Braised short ribs in Plum Sauce

Braising makes everything delicious and comforting. This dish is best enjoyed with family on a Sunday with good conversation and a few drinks won’t be a bad idea too. Such simple pleasures of life! Braised beef paired with a rich plum sauce is one of my favourite meals. I could happily eat the ribs on its own and enjoy it with a nice lemongrass and ginger cocktail. Sadly, I don’t drink wine, otherwise I would have opted for the latter. Braised short ribs in Plum Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2kg beef short ribs

  • 2 carrots, peeled, cut into pieces

  • 1 large onion, peeled, thickly sliced

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 1cm piece ginger, sliced

  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)

  • 3 sprigs fresh lemon thyme

  • 4 tablespoons, store bought plum sauce

  • 250ml red wine

  • 200ml chicken or beef stock

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. For the ribs, preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.
  2. In a pan, brown the ribs on both sides.
  3. Add the carrots, ginger, onion and garlic.
  4. Now add the lemon thyme sprigs, plum sauce, rice vinegar, red wine, dried chilli flakes and stock. Mix well to combine. Bring the mixture to the boil, then transfer to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 2-2½ hours, or until the sauce has thickened and the meat is falling from the bones. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly.
  5. Serve with vegetables and rice or mash.

Stewed Black Eyed Beans with Plantain and Prawns

A rich stew with beans, prawns and plantain is a low fat option for the family to enjoy. This dish is a cross between a North African tagine and a Nigerian stew. To elevate this dish, I added warm comforting spices like cumin, cinnamon and ground ginger. This makes a nice family meal served with crusty bread or simply enjoyed on its own. The lovely people at UWA Earth foods sent me a beautiful red bottle filled with pure unbleached palm oil.

UWA Palm oil

Ingredients

  • 1 tin of black eyed beans in brine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 small carrots, diced
  • 1 large plantain, cut into chunky pieces
  • 1 celery, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons, palm oil
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • ½ scotch bonnet pepper (add as little or as much as you can handle)
  • A squeeze of lemon
  • Handful of parsley leaves, to garnish
  • Toasted bread or rice to serve
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Heat the olive oil in a casserole pan. Add the onions and fry for a few minutes. Then add the garlic and ginger.
  2. Now add the powdered spices, stir.
  3. Add the carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, plantain and celery. Cook for 3 minutes and then add in the black eyed beans, scotch bonnet pepper, 2 tablespoons palm oil and stock.
  4. Bring the stew to a boil, cover and then simmer on a low heat for about an hour or till the liquid has reduced.
  5. Add the prawns at the last 5 minutes of cooking. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the prawns turn pink and are just cooked. Squeeze some lemon juice and garnish with parsley.
  6. Serve hot with a bowl of rice or bread.

Stewed Black Eyed Beans with Plantain and Prawns

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

These easy-bake chocolate chip cookies are perfect for a mid-day pick me up, after school treat or a fuss free yet delicious dessert at the weekend. But it’s perfectly acceptable to bake a batch mid-week like I did. Once baked and out of the oven try and resist the temptation of eating while hot. Yes, if you are reading this thinking ‘how does she know not to do that?’ Well, I did and scalded my tongue. But it was so hard to resist. These cookies have a lovely crisp outer layer, soft squidgy interior and little chocolate chips oozing out in the middle. Yum!

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 12 – 15

Here’s what you need

  • 350g unsifted self-raising flour

  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 225g butter

  • 175g caster sugar

  • 175g soft brown sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 eggs

  • 350g of any type of chocolate, crumbled

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
  2. In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients first- flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In another bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract.  Beat in the eggs and gradually add the flour mixture. Now stir in the chocolate.
  4. On a clean surface, split the dough in half. Roll each piece into a sausage shape. Wrap in cling film, twist both ends and refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. To bake the cookies, simply cut the log into slices about 2cm thick, lay on a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Space evenly and bake for 9-11 minutes.
  6. Serve.

Poached Egg, Salmon and Wilted Spinach

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Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 (100g) salmon steaks, with skin
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 300g bag young spinach leaves
  • Knob of butter
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • A tablespoon of chopped spring onions
  • Salt and black pepper
 Instructions

1. Prep your salmon by seasoning both sides with salt and black pepper. In a skillet, using greaseproof paper, place the salmon fillets on top the paper which will make the skin crispy but not stick to the pan.  Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, then turn the salmon over and fry for a further 1 – 2 minutes or until cooked and flaky.
2. In a skillet, melt butter then add spinach and cook for 2 – 3 minutes or until the leaves are wilted and tender. Drain in a sieve before setting aside.
3. Using an egg poacher, fill with water and bring to the boil. Crack the eggs into the poaching egg cups, turn down the heat and cook for 2-3 mins depending on how soft you like your eggs. Use a spoon to remove the eggs from the cups and drain on kitchen paper.
5. Divide the spinach between two serving plates, top with the salmon steaks. Place a poached egg on top of each salmon. Squeeze a little lemon juice over, garnish with spring onions and season to taste.

Coconut Rice and Beans

Melt in your mouth beans combined with coconut flavoured rice; spicy notes from the chillies and crispy onions is simply heartwarming.

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Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 80g easy cook long-grain rice per person
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 knob grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube (or bouillon powder)
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1 tin  can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 birds eye chillies (or 1 small scotch bonnet
  • Teaspoon, olive oil
  • Half, white or brown onion, diced
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Squeeze of lime juice, optional

Instructions

  1. Heat the coconut milk and water in a pot over medium-high heat then add the rice. Cook for 10 minutes.
    The rice should be cooked in about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Add the grated ginger, salt, stock cube  and stir well. Add the kidney beans, chillies and bring to a simmer, turn the heat down low and cover.
  3. Once its cooked, remove from the heat and leave it covered for 5 minutes.  In a skillet, add a teaspoon of olive oil and fry the onions till golden brown. Top the onions on the rice with extra chopped chillies and a squeeze of lime juice.
  4. To serve, fluff with a fork.

This also goes well with curried lamb or sautéed prawns with garlic.

Easy-peasy Fish Pie with Bacon

As a child, I looked forward to my mum’s potato casserole. Beautifully golden potatoes with a creamy filling. It was lush. I thought I would have a go at recreating that but as a pie. I like fish but I love bacon more, so to tone down the fishy notes I opted for a bacony flavour. And yes it turned out really good, but we all know mum’s version is always best.

Easy-peasy fish pie with bacon

Ingredients

  • 25g butter
  • 6 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
  • A handful of peas (put more or less if you prefer)
  • 1 birds eye chilli (optional)
  • 2tbsp plain flour
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 75ml double cream
  • 400g salmon
  • small bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 200g ready-made shortcrust pastry
  • 3tbsp parmesan, grated
  • 1 organic, free-range egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter; cook bacon till golden brown, add the peas and birds eye chillies. Stir and then add the flour; cook, stirring, until mixture bubbles and thickens. Gradually stir in stock and cream. Stir over heat until mixture boils and thickens. Add fish; stir until heated through.
  3. Spoon mixture into dish. Top with ready-made shortcrust pastry, whisk the egg and milk, brush the pastry with this mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Bake uncovered, about 25 minutes or until browned lightly.

Chicken Suya also known as Meat on sticks

Nigerian Suya is the most delicious street food – it’s what I grew up with. There is always a suya seller either setting up or in the middle of grilling, taking orders from 10 people at the same time. They never go out of stock. It’s pretty insane. When I was pregnant I desperately wanted Suya, it was all I could think about (darn cravings).  I remember thinking ‘what if they have sold out? What would I do?’ Oh the anxiety over Suya. But I was in luck, there was one nice juicy stick left. YES! Absolutely elated. (It’s no wonder my kids are foodies.)

This is my Nigerian-Indian take on chicken suya, super spicy and to tone it down I paired it with pillowy soft paratha.

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Ingredients

  • 250g Mini Chicken fillets
  • 7 Wooden skewers, soaked for 20 minutes
  • A clove of Garlic
  • 1 Lime, juice only
  • 1 Birds eye chilli
  • 4 teaspoons, Africa’s Best Suya spice (put as little or as much as you can handle)
  • 1 Tomato, sliced
  • 1 small Onion, sliced
  • Store bought frozen Paratha (optional)

Instructions

  • Thread the mini fillets onto wooden skewers onto the pre-soaked skewers.
  • Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic and chilli together.
  • Give the chicken a good rub with the garlic mixture
  • Squeeze some lime juice over the chicken
  • Now it’s time for the suya seasoning
  • Pop in the fridge either overnight or for a minimum of an 1 hour to allow all the spices seep in.
  • Heat up a heavy based pan, allow it get hot and then place the chicken suya in
  • Cook on both sides,  you can either finish it on the cooker or cook for 10 minutes and then finish in a grill set at 180 degrees.
  • Slice the onion and tomato and set aside.
  • Using the same pan you cooked the chicken, place the paratha and cook till golden brown on both sides.
  • Now it’s time to plate up the chicken suya with the sliced onions and tomato. Don’t forget the paratha too.

Tip: Soaking the skewers in warm water will keep the skewers from cooking along with the food.

Note: If you are not afraid of spice, then try sprinkling some more suya spice mixture over the chicken.

Enjoy!

Grilled Peri-peri Chicken with a coriander and jalapeno sauce

For years, I have obsessed over Nando’s and managed to rope my kids into loving Nando’s  too (probably more than I do now). Saturday is usually manic, with all the different activities for the kids so I find this is a really suitable snack for my chicken loving kids. Opening their snack box to crispy chicken always put a big smile on their faces.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 pieces of chicken drumsticks
  • A knob of ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Chilli flakes
  • Half a teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander
  • Half a teaspoon Garlic powder
  • Half a lemon (juice only)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a bowl, mix all the spices with oil and grate a knob of ginger into it.
  • Let it sit for 15 minutes to allow all the spices to infuse the oil.
  • Grab a chopping board, place chicken on top and score the chicken to allow the marinade get right in.
  • Pour the spice mixture over the chicken and it’s ready to cook. At this stage, you can either leave this to marinade for 24 hours or cook straight away.
  • Pop into a hot grill set at 180 degrees and cook till golden brown (or to your preference).

For the sauce

  • A handful of Coriander
  • A teaspoon of Mustard
  • A teaspoon of Mayonnaise
  • Half a Jalapeno pepper
  • Knob of Ginger, chopped
  • A tablespoon Olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients in a blender and whizz up.

Serve with drumsticks and garnish with extra chillies (optional).

Thai Style Fried Chicken Wings and Salad

My kids absolutely adore wings, all kinds of wings. Spicy, gingery, with ketchup, maybe some mayonnaise to dunk in. But you get the point right? So you can imagine that when I make a batch or two of these bad boys even before I start cooking, I have two hungry little monsters tugging and shouting with excitement for wings. Honestly. I can’t blame them, they are so darn good – juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Just the way wings should be. 

Ingredients

  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 10 white peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 birds eye chillies, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • Breadcrumbs like panko
  • 8 chicken legs or drumsticks
  • Vegetable Oil for deep frying
  • Sweet chili sauce for serving

Instructions

  • In a bowl, combine garlic, white peppercorns, cornflour, chillies, onion, fish sauce and soy sauce. Pour this over the chicken wings. With a knife score the chicken to allow the mixture seep in. Leave overnight or for at least 2 hours in the fridge.

  • Take the chicken out, pour breadcrumbs in a clean plate and roll each piece in the breadcrumbs.

  • Fry the chicken in batches until golden and crisp.

  • Serve with sweet chilli sauce and a simple salad of lettuce, carrot, sweet corn, tomatoes and cucumber. Sprinkle black pepper over the salad.

Tip: For a super easy salad dressing, combine olive oil and mixed herbs. Stir and pour over the salad. Don’t forget to grind some black pepper over too.