Pasta and Instant Pot Ossobuco Sauce.

This is a perfect mid week meal. It is not difficult to prepare; dinner shall not take more than an hour to be ready. But the rich flavour will have folks thinking you have been slaving for hours. LOL.

You can use any pasta for this dish ( I used bucatini), and if one has left over shank broth its perfect too to deepen the rich flavour. If making the sauce from scratch you can use your pressure cooker or instant pot to cook the ossobuco faster. I used my instant pot.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients: Two medium beef shanks, one chopped carrot, two chopped onions, two chopped eggplants, two chopped tomatoes, one chopped green pepper, tomato paste. Spices are one tbsp mixed ground spices and 1tsp dried mixed herbs, two chopped garlic cloves, chopped coriander leaves for garnish and salt and pepper.

As always when cooking shanks, lightly dredge in a plate with some all purpose flour mixed with salt and pepper and fry on high heat for a few minutes to brown the meat and seal the juices. What we did here.

Set your instant pot to sauté function, add a tbsp of oil and fry your onions and chopped garlic.
Add in your veggies, mix well then add in a tbsp of tomato paste and your spices. Mix well and ensure they don’t burn.
Add the beef shanks to the vegetable mix.
Add one cup of water or beef broth if you have, ensure to just covers the shanks. Cover and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. (Cancel saute function and press pressure cooker button on the instant pot)
Once ready, remove the shanks and shred the meat using a fork, it will fall apart easily. Set your instant pot back to sauté function and return the meat to the sauce.
Mix well for a few minutes till sauce is thickened to your liking.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta as per instructions on the pack. Drain and add the pasta to the meat sauce.

Switch off the cooker, add the garnish and serve.
Final plate; Bucatini and ossobuco sauce. Yum!

Keeping Kids Busy, or not…

Dear fellow parents,

How are you coping with the kids in this trying time?

Are we communicating with them? How are we keeping them engaged? School activities? Crafts? Games? Cookery lessons? Gardening? Let us share tips.

Photo by Shuvrasankha Paul on Pexels.com

We are living in a world we had not anticipated and a few things are coming to light, both positive and negative.

Positives: More open communication with our kids and we get to understand them better right? Isn’t it amazing how different personalities the kids have?

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Another positive is better health; no more sniffles and annoying colds and coughs brought home from school? More family time, YAY! we can now catch up on those activities we kept putting off as we were too busy- time to build the fort with them in the garden, listen to them practice their musical instruments ( early morning and late night in my home).

Negatives: On the extreme, we have increased risk of abuse; especially for those in vituperative environments( physical too). Increased stress and anxiety as they try to understand us too and the situation; and this applies to both older and younger kids. Is your kindergartener pushing your buttons increasingly this period?

Now is the time to teach them to bake or cook simple meals. Ooh the bliss of having your six year old crack the eggs for those yummy muffins. Just make sure they are safe.

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The kids spending a lot of time online exposes them to online predators; are we keeping tabs on them and talking to them about the dangers? What measures are we taking to protect them?

Add to that the stress of not knowing when they are going to complete the school year, especially those in their final year of school, is it all lost? How do we encourage them to not lose hope?

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Are you working from home? Not an easy balance when it comes to ensuring the kids have their online classes; you have your zoom meetings and running the household too ensuring all is in order. It is not easy. And gadgets, you may be having that one laptop or tablet that you work on and all your kids need to access their school work too. These are just a few of our experiences.

These are times we had never anticipated but in true human fashion I believe in resilience and adaptation. There is no manual for what we are living through but we will get through. We have to believe that. I know we are already adapting to this new norms as adults, but let us keep communicating with our children.

Keep talking to and with them, have discussions and questions about what they are feeling, what they want to do during this time, what their fears and hopes are. Let us not make the mistake of keeping quiet and caught up in our adult lives and forget they are learning more of the world by watching and listening to us.

So parents, how are you truly coping in this period?

Mūkimo ya Minji and Stir Fried Vegetables.

This is another mashed dish also known as ‘Irio’ in my mother tongue. ‘Minji’ is what we call green peas. Mūkimo is a central Kenyan traditional dish that’s a mash of boiled potatoes, pumpkin leaves, maize, and either beans or peas. It is a delicious, filling and comforting meal that just reminds me of my childhood. I have tried to be as authentic as possible making it; hope I make my Mother proud.

Let’s get started.

For the mūkimo, our ingredients are one cup each of boiled maize, green peas (or boiled beans), potatoes and some pumpkin leaves. For the vegetables, half a red cabbage, one capsicum each, green, red and yellow, one small courgette, one onion, one carrot sliced.

Peel and clean your potatoes. Set aside. Now prepare the pumpkin leaves by removing the stalks and ‘webbing’ on the leaves. Clean them well, chop roughly and boil for 5 -7minutes. Drain and set aside.

You can blend or use a food processor to puree the pumpkin leaves if you want.

Boil potatoes in salted water till tender.
When the potatoes are fully cooked, drain and add your pumpkin leaves and already boiled maize and peas.

Now mash them all together until it’s a soft mash.

You can add some fried red or spring onions for added flavor.

Cover the mash and keep hot as you sauté your vegetable accompaniments.

Vegetables used were onion, red, yellow and green capsicum, red cabbage, carrot and courgette. Slice them as per your preference.
I added some bacon to the veggies for some extra flavor.
Heat a pan. Add the bacon and let it render its fat.
Drain the grease till you have a little oil left. You can use the drained bacon grease to fry the onions for the mash. Yum!

Increase the heat and add all the veggies. Mix well.

Let them cook on high heat till they soften a bit but don’t overcook. Season with salt and pepper, mix well and switch off the heat.

The best thing about this dish is you can have it with any accompaniment you choose. It kicks well with a nice beef stew, chicken stew or stir fried vegetables if you don’t want any meat.

It’s also quite healthy. Pumpkin leaves are very nutritious; they are rich in essential vitamins, iron and fiber. Just don’t over cook them. The sautéed vegetables are all rich in antioxidants and vitamins too. This is a great vegetarian meal too when you omit the bacon.

What’s not to love about colourful food?

Meatless Monday: Fried Rice and Vegetable Manchurian

I have fond memories of this dish. Back in my campus days, there was a cafe called ‘Pine Breeze.’ It was right next to the school gate and served the most delicious food. From usual Kenyan fare like fries, Ugali and sukuma wiki (which was delicious by the way), yummy pilau, thick noodles served either with veggies or shredded chicken and their fried chicken was great too. One of my friends was a a huge fan of their masala fries, but for me, it was the noodles and the fried rice, and this HOT chilli sauce they served their food with, WEH! Anyway, it was there I got introduced to today’s dish which falls under Indo- Chinese cuisine. There are so many recipes online on how to make this but I like this version best from Cooking Shooking on Youtube.

I don’t make this dish often but it is a nice way to get the kids eat their vegetables, they can help make it and it makes a perfect ‘meatless Monday’ meal. Let’s get started shall we?

For the vegetable balls, I used I cup each of red onion, red cabbage, carrot, green caspicum, (all grated), spring onions and green beans, chopped finely, salt and white pepper, corn flour and wheat flour each about 3 tablespoons, and 1 tbsp of ginger garlic paste.
Add them in a large bowl and mix gently till they get sticky.
Mix till they get to a consistency as described in the video; not too wet, not too dry.
Form them into little balls as you heat your oil.
Deep fry then in medium heat till they turn a golden brown, mine looks darker because of the red cabbage. Let them drain on a paper towel.
They should be cooked inside but not doughy, so remember not to add too much flour when mixing.

Meanwhile you can get started on the rice, soak the rice for twenty minutes, drain then boil in salted water then drain when al dente. Let it cool completely.

For the fried rice, our ingredients are cooked and cooled rice, finely chopped green beans, onions, carrots, courgette and eggplant.

The best thing about fried rice, is that there are really no strict rules, you use what you have on hand and it all comes together so wonderfully.

As the rice cools, let’s get started on the Manchurian gravy.

Cubed onion, green capsicum, white part of spring onions and ginger garlic paste. Sauces are ketchup, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. Also, 3 tablespoons of corn flour.
Heat oil till really hot, add the ginger garlic paste, mix well then add the onions and capsicum, mix well. Keep the heat high, then add the sauces; some soy, ketchup and a spoonful of apple cider vinegar. Mix well, add some three cups of water and let boil.
Dissolve the cornflour and stir till it thickens to your liking, it should look glossy.
Then add the vegetable balls. I like this consistency. Check on seasoning.

Now we can fry our rice. Heat oil in another deep saucepan, add the onions. mix well and add the chopped vegetables and mix well all on high heat.

Don’t let the veggies overcook.
Add a tablespoon of soy sauce, mix well then add rice. Keep the heat on high.
Add the rice and mix well till it is cooked, heated though and coated with the soy sauce colour. it smells so good at this point. I had added some salt to the rice but be careful as soy sauce is really salty.
Plate your meal, and garnish with the green part of the spring onions. This is so yummy.

I skipped chilli sauce because of the kids.

This is not a difficult meal to make, quick to put together and is a great way to spice up some leftover rice. Give it a try!

Weekend Cuisine: Beef Mince Biriyani.

Biriani is a popular dish that is great when entertaining or when you want to treat your family to a delicious dinner or lunch. There are so many variations of this dish; I have never come across two people who make it the same way. But it is fun to keep trying different recipes as the flavours are so amazing!

What is biriani? It is basically a lovely ‘casserole’ of marinated and spiced meat, braised, then layered with spicy, flavoured, buttery rice, then you let them finish cooking over very low heat or in the oven and voila! You can use different meats and vegetables. I like making beetroot biriani for the kids lunchboxes; I will share the recipe soon, and mutton or chicken biri for special family dinners.

I woke up craving biri the other day, but the only meat I had on hand was beef mince; I didn’t let it deter me though, so let’s get started!

Ingredients:-

  • 2 cups Basmati rice, cleaned and soaked.
  • Whole spices for the rice; bay leaves, cardamom, black pepper, one star anise, cinnamon and cloves
  • 500 g beef mince
  • About 4 tbsp ghee
  • I bunch mint
  • 1 bunch coriander (blend half the coriander and mint leaves and ginger garlic paste )
  • 1 cup natural yoghurt
  • 4 grated tomatoes
  • 4 onions, chopped and deep fried, you can use this recipe
  • three onions sliced
  • 2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
  • Ground spices for the meat sauce; turmeric, ground coriander, garam masala
  • Optional; some rose water and food color. But if you can, please try them to get that restaurant quality aroma to the food. I didn’t have saffron, so used a teeny weeny bit of food colour.
  • 4 hard boiled eggs (optional) I didn’t use any here though.
  • Green chilli – I did not use any cause of the kids
The ingredients.

I first marinated the beef mince mince for about thirty minutes with a tbsp of ginger garlic paste, two tsp of natural yoghurt, 1/4 tsp of turmeric, 2 tbsp of coriander mint paste I had blended, a tsp of garam masala, salt and a tbsp of lemon juice. Set aside.

I usually start with the rice. Drain your soaked rice then boil water in a pan with the whole spices, salt to taste and a little bit of oil. Add the rice when the water is at a furious boil.
Do not let the rice cook completely, about six – seven minutes then remove from heat, drain and let cool in a big flat plate or pan, depending on how much rice you have. I used a baking tray and poke holes in the rice (please use a flat spoon or fork gently) to let the moisture escape. Once rice is cooled, you can pick out the whole spices so you don’t have to bite into them later, yikes!
Heat 2 tbsp ghee In the pan, add the sliced onions and cook till almost brown, then add the ginger garlic paste. Mix well. Add the ground spices; 1/4 tsp turmeric, red chilli powder if using and a teaspoon of ground coriander. Mix well then add the tomatoes and mix well. Cover and let the tomatoes cook down.
Add a cup of natural yoghurt and mix well.
Let it cook till the yoghurt splits.
Add the marinated beef mince and mix well.Cover and let it cook for about 20 minutes.
If using milk, once the mince is ready, then add a cup of milk. Mix and switch off heat.

Now we assemble the dish. You can move to an oven proof dish and layer then bake, or use the same pan of big enough, it is up to you.

Mix some little food colour in a teaspoon of rose water, and assemble the other ingredients, the parboiled rice, chopped Dhania and mint, ghee and fried onions.

I used the same pan. I layered the rice on top of the beef mince sauce.
Added the chopped coriander and mint, two remaining tablespoons of ghee, the fried onions and on the top layer, the rose water and food colour in a cross shape. If using boiled eggs, you can add them here too.
My photos are really bad here LOL, but the aroma is amazing. Cover the pan and one VERY LOW heat, let the rice finish cooking undisturbed for about 20 minutes.
Serve and garnish with some coriander leaves. Doesn’t it look lovely?

Obviously, no biriani dish is complete without a nice raita. It is an Indian condiment of natural yogurt and chopped vegetables and spices of choice. It offers a cooling effect as you eat your spicy meal. Best raita in my opinion for this dish is a cucumber mint one. You can make this before you get started on the main dish.

1 cup natural yoghurt, I chopped cucumber (peeled and deseeded), finely chopped mint leave, a tsp of chat masala, salt and black pepper. Mix well and let cool in fridge till ready to serve.
Final plate; Beef mince biriyani and cucumber mint raita. Delicious!

This is a perfect meal to make over the weekend when you are in no hurry. The rice is moist, perfectly cooked and the spices melt together so wonderfully. The fried onions also add a delightful crunch and sweetness, and the rose water a heavenly aroma that will have you salivating before the first bite. Yum!

This is one dish worth trying out!