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

25 Jun

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

 

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

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

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

For the caramel orange syrup: (optional)

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

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

Serve with whipped cream (optionally).

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Baked risotto with chicken, broccoli & blue cheese

7 Mar

This is the first time I’ve attempted to make a baked risotto, after being quite skeptical about a non-stir method of making one of my favourite dishes on earth – one that many people feel quite sacred about. And I have to admit: for this little effort, the results are fantastic.

I’d say the texture is more like that of a beautifully “wet” paella, than a classic risotto. It’s all in the timing, so remove this dish from the oven when it’s still slightly saucy – it will continue to thicken on standing.

For the chicken, I’ve used a packet of free-range, deboned, skinless chicken drumsticks from Woolworths – a stunning product that is economically priced compared to deboned thighs and so very versatile and convenient.

Also featured in this recipe is the brand new extra virgin cold pressed canola oil from Cape Canola – a stunning new product with the most luminous deep yellow colour that I drizzled over the risotto just before serving. It’s also fantastic on salads, dips like hummus or even over pasta. It has a buttery, nutty flavour, and I’m sure it will make killer roast potatoes and dreamy mayonnaise. It is available from Pick ‘n Pay in 1 liter glass bottles, as well as 3 liter and 5 liter tins.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 15 ml extra virgin cold pressed canola oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
  • 700-750 g boneless skinless chicken, cut into large chunks
  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cups arborio rice (or other risotto rice)
  • 125 g blue cheese, roughly crumbled
  • 125 ml cream
  • 1 liter chicken stock, warm
  • a handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped, to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C.
  2. In a large, wide, ovenproof dish (about 3 liter capacity), brush the base with oil, then arrange the chicken & broccoli in a single layer and season generously with salt & pepper.
  3. Pour the uncooked rice all over evenly, then arrange the blue cheese crumbs all over.
  4. Mix the cream and chicken stock, then pour most of it over the arranged ingredients (if your dish won’t take all of the liquid, leave some to add later when some of it has been absorbed). Gently press any ingredients down that stick out, to be covered by the liquid.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until the rice is just al dente (still a gentle bite in the centre). If the top becomes too dark, cover it with foil. If it becomes too dry, add more liquid. You should remove it from the oven when it has not absorbed all of the liquid, because it will continue to absorb liquid apon standing.
  6. Let it stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve hot with a drizzle of extra virgin canola oil (or olive oil or melted butter),  scattered with parsley.
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Mini lemon meringue pies

11 Jan

Mini lemon meringue pies made with sweet shortcrust pastry and toasted Italian meringue. It’s easier than you think! Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

What is better than lemon meringue pie? The mini version. Why? Because popping one perfect miniature lemon meringue pie into your mouth in one bite is just immensely satisfying.

I usually make my lemon meringue pie crust using crushed cookies and butter, but these miniature casings work better with sweet shortcrust pastry (whip it up in the food processor). The simple filling of condensed milk and lemon juice contains no egg and thus need no baking (bonus). But the pièce de résistance is the thick and luxurious toasted Italian meringue topping. Do you need a sugar thermometer? Nope.

So if you’ve never had Italian meringue before, here’s what you’re missing out on: it’s like the inside of a “Sweetie Pie” – that white marshmallow fluff that gets coated with chocolate and set on a round wafer. It is simply egg whites whisked with piping hot sugar syrup, cooking the mixture to a point that it is very stable, glossy and thick and needs no further baking. Using a kitchen blowtorch, you can optionally toast the edges to look really cool. No weeping golden droplets that are associated with classic lemon meringues. Just perfectly creamy, toasty, dreaminess.

I bet if you try these, you won’t go back to regular lemon meringue pie for a long, long time.

Note: You’ll need a mini muffin tin to make these. I use this recipe often when I cater for a crowd and the pies store very well. Keep covered in a refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Baked mini shortcrust pastry cases, ready to be filled with a condensed milk & lemon juice filling. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Ingredients: (makes at least 24)

For the filling:

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place the ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl and use electric beaters to beat until thick and smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use – it will thicken more on standing.

For the pastry:

  • 250 g cake flour
  • 125 g cold butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) caster sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 XL egg yolk
  • 2-3 tablespoons ice-cold water

Place the flour, butter, caster sugar, salt and egg yolk in a food processor. Process well, then add the cold water little by little until the pastry comes together in a ball. Immediately stop processing, turn out onto a clean surface and press together into a disc shape. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Spray a mini muffin tray with non-stick baking spray.

On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to a thickness of 2-3 cm, then cut rounds of about 8 cm to line the insides of the mini muffin tray. Carefully nudge them into the holes, then use a fork to gently prick each pastry circle on the bottom. Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden, then remove and set aside to cool. Repeat with remaining pastry.

For the Italian meringue:

  • 300 g caster sugar
  • 100 ml water
  • 4 XL egg whites

Place the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, swirling it around in the beginning to melt the sugar evenly. As soon as it comes to a rapid boil, set a timer for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, start whisking your egg whites until stiff peaks form. As soon as the syrup is ready (after boiling for 5 minutes) remove it from the heat and, with the whisk running on medium-high speed, pour the syrup in a small but steady stream into the egg whites until everything is incorporated. The mixture will be very hot. Continue whisking for about 10 minutes until the mixture has cooled to room temperature and has a thick, glossy texture. Cover and refrigerate until needed, or transfer to a piping bag fitted with the desired nozzle and use at once. I prefer using a twisted wide star-shaped nozzle.

To assemble:

Place the cooled pastry cases on a serving plate. Use a teaspoon to fill each case with a dollop of filling. Pipe the meringue filling neatly on top, then use a kitchen blowtorch to add a toasty finish. Serve at room temperature.

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Greek-style spinach & feta phyllo triangles

19 Oct

Crispy, salty, spinach & feta triangles with phyllo pastry. #PhabPhyllo

 

One of my all-time favourite Greek dishes is spanakopita – a deep-dish spinach and feta “pie” made with layers of buttery phyllo pastry. I’ve seen so many versions of this original dish, many of them in different shapes, as individual rolls or even as small canapés. Spinach and feta make such a fabulous combo, and wins crowd-pleasing votes every time.

My version of this Greek classic contains toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese. I fold them into triangles that look like small samoosas – perfect hand-size snacks that won’t require cutlery. The buttered sheets of phyllo bake to a light, golden perfection, crunching and flaking gently when you eat it.

Salt flakes add a crunchy salty finish to these flaky delights. #PhabPhyllo

 

If you haven’t worked with phyllo pastry before – it’s so easy and so very versatile. The thin sheets thaw super quickly, they’re forgiving (you can easily mend tears by sticking another piece on top with butter/oil) and the end result is always light and flaky.

This is a great way to make “shrinking” spinach go further. This filling will yield about 24 small triangles, perfect to feed a crowd as a starter or canapé.

Note: The parmesan and pine nuts add incredible flavour, but they can be an expensive buy if you don’t have it in your pantry already. For a more economical alternative, leave these two ingredients out completely.

Cheat’s tip: If you’re feeling completely lazy, buy a ready-to-eat packet of creamed spinach and stir in some cubed feta. Use it as your filling, then advance to step 6 below!

This is how you assemble a small phyllo triangle, folding with the filling on the diagonal, then flipping it over, folding and flipping. Easy as pie! #PhabPhyllo

 

Ingredients: (makes about 24 small triangles)

  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 400 g raw spinach (I prefer using baby spinach because there’s no dirt or sand in the leaves; spinach is usually sold in packets of 200g or 400g)
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) dried oregano
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 3 rounds (about 200 g) feta cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) pine nuts, toasted
  • zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 XL egg
  • 1 x 500g packet of Mediterranean Delicacies Phyllo Pastry, thawed (you’ll use 8 sheets to make 24 triangles)
  • 125 g (1/2 cup) butter, melted
  • salt flakes, for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a wide, large pot and fry the onions over medium heat until soft and golden. Transfer the onions from the pan into a mixing bowl.
  2. Using the same pot over medium heat, add the spinach all at once and cover with a lid. Allow to steam for 3 minutes, then stir with a wooden spoon and continue to steam, covered, for a few more minutes until just wilted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes until cool enough to handle.
  3. While the spinach is cooling, add the nutmeg, oregano, grated parmesan, feta cubes, toasted pine nuts and grated lemon zest to the mixing bowl with the fried onions.
  4. Transfer the cooled spinach to a sieve and gently squeeze out any excess liquid. Transfer to a large chopping board and chop into small pieces, then add it to the mixing bowl.
  5. Mix all the ingredients together and season generously with salt & pepper. Taste the mixture and adjust if necessary. When you are happy with the seasoning, add the egg and mix well.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220 C. On a clean surface, place one sheet of pastry in front of you, landscape orientated (keep the rest of the sheets covered with a damp tea towel to prevent them from drying out). Brush lightly with butter all over, then place another sheet on top and repeat the brushed butter. Now cut the sheet vertically into 6 equal strips using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Place a heaped tablespoon of filling at the bottom of each strip, and then fold the edge over diagonally to form a triangle, and flip it over again to close the seam, and again diagonally, and flip it over until you reach the end of the pastry strip. Place each finished triangle on a lined baking tray. Continue with the rest of the filling and sheets. Brush the top of each triangle with butter and sprinkle with a few salt flakes.
  7. Bake the triangles for about 30 minutes or until golden brown in the preheated oven at 220 C. Serve warm.

This recipe was written in collaboration with Mediterranean Delicacies Phyllo Pastry. #PhabPhyllo

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No-knead pot bread with garlic butter

9 Oct

This is a party-size pot bread, so be sure to invite a crowd! Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

I love bread. I love the process of making dough. I have tremendous respect for the simplicity (and alchemy) of baking with flour, water, yeast and salt. From sour dough to brioche, each golden loaf that is made with care will continue to nurture and delight me for years to come.

I recently attended a sour dough masterclass at Loaves on Long, and learned so much about mother starters, fermentation and patience. I still need to start my own “mother” with Ciska’s recipe, feed it, and learn to understand its ways. I’ve done it twice before, and the results were incredibly satisfying. I see a post about my new efforts in the near future…

Today I would love to share a recipe for no-knead bread – a method that relies on long fermentation rather than kneading (so remember to start long in advance). This recipe featured in Donna Hay Magazine‘s 75th issue of June/July 2014. I treat her magazines as recipe books and exhibit them proudly on my recipe shelf at home, using them for references and inspiration often. I adjusted my recipe to contain 1 kg flour instead of Donna’s 675 g. Although Donna’s quantities deliver the perfect amount of rolls for a party of 6 (with one roll to spare), not everyone has digital scales and it is a lot simpler to work with whole packets of 1 kg white bread flour.

Here’s my adapted version of Donna’s beautiful recipe. I’ve added my personal touch with the addition of home-made garlic butter, adding a few generous lashings on top right after baking to seep into the warm creases for the ultimate in comfort food indulgence. Use a large iron pot if you don’t have a Le Creuset casserole dish like the one in the picture.

Note: This recipe makes a very sticky dough that is almost runny and quite difficult to handle. That’s why it is great news that you’re going to handle it minimally. The secret to the amazing texture is the long fermentation time, thus eliminating the need for manual kneading or for an expensive stand mixer. Stir the dough until mixed, then leave to proof for 4-6 hours until bubbly and airy (I use a 10 liter plastic bowl with lid, for enough rising space). Donna prefers to shape the dough into balls on a floured surface, but I found it easier to shape with oiled hands straight from the dough bowl into an oiled pot. Shaping the balls makes for an easy pull-apart roll after baking, instead of cutting into slices.

Note: If you’re not going to be catering for a crowd, just halve the recipe.

Ingredients: (makes a very large pot bread, serves 10)

  • 1 kg white bread flour
  • 10 g (15 ml) instant yeast
  • 30 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the pot
  • 15 ml salt
  • 875 ml (3 1/2 cups) water

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with a wooden spoon to form a wet, sticky dough.
  2. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for 4-6 hours (longer if it’s a cold day) until it has tripled in size and has formed large bubbles.
  3. Grease a large, wide pot (about 30cm, preferable enamel-coated iron or plain iron) generously with olive oil on the inside. Using oiled hands, shape the dough into 10-12 balls and place them alongside each other into the pot. Cover with plastic and leave to proof for a second time, around 30 minutes, until doubled in size.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 220 C while waiting for the second proof.
  5. Remove the plastic, cover with an oven-proof lid and bake for 20 minutes (the bread will steam).
  6. Remove lid and bake for another 20 minutes until golden brown with a hollow sound when tapped.
  7. Top with lashings of garlic butter when still very hot, melting the butter into the bread. Serve warm.

Tip: Use a silicon spatula to loosen the bread from the sides and bottom of the pot, if necessary.

For the garlic butter: (make ahead and refrigerate until ready to use)

  • 250 g butter, very soft but not melted
  • 15 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • a large handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together with a spatula in a mixing bowl (or use a food processor for a smoother result). Turn out onto a piece of grease-proof paper, then roll into a log and refrigerate.

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Biltong & herb garlic bread

26 Sep

Golden, toasted, buttery garlic bread with biltong & herbs.

 

You might not know this, but Montagu Dried Fruit and Nuts recently also added biltong to their repertoire. They asked me to play around with their biltong range and I came up with a few easy recipes that will leave your guests asking for more.

The first one is this moorish buttery garlic bread with fine biltong and fresh herbs. Now look, I’m a huge fan of a garlic bread as part of a braai. This recipe seems very simple, but the results are out of this world! The biltong adds a savoury note that works so beautifully with the garlic butter – it’s just pure gold.

Be sure to buy the best loaf of ciabatta or sour dough bread that you can find. A day old loaf works even better. Enjoy!

Drenched with buttery biltong and garlic with a touch of fresh herbs, this loaf is the stuff dreams are made of.

View a short video of how to make this recipe:

Ingredients: (serves 6 as a side dish)

  • 250 g butter, softened
  • 30 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • a handful Italian (flat leaf) parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Montagu powdered beef biltong
  • 1 large good quality ciabatta loaf (or sour dough loaf)

Method:

Place the butter in a medium size mixing bowl. Use a fork to mix it to a soft, spreadable consistency. Add the olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Add the biltong, garlic and parsley, then mix well.
Using a large, sharp serrated knife, slice the bread into slices, but not all the way through (they should still be attached at the bottom). Spread the sliced sides generously with the biltong butter mixture, and the last bit over the top of the loaf.
Bake the bread on a lined baking tray in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 200 C, or cover in foil and braai over medium-hot coals, turning it often, until the butter is melted and the bread is golden brown on the outside.
Serve hot on a wooden board, as a side dish with your braai meat and salad.

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Roasted tomato soup with pumpkin bread and garam masala marrow bones

25 Jul

A Winter evening’s delight: roasted tomato soup, roasted marrow bones with garam masala, and pumpkin bread toast. Photography by Tasha Seccombe. Tableware, linen and cutlery by HAUS.

 

There are few things that beat the smell of freshly baked bread. But have you smelled oven roasted tomatoes? Man, that is something very special. It permeates your house with a sweet and savoury umami fragrance that is second to none.

I’ve put together a menu for the ultimate wintery soup night in. Oven roasted tomato soup has been one of the favourites for many years, so I’ve decided to serve it this time with a deliciously chewy pumpkin loaf and roasted garam masala marrow bones instead of butter.

Because all three recipes need oven time, start with the soup. While it’s in the oven, make the bread dough. Then when the bread is baking, prep the garam masala. Roast the marrow bones right before serving everything.

Oh, and I’m also going to tell you how to make your own super fragrant garam masala. It will change your spice game in a huge way.

Bon appetit!

Roasted tomato soup: (serves 6)

  • about 16 large ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cans whole tomatoes
  • 200 g (about 4 large) leeks
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • a handful thyme sprigs
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml sugar
  • 15 ml salt
  • 15 ml red wine vinegar
  • 250 ml crean

Preheat oven to 180C. Chop the tomatoes in batches in your food processor. They don’t have to be very fine, just chopped. Add it to a large deep rectangular roasting pan or a wide deep dutch oven. Process the canned tomatoes to a pulp and add it to the pan. Pulse the leeks, carrot and cloves into pieces, then add it on top of the tomatoes. Place the thyme sprigs on top, then drizzle all over with olive oil and sprinkle with the sugar, salt and red wine vinegar. Without stirring too much (just flatten the surface) place into the oven and roast for 2 hours, stirring well every 30 minutes. The mixture should get toasty on the edges and reduce by about 25 %. When it is read, remove from the oven, then remove the stalks of the thyme. Use a ladle to transfer the mixture to a pot, then use a stick blender to blitz to a smooth pulp. Because your using the tomatoes skins and all, your soup with still be chunky – that’s the way I prefer it. Add the cream and mix well. Check the seasoning and add more sugar, salt and vinegar if needed. Cover and set aside until ready to serve. To serve, drizzle with more cream or olive oil and your choice of herbs or croutons.

For this shoot, we got our hands on the fabulous new collection of Haus tableware by Hertex. Go to your nearest showroom to see the full collection, it is absolutely gorgeous!

A round loaf of pumpkin bread – chewey and nutty. Photography by Tasha Seccombe. Linen by HAUS.

Pumpkin bread: (makes one large loaf)

  • 1 small butternut or pumpkin
  • 4 cups stone ground white bread flour
  • 10 ml salt
  • 7,5 ml instant yeast
  • 10 ml mixed spice
  • 125 ml pumpkin seeds
  • about 1/2 cup water

Peel the butternut and cut into chunks. Boil in water until tender, then process to a pulp. You’ll need about 2 cups processed pumpkin pulp for the bread. Set aside to cool slightly, but use it while still slightly warm.

Place the flour, salt, yeast, spice and seeds in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the cooked pumpkin and water and stir until it starts to come together. Use your hands to shape it into a soft pliable dough, kneading it until it is smooth (about 5-10 minutes). Add a little more water or flour if necessary. Shape into a smooth ball, then place on a lined baking tray. Cut a cross shape on the top, then cover with a plastic bag to rise until doubled in size. When ready, bake at 220 C for about 45 minutes until golden brown and cooked. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve the slices toasted or untoasted with butter or with roasted marrow bones.

Make your own garam masala:

  • 30 ml cumin seeds
  • 30 ml coriander seeds
  • 30 ml fennel seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • 10 green cardamom pods
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 2 star anise
  • 15 ml black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick or cassia bark
  • 2 bay leaves

Place all the ingredients in a wide pan, then dry roast them over medium-high heat until the mixture becomes fragrant. Transfer batches to a spice grinder, then store in an airtight container.

Roasted garam masala marrow bones on toast. Platter, linen & cutlery by HAUS.

Roasted marrow bones:

  • 3 marrow bones, sliced in half horizontally (ask your butcher)
  • 15 ml garam masala (see above)
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • salt flakes

Pre-heat oven to 220 C. Place the marrow bones cut side up in a roasting tray lined with foil or baking paper. Mix the garam masala with the oil to form a paste. Rub the paste all over the bones. Roast for about 25 minutes or until fully cooked. Serve at once, with toasted bread.

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Beef & stout pie with sour cream & thyme pastry

17 Jul

There are few things as comforting than a homemade pie on a cold winters day. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

I wish I was in a winter cabin in the woods somewhere, slowly simmering this pie filling while attending to the beautiful sour cream pastry. You don’t need to actually be in a cabin to enjoy these, but wouldn’t it be fantastic if we all could linger for a few days in a woodlands hideaway, sipping on steamy drinks next to a fireplace, slowly preparing comforting dishes throughout the day to enjoy when the sun goes down. Time stands still, the quietness fills the air with tranquility and the earthy smell of the thick pine needle carpet outside seeps into your clothes.

This hearty beef & stout pie with sour cream & thyme pastry is simply perfect for a cosy winters holiday. Don’t rush it – enjoy every moment of the preparation process like healing therapy for your soul. It’s totally worth it.

Beef & stout pie with sour cream & thyme pastry: (serves 4-6)

Tip: Start making this pie in the morning if you want to serve it for dinner. It takes a few hours to prepare, but I promise it is worth every minute.

For the filling:

Time: 30 minutes prep plus 3 hours simmering plus cooling.

Tip: Make the pastry while the filling is simmering.

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 kg beef cubes
  • salt & pepper
  • 30 ml flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 15 ml tomato paste
  • 440 ml stout
  • 500 ml beef stock
  • 15 ml Worcestershire sauce
  1. In a large dutch oven / cast iron pot, heat the oil and fry the meat over high heat in batches, giving it some colour and seasoning it with salt & pepper as you fry. Add a little flour to each batch as it is frying, using all the flour by the last batch. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside (it will still be raw on the inside).
  2. If the pot is smoking hot at this point, remove it from the heat and give it a few minutes to cool. Turn the heat down to medium, then add a little more oil and fry the onion, garlic and celery until soft.
  3. Add the bay leaf, cloves, tomato paste, stout, stock and Worcester sauce, stir well and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom to loosen and dissolve any sticky bits (covering the pot with a lid will help).
  4. Return the meat to the pot, then simmer over low heat for 3 hours, covered, until the meat is very soft and the gravy is dark brown and rich (stir once or twice during the process).  Pour some excess liquid off and keep aside for serving as gravy later. Use a fork to pull some of the meat apart, keeping some cubes whole.
  5. Cool the filling completely before baking in the pastry.

For the sour cream & thyme pastry:

Time: 30 min prep plus 2h30 resting.

Tip: For a more classic version, leave out the thyme leaves.

  • 3 cups (750 ml) white bread flour
  • 5 ml salt
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 250 ml cold butter, cubed
  • 250 g sour cream
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked, for brushing
  1. Mix the flour, salt & thyme together. Rub the butter into the flour mixture using your fingers. When it starts to resemble coarse bread crumbs, add the sour cream and cut it in with a knife. Continue to mix until the mixture comes together in a non-smooth ball of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangular shape. Turn the dough so that it lies horizontally in front of you (divide it into thirds in your mind), then fold the right side over to the middle, and the left side over the folded part, to form three layers. Turn the dough over, turn it 90 degrees, and roll out again, folding it in the same way. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Remove from the fridge and repeat the rolling and folding process. Return to the fridge for another hour.

To assemble the pie:

Time: 20 min assembling plus 1 hour baking.

  1. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface (the dough should be very smooth by now) to a long rectangle with a thickness of about 5 mm.
  2. Spray a medium size deep pie tin with non-stick spray, then line the bottom of the tin with pastry, easing it gently into the corners and taking care to not stretch the dough too much (leave the edges overhanging for now).
  3. Fill with the beef & stout mixture, then use a pastry brush to lightly brush the edges where the top layer needs to stick. Lay the rest of the pastry on top, cutting a hole in the middle or making slits here and there for steam to escape.
  4. Use a sharp knife to neatly trim the sides, then use a fork to press grooves into the edges. Use any leftover pastry to cut out shapes, or to make a plait for decoration. Brush with egg all over, then bake at 180 C for about 1 hour or until golden brown and cooked.
  5. Serve hot, with steamed veggies, the reserved gravy and mashed potato.

Beef and stout pie, perfect to make on a cosy winter holiday. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

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All-in-one breakfast rusks

10 Jul

Delicious buttermilk rusks with various seeds, nuts, oats, coconut and olive oil. (Bowl by Le Creuset. Linen napkin by HAUS.)

 

I’ve published the recipe for these winning rusks twice before – one of my first posts ever on this blog in 2011 and again on Die Kos Vos last year. These buttermilk rusks are exceptionally delicious, packed with oats, bran, coconut, pecan nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and linseeds. I enjoy them with coffee or tea, first thing in the morning, then I’m good to go. These days I make the recipe with olive oil instead of canola oil, which brings a wonderful richness to the taste that I prefer. The oils and seeds contain precious Omega-3, -6 & -9 that keep our hearts healthy and enough fiber to keep our digestive systems in mint condition.

For smaller households I’ve found that a halved recipe is more than adequate. It fills one standard baking tray (roughly 51 rusks, depending on how thick you cut the fingers) and will last for many weeks after being dried out, stored in an airtight container. Take a smaller container to your office for a fantastic teatime snack.

Watch my video for an easy how-to guide. Happy baking!

Ingredients: (makes about 51 medium size rusks)

Note: This is the halved recipe. Feel free to double it up for a bigger batch.

  • 500 g self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup linseeds (flax seeds)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup regular oats
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup bran cereal flakes
  • 50 g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 XL egg
  • 1 cup olive oil (or canola oil)
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 180 C and line a standard shallow baking tray (about 30 x 40 x 2 cm) with grease-proof baking paper. Place the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Add the sunflower seeds, lin seeds, sesame seeds, oats, coconut and bran flakes. In a smaller bowl, mix the egg, oil and buttermilk, then pour over the dry ingredients and stir until it starts to come together. Use clean hands to work it into a ball, but don’t knead. Transfer the mixture to the lined baking tray, pat out evenly to fill all the corners, then bake at 180 C for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and cooked. Remove from the oven, then carefully turn it out on a wire rack to cool.

When cool enough to handle, transfer to a cutting board, then cut into rectangular fingers. Remove an oven rack from the oven, then preheat oven to 100 C. Arrange the fingers slightly apart on the oven rack, then dry out for 3 hours or until crisp but not dark. Let it cool completely then store in an airtight container. Serve with tea or coffee (to be dipped).

Tip: Save money by buying the exact quantities of seeds and nuts at a weigh-and-pay store.

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