Creamy Peppercorn Sauce… The Best!

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The best creamy peppercorn sauce. Yes I am tooting my own horn! No but really, this is an amazing sauce, poured over a steak, a good steak and it is happiness and hallelujah in your mouth. I promise you.

See now, I have never been one to order my steak with peppercorn sauce. I’m more of a chimichurri or a bearnaise kind of girl. Peppercorn sauce, if not done properly can be really rank, and nobody wants rank sauce all over their gorgeous steak so I avoid peppercorn sauce like the plague.

But the other day, I had lunch with some really awesome people at The Grand Cafe and Room in Camps Bay. And while I had the lamb burger, my friend had a steak with peppercorn sauce. And because I can’t keep my fork out of other people’s plates, it’s actually a really bad habit, I just don’t know how not to share my food. I’m all for everybody eat everybody’s food, taste a little here, and there and of course stay off my plate! no I’m just kidding I share my food too… I digress. So I tried the peppercorn sauce he ordered, and wouldn’t you know it, that sauce was amazing, peppery but not overpowering and was really silky. That sauce stayed on my mind.

When something stays on your mind for that long, like that guy or girl who you can’t stop thinking about… some times you just have to pick up the phone and call him/her. In my case, I had to have me some peppercorn sauce and I wasn’t driving all the way to Camps Bay, so I had to make it myself. I just had to.

Here is the recipe…

1 tbsp butter

1 cup beef stock

3 tbsp green or black peppercorns

2 tsp cracked black peppercorns

2 tbsp white or red wine

2 tbsp fresh cream

salt, to taste

In a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add green and black peppercorns and cook for 20 seconds in bubbling butter.

Add stock, wine and bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce.

Add cream and cook for a further 5 minutes for the sauce to thicken slightly.  Whisk for a further minute for the sauce to thicken.

You can add cornflour mixed with a little water to thicken the sauce further. I didn’t add it, my sauce was quite thick. I also may have left my sauce on for too long, because it split a little, just a little. But I’m made this twice now and no splitting!

Serve, poured over a steak or chicken, even over some vegetables it would be awesome. I had mine with a sirloin steak and spinach.

I want to say mine was better than the one at The Grand Cafe, but I couldn’t. That one was the bomb dot-com, mine is the best.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs

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Bacon. Yes, I love bacon. Bacon should be one of those foods you should eat with every meal; breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea time, dinner and that secret midnight snack. There should be a shrine in every household for bacon! Okay, maybe a little extreme, but you get what I am trying to say.

I am still on the Banting diet, and besides struggling with no carbs; I have embraced the bacon (my inner fatty). By the way, the cravings for carbs are no joke! It also doesn’t help that I have friends who pop by with chips, I must admit I have had a bite or two… okay three but I have tried to stay strong!

Back to the bacon, here is one of my favourite recipes. Chicken thighs stuffed with jalapeño and cream cheese wrapped in bacoooooon!

4 Chicken thighs, boneless

8 Rashers of bacon (I used two for each thigh, but you could use just one rasher)

4 Tbsp cream cheese, I used garlic and chives to flavour the cream cheese. (you can infuse your own herbs or just buy your favourite flavours from the supermarket)

1 Jalapeño, chopped

Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 190°C.

Start by laying out the bacon on a chopping board. Place the chicken thighs on top of the bacon.

Spread the cream cheese on the bacon, add the chopped jalapeño. Season with salt and pepper.

Wrap the chicken in the bacon and place in an oven proof dish. Bake in the oven for 30-40minutes, Until the bacon has browned and the juices from the chicken run clear.

Serve with Salad and like I did cumin roasted cauliflower.

 

Spinach with Chorizo and Egg

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A friend of mine got me a cookbook for my birthday. It is always an appropriate gift for a food lover like me. I flipped through it when I got it, so excited to cook from it but I never actually read it from the beginning. Yes, sometimes I just read cookbooks the way you would read a novel!

Last Sunday, nursing a hangover sent by lucifer himself; I lay on the couch and read The Real Meal Revolution. It is written by four authors including Prof. Tim Noakes. The book is based on a Low Carb-High fat diet. Also known as the Banting diet, it basically says that fat is good, carbs not so good!

The basic guidelines are to cut out foods high in carbohydrates from your diet. That includes breads, pastas, potatoes (yes my beloved potatoes!), and anything that has sugar in it. Not one for diets, ever! I was kind of drawn to this one, I’ve been hitting the gym since I got back from Nairobi and it just seemed natural to try this diet out at the same time! You know, loving my body inside and out…

I am definitely going to struggle with this one, I just know it! But I am willing to try… this muffin top will not lose itself! Anything that says I can indulge in fat, is right up my alley!

Real MealI’ve had to take every kind of carb out of my diet, the sugar as well. I use Stevia as a substitute, which is fine because I don’t usually take that much sugar! Hard part will be battling the cravings for chocolate and chips! I don’t know if I will cut the carbs and sweets permanently. I know myself and that just won’t work; so maybe just cut down my intake eventually… It is only the beginning so we shall see what happens!

This recipe is for breakfast. The original uses kale instead of spinach(that is sukuma wiki for my Kenyan folk) but you can use either. I also measured out my ingredients for one instead of four, but I will give you a recipe for four because you must share!

Here is the recipe (adapted from Real Meal Revolution):

200g raw kale or spinach, washed and cut
1 “horse shoe” chorizo, thickly sliced (you can use any chorizo you like, about 200g)
1/3 cup water
80g butter
8 eggs

1. Warm the butter in a heavy-based pan with a lid. Gently fry the chorizo in the butter until it turns golden brown.
2. Remove the chorizo but keep all the fat and butter in the pan.
3. Crank up the heat to high and fry the kale/spinach in the fat until it begins to wilt.
4. Pour in the water and allow it to boil ferociously until it is almost fully reduced.
5. Shape the kale/spinach into a nest in the pan and crack in eggs on top. Cover and cook gently for three minutes.
6. When you remove the lid, the eggs should be opaque. Slide the kale off the pan and garnish with the crispy chorizo.
7. Pour over any excess juices from the pan.

I was so tempted to have this with slice of toast, but I didn’t! The salt in the chorizo works so well with the spinach, and the creaminess of the egg too. Best breakfast ever.

So here is to an interesting journey ahead. I am definitely going to enjoy this one and keep you posted along the way!

 

Chicken Katsu Curry

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ImageWhere do i even begin with this. Katsu curry is a Japanese dish that for many like me, was a part of my university days. I remember going to Wagamama in Victoria Station looking like the 436 bus had just dragged me across London, sitting down on those benches and ordering a chicken katsu curry and Asahi beer (hair of the dog, it made sense at the time). It was and still is one of my favourite Japanese dishes.

So fast forward maaaaany years and here I am in Cape Town, on the road to recovery (see previous post) and I want a chicken katsu curry! I live right next to a Japanese restaurant… Mind you I think it is important to live near food sources, my previous flat was on top of Eastern Bazaar, which is an Indian canteen-style eatery. Think, having Diamond Plaza (if you’ve been to it in Nairobi) in one big room. The shawarmas, with a hangover; heaven sent! I digress, So the Japanese place next door, I tried the katsu curry there, didn’t get past one bite. It was like cardboard with sludge on top. So I decided to make it myself. Simple right?

Now cooking for me, is a bit of a struggle nowadays. Don’t be fooled by my Instagram pictures, I’m functioning on one and a half hands, elbows, teeth and toes… I kid, I kid! But seriously, it takes me a little longer than usual. I also have amazing friends who chop things for me and do the heavy stuff for me.

So here it is, my simplified version of a chicken katsu curry

For the chicken:

100g flour, seasoned with salt and pepper

1 egg, beaten

200g Japanese panko breadcrumbs (for my Nairobians, you can find it at HealthyU, Chandarana, Nakumatt or even try those Chinese shops that are popping up everywhere)

4 boneless chicken breasts, I left the skin on

100ml groundnut oil or vegetable oil

For the sauce:

1 tbsp groundnut or veg oil

1 onion, chopped (I cheated and grated mine, which I prefer)

5 garlic cloves, chopped (I also minced mine)

2 carrots, peeled and chopped (I may have forgotten this, but I recommend you add the carrots)

2 tbsp flour

1 tbsp curry powder

600ml chicken stock

2 tsp honey

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp garam masala

Start with making the sauce. Heat oil in a small pot. sauté the onion and garlic for 2 minutes, add the carrots and sweat for 10 minutes with the lid on. Stir regularly. Add the flour and curry powder and cook for a minute or so.

Slowly pour in the stock (pour gradually to avoid lumps). Add the honey, soy sauce and bay leaf and simmer for 20 minutes (reduce the heat at this point). Simmer till the sauce is thick but still able to pour. Add the garam masala.

Pass the sauce through a sieve to get it smooth and velvety. If you prefer chunky a sauce then skip this step.

To prepare the chicken; start by flattening the breast pieces with a mallet, or if your like me you don’t have one of those, just use a rolling-pin. I covered the chicken with cling film first and then just bashed away. Good for de-stressing, just be sure not to destroy the chicken.

Place the seasoned flour, egg and breadcrumbs on separate plates. Coat the chicken in the flour, dip into the egg and then the breadcrumbs.

Heat your oil in a frying pan and when the oil is hot enough fry the chicken breasts for about 5 minutes each side. You want it to be golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the pan and leave on kitchen paper.

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Slice the chicken diagonally and serve with the sauce drizzled over some rice.

Bacon Jam

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I don’t think I can call myself a blogger anymore. A whole year, not one single post. Numerous drafts, but nothing ever made it up. I’m not proud of this, so to appease the blogging gods, I have bacon jam! 

Been through quite a bit of a journey the past year. I will summarise for you: I moved to Cape Town, started culinary school! Boy what an experience yo! In the patisserie class for six months, what an experience! I have a new appreciation for sweet things though I do have to say there were times I just wanted to stuff all those pastries and just eat chips with lots of salt and vinegar! Culinary school ain’t no joke though, it is a lot of early mornings and hectic days. It kicked my ass, but I kicked ass too. Well that is until I developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in my right hand. My RIGHT hand!!! Like who does that? I won’t go in to the details of what that is (google is your friend), but it is not what you want to happen when you are starting out as a chef. Anyway, pushed through that pain for a couple of months, saw doctors, got injections, continued whisking away. I started my work placement at The French Oven (production kitchen for Cassis Patisserie here in Cape Town). They always say that you will work in some of the best places and some of the worst. But wow! nothing prepared me for the experience. But I think somewhere in that kitchen a sense of descency was lost, probably locked up in the freezer along with the macarons! But hey ho. I worked for 2 months before my hand gave up on me. And I went to a hand specialist and was told I needed surgery. Along with a botched steroid injection from the previous doctor, I still had CTS and now De Quervain’s Syndrome (again google is your friend). Surely there must be a limit to how many syndromes one can have at the same time! And really a chef who can’t use her hands.. Come ooooon!!

Surgery went down January 22nd. I had two surgeries, one for each syndrome. Had no use of my right hand for a while, but now I’m getting my strength back, fingers are moving. Can’t quite do things like I used to, I don’t think I ever will. I have become heavily dependent on my left hand. But I am back in the kitchen, albeit my little kitchen at home. So with my days spent at home, I have plenty of time to be cooking and writing. Lucky for you folk!

So that out of the way, I have a rather special recipe for you guys. Bacon Jam! I have seen this all over the blogsphere for years, there is a whole bacon movement going on around the world. I mean who doesn’t love bacon? If you don’t love bacon, why are you on this Earth? 

Here’s the recipe…

500g streaky bacon, chopped into small pieces

1 red onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

50ml maple syrup

50g brown sugar

250ml brewed coffee

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

In a medium pan, sauté the bacon for 10 minutes, until it starts to crisp.

Take the bacon out and set aside. Sautè onions in the fat left from the bacon until softened. Add the garlic for about a minute.

In a large pot add maple syrup,brown sugar,  and coffee. Mix the bacon and onion together and add to the pot. Simmer this over a low-medium heat for 1 hour. Stir through every 30 minutes and add some water. After an hour add the red wine vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar for some reason, and it turned it a lovely sour but sweet flavour).

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                                           Bacon Jam, straight out the bowl!

You can serve this with anything, on  toast with ago like I did, or slather on to your burger, or on some panfried scallops. I ate most of it right out of the bowl. I have no shame! The jam will keep in the fridge for a week, just warm it up a little before serving.

Bacon jam people. Bacon jam. 

Hopefully I will be back on the blog wagon. I have a few recipes to be testing out. 

As for the hand, it is getting better. it’s frustrating some times, but God put me on this journey for a reason right? 

 

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