Really good gammon

Christmastime is gammon time, this time I tried a recipe, didn’t work that well, tried again, it worked well, made the second recipe again, it worked well again, so it’s a keeper.

The recipe that didn’t work well was Nigella’s Ham in Coca Cola. Way too sweet.

The recipe that works well is Nigella’s Ham in Coca Cola, but use apple juice, not Coke.

Also, like with turkeys, our gammons are smaller. Don’t miss the bit where Nigella says “an hour per kilo”, 2 1/2 hours = 2 1/2 kilos is a huge hunk of meat.

Also, Onion & Mustard Sauce.


Christmas Fruit Loaf

This is kind of a weird recipe (to me, at least) but it works. It’s a bit like Miss Windsor’s, but without the “darlings”.

Stick 500ml (give or take) fruit mix (from Foodies), 250ml sugar, 5ml salt, 3 tablespoons butter, 250ml water and 5ml mixed spice in a pot and bring to the boil. Allow to cool before adding 1 large or two small eggs, beaten. Stir in 500ml cake flour and 5ml bicarb, or sommer use self-raising.

Spray your loaf tin, then line the bottom with baking paper. Pour the mix in the tin, stick it in the oven at 160C for half an hour and then 120C for another half an hour.

This stuff goes well with a bit of butter, and keeps for more than a week.


There are many recipes. This is my slow version.

Start with onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and paprika. As a side for four people start with two onions, three large bell peppers or more smaller ones (use green, yellow and red if you can) and about six nice tomatoes (you can use tinned, or frozen* or a mix).

What works for me is (1) slice the onions really thin. Mandolin thin. I expect you can stick them through a food processor if that’s your thing. Then (2)  low and slow — 40 minutes to an hour at low heat in some left-over fat** until the onions are soft but still on the white side.

Off the stove, stir in two tablespoons of decent sweet paprika, then add the thinly sliced bell peppers and maybe some water and back on the stove for another half hour or more, until the peppers are soft.

Meanwhile chop the tomatoes and season. When you figure the peppers are soft enough, dump in the tomatoes and juice, and give it another  20 minutes. Stick a lid on it if it’s going dry.

This goes well with Pörkölt, but you can make it into a main meal too.

* You buy lots of tomatoes when they’re cheap and freeze them, right?

** You save the fat from pan-frying steaks or pork chops or chicken, right? Right?

Moroccan Chicken Stew with Green Beans

Green beans being relatively cheap and quite plentyful at the moment.

The original recipe uses cooked chicken. I used four thighs. Season and fry in the black pot, remove. Fry a chopped onion and some garlic, then add your spices ( original recipe calls for Tandoori spice which is basically paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander and cardamom. I used five spice and added cumin and coriander) and some tomato paste.

Then a tin of chopped tomatoes, a stock cube, a tablespoon honey, and a handful of lentils. Add the chicken and enough water to cover.

Meanwhile boil your fresh green beans cut into 1cm lengths in water with lots of salt. Drain all the water, rinse with cold water.

Cook until the lentils are done, remove the chicken and remove the meat from the bones, stick the meat back in the pot, add the beans, and you’re done. Serve with rice.


Spaghetti and Cabbage. Strange combination.

So I looked in the fridge. We had carrots, cabbage, sandwich ham, and cream. Yea, with the kids out the house we have what they refer to as a “sauce fridge”.

And I felt like pasta.

Google to the rescue.

Boil some† spaghetti. Water, salt, ‘cmon you don’t need instructions for that.

Fry onions and cabbage (recipe calls for a head of cabbage, I have no idea how big a Napa cabbage is, I used about a third of a Cape Town cabbage). This takes longer than you might think. Pasta was al dente and I was still frying cabbage.

Add ham and more seasoning than the recipe calls for. Add the cream. Add the spaghetti. Add some reserved spaghetti water to make a sauce.

I didn’t have parmesan but I did have mozarella in the freezer.  I left the carrots for another day.

† Technical Term

Pörkölt and Lecsó

Having quite a lot of venison in the freezer, and having taken advantage of some Fruit & Veg special which left me with lots of green and yellow bell peppers, I made Pörkölt (Hungarian venison stew) and Lecsó (Hungarian vegetable stew with bell peppers). Both are heavy on the paprika, I shall have to stock up next time I’m in Hungary (which will be early August, assuming the world doesn’t again go mad before then).

For the Pörkölt, I used duck fat instead of lard, I still had some in the freezer. Did not add marjoram because that’s unobtanium at the moment, oregano had to suffice. I also didn’t add the 2 cups of stock but used a stock cube instead, because I stuck it in the Instant Pot (pressure cooker) for 20 minutes instead of simmering for 2 hours.

The Lecsó really does compliment the Pörkölt, so do them both. And rice. I like rice.


Easy mince curry

Let’s say you have some mince, and you feel like a curry. Get out your Dutch Oven.

  • Oil, onions, red or yellow bell peppers, quick heat, slow heat, leave onions to caramelise a bit. Maybe add garlic.
  • Add mince, heat, brown.
  • One or two tin(s) chopped tomatoes, one packet Ina Paarman Tikka Curry. Simmer for as long as you want to.
  • Maybe add halved baby or cubed potatoes, simmer until cooked.
  • Maybe stir in some frozen peas at the end.
  • Serve with rice, or wrap it in a roti, or stick it on a bun and call it a Sloppy Joe.


Malica at Gostilna Gezove Jame

“Malica” translates to “brunch”. Gostilna Gezove Jame‘s special on the day Paul dragged us there was pasulj, a Serbian bean soup with smoked sausage. Really good, and extremely affordable.

Whether you pay 1 Euro for your 50:50 wine and sparkling water spritzer, or whether you buy a liter bottle each wine and sparkling water, it works out to a Euro a spritzer :-) Beer sells for maybe a Euro, maybe €1.09 in the supermarket, so €2.20 is fair. And €5.90 for a large bowl of soup/stew with bread on the side is not bad at all.

You also get a free chaser each — or maybe that was just Paul’s good looks.

Wildebees curry

I found that the standard approach to beef, namely fry the cubes in oil to start off with, doesn’t work well with game. This approach is better.

Start with a kilo, kilo and a half of whatever boneless cut you have. Flank, bolo, rump, whatever. Cut it into 1″ bits, stick it in your black pot along with 2 chopped onions and a cup of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover, turn heat to high, and stir often until liquid evaporates and meat and onions are lightly browned. Remove from pot.

Toast 1/4 cup curry powder, 2 tbsp mustard seeds, 1 tbsp garlic and 1tsp turmeric for a bit, then add 2 cups stock (or water and stock powder), one or two tins chopped tomato or tomato paste, 2 tbsp chilies, 2 tbsp ginger. Add the meat back in, simmer until you feel it’s done.

Meanwhile make a bunch of rice in your instant pot, then serve.

You can do any of the traditionals with this of course. Banana and coconut, sure, Tomato and onion sambal is also good. I’m partial to chutney.