We Have A #SmartCooking Winner!

Well done to Shaun Van Der Merwe, who was the ultimate winner of the Electricity #SmartCooking competition.

Raw lamb shanks ready for braisingShaun’s lamb shank recipe received the most votes from the public and he walks away with a top of the range gas braai with accessories valued at R25,000! Not bad for a evening’s cooking, right?

This has been such a great experience for me, being part of this campaign – I’ve learned a whole lot about running my home more efficiently and as a bonus, there’s a whole ream of recipes to try out that are quick and simple, making life that much easier. It’s been great having friends like Angela, Mel and Maru along for the ride with their own one-pot experiments, and my brother and sister-in-law’s fun night putting together an entire dinner for four on a braai.

Check out the Electricity Smart website for more great one-pot cooking ideas, plus ways you can save energy around your home, thanks to Justin Bonello’s eco-audit. You can also order 49M’s #SmartCooking recipe book and find out more about the revolutionary Wonder Bag that is a fantastic South African invention that is going to help address energy consumption for a lot of homes around the world.

This weekend, I’m off to Caledon to go visit the family, and Shaun, we’ll be trying out your winning lamb shank recipe on the fire – congrats on your big win!

© Dave Luis 2015. All rights Reserved.

VOTE for the Winner’s Menu!

VOTE for the Winner’s Menu!

Justin Bonello has selected the ten finalists in the Energy Diet six ingredient, one pot competition – and all ten dishes – ranging from lamb shanks, to a vegetarian dish that reminds me a lot of the dishes my Trinidadian flatmates used to make in London, to delicious chicken and seafood, are mouth-wateringly delicious and easy enough for me to give them a bash. 

The recipes are up on the Electricity Smart website, and open for public voting. The recipe with the most votes will win a R25,000 gas braai and accessories.

Get some great ideas for your family dinner here, and vote for your favourite while you’re at it. The dishes are all super-easy to prepare and use only one pot – making the aftermath and clean up a breeze – plus you are reducing your energy consumption.

In a nutshell, the 10 finalists are:

1. Lamb shanks, by Shaun vd Merwe
2. Roast chicken, by Sasha Kossman
3. Kale stew, by SHE Africa
4. Pan-fried rump cubes, by D Le Roux
5. Creamy peri-peri prawns by Zane Jacobs
6. Chicken and dumpling casserole, by Lebogang Mokgatlhe
7. Mussel pot, by Melody Vicatos
8. Bacon and butternut salad, by Lesley Gilfillan
9. Curried pork chops, by Bronwyn Maree
10. Onion and butternut stew, by Leigh Ramsay


More than one or two new favs listed there – I’m sure you’ll find a good couple for you and your family to include on your weekly dinner menu!  So head on over to the voting page and vote for YOUR number one dish!  


© Dave Luis 2015. All Rights Reserved. 

I was prompted to write this as part of my effort to reduce my monthly bills and so I joined the #SmartCooking campaign as part of an energy efficiency drive. This is a sponsored post.

Ten of the best? Vote for YOUR winner!

Ten of the best? Vote for YOUR winner!

When I started my energy diet, I submitted a recipe to the six ingredient, one pot competition. Looking at the ten recipes that Justin Bonello has selected for you to vote for, it’s pretty clear I never stood a chance of winning! Seriously next-level stuff! 

From Lesley Gilfillan’s bacon, butternut and spinach dish, to D. Le Roux’s mouthwatering trinchado-like rump dish, there’s ten sublime offerings for you to try at home – once you’ve voted for your favourite, of course!

Click here to view the ten finalists and to cast your vote. Don’t forget to share on all your social networks to get more votes. 

© Dave Luis 2015. All Rights Reserved. 

That’s #SmartCooking To Braai For!

I’m not the biggest fan of braais (that’s a BBQ to Americans, Australians and other aliens) at the best of times. Mind you – that’s not true – I am not a fan of making a braai myself. I am a huge fan of other people’s braais…

Other people in this case being my brother and sister-in-law who would make a braai for breakfast lunch and supper if they could. George and Lara have been following my smart cooking campaigns sent me a message last week, saying “Smart cooking? Why don’t you write about a braai? You use no electricity on a braai!” Of course they are right, but my little apartment and its little balcony are not built for even the smallest and unsmokiest of braais, even if I was inclined to braai a meal. But that doesn’t mean that George and Lara can’t braai, right?

Alright, clever clogs,” (my name for George when he is too-clever-by-half) “I challenge you to make a complete meal for a family of four on a braai, and invite me over!” George is almost as competitive as I am, and so wasted no time getting busy. He’s also almost as addicted to good food as I am, so I had no doubt he’d rise to the challenge.

Butternut stuffed with peas and feta
Butternut stuffed with peas and feta

Working together, George and Lara spent about 30 minutes preparing the food for the braai, and about 30 minutes cooking it on the fire. Here’s the simple menu they prepared:

  1. Rump and chicken wing skewers, rubbed with paprika, Aromat and mixed herbs
  2. Butternut stuffed with peas and feta and the spice mix
  3. Jacket potatoes, scored and rubbed with salt
  4. Garlic rolls – sliced and filled with onion, cheese and tomato

In addition, Lara threw together two cold salads for the table:

  1. Traditional Caprese salad which is simply mozzarella and tomato slices, topped with pesto (with added avocados, because that’s a HUGE favourite!)
  2. Simple layered cheese, onion and tomato (none of our salads feature lettuce – mostly because our mum overdid the lettuce thing when we were kids!)
Challenge accepted! Dinner for four made on the braai - no electricity required!
Challenge accepted! Dinner for four made on the braai – no electricity required!

George says the preparation time is around 30 minutes, and the total cooking time is the same. Once your coals are hot, place your stuffed butternut and potatoes (all individually wrapped in foil) on the fire, and once they go soft, you can put the meat and garlic rolls on to cook. It’s a good idea to ensure you have spare coals going, to keep the heat on.

They made a HUGE success of my challenge to them – the mouthwatering photos bear this out – and showed me that #SmartCooking on a braai is not the huge schlepp I always believed it to be.

Now just to work out how to travel the 1,600km to take them up on that dinner invite! Damn! I didn’t think this one through…

© Dave Luis 2015. All Rights Reserved.

I was prompted to write this as part of my effort to reduce my monthly bills and so I joined the #SmartCooking campaign as part of an energy efficiency drive. This is a sponsored post.

#SmartCooking Round Up

#SmartCooking Round Up

I’m just over halfway through the #SmartCooking campaign and there have been some great, positive changes: I spend less time cooking and cleaning and use less electricity.

While it’s difficult to put a value on the electricity savings because we’re on a shared meter, logic dictates that as I’m using only one plate instead of two or three, and for no longer than I normally would, that my electricity usage must be far less.

Along the way I’ve picked up some great recipes and good tips and tricks from friends via the comments on my blogs.

Here’s a brief round up of the campaign so far:

  1. Join Me On An Energy Diet! #SmartCooking
  2. Friends Who Do #SmartCooking
  3. Hot Nights, Cold Suppers – A #SmartCooking Win
  4. Energy Saving Beyond The Kitchen – #SmartCooking
  5. Burnt Rice? Never Again With #SmartCooking
  6. Easy Grilled Steak And Potatoes The #SmartCooking Way

The biggest win for me has been a growing sense of doing something good for the environment by using less energy. It goes beyond reduced bills and less time spent in the kitchen. It’s simple, in the comfort of my own home – how can I not feel good about this?

Keep an eye out for the next installments.

© Dave Luis 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Easy Grilled Steak & Potatoes the #SmartCooking Way

Easy Grilled Steak & Potatoes the #SmartCooking Way

Nothing I love more than a juicy steak with crisp fat and some properly delicious roast potatoes!

In the interests of the #SmartCooking campaign and my drive to reduce my energy usage and costs, I’ve come up with a novel way to prepare this using just one dish – check it out:

6 simple steps...
Grilled steak and potatoes in 6 easy steps using just one oven dish
  • Use a fairly deep oven dish and start by roasting your potatoes until they are almost done.
    • While those are cooking, prepare your steak. I used a thick rump with a nice, chunky piece of fat and added a few spices: salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper and Italian herbs, rubbed generously into the meat. I like proper crispy fat on my steak, with a bit of a bite. I rub hot English mustard into the fat, and then sprinkle salt and white pepper onto that – the mustard keeps the spices in place!
    • Next – and this is the important bit to ensure you get the crispy fat – I push 3 kebab skewers through the steak, below the fat. This is so that I can prop the steak up in the oven dish, with the fat facing the grill.
    • Once your potatoes are almost done – and by this I mean all that is left to do is the crisping – take them out the oven. Move your rack one place lower in your oven – this is so you don’t burn the fat on your steak. Close the oven so you don’t lose heat, and turn on the grill.
    • Take the lid off your oven dish and place the steak in the centre of the dish, using the kebab skewers to rest on the side of the dish so the steak is essentially standing on its side, fat-side up. Put the dish back in the oven and keep an eye on it! The grill will crisp the fat and the potatoes at the same time, and the ambient heat from roasting the potatoes will lightly cook the steak.

Your dish should be ready in 8 – 12 minutes, depending on the size of your oven. Take note that I like my steaks rare – so this procedure works well for me. If you like your steak a more done than that, simply remove the skewers once the fat is crisp, and let the steak cook under the grill until it is done how you like it.

Cooking it in this way uses no additional oils, butter or margarine on the meat, and the natural fats in the meat help to flavour and seal the steak and give the potatoes a rich flavour.

The bonus of course is that you haven’t used tons of pots and pans and extra electricity to prep a simple meal.

Good food, smart cooking and savings on electricity – I’d love to hear your comments, tips and tricks on how you save time and energy in your kitchen. Please share them in the comments below!

© Dave Luis 2015. All Rights Reserved.

I was prompted to write this as part of my effort to reduce my monthly bills and so I joined the #SmartCooking campaign as part of an energy efficiency drive. This is a sponsored post.

Burnt Rice? Never Again, with #SmartCooking!

Although it is very unpopular with the healthy eating crew, rice is one of my favourite things. I use it with most of my dinners. But it’s always such a pain to cook! It takes forever, and I either burn the rice or in trying to prevent the burn, I stir it too much and it turns to mush. Not great!

The mush I can deal with – but in my reduced energy drive, I’ve become acutely aware that the rice is on the stove for a long, long time and that hot plate is eating through my electricity like a starving Oliver Twist at the end of a long day of begging. So – cue the internet, and questions to my friends who make a living from spending time in the kitchen.

Firstly – what have I been doing wrong, that results in the rice burning and becoming mush? Well – simple – my stove is too hot, I stir the rice too much and I don’t use a lid. All this results in a much longer cooking time, a pot with burnt rice stuck to it and mushy rice with dinner.

Here’s what you need to know: burnt rice

  1. Use a thick-bottomed pot. A pot with a thin bottom doesn’t spread the heat out evenly, so you get hot spots where the rice will burn and stick to the pot.
  2. Use a lid! This has been my biggest downfall – letting the heat escape makes for longer cooking times and wasted electricity.
  3. The convection in the pot that keeps the rice cooking close to the water surface is dissipated every time you lift the lid and stir. Prevent this by keeping that lid on!
  4. Once your water is boiling, put in your rice and bring that water back up to the boil and replace the lid. Don’t let out the heat by constantly agitating the rice.
  5. Rinse your rice before cooking to remove as much starch as possible – you’ll know you have rinsed enough when the water coming off the rice is clear!
  6. Once that pot of rice is boiling, you can reduce your heat from 6 to 3 – as long as that lid stays in place, your water will keep on boiling – and won’t spill over onto the stove.

It’s THAT simple! Six little ways you can ensure your rice is perfectly cooked, your pots are not ruined – and – bonus! – you’re using less electricity.

Sounds like a winning formula! I’d love to hear from you how you go about making the perfect rice – please share your ideas, tips and tricks in the comments below!

© Dave Luis 2015. All Rights Reserved.

I was prompted to write this as part of my effort to reduce my monthly bills and so I joined the #SmartCooking campaign as part of an energy efficiency drive. This is a sponsored post.

Image by Porah at freeimages