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Cape Mediterranean: the way we love to eat – IN STORES NOW

10 Jul

It is with the greatest pleasure that I share the arrival of my first cookbook with you! It is titled Cape Mediterranean: the way we love to eat, published by Penguin Random House / Struik Lifestyle, with photography by my dear friend Tasha Seccombe. The book is available from this week in most South African book stores as well as online (Loot.co.za, Bidorbuy.co.za, Amazon.com, ExclusiveBooks.co.za etc.) and as an e-book at a recommended retail price of R360.

Writing a cookbook (hopefully one of many to come) has been one of my biggest aspirations for many years. In June 2018 I finally approached the legendary Linda de Villiers from PRH with my concept. Apart from agreeing to publish my book, she and her team have made this process the smoothest and most pleasant that I could have ever wished for and I am so grateful for their belief in my concept. It was a privilege to produce this book with my incredibly talented friend Tasha Seccombe who photographed & styled while I cooked and co-styled – I couldn’t have done it without her. With ceramics, fabrics, background textures and props provided by our friends from Hertex, Hertex HAUS, Mervyn Gers & Southern Art Ceramics, this book has a very unique local look and feel.

A Cape Mediterranean spread, featuring green-on-green salad, loaded hummus, fennel & apple salad, pork & port terrine, trout fillets and panzanella. Photography by Tasha Seccombe. From my book, Cape Mediterranean – the way we love to eat.

 

So let’s talk about the book’s theme. Cape Mediterranean food/cooking is a contemporary South African hybrid cuisine strongly influenced by the broader Mediterranean basin (Southwestern Europe, Middle East and northern Africa, surrounding the Mediterranean Sea) that has developed naturally from within the Western Cape due to the inherent Mediterranean climate and the abundant occurrence of classic Mediterranean-style local produce. It is not defined by race or ethnicity. Although ‘Mediterranean cuisine’ is still a term that isn’t easily defined and varies across the wider basin, it is mostly accepted to be driven by olive oil, wheat, grapes (wine), fruit, vegetables and seafood, also including dairy and meat. The more well-known Cape Malay, Cape Dutch and indigenous African styles of cooking are well settled within South Africa.

With this book, I would like to add another Cape hybrid to our rainbow repertoire: contemporary Cape Mediterranean (Cape-Med) – a South African style of cooking and entertaining influenced by one of the oldest and arguably also the healthiest cuisines in the world.

What are the biggest differences between traditional ‘Mediterranean’ and ‘Cape Mediterranean’? In South Africa, we traditionally consume more meat than in the Mediterranean basin. Also, our exceptional local olive oil industry is still very young compared to the Mediterranean basin, which has an olive producing history dating back to 2600 BCE, according to some sources. Few of us know how to make fresh homemade pasta or gnocchi (we mostly prefer the quick and easy store-bought dried versions), although they are both very popular items on restaurant menus. However, our culture of alfresco dining because of good weather is shared, as is our love of good wine and an active outdoor lifestyle. This book focuses on contemporary South African gatherings, not heritage food nor nostalgia. You won’t find any twists on milk tart, chakalaka or bobotie. Cape Mediterranean cooking is a natural South African interpretation of classic Mediterranean-style cooking, celebrating our Western Cape-based Mediterranean climate, worldclass local produce and dedicated producers.

May this book bring many hours of joy and togetherness around your table! Please tag me with #CapeMed if you’re sharing your cooking experiences from this book on social media.

I’d like to share one of my favourite recipes from the book with you: a festive pavlova with lemon curd & passion fruit. Lemons are one of the cornerstone ingredients for Mediterranean & Cape Mediterranean cooking – they’re listed in more than 40% of the book’s recipes. This specific recipe was created in collaboration with Lemongold – the newly launched cousins of the much loved Clemengold premium citrus brand. These seedless, thin-skinned, extra juicy lemons are perfect for making lemon curd, for cooking, for squeezing, for juicing etc, without the hassle of removing seeds. Lemongolds are grown widely in SA and forms part of Woolworths’ “Farming for the Future” sustainability programme.

A classic pavlova topped with whipped cream, lemon curd and fresh passion fruit. Photography by Tasha Seccombe. From my book Cape Mediterranean – the way we love to eat.

 

Ingredients: (serves 8)

6 XL egg whites (save the yolks and make *lemon curd)
400 g caster sugar (extra fine sugar)
10 ml (2 teaspoon) white vinegar or lemon juice
15 ml (1 tablespoon) corn flour
1 teaspoons vanilla extract (or scraped seeds of a vanilla pod)
250 ml fresh cream, whipped
about 1 cup *lemon curd, for topping (see page xxx)
pulp of about 4 fresh passion fruits

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 150 C. Whisk egg whites in a large bowl (with an electric whisk or stand mixer with whisk attachment) until soft peaks form. Gradually add castor sugar to egg whites, small amounts at a time, whisking constantly until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Add the vinegar/lemon juice, cornstarch and vanilla and mix well.
Dot a big roasting tray with some of the mixture then place a sheet of baking paper on top (sticking like glue). Pour the pavlova mixture on the tray and shape with a spoon or spatula into a round shape with a diameter of about 23 cm, like a cake (draw a circle on the back of your baking paper, if necessary). The mixture will rise a bit to the sides, so leave enough space. Place in the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 120 C. Bake for an hour and 15 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave to cool (in the oven) for about 2,5 hours without opening the oven door.

To serve: Carefully remove the baking paper from the bottom of pavlova and transfer to a serving dish (it will have a few cracks, that’s 100%). Top with whipped cream and lemon curd, swirling the cream and curd together softly. Top with lashings of passion fruit pulp and serve at once, sliced.

Note: Pavlova must be assembled just before serving as it becomes soggy on standing. Store the unassembled baked pavlova on the baking tray covered with a sealed large plastic bag. Can be baked a day ahead if stored airtight.

For the lemon curd:

You only need three lemons to make 500 ml (2 cups) lemon curd. It’s a phenomenal spread for cakes, cookies and pavlova, and will last for at least a week in the refrigerator, once opened.  I usually make my lemon curd with four whole eggs, but when I’ve made a pavlova using six egg whites, I use the remaining six yolks instead of whole eggs. Use whatever you have on hand.

Ingredients: (makes 500 ml/2 cups)

peeled rind and juice of 3 medium-size lemons / Lemongolds
250 ml (1 cup) white sugar
180 g soft butter
4 XL eggs (or 6 XL egg yolks)
a pinch salt

Method:

Place the peeled rind and sugar in a food processor and process until you get a very fine, yellow, grainy mixture. Add the butter and process until light and creamy. Add the eggs and salt and mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a small saucepan over very low heat. Stir continuously while it heats up (take care, it burns easily). The mixture will at first become runnier as the butter starts to melt, and then it will thicken again as the eggs form a glossy custard. Never let it reach boiling point. If at any stage it looks like it’s burning, remove from the heat at once and strain to remove any brown bits. Remove from the heat and transfer to a glass jar with a lid. Cool and refrigerate until ready to use – the mixture will continue to thicken on cooling. (Note: For an ultra-silky result, strain the hot mixture before cooling.) Best served at room temperature – spread it on cakes or cookies, or serve with meringues (Eaton mess-style) and on pavlova.

Note: In this photograph, I used freshly made lemon curd that has not cooled fully – that’s why it has a more runny consistency. Your lemon curd will be thick and spreadable once refrigerated.

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Horse’s Neck Cocktail

2 Jul

A classic Horse’s Neck cocktail, made with KWV’s 10 year old brandy. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

We live in sterling brandy country here in the Western Cape. I’ve been discovering the brilliance of great local brandies since my first brandy blending experience at Van Ryn’s cellar outside Stellenbosch a few years ago. I now know that my favourite is mostly a 10-12 year old brandy (KWV and Van Ryns both make an incredible range, but there are many other local producers to explore), sipped slowly without ice – perhaps just a dash of water. But I’ve also discovered a few new ways to enjoy it and it certainly does not include Coke.

One of these is an age-old American classic cocktail called the Horse’s Neck. Technically, it falls into the category of a cooler, served in a tall glass and adorned with an unusually long, curling strip of lemon rind. It consists of one part good quality brandy (or cognac), three parts ginger ale, a dash of bitters and lots of ice.

The flavours are refreshing, zippy and full, with a great tang from the lemon rind. Perfect for a classy welcoming drink at your special occasion, or just a winding down drink at sunset. Cheers!

Ingredients: (makes 1 cocktail)

  • a handful ice blocks (to fill your glass about half full)
  • 50 ml brandy
  • 150 ml ginger ale
  • a long, curly strip lemon rind

Method:

Add the ice to a tall glass, then pour in the brandy and follow with ginger ale. Add a dash of bitters and the lemon rind. Serve immediately, with or without a (reusable, but preferably a stylish metal variety) straw.

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Chocolate swirl individual pavlovas

1 Jul

Individual chocolate swirl pavlovas topped with whipped cream and fresh berries. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

This is a recipe that I originally created in 2017, but failed to ever publish here. I’ve created so many different recipes for pavlova on my blog – it never disappoints when ending off a celebratory feast in style. So let’s make room for yet another one: chocolate swirl individual pavlovas with cream and dark berries. It covers all the bases of a great dessert in one go: chocolatey, crunchy, gooey, creamy, tangy, sweet and indulgent.

Now that we live on a berry farm on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, it seems only apt to be celebrating the fruit of our neighbours’ labour. We see their teams working in the berry orchards often, pruning and plowing in the winter mud to get ready for a new season. The recipe was created during January some years ago, so those dark berries might not be locally in season right now (although I’ve seen some amazing berries in some local supermarkets recently). Keep this one up your sleeve for when you find nice big batch of fresh seasonal berries in store. The chocolate meringues are decadently sweet and indulgent, so they definitely need an unsweetened whipped cream or double thick yoghurt topping, and some tart berries. A sifting of dark cocoa powder makes them mysteriously dreamy.

Ingredients: (makes 6)

  • 4 XL egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 ml) caster sugar
  • 5 ml white vinegar
  • 10 ml corn flour (Maizena)
  • 80 ml 50-70% dark chocolate, melted
  • 250 ml fresh cream, whipped to soft peaks (or thick double cream plain yoghurt)
  • about 2 cups fresh mulberries and blue berries
  • about 1/4 cup flaked almonds, toasted
  • cocoa powder, for dusting (optional)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 150 C. Line a standard baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk until white and foamy (soft peaks).
  3. Start adding the caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time every 30 seconds or so, whisking on high speed. When the sugar is well combined and the mixture is stiff and glossy, add the vinegar and corn flour and whisk until well mixed.
  4. Turn the mixer off. Add the dark chocolate to the bowl and use a spatula to quickly swirl it into the meringue mixture. Do not mix too much, one or two quick turns will be enough as you want to keep the dark chocolate swirls visible (and it will continue to mix when you spoon it onto your baking tray).
  5. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared baking tray in 6 individual round shapes. Place in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 120 C. Bake for 50 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the pavlovas in the oven without opening the door to cool for at least 3 hours (or overnight).
  6. When completely cool, serve dusted with cocoa powder, topped with whipped cream, fresh berries and toasted almonds. Serve at once. (Unassembled meringues can me stored in an air tight container for up to 3 days.)

Individual chocolate swirl pavlovas, before adding your toppings. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Note: Your can store the pavlovas (without toppings) in an air tight container for a day. After this, they will still be edible for another day or two, but they will lose some of their crunch and might collapse in the middle. If you want to pack them for a picnic dessert, opt for double cream yoghurt instead of whipped cream, and assemble them on location instead of ahead.

Also check out a few of my other pavlova recipes:

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Discovering Anthonij Rupert’s homegrown Altima Black Truffles

19 Jun

An exclusive locally grown 100g Altima truffle, as shown to us at the Truffle Lunch at Anthonij Rupert Wyne.

 

A few weeks ago, I was invited to experience the brand new black truffles cultivated on the cool climate Altima Estate in the Elandskloof valley outside Villiersdorp – a farm that forms part of Anthonij Rupert Wyne in Franschhoek. Anthonij Rupert Wyne is the first producer of these rare Périgord truffles in South Africa.  Oak trees were planted on Altima Estate in 2010, their roots inoculated with truffle spores. It would be only 7 years later that the team at Anthonij Rupert would find that their patience has paid off, when they harvested their first truffle.

Truffle hunter (also known as a Trufelau) Hanene van Dyk, who learnt her craft in Piedmont, Italy, works closely with her specially-trained Lagotto Romagnolo dogs to hunt for the truffles. Truffles are seasonal and will only be available during May – July this year.

The Périgord truffle, or French black truffle is known as the world’s most expensive edible mushroom. Grown originally in France, Italy and Spain, it is now also being cultivated in other areas like Australia, New Zealand and Wales. It is revered world wide by culinary enthusiasts as a rare winter delicacy. They have a distinctively aromatic smell and can reach a size of up to 10 cm in diameter (although size doesn’t govern quality, in this case). Truffles are usually imported to South Africa at around R60/g, but the value of these local truffles is roughly estimated at around R40/g. To give you an idea, this truffle pictured above weighs around 100g, and is worth around R4000. An important note is that Anthonij Rupert Wyne doesn’t intend to sell these truffles yet, but truffle enthusiasts will be able to enjoy these delicate treasures at Anthonij Rupert Estate‘s exclusive Truffle Lunches at R950/person, including a wine pairing. The next four-course lunch will be taking place on the 28th of June 2019 (book here). To ensure an exclusive dining experience, each luncheon will be kept to a maximum of 10 people.

For those who want to see exactly where the truffles are grown, there is also an exclusive Altima Truffle Experience and Tour available at R2500 per person, including a guided tour of Altima Estate,  the tasting of 3 estate wines, an introductory talk by Altima Truffle hunter Hanene van Dyk, an opportunity to see how the truffles are discovered and harvested, return transport from Altima Estate back to Anthonij Rupert Estate, tasting of their truffle products produced from Altima’s truffles, a 4 course lunch inspired by Altima truffles, Cape of Good Hope Wine pairing through lunch, with focus on wines produced from Altima vines. The next experience is happening on the 28th of June 2019. Book here.

Take a look at my experience in pictures. It was the first time that I had the opportunity to taste a fresh truffle – I’ve only experienced it as infused truffle oil. The taste is very different to truffle oil – earthy, mushroomy, almost like a matured cheese and absolutely delicious. You can actually smell the truffles right through the soil (after the dogs have indicated that there is a truffle to be found in a certain spot). The truffle hunter then makes the careful decision to either leave the truffle in tact if it isn’t ripe yet, or harvest the truffle if it is fully ripened. Truffles must then be used within about 2 weeks.

Seeing the passion of the team that has successfully cultivated these truffles (9 years later!) on Altima Estate was a very special experience. Sharing in the fruits of their labour was an absolute privilege – thank you very much to Gidi, Hanene and everyone from Anthonij Rupert Wyne who made this memorable experience possible.

For more information or to book your truffle lunch/experience, click here.

The breathtaking views from the lookout point at Altima Estate, Elandskloof valley.

 

Gidi offering us a taste of the Cape of Good Hope range of wines by Anthonij Rupert Wyne.

 

One of the younger truffle hunting dogs.

 

One of the more experienced truffle hunting dogs.

 

Hanene follows her dog who will point out a truffle shortly.

 

The dog has pointed out a truffle, and Hanene tells us more about how she will go about unearthing it.

 

Careful not to damage the truffle, Hanene shows us the tip of a truffle peeking out from underneath the soil.

 

The menu for our exclusive truffle lunch.

 

Amuse bouche – truffle croquette.

 

First course: Asparagus, soft boiled quail’s egg, honey pickled golden baby beetroot, truffle caviar & vinaigrette.

 

Second course: prawn ravioli, saffron cream and truffle carpaccio.

 

Third course: estate raised black angus steak, thick cut chips, truffle butter.

 

Fourth course: golden paradise tartlet.

 

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The winter set menu at Cavalli

11 Jun

Welcome drink offerend on arrival: Cavalli Capriole MCC (100% Chardonnay).

 

I was recently invited to experience the winter set menu with wine pairings at Cavalli Estate on the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West. Cavalli is a pristine destination for dining, but also for tasting and buying wine, viewing their equestrian facilities, or taking a stroll through their contemporary art gallery and remarkable collection of rugby & sporting memorabilia.

A sample 2019 winter set menu (with vegetarian option) at Cavalli looks like this (subject to change, according to the seasonality/availability of produce):

WINTER SET MENU R350
with Cavalli wine pairing R425

AMUSE BOUCHE

FIRST COURSE
Slow- cooked local octopus, fermented black garlic
aioli, apple, squid ink crisp, radish, fynbos dressing
Cavalli ‘Pink Pony’ Grenache Noir 2015

SECOND COURSE
Barley & mushrooms, parmesan custard
Cavalli ‘Vendetta’ Viognier/Verdelho 2016

THIRD COURSE
Confit duck leg, orange, fennel marmalade,
mustard pommes mousseline, black kale
Cavalli ‘Nightmare’ Shiraz/Grenache 2015

FOURTH COURSE
Tonka bean crème caramel, palmier
Coffee/Tea

PETIT FOURS

VEGETARIAN WINTER SET MENU R300
with Cavalli wine pairing R375

AMUSE BOUCHE

FIRST COURSE
Parsnip, truffle & honey velouté, 65°c free range egg,
mushroom ragout, crispy enoki, smoked crème fraiche
Cavalli ‘Pink Pony’ Grenache Noir 2015

SECOND COURSE
Barley & mushrooms, parmesan custard
Cavalli ‘Vendetta’ Viognier/Verdelho 2016

THIRD COURSE
Pearl couscous risotto, red pepper, homemade
almond yoghurt, pickled naartjies, kale crisp
Cavalli ‘Nightmare’ Shiraz/Grenache 2015

FOURTH COURSE
Tonka bean crème caramel, palmier
Coffee/Tea

PETIT FOURS

Cavalli Restaurant takes full advantage of their remarkable setting. It’s a space bathed in natural light, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors opening out to a spacious terrace. Beyond the tables the views spill out across the farm dam, vineyards and paddocks; a scene framed by views of the distant Helderberg Mountains. 

Looking out from the restaurant terrace towards the equestrian facilities and the Helderberg mountains.

 

Head Chef Michael Deg has held the reins of the Cavalli kitchen since 2017, cementing the restaurant’s reputation for seasonal, sustainable cuisine. It is refined food without pretence, served within a world class setting.  For his winter menu this year, Chef Michael has created an enticing, affordable, 4-course food and wine pairing menu that will have you coming back for more. Considering the extras included in this menu (multiple amuse bouche, palate cleanser and petit fours) coupled with the service excellence and delicious wine pairings, this is one of the best fine dining winter deals the Winelands has to offer this winter.

Note: Althought chef Michael was on leave the day that we visited, his capable, talentede kitchen team provided all guests with a seamless dining experience.

I chose the vegetarian set menu, while my husband had the regular set menu (he opted for the international wine pairing too, an option that cost slightly more, but totally worth it – a wine lover’s adventure). Take a look at my photographs of our experience:

We sat outside on the terrace, overlooking the pristine pond.

 

Amuse bouche: crispy carrots on marinated tofu, pickled vegetables and garden greens, fresh flour tortillas, fried black beans.

 

Another amuse bouche: I didn’t make a note of what this delightful mouthful was, but if I remember correctly, it was smoked beetroot on goatscheese and a cheese biscuit.

 

More amuse bouche: Corn & cheese croquette.

 

Yet another extra treat from the kitchen, this was a type of crispy dome that covered a mushroom mousse (if I remember correctly!).

 

Last of the surprising bites coming from the kitchen: cauliflower fritter with pineapple salsa.

 

Wine pairings with our first course.

 

FIRST COURSE: Slow- cooked local octopus, fermented black garlic aioli, apple, squid ink crisp, radish, fynbos dressing. Served with Cavalli ‘Pink Pony’ Grenache Noir 2015. One of my favourite dishes of the day (not on the vegetarian menu).

 

FIRST COURSE (veg): Parsnip, truffle & honey velouté, 65°c free range egg,mushroom ragout, crispy enoki, smoked crème fraiche. Served with Cavalli ‘Pink Pony’ Grenache Noir 2015.

 

SECOND COURSE (regular & veg): Barley & mushrooms, parmesan custard. Served with Cavalli Cremello.

 

A closer look of the barley risotto (second course).

 

Palate cleanser: raspberry & pineapple sorbet, white chocolate, lemon curd.

 

THIRD COURSE: Confit duck leg, orange, fennel marmalade,mustard pommes mousseline, black kale. Served with Cavalli Warlord.

 

THIRD COURSE (veg): Bean puree, charred broccoli, homemade coconut yoghurt, toasted nuts, kale crisp. Served with Cavalli Warlord. This was one of my favourite dishes of the day. I’ll eat vegetarian forever if it tastes like this!

 

Cavalli’s Cremello white blend was one of my favourite wines of the day.

 

One of the international pairings of the day, in Schalk’s glass, from the Nappa Valley in California. Look at that colour!

 

FOURTH COURSE: Tonka bean crème caramel, palmiers.

 

After the dessert, we also enjoyed two petit fours each, served with coffee. This winter set menu is exceptional value and a must on your winter calendar. Sit back and enjoy premium Winelands hospitality at an affordable rate.

The winter menu is available from 1 May – 30 of September 2019 for lunch/dinner at R350 for the 4-course menu, R425 with Cavalli wine pairing and the 4-course vegetarian menu at R300 or R375 paired with Cavalli wine. Bookings are limited to a maximum of 15 guests.Cavalli Restaurant is open from Wednesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, as well as Sundays for lunch only. For bookings email the reservation team on restaurant@cavalliestate.com

Cavalli Estate is situated at R44 Highway (Strand Road), Somerset West.

Tel: 021 855 3218

Email: info@cavalliestate.com

Wine tasting is offered from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-6pm. Tasting fee of R60 for five premium wines, R40 for ‘Passions’ wines. For bookings or further information send a mail to wines@cavalliestate.com.

High Tea is offered in The Conservatory from Wednesday to Sunday, 12pm – 3pm. R220 per person, with a minimum of 10 guests. 

Stable tours are offered on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 11am – 12pm. 

Carriage rides (one hour) across the estate are available on request, and can carry up to four passengers. R2000 per carriage, including a bottle of Cavalli Estate wine. For bookings send a mail to stables@cavalliestate.com or call 021 855 3218.

The Cavalli Private Collection of South African Masters is frequently rotated in the portico situated within the main gallery and two memorabilia rooms allocated in close proximity showcase a remarkable collection of rugby and sporting memorabilia.

The gallery at Cavalli is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm.​ For all enquiries or a catalogue of available artwork, please contact gallery@cavalliestate.com or call 021 855 3218.

 

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Stephanie Alexander’s “best-ever cheesecake”

3 Jun

A silky, creamy cheesecake with an almost custard-like consistency. Served with fresh passion fruit pulp.

 

My friend Tasha Seccombe and I share a love for baking, and for all things sweet and indulgent. Over the years, she has told me numerously about one of her favourite cookbooks, The Cook’s Companion, by Stephanie Alexander. It’s an Australian “food bible” of sorts and has sold more than 500 000 copies since it’s first print in 1996. In this book, Tasha said, is a recipe for a cheesecake that is the silkiest she had ever tasted, with a texture that barely holds together as it wobbles from the oven and finally sets in the fridge. I was more than a little intrigued and finally asked her to send me the recipe last week.

I’ve published a few cheesecake recipes on my blog before, and I feel that all of them have a specific place in the world of cheesecakes. Whether it’s a more crumbly crustless ricotta cheesecake, or a classic cheesecake, a pecan cheesecake, a white chocolate cheesecake, or even a freezer cheesecake, I love them all. It’s weird though, because in my mind, I associate cheesecake with coffee chops in the 1990’s. Classic as it is, it surely isn’t currently trending in any way and has kind of slipped my mind as an option to make at home or order in a restaurant.

In Stephanie Alexander’s book, she had taken the bold step to actually call it “Best-Ever Cheesecake”. For a woman of her stature and expertise, this should surely mean something! As with many other baked cheesecake recipes, this recipe calls for digestive biscuits and butter in the base. The difference comes in with the cheesecake being baked in a water bath, with quite a runny filling (lining the pan with foil over the base is imperative – just follow the instructions). It spends 1 hour at 180 C (Stephanie says 50 min, but I found that 1 hour is better for my oven), then another hour with the oven turned off. It is still very wobbly when it is taken from the oven to cool on the counter, and only really sets in the fridge after a few hours. The result is a truly silky, smooth and creamy cheesecake with no grainy or crumbly texture, not too sweet, just the essence of cool, comforting, dairy indulgence with a classic cookie base that holds everything together.

Is it the best-ever? That might depend on how you like your cheesecake. It sure is incredibly good – you were right, Tasha. So good that I ate half of that cheesecake myself, within a day. This recipe is a keeper and I’ll surely make it again.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g butter, melted
  • 250 g wheatmeal/digestive biscuits (Stephanie uses 300g, but I’ve found that 250g is more than enough)
  • 500 g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 15 ml cornflour
  • 3 XL eggs
  • 30 ml lemon juice
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups (500 ml) sour cream

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Use a little melted butter to brush the sides and base of the 22 x 6 cm spring-form cake tin.
  2. Prepare the tin: Remove the base from the tin. Cut a round of baking paper the same size of the base, brush with butter and set aside. Cut 2 sheets of foil, 40 x 40 cm, and place them on top of each other on the brushed base. Place the baking paper round on top of the foils, then sit the springform tin over the stack and lock the triple-lined base firmly into place. Fold the overhanging foil sides to the top and out of the way to create a water tight container.
  3. For the base: crush the cookies in a food processor, then add the remaining butter and mix to combine. Press it firmly into the base of the prepared tin, smoothing the surface with the back of a drinking/whiskey glass.
  4. For the filling: Using an electric mixer with a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and caster sugar until smooth. Add the cornflour and then add the egg one at a time, beating until just smooth (do not beat too much air into it). Add the lemon juice, vanilla and salt, then beat until just combined, scraping the sides. Lastly, add the sour cream and beat briefly until just mixed. Pour into the prepared base, then put the tin into a larger deep baking tray and fill it with boiling water to come half way up the sides of the tin.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes at 180 C (I prefer baking it for 1 hour), then turn off the oven without opening the door and leave the cheesecake for another hour in the oven. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a wire rack (remove it from the water bath and open up the sides of the foil to release any trapped water). Refrigerate for several hours or overnight to set fully.
  6. Run a knife around the inside of the tin, then release the sides and remove the lined base. Transfer the cheesecake to a plate. Slice and serve, topped with fresh passion fruit pulp or fresh berries.

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Welcoming the new Winter set menu from Terroir

28 May

Chef Michael Broughton of Terroir. Photography by Mark Hoberman.

 

Every Winter, Terroir Restaurant at Kleine Zalze in Stellenbosch announces the start of the colder season with a fresh new set menu. This year, diners will once again receive incredible value where they can choose from either a two-course option at R295 per person or three courses at R395 per person (including vegetarian options). This price also includes two glasses of Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection wines served with the starter and main courses.

I recently had the pleasure of getting a taste of the new Winter set menu alongside a table of industry friends, hosted by chef Michael Broughton, Klein Zalze cellarmaster Alastair Rimmer and Lise Manley of Manley Communications. The Winter set menu at Terroir is an annual highlight for me and for many diners in and around Stellenbosch, and this year’s menu is a must-do on the Winter calendar. Take a tour through my photographs of my lunch experience, and be sure not to miss the show-stopping pistachio soufflé when you visit Terroir.

I shared a table with some wonderful industry peers & friends, but also had the pleasure of sitting next to Kleine Zalze cellarmaster Alaistair Rimmer (left). The wine pairings are part of the success of this package – don’t miss out.

 

As always, Terroir bread boards are served with their own sour dough bread, flatbread, olives, paté and butter.

 

Coconut cooked beef cheek doughnut with paprika and apricot jam – served with Kleine Zalze MCC Brut and Rosé NV. Such a stunning savoury and sweet amuse bouche.

 

Fennel cured and smoked trout with horseradish and Vichyssoise – served with Kleine Zalze Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc 2017. It was great to see a “fresher” starter choice as part of a winter menu.

 

Braised shoulder and grilled rack of Karoo lamb “au jus” with Fregola, pickled mustard seeds, peas and bagna cauda – served with Kleine Zalze Whole bunch Syrah 2017. Chef Michael does lamb very well, and his sauce skills are uncontested.

 

One of the side dishes as part of the main course – zucchini tempura. Stunning!

 

Poached pineapple, scented Catalan Crème with vanilla and saffron ice cream.

 

Pistachio soufflé with milk ice cream and vanilla caramel – served with Stellenrust Chenin d’ Muscat Noble Late Harvest 2015. My dish of the day. A must have.

 

And just because the pistachio soufflé was that good, here’s another view of it. One of the best soufflé’s I’ve had in years.

 

The winter special offer is valid from 2 May to 30 September 2019, for both lunch and dinner (max 10 pax per booking). Individual à la carte orders can still be made, and will be charged at the listed menu price.

Terroir is open for lunch from Tuesdays to Sundays from 12h00 – 14h30 and for dinner from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 18h30 – 21h00. Advance reservations are highly recommended. To book call 021 880-8167 or email restaurant@kleinezalze.co.za

Please note that Terroir will be closed for their annual winter break from 17th June 2019 and re-opening on the 10th of July 2019.

Kleine Zalze Wines and Terroir restaurant are situated on Strand Road (R44), Stellenbosch, South Africa.

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JAN comes home to open KLEIN JAN in the Kalahari

24 May

Jan Hendrik at a bush camp fire. (Photograph supplied.)

 

Born and raised on a farm in Mpumalanga, South African Michelin-star Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen always knew he would one day return to the bush – to the campfires and the open skies of his home land. With a shared passion and vision for all things South African, a global partnership with the Oppenheimer family has led to this incredible new project that celebrates the unexplored culinary territory of the vast Kalahari.

KLEIN JAN will open its doors at Tswalu Kalahari, a first class unspoiled refuge that celebrates the simple, authentic splendours of this unique land. Driven by the values of local authenticity, heritage and sustainability of the environment, KLEIN JAN will become the place where this specific region’s culinary offering will be translated into world-class cuisine. Discovering this unexplored culinary territory with its unlimited potential has been a dream of Jan Hendrik’s for years.

In addition, JAN Innovation Studio will be opening its doors in Cape Town, where a team of chefs and students will continually develop and innovate South African cuisine. The Cape Town team will share their findings with their colleagues at Michelin star restaurant JAN in Nice, France, which will remain Jan Hendrik’s “mother ship”. In addition, South African diners can look forward to a series of pop-up dinners where they will be able to taste what Jan Hendrik and his teams have been up to.

JAN Innovation Studio will also be home to JAN the JOURNAL, a biannual publication that shares Jan Hendrik’s ideas, passion and curiosity about the culinary world. This collector’s book is available in both South Africa and in Europe.

I had the pleasure of talking to Jan Hendrik about his new plans a few weeks ago (see the video below), and to spend some one-on-one time with a young South African food icon and pioneer in his field. It was utterly refreshing to experience Jan Hendrik’s solid sense of self and his brilliant sense of humour. What a delightful conversation! I hope you enjoy the video – we shared a few light hearted moments that I’ll treasure forever.

#kleinjan #tswalu #JAN

 

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Pecan shortbread cookies

23 May

Freshly baked pecan shortbread cookies, dusted with icing sugar. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

This is a magnificent recipe from my very first handwritten recipe book that I compiled as a child in the early 1990’s. It reminds me of the icing sugar dusted shortbread that I saw in almost every confectionery shop while traveling in Greece in 2010 (except they mostly had a crescent shape).

Unfortunately I have no idea where this recipe came from, and thus cannot give the rightful credit to the writer. If anyone out there recognizes this exact recipe or can identify the origin, please let me know.

This cookie is like an ultimate nut-flavoured shortbread. It is luxurious, yet really easy to make. I absolutely love pecan nuts, and this cookie catches the essence of pecans in one buttery, delightful bite.

Note: These cookies were photographed in 2015, but I never posted it on my blog! Now that I’ve recently settled into a new kitchen that is much bigger than my previous one, I’ve got my baking mojo on and I’m ready to explore some of my best older recipes and definitely many new ones. Hope you love this one!

Pecans are (along with almonds) my favourite nuts to bake with. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Ingredients: (makes 20-24)

  • 125 g butter, soft
  • 250 ml (140 g) self-raising flour
  • 50 g pecan nuts, finely chopped
  • 2,5 ml vanilla extract
  • 50 ml (25 g) icing sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 20-24 whole pecan nuts

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 C and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients except for the whole pecan nuts in a food processor or stand mixer and mix until it comes together in a ball of dough. Do not overmix.
  3. Roll balls of dough about the size of a small walnut and place on the lined tray, leaving enough space in between. Use the back of a water/whiskey glass (flat surface) to flatten each cookie. Dip the flat glass surface in flour if it starts to stick.
  4. Place a whole pecan nut in the middle of each cookie and gently press to stick. Bake for 25 minutes until lightly straw coloured, not brown.
  5. Remove from the oven, then immediately dust with icing sugar using a sieve. Leave to cool completely, then store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
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Review: The Germanicum Arminius by Sternsteiger

15 Apr

A year ago, I reviewed the Achilles chef’s knife by Sternsteiger of Solingen, Germany. I’ve been using the knife almost daily, and it is still one of the top performing knives in my kitchen. Now meet the brand new addition to Sternsteiger’s stable: the Germanicum Arminius, a new generation Damascus chef’s knife.

If you are unfamiliar with Damascus steel: it is named after the forged steel comprising the blades of swords smithed in the Near East from ingots of wootz steel imported from India and Sri Lanka (3rd – 17th century). These swords were characterized by distinctive patterns of banding and mottling reminiscent of flowing water, and were reputed to be tough, resistant to shattering and capable of being honed to a sharp, resilient edge. It appears that the original method of making Damascus steel blades had been lost over time (ceased around 1750), but has regained popularity in recent modern knife making with new techniques.

The steel is named after Damascus, the capital city of Syria and one of the largest cities in the ancient Levant. The Germanicum Arminius knife was named after a famous German warrior of the mid century. The knife has 440 layers of steel (15N20 and 1084). A special coating is applied to the knife to keep it sharp and more rigid. Designed by the award winning knife designer UBUTT DESIGN GERMANY, the Germanicum has a Spanish walnut wood handle and a HRC hardness of 58-59.

The knife is lighter than most of my other chef’s knives (188 g, compared to around 220 g), which makes it unintimidating and easy to handle. The round wooden handle feels warm and comfortable.
As this knife is not made of stainless steel, it must be hand washed only, dried and oiled after each usage. This is a spectacular, hand forged steel & natural wood item made with the utmost precision and skill, and it deserves special care.
This is a stunning addition to my kitchen knife range and I cannot wait to spend more time with this knife. Purchase your Germanicum Arminius chef’s knife here (via Kickstarter), for the price of €92. Paring knife and bread knife also available. Have a look at Sternsteiger’s video for more info:

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