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With the current prices of red meat it’s not everyday that I can get my hands on a leg of lamb. Fortunately my parentals were kind enough to bless me with 750 grams deboned leg of lamb! ūüėÄ

The meat has already been defrosted, so what to do with this beautiful cut of meat on a school night?

Make a quick and easy lamb pot-roast of course!

You’ll Need:

  • 750g leg of lamb deboned or 1kg lamb on the bone
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 table spoons of olive oil
  • 1¬Ĺ teaspoons of ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • 2 onions sliced
  • 500ml of beef stock
  • 75ml of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 green pepper roughly chopped
  • 2 large carrots chopped

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 160¬įC.
Rub the lamb with the olive oil, the chopped garlic, lemon juice, cumin and salt and pepper.

Heat an oven proof casserole and sear the lamb on all sides. Add the stock and chopped onions, add the spices, sugar and tomato paste.
Cover the casserole (I covered mine with foil) and cook in the oven for 2¬Ĺ hours.

Remove the casserole and pour out the stock into a frying pan.
Place the casserole back in the oven and cook uncovered for 20 minutes.

In the mean time, heat up the stock in the frying pan and add the chopped green pepper and carrots until soft.

Slice the lamb and serve with the vegetables.

The meat is soft and falls apart as I tried to cut it. Was best enjoyed with a glass of 1988 KWV Cabernet Sauvignon. 

I found myself in a predicament last week, at a family dinner I brought a magnum bottle of Shiraz. Apart from being striking addition to any dinner table, I was looking forward to this beautifully aged wine.
However when I pulled the cork, my nose was not filled with the delightful aromas from the wine, but rather a dreadful damp smell, as if a wet carton box was left in a corner of a cold musty concrete warehouse for a couple of months… not nice at all.

The wine was spoiled by a compound known as 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole (or just TCA for short). Found in natural corks and sometimes in barrels, this compound is the cause of this musty aroma and flavour. One of the tricky problems with TCA is that the off-character varies from bottle to bottle and sometimes can be very hard to pick up in a wine.

The production of TCA in cork or its transfer by other means into wine is complex, but most results when naturally-occurring airborne fungi are presented with cholophenol compounds, which they then convert into chlorinated anisole derivatives. Chlorophenols taken up by cork trees are an industrial pollutant found in many pesticides and wood preservatives, which may mean that the incidence of cork taint has risen in modern times. Ironically, chlorophenols can also be a product of the chlorine bleaching process used to sterilise corks; this has led to the increasing adoption of methods such as peroxide bleaching.
–¬†http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cork_taint

2,4,6-Trichloroanisole

2,4,6-Trichloroanisole

So cork taint is not¬†necessarily an indication that the wine is bad. It’s an outside factor that made the wine taste off coming from either the cork or the barrel.
(You might even find a corked bottle of wine under a screw cap or a plastic cork, however this will be very rare.)

So what do you do if you have your bottle of wine that has been affected? Sadly nothing will make the wine better. Take it back to the producer or wine shop and they (ought to) replace it for you.

EDIT: I’ve stumbled upon this on the Lifehacker website: Fix “Corked” Wine with a Bowl and Plastic Wrap
I don’t know if it will work, but I am very interested give it a try.

Normandy Chicken

The Normandy region in France is the home of Camembert, cream, butter, apples and Calvados (apple brandy).

Normandy Chicken is an easy and delicious dish to prepare for autumn.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons of butter
  • 2 small apples cored and cut in wedges (I used Granny Smith apples)
  • Flour to dredge the chicken with
  • 2 Chicken legs with thighs attached
  • Salt
  • 2 small onions, peeled and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 cup of apple cider
  • ¬ľ cup brandy (Calvados if you can, I’ve used a sweetish brandy – Olof Bergh Brandy)
  • Teaspoon thyme
  • ¬ľ cup plain¬†yoghurt

Season the chicken with salt and let it rest for 30 minutes (It will help make the chicken skin become crispy when fried).

Preheat the oven to 190¬įC

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in an oven-proof sauce pan.
Add the apple wedges and sauté until the apples become slightly brown.
Remove the apples from the pan onto a paper towel, season with a small amount of salt.

Dredge the chicken in the flour and fry on medium heat with the additional tablespoon of butter until the chicken is golden brown. Remove from the pan

Add the onions and fry while deglazing the pan of any browned bits left over from the chicken pieces.

Add the¬†¬ľ cup brandy and reduce for a couple of minutes before adding the cup of cider. Bring the onion, cider mixture to a boil.

Season with thyme and a pinch of salt. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and place in the oven to cook for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, take out the pan and remove the chicken. Place the pan back on the plate and add the apples. (I saw that there was quite a lot of juice in the pan, from the chicken. Reduce the sauce to half.

When the sauce has reduced, add the¬†¬ľ cup yoghurt. Add salt to taste.

Serve the apple and onions with a helping of the creamy sauce / gravy with the chicken on top.
This is a delicious meal with a elegant apple flavour that doesn’t¬†over dominate¬†the dish.

Enjoy!

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It is not everyday that I will select a foreign wine for a tasting over our own South African produce, but out of interest I picked the Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from Marlborough, New Zealand.

Lawson’s Dry Hills was founded by Ross and Barbara Lawson in 1992 after growing their own grapes on their Alabama Road Vineyards from 1980.
Starting with Gew√ľrztraminer, Lawson’s Dry Hills soon expanded and now also make some fantastic Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

It is also interesting to note, that Ross Lawson was one of the pioneers of introducing screw cap wines to the industry, by founding and establishing the “Screwcap Closure Initiative”

Our philosophy is a simple one – To produce premium Marlborough wines of great character, quality and varietal expression.

The Wine:

I always held the impression that New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs were green, reductive and steely. The Lawson’s Dry Hills was all that, however amongst the green characters the wine also contains loads of passion fruit, gooseberries and granny smith apples, which made it complex and¬†intriguing.
The Sauvignon Blanc grapes has been sourced from 7 different vineyards all situated in the Marlborough wine growing valleys, each one with its own micro climate and character and  7.5% of the wine in French oak barrels for complexity.

The Stats:

Alcohol: 13.5 %
pH: 3.22
Residual Sugar: 3.0 g/L
Total Acidity: 7.4g/L

The Verdict:

I found this to be an interesting Sauvignon Blanc which surprised and challenged me to change what I normally would have perceived Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc would taste like.  It is a delightful wine and was loved by all the other tasters.
This wine comes recommended, which I will consider a great price for a great wine… however at R159.00 a bottle for this Sauvignon Blanc, you could also buy South Africa’s premium Sauvignon’s… the choice is yours…

Check them out here:

Lawson’s Dry Hills

Buy the wine in South Africa here:

info@phdwines.co.za or phone Angelique on 021 881 3895

Stay tuned for more tastings on New Zealand wines…

Situated in Somerset West, Morgenster (Morning Star) is known not just for award winning wines but also world renowned olives and olive oils.

Since olives and wine are some of my favourite things, I’ve decided visited the farm and taste what they have to offer…

The Wine:
Morgenster produces three different ranges of wines: The Lourens River Valley, The Morgenster and the Italian collection.

Morgenster Wine

Morgenster Wine

The Lourens River Valley 2008

This Bordeaux style blend offers fresh dark berries with an elegant tannin structure. The aftertaste lingers with dark cherries and has a smoky finish.
Cabernet Franc /  Merlot / Cabernet Sauvignon / Petit Verdot

Morgenster (Flagship) 2008

This is a well put together and complex; the wine has layers and layers of flavour that reminded me of red cherries, cigar box with earthy characters.
Merlot / Cabernet Franc / Cabernet Sauvignon / Petit Verdot

Italian Collection

Caruso 2011 Rosé РMade from 100% Sangiovese and is named after Enrico Caruso, the Italian opera singer. This delightful wine is perfect for summer picnics. Light, fresh and packed with strawberries and pepper flavours.

Tosca 2008 – Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot Blend. Rich and fruity with a wonderful velvety mouth-feel.

Nabucco 2008 – A great Nebbiolo, Merlot and Petit Verdot blend. Smooth, rich with plums and blackberries.

Delicious Morgenster Olives

Delicious Morgenster Olives

The Olives:
I don’t know a lot about olives, before this tasting I thought there were only three types of olives in the world (Black, Green and Kalamata). So I was delighted to learn more about one of my favourite snacks.

Morgenster have 22 different types of olives trees planted on the farm.

The three table olives that they serve for the tasting РKalamata, Moresca (black) and Nocellara Del Belice (green).

Olive oil paste – Made from a variety of green and red olives, the black and green olive pastes are perfect as spread on the bread that they offered with the tasting.

The Morgenster Olive Oil Tasting

The Morgenster Olive Oil Tasting

The Olive Oils:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil  РGrassy and nutty with a peppery finish (an indication of the freshness and the ripeness)

Lemon Enhanced Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Infused with lemon zest for 72 hours, this olive oil has an intense lemon character with the same pepper and grass flavours.

White Truffle Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Love it or hate it, you cannot deny this intensely flavoured olive oil. I would love to add a dash of this olive oil the next time I cook a risotto.

Monte Marcello Ev Olive Oil – An olive oil that reminded Morgenster’s owner of the olive trees situated around his home in Italy. The olives used to make this oil ripen later. The result is an oil that is creamy and smooth.

Balsamic Vinegar РImported from Modena and made in a traditional method that goes back from medieval times this balsamic vinegar has been fermented in old oak barrels and aged for three years. The vinegar is rich with loads of flavour.

All in all this was a wonderful taste experience. I’ve tasted interesting wines and learned about olives and olive oils. Thank you Morgenster, you’ll see me again soon!

Morgenster: http://www.morgenster.co.za/index.php
List of Morgenster olive products: http://shop.morgenster.co.za/index.php

View of the Helderberg Mountain from Morgenster's tasting room

Since I’m not a very good baker, I found egg tarts to be a very easy Chinese dessert to make.
These golden coloured treats are ideal for Chinese New Year celebrations and a perfect mini dessert for the delicious Phoenix and Dragon stir fry that I have made.

For the cups you’ll need:

  • 75g white sugar
  • 200g all purpose flour
  • 100g butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • a splash of vanilla extract

Crusty

To make the cups, mix the flour and white sugar together.
Break in the butter and mix it with the sugar and flour until the mixture becomes crumbly.
Stir in the egg and the vanilla and form a dough.
The dough should be slightly moist.
If it is too dry, mix in a bit of butter or if it is too moist, mix in a bit of flour.
Shape the dough into small balls (I made 6 – 7 dough balls).
Press a ball into a mold so that it covers the bottom and goes up the sides.
Start heating up your oven to 230’C.

Messy messy

.

For the custard you will need:
  • 75g white sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • half a cup of skim milk
Mix the sugar and water in a saucepan and boil until the sugar has been dissolved. Take the pan off the stove and allow the sugar water to cool down to room temperature.
Whisk the eggs and sugar water and stir in the skim milk and splash of vanilla. Strain the mixture through a sieve. (As I’ve learnt from my online friends, this helps to make the custard smoother)
Fill the cups with the custard and bake the egg tarts for 20 – 25 minutes until they become slightly golden brown and the custard puffed a bit up.
.
*** I used a silicon muffin tray to bake the egg tarts in. After baking I let them cool for a couple of minutes and then just popped them out.***
.
Enjoy!
Gong Hey Fat Choy! (Happy Chinese New Year)

Who said that you can’t celebrate new year twice a year?

The Chinese Calendar¬†is a lunisolar calendar and on the 23rd of January a¬†new moon phase starts for 2012 and to many Asian cultures that follow this calendar, this is the time to celebrate. So if not, ¬†why not? ūüėÄ

2012 is the Year of the Dragon¬†and luck and fortune are the main themes. ¬†Red and gold colours also play an important part in the celebrations. During the New Year period (which can last several days) families will come together and wear red clothes, hand out red envelopes with money in it called “lucky money”.

So to celebrate Chinese New Year, I have decided to make some Asian inspired dishes. I made Phoenix and Dragon stir fry which is a simple combination of chicken and prawns marinated in cornstarch, soy sauce and sherry stir fried with red and yellow peppers served on a bed of noodles (which symbolises long life).

Even though it is the Year of the Dragon, the Phoenix also plays an important role in Chinese Mythology. The Phoenix is often depicted with the Dragon at weddings¬†ceremonies¬†and symbolises blissful relations between husband and wife…

Phoenix and Dragon Stir Fry (Chicken and Prawn)

You will need:

  • 2 chicken breasts cut into strips
  • 2 cups prawns, shelled and¬†de-veined
  • Half of ¬†a medium sized yellow pepper, cut into strips
  • Half of a medium sized red pepper, cut into strips
  • Mange Tout
  • Cornstarch
  • Pale dry sherry (or rice wine)
  • Peanut oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 inch ginger crushed and finely shopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed and finely shopped
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 portions of egg noodles

Method:

Mix 2 tablespoons of dry sherry with 2 teaspoons of cornstarch and a tablespoon soy sauce. Combine with the chicken and allow the mixture to marinade in the fridge 30 minutes.

Mix 1 tablespoon dry sherry with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 teaspoons soy sauce. Combine the prawns with the mixture and allow to marinade in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Prepare a  soy and peanut oil sauce by combining 2 tablespoons of sherry, 2 teaspoons of peanut oil, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sugar and salt and pepper to taste.

Heat up 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large saucepan or wok.

Fry the garlic and ginger until it become fragrant.

Fry the chicken for a couple of minutes until the chicken isn’t pink any more.

Add the prawns and fry together for another couple of minutes until the prawns become pink.

Add the peppers and a hand full of mange tout and stir fry the mixture for a minute so that the vegetables are still crisp.

Drizzle over the soy and peanut sauce over the dish and stir until all the flavours have combined.

Serve on egg noodles that have been boiled and then pan fried in soy sauce. Decorate with origami Dragons!

RAWR!

Enjoy this festive dish that’s packed with flavour and symbolism

Chicken = Phoenix
Prawns = Dragon
Red and Yellow Peppers = Red and Gold colours

For dessert we have egg tarts! ^_^