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

10 Jul

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

For the roasted shank: (serves 2)

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

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

For the hummus:

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

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

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

For the pumpkin:

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

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

For serving:

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

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

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Simple jam crumble tart

9 Jul

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Method:

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

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

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

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

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Butterflied leg of lamb with chimichurri, feta & rosmarino

7 Jul

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

For the chimichurri:

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

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

For assembly:

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

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

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The A to Z of Stellenbosch – a #WinterWinederland

4 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

S: Stay at Spier

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

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

H: Hoghouse lunch

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

E: Eat breakfast at Spier

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

I: Interactive Stars at the Eagle Encounters, Spier

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

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

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

3 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

I took a tour of the grounds and hotel facilities:

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

The massive flower arrangement at reception.

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

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

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

Leather couches at the Craven Lounge.

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

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

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

The magnificent mountain view and stretching lawn at Lanzerac.

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

 

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

The pathway leading to our room. Winter in Stellenbosch.

This is Elvis who showed us to our room.

Our lush suite.

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

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

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

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

 

Lunch at the Lanzerac Deli:

The entrance to Lanzerac’s Wine Tasting and Deli.

House-made preserves inside the deli.

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

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

 

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

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

Tasting the premium wines in the Lanzerac wine collection.

Merlot tasting.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seeing into the newly built kitchen.

 

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

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

A plate of local artisanal cheeses, crackers and preserves.

What would a breakfast be without pastries? My favourite!

Hot breakfast: Schalk ordered the French toast with

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

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

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

 

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

Visit Lanzerac online.

Tel:+27 (0)21 887 1132

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

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

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Lamb meatballs in smoky tomato sauce

28 Jun

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

 

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

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

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

Ingredients: (serves 4)

For the tomato sauce:

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

For the meatballs:

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

To serve:

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

Method:

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

28 Jun

The exposed brick and stone wall of the original prison at Quarter Kitchen that is now a national monument (since 2994) and a restaurant. Some of the original prison bars can also be seen.

 

We were invited to visit the Quarter Kitchen at the Portswood Hotel at the V&A Waterfront a few weeks ago for dinner. Not only has this restaurant introduced new dishes to their menu, it has also undergone a name change (from The Quarterdeck to the Quarter Kitchen). Furthermore they are celebrating the recent publication of a little inhouse cookbook packed with authentic recipes for traditional Cape Malay meals.

Cape Malay cooking was brought to South Africa in the late 1600’s when the first group of Malaysian state prisoners landed from Java and the neighbouring Indonesian islands. The spicy and aromatic dishes prepared by the Malay people were quickly assimilated into many Cape kitchens. Today, Malay-Portuguese terms such as “bobotie”, “sosatie” and “bredie” are considered iconic South African cooking vocabulary.

The Quarter Kitchen occupies a section of what was originally the Good Conduct Ward at the Cape Colony Prison for petty crimes, which was declared a national monument and transformed into a restaurant in 1994. Among the crisp white table clothes and beautiful dark wood furniture in the restaurant, one can still see reminders of an opposite world that existed in the building in 1860. Original prison bars and sections of exposed original brick & stone walls honour the history of the setting, as does a display of original antique suitcases that once belonged to the traveling prisoners.

The Malay influence in South African cooking is best displayed in the use of chillies, ginger, cinnamon and turmeric (especially in curries) as well as the use of fruit cooked with meat, marrying sweet and savoury with fragrant spices. The Quarter Kitchen provides guests with the opportunity to taste and enjoy authentic Cape Malay favourites such as daltjes, samoosas and pienang curry, prepared by South African hands within a premium central setting in the heart of Cape Town.

Here are some pictures of our dinner at Quarter Kitchen. For only R275, you can enjoy the “Chef’s Feast” with a three course meal of starters (choose 1 of 3 options), four different curries (yes, you get four different little pots of curry, selected from a list of 7 options) and a dessert (choose 1 of 3 options). Otherwise, choose from the a la carte menu with options like a savoury Malay platter, bobotie, and koesisters. The highlight of the Cape Malay experience at Quarter Kitchen lies in the authenticity of the food and their friendly Cape hospitality. There are no “deconstructed” frilly fine dining here, only hearty, traditional fare served with true Cape hospitality and really friendly service.

Quarter Kitchen is well worth a visit if you’re looking for real Cape Malay food in the heart of Cape Town. The restaurant interior is quiet, cosy and neat with clear historical elements – not as bustling and commercialized as the rest of the waterfront. Don’t miss out on the piping hot koesisters for dessert – they were the best I’ve ever tasted.

The Chef’s Feast menu at Quarter Kitchen.

The Cape Malay starter platter for two – with daltjes, samoosas, vegetable spring rolls, crumbed prawns, minted meatballs, jalapeno rissoles, chilli blatjang, cucumber & mint yoghurt, and tomato & onion sambal.

Bobotie at the back and butter chicken curry in the front.

Penang curry at the back, seafood curry in the front.

Cape Malay seafood curry.

Roti, poppadom, white rice and yellow rice – to go with your curries.

Hot koesister soaked in syrup and covered in coconut, served with fresh strawberries.

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Orange, olive oil and semolina cake with Chinese 5-spice

25 Jun

A wintery orange & semolina cake with Chinese 5 spice and caramel orange syrup. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

It’s finally citrus season and I’ve already made a huge batch of marmalade with the abundance of oranges all around me. I adore citrus flavours in cakes, so this recipe was a delightful experiment after doing lots of research on olive oil cakes (did you know that baking with olive oil instead of butter can extend the shelf life of a cake with up to 2 weeks?).

Where many olive oil cakes call for a very mild olive oil, this one needs the very best extra virgin olive oil that you can find. The flavour should be medium-intense to intense, to create a cake that is very moist in texture but also smells richly fragrant of the essence of olives and orange. It is a cake that can be eaten on its own, very much like a cake bread, but can also be dolled up with a syrup and some whipped cream or even a cream cheese frosting for a decadent dessert or tea-time treat.

Note: Although my recipe has been featured before on The Pretty Blog, they have since shut down their website and I’ve had a few requests for republishing it. Here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium size oranges
  • 125 g white sugar
  • 125 g soft brown sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup fine semolina
  • 10 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • 15 ml ground Chinese 5-spice
  • 2,5 ml salt
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 XL eggs
  • 5 ml vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Place the oranges in a small saucepan filled with water and bring to a boil. Cook until soft – about 30 minutes. Remove from the water, slice in quarters, remove the seeds, then puree (with skins) and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Grease a bundt tin thoroughly with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Place the white and brown sugar in a food processor and process for about 1 minute.
  4. Add the flour, semolina, baking powder, baking soda, 5-spice and salt. Process to mix.
  5. Add the orange pulp, olive oil, eggs and vanilla and process until just mixed. Scrape the sides and pulse one last time.
  6. Transfer the batter into the bundt tin and use a spatula to smooth the surface evenly.
  7. Bake for 50-55 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean, then remove from the oven and cool in the tin.
  8. When cool, carefully tap the tin from side to side to make sure that the cake does not stick to the tin. Turn the cake out on a plate or rack.

For the caramel orange syrup: (optional)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • juice of a small lemon

Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, tipping the pan from side to side (do not stir). Boil until the syrup starts to turn golden in colour, then add the orange juice and lemon juice – be careful as it will splatter. Remove from the heat and stir to combine. You can carefully pour the syrup over the cake immediately if you prefer for it to be fully absorbed by the cake (and will make it deliciously moist), or you can let it cool first for a thicker glossy syrup that will “sit” on the cake.

Serve with whipped cream (optionally).

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A welcoming winter offering at Terroir, Stellenbosch

22 Jun

The entrance to Terroir Restaurant, reflecting the luminous green vegetation on their stoep after the winter rains. The doors are only closed on account of the weather – inside it is cosy and warm.

 

Acclaimed restaurant Terroir has recently welcomed the arrival of winter in the winelands with a special menu offering from Chef Michael Broughton, encouraging guests to indulge in the true Terroir experience with a taste of the full à la carte menu at an extremely pocket-friendly price. From May to September 2018 guests can enjoy their choice of two dishes (starter/main or main/dessert) from Terroir’s French-inspired chalkboard menu for just R395 per person. This price also includes a glass of Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection wine.

Due to the success of 2017’s multi-course winter tasting menu, Chef Michael Broughton has come up with an additional offer of a chef’s choice of four courses at R550 p/p including a glass of Kleine Zalze’s award-winning wines. After receiving an invitation to experience the winter menu, I visited Terroir yesterday – what a pleasure! There is a reason why Terroir remains a favourite amongs locals (and international visitors alike). They consistently serve guests with carefully designed seasonal dishes, expertly crafted flavours and true winelands hospitality within a premium yet unpretentious environment. There’s certainly something to be said for keeping up your game for 14 years consistently – it’s not easy and the playing field in Stellenbosch is especially tough. Well done Chef Michael Broughton and team, you’ve once again shown why we continue to recommend you to visitors from all over in our beautiful town. You’re simply brilliant.

The winter special offer is valid from 2 May to 30 September, for lunch and dinner. 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 (12h00 – 14h30) and for dinner from Tuesdays to Saturdays (18h30 – 21h00). Advance reservations are highly recommended: 021 880-8167 or email restaurant@kleinezalze.co.za .

Please note that Terroir will be closed for their annual winter break from 25 June 2018 and re-opening on 17 July 2018.

Take a look at our winter lunch experience below, featuring the chef’s four course tasting menu:

An interior view of Terroir Restaurant: clean, cosy, contemporary, unpretentious, welcoming.

The wine list at Terroir.

The iconic hand written chalk board menu at Terroir. This menu changes according to the seasons and availability of ingredients.

This photograph was taken through the glass window on a chilly yet semi-clear winter’s day – the view from our table, indoors.

What better way to start a Thursday winter lunch than with Kleine Zalze bubbles? Aaaah.

Friendly, professional serving staff at Terroir.

Bread board at Terroir with home baked sour dough and tomato bread, with olives, kimchi butter and aubergine puree. You will LOVE the butter and puree – exquisite!

Kleine Zalza Vineyard Selection wooded chenin blanc with our starters. One of my favourites wines from Kleine Zalze. So versatile.

Comté onion soup with poached hen’s egg & onion brioche. This was one of my favourite dishes of the day – so simple, yet so difficult to take to the next level. Silky onion, runny egg yolk, crispy brioche – prefection.

Malay-style baby squid, smoked mackarel aioli and coconut. Who would have thought that “curried fish” goes so well with pineapple salsa? A fantastic combo, both flavour-wise and texture-wise.

One of the most popular dishes on Terroir’s menu: prawn risotto, sauce Americain. This is a very creamy risotto with surprising pockets of crunchy fresh corn inbetween, pan-fried prawns with chilli and citrus, and a smoky oil. The sauce is rich and almost like an aioli/bisque. Don’t miss it.

Lamb, Parisian gnocchi, kimchi, aioli, jus. Smoky, charred flavours, great contrasting textures.

Duck with roasted kohlrabi, kromeski, rhubarb jus, carrot crumble. This dish also featured a ketchup-style BBQ sauce. Bold and inventive.

Ribeye of beef, butternut terrine, crispy kale, beef cheeks in potato, burnt butter crumble, hollandaise foam. Big on umami, perfect winter fare.

Noble late harvest from Ken Forrester to match my dessert.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen such a beautiful dessert: Viennese sachertorte, caramelized rice crispies, kirsch ice cream. Such a stunning way to end this winter menu!

Trio of ice cream for my daughter: dulce de leche, lemon curd and cookies & cream. Exquisite.

Vanilla bean tart, almond crumble, vanilla ice cream. Delicate perfection.

Take a trip to the tasting room next door to purchase some wines for the weekend.

Terroir from the outside facing the golf course. You rarely see this view. We sat in the centre, just next to the glass doors.

The grass is luminous green in Stellenbosch because of the recent rains. This is the stunning lawn in front of Terroir Restaurant.

 

Incredible to have a proper rainy winter for the first time in a few years in Stellenbosch. Luscious green views from the front of Terroir Restaurant.

Autumn and winter collides in colour.

Terroir is situated on a working farm and wine estate. Be sure to visit their tasting room – it’s well worth it!

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Soft scoop white fudge ice cream (easy, no churn recipe)

18 Jun

Serve this ultra creamy ice cream in small dosages – mini sugar cones work perfectly. Making cookie sandwiches will also be a great choice.

Who said you can’t have ice cream in Winter?

There’s a new product on the market called “Velvet” by First Choice – you might have seen me explore it in a Facebook video. It comes in a 1 liter recyclable container (similar to long-life custard) and it is tartrazine/colourant/MSG-free. It’s available in four flavours: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and butterscotch and retails around R30/liter. It’s an interesting new addition to the dairy market, because in my opinion it’s a completely new category. Velvet vanilla tastes similar to melted ice cream, or sweetened flavoured cream, with the texture of runny custard or slightly thickened cream. The makers have attached the hashtag #itswhatyoumakeit, and I can understand why – it’s versatile, it’s velvety, it’s custardy, and it’s really delicious.

I can absolutely just have it as it is, straight from the box – on baked puddings, with poached fruit, with fresh berries or warm tarts. But you can also whip the Velvet when chilled, freeze it and voila – ice cream. It pretty much doubles in volume, and you cannot really over-whip it like you can with cream or double cream (it takes a little bit longer than fresh cream to whip to soft peaks), so it’s a safe bet. And the best thing: you don’t have to add sugar, you don’t have to boil cream and temper eggs, no mess no fuss.

So, I’ve had these mini sugar cones in the cupboard for a few weeks since the end of summer. They’ve been teasing me for a really decadent small-dosage canapé-type ice-cream vibe, something that is rich enough that you won’t need a bowl full, only a bite. I decided to boil some condensed milk in the microwave until it reduced to a pale off-white caramel with a fudgy consistency. After cooling, I scooped it into a blender with 500 ml Velvet vanilla, blitzed it until well mixed, then transferred it to a mixing bowl and whisked until doubled in volume. Pour into a container and pop in the freezer for a few hours. The result is an intensely creamy, soft scoop ice cream with an outrageously smooth texture, and a flavour that I can only describe as “white fudge” – vanilla mixed with fudgy condensed milk. It’s insanely delicious and decadent, perfect for a mini sugar cone dessert canapé.

I’m going to keep playing around with First Choice’s Velvet range – I’m sure there are many sweet treats that can be made with low effort and big results.

Note: Remember, you can also just whip the chilled Velvet as it, and freeze it to get an amazing, easy ice cream. Play around and fold in some fun flavours when already whisked, like berry sauce, lemon curd, blitzed fruit puree, chocolate chips, crushed cookies, etc. – the sky’s the limit!

Ingredients: (make this recipe a day ahead, to leave enough room for cooling and freezing time)

500 ml First Choice Velvet, vanilla flavour

1 can condensed milk

12-24 mini sugar cones, for serving

sprinkles, for serving

Method:

  1. Place the Velvet in the fridge to chill (at least an hour).
  2. Place the condensed milk in a large microwaveable container, at least 1 liter capacity. Cook the condensed milk uncovered for 2 minutes, then stir well. Continue cooking it at 30 second  to 1 minute intervals, stirring inbetween and watching in closely so that it doesn’t boil over the sides. When the condensed milk is reduced by about 1/3 and starts to look almost like it wants to split, remove from the microwave, stir vigorously until smooth, then leave to cool completely. It will continue to thicken on standing. Note: The cooking process takes about 12-15 minutes, cooling will take about 45 min.
  3. Place the cooled condensed milk and chilled Velvet in a blender or food processor (the condensed milk will now have a consistency similar to fudge, so you won’t be able to whisk it straight into the Velvet), then blend/process until almost mixed but still sligthly grainy. Transfer to a mixing bowl, then whisk with an electric hand whisk (or stand mixer with whisk attachment) until doubled in volume and silky smooth. Pour into a freezable container, cover and freeze for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  4. To serve, use a melon baller or teaspoon dipped into hot water to scoop small balls of ice cream into the mini sugar cones. Top with sprinkles and serve immediately. Prepare to keep on scooping – you’ll want more!
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