Hello again to all our Food Fans, we have missed you! All these short weeks have everyone in a slightly quirky rhythm it seems – I quite like it. We had a wonderful break and are so grateful to have been able to travel through our beautiful country as a family, experiencing everything through the eyes of our girls. That said, we look forward to some normality again, getting into the full swing of things, tackling that bull by the horns! What a big week this has been – voting, my Birthday and Mothers’ Day all together like a power trifecta. I hope you have some time to cook delicious, nourishing food for yourselves and your loved ones, you know how I love to seize any opportunity for making food. Today being Wednesday, we are working on this week’s delivery but to me it feels like the perfect day for a braai. Some spuds wrapped up in foil in the coals (I’d like some sweet potatoes) with butter and crème fraiche, a crisp green salad with avo, some Badgeleur wild boar ribs and maybe a piece of Braeside’s bobaas boerewors! If you’re feeling decadent why not toast some marshmallows afterwards to feel like a child again! We have an unnatural love of mollusks so hopefully we’ll be indulging in a glorious pot of Mussels in a French styled cream sauce – my idea of bliss I have to admit. Unfortunately my Birthday this year is on a Thursday when T&C is in its fullest madness, but hopefully Bevan and I will get to sneak in a lovely cup of coffee somewhere and dinner will be a surprise. But Sunday… Sunday my gran and Aunt will come for lunch and then I can cook and share my love. My gran Ninni, helped raise me after my Mama died and at her and Issi’s hip I learned much of what I know of food. Saucy hot chocolate puddings, succulent roast legs of lamb, wonderous braun, to my aunt’s more sophisticated French sauces and wacky food experiments. So, Sunday it is my chance to love them with a meal of slow roast pork shoulder with an apple and lavender sauce, cauliflower mash, roast pumkin, buttery green beans and for desert a cake to celebrate Issi’s and my Birthdays. I can’t wait!
Speaking of cauliflower mash, I’ve been wanting to share a cottage pie recipe with you for ages, always backing away for fear it may be to simple. But today I’m following Braeside’s lead and giving you my version of a cottage pie! Anyone who is on the Banting bandwagon will enjoy the cauli topping and if you are not on a mission to minimise carbs, give it a try anyway – it is far lighter and silkier than its potato counterpart. I love mashed potato! But I do enjoy not feeling heavy after this meal. I also occasionally make it with sweet potato, steaming them so they don’t get waterlogged – give it a try. I have so muck post-holiday junk in my trunk that every little act of virtuousness at this point feels like a huge contribution to a lighter me! If you have a look at our FB page you will see the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of worst offenders when it comes to non-organic produce, celery is on this page, so try get some organic celery if you do not grow it at home. I will post an article too of the foods that experts in the industry refuse to eat, please have a look at that too. The one item on that list that deals a heavy blow to me and most people who love to cook I know, is tinned tomatoes… I know right? The problem with this kitchen staple is the lining in the tins that are full of BPAs. The acidity of the tomatoes causes the BPAs to leach into the tomatoes, leading to frightening levels found in the food. I use organic tinned tomatoes from Italy. I know, the footprint is big, but I buy it in bulk a few times a year and I take that hit for the sake of my kitchen. This particular company does not use BPAs in their lining. If you cannot find a BPA-free source try the bottled ones, though they are more costly. A cottage pie is homely and warming and lovely. Fill up on this easy, nourishing dish.
Banting Cottage Pie
500g beef mince
2 onions, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped (equal parts to onion)
1 large carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, chopped
tin of organic non BPA plum tomatoes (or 5 fresh tomatoes, chopped)
olive oil/ tallow for frying
sprig of rosemary
few sprigs of thyme
head of cauliflower, cut into florets
generous nob of butter
parmesan, grated (optional)
salt & pepper
Start with your mince, brown it off in a deep, wide frying pan on a high heat in a little oil – I like using dripping for depth of flavour. I was taught not to season meat before it is cooked, but I follow different advice now, I like seasoning the mince with salt & pepper at this point before it is browned. When it is browned, remove from the pan and set aside. Now turn your heat down to medium and sauté your chopped onion until translucent, then add chopped celery, grated carrot and chopped garlic; coat well in the oil and fry until turning opaque and nicely reduced in volume. Add the browned mince and mix well with the veggies, stirring for a few minutes. When using tinned tomatoes, I open the tin and chop them up with a sharp knife while they are still in the tin – convenience tip! Pour the now chopped tomatoes into the pan, pour some red wine (amount up to you – I guesstimate a glass) into the tin, swill around to clean off the tomato residue and pour that in too. Give your meat mix a good stir, tuck in your whole sprigs of rosemary and thyme, turn the heat down low. While you wait for the alcohol to cook off a little and to reduce, put a pot of water on the stove to boil. Now add some best stock of your choice – the T&C beef broth is delicious for this, resulting in a rich and velvety flavour, but I often use my go-to vegan Mock Stock – don’t let it swim, just make a nice wet mix that can bubble away and reduce for 25-30mins. Put the lid on and wait.
While the mince cooks, cook the cauliflower. I like to steam them on the pot of water in a bamboo steamer to best preserve the nutrients and prevent the florets from getting too wet, but if you want to boil, just make sure you give them some time to dry off. I buy my bamboo steamers in China Town, they are cheap and super convenient. Cook the florets well, seasoned with a little nutmeg, some salt & pepper. I love crunchy cauliflower, but here you want it to be soft so you can turn it silky! I blitz them up with a hand-held blender with a good bit of butter, be thorough it should be super smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning and add some parmesan, mix through.
Check on the mince. It should be well reduced and quite thick. This is similar to the way I would treat a Bolognaise, the difference is this needs to be a bit thicker to hold the topping and also this has less tomato and more savory tones because of the stock. I also like to add some Worcestershire sauce for an extra kick – depending on how fastidious you want to be about paleo. Scoop the mince into a casserole dish and smooth down. Now gently add the cauli mash on top, making sure to cover all the mince and sealing it in, as it were. Pop into the oven at 180° until golden and bubbling, about 30mins.
This is a comforting meal that makes wonderful leftovers. Perfect for a casual lunch or mid-week supper fix. Try the cauliflower, but if you are a purist, stick to good old buttery mashed potatoes. Enjoy!