Pulled pork sliders with BBQ sauce & slaw

21 Aug

Slider buns should be small enough to be eaten with one hand. Photography & styling by Tasha Seccombe. Food preparation & plating by Ilse van der Merwe.

Although I don’t eat meat every day, few things give me more pleasure than cooking a large pork roast. Pork is so versatile, flavoursome and easy to handle.

I’ve read up a lot on American-style pulled meat roasts and most of the recipes involve specialised smoking equipment. Although I’ve had the pleasure of teaming up with the guys of Santa Anna’s for a smoking extravaganza a few years ago, this recipe is meant for the home cook who doesn’t have the luxury of outdoor meat smoking equipment (yet). You can achieve great results in your home oven over low temperatures – all you need is time and patience.

I baked soft mini rolls for this shoot (get my recipe), but you can easily buy smaller cocktail buns in most supermarkets these days. The softer the roll, the better it absorbs the BBQ juices – almost like a “sloppy joe”.

This is a great way of serving an informal grab-and-eat lunch or dinner to a meat-loving crowd. Maybe there’s a game of sport involved in the background. Maybe some beers. But there will totally be cheers involved for the pulled pork.

Note: The meat takes 8 hours to cook, so keep that in mind when you start this recipe. The roasting flavour of the meat from your oven is an important part of the charm when inviting guests over – trust me. However, it can be made ahead and reheated with great success.

For the pork: (serves 6)

  • 2,5 kg pork shoulder, bone out, skin scored
  • 30 ml salt flakes (or 15 ml fine salt)
  • 10 ml freshly ground black pepper
  • 15 ml smoked paprika
  • 15 ml fennel seeds (or 10 ml ground fennel)
  • 250 ml apple cider (or apple juice or white wine)
  • 250 ml BBQ sauce (see below, or use a good quality smoky store bought BBQ sauce)

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 120 C. Mix the salt, pepper, paprika and fennel together in a small bowl. Place the pork skin side up on a clean working surface. Rub all over with the spice mixture, getting the spices into the scored cracks. Place in an deep, oiled roasting tray and cover with foil. Roast for 8 hours on 120 C, or until the meat is soft enough to easily pull apart with two forks.

When the meat is soft, remove the excess fat, then pull the meat apart using two forks. Drizzle with BBQ sauce and mix through. Return to the oven at 230 C without the foil for about 10 minutes, just getting some dark stickiness on the edges. Serve on soft rolls with slaw and pickles.

For the BBQ sauce: (makes about 1,5 litres)

  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 45 ml fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 x 400 g canned pineapple chunks, pureed
  • 1 x 410 g can tomato puree (not tomato paste)
  • 125 ml soft brown sugar
  • 60 ml Worcester sauce
  • 60 ml soy sauce
  • 30 ml white vinegar
  • 10 ml black treacle syrup*
  • 30 ml smoked paprika
  • 15 ml ground Chinese 5-spice
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method:

Using a large heavy based pot, heat oil, then fry onion over medium heat until soft. Add garlic & ginger and fry, stirring often, until it starts to catch and the edges turn golden brown.Add fruit puree, tomato puree, sugar, Worcester sauce, soy, vinegar, treacle, paprika & spice. Season with salt & pepper. Stir well, then bring to a simmer and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes. Stir every now and then to prevent burning. Transfer to a glass jar and cool to room temp, then store in the fridge. Use on roasts, chops, steaks, chicken and burgers, or as a dipping sauce.

*Black treacle syrup is a dark, bitter, thick and sticky syrup and has no real substitute (molasses comes close, though). If you cannot find it or don’t want to buy it especially for this recipe, just leave it out.

For the slaw:

  • 1 small head of purple cabbage (a little goes a long way)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • juice of a small lemon
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method:
Shave the cabbage using a mandolin cutter or food processor blade on thinnest setting. Place in a large mixing bowl. In another mixing bowl, mix mayo, sour cream, lemon juice and sugar. Add a pinch of salt & pepper and mix well. Pour over cabbage and mix well (it will always look like the mixture is too dry in the beginning, but it does spread eventually).

To serve:

  • slider buns, sliced open horizontally (buttered and toasted optional)
  • pulled pork (see above)
  • BBQ sauce (see above)
  • slaw (see above)
  • fresh coriander (optional)
  • pickled gherkins/cucumber, sliced

Serve warm pulled pork on soft buns topped with slaw, gherkins, fresh coriander (optional) and more BBQ sauce.

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How to make soft hamburger buns

14 Aug

Soft and perfectly golden hamburger buns, fresh from the oven.

A few weeks ago I started a new collaboration with Kenwood South Africa. In my role as brand ambassador over the next few months, I have received their Chef XL Titanium – you’ll see it featuring in some of my upcoming recipes and videos. I’ve been using this machine for some time now and it is such an incredible tool! From macaroons to butter icing, ciabatta to Italian meringue – what a joy to use it. In my next post, I’ll do a full review of this premium mixer, so stay tuned.

More and more people are welcoming the craft of making the perfect hamburger at home. Most of us have the 100% beef patties down (or know where to buy a really good one from a local butcher), many of us can make a killer mayo (or aioli – even better), and then it’s up to you to add what you love: pickles, tomato, lettuce, relish, caramelized onions, cheddar etc. One of the most key parts of the burger, however, is the bun. If you’re stacking all that incredible stuff on a bun that’s going to fall apart when you bite it, or worse – a bun that’s too tough to bite through, your burger will be ruined. What you are looking for, is a soft brioche bun that’s about the same diameter as your cooked pattie (patties shrink in the pan), not too high so that you can still bite through your assembled burger, with or without sesame seeds on top (I prefer sesame), sliced horizontally, buttered and pan toasted to a golden perfection. It should be light enough to easily bite through without much resistance, but sturdy enough to hold together when all the juicy bits drizzle down towards the bottom half. So next time you’re going the full monty with making burgers at home, start with making these incredibly soft hamburger buns – it’ll change your burger game forever.

Note: You’re going to need an electric mixer for this recipe. I used my Kenwood Chef XL Titanium – it’s an absolute pleasure to use. The light around the attachment port shines right into the bowl, and although it’s quite a big bowl you can always see what’s going on inside. The machine is very strong and makes light work of the dough. The solid stainless steel attachments are very easy to change and along with the stainless steel bowl they are easy to clean. Keep an eye out for a full review of this machine within the next week, and watch my video of how to make soft hamburger buns below.

Ingredients:

 

  • 200 g butter, cubed
  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) honey
  • 1 kg stone ground white bread flour (divided in two halves)
  • 30 g (45 ml) instant yeast
  • 20 ml (4 teaspoons) sugar
  • 10 ml salt (2 teaspoons) fine salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg, whisked, for brushing (optional)
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) sesame seeds, for topping (optional)

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan, add the butter, milk and honey and stir until the butter has melted (do not boil). Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with K-beater, add 500 g flour with the yeast, sugar and salt. Mix gently.
  3. Add the warm milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix on low speed. Add the eggs and continue to mix until incorporated (about 30 seconds), then add the second half of the flour and continue to mix for about 1 minute.
  4. Change from K-beater to dough hook (scrape any excess dough mixture using a spatula), then mix with the dough hook on medium-low speed for about 5-10 minutes or until the dough is very smooth and elastic.
  5. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into portions (I prefer to weigh it individually – you’re looking for balls of about 110-120 g each). Shape each piece of dough into a ball by tucking the seams in underneath, then flatten it slightly and place it on a lined baking tray, leaving enough space inbetween for rising.
  6. Cover lightly with plastic and leave to rise in a warm area for about 25 minutes or until doubled in size. While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 200 C.
  7. When the buns are risen, use a pastry brush to paint it with whisked egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds (or just leave plain, if you prefer). Bake for 12 minutes (in the middle of the oven) or until golden brown and cooked. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Store in an airtight container or covered plastic bag, and use within 3 days. Best for hamburgers when sliced, buttered and toasted in a hot pan. ​

Note: Baked cooled buns can be successfully frozen for up to 3 months.

*Regular cake flour won’t yield the same results as stone ground white bread flour and will result in a more sticky dough that is harder to handle. Rather use stone ground white bread flour, if you want to achieve the best results possible.

This post was created in proud collaboration with Kenwood South Africa.

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Lunch at Waverley Hills and a stayover at Orchard Stay, Wolseley

30 Jul

The roaring fireplace at Waverley Hills, ready to welcome guests in winter.

 

We were recently invited to visit Waverley Hills for a taste of their new menu, and a stayover afterwards at Orchard Stay – all in the beautiful Wolseley countryside between Tulbagh and Ceres off the R46 at the foothills of the Witzenberg mountain range.

Just 90 minutes from Cape Town, Waverley Hills is a premier organic wine producer, restaurant and function destination. The venue’s twin fireplaces and deep leather couches make it especially popular as a winter meal-stop for families out to see the snow on surrounding peaks, or for bikers and road trippers keen to explore a countryside ride with magnificent views.

Inspired by the the spectacular landscape, chef Francois du Toit has designed an enticing countryside menu that’ll have you linger lazily this winter. “Being out in the country is about hitting the pause button and I’ve made that my starting point for every new dish,” he says. “It employs seasonal ingredients as well as organic or bio-dynamically farmed produce where possible.

The food at Waverley Hills embodies the essence of hearty winter fare: deep and robust flavours, generous portions and comforting textures. All a la carte menu items come with a recommended wine pairing per glass. Have a look at our experience in pictures, below.

Waverley Hills’ restaurant, which is fully licensed, is open six days a week for breakfast and lunch, and twice for dinners on Wednesdays and Fridays. Contact: info@waverleyhills.co.za | Tel: 023-231 0002.

Note: The restaurant also offers a dedicated, five-course food and wine pairing menu, although bookings are required a week in advance.

The restaurant at Waverley Hills is spectaculary set at the foothills of the Witzenberg Mountains, just outside Wolseley.

Waverley Hills chardonnay to go with my starter.

 

My starter: Wild mushrooms, parmesan custard cream, truffle – with Waverley Hills Chardonnay 2016. Although very rich, this is my typical favourite food. Very creamy, very well seasoned, earthy and indulgent.

Schalk’s starter: Gambas pil pil, prawns fried in spiced paprika garlic parsley oil, ciabatta – with Waverley Hills Cabernet No-added Sulphites. This was the best dish of the day, and we could have eaten a bucket full of it! Punchy flavours, absolutely delicious.

My main course: Fish & chips – soy & ginger marinated kabeljou, spiced mushy corn, fries, lime mayonnaise – served with Waverley Hills Pinot Grigio. The mushy corn was a welcome sweet addition to traditional fish & chips. Perhaps the chips wasn’t even needed – the kabeljou, mielies & mayonnaise were delicious on their own.

Schalk’s main course: Pork belly, twice cooked pork neck, honeycomb, bacon jus, lemon pickled apple, pearl couscous – served with Waverley Hills Grenache. This dish is highly recommended.

The restaurant interior at Waverley Hills.

Schalk’s dessert: Tiramisu (you can choose from a black board with three or more choices). Very decadent and delicious.

My dessert: Pavlova with caramelized apples in toffee sauce and lemon curd. A few classic, comforting winter flavours. Perhaps a dollop of softly whipped cream would have made it even more delicious.

Taking a stroll in the garden at Waverley Hills.

The view of the mountain at the restaurant parking area – you are so close to nature here.

View of one of the mountain ranges as we left Waverley Hills. So many spectacular sights in this area!


After lunch, we checked in at Orchard Stay at Platvlei Farm, a self catering cottage in the middle of fruit orchards next to a tranquil pond, about 10km from Waverley Hills. I couldn’t stop taking photographs of this place from the moment we arrived – it truly is one of the most beautiful self-catering countryside cottage settings that I’ve ever seen, and one that deserves the time for immersing oneself into unplugging from city life.

Here’s the low-down: Two stylish bedrooms (both with en-suite bathrooms) with extra length beds. Main bedroom: king-size bed,  second room: twin beds which can convert to a king size bed. Rest your eyes on views of the orchards and Mostertshoek Mountain. Large fold back doors lead onto a covered wrap-around terrace. Fully equipped kitchen and covered built in braai. Lazy days can be enjoyed on the terrace, out on the lawn or curled up on the couch in the lounge. On winter days set the fireplace alight for a cosy day/night in. The eco-pool and hot tub has been purposely designed to be enjoyed all year round. The eco-pool is perfect for cooling off, relaxing with a book or drink, or just hanging out with family and friends.  The hot tub is fueled by a wood burner, great for an evening dip or night time star gazing. No tv (purposefully), but great, free wifi. Note: Orchard Stay is child friendly, but not pet friendly.

​Check here for availability and rates. Check out our stay in pictures below – it was breathtaking, spacious and exceptionally tranquil.

Contact Orchard Stay: info@orchardstay.co.za | Cell: 071-105 3121.

Arriving at Orchard Stay, Platvlei Farm.

The stunning cottage at Orchard Stay.

Table on the stoep at Orchard Stay, looking out onto the eco pool and hot tub.

Outside braai stocked with wood at Orchard Stay.

The beautiful Orchard Stay logo, as captured in tile detail next to the braai area.

The spacious, open plan kitchen at Orchard Stay.

A sunny corner on the couch alongside colourful wall art at Orchard Stay.

The inside fireplace at Orchard Stay.

The main bedroom at Orchard Stay.

Main on-suite bathroom with shower and bath, at Orchard Stay.

Second bedroom at Orchard Stay.

The wood fired hot tub, getting warm for a dip at Orchard Stay.

A sunny nook on the wrap-around stoep outside the main bedroom.

Orchard view from the front porch across the pond.

Pond view of the hot tub and surrounds.

Spectacular pond mirror views.

As the sun was setting, our fire was roaring inside and our braai was lit. Bliss.

Dusk at Orchard Stay. Pure magic.

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Beef & Gruyère lasagne

25 Jul

I’m a huge fan of Terra del Capo – the Italian-inspired wine range & destination by Rupert Wines, a premium wine estate situated on the outskirts of Franschhoek. Apart from classical Italian wine varietals, they offer a range of Italian-style tapas at their tasting room eatery, one of which is a mini lasagne. It pairs beautifully with their Sangiovese, a red wine with juicy cherry and plum flavours, tinged with spice and black pepper. The team of Terra del Capo approached me to create a lasagne recipe of my own to celebrate their Sangiovese in these colder months – what better than a glass of red with a freshly baked, hearty lasagne for dinner?

My recipe to pair with Terra del Capo’s Sangiovese is a beef & Gruyère lasagne, made with 100% pure beef mince, fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme & sage, beef stock, red wine (Sangiovese, of course), and smoked paprika for added smokiness and to elevate the slow cooked beef flavours. Instead of parmesan cheese, which is delicious but can be very expensive, I’ve chosen a local vintage Gruyère-style cheese – strong and nutty. It just goes a little further than the parmesan, and is a much better choice than a young cheddar or mozzarella. If you want to use cheddar, a 9-12 month mature will also work wonders.

My lasagne was made with freshly rolled pasta sheets – only because I recently got the attachment for my Kenwood mixer – what a pleasure! If you don’t have a pasta machine at home, store-bought dried lasagne sheets work just as well and they don’t need pre-cooking because my bolognese sauce is quite saucy.

My lasagne has four layers, so when you’re assembling keep in mind how much meat sauce and bechamel you’re using to have enough left for a last top layer of meat and a thick layer of bechamel. It makes all the difference.

This is a family-size lasagne and the recipe can easily be halved to serve only 4. However, if you’re going to take the effort to make something as delicious as this, you might as well make enough to last for seconds and thirds over the next few days. It lasts very well in the fridge (for a few days) and can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

 

Ingredients: (serves 8)

For the beef bolognese sauce:

  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1 kg lean beef mince
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • a handful fresh herbs, finely chopped (rosemary, thyme, sage)
  • 250 ml red wine (Terra del Capo Sangiovese)
  • 375 ml beef stock (or 1 stock cube dissolved in 375 ml boiling water)
  • 800 g canned Italian whole tomatoes, pureed
  • 15 ml smoked paprika
  • 10 ml sugar
  • 10 ml salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large heavy based pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrot & celery. Stir, then cover with a lid and leave to steam while frying (you don’t want to brown these yet, you just want it to soften.) Fry, stirring often, for about 7-8 minutes until they are soft.
  2. Add the mince and turn the heat up to high. Stir, breaking up all the lumps as you go. The meat will at a stage release quite a lot of liquid, just keep on cooking until it evaporates and starts to fry in it’s own fat. You want the bottom to start catching and turn brown – it takes about 15 minutes.
  3. When the bottom starts to turn brown, add the garlic and herbs and fry for another minute. Then add the red wine and remove the pot from the heat for a minute to stir and loosen any sticky brown bits from the bottom. If you don’t do this, the pot might burn easily later on.
  4. Return the pot to high heat, add the stock, pureed tomatoes, sugar, salt & pepper. Stir and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so to prevent the bottom from burning. When done, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Note: The bolognese can be made a day in advance, cooled and refrigerated until ready to use. Reheat in the microwave for easier assembly.
  5. Remove from the heat and leave to cool until ready to assembly.

For the bechamel (white sauce):

  • 80 g (1/3 cup) butter
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 1 liter milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) Dijon mustard
  • 5 ml salt (plus more, if necessary)
  • ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the flour, stirring. Cook for at least 2 minutes taking care not to brown the butter.
  2. Add the milk all at once, stirring vigorously with a wire whisk at first. Continue stirring every now and then as it heats up, taking care to scrape the bottom as the sauce starts to thicken. Just as the sauce starts to bubble and it gets thick like custard, stir very well and remove from the heat.
  3. Add the nutmeg, mustard, salt & pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning – the bechamel should not be bland, it should be able to “stand on its own”. Cover with a lid until ready to assemble.

For assembly:

  • 1 batch bechamel sauce (see above)
  • about 500 g fresh lasagne sheets or 400 g dried lasagne sheets
  • 1 batch bolognese sauce (see above)
  • 200 g mature Gruyère-style cheese, coarsely grated (about 3 cups)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Whisk the bechamel to remove any skins that has formed on top. (Heat the bolognese sauce in the microwave, if using from refrigerated.)
  3. In a large deep oven dish or roasting tray (about 30 x 22 x 7 cm) , add a ladle full of bechamel on the bottom of the dish and spread it all over to prevent the pasta from sticking. Continue with your first layer of lasagne sheets, covering the whole surface (break/cut off pieces if they’re too big). Continue with your first layer of meat sauce, spreading it out into the corners. Then your first proper layer of bechamel – not too much, just drizzle a ladle-full all over and continue.
  4. Now do the second layer of bechamel, pasta, meat sauce & bechamel. Sprinkle half the cheese over.
  5. Assemble the third and the fourth layers. End with a thick layer of bechamel and top with the other half of the cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, then turn up the heat to 220 C and continue for another 10-15 minutes until it is golden brown and bubbly on top.
  6. Remove from oven and leave to stand at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving – the lasagne will be very runny at first but will stabilize on standing. Serve hot with a green side salad and Terra del Capo’s Sangiovese.

This post was proudly created in collaboration with Terra del Capo.

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Mutton shank on hummus with roasted red onion and brown sugar pumpkin

10 Jul

Mutton shank with baby red onions, slow roasted in white wine with a few aromatic spices and herbs, on a bed of hummus with cubed sweet butternut, toasted almonds and parsley.

 

My husband just returned from a week in Porto and I wanted to welcome him home with a special dinner. I had a beautiful 1kg mutton shank in the freezer thanks to The Boer & Butcher as part of a recent campaign with Allesverloren Wines. After paging through Phillippa Cheifitz’s book Make It Easy, I found some inspiration with her roast Middle Eastern-spiced lamb on hummus. Serving meat on a bed of hummus takes the idea of “loaded hummus” to another level. It is incredibly flavourful and works so well with the deep umami flavours of the slow roasted shank.

Another revelation was the pearly small red onions. They became so soft and caramelized and released so much flavour into the cooking liquid. It provided the perfect concentrated meat sauce for spooning over the meat and hummus. For added texture, a few chopped toasted almonds did the trick.

I’ll be making this again and again – a winning dish. Thank you Allesverloren for the inspiration (and the fantastic bottle of Três Vermelhos which we consumed immediately) and Boer & Butcher for the delicious meat.

The shank and onions, prepped before going into the oven. Note: This is a 30cm round casserole. The 1 kg shank is enough for 2 generous portions.

 

For the roasted shank: (serves 2)

  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 1 kg mutton shank, whole
  • about 10 baby red onions, peeled & halved (or 2-3 large red onions, quartered)
  • 250 ml dry white wine
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 5 ml ground fennel
  • 5 ml ground cumin
  • 5 ml smoked paprika
  • about 6 sprigs thyme, woody stalks removed
  • salt & pepper
  • 250 ml dry white wine

Pre-heat oven to 160 C. In a deep oven dish with lid, drizzle the bottom with half the oil, then place the shank on top and arrange the onions around it. Pour over the win. Drizzle the meat with the rest of the oil and with the lemon juice. Sprinkle with fennel, cumin, paprika, and place the thyme all over. Season generously with salt & pepper, then roast open for 1 hour. Turn oven down to 140 C, then cover the oven dish with a lid and roast for another 4 hours, turning the meat over half way through (the meat should be very tender and pretty much falling from the bone). Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes, covered with the lid, before serving. Remove the bone (it should be quite easy) and tear the meat into chunky shreds. Immerse the shreds in the pan juices before serving.

For the hummus:

(Note: I left garlic out of this hummus recipe for a milder result, but feel free to add a small clove. If you don’t have access to tahini, which can be an expensive ingredient, try a small amount of unflavoured peanut butter.)

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 45 ml tahini/sesame paste (or 5 ml unflavoured smooth peanut butter)
  • juice of half a lemon (about 15-30 ml)
  • 30 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 30 ml warm water
  • salt to taste

Put all the ingredients in a food processor or high power blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning, then add more water if it is too stiff, or more lemon juice if it needs more acidity. Blend for another minute until really smooth. Cover and refrigerate if not serving straight away. Important: serve at room temperature.

For the pumpkin:

  • 30 ml butter
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • about 2 cups cubed fresh butternut
  • juice of an orange
  • 60 ml soft brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • salt to taste

Place the butter and oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add pumpkin and fry for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the orange juice, sugar, cinnamon & salt and stir. Lower heat to a very slow simmer, then cover with a lid. Cook for about 15 minutes, shaking the pot gently now and then to prevent sticking. Cook until the pumpkin is tender and the sugar starts to gently caramelize. Remove from heat and set aside.

For serving:

  • a handful parsley, chopped
  • a handful almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
  • grated lemon rind (optional)

Place around 1/3 hummus on two plates and use the back of a spoon to create a swirled “bed”. Place the juicy shreds of warm shank on top, as well as some of the roasted onions and pan juices. Top with a few cubes of pumpkin, chopped parsley and nuts. Serve immediately.

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Simple jam crumble tart

9 Jul

A simple tart using only a few basic pantry ingredients. Soft, buttery and chewey with crisp edges.

 

I am always inspired by recipes that require just a few basic pantry ingredients. In saying that, I also realize that there are so many people who don’t have these basics on hand, not even mentioning a proper oven or a tart tin. But bear with me as I celebrate the tighter winter months as a creative freelancer. This is why I love what I do: I can make delicious stuff out of “we-have-almost-nothing-in-the-cupboard” stuff. If you have jam, flour, butter and a few other small basics, this tart will bring some sunshine to your wintery world.

Although jam crumble squares have been around for a long time, I’ve never tried to bake it in a round tart form. I have to say that it does put a fancy jacket on this humble sweet treat. Serve it with custard or ice cream or whipped cream as a beautiful way to end a dinner. Otherwise, opt for a square tin and cut it into squares for tasty lunch box treats. They’re soft, chewy, crumbly and actually not too sweet. Weirdly, they get better on standing – more gooey and chewy. So resist the urge to gobble it down straight from the oven.

I made this batch with some homemade marmalade, seeing that I made a considerable batch at the beginning of winter. My marmalade is quite chunky with long strands of rind, so I heated it up in the microwave and gave it a whizz in my food processor. Otherwise, use any jam you love out of a jar – berry, apricot or even something like caramelized onion for an interesting savoury spin.

This recipe was adapted from The Ultimate Snowflake Collection by Heilie Pienaar – one of my trusted baking bibles.

Ingredients: (makes 1 x 23 cm tart, about 2cm thick)

  • 125 g butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1 XL egg
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 1,5 cups (225 g) cake flour
  • 5 ml ( 1 teaspoon) baking powder
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) salt
  • 250 ml (1 cup) jam, slightly heated to a good spreading consistency
  • custard, whipped cream or ice cream, for serving (optional)

Method:

  1. Place butter and sugar in a food processor (or bowl with electric whisk) and cream until smooth. Add egg & vanilla and mix until light and creamy.
  2. Place flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and stir well with a whisk. Add it to the creamed mixture and pulse/mix until it comes together as a soft pastry. Turn out on a piece of cling film and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, spray a 23 cm fluted loose bottom tart tin with non-stick baking spray or brush with melted butter. Pre-heat oven to 200 C.
  4. Use 2/3 of the pastry and press it into the base of the tin and slightly up the sides – I found that it works well when you wet your fingers lightly with water to prevent sticking. Prick the pastry with a fork, then place a sheet of non-stick baking paper on top. Top with dry beans or rice and bake blind for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and remove the beans/rice and paper. Lower the temperature to 180 C. Add the jam and spread evenly over the tart base with the back of a spoon – you need quite a thick layer as it will sink into the pasty when baked. Remove the remaining pastry from the fridge/freezer and use a grater to coarsely grated the pastry over the jam layer. Neaten it up slightly, then bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and crisp on the edges.
  6. Leave to cool for 30 minutes before cutting and serving. If serving warm, serve plated with custard/cream/ice cream. If serving cool, it can be eaten by hand.

Step 4: Press 2/3 of the pastry into a greased 23 cm tart tin.

Step 5: Spread the blind-baked pastry with jam.

Optional: Dust with icing sugar when cool. Serve and slice at room temperature.

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Butterflied leg of lamb with chimichurri, feta & rosmarino

7 Jul

Folds of thin roasted lamb on a bed of rosmarino, chimichurri, feta and baby spinach. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

These are some of the flavours and textures that I love most: silky rosmarino (orzo) pasta cooked to al dente perfection and coated lightly in the finest olive oil, creamy salt feta, punchy zesty chimichurri and delicately roasted boneless leg of lamb, thinly sliced into beautiful folds. Top with a handful of fresh baby spinach leaves and you can serve this warm (winter) or room temperature (summer) – it’s fabulous during any season of year.

This is the last recipe in a collaboration series of “lighter winter recipes with lamb” with SA Lamb & Mutton – what a great opportunity to take yet another fresh look at one of South Africa’s favourite meats. I look forward to many more collaborations. See the other recipes here:

For the roasted leg of lamb: (serves 4-6)

  • 1,5-2 kg leg of lamb, bone out (ask your butcher to cut it out, or use a small sharp knife to remove it)
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200 C.  Place the meat in a large roasting tray. Drizzle all over with olive oil and lemon juice, then season generously with salt & pepper. Roast for 40 minutes without covering, then turn the oven off and leave the door slightly ajar for the meat to rest for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven – the inside of the lamb should still be slightly pink, but not bloody. Transfer to a large cutting board and use a large sharp knife to carve into thin slices. Return the slices to the roasting pan to rest in the juices if not serving immediately. Note: If you prefer your meat more cooked, leave it in the oven for a little longer.

For the chimichurri:

  • 1 punnet (20 g) fresh coriander
  • 1 punnet (20 g) fresh parsley
  • 1 red chilli, stalk removed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 45 ml red wine vinegar
  • salt to taste

While the meat is roasting, make the chimichurri. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to create a paste that is loose enough to drizzle over the meat. Add more olive oil if ncessary, and adjust salt levels to your taste. Cover until ready to use. Remember, this should be very punchy, as it will be the “seasoning/sauce” for the meat and the pasta. (Note: If made ahead, it should be refrigerated until ready to use. Use at room temperature.)

For assembly:

  • 500 g rosmarino/orzo (flat, rice shaped pasta)
  • 30-45 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • a generous handful baby spinach leaves
  • about 200 g feta, roughly crumbled
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh lemon wedges, to serve

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil, then cook the rosmarino for about 7 minutes until al dente. Drain and transfer back to the pot, drizzling with olive oil. Add 3 tablespoons of chimichurri and stir through. Add the baby spinach and give it a light stir. Transfer to a large serving plate. Top with the slices of lamb, crumbled feta and drizzle with more chimichurri. Top with ground black pepper and add a few fresh lemon wedges on the side. Serve warm or at room temperature. (If making ahead, only add the baby spinach when the pasta has cooled.)

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The A to Z of Stellenbosch – a #WinterWinederland

4 Jul

We recently had the great pleasure of taking part in a campaign by Stellenbosch Wine Routes, the #AtoZofStellenbosch (#visitStellenbosch, #WinterWinederland) where we received a few letters of the alphabet to explore in magnificent Stellenbosch – our home town. Take a look at what we saw, tasted and explored!

N: Neethlingshof Flash Food Slow Wine Pairing and Y: Young Foodie Pairing

This landmark wine estate was recently returned to private ownership after decades in the well-known Distell stable. With a history that spans 230 years, Neethlingshof continues to evolve as a favourite destination for locals and international visitors alike on the competitive Stellenbosch wine landscape.
Their famous kilometer-long avenue of stone pines that leads to the gabled homestead is an iconic feature of the farm and the central motif of their wine labels.

The “Flash Food Slow Wine Pairing” experience at Neethlingshof allows you to truly taste the terroir of the region, focusing on some of their best award winning wines paired with a few fast food bites with a twist. At only R100 for tasting 5 premium wines with 5 bites, it is one of the best value for money experiences in the Winelands. Their contemporary tasting centre is spacious and also allows for cellar tours right next door.

Gone are the days when you left your kids with a babysitter when going on a wine tasting! At Neethlingshof, children are especially made to feel welcome with their very own professionally presented little tasting board of chocolate milk, grape juice and apple juice paired with delectable treats like cupcakes, chicken filled mini pancakes and mini burgers. At only R50 for kids tastings, parents can rest assured that they’ll be able to wine and relax a little longer while the whole family is entertained and fed.

S: Stay at Spier

The Hotel at Spier is more like a delightful countryside village than a regular hotel. With its cobble stoned walkways, sculpted gardens and winding paths, you’ll feel like you’ve just arrived home on checking in. Rooms are spacious and decorated with a distinct South African flavour. Take a stroll towards the restaurant and picnic areas, do a wine tasting at the tasting centre, book a vineyard tour to see more of the estate, or just cosy up under an ultra thick duvet in front of the tv when it’s pouring down outside.

There’s just so much to do and see when staying at Spier. With a spa on the premises, a farm shop, gift shop, play area for kids, craft market, segway tours, eagle encounters and more, you’d want to stay for longer.

H: Hoghouse lunch

This fabulous smokehouse served the living best smoked meat, beerhouse snacks and pasteis de nata in town. They’ve since closed down to make space for the same chef, PJ Vadas, to open his very own Vadas Smokehouse and Bakery. I will watch this space when they’re ready to open – very exciting times.

E: Eat breakfast at Spier

The breakfast area at Spier is an energetic, bustling affair. Expect large tables laden with the freshest sliced seasonal fruit, various freshly baked pastries, cured hams and smoked fish, cereals and toasted seeds, large trays of fragrant grilled bacon, more than one type of cooked sausages, and much more. Ask for tailor-cooked eggs or pancakes at the hot section, and order your choice of various coffees, tea and even hot chocolate. With a team of enthusiastic serving staff, you’ll be well looked after and ready for a day of exploring the Winelands!

I: Interactive Stars at the Eagle Encounters, Spier

Nothing can prepare you for the majestic beauty and magical presence of the birds at the Eagle Encounters unless you’ve been there before. With the help of a professionally trained falconer, you’ll be able to hold and stroke large live owls, falcons and other birds of prey within a safe environment (wearing protective gloves, of course). The birds are mostly rescued after injuries, nursed back to health, and some (those who have the capacity to be released back into nature) even rehabilitated back to the wild. See some of the world’s largest eagles up close, and get ready to smile on seeing some of the smaller owls “dance” to music. It’s an inspiring visit for young and old, and a MUST when visiting Spier.

Find the rest of the #AtoZofStellenbosch and more #visitStellenbosch adventures here.

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Lanzerac: The jewel of Stellenbosch is back and better than ever

3 Jul

It’s no exaggeration to say that Lanzerac is an iconic landmark in Stellenbosch. David Rawdon was the first hotelier to convert the historical homestead and outbuildings – first established in 1692 – into a hotel in 1959. Today the property represents a multi-faceted destination that includes a luxurious five star hotel with conference and event facilities, winery, deli, bar, multiple restaurants (including the Manor Kitchen), tasting room and day spa.

After a devastating fire in the early hours of 28 May 2017 that severely damaged the main operational areas of the hotel, extensive renovations have been going on for the past year, closing the hotel for guests until the grand reopening on the 1st July 2018.  I was extremely fortunate to be one of the first guests to visit Lanzerac this past weekend for a taste of their many premium offerings, including lunch at the deli, wine tasting, dinner at the brand new restaurant, staying over in a newly renovated room and enjoying a treatment and the hydro facilities at their world class spa.

For someone like me who grew up around the corner from Lanzerac, this grande dame of Stellenbosch has played a landmark role in my life and in the lives of so many others. Ask around – you’ll hear stories of Lanzerac’s hey-days as a prime student hang-out spot in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Do you remember their fabulous restaurant Vinkel and Koljander? That place was my first experience as a waiter in 1995 – situated in the building that now houses the tasting room and deli. I also remember how we visited the terrace area as youngsters, ordering our first legal drinks and feeling super fancy. I learned to love wine with Lanzerac’s iconic pinotage rosé – then still in their famous round bellied bottles.

The terrible fire has been a catalyst for the birth of a brand new era for Lanzerac. Out of tragedy, a world class hospitality facility has risen better and bolder than ever before. The hotel’s main operational areas has been transformed sporting a much more contemporary and airy feel with higher ceilings and open plan spaces, featuring a lot of glass and marble alongside the original historical wood and stone. Bold, eclectic, vintage & antique furniture pieces add to the magic of the new Lanzerac, including a massive antique bar display cupboard and some of the fire damaged re-framed artworks in the bar area. The renovation is an ongoing process, with plans for the manor house still to be executed and a large chef’s table room situated in the old Danie Craven Lounge still to be furnished. Go take a look – the old-world historical feel of Lanzerac is still strongly present, but the renovations provide an unmistakable modern atmosphere filled with light and positive space.

Hotel and spa guests can make use of the spa’s hydro facilites that include the heated pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and mist area. Multiple world class treatment options are available with state of the art equipment. I enjoyed a 60 minute full body massage with therapist Antoinette and it was a welcome relaxing pamper that left me walking on a cloud for the rest of the day. The spa facilities are breathtaking and highly recommended.

The deli and tasting room are two of the most accessible areas of Lanzerac in terms of affordability for the public – have a taste of their premium wines and enjoy a delicious breakfast or lunch.

Staying at the hotel is the epitome of luxury and no detail has been spared to ensure the ultimate five star winelands getaway. We were welcomed to our room with salty treats from the deli (beef biltong, honey spiced nuts and infused olives) as well as a plate of sweet treats from the kitchen (petit fours, macarons and chocolate dipped strawberries). Complimentary mini bars are stocked daily – yes, complimentary. Bathrooms have underfloor heating and heated towel rails – so comforting during winter especially. The upholstered bathroom bench was one of the best traits of our huge bathroom, and I now need one in my life!

Our dinner at the brand new Manor Kitchen headed by Chef Stephen Frazer was a great reflection of what the new Lanzerac stands for: contemporary twists on classic dishes – inventive, beautifully plated and a pleasure to eat. The highlight of my dinner was the perfectly crafted raspberry soufflé – I’ll go back for more soon, so I hope they keep it on the menu for a while!

Take a look at some of the photographs of our stay. I’ve chosen 50 photographs, making this my most comprehensive featured post ever (I could have easily chosen 50 more). Lanzerac is a fabulous getaway during winter with many cosy fire places and warm indoor air-conditioning. Sitting in the hot jaccuzi with a glass of bubbly while the rain was pouring down outside was an absolute highlight! What a pleasure.

Catch the special Winter Retreat Package: Enjoy a one night stay for two in a King or Twin room, with select mini-bar, including an English breakfast, lunch at the Lanzerac Deli, a premium tasting, 60 minute full body massage, use of the hydro facilities and complimentary shuttle services to and from Stellenbosch town for R6500 per couple. Available until 30 September 2018 – see full info below.

 

I took a tour of the grounds and hotel facilities:

The reception entrance to Lanzerac Hotel. The new reception area is situated directly on the left after entering the existing hotel building.

The massive flower arrangement at reception.

The large, open, vaulted new entrance hall and lounge area at Lanzerac Hotel.

The new Taphuis bar area at Lanzerac – this photo was taken when they were still unpacking stock, therefor the boxes on the counter! (View the Taphuis small plates menu here.)

The new Craven Lounge & Bar – perfect for a pre-dinner or a post-dinner drink and tapas. (View the menu here. )

Leather couches at the Craven Lounge.

One of the new conference rooms at Lanzerac. This room has a glass ceiling and is fully cladded in wood.

Another conference room at Lanzerac with a cathedral-like feel.

The upper pool bar is currently not in use during winter. I’ve never seen it before, so this was a great find!

The magnificent mountain view and stretching lawn at Lanzerac.

The old Danie Craven Lounge is one of the areas that are still in the process of begin renovated – you can still see the fire damage at the top window that is being restored.

 

We stayed in a suite that included a lounge area with private pool:

The pathway leading to our room. Winter in Stellenbosch.

This is Elvis who showed us to our room.

Our lush suite.

A plate of complimentary sweet treats on arrival at our room.

Double basins, upholstered bench and underfloor heating in the massive bathroom with bath and separate shower.

Beautifully, classically neutral furnishings in the bathroom with semi-exposed brick walls.

Our room as seen from our private pool. We had a view of the vineyards from our veranda.

 

Lunch at the Lanzerac Deli:

The entrance to Lanzerac’s Wine Tasting and Deli.

House-made preserves inside the deli.

A highly recommended lunch that consisted of the generous cheese platter and a glass of Lanzerac chardonnay.

The Lanzerac chardonnay is my favourite white wine in their series.

 

Wine tasting at the Wine Tasting Room: (A wine tasting experience is highly recommended – the cream of Stellenbosch’s finest wines.)

Display cupboard of Lanzerac’s current and previous wine collections and packaging. Note the iconic round bellied rosé at the top left – now updated to a more contemporary look.

Tasting the premium wines in the Lanzerac wine collection.

Merlot tasting.

The 2015 Lanzerac Pinotage – the estate is famous for being the first commercial producers of pinotage in South Africa.

The textured label and gold detail says it all: this is a very special wine. The Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage.

 

Dinner at the Manor Kitchen. Each course was paired with a unique Lanzerac wine as recommended and presented by their new sommelier. The cabernet sauvignon was a highlight: (View the full menu here)

Brand new restaurant in an airy space with high glass ceiling details and marble tables.

I love the industrial feel of the windows and doors at the Manor Kitchen.

This chef was busy making raspberry soufflé – one that I had later that evening. It was absolutely superb!

Flavoured butters to go with our bread board: truffle butter, balsamic butter and classic butter.

Schalk’s starter: Confit duck leg salad, whipped Dijon mousse, shimeiji mushrooms, herbs.

My starter: Collection of cauliflower, beetroot gnocchi, sesame granola, Karoo williston, rocket, orange cream. Such a great mix of textures and incredibly smoky flavours.

Schalk’s main course: Fillet of aged beef, braised brisket, pomme anna, porcini mushroom, milk poached onion. This was one of the best dishes of the evening.

My main course: Citrus cured pork belly, chardonnay, barley risotto, poached pear, leeks, crisp sage. A stunning winter dish.

Schalk’s dessert: Vegan cheesecake, marshmallows, blueberry ice cream, toasted oats, raspberry compote. The cheesecake was made using pureed cashews along with other vegan ingredients. A triumph.

My dessert: Raspberry soufflé with white chocolate cream. This was the highlight of my dinner. Perfect in texture, tart and light, with poached raspberries at the bottom. Paired with the sweet white chocolate cream it was a match made in heaven.

Seeing into the newly built kitchen.

 

We enjoyed a delightful breakfast at the Lanzerac Deli and they served a version of what would be expected from breakfast in the main hotel soon. (Click here for the full hotel breakfast menu available from the Manorhouse Kitchen.)

A bowl of magnificent fresh fruit – just the way I like it.

A plate of local artisanal cheeses, crackers and preserves.

What would a breakfast be without pastries? My favourite!

Hot breakfast: Schalk ordered the French toast with

The spa: (See more info about packages and facilities here.)

The heated pool at the Lanzerac Spa with a magnificent view of the adjacent vineyards and mountain.

A dip in the hot jacuzzi on a cold winters day.

 

Here is more info on the Winter Warmth Spa Package 2018.

Visit Lanzerac online.

Tel:+27 (0)21 887 1132

Address: No. 1 Lanzerac Road, Stellenbosch, South Africa

A very warm thank you to Lauren (marketing), Joanne (reception), Patrick (manager), Eske (wine tasting), Cynthia (deli), Elvis (porter), Beki (dinner service), Tinashe (sommelier), Lizandé (spa manager), Julia (spa host), Antoinette (spa therapist) and everyone else from the Lanzerac team who made our visit so memorable. We will certainly be back soon.

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Lamb meatballs in smoky tomato sauce

28 Jun

Baked lamb meatballs in a smoky tomato sauce with parmesan shavings and freshly cooked tagliatelle. Photography & co-styling by Tasha Seccombe.

 

After the winter solstice has come and gone a few days ago, we can safely say that we’re smack bam in the middle of the coldest season in the Cape. Most of us are looking for something hearty to cook for dinner, so why not try these incredibly flavourful lamb meatballs in tomato sauce. They are easy to cook and perfect for any day of the week, served with your choice of pasta.

If you don’t see any lamb or mutton mince on the shelf at your local butchery, just ask for it. Most butchers are more than happy to grind a chunk of boneless leg (or perhaps a boneless shoulder) into beautifully pink lamb/mutton mince. Leg mince is relatively low in fat compared to chops and makes excellent, juicy meatballs. I don’t add any breadcrumbs to my meatballs because I love the flavour and texture of the meat as it is, but if you want to stretch it a little and have an even softer texture result, add a cup or two of soft white breadcrumbs (process 2-3 slices in a food processor).

Thank you SA Lamb & Mutton for another opportunity to collaborate! Check out more wintery lamb dishes that’s on the lighter side of winter entertaining: Pulled lamb pitas with tomato salad & tzatziki, tabbouleh bowl with shredded lamb, lamb steak salad with figs & courgettes, lamb ramen with star anise, ginger & chilli, Italian-style white bean soup with lamb knuckle.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

For the tomato sauce:

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely grated or chopped
  • 2 cans whole Italian tomatoes, pureed
  • 10 ml sugar
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 10 ml smoked paprika

For the meatballs:

  • 700-800 g lamb mince
  • 1 red or white onion, coarsely grated
  • 5 ml dried oregano
  • 10 ml smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 ml Dijon mustard
  • 15 ml olive oil, for greasing

To serve:

  • 500 g dried pasta, cooked al dente (tagliatelle/spaghetti etc.)
  • shaved or grated parmesan cheese (or grana padano or pecorino)

Method:

  1. Make the sauce: heat the oil in a medium saucepan, then fry the garlic over medium heat for just a minute. Add the pureed canned tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper and paprika. Stir and bring so a simmer. Turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes while you make the meatballs.
  2. Preheat oven to 200 C.
  3. Make the meatballs: in a mixing bowl, add the mince, onion, oregano, paprika, salt, pepper and Dijon. Use a fork to mix it well (or use clean hands). Shape into balls about the size of golf balls. Pour a little oil into a large (30 cm round) oven proof dish and use your hands or a brush to cover the base with oil all over. Arrange the rolled meatballs in the dish, then pour the sauce all over the meatballs. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minute or until brown on top and fully cooked.
  4. Serve with freshly cooked pasta and shaved parmesan.
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