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Grilled lamb skewers with lemon, honey & mustard

8 Dec

Grilled lamb sosaties with Dijon & wholegrain mustard, honey, fresh lemon juice & rind, and garlic. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

As we are enterting festive season, most of us would just want to light a fire and spend some time outdoors with the promising smell of something amazing on the hot coals. These lamb sosaties are easy to braai and really deliver on the flavour factor – sweet and tangy honey mustard with fresh lemons and garlic.

The marinade will also work well on lamb/mutton chops, or even on chicken. Enjoy the start of your holiday (if you’re lucky enough to have some time off), put your feet up and exhale!

Ingredients: (serves 6)

1,2-1,5 kg boneless leg of lamb
juice and finely grated rind of 2 small lemons
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) honey
2 tablespoons (30 ml) wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Dijon mustard
salt & pepper

Method:

Cut the lamb into bitesize cubes of about 2,5 x 2,5 cm and set aside.
Make the marinade: In a deep glass bowl of about 1,5 liter capacity, add the juice and rind of the lemons, the garlic, olive oil, honey, mustards and season with salt & pepper. Mix well, then add the meat cubes and stir to coat.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid, and marinate for 1-3 hours in the refrigerator.
Remove the meat from the fridge and skewer the blocks on sosatie sticks to make 6 or more skewers. Braai over hot coals until charred on the outside and slightly pink on the inside. Serve hot with more lemon wedges, and a side salad or braai broodjie.

Another festive collaboration with SA Lamb & Mutton.

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Spicy lamb tortillas with beetroot hummus and crispy paprika chickpeas

4 Dec

Spicy lamb tortillas with creamy yoghurt, earthy hummus, fresh mint and a squeeze of lemon juice. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Lamb mince is usually ground from boneless leg of lamb and is therefor more expensive than most other mince options, but oh so tasty. The best you can do is to stretch it by using it as a topping for tortillas alongside a few other basic additions like hummus, fresh herbs and creamy yogurt, to turn into a fabulously light and festive lunch.

You can save a lot of time by buying ready-made beetroot hummus from some supermarkets, or make your own by pureeing a cup of ready-made regular hummus with a few cooked baby beets. Alternatively use any other hummus of your choice.

For the spicy mince: (serves 6, on tortillas)

30 ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
500 g lamb mince (ask your butcher)
15 ml (1 tablespoon) dry harissa spice mix (use more if you like it really spicy)
15 ml (1 tablespoon) ground smoked paprika
30 ml ( 2 tablespoons) tomato paste
30 ml (2 tablespoons) water
salt & pepper

For the crispy chickpeas:

1 x 410 g can chickpeas, drained
45 ml (3 tablespoons) olive oil
salt & pepper
10 ml (2 teaspoons) ground smoked paprika

To assemble:

6 large flour tortillas, warmed in a hot dry pan
1 cup (25 ml) beetroot hummus
1 cup (250 ml) double cream plain yogurt (or sour cream)
a small bunch fresh mint (and/or coriander leaves)
a small red onion, finely sliced

Method:

Make the mince: Heat the oil in a medium pot and fry the onion until soft and translucent. Add the mince and fry over high heat, stirring often and breaking up any lumps. Continue to fry until the meat is brown and starts to catch on the bottom. Add the harissa & paprika and stir for another minute, then add the tomato paste, water and season with salt & pepper. Stir well and continue to fry for another 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Make the chickpeas: Heat the oven to 220 C. In a medium mixing bowl, add the drained chickpeas, olive oil, paprika and season generously with salt & pepper. Toss to coat all over, then transfer to a shallow baking tray in a single layer. Roast for 15 minute, then stir with a spatula. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes or until dark and toasty. Remove and set aside.

To assemble: Arrange a spread in bowls and on plates in the middle of your table so that guests can help to assemble their own tortillas – hot tortillas, hummus, yogurt, herbs, red onion and the warm mince and chickpeas. Every tortilla should have a little of everything, with a healthy scoop of spicy mince. Enjoy at once.

This recipe was created in collaboration with SA Lamb & Mutton.

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Mediterranean-style lamb boeries

28 Nov

Lamb sausage boeries with roasted aubergine, feta and a herb yoghurt dressing. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Everyone’s a fan of a classic boerie roll and it’s such an easy way of entertaining. Wow your crowd this December with a Mediterranean take on a classic South African favourite: lamb sausages on a soft hotdog roll, with roasted aubergines, salty feta and a fresh, herby yoghurt dressing. Just delightful!

For the aubergines:

2 medium size aubergines
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
5 ml dried origanum

For the herb yoghurt dressing:

375 ml (1,5 cups) double cream yoghurt
2 small bunches fresh herbs (about 40 g), like mint, coriander and/or parsley (save a few for topping)
about 10 ml (2 teaspoons) fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper

To assemble:

about 500-600g lamb boerewors (6 x 20 cm)
6 soft hotdog rolls, sliced lengthways
butter, for rolls
fresh

Method:

Roast the aubergines: Preheat oven to 230 C. Use a sharp knife to dice the aubergines into 1 x 1 cm blocks. Place them in a mixing bowl and add the oil. Season with salt, pepper & origanum. Stir to coat all over, then top into a shallow baking tray and spread it out in a single layer. Roast for 10-15 minute until golden brown, then remove from the oven and cover with foil to steam further on standing (or transfer to a container covered with a lid).

Make the dressing: Place the yoghurt, herbs, lemon juice and some salt & pepper in a food processor. Mix until you have a relatively smooth green dressing. Transfer to a squeeze bottle (if you have one) or a jar, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble: Grill the boerewors over hot coals or in a hot pan. Spread the rolls with butter, then top with the grilled aubergine, wors, feta, a drizzle of the yoghurt sauce and some fresh herbs. Enjoy at once.

This recipe was created in collaboration with SA Lamb & Mutton.

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Stay at Eendracht Hotel and see Stellenbosch by bike with the Adventure Shop

5 Oct

The iconic Eendracht Hotel in Dorpstreet, Stellenbosch, has recently undergone a room refurbishment. This plush accommodation facility is known to be one of the most central and best value for money options in town. We were invited for a 2-night stay including breakfast and a bike tour with Adventure Shop Stellenbosch, courtesy of Cape Country Routes Collection. Have a look at my informal video of our stay and our biking adventure:

Eendracht Hotel & Apartments is an elegant 3-star establishment boasting 12 en-suite bedrooms and 3 semi self-catering units. Cape Town International Airport is within 35 minutes reach and the V&A Waterfront is under 55 minutes’ drive. The room interiors are contemporary and texture rich, yet the building’s architecture and entry halls clearly convey the deep historical roots of the setting. Being walking distance from many fantastic restaurants, supermarkets, theatres, shops and scenery, it is a great base camp for exploring the City of Oaks.

We were also invited to spend a few hours with Raino Bolz of the Adventure Shop Stellenbosch, where I took my first scenic tour on an E-bike. What a pleasure! We paddled about 16km without me once breaking a sweat – up and down hills, across the university campus, next to the beautiful Eerste River, and into the Jonkershoek Valley with a visit to Stark Condé and Lanzerac Wine Estates for tastings. What a splendid way to discover Stellenbosch – I’ve stayed here for almost 41 years and I was freshly bowled over by the beauty and scenery of my stunning home town. Highly recommended for people of all skill levels.

Take a look at our stay in pictures below, and find more information about Cape Country Routes and their many accommodation and activity options on www.capecountryroutes.com. Thank you Eendracht Hotel and Adventure Shop for an unforgettable weekend.

The historical facade and entrance to Eendracht Hotel, Dorp Street, Stellenbosch.

 

Street view from across Eendracht Hotel.

 

It’s green season in Stellenbosch! These rooms lead onto a walkway that looks out onto the swimming pool and courtyard.

 

Plush beds and crisp linen in the newly refurbished rooms.

 

Mountain views from our bathroom, room 10, on the first floor.

 

A crackling fire place to welcome guests on a cooler day.

 

Polished tables in the afternoon will turn into cosy breakfast tables the next morning.

 

Colourful plants next to the pool area.

 

Take a seat next to the pool.

Newly refurbished chairs become colourful reading nooks.

 

The most beautiful flowers in the foyer’s windowsill.

 

Wine tasting at Stark Condé’s cellar as part of our bike tour with Adventure Shop. The usual wine tasting area over the pond is being enlarged currently.

 

Postcard Café at Stark Condé, a stop on our bike tour with Adventure Shop.

 

A delightful chocolate & wine pairing at Lanzerac Estate as part of our bike tour with Adventure Shop.

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Pulled pork sliders with BBQ sauce & slaw

21 Aug

Slider buns should be small enough to be eaten with one hand. Photography & styling by Tasha Seccombe. Food preparation & plating by Ilse van der Merwe.

Although I don’t eat meat every day, few things give me more pleasure than cooking a large pork roast. Pork is so versatile, flavoursome and easy to handle.

I’ve read up a lot on American-style pulled meat roasts and most of the recipes involve specialised smoking equipment. Although I’ve had the pleasure of teaming up with the guys of Santa Anna’s for a smoking extravaganza a few years ago, this recipe is meant for the home cook who doesn’t have the luxury of outdoor meat smoking equipment (yet). You can achieve great results in your home oven over low temperatures – all you need is time and patience.

I baked soft mini rolls for this shoot (get my recipe), but you can easily buy smaller cocktail buns in most supermarkets these days. The softer the roll, the better it absorbs the BBQ juices – almost like a “sloppy joe”.

This is a great way of serving an informal grab-and-eat lunch or dinner to a meat-loving crowd. Maybe there’s a game of sport involved in the background. Maybe some beers. But there will totally be cheers involved for the pulled pork.

Note: The meat takes 8 hours to cook, so keep that in mind when you start this recipe. The roasting flavour of the meat from your oven is an important part of the charm when inviting guests over – trust me. However, it can be made ahead and reheated with great success.

For the pork: (serves 6)

  • 2,5 kg pork shoulder, bone out, skin scored
  • 30 ml salt flakes (or 15 ml fine salt)
  • 10 ml freshly ground black pepper
  • 15 ml smoked paprika
  • 15 ml fennel seeds (or 10 ml ground fennel)
  • 250 ml apple cider (or apple juice or white wine)
  • 250 ml BBQ sauce (see below, or use a good quality smoky store bought BBQ sauce)

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 120 C. Mix the salt, pepper, paprika and fennel together in a small bowl. Place the pork skin side up on a clean working surface. Rub all over with the spice mixture, getting the spices into the scored cracks. Place in an deep, oiled roasting tray and cover with foil. Roast for 8 hours on 120 C, or until the meat is soft enough to easily pull apart with two forks.

When the meat is soft, remove the excess fat, then pull the meat apart using two forks. Drizzle with BBQ sauce and mix through. Return to the oven at 230 C without the foil for about 10 minutes, just getting some dark stickiness on the edges. Serve on soft rolls with slaw and pickles.

For the BBQ sauce: (makes about 1,5 litres)

  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 45 ml fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 x 400 g canned pineapple chunks, pureed
  • 1 x 410 g can tomato puree (not tomato paste)
  • 125 ml soft brown sugar
  • 60 ml Worcester sauce
  • 60 ml soy sauce
  • 30 ml white vinegar
  • 10 ml black treacle syrup*
  • 30 ml smoked paprika
  • 15 ml ground Chinese 5-spice
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method:

Using a large heavy based pot, heat oil, then fry onion over medium heat until soft. Add garlic & ginger and fry, stirring often, until it starts to catch and the edges turn golden brown.Add fruit puree, tomato puree, sugar, Worcester sauce, soy, vinegar, treacle, paprika & spice. Season with salt & pepper. Stir well, then bring to a simmer and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes. Stir every now and then to prevent burning. Transfer to a glass jar and cool to room temp, then store in the fridge. Use on roasts, chops, steaks, chicken and burgers, or as a dipping sauce.

*Black treacle syrup is a dark, bitter, thick and sticky syrup and has no real substitute (molasses comes close, though). If you cannot find it or don’t want to buy it especially for this recipe, just leave it out.

For the slaw:

  • 1 small head of purple cabbage (a little goes a long way)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • juice of a small lemon
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method:
Shave the cabbage using a mandolin cutter or food processor blade on thinnest setting. Place in a large mixing bowl. In another mixing bowl, mix mayo, sour cream, lemon juice and sugar. Add a pinch of salt & pepper and mix well. Pour over cabbage and mix well (it will always look like the mixture is too dry in the beginning, but it does spread eventually).

To serve:

  • slider buns, sliced open horizontally (buttered and toasted optional)
  • pulled pork (see above)
  • BBQ sauce (see above)
  • slaw (see above)
  • fresh coriander (optional)
  • pickled gherkins/cucumber, sliced

Serve warm pulled pork on soft buns topped with slaw, gherkins, fresh coriander (optional) and more BBQ sauce.

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How to make soft hamburger buns

14 Aug

Soft and perfectly golden hamburger buns, fresh from the oven.

A few weeks ago I started a new collaboration with Kenwood South Africa. In my role as brand ambassador over the next few months, I have received their Chef XL Titanium – you’ll see it featuring in some of my upcoming recipes and videos. I’ve been using this machine for some time now and it is such an incredible tool! From macaroons to butter icing, ciabatta to Italian meringue – what a joy to use it. In my next post, I’ll do a full review of this premium mixer, so stay tuned.

More and more people are welcoming the craft of making the perfect hamburger at home. Most of us have the 100% beef patties down (or know where to buy a really good one from a local butcher), many of us can make a killer mayo (or aioli – even better), and then it’s up to you to add what you love: pickles, tomato, lettuce, relish, caramelized onions, cheddar etc. One of the most key parts of the burger, however, is the bun. If you’re stacking all that incredible stuff on a bun that’s going to fall apart when you bite it, or worse – a bun that’s too tough to bite through, your burger will be ruined. What you are looking for, is a soft brioche bun that’s about the same diameter as your cooked pattie (patties shrink in the pan), not too high so that you can still bite through your assembled burger, with or without sesame seeds on top (I prefer sesame), sliced horizontally, buttered and pan toasted to a golden perfection. It should be light enough to easily bite through without much resistance, but sturdy enough to hold together when all the juicy bits drizzle down towards the bottom half. So next time you’re going the full monty with making burgers at home, start with making these incredibly soft hamburger buns – it’ll change your burger game forever.

Note: You’re going to need an electric mixer for this recipe. I used my Kenwood Chef XL Titanium – it’s an absolute pleasure to use. The light around the attachment port shines right into the bowl, and although it’s quite a big bowl you can always see what’s going on inside. The machine is very strong and makes light work of the dough. The solid stainless steel attachments are very easy to change and along with the stainless steel bowl they are easy to clean. Keep an eye out for a full review of this machine within the next week, and watch my video of how to make soft hamburger buns below.

Ingredients:

 

  • 200 g butter, cubed
  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) honey
  • 1 kg stone ground white bread flour (divided in two halves)
  • 30 g (45 ml) instant yeast
  • 20 ml (4 teaspoons) sugar
  • 10 ml salt (2 teaspoons) fine salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg, whisked, for brushing (optional)
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) sesame seeds, for topping (optional)

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan, add the butter, milk and honey and stir until the butter has melted (do not boil). Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with K-beater, add 500 g flour with the yeast, sugar and salt. Mix gently.
  3. Add the warm milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix on low speed. Add the eggs and continue to mix until incorporated (about 30 seconds), then add the second half of the flour and continue to mix for about 1 minute.
  4. Change from K-beater to dough hook (scrape any excess dough mixture using a spatula), then mix with the dough hook on medium-low speed for about 5-10 minutes or until the dough is very smooth and elastic.
  5. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into portions (I prefer to weigh it individually – you’re looking for balls of about 110-120 g each). Shape each piece of dough into a ball by tucking the seams in underneath, then flatten it slightly and place it on a lined baking tray, leaving enough space inbetween for rising.
  6. Cover lightly with plastic and leave to rise in a warm area for about 25 minutes or until doubled in size. While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 200 C.
  7. When the buns are risen, use a pastry brush to paint it with whisked egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds (or just leave plain, if you prefer). Bake for 12 minutes (in the middle of the oven) or until golden brown and cooked. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Store in an airtight container or covered plastic bag, and use within 3 days. Best for hamburgers when sliced, buttered and toasted in a hot pan. ​

Note: Baked cooled buns can be successfully frozen for up to 3 months.

*Regular cake flour won’t yield the same results as stone ground white bread flour and will result in a more sticky dough that is harder to handle. Rather use stone ground white bread flour, if you want to achieve the best results possible.

This post was created in proud collaboration with Kenwood South Africa.

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Lunch at Waverley Hills and a stayover at Orchard Stay, Wolseley

30 Jul

The roaring fireplace at Waverley Hills, ready to welcome guests in winter.

 

We were recently invited to visit Waverley Hills for a taste of their new menu, and a stayover afterwards at Orchard Stay – all in the beautiful Wolseley countryside between Tulbagh and Ceres off the R46 at the foothills of the Witzenberg mountain range.

Just 90 minutes from Cape Town, Waverley Hills is a premier organic wine producer, restaurant and function destination. The venue’s twin fireplaces and deep leather couches make it especially popular as a winter meal-stop for families out to see the snow on surrounding peaks, or for bikers and road trippers keen to explore a countryside ride with magnificent views.

Inspired by the the spectacular landscape, chef Francois du Toit has designed an enticing countryside menu that’ll have you linger lazily this winter. “Being out in the country is about hitting the pause button and I’ve made that my starting point for every new dish,” he says. “It employs seasonal ingredients as well as organic or bio-dynamically farmed produce where possible.

The food at Waverley Hills embodies the essence of hearty winter fare: deep and robust flavours, generous portions and comforting textures. All a la carte menu items come with a recommended wine pairing per glass. Have a look at our experience in pictures, below.

Waverley Hills’ restaurant, which is fully licensed, is open six days a week for breakfast and lunch, and twice for dinners on Wednesdays and Fridays. Contact: info@waverleyhills.co.za | Tel: 023-231 0002.

Note: The restaurant also offers a dedicated, five-course food and wine pairing menu, although bookings are required a week in advance.

The restaurant at Waverley Hills is spectaculary set at the foothills of the Witzenberg Mountains, just outside Wolseley.

Waverley Hills chardonnay to go with my starter.

 

My starter: Wild mushrooms, parmesan custard cream, truffle – with Waverley Hills Chardonnay 2016. Although very rich, this is my typical favourite food. Very creamy, very well seasoned, earthy and indulgent.

Schalk’s starter: Gambas pil pil, prawns fried in spiced paprika garlic parsley oil, ciabatta – with Waverley Hills Cabernet No-added Sulphites. This was the best dish of the day, and we could have eaten a bucket full of it! Punchy flavours, absolutely delicious.

My main course: Fish & chips – soy & ginger marinated kabeljou, spiced mushy corn, fries, lime mayonnaise – served with Waverley Hills Pinot Grigio. The mushy corn was a welcome sweet addition to traditional fish & chips. Perhaps the chips wasn’t even needed – the kabeljou, mielies & mayonnaise were delicious on their own.

Schalk’s main course: Pork belly, twice cooked pork neck, honeycomb, bacon jus, lemon pickled apple, pearl couscous – served with Waverley Hills Grenache. This dish is highly recommended.

The restaurant interior at Waverley Hills.

Schalk’s dessert: Tiramisu (you can choose from a black board with three or more choices). Very decadent and delicious.

My dessert: Pavlova with caramelized apples in toffee sauce and lemon curd. A few classic, comforting winter flavours. Perhaps a dollop of softly whipped cream would have made it even more delicious.

Taking a stroll in the garden at Waverley Hills.

The view of the mountain at the restaurant parking area – you are so close to nature here.

View of one of the mountain ranges as we left Waverley Hills. So many spectacular sights in this area!


After lunch, we checked in at Orchard Stay at Platvlei Farm, a self catering cottage in the middle of fruit orchards next to a tranquil pond, about 10km from Waverley Hills. I couldn’t stop taking photographs of this place from the moment we arrived – it truly is one of the most beautiful self-catering countryside cottage settings that I’ve ever seen, and one that deserves the time for immersing oneself into unplugging from city life.

Here’s the low-down: Two stylish bedrooms (both with en-suite bathrooms) with extra length beds. Main bedroom: king-size bed,  second room: twin beds which can convert to a king size bed. Rest your eyes on views of the orchards and Mostertshoek Mountain. Large fold back doors lead onto a covered wrap-around terrace. Fully equipped kitchen and covered built in braai. Lazy days can be enjoyed on the terrace, out on the lawn or curled up on the couch in the lounge. On winter days set the fireplace alight for a cosy day/night in. The eco-pool and hot tub has been purposely designed to be enjoyed all year round. The eco-pool is perfect for cooling off, relaxing with a book or drink, or just hanging out with family and friends.  The hot tub is fueled by a wood burner, great for an evening dip or night time star gazing. No tv (purposefully), but great, free wifi. Note: Orchard Stay is child friendly, but not pet friendly.

​Check here for availability and rates. Check out our stay in pictures below – it was breathtaking, spacious and exceptionally tranquil.

Contact Orchard Stay: info@orchardstay.co.za | Cell: 071-105 3121.

Arriving at Orchard Stay, Platvlei Farm.

The stunning cottage at Orchard Stay.

Table on the stoep at Orchard Stay, looking out onto the eco pool and hot tub.

Outside braai stocked with wood at Orchard Stay.

The beautiful Orchard Stay logo, as captured in tile detail next to the braai area.

The spacious, open plan kitchen at Orchard Stay.

A sunny corner on the couch alongside colourful wall art at Orchard Stay.

The inside fireplace at Orchard Stay.

The main bedroom at Orchard Stay.

Main on-suite bathroom with shower and bath, at Orchard Stay.

Second bedroom at Orchard Stay.

The wood fired hot tub, getting warm for a dip at Orchard Stay.

A sunny nook on the wrap-around stoep outside the main bedroom.

Orchard view from the front porch across the pond.

Pond view of the hot tub and surrounds.

Spectacular pond mirror views.

As the sun was setting, our fire was roaring inside and our braai was lit. Bliss.

Dusk at Orchard Stay. Pure magic.

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Beef & Gruyère lasagne

25 Jul

I’m a huge fan of Terra del Capo – the Italian-inspired wine range & destination by Rupert Wines, a premium wine estate situated on the outskirts of Franschhoek. Apart from classical Italian wine varietals, they offer a range of Italian-style tapas at their tasting room eatery, one of which is a mini lasagne. It pairs beautifully with their Sangiovese, a red wine with juicy cherry and plum flavours, tinged with spice and black pepper. The team of Terra del Capo approached me to create a lasagne recipe of my own to celebrate their Sangiovese in these colder months – what better than a glass of red with a freshly baked, hearty lasagne for dinner?

My recipe to pair with Terra del Capo’s Sangiovese is a beef & Gruyère lasagne, made with 100% pure beef mince, fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme & sage, beef stock, red wine (Sangiovese, of course), and smoked paprika for added smokiness and to elevate the slow cooked beef flavours. Instead of parmesan cheese, which is delicious but can be very expensive, I’ve chosen a local vintage Gruyère-style cheese – strong and nutty. It just goes a little further than the parmesan, and is a much better choice than a young cheddar or mozzarella. If you want to use cheddar, a 9-12 month mature will also work wonders.

My lasagne was made with freshly rolled pasta sheets – only because I recently got the attachment for my Kenwood mixer – what a pleasure! If you don’t have a pasta machine at home, store-bought dried lasagne sheets work just as well and they don’t need pre-cooking because my bolognese sauce is quite saucy.

My lasagne has four layers, so when you’re assembling keep in mind how much meat sauce and bechamel you’re using to have enough left for a last top layer of meat and a thick layer of bechamel. It makes all the difference.

This is a family-size lasagne and the recipe can easily be halved to serve only 4. However, if you’re going to take the effort to make something as delicious as this, you might as well make enough to last for seconds and thirds over the next few days. It lasts very well in the fridge (for a few days) and can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

 

Ingredients: (serves 8)

For the beef bolognese sauce:

  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1 kg lean beef mince
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • a handful fresh herbs, finely chopped (rosemary, thyme, sage)
  • 250 ml red wine (Terra del Capo Sangiovese)
  • 375 ml beef stock (or 1 stock cube dissolved in 375 ml boiling water)
  • 800 g canned Italian whole tomatoes, pureed
  • 15 ml smoked paprika
  • 10 ml sugar
  • 10 ml salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large heavy based pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrot & celery. Stir, then cover with a lid and leave to steam while frying (you don’t want to brown these yet, you just want it to soften.) Fry, stirring often, for about 7-8 minutes until they are soft.
  2. Add the mince and turn the heat up to high. Stir, breaking up all the lumps as you go. The meat will at a stage release quite a lot of liquid, just keep on cooking until it evaporates and starts to fry in it’s own fat. You want the bottom to start catching and turn brown – it takes about 15 minutes.
  3. When the bottom starts to turn brown, add the garlic and herbs and fry for another minute. Then add the red wine and remove the pot from the heat for a minute to stir and loosen any sticky brown bits from the bottom. If you don’t do this, the pot might burn easily later on.
  4. Return the pot to high heat, add the stock, pureed tomatoes, sugar, salt & pepper. Stir and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so to prevent the bottom from burning. When done, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Note: The bolognese can be made a day in advance, cooled and refrigerated until ready to use. Reheat in the microwave for easier assembly.
  5. Remove from the heat and leave to cool until ready to assembly.

For the bechamel (white sauce):

  • 80 g (1/3 cup) butter
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 1 liter milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) Dijon mustard
  • 5 ml salt (plus more, if necessary)
  • ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the flour, stirring. Cook for at least 2 minutes taking care not to brown the butter.
  2. Add the milk all at once, stirring vigorously with a wire whisk at first. Continue stirring every now and then as it heats up, taking care to scrape the bottom as the sauce starts to thicken. Just as the sauce starts to bubble and it gets thick like custard, stir very well and remove from the heat.
  3. Add the nutmeg, mustard, salt & pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning – the bechamel should not be bland, it should be able to “stand on its own”. Cover with a lid until ready to assemble.

For assembly:

  • 1 batch bechamel sauce (see above)
  • about 500 g fresh lasagne sheets or 400 g dried lasagne sheets
  • 1 batch bolognese sauce (see above)
  • 200 g mature Gruyère-style cheese, coarsely grated (about 3 cups)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Whisk the bechamel to remove any skins that has formed on top. (Heat the bolognese sauce in the microwave, if using from refrigerated.)
  3. In a large deep oven dish or roasting tray (about 30 x 22 x 7 cm) , add a ladle full of bechamel on the bottom of the dish and spread it all over to prevent the pasta from sticking. Continue with your first layer of lasagne sheets, covering the whole surface (break/cut off pieces if they’re too big). Continue with your first layer of meat sauce, spreading it out into the corners. Then your first proper layer of bechamel – not too much, just drizzle a ladle-full all over and continue.
  4. Now do the second layer of bechamel, pasta, meat sauce & bechamel. Sprinkle half the cheese over.
  5. Assemble the third and the fourth layers. End with a thick layer of bechamel and top with the other half of the cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, then turn up the heat to 220 C and continue for another 10-15 minutes until it is golden brown and bubbly on top.
  6. Remove from oven and leave to stand at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving – the lasagne will be very runny at first but will stabilize on standing. Serve hot with a green side salad and Terra del Capo’s Sangiovese.

This post was proudly created in collaboration with Terra del Capo.

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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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