Posts Tagged With: dinner

Five Days With a Philips Airfryer: Day 4: Challenge!

I just gobbled down a ribbon of smoked trout like a penguin ingesting a sardine whole, then clapping its flippers in appreciative applause. That doesn’t really have anything to do with this blog post but that was a confession I felt I had to make. Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

Today I deliberately set out to challenge my loan Airfryer. I felt I had to do something vegetarian, but I don’t believe I’ve ever consumed fried vegetables unless they’re tempura (in which case deep-frying is sort of mandatory), so I settled on chickpea patties.

I’ve made chickpea patties before but I’ve never really been happy with the outcome. Apart from my first attempt which was a total success:


I am good, aren’t I?

I wasn’t going to be completely happy with some healthy, vegan lumps so I decided to top today’s patties with a yoghurt-based sauce (I wanted to use creme fraiche but my local Woolies was all out) and smoked trout ribbons, on a bed on baby lettuce leaves dressed in lemon olive oil and Parmesan, served with grilled prawns.


Let’s start win the patties. I broke out my food processor and whizzed up one shallot, half a green-pepper, and a jalapeño from my garden:



I then drained a can of organic chickpeas and tossed in the contents:


(How gross does the brine the chickpeas were preserved in look?)

I blitzed the whole lot then started rooting around on my cupboards for some semolina to act ad a thickening agent and add texture, when I found this:


I had completely forgotten that I had for some chickpea flour intending to make bhajias. I tossed a load of the flour in and blitzed it again. Chickpea flour has a rather strong flavour so I then added some semolina and regular flour to thicken the mixture. I also added salt, black pepper, garlic, dhania jeera, crushed chillies, dried tarragon and whole coriander seeds:


Once I had mixed up the whole lot I made up the patties. It helps to moisten your hands with some olive oil prior to forming the patties, as this stops the mix from sticking to your hands. I tossed the patties into the Airfryer and baked at 180° for 10 minutes on either side. Remember that you need to bake the insides of the patties as well as the outsides:

While the prawns were cooking, I deveined and cleaned the prawns that I had found in my freezer. I must confess that I started singing “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid out of sheer delight at finding the prawns in the “treasure trove” of my freezer. In hindsight, singing a tune from The Little Mermaid while slicing prawns open, ripping out their guts and hacking off their heads was a touch macabre. Perhaps I should have sung “Les poissons” instead.

Digression. I used a simple marinade of olive oil, Tabasco, a splash of lime juice and black pepper:


I’m going to go a bit faster cos I’m really sleepy right now. I took the cooked chickpea patties out, and while they didn’t look particularly appetizing they tasted AMAZING :


They kind of look like cookies, don’t they?

I then slid the prawns into the Airfryer at 200* for 4 minutes before serving:


So, how did it all work out? While the patties were delicious they were dry, and so I feel would benefit from frying in actual oil.

Conversely, prawns were made for Aifrying…or is that the other way round? It was quick, easy, effective, and I can’t imagine any other cooking method would work as well.

And with that I must bid you my adieus; join me tomorrow for the final Airfryer test!

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Five Days With a Philips Airfryer: Day 2 – Gallus Gallus Domesticus

I don’t know what it is about my people and chicken. Yeah, I said it – my people. Black people. Brown-skinneded people. Africans. No chicken in Africa is safe, least of all on Christmas Eve night. For all we know there could be a chicken out there which holds the gene for the next evolutionary jump but we’d never know cos the bird’s been eaten. Or will be eaten as soon as the drumsticks get juicy enough. I’ve heard a statistic that holds that out of the top 10 best selling products in South Africa annually, SIX of those are chicken products. And just like Shakira’s hips, statistics don’t lie.

I decided to add to that stereotype by making up some chicken wings. Now, it’s been a long day at work. I’m exhausted. I didn’t even feel like eating but I had marinated the chicken wings this morning so the hard work was all done.

Ok, so I marinated the wings in a Korean-inspired marinade of garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, a splash of lime juice, a healthy sprinkling of chilli flakes and a dollop of honey:


I stuck the wings into the basket and sprinkled them with sesame seeds and cornflour mixed with salt (the cornflour is good for crispy skin and adds something that makes the chicken irresistible):


I stuck them in the Airfryer at 180* for 8 minutes, took them out, dunked them back in the marinade then tossed them back into the basket, sprinkled with the cornflour mix (shook it through a sieve which made it really easy to get a light, even coat), then stuck them in for a further 8 minutes at the same temperature.


I shook them up one last time then slid them back in for a final 5 minutes at 200*, before serving them up with some naan I happened to find in my fridge:


I’d had grand ideas of serving them with coriander rice but by the time I got round to cooking that just wasn’t going to happen.

Verdict: were they as good as proper double-fried Korean chicken wings? In a way, no. They didn’t have that super thin yet almost glutinous skin you get from double frying chicken coated with corn flour.

But on the other hand, there’s something about the deep fried version that makes me feel uncomfortable and somewhat sick to my stomach, and I didn’t get that with these.

Add to that the convenience of not having a vat of used oil to deal with afterwards, or a whole load of dishes or stove-side grease splatter to tackle, and I think I’ll go for the airfried version any day!

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Om nom nom: Sirloin Steak with Green Peppercorn Sauce. And a flambé!

I looooooove me a good steak. Sometimes a girl just needs a big ole hunk of red meat, you know? I’m very picky about my steaks and I always love them with pepper sauce.

So a couple of weeks ago, when my usual partner in culinary crime Zizwe (someone has to eat all the stuff I cook) was off in Durban for work, I took some steaks I’d been marinating for a few days out of the fridge and cooked ’em up.

OK, let’s begin. I started with some aged sirloin steaks which I marinated for at least two days. Lord knows I can barely remember what I put in my salad this afternoon, but I probably tossed in some olive oil, sesame oil, crushed garlic and ginger and loads of ground green peppercorns. I rarely add salt to my steaks before cooking because I once watched on some cooking show that it dries steaks out, and if I cast my mind back to primary school science and the definition of “osmosis”, that makes sense to me. You can’t argue with science.

So I served the steaks with the wonder that is fried gnocchi. I was first introduced to this glorious invention by the marvelous Nigella Lawson; I remember when Zizwe and I first saw her making them. It was Christmastime 2011, we were watching a host of Christmas cooking specials, and we were mesmerised.

I got a pack of pre-made gnocchi from my usual supplier, and stuck it in a wok full of mixed bacon-and-duck fat.



Yes! You can fry gnocchi! They aren’t just made to be boiled! I fried them up until they were a lovely happy golden brown…


Isn’t that a happy sight? 🙂

I tossed them in my pink Himalayan salt:



…and some fresh basil pesto, again from my usual supplier.

No, I don’t have a photo of that. 😀

Next, the steaks. I took them out of the fridge and allowed them to come up to room temperature before slapping them into a pan and frying them up:



They look overdone, don’t they? Don’t they? Well, they’re not! On yet another TV cooking show I learnt how to tell when steaks are done rare, medium, and well without slicing them open.

Take your forefinger and squish it against your forehead, where your third eye would be. You feel that squishiness? If you squish your steak and it feels like your forehead, your steak is rare. Do the same with your chinny chin chin. That is how a medium steak feels. And your nose? That, my friends, is the squishiness of a well done steak.

Take your perfectly-cooked steak out of the pan and allow to rest on a plate:



Now take the same pan you made the steaks in (the little stuck bits at the bottom of the pan are the best flavoring you can get), throw in some olive oil, and fry up some finely chopped shallots:



You don’t want to brown them; just fry them up until they go translucent. Next, throw in some ground and whole green peppercorns (go on, be generous, more, more!) and a generous knob of butter:



I think this is the point where I need to explain that cooking on this particular Shrove Tuesday was completely unplanned. I had naturally wanted to make pancakes, but just couldn’t be inspired to mix up pancakes for just me. So I barely ate lunch, didn’t start on dinner for a good couple of hours after I got home from work, and had consumed two glasses of wine by the time I got to this point.

So when I looked at the bottle of sherry ready to splash some into the sauce, and I was tipsy enough to be bold but not quite tipsy enough to burn the house down, a flambé seemed like a good idea. I threw in a generous amount of sherry, grabbed my candle lighter, and…



yaaaaaaaaaay! Flambé success! And my house is still standing!

Next I threw in a generous dollop of creme fraiche and allowed the whole lot to cook down.

While the sauce was reducing I sliced up my rested steak:



(told you they were perfectly done)

Before plating up the whole delicious lot:



This is really easy, tastes really good, and I promise anyone can make it. But if you’re the accident-prone sort, I’d recommend skipping the bit where you light the pan on fire.

So try it, enjoy, and let me know how it works out 🙂


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The Power of Fried Chicken

Black people love chicken.

This is an immutable fact. As much as the fact that Kenyan love their Farmer’s Choice sausages, or that Pride & Prejudice is the greatest book ever, or that Taylor Swift songs have an inexplicable catchiness that rivals even Call Me Maybe.

I’m about to share something shocking with you, though, friends. I. Don’t. Really. Like. Chicken.

Yes, it’s true! My shameful secret is out! At times this makes me question whether I really am black, then I look at myself in the mirror and am reassured that my race is not in question. I console myself by saying I’m the exception that proves the rule. It’s not that I don’t eat chicken at all; in fact there’s nothing better than my Mama’s legendary peanut-coconut chicken (which, despite several attempts, I’ve only come close to recreating once). I only eat chicken bought from one store, and even then, I can’t eat the free range stuff.

The problem with chicken is that it’s just too darned chickeny.

But, seasoned appropriately (garlic and ginger are mandatory), sometimes a girl just needs a little bit of chicken; and home-fried chicken is just the thing to satisfy that craving. Hey – I guess I am black after all!

So, friends, what I’m about to share with you will change your lives forever. Never again will you be held hostage by the greasy of-suspicious-origin fried “chicken” from fast food outlets! Let’s do this.

First, you need to marinate the chicken overnight. Select a couple of your favourite spices. I usually use the best curry powder in the world, Simba Mbili curry powder (sorry for you if you don’t have regular visits to Kenya to stock up) and tandoori masala. Naturally you also need salt, crushed garlic, and ginger (preferably fresh, dried will do.)

I like to alternate layers – chicken, crushed garlic, ginger, sprinkling of curry powder, chicken, crushed garlic, ginger, sprinkling of tandoori masala – continue till all chicken used:


As you can see I use skinless chicken. Next, pour over enough buttermilk to cover the lot. (If you forget to buy buttermilk, make your own):

IMG_0591Looks gross but I assure you, it’s the best. thing. ever.

So the next day, once the chicken has marinated overnight (do fast-forwardy thing like on TV cooking shows), get ready to fry the stuff up. First, put some sunflower oil and a few spoonfuls of duck fat into a pan to heat up. (I also added a few drops of sesame oil for flavour, and cooked it all up in my beloved wok):


While that’s heating up, prepare your chicken coating. I’m quite useless at remembering what I put into my meals so I took a photo that cleverly incorporated all the ingredients to remind me:


So that’s cake flour, semolina flour (for a lovely crisp crust), turmeric, Royco mchuzi mix (again, just get on a plane to Kenya), freshly-ground black pepper, dhania jeera, mixed spice, whole coriander seeds, cumin and salt. Salt, people, salt. This is critical. Add salt to the mix, and when you think you’ve added enough, add more. And more again. This sounds crazy but I’m one of those people who doesn’t even like salt and never adds salt to my plate, but in this recipe loads of salt is essential.

Now for the messy part – fish the chicken pieces out of the buttermilk mix and dredge it in the flour mix:


Pop it in the fat and let it cook away happily:

IMG_0594Bubbly bubbly happy fry.

You’ll need to turn them over once while cooking, then you can put them on a wad of kitchen paper to drain:


When all the extra grease has been mopped up (just because you’re eating fried chicken that’s no excuse to walk around with greasy lips and chin) pop the pieces in to a pre-heated oven to cook through and keep warm. Now, you have to be smart about this: you don’t want to serve some uncooked and some overcooked chicken pieces. Start with the pieces that take longer to cook like the thighs; they definitely won’t cook through in the oil so they’ll need a bit more time in the oven. Next the drumsticks, then the breasts and wings which will dry up if you keep them in the oven too long.

And when al the pieces have had their turn in the hot fat, pile them into an impressive-looking heap and it’s nom nom nom time:


Enjoy! 🙂

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