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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.

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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.

Blueberry and almond crostata

22 Dec

Crumbly, gooey blueberry & almond crostata (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A few years ago I posted this recipe for a peach galette. By the way, the French call it a galette, the Italians call it a crostata. Now that I’ve given all the credit to the French previously, I suppose it’s time to give the Italians a turn.

Since the first time that I made this rustic free-form tart, it has become my secret weapon. I’ve made it numerous times with cling peaches, sometimes with nectarines and once with plums. Every single time the result has been magnificent: buttery, flaky pastry enveloping an oozing almond paste centre along with slightly tart and soft fruit on top. It’s a revelation to many who taste it the first time. The simplicity and intensity of it all is just superb. And can you imagine adding a dollop of creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream? The stuff dreams are made of, literally.

Almond paste: (enough for at least 2 crostatas)

  • 100 g (250 ml) ground almonds
  • 250 ml icing sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon almond essence
  • 1 egg white, lightly whisked

Pastry: (makes 2 medium size crostatas)

(Recipe for pastry by Ina Garten)

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 250 g cold butter, diced
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) ice cold water

Filling: (enough for 2 crostatas)

  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • about 1,5 cups fresh blueberries – or use any other seasonal fruit except strawberries and bananas

Method:

For the almond paste: Place all the ingredients except the egg white in a food processor. Add half the egg white and process until it comes together into a ball (add more egg white until you get to the desired consistency, add more icing sugar if your mixture is too sticky). Remove from the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 3 hours. It won’t ever freeze solid because of the sugar content, but it is much easier to handle when it is hard enough to grate.

For the pastry: Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add the icy water all at once while the motor is running. As soon as the dough starts to come together, remove it from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Press into a disk shape, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

To assemble: Pre-heat oven to 220 C. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of about 5 mm. Transfer carefully onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush the top of the pastry with egg, leaving a 3cm border around the edges. Coarsely grate the frozen almond paste all over the brushed egg pastry surface, then cover with blueberries. Fold the edges over carefully, keeping the look of the edges rustic. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack before serving with vanilla ice cream (serve hot or at room temperature).

Scott’s bread

11 Jan

Freshly baked ciabatta loaves, made with Scott's bread recipe (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Freshly baked ciabatta loaves, made with Scott’s bread recipe (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Scott Armstrong joined the team at The Demo Kitchen in May 2015 as an intern – part of his practical experience (food media) for his chef’s course at the Institute of Culinary Arts. He was a quiet guy from the get-go, but I immediately realized what he’s made of after I plunged him into the deep side with a four-day cooking demo marathon at the Good Food & Wine Show.

Scott was always 30 minutes early for work. He skated here with headphones in his ears. He had loads of initiative and brought new recipes to the kitchen often. He had a very small notebook where he wrote down recipes like a journal, the pages falling apart from steamy kitchen environments.

The best recipe that Scott had introduced to me last year, is this bread recipe. He made paninis for our sandwiches everyday, and they were absolutely drop-dead delicious. I love a good bread recipe, and this one may be the best I’ve come across that doesn’t use a mother starter dough or several hours of double proofing or a wood fired oven. You do, however, need a stand mixer because the dough is super runny. You’ll also need a dough scraper for cutting and handling the proofed dough, otherwise the portions are very difficult to transfer to the baking tray. Expect to clean your mixer afterwards, because the sticky dough creeps up into the motor mechanism. But I promise you, it’s all worth it.

Transferring the proofed dough from the bowl to a floured surface. As you can see, it is very runny. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Transferring the proofed dough from the bowl to a floured surface. As you can see, it is very runny. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Thank you Scott for sharing this recipe with me. I’ll treasure it while I watch you excel at your promising career as a darn good chef.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg white bread flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 15 ml dried yeast
  • 15 ml salt
  • 1 liter lukewarm water

Method:

  1. Place the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (K-beater, not dough hook). Mix on low-speed.
  2. With the mixer running, add the water all at once. Mix for a couple of seconds on low-speed, then turn up the speed to maximum and mix for 8 minutes continuously.
  3. Scrape down the runny dough from the beater using a spatula, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to proof in a warm place until doubled in size (it reaches the top of the my KitchenAid’s bowl) – about 45 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 230 C. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper (or use a sieve and dust with flour). Also, dust a large clean working surface with flour.
  5. Remove the plastic wrap and use a spatula to turn out the bubbly dough onto the floured surface – do not punch down the dough. Sieve more flour over the top of the dough, then use a dough scraper to cut squares or rectangles out of the dough. Transfer each one as soon as it is cut, using the dough scraper, to the baking tray. The dough will feel light as air at this point, almost like marshmallows, but is very runny and should be handled with lots of dusted flour and a light touch. Leave a little space between the dough portions, as it will rise more in the oven.
  6. Bake at 230 C for 10-15 minutes until golden brown, depending on the size of your paninis. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.
  7. Serve as sandwiches filled with your choice of filling, or slice up and use as a dipping bread for antipasti platters.

Tip: Keep left-over bread wrapped in plastic bags, and give it a quick refresh in the oven before serving to return it to its full glory.

Credits:

Recipe adaptation, food preparation, food styling & text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography, food styling & prop styling: Tasha Seccombe

This post has also been featured on The Pretty Blog.

Milk tart

25 Aug

Traditional baked milk tart (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Traditional baked milk tart (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

If there was ever a prize for the most popular sweet treat in South African heritage recipes, it must surely go to the milk tart. You’ll find more recipes for milk tart in local cook books, websites and blogs than probably any other local dish. Why? Because it’s so flipping delicious, of course! Even superstar Jamie Oliver included a recipe for SA milk tart in his recent book, Jamie’s Comfort Food, causing a stir on Instagram with the pictures.

Traditional milk tart is usually flavoured with lemon or naartjie rind, cinnamon and a drop of almond essence – no vanilla. This sets it apart from many other custard tarts across the world, many of which come quite close to what we know and love as milk tart in South Africa.

I’ve only published one recipe for milk tart on my blog before, so it was time for a revisit of this stunning South African classic. The previously published recipe is for a crustless version with a fantastic texture – light and almost foamy because of the added whisked egg whites.

The recipe that I am writing about today is more traditional, made with good quality store-bought puff pastry (takes quite a lot of work out of the equation) and with a filling that is silky smooth and not too sweet. It makes 2 standard 20-23 cm round shallow milk tarts or one large deeper tart if you have a very big tin and want to feed a crowd. Tasha had this magnificent vintage fluted deep pie dish, so I made it in her tin and the result was quite spectacular.

Don’t be alarmed if your tart cracks on the surface – mine did because of it’s size. Doesn’t change the taste at all, of course, and just adds to the home-baked authenticity.

Tip: Use loose-bottomed tins if you want to turn out your tart. Otherwise, use authentic enamel tins or other oven-proof dishes and slice the tart straight from the tin/dish.

Ingredients: (makes 2 medium tarts or 1 large)

  • 400 g puff pastry, thawed
  • 1,25 liters (5 cups) milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 large piece of naartjie peel
  • 125 ml sugar
  • 125 ml cake flour
  • 60 ml butter, cubed
  • 6 egg yolks
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond essence
  • ground cinnamon for topping, finely sieved

Method:

  1. Grease your baking tin/s with non-stick spray and pre-heat oven to 200 C.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry to fit your baking tin/s. Line the tin/s carefully with the pastry, trimming the edges and gently pressing the pastry into the fluted edges. Line with non-stick baking paper and fill the surface with uncooked rice or beans (for blind baking). Bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove the rice/beans and paper and return to the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool while making the filling.
  3. Turn down the oven to 180 C.
  4. In a medium pot, heat the milk, cinnamon stick and naartjie peel over medium high heat.
  5. While the milk is heating, mix the sugar and flour together in a large bowl. When the milk is reaching a temperature where you can just stick your finger in it, pour it over the sugar and flour. Stir well with a whisk, then return it to the warm pot.
  6. Turn down the heat to low and continue to stir until the mixture thickens (do not boil) – it will take 5-10 minutes. When it is thick, remove from the heat and quickly stir in the cubed butter and egg yolks. Add the salt and almond essence and stir until smooth and glossy.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pastry tin/s, sift over a thin layer of ground cinnamon, then carefully place in the oven (the mixture will be quite runny, so work carefully). Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down further to 160 C and bake for another 15 minutes (smaller tarts) – 30 minutes (large tarts), or until the centre of the tart is just tenderly cooked and still slightly wobbly. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely (the tart needs time to stabilize, so don’t slice while it is still hot).
  8. Slice and serve warm (reheated) or cold.

Credits:

This post was written by Ilse van der Merwe for The Pretty Blog.

Text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com & The Demo Kitchen

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Chocolate pineapple pudding with almond & orange

21 Apr

Baked chocolate pineapple pudding with almonds and orange rind, served with dark chocolate sauce & creme fraiche.

Baked chocolate pineapple pudding with almonds and orange rind, served with dark chocolate sauce & creme fraiche.

Last night, the MasterChef SA Celebrity contestants had to cook something using a secret ingredient: pineapple. The team behind the Woolworths #CelebrityChef campaign asked me to also put together a recipe using pineapple.

After considering many different dishes from a pineapple tarte tatin to a pineapple salsa taco to pineapple BBQ sauce ribs, I came up with this rich and decadent pudding using grilled fresh pineapple, chocolate, ground almonds and orange rind. The pudding must be slightly underbaked to ensure a gooey centre. It has a tropical undertone that goes so very well with the richness of dark chocolate. Serve warm with dark chocolate sauce and creme fraiche.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe pineapple
  • 100g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 60 g butter
  • 3/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 XL eggs
  • 2 XL egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 5 ml vanilla extract

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cream

To serve:

  • a dusting of cocoa powder (optional)
  • 250 g creme fraiche (or vanilla ice cream)

Method:

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin off the pineapple and cut into chunks or rounds (I also removed the tough inner core). Grill the chunks in a very hot griddle pan until you get beautifully charred marks on the outside. Put half of the grilled pineapple in a food processor and process to a smooth pulp. Set aside the pulp and the remaining grilled pineapple.
  2. In a small glass bowl, add the chocolate and butter. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir well until smooth and melted. Put aside.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 200 C and grease a deep 23cm heat proof baking dish or skillet.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, almonds, sugar and salt. Mix well with a hand whisk. Now add the eggs, yolks, milk, zest, vanilla, pineapple pulp and melted chocolate mixture. Mix with the whisk until smooth, then pour into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until just undercooked in the centre. Remove from the oven, dust with cocoa powder (optional) and serve warm with grilled pieces of pineapple, chocolate sauce & creme fraiche.
  6. For the chocolate sauce: While the pudding is baking, heat the cream in a tall cup in the microwave until it just starts to boil (about 30 seconds – 1 minute). Add the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth and melted.

Tips:

  • You can also use cheaper commercial dark chocolate for this recipe, but be sure to add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to the batter to ensure a dark pudding.
  • If you’d like to serve this at room temperature as a chocolate tart, bake the pudding for 20 minutes in total, then cool completely. Cool the chocolate sauce as well, then spread the sauce over the pudding as a stylish ganache topping. Slice and serve.
  • I find it easy and fuss-free to melt chocolate in the microwave, but you can also do it in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water (the traditional French way).

Roasted plum tart

2 Apr

Roasted plums on a creamy zesty filling inside a baked pastry shell (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Roasted plums on a creamy zesty filling inside a baked pastry shell (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

There is nothing more beautiful than a perfectly ripe plum, its silky matt skin dark and red and tender. Inside, the flesh reveals a golden, juicy, tart, fibrous treasure. I could stare at plums for hours – such astonishingly pretty fruit.

This simple tart is easy to make and – with its rustic charm – a dream to look at. The roasted fruit needs some time to cool, so don’t be rushed.

Note: This tart also looks beautiful when assembled in smaller jars. Just substitute the baked pastry for buttery cookie crumbs (200g digestive or tennis biscuits mixed with 80 g melted butter). Just spoon the crumbs into individual 250 ml capacity jars without compressing it. Top with the creamy filling & roasted plums, then refrigerate. Mobile desserts fit for a royal picnic.

For the pastry:

  • 1 ½ cups (250g) cake flour
  • 125g cold butter, chopped in cubes
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon iced water

For the roasted plums:

  • 1 kg ripe, firm plums (halved, pits removed)
  • ¼ cup soft brown sugar
  • juice of 1 orange

For the filling:

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 250 g plain cream cheese

To make the pastry: Place the flour, butter & sugar in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the yolk and pulse again. Now add the iced water and process until it starts to come together in a ball. As soon as it does, remove from the processor, then knead briefly to form a smooth ball. Shape into a disc, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface (about 0,5 cm thick). Transfer to a greased tart tin (about 20-23 cm diameter), then press gently into the corners and trim the top. Line with baking paper, then fill with dry beans or rice. Pre-heat oven to 200 C, then bake for 15 minutes. Remove paper and beans, then bake for another 5-10 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and leave to cool.

To make the roasted plums: Place halved plums on a baking tray (alternate cut-side up and down), then sprinkle with sugar & drizzle with orange juice. Bake at 200 C for 15-20 minutes, then remove and leave to cool. Note: you want the plums to be tender, but not too soft – they must still be in tact.

To make the filling: Using electric beaters, beat the condensed milk with the lemon juice until smooth. Add the cream cheese, then beat until well mixed. Pour into the prepared cooled pastry case, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. When ready to serve, top with cooled roasted plums, then slice and serve.

Note: This assembled tart can be refrigerated and enjoyed within 2 days. The pastry will however be best served on the first day.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog.

Text & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

Crustless ricotta cheesecake

26 Mar

Baked ricotta cheesecake topped with freshly whipped cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Baked ricotta cheesecake topped with freshly whipped cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Many years ago, long before I started writing my food blog, I saved a few pages from a Pick ‘n Pay Fresh Ideas booklet before it became Fresh Living Magazine (not sure the exact date, it wasn’t included in my cut-out). Strangely, I never got around to making their recipe for an Italian baked ricotta cheesecake – although the picture had astounded me each time I saw it.

I recently paged through my saved cut-outs again and decided to finally give it a go. I love a good cheesecake any day and I’m always keen to try out new variations. This one is great because it doesn’t have any crust at all (a little less effort and more than a little less kilojoules) and it is made from ricotta cheese, not cream cheese or cottage cheese. The cake is slightly firmer than most other cream-cheese-based cheesecakes, with a delicate almost-crumbly texture. The smoothness of the texture completely depends on the smoothness of the ricotta that you are using, so look for a creamy and smooth ricotta product. The flavour is surprisingly light and not too sweet – a welcome alternative to heavier cream-based versions.

This Italian-style cheesecake is really easy to make, low in carbs and delicious topped with a layer of unsweetened softly whipped cream. It is best kept refrigerated. Dust with a little icing sugar if necessary.

Crustless ricotta cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Crustless ricotta cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients: (makes 1 x 20cm cake)

  • 1 kg ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 6 XL eggs
  • 1.2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
  • juice (about 1/4 cup) and finely grated peel of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • a pinch of salt
  • for serving: 250 ml cream, whipped

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 150 C. Set oven rack in the middle of the oven. Grease and flour a 20 cm springform cake tin.
  2. Place all ingredients (except cream) in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pour batter into the prepared tin.
  3. Bake for 1 1/2 hours (90 minutes) until filling is pale gold and centre is firm. Remove from oven and cool in tin.
  4. Remove from tin when completely cool, then top with whipped cream. Slice and serve.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Recipe: Pick ‘n Pay Fresh Ideas booklet

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography: Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe

Styling: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

A festive table from “Share: The Cookbook” with Poetry stores

15 Dec

A festive table loaded with delicious dishes out of "Share: The Cookbook" (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A festive table loaded with delicious dishes out of “Share: The Cookbook” (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

It was such a treat to discover this new book on the shelf at Poetry stores – Share: The Cookbook. ShareIt is a celebration of women who have survived war and conflicts, but also a celebration of the foods that nourish and bring us together. Recipes such as Nigerian Beef and Okra Soup, Rwandan Chicken Casserole as well as magical images  of real people are laid out in surrounding pages. Between the beautifully simple recipes, women tell their stories of survival, determination and how they came to take part in programs offered by Women for Women International. A host of celebrities such as Jamie Oliver to Annie Lennox have contributed recipes bringing a diverse array of flavours and personalities to this unique book. 100% of the publisher’s profits go to Women for Woman International. Share is much more than just a cookbook, it’s written for people that are interested in issues of women’s rights whilst celebrating our common humanity.

I’ve chosen a range of recipes as part of a festive spread in association with Poetry stores, using some of their beautiful homeware but also one of their fabulous new table cloths. The recipes are bright and tasty, yet simple and inexpensive. The flavour inspiration come deep from the hearts of Africa and India, intertwined by a common love of sharing food, recipes and love around our tables.

This book makes a great Christmas gift, and will remain a favourite in your kitchen but also on your coffee table.

Tomato & spinach dahl (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tomato & spinach dahl (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Spinach & tomato dahl, by Peter Kindersley

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled & grated
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 250 g red lentils
  • 400g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 900 ml vegetable stock or water
  • 400 g baby spinach
  • to serve: steamed basmati rice, naan bread, natural yoghurt, fresh coriander leaves and fresh lemon/lime wedges

Method:

Heat the oil in a large heavy lidded pan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and salt. Cook and stir for 2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the lentils, tomatoes and stock/water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 min when the lentils are thick. Stir often to prevent sticking on the bottom. Fold in the spinach and cook for about 2 minutes or until just wilted. Adjust seasoning and serve with steamed rice, naan bread, natural yoghurt, coriander leaves and fresh lemon/lime wedges.

Kachumbari salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Kachumbari salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Kachumbari salad, by Craig Kielburger

  • 450 g ripe, firm tomatoes, sliced or diced
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 25 g fresh coriander
  • 1 chilli, sliced
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Place the tomatoes in a salad bowl. Top with the sliced onion, coriander & chilli.
  2. Drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil and season with salt & pepper.
Tandoori yoghurt chicken (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tandoori yoghurt chicken (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tandoori yoghurt chicken, by Bill McKibben

  • 1 whole chicken (about 1,5kg) cut into 8 pieces, skin removed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • juice of a lemon
  • 500 ml Greek yoghurt
  • 1 onion, coursely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3cm piece of ginger, peeled & grated
  • 1-2 red chillies, deseeded & chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • a drop of red food colouring (optional)
  • to serve: coriander leaves & lemon/lime wedges

Method:

  1. Using a sharp small knife, cut deep slashes into the thickest part of the chicken, but do not cut as far as the bone. Place in a large mixing bowl, then sprinkle with salt & lemon juice. Set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the marinade: place yoghurt, onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric & garam masala in a food processor and process to a smooth sauce. Add the red colouring, if using.
  3. Pour over the chicken, and rub into the slits. Cover and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
  4. Pre-heat the grill or fire, then cook the chicken for 20-25 minutes turning regularly. The chicken is cooked when there is no pink flesh and the juices run clear. Serve with fresh coriander and some lemon/lime wedges.
Orange, almond & olive oil cake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Orange, almond & olive oil cake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Orange scented olive oil almond cake, by Nell Newman

  • 100 g almonds (or ground almonds)
  • 100 g white rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 175 g white sugar
  • 120 ml olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 60 ml orange juice
  • 60 ml sherry
  • to decorate: orange segments/slices

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Grease/line a 20cm springform round cake tin.
  2. Toast the almonds in a dry pan over medium heat until lightly brown, then grind in a food processor. (alternatively use ground almonds)
  3. In a mixing bowl, sieve the rice flour and almonds with the baking powder & salt.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy. Now add the olive oil in a thin stream while whisking, following with the vanilla, almond extract, zest, orange juice and sherry. Fold into the dry sieved ingredients.
  5. Using clean electric beaters, whisk the egg whites in another clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Now fold this into the yolk/flour mixture. Pour into the prepared tin, then bake for 30-40 minutes until light brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven, then allow to cool for 15 minutes before turning out on a clean folded tea towel. Invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Garnish with flaked almonds and/or orange segments/slices, and serve with whipped cream or creme fraiche.

All recipes from “Share: The Cookbook”, available from Poetry stores at R395.

All homeware, Wonkiware & wooden boards (except vintage brass cake plate, ladle and silver knife) available from Poetry stores.

Table cloth available from Poetry stores at R499 – available in blue or green.

Photography & styling: Tasha Seccombe

Text, propping, food preparation & styling: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant & food preparation: Elsebé Cronjé

This post was written and executed in association with Poetry stores.

Lemon curd swiss roll

22 Oct

Lemon curd swiss roll (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Lemon curd swiss roll (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

As mentioned before, I just adore South African food icon Phillippa Cheifitz and her recipes. She’s probably the reason that I want to write my own recipe book (and will, soon – watch this space). Her recipes are so stylish, simple, classic, doable and beautiful.

Lazy DaysPhillippa’s popular book “Lazy Days – Contemporary Country-style Cooking” was recently revised. I attended Phillippa’s book launch a week ago, and finally had the privilege of meeting this iconic and stylish woman. I still have the original version of Lazy Days and it remains one of my absolute favourites on my shelf. It’s a collection of recipes that you’d want to cook over and over again, containing classic staples like whole-egg mayonnaise, anchovy butter, onion confit and buttermilk pancakes. Phillippa writes about the food that she cooks on their West Coast weekends – the type of food that totally speaks to my heart.

Phillippa’s recipe for a lemon curd Swiss roll is so effortless and delightful, so I decided to feature it as a tribute. We also loved photographing this cake, as it was the first time that we worked inside my new kitchen. The natural lighting was just fantastic and we are so happy with the results. Looking forward to many more shoots in here.

Thank you Phillippa for the endless inspiration – you rock my world.

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 4 XL eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Beat the eggs with the sugar until very light & foamy.
  2. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt, then sift over the beaten egg mixture and fold in gently but evenly.
  3. Turn into a buttered baking Swiss-roll pan lined with nonstick baking paper. Bake one shelf above the middle at 200 C for about 12 minutes or until nicely risen.
  4. Turn out and pull off the paper carefully. Place a clean sheet of baking paper on top, then roll up, lengthways, in a tea towel.

Ingredients for the lemon curd:

  • 2 XL eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup strained lemon juice
  • grated rind of 2 lemons
  • 125 g chilled butter

Method:

  1. Beat the whole eggs and yolks until frothy, then gradually beat in the sugar until thick and pale.
  2. Mix in the lemon juice and rind. Turn into a heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking in the butter bit by bit. Cook for about 5 minutes, until thickened, but take care not to allow it to boil and curdle.
  3. Once thickened, remove from the stove and place a piece of nonstick paper direcly on the surface. Leave to cool completely. Refrigerate for a few hours until it is a good spreading consistency.
  4. To assemble: carefully unroll the sponge cake, spread with the lemon-curd fulling and roll up again. Dust with icing sugar, if you want to.

Credits:

Recipe: Phillippa Cheifits (Lazy Days: Easy Summer Cooking – Quivertree Publications)

Text: Ilse van der Merwe

Food preparation: Elsebé Cronje

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: The Demo Kitchen, Stellenbosch

Thank you to Catalyst Communications for the copy of Phillippa’s revised book. I will treasure it.

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