Orange & beetroot salad with wild rice

2 Sep

Orange, beetroot & brown rice salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Orange, beetroot & wild rice salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

As a self-confessed sweet tooth, I sometimes need a bit of extra conviction to make salads during winter time. Most of the time, the weather just drives me to eat sweet pastries for lunch and decadent creamy sauces with meat and starches for dinner. While summer’s bounty brings oodles of inspiration for fresh and bright salads, winter has a tendency to make us commit guilty diet crimes.

When a salad contains several inspirational ingredients that I love, I’ll be much more inclined to eat it. Especially if it’s ingredients that are not usually associated with salads. Like oranges and wild rice.

This seasonal, colourful, art-on-a-plate salad is perfect for those days where you need extra inspiration to get your fruit & veg fill – with just the right zing to the dressing. It’s a complete meal on its own, but you can also serve it as part of a large buffet lunch/dinner.

The magic lies in the freshness of the ingredients, so choose ripe oranges that are really sweet, baby leaves that are bright and crisp, and beetroot that are small and firm. To save time, I used ready-cooked beetroot from Woolworths, but you should be able to find it at any good supermarket near you.

For the dressing:

  •  finely grated rind of an orange
  • juice of a large orange or two medium oranges
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 30-45 ml exstra virgin olive oil
  • 10 ml wholegrain mustard
  • 10 ml Dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper

Method: In a small jar, mix all of the ingredients together to form an emulsion (or put a lid on and shake it). Taste for seasoning – it should be generously seasoned.

For the salad: (serves 6 as a side dish)

  • a medium size bag of mixed baby leaves (including spinach, watercress, rocket etc.), washed and drained
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice, cooled
  • 2 oranges, skin removed and cut into rounds
  • 2 cups of skinned cooked beetroot, cut into bite size chunks
  • 1/4 cup of flaked almonds, lightly toasted in a dry pan

Method:  Stir half of the salad dressing into the cooked cooled rice (stir the dressing well before adding it). Stir through the rice, then add more salt & pepper if necessary. Assemble the salad on a large wide flat platter, starting with leaves, then the dressed rice, oranges, beetroot, and almonds. Drizzle generously with the rest of the dressing and serve cold or at room temperature.

Credits:

Recipe, text & food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

Croque madame

29 Aug

Croque madame (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Croque madame (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Still wondering what the big difference is between a croque madame and a croque monsieur? An egg. And the egg is placed on top of the croque madame – not the monsieur.

I was quite surprised by this bit of information mentioned above. In my mind, a so-called monsieur’s breakfast is usually bigger than a so-called madame’s breakfast, not the other way around. Come to think of it, I actually love the fact that the madame get to have the bigger meal. Anything is better topped with a poached egg, especially if it’s all golden and gooey.

Next to the classic eggs benedict, this is my second favourite breakfast in the world. It’s probably because I’m a sauce person. And I love rich breakfasts with butter, cheese and runny poached eggs. Top it off with really great toast, like the sourdough from Schoon de Compagne, and I’m a happy camper.

Ingredients for the Gruyere sauce: (serves 2)

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) butter
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) cake flour
  • 1/2 cup full cream milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Dijon mustard
  • about 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • salt & pepper

Method:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir well to form a smooth paste and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add the milk and stir to form a smooth, thick sauce. Turn down the heat to very low, then add the mustard, cheese and seasoning. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Ingredients for the croque madame: (serves 2)

  • 4 slices of sourdough bread, toasted
  • 4 slices of best quality smoked ham (I used hickory ham)
  • 2-4 eggs, poached in water for 3-4 minutes

Place the slices of toast on a baking tray. Top with slices of ham and Gruyere sauce, then place under a hot grill to turn golden brown (watch carefully, it only takes a minute). Remove from the oven, then top with a freshly poached egg. Serve immediately.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronje

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Spiced orange marmalade

18 Aug

Orange marmalade on mosbolletjie toast (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Orange marmalade on mosbolletjie toast (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

I would love to say that I grew up with marmalade and loved it from the start, but I didn’t. I grew up with sweeter-than-sweet apricot jam, and didn’t like the bitterness of marmalade at all.  When friends talked about their classic love of marmalade on toast, I simply did not share their view.

That was until recently when I decided to make my own. For this shoot, I wanted to focus on Winter produce, and something that adventurous food lovers could make at home. Citrus fruit are currently abundant in Stellenbosch, so I bought a bag of oranges and looked up a few recipes for reference. I sliced them thinly with my mandolin, cooked the slices in water until tender, then added sugar and aromatics to make a really fragrant marmalade (I added cloves, star anise, cinnamon stick and some cardamom). The texture of my marmalade resembled candied orange, and the taste was just out of this world…

We chose to shoot the marmalade on buttered mosbolletjie toast, and it was the most amazing flavour discovery – the aniseed taste of the mosbolletjies are a match made in heaven for the marmalade! Simply heavenly. Mosbolletjies are readily available in most advanced supermarkets, so give it a try if you find some.

These jars of marmalade make excellent gifts! Buy some beautiful glass jars (or re-cycle used jars), then label them with your own creative design. If properly sealed and stored, marmalade will keep for at least a year.

Ingredients:

  • 2 kg oranges
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 kg white granulated sugar
  • 1.5 litres (6 cups) of water
  • 1 clove
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods

Method:

  1. Using a mandolin cutter or very sharp knife, slice the oranges in 3mm slices, discarding the ends.
  2. Add the sliced oranges, lemon zest and juice and water to a large stock pot (or jam pot), then heat to boiling point. Reduce to a slow simmer, then cook for 40 minutes until soft.
  3. Add the sugar, then cook for another 30 -60 minutes (depending on size of pot and temperature) until soft setting point. Skim off any scum forming on the top layer. For soft setting point, test a teaspoon of the boiling liquid on a cooled saucer for reaching a jel-like texture. Don’t let the mixture get too dark.
  4. When the desired texture is reached, transfer the marmalade to sterilized* glass container, then seal.

*Note: To sterilize your glass containers and lids, place them in a large pot filled with water (covering about 2m above the top level), then bring to a boil. After 5 minutes, remove from the heat, then transfer to a drying rack using tongs. Dry upside down, then fill with warm jam/marmalade  and replace lids immediately.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

 

Orzo salad with chorizo, spinach & parmesan

2 Aug

Warm orzo salad with chorizo & spinach (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Warm orzo salad with chorizo & spinach (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Orzo (also called risoni or rosmarino) is a type of short cut pasta, shaped like a long flat grain of rice. While my mother served it to us plain as a substitute to rice with meaty stews, I only really started enjoying cooking with orzo in recent years. It’s the strangely delightful mouth-feel that I love most – something that works very well in stews, soups and salads.

In this recipe, I’ve combined a few ingredients that I just adore. First and foremost I chose the king of preserved sausages: chorizo – in my opinion one of the best ways of creating bold flavours in an instant. Smokey, spicy slices of chorizo will trump everyone’s favourite crispy bacon any day, in my opinion. But the flavour will only be as good as the product, so choose wisely. The other ingredients that make this dish magnificent are smoked paprika, baby spinach leaves, ripe cherry tomatoes, shavings of Parmesan cheese and some grated lemon rind.

This is an easy and comforting meal for anytime of the year – winter or summer. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  •  a large pot of salted water, suitable for the stove top
  • 500g orzo pasta
  • roughly 225 g of good quality chorizo sausage
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 250 g ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoons) smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup of dry white wine
  • juice and finely grated zest of one medium size lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • 200 g baby spinach leaves
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (add as much as you want)

Method:

  1. Place the pot of salted water on the stove and bring to the boil. Add the orzo, stir, and set your timer for 7 minutes.
  2. Remove the skin from the chorizo sausage, then cut the chorizo into fine slices/discs (if the skin is not too hard you can leave it on)
  3. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add the oil, sliced chorizo & chopped garlic. Fry for about 5 minutes until the chorizo has turned slightly brown on all sides. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  4. (When the timer for the orzo goes off, drain the orzo in a colander, stir through a splash of olive oil and set it aside.)
  5. Add the cherry tomatoes and paprika to the pan with chorizo, and stir-fry for another minute.
  6. Now add the wine to deglaze the pan, cooking until the wine has reduced by half. Remove from the heat.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked orzo and the contents of the frying pan. Also add the lemon juice and zest. Stir with a large spoon to mix thoroughly. Season with salt & pepper.
  8. Now stir through the fresh spinach leaves (they will wilt slightly from the heat of the orzo – that’s perfect), and top with shaved Parmesan.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Spicy chicken livers on creamy polenta

26 Jul

Spicy pan-fired chicken livers on creamy polenta (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Spicy pan-fired chicken livers on creamy polenta (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Although mealtimes are mostly considered occasions of togetherness and sharing, there are some things that I love to eat when I’m all on my own. One of these companionless meals include a sticky cinnabon at Meraki in Stellenbosch (I love having sweet pastries for breakfast or lunch) – a messy affair that includes inherent licking of fingers. That leaves no space for talking or sharing, of course, so I choose to go there on my own.

Another solitary eating preference is take-away burgers. I am convinced that they taste better in my car, parked outside the burger joint, with the radio on. The other dish is pan-fried chicken livers. My husband doesn’t like them, so I always make them when he’s away on business, when I can have the pan of creamy goodness all to myself without making any substitute dishes for him.

So if you also love chicken livers, here’s my recipe for one of the best ways to enjoy them: in a creamy, spicy sauce, on a bed of creamy polenta. If you don’t like polenta, just get some crusty bread and dip away. This is a dish best enjoyed without any guilt or time limits – company optional.

Ingredients: (serves 1 very hungry person, or 2 people as a light meal)

For the creamy polenta:

  • 500 ml (2 cups) water
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) salt
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) polenta
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) fresh cream
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the water & salt over high heat to boiling point, then add polenta and stir well. Lower heat to a slow simmer, then cook for 5-10 minutes until it starts to thicken, stirring often to prevent burning.
  2.  Add cream and parmesan cheese, then stir until the cheese has melted. Season with salt & pepper. Polenta will thicken on standing, so if yours solidifies after leaving it for too long, just add a little boiling water and stir well.

For the spicy chicken livers:

  • 30ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 250 g chicken livers
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) garam masala
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) paprika or smoked paprika
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) tomato paste
  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) Worcester sauce
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) fresh cream
  • salt & pepper for seasoning
  • a handful of chopped coriander leaves (or parsley)

Method:

  1. In a medium size pan on the stove top, heat oil over medium heat then fry onion until soft and translucent.
  2. Add chicken livers, then fry until for about 5 minutes until it is golden brown outside.
  3. Add masala, paprika, tomato paste and Worcester sauce and stir well. Add cream and bring to the boil. Cook for about 3-5 minutes uncovered until the cream has thickened. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve immediately on a bed of polenta, or with crusty bread. Top with some chopped coriander leaves.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

THE DEMO KITCHEN is open

25 Jul

the demo KITCHEN - interior (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

the demo KITCHEN – interior (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

After months of planning, dreaming, building and visualizing,  it gives me tremendous pleasure to introduce my brand new project to you. Situated in central Stellenbosch, the demo KITCHEN is a multi-faceted new food studio where I’ll continue to host my demo dinners and generate food content in the form of recipes, text and photographs. The space is also partly a kitchen retail outlet where you will find an array of KitchenAid appliances, Wusthof knives & utensils, Riedel glassware and much more.

I'll be hosting my regular dinner demos from the demo KITCHEN (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I’ll be hosting my regular dinner demos from the demo KITCHEN (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Co-owned by myself and Mari Kleynhans, the demo KITCHEN hosted invited guests and media earlier in July for two exclusive launch events. Our shop is now officially open to the public, so please come by and we’ll tell you more about our in-store specials.

The lab sink and walnut shelves (photography by Tasha Seccombe)While the demo KITCHEN is not a restaurant, it is a unique addition to the growing culinary offering in Stellenbosch. the demo KITCHEN will also cater to foreign guests who want to experience and learn more about local Winelands heritage food. Situated inside a recently restored official heritage site in the center of town dated to 1785, the demo KITCHEN is also a landmark destination for guests who appreciate the rich history of Stellenbosch.

We are situated in the center of historical Stellenbosch (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

We are situated in the center of historical Stellenbosch (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates on upcoming events, demos and workshops. We can also host your private function or showcase your product, so talk to us for a tailored experience.

Thank you to Tasha Seccombe for taking these beautiful pictures of the demo KITCHEN.

Opening hours:
Mon-Fri: 09h00-17h00
Sat: 09h00-13h00

Demo dinners: Tue & Thu, 19h00-21h00
Closed on public holidays.
Contact us:
info@thedemokitchen.co.za / ilse@thedemokitchen.co.za
Tel: 021-813 5932
Address: 3a Drostdy Street, Stellenbosch, 7600
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thedemokitchen
Twitter: https://twitter.com/the_demoKITCHEN

Our kitchen was designed by Dave Leatt.

Two of the best malva pudding recipes

22 Jul

Marvellously moist malva pudding (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Marvellously moist malva pudding (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

This is my third post about malva pudding in the past 3 years – just shows how much I love this classic South African dessert! I first posted about it in  August 2011, then again in March 2012 – the second one a malva pudding with a twist.

The recipe that I’ve followed since 2011 is originally by Helmine Myburgh from her book “So eet ons aan die Kaap” (1990) – an old-school illustrated Afrikaans cookbook. Helmine’s recipe was then included in  Huisgenoot’s Top 500 Wenresepte (2006), and I was completely hooked. Her pudding was the most velvety version that I had come across, and I loved the smooth fine texture.

Then I discovered Michael Olivier’s post about Maggie Pepler’s malva pudding recipe from the late 1970’s. Michael worked with Maggie at Boschendal’s restaurant, and asked her to teach them how to make this pudding from her original recipe. I’ve made Maggie’s recipes also a few times, and I have to say that it just remains a show stopping dessert every time.

A few weeks ago, I served Maggie’s malva pudding to my #Stellenblog colleagues and guests as part of a local food demonstration, and everyone raved about the lightness of the texture. It’s like a sea sponge, so delightful, with creamy caramel flavours.

I’ve decided to post both recipes – both are classic, and quite similar in ingredients. Just a note on the batter: it’s quite thick and sticky, and spreads out thinly in your baking dish. Don’t worry, it rises quite a bit, and with the added soaked-up sauce it becomes even higher. The biggest difference? Helmine’s malva pudding has a slightly finer, smooth cake texture, while Maggie’s pudding has a unique spongy texture. Both taste absolutely heavenly – check the quantities of cream, eggs and sugar in both, and see which one tickles your fancy!

Helmine Myburgh’s malva pudding: (see photograph)

For the batter:

  • 20 ml butter
  • 250 ml caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 12,5 ml fine apricot jam
  • 5 ml baking soda
  • 125 ml milk
  • 5 ml brown vinegar
  • 250 ml cake flour, sifted
  • a pinch of salt

For the sauce:

  • 250 ml cream
  • 180 ml sugar
  • 125 g butter
  • 125 ml boiling water
  • 5 ml vanilla essence

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a deep medium-sized ovenproof dish.
  2. With electric beaters, cream butter with caster sugar. Add eggs one by one, and mix well after after each addition.
  3. Add apricot jam and mix well.
  4. Stir baking soda into the milk, then add the vinegar to the milk. Now add the milk/baking soda/vinegar mixture alternately with the sifted flour and salt to the butter/sugar mixture, mixing well between each addition.
  5. Pour batter into greased baking dish, and bake for 45 minutes in the pre-heated oven or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. The pudding becomes dark on top very easily, so keep an eye on it while baking, and cover it with foil for the last 15 minutes, if necessary.
  6. While the pudding is baking, mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan on the stovetop. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Cover with a lid to keep warm.
  7. When pudding is done, remove from oven, then pour over all of the sauce. Leave to stand for at least 15-30 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream, custard, whipped cream, or all of the above.

Maggie Pepler’s malva pudding: (as published by Michael Olivier)

For the batter:

  • 250 ml flour
  • 15 ml bicarbonate of soda
  • 250 ml sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 15 ml apricot jam
  • 15 ml vinegar
  • 15 ml melted butter
  • 250 ml milk

For the sauce:

  • 125 ml cream
  • 125 ml milk
  • 50 ml sugar
  • 125 ml hot water
  • 125 g butter

Method:

  1. Set oven at 180°C. Grease, with butter, an ovenproof glass or porcelain container approximately 23cm x 23cm x 5cm.  Do not use an aluminum, enamel or any metal container.
  2. Cut a piece of aluminum foil to cover it while the pudding is in the oven and grease it well with butter on one side.
  3. Sift the flour and the bicarb into a bowl and stir in the sugar.
  4. In another bowl beat the egg very well and add the remaining ingredients (excluding those for the sauce) one by one, beating well .  Using a wooden spoon beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, cover with the foil, greased side down and bake for 45 minutes in the present oven until well risen and brown If not sufficiently baked the dessert will not take up all the sauce making it stodgy inside.
  6. When the pudding is almost done, heat the ingredients for the sauce, ensuring that you melt all the sugar and butter.  When the pudding is done, remove from the oven, take off the foil and pour over the sauce.  The pudding will take up all the sauce.  Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, though warm is best, with a little thin cream or a vanilla custard.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe sourcing, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Hasselback fingerling potatoes

28 Jun

Baked hasselback fingerling potatoes with sour cream and herbs  (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Baked hasselback fingerling potatoes with sour cream and herbs (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

I only discovered hasselback potatoes a few years ago at a birthday braai where my good friend Suné Rupping helped to cook side dishes for the hungry beer-drinking crowd. She made a huge tray full of hasselbacks as one of the side dishes to the braai meat, baked to golden perfection, crisp and magnificent.

“What on earth did you do to the potatoes?!” I exclaimed (with delight). Suné looked at me with a gleam in her eye. “Don’t you know hasselbacks?” Rethorical question, of course. And the rest is history.

I don’t eat whole potatoes often, but when I do, I throw caution to the wind make a decadent meal of them. Hasselback potatoes are an absolute joy to look at, easy to prepare, and so delicious with a scoop of sour cream and chives on top. You can serve these as a side dish or as a fabulous meal all on its own.

I’ve prepared these with olive oil, with butter and with canola oil – and I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer them roasted with canola oil. It’s a personal preference thing, so change it up as you like. A little butter right at the end also does wonders. You can also add fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary right from the start, if you like.

Note: Fingerling potatoes can be found at some leading supermarkets – I found these at Checkers. For larger potatoes, just increase the baking time accordingly (maybe 45 minutes for a regular large potato).

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1kg fingerling potatoes, washed and dried
  • about 125 ml (1/2 cup) canola oil
  • salt flakes & ground black pepper for seasoning

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. Place each potato on the concave head part (not the back) of a large wooden spoon. Use a sharp knife to cut 5mm thick slices on the potato – the wooden spoon will prevent you from cutting all the way through the potato.
  3. Place all the cut potatoes (in tact) inside a large roasting tray, then drizzle all over with oil and season well with salt & pepper. Roast at 180 C for 25 minutes, then remove from oven and carefully baste the potatoes again with the warm oil inside the roasting tray. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes, then remove from oven and transfer to a serving plate with a slotted spoon.
  4. Serve hot with sour cream & chives.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Roasted vegetable lasagne

24 Jun

A slice of layered vegetable lasagne (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

A slice of layered vegetable lasagne (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

The colder months in Stellenbosch are magical. Trees turn gold to orange to deeply auburn, then shed their colourful leaves in the streets before standing bare against the moody grey skies of the Cape.

Staying indoors brings a whole array of cozy comforts in the shape of baked pastas, slow cooked roasts, and hearty stews. One of my go-to winter favourites have always been a classic beef lasagne al forno, but this time I’ve decided to make use of the beautiful array of seasonal vegetables for a meat-free, cheesy, creamy delight: roasted vegetable lasagne.

You can adjust the choice of vegetables to whatever you prefer – I’ve chosen butternut, broccoli, courgettes and spinach for a layered effect of yellow and green. Other great choices are tomatoes, aubergines and leeks.

I choose to make the pasta sheets from scratch, but you can also use store-bought lasagne sheets that’s been pre-cooked for a few minutes. This is a great dish to make ahead of time, just pop it into the oven 45 minutes before dinner time. It also freezes very well.

Freshly baked vegetable lasagne straight from the oven (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Freshly baked vegetable lasagne straight from the oven (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Ingredients for roasted vegetables:

  • about 5 cups of diced vegetables of your choice
  • about 60 ml olive oil
  • 45 ml chopped fresh herbs (like thyme, rosemary, chives & basil) – or 5 ml dried herbs
  • salt & pepper for seasoning

Ingredients for white/bechamel sauce:

  • 125 g butter
  • 125 ml flour (1/2 cup)
  • 1 litre of milk (4 cups)
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • salt & pepper for seasoning

For assembly:

  • about 250 g uncooked lasagne pasta sheets (or roughly 400 g fresh pasta sheets)
  • 250 g grated mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 300 g ricotta cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 80 g parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • salt & pepper for seasoning
  • some extra grated cheese for the top, a mixture of mozzarella & parmesan works best
  • a sprinkling of mixed herbs, for the top

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 220 C. In a large roasting tray, arrange diced vegetables, then drizzle with oil and season well with herbs, salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes until tender and golden brown on the edges. Remove and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan on stove top, melt butter on medium heat, then add flour and mix to form a paste. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring, then slowly add milk while stirring. Keep stirring vigorously over medium heat to form a smooth sauce. Season with nutmeg, salt & pepper, then set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta sheets in a large pot of salted boiling water until just undercooked – about 6 minutes. Drain and get ready for assembling the lasagne immediately (otherwise they might start sticking together). Please note: if you are using fresh pasta sheets, you don’t have to pre-cook them, you can go straight to assembling.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, carefully mix together the mozzarella cheese, ricotta & parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. In a large deep rectangular oven dish, start layering the lasagne: start with a thin layer of white sauce, then pasta sheets, then veg mixture, then cheese mixture. Keep layering – you should repeat this about 3 times. End with a thick layer of bechamel sauce, then sprinkle with some leftover cheese mixture and some chopped/dried herbs. Bake at 180 C for at least 45 minutes, or until golden brown, bubbly and gooey. If the top starts to get too dark before the lasagne is cooked, cover with foil and return to the oven.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Chocolate brioche

20 Jun

Dark and moody, buttery and decadent chocolate brioche with Nutella (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Dark and moody, buttery and decadent chocolate brioche with Nutella (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

My sister is a keen baker. She specifically loves baking ciabatta loaves for her family and for dinner guests, and uses great quality stone ground flour for her bread. They also have a beautiful little outdoor pizza oven at the farmhouse where they live in Somerset West, which bakes amazing pizzas in just 2-3 minutes – fantastic.

My sister also loves baking cakes and pastries. She has dozens of little colourful page markers inside her food magazines that she uses as recipe references, and have passed quite a few of her favourite recipes on to me.  Last year, she gave me a 10 page spread from Rooi Rose of July 2013 featuring amazing bread recipes and baking tips. I use it as a reference often!

So when I got the idea of baking a chocolate brioche, I first consulted my sister’s baking references, then my trusted range of recipe books at home. Strangely, none of them contained a recipe that I liked. I was looking for a dark brown all-chocolate loaf, not a white loaf with a chocolate filling (which can also be amazing, by the way). In the process I came across Herman Lensing’s recipe for a chocolate brioche that he did for Sarie Kos – a rich buttery loaf with a chocolate filling and a chocolate sauce drizzled over the top. I decided to adapt Herman’s recipe for what I had in mind, and serve it with lashes of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread.

Herman’s recipe makes 2 large loaves, which I found can sometimes be a little too much for a small household. I halved the recipe, but kept some more yeast in the list of ingredients for the smaller mixture to rise as well as the large mixture does.

This is a recipe that I’ll be passing back to my sister for her collection – such an indulgent treat, especially for breakfast on a rainy Winter’s weekend. Enjoy!

Note: The dough needs to rest overnight in the fridge, so remember to start the process the night before if you want to eat it freshly baked for breakfast.

Ingredients: (makes 1 large loaf)

  •  450g cake flour
  • 50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder, sifted
  • 50g (60ml or 1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 15g instant dry yeast (1 and a half sachets)
  • 10g (10ml) salt
  • 6 XL eggs
  • 250ml butter, cut into small blocks
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked

Method:

  1. Using a stand mixer with K-beater attachment, place the flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar, yeast, salt and eggs in the bowl of the mixer and mix on medium speed for 8 minutes. You should have a stiff dough mixture.
  2. Now add butter a bit at a time, mixer running, until all the butter has been incorporated. You should have a smooth sticky dough.
  3. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover, then refrigerate overnight to rest.
  4. Turn the mixture out on a floured surface, then roll it out to a thickness of about 1cm. Fold the dough and repeat 2 times. Now roll it up and place inside a greased bread tin, OR cut into 3 strands and plait for a different look (place on a greased baking tray). Leave the dough in a warm area to rise for 60-90 minutes, until double in volume.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180C for at least 15 minutes, then brush with the whisked egg and bake for about 30 minutes until done. Serve warm with lashings of Nutella spread.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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