Throughout the week I have introduced the bloggers that came to my house and shared their family recipes. I was so nervous having them come to my house; would the house be presentable enough, will Rocco (my ginger cat) behave or jump up on the table for the food, would the weather be good, or more importantly would they even like my food?
I have to admit… This day would not have been as good had I not had Shane and my Dad helping me… These past long weekends, losing a lot of sleep, Shane has been slaving away making sure the water feature he started was completed before the lunch. With all the ‘pressure’ building up, Shane was also the voice of reason when I threw out umpteen ideas for the day. He organised a beautiful wooden table, and his Mom also lent a few things to make sure there were enough plates and things to go with my ‘colour scheme’. On the day, Shane also helped set up the tables as I requested, cleaned up after me in the kitchen and was ready and willing to help with anything. My Dad was incredibly helpful on the day too, he was actually visiting us for my birthday weekend; I don’t think he knew how hard he was going to be put to work! Dad mowed the lawn, washed windows, took the rubbish out, wiped down tables, swept the veranda and did anything and everything I asked him to do at the drop of the hat. All the while, I was making sure all my dishes were cooked before the group arrived and hoping not to mess up anything; as things can go horribly wrong in the kitchen if you aren’t paying attention to what’s going on. Once the first lot of bloggers arrived, Shane and Dad went upstairs got dressed and then went out, leaving me to it. Okay, I did warn them that I wanted them out the house during that time… I know I am mean…
I truly started to doubt my cooking abilities before the day. I had only ever watched my Mom make French Steak, but I remember how much I enjoyed it, especially during the winter months. I have a huge file with a lot of her recipes she used, and so with the recipe at hand, my Dads help (as he often made this dish with Mom), and Nans’ words of advice (after all she taught my Mom how to make this dish), I tested out the dish a few days before. With a few minor adjustments, I was able to make it taste a lot better on the day.
With an idea of what everyone else was bringing to the table, I thought to use my Mom’s snacks as a great way to welcome the troops in my home. So I made meatballs with a minty garlicy dip (this garlicy dip my Mom made me make many a time to go with curries and lamb dishes). The jalapeno poppers were always a favourite and my Mom actually told me how to do these over the phone a few years back, when I was cooking for Shane and his parents. The last snack I made was stuffed potatoes, of which I remember we had at family braais and get-togethers – I distinctly remember watching my Mom or Nans making these and always drooling while doing so.
My Mom was a born entertainer; she was charismatic, loud, had a distinct contagious laugh (which usually started with ‘pffff’ and a loud chuckle), always made sure her house was in order and the décor for the day was memorable, and cooked better than anyone I have ever met. Although I know many of the dishes my Mom cooked, it was one of my biggest regrets not having learnt all of them. Now, all I can go by is memories, a huge file of recipes she left behind and help from people she cooked with, like my Dad, Nans, Aunts, and best friends.
My message today is to appreciate the time with Mom not only tomorrow but always, and learn as much as you can from her. At the end of the day, nobody cooks better than Mom (well so I think).
Meat balls and yoghurt dip
500g Beef mince
1 onion, finely chopped or grated
2 slices white bread, without crust
3-4 Tblsp milk
1 teasp crushed garlic
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. In a bowl, put the two slices of bread in a bowl and put the milk on the bread. Leave to soak in for a minute or two.
3. Add the garlic, onion and mince and seasoning and mix together very well. Make sure the bread is broken up in the mixture.
4. Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Once cooked set aside and serve with yoghurt dip.
Small Greek/Plain yoghurt
1 teasp Crushed garlic
3-4 teasp Mint sauce
½ Onion, finely chopped/grated
Small Cucumber, sliced
Salt & pepper
1. Add all the yoghurt ingredients together.
2. Serve with meatballs, curries, or lamb
1 Packet Streaky bacon
1 Packet Osman’s Taj Mahal Chilli Bite Mix
Oil for deep frying
1. Cut off the tops of the jalapenos (keep aside), and slice in half. Take out the seeds, and wash to make sure the pips are all out.
2. Fill the jalapenos with feta cheese.
3. Wrap one streaky bacon piece around each jalapeno.
4. In a bowl, use the Chilli bite mix and add water until the mixture is sticky. You don’t want to make to runny or too stiff.
5. Heat a pot of oil up.
6. This part gets messy, take your jalapeno wrapped in bacon and using a spoon scoop up some of the chilli bite mixture and cover the jalapeno.
7. Dunk in the hot oil and allow to fry until golden brown.
8. Do steps 6 – 7 until all jalapenos are done.
9. Put them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil and serve warm.
½ Packet Bacon
8 – 10 slices cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
1 tsp Butter
1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Place the potatoes in the oven and allow to bake for about an hour or until crispy on the outside and soft inside.
3. Place the bacon up in the oven for 15 minutes or until cooked. Take out the oven and set aside.
4. Once you can squeeze the potatoes, take out and cut in half. Allow to cool for a bit.
5. Scoop out the potato filling and put into a bowl, in the same bowl add butter, salt and pepper and bacon. Mash together until the potato looks smooth.
6. Scoop the bacon mash into the potato skins and place on a baking tray.
7. Place slices of cheese on the top of the halfed potatoes, and place in the oven and allow the cheese to melt (about 5 – 7 minutes).
8. Take out the oven and serve.
500g Stewing Steak (preferably thick pieces)
2 Onions, sliced
1 ½ Tbsp Flour
¼ teasp English Mustard
½ teasp Salt
1 Dessert spoon Chutney
1 teasp Worster sauce
1 teasp Vinegar
1 teasp Sugar
1 drop Browning gravy
250 – 300ml Water
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Season the pieces of meat (do not over season with salt).
3. Mix the following ingredients together until a paste; flour, mustard, salt, chutney, worster sauce, vinegar, sugar, browning gravy. Then add water and make sure all is mixed properly.
4. In a casserole dish, layer the onion slices, pieces of steak, pour some of the mixture, then the rest of the onion slices and then the remainder of the steak, pour over the rest of the mixture and ensure the mixture just covers the meat.
5. Add bayleaves on top, put the lid on the casserole dish and put it in the oven for about 2 – 2 ½ hours.
6. Be sure to check on the casserole half way through the cooking time.
7. Serve with mash with finely chopped spring onions.