Milk tart

25 Aug

Traditional baked milk tart (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Traditional baked milk tart (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

If there was ever a prize for the most popular sweet treat in South African heritage recipes, it must surely go to the milk tart. You’ll find more recipes for milk tart in local cook books, websites and blogs than probably any other local dish. Why? Because it’s so flipping delicious, of course! Even superstar Jamie Oliver included a recipe for SA milk tart in his recent book, Jamie’s Comfort Food, causing a stir on Instagram with the pictures.

Traditional milk tart is usually flavoured with lemon or naartjie rind, cinnamon and a drop of almond essence – no vanilla. This sets it apart from many other custard tarts across the world, many of which come quite close to what we know and love as milk tart in South Africa.

I’ve only published one recipe for milk tart on my blog before, so it was time for a revisit of this stunning South African classic. The previously published recipe is for a crustless version with a fantastic texture – light and almost foamy because of the added whisked egg whites.

The recipe that I am writing about today is more traditional, made with good quality store-bought puff pastry (takes quite a lot of work out of the equation) and with a filling that is silky smooth and not too sweet. It makes 2 standard 20-23 cm round shallow milk tarts or one large deeper tart if you have a very big tin and want to feed a crowd. Tasha had this magnificent vintage fluted deep pie dish, so I made it in her tin and the result was quite spectacular.

Don’t be alarmed if your tart cracks on the surface – mine did because of it’s size. Doesn’t change the taste at all, of course, and just adds to the home-baked authenticity.

Tip: Use loose-bottomed tins if you want to turn out your tart. Otherwise, use authentic enamel tins or other oven-proof dishes and slice the tart straight from the tin/dish.

Ingredients: (makes 2 medium tarts or 1 large)

  • 400 g puff pastry, thawed
  • 1,25 liters (5 cups) milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 large piece of naartjie peel
  • 125 ml sugar
  • 125 ml cake flour
  • 60 ml butter, cubed
  • 6 egg yolks
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond essence
  • ground cinnamon for topping, finely sieved

Method:

  1. Grease your baking tin/s with non-stick spray and pre-heat oven to 200 C.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry to fit your baking tin/s. Line the tin/s carefully with the pastry, trimming the edges and gently pressing the pastry into the fluted edges. Line with non-stick baking paper and fill the surface with uncooked rice or beans (for blind baking). Bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove the rice/beans and paper and return to the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool while making the filling.
  3. Turn down the oven to 180 C.
  4. In a medium pot, heat the milk, cinnamon stick and naartjie peel over medium high heat.
  5. While the milk is heating, mix the sugar and flour together in a large bowl. When the milk is reaching a temperature where you can just stick your finger in it, pour it over the sugar and flour. Stir well with a whisk, then return it to the warm pot.
  6. Turn down the heat to low and continue to stir until the mixture thickens (do not boil) – it will take 5-10 minutes. When it is thick, remove from the heat and quickly stir in the cubed butter and egg yolks. Add the salt and almond essence and stir until smooth and glossy.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pastry tin/s, sift over a thin layer of ground cinnamon, then carefully place in the oven (the mixture will be quite runny, so work carefully). Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down further to 160 C and bake for another 15 minutes (smaller tarts) – 30 minutes (large tarts), or until the centre of the tart is just tenderly cooked and still slightly wobbly. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely (the tart needs time to stabilize, so don’t slice while it is still hot).
  8. Slice and serve warm (reheated) or cold.

Credits:

This post was written by Ilse van der Merwe for The Pretty Blog.

Text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com & The Demo Kitchen

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Muscovado chocolate truffles

11 Aug

Muscovado chocolate truffles, meltingly soft, slightly bitter and super decadent (photography by Tasha Seccombe).

Muscovado chocolate truffles, meltingly soft, slightly bitter and super decadent (photography by Tasha Seccombe).

This deceptively simple recipe is not for the faint hearted. You think you might know and love a traditional chocolate truffle? Well, this one takes it to another level of decadence.

My previous assistant at the demo KITCHEN, Elsebé Cronjé, shared my passion for beautiful recipes, pictures and food. She often brought new ideas to the table for upcoming menus and shoots, and this recipe is from one of her books: Adventures with Chocolate by Paul A. Young. It’s a dark chocolate truffle that is made with muscovado sugar. The recipe calls for the muscovado to be melted with fresh cream in a saucepan, forming a rich caramel sauce which is then added to chopped dark chocolate.  It is then stirred to create a smooth dark caramel chocolate ganache. Once cooled, you can roll your truffles and coat them in cocoa powder.

Caramel and melted chocolate, rolled into bite-size balls. Need I say more? I think not.

 Ingredients: (recipe by Paul A. Young from Adventures with Chocolate)

  • 100 g muscovado sugar
  • a pinch of salt flakes
  • 250 ml double cream
  • 250 g finest dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Method:

  1. Add the sugar, salt & cream to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring. When the sugar has melted, remove from the heat.
  2. Add the broken chocolate pieces to a small mixing bowl, then pour the warm cream mixture over it and stir until smooth and glossy and melted. Leave to cool, then refrigerate to set.
  3. Using a teaspoon, scoop some of the mixture and roll quickly into balls. Then cover in cocoa powder and set aside.
  4. Store in the refrigerator, but enjoy at room temperature.

Credits:

This post was written by Ilse van der Merwe for The Pretty Blog.

Text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Grilled asparagus & green bean salad with parmesan & cashews

11 Jul

Grilled asparagus salad with cashew nuts, parmesan & green beans (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Grilled asparagus salad with cashew nuts, parmesan & green beans (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A few weeks ago, my parents came down to Stellenbosch from Keurbooms for a quick visit. My dad was scheduled to see a specialist about a double knee replacement (ouch), and it gave all of us a nice excuse to spend some quality time with the family.

We got together at my youngest brother Dirkie’s farmhouse cottage, where he and his partner Frans made us the most amazing lunch: pork ribs on an open fire rotisserie, grilled asparagus & fennel salad, bacon & mushroom quiche, and ending off with homemade coffee & brandy ice-cream with malva pudding. We ate like kings!

Dirkie told me that his idea for the salad came from Guy Fieri’s TV show, and that he was winging it that day from memory. It was absolutely magnificent. I wanted to make it for my blog, but couldn’t find fresh fennel on the day of the shoot. I substituted it with green beans, and the result was just as good.

This is my version of this delicious, luscious, green salad. Use whichever greens you love and substitute with any type of nuts that you prefer. Dirkie used pine nuts for his salad, but I find that toasted cashews make for a fantastic alternative. To bulk it up as a main meal, add a few soft boiled egg wedges. What a feast!

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 15-30 ml olive oil
  • one bunch of green asparagus, trimmed if necessary
  • one bunch of fine green beans, trimmed (or one bunch of baby fennel, sliced in quarters lengthways)
  • salt & pepper
  • a bunch of rocket and/or watercress leaves, washed & drained
  • 100g toasted cashew nuts
  • shaved parmesan cheese (about 25-35g)
  • for the dressing:
    • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
    • 1 knob of fresh ginger, finely grated (optional)
    • 10 ml wholegrain mustard
    • 30 ml lemon juice
    • 90 ml extra virgin olive oil
    • 30 ml finely grated parmesan cheese
    • salt & pepper

Method:

  1.  Heat the oil in a large pan over high heat, then fry the asparagus & beans in batches for just a minute or two until they get some colour, but remain crunchy. Season well with salt & pepper, then remove from the heat and transfer to a cool plate.
  2. On a large platter, arrange the rocket/watercress, then top with the grilled veg and toasted cashews.
  3. Use a vegetable peeler to shave parmesan shavings on top.
  4. Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a glass jar (shake vigorously with the lid covered), then drizzle all over the salad. Serve immediately.

Credits:

Text, recipe, food preparation & food styling: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & prop styling : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

This post was originally produced for The Pretty Blog.

Celebrating 250 years with Hennessy at La Colombe

6 Jul

Paradis

Hennessy Paradis (picutre courtesy of Hennessy).

I was recently invited to celebrate the 250 year anniversary of Hennessy cognac at the “new” La Colombe restaurant at Silvermist organic wine estate in Constantia, headed by Chef Scot Kirton.

Most cognac lovers will know that Hennessy is the largest producer of cognac in the world – the brand sells more than 50 million bottles a year, making up 40% of cognac sales globally. Hennessy was founded in 1765 by Irish officer Richard Hennessy who was serving in the army of King Louix XV. Eight generations later, Maurice Richard Hennessy (great-great-great grandson of Richard Hennessy) is still actively involved with the brand.

Hennessy blends more than 100 vintage eaux-de-vie (spirit before it’s aged into cognac) for its special blends. The creators believe that an excellent cognac starts with the wood barrels. Therefore, they only use barrels that are made from oak from the Limousin region and from (sustainably managed) trees that are between 100 and 150 years old – these add the rich vanilla and toast aromas to the brand’s cognac.

Pascal Asin, MD of Africa and Middle East at Moët Hennessy, who has been supervising the Hennessy brand in Africa for more than a decade, says: “Hennessy and the consumer in Africa have a very special relationship: there is a strong emotional connection between the two, and the significance of the brand here is unlike elsewhere in the world. In many countries, cognac is still seen as the old-fashioned drink favoured by an older, affluent generation who enjoys it as an after-dinner toast near a cosy fire while puffing on a cigar. The typical consumer in Africa, however, is young, aspirational and middle-class: the man whose ambition and inner drive will steer him to realise his full potential. It’s customary for him to meet his friends and colleagues in their favourite club or pub at the end of the day or week to celebrate their journey to success. They will also, most likely, drink Hennessy from a balloon glass – a ritual that is often viewed as archaic in other parts of the world. Yet, in Africa, the balloon glass differentiates the Hennessy drinker from the rest of the crowd: it’s the symbol of the relentless African spirit of conquest.”

To celebrate its 250th birthday this year in Cape Town, the brand invited a handful of female media representatives to experience Hennessy Paradis at La Colombe with a foie gras inspired pairing menu. Paradis is the result of successive blends that combine several hundred exceptional eaux-de-vie aged from 25 to 130 years. It has a splendid coppery gold colour and a velvety texture, richly fragrant with spices like cardamom and cinnamon as well as sensual floral scents. This cognac reveals itself masterfully and gradually, like a mysterious lover, and is surprisingly accessible to women – a market that is traditionally not familiar with cognac.

Chef Scot Kirton treated us to a personal demonstration inside his La Colombe kitchen of some of the food that we were about to enjoy – such a privilege to see a master at work. It was a first for me to drink cognac with lunch, and made me rethink my preconceived ideas about this premium amber liquid and the versatility of how to enjoy it. Take a look at my pictures from this unique lunch experience:

Guests are keen to learn more from Chef Scot Kirton.

Guests are keen to learn more from Chef Scot Kirton.

Chef Scot Kirton frying a slab of fois gras to perfection.

Chef Scot Kirton frying a slab of foie gras to perfection.

My first taste of Hennessy Paradis.

My first taste of Hennessy Paradis.

Our fabulous lunch menu at La Colombe, paired with Hennessy Paradis.

Our fabulous lunch menu at La Colombe, paired with Hennessy Paradis.

Bread board at La Colombe.

Bread board at La Colombe.

Amuse bouche at La Colombe. Delightful little surprise!

Amuse bouche at La Colombe. Delightful little surprise!

Pan-fried foie gras, jasmine & Paradis broth, snow crab, citrus marmalade, hazelnut and endive.

Pan-fried foie gras, jasmine & Paradis broth, snow crab, citrus marmalade, hazelnut and endive.

Pouring over some jasmine Paradis broth...

Pouring over some jasmine Paradis broth…

Palate cleanser: melting citrus balls.

Palate cleanser: melting citrus balls.

Confit pork belly & shoulder, sous-vide loin, smoked apple puree, pomme anna, apple & Paradis jus

Confit pork belly & shoulder, sous-vide loin, smoked apple puree, pomme anna, apple & Paradis jus

Gorgonzola, creamed fynbos honey, walnut cake, Paradis pickles apricots, honeyed oats, spelt croute.

Gorgonzola, creamed fynbos honey, walnut cake, Paradis pickles apricots, honeyed oats, spelt croute.

Bitter chocolate & Paradis cremeux, foie gras gelato, toasted kumquat cake, naartjie, foie gras caramel.

Bitter chocolate & Paradis cremeux, foie gras gelato, toasted kumquat cake, naartjie, foie gras caramel.

The bottle of Hennessy Paradis that we had the privilege of enjoying with our lunch, finished. It currently retails for R18 000-R19 000 per 750 ml.

The empty bottle of Hennessy Paradis that we had the privilege of enjoying with our lunch. It currently retails for about R9 000 per 750 ml.

The exclusive Hennessy Paradis Food-Creation Experience will be available from 8 July to 31 July for lunch daily from 12pm and dinner daily from 8pm at R1350 per person. For more information or to make a reservation, please contact La Colombe on 021-795-0125 – please reference ‘Hennessy Paradis Food-Creation Experience’ when making reservation.

For more information on Hennessy and its 250th anniversary celebration, please visit www.hennessy.com/en-africa and join the conversation on Facebook (HennessySA) and Instagram (HennessySA).

Thank you to Hennessy, La Colombe and OFyt for this magnificent experience and the beautiful leather gift bag.

Spinach & ricotta gnudi with chicken and herb broth

29 Jun

Spinach & ricotta dumplings in a light and fragrant broth, topped with parmesan cheese. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Spinach & ricotta dumplings in a light and fragrant broth, topped with parmesan cheese. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Although most people associate soups with substance and texture, there is something strangely mesmerizing about an understated, translucent broth. This fragrant liquid can pack surprisingly bold flavours and is a fantastic vessel for carrying beautiful treasures like bright vegetables, botanical herbs, curly noodles or delicate dumplings.

My recipe for spinach & ricotta dumplings in a chicken & herb broth is actually 2 dishes in one. The dumplings are cousins of Italian gnocchi – a comforting dish that I usually serve with a bright red pommodoro sauce and grated parmesan cheese. The broth is a light version of traditional American chicken soup that is often associated with “getting better soon”, but also fabulous as a flavoursome home-made stock for making risotto.

This is one of the most comforting meals that I can possible imagine, especially in the cold weather that we’re experiencing in the Cape Winelands. Serve it as a light lunch/dinner with grated parmesan cheese and some buttered toast to soak up the broth.

TIP: Make the broth first, then keep it warm while you cook the gnudi. The broth also freezes well.

For the chicken broth: (serves 6)

  • 1,5 litres (6 cups) water
  • 400 g frozen chicken necks, thawed
  • 1 large knob of ginger, sliced
  • 2 cups sliced leeks
  • 3 celery sticks, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled & sliced
  • a handful of parsley stalks
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1-2 chicken stock cubes, crumbled
  • salt & pepper

Method:

Place all the ingredients for the broth in a medium stock pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and cover with a lid, then simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to infuse for another 30 minutes, uncovered, then strain through a sieve. (Keep the solids for processing with your next soup or use in your next stew.)

For the gnudi/dumplings:

  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 200g baby spinach leaves
  • 450-500g ricotta cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) finely grated Parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano Reggiano, or Grana Padano) plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour plus more
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley (optional)

Method: In a large pan, heat the olive oil and sauteé the spinach over medium heat for about 5 minutes until just wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, add the ricotta, egg and yolk, salt, pepper, parmesan and flour. Roughly chop the cooked spinach, then add it with the parsley to the rest of the ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon until it starts to form a coarse-looking ball. Lightly dust a rimmed baking tray with flour. Using 2 large dessert spoons, shape heaped tablespoonfuls of dough into football shapes, then place on the floured tray and dust with a little more flour (you should have about 30). Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Carefully add the gnudi, then cook for 4 minutes until cooked through and tender (gnudi will quickly float to the surface; continue cooking or they will be gummy in the center). Using a slotted spoon, remove gnudi from water and divide among bowls.

To assemble:

  • 1 batch chicken broth
  • a cup of finely chopped mixed vegetables (leeks, celery, mushrooms)
  • 1-2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely grated
  • a handful of parsley leaves
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • cooked gnudi (about 4 per person)
  • finely grated parmesan cheese

Method: Bring the broth to a slow simmer. Add the finely chopped vegetables, ginger, garlic, parsley & chickpeas, then remove from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls with the freshly cooked gnudi, then top with grated parmesan. Serve immediately.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog.

Text & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & styling : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

WIN a Lindt Excellence hamper

25 Jun

My #EveningOfExcellence hamper, courtesy of Lindt South Africa. What a treat!

My #EveningOfExcellence hamper, courtesy of Lindt South Africa. What a treat!

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to an #EveningOfExcellence from Lindt South Africa. The invitation included a luxury chauffeured ride from my home in Stellenbosch to the coveted Café Chic in Cape Town, two tickets to see the famous Swan Lake St Petersburg ballet production at Artscape Theatre, as well as an amazing hamper containing 4 international wines, Riedel glassware and oodles of fabulous Lindt Excellence chocolate to pair with the wines.

My husband and I accepted the invitation and proceeded to have an unforgettable evening filled with pure pleasure, indulgence, adventure, luxury and relaxation. But the good news is this: one lucky reader will WIN a fantastic Lindt Excellence hamper containing 4 exceptional local wines, lots of Lindt Excellence chocolate and 4 beautiful pairing cards to help you pair the wines with the chocolate. To enter this competition and stand the chance to win, mention the following line on Twitter: “I want to WIN a @LindtSA #EveningOfExcellence hamper via @the_foodfox!” The winner will be drawn randomly (and notified soon thereafter) on Friday 26 June 2015 at 17h00. Enter as many times as you want before the time of the draw.

Here are some of the pictures from our #EveningOfExcellence. We also hosted a dinner with friends afterwards to enjoy the hamper wines and chocolate with a home-cooked French-inspired menu.

Thank you to OFyt and Lindt South Africa for making this adventure and give-away possible.

On our way to Cape Town for an #EveningOfExcellence.

On our way to Cape Town for an #EveningOfExcellence.

Outside Café Chic, ready for dinner. #EveningOfExcellence

Outside Café Chic, ready for dinner. #EveningOfExcellence

Checking out the fabulous menu at Café Chic. #EveningofExcellence

Checking out the fabulous menu at Café Chic. #EveningofExcellence

The St Petersburg Swan Lake performance at Artscape Theatre. #EveningOfExcellence

The St Petersburg Swan Lake performance at Artscape Theatre. #EveningOfExcellence

Our stylish ride! #EveningOfExcellence

Our stylish ride! #EveningOfExcellence

 

Review: Lunch at Ryan’s Kitchen, Franschhoek

30 Apr

Ryan's Kitchen interior

Panoramic view of the interior at Ryan’s Kitchen, Franschhoek

I was recently invited to experience the “new” Ryan’s Kitchen  – a recent move to a new location on Main Road gave this restaurant room to grow on the competitive and established Franschhoek culinary scene.

Given their reputation for excelling in modern South African cuisine, I was quite intrigued as to how they would present this to the market keeping in mind that they will be serving a discerning crowd of locals as well as international guests. So on Friday the 30th of January I took my husband and daughter along for a lunch trip to Franschhoek.

Chef Ryan Smith and his wife Lana make a strong team in this relatively new space. Ryan, who has worked in numerous Michelen-starred restaurants and schools across the world, heads up the kitchen while Lana commands the front of house. Their modern and fresh interior lended a clean slate for what was to come, as we took our seats inside the restaurant (we later moved to the terrace outside, as the gentle breeze started to cool down a scorching hot day).

The menu is divided into four sections: 1) salads & vegetables, 2) fish and shellfish, 3) meat and poultry and 4) dessert. Guests are encouraged to see the lists as grouped smaller dishes (like tapas) and not as “starters”, “mains” etc. Lana explained that we should order a few dishes and share, as they “love seeing the often lost art of social dining” – something that really resonated with me.

We proceeded to try quite a few dishes, and here are some of the pictures:

Bread box

Artisanal bread box with rotis and flavoured butters

Seared tuna

Seared tuna slices, pepper-pineapple and cucumber atchar.

Cape salmon

Tandoori cured Cape salmon, tomato and chilli “snow eggs”.

Brinjal dumplings

Smoked brinjal dumplings, basil and pine-nut dressing. This was one of my favourite dishes of the day.

Tapioca

Mushroom tapioca “pudding”, sautéed exotic mushrooms.

Seafood parcel

Cape Malay pickled seafood, cooked in a bag (before opening).

Seafood parcel open

Cape Malay pickled seafood, after opening the parcel. The simplicity of the presentation deceives the flavours that come out of this parcel.

Outside

Sitting outside in the sunny courtyard at Ryan’s Kitchen.

Duck parfait

Duck parfait per-peri, lemon jelly & green bean chutney.

Soufflé

Granadilla soufflé, mango ice-cream. This exquisite dish was the winner of the day.

Chef Ryan Smith

Owner/chef Ryan Smith at Ryan’s Kitchen, Franschhoek.

Some of my highlights were the beautifully presented bread box and the smoked brinjal dumplings. But the dish of the day was the absolutely breathtaking granadilla soufflé – the best soufflé I’ve ever had – perfect in every way. The soufflé cost R85, but is a massive portion and great to share.

I will recommend Ryan’s Kitchen to anyone who would love to experience a fresh and modern take on classic South African cuisine – you’ll find no clichés here. Every single dish was meticulously prepared and masterfully presented. The service was personal, attentive and very professional. This is one of my favourite new restaurants of 2015 and I cannot wait to see what the menu will bring later in the year.

Ryan’s Kitchen is open for lunch (12h30-14h30) and dinner (18h30-21h30), Monday to Saturday.

Prices vary from R40-R115 per dish.

Bookings are advised: info@ryanskitchen.co.za / 021-876 4598.

Thank you to Ryan’s Kitchen and Manley Communications for the opportunity to discover this gem of a restaurant.

Chocolate pineapple pudding with almond & orange

21 Apr

Baked chocolate pineapple pudding with almonds and orange rind, served with dark chocolate sauce & creme fraiche.

Baked chocolate pineapple pudding with almonds and orange rind, served with dark chocolate sauce & creme fraiche.

Last night, the MasterChef SA Celebrity contestants had to cook something using a secret ingredient: pineapple. The team behind the Woolworths #CelebrityChef campaign asked me to also put together a recipe using pineapple.

After considering many different dishes from a pineapple tarte tatin to a pineapple salsa taco to pineapple BBQ sauce ribs, I came up with this rich and decadent pudding using grilled fresh pineapple, chocolate, ground almonds and orange rind. The pudding must be slightly underbaked to ensure a gooey centre. It has a tropical undertone that goes so very well with the richness of dark chocolate. Serve warm with dark chocolate sauce and creme fraiche.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe pineapple
  • 100g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 60 g butter
  • 3/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 XL eggs
  • 2 XL egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 5 ml vanilla extract

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cream

To serve:

  • a dusting of cocoa powder (optional)
  • 250 g creme fraiche (or vanilla ice cream)

Method:

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin off the pineapple and cut into chunks or rounds (I also removed the tough inner core). Grill the chunks in a very hot griddle pan until you get beautifully charred marks on the outside. Put half of the grilled pineapple in a food processor and process to a smooth pulp. Set aside the pulp and the remaining grilled pineapple.
  2. In a small glass bowl, add the chocolate and butter. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir well until smooth and melted. Put aside.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 200 C and grease a deep 23cm heat proof baking dish or skillet.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, almonds, sugar and salt. Mix well with a hand whisk. Now add the eggs, yolks, milk, zest, vanilla, pineapple pulp and melted chocolate mixture. Mix with the whisk until smooth, then pour into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until just undercooked in the centre. Remove from the oven, dust with cocoa powder (optional) and serve warm with grilled pieces of pineapple, chocolate sauce & creme fraiche.
  6. For the chocolate sauce: While the pudding is baking, heat the cream in a tall cup in the microwave until it just starts to boil (about 30 seconds – 1 minute). Add the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth and melted.

Tips:

  • You can also use cheaper commercial dark chocolate for this recipe, but be sure to add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to the batter to ensure a dark pudding.
  • If you’d like to serve this at room temperature as a chocolate tart, bake the pudding for 20 minutes in total, then cool completely. Cool the chocolate sauce as well, then spread the sauce over the pudding as a stylish ganache topping. Slice and serve.
  • I find it easy and fuss-free to melt chocolate in the microwave, but you can also do it in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water (the traditional French way).

Roasted plum tart

2 Apr

Roasted plums on a creamy zesty filling inside a baked pastry shell (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Roasted plums on a creamy zesty filling inside a baked pastry shell (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

There is nothing more beautiful than a perfectly ripe plum, its silky matt skin dark and red and tender. Inside, the flesh reveals a golden, juicy, tart, fibrous treasure. I could stare at plums for hours – such astonishingly pretty fruit.

This simple tart is easy to make and – with its rustic charm – a dream to look at. The roasted fruit needs some time to cool, so don’t be rushed.

Note: This tart also looks beautiful when assembled in smaller jars. Just substitute the baked pastry for buttery cookie crumbs (200g digestive or tennis biscuits mixed with 80 g melted butter). Just spoon the crumbs into individual 250 ml capacity jars without compressing it. Top with the creamy filling & roasted plums, then refrigerate. Mobile desserts fit for a royal picnic.

For the pastry:

  • 1 ½ cups (250g) cake flour
  • 125g cold butter, chopped in cubes
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon iced water

For the roasted plums:

  • 1 kg ripe, firm plums (halved, pits removed)
  • ¼ cup soft brown sugar
  • juice of 1 orange

For the filling:

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 250 g plain cream cheese

To make the pastry: Place the flour, butter & sugar in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the yolk and pulse again. Now add the iced water and process until it starts to come together in a ball. As soon as it does, remove from the processor, then knead briefly to form a smooth ball. Shape into a disc, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface (about 0,5 cm thick). Transfer to a greased tart tin (about 20-23 cm diameter), then press gently into the corners and trim the top. Line with baking paper, then fill with dry beans or rice. Pre-heat oven to 200 C, then bake for 15 minutes. Remove paper and beans, then bake for another 5-10 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and leave to cool.

To make the roasted plums: Place halved plums on a baking tray (alternate cut-side up and down), then sprinkle with sugar & drizzle with orange juice. Bake at 200 C for 15-20 minutes, then remove and leave to cool. Note: you want the plums to be tender, but not too soft – they must still be in tact.

To make the filling: Using electric beaters, beat the condensed milk with the lemon juice until smooth. Add the cream cheese, then beat until well mixed. Pour into the prepared cooled pastry case, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. When ready to serve, top with cooled roasted plums, then slice and serve.

Note: This assembled tart can be refrigerated and enjoyed within 2 days. The pastry will however be best served on the first day.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog.

Text & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

Turkish apricots with goats cheese, basil, almonds & honey

30 Mar

Soft dried apricots topped with basil goats cheese & almonds, drizzled with honey (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Soft dried apricots topped with basil goats cheese & almonds, drizzled with honey (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

In July last year with the launch of the demo KITCHEN, my wingwoman Elsebé Cronjé suggested that we make these beauties. She got the recipe via her chef friend Ruan, who saw it on the internet somewhere. When I started searching for the origin, it seemed like there were many similar recipes around with no specific credit as to who originally came up with the idea.

Needless to say, these soft apricots with goats cheese, basil, almonds & honey were such a hit that they are now one of our favourite canapés for guests. So very simple to make, but with an intriguing combination of sweet & savoury flavour tones and beautiful textures of soft, crunchy and creamy.

Be sure to buy soft Turkish dried apricots (they are imported by the team of Cecilia’s Farm and also available from Woolworths) and not the hard ones. This is a total must for festive entertaining, anytime of the year.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g plain goats cheese (log of chevin)
  • 250 g plain cream cheese
  • a large handful of fresh basil leaves (about 20g)
  • 250 g soft dried Turkish apricots
  • 100 g raw almonds, lightly toasted in a dry pan
  • 1/4 honey

Method:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the goats cheese and cream cheese with a wooden spoon or electric beaters until well combined.
  2. Wash and dry the basil leaves, then chop finely and add to the cheese. Mix through.
  3. With a small spatula or knife, smear each dried apricot with a good dollop of the cheese.
  4. Roughly chop the almonds and scatter over the apricot canapes.
  5. Liberally drizzle with honey and serve.

Credits:

Text: Ilse van der Merwe

Food preparation & assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

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