Tomato and Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank

During my 3 year stay in the USA, lamb made very few and far between appearances, I always asked why and got the same answer…it smells when cooking. Now I have always been confused by this statement, personally I cannot ask for a better aroma to flood through my house than when cooking lamb, whether it is in a stew or a roasting in the oven.

Slow cooked, family style food which brings comfort and warmth when you indulge, in my opinion, is my signature style.  This can be anything from my favourite lamb shank (or Springbok shank if you can find), to a melody of curries, the cooked to perfection oxtail, unhurried roasts or home baked breads , studded with olives, rosemary and coarse salt served with freshly made pâtés and preserves. Definitely not waistline friendly…however, I try to keep that balance of healthy vs. pure food bliss. During winter time, the later has the upper hand.

With us being in the midst of winter, there is nothing more comforting than sharing slow cooked lamb shanks, and a wonderful bottle of wine with family to shoo off the cold.

Tomato & Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank
serves 4

lamb shank plated

4 lamb shanks
300g flour
2 tbsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Olive Oil for frying
1 tsp white sugar
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely diced
1 pkt celery, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 pkt carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 whole star anise
2 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 Knorr beef stock pot
¾ bottle of red wine (I used a Fairview La Capra Merlot)
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1 pkt tomato paste
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
seasoning to taste

Preheat the oven to 150°C

In a plastic packet, mix the flour, paprika, salt and black pepper, place the shanks in – one at a time – and shake.  You want to coat the entire shank well with the flour mixture. Set aside.

In a deep, cast iron pot, heat olive oil over a medium to high heat, brown the lamb shanks.  Set aside.

Without cleaning the pot, fry the onions, carrots, celery and sugar until soft.  Add the tomato paste and garlic and fry further until you see the oil starts splitting from the tomato paste.

Add the star anise, cloves cinnamon stick and stock pot.  Stir before placing the lamb shanks in the pot.  Cover with wine and whole peeled tomatoes and add rosemary sprigs.  You want to just cover the shanks, if the wine doesn’t cover the lamb shanks, add some boiling water.

Cover the rim of the pot with flour & water glue (See Chef Note at the bottom of the page).  Place the lid on top and squash, you want to have a completely sealed pot which won’t let steam escape.

Place in the oven for 4 to 5 hours. This time may vary based on your oven, so use this only as a guide.  You want the shank to be so soft that you can just pull the bone out without breaking the meat apart.

Turn the oven to grill, take shanks out of the sauce and set under the grill.  Careful not to burn, you just want some colour on the meat.

Using a handheld blender, blitz the sauce, if it is not thick, place it in a pot and reduce, or to cheat, thicken with corn flour.

Serve with parsley & garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables.

 lamb shanks in pot

Flour & Water Paste:
This is a paste made from water and flour which create a type of glue which you can seal pots with to ensure that no steam escapes.  Use about 1 ½ cups flour, to about 3/4 cup  water, for the paste. You are looking for play dough type consistency.
Working on a floured surface, shape the dough into a long sausage shape, then press the sausage onto the rim of the casserole.

 

Dinner with Madam Zingara’s Bombay Bicycle Club

The second restaurant which enthralled my eccentric side is called Bombay Bicycle Club, one of the Madam Zingara restaurants’ in Cape Town.  I have looked many times on the website and lived the experience through the beautiful pictures and write-ups, and it was an absolute given that this would be one of the restaurants I just had to experience firsthand.

It was suggested that we book a table, and I am glad we did!  On a Wednesday evening, we arrived at about 6:15pm to just one table, by 8pm it was full, now for those of you who have not been, let me try explain what the restaurant is like.

Compact and quirky to the max is what first comes to mind.  You can’t miss the restaurant which is situated on Upper Kloof Street, the outside grabs your attention immediately with its brightly coloured umbrellas and the old car on the roof next to the Jollywood sign.

You just know you are in for a treat.  We were welcomed by friendly staff, who reminded me more of  long lost friends who had not seen us in a while as opposed to a waiter we just met for the first time.  Inside, you are greeted with so much your eyes can’t stop wondering.  We were lead to the “new section” called the Love Shack, which I was told we would be in when I booked the previous evening.  I felt like I had been transported into another galaxy where your childhood fantasies have become a norm.

Our Love Shack was a table in the corner which had been cornered off with zinc pannles, painted bright pink and decorated with many different African type memorabilia.  I spent quite some time looking at all the photographs and odds and ends displayed all over the Love Shack.

Our waiter made me giggle a few times with his typical Cape Town mannerisms and slang. Our wine was brought to us, we ordered our starters.

I opted for the deep fried beer battered camembert with a tomato and basil sauce, which was amazing.  The beer batter and the camembert worked so well together with a perfectly balanced tomato sauce to round the meal off.

Justin has the phyllo parcels with smoked chicken, mozzarella and a wild musroom sauce.  Of course I had to taste that too, and it was just as good.  The wild mushroom sauce complimented the smoked chicken perfectly.

After starters, we decided we would relax first and enjoy our wine, and of course have a look at a few more of the odds and ends that were laying around.   I was in stitches when our waiter popped his head into the Love Shake and asked if he could “gooi” (throw) our mains for us.  He had to give me a moment to compose myself before we could order.

The menu is a small menu but a nice variety.  I always um and ah, and for me it was the decision between the lamb shank and the ostrich tapenade, I finally settled on the lamb shank and was definitely not disappointed. The lamb was fall off the bone tender, yet still had the perfect mouth feel. Flavours of a rich tomato base with the rosemary and garlic just always is a winner.  Brings me back to one of my kitchen motto’s, keep it simple!

The waiter suggested that one of us had to try the ribs, so Justin settled on the Surf & Turf, which was a rib & prawn combo.  I tasted the ribs, and let me say, I second our waiter’s opinion.  The ribs were so tender and had a perfect balance of sweet and savoury and just delicious.

Unfortunately we had way to much already and dessert was skipped.

A restaurant I can happily recommend, this is a package deal, the whole experience is something you just have to have yourself.

Enjoy!

Lazy Sundays and a wonderful lunch at Crossways Country Kitchen

I know I have not been on the blogs much lately, I guess just a mixture of being busy, and for a while I stepped away from the  stoves, I just didn’t have any confidence in my cooking after a rather nasty incident with a patron.  But I am back, and I am feeling again…I have missed food…and most important, I have missed the feeling I have when I create in the kitchen.

Today, we had to do a little celebrating, so my lovely husband and I went to discover a new destination for lunch.  Now this is definitely what I would refer to as a “Hole in the Wall’ type place, which is exactly the kind of restaurants I love.  I am not one for the top 5 restaurants in the country, in my opinion, fine dining does have its purpose, however, for me…I am more the “mom & pop” kind of chef, where food comes from the heart and the creativity on the plate is such a large part of you.  Maybe its the artist in me as well that brings these feelings out.

The Crossways Country Kitchen is exactly what I love about the industry.  Briefly listening to the owner, I am so excited for the ideas he has, and WOW, it will bring so much into the community and more importantly for the “foodie’ community of the Eastern Cape.  I really look forward to his vision.

You can find out more about the restaurant here

We were warmly greeted by the handful of waitresses which are so lovely and friendly, and told we may sit anywhere, as there were many open tables.  I was rather surprised as I thought they would be more busy, however, we were early for lunch, and by the time we left, they were buzzing with people.

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We were brought the drinks menu and asked for a wine list, I was slightly confused as there was not an actual menu.

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The waitress brought us our wine, and in tow were 2 more waitresses, one with an easel and one with a large blackboard which was set up in front of us.  I absolutely loved this, however not very practical when they got busy as there was only one menu floating around.

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We settled on a wine I have never heard of.  Brampton Viognier, which was so fruity. The aromatics are splendid: springtime perfumery, fresh ginger, peaches, apricots and honeysuckle. The palate is waxy and delicate yet with an underlying strength and focus. Aromas follow effortlessly onto the rich palate the wine just set the mood for an absolutely wonderful meal.

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We started with the roasted tomato soup with basil pesto and  lovely homemade bread.  The bread was so delicious, beautiful soft crumb texture yet the crust was so crispy and chewy – exactly how I love my bread, with oregano and nuts, this was a perfect companion to this hearty earthy soup.

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As always mains are a tough decision as I always want to have so many things!  I finally settled on my old time favourite Lamb Shank with spring onion mashed potatoes with a lovely red wine & onion gravy.  The lamb was so full of flavour and just fell off the bone, definitely country cooking at its best.  The spring onion in the mash just gave the mash such a beautiful uplifting flavour which enhanced the flavours of the lamb.

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Justin had the smoked pork neck with rustic butternut mash, when the food arrived I had one of those breathtaking moments.  The sight of this dish made my mouth water!  The roasted naartjies and the beautiful Fall colours on the board  just oozed creativity, I was in love!

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I was already so full however when the dessert blackboard was set out for us, and there was a cheeseboard…I had to have!  Very seldom do you find a cheeseboard part of dessert, so we enjoyed cheese, preserves, crackers and a lovely cuppachino for dessert.

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The setting was just stunning, about 40kms from Humansdorp, just off the N2, take the Sunnyside turn off,  nestled between cows roaming free.  Open from 9am to 3pm, Wednesday through Sunday, from what I understand the menu changes all the time, and the pork belly is something to look out for!

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Sunday Roast and Place In The Sun Shiraz…

I think a Sunday roast is a luxury that we tend to take for granted. Having Sunday off, I thought that would be exactly what I would do, although I didn’t do a traditional roast as such. I made a deboned leg of lamb, with roasted vegetables, with a cous cous salad and green salad.

I have had this cut of lamb in the freezer for a while, slightly to big to just have for 2 people, so I have had to wait for the right occasion. Sunday roast sounded like the perfect occasion!

Deboned Leg of Lamb Roast

Leg of lamb

olive oil
rosemary
garlic
salt
pepper
lemon juice

Make a marinade from all the ingredients, and rub onto the meat. Place in fridge for about an hour, if you have the time, you can do this the night before and leave it in the fridge over night. Remove from fridge and let stand to come to room temperature before you place in oven.
Preheat the oven to 160° C
Place marinated lamb into a roasting pan, cover with two sheets of tinfoil and into the oven for 3 hours.
Remove from oven and take the lamb out of the roasting pan. Let rest on a cool surface until room temperature.
Take the all juices from the pan and place into a pot, and bring to boil, add a glass of red wine and let cook out over a medium heat.
Place lamb back into roasting tray with vegetables and potatoes. Drizzled vegetables with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh herbs of choice, I used mixed herbs.
Place back into the oven at 180° C for 45 minutes, uncovered.
Remember to let lamb rest again before you start slicing it.

Cous Cous Salad

we all know my great love for cous cous, this one I just fine diced whatever I had in my fridge.
Tomato, pickled onions, peaches, feta, pumpkin seeds , Verlaque mango chilli dressing and fresh parsley.
We enjoyed this roast with my MIL & FIL, a small thank you to them for all the help they gave with the wedding.

We got a bottle of wine from friends for Justin’s birthday, it was a wine I didn’t know, so we thought we would open that too, and wow, was I blown away. What a lovely bottle of wine, called Place in the Sun. So I did some research on this wine, and I have to say, I am very impressed, will be drinking more Place In The Sun Wines thats for sure!