Posts Tagged With: food



A couple of nights ago I had a hankering for fried chicken. I never eat fried chicken from fast-food outlets so was forced to whip up a batch myself. I could only find mini chicken breasts (I prefer wings), didn’t have time for the 24-hour soak in buttermilk, and in a nod to health consciousness (hah!) crumbed but did not batter the chicken.

I served it with potato salad and a sweet-&-hot sesame soy dipping sauce, made with jalapeños from my mini urban garden. Happiness!

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I made risotto for the first time this week! It turned out great, especially for a first attempt. Here it is bubbling away:


I sautéed spring onions, sweet peppers, dried tarragon, mixed mushrooms and crushed garlic in a mix of Parmesan-infused olive oil and butter. To that I added my rice, and gradually ladled in simmering lamb stock. When the rice was almost done, I stirred in a tablespoon of double cream, a knob of butter, and grated some Parmesan liberally over the lot. Then right at the end I tossed in a healthy glug of white wine.

It was a meat-free meal, so I served it with tomatoes roasted with pesto, feta, black pepper, and lemon-infused olive oil.

Quick, simple, tasty. Bon appetite!


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Five Days With a Philips Airfryer: Day 3 – Nyama, Nyama, Nyama? Nyama!

When I was a kid growing up in Nairobi we used to play this game that was all about meat.

There would be a group of us, and the challenge was to name types of edible meats, and also to sneak in types of meat which were, to our minds, not edible. The game would go something like this:

    caller: Nyama, nyama, nyama, nyama? (“meat, meat, meat, meat”)
    all: Nyama! (“meat!”)
    player 1: Nyama ya nguruwe! (“meat of a pig!”)
    all: Nyama!
    player 2: Nyama ya ng’ombe! (“meat of a cow”)
    all: Nyama!

And this would carry on until someone got confused or repeated a meat type that had already been called, or, as was often the case with me, ran out of Swahili words for animals whose meat commonly ends up on our dinner tables, and called something outrageous like:

    player 52: Nyama ya panya!” (“meat of a mouse!”)

At which point all the other players are meant to remain quiet as calling out “Nyama!” affirms that this is a type of meat which can be eaten. The player who responds and/or the one who dared insinuate that one could eat a mouse would be out, and the game would continue without them.

This game would keep us endlessly entertained. Oh, how easy we were to amuse!

Anyway, the point of all that was to explain that “nyama” means “meat” in kiSwahili (if you hadn’t deduced this by now please stop reading immediately as this is not a blog to be read by intellectually compromised individuals) as well as many other Bantu languages. Also, this was a sort of meaningless, rambling introduction to today’s Airfryer challenge: carne!

Ooooh, a challenge! This feels like Kitchen Stadium! I feel like I should scream something incoherent and claim it’s a saying passed down from my uncle!

I digress. Meat, or specifically in my case, lamb (“nyama ya kondoo”). So I had yet another super busy day (I spent my morning kicking legal butt) and was worn out when it came to cooking time. I was craving red meat so I pulled some lamb chops out of my freezer intending to marinate them simply, airfry, and get my meat fix.

I loathe meat that has been microwave-defrosted so I left the chops out by my sink for about three hours by which stage they were defrosted enough to separate. I then rubbed them with olive oil, salt, garlic & herb spice mix (I almost never use pre-mixed spices which shows just how lazy I was being!), cumin and chopped garlic:


You will note a few things from the photo above:

  • My impeccable style and taste extend even to my choice of apron
  • I should probably eat those bananas
  • I shouldn’t still have the sesame seeds from last nights’s meal out on the counter
  • I’m in the photo!!!!
  • Yes, I had Zizwe and Sharon drop by today! Zizwe gobbled down the last of yesterday’s chicken wings while Sharon had dinner tonight and provided a second opinion on the lamb.


    After marinating I stuck the lamb in the Airfryer and cooked at 180* for 8 minutes, then took the chops out and turned them.


    I then slid them in again, same temperature, same duration.

    And this is where I went wrong: at this point the lamb had cooked for the appropriate duration as per the sticky-on-guide-thingy on the front of the Airfryer, but it didn’t look all glisteny like TV food. So I stuck the chops in again so they’d turn lovely and brown:


    I served the lamb chops with coconut basmati rice:


    If there’s anyone reading this asking, “well, what about vegetables?” in a smug “I’m so healthy!” voice, see those green and yellow bits in the rice? Peas and sweet corn. Vegetables.

    So, the eating. I reeeeeeally loved the flavour of the meat, but that’s because I seasoned it and I’m a really good cook. As my special guest pointed out, though, the meat was really difficult to cut. Whether this was due to my plonking the chops in when they were still partially frozen, or because of my decision to stick them back in for extra cooking so they’d glisten in my blog photos, or even because I just need to invest in a set of steak knives I do not know.

    What I do know, though, is had I pan fried my chops, I would likely have been happier with the end result.

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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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    Five Days With a Philips Airfryer: Day 1 – Frozen

    Nothing makes good taste better than fat. This truth has a sound scientific basis – fat makes food taste better because most flavours are fat soluble. Just think about it – butter, bacon, duck cat… fat is flavourful! But, alas, my consumption of fat-laden foods is limited by the need to fit into my clothes.

    I’ve been lusting after the Philips Airfryer for a while now, but it doesn’t come cheap. I’m generally very skeptical about foods that claim to taste as good with less fat, so I ever got round to getting myself an Airfryer.

    I mentioned this to a friend who happens to work at Philips, and she kindly organized a loan demo Airfryer for me. Wooooohoooo! I have a limited amount of time with the machine, so for the five days I have the Airfryer, I’ll blog my experiences with it. Good? Let’s go!

    Now, you can’t claim to test food which should be fried unless you start with, well, fries. There are few things in this world that can bring a person as much joy as deep-fried potato strings. Being as busy as I am at work right now, I sadly didn’t have time to slice and fry the gorgeous yellow potatoes I have in my veggie tray right now.

    So I decided – what better way to test the health benefits of the Airfryer than to “fry” up some convenience foods? Frozen fries out of a pack, frozen salmon out of a box, served with a lovely fresh salad.

    This is really quick and really simple so pay attention. Dump the frozen fries and fish in the frying basket thingy:


    Slide the basket into the Airfryer, time it for 6 minutes at 180* (there are pictures on the front of the Airfryer that tell you how long and at what heat to cook different types of food):


    When it pings, take the basket out and shake the contents before sliding it back in for more cooking:


    After a further 6 minutes it’s ready to serve:



    I had mine with a salad of baby butter lettuce dressed with lemon olive oil from the tap at Food Lovers Market, Hillfox, balsamic vinegar and pomegranate concentrate. Oh, and a healthy dollop of All Gold tomato sauce.

    So, verdict? I honestly could not tell that the fries had not been deep fried. Granted frozen chips are pre-cooked in oil so they weren’t completely fat-free, but they tasted waaaaay better than ghastly oven fries. In all – delicious, guilt-free fries. Happiness 🙂

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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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