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Posts tagged ‘meat’

bobotie with apricots and almonds


January 2013 felt new. There were long days at work, but I ran a race and got my car serviced, went line dancing and knitted a scarf that only just makes it round my neck (but which, of course, I love). I played violin in a bar with a songstress friend, and cooked dinner parties out of Jerusalem and Sunday Suppers at Lucques. I got bangs. I joined instagram. I did not, however, write a blog post.

The work-play balance is a subject beyond the scope of a few paragraphs, but it’s hard to power down at the end of the week – and harder still to sink into that free time without thoughts of the books you should be reading, the current events in which you should be well-versed. I heard somewhere recently that in your twenties you aren’t particularly humble, and seen from that vantage point I don’t suppose I am – I want to work eight hours, master Keynote, pay off my loans, go for a run, cook a meal with strange ingredients, and knit my funny little scarf. That and, well, write about it.


Unfortunately, I also want to lie in my deckchair all Saturday and do nothing. The list is there – email subjects bold and accusing, bangs swept in a headband and desperate to be trimmed – but the deckchair, the bathtub, the towel on the beach just won’t be resisted. I used to feel guilty about this urge towards nothing. Then I realized it takes a certain humility to lie in the sun without so much as a magazine in sight.

So perhaps I’m more humble – or maybe I’m just a bit more lazy. Either way, I do know that on the totem pole of To-Do’s my blog should probably come before the scarf. Just maybe not before a nice long bath.


Bobotie with Apricots and Almonds

Yes, this is not the first bobotie recipe I’ve posted on my blog. But I present this updated, improved version for two reasons: firstly, because bobotie is my go-to comfort food in wintry moments (if relatively unknown outside of South Africa), and more importantly, because it goes wonderfully with a wine I like very much. I had lots of fun doing a wine pairing recipe for Cimarone Estate Wines last spring, so when they reached out to me about their 3CV Syrah I jumped at the chance – especially since it meant pairing an old favorite with a new one.

2 lbs ground beef

2 slices whole grain bread

1 1/3 cups milk

2 1/2 Tbs curry powder (mild curry powder is traditional, but a hot version works nicely too)

1 large onion, chopped finely

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 1-inch piece ginger, grated

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped

1/3 cup raisins

1/2 cup slivered almonds

3 eggs

salt and pepper

rice cooked with turmeric

chutney (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl soak the bread in the milk until soft, then gently wring out the bread (reserving leftover milk) and crumble into a large bowl. Mix the bread with the ground meat and 2 Tbs of the curry powder.

In a large skillet or pot, saute the onions, garlic, ginger, and coriander in olive oil until translucent. Add the meat mixture and stir until the meat is nicely browned, then add the apricots, raisins, almonds, half of the reserved milk and one egg. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the mixture to a baking dish, then beat the remaining 2 eggs with the other half of the reserved milk and the 1/2 Tbs curry powder and pour over the top of the meat. Bake in the oven until the egg mixture on top is browned, about 30 minutes. Serve with turmeric rice and liberal amounts of chutney.

beef empanadas with green olives and raisins

Often when I tell people about the farm, I find myself talking about time. As quickly as my college days went by, they were structured neatly into classes and midterms and semesters, and time works differently as a farm apprentice. Instead of weekends you have ever-changing days off, so it’s easy to go long stretches of time without knowing whether or not it’s Monday. Each workday is structured in much the same way, so everything tends to link together into one continuous stretch of time instead of the usual weeks and months. As Ross put it jokingly, it feels a bit like you’re “trapped in an alternate universe,” one where you wake up at 6:30 every morning and start easing towards bed every night around 10:00.

All that was an elaborate build-up to saying how unusual it is for me to be up until midnight. Visiting my sister in Berkeley on my days off this week (a Monday and Tuesday—but it felt like a weekend) was a bit like stepping briefly into another life, one where I could happily throw on high tops, a chunky sweater I stole from the couch at the cottage, and enormous headphones and wander around the campus with my sci-fi novel pretending to be a Berkeley hipster. And going to bed around midnight was a thrill indeed, especially since it involved all my favorite elements of Barbour sister-time:  eating, trading music, re-watching British tween romantic comedies on youtube, more eating, and Milo (a “chocolate malt beverage” that is ubiquitous everywhere but the US).

Eating is a prominent theme in our family, and Rae and I both took up the mantle with gusto when we chose to go to college in New York City and Berkeley. In my 48-hour visit we hopped from bakery to restaurant to market, our trajectory marked by a fresh honey whole wheat loaf (perfect moistness) that we enjoyed with homemade goat cheese, cardamom rose ice cream, thai bubble tea, fried eggs with thyme, and Dahi Papdi Chaat at my favorite Indian place Viks. And then there were the empanadas, a cooking inspiration that involved just about all my favorite things: pastry, ground beef, briny olives, raisins, and a healthy dose of spice. We ate them hot from the oven and then it was back to part 7 of Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging—just the kind of night to stay up late.

Beef Empanadas with Green Olives and Raisins

(Adapted from

for the pastry:

2 1/4 cups flour

1 stick butter

1 egg

1/3 cup water

1 Tbs rice vinegar

for the filling:

1 medium onion

3 cloves garlic, crushed





red pepper flakes

1 lb ground beef

1 cup green olives with pimientos, chopped

1/2 cup raisins

1 14oz can tomatoes

1 egg

To make the pastry, cut butter into small cubes and add to the flour, mushing together with your fingertips until the mixture is light and crumbly. Beat the egg with the water and vinegar and add to the flour mixture, stirring and pressing to form a ball of dough. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

For the filling, chop the onion and saute in a large saucepan with olive oil. Add the crushed garlic, then add the cumin, cinnamon, salt, thyme, and red pepper flakes to taste. When the onions are translucent, add the ground beef and cook until browned. Add the raisins, olives, and tomatoes and simmer until most of the liquid has cooked off and the meat filling is thick and fragrant.

Roll out the dough to your preferred thickness and use a small bowl to cut out rounds. Add a large tablespoon of the meat filling to a pastry round and fold closed, pressing the edges with a fork. Arrange the empanadas on a baking sheet and brush with beaten egg before cooking at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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