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Canned tomato stew with sausage, heerenbone and roasted tomatoes

3 Apr

My “slightly dressed up” canned tomato stew with heerenbone, chorizo and roasted tomato halves. You can also use canned beans of your choice, and any other sausage or bacon instead of chorizo (or no meat at all).

 

Canned tomatoes must be my number one favourite pantry item. They’re just utterly versatile – pizza base sauce, soups, stews, curries, the list is endless. This simple tomato stew can be dressed up or down. If you have some sausage or salami or bacon, add that (I saved a piece of chorizo for a special occasion like this – something I don’t buy often, but it adds so much flavour and goes a long way). If you don’t have meat or don’t want to add meat, just add a few extra spices like chilli flakes, paprika (preferably smoked) and cumin. Same with the beans: if you have canned butterbeans in your pantry, use that. I discovered my last bit of heerenbone straight from the Sandveld at the back of my cupboard (thank you Paula Smit) and decided to go the whole nine yards with soaking overnight and then cooking slowly for 2 hours and dressing them in fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil (with lots of salt & pepper). They are so incredibly silky, its unreal.

Then, to dress it up even further (only if you want to, still using very basic stuff) I roasted a few halved tomatoes from the buy-bulk-and-save bag I bought a few days ago, perfectly ripe now. They make a stunning “meaty” vegetable addition to this stew, and look beautiful too. A few fresh coriander leaves add great freshness, but again, not a necessity. A swirl of plain yoghurt can work too, as will a good glug of extra virgin olive oil to round it off.

 

Getting back to basics: you’re already winning with a can of whole tomatoes, an onion, some garlic, a can of your favourite beans and some great quality olive oil. Food for kings!

Ingredients: Heerenbone (based on Mariana Esterhuizen’s recipe)

  • 1,5 cups dry heerenbone
  • water for soaking and cooking
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt, pepper
  • juice of a lemon
  • a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Place the heerenbone in a bowl and top with about 2 liters room temperature (cool) water. Leave to soak at least overnight (12 – 18 hours) – the beans will swell to double in size. Drain the water off, then add the beans to a pot and top with fresh water. Add the garlic clove and bay leaves, then bring to a simmer. Simmer slowly for about 2 hours, or until the beans are just tender but not mushy. Drain (remove the garlic and bay leaves) and transfer to a bowl, seasoning with salt & pepper and drizzling with the lemon juice and olive oil. Set aside to cool.

Ingredients: Halved roasted tomatoes

  • 4 large ripe tomatoes, halved horizontally
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar
  • a few teaspoons fresh herbs like thyme/rosemary, chopped (or use dried mixed herbs)

Preheat oven to 200 C. On a standard baking tray, drizzle the surface lightly with oil and use clean hands or a pastry brush to coat the surface all over. Arrange the halved tomatoes cut sides up, then drizzle with more oil, Season with salt, pepper, sugar and herbs, then roast for about 1 hour or until the edges start turning dark and the tomatoes are very fragrant. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Ingredients: Canned tomato stew (serves 4-6, depending on the addition of the beans and roasted tomatoes)

  • 45 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped/grated
  • a few sprigs thyme and rosemary, twigs discarded, leaves roughly chopped (or use 1-2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs)
  • 200-300 g sausage*, sliced
  • 4 x 400 g cans whole tomatoes, pureed using a blender or stick blender (or food processor)
  • 15 ml (1 teablespoon) smoked paprika (if you’re not using sausage/meat, you can also add a few other spices like 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin etc.)
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) sugar
  • salt & pepper, to taste

In a large pot, add the oil over medium-high heat. Fry the onion until soft but not brown, then add the garlic, herbs and sliced sausage. Fry, stirring, until it starts to brown. (Note: At this point, you can reserve a few slices of sausage to top your final dish, if you want.) Add the pureed canned tomatoes, stir and bring to a simmer.

*Cured sausage like chorizo works great, but you can certainly also use any other kind of fresh sausage or boerewors; I prefer pork-based sausage for this recipe, but use whatever you have – chopped bacon also works. If you’re using fresh sausage, fry it in a pan first before slicing it up and adding it to the onions, this way the slices will stay in tact. The other option would be to remove the casing from the start, and treating the fresh ground sausage meat like you would treat mince, breaking up the lumps in the pan.

For serving:

  • fresh coriander leaves (optional)
  • a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • a drizzle of plain yoghurt (optional)

Ladle the warm tomato stew into bowls, then top with beans, coriander and a drizzle of olive oil (and optionally yoghurt, expecially if your stew is very spicy). The stew and beans freeze very well – store them together in the same container/s.

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3 Seed granola with pecans and olive oil

2 Apr

Since my husband started following an almost wheat-free lifestyle more than a year ago, his breakfast choices changed from regular toasted bread and wheat cereal to other options like rye toast, cooked oats and wheat-free granola. I’m usually apprehensive to make granola, because it somehow always feels like a very luxurious and expensive thing to make. I do, however, believe in knowing what’s in your food (keeping it real and keeping it simple) so when I stumbled upon Food 52’s legendary granola made with extra virgin olive oil, I realized that most of the ingredients overlapped with my recipe for all-in-one breakfast rusks (sans the buttermilk, brown sugar, eggs, flour and bran flakes). With a few simple substitutions from Food 52’s original recipe, the following ingredients are mostly always in my pantry: oats (regular, not rolled), sunflower seeds, linseeds (instead of pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds, desiccated coconut (instead of coconut flakes), pecan pieces (much cheaper than whole pecans), maple flavoured golden syrup (because my daughter loves this on her pancakes, and it is a fraction of the price of real maple syrup), extra virgin olive oil and salt. I left out the addition of brown sugar completely, because the syrup adds more than enough “dark” sweetness on its own.

The result is a deeply flavourful, nutty, crunchy and slightly salty granola with a sultry savoury note and a comforting mouthfeel from the olive oil. The recipe fills just more than a 3 liter container, lasting quite a long time in our household. It is easy to make and it smells heavenly too.

Have a look in your pantry and see what you can come up with in terms of combinations – I’m sure most other nuts will also work instead of pecans (or leave them out completely) and you can also use other seeds if you prefer to. Regular golden syrup or honey will also work instead of maple flavoured syrup (or if you’re lucky to have some real maple syrup – go ahead!).

It sure is a very luxurious breakfast, with a slur of milk and a few slices of banana, but this batch just came straight from my basic pantry stock and it feels like I hit the jackpot.

Ingredients: (recipe adapted from Nekisia Davis’s Olive Oil & Maple Granola via Food 52)

  • 3 cups regular oats (or rolled oats)
  • 1 cup hulled raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup linseeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup (100g) raw pecan pieces (or whole pecans, coarsely chopped)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup maple-flavoured golden syrup, depending on how sweet you like yours (or honey / maple syrup / golden syrup)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Method:

Preheat your oven to 150 C. In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and mix well until coated all over. In a large deep roasting tray, spread out the mixture evenly and bake for 15 minutes x 3, removing the pan after each interval and stirring the granola well. After 45 minutes, the granola should be well toasted and fragrant. Leave to cool completely in the pan, stirring now and then to prevent too much clumping (a few smaller clumps are always welcome). Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Serve in bowls with a splash of milk or yoghurt, with or without sliced fresh fruit.

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Oat and bran digestive cookies

28 Mar

Baking is a form of self-care for me. It’s one of my happy-place activities, something I do when I really have time on my side, not feeling rushed or restrained. I’d much rather bake than read (although I love reading), because there’s a tangible end result to baking – an edible reward.

With many recipe developers confined to their homes at the moment, all across the world, there’s an endless stream of recipe inspiration to be absorbed and enjoyed for everyone who has access to the internet. One of these stream comes from Bon Appetit. I subscribe to their newsletter, and their recent recipe for digestive cookies was delivered straight to my inbox. Theirs looked so perfect, I couldn’t look away. I absolutely adore digestive cookies, especially when they’re covered on one side in chocolate, and these looked delectable. So when I scanned the ingredients list, I realized that I missed 2 key ingredients: wholewheat flour and wheatgerm. It turns out you can substitute the wheatgerm for toasted oats (according to the recipe writer, because many people didn’t have wheatgerm in their pantries), and I made my own plan with the wholewheat flour, using a mixture of unbleached stoneground white bread flour and wheat bran (wheat bran is the same stuff that you’d use to make bran muffins). I needed a little less milk than the original recipe stated, but the rest worked like a charm. Incredibly “short” and crunchy, almost like wholewheat shortbread, just sweet enough, tasting very very similar to original digestives. What a triumph!

 

 

I only had enough chocolate to partly cover about 3/4 of my cookies, but hey, nothing wrong with a few plain digestive cookies either.

You’re going to need a food processor for this recipe, as well as a rolling pin and a cookie cutter. The rest is quite literally childsplay.

Ingredients (slightly adapted from Bon Appetit’s original recipe, developed by Sohla El-Waylly)

  • ½ cup regular oats, toasted in a dry pan
  • 90 ml or 6 tablespoons (75 g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
  • 1 cups (125 g) white bread flour*, plus more for rolling
  • 3/4 cup wheat bran* (about 25 g)
  • ½ cup (125 g) cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) milk
  • about 100 g chocolate (milk or dark), chopped (optional)
Method:

Place two oven racks in upper and lower thirds of your oven and preheat to 180°C. Using a food processor, add the oats, flour, bran, sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl. Process until very fine. Add the butter and pulse until it is well incorporated, then add the milk little by little and pulse until a crumbly dough forms (add just enough milk, you don’t want a dough that’s too sticky).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a ball. Now flatten it into a disk. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 5mm thickness (it doesn’t have to be perfect). Lightly flour a cookie cutter (I used a 45 – 45 mm square cutter with round edges, you can use whatever shape you want) and punch out cookies, dusting lightly with more flour as needed to avoid sticking. Dust any excess flour off the cookies with a dry pastry brush.

Using a spatula, transfer cookies to 2 baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper. Gently knead the scraps together, reroll, and punch out more cookies. (Bake any smaller scraps as is and crumble over ice cream!)

Prick each cookie 3 times with a fork and bake, rotating baking sheets top to bottom halfway through, until bottoms and edges are browned, 15–18 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets (cookies will crisp up as they cool).

If using, melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave in 20-second increments, stirring after each burst, until almost fully melted, about 1 minute total, then let it stand for a minute to fully melt. Stir, then eave to clool for about 10 minutes before using.

Using a small offset spatula or butter knife and working one at a time, spread about 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate over the flat underside of each cookie. Using the side edge of the spatula, tap a few lines into the chocolate to make a slight pattern. Chill cookies on baking sheets until chocolate is set, about 10 minutes.

Cookies will stay fresh for at least 3 weeks. Store airtight at room temperature.

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How to make the best hummus, from scratch

27 Mar

Loaded hummus – image from my book Cape Mediterranean, photography by Tasha Seccombe, plates by Mervyn Gers Ceramics, background textile by Hertex.

 

Two weeks ago, I hosted 100 guests for a book conversation at the Woordfees in Stellenbosch, with the charismatic Douw Steyn of The Talking Table leading the talk. My book, Cape Mediterranean, was one of a few cookbooks being featured at the arts festival and I had the pleasure of demonstrating one of my favourite dishes from my book to the guests – loaded hummus. My hummus recipe was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s hummus recipe from his book Jerusalem, and I haven’t served hummus without chopped olives, pine nuts and parsley since I’ve tasted his version.

I’ve experimented with various machines in making hummus over the last few years. From making it with a stick blender,  to a universal chopper, a small food processor and a power blender. I’ve had some luck here and there achieving very smooth results, but I’ve always been in search of a machine that could effortlessly make the smoothest hummus. I’ve since come to a few conclusions for achieving a truly smooth, creamy, silky result: 1) don’t use canned chickpeas unless you’re in a hurry and looking for an instant fix, 2) soak your chickpeas overnight in a water and baking soda mixture, 3) cook your chickpeas until very soft, 4) use a powerful food processor that has the space and capacity for the load you want to process, and 5) process it long enough until it changes to a light coloured, creamy consistency – at least 2-4 minutes.

For the book conversation and hummus demonstration, I partnered with Kenwood South Africa, where they supplied me with their top-of-the-range Kenwood MultiPro Excel Food Processor FPM910 – the largest in its capacity on the market in SA (4 liter bowl capacity). It has a very powerful motor at 1300 W and works like a dream. With standard attachments of every kind that you can possibly imagine, this is a premium addition to any serious cook’s kitchen and certainly a proud addition to mine. I had to make 8 liters of hummus in total for the tasters at my Woordfees talk and the Kenwood MultiPro Excel handled it with the utmost ease – doing double batches of this already large quantity recipe at a time, in 4 batches (plus a nut filling for 120 baklava cigars, during the height of load shedding – it was crazy!).

The Kenwood MultiPro Excel is Kenwood’s top-of-the-range large food processor with a capacity of 4 liters. Here it is on my kitchen table at home.

I made this how-to video of my recipe featured in Cape Mediterranean, showing you how to make hummus from scratch at home. Hummus is a high proteien, low carb, versatile dip/spread/topping/base – generally not expensive to make, and it freezes well. If tahini is too expensive for your budget, substitute the tahini with a teaspoon or two of unflavoured peanut butter – believe me, it adds just enough nutty flavour and works like a charm. I love topping my hummus with chopped olives, chopped parsley, paprika, olive oil and pine nuts like Yotam Ottolenghi does, but hey, it’s just as good with a simple drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cut some carrot sticks, cucumber, or whatever you prefer to dip (yes, potato chips and nachos and sliced bread all love hummus) and call it a party.

You can order my book online for delivery after the “lockdown” period – most of the recipes are very simple and will hopefully bring you much joy. You can also order the Kenwood MultiPro Excel FPM910 from Yuppiechef at R9199 (with so many attachments I cannot even count them – also including a large capacity thermoresist blender jug and a mini grinder), they’ll also deliver after lockdown. Stay safe and look after each other±

Ingredients: (makes almost 1 liter hummus, enough to feed a crowd as a dip)

  • 250 g uncooked dry chickpeas
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • about 1 liter water, for soaking, plus more for cooking
  • 1/3-1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 30 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1/3 cup tahini (or substitute with 1-2 teaspoons unflavoured peanut butter)
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 30-60 ml water
  • for topping: (optional) smoked paprika, chopped olives, chopped parsley, toasted pine nuts or toasted flaked almonds (or both), baby capers etc.

Method:

Place th chickpeas with 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda in a non-reactive bowl. Top with water and leave to soak overnight (at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours). Drain the water, then add the soaked chickpeas to a pot, along with another teaspoon of bicarb and top with water. Bring to a simmer, skimming off any scum/foam that forms on the surface. Cook until very tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and leave to cool slightly.

In a food processor, add the cooked chickpeas, along with the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, tahini, cumin and salt. Using a powerful food processor like the Kenwood Multipro Excel, process until very smooth and creamy, adding enough water to loosen it up (about 3-4 minutes). Taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Serve swirled on a plate, topped with more extra virgin olive oil and your choice of toppings. Serve with bread or crackers or sliced vegetable sticks.

Thank you Kenwood South Africa for your continued support – I’m inspired to discover this wonderful machine in its full capacity.

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Easy flatbreads with roasted shallots

25 Mar

Roasted shallots make a phenomenal topping for flatbreads. Personalize your other toppings according to what you and your family likes.

 

As we’re all navigating a strange new reality within lockdown restrictions across the world, home cooking has become the centre of joy and recreation for many households. With limited outings to the shops, we’re all making the most of simple pantry ingredients plus whatever we have stocked in our fridges.

Dutoit Agri has approached me to create a shallot recipe a few days before our President’s first announcements of social distancing in South Africa, and we’ve decided to continue with this project as it can be a source of inspiration to many of us. Using a few economical pantry staples, you can whip up an easy dough for making flatbreads, even giving the kids a wonderful way to keep their (washed) hands busy. Shallots have a fantastic shelf life of 1-2 months, a long seasonality timeline (January – August), and they are so very versatile to use in an array of recipes. With a sweeter, milder taste than onions, they are also much more popular with kids. From using them raw in dressings and salads, to roasting them for a deeper flavour, they are an all-round winner in my pantry.

Shallots have a rose gold tint on their skins and are just so beautiful to look at. They are locally grown by Dutoit Agri and available from most leading supermarkets.

 

 

Shallots are members of the allium family, closely related to onions, garlic, and chives. Their bulbs grow in clusters, similar to cloves of garlic. The biggest distinction between shallots and other onions, besides their milder flavor, is their cellular structure: shallots break down much more easily when cooked, allowing for a softer level of caramelization, or a more subtle touch when creating a foundation in sauces etc.

Here’s my recipe for roasted, caramelized shallots – a fantastic topping for easy homemade flatbreads, but also a great side dish, or an addition on burgers etc. While I like my flatbread simply topped with feta, roasted shallots, thyme and olive oil, my daughter preferred to make hers more like a pizza, using pommodoro sauce, mozzarella and roasted shallots. Both were delicious! I topped mine with a swirl of good quality balsamic vinegar afterwards – just heavenly. It’s a meatless meal, economical, fun and full of flavour. Other toppings could be diced ham, fried bits of bacon, shaved courgettes, sliced brie or camembert, sliced figs etc. If you don’t have any of these, a drizzle of olive oil and some dried herbs plus a generous pinch of salt could also make a simple feast.

Before you start, remember to wash your hands (and the hands of your little helpers) properly, and to clean your work surfaces where you’ll be kneading the dough. Get ready, it’s a lot of fun!

 

My choice of toppings: roasted shallots, feta, thyme, black pepper, and olive oil. Serve with a swirl of balsamic vinegar – such a winning combo.

 

My 9-year old daughter’s choice of toppings: pommodoro sauce, mozzarella and roasted shallots. The freshest pizza in minutes!

 

Roasted shallots are so versatile – use it to top your next burger, or serve it with scrambled eggs for breakfast.

 

For the roasted shallots:

  • 1 kg shallots, peeled and quartered lengthways (look out for Dutoit Agri shallots) 
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 15 ml red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar)
  • 30 ml honey, slightly warmed (pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds)
  • salt, to taste

Preheat your oven to 220 C. Arrange the shallot quarters in a roasting tray, then drizzle all over with the olive oil, vinegar and honey. Season with salt, then roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, stir, then return for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

For the flatbreads: (serves 4)

  • 2 cups stone ground white bread flour (or use regular cake flour if it’s all you have)
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) sugar
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) salt
  • 180 ml lukewarm water
  • 15 ml olive oil

Place the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and stir. Add the water and oil and stir until it becomes sticky. Turn out on a clean surface, then knead to a soft, pliable dough. This is a great activity to get the kids (or a co-isolation housemate) involved! Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover to rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.

In the meantime, heat your oven to 230 C. Divide the puffy dough into 4. On a floured surface, roll out each of the four pieces into a freeform shape – basically oval works great. Transfer to a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Top with your favourite toppings (see below), then bake at 230 C for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wooden board or a plate, slice and serve immediately.

Possible toppings for assembling your flatbreads:

  • pommodoro (tomato) sauce, grated mozzarella and roasted shallots – great for kids
  • olive oil, feta, roasted shallots, thyme (fresh or dried), black pepper (add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar after baking)
  • grated cheddar, fried bacon bits, roasted shallots – great for kids
  • anchovies, capers, garlic, roasted shallots (top with fresh rocket leaves after baking)
  • basil pesto, sliced baby tomatoes, roasted shallots 

Thank you DuToit Agri for the inspiration.

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Lunch at the recently transformed Haute Cabrière

18 Mar

25 Years since the Von Arnim family launched their iconic Haute Cabrière cellar, the destination has transformed into a lighter, more modern, multi-purpose, world-class space. The renovation journey was aimed at building on the foundation of the past 25 years, and setting the scene for the next.

I was recently invited to experience the transformed Haute Cabrière dining area. On a bright Sunday, we took a seat for lunch. Take a look at our experience in pictures below (see a sample menu here). Chef Nic van Wyk is still at the helm of the kitchen, serving French-inspired bistro-style food with a strong focus on local ingredients. His food has the most perfect balance between deep and fresh flavours – almost like the best of rich French and lighter Mediterranean cooking. Generously portioned main courses, reasonably priced throughout considering the world class location. The warm almond cake is a thing of beauty – I could have finished three of those. Service is swift and friendly, and our waiter recommended excellent wine pairings with every dish.

I am in awe of the clever design at the transformed Haute Cabrière. It is incredible that you can build a large freestanding space right in front of the existing cellar and restaurant, and make it feel more open, more modern, more accessible. The amount of light that comes into the new space is fantastic, and it allows you to fully admire the breathtaking views from all angles, floor to ceiling. When weather permits, the glass panels can be opened up completely for an even more spacious feeling without any barriers to the surrounding natural scenery. The existing “underground” space is now utilized as a tasting room and deli, and feels quietly private, more spacious than before, with a newfound serenity.

Left: A friendly reception. Right: Guests reclining next to the reception area on soft seating, with the destination’s iconic view as a backdrop.

 

Left: Welcomed with a glass of Haute Cabrière MCC Brut. Right: The view from our table next to the floor-to-ceiling glass “walls”.

 

Left: House-baked sour dough bread, tomato jam and butter. Right: Simplicity rules with a heavenly slice of buttered bread and tomato jam to start with.

 

Schalk’s starter: Cured tuna, creamy horseradish and herb vinaigrette. Fresh and punchy flavours.

 

My starter: Steak tartare, caper, brandy and tabasco mayonnaise, croutes. A popular classic – I really enjoyed their interpretation.

 

Schalk’s main course: Beef sirloin, brown onion, garlic and lemon sauce, duck fat potatoes, garden greens. French bistro cooking at its finest.

 

My main course: Pan-fried linefish, chargrilled and marinated courgettes, tomato and spring onion salsa, herb-salt chips. Fresh and light Mediterranean flavours, and generously portioned silverfish fillets.

 

Left: Trio of sorbet (berry, stone fruit and mango) – delightfully fresh. Right: A perfect ending with dessert – the iconic Haute Cabrière Ratafia.

 

My dessert: Warm almond cake, amaretto ice cream. My favourite dish of the day. Exquisite flavours with a soft and gooey texture.

 

Modern, open, semi-industrial spaces inside the new dining area. The feeling is light, accessible, welcoming.

 

Leaving Haute Cabrière from the old entrance, walking in the space left open between the old cellar and the new dining area.

 

Do take the time to visit Haute Cabrière and experience everything it has to offer for yourself. It’s the best of Franschhoek’s views and premium hospitality within a very laid-back environment where time almost stands still, and without the hassle of finding parking in the middle of town.

Haute Cabrière is situated on the Franschhoek Pass, Franschhoek. From the a la carte menu, prices range between R90-R120 for starters, R155-R230 for mains and R40-85 for dessert. Pre-starter and cheese course also available on the menu.

Update: New operating hours during Covid-19 restrictions:

Monday – Saturday: 10h00-17h00

Closed: Sunday and Public Holidays

 

Offering: 

Bakery & Deli 10h00 – 17h00

Tapas from 11h00 – 16h00

À la carte 12h00 – 16h00

Wine tasting and sales 10h00 – 17h00

Breakfast is usually available from Monday to Saturday from 08h00 to 11h00, but in light of the current Covid-19 climate, no breakfast will be served until further notice.

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Chocolate chunk cookies

3 Mar

Nine years ago, one of my first blog posts was a recipe for chocolate chip cookies by Sannie Smit. Although the photograph showed that I still had a lot to learn (I’m being kind to myself here), it remains one of my blog recipes that I’ve returned to most over the years. I even have it bookmarked on my phone. If done right, they have a crispy edge and a chewey centre that reminds of a buttery blondie – the ultimate goal of the perfect chocolate chip cookie. The slightly larger chocolate chunks give another textural layer apart from the actual chocolate flavour, so I prefer to eat them cooled and not warm. My daughter and I just love baking these together and the dough tastes just as good as the baked end result. It is choc chip cookie decadence at its best.

I’ve always found that the quality of chocolate chips (the small round ones, for baking) that we find in regular South African supermarkets is far inferior to what I actually want to taste, so I’ve resorted to mostly chopping my chocolate for these cookies from a slab of my choice. This way you also get some really chunky pieces of chocolate here and there, and each cookie is different. I made this batch with Valrhona’s Equatoriale Noire 55% chocolate – it comes in a catering size bag in the shape of bean-like discs, easy to chop with a knife. You’ll find these Valrhona disks in specialty stores like Wild Peacock in Stellenbosch, but you can certainly also use any good quality eating chocolate from your local supermarket, especially local brands like Afrikoa or De Villiers Chocolate (I prefer dark chocolate with a minimum of 55% cocoa, but some people prefer milk chocolate – the choice is yours).

Chocolate chunk cookies goes down so well with a glass of cold milk. 🙂

 

 

Ingredients: (makes about 26 medium size cookies)

Note: Recipe adapted from The A-Z Guide to Food and Cookery in SA by Sannie Smit and Margaret Fulton.

  • 125 g (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) tightly packed brown sugar
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) white sugar
  • 1 XL egg
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 300 ml (1 cup plus 3 tablespoons, or 160 g) cake flour
  • 1 ml (1/4 teaspoons) baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • 2.5 ml salt (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 100-200 g good quality chocolate, chopped (don’t use less than 100 g, but 200 g is the maximum that I use)

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

In a medium size bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together in a second bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into wet mixture with a spoon or spatula until just combined. Stir in the chopped chocolate until just combined.

Drop tablespoons full of dough onto a greased baking tray,  leaving enough room for spreading. Bake for about 12-14 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden brown (do not overbake). Remove from oven and leave to cool on baking tray for a few minutes, before removing and cooling further on wire racks (they will still be very soft when straight from the oven, but will firm up on cooling). Store in an airtight container and enjoy within a few days.

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Blueberry pecan picnic cake

24 Feb

Gooey, pillowey, crunchy – all in one. One of the best picnic cakes I’ve ever tasted. The large black round plate is from Hertex HAUS.

 

This recipe comes from Food52’s Genius DessertsBlueberry Snack Cake with Toasted Pecans. Since I’ve bought the book, I’ve had this page bookmarked as one of the (copious) recipes I knew I needed to try. The cake came out exactly as it looks in the picture, and it is so incredibly good that I finished four slices before even writing this post.

I decided to bake it after picking a batch of blueberries from some of the wild trees that grow adjacent to the cultivated blueberry orchards on the farm that we live on. They’re the last few berries of the season, and most of the trees only carry a few shriveled little fruits. But if you look closely, here and there, a few hidden gems remain – perfect, small, plump, matte blueberries that would otherwise just fall from the tree in a few days.

A snack cake, or picnic cake, is a cake without icing that is easy to transport for enjoying elsewhere (like a picnic, camp, the office or school). Originally written by Brooke Dojny, this recipe is “a study in textures” according to Food 52’s Kristen Miglore. “There’s just enough cornmeal to give it structure and a yellow tint, without weighing down the batter. It bakes up airy and tender, with a crackly sheen and a top dotted with pecans.” I have to tell you, I cannot agree more. It’s moist en gooey because of the fruit, yet light and airy in the cake department, with a crunchy top that is a delight in itself. Kristen says that smaller blueberries will stay suspended in the cake, while larger berries tend to sink to the bottom – “neither could possibly be bad”.

I’m going to keep this one in my repertoire for good. It’s an absolute winner – my tweaks are minimal, you’ll see if you compare it to the original. I’m confident that you’ll love it just as much as I do. Happy baking!

A 23 cm square cake tin is a very versatile vessel for baking. I only recently bought one (November 2019), and I’ve used it very often since.

 

Ingredients: (serves 8)

  • 1 cup (125 g) stone ground white bread flour (or cake flour)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) polenta / maize meal (medium or fine)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2,5 ml) salt
  • 1/2 cup (110 g) butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar, plus about 1 teaspoon extra for sprinkling
  • 2 XL eggs
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) milk
  • 1,5 teaspoons (7,5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1-2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups (300 g) blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup (100 g) pecan nuts, coarsely chopped

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 180 C with rack in the center. Grease and line a 23 cm square deep baking tin (I left some overhang on the baking paper so that the cake is easy to lift out afterwards).
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, use a whisk to stir the flour, polenta, baking powder and salt together.
  3. In a food processor (or bowl with electric whisk), cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs, milk, vanilla and lemon zest. Process (or whisk) until it is well combined – it might look a little curdled, that’s fine! Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon until just incorporated.
  4. Gently fold in the berries until just combined, then scrape the batter into the prepared tin, smoothing the top. Sprinkle evenly with the nuts, then use your finger tips to sprinkle evenly all over with about 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  5. Bake at 180 C for 45 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and just cooked (test with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean). Remove from the oven and let it cool complete on a rack.
  6. Once cool, remove from the tin (use the baking paper flaps to lift it out) and cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in a cool place – best eaten within a day. (Can be frozen for up to a month.)
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Smokey baked ratatouille

13 Feb

These days I cannot get enough of roasted vegetables – whether it’s in a salad, on a pizza, in a curry or just on its own. I think our bodies go through phases, needing different things, and mine is telling me that I need vegetables. It’s probably also to counteract the countless croissants and almond pastries that I consume every morning, so it’s only a good thing!

If you are not familiar with ratatouille, it is a popular French vegetable stew mostly made with tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, onions, garlic and bell peppers. There are many different ways of making ratatouille, varying from stewing the cubed vegetables to a very soft and marrow-like consistency, to a fresher version that will allow some texture. The purists even say that you need to cook all the vegetables separately before cooking them together, so that every vegetable truly tastes of itself.

The other day we visited my sister for a lazy, chilled-out dinner. They cooked steak on the fire and served it with a beautiful fanned-out baked ratatouille – simple perfection.  I decided to make my own version at home after they gifted me an enormous courgette from their garden. After buying tomatoes and aubergines, I found the giant courgette to be a bit tough on the skin-side for this dish, so I left it out completely (it did however turn out to make an incredible courgette coconut curry soup, though!) – you can definitely add some courgette slices if you want to. Starting with a rich tomato sauce at the bottom of the baking dish, I layered thinly sliced vegetables on top – I promise it’s a lot easier than it looks. I added a generous amount of smoked paprika to the sauce and over the top of the vegetables, which certainly isn’t traditionally French, but it lends a great smokey flavour and a deep red colour. Fresh thyme and lots of extra virgin olive oil completed the picture. I baked it for an hour and 20 minutes, but you can up the baking time to 2 hours for an even softer result.

You can serve ratatouille as a main dish, or as a side with grilled meat/chicken/fish, or even with pasta or rice. It’s also great at room temperature served as antipasti, or top it with a grilled egg over toast for breakfast. Leftovers can also be used as a pizza topping – absolutely delicious. It is a relatively inexpensive dish that really goes a long way, and it only improves in flavour the next day (and the next).

 

Ingredients: (serves 6)

For the sauce:

  • 45 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped/grated
  • 2 x 400 g cans whole tomatoes, pureed in a blender
  • about 10 ml (2 teaspoons) fresh thyme leaves (woody stalks discarded)
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) sugar
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) smoked paprika
  • salt & pepper

In a medium size pot over medium heat, add the oil and fry the garlic for about a minute, stirring. Add the pureed tomatoes, thyme, sugar, paprika and season generously with salt & pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cook uncovered over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a wide casserole or baking dish (I used a 30 cm Le Creuset casserole) for assembling the ratatouille.

To assemble:

  • 1 very large or 2 medium aubergines, sliced thinly into rounds of about 3 mm thick (I use a knife, but you can also use a mandoline cutter)
  • about 6-8 ripe tomatoes, sliced thinly into rounds of about 3 mm thick
  • about 30 ml (2 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • about 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) smoked paprika
  • about 3 sprigs thyme, leaves only
  • salt & pepper
  • a handful fresh basil leaves, for serving
  • grated parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Preheat your oven to 180 C. Arrange the sliced aubergines and tomatoes in a circular row (or just in rows) on top of the sauce, making sure the tomatoes peep out behind the larger slices of aubergine – use two slices of tomato to match the width of the aubergines slices if necessary. Continue until the full surface of the dish is covered, then drizzle all over with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika and thyme. Season generously with salt & pepper, then bake for 1,5 – 2 hours until very soft and roasted on top. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes before serving (if you have the patience). Top with basil leaves and parmesan cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Chocolate berry cake

3 Feb

Chocolate cake drenched in mulberry coulis, topped with dark chocolate buttercream and fresh raspberries. Not perfect by a long shot, but incredibly satisfying – just like my blogging journey.

 

This is a celebratory post: The Food Fox blog is officially nine years old! Happy birthday to my digital baby!

Nine years is a long time, friends. The Food Fox was the start of a crazy ride in 2011, one that I jumped into with blind faith in the hope of carving out a way to create a sustainable income while being surrounded by food and writing. I learned that you can figure out almost anything via Google, made incredible connections online and in real life and actually found my tribe (coming from someone that’s fiercely independent, it was quite a revelation). Although the hustle is still very real – you’ll know what I mean if you’re a self-employed creative in a niche industry – I couldn’t have dreamt of a life that would reward me with this amount of freedom: creative freedom, freedom to schedule when and where and with whom I work, freedom to spend time with my family. Freedom, it might seem, turned out to be one of my most valued fundamental needs in life – something that I only realized over the past few years.

Although this blog probably won’t live forever, it has already opened so many doors of new possibilities. To celebrate this 9 year milestone, I baked a cake that resembles my journey over the past few years: far from perfect and certainly not as smooth on the surface as I’d hoped it to be, but rich, multi-layered and very rewarding. It’s a slight adaptation of a recipe from the book The Italian Baker by Melissa Forti, that I bought in December 2019 before embarking on a two-week catering marathon for an extended Italian family. I bookmarked the recipe for “Torta al cioccolate e lamponi” (chocolate and raspberry cake) because when anyone touts a chocolate cake to be the best they’ve ever eaten, you’ve got my attention.

The cake-part is one of the most deliciously moist chocolate cakes I’ve ever tasted, and I’ll definitely keep it in my repertoire. It includes buttermilk, oil and bicarb, and it’s very easy to put together. It also features a strained berry coulis made from raspberries blended with a simple sugar syrup and a dash of raspberry eau de vie (which I substituted with mulberries from our tree that I froze in December for a special occasion like this, and a little dash of aged brandy). The coulis makes the cake a little more expensive and time consuming, but it adds even more moistness and some stunning berry flavours that work incredibly well with the dark chocolate. Then, the chocolate frosting was quite a find: Melissa uses less butter than a normal buttercream (I would usually use 1 part butter to 2 parts icing sugar, or in this case 250 g butter for 500 g icing sugar), but she uses 170g butter with 560 g icing sugar, adds a whopping full cup of cocoa powder, and mixes it with 80 ml milk to soften it. This results in a very soft and creamy buttercream that can be refrigerated after you’ve frosted the cake, without turning brick hard (because with the February heat in Stellenbosch, and a cake topped with fresh berries, you’re going to want to store it in the fridge).

A slice of cake – it slices beautifully when refrigerated. Thank you Tasha for the use of your beautiful plate that stayed behind from a previous shoot!

 

I iced and photographed the cake when it was still a little luke warm, which you shouldn’t do. I was just being hasty because I’m a total glutton and couldn’t resist tasting the cake. After eating three messy but super delicious slices and then refrigerating the cake, it turned out to be much more stable for slicing (I then photographed the neat slice above). Do refrigerate it in warm weather for a beautiful result when cutting.

I’m feeling ready for renewal and growth in 2020 (definitely still involving a lot of writing, recipes, photographs and videography) and I look forward to sharing the changes and exciting new additions with you as we go along. In the meantime, I’ll be honing my photography skills with my new (well, second hand) 100 mm Canon lens – something that I’ve been yearning to own for years, and finally got to do so end of 2019. I’ve also enrolled in learning Italian on a nifty little phone app – quite fun, and a sure way of finding inspiration for saving up to FINALLY visit Italy.

I wish you all a year of finding freedom, creative inspiration and the courage to follow your true path.

 

Ingredients (recipe adapted from Melissa Forti‘s The Italian Baker)

For the cake:

  • 250 g cake flour
  • 400 g (2 cups) caster sugar
  • 80 g (3/4 cup) good quality cocoa powder
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 5 ml (2 teaspoons) baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) salt
  • 3 XL eggs
  • 250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 250 ml (1 cup) warm water
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 5 ml vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease 2 x 20 cm loose bottom cake tins and line the bases with non-stick baking paper. In a large bowl, sift the flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb and salt together. In a second large bowl, add the eggs, buttermilk, water, oil and vanilla and whisk together using an electric whisk (or stand mixer with whisk attachment). Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined, scraping the bowl. Divide the batter into the two tins, then bake for 35 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 15 minutes before turning out to cool completely on wire racks.

For the berry coulis:

  • 100 g caster sugar (use less if your berries are very sweet)
  • 45 ml water
  • 340 g frozen berries, thawed (raspberry or mulberry or mixed red berries)
  • 5 ml raspberry liqueur, optional (or brandy)

Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the sugar has completely dissolved, then remove from the heat to cool for 15 minutes. Add the syrup and berries to a blender, process to a puree, then strain to remove the seeds, then stir in the liqueur or brandy (optional). Refrigerate the strained coulis until ready to use.

For the chocolate frosting:

  • 180 g butter, softened
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 105 g (1 cup) cocoa powder
  • 80-100 ml milk, at room temperature
  • 500 g icing sugar, sifted

In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the softened butter and vanilla until creamy. Add the cocoa powder and mix for about 15 seconds, then add a little milk and mix. Continue by adding a little icing sugar, then milk, then icing sugar, beating until it is very smooth and creamy and a soft spreadable consistency (if the mixture is too stiff, add a little more milk, if it is too runny, add a little more icing sugar).

To assemble:

  • about 125 g fresh berries, for topping (or more, if you want to cover the full top surface of the cake)

Slice the rounded tops off both cake layers if you want a neat, flat result (I always ice the off-cuts and eat them while icing the rest!). Place the first layer on a cake plate and top generously with the coulis (it will continue to penetrate the cake on standing). Top with a generous layer of frosting, then place the second cake layer on top. Use the frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake, using a spatula to neatly scrape the sides to form a smooth-ish surface. Cover and refrigerate for best slicing results; best eaten at moderate room temperature.

Note: Melissa spreads the coulis only on one cake layer, before topping it with the other half, but I cut each layer horizontally to spread it with more coulis – it’s not necessary but the choice is yours. The cake is very soft when freshly baked, so handle with care.

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