One Pot Spaghetti and sausage

One pot meals are great because guess what?! You don’t have to wash too many dishes. To show you just how easy the concept is, here’s a little something I made.

I was excited to find  way to use my Swedish sausage bites. I bought them (I don’t know what for) and I thought, ‘Must.Use.Them’. The dish you see in the picture actually uses the sausage bites as well as traditional mushrooms. These are wild mushrooms that have been foraged from the forest. Not the usual fresh ones. In Busia, where my mum is from they are a seasonal delicacy. I grew up eating them and personally prefer them to fresh mushrooms.

There’s no fancy shmancy ingredient list for you (yay?!) BUT this meal  it still delivers on flavour. When I thought about it, this meal is great when you have guests coming over, but your pantry is bare lol. Oh and it looks deliciously creamy but has not an ounce of cream.

Serves 4

  • 250 grams Spaghetti
  • 5 pcs chopped sausage (you can use regular farmers choice sausage in or out of the skin)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh Basil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • Mushroom
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

In a large sauce pan, I added my sausage, chopped onion and some cooking oil on a medium heat. I stirred it a bit to avoid the sausage sticking to the pan, and let it cook for about 5 minutes, then added the mushroom and let that cook for another 5 minutes.

Put your spaghetti standing into the pot and add about 3 pints of boiling water and about half a teaspoon of salt. Turn up the heat so the water carries on boiling. Keep an eye on your spaghetti.

*You’ll notice the spaghetti will fall into the pan as it starts to cook. Watch it and use a fork to separate the strands

**It might be best for you to follow the cooking instructions on the pack for spaghetti. I’m an expert at measuring by eye so maybe don’t be like me.. lol

I didn’t use copious amounts of water for the spaghetti because, well it’s a preference but some people prefer to use lots of water. So anyway, let the pasta cook until its al-dente. By now the water should be very little, if you still have loads of water, drain most of it but leave some in the pan as this will be the ‘sauce’ for the pastaTake the pan off the heat and serve. Top your plate with lashings of Parmesan and black pepper and voila.

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Leleshwa Wine Tour – Morendat Farm

I went on my first wine tour recently. I did not know what to expect having never been to one (To be honest I really thought my first tour would be to S.A…I have this bucket list item that involves me driving to Cape Town from Joberg via the garden route…..and spending a week touring some vineyards, sampling great wine and living off good vibes and sea food.. my dreams are valid) But I digress….

I received a surprise email inviting me to be part of the first group to tour Leleshwa Winery and was like whoa! Of course I’m gonna do it. I had previously missed a day of wine tasting hosted by WOSA so I wasn’t about to miss this one and especially because it’s a local product.

Negative local perceptions still stands with people turning up their noses at what they feel is an inferior wine simply because it’s made locally (yet these same people will drink Drostdy Hof and Cellar cask) and Leleshwa hasn’t been spared.

I have to say their wines are not half bad. Rough around the edges for the red but the Sauvignon blanc isn’t bad at all.

People need to understand that growing grapes fit for making wines, in this region is very unique. The latitudes generally do not favour viticulture and the weather is seen to be unsuitable, yet Leleshwa has managed to produce some decent wine.

Admittedly, this is not your posh plonk or a wine to be saved as a vintage. It is according to winemaker, Emma, a shelf wine. It has an estimated shelf life and is meant for immediate consumption. If you made the mistake of saving the wine to be drank in 10 years, then what you would end up with is an amazing vinegar to dress your salads with.

Now, I’ll give you a little history of the brand, Leleshwa. It started as a hobby for the ‘chairman’ as he is fondly known about 20 years ago. He made the decision to start the vineyard to challenge the perception that no good wine could possibly come from Kenya. Over the years the company has grown and improved on its products so much so that just this year they won a double gold Michelangelo Award in South Africa that recognized their Sauvignon Blanc. Just to give you some context of the importance of such an award, Leleshwa was a winner in the same category of more popular vineyards such as Villiera, Nedeberg, KWV etc…

Our group was labelled ‘Wine Enthusiasts’ and actually had a few wine consultants in the group which for me was a bonus as I wouldn’t have to endure a day with non-wine drinkers giving an opinion about something they have no idea about.

The tour of the vineyards was eye opening. We took a short walk where our guide talked us through the history of Leleshwa and how far they have come. He then took us on a walkabout where we saw some cultured vines, some old vines, some new vines and had a chance to walk through a section with ripening grapes.

When we finished our walk through, we took a break to have a snack in the middle of the vineyard. The setup was very country- chic. Bales of hay piled high enough to form a table were covered with maasai shukas and then our spread was laid on top.

Crudités, bruschetta, cheese courtesy of Browns Cheese…and of course some chilled Leleshwa sauvignon blanc and Rose. In the unforgiving heat of the midday sun, the wine served as a good catalyst for louder and more humorous conversation amongst the group and plenty of photo ops.

After the refreshing wines, we huddled back on to the shuttle bus and were taken to the winery ~ where the magic happens~. It’s a small unassuming building and to be honest, if you drove by you would be forgiven for thinking it was just any old farmhouse structure.

Now, unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures of the inside but I’ll do my best to describe it.

Upon entry the first thing that strikes your vision is the size of the operation. It is ‘small’. You wouldn’t believe that they produce thousands of bottles each year from this one space. On my left were a series of talks with pipes running into and out of them. To my right was the machine where harvested grapes began their journey to making wine (I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the machine.)

Dead in front of me was an aluminum tank. Our host for this section of the tour, Emma, walked us through the process of making wine. She talked about what the different machines did and was gracious enough to answer all our questions (even the seemingly obvious ones). To cap it off, she came to a stand by the largest tank in the room. Here she explained was unfiltered white wine which is cloudy and not as clear as the finished product. She ‘tapped’ it into a glass. I tell you it was strange seeing cloudy wine. It wasn’t crystal clear as white wine should be, but she encouraged us to try it. Of course we were only too happy to oblige…

We then moved on to the final stage of the tour, lunch! The setting was rather quaint. A stretched tent in the middle of a grassy area of land that was bordered on one side by a forest of acacia trees, a vineyard to another and a beautiful backdrop of mount Longonot in the distance.

All in all, the tour was loads of fun and for those of us with an interest, it was nice to see the efforts and operations of a local company trying to do something different and succeeding at it.

As for the wines, are they the greatest, not by a long shot! Are they good, yes. They have a way to go but I would encourage people not to knock down and ignore local brands. We do ourselves a disservice by downplaying and ignoring local talent. I have and will continue to buy their wines. I firmly believe in supporting local businesses and I believe if we adopt a culture to support local businesses, we can develop much more robust industries and encourage manufacturers to keep improving their processes and produce.

Mixed berry petit mille feuilles

The easiest dessert that you will ever make. Yup mark my words it really is. Plus the beauty is all in assembling it and the fruits you add to it. For my simple dessert I used ready made puff pastry and berries 🙂

Honestly, there’s a whole load of complicated recipes out there. I simplified it so that even the laziest of bachelors can whip it up to impress a babe.

The one thing I did change was that rather than fill it with pastry cream I used mascarpone cheese. Reason? Well I really struggle to find good quality local cream whether it’s whipping or double; and so I substitute with mascarpone cheese because it delivers on flavor and texture

Ingredients

  • 1 Puff pastry roll (ready made or you can make your own)
  • 1 punnet blueberries
  • 1 punnet strawberries
  • 250 grams mascarpone cheese
  • Icing sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)

So start with the pastry. Pre heat your oven to 160. Roll out your puff pastry and cut it into your desired shape (I used a large star shaped cookie cutter). Place on a baking tray then lightly brush the top of them with the beaten egg. Put the tray into the middle shelf of the oven and bake for roughly 10 to 13 minutes. Because of the delicate nature of the pastry, I recommend standing by the oven and checking on the pastry to make sure it doesn’t burn 🙂 trust me on this.

Once your pastry is done, set aside to cool and whip up the mascarpone with about 1 tablespoon of icing sugar (I prefer it because it’s not granulated). Wash your fruits and set aside.

Now it’s time to assemble….. Start with the pastry then about one heaped tablespoon of the mascarpone then some fruit and top it with another pastry piece. Repeat the layers so you have a cute small tower and just like that you have an impressive but dead easy dessert to wow your guests!

Fillet steak with ‘Hominy’

Simply put this is steak and corn….but not as you know it. Here in Kenya and various sub Saharan countries, one way of preserving maize/corn is to dry it out in the sun. The grains become dehydrated and can keep for months at a time. The usual application afterwards is to grind the maize into a flour….maize meal. In Kenya this is cooked into a national dish called Ugali.

So here I was looking at these grains and thinking to myself, what could I possibly do with this stuff besides ugali? Then the thought jumped at me….why not try and re-hydrate them into something palatable……and this this recipe came up. It’s a labour of love re-hydrating dry maize but the great thing about it is that because maize can be so bland, you can easily infuse flavour into it to make it more palatable. To this add some protein and/or veg and you have a decent meal.

For this recipe, I added flavour using chicken stock, blended it for a different texture and served it with a fillet steak and some chimichurri. A very simple dish that elevates a local ingredient.

Serves 2

  • 2 cups of dehydrated maize kernels
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 25 grams unsalted butter
  • 250 grams fillet steak

For the chimichurri

  • 2 cloves chopped fresh garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced coriander
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced sage
  • Fresh jalapeno, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup virgin olive oil or cold pressed canola oil

And so the labor of love begins.

First we start with the chimichurri so that the flavours infuse in the oil. Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl. Whisk and set aside.

Next, soak the maize in hot water and leave overnight (say 12 hours) and then drain the water. (If the maize hasn’t softened, you can soak them for longer.)

In a sauce pan, add your onions and some oil and sautee over a medium heat until the onions are translucent. Next, add the maize and your stock cube, salt and pepper and mix well for about 5 minutes or until the stock cube completely dissolves. After this, add the chicken stock, cover the sauce pan and leave to simmer for about an hour or until the stock has reduced. Taste the maize for tenderness and flavour. If it’s tender, take it off the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Once cooled, place the maize into a blender and pulse. DO NOT BLEND  I repeat DO NOT BLEND. The pulsed maize should have the texture of chunky oats. We do not want a puree at all.  Put the pulsed maize back into the pan on a low heat and add the butter and some more pepper.

As the maize is cooking, heat up a griddle pan with a dash of olive oil. Season your steaks with salt and pepper. When the oil begins to smoke, place your steaks on the heat for 1 to 2 minutes on each side depending on how well done you want them.

Turn off the heat on the ‘hominy’, slice your steak  and plate your meal with a generous drizzle of chimichurri.

Coffee and chocolate short ribs

I was very unsure about this recipe. The first time I tried it, it failed. The coffee and chocolate were too much so the ribs were bitter….I didn’t even eat them. Second time round and voila! All it took was practicing a bit of restraint with my marinade and balancing the bitter and sweet elements.

The thing many people don’t know is that coffee and chocolate go very well with red meat. In particular beef. I think it has to do with the tannins and the earthy flavor of the beef being a low key perfect marriage.

There was no occasion for this recipe and my mum was my guinea pig as usual 🙂 I’d say it’s a great meat to have with a fruity whiskey or a fruity red wine. Low and slow.

Serves 4

  • 1kg beef short ribs (it’s better as a rack rather than individual ribs to retain moisture)
  • 1tbs ground coffee beans
  • 1 tbs dark chocolate powder
  • 3 tbs muscavado or soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 pint beef stock
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 3 tbs olive oil

We start with the marinade. In a bowl, place the coffee, chocolate, sugar, oil, salt and rosemary and mix well. Taste to make sure you have the right balance. Then pour the marinade over the ribs in a larger bowl and use your fingers to massage the marinade. Cover he bowl with cling film and place in the fridge for at least 10 hours making sure to turn it over and massage every 3 hours or so.

The meat will change color because of the coffee and that’s a good thing. Place the ribs into a baking tray and pour in the beef stock. Cover with foil and place in the oven at a lower heat of 150 for 2 to 3 hours. Keep checking the stock levels and make sure the stock doesn’t dry out until the meat is tender. If the stock dries out, keep adding warm stock.

Once the meat is tender, take off the foil and baste the meat with the marinade. The sugars in the marinade will caramelise and slightly dry out the outside but leaving the inside tender and juicy.

How you serve it is up to you BUT I’m a strong advocate of salads 🙂 so I’d recommend serving it with a light fresh salad 😉

Plum glazed pork shoulder

My usual application of pork is ribs. Its a fail-safe. Messy and fun to eat and of course my humans love it. This time though I was inspired to make a chinese inspired dish for lunch and my choice of cut was a pork shoulder.

The next hurdle was what to do with it. I wanted something relatively easy to do that would give great flavour. Then I remembered how when I was in high school, the local chinese shop would make this wicked plum sauce that was used for duck pancakes as well as some pork dishes. Given that its not yet plum season in Kenya, I chose to substitute with a ready made option and cross my fingers that it would work.

I used good old Zesta plum jam and added some spice and soy to it. A few ingredients which did some justice to the pork and gave it a banging glaze and color.

I served my pork with vegetable fried rice (I’ll share the recipe later) and of course some pak choi because you must have some of your 5 a day.

Serves 4

  • Pork shoulder bone in 1.2 kg (skin off but leave some fat to keep the moisture)
  • 200 grams plum jam
  • Whole star anise (6 pieces)
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp chili flakes (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Put your pork into a bowl where it fits snugly. Heat up your jam in a saucepan long enough to melt it into a runny consistency then take off the heat. Then add all the spices and soy sauce. Make sure you taste the sauce to find the right balance of sweet, salty (and spicy for some). Pour the sauce into the bowl with the pork. Massage the marinade in the pork making sure all the meat is exposed to the marinade and push the star anise into the meat. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 12 hours turning it halfway through.

After the 12 hours, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature, about half an hour.

Pre – heat your oven to 188°C. Put your pork shoulder into an oven dish and pour the marinade over it. Cover tightly with foil and put to roast in the middle shelf of the oven. After about half an hour, take out the shoulder, baste and turn it, then put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes. Next, remove the foil and and baste the meat with the juices and place under the grill to broil at 160°C. You will need to keep turning and basting the meat at least every 3 to 4 minutes until the entire cut takes on a deep rich color and has a glaze.

Once its all glazed, serve on a platter with pak choi. This isn’t quite authentic Chinese but it comes quite close. It also makes great filling for a sandwich, so if you have leftovers you know what to do 🙂

Creamy Sun-dried Tomato and Parmesan Chicken

A a couple of weeks ago I felt inspired to do something simple but decadent based on a recipe I peeped online. Now, their version of this recipe had mushrooms but my mum doesn’t like mushrooms so I substituted with olives and capers.

This meal isn’t light in calories so I used non dairy cream which has less fat. Having said that, it was nice and creamy and there’s a bit of sweetness from the sun dried tomatoes, a bit of tang from the capers and some earthiness from the olives.

For sides, because I used chicken thighs and drumsticks, I thought mash or rice is a better option but if you use boneless breasts then this is a great sauce to have with pasta. I served mine with mash potatoes and some savoy cabbage because veg is good for you lol.

Serves 4 

  • 8 pieces chicken (you can use whatever pieces, I used drumstick and thighs)
  • 200 grams Sun-dried tomatoes
  • 100 grams pitted black olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 200 grams Parmesan
  • 200 ml cooking cream
  • 1.5 pints chicken stock
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Start by trimming the fat off the chicken. (While its tasty, its not exactly healthy) You may also choose to take the skin off (but that’s going a bit far lol)

Place your Parmesan, about a small pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of black pepper into a bowl and add the chicken to this. Dredge the chicken all over and make sure its all coated in the mix. Next, line the chicken into a baking dish (make sure they don’t overlap), under a hot grill about 200 °C, skin side up for about 5 to 10 minutes to get the skin crispy and brown then turn it for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Once the chicken is brown, take it off the grill and drain the excess fat but leave the chicken in the baking dish. Then, add your olives, capers, sun dried tomatoes, cream and stock and gently mix it up well.

Put this into the oven at 180 °C and take it out after 30 minutes. And done! As simple as that. I served mine with smashed new potatoes with chives but I think some aromatic basmati rice works just as well.