for 90 minutes – then remove the lid, check the liquid levels and cook for another 30 – 45 minutes without the lid.

Serve on a bed of creamy mashed potato.

Tip: any leftover sauce will go wonderfully with fettuicine (or almost any kind of pasta)! :)

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by Blondie

Fettucine with Creamy Mushroom & Sun-dried Tomato Sauce

January 28, 2012 in Mains

I tend to avoid tagliatelle, finding that it sits too heavily in my stomach – perhaps if I ate smaller portions this wouldn’t be a problem, but I’m ignoring that option.Fettucine, on the other hand, is my new favourite pasta, being broad enough to take a decent coating of whatever sauce you’re using, yet narrow enough to avoid that over-full heaviness after the meal.

This recipe is based on one from Lynne Bedford-Hall’s ‘Nice ‘n Easy Cookbook’. It’s a doddle to make and really delicious.


1 medium onion, chopped

2 leeks, sliced

2 tspns crushed garlic

(You can pop these three ingredients into one bowl together, as you’re going to use them all at the same time).

1 punnet (250g) button mushrooms, sliced

1 yellow pepper, seeded & diced

40g sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced

1 sprig fresh rosemary

(These four ingredients can go together in another bowl, as you’re going to add them all at once).

1 Tblspn tomato paste

60ml red wine

250ml hot beef stock

1/2 tspn salt

1 tspn sugar

(Mix these five ingredients together in a bowl or jug)

60ml sour cream (this only gets added at the end, so keep it to one side)

Heat 2 Tblspns each of sunflower oil and olive oil in a pan.

Add the onion, leeks and garlic and cook until golden-brown.

Add the mushrooms, yellow pepper, tomatoes and rosemary, tossing until glistening, then add the tomato paste, wine, stock, salt and sugar.

Cover and simmer over very low heat for about 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, cook and drain the fettucine.

Remove the sprig of rosemary from the sauce, stir in the sour cream and simmer uncovered for a few minutes to thicken.

Serve the fettucine topped with the sauce.


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by Blondie

Sweet & Sour Crispy Pork

December 22, 2011 in Mains

It’s been swelteringly hot in Sleepy Hollow this week – yesterday afternoon the temperature was 39.5C … so naturally I decided that this would be the perfect day to play squash and then, seeing as I hadn’t managed to kill myself completely on the court, I cooked a meal that required standing over a bubbling deep-fryer!

There’s no prize for guessing my natural hair colour!

But the meal was yummy (although a salad would’ve been a wiser option under the circumstances).

I used bits & pieces from 3 different recipes and then adapted those bits & pieces to fit in with what I had in my kitchen. I wasn’t entirely happy with the batter, which resembled wallpaper paste – then I noticed that, on one of the recipes I was referring to, it gave the authentic Chinese name for the dish, which is Gwoo Lo Yook … and I decided that the author is dyslexic and the real pronounciation should be Glue Yo Look!! Having said this, the batter did work out in the end, but feel free to use a different batter recipe if you like.

I know this looks like a long list of ingredients, but many of them are repeated for different parts of the recipe – and it’s really not difficult to make!


500g pork fillet (I used pork neck steaks, which are much cheaper), cubed

1 Tblspn soya sauce

1 Tblspn sherry

1/2 tspn salt

1/4 tspn pepper

1/4 tspn Chinese five-spice powder

Mix the pork with the above ingredients in a bowl and leave in the fridge whilst making the batter (I left mine for a few hours).

1 cup plain flour

3/4 cup warm water

1 Tblspn peanut oil

1 egg white

Beat the flour and warm water together until smooth then stir in the oil and leave to stand for 30 minutes.

Beat the egg white until stiff then fold into the batter (aka wallpaper glue).

Put the marinated pork pieces into the batter and stir to coat well then deep-fry the pork in batches. When golden, drain on kitchen paper and set aside (no need to keep them warm, you’re going to re-fry them again later).

1 Tblspn soya sauce

1 Tblspn sherry

3 Tblspns tomato sauce

2 Tblspns white vinegar

1 tin pineapple pieces (and the juice)

3/4 cup water

Combine the above ingredients (just the pineapple juice, you’ll use the pieces in a minute).

3 Tblspns peanut oil

1 tspn crushed garlic

1/2 tspn grated fresh ginger

1 large onion, peeled, halved and sliced

400g button mushrooms, sliced

1 bunch spring onions, sliced

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 Tblspn cornflour mixed with 1 Tblspn water

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the garlic, ginger, onion, mushrooms and spring onions and fry for a few minutes until slightly softened.

Add the combined sauce mixture, bring to the boil and then stir in the cornflour mixture, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Keep over low heat, stirring occasionally whilst you re-fry the pork in batches, just for a few seconds.

Stir the peas and pineapple pieces into the sauce, cook for a few minutes to heat through.

Add the crispy pork, stir to coat and serve immediately.


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by Blondie

Left-over Chicken

December 18, 2011 in Chicken, Mains

We’re rapidly approaching the season of left-over recipes and, being blonde, I’m doing mine before the turkey and/or gammon recipe onslaught … with chicken!

This is a recipe I adapted from one I got from my mother and it works a treat with leftover roast chicken – although you can use any leftover cooked chicken (I used some from my spatchcocked lemon & rosemary chicken this time) or you could even poach/steam a couple of chicken breast fillets to convert this into a non-left-over recipe!

It’s also a very adaptable recipe – this time I served it on rice, but I’ve often used it as a pie filling, using either bought puff pastry or (when I’m feeling domestic goddess-like) home-made pastry. In this case, just brush the pastry with egg & milk whisked together and bake in the oven at 220C for 30 mins.

Please note that the quantities I’ve given are very changeable depending on how much chicken you’re using – I had the equivalent of 2 chicken breast fillets left this time around.


cooked chicken, shredded into bite-sized pieced

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 punnet mushrooms, sliced

butter (I used about 3 Tblspns)

plain flour (I used about 3 Tblspns of this too)

milk, heated in the microwave (I used 500ml)

chicken stock powder (I used 2 tspns)

a dash or two of nutmeg

freshly ground salt & pepper

a shake or two of spice for chicken (optional)

2 handfuls of frozen peas

Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan then saute the onion until soft and transparent.

Add the flour and stir until it forms a roux – cook for a minute.

Combine the heated milk & chicken stock powder and slowly add to the roux, whisking constantly.

Stir over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and starts to boil.

Add the mushrooms, nutmeg, salt & pepper, chicken pieces, chicken spice (if using) and peas and combine well (if you’re making a pie, transfer the mixture into your pie dish at this point).

Reduce the heat and simmer gently whilst the rice cooks, stirring regularly.

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by Blondie

Green chicken, mushroom & cashew curry

December 4, 2011 in Chicken, Mains

I’ve already ‘come out’ as an Indian in disguise as a blonde, so I make no apologies for posting another curry recipe here … although this is more Thai-style than Indian, so perhaps I should start looking deeper into my roots (my family history roots, not my blonde ones)!

This recipe is loosely based on one by Lynn Bedford-Hall, whose recipes are always successes (and delish), which I found in her aptly-titled book, ‘Scrumptious’.


1/2 cup raw cashew nuts, roasted (see how to roast your own just below the ingredient list)

2 Tblspns sunflower oil

2 tspns crushed fresh ginger (I use the bottled stuff, so much easier)

1 tspn ground cumin/jeera

2 stalks fresh lemon grass, just the white part with outer layer removed & bruised by pressing with the flat of a knife

1 punnet button mushrooms, sliced

2 – 3 Tblspns green curry paste (vary to suit your own taste if you’re not an Indian in disguise)

1 can coconut milk (or make your own – see how to do this below the recipe)

1/2 cup hot chicken stock

2 tspns soya sauce

1 Tblspn fish sauce (whatever you do, don’t smell this stuff unless you have a stomach of steel)!

1 bunch (5-6) spring onions, topped, tailed and chopped

500g chicken stir-fry (or fillets, cut into thin strips)

2 tspns cornflour

30ml water

3 Tblspns fresh coriander (dhania) chopped

To roast the cashews, preheat the oven to 175C. Spread the nuts in a single layer onto a baking tray and cook in the oven for 10-20 minutes, stirring often. Watch carefully and remove from the oven as soon as they’re almost the right colour, as they go from pine to blackwood in a matter of nanoseconds! Set aside until needed. (If you want the cashews for eating, drizzle about 1 tspn oil over the hot nuts and stir to coat before adding salt to taste, stirring well until they’re the way you like them).

Now for the curry …

Getting started ...

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the ginger, cumin, lemon grass and mushrooms then cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms soften.

Add the curry paste, stir well and cook for another 1-2 minutes before adding the cocounut milk, stock, soya sauce, stinky-fish sauce and spring onions.

Bring to the boil then add the chicken strips.

Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the chicken is cooked, about 10 minutes. Add the cashews and stir through.

Combine the cornflour and water and add to the curry, stirring well, until thickened to taste. Stir in the coriander.

Remove the stalks of lemon grass and serve with rice, sprinkled with extra cashews (if you’ve been able to resist eating them in the meantime)!


This useful tip came from a brilliant Asian cookbook, with recipes from every Asian country – the usual ones, but also places like Cambodia, Burma, Laos, Singapore & Korea etc.

Pour 2 cups of desiccated coconut into the cup of your blender. Add 2 1/2 cups of hot water then blend for 30 seconds.

Strain through a fine sieve – discard the coconut and the liquid is your coconut milk!

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by Blondie

Supa Salmon with Chilli-garlic Mash & Roasted Veggies

October 23, 2011 in Fish, Mains, Veggies

I found a lovely piece of Norwegian Salmon in our Pick & Pay yesterday. It was only R60-something and was big enough for 3 single servings …. I live alone most of the time & I’m not a big eater so, for me, this was a good bargain.

Many, many moons ago, Sue posted a recipe for salmon with¬† a herb crust which sounded so yummy that I saved the recipe to my Documents for ‘one day when I find a decently-priced piece of salmon.’

I’m really glad I did that, as it took me yonks to find the ruddy recipe on her blog again so I could do the whole link-thingy here!!

I didn’t have a lemon, so used a squirt of lemon juice instead of the rind. Not having tasted the original recipe, I can’t say whether this made a difference or not … all I can say is that it was Supa-Yummy!!

I served the salmon with roasted veggies (tossed with Robertsons Veggie Sprinkle, crushed garlic & olive oil) and Chilli-garlic mash, which is based on what I can remember of a description of something similar from a good friend of mine who, being Indian, shares my passion for chilli & garlic.

To make the Chilli-Garlic mash, peel & boil the potatoes as usual.

In the meantime, finely chop an onion & fry this in butter with crushed fresh garlic and minced chilli to taste.

You’re looking for a ‘zing’ here, not an ‘eish’, as you don’t want to overpower the subtle-but-orgasmic flavour of the salmon (no comments about me having been single for too long, thank you)!!

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and mash, then mix in the chilli, onion & garlic mix, adding more butter and milk as needed.

Season to taste.