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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.

Pear & blue cheese quiche with rocket & pecans

18 Oct

Pear and blue cheese quiche with rocket & pecans (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Pear and blue cheese quiche with rocket & pecans (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

There are few things as underrated as a good quiche. It’s so easy to make and one of the best options for a light lunch or a tea table during Spring time.

I love the combination of pears, blue cheese, rocket and pecan nuts in a salad. I’ve decided to combine the quiche and the salad to create a fresh and vibrant meal-in-one. A festive salad on top of a beautiful quiche – what could be better than this?

Goats cheese also works very well in this combination, so use whatever you prefer.

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 sheets filo pastry
  • 100 ml butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 250 ml full cream milk
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 small pear, coarsely grated (no seeds)
  • 125 g blue cheese
  • a bunch of rocket leaves (toss in a drizzle of olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice)
  • a handful of pecan nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • 1 small pear, thinly sliced

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 220 C.
  2. Lay the pastry sheets out on a flat surface, then use a pastry brush to cover them with melted butter. Place the sheets on top of each other inside a greased loose bottom tart tin (about 23 cm). Trim the edges if you prefer, or leave them hanging over the edge. Place the lined tart tin inside a bigger rectangular baking tray.
  3. Beat the eggs & milk and season with salt & pepper. Pour the mixture into the lined tart tin, then add the grated pear and crumbled blue cheese (save about 1/3 of the cheese for later). Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and the middle just set.
  4. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. Top with rocket leaves, the rest of the blue cheese, the pecan nuts  and some sliced pear.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog.

Recipe, text & food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

Chocolate brioche

20 Jun

Dark and moody, buttery and decadent chocolate brioche with Nutella (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Dark and moody, buttery and decadent chocolate brioche with Nutella (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

My sister is a keen baker. She specifically loves baking ciabatta loaves for her family and for dinner guests, and uses great quality stone ground flour for her bread. They also have a beautiful little outdoor pizza oven at the farmhouse where they live in Somerset West, which bakes amazing pizzas in just 2-3 minutes – fantastic.

My sister also loves baking cakes and pastries. She has dozens of little colourful page markers inside her food magazines that she uses as recipe references, and have passed quite a few of her favourite recipes on to me.  Last year, she gave me a 10 page spread from Rooi Rose of July 2013 featuring amazing bread recipes and baking tips. I use it as a reference often!

So when I got the idea of baking a chocolate brioche, I first consulted my sister’s baking references, then my trusted range of recipe books at home. Strangely, none of them contained a recipe that I liked. I was looking for a dark brown all-chocolate loaf, not a white loaf with a chocolate filling (which can also be amazing, by the way). In the process I came across Herman Lensing’s recipe for a chocolate brioche that he did for Sarie Kos – a rich buttery loaf with a chocolate filling and a chocolate sauce drizzled over the top. I decided to adapt Herman’s recipe for what I had in mind, and serve it with lashes of Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread.

Herman’s recipe makes 2 large loaves, which I found can sometimes be a little too much for a small household. I halved the recipe, but kept some more yeast in the list of ingredients for the smaller mixture to rise as well as the large mixture does.

This is a recipe that I’ll be passing back to my sister for her collection – such an indulgent treat, especially for breakfast on a rainy Winter’s weekend. Enjoy!

Note: The dough needs to rest overnight in the fridge, so remember to start the process the night before if you want to eat it freshly baked for breakfast.

Ingredients: (makes 1 large loaf)

  •  450g cake flour
  • 50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder, sifted
  • 50g (60ml or 1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 15g instant dry yeast (1 and a half sachets)
  • 10g (10ml) salt
  • 6 XL eggs
  • 250ml butter, cut into small blocks
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked

Method:

  1. Using a stand mixer with K-beater attachment, place the flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar, yeast, salt and eggs in the bowl of the mixer and mix on medium speed for 8 minutes. You should have a stiff dough mixture.
  2. Now add butter a bit at a time, mixer running, until all the butter has been incorporated. You should have a smooth sticky dough.
  3. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover, then refrigerate overnight to rest.
  4. Turn the mixture out on a floured surface, then roll it out to a thickness of about 1cm. Fold the dough and repeat 2 times. Now roll it up and place inside a greased bread tin, OR cut into 3 strands and plait for a different look (place on a greased baking tray). Leave the dough in a warm area to rise for 60-90 minutes, until double in volume.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180C for at least 15 minutes, then brush with the whisked egg and bake for about 30 minutes until done. Serve warm with lashings of Nutella spread.

Credits:

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

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Easy caramel lamingtons

2 May

My quick and easy caramel lamington fingers (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

My quick and easy caramel lamington fingers (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

My Mother used to make us lamingtons very often when we were kids. It was an easy and economical sweet treat, loved by young and old alike. We called them “krimpvarkies” (porcupines), because of their spiny appearance.

I only recently learned that lamingtons are from Australian origin, and that they traditionally contain some kind of filling. In South Africa, we just dip squares of sponge cake in chocolate syrup, then cover them in dessicated coconut.

For a caramel twist on this classic favourite, I changed the traditional shape to a rectangular finger instead of a square, and made a quick 2-ingredient caramel sauce instead of the usual chocolate variety. They are so much easier to eat this way, and they look quite beautiful if I may say to myself! The sauce is made from canned caramel treat (also called dulce de leche abroad) and half a cup of warm milk – blitzed to a smooth sauce. This simply cannot be easier. If you have young kids, ask them to help you with the dipping part of the process.

To cut even more corners, you can use a store-bought sponge cake instead of baking it yourself. Everybody loves shortcuts when it comes to cooking!

Ingredients for the sponge cake:

  •  4 XL eggs
  • 300 ml (250 g) caster sugar
  • 500 ml (280 g) cake flour
  • 15 ml baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 250 ml milk
  • 100 g butter
  • 5 ml vanilla essence

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Line a large rectangular baking/roasting tin with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, then fold into egg mixture.
  4. Heat milk and butter until butter is melted, but don’t let it boil. Add vanilla, then fold into flour and egg mixture.
  5. Pour batter into lined tin, then bake for 25 minutes until cooked and golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven, and cool on a wire rack.

For the caramel sauce & assembly:

  • 125ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 1 can (385g) Nestlé caramel treat (or dulce de leche)
  • 1 cup dessicated coconut (for dipping at the end)

Method:

  1. Bring the milk to a boil, then remove from heat immediately. Pour into a blender cup, add caramel, then use a stick blender to blend to a smooth sauce (the caramel burns easily on the stove top, that’s why I prefer not to add it to the warm pot)
  2. Cut the cooled cake into fingers, about 3 x 10cm. Dip them one by one into the slightly warm caramel sauce, and then immediately into the coconut. Leave to dry for at least 15 minutes on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container.

Note: The longer you dip the cake fingers into the sauce, the more sauce it will absorb. Also, if the sauce is cold when you dip the cake, it will absorb less sauce. Adjust to your liking, and place the sauce in the microwave for a few seconds to reheat if necessary.

Credits:

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

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

An Easter garden tea party with Poetry stores

7 Apr

An Easter garden tea party fit for a king (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

An Easter garden tea party fit for a king (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Next weekend many of us will be celebrating the Easter holidays – a time for utter indulgence in terms of festive family foods and sweet treats. The friendly team from Poetry stores asked me to once again put together a feast for this special occasion, and I decided to create a tea party spread with recipes from one of the books from their shelves: Tea Time by Jackie Brooks.

A tea party is such a great way to celebrate special occasions with family and friends. While the kids are hunting Easter eggs in the garden, you and your friends can gather around in a shady spot to enjoy the most delicious and decadent Easter treats with a cup of steaming tea. While Tasha (my good friend and also the photographer of this spread) and I worked to make the food look pretty, we asked our daughters to hold some of the dishes for a few individual recipe shots. They made such beautiful “hand models” that we had to pay them in Easter eggs!

My favourite recipe from this whole spread is the pecan cheesecake – it is utterly decadent and so very delicious. But the raspberry tarts take the prize for their wow factor – how pretty are those?

Jackie’s little recipe book is conveniently small (it will certainly fit into most handbags) and packed with so many easy recipes – sweet and savoury – for any tea time occasion. At only R150 is also makes a very affordable gift for a friend or loved one this Easter. Get it from your nearest Poetry store or online.

Butterfly cupcakes with pink cream filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Butterfly cupcakes with pink cream filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Butterfly cupcakes – makes 24: (all recipes from Tea Time by Jackie Brooks)

  • 125g butter
  • 5ml vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • filling: 250 ml cream, 2,5ml vanilla extract, 15 ml icing sugar, a drop of pink food colouring

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.
  2. Beat butter, vanilla and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Sift flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir until mixture is smooth and all ingredients are well combined.
  4. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of mixture into paper cases. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. To make the filling, beat cream, vanilla and icing sugar together until thick.
  6. When the cupcakes are cool, cut a slice from the top of each cake and pipe on a small amount of filling. Cut the removed cake slices in half and arrange on top of cream to make butterfly wings. Dust with a little icing sugar.
Chocolate hazelnut cake with vintage doily sieve pattern (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chocolate hazelnut cake with vintage doily sieve pattern (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chocolate hazelnut cake – serves 8:

  • 250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 325g hazelnuts, toasted and roughtly chopped
  • 15ml rum
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 190C.
  2. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and keep stirring until the chocolate melts. Remove from pan and cool slightly.
  3. Place egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until thick and pale. Fold the melted chocolate, hazelnuts and rum into the egg mixture.
  4. Place egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Pour mixture into a greased and lined 23cm spring-form cake tin and bake for 50 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool cake in tin.
  5. Just prior to serving, dust cake with icing sugar (I used one of Tasha’s antique lace doilies to create a beautiful pattern).
Meltingly soft ginger kisses (photograhy by Tasha Seccombe)

Meltingly soft ginger kisses (photograhy by Tasha Seccombe)

Ginger kisses – makes 24:

  • 250g soft butter
  • 115g icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 15ml ground ginger
  • 225g plain/cake flour
  • 150g cornflour (Maizena)
  • Filling: 250g mascarpone, 50g stem ginger or preserved ginger, 15ml stem ginger syrup or maple syrup, 50g demerara sugar, 2,5ml vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
  2. In a large bowl beat the butter until pale and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar, beating well until the mixutre is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until well combined. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of the flour.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the ginger, flour and cornflour. Sift the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Roll teaspoon-sized amount into balls and press down with a fork (use floured hands).
  4. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until firm and lightly golden in colour (not brown). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. While the biscuits and cooling, prepare the filling. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside. When the biscuits are cool enough, spread the filling on half the biscuits then place the remaining biscuits on top.
Baked pecan cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Baked pecan cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Pecan cheesecake – serves 12:

Base:

  • 180-200g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
  • 45ml sugar (optional)
  • 50g butter

Filling:

  • 1,25kg plain cream cheese (5 x 250g tubs), at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 40g butter, melted
  • 5 eggs
  • 5ml vanilla essence
  • 1 cup pecan nuts, chopped

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C.
  2. To make base, combine biscuits, sugar and butter, mixing well. Press into bottom of a greased 25cm spring-form tin, then chill in the fridge.
  3. For the filling: beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add brown sugar and butter, mixing well. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Spoon filling into tin and bake for 1 hour.
  4. Turn oven off and allow cheesecake to cool in oven with closed door for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, then cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate for 8 hours. Remove sides of spring-form tin, then decorate with extra pecans.
Fresh raspberry tarts with cream cheese filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Fresh raspberry tarts with cream cheese filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Raspberry & hazelnut tarts – makes 6:

Base:

  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 30 ml icing sugar
  • 30g ground hazelnuts
  • 80g butter, chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Cream filling:

  • 375g creamcheese430ml caster sugar
  • 60ml double cream

Raspberry topping:

  • 350g fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 cup smooth raspberry jam (warmed and sieved)

Method:

  1. To make pastry base, place flour, icing sugar, and hazelnuts in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and pulse until it just comes together as a soft dough. Remove from bowl and wrap in cling wrap, then refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 200C. Knead pastry lightly, then roll out to 3mm thick. Line 6 greased 75mm flan tins with the rolled-out pastry dough. Line with baking paper and add beans or rice to weigh it down. Bake for 10 minute, then remove paper and beans and bake for another 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. To make filling, place cream cheese and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth. Beat cream in a separate bowl, then fold into cream cheese mixture.
  4. To assemble, spoon or pipe the filling into cooled pastry cases. Arrange raspberries on top, then brush warm jam over and refrigerate to set. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Credits:

This post was especially written for Poetry stores as part of their Easter 2014 celebration campaign.

All recipes from Tea Time by Jackie Brooks. Available from Poetry stores for R150.

All homeware, Wonkiware, jugs, mini wooden boards, tea cups & saucers, nougat bars, toffee bars, glass tea pot and wooden boxed exotic teas available from Poetry stores (except for white cake stand, animated vintage mug, bunny cookie cutters, and Easter eggs).

Intro text, recipe selection, food preparation & co-styling: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & co-styling: Tasha Seccombe

Green bunny prop courtesy of Lily’s Closet.

Classic chocolate cupcakes

25 Mar

A classic, moist, dark chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

A few years ago, before I even considered changing careers from music to food, I was already a huge fan of food TV. I watched Nigella, Jamie and Bill religiously on BBC Food (now BBC Lifestyle), and made notes now and then to remember some of their recipes.

One of the recipes that survived in my scribbled recipe notebook, was a basic cupcake recipe from Nigella Lawson. While she was demonstrating the easy steps, I was trying to write it down – only getting cryptic notes of ingredients and some of the method. Not knowing back then that I could have just checked the full recipe online, I tried to make sense of my scribbles later that day. The great thing is, the recipe is so very simple and absolutely fool proof that I have made dozens of batches of these over the years. For chocolate cupcakes, I just substitute two heaped tablespoons of flour for two heaped tablespoons of cocoa powder.

More recently, I looked up the original recipe. Nigella uses royal icing for her cupcakes, but I prefer a rich and fluffy buttercream frosting. Use whatever you prefer.

These chocolate cupcakes always deliver in terms of taste and texture. (Photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Ingredients: (makes 12)

Note: Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before you start. It makes a big difference to the texture. Also, a digital scale will make your life a lot easier for this recipe.

  • 75 g cake flour
  • 50 g cocoa powder (for vanilla cupcakes, leave the cocoa powder out and just use 125 g of cake flour in total)
  • 125 g sugar
  • 125 g soft butter
  • 2 XL eggs
  • 5 ml baking powder
  • 2.5 ml baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • a small pinch of salt
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 30 ml milk

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Place all of the ingredients except the milk in a food processor, and pulse to mix thoroughly. Scrape down the sides.
  3. With the motor running, add the milk and process for a further 1 minute until the mixture becomes very smooth. Now use 2 dessert spoons to drop the batter into the cupcake tin holes, spreading the mixture to fill all 12 holes (it always looks like it’s not enough, but trust me – it is).
  4. Bake for 15-18 minutes until cooked and golden on top (an inserted skewer should come out clean). Remove from the oven and transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the chocolate buttercream frosting:

  • 125 g soft butter (very soft, but not melted)
  • 200 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 50 g cocoa powder, sifted (or less if you don’t like it to be too dark)
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 15-30 ml milk

Method:

  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), then use an electric whisk to beat it until pale and creamy (takes about 2-3 minutes).
  2. Add the sifted icing sugar and cocoa powder a little at a time, mixing until it is thoroughly incorporated. Add the vanilla and a little milk and whisk to get a light and fluffy texture, but don’t add too much milk or the mixture won’t hold shape.
  3. Transfer the icing to a piping bag fitted with a nozzle of your choice, then pipe the icing on top of the cupcakes. Don’t refrigerate them, as the icing will become hard and unpleasant to eat. Enjoy immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

The mixture makes exactly 12 cupcakes. I love their cracked tops. (Photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Credits:

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

Recipe adaptation, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Nigella’s rum & raisin banana bread

3 Mar

Toasted slices of banana bread, topped with thick cream and berry coulis (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

For one of our monthly food shoots last year at Tasha‘s house in Elgin, she greeted us with the seducing smell of something exotic yet strangely familiar. It was a loaf of freshly baked banana bread with added rum and sultanas. It was so moist and delicious that I had to ask for the recipe.

Tasha found it in Nigella‘s “How to be a Domestic Goddess”, but changed it slightly to include desiccated coconut instead of walnuts, and salted butter instead of unsalted. This is honestly one of the best recipes for banana bread that I have tasted, and I can strongly recommend it. Nigella says on her website that you can add some cocoa powder and chocolate chips, which would make it darker and even more heavenly. But the choice is yours.

I love serving this bread thickly sliced topped with double cream (or clotted cream or mascarpone) and some kind of berry coulis or good quality runny berry jam. It is an excellent choice for breakfast in bed for your lover on Valentines Day or on a romantic weekend, might I add. Decadent, indulgent, utterly delicious.

I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary on the 14th of February this year. I’m a very, very lucky girl to be married to Schalk. He is kind, honest, an amazing father, and the best friend I could ever wish for. Did I mention he is tall, dark and dangerously handsome? Here’s to many more breakfasts in bed for the two of us!

Freshly baked rum and raisin banana bread (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Ingredients:

  • 100 g sultanas or raisins (both work very well, but I prefer sultanas)
  • 75 ml dark rum
  • 175 g cake flour
  • 30 ml baking powder
  • 2.5 ml bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 2.5 ml salt
  • 30 g (125 ml) desiccated coconut
  • 125 g salted butter (melted)
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 small ripe bananas (or 3 large, about 300 g mashed banana)
  • 5 ml vanilla extract

Method:

  1. An hour before you start baking, place the sultanas/raisins and rum in a small saucepan and heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat immediately, cover with a lid, and leave to soak for an hour.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 170 C.
  3. Sift all the dry ingredients together and add the coconut.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the melted butter and sugar. Now beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the bananas, sultanas with rum, and vanilla. Don’t worry if it looks like the mixture has “split”.
  5. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, and stir well after each bit.
  6. Pour into a loaf tine of about 23 x 13 x 7 cm (9 x 5 x 3 inches) and bake in the middle of your oven for 50-60 minutes. The outside should be a nutty brown colour.
  7. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin.

Tip: You can also make beautifully soft muffins from the same recipe, just bake them for about 20-25 minutes.

 

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

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

Peach galette

28 Feb

Seasonal peach galette with vanilla ice cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Today is the last official day of summer in SA, so I’m going to sneak in one last sunny recipe. When summer fruit is abundant, there’s just no better way to use them than in a rustic French fruit galette (or crostata, like the Italians call it). The pastry is buttery and flaky, the fruit is tender and intense, and the result is just so much more than the sum of its original parts.

To make this galette even tastier, I make a batch of almond paste (marzipan) and coarsely grate this over the prepared pastry base before arranging the fruit. This adds a delicious soft and gooey aspect to the tart, as well as that almond flavour that I love so much. If you don’t like almonds, you can leave this out completely.

The recipe for the pastry comes from one of my food icons, Ina Garten. She had a specialty food store called The Barefoot Contessa for many years (now also the name of her famous American TV show), and baked hundreds of crostatas in her years. I love the texture of this pastry and didn’t want to change a thing about it. Ina’s recipe makes enough for two delicious galettes, so you can freeze the second half for another time if you like.

Pastry: (makes 2 standard sized galettes)

(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 water

Almond paste: (enough for 2 galettes)

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

Filling: (enough for 2 galettes)

  • 1 egg, lightly whisked (for brushing)
  • 6 large cling peaches, peeled and sliced (pits removed) – or use any other seasonal fruit except strawberries and bananas
  • 15-30 ml cinnamon sugar

Method:

For the pastry: Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add the iced 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 floured surface. Press into a disk shape, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the almond paste: Place all the ingredients together in a food processor. Process until it comes together into a ball (add more icing sugar if your mixture is too sticky). Remove and refrigerate (for at least an hour) in an airtight plastic bowl.

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 almond paste all over the brushed egg pastry surface, then cover with peach slices. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack before serving with vanilla ice cream (serve hot or at room temperature).

 Credits:

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

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Prop Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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