Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ostrich- the other red meat


I hit a lull last week and really just didn’t know what to make for dinner.  I used to be constantly reading recipe books and magazines tabbing and cutting out pages for future dinner ideas.  I had such a backlog we never made it through half of the recipes.  That was a long time ago. 

I don’t get the same excitement browsing recipes on the web.  It’s just not the same. 

So, I was stuck and decided just to head to the grocery and let the ingredients inspire me.  I found ostrich.  Minced ostrich to be exact.  I have had ostrich a few times in the States and a few times here and really like it, so I thought- “Why not?”

It’s getting cooler here so I wanted homey food.  I decided a shepherd’s pie was in order.  If you’ve never had it, it’s basically ground beef,  corn and topped with mashed potatoes and then baked.  Sometimes with cheese on top, really there are tons of variations out there.

I decided to keep it simple, but give it a twist since I was already using ostrich.

I love their sweet potatoes here… 


They’re white and have a more delicate flavor so I chopped, boiled and mashed them with a little milk, salt and pepper. Set aside.

I boiled fresh corn and then cut it off the cob.  Canned corn doesn’t have that crunch and I wanted the sweet pop to give the pie some texture.


I sautéed some  onions and then just browned the ostrich. I seasoned with salt, pepper and loads of cinnamon.  I had those ostrich steaks before at Moyo and cinnamon really goes well with the slightly gamey taste of the ostrich and it would go perfectly with the sweet potatoes.



Put the meat and onions in a casserole, top with corn and then spread the mash on top- pop in the oven until hot and starting to brown. 



Um, guys- this was delicious.  As in de-lish-us.


I know you can find ostrich at groceries back home and I’m telling you- get it.  It has less calories and fat than a skinless chicken breast but tastes like red meat.  Win, win!

I’m eyeing some ostrich fillets for my next escapade with the giant bird. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dessert- Southern Style

We’ve been taking turns cooking on Wednesday nights.  I was tasked with a Southern meal. As a true Southern cook,  I, of course, went overboard.  So overboard that I forgot to take pictures.

I made fried chicken, salmon croquettes (spicy and regular), zucchini croquettes (spicy and regular), macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, deviled eggs and homemade biscuits and gravy.  I really wanted everyone to enjoy dinner, but I quickly learned that serving 10 people a quintessential Southern meal with one vegan, one part-time vegetarian, one who doesn’t eat pork or beef, and two who think anything that won’t set your tongue aflame is bland is no easy feat! 

The Wife was a huge help and did all the frying while I worked myself into a tizzy trying to get everything wrapped up in those last minutes.

I did manage to take a photo of my peach cobbler though…


This is the Jules’ Gran’s recipe:

1 Stick of Butter

1 Can of Peaches or your fave fruit (or 3 fresh peaches sliced, but you’ll need to sugar them and let them sit so they produce juice)

1 Cup of Sugar

1 Cup of Milk

3/4 Cup of Self-Rising Flour

Melt the butter in your dish in the oven.  Pour in fruit and juice.  Mix the other ingredients in a bowl and pour over fruit and butter- DO NOT MIX.  Bake at 350 until golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Super easy and I doubled all the ingredients except the fruit.  Jules hates cooked fruit and everyone knows the breading is the best part anyway.  You can even cut a little bit of the sinfulness out and still have a delicious cobbler- just use 3/4 stick of butter and 3/4 cup of sugar.

Old standby

Back in my pre-nomad days I started a tradition of picking up a new ethnic cookbook each January.  One year was Indian, another Japanese (total fail on this one- the list of kitchen utensils made me give up before even attempting one dish) and another Cuban.

I bought this tiny little “Cuban Homecooking” cookbook and another glossy, fancier one. You can imagine which one I loved.

One of our favorites from that little cookbook was Cuban style chicken and I used to make it quite frequently at home. 

It’s an easy dish, but you’ll need about an hour for the chicken.  Which will totally be worth it because it’s super tender.

You’ll need:

1-2lbs of chicken breast- cut into chunks (original recipe calls for chicken on the bone- either works)

1 large white onion -thickly sliced into rings

2 teaspoons of evoo

1 cup of orange juice (original recipe calls for sour orange juice- if you can find it then skip the lime)

2 tablespoons of lime juice

1 cup of white wine

2 tablespoons of oregano


Heat up the oil and then caramelize the onions. Really, really brown these guys.  You want them super caramelized.

Then mix the juices, wine and oregano and pour into the onion pan.  This will deglaze the pan so scrape up all the yummy onion bits.

Throw in the chicken  and then add enough water to cover everything…


Bring this up to a boil and then lower the temp until it is simmering. You’re going to simmer it until all the liquid cooks out.  This takes a while- like 30-40 minutes, but you only need to stir occasionally.  Just let it bubble away and don’t cover it.  When the chicken is cooked you can salt and pepper to taste.

Once the liquid is gone let the the onions and chicken caramelize for a few more minutes.  I serve it over rice and usually with black beans, but it’s also tasty wrapped in a tortilla…


A little tangy, a little sweet and very tender and moist- it’s something yummy and different to do with chicken. 

Friday, June 10, 2011


We went to Moyo back in 2009 and had a great meal and a great time so we decided to go back. They serve food from all over the continent and it has a great atmosphere with musicians, face painters, dancers- you’ve never heard happy birthday sung like this. We had 2 birthdays at neighboring tables and it was like a mini-concert.

The menu is a bit daunting because you don’t know what 80% of the things actually are, but sometimes it's better just to go for it.

The Wife went with a fillet of beef, but for the life of me I can’t remember anything about where this dish was from or what the sauce was…


I was far too focused on my own dish, but hers was really, really good. Served over sliced potatoes, the sauce was a little sweet and had a nice mild heat.

I had the Ethiopian ostrich steaks…


The meat was heavily seasoned with cinnamon, cardamom, clove and who knows what else. The spices were about a quarter of an inch thick around the rare fillet.

Ostrich is very lean so you need to eat it rare to medium rare. If you’ve never had it, it’s much more like a red meat than poultry. It was spectacular and the mashed pumpkin with peanut butter was the perfect companion. I WILL go back here to have this again before we leave.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Malva Pudding (aka- heaven on a plate)



We had this South African dessert at our dinner in the bush and all 10 of us wanted to lick our plates clean.  Seriously.

I decided to give it a go for one of our Wednesday night dinners and I have to say- I have not lost my baking skills.  I thought a couple of the guys were going to get into when they clamored forward for their second helpings. 

Actually, I don’t know if I’ve lost any of my baking skills because this was no test of them.  Super easy to prepare, sinful ingredients (be ready to gain a pound or two just smelling it) and absolutely one of the yummiest desserts I’ve ever made.    If you know me, you know that is saying a lot- I used to bake over 30 dozen cookies at Christmas and that was just the cookies.

I got the recipe from here.  It sucks having to convert from metric,  but just Google it.  Serve it piping hot with vanilla ice cream.  You can totally make ahead and reheat it.  Just make it  per the instructions (go ahead and pour the sauce over it the first time it comes out of the oven) and then pop it in the oven again when you’re ready for it.

Keep in mind- this is a SUPER sweet and SUPER decadent dessert.  Definitely not one to serve to the “I’d don’t really have a sweet tooth” kind of guest. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hong Kong Style


Proximity made Chops one of my usual lunch places when people wanted to impress me or get my business.  The last thing I ever wanted for lunch was a slab of beef making it was kind of a waste to dine at such a great Atlanta steakhouse.  I was on a crab cake kick when I finally found a dish I loved- Hong Kong style sea bass.  You can also get it at the Atlanta Fish Market since they’re owned by the same crazy guys.  I used to deal with them professionally and I mean they are CRAZY and not in a good way. 

I digress.

So, I’ve been to Hong Kong and I can’t tell you if this is even an actual style there, but it’s super yummy, pretty healthy and my version was on heavy rotation at our house back when we  lived at home. I added some mushrooms to make it a heartier meal this time since my fish was wee bit scrawny.

You’ll need:

- 1 package of baby portabellas (thickly sliced)

- 1 bunch spring onions (chopped leaving aside a handful for garnish)

- Inch or two of fresh ginger (dice most and then thinly sliced the rest for garnish- I’m a freak for fresh ginger so I add probably double this amount)

- 1 cup of  soy sauce

- 1/4 cup of orange juice

-2 fillets of your fave white (flakey but firm) fish i.e. halibut, sea bass, etc. I used hake since that was what was fresh here

-1 bag pre-cut spinach (hey, it’s easier)

- Rice (whatever your fave is- I used basmati because I had it and I like how light and fluffy it is for this light dish. Depending on what you use you may need to start it well before the rest of the dishes.  I’d say it takes about 25 minutes max to prep and cook veggies and fish.)

So cut your first 3 ingredients as stated…




So you throw all this…


into a pan on medium heat. Mix soy with orange juice and pour 2/3rds the mixture into the pot…


Cook the mushrooms down until tender but not mushy.

While those are going, heat a tablespoon of evoo in a pan and then brown your fish fillets.  When they’re on their last minute I spoon some of the mushroom sauce (not the actual shrooms) over them for flavor.


Last, but not least, pour in the remaining soy/orange juice mixture and spinach into a pot over high heat.  It will literally take seconds to wilt the spinach. Just stir constantly until it looks like this…


Serve it all over rice and top with fresh ginger slices and spring onion…


This is great summer fare- light, fresh and easy.