Our Kenyan Cheeses

Posted on August 12th, 2011
Categories: News

Years before settling in Kenya, I lived in London with my then boyfriend, now husband, who was brought up here in Kenya and suffered 8 long years in what he described as “extreme temperatures”!

He would look forward the annual arrival of his mother, who bestowed her son with all the Kenyan luxuries he was craving.  Now bear in mind this was a good 14 years ago, but the most anticipated on the list was full piece of beef fillet, which, in Kenya was about 15 times cheaper than the price you paid in England and, according to my husband, far superior.  This offering was transported in a semi frozen state and wrapped in The Daily Nation’s finest pages.  The first time I was presented with one of these gifts, my eyes bulged in surprise, amazed that this package could cause such excitement and salivation from my husband.  Being the good Londoner that I was, I was only accustomed to buying fresh meat in plastic containers with clear labeling, a picture of a happy looking animal and a bar code; newspapers were for reading on the tube!

The other little treat was a Brie made by a Cheese maker based in the highlands of Kenya which more than challenged its French peers and was an excellent alternative to the more expensive imported varieties.  On my first safari to the masai mara, we all stopped off in the park for a sumptuous picnic lunch provided for by the mums on the trip.  The hungry, dusty group were hugely excited to sit around the feast provided; busily unwrapping dishes and foods prepared the day before. It was only I who sat there, eyes fixed firmly on the horizon, imagining all types of unwanted carnivores joining our “table”.  The unveiling of the great Brie began and lips were smacking in anticipation; it then came my turn to cut into it. Whilst very briefly taking my eyes off the horizon, I discovered that the very piece I cut into revealed a little worm.   The hostess spotted my surprise, and without a sniff of fuss, the worm and its home had been cut out and the sharing process recommenced … At the time, I decided that perhaps, rather like the inebriated worm that sits at the bottom of the tequila bottle, I too could have sampled what is considered to be fortuitous as opposed to be jolly bad luck.  Depends on how you view crunchy, tequila-soaked worms!

I am pleased to say, that I am firm fan of our local cheese makers, and after 8 years of living in Kenya I choose nothing else.  I wanted to give you a couple of recipes that include our delicious local cheeses, which I hope you will enjoy.

Cous Cous Salad with Roasted Vegetables, Feta Cheese and Toasted Seeds

Serves 4 as a main course

 

INGREDIENTS:

Roasted Vegetables:

1 pack of baby sweetcorn – sweetcorns left whole
1 pack of button mushrooms – left whole
2 medium onions – cut into large cubes
5 tomatoes – cut into large cubes
1 yellow pepper and 1 red pepper (don’t useGreen– too bitter) – cut into large cubes
1 tablespoon of capers (optional)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 leek – cut into half inch pieces

Cous Cous:

300gms of cous cous
600mls of vegetable stock (or chicken stock)

Dressing:

120mls of olive oil
¼ teaspoon of chilli flakes (or chilli powder) – this is optional
2 tablespoons of cumin powder
2 large tablespoons of tomato puree
4 tablespoons of lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon of Paprika powder

Seeds:

2 tablespoons of Pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons of Sunflower seeds

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Turn the oven on to Gas 9 / 475ºF / 240ºC
  2. Put the pumpkin and sunflower seeds into a dry flying pan and roast until golden brown.  When ready, put to one side and use later
  3. Put the cous cous into a large bowl and cover with the stock – the stock must be made with boiling water.  Cover with cling film and leave until ready to serve (the boiling stock will “cook” the cous cous)
  4. Chop all the vegetables listed in Roasted Vegetables above, and put into a large roasting dish, cover with the olive oil and Salt and Pepper and put into the oven to roast for 30 minutes (or until vegetables are well roasted)
  5. Make the Dressing:  Mix all the ingredients very well in a bowl using a fork to whisk together
  6. When the Roasted Vegetables are ready, remove from the oven and leave to the side
  7. Remove the cling film from the cous cous bowl and use a fork to gently mix the cous cous and separate.  Put the ready cous cous into your serving bowl and top with the Roasted Vegetables and feta cheese cubes, sprinkle over the toasted seeds and a little dressing. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

 

Camembert in a round bread loaf (Boule)

Delicious as a starter to share with friends or a biting.  You can buy the Boule from either Karen Provision Stores or Art Cafe

Ingredients:

1 large round loaf
1 Camembert from Browns
Olive oil
Fresh thyme
Salt & Pepper

Method:

  1.  Slice the bread loaf top “lid” off, and pick some of the soft bread from the middle to make space for the whole camembert.
  2. Place the camembert into the bread loaf centre and score the cheese (run the knife over it to make little shallow slices over the top)
  3. Drizzle some olive oil over the cheese and sprinkle the thyme leaves and salt and pepper
  4. Place the bread “lid” back on top and wrap it in tin foil
  5. Place into a medium oven – Gas 6 – for 30 minutes
  6. Remove from the oven, take the bread out of the tin foil and place it onto a flat serving dish
  7. Take the bread “lid” off and serve immediately – your guests can pull bits of the bread off the “lid” and sides, and dip into the melted camembert.