Creamy potato bake

Creamy potato bake

Creamy potato bake

A creamy potato bake makes any braai, this we know so why not make it as a veg any time. Make this potato bake with a steak, a few pieces of roast chicken, a piece of grilled salmon, anything really. It’s so delicious I just cannot get enough of it. Give it a try for dinner with the Greek chicken pieces, you family will be forever grateful… this is how we want them right? (6-8 servings, a little for tomorrow…)

What you need

6-8 large potatoes peeled and boiled
300g mushrooms sliced (any mushrooms)
1 medium onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
4-6 cloves garlic chopped
About 1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
Salt and black pepper
250ml cream, beaten to medium stiff
250g grated cheese
about 6 chives chopped to garnish

The process

Heat your oven to 180 Celsius and prepare a baking dish which is about (30cm x 20cm x 6cm high or similar) by lightly buttering the inside.

In a pan with a little olive oil and butter on a medium heat, fry the onion and green pepper until soft, add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for about another 5 minutes, remove and set aside.

Slice the boiled potatoes into thin slices and place a layer on the base of the baking dish.

Cover with a thin layer of the mushroom mixture then a light sprinkle of cheese, a light sprinkle of herbs and a grind of black pepper and salt, then spread a thin layer of the cream over the top with the back of a spoon. Repeat until you have a final layer of potato on the top. Spread the last of the cream and the rest of the cheese over the top(you want a reasonable layer of cheese over the top)

Place it in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbling.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle over the chopped chives to fancy it up a bit and dig in.

You can also add chopped cooked bacon to the topping for something a little extra.

Cheese baked potatoes

Cheese baked potatoes

Twice baked potatoes

These are another winter favorite of mine, crisped skins and soft fancied up insides. These baked potatoes are great on their own or as a side dish to one of the stews or roasts that I have made recently. They take a little while because you double bake them, but believe me, they are so worth it.(4 servings)

What you need

2 or 3 large potatoes
1 egg lightly beaten
30ml cream or milk
30ml mayonnaise
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
3 Spring onions chopped
4 cooked crisp slices of bacon, chopped up
Cayenne pepper

The process

Clean the potatoes and place them whole in a 220 Celsius oven and bake for 1 hour.

Remove them from the oven, cut in half (use a cloth to hold them, they are seriously hot), scoop out the flesh and place in a bowl. Get as much of the flesh out of the skins without breaking them.

Roughly mash the potato flesh leaving it chunky. Add the rest of the ingredients keeping about 1/3 of the cheese and a few spring onions aside.

Mix it all together and fill the skins with the mixture.

Sprinkle over a little cheese, place on a baking tray and then back into the oven for another 20 minutes or so. These are great with the beef in beer casserole.

Prima Vera pasta

Prima Vera pasta

Vegetarian pasta

This vegetarian pasta is really fresh, takes just a few minutes to prepare and is an ideal light lunch. You can add a mixture of whatever fresh herbs you have around the house, mint is really good to add to the flavor along with the parsley. I have not included it in this recipe but give it a try. (4 people)

What you need

375g twirly pasta or any shell pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion finely chopped or grated.
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
Handful of patty pans cut into bite size pieces (about 300g is perfect)
1 red pepper sliced fairly thin
Handful of sugar snap peas (about 200g)
1 carrot julienned
250ml cream
1 tablespoon granular mustard
Palm of chopped fresh parsley or combination of your favorite herbs

The process

Cook your pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water to al dente, drain leaving a little water in the pot and then return to the pot.

While the pasta cooks put a pan on a medium heat with the oil, add the onions and cook until soft, add the garlic and cook for a further 1 minute.

Add the patty pans, carrots, peas and red peppers, cook until the patty pans are softened on the outside but still firm, stir or toss frequently until the peas are hot but still crunchy (about 3 minutes).

Add the pasta to the pan along with the mustard and the cream. Toss with salad servers or similar to combine all the flavors and allow the cream to heat.

That is that, you have a really fantastic flavor.

Adding the mint or perhaps a little chili is a very good idea, be adventurous with your tastebuds, you will love it.

Easy potato wedges

Easy potato wedges

Potato wedges

These are really great, mess free and can be done in the oven or on the braai. I have used basil pesto to make these but you can change the flavour to whatever you like really. They go perfectly with meat or chicken so serve them with you protein and a salad for a full on meal. (2 to 3 people)

What you need

4 medium potatoes
2 tablespoons basil pesto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon water
Parmesan cheese

Tin foil.

The process

Heat your oven to 200 Celsius or find a hot part of the braai with indirect heat.

In a bowl mix together the olive oil, pesto and water.

Slice your potatoes into wedges and then spoon over the pesto mix. Use your hands to mix them about a bit to coat each wedge with the pesto mixture.

Place a layer of tin foil on your surface, cover with wedges in a single layer and the seal with another layer of foil, crimping the edges together tightly.

Bake for 40 minutes in an oven. If you are on the braai, turn after 20 minutes.

Split open the foil package and sprinkle over some parmesan.. serve as is in the foil container.

Simple enough and very good.

Here are a few other potato  recipes that you will love.

Crisp potato wedges for dips and the warm potato salad are real winners.

Aloo Gobi – califlower and potato curry

Aloo Gobi – califlower and potato curry

Aloo gobi cauliflower and potato

Having given up smoking recently I have become a lot more health conscious, not least of which is the weight I am bound to pick up if I keep substituting smokes for food. Well this was really great, vegetarian, spicy, delicious which we had as a side dish but could easily be a main course. The soft potatoes really did it for me and the cauliflower seemed to absorb so much of the flavour, each little morsel was an adventure. Now that I am back in JHB for good, the place to buy spices in the North of JHB is the Rosebank rooftop market, there is a fantastic spice merchant there with every spice you could possibly want, including curry leaves. (for 4 to 6 as a side dish)

What you need

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 large green chilies finely sliced
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
4 curry leaves
Handful of ripped flatleaf parsley
2 cups cauliflower florets (just break the cauli up into smallish pieces)
2 large potatoes cut in about 3cm cubes
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Salt
1 tablespoon oil more or less.

The process

Add the oil to a bowl and toss in all of the spices except the chili, curry leaves and cumin seeds.

Mix the spices together and set aside.

Add a little oil to a large pot on a medium high heat and toss in the chili, curry leaves and cumin seeds, stir until the cumin seeds are popping and the curry leaves look as though they are about to shrivel up.

Now add the spice paste and stir furiously for about 20 seconds.

Add the cauliflower and potatoes, stir and then add enough water to almost cover the vegetables, reduce the heat to medium, cover and leave for about 10 minutes to cook.

Add half of the parsley, stir and then cover again to simmer until the potatoes are soft and beautifully yellow.

Serve as a side or a main dish with the remaining parsley scattered over the top.

Christmas leftover ham and mango salsa

Christmas leftover ham and mango salsa

mangoThis mango salso recipe goes so well with smoked ham or gammon and for we who live in hot climates, it makes a sublime cold lunch, perfect for leftover gammon from Christmas. Use this recipe as a guideline, you can add spring onions finely sliced instead of red onion, use less or more avocado, make it to your taste or what you have left in the fridge. orange juice is also a great alternative to lemon if you like it really sweet. Another idea is to use finely chopped red pepper instead of chili and of course if you have never cut a mango this way, it is the cleanest way of cutting a mango or just hand the half to a child, it’s a novel way that they will love.

What you need

1 large or 2 small ripe mangos cubed
2 small avocados cubed
1 red chili finely sliced
1/2 cup ripped fresh coriander
1/2 red onion finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Glug of olive oil (about 1 tablespoon)
Salt and black pepper

The process

To cube a mango the easiest way is to cut flesh off the mango in 2 slices as close to the pip as possible, then score the flesh vertically and horizontally in 1 to 2 cm slices, turn it inside out and then cut the little cubes off the skin.

Now add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix them gently with a spoon to distribute all of the pieces evenly and coat in the olive oil and lemon juice.

Taste and give it a grind of salt and pepper.

Place your thinly sliced ham on a plate and pile up some of the salsa.

It’s light and tastes fantastic, there is someting beautiful about the combination of the smoky salty ham and the sweetness of the mango. Add a few scotch eggs or Nigellas easy butternut and sweet potato soup and you have a real treat. If you had a braai for Christmas you are going to want to try this Steak salad recipe.

Nigellas butternut and sweet potato soup

Nigellas butternut and sweet potato soup

Butternut & sweet potato soup

Butternut & sweet potato soup

After you have spent hours in the kitchen creating the perfect Christmas feast, have drunk too much and really just want to sit back, relax and enjoy your family on boxing day, Nigellas butternut and sweet potato soup is just what you need. Your friends and family all feel the same but of course Christmas is a time to feast so get out the leftovers and make this ultra simple and so tasty soup to have with all of those leftovers. You leave the skins on the butternut and sweet potatoes which makes it so very simple. You do need a blender for this one. (4 to 6 people)

What you need

1 large onion roughly chopped
1 large butternut seeded and roughly chopped
1 large sweet potato roughly chopped
1 liter vegetable stock
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Olive oil
Sour cream

The process

Heat an oven to 200 Celsius and spread the chopped vegetables over a baking tray.

Drizzle over some olive oil, getting a little on each piece of vegetable, then give a sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon, about 1 teaspoon of each and bake for 1 hour.

The vegetables should have little brown bits on the edges and be soft.

In 3 or 4 lots blend the vegetables with about ½ a cup of hot vegetable stock. You want a nice thick consistency which you will thin down later.

Once you have blended all of the veg and transferred to a bowl, add vegetable stock to get the consistency you like. It should still be thick and wholesome.

Serve with a generous amount of sour cream, warm crusty bread and some of the leftovers from Christmas day for a fabulous quick meal.

As a hangover remedy, spice it up with some Tabasco sauce. Try the Mango and avocado salsa recipe for your leftover gammon.

Sweet butternut

Sweet butternut

Sweet butternut

Sweet butternut

I have been asked quite a few times how to get kids eating vegetables and actually enjoying them. Well, this butternut recipe includes apples with a little orange juice which naturally sweetens the vegetables and really tastes fantastic. Butternut with apple is a great Christmas vegetable where nice sweetened vegetables go beautifully with the glazed gammon recipe and will have the kids tucking into the vegetables. (6 servings)

What you need

1 butternut chopped
3 apples chopped
Zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon grated ginger
Sueeze of orange juice
Pinch of cinnamon
Olive oil

The process

Peel, seed and chop up the butternut into bite size pieces. Place a pot of water on the stove, bring to the boil and steam the butternut for about 5 minutes to soften slightly.

While the butternut is steaming chop up the apple into similar size pieces.

Now take an oven dish, scatter the butternut and apple into the dish, drizzle a little olive oil over the pieces, sprinkle over the orange zest, grate over the ginger and sprinkle over the cinnamon. Now sueeze 1/2 the zested orange over the top.

Pop it into a 200 Celsius oven for about 20 minutes or until soft.

Could not be easier, delicious sweet butternut with apples. The picture is of butternut only which has been sweetened in the same way.

Don’t forget the rest of the Christmas recipes.

Thai green vegetable curry

Thai green vegetable curry

Green vegetable curry

Green vegetable curry

This Thai vegetable curry is mild with a coconut cream sauce that makes vegetables taste like nothing you have ever tasted before. There are so many of us who don’t eat enough vegetables and what I usually do is have Chinese food when I feel I need more vegetables in my diet but this recipe makes vegetarian food positivly delicious. It is a great recipe for entertaining and as one of a few Thai dishes will feed 8 to 10 people. (6 people)

What you need

100g green beans in 5cm pieces
1 red pepper sliced thinly
150g broccoli broken into pieces
4 baby marrows sliced
2 cups cabbage finely sliced
1 onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons green curry paste(available in any supermarket)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (1 tin)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
rind of 1 lemon grated
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Oil

The process

In a pot over a medium heat add a splash of oil, the onions and the green curry paste. Cook gently, stirring for about 3 or 4 minutes.

Now add the water and coconut milk, turn up the heat and bring to the boil. As soon as it begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium low and allow it to simmer and reduce for about 4/5 minutes.

Now add all of the vegetables, stir and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

Lastly add the fish sauce, sugar, lemon rind and lemon juice, give it a good mix and cook for another 3 minutes or so.

Thats that, it is truly delicious and something you just have to try. Try this coconut beef curry, which is also unbelievably good.

Gnocchi supreme recipe

Gnocchi supreme recipe

Gnocchi

Gnocchi

I just love Gnocchi and this recipe has a creamy vegetarian sauce that I often add small chicken pieces or chicken mince to if I want some extra substance. The sauce is quite extraordinary with the pine nuts flavor really adding some depth to it. It’s a very simple recipe to put together if you are using store bought gnocchi but if you really want to go the whole hog, tru this gnocchi recipe and make the whole dish from scratch, there is something quite therapeutic about making gnocchi and the sense of achievement is wonderful, let alone the awe your friends and family will regard you with when you tell them you made the gnocchi as well. (4 people)

What you need

750g cooked gnocchi
3/4 cup cream
1 tin chopped peeled tomatoes (425g)
1 heaped teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes chopped (use the ones in oil and drain them)
1/2 cup black olives drained and chopped
500g chopped spinach (always wash even if it says washed)
1/2 cup pine nuts
salt and pepper

The process

First you want to toast the pine nuts by placing a pan on a medium to high heat, adding the pine nuts and letting them toast. Toss them around until they begin to brown and there is a beautiful aroma in the kitchen. remove them and set aside.

In a large pot add the cream, the whole tin of tomatoes with all of its juice and the garlic and bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 4 or 5 minutes allowing some of the fluid to evaporate. It will begin to thicken and you know that this is the time to add the sund dried tomatoes and olives. Let it simmer for another 2 or 3 mintes to heat everything through.

Taste it at this stage and season with salt and pepper.

Now add the cooked gnocchi, the spinach and the pine nuts to the sauce and allow to simmer until the spinach has wilted and heated through.

That is that, a fantastic Italian meal.

if you are using chicken in your dish, add cooked chicken that has been lightly salted with the sun dried tomatoes.