Mexican Nachos

These Nachos are a definite winner to serve on platters to share at your dinner party, finger snacks for the boys while they watch the game or to enjoy around the pool with a cold six pack…. But to be honest, no one should ever feel the need to have a reason to make or eat Nachos – they’re the easiest plate of deliciousness with all the flavours and textures under the sun.

You don’t have to follow this recipes to the T, the beauty of Nachos is that you can use almost anything and everything – perfect for using up leftovers, and that’s what makes them so easy, not much effort is required to whip up a masterpiece ( it will look like you have spend hours preparing each component carefully and using precision skills brining the dish together) they don’t have to look sloppy and thrown together, like served out of your local pub – they can be a real crowd pleaser, as they should be!!


Yield: 2 Portions (sharing)

Ingredients

220g Corn Chips – original
150g Tomato – roughly chopped, seeds removed
2 Jalapeno – thinly sliced
60g Red Onion – finely chopped
60g Sweet Corn kernels
100g Red Kidney Beans
220g Beef Mince
1/2 Avocado – ripe, cubed
180ml Sour Cream
200g Cheddar Cheese – grated
20g Spring Onion – sliced diagonally

Method

  1. Sauté mince in a little oil – season with salt & pepper. Ensure that any excess moisture has cooked out & mince has browned, then add the corn kernels & allow to heat through. Set aside & allow to cool.
  2. Layer corn chips onto a serving platter, scatter half the mince, half the jalapenos, half the beans, half the tomato, half the corn, half the onion & half the cheddar. Repeat this step forming two layers ontop of on another.
  3. Place into a hot oven under the grill until the cheese has melted.
  4. Remove from the oven, top with avo & cream cheese.
  5. Garnish with sliced spring onion

Note: As I always say, seasoning is vital – ensure to season any raw or ready to eat items, in this case it would be the tomato, beans, avo & onion. By poorly seasoning with salt & pepper, any dish can be a real let down because the flavours have not been enhanced.

 

Aromatic Sweet & Sour Slow Braised Pork Belly Stir-Fry

Yield: 4 Portions

Noodles & Vegetables

Ingredients

240g Egg noodles (dry weight)

2 Cups baby spinach

250g Chinese cabbage

10g Red chili – finely chopped

50g Bean sprouts

300g Carrot – fine julienne

150g Pineapple – cut into bite sized cubes

20ml Sesame oil

30ml Vegetable oil

60ml light Soy sauce

Method

  1. Cook egg noodles in salted rapidly boiling water until al dente, rinse under cold running water, set aside.
  2. Flash fry all vegetables together in sesame & vegetable oil.
  3. Add light Soy Sauce just before you remove the vegetables from the pan. Remove from the heat & set aside.

Sweet Sour pork

Ingredients

1kg pork belly (look for even layers of meat and fat) or spare ribs – rind removed

220g red onion or several shallots – sliced

6-7 cloves garlic – sliced

50g ginger – peeled and roughly chopped

1 stick cinnamon

3-4 pieces’ star anise

5ml ground nutmeg

15 ml Chinese cooking wine

spring onions or sesame seeds for garnishing

Sauce: 

30 ml Chinese cooking wine

30 ml light soy sauce

30 ml dark soy sauce

90 ml Balsamic Vinegar

120 ml brown sugar

150 ml water

Method

  1. Add the pork belly, few slices of ginger, and 15 ml cooking wine to a pot of room temperature water, bring to boil on high heat, then turn down low to simmer for 5 minutes.  The water will turn murky and scum will float to the surface.
  2. Thoroughly rinse the foam off the pork belly, slice the pork belly into even sized pieces, and pat dry.
  3. Over medium heat oil in your heavy based pot and add the pork belly, give it a nice sear until golden.
  4. When the pork is golden, add the ginger/garlic/cinnamon/star anise and cook until aromatic.
  5. Add the ground nutmeg and toss.
  6. Add the purple onions and lightly sweat them.
  7. Turn down the heat, add the brown sugar in, toss to coat- it will immediately start to caramelize on the pan and give the meat a rich color.
  8. Add the cooking wine to deglaze the pan.
  9. Add the soy sauces and vinegar, toss to coat and it will give the meat even more color.
  10. Add the water and bring to a boil.
  11. Cook in the pressure cooker on low heat for 25 minutes or until the skin is soft and easily pierce-able with a chopstick.  It should have a nice golden brown color and the meat should be tender and the fat just melt able in your mouth.
  12. Depending on how much sauce you have left, turn the heat back up and reduce the liquid.  Add about 1.5 tablespoons of corn starch mixed in cold water and cook through.  You want the final consistency to be like a thick syrup.
  13. NOTE: this sauce will burn very easily – don’t leave pot unattended, once the sauce starts to burn the overall flavor is compromised.

Herbed Parmesan Risotto, Char Grilled Corn & Spicy Chicken

Yield: 4 Portions

Risotto

Ingredients

1½ L Water

75g Vegetable stock granules

50g Butter

30ml Vegetable oil

220g White Onion – finely diced

300g Risotto rice

200ml White wine

50g Parmesan – grated

50g Chives – blanched & pureed

Method

  1.  Sauté onion in butter & vegetable oil until translucent
  2. Add risotto rice, allow to coat in the butter & oil
  3. Add white wine, simmer until alcohol has cooked off
  4. Using a ladle, add a little vegetable stock into the risotto mixture. Stir continuously until liquid is almost absorbed completely.
  5. Add a little more vegetable stock
  6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 until all vegetable stock has been added or until risotto is al dente
  7. Finish off by adding pureed chives & parmesan cheese
  8. Serve immediately, risotto cannot be held for long periods of time as is will over cook and become porridge like.

Char Grilled Corn

Ingredients

2 Sweet corn (whole) – boiled

10ml Vegetable oil

1g Fine salt

Method

Brush boiled sweet corn with a little oil

  1. Place sweet corn over an open flame (grill/braai)
  2. Allow each side to become slightly charred, NOT burnt
  3. Remove from the heat
  4. Using a sharp knife, remove corn kernels from the cob – season with fine salt & set a side

Spicy Chicken

Ingredients

4 (250g per portion) Chicken fillets (deboned & skinless)

15ml Paprika

15ml Cayenne pepper

2g Fine salt

30ml Vegetable oil

Method

Heat oil in a heavy based pan over a medium heat

  1. Coat the chicken fillets with paprika, cayenne pepper & salt
  2. Pan fry, turning the fillets only ONCE
  3. Once cooked, remove from the heat
  4. To serve slice diagonally and place onto of risotto

Finger Snacks

These perfect little party snacks are a real crowd pleaser. Not too carb heavy yet still satisfying the pre dinner or party drinks munchies. The fact they look bigger than what they are in a sense that you think you’re eating more than you actually are a bonus for those waist watchers. You can feel like you’re splurging, but you’re actually you’re not.

I like to serve a few different types of dips to compliment the spread such as, homemade hummus, tapenade, & baba ganoush – although it’s not an essential because they’re so delicious just as they are.


Bread Sticks

Ingredients

500ml cake flour

5 mlsalt

15ml sugar

15ml oil

+- 350ml Luke warm water

5g instant yeast

4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary – finely chopped

1/2 cup Black Olives – pitted & roughly chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 1800
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together (cake flour, salt, sugar, instant yeast, rosemary & olives).
  3. Add the oil & water to form a dough (do not starve the dough).
  4. Knead till the right consistency is reached.
  5. Proof the dough for 1 hour OR until doubled in size.
  6. Shape the bread sticks & proof for a second time.
  7. Egg wash & bake for 12 – 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool on a ventilated surface.

Storage directions: Store in an airtight container or cling wrap well in the fridge – refresh on order in a 2000C oven.


Cheese Straws

Ingredients

1 Kg Puff Pastry – at room temperature

1.5 cups Mature Cheddar Cheese – grated

1 cup Mozzarella Cheese – grated

5 Tbls Whole Grain Mustard

2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

2 Eggs – beaten for egg wash

Sesame Seeds – for garnish

Poppy Seeds – for garnish

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 1800 C
  2. Lightly flour you chosen work surface, unravel the puff pastry & lay onto the floured surface.
  3. using a floured rolling-pin, roll out the puff to about 3mm thick.
  4. Sparingly brush with egg wash & spread over the whole grain mustard over 1 half of the puff.
  5. Sprinkle over the cheeses, salt pepper & cayenne.
  6. Fold the plain side over onto the cheesy side. Press down using a firm hand.
  7. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, slice into long strips (+- 3cm wide)
  8. Grease a baking tray, twist the puff strips and place onto the tray.
  9. Brush sparingly with egg wash & garnish with sesame & poppy seeds.
  10. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Storage directions: Store in an airtight container or cling wrap well in the fridge – refresh on order in a 2000C oven.

Health Bread Loaf

There is nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread!

This bread is delicious toasted the next morning for a quick breakfast snack or used for open sandwiches topped with smoked salmon, cream cheese & buttery avo at lunch time.

Bread doesn’t get easier than this!


  • Yield: 1
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 2 hours

Ingredients List

300g Cake Flour – sifted
200g Whole Wheat Flour
30g Sesame Seeds – toasted
50g Rolled Oats
15g Flax Seeds
1 Sachet Dry Yeast
4g Fine Salt
10g Honey

Technique 

  1. Preheat oven to 1800C
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine cake flour, whole wheat flour, sesame seeds, oats, flax seeds & salt.
  3. In a separately combine honey & dry yeast in a small bowl – add a little lukewarm water, allow the yeast to sponge.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour the yeast mixture into the well.
  5. Add a little more lukewarm water into the well – mixing from the inside out
  6. Add water as you go – do not starve the dough
  7. Once dough is formed, transfer to a clean bowl, coat with oil, cling wrap and let proof until double in size.
  8. Transfer proved dough into a floured surface, knead for +- 10 minutes, shape and prove again until doubled in size.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.
  10. Optional to sprinkle with extra oats or seeds before baking as garnish.

NOTE: DO NOT cut or store away bread while still warm, allow to cool completely!

Storage directions: Store in an airtight container or cling wrap well in the fridge – refresh on order in a 2000C oven.

Chicken Casserole & Roasted Parsley Baby Potatoes

 


  • Yield: 8 portions
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 20 minutes

 

  • Casserole

Ingredients

125g green beans – cut into bit size pieces

250ml white wine

2kg chicken breast – cut into bit size pieces

2L Chicken stock

300g onion – cut into fine dice

270g carrot – sliced

200g button mushrooms – cut into quarters

200g red pepper – diced

Beurre Manie

40g cake flour

40g butter

40ml vegetable oil

Technique

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot.
  2. Sean chicken with salt, brown in batches – keep aside
  3. Add onion allow to sauté until translucent and slightly golden brown.
  4. Add white wine, allow alcohol to cook off and reduce slightly.
  5. Add chicken back into the pot, cover & allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Add carrots, red peppers & mushrooms, cover with chicken stock and allow to simmer gently until chicken is tender.
  7. Add green beans and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat, adjust seasoning & consistency if needed with salt & extra stock.

NOTE: DO NOT store while warm, allow to cool completely!

Storage directions: Store in an air tight container pre-portioned. Label & Date with permanent marker. Suitable to freeze.

  • Roasted parsley Baby potatoes

Yield: 8 Portions

Ingredients

1.6kg Baby potatoes

20g Parsley – Finely chopped

50ml Vegetable oil

5g Fine Salt

Method

  1. Boil potatoes until cooked. Strain water and place in a roasting tray.
  2. Use a fork to just crush the potatoes open.
  3. Drizzle with oil and season with salt.
  4. Place in a pre-heated oven at 2000C
  5. Roast until golden brown & crispy – finish with chopped parsley

NOTE: Potatoes are not suitable to freeze, texture is compromised. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Labelled & Dated.

Ginger Biscuits

Just the thought of ginger biscuits makes my mouth water, I don’t need to wait for a specific holiday or season to enjoy them!

In my option, they should be an all year round enjoyable treat filling our homes with happiness and enjoyment.


  • Yield: 9 doz
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients List

770g cake flour – sifted
12ml Cream of tartar
25ml Ground ginger
5ml Fine salt
500g Brown Sugar
250g Butter
225g Golden Syrup
3 Extra large eggs
10ml Bicarbonate of soda
20ml Milk

Technique 

  1. Mix the flour, cream of tartar, ginger and salt together.
  2. Add the sugar to the flour mixture.
  3. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  4. Beat syrup and eggs together.
  5. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the milk. Beat in the egg and syrup mixture and add to the dry ingredients, mix to a firm dough.
  6. Cover with plastic and leave in refrigerator overnight.
  7. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  8. Roll dough into small balls, place onto greased baking tray and flatten slightly.
  9. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.
  10. Cool on a wire rack.

NOTE: DO NOT store while warm, allow to cool completely!

Storage directions: Store in an air tight container. Label & Date with permanent marker.

 

My Wholesome Lasagna

This lasagna has to be the best I’ve ever made, my daughter is not the easiest eater & this went down oh so well! Two helpings later…

I find that when making this dish, it is the easiest way to get the little one’s to eat veggies without even knowing it. Sounds perfect to me!


  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 30 – 40 minutes

Ingredients List

Lasagna Sheets| 9

For the Mince

Lean Beef Mince|500g

Fruit Chutney – of your preferred choice|1 Tbls

White Onion – finely chopped|1 (medium sized)

Fresh Garlic – finely chopped|2 cloves

Carrot – peeled & finely grated|1 (medium sized)

Celery Stalks – finely chopped|2

Courgette – finely grated|1 (medium sized) OR use 100g of grated mushrooms

Fresh Thyme|1 tsp

Tinned Tomatoes – peeled & chopped|1 small tin

Tomato Paste|1 Tbls

Olive Oil|for frying

Salt & Pepper|to taste

For the White Sauce

Full Cream Milk – slightly warmed| 1L

Salted Butter|60g

Cake Flour|60g

Salt|to taste

Technique 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  2. For the mince – heat a little olive oil in a large heavy based frying pan.
  3. Over a medium heat, sauté onions, garlic, celery, carrot, courgette (or mushroom if preferred) & thyme. This needs to cook for about 10 – 20 minutes (you want all the veggies to cook until nice & soft)
  4. Season with salt & pepper at this stage, always season from the base up – this builds your flavour profile of each & every dish you make.
  5. Add mince, using a wooden spoon, break the mince meat apart so that you don’t get large “meat ball” like lumps.
  6. Allow to cook off until all natural juices from the mince has cooked away & mixture starts to fry & brown slightly.
  7. Spoon chutney into your well seasoned mince mixture, stir until well combined – taste & season again if necessary. You want well balanced flavours of sweet & salty – remember that the sweetness will counter balance the tartness of the tomatoes.
  8. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, as well as the tomato taste – add a little hot water or beef stock if necessary, you don’t want a dry lasagna!
  9. Allow your meaty goodness to simmer on a low heat on the back plate while you make the white sauce. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  10. For the white sauce – in a medium sized sauce pan, heat the butter until just melted.
  11. Remove from the heat & add the flour all at once, while whisking continuously. This will form a roux.
  12. Return the roux back to the heat, cook the flour for about 5 minutes – season with a little salt, remembering your flavour profile.
  13. Remove the sauce pan from the heat & gradually add the warm milk, do not stop whisking.
  14. Return well combined,  sauce mixture to the heat, whisk slowly until it thickens up nicely. To check if it is thick enough, dip a wooden spoon onto your sauce – if it coats the back of the spoon generously, its done. Taste for seasoning.
  15. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to ensure you are left with a silky smooth white sauce.
  16. The Layering – ladle enough sauce into your chosen, greased oven proof dish to coat the bottom.
  17. Add a layer of lasagna sheets.
  18. Top with a layer of perfectly cooked, wholesome mince meat, then sauce again.
  19. Continue to repeat these steps until both sauce & mince are used up.
  20. Top with grated mature cheddar cheese & bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 – 40 minutes.

NB: Always start and end with sauce, that way the pasta will have enough liquid to cook through & become al denté rather than dry & crisp.

I ran out of fruit chutney without realising it, BUT I did recently put together a cheese & cold meat platter for lunch the other day so I had figs preserved in syrup handy in the fridge.

I substituted the chutney for some fig syrup, it was surprisingly just as delicious! (if not more)