I was trying to figure out what makes spaghetti and meatballs so special and why when flavoured mince is turned into a ball and dropped into a sauce it is somehow appealing in a different way to spaghetti Bolognese. I didn’t come up with any final conclusion other than the nostalgia the dish conjures up and the way that a meatball eats. It’s got more texture when it’s cooked this way. You can flavour meatballs in different directions and each represents a pocket of completeness. The sauce and spaghetti are simply carriers for these heavenly orbs.

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I was trying to figure out what makes spaghetti and meatballs so special and why when flavoured mince is turned into a ball and dropped into a sauce it is somehow appealing in a different way to spaghetti Bolognese. I didn’t come up with any final conclusion other than the nostalgia the dish conjures up and the way that a meatball eats. It’s got more texture when it’s cooked this way. You can flavour meatballs in different directions and each represents a pocket of completeness. The sauce and spaghetti are simply carriers for these heavenly orbs.

I love the Instant Pot and was thrilled when they launched the new Instant Pot® Duo Plus with a Sous Vide function. I have wanted to be able to Sous Vide for so long and an affordable domestic appliance has not been available in South Africa up until now. The first thing I wanted to try in it was a steak, and specifically, an ostrich steak as it’s lean and healthy and I thought would work well in a tagliata recipe. Say hello to my new favourite healthy low carb meal.

With this recipe for mac & cheese, the cauliflower is poached in milk with aromatics which all gets blended into the sauce. As an alternative to a bechamel, it is somehow lighter even though there is a lot of cheese. Choose a strong aged Cheddar or other hard cheese of your choice such as Dalewood Fromage Huguenot. This is probably my go-to cheese for cooking with. They sell it grated in bags which you stash in the freezer (this is post is not sponsored). A good mature Gouda works too. Cauliflower mac and cheese with bacon is a great mid-week supper dish and leave the bacon to keep it vegetarian obviously. The crumb topping makes this dish so don’t leave it off.

One of the recipes I developed for Raisins of SA recently was this easy pineapple and raisin chutney. Its a little spicy and sweet but not hot. It is as much relish as a chutney and goes brilliantly with any curries or dolloped onto a burger or hot dog. I love to have it on a cheese board to temper a sharp Cheddar or sweeten goats cheese.

Chicken Marbella is the iconic eighties dinner party dish with prunes, capers and green olives made famous by The Silver Palate cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. Briny green olives and capers come together with sweet prunes (or dates) to make the most delicious combination of flavours. Marinating the chicken overnight is essential to lock in the soft aromatics, but you could probably go to two nights here. Don’t skip this process. The texture of the chicken can alter when marinaded as I did with my recent chicken kebabs with yoghurt, paprika & lemon. The flavours penetrate the chicken flesh adding so much to the overall dish and a jerk chicken is not the same without this stage.

This sticky toffee, fig & walnut pudding with toffee sauce is decadent and utterly delicious. I daresay it might even be the best ever. Queue this up to be the next dessert you make when you gather a small crowd. It’s a slight riff on a classic sticky toffee pudding made with dates so you could easily swap out the dried figs if you can’t get hold of them, but I really loved how they added a soft flavour element as well as a little texture. The recipe was supplied by Le Creuset to celebrate the launch of their beautiful new fig colourway range of homeware. It’s really quite gorgeous.