Monthly Mystery Munchies #21: Huevos Rancheros (Eggs with Spicy Salsa)

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Delicioso! This month’s theme was chosen by Ann, and wow, it was a goodie! Breakfast, they say, is the most imprtant meal of the day. (Side note: Who exactly are the mysterious”they”? “They” say a lot, but I tend to agree with “them” on this one!) I entered into this challenge with curiosity and muchos excitement. We’ve never done a breakfast challenge for our Monthly Mystery Munchies, so this was an excellent, and challenging, idea.

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See, I frikken love all things spice. And eggs. Gotta love eggs. The result, you ask? Huevos rancheros – a traditional Mexican breakfast consisting of a tomato-y veggie salsa, topped with eggs, and rolled in a tortilla. This dish is flexible though, so I served it on seedloaf. We also had it for dinner last night, and it was bomb! Yummers! I desperately wanted to make guacomole, but ffs, all the avos were hard. Blah. Anyway, we soldiered forth (we = The Husband and I. He loves giving input, because he is the guinea pig, a role he happily, uh, relishes. See what I did there?). Oh, and “ffs” stands for “for food’s sake” – get your mind out of the gutter!

As much as choosing one recipe was a challenge, this one is not only a fiery start to the day, but it’s easy to boot. Fry up some sweet peppers, chillies, garlic, and tomatoes. Add egg. Top with coriander. I mean! See, easy, yes? Yes! I played around with this recipe and the final result is, in my opinion, muy bueno! I’m pumped about Ann’s recipe – “Hearty Breakfast Quiche“! QUICHE, people! #BeStillMyBeatingHeart #QuicheForBreakfastIsTheNewBlack! Ch-ch-check it out at Grubbs n Critters, and feast your eyes (and tummies) on her latest offering and so much more.

Happy New Year folks, and may it be a year filled with gastronomical delights!

Huevos Rancheros (Eggs with Spicy Salsa)

  • Difficulty: Easy (or over-easy)
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Supplies:

1 onion, thinly sliced
2 gloves garlic, thinly sliced
Mixed sweet peppers, I used yellow and red, sliced
1 green chilli, sliced (I leave the seeds in for an extra bite, but you can remove them)
1 teaspoon dried cumin
2 bay leaves
1 x 400g tin tomatoes
2 large tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large eggs
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Tortillas/toast/whatever you want to serve it with
Fresh coriander to garnish

Making It Happen:

Heat the olive oil on medium. Add the onion and fry until softened and lightly browned, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for another 2 minutes.
Add the cumin and chillies and fry for 30 seconds.
Add the peppers, tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Fry your eggs to your liking (I perfer them with runny yolk but solid whites). Scoop the salsa onto your tortilla/bread/whatevs, place your egg on top, garnish with coriander and remember to remove the bay leaves.

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Monthly Mystery Munchies #12: Ayam Kapitan (Captain’s Chicken Curry)

 

Happiest one year anniversary, my dearest Ann!

Happiest one year anniversary, my dearest Ann!

This month marks my and Ann from Grubbs n Critters‘ one year Monthly Mystery Munchies anniversary, and what a pleasure it has been! I’ve been challenged to create new recipes by thinking outside the box, pushing my gastronomical boundaries, and devising new ways of cooking, tasting and thinking about food. It’s been a tasty treat for sure, and I’ve had an immense amount of fun doing it. Happy one year anniversary Ann, and thank you for coming up with this fabulous idea! This has tremendously broadened my horizons (and waistline, but oh well).

Captain's Curry 10This month we did a culture swap. You see, Ann is originally from Singapore, although she’s been living in Thailand for over a decade, and she’s about to move to Holland. Sheesh, busy times! I’m from South Africa, no exciting worldly experiences for me. What a pleb. However, we have so many different cultures here, and thus so many different influences, one of them being Malay. I love curry! I mean, I’m obsessed. So when Ann suggested we ‘swap’ countries, I was thrilled. Just one thing: there’s a lot of food commonly used in Singaporean dishes that we don’t have here. Crap. Not to worry, I found a spice shop close by. Some women spend hours shopping for (faffing over) clothes, shoes, accessories, whatever. I, on the other hand, can easily get lost in a food shop. I was totally enthralled. The Husband wasn’t eager to spend hours there (his loss), so I grabbed the stuff I needed and promised to return. Probably on my own. With his credit card.

Back to my Singaporean dish – behold Ayam Kapitan. Yeah, I also had no clue. Turns out it’s a chicken curry, using interesting and exciting ingredients, some of which I wouldn’t usually use. Some of the ingredients I already had in my cupboard, others required a slight search. No worries, I enjoy a challenge. This dish uses some of my favouritist (that’s a word, ‘kay?) food – oh hi garlic, ginger, coconut cream, lemon grass (homegrown in my very own garden, no less) – basically I love every single ingredient. I’d never cooked with tamarind paste before, so that was an intriguing experience. I mean, I felt so *exotic*! Anyways folks, this dish is absolutely delectable. It perfectly fuses all of the ingredients to create a creamy, spicy (but not too hot), citrus-y beauty of a meal. By The Husband’s instruction (sometimes I allow him to think he has a say), I will be cooking this meal again. And again, and again, and then again. Here you go:

 

Ayam Kapitan (Captain's Chicken Curry)

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Captain's Curry 71 teaspoons tamarind paste
1 red onion
3 leeks
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 green chillies (I leave the seeds in)
3 tablespoons macadamia nuts
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chicken stock
3 tablespoons lemon grass stalks
4 lime leaves
1 tin (400ml) coconut cream
1/2 tin (200ml) coconut milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
Freshly cracked sea salt and black pepper
Coriander to serve (optional)

Making It Happen:

Captain's Curry 51. In a blender, blitz the tamarind paste, onion, leeks, garlic, ginger, chillies, 1 tablespoon macadamia nuts, turmeric, and chicken stock, to form a paste. Add the coconut cream and give it one last blitz. Pour the mixture over the chicken, marinating it for an hour (or overnight).

 

Captain's Curry 32. In a large pan or pot, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and fry 4-5 minutes per side, until browned.

 

 

Captain's Curry 113. Pour in the remaining marinade over the chicken and add the coconut milk and cinnamon stick. Cover and boil for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat and partially cover, simmering for 45 minutes – 1 hour until the chicken is tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve on a bed of rice. Garnish with macadamia nuts and coriander.

Captain's Curry 4Remember to remove the lime leaves and cinnamon stick before serving!

 

Monthly Mystery Munchies #11: Prawn Soup

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I have been incredibly slack lately, but for good reason. In my quest to become healthier, I have been playing around with recipes – adjusting, adding, removing, contemplating their worthiness of making it onto my blog. This month I found myself challenged and excited about my and Ann’s Monthly Mystery Munchies theme – shellfish. Easy, you might say, but as it turned out, not so much.

Ann killed it again this month, being the creative culinary aficionado that she is. I swear, we’re like long distance psychic twins, as we both did a prawn dish! She made oven grilled Gambas al Aljillo, and for the love of all things food, it looks freakin’ delectable! Initially, however, I had my heart set on doing a crab dish. Ironically, crabs freak the crap out of me! I mean, do not show me a crab. I’ll do an embarrassing girl-run into the next zip code. Yes, it really is that bad. I thought finding crab meat, actual meat, not ‘crab-flavoured’ fish sticks, would be easy. After all, I live in Cape Town, and we have a huge selection of fresh seafood. I phoned around and found two places who swore to me that I would be purchasing meat, not crabs. Off I went, happy that I would not have to put my running shoes on, and, at both places, I was handed freaking crabs, people! Eeeeeeeeeeeek! The Husband laughed as I waved my hands in the air, shouting “I can’t! I really can’t!” whilst trying not to hyperventilate. Yeah, the dudes behind the counter laughed too. That was it, crab was nixed, a hard “no” from me. However, they did have prawns, but the eyes freak me out. I mean, just gross. Aah, but they had prawn tails, challenge accepted. Plan B, I love it!

Prawns purchased, heart rate returning to normal, we headed home and discussed our options. The Husband is also getting into my and Ann’s monthly challenge, and he fancies giving me ideas. I settled on prawn soup because, recently, I made a spicy vegetable soup which we demolished, so why not use that same recipe and add prawns? Excellent. We’re back on track, plan in hand, let’s do this. Of course my hob decided to break at that exact moment. Crap, it’s Monday already, and I need to have this done by Friday! Two long days later, the hob was fixed. Much hallelujah. Finally, after a few setbacks and a mini breakdown, I was able to complete my recipe, all the while wondering what Ann’s going to come up with – please check out her recipe for this month’s shellfish theme. I’m obsessed with spicy, tasty food, so this dish is rocking a Thai-ish theme. It has a beautiful flavour without being hot, and the coconut milk adds a creaminess to it, without having to add actual cream. Without further blabbing and complaining, here we go!

Spicy Prawn Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: not a schlep
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Supplies:

Prawn soup 1400g prawn tails, deshelled
2 grean chillies, sliced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 onion, thinly sliced
250g portabellini mushrooms
4 sliced carrots
400g thinly sliced zucchini/courgettes
1 grated red cabbage
150g snap peas
1 x 400g tin lite coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Fresh coriander for serving – optional

Making it happen:

Prawn soup 21. Deshell the prawns. In a large pot, fry the chillies, ginger, onion, and mushrooms in olive oil on medium heat for 5 minutes.

 

 

 

Prawn soup 4 22. Pour in the coconut milk and vegetable stock, and add the remaining vegetables. Stir in the fish sauce and lime juice, then cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the veggies are soft.

 

Prawn soup 73. Add the prawns and simmer until pink, about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with coriander if desired.

 

 

 

Monthly Mystery Munchies #10: Party with Pesto

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This month, Ann chose a ‘party with pesto’ theme. Don’t mind if I do! I’m ‘sessing over pesto. My mother-in-law decided that we needed to plant basil and kindly gave me a few plants. It’s growing like wildfire, so when Ann chose pesto, I was excited to use my homegrown basil (it’s the little things!). There is something so cool about going in my garden and picking fresh ingredients! Love it!

Hmm.. the problem was that I couldn’t choose between two dishes I’d tried – spicy pesto chicken balls, and olive pesto pea salad, so I decided to do both. You see, here in South Africa we’re highly enthusiastic about braais (barbecues), and the cold pea salad is ideal as a side dish on a blistering hot day. The next recipe, chicken balls with spicy pesto, can be served warm, accompanied by a veggie dish. I wanted to do two different pestos, and in our home, we do love our olives! I really enjoy cooking with chicken mince, which can be quite bland but the pesto perks it up beautifully! Both of these recipes are incredibly easy, require minimal effort and oh-so-healthy. That’s a hard ‘yes’ from me!

You can find more pesto recipes at Grubbs n Critters, and I strongly encourage you to head on over as Ann is a phenomenal cook and uses the most interesting and creative ingredients. This month she made tortilla wraps with wild rocket pesto. YUM! I love that she used turkey and tortillas and perfectly demonstrated the versatility of pesto beyond the usual pasta dishes. Please check it out, but first, we cook:

Pea Salad with Olive Basil Pesto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy, um, peasy
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Supplies:

Pea salad 2250g cooked peas, cooled or tinned peas
1 red onion, finely chopped
½ cup basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100g Kalamata olives (drained weight), pitted
½ tsp dried parsley
½ cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon for onion
1½ disks feta cheese
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Making it happen:

Pea salad 51. Steam the peas and set aside to cool, or you can use tinned peas, drained. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan on medium heat and fry the chopped onion for 5 minutes, until soft.

 

 

Pea salad 32. Add the basil, garlic, olives, parsley and olive oil in your food processor. Blitz until thoroughly mixed and season with salt and pepper.

 

 

Pea salad 73. Pour the peas into a bowl, add the onion and 1 feta disk and mix. Pour in the pesto and stir throughly, making sure that it’s evenly spread. Crumble the remaining half feta disk over the top and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. This is suitable to make the day before.  

 

Chicken Mince Balls with Spicy Pesto

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Supplies:

Chicken balls 2 15 basil leaves
2 sprigs lemon thyme
1 bunch Italian parsley
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons lime juice
500g chicken mince

 

Making it happen:

Chicken balls 41. In a blender, blitz all ingredients except the chicken, until well blended. Add the chicken and thoroughly blend.

 

 

 

Chicken balls 52. Form the chicken mince into balls, approximately 1 large tablespoon’s worth each. Cover and refrigerate for one hour or more.

 

 

Chicken balls 1 23. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Spray a baking tray with non-stick spray and place the chicken balls in it. Bake for 20 minutes until cooked.

Monthly Mystery Munchies: Lamb Saag and Aloo Curry

It’s the third installment of Monthly Mystery Munchies with myself and Ann at Grubbs n Critters. This month I chose lemons/limes, thyme and coriander as our ingredients. I really enjoyed playing around with these ingredients and pairing them with others. The recipe that won is lamb, saag (spinach) and aloo (potato) curry. I never say ‘no’ to curry and lamb is the ideal meat for this. Naturally I added potatoes because in my mind, curry without potatoes is like… summer without blue skies, mojitos without mint (I just recoiled), Bono without his sunglasses – unexpected, disappointing and unnatural.

Ann made spiced chicken with saffron, thyme and lemon gravy. Okay, lemon gravy? I’m all in. Saffron? What a treat! Check it out, it’s droolicious. She added other interesting and complimentary ingredients and you can see this is a winner.

I too added a plethora of other ingredients – veggies, spices and herbs, and finally got the balance right. What one needs to keep in mind when using so many ingredients is that balance is key – especially with spices. They shouldn’t be overpowering because that can ruin the dish in one easy step. They should all work well together to create the ideal blend. From fragrant coriander (cilantro) to succulent lamb to the bite of the chillies, this comes together beautifully! This meal contains many superfoods and superspices (yep, that’s a thing), so not only is it delicious, tasty and fragrant but ridiculously healthy too! Here we go:

Monthly Mystery Munchies: Lamb Saag and Aloo Curry

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1kg lamb knuckles, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 4 leeks, chopped
  • 2 green chillies, sliced (I always keep the seeds in)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and sliced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 5 cardamom pods, crushed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 500g baby tomatoes, halved (or 1 tin chopped tomatoes)
  • 250g spinach, chopped
  • 1kg potatoes, halved
  • Vegetable stock
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Fresh coriander (cilantro) for garnish
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

Lamb Saag and Aloo 3 21. In a large pan, heat up the olive oil and fry the lamb on medium low until browned. You might have to do this in batches. Fry for ± 5 minutes, turning halfway through. Set aside. Fry the leeks in olive oil for 5 minutes.
Add chillies, garlic, ginger and cardamom and fry for a further 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, spinach, thyme and remaining spices and simmer for 5 minutes.

 

 

Lamb Saag and Aloo 5 22. Add the lamb and potatoes, pour in 250ml vegetable stock and bring to a boil with the lid on. Uncover and simmer for 1 hour, pouring in the lime juice during the last 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Lamb Saag and Aloo 7 23. If you have the time, let the curry stand for a few hours. Garnish with coriander, however much you like (we like a lot!). Curry is always better when it stands for a while so this is the perfect dish to cook the day before.

 

Monthly Mystery Munchies: Chilli Con Carne

So much excitement here! Ann over at Grubbs n Critters suggested that we do a monthly collaboration whereby one of us chooses a theme or a few ingredients and we each cook a surprise dish and link to the other’s blog without knowing what the other has cooked. I happily accepted this challenge because it’s fun and Ann is a fantastic cook and story-teller! Thank you, Ann, for suggesting this challenge, and here’s to many more!

This month I chose a Mexican theme because I love Mexican. I mean I am obsessed with chillies! Also, it’s Cinco de Mayo on 5 May so I thought this was an appropriate time to do this theme.

Chilli Con Carne is hands down one of my top three favourite meals, both to cook and eat. It’s absolutely delicious. The inviting fragrant aroma of cumin and other herbs and spices mixed with the tangy taste of chillies, onion and garlic, simmered with tomatoes, ground beef and red kidney beans, makes for a mouth-watering food festival of flavour like none other. I’ve been cooking this recipe for years and the serving choices are plenty. My personal favourite is to top it with sour cream and wrap it in a tortilla. The Husband prefers it another way. You have the option of serving it in tacos, tortillas or with plain or spicy rice. Topping it with a smattering of guacamole is also a firm favourite. My ideal serving is to wrap it in a tortilla, drop a dollop sour cream on it, add a smidgen of guac and cheese and fold it up into one flavorful (and moreish) tortilla.

Stock up on these ingredients, pour yourself a margarita and get cooking! Olé!

Chilli con carne ing500g beef mince
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (or 1 teaspoon crushed garlic)
2 chillies, sliced, seeds in
500g baby tomatoes, halved
1 x 400g tin whole peeled tomato
1 x 50g tomato paste
1 x 400g tin red kidney beans
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fine black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
Canola oil

Chilli con carne 1 2

Thinly slice the onion, chillies and garlic if you’re using garlic cloves, and heat about two tablespoons of oil on medium heat. You can also use minced garlic, one heaped teaspoon. Add the onion and garlic to the heated oil and fry until soft and translucent, about three to five minutes.

 

 

 

Chilli con carne 2 2

Once the onions are soft, add the cumin and paprika and fry for 2 minutes. Mix in the mince and tomato paste and fry on medium heat until browned, about five minutes. If you’re using a gas hob, fry on medium-low. Add the herbs, salt and pepper and simmer for five minutes.

 

 

 

Chilli con carne 3 2

Pour in the tinned and fresh tomatoes and red kidney beans, cover and bring to a boil, then uncover and simmer on medium-low for 20 minutes. Serve with sour cream, guacamole or cheese (or all three!) in tortillas, tacos or with rice.

 

 

 

CCC 5 2

 

 

 

Easy Crumbed Pork Chops

This recipe is perfect for when time is a concern. With only five minutes of prepping time and 20 minutes in the oven, it’s a sure win. The perfect balance of herbs and spices makes it very very yummy indeed.

Easy Crumbed Pork Chops

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 4 pork loin chops
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup Corn Flake crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt or 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter

Directions:

pork_chop_half_coated1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Mix the corn flake crumbs, paprika, oregano, parsley, black pepper, celery salt and sea salt.  In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg. Coat each chop in egg, on both sides, then lay the chop in the crumb mixture ensuring that the chop is crumbed on both sides.

 

 

 

Crumbed_pork_loin_chop2. Melt two tablespoons of butter and pour into your roasting tray. Place the chops in the tray and sprinkle remaining butter on top of the chops. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.