Archive by Author

Weekend brunch with Poetry Stores

21 Apr

This brunch spread is the stuff dreams are made of. All recipes from Flora Shedden’s book, Gatherings, available from Poetry Stores.

During the month of April we are blessed in South Africa with not only one but two long weekends! That usually means family time and slower mornings – perfect for an indulgent brunch. With Easter weekend already behind us, I cannot wait to treat my family next weekend with these fabulous brunch recipes from Gatherings, the new book by Flora Shedden from Scotland, available from Poetry Stores.

Flora recently was the youngest ever semi-finalist in The Great British Bake Off, impressing judges with her simple, elegant designs. Her book is a reflection of her love for cooking and baking, and it is clear that she has a profound understanding and respect for good ingredients and wonderful flavours.

I’ve chosen Flora’s recipes for a crunchy pumpkin seed, fig & coconut granola served with double cream yoghurt and fresh berries, some rye waffles with mascarpone & poached plum compote as well as French-style bostock – baked sliced of brioche soaked in vanilla apple syrup and covered in a gooey, golden brown almond past. Although all three recipes are stunning, my hands down favourite is the bostock. If you love gooey almond croissants, these beauties will rock your world.

Enjoy a little slow indulgence around the brunch table this Easter, served with steamy coffee and decorated with Poetry’s magnificent blue floral table linen and wonki ware.

All three recipes below are from Flora’s beautiful book, Gatherings, available from Poetry Stores and online for R370. It’s an exceptional book and a must for your recipe collection.

Crunchy granola with almond flakes, poppy seeds and pumpkin seeds (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Fig & coconut granola (makes approximately 750 g)

3 tablespoons coconut oil, at room temperature (i.e. in liquid form)
100 ml maple syrup
100 g clear honey
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
350 g rolled oats
50 g sesame seeds
25 g poppy seeds
100 g pumpkin seeds
50 g flaked almonds
100 g dried figs, roughly chopped
50 g coconut flakes

Preheat the oven to 160 C. Weigh out all the ingredients (except for figs & coconut flakes) in a large bowl. Mix the lot together using your hands, ensuring everything is well coated in the wet ingredients. Top the mixture into a large roasting tray and bake for 10 min. Remove the tray from the oven and stir the granola around – this helps to ensure it colours evenly. Bake for a further 10 min or until golden and becoming crisp. (It will become crunchier once it cools down.) Add the figs and coconut flakes while the mixture is still hot and mix them through. Allow the granola to cool completely, then package it up in a large jar or small cellophane gift bags. It will keep for about 1 month in airtight storage.

My notes: I found that the granola needed more time in the oven, so I baked it at 180 C for about 3 intervals of 10 minutes each.

Rye waffles with mascarpone and spiced plum compote (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Rye waffles (makes 8-10)

150 g plain flour
150 g rye flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
75 g caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
300 ml milk
100 g butter, melted

To serve: Whipped cream and spiced plum compote (from page 262)

Preheat your waffle maker. To make the batter, stir in the flours, baking powder, sugar, eggs and cinnamon together, then whisk in the milk gradually. Continue to beat until the mixture is smooth. Finally stir in the melted butter. Ladle about 125 ml of the batter into the waffle iron and close the lid. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden. Remove the cooked waffle, keep warm and repeat with the remaining batter. Serve warm with whipped cream (or mascarpone) and spiced plum compote.

Bostock is a french classic: stale brioche soaked in a fruity vanilla syrup then spread with a sweet almond paste, baked in the oven and dusted with icing sugar. Just heavenly! (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Apple & almond bostock (serves 4)

125 g butter, softened
125 g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
100 g ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 egg
50 g plain flour
6-8 sliced of stale brioche or bread
200 g flaked almonds, for topping

For the syrup:
150 ml apple juice
150 g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 200 C. First make the syrup. In a saucepan, bring the apple juice, sugar and vanilla to the boil. Cook over a high heat for no more than 1 minute until the sugar has dissolved and you have a light clear syrup. Set aside.
In a bowl beat the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the ground almonds, almond extract, vanilla, egg and flour and heat again until the mixture is smooth.
To assemble, take a piece of brioche and soak each side in the syrup. Place it on a lined baking tray and repeat with the remaining slices. Divide the almond batter between the brioche slices and spread it across the top of each slice. Sprinkle generously with the flaked almonds. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and the almond topping is cooked through. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm.

My notes: I found that about 50 g flaked almonds are more than enough for topping the bostocks.

(This featured post was created in collaboration with Poetry Stores.)

Save

(review) Chef’s Table at The Twelve Apostles

20 Apr

The view to the right from the Leopard Bar at The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa.

Two weeks ago I have the pleasure of attending the first degustation dinner at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa – a new and exclusive “secret menu” chef’s table experience that will be available once a month for a limited number of people all sharing a long table adjacent to the Azure restaurant kitchen.

Chef Christo Pretorius ready for action.

Chef Christo Pretorius and head sommelier Gregory Mutambe welcomed us at 18h30 in their restaurant, against an awe inspiring backdrop of ocean, mountains and sunset. The award-winning Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa is part of the family-run Red Carnation Hotel Collection and is situated on Cape Town’s most scenic Victoria Road in Camps Bay. Poised above the Atlantic Ocean, the 5-star boutique hotel is flanked by the majestic Table Mountain National Park, a World Heritage Site, and the Twelve Apostles mountain range. The hotel offers 70 guest rooms, with unique features that include a holistic spa, private cinema, and breathtaking views from the legendary Azure Restaurant and The Leopard Bar.

A quick pic with award winning sommelier Gregory Mutambe, before the start of our dinner.

The sunset view from the Leopard Bar at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa.

For the chef’s table dinner, you can enjoy a surprise six course degustation menu designed by chef Christo Pretorius – a menu that will change with every occasion. Starting on the 5th of May 2017, the hotel will be hosting these dinners on the first Friday of every month.
The recommended wine pairings with each course, featuring an exclusive selection hand-picked by acclaimed sommelier Greg Mutambe, is one of the highlights of the experience. Chef Christo and Greg will be on hand to guide you through the menu and the wines, but a screen with some footage of the action in the kitchen is a welcome addition (their kitchen space do not allow the chef’s table to actually be inside the kitchen).

Azure Restaurant reception area.

The interior of Azure Restaurant at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa (picture supplied by The Twelve Apostles)

Take a look at my experience at The Twelve Apostles’s first degustation dinner in photographs. I shared the table with a few other digital media guests and their partners, as well as the GM Michael Nel and PR host Joanne Hayes from Tumbleweed Communications. I can honestly say that this dinner was one of the most welcoming, enjoyable, relaxing, luxurious experiences of my life. The unsurpassed views, the incredibly professional and friendly staff, the thoughtful interior, the absolute attention to detail, the magnificent selection of wines expertly paired with the food, the faultless service and of course the selection of scrumptious and inventive dishes from the kitchen – it was a unique all-round experience of the highest quality, one that I would certainly remember for a lifetime.

Amuse-bouche: 60 °c Saldanha Bay Oyster – oyster mayo | miso caramel | compressed cucumber ǀ passionfruit | wild rice puffs

First course: Chicken and Ham Terrine – pickled shitake mushrooms ǀ tarragon mayo ǀ honey mustard emulsion ǀ baby micro salad ǀ compressed granny smith ǀ cured egg yolk

Second course: Roast Cauliflower – cauliflower crème ǀ pickled sultanas ǀ Malay spice dressing ǀ onion dhaltjies ǀ aged parmesan

Third course: Citrus Cured Salmon – molasses curd ǀ hazelnuts ǀ pickled beetroot ǀ stem ginger ǀ fennel fronds

Fourth course: Loin of Venison – venison osso buco ǀ parmesan gnocchi ǀ roast butternut puree ǀ squash custard ǀ confit baby leeks ǀ seed crumble ǀ maple and coffee jus

Fifth course: Boerenkaas Biscuit – pickled plum ǀ plum gel ǀ watercress ǀ toasted macadamia mousse

Sixth course: Valrhona Manjari – crémeux ǀ macerated berries ǀ gingerbread ǀ vanilla meringue ǀ dulcey crème

Mignardises, served with coffee and tea.

This degustation dinner experience is limited to 6-12 guests per event and comes with a price tag of R2150/person for six courses (includes wine, water and gratuity). With 10 days notice, they can do this Chef’s Table on any date (other than advertised) for private bookings. The experience is certainly not for the budget conscious, but fits perfectly in line with The Twelve Apostles’s high end / luxury offerings. Do browse their website for other services, including spa packages, romantic getaways and even an option where kids stay free. And did you know they were pet friendly?

Contact The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa for your reservation:

Telephone: +27 21 4379000
Email: reservations1@12apostles.co.za
Address: Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
GPS Coordinates: 33º58’59.37” S ,  18º21’31.43” E

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Lentil salad with roasted vegetables, lemon & goats cheese

20 Mar

An earthy salad of lentils, roasted seasonal veggies, chunks of creamy goats cheese, lemon rind and parsley (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

When I heard the word “lentils” when I was in my twenties, I immediately associated it with people who go over-the-top on health foods. Lentils sounded boring, brown and tasteless. My mother never cooked it for us as kids, so I had no frame of reference in terms of moorish lentil dishes at all. I saw lentils only as a poor substitute for meat – like a lentil patty on a burger bun. How horrible.

Then I discovered dhal – an Indian lentil side dish with as much flavour as the best meat curry that you’ll ever have (if it’s proper dhal). Glorious dhal, with a side of naan bread and lots of extra coriander leaves. It’s a close contender for my “last meal” choice – after my first choice of fresh ciabatta with extra virgin olive oil and a nugget of extra mature gouda.

So then I began experimenting with lentil soup, lentil bobotie en even lentil salad. As Autumn settled into Stellenbosch with its magnificently milder days and cooler nights, I longed for food that is more nourishing than a crisp, leafy salad. That is how my earthy lentil salad was born.

I absolutely love roasted vegetable (above steamed, boiled or fried). Together, the lentils and the veg and the goats cheese make for a super satisfying, wholesome and nourishing meal. Add glugs of extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste and serve with toasted pine nuts – the perfect meatless Monday dish or the perfect side dish to your larger feast. It’s going to be on my go-to list all Autumn and Winter long.

Note: Always remember that vegetables will shrink in the oven when roasted. Start with more than you think you’ll need.

For the lentils: (serves 4 as a main meal)

  • 250 g brown lentils (half a packet)
  • water, to cover
  • 45 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • juice and finely grated rind of a medium lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • a handful parsley, chopped

Method: Place lentils in a large pot and cover with cold water (about 5 cm above the lentils). Cook for about 30 minutes until tender, then drain and rinse well. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, then add the olive oil, lemon juice & rind and season generously with salt & pepper. Add the parsley and stir well.

For the roasted vegetables:

  • an assortment of your favourite vegetables, peeled and cut into bite size chunks (I’ve used beetroot, carrots, brussels sprout and leeks – enough to fill a standard roasting tray in a single layer)
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Method: Roast at 220 C for 30 minutes or until golden brown and tender.

To assemble:

  • 100g plain goats cheese (chevin)
  • a handful of pine nuts, toasted
  • more parsley to scatter over

Method: Add the roasted veg to the cooked lentils, add chunks of goats cheese, then scatter with more parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Caramel, pear & pecan lattice pie

18 Mar

Pear and pecan nut lattice pie with extra pie crust shapes on top (photography by @Tasha Seccombe)

These days there are so many beautiful lattice pies all over Pinterest. The most beautiful golden strips of pastry, cut into so many different shapes, criss-crossed and layered, covering delicious fruit fillings. They’re almost too beautiful to eat.

I absolutely love the combination of pears, pecan nuts and caramel. I made a pear and pecan tarte tatin a few years ago and it still beats most apple versions by miles. So if you love a good pecan nut pie, this is something similar but with a fruity layer of pears at the bottom that adds to the moistness of the pie. Crunchy, buttery, gooey, fruity, nutty – the best of a pecan pie and a tarte tatin rolled into one.

Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche (or thick cream) and a swirl of caramel sauce.

Caramel sauce, for assembly and for serving (photography by Tasha Secombe)

Choose firm pears for baking (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Layers of pear and caramel sauce (photography by @Tasha Seccombe).

Note: Shop-bought shortcrust pastry delivers a fantastic visual result, but nothing beats the flavour of homemade all-butter sweetened shortcrust pastry with added vanilla. The choice is yours. I’ve found that the home-made pastry does lose some of its shape during the baking process, but by baking a few decorative shapes separately (like cookies on a baking sheet, baked for a shorter time than the actual pie) and placing them on top of the pie afterwards, you still get a phenomenal result.

Ingredients: (makes one medium size pie)

For the pastry:

  • 100 soft butter
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 1 XL egg
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 250 g cake flour
  • a pinch of salt

Using an electric whisk, whisk the butter until creamy in a mixing bowl. Add the caster sugar, egg and vanille and whisk until well combined. Add the flour and salt and whisk until the mixture starts to come together. Turn out on a clean working surface and knead lightly until it comes together in a ball. Flatten slightly to make a disk shape. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For the caramel sauce:

  • 125 g butter
  • 250 ml demerara or muscovado sugar, tightly packed
  • 125 ml cream
  • a pinch of salt

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then add the sugar and stir. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has melted and the mixture starts to become foamy. Add the cream and stir until it is completely smooth. Add the salt, stir and remove from the heat.

Assembling the tart:

  • 1 batch pastry
  • about 3 firm pears, peeled and cored and finely sliced
  • 100 g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 batch caramel sauce (you’ll use the other half for serving)
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked (for brushing)
  • some granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C. Roll out half the refrigerated pastry on a well floured surface to a thickness of about 5 mm. Line a greased fluted 23 cm pastry tin with the pastry, and trim the edges neatly. Use a fork to prick the pastry all over. Arrange the sliced pears (overlapping) on the bottom, filling it about 2/3 to the top. Drizzle with some caramel sauce. Arrange the chopped pecan nuts on top of the pears. Pour the rest of the caramel sauce all over the nuts and pears. Roll out the second half of the pastry, then cut out strips for plaiting and shapes for decoration (place some of the loose shapes on a separate lined baking tray, keeping them neatly in tact for decoration). Top the pie filling with the pieces and strips of pastry, making your own decorative pattern/design and trimming the edges neatly. Carefully brush with egg, then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake the pie at 180 C for 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly then remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack. Bake the extra pieces of pastry on the baking tray for about 8-10 minutes until golden brown – they’ll brown much quicker than the assembled pie.

For serving: carefully remove the fluted ring, then top with extra pastry shapes. Serve warm or at room temperature th a dollop of cream, ice cream or creme fraiche and more (warmed) caramel sauce.

Save

Mar(ch)tini time!

9 Mar

Classic martini (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Summer’s officially over and we’re marveling in the milder weather and muted tones of March. However, I’m not quite ready yet for steamy hot chocolates and mulled wine, so let’s celebrate this beautiful new season with a range of colourful martinis (sporting Poetry‘s range of beautiful glassware, of course) – from the bold and classic to something a little more playful.

With all the beautiful olive and berry colours in Poetry‘s stores at the moment, these martinis fit right in. Adjust the strength of the alcohol according to your preference. Some prefer their martinis with minimal dilution, others can only enjoy it over lots of ice and with a little added juice or soda.

Classic martini

This one is stirred, not shaken, to preserve the translucency of the gin and dry vermouth. I serve it with one green olive, no twist (lemon), no brine (not dirty).

  • ice
  • 2 parts gin (or vodka)
  • 1 part dry vermouth
  • 1 green olive

Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice blocks. Add the gin and vermouth, then use a long spoon to stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled glass and add a olive. Serve immediately.

Dirty martini on the rocks with extra olives (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Dirty martini on the rocks with extra olives

This martini will put you straight into party mode! Shaking it results in a beautiful almost light green icy coloured drink, and the brine adds just the right amount of salty flavour that works so well with the bitterness of the gin. The extra ice makes it less intimidating to drink, and the extra olives provide you with a snack while you’re sipping.

  • ice
  • 2 parts gin
  • 1 part vermouth
  • 1/2 part olive brine
  • ice, to serve
  • thin strip of lemon rind, to serve
  • pitted green olives on a skewer, to serve

Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice blocks. Add the gin and vermouth, then close the shaker and shake vigorously for at least 10 seconds. Strain into a glass filled with extra ice. Add the lemon twist and olive skewers. Serve immediately.

Black and blue martini with lemonade and thyme (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Black and blue martini with lemonade and thyme

If you’re not into the boldness of straight-up martinis, this one with black- and blueberries might tickle your fancy. It’s a little milder, a little sweeter and even a little tinge of pink! The thyme adds a lovely fragrance to the drink.

  • ice
  • 2 parts gin/vodka
  • 1 part vermouth
  • 1 blackberry, bruised
  • a few blueberries, bruised
  • 1 sprig of thyme (plus more for serving)
  • ice cold lemonade, to top up with

Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice blocks. Add the gin, vermouth, blackberry, blueberries and thyme. Shake vigorously for at least 10 seconds. Strain into a glass, then top up with lemonade to taste. Garnish with more berries and a sprig of thyme. Serve immediately.

Red martini with bitters (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Red martini with bitters

This fruity cocktail is stunning to look at, fruity with the extra juice added, yet it still has that martini twang in the background. A dash of bitters adds depth of flavour.

  • 2 parts gin/vodka
  • 1 part vermouth
  • ice cold berry juice (I used cranberry), to top up with
  • ice, to serve
  • raspberries, to serve
  • a dash of bitters

Fill a glass half full with ice blocks. Add the gin & vermouth. Top up with juice. Garnish with berries and a dash of bitters. Serve immediately.

Note: This post was written for Poetry Stores. Find featured glassware, homeware, linen and clothing online at www.poetrystores.co.za.

Save

Save

Review: Lunch at FABER

1 Mar

The magnificent mountain and garden view from the front porch at FABER, Avondale.

I was recently invited to visit FABER – a new restaurant at Avondale Farm in the Paarl wine district. Avondale is a 300 year old, family-run farm that is situated on Lustigan Road, Klein Drakenstein, on the slopes of the Klein Drakenstein Mountains.

FABER marks the meeting of minds and passions between a chef and a winemaker, paying tribute to the craftsmanship in both the kitchen and the Avondale cellar. With a shared commitment to sustainability, it’s no surprise that acclaimed chef Eric Bulpitt and Avondale proprietor Johnathan Grieve decided to collaborate.

Proprietor Johnathan Grieve and chef Eric Bulpitt welcoming the crowd.

“I’ve always believed that we as chefs are craftsmen,” says Bulpitt, explaining the meaning behind FABER, the Latin word for artisan, or craftsman. “We work with our hands, using produce from the land. It’s the perfect way to capture who we are and what we do.”

“It’s always been a goal of ours to open a restaurant on Avondale. We’ve looked at it for over 10 years, but never really found the right chef,” explains Grieve. “I’m a firm believer that when the energies are correct the partnership will happen, but up until now that hasn’t happened. When we met Eric we knew we’d found the perfect partner.”

“We have very similar belief systems in our respect for nature and a natural approach,” adds Bulpitt. “We’ll be working hand in hand together in telling the story of Avondale through the food at FABER. Whatever’s in season on the day (from the fields or the vegetable garden), we’ll bring that onto the plate and tell the story of where it comes from. It’s a dish that sums up exactly what FABER stands for.”

Chef Eric Bulpitt and team getting ready to plate our pastrami course.

Our lunch menu. I love FABER’s logo.

Avondale’s organic and biodynamic food garden has already been extended to produce fresh vegetables and herbs for the restaurant, while stone fruits and citrus from the farm’s orchards arrive with the changing seasons. Eggs are harvested daily from the eco-friendly egg-mobile housing Avondale’s free range chickens, and in time the farm will provide a steady march of broiler chickens and pasture-reared organic beef to the kitchen.

The restaurant interior at FABER.

The décor inside the renovated dining space is a blend of country-style comfort and relaxed elegance. Interior designer Annie Dower helped to infuse the Old Cape-style space with a bright modern country edge. Crockery was handcrafted at the Potters Gallery in Kleinmond, while crystal stemware from Schott Zwiesel showcases the terroir-driven wines from Avondale. Artworks by local painter Scats Esterhuyse are seen on the walls along with delicate botanical prints, echoing the landscape seen from the terrace. Keeping in line with their sustainability theme, the table tops, bar counters and wooden planter boxes are all crafted from stone pines on the estate that were felled when a fire swept Avondale a decade ago.

One of the planter boxes at FABER.

FABER is a new gem on the culinary Winelands landscape. With exceptional views, wines and food, they are sure to become a hot favourite. Here are some of the dishes that I tried at my visit:

Amuse bouche.

Black Angus pastrami, mustard, mustard chantilly and fried celery leaf, to be topped off with a celeriac veloute (which was poured over directly after I took this picture.)

Avondale happy chicken, garlic maize rice, crispy cauliflower, radish and mustard flowers.

Lemon verbena infused watermelon carpaccio, watermelon and basil sorbet, consommé and jellies. The sorbet was one of the best things that I had tasted on the menu – just brilliant.

A box of truffles and coffee for the road.

  • 5-course lunch menu: R535
  • 5 course dinner menu with Avondale wine pairings: R825
  • (Note: Prices subject to change, please check website for more info.)

The restaurant is open for lunch from Wednesday to Sunday from 12h00 – 15h00 and for dinner from Wednesday to Saturday from 18H30 – 21h00. Reservations recommended. For bookings and more information phone 021-202 1219 or email faber@avondalewine.co.za. Visit FABER on Facebook and follow faber_sa on Instagram.

Thank you to Manley Communications and Avondale for the opportunity to visit FABER.

Save

No-churn fruity frozen yoghurt

28 Feb

Melon and strawberry frozen yoghurt in sugar cones (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

If there’s one dessert that everyone loves in the hotter months, it’s ice cream. Dreamy cones of delicious, ice cold creaminess. Unfortunately most ice creams are quite rich in calories (because good ice cream really needs lots of cream) and sugar. If you’ve ever tried making your own, you probably know that a proper home-made custard in a proper churner works best. But very few of us has ice cream churners at home, and very few of us will take the time to make a custard from scratch to start with – it can be quite intimidating. Although I have to mention: the end result totally justifies the effort.

So what’s the alternative? If you really want to enjoy a homemade cold treat with half the effort and more than half the kilojoules, try this: an easy frozen yoghurt made from freshly frozen chunks of banana and other fruit, double cream yoghurt and honey. Whizzed in a food processor (or blender). That’s it.

I’ve seen various versions of this mixture all over the internet, but the basics stay the same. Cut fresh banana and fruit into smallish chunks, freeze in a single layer, pop into your processor with the yoghurt and honey, and give it a whiz. The banana is essential as it provides the smooth, thick texture that we all associate with proper ice cream. It’s all natural, it’s beautiful, and it tastes delicious.

It’s not too difficult to make frozen yoghurt at home. You just need a food processor. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients: (makes about 1 liter)

  • 2 medium-small bananas (peeled and cut into bite-size chunks)
  • roughly 400 g ripe strawberries, stalks removed and cut into chunks (or ripe paw-paw or other soft fruit of your choice, peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 500 g double cream yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup honey (adjust to taste)

Method:

  1. Place the banana and fruit on a small tray in a single layer. Freeze for 2-3 hours.
  2. Place half the frozen fruit with the yoghurt and honey in a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth and thick, then add the rest of the fruit and blend. It should resemble soft serve consistency. Taste and add more honey if needed.
  3. Place in a plastic container with lid, then refreeze for at least 3 hours until ready to serve.

Note: If your food processor is struggling to process the frozen chunks, start by adding a few chunks at a time with the yoghurt, continuing until all the fruit is mixed. A stronger machine works easier.

PS: Frozen fruit that have spent more than 3 hours in the freezer might become very hard to process with regular smaller machines. Leave them out of the freezer for 15 minutes before processing.

Creamy roasted butternut soup with spicy roasted seeds

27 Feb

Thick, roasted butternut soup with spicy roasted seeds and a drizzle of fresh cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

When I was a student, there used to be a place in Church Street called Spice Café that served various soups daily with a slice of bread of your choice. They used to make the most delicious butternut soup – extra thick, super smooth and very creamy. I used to order two bowls in one sitting, my gluttonous nature taking charge.

Although butternut soup has become something of a retro classic (even hated by some), it remains one of the most comforting meals to eat. There’s a school of soup makers that relishes the simplicity of the-two-ingredient-butternut-soup (butternut and cream), but sometimes that can resemble baby food. I prefer a soup made with roasted sliced young butternut, scattered with brown sugar, cinnamon & cumin. I add an onion and a small stick of celery, some good quality stock and fresh cream. If you’re in the mood for a special touch, reserve the seeds of the butternut and roast them with more spices to create a delicious crunchy topping.

Spicy roasted pumpkin seeds to sprinkle on top of your roasted butternut soup (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Here’s to the ultimate thick butternut soup – such a meatless Monday favourite. Enjoy!

Ingredients for soup: (serves 4)

  • 1-1,2 kg young butternut, peeled & sliced into 1 cm thick slices (reserve seeds and keep aside)
  • 1 onion, peeled & quartered
  • 1 stick celery, sliced
  • 30-45 ml olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 5 ml ground cinnamon
  • 2,5 ml ground cumin
  • 15-30 ml soft brown sugar
  • 375 ml warm chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 125 ml cream

Pre-heat oven to 220 C. Arrange the slices of butternut , onion and celery on a large baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper, preferably in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil then season with salt & pepper, cinnamon, cumin and brown sugar. Roast for 30-45 minutes until the edges start to caramelize and the butternut is tender.

Place the roasted veg plus all the roasting juices in a deep medium size pot, then add the stock and cream. Use a stick blender and process to a very smooth pulp. Adjust seasoning and add more stock or cream, if necessary. Reheat just before serving.

Tip: If you prefer an ultra smooth texture, push the soup through a fine sieve after blending.

For the roasted seeds:

  • reserved seeds from your butternut (see above)
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • salt flakes
  • ground black pepper
  • 2,5 ml paprika
  • 2,5 ml dried thyme
  • 2,5 ml smoked chilli flakes

Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Remove most of the stringy bits from the seeds, then rinse them under cold running water. Drain well and pat dry. Arrange the seeds on a baking tray, then drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt & pepper, then scatter with paprika, thyme & chilli flakes. Roast in the oven for 10-15  minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Let it cool on the tray, then store in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.

To serve:

Serve the soup in bowls with a swirl of cream, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some toasted seeds.

Spicy dhal with naan bread

21 Feb

Spicy dhal with fresh coriander and warm naan bread (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Few smells bring more comfort than that of a fragrant curry – not only in colder months but also at the height of summer. Curry doesn’t have to be expensive and complicated though, and it also doesn’t need to be meaty.

This simple spicy dhal recipe is absolutely delightful. If you have most of the spices in your cupboard, you’d be amazed at how cheap this hearty meal will work out. If you’ve never had dhal before, see it as a warm “dip” for naan bread. It is comfort food to the max.

This recipe is by far my favourite starter or side dish when I’m serving Indian food.

Tip: To turn this recipe into a heartwarming soup, add a cup or two of your favourite warmed stock to the finished dhal. Blitz with a stick blender for a smoother result (optional). Adjust seasoning and serve in mugs, topped with a dollop of plain yoghurt.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • about 400 g red lentils
  • 10 ml turmeric
  • 60 ml butter
  • 15-20 ml cumin seeds
  • 15-20 ml garam masala
  • 10 ml ground coriander
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 30 ml fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1-2 small fresh green chillies, finely sliced (leave seeds in for a more spicy result)
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh coriander leaves (to serve)

Method:

  1. Place the lentils and turmeric in a saucepan and cover with enough cold water to come to around 5cm above their surface (no salt added yet). Bring to the boil, then stir in the turmeric. Reduce to a simmer and skim off any scum that rises to the top. Cover partly and simmer gently for about 20 minutes or until tender.
  2. Meantime, in a small frying pan, dry-fry the cumin seeds over a medium heat until toasted and fragrant (just 1-2 minutes). Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Melt half the butter in the same frying pan and gently fry the chopped onion, garlic, chilli and the grated ginger. Once the mixture is golden, mix in the toasted cumin seeds, garam masala and ground coriander. Remove from the heat.
  4. Give the lentils a good stir. They should have the consistency of porridge – thicker than soup and looser than hummus. Add more water as necessary and mix in your aromatic fried mixture. Season to taste with salt & pepper, then stir in the remaining half of the butter.
  5. Serve with naan bread, topped with fresh coriander leaves, or with a side of basmati rice and greens.

For the naan bread:

  • 5 ml instant yeast
  • 60 ml warm water
  • 5 ml sugar
  • 300 g (2 cups) white bread flour
  • 10 ml cumin seeds or fennel seeds
  • 5 ml salt
  • 5 ml baking powder
  • 15 ml vegetable oil
  • 60 ml yoghurt
  • 60 ml milk
  • clarified butter, for brushing

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the yeast with the warm water. Stir in the sugar and leave it in a warm place for five minutes until the yeast is covered with froth.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together the flour, seeds, salt and baking powder. Stir in the oil, yoghurt and milk, then stir in the activated yeast mixture. Mix well and knead until you have a soft, pliable dough (add a little more water if you need to). It should take about ten minutes.
  3. Place the dough in a mixing bowl, cover it with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for 20-30 minutes.
  4. When doubled in size, divide the dough into 4 balls and place on a floured surface or board. Roll each into a long oval shape about 0.5cm thick. Don’t roll them out too thinly. Toast in a dry non-stick pan for 5-7 minutes, turning them over half-way (or bake in a hot oven at 220 C for about 8 minutes). They are ready when they have puffed up and are golden on the outside.
  5. Brush with warm clarified butter as soon as they are cooked. Serve immediately.

My Top 5 Budget-Beating Dinner Recipes

20 Feb

While most of us are still recovering from a spendalicious festive season, this not-so-new year is already heading for March at the speed of light. And with Valentines Day and all its treats past us, you might be one of many South Africans scanning the internet for recipes that won’t break the bank.

I’ve rounded up my top 5 budget-beating dinner recipes to make life a little easier for all of us. Because sometimes we just need a little inspiration to get ahead of the game. More money in your pocket to spend on the necessities, less stress worrying about what to cook for the people at home.

Portuguese sardines and roasted tomatoes on toasted ciabatta (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

  1. Sardines and roasted tomatoes on toast – a humble can of sardines can be so comforting. Pair it with some roasted tomatoes and a slice or two of your favourite ciabatta and you have a gourmet open sarmie packed with flavour.

    Crispy crumbed chicken strips with lemon juice & honey mustard mayo (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

  2. Crumbed wholegrain paprika chicken strips – breadcrumbs, egg and chicken breasts can go a long way with this super tasty recipe. It’s a crowd favourite for adults and kids alike, and one of my go-to economic mid-week meals.

    The ultimate deep fried onion rings with a spicy tomato ketchup (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

  3. Ultimate deep-fried onion rings – this is the best way to turn a humble onion into a rock star. And you’d be surprised at how many mouths an onion can feed – even meat-hungry mouths! Serve with shop-bought tomato sauce or mayo if you’re not keen on making the home-made ketchup in the recipe.

    Garlic pitas with double-cream tzatziki (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

  4. Garlic pitas with double cream tzatziki – the Greeks know best when it comes to garlic, trust me. These delicious garlic pitas are absolutely scrumptious, especially dipped into a creamy (not watery), minted home-made tzatziki. Meatless Mondays, here we come!

    Fresh linguine with basil & cashew pesto, mixed tomatoes and fior di latte.

  5. Spaghetti or linguini with basil pesto – these days you can find a packet of pasta for less than R10.00 at most supermarkets. Add a dollop of (shop-bought or home-made) pesto and a drizzle of olive oil and you’re smiling! If you want to be fancy and if you have extra budget, add slivers of fior di latte and sliced baby tomatoes or some shredded chicken.

This post was written in association with Hippo household insurance. Check out their choices for budget-beating dinners.

Save

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram
YouTube