April is proving to be a winning month for me so far. I’ve recently had my daughter visiting from Cape Town which is such an enormous pleasure and joy for any parent whose children live or study away from home. I’ve celebrated my son’s 16th birthday which reminded me of how quickly precious time passes. With my daughter’s visit, I also had time to reflect on just how blessed I am as a parent to have two healthy, active children who not only love family and enjoy family time, but they also love each other. I loved watching my son on a recent shopping trip walk with his arm around his sister’s shoulder. My heart warmed with happiness.
The month of April also marks the start of autumn which is my favourite month. I just love the cool, crisp mornings and the beautiful autumn sun that so gracefully warms chilly days. This time of the year also marks the start of the most amazing food being prepared in kitchens across the country. Soups, stews, roasts, pancakes and many more delicious dishes all constitute comfort food for me.
Another April highlight for me was the launch of the first season of the Afrikaans Reality Cooking Competition called Kokkedoor which airs every Thursday evening at 8pm on DSTV channel 144. I just love watching other people cook so I can learn new skills and to see how they do it as opposed to how I do it. The first dish the Kokkedoor contestants had to prepare on Thursday 11th was their take on Lamb Pie. What a delicious meal for those chilly autumn and winter days. Here is my take on Lamb Pie, a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, laze on the couch type of meal.
For the Lamb which I prepare the day before
1.5kg lamb leg
4 cloves of garlic
4 sprigs of rosemary
15ml course sea salt
1 cup water
Make 4 deep incisions with a sharp knife into the lamb. Insert into each incision a clove of peeled garlic. Drizzle olive oil over the lamb and insert the ends of 4 sprigs of rosemary into each incision. Sprinkle lamb with salt. Divide the knob of butter into 4 pieces and place a piece at each end of roasting pan. Pour the cup of water into the base of the roasting dish and cover with foil. Slow roast on 110 degrees Celsius for 4.5 hours. Lamb will be succulent and tender. Once cooled, shred 400g of the lamb and set aside.
100g crispy bacon bits
100g fried mushrooms
400g shredded lamb
1 Litre of Lamb stock
Glug of olive oil
1 red onion
60ml red Port
1 cup peas
1 cup diced carrots
50g tomato paste
In a large pan, fry the onion in the oil till tender. Add the flour to the onions and stir. Mixture will become thick. Add the Port and stir. Slowly add the lamb stock, stirring to combine well. Add the remaining ingredients and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. If the filling is still a bit too runny, mix 30ml cornflour with 20ml cold water and add to the mixture stirring continuously. Allow to simmer for a further 10-15 minutes.
125g salted butter
250g smooth plain cottage cheese
Cut the butter into squares and rub into flour until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the cottage cheese and combine till a dough is formed. If the dough is too sticky add a little more flour.
Roll dough (reserve a piece for the pie lid) out onto a floured surface and line a greased 23cm spring form cake tin or any other pie dish you fancy. Blind bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and add the pie filling. Roll out the reserved piece of dough and place over the top of the pie. Brush the lid with beaten egg and bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn the oven onto grill and brown the top of the pie. Enjoy with a warm winter beetroot salad or just on its own.