Chilli poppers

Chilli poppers

chilli poppers

Chilli Poppers

When you make chilli poppers you want them to have a nice crunchy exterior and a stingy cheese mixture inside that bursts in your mouth when you bite into them. Jalapeno peppers that have had the seeds removed are not very hot but do have a nice cleansing bite to them if you know what I mean. Try these, they are really amazing and favourites all over the place. Be sure you do not touch your eyes or your face while preparing the peppers, you will have water streaming down your face and you won’t be able to see, so scratch or touch all you need to first and then start. These can be done in the oven or deep fried.

What you need

12 to 16 large fresh jalapeno peppers with the stems still on (available at any good supermarket)
500g cream cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 eggs beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

The process

First make the filling by adding the cream cheese, cheddar and mozzarella with the pepper to a bowl and giving it a good mix. Set it aside.

Now with a sharp knife make an incision into the length of the pepper without cutting it in half and using the back of a teaspoon, remove the seeds and the membrane, leaving a nice clean cavity for the filling. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES. When you have completed all of the peppers, throw out the seeds and the membranes and wash your hands well.

Now fill each pepper with as much of the cheese mixture as you can and set them side.

You now need three bowls, one with the beaten eggs and milk, one with the flour and another with the breadcrumbs.

Dip each pepper into the egg, shake and then coat in flour and set aside. This is a really important part… leave them for 5 minutes or so to let the flour set and harden slightly. Get another glass of wine, change the music, snuggle you child but whatever you do leave them for a few minutes.

Now dip them back into the egg and then dredge them in the breadcrumbs to get a nice uniform coating, you can pat the crumbs onto them as well and again set them aside while you heat your oil or oven.

If you are deep frying heat your oil to medium hot, they will sizzle the moment you put them in but will not be completely covered by the oil bubbles after a few seconds. Fry until golden brown and very crisp. Set aside on paper towel to drain. Do about 4 at a time so as not to cool down the oil too quickly.

If you are doing them in the oven, heat the oven to 220 Celsius, place the poppers on a baking tray that has been sprayed with cooking spray and bake until brown and crisp.

Simply delicious.

You can change the cheese mix to be your own special mixture by adding a spice like cumin for example or using more mozzarella and a stronger cheddar, you get the idea.

Marinated chicken skewers

Marinated chicken skewers

chicken skewers

Chicken skewers

This recipe for marinated chicken skewers was sent by a reader who had won a competition with the recipe and was kind enough to share it with us. Thank you Christine. I gave it a try and well, it is going to be on my braai menu from now on for sure. It turns out beautifully garlicy with a sweet and fiery aftertaste that is quite amazing. You just have to try it and best of all it’s so simple. (makes 6-8 skewers) I didn’t do it exactly as Christine did, I prefer to thread then marinade but you can marinade then thread if you like.

What you need

3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 teaspoons hot English mustard
2 Tablespoons honey
4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into thin strips
salt and pepper to taste

The process

Soak bamboo skewers in water while you prepare.

Mix together all of the marinade ingredients with a whisk and set aside.

Slice your chicken breasts through the center to butterfly them and then cut into 4 thin slices. Thread them onto a soaked skewer and place in a flat dish.

Pour the marinade over the skewers, roll them around a bit to ensure that they are completely covered with the marinade, cover with cling film and place in the fridge over night to marinade.

They were fabulous and as she suggests, the marinade can be used for wings or drumsticks as well. This along with the marinated pork ribs, sosaties and potato bake makes for a great braai.

Chocolate mousse

Chocolate mousse

Easy chocolate mousse

Chocolate mousse

In the past I have had a few chocolate mousse disasters but this recipe from a 1995 Bryanston high school recipe book I came across in the market some time ago turned out beautifully.  It’s really simple and needs to be made at least 2 hours before serving.. perfect. I made the chocolate mousse without alcohol but you can add you favorite liqueur to fancy it up a bit. (makes 6-8 ramekins)

What you need

3 eggs separated
2 tablespoons caster sugar
100g dark chocolate
125ml fresh cream
pinch of salt
(Optional 1 tablespoon of kahlua, brandy, amaretto or Baileys)

The process

Place a small pot of water on the stove to boil then place a glass bowl over the water but not touching it and melt the chocolate.

In a large bowl add the catser sugar and the egg yolks then use an electric beater to beat the mixture until it is thick and creamy.

Add the melted chocolate ensuring you get it all by using a baking spatula to clean the bowl. Beat again until well blended.

In a separate bowl whip the cream until stiff, add to the chocolate mixture and fold in using a metal spoon. Don’t mix it, just fold it in gently until evenly distributed.

Now take another bowl and add the egg whites and pinch of salt. Beat with your electric beater (be sure to clean the beaters) until stiff.

Add to the chocolate mixture and fold in with a metal spoon until colour is uniform. If you are using alcohol, this is the stage you add it, together with the beaten egg whites.

Spoon into cups or ramekins and chill in the fridge for a few hours. It will need at least 2 hours to set well.

You can grate over a bit more chocolate or add a mint sprig, a dollop of cream… you get the idea. Truly one of the easiest and nicest tasting chocolate mousse recipes I have tried.

Creamed spinach

Creamed spinach

creamed spinach recipe

Creamed spinach

Whenever you go to a restaurant these days there is always creamed spinach as a vegetable and I personally love it. A great creamed spinach recipe will even have the die hard anti vegetable kids… or adults for that matter climbing in and enjoying it so here is a really great creamed spinach recipe for you all to get your greens the easy way. It makes quite a lot, about 6 cups but can easily be frozen for another day or simply halve the recipe.

What you need

1/2 cup finely grated onion (you are going to cry!)
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups warm milk
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese (don’t leave this out)
Pinch of finely ground black pepper or about 1/4 teaspoon
Pinch of salt
120g cream cheese
600g finely chopped cleaned spinach
butter
Olive oil

The process

Prepare all of your ingredients before you start cooking, it does not take long to cook and if you are using frozen chopped spinach, thaw it completely, place in a colander and allow all of the water to drain off, then give it a squeeze to remove the last bit of water. Dry your eyes if you grated the onion… after you washed your hands.

If you are using fresh spinach, bring a large pot of water to the boil, toss in the spinach and allow to blanch for no longer than 1 1/2 minutes, drain in a colander and give it a squeeze to remove the water.

In a large pot on a medium to high heat melt 2 heaped tablespoons butter with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and allow them to cook for about 4 or 5 minutes or so while you stir.

Add the flour and stir constantly for about another minute or two to cook the flour.

Add the milk in a slow stream while you mix very well. You need the flour to be combined well with the milk. Once it is all in, reduce your heat to low and keep stirring until you have a nice smooth mixture.

Add the parmesan and cream cheese, season with salt and pepper, combine well and then toss in the spinach. Use a folding motion to combine the spinach and creamy sauce, cook for a minute or two and you are done.

To freeze a batch, allow it to cool, place in a Jiffy bag, remove any air, seal and into the freezer. It is brilliant to have frozen for when you just don’t feel like cooking after a long day.

Lamb sosaties

Lamb sosaties

sosaties

Sosaties

Summer is here and a braai is just not quite the same without lamb sosaties. Here is a really fantastic sosatie recipe that you will want to print and keep for your weekend braais. This sosatie recipe uses dried apricots on the skewers but you don’t have to use them, they are just as good without. For me sosaties should not be hot so I use mild curry powder.(makes 8 sosaties) Feel free to double it up.

What you need

500g deboned and cubed lamb about 3cm cubes (leg or shoulder)
2 Onions, 1 grated and 1 cut into chunks for the skewers
Splash of Sunflower oil, about 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons garlic
1 tablespoon curry powder (mild unless you like them hot)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 dried bay leaves
Juice of half a small lemon or about 1 tablespoon
100ml beef stock
125g dried apricots
1 large green or red pepper cut into squares (similar size to the meat cubes)
Wooden or bamboo skewers

The process

Soak the skewers in water while you cut up all of the ingredients, then thread the skewers with a piece of meat, an apricot, a piece of green pepper and a piece of onion, repeating until the kewers are full and faily well packed. (If you have fresh bay leaves, add one or two onto the skewers)

Place them in a large dish and prepare the marinade.

In a pan on a medium heat, add the oil and the butter, then add the grated onion, garlic and curry powder. Allow to cook for about 3 minutes or so, stirring every now and then.

Now add the turmeric, the lemon juice and the stock, bring it all to the boil, turn down the heat, add the sugar and bay leaves and simmer for about another 3 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Pour the whole lot over the sosaties, shake them about a bit to ensure that each sosatie is covered with the marinade, then cover with cling film and allow to marinate in the fridge over night.

In the morning, or before you go to bed, give them another shake about to cover the sosaties again.

Braai them over hot coals and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Yummy I tell you. (You can also use this sosatie recipe on chicken, it tastes marvelous as well)

Try the Bobotie recipe and the Pork rib marinade if you like this type of Traditional SA food.

Easy impressive chocolate cake

Easy impressive chocolate cake

Impressive chocolate cake

Here is a real winner of a chocolate cake recipe. It is foolproof and from start to eating is about 1 and a 1/2 hours with 1 hour being the baking time. It’s a really fantastic chocolate cake that is soft, moist, delicious and if you are looking for a chocolate cake to impress without any hassles, this is it. The real secret to this recipe is getting the baking time right and using the ground almonds, so set your alarm or a reminder on your phone, you don’t want it to overcook.

What you need

400g milk chocolate
75ml water
175g soft butter
250g light brown muscavado sugar
4 eggs
100g self raising flower
50g cocoa powder
100g ground almonds
300ml whipped double cream
250g mascarpone cheese

The process

Heat your oven to 160 Celsius and lightly but thoroughly butter the inside of a 20cm springform round cake tin.

Heat 75ml of water in a small pot to boiling, remove from the heat add 250g of the chocolate and stir until it is melted.

Add the sugar and butter to a large bowl and beat with your electric beaters until pale and creamy. Addthe eggs 1 at a time and beat them into the mixture. If you notice the mixture starting to curdle, add about a tablespoon of the flour.

Now stir in the chocolate with a metal spoon until the whole mixture is brown. Sift the flour and the cocoa into the bowl, add the ground almonds and fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients gently. Don’t mix it, just fold it in to distribute evenly.

Pour the whole lot into the cake tin, into the oven for about one hour. You want the cake to have risen and be firm to the touch, check it at 50 minutes with a skewer. You want a little stickiness in the center so the skewer should come out with a little wetness and cake on it.

Set the tin aside and allow the cake to cool.

Remove the cake and find the longest straightest knife you have. Slice the cake into 2 or 3 equal slice. Place a layer of whipped cream between the slices.

Melt the rest of the chocolate in about 30ml of boiling water and in a separate bowl beat the mascarpone cheese with another 30ml of boiling water, add the chocolate to the mascarpone and beat well with your electric beater. Smother the cake with the mixture and you have made one seriously delicious and impressive chocolate cake.

Easy Eton mess

Easy Eton mess

Eton mess

Meringue, strawberries and cream are about as good a summer dessert as you will get and this recipe takes so little effort to prepare you will hardly believe it. It is a traditional English dessert recipe that is usually made with raspberries but strawberries work for me. In fact you could use any fresh fruit or berries like gooseberries or peach slices for example, the result is always the same… silence at the table after the first mouthful or two and then endless compliments. (6-8 servings)

What you need

2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
150ml double cream
150g white chocolate chopped into small pieces
200g plain full cream yoghurt
350g fresh strawberries

The process

Firstly make the ganache by adding 1/2 the cream to a sauce pan and heating until it begins to bubble on the edges. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. stir gently to melt the chocolate. Add the rest of the cream and with a beater on medium beat until it the ganache forms a soft peak when the beaters are removed. Set aside

Now heat your oven 140 Celsius, line a baking sheet with baking paper and make the meringue. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. To test, if you turn the bowl upside down the egg mixture does not slip out. Now add the caster sugar in 3 batches and whick into the egg whites until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Take a dessert spoon and place spoonfulls of the mixture on the baking sheet, pop in the oven for about an hour or until crisp but still pale. Remove and allow them to cool.

Now for the final bit, add the yoghurt to the ganache and mix together with a metal spoon. You don’t need to mix it in if you know what I mean, just distribute the yoghurt evenly. ( imagine you will get a little of the sweet chocolate and then also a little of the yoghurt taste)

Break up the meringues into a large serving bowl, add the strawberries and the ganache mixture and turn it as if you were gently tossing a salad. Serve immediately.

It’s just so fantastic I can taste it while I’m typing.

To make the dessert a little fancier, you can simply structure each bowl with a whole meringue or two, a few strawberries and a lashing of ganache.

Fantastic prawn pasta

Fantastic prawn pasta

Prawn pasta

This is another of those very easy and OH so tasty pasta recipes that you can whip up in 20 minutes from start to finish. I love prawns and shrimps or almost anything seafood and this is one of my favourites. It does have wine in it but you can substitute the wine with verjuice for a non alcoholic version. It’s really simple to make and a perfect pasta recipe to serve at a dinner party or a summer lunch. (3 people)

What you need

Olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
Pinch paprika (about 1/4 teaspoon)
750g queen prawns shelled
120g butter (I know its a lot but it makes all the difference)
1/2 cup white wine or verjuice
Palm of chopped fresh parsley (about 3 tablespoons)
250g spaghetti
Salt and pepper

The process

Cook your pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water.

In a pan over a medium to hot heat add a good splash of olive oil or about 2 tablespoons. Add the onions and saute for about 3 minutes until they are starting to go transparent. Now add the garlic and paprika, stir and saute for another 1 minute being careful not to brown the garlic.

Add the prawns and toss them around for 2 minutes to cook a little, then add the butter and wine, cook until the butter has melted, add the parsley, season with salt and pepper and allow to simmer for another 2 minutes or so until the prawns have turned a nice pink and are cooked through. The sauce should thicken a little and become glossy.

Drain you pasta, place in a large serving bowl with the shrimp sauce poured over the top.

Serve this incredibly delicious prawn pasta with a simple green salad and crusty bread.

The recipe is a bit difficult to simply double up but if you are having a 6 people or so I would suggest you make the sauce in two separate pans, it just seems to work out better.

Enjoy it folks. At GraysOnline we’ve taken all the hard work out of choosing the perfect bottle of wine

Fresh Pomodoro Pasta sauce

Fresh Pomodoro Pasta sauce

Pomodoro pasta sauce is a simple, fresh and perfectly summery pasta dish. The tomato is warm but still firm and when combined with the fresh basil is just spectacular. If you are not into spending hours in front of the stove and want a quick tasty pasta this is the one for you.(4 people)

What you need

400g spaghetti or Angel hair pasta
6 or 7 medium size ripe tomatoes
10 to 12 leaves of fresh basil
2 cloves fresh garlic
100ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper

The process

Place your pasta in a large pot of salted water and cook to al-dente. The bigger the pot the better.

While the pasta is cooking, remove the seeds from the tomatoes and cut into 1cm square pieces and place in a bowl (you can make the larger if you want but I find this is a great size for spaghetti)

Chop up the basil quite finely and add to the tomatoes, then slice the garlic as finely as you can and add to the tomatoes. Lastly add the Olive oil, mix it together and let it stand while your pasta finishes cooking.

Drain the pasta and return to the pot with the tomato mixture, place back on the stove and mix it for about 3 minutes or so to heat the sauce. Add a little salt and pepper to your taste and you are done.

It’s a delicious pasta recipe. Serve with warm crusty bread.

Summer rice salad with warm chicken breast

Summer rice salad with warm chicken breast

Rice salad

As the weather warms up I thought it’s time for something a little more adventurous and summery. This rice salad recipe has a fantastic flavour with all sorts going on in your mouth. You just have to try it, the pears and the blue cheese in the rice are such a great combination with the warm chicken and it’s sauce. I rate this as a top summer lunch. (5 – 6 people)

What you need

6 spring onions roughly sliced
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon mustard
6 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon flour
150ml chicken stock
1 apple diced quite small (1cm cubes)
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons fresh cream
Saltt and pepper
Olive Oil

Salad

250g cooked rice
2 pears diced small (1cm cubes)
150g blue cheese
1 red pepper diced small
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon Sesame oil

The process

In a bowl add the spring onions, about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, mustard and tarragon, then season well with salt and pepper, mix together and toss in the chicken pieces. Toss them around a bit to cover the chicken pieces like a marinade. Set them aside for about 4 hours.

Remove the chicken pieces and shake off any onions. Cook the chicken pieces on a high heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side to brown nicely. Remove and set aside.

Now reduce the heat to medium add all of the marinade to the pan, add the chicken stock and the flour and mix well, add the apples and walnuts and allow to simmer for 5 minutes stirring from time to time.

Add the cream and the chicken pieces and simmer for another 2-3 minutes and remove from the heat.

In a separate bowl add all of the rice salad ingredients, mix them with a fork to separate the rice grains and distribute the colours evenly.

That’s it, serve the chicken over the rice salad with a bit of the sauce. It’s a party in your mouth I tell you.