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Lee Lambert and Anica du Toit are both Cordon Bleu certified chefs, having received their Grand Diploma at the Silwood School of Cookery. After time spent working in some of South Africa’s top restaurants and hotels, they hit the road and spent the next few years honing their skills abroad. It is during this time that Lee began specializing in pastry and desserts while they worked in some of the most highly acclaimed restaurants and hotels.

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Trinchado Beef Pasta, with Focaccia and Leafy Salad

I’ve been tasked to come up with a recipe that would pair best with a wine varietal that is, perhaps, not that well known. The grape, Tinta Barocca, hails from Portugal, and is very well know in the production of port, however, thanks to a happy mistake it is now used by a few farms, mostly in South Africa, to produce wine too.

I am pairing today’s meal with the Wildehurst Tinta Barocca. Given the cold and wet weather we’ve been having, I wanted to make something hearty, but nothing so heavy that it would overshadow the wine. A meaty pasta would be the perfect meal to accompany this wine, however, I thought it would be nice to mirror another South African favourite, with strong Portuguese influence…Trinchado!

Trinchado is a beef stew made with peppers and olives. So today, I will be doing a mashup of a Beef Ragu (made with Trinchado flavours) with Pappardelle Pasta. I’ll also include a simple salad and a moreish, Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia.

The Ragu is low and slow cooking at its best. If you have a slow cooker, put it in in the morning, and it’ll be ready that evening. Otherwise, just follow the instructions below. I have included a recipe for fresh pasta too. I’m making it without any special equipment. If you have a pasta machine, go ahead and use it, however, if making fresh pasta just isn’t your vibe, any fresh, or dry store-bought variety is absolutely fine. Same goes for the Focaccia … unless you’re bored, or a fan of baking, just visit your local bakery, or grab some garlic bread at the supermarket.

 

Trinchado Ragu

I’m going to serve with stew with pasta, but it would be delicious served with soft polenta, mashed potatoes or even just a chunk of crusty bread.

Ingredients:

1.5kg Stewing Beef (Different stewing cuts take different times to cook soft, but this is going to cook for so long, I don’t think it matters which cut you choose. Chuck is probably the most popular cut to use, but today I am using short rib)

1 tbsp Salt

1 tsp Black Pepper

3 tbsp Olive Oil

3 chopped, Cloves Garlic

1 cup chopped Onion

1 cup chopped Carrot

1 cup chopped Celery

1 cup chopped Bell Pepper

Fresh Herbs (Any Mediterranean herbs will work. I have thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and oreganum, so I’m going to use them all)

3 tbsp Tomato Paste

1 tin Chopped Tomatoes

1 cup Dry Red Wine

2 cups Beef Stock (If you use a store-bought stock, or cubes, you may need to adjust the amount of salt in the dish because most of them already contain salt)

1 cup Olives, pips removed

             

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
  • Choose a deep pan or pot that is oven proof to make this ragu…it reduces the dishes in the end. Heat the pot on the stove and add a little olive oil.
  • Season your chunks of meat and brown them in the pan. Remove the meat once nicely coloured, add the remaining olive oil and vegetables.
  • Once the vegetables have started to soften, add the garlic and herbs.
  • After 2 mins, add the tomato paste and stir. Put the beef back into the pot.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, wine, and stock, and bring the whole lot up to the boil.
  • Seal the dish with very tight-fitting lid or a double layer of foil.
  • Place the dish in the oven for a minimum of 3 hours. Halfway though, you can check if there is still sufficient liquid in the dish. If you’re concerned, add a little water at this stage. (if you are using a slow cooker, it could take up to 8 hours)
  • Remove the dish from the oven and shred the meat with a fork. If you have bones in the meat, you can remove them at this point.
  • Add the olives and check the seasoning.
  • Add your cooked pasta and serve with lashings of parmesan cheese!

 

Pasta Dough

Ingredients:

2 cups Plain Flour (plus extra for dusting)

3 xl Eggs

1 tbsp Olive Oil

¾ tsp fine salt

Method:

  • Place the flour on your work surface and make a crater in the centre.
  • Add the remaining ingredients, and with your hands, start working the flour into the mix until everything comes together to form a crumbly dough.
  • Start kneading…this may take a while because the dough needs to become elastic and stretchy. I’d say it’ll take about 10 mins of constant kneading.
  • Wrap the dough in some cellophane and leave it to rest for 30mins at room temperature.
  • Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Flour the surface and the dough. Using a rolling pin or wine bottle, roll the dough out into long, strips. You can choose the thickness of the dough, in find the thinner, the better.
  • Roll up the strips into “sausages” and use a sharp knife to slice them into rings that, when unrolled, will resemble pasta noodles. I’m making thick pappardelle noodles, but you can do linguini, spaghetti, tagliatelle…whatever your preference is.
  • At this point, you can roll them into nests that will need a dusting of flour to keep the strips from sticking.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Dop the nests in the water and give it a gentle stir to separate the noodles. Cook the pasta for about 2mins to al dente. If you have chosen to make a thicker noodle, it may take a little longer.
  • Drain, and add it to your pasta sauce.

 

Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups Tepid Water

2 tsp Sugar/Honey

1 pkt Instant Yeast

4 cups Plain Flour

½ cup Olive Oil

2 tsp Flaked Salt

Toppings (today I’m using rosemary and chopped garlic, but you can use any cheese, olive, peppers, sundried tomatoes, onions…the options are endless)

 

Method:

  • In a bowl/stand mixer, combine the water, sugar, and yeast. Give it a gentle stir and leave it to stand for 5 mins. The liquid should look a little foamy…that means the yeast is active.
  • Add the flour and half the olive oil and begin mixing the dough. Whether using a mixer, or kneading by hand the dough should be elastic and soft. It will take about 10mins to knead it by hand.
  • Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and leave in a warm place, covered with a kitchen towel until it doubles in size. It should take about 60mins, but it is dependent of the temperature of the room. If it has doubled in size, that’s all that matters.
  • Grease an oven tray with some of the remaining oil.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and fold it in on itself to gently knock it back.
  • Stretch the dough into a rectangle and place it on the greased tray. It doesn’t have to cover the whole surface…this bread is free form.
  • Spread your toppings over the surface and using your fingers, make dimples in the dough.
  • Leave the dough to rise a second time…this should only take about 20-30mins.
  • Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 180°
  • Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the surface of the dough and bake until golden brown on the top. This should take approximately 20mins.
  • Once out of the oven, use a wide spatula or similar utensil to remove the bread and place on a cooling rack… that way the bottom stays nice and crispy!

 

 

Simple Leafy Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

Mixed leaves (No need to be precious here…use what you like.)

Avocado (Again, use your favourite salad additions. I’m making a really simple one because it’s all about the dressing here, but I happily use the same dressing with a salad containing the entire fridge contents)

Pumpkin Seeds (leave these out or use any other combination of seeds or nuts)

 

Dressing:

½ cup Olive oil

¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 chopped garlic Clove

1 tsp Wholegrain Mustard

1 tsp Honey

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

  • Prepare your salad ingredients.
  • Make the dressing by placing the ingredients in a jar, sealing it, and giving it a good shake.
  • Dress your salad just before serving!

Chili Maple Butternut Salad with Couscous, Cranberries, Goats Cheese and Almonds

I posted this salad to our Instagram account earlier today, and I had a request for the recipe. This is just a quick rundown for those who may be interested. I haven’t given quantities (except for the couscous…that needs specific proportions), because you should use as much, or as little of the components as you wish. It’s all about personal taste.

Substitutions:

  • You can easily make a gluten free version by leaving out the couscous, and substituting it for some quinoa or millet .
  • Goats Cheese can be swapped out with feta if someone has an aversion to goats milk.
  • Omit the almonds for nut allergies, but I would use some pumpkin seeds in it’s place to still get that nice crunch!

Couscous

Couscous | Butter |Olive Oil | Water (or Stock) | Salt | Pepper

  • melt 1tbsp butter and 1tbsp olive oil in a pan/pot that has a lid.
  • add 1 1/2 cups couscous and stir until the grains start to become a golden colour
  • add 2 cups water/stock, give it 1 last stir and close it with the lid
  • take off the heat and leave it to sit for 5 minutes
  • fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper to taste

Roast Butternut and Red Onion

Butternut | Red Onion | Olive Oil | Chili Flake | Maple Syrup | Salt | Pepper

  • preheat your oven to 180°C
  • cube some butternut and red onion
  • drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and a sprinkling of chili flake, and lastly, a dash of maple syrup
  • spread in a single layer on your roasting dish
  • roast until the butternut is soft and nicely golden

Assemble Salad

Cooked Couscous | Roasted Veg | Soft Goats Cheese | Dried Cranberries | Toasted Almonds | Mixed Salad Leaves

  • layer couscous
  • top with roast veg
  • crumble over goats cheese
  • toss in a handful of toasted almonds and dried cranberries
  • top with a heap of leaves

Crispiest Pork Belly Ever … Seriously!

Insanely Crispy Pork Belly with (S)Mashed Roast Potato and Chimichurri Brussel Sprouts

 

Pork belly, although popular in restaurants, is very often avoided when folks plan their evening meals at home. In fact, I have known even the most enthusiastic pork lovers to skip this cut, mostly because previous attempts at roasting it, has rendered the skin tough or chewy, instead of crispy and delicate.

Here, I will show you a simple method to achieve this. You do not need any special skills. All you need to do is follow the steps carefully and … KEEP THAT SKIN DRY!

Trust me, it will absolutely be worth it. I know it has a higher fat content that other cuts, but fat = flavour, and everyone should treat themselves occasionally. Although I wouldn’t call this an “everyday” kinda meal, having this in your arsenal means you will never fail to impress on those special occasions. Just use your favourite marinade or rub to change up the flavours.

I love cooking seasonally, and during these chilly months, everyone wants that comfort of home cooking. Therefore, I have decided to accompany this crispy, mustardy, pork belly, with possibly the easiest, most comforting, potato mash you could possibly want. Man, I love carbs!

My second accompaniment may take some convincing. I know, I know… possible the least popular vegetable, I honestly believe that the humble brussel sprout has a bad, and (in my opinion) undeserved, reputation. This fragrant, zesty, dish, pairs so perfectly with the rich pork and buttery potatoes, I think I may have a fighting chance in changing non-believers’ opinions.

Wine Pairing:

I have chosen to pair this meal with the Wildehurst Red, a natural blend from the Swartland.

(57% Shiraz, 27% Mourvèdre, 11% Viognier, 5% Cinsault)

Although venison would be the most common pairing with this style of wine, the robust flavours of the roast pork and brussel sprouts stand up to the classic shiraz characteristics. And because pork loves nothing more than viognier, it made my choice that much easier.

 

Insanely Crispy Pork Belly

Ingredients:

1kg Boneless Pork Belly

1tbsp White Vinegar

1 cup Course Salt

Marinade

1 Cloves Garlic

2 tbsp Orange/Naartjie Juice

½ tbsp Orange/Naartjie Zest

1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

2 tsp Wholegrain Mustard

¼ tsp Chilli Flakes

¼ tsp Cumin Seeds

¼ tsp Salt

       

Method:
  • Using a sharp skewer/knife, poke small holes all over the skin of the pork belly, making sure not to stab too deep. Just pierce the skin.
  • Combine the marinade ingredients and cover the underside of the meat, making sure not to let it come into contact with the skin.
  • Place, skin side up, in a dish, and refrigerate, uncovered, for 12-24 hours. Be sure to wipe off any marinade that may have touched the skin.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
  • Remove the pork belly from the fridge, and box it in with a piece of foil, leaving only the skin exposed, and a 1cm lip to hold in the salt.
  • Place on a roasting tray. Brush skin with vinegar and evenly spread the course salt over the surface.
  • Roast for 1 hour.
  • Fold down the foil sides and remove all the salt. The skin will appear rubbery.
  • Turn on the oven grill.
  • Return the pork to the oven and grill for 20-25 minutes until the skin is golden and crisp.

 

 

Easiest (S)Mashed Roast Potatoes Ever

Ingredients:

Potatoes

Butter or Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Alternate flavours:

You can basically add almost anything to these potatoes to make something a little different. Add roasted garlic, mustard, wasabi, pesto, etc for something a little special.

Method:
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°
  • Place the potatoes in an oven proof dish and bake for 1 hour. (that’s correct…just the potatoes. No fat, no seasoning. Just the whole potatoes.
  • After an hour the potatoes should be soft on the inside, but the skin should be pretty hard and dry.
  • Cut open and scoop out all the flesh.
  • Mash them with butter/oil, salt and pepper. I personally like mine with some lumpy bits, so I just use a fork.

 

Roast Brussel Sprouts with Chimichurri

Ingredients:

Brussel Sprouts

1 tsp Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Chimichurri Sauce

¼ cup Chopped Fresh Parsley

¼ cup Chopped Fresh Coriander

1 tbsp Chopped Fresh Oreganum (¾ tsp dried oreganum)

1 Garlic Clove, Chopped

½ cup Olive Oil

3 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

1 Chopped Chilli (optional)

½ tsp Salt

Method:
  • Pre-heat oven to 200°
  • Halve the brussel sprouts, and coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Spread evenly on an oven tray and roast for 20min, or until they begin to change colour.
  • For the chimichurri, combine all the ingredients, and check the seasoning.
  • Remove the sprouts from the oven and drizzle with your chimichurri.
  • Serve hot or cold.