- Harvest a handful of red chillies and cut each one along the length to open it up. If you want a milder relish, remove the seeds – use gloves if you can because that is where the heat sits! If you like it hot, leave the seeds in.
- Mix 3 – 5 teaspoons of salt in with your chillies and leave them in a colander to rest for around an hour. The salt will draw the water out of the chillies and also take some of the spiciness out. Don’t worry, it won’t take all the taste out.
- While you are waiting for the salt to do its work, grind two tablespoons each of yellow mustard seeds and fennel seeds together using a mortar and pestle.
- Gently warm a cup of vegetable oil of your choice to a moderate temperature, stir in the mustard seeds and fennel and add the rinsed and drained chillies.
- Bottle the chillies in sterilised preserving jars making sure they are completely covered in oil. Your relish will keep for around a month in the fridge.
A simple zucchini salad filled with fresh Mediterranean ingredients packed with flavour.
Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente, drain and rinse quickly in cold water to cool. Place in a bowl and add zucchini made into ribbons using a vegetable peeler, tomatoes and torn basil. Make a simple vinaigrette using lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper and a clove of crushed garlic. Pour over pasta and mix carefully to combine all the flavours. Plate up and top with micro greens and shaved parmesan.
Add sliced poached chicken breasts to make this zucchini salad into a meal on its own.
How About a Christmas Picnic Menu…
Cooking a traditional Christmas lunch or dinner is normally a marathon affair requiring lots of energy from the chefs. The cost of all the rich food also takes quite a toll on one’s purse (not to mention one’s hips!) Why not opt for a simple menu with easy-to-assemble fresh salads and simple meat dishes that can be made a few days ahead and served either chilled or at room temperature.
The Picnic Menu
Vichyssoise – A classic, chilled cream soup with leek and potato
Rye, beetroot, goat’s milk cheese and chilli jam canapés
Sweet pepper salad
Pesto potato salad with green beans
Spinach salad with blue cheese, pears and walnuts
Seasonal fruit and cheese platter
Coffee and chocolate cake
Some of the recipes used for this garden feast appear in Ina Paarman’s What’s for Supper? (BOOK ONE) and What’s on the Braai? (BOOK TWO) and were used with her permission. These and her other cookery books, as well as her other products, are available at most supermarkets.
Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans
- 1 kg potatoes, unpeeled
- 250 g green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 cm
- lengths on the diagonal
- ¼ cup (60 ml) Basil Pesto
- 1 tsp (5 ml) Green Onion Seasoning
- ¼ cup (60 ml) spring onions, ‑ neatly snipped
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
Steam the potatoes until tender. Leave to cool.
Steam the beans until just tender but still bright green. Toss beans with pesto while still warm.
Skin and cut potatoes into small wedges. Season with Green Onion Seasoning. Gently toss with the dressed green beans, spring onions and olive oil. Serve at room temperature.
(This salad serves 6-8 and can also be made ahead of time.)
Quick Coronation Chicken
- 3 cups (750 ml) cooked, sliced chicken or turkey
- (skin and bones removed)
- Garlic and Herb Seasoning
- 200 ml Tikka Curry Coat-and-Cook Sauce
- 60 ml mayonnaise
- 125 ml fresh cream
- 15 ml Tomato Pesto
- Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
Mix all the ingredients together, except for the chicken. Now add the sliced chicken or turkey and toss lightly. Allow to stand for an hour or more to develop the flavour. Serve at room temperature, garnished with fresh coriander leaves.
(This dish serves 6 and can be made in advance.)
Sweet Pepper Salad
- 3 red bell peppers
- 3 yellow bell peppers
- 10 ml Lemon and Black Pepper Seasoning
- 125 ml Classic Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing
- Grated rind of one lemon
Preheat the oven to 250 C. Bake the peppers on a rack over a roasting pan for about 20-25 minutes until blistered and blackening on the outside. Place them in a glass mixing bowl and cover tightly with cling wrap – leave to sweat and cool down. In the process the skin will loosen itself from the flesh. Pull off the blistered skin (it doesn’t matter if a little bit remains here and there). Remove the stems and seeds. Cut the peppers lengthways into 1-2 cm strips. Season, arrange on a platter and add the dressing. Sprinkle with grated lemon rind. Serve at room temperature. (This salad serves 8 and keeps very well in the fridge for up to three days).
By Alice Spenser-Higgs
Planning a braai and want something different? Here’s how to use herbs to ‘spice’ it up!
We don’t need an excuse to braai; after all, it’s part of our heritage. December’s balmy evenings and the end of the year holiday mood just add to the enjoyment. But, like all other good things, a braai can become boring if there is no variety. There is no better way to ‘spice’ up a braai than by adding herbs. Herbs can be used in rubs, marinades or butter for the meat, in vegetable or salad side dishes, in salad dressings, and even added to the coals for a delicious aroma.
Meat is always the star of a braai, and a simple rule when using herbs is to match them with the meat as you would in conventional cooking. Here are some combinations:
- Chicken: Rosemary, basil, parsley, savoury, French tarragon
- Lamb: Rosemary, garlic, ginger, mint, lemon balm, thyme
- Pork: Basil, coriander, chervil, marjoram, oregano, sage, thyme
- Steak: Garlic, ginger, horseradish, mint, chives, parsley, thyme
- Fish: Lemon balm, lemon grass, fennel, dill, parsley, rocket, French tarragon
One of the nicest ways to enjoy herbs with meat is to simply make herb butter that is served with a sizzling chop or steak.
1/2 cup unsalted, softened butter
1/4 cup mixed herbs, finely chopped (basil, chives, dill, parsley, thyme or tarragon)
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients until the herbs are well combined with the butter. Pack into a ramekin and cover with cling wrap. (Or place on waxed paper and shape the butter into a cylinder. Wrap and seal the ends.) Chill in the refrigerator until firm, for at least an hour. Herb butter can be stored in the fridge for about two weeks or in the freezer for a few months.
The perfect braai sauce
Chimichurri is a tangy, brightly coloured sauce from Argentina that is served with all their grilled meat. It consists of herbs, garlic and vinegar. Make it the day before your braai to allow the flavours to mature.
2 packed cups fresh Italian parsley leaves
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/4 packed cup fresh oregano leaves (or 4 teaspoons dried oregano)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Finely chop the parsley, garlic and oregano in a food processor, and add the vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Once all the ingredients are finely chopped, add the oil in a steady stream while blending. Pulse a few times to combine everything. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least two hours and up to one day before serving. Before serving, stir and season as needed. The chimichurri will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Spicy herb rubs
Purists like their meat unadorned, but there is merit in using a rub to tenderise or flavour the meat. Here are two simple recipes:
- In a small spice or coffee grinder, coarsely grind black peppercorns, white peppercorns, fennel seeds, dried thyme and lavender flowers. Rub this mixture all over the meat. Wrap the meat tightly in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours, but preferably overnight.
- For a tasty chicken rub, combine garlic, salt, coarse black pepper and dried or fresh marjoram. Rub this into the chicken, and then leave it for a few hours or overnight before grilling. Also try different herbs and spices such as rosemary, cumin and chilli. Other flavourings such as honey, olive oil and mustard can also be used. When making dried mixtures add 1/2 teaspoon of herb salt and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar to the herbs and spices.
Fire up those herbs!
One can literally braai herbs, by using them directly on the braai.
- If you are using wood or charcoal, soak branches of woody herbs in water for a few minutes and then lay them on the coals, just before you start to braai. The effect should be that the herbs smoulder and smoke, adding that fragrance to the meat, and also adding a pleasant aroma.
- Put moistened herbs on the grill and put the meat on top of the herbs. Have more herbs ready to place on the grill when you turn over the meat. Woody herbs are suitable for this, as is fennel.
- Using herbs in a Weber or similar braai that can be closed is even more effective because the aroma from the herbs is absorbed into the food.
- When grilling fish or vegetables in foil parcels, wrap herbs around the food before closing the foil.
- Make skewers from long, strong sprigs of stripped rosemary (‘Tuscan Blue’ is an idea), and soak them in water before threading the meat onto the skewers. One can also use rosemary branches as a basting brush.
Fire from within
Chilli sauce in one form or another is also a part of the South Africa braai. In December, easily available chilli varieties include ‘Habanero’ (very hot), ‘Jalapeno’ (very hot), ‘Long Red Cayenne’ (very hot), ‘Serrano’ (hot), ‘Inchanga’ (hot) and ‘Thai Dragon’ (very hot). Chillies grow best in well-drained soil, in a position that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. This applies equally to chillies grown in pots. Water pots daily and feed twice a month with a liquid feed. Watering is critical – chillies don’t respond well to overwatering or drying out. Chillies in the garden do best with deep watering twice a week in very hot conditions. Pick fruit regularly to encourage new flowers. As a braai accompaniment, serve a fresh chilli salsa consisting of chopped ripe, red tomatoes, chillies, onions and garlic, dressed with olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Fresh coriander leaves and chopped parsley can also be added.
The information in this article is supplied by Healthy Living Herbs
To celebrate World Cucumber Day Tanya is sharing a fruity, floral and fizzy gin cocktail recipe with you – the Hendrick’s Summer Mule!
- 50ml Hendrick’s Gin20ml Fresh Lime Juice
- 20ml Fresh Lime Juice
- 10ml Elderflower Cordial
- 8 Mint Leaves
- 1 Inch Cucumber
- Ginger Beer
Add cucumber to a glass and break with muddler. Add the other ingredients and build all together over cracked ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish.
For other Hendrick’s gin cocktail recipes, visit: https://www.hendricksgin.com/treasury-of-tipples
1. 7-8 tomatoes
2. Olive oil
3. 10 cloves garlic
4. 750 g lamb knuckles
5. 3 leeks or 2 onions
6. 3 stalks celery
7. 3 carrots
8. 2 tablespoons flour
9. ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
10. Salt and pepper
11. ½ cup red wine
12. 750 ml good beef stock
13. 5 sprigs oregano
14. 5 sprigs thyme
15. 5 sprigs parsley
16. ½ cup brown lentils
Cut the tomatoes in half and place on an oiled baking tray cut side down with the unpeeled garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Bake at 200°C for 30 minutes. Chop the vegetables roughly and add to a pan to soften for a few minutes. Place these in a casserole dish or slow cooker. Place the flour, nutmeg and plenty of salt and pepper in a bag and shake it around to mix. Add the lamb knuckles and shake to coat. Place in hot oil in a pan and brown a layer at a time on all sides. Add to casserole. Once the tomatoes and garlic are cooked, peel the tomatoes and squeeze the garlic out their skins into to the casserole. Deglaze the pan with wine and stock and add to the casserole with the herbs and lentils. Cook for 1 ½ hours on a medium heat until the meat is tender.
I love to braai. I will happily cook for 20 or more people for Sunday lunch, and a fire is always part of the cooking process. After lunch, chunky logs are added to make a bonfire for everyone to enjoy.
Fresh herbs are an important part of any good cook’s arsenal, and I grow many of them to use in my kitchen. This is something I constantly encourage people to do on my shows, in the magazines and in the talks that I give. Remember even a few herbs grown in pots on a kitchen windowsill can make a huge difference to your cooking. One of my favourite recipe’s is lamb chops accompanied by pap and sauce. Simple, but delicious!
Herb-crusted lamb chops
- 8 lamb rib chops
- Salt and pepper
- Dijon mustard
- For the crust:
- 1 bunch parsley
- 2 stalks rosemary, leaves only
- 1 bunch thyme, leaves only
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the crust, mix all the ingredients together in a food processor. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and place on the braai for 5 minutes, until browned on both sides. Take off the heat and brush each chop with Dijon mustard. Dip into the crust mixture, place on a baking tray and put into the over at 180 °C for 4 minutes. Serves 4.
Krummelpap and Sauce
Krummelpap (a crumbly version of mealie meal pap) and a simple sauce of tomatoes, onions and mushrooms is a favourite accompaniment to meat or fish on the braai. Krummelpap can also be made successfully in a microwave.
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup mealie meal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 onions, sliced
- 6 tomatoes, grated
- 250g button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons tomato pureé
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ cup chicken or beef stock
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper
For the krummelpap, bring the water to the boil and add the mealie meal and salt. Stir to mix, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir with a fork until crumbly. Cover again and simmer on a very low heat for 40 minutes. For the sauce, heat the butter in a pan and add the onions. When the onions are soft, add mushrooms, tomatoes, wine, stock, parsley, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serves 4-6.
Rosmarinus officinalis is very easy to grow and has a multitude of uses for the braai. While it is usually used as a flavouring agent for all types of dishes, particularly meat and potatoes, branches can also be stripped and used as skewers for meat or vegetables to impart that extra bit of flavour.
- Plant rosemary in full sun for best results.
- It can be grown in most soil types as long as it drains well.
- Shelter plants from frost in very cold regions.
- Provide room for growth, or you will need to keep it trimmed.
- It is virtually indestructible in the garden.
- Rosemary is a good choice for coastal gardens as it can cope with the salty air.
- It will grow in poor, stony or chalky soil.
- It can be trimmed into a hedge.
- It is a good companion plant to carrots, beans and cabbages as it repels aphids and discourages snails, slugs, caterpillars and cutworms.
- It grows well from hardwood cuttings.
How to use
The leaves are rather tough, so it’s best to strip the leaves and chop them finely if adding to dishes. As a general flavourant, use whole sprigs added to roasting vegetables or meat such as chicken or lamb, so that the sprigs can be removed after cooking. It’s great for marinades, vinegars, oils and dressings. Small amounts can be used in baking for cakes and biscuits or for apple sauce and sorbets. For a fragrant winter braai, throw a few sprigs of rosemary on to the fire.
Braaied biltong and cheese rolls
A variation on sarmies for the braai. Butter slices of bread on the outside, sprinkle the inside with shaved biltong, and grated cheese, then roll up. Toast these on the braai for a few minutes on all sides and serve. Delicious.
I love cooking and experimenting with different cuts of meat. Beef short rib is one of my favourites – it’s usually regarded as a cut to cook slowly in a potjie or for hours in the oven but it can be equally delicious cooked quickly over a high heat. Try it – you won’t be disappointed!
1kg of beef short rib (we asked the butcher to cut it into smaller pieces)
Salt and pepper
Season the ribs with salt and pepper and braai them over a hot fire for 3-4 minutes, then move them to the edge of the braai to cook on a lower heat for 15 minutes. Brush the ribs on both sides with sticky sauce and cook for a few minutes before serving. Serve with extra sticky sauce.
11∕3 cups of dark brown sugar
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup of HP sauce
½ cup of whisky (this is optional, use water if you like)
½ cup of wine vinegar
A handful of fresh thyme leaves
3 star anise pods
Salt and pepper
Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and heat.
Cook for 5 minutes and set aside to cool.