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Soup Season with Poetry Stores

12 Jun

Winter doesn’t need to be dreary with this colourful soup spread, featuring recipes from “Clean Soups” available from Poetry Stores. All homeware and linen also available from Poetry Stores. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Finally, Winter is here! It is the season of soups, cozy blankets and marathon movie nights.

If you’re in need of soup recipe inspiration, look no further than Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson’s book “Clean Soups” available from Poetry Stores. It is a brilliant book stuffed to the brim with delightful soups varying from clear broths to thick purees. They also provide fresh ideas on how to serve their soups, including toppings like kale crumble, herb drizzle, nut cream and a few different salsas.

The nourishing smell of properly made soup permeates right through to your soul. Start with this incredible “magic mineral broth” – a vegetable stock/broth that forms the basis of many of their other soups, yet also to be enjoyed as is. I used this broth to also make their recipe for Moroccan carrot soup as well as minted pea soup. The chermoula works perfectly as a topping for the carrot soup and as a bread dip.

Chase the winter chills away with a fabulous floral watercolour table cloth and tableware from Poetry Stores – all homeware items pictured available in store and online.

Magic mineral broth. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Magic mineral broth: (makes about 6 liters)

(Recipe from Clean Soups by Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelson)

  • 6 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
  • 2 unpeeled brown onions
  • 1 leek, white and green parts, cut into thirds
  • 1 bunch celery, including the heart, cut into thirds
  • 4 unpeeled red-skinned potatoes, quartered
  • 2 unpeeled white-fleshed sweet potatoes, quartered
  • 1 unpeeled orange sweet potato, quartered
  • 5 unpeeled cloves garlic, halved
  • 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 (20 cm) strip kombu*
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 4 whole allspice or juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 liters cold, filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed

Rinse all the vegetables well, including the kombu. In a 12 liter or larger stockpot, combine the carrots, onions, leek , celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, parsley, kombu, peppercorns, allspice berries and bay leaves. Add the water, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for at least 2 hours, or until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted. As the broth simmers, some of the water will evaporate; add more if the vegetables begin to peek out.

Strain the broth through a large coarse-mesh sieve (use a heat-resistant container underneath) and discard the solids. Stir in the salt, adding more if desired. Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

*Kombu is edible dried kelp/seaweed.

Roaste Moroccan carrot soup with chermoula. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Moroccan carrot soup: (makes 6 servings)

(Recipe from Clean Soups by Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelson)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • sea salt
  • 1,5 kg carrots, cut into 2,5cm pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1,5 litres magic mineral broth (see above)
  • 2,5 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (or half lemon half tangerine/orange juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dark maple syrup plus more if needed
  • chermoula, for garnish (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat, then add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the carrots, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, chilli flakes, saffron and 1/4 teaspoon salt and saute until well conbined. Pour in 125 ml of the broth and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the remaining broth and another 1.4 teaspoon salt and cook until the carrots and tender, about 20 minutes.

Put the lemon zest in a blender and puree the soup in batches until smooth, each time adding the cooking liquid first and then the carrot mixture. If need be, add additional broth to reach the desired thickness. Return the soup to the pot over low heat, stir in the lemon juice, maple syrup and a pinch of salt, and gently reheat. Taste; you may want to add another squeeze of lemon, a pinch or two of salt, or a drizzle of maple syrup. Serve with chermoula or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Sweet pea and mint soup: (makes 6 servings)

(Recipe from Clean Soups by Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelson)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large leek, white part only, rinsed and chopped
  • sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 300 g frozen sweet peas, defrosted, or 465 g freshly shelled peas
  • 1 small head butter lettuce, torn into pieces
  • 1 cup pea sprouts (if available)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint, plus more for garnish
  • 1,5 litres magic mineral broth (see above)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more if needed
  • 6 tablespoons full-fat plain yoghurt, for garnish (optional)
  • pea shoots, for garnish (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat, then add the leek, pinch of salt and pepper and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas and the lettuce and another pinch of salt. Pour in 125 ml of the stock to deglaze the pot, stirring to loosen any bits stuck to the bottom and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove from the heat.

Pour one-third of the remaining stock into a blender, add one-third of the vegetable mixture, one-third of the pea sprouts and the mint. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a soup pot over low heat. Divide the remaining stock in half and repeat the process two more times. Stir in the lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Taste, you may want to add an additional squeeze of lemon and a couple of pinches of salt. Serve garnished with the yoghurt, pea shoots and a bit of mint, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Credits:

Food preparation, styling and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography and styling: Tasha Seccombe.

Tasting unfiltered olive oil (and lunch) at Tokara

8 Jun

Tokara’s filtered premium extra virgin olive oil, an award-winning product that most of us know and love.

Visiting Tokara is a must on the Stellenbosch to-do list, whether you’re an out-of-towner or a local-for-life. This landmark winery, restaurant, deli and olive oil producer is one of my favourite destinations in my home town – one that we visit regularly and one that keep evolving to bring some us award winning wines, food and oils every year.

This week I had the privilege of visiting Tokara for a special tasting of their unfiltered oils, straight off the press. Unfiltered oils are preferred in top olive oil producing European countries like Italy, but in the South African market people still prefer a clear, filtered product. To tell the truth, I would seek out and buy unfiltered extra virgin olive oil if it was available on shelves. So I might try to twist the arm of Tokara’s olive farmer to sell me some of their milky, peppery gold.

We tasted three varietals, including a soft and mild mission, a new hybrid called FS17 with a walnutty undertone and a very peppery coratina that will take your breath away (literally). Afterwards we had a delicious lunch, prepared by Tokara chef Richard Carstens and Tokara Deli head chef Edwina van Niekerk, accompanied by Tokara’s award winning wines.

Here is my visit in pictures. Do take the time to visit Tokara and Tokara Deli for a wine tasting, some olive oil shopping, or anything from breakfast to dinner.

Autumn becomes Winter at the entrance to Tokara Deli. This is olive harvest season.

Tokara GM Karl Lambour welcoming guests to their unfiltered olive oil tasting.

Gert van Dyk, olive farmer and oil producer at Tokara’s Olive Shed.

We get to take a tour inside the olive production plant at Tokara.

Ulfiltered liquid gold.

The table in the private dining room at Tokara Deli, next to the olive oil production plant.

These little blue glasses are international olive oil tasting glasses – round so that you can warm them in your hands, blue so that colour won’t affect your tasting perception.

Our lunch menu.

Tokara sauvignon blanc to start with.

Freshly baked bread and parmigiano to go with our unfiltered olive oil.

Roasted beetroot & gorgonzola salad with orange, pear, winter greens, nuts, thyme & orange dressing.

Tokara grenache 2012 to go with our main courses.

My choice of main course: mushroom risotto with spinach, leeks, parmesan and mascarpone.

Orange & polenta cake with orange ice cream and candied oranges.

Renowned Tokara chef Richard Carstens telling us more about his team’s choices for our lunch menu.

Tokara Deli head chef Edwina van Niekerk.

Freshly baked bread sticks, unfiltered Tokara olive oil, salt and recipes to take home!

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Introducing HAUS by Hertex

7 Jun

Serving spoons, dessert spoons and teaspoons by HAUS – in matt black, matt chocolate, old gold and matt anthracite. Forks, knives and other serving cutlery also available.

 

There’s a fabulous new range of homeware on the scene. It is called HAUS by Hertex – the popular upholstery textile supplier that also offer a range of rugs, wall coverings, drapery and cushions.

The new HAUS range contains a selection of flatware (contemporary stainless steel cutlery in gold, anthracite, chocolate and matt black), French Riviera napery (timeless French-inspired table cloths and napkins), Marma boards (marble serving plates and boards), protea-print tablecloths and sea-to-sand salad bowls and serving platters made from mangowood and boldly printed enamel. I’m told that next in line is a range of gorgeous stoneware dinner plates and bowls, so watch this space.

All the products are available directly from Hertex’s showrooms countrywide (yes, you can now buy directly from the showrooms) at competitive prices. You’ll see many of the items featured in my upcoming food styling as I am very privileged to collaborate with Hertex in plating and styling with these items for at least the next year, and of course in using their beautiful range when I cook and entertain in my home!

This range is so very versatile – contemporary yet timeless. Like the rest of Hertex’s product ranges, the HAUS range is of the highest international quality and it is exciting to see how European trends will reach our shores quicker with such an expert buying and merchandising team. Well done Hertex! I cannot wait to see what’s next.

Find your nearest Hertex showroom and pay them a visit to view the HAUS range.

French Riviera napery, Sea to Sand bowls and flatware in black and gold.

Protea table cloth and French Riviera napkins.

Sea to Sand serving bowls and salad servers with French Riviera napkins. I love the Mediterranean look of the enamel print on these bowls.

The HAUS collection has a timeless yet contemporary feel.

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Indian Made Easy with Poetry Stores

6 Jun

An easy Indian spread from Amandip Uppal’s new book Indian Made Easy, available from Poetry Stores (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

 

This new book from Amandip Uppal, Indian Made Easy (available from Poetry Stores), is simply stunning. I love the lay-out, the fonts, the simplicity of the colours and the photographs too. Amandip also chose to do something interesting with her recipe lists, listing fresh ingredients together, spices together, and pantry ingredients together. It makes a lot of sense when you shop for the ingredients, or when you get everything together before cooking, but I found that some inexperienced cooks might become confused mid-cooking when an ingredient is mentioned but it does not appear in the order of the cooking process.

For my readers’s ease, I’ve rearranged the ingredients below in the order of how it will be used. Amandip’s recipes are really flavorful and beautiful to look at – an easy intro to the fabulous world of Indian cooking. Plate up on Poetry‘s beautiful new dark blue “lace” tableware.

Charred Broccoli with Chilli and Fennel (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Charred Broccoli with Chilli and Fennel (serves 4)

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 large red chilli, seeded (optional) and thinly sliced
  • 600 g broccoli spears, cut down the middle lengthways
  • salt, to taste
  • 2,5 cm piece ginger, peeled and cut into julienne
  • toasted coconut, pomegranate seed and coriander (page 238, for garnish)
  • handful of coriander (for garnish)

Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan over low-medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and fennel seeds and fry until the crackle and pop.
Add the garlic, chili and broccoli and fry until the broccoli is slightly charred in colour. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes, until cook the through.
Uncover, season with salt to taste and add the ginger. Toss through and gently cook for 20 seconds.
Garnish with a scattering of tasted coconut, pomegranate seeds and coriander and more coriander leaves and stalks.

My notes: This recipes is also excellent served at room temperature.

Plain naan bread with spinach & mint yoghurt (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Spinach & Mint Yoghurt

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 5-6 mint leaves
  • a large pinch of dried mint
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
  • a large pinch of salt
  • 225 g cooked spinach, chopped
  • 225 g natural or Greek-style yoghurt
  • 2 cm piece ginger, peeled & grated (for garnish, optional)
  • fine slivers of red chili (for garnish, optional)

Put the mint leaves, dried mint, garlic, cumin seeds and salt in a mortar. Grind with the pestle to make a smooth paste. Place the spinach into the bowl, together with the mint paste and stir in the yoghurt. Garnish with the ginger and chilli, if liked.

Plain Naan (makes 7-8)

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 7 g sachet dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon golden caster sugar
  • 200 ml warm water
  • 400 g strong bread flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 2 tablespoons melted ghee or oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or melted butter, for brushing after baking

Mix the yeast, sugar and water. Stir well with a fork and leave for a few minutes. Place the flour, 2 tablespoons gee or oil and salt into a wide bowl and make a well in the centre.
Using one hand, pour in a little of the yeast mixture and with the other hand use a fork to gradually bring the flour in and mix together. Keep pouring a little water while mixing. Flour your hands and begin to knead and form a ball. Add enough water to make a soft, but not sticky dough and keep kneading for about 5 minutes, or until smooth pliable and soft. The consistency should bot be very soft or hard. Cover and rest for 20-25 minutes.
Using slightly oiled hands, divide the dough into about 8-10 equal sized balls. Place on a lightly oiled tray, leaving gaps in between each ball and over with a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place for about 20 minutes until the balls have doubled in size.
Preheat the grill to medium-high with a heavy based baking tray on the top shelf. Roll out the dough balls thinly and evenly. One by one, place the rolled out naan onto the baking tray, brush lightly with water and grill for about 1-2 minutes on both sides, or until lightly browned and puffed up. Lightly brush with ghee and serve hot.

My notes: The recipe didn’t state how/where to roll out the dough, so I did it on a floured working surface (some naan recipes call for an oiled surface). Be sure to also dust the baking tray lightly with flour to prevent the naan from sticking to it.

Classic lamb curry (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Classic Lamb Curry (serves 4)

Recipe from Indian Made Easy by Amandip Uppal.

  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 small green chillies
  • 4 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 x 250 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, plus a large pinch for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1 kg leg of lamb, chopped into 2,5 cm cubes
  • 2 tablespoons Greek-style yoghurt, whisked with 200 ml water
  • 3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

In a blender or using a mortar and pestle, grind the onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic, oil and tinned tomatoes into a smooth paste.
Mix the paste with the garam masala, cumin, ground coriander, chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Place the lamb in a large bowl and cover in the paste, making sure all the pieces of lamb are well coated.
Put the lamb in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, cover and cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring frequently until the meat is tender and the oil has separated.
Add the yoghurt, then cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring constantly over a low-medium heat.
Remove from the heat, then sprinkle with the chopped coriander and a large pinch of ground cumin and serve.

My notes: I’ve found that the meat needed longer time to cook than mentioned 35-40 minutes. I cooked mine over a low heat, covered, stirring every now and then to prevent the bottom of the pot from turning too dark, for about 2,5 hours until it was really tender.

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Rainbow poke bowl

29 May

So fresh, colourful and easy: my rainbow poke bowl. (Photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Poke bowls haave been getting a lot of attention in South Africa these days – two years after gaining popularity in the States and elsewhere during 2015. If you have not seen it yet, it’s an age-old traditional Hawaiian seafood dish made up of hot rice (sometimes mixed with sliced seaweed) in a round bowl topped with cubed or sliced raw fish (sometimes marinated), vegetables like avocado or spring onion and a dressing of soy sauce. Poke (pronounced POH-keh) means “cut up” and the end-result is only as good as the freshness and quality of the ingredients.

This simple concept wins my vote hands down. You might know that I’m not a salad person, but I absolutely adore the fresh flavours that usually come with Japanese and Vietnamese recipes. Although this dish is traditionally Hawaiian, the ingredients are astonishingly similar to Japanese sushi and Vietnamese rice paper spring rolls. Popular toppings are tuna, salmon and octopus, but vegetarian options also include tofu and kimchi. New world twists include substitutions like quinoa or freekeh for the base, and tomato, beans, sriracha and mayo on top.

This was my first attempt at a poke bowl. I call it “rainbow”, because the colours are just too beautiful: coralicious salmon, pale green avo, pink pickled ginger, purple cabbage, bright orange carrot, green and purple spring onion, grassy green coriander, ivory sprouts and a fabulous tropical summer ingredient: yellow mango. My base is basmati, although sushi rice will work even better. I mixed finely sliced blackish nori sheets and some rice vinegar into my cooked rice for some added zing and lots of umami.

This dish is stunning in every sense: visually beautiful, delightfully textural and a taste explosion. It is a fantastic choice as a pack-in lunch or outdoor picnic. I look forward to exploring many more combinations this year.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1,5 cups rice (sushi, jasmine or basmati)
  • 15 ml rice vinegar
  • 1-2 cups finely sliced dried seaweed/nori sheets
  • about 320-400 g fresh salmon, skinless and boneless, sliced/cubed
  • 1 large avo, sliced/cubed
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup mango, peeled & diced
  • 1 bunch spring onion, finely sliced
  • 4 tablespoons pickled ginger, sliced
  • a handful sprouts
  • a handful fresh coriander, chopped (optional)
  • a sprinkle of sesame seeds
  • soy sauce, for dressing

Method:

  1. Cook your rice according to the manufacturer’s ingredients using salted water. When cooked and drained, add the vinegar and sliced nori and stir well.
  2. Fill your bowls half-full with the hot rice mixture. Top with salmon, avo, cabbage, carrot, mango, spring onion, sprouts and coriander in neat sections. Sprinkle the salmon with sesame seeds, then add soy sauce to taste. Serve immediately.

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Review: Lunch at Longridge Wine Estate

22 May

Longridge against the Helderberg mountains (picture from www.longridge.co.za)

There are many wine farms in and around Stellenbosch – more than 300 to be exact. Many of them make and serve world class wines. Many of them have great restaurants – some better than others. And then a good few have access to the brilliant views of the surrounding mountains, vineyards and even iconic Table Mountain in the background. Longridge Wine Estate is one of the destinations that have all of the above.

Situated in the Stellenbosch region on the slopes of the Helderberg mountain range, the farm was first registered in 1841 and underwent a few name changes before finally being called Longridge in 1992, when commercial wine production first started. Today, biodynamic viticultural methods are utilised to the fullest in their vineyards, where they strive to produce excellent quality wines while minimalising the impact they have on the environment. Their vines, herbs and vegetables are free from artificial pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers. The farm is also home to cattle that are free to wander the farm and provide manure that can later be used as compost.

I was invited to experience a food and wine extravaganza last week at Longridge, curated by their culinary consultant Marilou Marais in association with winemaker Jasper Raats and head chef Maritz Jacobs. I was in awe of the brilliance of this lunch – a contemporary yet unpretentious display of simple, seasonal ingredients in the most delicious way, pairing to a tee with Longridge’s world class wines (I will visit soon for a full tasting). The hospitality and generosity of the Longridge team seeps into the atmosphere, and I felt so genuinely at home.

Here is my experience in pictures:

A view from the restaurant towards the stoep, wine tasting area and vegetable gardens.

The vegetable garden area.

Longridge Vintage Reserve Brut 2009 on arrival, served with delicious canapés of fresh oysters, chicken skin “crackers” and truffled mushroom arancini.

Chef Maritz Jacobs, Marilou Marais (culinary consultant) and Jasper Raats (winemaker) of Longridge.

The restaurant interior at Longridge.

Our lunch menu.

Bread board.

First course: broccoli and romanesco, parmesan custard & baby spinach salad. Served with Driefontein Sauvignon Blanc 2015.

Second course: fragrant winter squash soup, poached trout & vadouvan spice. Served with Longridge Organic Chardonnay 2015.

Second course: baby potatoes, kaiins, coffee and mushrooms. Served with Die Plek Cinsaut 2015.

Fourth course: Farmer Angus thick flank, bone marrow drusted fillet, horseradish cream & Jerusalem artichoke. Served with Longridge Ekliptika 2013.

Dessert: caramelised Granny Smith apple dauphinoise with homemade Madagascan vanilla ice cream. Served with Longridge Edelgoud 2011.

Chef Maritz Jacobs and his star pastry chef, having a laugh with guests.

Thank you to Longridge Wine Estate for hosting me at this memorable lunch. Thank you also to Carina Diedericks-Hugo of Mabalel Communications for the invitation and for your part in creating this top event.

THE WINE SHOP:

Tastings Monday to Saturday, 10am to 16:30
Wine sales Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm
Closed Sunday, 1 January, Good Friday and Christmas Day.

THE RESTAURANT:

The menu changes regularly, and can be viewed here.

R225 for two courses, R295 for three courses.

Tuesdays Open for dinner only.
Wednesday to Saturday Lunch  and dinner.
Sundays Open for lunch only.
Closed Mondays, Good Friday, Christmas Day.

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Gin soaked cupcakes with green olives, lemon & poppy seeds

18 May

This is practically an edible cocktail: gin soaked cupcake with green olives, lemon and poppy seeds. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Enjoying a cocktail in an edible format is strangely satisfying, especially if it is a contrasting treat like a cupcake. Boozy cupcakes? Yes please!

These almost-martini cupcakes are super moist and absolutely delicious – the green olives leaning a surprisingly pleasant savoury element – soaked with a gin & lemon syrup right after baking. An ultra smooth not-too-sweet cream cheese icing (with a splash of gin, of course) rounds these grown-up treats off. They’re easy to make, they’re not too frilly or fussy, and they taste fantastic with just the right amount of “kick”.

Add these to your repertoire for the next party – any gin & tonic or martini lover will certainly come looking for more!

This recipe was created in association with New Harbour Distillery‘s Spekboom Gin & Buffet OlivesQueen Green Olives.

Perfect for a grown-up party! Made with New Harbour Distillery Spekboom Gin and Buffet Olives Queen Green. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

For the batter:

12 queen green olives, pips removed (I used Buffet Olives Queen Green)
finely grated rind of a lemon
15 ml poppy seeds (plus extra for sprinkling over the icing)
125 g cake flour
125 g sugar
125 g soft butter
5 ml baking powder
2,5 ml baking soda
2 XL eggs
30 ml milk

Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with baking paper or cupcake liners. Place all of the ingredients except for the milk in a food processor and process for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides, then process again, adding the milk as it mixes. Process until very smooth, then divide the mixture between the 12 cupcake moulds. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the syrup:

125 ml (1/2 cup) gin (I used New Harbour Spekboom Gin)
125 ml (1/2 cup) lemon juice
250 ml (1 cup) sugar

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan, then bring to a simmer. Stir until the sugar has just melted, then remove from the heat. When the cupcakes are ready, poke a few holes in each one with a sosatie stick. Spoon a tablespoon of syrup (15 ml) over each cupcake, then repeat with a second round, giving the syrup some time to get absorbed. Let the cupcakes cool completely before icing.

For the icing:

250 g plain cream cheese, at room temperature
125 ml (1/2 cup) icing sugar, sifted
15 ml gin (I used New Harbour Spekboom Gin)

Use electrical beaters (or a wooden spoon and some elbow grease) to beat the cream cheese, icing sugar, and gin together in a mixing bowl until smooth and fluffy. Top each cooled cupcake with a generous dollop – I use the back of a teaspoon, but you can also use a piping bag.

To serve: Sprinkle with some poppy seeds, then garnish with cocktail sticks skewered with slices of lemon & green olives.

(review) New small plates menu at Makaron Restaurant

17 May

Small plates at Makaron Restaurant, Majeka House, Stellenbosch. (Photograph supplied by Manley Communications)

MAKARON RESTAURANT is confirming its reputation as one of the most exciting dining destinations in the Winelands with an exciting new ‘small plates’ menu from Head Chef Lucas Carstens.

Situated in the stylish Majeka House & Spa in Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch, this luxury small hotel has recently earned yet another award, being named the Best Design Hotel in Africa & the Middle East at the international Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence 2017.

This winter, Chef Carstens is heating things up with an innovative menu of tapas-style dining where the idea of flexibility and social eating gets preference.

The small plates offering begins with an amuse bouche of leaves from the Majeka vegetable gardens, tossed in rooibos vinegar and served alongside korrelkonfyt, sourdough and butter. From there you can choose from 18 small plate dishes on the menu, varying from vegetarian to meaty to sweet and everything inbetween. Fermenting and curing play key roles in bringing out umami flavour, with the team making kombucha, malt vinegars, cured duck breast, pickled figs and ginger beer.

I had the privilege of experiencing a taste of the small plates menu earlier this week. Makaron remains one of my favourite restaurants in Stellenbosch. Their new small plates offering is highly recommended and their wine pairings were, as always, exquisite. Here is my experience in pictures:

Our media table at Makaron Restaurant, where I had the privilege of tasting many of the small plates on the new menu.

Chef Lucas Carstens tells us more about his new small plates menu.

Majeka garden leaves & rooibos (compliments of the kitchen).

Bread board with spiced butter dip (compliments of the kitchen).

“Mielie pap” croquette & Sheba (compliments of the kitchen).

Heirloom tomato, white balsamic, house ricotta, gazpacho granita.

House made duck breast ham, baby figs, cos lettuce.

Cured trout, beetroot-apple kraut, milk kefir dressing.

Charred cauliflower, cabbage, sweet corn, parmesan.

Beef tartare poke bowl, avocado, sesame bar – one of my favourite dishes of the day.

Kingklip, black garlic, eggplant, ash baked carrot, black rice.

Baby marrow risotto, cured egg shavings, raw mushroom, truffle.

Springbok rump, beetroot, cabbage.

Dark chocolate, almond milk ice cream, home brewed ginger beer.

Passion fruit, buchu meringue, coconut, spekboom.

“Melktert” ice cream sandwich.

Makaron Restaurant is open daily for dinner (closed on Wednesdays during winter between May and September), from 18h30 – 20h30. Diners can choose four/five/six courses from the ’small plates’ menu for R450/R565/R675 respectively. An optional wine pairing is also available, at a cost of R770/R940/R1100 for both food and wine.

Take advantage of the special winter promotion available at Majeka House & Spa where you will pay only R1420 per person sharing a night inclusive of breakfast and dinner at Makaron, available from Sunday to Thursday, May to end of August 2017. 

Majeka House & Spa and Makaron Restaurant are situated at 26-32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch. For bookings call 021 880 1549 or email reservations@majekahouse.co.za. For more information visit www.majekahouse.co.za

Thank you to Makaron Restaurant and Manley Communications for hosting me.

WIN this hamper with the Fairtrade Challenge

17 May

You can win this incredible hamper from Fairtrade SA.

In celebration of the #WorldFairtradeChallenge that took place this weekend I am giving away this fabulous Fairtrade goodie hamper to one lucky winner!

To enter this give-away, name one official South African Fairtrade product, along with the hashtag #fairtradeSA.

Leave your answer in the comments section below. (Winner via random draw to be announced on Tuesday 23 May 2017.)

One of the Fairtrade wines that we enjoyed over the weekend – a Merlot from Place in the Sun.

Over the past weekend, participants from all around the world celebrated Fairtrade labelled brands as we honour the commitment they have made to a fairer trading economy and the development of many hard-working farmers and workers in South Africa and the rest of the globe.

Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade. It is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. Fairtrade offers farmers and workers improved terms of trade, which allows them to improve their lives on their terms. For consumers, Fairtrade is a powerful way to reduce poverty through every day shopping.

The Fairtrade system is one of the largest and most diverse global movements with thousands of relationships in more than 90 countries. Fairtrade takes a holistic approach to sustainability focusing on improving economic, social and environmental conditions for the long-term.

Have a look at the website www.fairtradechallenge.org/za and show your support by buying #faitradeSA!

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(review) Lunch and dinner at Stellenbosch Kitchen

16 May

The entrance to Stellenbosch Kitchen on Andringa Street, early evening.

This year, I’ll be celebrating my 40th year in Stellenbosch. A year ago we made a move from the outskirts of town to the beautiful bustling historical centre. While we gave up a chunk of living space (in size) in the process, we gained the incredible European-like lifestyle of locking up our apartment and walking a short distance to the best coffee shops and restaurants the Winelands has to offer.

Dorp Street and Church Street is where it’s at: the centre of my beautiful town when it comes to tourism, social hotspots, food and wine. Right in the middle of it all is Stellenbosch Hotel and its recently renovated restaurant Stellenbosch Kitchen – pretty much back to back with its sister-hotel Coopmanhuijs Hotel & Spa featuring Helena’s Restaurant. I recently had the opportunity to visit Stellenbosch Kitchen for dinner and lunch respectively, and would love to share my experiences with you.

The landmark veranda of Stellenbosch Kitchen on Andringa Street, early evening, just before the arrival of dinner guests.

Stellenbosch Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in town, built on Simon van der Stel’s property (a grant) between 1692 and 1701. It has since been restored in 1987 and declared a national monument. After the refurbishment in 2016, the name Jan Cats Restaurant was replaced by Stellenbosch Kitchen, featuring an eclectic yet contemporary spin on the existing historical eatery.

The space that is now called Stellenbosch Kitchen has forever been a local hotspot to both students, the mid-town working crowd and the wealthy. Their bistro-style fare has been a favourite for decades, being enjoyed on the tree-rich veranda that envelopes their landmark corner on Dorp and Andringa streets.

Here are my lunch and dinner experiences in pictures.

One of the massive old oak trees that surround Stellenbosch Hotel.

Our 18h00 arrival at Stellenbosch Kitchen meets a neatly prepped restaurant space.

Chef at work – the service hatch at Stellenbosch Kitchen.

Bread board with red wine butter and hummus. All bread baked in-house.

The dinner menu at Stellenbosch Kitchen. This menu changes seasonally.

An exceptional wine list is one of the attractions at Stellenbosch Kitchen. Here we’re enjoying Adi Badenhorst’s Secateurs Shiraz.

Potato gnocchi, butternut, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, goat’s milk feta, basil pesto. Beautifully cooked gnocchi with a mixture of very punchy ingredients.

Pan-seared line fish, fennel velouté, prawn barley risotto, grilled prawn, red pepper fondue. Perfectly cooked line fish, and I really enjoyed the texture of the barley risotto.

Ale-battered hake, hand-cut potato chips, sauce tartare, charred lemon, mushy peas. A stunning dish, yet so simple. Perfect tartare, fluffy hake, super crunchy chips – what more do you want?

Fondant of black cherry and Valrhona chocolate, Bulgarian yoghurt ice cream. Excellent texture and an interesting spin on the classic fondant – maybe a little too bitter and sour for my personal preference. Beautiful plating and delicious ice cream.

Our second visit was an early lunch at 11h30 – also much better lighting by day for my camera!

A buttery yellow glass of Jordan Chardonnay for me.

Roasted rack of Karoo Lamb, carrot purée, spiced pear chutney, polenta, fine beans. This dish is from the dinner menu, but was made for us on special request over lunch. It is one of the most popular dishes on the menu and well worth ordering (for dinner).

Osso bucco with risotto milanese. This dish certainly won’t win any prizes for plating, but it is hearty and moorish and hits all the right spots for comforting winter fare.

Apple and almond tart, vanilla bean ice cream, ginger crumble, crème anglaise – definitely my favourite dessert on the menu. They should serve this delicious pastry for breakfast too!

Coconut panna cotta, compressed pineapple, mango caviar, passion fruit mushrooms.

Stellenbosch Kitchen is well worth a regular visit, whether for a mid-week lunch, a lazy weekend dinner, or a special occasion with friends from abroad.

Thank you to the staff and management of Stellenbosch Kitchen for hosting us. We’ll certainly be back for more.

Make your booking:

Tel: +27 (0)21 883-2893
Address: Corner of Dorp & Andringa Streets, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa

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