Gammon with a pineapple & green pepper salsa

Tis the season to be jolly…traal la la la laaaa…la la la laaaa. Schools are closing, businesses are bustling about to finalize the last few “to do’s” before they close shop for the summer vacation.   It is that special time of the year again where coastal towns are filling up – locals curse the holiday makers for taking their parking space, but yet good cheer, happiness and laughter is filling up all around us, we fall into that “holiday mode” as we approach Christmas.

I have such fond memories of our food adventures on Christmas day.  The table spread of gammon, turkey, roast beef and chicken, the salads for every taste and not to forget that oh so special Christmas Trifle.  My father would spend 2 days prior to Christmas cooking up a storm, leaving Christmas day for eating, family time and playing with our latest little treasures that old St Nick had left under the Christmas tree…

Gammon with a pineapple & green pepper salsa

gammon

1kg gammon
1 can cherry cola
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 bottle Cherry Jam / Glaze (use the liquid from a bottle of Maraschino cherries if you can’t find jam)
+- 10 whole cloves
2 small onions, roughly chopped
1 green pepper. diced
1 pineapple, diced
½ punnet sage
1 thumb size piece of ginger, grated
½ cup vegetable stock
Seasoning

Place the gammon in a deep pot, pour in half of cola and fill up with water just until the gammon is covered.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for an hour.  (Boil for 30 minutes for every 500g of meat weight)
Preheat the oven to 180°C
Place the onions, mustard and vegetable stock in a roasting tray.
Place the gammon on the onions, pour the remainder of the cola over the gammon, stud the skin of the gammon with the cloves, evenly distribute over the surface.
Brush generous amounts of glaze over the gammon and pop into the oven for a 45 minutes.
Every 10 – 15 minutes, brush another generous helping of glaze over the gammon.
For the last 10 minutes, turn your oven to grill, this will crisp up the gammon slightly and make the glaze extra sticky
Remove from oven and let rest before carving.
Remove the sauce, place in a pot and cook out for about 10 minutes.  Blitz it up with a stick blender, thicken slightly with cornstarch and you have a perfect gravy to serve with your roast.
Add the green peppers, pineapple, sage and ginger in a bowl, season and use as a salsa over the gammon.

The great thing about Christmas meats is that you can serve hot or cold, and who doesn’t have stacks of Christmas leftovers?

Run on over to the local bakery and buy a loaf of fresh ciabatta, opening up an arrangement of sandwich ideas with your sliced gammon.

Season’s greetings with all good wishes for the new year.

Chef Angeliqueca

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New Age Bangers & Mash

How often does the “what’s for dinner” conversation go down in your house?  When do you actually decide what you are going to make for dinner, whether you are going to cook or go out?  These are all important questions, for those who are faced with the daunting task of having to decide what to feed your family.  You don’t want the boring same old same old, having said that, if you are anything like me, having to go to the store to buy ingredients just for one meal makes me rather grumpy.  Unfortunately, the love to shop card is not part of my make up, so it’s a task and a half.

So for my New Age Banger & Mash I dug around in my freezer and just used what I had in the house.

I love potatoes, I can have potatoes done any way, but I wanted something different…

500g baby potatoes
1 onion, roughly diced
1 generous tsp garlic, chopped or used crushed garlic
50ml brandy
1 tbsp sugar
handful of parsley, chopped
Olive oil
salt & pepper

Parboil the baby potatoes; you want them just soft enough that you can squash them between your palms.  Set aside to cool

In a pan, fry off your onions over a medium heat, add the sugar and let caramelize.  Add the brandy to deglaze the pan, add garlic and briefly cook until all the liquid has cooked out.

Squeeze the baby potatoes between your palms just to break them, you looking for a rustic kind of look.  Add to your pan with onions, toss around until well combined.  Add the parsley, season and set aside.

Now to put something together on a plate!

Pork bangers – boil off your bangers and fry off in a little olive oil.  If you want to keep it slightly healthier, set your oven to 180° C, after boiling them off, just pop them in the oven until nicely the bangers have a nice colour. Healthier but it does take slightly longer.

I popped a packet of peas into a pot, a knob of butter, orange zest and a splash of orange juice.  Cook just until the peas are heated through.  The fresh citrus flavours with the peas are a lovely combination.

Rolled Pork Belly, stuffed with Apricots in a Brandy & Rooibos syrup

This month being heritage month, I started thinking about all the wonderful South African bits and pieces I missed when I lived in the USA.  We use to get little care packages sent to us, from back home, filled with South African goodies, we were also very lucky to have  a store close by which sold a little piece of home – Ouma Rusks, Milo, Rooibos Tea and Marmite, then we found an online SA store in California where we could buy Savanna, we were in heaven!  I would introduce my American friends to the little bits of South Africa, which brought me to this recipe.

I have played around with a similar idea before but thinking what is really South African?  Rooibos, Dried Apricots and Brandy…how much more South African do you get than that?

Pork Belly, stuffed with apricots in a brandy & rooibos syrup

Serves 6

1.6kg pork belly, deboned, ask your butcher to score the skin for you to make life easier at home
1 tbsp Caraway seeds, roasted and roughly ground
Coarse salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1 Rooibos tea bag
1 cup of boiling water

For the Syrup
100g brown sugar
2 rooibos tea bags
1 cup Klipdrift brandy
125g dried apricots
1 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice

Soak the dried apricots in the brandy for half an hour
Place all the syrup ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, let simmer for 5 minutes and turn off, set aside to cool
Roughly chop the cooled apricots
Simmer the remaining syrup until reduced by half

Preheat your oven to 150°C

With the pork belly skin down, season the flesh with salt & pepper, brush a little of the syrup over the flesh and place chopped apricots down the middle.
Roll pork belly and tie with butchers twine, you want a tightly rolled pork belly.
Rub the scored skin with salt, pepper and the caraway seeds

In a roasting tray, place two small bowls upside down and place pork belly on top.  Fill the bottom with a cup of rooibos tea and a little water until the water level is just under the flesh.

Place in oven for 3 and a half hours.  Remove from oven, pour all the juices into the same pot the syrup is in.  Cook together, thicken with cornflour for gravy.

Place the roast back into a preheated oven at 180°C, and cook for 25 minutes.
Put your oven on full grill and cook for 15 minutes to get a nice crispy crackling

Serve with mashed potatoes which ever way you like and some vegetables of your choice and you have a lovely easy meal

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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