Sunday, September 12, 2010

Holiday's over


I do realise that it's been absolutely ages since I posted anything here, but in my defense, I've had a busy time.
Chances are you know the story - wedding planning, wedding, tons of family here for a holiday, mission to SA for a holiday, turned 30, good friend turned 30 & another turned 26. Sheesh! Absolute awesomeness. But Sheesh!

Best photo of the madness was taken by the immensely talented Carlin Perros - pity she wasn't the official wedding photographer.

Wifey is no longer my fiance. :)

Life is slowly getting back to normal. We're both just getting over a bout of much deserved exhaustion. Today the kids are sleeping, the weather has turned island perfect, we're off to the beach once the kids wake up.

I confess that I had to question whether I cared to carry on with this blog. But as the exhaustion subsides, we finally sat down yesterday and planned the week's meal, and the idea of cooking and writing about cooking became interesting again.

So the blog (and my life in the kitchen), are going to focus on two areas for the near future.

First is that summer is coming (actually I think it just arrived), and we've been abusing our bodies for long enough that we're both really keen for quite a health kick. The starting point is to cut back on red meat and carbohydrates. That means adding lots of fish and vegetable-full meals to the weeks eating. Summer's back, so salads are starting to sound appealing. And meat is expensive, so lots of veggies is nice for the budget as well. I'd also like to look into the nutritional content of what we're eating - maybe analyze a few meals, and try to balance that with what we should be eating. Exercise is supposed to be part of this, and so we're taking up golf and going to the beach a whole lot.

Second is that, because we're pretty party'd out, we're going to be entertaining at home from now on. No massive parties where everyone we know is invited - instead we're going to get small groups of people round for dinner. First, baby club has started (really its a drinking club with a baby problem), where the mommies spend the afternoon with the kids, and then the daddies come round to someone's house after work for drinks and dinner - seems like there'll be 4 couples for each dinner, but that it will rotate who's house its at. Second, we've got to learn to speak French this year, so my sneaky plan is to get a friend of ours around for supper once a week or so, and he'll teach us while we're around the dinner table. He's busy teaching himself about the intricacies of fine wine, so I reckon it'll be a good combination of good food, good wine, and good company. Third, we've been wanting to get the wicked grouping of Brown Dog, Carlin & Pastey around for supper for quite a while. It's one thing spending time socializing at parties, but you get to spend much better quality time with people when they're around the dinner table. Ok, so we're not really slowing down on the partying I admit.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Understanding Benedict

In many places around the world it was Mother's Day a little while ago. Wifey and I had gone jolling the night before, and so the kids were away at Granny's house for the night (and, happily, for the following morning as well). So, being the fantastic husband that I am, I bought a bunch of roses and tried to make Eggs Benedict for my good lady for breakfast.

Now, Eggs Benedict has a reputation for being kind of snooty breakfast food, as well requiring a particularly experienced chef to not muck it up. The basic recipe is that you lightly toast an english muffin, layer some bacon on that, then a poached egg, then top with Hollondaise sauce. Aside from toasting the muffin, the rest of those steps are pretty tricky to pull off with Jamie Oliver flair and apparent ease.

Oh, and I had a hangover, so I forgot to take any photos, you're just going to have to trust me that it actually did look quite like this recipe, that I found at Country Living, City Style.

I wasn't actually going to describe the recipe in this post. The point of today's lesson is more about understanding how to balance a few simple flavours into a great meal.

You see, Hollondaise is pretty simple to prepare, but what is complicated is getting the ratio of ingredients to taste right. It consists of a few egg yolks, some salt, some lemon juice, and a fair amount of boiling butter. Oh, and some hot sauce of your liking.  The trick is that the boiling butter cooks the egg yolks slightly, and creates a super creamy texture and rich flavour. Then the sweetness of the butter / egg mixture is balanced with a some tangy lemon juice, and the whole lot is made a little more flavourfull with some salt and chilli sauce.

My attempt was completely edible, although I think  it was too tangy, and not chilli enough. I will try again sometime and promise to take photos then.

I'm babbling. Just remember to think about the balance of flavours when you're making this, and judge your quantities very carefully.

On a different note, clearly my cooking once again moved on to a completely new level of awesomeness with my newfound ability to poach eggs.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Warm Bean and Chorizo Salad

Quick post tonight because I'm still massively hung-over from last night. The hangover really called for something like a hearty lamb stew, but its a public holiday here today (election day), so there was no chance of heading off to the Super U to find some ingredients.

Instead what we had in the house were the ingredients for a bean and chorizo salad. This recipe has actually become quite a staple in our house, we probably eat in once every 2 weeks or so, and I always have to search for the recipe (which can be found here at

It tastes nice.

Olive oil
1 onion, halved and sliced.
1/4 cup chorizo sausage, thinly sliced.
A punnet of green beans (haricots verts), topped, tailed and halved
1 tin of butter (cannelini) beans
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 pinch of sugar
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (which I actually forgot today)

Fry onion for 5 minutes.
Add chorizo and fry for another few minutes, till it smells great and is staining the onions red.
Add green and white beans, and the water, put lid on and let cook for 5 minutes (the water steams the beans, so don't lift the lid to stir it because all the heat will escape).

While the steaming is underway, mix together 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, and sugar in a small bowl.

Decant salad into a serving bowl; drizzle dressing over; sprinkle some parsley over.

This recipe doesn't actually make that much. Serve with a crusty roll and this recipe is enough to serve 2 for dinner; if you want to serve it as a salad at a braai then the recipe should be at least doubled.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Breakfast BLT Salad

The problem with weekend breakfasts is they tend to be ridiculously soaked in oil (think full english fried everything), or as sugary as possible (pancakes with sugar, honey, and maple syrup). Then a little while back I came across a salad that can be eaten for breakfast. It doesn't feel like health food, but also it doesn't feel like a heart-attack on a plate.

Also, it tastes great. (and the recipe comes from here at

250g cherry tomatoes
2tbs olive oil
1 garlic bulb
3 rashers of bacon (about 175g)
1/2 cup whole-egg mayonaise (if I wasn't feeling lazy this morning, this would be the perfect time to test out some homemade mayonaise)
2 tbs lemon juice
6 cups wild rocket
1 avo, thinly sliced
1 bunch chives, coursely chopped.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees C
Cherry tomatoes on tray; drizzle with oil; season with S&P
Roast for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven, set aside to cool.
Wrap garlic in foil, and roast for 20 min until soft. Set asid to cool. Cut in half and squeeze out pulp.
Fry bacon. (Surely you can do this without further instruction.)
Place garlic, mayo, lemon juice in food processor, and process until smooth. (Curse Wifey for leaving the blender dirty from last nights soup (recipe to follow)). Season to taste.

Combine tomatoes, bacon, rocket, and avo in a serving bowl.
Sprinkle over some chives.
Drizzle over some dressing.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nutrition 101

I seem to write this article over and over again, without ever getting to the end of it, or never complete enough to finally press the publish button. So this is my next attempt.

This blog is all about healthy eating – eating for sustained energy throughout the afternoon / cooking with nutrient-full ingredients / cooking without chemical additives.

The concept behind Low GI food fits into my (personal) diet paradigm quite nicely – I couldn’t really care less about losing weight (although that’s Wifey’s focus), what I want is to be energetic throughout my day; to have my mind alert and responsive; to get regular exercise with the goal of slowly becoming stronger, fitter and more active. Low GI foods = slow release of sugars = sustained energy. I have a feeling it relates exclusively to carb’s and sugars (fats and proteins (I guess)). I should add calcium and omega-3 for brain performance. Omit simple carbs and sugars (for example SUGAR, you dimwit). Eat complex carbs – wholewheat bread; oats and cereals for brekkie; ummm, and stuff.

Wifey wants to lose weight. Really this is exclusively related to eating fewer calories than you’re burning. Simple as that. (I truly apologize if my attitude to weight-loss is to brush it off as unimportant, it’s just because I have one of those bodies that doesn’t change shape no matter what I abuse it with, except that I’m kind of a skinny runt these days.) So for Vix it’s a case of increasing the amount (and intensity) of exercise she gets, and eating foods that make her feel full and give her the energy she needs without adding too many calories. She also needs as many anti-oxidant and vitamin-type foods, because she gets sick way too often.

Back to me for a little bit – I need to be dramatically improving my exercise habits as well. I’d like to focus on muscle building a fair bit (in order to get bigger). I want Vix to focus on muscle-building a bit so that her muscles get stronger and burn more calories when at rest. Both of us could do with regular time on the exercise bike – I know that this isn’t actually supposed to help that much, but it’s a simple start to get us into the habit of exercising. Exercise (especially the muscle building kind) needs protein to build the muscle tissue with – protein is to come from lean meat, low-fat dairy, and eggs. Please note that all of the above are also sauces of nasty saturated fat, which is to be avoided, so really, you’re screwed. Actually you’re not screwed – fat is pretty easy to remove from a solid piece of meat, and while it clearly adds flavour (think fillet versus entrecote), that flavour can be added with rubs, marinades and other sources.

So then, the plan...

Breakfast is supposed to be packed with slow carbs, a bit of protein, and a variety of fruits and veggies. Simple method – oats with milk, nuts and fruit (fresh or dried) sprinkled over the top. Complicated or dumb methods – (1) whole-grain bread roll with poached egg and coleslaw; (2) BLT salad as tried before (with avo); (3) actually that’s all I can think of right now.

Snack food is to be fruit (fibre, nutrients, and stuff); nuts (good fat, protein, and stuff); and stuff (stuff).

Lunch - I dunno, this is why I never finish writing this article.

OK, the disclaimer is that lunch and dinner (and sometimes breakfast), are things which require a healthy dose of variation, and that’s what this website is all about. I’ll write again when I’ve got a decent lunch and dinner recipe. I’m going to start by checking out again, which I haven’t done for a while.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Notes from this WebMD article I just got emailed:

Soluble fiber (from beans, fruits, etc) aids in satiety (keeps you feeling full).
Insoluble fiber (found in wheat bran, whole grains, nuts, etc) keeps you regular.
For folk 50 years or younger - Women should have 25g of fibre, and men 38g - each day.

Chow a high-fibre breakfast - if label says 5g fibre per serving, that 15% - 25% of the job done. Add some fruit on top - bananas (3.1g each), blackberries (3.8g / 1/2 cup), hummus (2 tablespons = 1.6g).

Chow fruity snacks. (This means making sure fruit is always on hand, at home and at work). Half a cup of raspberries = 4g fibre. A papaya = 5.5g. 5 rings of dried apple = 2.9g. Make sure you eat the peels when eating fruits and veggies (i.e. IMHO potatoes should only be peeled if they're going to be roasted) for extra fibre.

"Beans are bursting with fiber". Pinto beans = 15.4g / cup!!! Black beans = 15g / cup!!! Beans can easily be snuck into soups, stews and salads a few times a week. Proving, once again, the Superfood-ness of beans. Go find my Warm Bean and Chorizo salad, but beans in Veggie soup, pumpkin soup, any stew, curry or casserole ... and stuff.

Try to find quick-cooking brown rice and whole grain pasta. (This is probably completely impossible in Mauritius, which actually suits me fine. Every time I've tried the brown or whole-grain experiment, it all tastes crap!) (Also I don't think I cook it properly.)

Remember fruit smoothies.

"Substitute quick- or old-fashioned oats for up to one-third of the white flour called for in recipes." Sounds dodgy - I'll give this a try and let you know if it works.

Skewer fruits and veggies and cook 'em on the barbie! Wicked idea. I'm definitely in. Might have to figure out which food works best for this though.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Leftover Lamb Pie

Right. So the Easter weekend is officially over. Everybody in the household is feeling shitty from eating way too much rich food and chocolate over the weekend - and a significant amount of liquor. What better way to cure everybody than to feed them MORE fatty lamb?

As usual the recipe comes from, but when it came to actually cooking it I found that the quantities of leftovers I had didn't at all match what the recipe said, so its pretty ad-libbed. I've posted my version below.

Once again, my cooking shenanigans have progressed to the next level of mastery - I used pastry! Granted, I didn't make the pastry, it was a roll of store-bought puff pastry. But to me pastry was another one of those mental blocks - looks complicated and technical and a little bit too organized for the king of ad-hoc cookery. I do, of course, feel like a little bit of a silly twat now that I've tried it and seen how simple it is to use. But that's why Life is a Journey, if we started off knowing everything then the whole trip would be a whole lot less trippy.

Stop talking crap Murray!

Leftover Roast lamb and veggie pie

Left over meat from 3 legs of lamb - chopped into bite-sized bits
Big bowl of left over roast pumkin
Big bowl of left over roast potatoes
Smaller bowl of left over green beans
Some leftover mint sauce
Just under a litre of beef stock
About 3 tablespoons Bisto
An Onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
Oil for frying
A packet of puff pastry

Preheat oven to 200

Fry onion and garlic for a few mintues, till onion is transparent and squishy, but not brown
Add lamb and veggies.
Fry for a few more minutes to slightly brown/crisp everything.
Stir in stock and bisto.
Stir in some mint sauce (add sauce, stir, taste, repeat until awesomeness is achieved)
Bring to the boil, and then let simmer for 10 or 15 minutes.

Taste the stew. Awesomeness.
Spoon stew into a casserole dish (I think that's what they're called), till its about 5cm deep.

Roll out a piece of puff pastry and lay over the top of the stew. (I'm going to assume you know how to do this because I don't feel like writing it all out. Wifey had to teach me last night.)

If you happen to get 2 pies out of this mission (like I did), then you now is the time to clingwrap one of them and stick it in the freezer for one day in the future when you're no longer sick of roast lamb.

Poke holes in the pastry to it doesn't explode (the pie you're baking, not the one you're freezing). Brush with egg.
Bake for a few minutes until golden brown and delectably crispy.

Decide that I'm too tired to eat supper tonight, put pie in the fridge for lunch tomorrow.
Sleep like the dead trying to recover from whatever it is that's making me feel like this.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Successful Easter - Roast Lamb et al.

So despite my expectations, it turns out Easter lunch was actually really good, with lots of relaxing fun and good conversations had by all, and I managed to not be stuck in the kitchen the whole time, as everybody else pitched in to help.

For snacks (because I don't think I can spell Hors'd'ouvres) we bought a platter of Vietnamese spring rolls from our favourite Thai restaurant, Thaifoon. Granny-in-law brought fois gras on melba toast. Such a pity that the toast was stale, but no-one else seemed to notice.

We sat down to eat a palm-heart and smoked salmon starter from Wifey's aunt Maryvonne. Despite my oft-stated belief that palm-hearts are more like chopped up bits of wood than a supposed delicacy, on this occassion at least I was proved wrong.

Wifey sorted out the vegetables for the main course (roast potatoes, roast pumpkin, and green beans) which were simple and really good. Mother-in-law bailed me out of having to make gravy. I roasted (on the braai, of course) a few legs of lamb, and actually successfully made a mint sauce (first attempt for me, and I made it just before the guests arrived on the day - no opportunity to stuff up and try it again.)

France brought a collection of different desserts, and cake and such for after lunch.

Everybody thanked us for being such fantastic hosts, they all buggered off home, and I flopped into the sea to let my aching bones recover slightly.

Lots of beer, wine, champagne, wine, and a little coffee, were enjoyed by all.

We succeeded. Now I'm exhausted.

Anyway, the recipe ...

Herbed Roast Leg of Lamb (recipe from, go look for it there)
Per leg of lamb, mix together ...
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced, and mashed to a paste with 1/4 tspn salt
A lot of finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus some for garnish
A lot of finely chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus some for garnish
1 1/2 tbspn soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper.
Add 2 tbspn of olive oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk until it all becomes one.
Brush the sauce over the roast.
Marinate as such for the night.
I re-brushed the roast with sauce first thing in the morning and once during cooking.
Allow meat to return to room-temperature before cooking.

Cook on a medium to low braai, indirect heat, try not to open the braai lid too often, but also be careful not to burn at the beginning, or let the fire die at the end.

Drink beer while staring at the closed lid of the weber, and tell anyone who asks that you're busy, and can't help with the flowers right now.

I started the fire at 9. Put the meat on at 10 (although this might have been slightly too soon), and took it off the fire at about 12:30. Meat was cooked to well-done, but not overcooked. A meat thermometer would obviously be helpful in this regard, or next time I'll just cook for half an hour less.

Mint Sauce (from
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup castor sugar
Put in pot.
Stir over medium heat for about 5 min. until sugar dissolves.
Bring to boil.
Let simmer softly for about 10 min., letting the liquid reduce by half.
Stir in A Lot of finely chopped fresh mint.
Let sauce cool to room temperature before serving.

This tasted wicked. I'm stoked.

2009 Bordeaux

Completely off topic for my normal posts - I just received word (from here) That the 2009 vintage Bordeaux, which is yet to be released, is due to be a great vintage. Drawing parallels with the very tasty 2005, and even the fabled 1947.

I'm writing it down here so that I might remember when I eventually see the stuff appear on the shelves of my local wine merchant (or more like, the supermarket).

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Avo Season - Avo and Sardines on toast

The maid arrived on Sunday bearing a packet that marked the beginning of a new fruit season on the island. A shopping packet filled with about 6 massive, freshly picked and very enticing avocados.

Now, when I was a kid avos were one of those foods that I wouldn't touch with a barge pole. In the same category as broccoli or asparagus. Its only pretty recently that I've been giving them a try again. They're often refered to as a super-food, but I can't remember why right now. Suffice to say that you should eat more avos. Of course, avos themselves don't make their consumption any easier because you can't buy them ripe, and then once they ripen you've got to use them really quickly. So it clearly helps to have an avo tree nearby, that provides you with way more than you could possibly eat yourself.

The recipe dropped into my lap at a perfectly opportune time then. It was probably sometime last week that I stumbled across this recipe from One serving of Sardine and Avocado Toast. Yes, as you are thinking now, my first thought was how digusting that would be. And that sardines and toast have a special relationship already, and don't need some fancy avo so that they can pretend to be "cuisine". But the recipe stuck in my mind until I was sure I wanted to try it.

Its also very easy to prepare lunchtime food, good for you, and rather yummy.

Brush some pita bread with olive oil and grill until golden and crispy.
Drain a tin of sardines, place in bowl, and mash them.
Scoop half an avo into another bowl, add about a tablespoon of lemon juice, some salt and pepper and also mash.

Spread the mashed sardines on the toasted pita.
Spoon the mashed avo over.
Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top of the whole thing.

Tuck in to the most unusual sandwich you've had in a while.
You can almost feel your body getting healthier by the second, and the last remnants of hangover from last nights shindig drifting away.

Put some Jack Johnson on the stereo, sit back and watch the catamarans come in from their Saturday cruise.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Next comes Easter

So we were sitting at the Yacht club late Sunday morning, having drinks with the out-laws, and discussing how we're going to set the place up for our wedding in August. Despite being pretty suspect to start with, I think we will manage to fit all the guests on the main veranda, which will actually make it a nice venue.

Anyway, as things were slowly starting to get a little tipsy, Vicki's mom kindly informs us that Easter lunch is at the beach cottage every year. (And Vix and I are living at the beach cottage over Easter). I can do a leg of lamb on the weber, and there'll be flagolet, and green beans, and cheesecake, and a starter of some sort. The Vix started to freak, but then we got our heads around it and we started to make sure that the rest of the family weren't going to stuff it up too much ("No, don't worry, we'll do the starters as well, why don't you do the flowers and bring the easter eggs."). There'll be about 20 - 25 people.

Events like this always (for me at least) start with a kind of gung-ho excitement; then later in the day you get this nagging doubt, bordering on absolute terror (picture everyone sitting around the table watching me trying to carve a completely burnt 4 kg block of charcoal that I'm going to try to feed then); then the cycle repeats itself, and I get kind of excited again.

Oh, and its two weekends away, and we've got to spend next weekend moving house. There is no prep time for this one. (hehehe, bring it on!)

So, ladies and gentlemen, the plan ...

(some time passes)...

We were served an absolutely wicked Roast Lamb Shoulder on our recent soiray back to the homelands in Africa. Gorgeously tasty meat, true Jamie Oliver style food, and good family company. Thanks Denzil.

However, this is Easter lunch with a massive contingent of my future spouses extended family - I feel that the presentation of the meat is going to be pretty critical, and the problem with the shoulder was that it fell apart when carved and served. A leg of lamb, or possibly even a crown roast, make for great presentation, and oo-ing and aa-ing when folk see it at the table. A leg also lends itself to the showmanship style of carving at the table which is undoubtedly going to be expected.

Maybe crusted with a mustard, breadcrumb, parmesan and herb crust. Maybe marinaded in onions, garlic, lots of herbs, some wine and olive oil. Maybe try something slightly different and coat it in a spicy mixture of lemon grass, ginger and garlic, lime leaves and lemon juice (although I think I'm trying more for a classic presentation of the banquet this time.)

Side dishes? I shouldn't have asked at the Yacht club. "Flagolet and green beans" - It's just how things are done here. "Can we please have roast potatoes with it?" - says the other expat at the table. I shouldn't have asked. I'm all for the roast potatoes. Maybe the flagolet and green beans can be mixed together in one dish, maybe even the same dish that holds minty peas that I'd like to see added. In any case, I'm sure that's not enough. There are a lot of people coming, and its nice for them to have a little variation.

And a prawn cocktail starter?!? Not again please. Even if they do taste nice, lets try something refreshing.

Then there's the problem of timing the thing. I'm going to have to go to church in the morning, then come home and start the braai. That means that lunch is going to be served really late. That means we have to spend a fair bit of time feeding people before hand (but carefully so that they still have space for the magnificent main course.)


I'm going for a walk. I'll keep you informed on progress.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Perfect Steak Marinade

I think I just achieved perfection! The perfect marinade for braai'd steak.
The recipe comes from a book I got a year or so ago - "Braai" by Biller, Storkey & Kay (Struik Publishing).

Heat a little (15ml) olive oil in a frying pan.
Add a chopped onion;
2 cloves chopped garlic;
15ml chopped fresh ginger;
1 seeded and chopped red chilli.
Fry gently until softened.
Add 340ml coke; 180ml tomato sauce; grated rind of 1 lemon; 30ml lemon juice; 15ml whole grain mustard; 30ml white wine vinegar.
Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Sturing pretty often.
Let cool.
Pour about 250ml of the sauce over the steak, and reserve the remainder for serving.
Refrigerate the marinading steak, covered, overnight (or from Sunday morning until the braai on Sunday afternoon.)

Braai steak, on the beach, with lots of beer or rum for refreshment, good company, sunny weather, kids frollicking in the waves, palm tree swaying peacefully overhead.

Heat the reserved sauce thoroughly before serving with steak, maybe a tuscan salad, and undoubtedly a few beers.

My camera battery is dead now, so no photo's of the sauce, but I'll charge it and take some photos of the beach and braai'ing process later.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Quick Beef and Bell Pepper Stir-Fry

Ahhh, it's time to relax...

I make this recipe all the time, but have to search for it on the net every time I do.
It comes from and, aside from a little bit of prep, is supremely quick to cook. This is how long stir-fry should take to make.

It's a really refreshing salad type of taste - not too saucy, not overcooked. And (in case you care), peppers are packed full of Vitamin C and anti-oxidants, so its good for you too.
Goes like this ...

Steak (say, 500g of sirloin)
Salt and pepper (freshly ground black pepper, of course)
1 large clove of garlic
Olive oil
2 medium bell peppers (capsicum), one red, one green, sliced into 5mm strips.
Half an onion, sliced lengthwise (root to top)
A dozen cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Take the steak.
Season well with salt and pepper on both sides.
Rub a clove of crushed garlic onto the above steak.
Wrap in clingwrap, then pound the meat until its quite thin (say 6mm thick)
Leave steak wrapped up while you do the rest of the cooking.

Cook rice or noodles.

Heat some olive oil in a large wok on high heat.
Add onions and peppers, and stir fry until just tender (really only for a minute or two)
Add tomatoes and cook for another minute.
Remove veggies to a bowl and keep warm.

Unwrap the steak and slice into stir-fry sized pieces.

Heat another 2 tbsp of olive oil, until shimmering, but not quite smoking.
Add the strips of beef and let brown for a few seconds without stirring.
Cook for only a minute or two.
Then add the veggies back into the pan, and a tablespoon of worcestershire sauce.

Stir for a minute longer, and serve on a bed of rice or noodles.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Not much food writing

Ok – so the New Year has come and gone – resolutions were made – etc etc. Now it's February.

I had planned to take a food photo every day, to post to a Flickr group, and this was going to give my food blogging a bit of encouragement.

Well, I posted 4 pics to the Flickr group, can’t even remember what the group was called anyway, and haven’t had a blog post here in a very long time.
It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, but maybe I’ve been experimenting quite a bit. Firstly, I have actually built up quite a recipe book over the past few months, and can now spend time making things that have already been made, rather than trying new stuff every night. Oddly, this is actually quite refreshing. Secondly, Wifey has just given up her job to become a full-time mom, so she’s been trying to reclaim ownership of the kitchen. There is definitely a fight brewing on who gets control of the kitchen, but again, it is nice for it not to be my responsibility to cook every night.

You see most bloggers stop writing because their lives are suddenly outrageously busy – they have babies, or open restaurants, or something on a similarly grand scale. My story seems to be the opposite. The New Year has brought with it a period of consolidation in our family’s life. Vix can concentrate on being the best mother she can be. We’ll be a little poorer, and so are trying to find a smaller place to live in. And I can concentrate a bit more on my career, as my responsibility in the family is more focussed. Oddly again, but it’s refreshing, and quite exciting.

I am still cooking of course, and trying new recipes fairly regularly. I found a recipe for a warm bean and chorizo salad a few weeks back, which I’ve made twice already, and even served to guests. We had guests for a braai last weekend (or maybe the one before that) and I made prawn skewers with a garlic and lemon baste. Both of these were really successful. There does always have to be some balance in life, and so I tried an avocado remoulade with pan-fried salmon the other day, and it was nearly inedible. Maybe there was some other stuff, and maybe I’ll even post those recipes here, but not today.
And seeing as things are Oddly in this post already – Wifey and I have actually managed to start exercising fairly regularly. The little “about me” thing on your right hand side says that half of the reason of this blogs existence is to chronicle my mission to get my family eating and living healthy. I’m going to hit 30 this year, and so can’t really be a juvenile delinquent for that much longer. So – exercise – so far its only 20 minutes on an exercise bike, plus a few push-ups, but I’m a firm believer that some exercise is infinitely better than none, and also a believer that I need a fair bit of time to remember how my legs work or I’ll end up crippling myself.
OK, that’s all I have to say right now.

We’ll speak soon.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hoisin-chicken stir-fry with peppers and baby corn

I have found the secret ingredient!

Decided to make a recipe from, because, despite loving making and eating stir fries, I've only got about 1 decent recipe for them.

This one called for Hoisin Sauce - and thankfully Chinese food and ingredients are one thing that you can find in wonderous variety in Mauritian supermarkets. I've never used Hoisin before, but as I cracked open the bottle the smell was amazing. This is clearly the stuff that they use to make the sticky-sweet-and-savoury coating for Peking Duck. I was instantly in love and will start experimenting with the stuff as soon as possible. Hmmm - imagine sticky basting sauce for pork chops on the braai - wicked.

Anyway, I wasn't making pork chops, and Wifey has approved the dinner as one that I can make again - so it goes like this.

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil
360g skinless chicken breasts - cut into thin strips.
1 1/2 green peppers - julienned.
420g can o baby corn - cut into pieces.
2 cloves garlic - minced (I got lazy and just sliced it thinly)
2 spring onions - diagonally sliced (I seriously need to start growing these - because it drived me crazy buying a whole bunch from the shop and then using 2, only to watch the rest go manky in the fridge) (So I sliced up a small onion instead)

Cook rice (actually I made noodles)
Mix together the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, water and sesame oil in a small bowl.
Heat wok over super-high heat, then add 1 tbspn peanut oil.
Remove chicken from the wok and set aside.
Add the other tablespoon peanut oil and stir fry green pepper for 2 minutes.
Add corn and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute.
Add spring onions and stir fry for 30 seconds.
Add sauce mixture and chicken and stir fry to combine.
Serve over rice (or noodles)

The great thing about stir-frying is that, aside from prep'ing the vegetables, the actual cooking time is really quick. If you boil the kettle to cook the noodles as you switch on the wok, then the noodles are ready about the same time as the rest of the meal.

Flickr: Project 365 and The Beach House

So in an effort to blog more this year I found a project on Flickr - Project 365 for Food bloggers. Clearly there are a lot of food bloggers in the  world these days, so there's nothing particularly fancy about being one of them.

My theory is that taking a photo of food each day will motivate me to write here more, as I'll have a photo to write about.

In any event - my first day looking for food photos I didn't actually cook - but did discover that the cocktails at the Beach House in Grand Baie are fantastic. I was drinking Long Island's, and I think Vicki's were called Sea Breezes, both wicked. The secret to a good Long Island is to not put too much alcohol in it - the number of different spirits is where the flavour comes from. The barman got it right on my first cocktail - absolute perfection - they got stronger for the 2 after that.

The other great revelation of our lunch was the steak. Mauritius is notorious for not having a clue how to cook a steak, and these were done to perfection. Vix had a normal Fillet, and I had a Vodka Fillet (topped with mushrooms and a liquidy sauce (presumably vodka-based)).

Its nice to see the Beach House finally getting their act together. The service has up until now been painfully slow, and the food nothing to write home about. The service yesterday (actually I think it was Tuesday or Wednesday), was nothing great, but we were seated and got our first round of drinks pretty quickly. I had to go searching for the second round, but the food really blew me away.

A friend of mine once said of the place that "if you can't make a restaurant work in a location like that, then there's something seriously wrong." Well, it looks like its starting to work.

Note to self - this would be a fantastic venue to watch the New Year's fireworks next year; and we should also come with the family sometime - you can see the kids swimming in the sea from your table.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The new decade arrives Version 2

Actually the point of the last blog post was lost somewhere along the line.

I'm going to try again...

A new year brings a new set of challenges. Everybody makes new years resolutions, but they tend to be quiet resolutions - do this a little better, try harder at that - more important than the grand statements like stop smoking, drinking, exercise every day, etc.. And if you're anything like me they tend to be the same every year. I don't think that's bad, I think its part of the journey.

Its also a good time to look forward to what's coming in the year ahead.

This year the big kahuna is that we're getting married. So far we have a tentatively booked a church, and we've kind of written a guest list. So that means it's pretty sorted out then... Well more likely is that there's a mammoth task ahead of us, but mammoth tasks are what should make the year pretty memorable, so I'm looking forward to the organization part of the whole deal as much as the actual event (which scares me shitless). The actual moment of marrying the girl that I've loved for years, lived with for years, and already had two kids with, scares me a lot less than the act of hosting a massive event. As far as I'm concerned we've been married for years, with all the ups and downs that brings.

But this is supposed to be a food blog... and I have to go.

OK, so quickly ... new years resolutions (much the same as last year) - continue the healthier eating mission for me and vix - start getting some exercise (exercise bike; touch rugby team; maybe take up running again) - its super-hot season in Mauritius, so i've found some salad recipes - eat beans - get Jazz to eat any veggies whatsoever - try get more veggies into us at each meal - ummm... - stop smoking (hahahahaha), never mind - stop drinking too much (I have two small kids, you must be joking, ok, I'm joking) - umm... sort out my relationship with Wifey (not that its bad, but some proper attention is definitely in order, especially with two small kids in the house) - get Jazz to learn French better (she completely tanked at school last semester) - get us to learn French better - get married - make sure my boss loves me (and gives me a new car, and a proper raise) - ummmmm... ok, I got to go - make Jasmine less of a monster - actually I got a two hour date with Wifey - that's enough.

Later peeps.

Oh, and organize this blog better - got to learn the html so that paragraphs and bullet points look right (which really annoys me) - and write often - and i just signed up to a flickr group to post a food pic every day.

The new decade arrives

Its been over a month since I wrote here last - holiday season madness - family visiting - massive christmas eve dinner experiment - family fueds and christmas anger - lazy days by the pool - new years eve with much needed friends - new years day hangover, with long drawn out lunch at the pub - no maid or nanny here for the last two weeks - work project in the background - its been busy, but its been fun.

I fully intend to tell you the story of my Christmas eve dinner, but not today. However, considering how I'll probably never get around to telling the christmas story otherwise, here's the short version.
Food-wise it actually went quite well. Company-wise it was a fairly spectacular disaster.
Chicken skewers as pre-food snacks were changed at the last minute to my standard honey-mustard chicken skewers, which were great, but finished before the guests got here. Then I chickened out of the asparagus starter because I didn't think I'd find any fresh asparagus at the shops (although when I got to the shops, there was fresh asparagus, but no shrimp).
Starter was changed to a prawn cocktail, also standard issue, and also nice to eat. The roast (the coup-de-grace), was huge, it started off cooking too quickly, and so was a little blackened in some places, and it fell to pieces rather than being carved nicely because there was too much stuffing. It was, nevertheless, delicious (IMHO, the guests had excused themselves half-way through dessert, so maybe they didn't feel the same).
Vicki's side dish bean salad was great - my side dish pumpkin and spinach salad was fine, but there was no spinach and just a tiny bit of rocket instead. And desert by the ladies (Vix and my mom), was delicious granadilla ice-cream and christmas cake.
Except for the disaster with the guests, we had a great day setting up, cooking, opening some presents, drinking a little too much, and generally spending time together as a family. Maybe I can find some pictures ...