weekend cooking

Take it easy….Greek Inspired Lamb Shanks

Yudhika's Greek Inspired Lamb Shanks....

Yudhika’s Greek Inspired Lamb Shanks….

The weekend is here again and I have a action packed one ahead of me! I will be cooking up an absolute storm at the Grand Design Live show at the Coca Cola Dome. If you are popping in, come over to the Curry Me Home stand where we will be hosting quick and easy cooking demos with AMC Cookware…the best part is the tasting! The revised and limited edition of my second recipe book, Curry Me Home, Again will be on sale!

Some people have been commenting and asking, ‘Where is Winter’? I say it is here already…most mornings I look like the Oros Man with layers of flannel and fleece not to mention those chunky socks. As the temperature takes a nose dive, my food cravings rocket and there is a whole lot of cooking going on at Holi Cow! Having my mom around means that I get home cooked goodness everyday. My kids and I are super lucky to have her around.

Every now and then we take a curry break…we love love love our Indian food but a change is as good as a holiday….and I was dreaming of a Greek holiday when I prepared this recipe. Comfort food is always popular and a slow cooked lamb shank is the perfect fit! I often read through recipes and have to remind myself that not every recipe needs a myriad of spices. Perhaps, it is preparing Asian food that uses many spice combinations…my fingers itch to reach into my spice box.

This is a simple recipe and remember to cook the shanks slowly which brings out the flavour of the meat and also improves the texture. You can toss in a few green chillies to spice it up if you like! I gave in to my spice obsession and added two tablespoons of Magic Masala to the shanks…Magic Masala is one of my special blends and the Rolls Royce spice of the Curry Me Home range. This is not a curry spice but a ‘global blend’…whether you are cooking Moroccan, Greek, Middle Eastern or Indian…a little Magic Masala goes a long way…the combination of cumin, coriander, cardamom and cinnamon make this blend hard to live without…it is best described as ‘bottled gold’.

Get the shanks on and kick back to enjoy your weekend…serve the shanks with a heap of buttery mashed potato!

Leave a comment so I know you popped past my blog!

Greek Inspired Lamb Shanks

Ingredients

4 lamb shanks, each weighing about 400g
60ml sunflower
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
6 garlic cloves, crushed
4 sprigs fresh thyme
30ml tomato paste
250ml wine, white or red
2 stock cubes
250ml water
400g tinned tomatoes, chopped
Salt, to season
Black pepper, to season
30ml Curry Me Home Magic Masala
Fresh rosemary, to garnish

Here’s how:

Heat a large AMC pot and pour in the sunflower oil.
Seal the lamb shanks in a single layer until golden brown.
Remove the shanks from the oil, then add the onion and saute until pale golden in colour.
Add the carrot, celery and saute until the vegetables soften.
Stir in the garlic and fresh thyme.
Saute until fragrant, add the tomato paste, wine, stock cubes and water.
Add the chopped tomatoes.
Simmer on a low heat for 3 – 5 minutes, then place the lamb shanks into the pan in a single layer.
Cook on a low heat until the lamb is tender – this should take about 2 hours on a low heat setting.
Add more water if necessary.
Remove the shanks from the pan and leave aside.
Pass the sauce through a strainer and use the back of a spoon to press out the liquid.
Return the shanks to the pan with the strained sauce and simmer until the sauce thickens.
Check the season and add salt only if necessary.
Season with black pepper.
Garnish with fresh rosemary.

Advertisements

Bankers and Mash….choose your bankers and bangers wisely!

Yudhika's blinging up the bangers with this Meatball Macaroni

Yudhika’s blinging up the bangers with this Meatball Macaroni

There has been a lot on my mind recently. And for those of you that follow me on Facebook and Twitter, I am sure that you know that I have been asking Investec some questions. The purpose of my blog is to share not only recipes but information and experiences too. This is the common thread amongst all bloggers…we share! I have shared some of my most intimate memories on my blog…some of those memories have made me feel wretched and others have been ones that uplift the spirit. This is one that should raise a few questions around your financial security with banks.

The story with Investec began with me blocking a user’s access to my business account last year. Whether its a main account or an additional account – the user was blocked! I also moved some of my funds into an First National Bank account. P.S – I am loving FNB…banking with them has been an awesome experience! Somehow, and this part really boggles my brain, is the blocked user gained access to the Investec account and transacted through their call centre facility. Things get slightly more complicated when the blocked user is an employee at Investec and has been at the bank for decades, holding a senior position too. Surely after 30 years you are well versed in banking regulations? Is the senior management team of Investec miraculously not asking the same questions and opting to soft soap the person in question? An age before integrity stance, perhaps? Is this what is known as Banksterism?

For the record, it hasn’t actually created the business and personal hurdles intended but it has blown the lid on what seems more than just a random banking mistake! Questions around favors and privacy have been posed to the bank! The can of worms is open….and I intend on getting answers from Investec. The Ombudsman for Banking Service has also been hugely helpful in understanding procedure and the irregularities in this matter.

I would have thought that the bank would have called a meeting as a starting point to understand the issues with their employee and although there are many questions being raised, they still haven’t and prefer to claim to have exhausted all avenues in answering. My response to this was ‘the lack of a response has not gone unnoticed’. I did receive further communication with mentioned a mistake and an apology but I read through it and was left thoroughly confused. The next question posed was, ‘Exactly what are you apologizing for and what exactly is the mistake?’ There has been no response to my questions except a claim that my statements are factually incorrect and that Investec’s rights as a bank remain reserved if I make any factually inaccurate or defamatory statements. A veiled threat or is that just more generic letter writing? And why would they apologize if my statements were incorrect – surely, I should then be apologizing! Amazing how Investec never tells you what your rights are and that they also remain reserved at all times, of course! The bank now claim that they will not respond directly to me – and I should approach them through a mediator or the Ombudsman. Is it a stalling tactic and the bank assuming that I will be deterred by the admin intensive process? I have addressed this issue on social media and spoken to consumer journalists, – if it wasn’t for social media, there would actually be no response at all! Does this institution allow bankers to become banksters?

We all have bank accounts…here is some food for thought!

Do you actually think about the bank employees that access your personal account details and for what purpose? What stops somebody from asking a pal at the bank to check out his competitors account…if you find out where the payments come from, surely you find out who the clients are? How should a client feel about not being allowed access to what they call employee records? If an employee record logs queries on your account, surely the bank and the client should have access? Is this to cover up employees that actually have nothing better to do that play banking Peek-A-Boo?

Do you hold an account where your spouse is employed and have you considered what would happen if the relationship turned sour? Maybe you should consider what happens to your business and how this would affect your personal circumstances?

What regulations are in place to prevent cronyism? The ‘do me a favour and check on this account’ phenomenon? Should an employee use privileges at the bank to wage their personal wars especially in a divorce?

How do you feel about being tracked via credit card transactions? I may be completely wrong but is the moral of the story that you are not safe at a bank that employs your spouse or is it just that you’re not safe at Investec?

I requested information from Investec – a report on who accessed the account and would like to compare it to the dates of legitimate queries I have made. I want to know how many additional queries were made and if cronyism comes into play. They have refused to supply this information which in my book says plenty. Investec are aware that the reason these questions are raised is to find out if there has been an abuse of power but also, ‘What’s with the fiddling?’. If there wasn’t an issue, I wouldn’t be asking. Or am I not allowed to ask? Does Investec question the mental state of the employee and the desperate bid to fraudulently transact? And how could this employee be adding any value when they have clearly embarrassed himself and the bank by obviously focusing on his personal agenda and not his work? A case of setting the cat amongst the pigeons?

If you are an Investec ‘citizen’ as they call it and happen to be reading this, I hope that you have not indulged a staff member access and information to something he was blocked from in the first place. This applies to anyone who has worked at a bank really and after a few discussions with senior staff at other banks, one thing is really clear – insider information and meddling is a dismissible offense and so is taking a chance and transacting after an employee has been blocked from an account. It does not only bring the ‘blocked user or Investec employee’ into question, it questions the integrity of the entire Investec team and makes them accomplices too. My queries to the call centre have been discussed with the blocked user – what does ‘blocked user’ mean at a bank or is it not possible for an employee to be blocked? Shouldn’t this be made clear if it was not possible?

Who actually cares about the bank’s status or positioning and what is exclusivity without integrity to back it up? When I made queries about opening another bank account with Investec, I was given the whole nine yards with their rules, requirements and for not much in return! It got me thinking where are the rules when the back of house staff break the rules! Another instance where the rules are for the clients and but what about the citizens of Investec? Let’s get one thing straight, a bank is not doing you a favor by opening your account! And to treat a client like they are privileged is foolish and arrogant. Based on my account and previous history with FNB, I actually got a whole lot more than I was looking for! Shop around – and find a bank that will work with you and not against you! We all have our experiences…good and bad…but if you have a bad one, just move on to find the one that’s right for you! I certainly have and enjoying my banking pleasures at First National Bank.

If you are in the banking world, I would love to hear from you….and for those of you who have had similar experiences, please feel free to share them in the comments section!

I looked at a pack of bangers and it made me think of dodgy bankers…plump and arrogant…It’s no secret and not my original thought that bankers don’t have great reputations but they have much in common with a banger, chose the wrong banger and its also a whole lot of bad ingredients minced together and disguised as a tempting treat. I won’t prepare them in the same old way, grilled with a heap of buttery mashed potato. Not in the mood to flatter a banger, I chose to grab the bangers and squeeze out the sausage meat and turn them into something extraordinarily delicious…sometimes you need to squeeze the bankers, but let’s get on with a recipe that squeezes the bangers! The banger squeezing was most therapeutic!

Meatballs can be quite tasteless not unlike a bad banking experience. A combination of sausage meat and beef mince works really well and I have used some chilli flakes to spice things up. Fresh herbs also add lots of flavour and aroma to these meatballs. If you want the short version…just cook up the meatballs and serve with spaghetti! My kids love meatballs and my son, Rushil, said he could pretty much handle the meatball making on his own! Rushil has obviously been paying too much attention during my tv shoots – love the way he talks about wine and AMC Cookware! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq9YRwG8Qd8&list=UU-twiG9NWyVR9OH9F7gSbMg

Good enough to eat with spaghetti and cooked in the best AMC Cookware!

Good enough to eat with spaghetti and cooked in the best AMC Cookware!

Meatball Macaroni with Squeezed Bangers

Ingredients

700g beef mince
700g bangers, I used deli bangers from Broadacres Superspar
1 onion, chopped
Sunflower oil to fry onion
1 egg yolk
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Handful chopped coriander
Handful chopped parsley
6 sprigs fresh thyme
10ml chilli flakes, optional
Salt and black pepper to season
250ml red wine

For the meatball sauce:
50ml sunflower oil or cooking olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely chopped
5ml coarse
3 x 400g tins chopped Italian tomatoes
Salt and pepper, to season

For the sauce:
75g butter
75g flour
900ml milk
150g cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to season

500g macaroni, cooked as per packaging directions

Here’s how:

Heat a little sunflower oil in an AMC 28cm Chef’s Pan. Saute the chopped onion until translucent. Remove the onion from the pan and place it into a mixing bowl.
Place the beef mince into the mixing bowl with the onions. Squeeze the sausage meat out and discard the skins. Add this to the beef mince and then add the garlic, chopped herbs and thyme leaves, egg yolk and chilli flakes. Lightly season with salt and add black pepper.
Mix the ingredients together and then mould into meatballs.
Reheat the 28cm AMC Chef’s Pan and add a little oil.
Fry the meatballs in two batches until they are browned.
Remove from the pan and then pour in the red wine to deglaze. Stir the wine around and scrape the base of the pan.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the red wine is reduced by half.

In an AMC Paella pan, heat the sunflower oil and add the bay leaf.
Add the chopped onion, salt and saute until light golden brown.
Stir the chopped tomatoes into the sauce and add the reduce red wine.
Simmer until the tomatoes dissolve, using the back of a wooden spoon to break down the lumps.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the meatballs and reduce the heat.
Simmer until the sauce thickens.

Prepare the sauce:

Heat the butter in a 24cm AMC pot.
Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon.
Cook the flour for 2 minutes and keep stirring with a wooden spoon.
Gradually pour in the milk and keep whisking to prevent lumps from forming.
Once the all the milk has been added, continue whisking with the meat on medium.
Add half the cheese and reserve the rest for the topping.
Once the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat.

To assemble,

Place the cooked macaroni in a casserole dish.
Top with the meatballs and sauce and ensure the meatballs are evenly placed.
Pour the cheesy sauce over the meatballs.
Top with the reserved grated cheese – you can add more cheese if you like.

Bake in a hot oven until the cheese is melted and golden brown – the sauce should bubble around the edges of the casserole dish.