Thursday, November 19, 2009

Christmas is coming

As the title suggests, the silly season is nearly upon us. My office closes for 3 weeks; my mom's coming to visit for 2 weeks; Christmas Eve at our house; Christmas lunch at the mother-in-law's; New Years Eve at the beach house; friends; family; merrimaking (with anticipated hangovers); Grand Bay fireworks on New Years; and other general fun in the sun.

All of which will give me plenty of opportunities to force my cooking onto unsuspecting others.

The plan:

Christmas eve is the first big one - pity I only finish work the day before.
Guest list is probably fairly limited - Myself, Vix, Jazz, Dylan, my Mom, Vicki's mom, Martin, Stuart, Vicki's gran - I think that's all. Discounting Jazz and Dylan, it leaves 7 people to feed.

I cobbled the following menu together from, which has got to be my new favourite cooking website, mostly because it's Australian, so its got the same climate and seasons as I do in Mauritius.

  1. Watermelon Ice with Malibu and coconut milk cocktails on arrival (this might be a bit overkill). 

  2. Barbecued lime and mint chicken skewers for early evening snacks.

  3. Granadilla ice cream for desert. (My mom's secret recipe)
So cooking 8 different things is clearly going to be a fairly interesting challenge (ok, exclude the cocktails, and Vicki or my mom will make the ice cream, that leaves 6 things). In addition, this all needs to be done while there's guests to chat to, children running around, and beer to be drunk. Hence this blog post as a planning exercise. Kingmuzza keeps his cool, calm head about him at all times. (Oh, and I'm still likely to be severely sleep deprived from Dylan, who'll be 2 months old by Christmas).

And I'm including the Malibu with watermelon ice again, because it'll be a nice start to my holidays.


  1. The day before (or more) - shop (might have to order the pork loin - Sean from the Patch and Parrot has a secret supplier from somewhere near Baie de Tombeau)

  2. The night before - make watermelon ice and freeze; make salad dressing for pumpkin salad; make garlic and herb butter.

  3. The morning of the event - marinade the chicken; prepare the pork (make stuffing, tie the thing together); make bean salad; prepare veggies for roasting (peel and chop)

  4. Stop for lunch.

  5. Expect 2 hours to cook roast; an hour for the veggies (pumpkin, onion, baby potatoes)

  6. I'm going to need 3 braai's - 1 for veggies, 1 for roast, 1 for asparagus and capsicum starter, and chicken skewers. I only have 2 available, so I reckon I roast the veggies first, then the roast pork on 1 weber, and the starters on the other one.

  7. Also, the asparagus seems to require a fair bit of on the spot preparation (I hate asparagus, but Vicki's family think its tradition, so I really do think I should give this a shot.)

  8. So lets assume a 8pm dinner time - that means the roast pork goes in at 6pm (make it 5:30), so the roast veggies must go in at 4 or 4:30.

  9. Start both fires at 3:30. Assemble chicken skewers, and place veggies in roasting pans.

  10. At 4:00, the chicken skewers can go on, beers can be cracked, they should only take about half an hour to cook. Also put the veggies on to cook.

  11. 4:30 - remove skewers and serve, prepare and serve watermelon cocktails.

  12. 5:00 - remove veggies and keep warm.

  13. 5:00 - add extra coals to roast pork fire (old roast veggie fire)

  14. 5:30 - insert roast pork.

  15. 6:00 - add extra coals to asparagus fire (old chicken skewer fire)

  16. 6:30is - cook asparagus (see recipe, capsicums get cooked first, then peeled, chopped and salsa made, then asparagus cooked, and all served immediately). So lets say we should serve that around 7:30, that means start cooking at 6:30. Also, I'm going to need to do all the kitchen work for this (chopping and such) outside on the pool table in order to be sociable.

  17. Remember to keep beer and wine flowing, but also slowly enough so people don't start getting into family fights before dinner is over.

  18. Return roast potatoes onto asparagus fire to heat before serving.

  19.  7:30 - retreat to the kitchen for some much needed anti-social time - prepare salads.

  20. 8pm Pass out, while everyone else eats.
I think I'm getting too ambitious. And I also think that eating can take a long time at Christmas, so maybe the whole lot should be moved an hour earlier - but the French might complain about this. Also, the salads should be made before the asparagus, so that once I serve the starter, we can all be sitting around the table (myself included).

Okay, the end. I'll come back to this.

Then there's Christmas morning breakfast, New Years eve party (not necessarily my responsibility, but surely something must be done) and lazy holiday lunches to deal with.

This is quite exciting.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thai Chicken and Pumpkin Curry

Writing another one before I've actually eaten it - looks pretty good though.
This one comes from

  1. A little veggie oil

  2. 1 tbsp Thai red curry paste (good to have in stock)

  3. 6 green onions, thinly sliced (can anyone tell me what a green onion is? I've used spring onions)

  4. 750g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 4cm pieces (I've used about half this amount, there's only 2.5people eating in my house)

  5. 420g Heinz condensed Cream of Pumpkin soup (which I actually found in a shop in Mauritius, who would have thought!?!)

  6. 165ml can light coconut milk (readily available in Mauritius)

  7. 1 lime, juiced (K, i'm not actually a good cook, I've substituted a few squeezes of lemon juice.)

  8. 500g desiree potatoes, cut into pieces (what's a desiree potatoe? Also I just washed mine, didn't peel them like I was supposed to.)

  9. 1 cup fresh coriander leaves, to serve

  10. 1 cup fresh mint leaves, to serve

  11. Steamed Jasmine rice, to serve

  12. I added some chopped pumkin to the curry, and I'm about to add some frozen peas, that way we actually get a bunch of veggies with our supper.
Heat oil over medium-high heat.
Add curry paste.
Cook, stirring for a minute.
Add onion and chicken.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, to brown the chicken.
Stir in the soup, coconut milk, lime juice, potatoes, and pumkin.
Bring to the boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low.
Simmer for 25 minutes, or until 'taters are tender.
Serve over rice, sprinkle coriander and mint over.

I'll let you know how it turns out. Maybe I'll even add a photo.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

Right so I wasn't supposed to be cooking tonight. Life is slowly returning to a new normal (baby gets fed A LOT, so Wifey is pretty busy), so when we were planning our dinners for the week we included Mac'n'cheese, and Hong Kong Chicken - both Wifey specialities, that would have got us enough supper until after Friday night. However, Wifey isn't feeling well, and in her defense, she really is spending an insane amount of time being a milk cow, so there's not much time left for her to cook.

So I got home from work today and had to quickly start searching for something to cook. The freezer only consisted of chicken pieces, chorizo, pizza bases and frozen veggies (and ice cream). A quick internet search found Chicken Cacciatore at, which I amazingly had all the ingredients for.

  1. Chicken pieces (recipe says 3.5 pound chicken cut into pieces, I used 5 chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs still combined)).

  2. Olive oil for frying

  3. 1 cup thinly sliced onions

  4. 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced.

  5. Salt and pepper

  6. 1/3 cup white wine (I actually decided to measure this out, because I reckon I normally put too much in, but it turned out to be quite a lot.)

  7. 1 tin of chopped tomatoes (supposed to be 2 cups of peeled and chopped tomatoes - as if I have time for that.)

  8. The possibility of adding mushrooms or chopped veggies to the stew.

  1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat.

  2. Add onions and cook until translucent.

  3. Push onions aside (next time I'll actually take them off, they burnt a bit.)

  4. Add gardlic and chicken pieces, skin-side down. Cook until skin is golden brown, then turn pieces over and brown the other side.

  5. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, on both sides.

  6. Add wine, simmer until reduced by half.

  7. Add tomatoes, simmer, cover skillet with lid slightly ajar.

  8. Cook the chicken in the liquid, turning and basting a few times.

  9. Cook until tender, about 40 mintues.

  10. If the stew starts to dry out, add a few tablespoons of water.
Consume, with rice and steamed frozen veggies.
Meal becomes part of the cookbook because its made with easily available materials.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chicken Parmigiana

In addition to the newfound ability to whisk egg-whites, this week had another great discovery. A mind-bogglingly delicious recipe from for Chicken Parmigiana. What follows is pretty much a copy from that blog - there's quite a process to go through.

Simple ingredients, a fair bit of hard work, and gorgeous and wonderous meal at the end of it.
I'm definitely going try this for a dinner party one day.


  1. 4 - 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded flat.

  2. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  3. Salt and pepper

  4. 1/2 cup of olive oil

  5. 2 tablespoons butter

  6. 1 medium onion, chopped

  7. 4 cloves garlic, minced

  8. 3/4 cup wine - red or white

  9. 3 14.5 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes (not sure how big an ounce is, so I just used 3 cans of crushed tomatoes.)

  10. 2 tbspns sugar

  11. 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

  12. A lot of grated Parmesan

  13. Thin Linguine to serve
Mix flour, salt, and pepper together on a large plate.
Dredge flattened chicken breasts in flour mixture. Set aside.
Heat olive oil and butter together in a skillet over medium heat.
When  butter is melted, and oil/ butter mixture is hot, fry the chicken breasts until nice and golden brown on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Remove chicken breasts from the skillet and keep warm.
Without cleaning the skillet, add onions and garlic, and gently stir for 2 minutes.
Pour in wine and scrape the bottom of the pan, getting all the flavourful bits off the bottom.
Allow wine to reduce down by half, about 2 more minutes.
Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir to combine.
Add sugar and more salt and pepper to taste.
Allow to cook for 30 minutes.

Cook linguine.

Toward the end of cooking time, add chopped parsley and give sauce a final stir.
Carefully lay chicken breasts on top of the sauce and completely cover them in Parmesan.
Place lid on skillet and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer until cheese is melted and chicken is thoroughly heated. Add more cheese to taste.

Place cooked noodles on a plate and cover with sauce.
Place chicken breast on top and sprinkle more parsley.
Serve with a smile.

Battered Fried Fish

I'm feeling too lazy to waste the afternoon on a blog post or two, so this is my attempt at being succinct. I achieved an amazing feat of epicurean prowess last night by seperating egg whites, then beating the  whisking the whites until they formed "stiff peaks". I realise that peope who bake do this all the time, but for me it was a first, of which I am truly proud. I have achieved the next level.

The recipe itself was nothing like healthy, except that it was fish, but it definitely was tasty.
And yes, I  forgot to take photos again.

The recipe from is supposed to be for healthy baked fish - but my broken oven only allows me to make deep fried stuff, so the recipe is a little bit butchered to suit my needs.

Beer-Battered Fried Fish

  1. 1 cup multi-purpose flour

  2. 1/2 tsp pepper

  3. 1/4 tsp garlic salt

  4. 2/3 cup beer

  5. 2 large egg whites

  6. 2 cups of dried breadcrumbs

  7. 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

  8. 600g white fish flesh (supposedly cut into 1 inch strips, which I've just seen in the recipe now)
Take a big bowl, insert flour, pepper and salt.
Insert beer.
"Beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form."
"Gently fold egg white mixture into flour mixture." (Fancy hey?)
In a seperate shallow dish, mix breadcrumbs and parsley. (Note: I had just washed the parsley before I chopped it up, so it stuck together in clumps, which is not good, try to get it the parsley dry first)
Take a strip of fish, dip in flour mixture, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
Deep fry for a few minutes per piece of fish.
Note that fish cooks QUICKLY in hot oil, and I reckon you want the oil pretty hot. I was really sliding a piece of fish into the wok (wok used to use less oil), nipping outside, taking 2 drags of a cigarette, then a swig of beer, then back inside to flip the fish (I also only had enough oil to cover half the fish at any one time). Repeat the process for each piece of fish.

Serve with deep fried chips (once again, because the oven is broken), and a lemon wedge (important). Maybe in future I'll put a slice of cucumber and a lettuce leaf on the plate so there's at least some for veggie served (does tomato sauce count?).