A smidgen of this and that…

With the holiday break having come and gone, the activity in my soulofthehome was replaced with braais and a repeat of tried&tested recipes. Kept it simple, kept it easy and fuss-free and kept it as minimal time spent in the kitchen as possible.

Why?

For one, I’m always the one who gets going with all other components of the braai, apart for the fire & the actual braai’ing of the meat etc. So, I was a bit braai-verskrik (as SA slang will term it), and really wanted to perfect the art of braai’ing right from the tipping of the charcoal into the braai stand. Between Better Half, my mum & my braai-expert cousin – I reckon I can now get a fire going ;) Then the excitement at the thought of learning how to braai fish (too terrific!), veggies & the thought of copying my cousin’s feat at braai’ing an entire leg of lamb. Jee whiz, so I was really distracted from the literal soulofthehome space.

I must confess that I lacked oomph to bother with creating new meals, indulging in different tastes and methods this holiday break. Resorted to grills, pastas and the basic, easy meals to keep Better Half and I sustained. Not much/any baking even either….

I can however share with you that once you’ve discovered poached eggs, there’s no turning back. I can’t bear the sight or smell of scrambled eggs. Boiled eggs are now only left for traditional Indian rice meals & fried eggs can be Better Half’s indulgence when he desires (which seems to be rare these days. Go… health!) So, runny/soft poached eggs on a slice or two of wholewheat toast with a great deal of Lea Perrin’s hot sauce & cracklings of black pepper. I Love! Poaching eggs requires the patience of simmering & the carefulness of tipping the egg gently into the simmering water & all the same, removing the poached egg with a slotted spoon. It’s really easy to do and (so!) quick and (very!) healthy AND divine-tasting! Simmer water, add in some vinegar and tip in an egg one at a time. I have them simmer on a medium heat for 4 minutes max, to ensure that the yolk oozes beautifully once cut on a slice of toast.

I’ve also discovered a range of biscotti worth baking! Better Half loves biscotti and so, a few batches of a ‘healthy’ biscotti got my soul stirring (and his…). Olive oil and brown sugar were the healthier ingredients amongst the standard list of baking items. Add in some choc chips (dark chocolate if you wish to trump the list of healthy ingredients) & pecans. Divine. I’ve come across some interesting combinations: chocolate & orange, coconut too. Will share as I attempt on some that turn out successful.

Choc-chip, nut biscotti

Choc-chip, nut biscotti

Leg of lamb was also a part of the soul stirring efforts all this time. My first attempt. Ever. Definitely not the last. Slow-cooked lamb. Slow cooking is imperative. Getting the meat to literally fall off the bone. Sweet shoulder of lamb, perfect for two with leftovers for a decent sandwich the next day. Oven roasted for 3-4 hours with a great deal of patience & confidence that once the 4 hours are complete, the lid is lifted, there lies a tender, juicy lamb roast. The gravy turned out surprisingly swell! Definitely worth the effort. I’ll most certainly do the full-swing oven method (rather than the common, yet still successful stove-top method of sealing the meat and then sticking in the oven): raising the oven temperature over 200C, then sticking in the double-foiled roasting pan into the oven, immediately turn down the heat to 140-160 and slow roast for a good, coupla’ hours. Leaves one to twiddle thumbs (or prepare the side dishes to complement the roast) in that time.

This beauty marinated in the fridge for 3-4 days before hauling it out to room temperature on the day of The Roast

This beauty marinated in the fridge for 3-4 days before hauling it out to room temperature on the day of The Roast

Shoulder lamb roast flanked with roasted veggies & the mandatory baby onions

Shoulder lamb roast flanked with roasted veggies & the mandatory baby onions

Nothing beats homemade gravy!

Nothing beats homemade gravy!

Had a cheesecake interest too, thanks to my cousin who gifted me with a mini-individual cheesecake pan. Customised with a loose-fitting base per individual pan to effortlessly yield a dozen dainty cheesecakes. I personally prefer making and eating a fridge cheesecake. It’s dead easy, no fret about how the cheesecake’ll set once out of the oven & in the summer season, a chilled cheesecake is more appetising. I’ve learnt that lemon juice acts as a stabiliser (the recipe I attempted used lemon juice, no gelatine). Ensure that a good quality cream cheese is used. I added cinnamon powder to the biscuit base (a definite win on flavour and subtle aroma).

Plain cheesecake, topped with crumbled Aero Mint

Plain cheesecake, topped with crumbled Aero Mint

So with routines back in motion, I’ll be flipping the pages of the purple Indian Delights more often….onward to the next post!

Lousy photos, sorry  – that’s what I get for using my cellphone camera. As for evidence of the braai fire, this lies on Better Half’s phone camera (at the time of this post, unavailable) and as for the poached eggs, I’ll have to share in another post, another time when I remember to pause with the chowing & instead snap up a photo :)

This mini, portable braai stand was so convenient and easy to assemble & dis-assemble!

This mini, portable braai stand was so convenient and easy to assemble & dis-assemble!

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