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Weekend brunch with Poetry Stores

21 Apr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fig & coconut granola (makes approximately 750 g)

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

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

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

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

Rye waffles (makes 8-10)

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

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

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

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

Apple & almond bostock (serves 4)

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

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

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

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

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

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Granola with almonds & cranberries

4 Jan

Freshly toasted granola with cranberries (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Freshly toasted granola with cranberries (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

With summer reigning supreme in South Africa, I am welcoming every chance for an early morning run before the heat sets into full swing. After runs like these, all I want to eat is something fresh, balanced, crunchy and sustainable (in terms of energy). The most popular breakfast in our house is a bowl of home-made granola with milk or thick Greek yoghurt, served with sliced fresh fruit on top. Although I’ve never been scared of butter, this granola recipe is made without the addition of any butter or oil and is a lot lower in fat than most mueslis and granolas. Perfect for getting back in shape after a the crazy festive season.

The granola can be kept in a tightly covered glass/plastic container, and will last well for several weeks.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups oats
  • 2 cups raw unsalted almonds (or nuts of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup linseeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup honey or maple syrup (or a mixture of both), warmed
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients together (except the cranberries), then spread out on a large baking tray lined with baking paper.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes at a time, stirring the mixture before returning to the oven. It will take about 30-40 minutes for the mixture to become caramelized and toasty – don’t let it go too dark.
  4. Remove, sprinkle the cranberries over and let it cool, stirring every now and then to prevent large clusters forming. When cool, transfer to a large container with a tight-fitting lid. Enjoy with milk or yoghurt for breakfast.

Credits:

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

Photography & prop styling: Tasha Seccombe

This post has also been featured on The Pretty Blog.

Croque madame

29 Aug

Croque madame (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Croque madame (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Still wondering what the big difference is between a croque madame and a croque monsieur? An egg. And the egg is placed on top of the croque madame – not the monsieur.

I was quite surprised by this bit of information mentioned above. In my mind, a so-called monsieur’s breakfast is usually bigger than a so-called madame’s breakfast, not the other way around. Come to think of it, I actually love the fact that the madame get to have the bigger meal. Anything is better topped with a poached egg, especially if it’s all golden and gooey.

Next to the classic eggs benedict, this is my second favourite breakfast in the world. It’s probably because I’m a sauce person. And I love rich breakfasts with butter, cheese and runny poached eggs. Top it off with really great toast, like the sourdough from Schoon de Compagne, and I’m a happy camper.

Ingredients for the Gruyere sauce: (serves 2)

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) butter
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) cake flour
  • 1/2 cup full cream milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Dijon mustard
  • about 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • salt & pepper

Method:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Stir well to form a smooth paste and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add the milk and stir to form a smooth, thick sauce. Turn down the heat to very low, then add the mustard, cheese and seasoning. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Ingredients for the croque madame: (serves 2)

  • 4 slices of sourdough bread, toasted
  • 4 slices of best quality smoked ham (I used hickory ham)
  • 2-4 eggs, poached in water for 3-4 minutes

Place the slices of toast on a baking tray. Top with slices of ham and Gruyere sauce, then place under a hot grill to turn golden brown (watch carefully, it only takes a minute). Remove from the oven, then top with a freshly poached egg. Serve immediately.

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

Assistant: Elsebé Cronje

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

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

Nutty cranberry breakfast bars

18 Nov

Soft and chewey breakfast bars with nuts & cranberries (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

When I was in primary school, there were a handful of kids whose lunch boxes looked very different from the rest of us. They had these amazing treasure chests filled with biltong, individually wrapped cheese blocks, boxed juice and – behold – granola bars. We envied them at each break time when they casually grazed on their royal snacks. I sometimes tried to swop my very average brown bread sandwiches with them (sorry Mom), with no success, obviously.

Now that I’m a fully grown adult, I still think of granola bars or breakfast bars as a royal snack. They are so luxurious, and I absolutely love making them at home. This specific version is not the hard and crunchy type, it is a soft and chewy version filled with amazing goodies like mixed nuts, cranberries, seeds, honey and banana. It contains no flour, no butter, and no added sugar, believe it or not!

Because this bar is so soft, I dip the bottom in chocolate to provide extra support when it sets, and to add some of that royal touch that I loved so much as a child. I can guarantee some serious envy from your colleagues when you’ll open this snack at tea-time. Jealousy, to be exact.

Enjoy every bite – it’s so delicious you won’t believe that it’s a healthy snack!

Ingredients:

  • 100 g mixed nuts
  • 2 cups all bran flakes, crushed to a volume of about 1 cup
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 100 g dried cranberries (make sure they don’t stick together)
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 80 g dark chocolate

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. Roughly chop the nuts, then spread them out on a baking tray. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes, then set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the toasted nuts, crushed all bran flakes, oats, sunflower seeds, cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix well.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, mix the mashed bananas with the honey, then mix this with the rest of the ingredients in the large mixing bowl.
  5. Line a 23 x 23 cm baking dish with baking paper, then spread out the mixture in the lined baking dish. Smooth the surface with wet hands, pressing down on the mixture to compact it gently. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 C.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the tin. Remove the uncut slab with lining onto a wooden board, then cut in bars and discard baking paper.
  7. Melt the chocolate carefully over a bain marie or in the microwave, then dip the bottom of each bar in the chocolate (or use a brush to “paint” the bottoms with chocolate). Place these on a clean sheet of baking paper to set. Transfer them to your fridge if you want it to set quicker.
  8. Store in a closed container in the fridge for up to a week.

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

Eggs benedict royale

23 Jul

The ultimate Eggs Benedict! (Photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

I’m not a huge breakfast person during the week – I usually prefer some rooibos tea with home-baked rusks when I’m on the go. But give me a lazy late-morning brunch over a weekend and I’m in heaven!

Brunch is not something that you can rush. It should be approached with no regard for time. Take your time to lay the table beautifully, or if you are going to eat in bed, make sure you are going to be extra comfortable with a tray on your lap or a side table. I usually love having baskets full of muffins, scones and croissants for my guests to choose from, with various jams and cheeses and farm butter. For the warm course of the feast, I like to serve really soft scrambled eggs with parmesan shavings and a very small drizzle of truffle oil. I also like extra crispy fried streaky bacon, and sometimes some pan-fried tomatoes.

But for the really special occasions, I love to serve eggs benedict – my favourite breakfast of all time. This is my “royale” twist on the classic eggs benedict: I serve the softly poached eggs on a sliced croissant instead of an English muffin, with loads of smoked Hickory ham, topped with smoked mozzarella. I then grill the lot before I add the poached eggs and warm hollandaise sauce. This is quite a rich breakfast or brunch meal, but the flavour combinations are superb! Serve individually plated servings to a small group of 1-4 guests, not a huge crowd – you need to time your eggs and grilled cheese to be ready at the same time. Your guests will feel really special to be served such a treat!

PS: For the Hollandaise sauce, I take a shortcut and whizz it up in a blender, using warm melted butter. No need to whisk anything on the stove over a double boiler. It makes you want to eat eggs benedict everyday. 🙂

Ingredients for 2 portions:

  • 2 croissants, sliced open lengthways
  • 4 slices of smoked Hickory ham (or a smoked ham of your choice)
  • 100-150 g smoked mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 4 free range eggs, as fresh as possible
  • 30-45 ml white vinegar, for poaching
  • some chopped fresh parsley for serving (optional)

Ingredients for Hollandaise sauce:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 15 ml water
  • 15 ml lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 125 ml butter, freshly melted and very warm

Method:

  1. For the sauce: in a small blender, blend/process/whizz the egg yolks, water, lemon juice and pinch of salt for a minute. With the motor running, add the warm melted butter in a very thin, steady stream. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Sauce will thicken on standing – add a teaspoon of warm water and whizz again just before serving, if necessary (I always make this just before serving, it is really best served when freshly made!)
  2. Pre-heat grill of oven and set baking tray 2/3 to the top. Arrange sliced croissants on another baking tray, then top each with 2 slices of ham and enough smoked mozzarella. Grill
  3. While grill is heating up, heat some water (about 5 cm deep) in a small sauce pan on the stove top. Add vinegar and bring to a very slow simmer. With a spoon, stir the simmering water for a few seconds to create a slow whirlpool. Gently break the eggs in the middle of the whirl, only 2 at a time. Simmer very slowly for 3-4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and briefly blot the spoon with the egg on a piece of kitchen paper to remove excess water before arranging on top of the grilled croissant. Top generously with hollandaise sauce.

Credits:

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

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

Poached summer fruit with spiced yoghurt

28 Feb

Poached nectarines, pears and strawberries with cardamom and cinnamon spiced yoghurt (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

While the days are getting slightly shorter as we move towards the end of February in the Cape, the bountiful summer fruit harvests are almost beyond their peak. I love buying large lugs of locally grown fruit from Blue Jay Farm Stall around the corner from where I live. For a small household, it is almost impossible to eat all the fruit while it is still at it’s freshest, so it is time to make one of my ultimate breakfast treats: poached summer fruit with spiced yoghurt.

It is amazing how the colour of fruit change when you poach them – some intensify, like peaches, while others become a softer shade of pink, like strawberries. I just adore the texture of poached fruit when they are truly poached to perfection: not mushy, but soft and evenly delicate. I serve them for a real breakfast treat with double-cream greek yoghurt, lightly spiced with cardamom, cinnamon and honey. You can also serve them for dessert, with spiced mascarpone or thick cream.

It is always best to use fresh vanilla pods in your poaching liquid, but if you – like me – don’t always have access to the beautiful yet expensive real vanilla pods, just use a teaspoon or 2 of vanilla essence.

There is no need to skin your fruit – the skins are really good for you, and it means a lot less effort!

Ingredients for poached fruit:

600 ml water

375 ml (1 and a half cups) sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla essence (or seeds of 1 vanilla pod)

3 peaches, 3 pears, and a cup of strawberries (ripe, fresh fruit)

Method:

  1. In a medium-sized pot on the stove top, heat the water, sugar and vanilla and bring to a simmer.
  2. Half the large fruit and remove the pits/stones. Remove green tops from strawberries and keep them whole.
  3. Start with the larger fruit, and cook them in the liquid in batches, about 3-5 minutes at a time, untill just tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Cook the strawberries last, for just 1 minute, remove and set aside. Reserve the cooking liquid.
  4. Cool the fruit and liquid slightly, then return the fruit to the liquid to cool completely in the fridge.

Ingredients for spiced yoghurt:

  • 250 ml (1 cup) double cream greek yoghurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fine cinnamon
  • seeds of 3 cardamom pods (remove husks and use a pestle and mortar to pound the seeds to a fine powder)
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Method:

Mix all of the ingredients for the spiced yoghurt together. Taste, and add more spices if desired. Serve with the poached fruit and a little of the poaching liquid.

Tip: the poached fruit will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for a few days. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Credits:

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

Recipe development and preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photographed by Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Ilse vand der Merwe and Tasha Seccombe


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