Wednesday 13 June 2012

Minted Strawberries

One evening, after making dinner, I wanted hubby and I to have an interesting dessert that was light, refreshing and light on the calories. I had a 250g pack of strawberries in the fridge and a bag of fresh mint as well. So i decided to throw something together and this has become a staple in our house ever since:

I washed and quartered the strawberries and put in a bowl that had a lid. I sprinkled 1 tablespoon of Splenda over the strawberries and tossed together. Since the first time i made this recipe, I have substituted the Splenda for granulated white sugar and some granulated vanilla sugar with excellent results. I love Splenda though since it is a sweetener that doesnt have a bitter after taste and is better than sugar for me.

The fresh mint packet i got from Shoprite - and they almost always have in stock. I washed about half of the pack well and snipped into the strawberry mixture, tossed together, covered bowl and put in the fridge.

An hour later, the strawberries had released a lot of juice courtesy of the Splenda/Sugar/, the mint was nicely wilted and didnt look too alive (very important if my hubby was going to eat this at all) and all that was left was tasting.

I took a deep breath and took a spoonful. And OH MY WORD. The strawberries were sweet and cold and the juice was sooo fragrant and the bursts of mint made my mouth come alive and it smelt divine. So refreshing and so good.

I served a small portion of this to hubby who was working on his laptop at this point. He absent mindedly put a spoonful in his mouth and his head whipped up. He looked at the bowl, smiled widely, shoveled the rest into his mouth and silently handed me the bowl with a smile, a thumbs up and the words "more please".

Ah - nothing better than a happy hubby.

I have a few ideas for variants on this and will post as soon as I try.


Friday 1 June 2012

Oven Bole and Mixed Meat sauce

One sunny saturday afternoon, a few special ladies got together for their first meetup. It was a potluck get together and there was some deliciousness going on - from mini cupcakes in assorted flavours and jerk chicken wings using my jerk marinade recipe provided by yours truly to different types of rice and some serious cocktails that packed a lot of punch.

There was also a some soft bole (roasted plantain) with a palmoil sauce and smoked fish. This was the most popular dish and the ladies oohed and aahed and dug in with copious amounts of paper towels on hand.

When i got home, i thought i could make my own version using what i had in my pantry and suprise hubby with something totally unexpected. I had no recipe and no time to make more elaborate plans - i just went with my gut:

I peeled plantains. Poked them all over with a kebab skewer. Got a disposable foil oven baking tray. I poured a little vegetable oil on the plantains and gave them a nice rub down.
My oven was already pretty hot after being preheated at Gas mark 5 for 15 minutes or so. I put the plantains in the baking tray and started on the sauce. I checked and turned the plantain every 10 mins until golden brown - about 40 mins.

I usually have blended tomato/pepper blend in my freezer for emergency stews and sauces. But this was a real emergency and my stash was frozen solid. However, i had raw tomatoes, red peppers (tatashe and atarodo) in the fridge and onions in the bulb basket. I whipped out my blender and threw a mix of the tomatoes, peppers and onions in there and blitzed. I didnt puree the mixture till it was super smooth. I wanted the sauce to have a slightly chunky texture to it. Once that was done, i set the mixture aside and opened up the fridge again. I had a few pieces of assorted meat left over from making some stew the day before. About 6 pieces in all. The meat was boiled and seasoned and ready to be used. So i chopped the meat into little pieces and set aside.

I got out a little pot. Poured some red kernel oil (palm oil) into the pot and let it get very hot. So hot it began to smoke. Cue the open windows and kitchen door. I threw in some sliced onions and the pureed tomato mix and let the mixture fry. Since I was running out of time as hubby was almost home, i didnt let the mixture fry as long as i wanted. I threw in some ground crayfish, some salt. Added the chopped meat pieces and let the whole mixture fry.

Served up the meal to a very suprised, happy hubby who took pictures and sent to all his male friends with the caption - My wife the performer.

Anyhoo. While it was tasty and definitely moorish, i will make this again with a few tweaks: After blending the pepper mixture, i will boil the mixture to reduce the water content. I didnt have time to do this so the sauce wasnt as thick as i wanted. I would make sure to have some iru(locust beans) to add to the sauce - just a teeny bit for that 'local' touch. I would also make the sauce without chopped meat - substituting that for pieces of stockfish, smoked and whole red dried shrimps.

I will of course write out a proper recipe and update the blog but this is definitely worth making for a change from regular fare. One of my husband's friends sent me a message saying he would love this served to him on a newspaper. Why not?