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5 recipes for a sneeze-free spring!

5 Oct

I absolutely love the arrival of spring in September and October. Unfortunately, many of us struggle with allergies during this transitional season between winter and summer, so Hippo.co.za asked me for my top 5 recipes that might just help you combat a light cold or a bout of hay fever. Also check out their article titled What Happens When You Catch the Common Cold?.

Did you know that some foods contain natural antihistamines? Yup – vitamin C, flavonoids and omega 3 can help you combat the sniffles and sneezes during this time of year in the southern hemisphere when the air is filled with pollen and dust.

Here are my top 5 recipes for a sneeze-free spring. Remember to drink lots of water too!

Orange, beetroot & brown rice salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

1. Orange & beetroot salad with spinach & wild rice: Oranges are rich in vitamin C (and flavonoids); so are beetroot and spinach. What more can we ask for?

Avo, blueberry and fennel salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

2. Avo & blueberry salad with feta & fennel: Blueberries are absolutely packed with incredible nutrients; no wonder they are classified as a superfood! Along with the good oils of avocado, this salad will boost you like few other.

Baked tomatoes with feta, garlic, thyme (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

3. Baked tomatoes with feta and garlic: Tomatoes are also rich in flavonoids and vitamin C, and garlic is known to be one of the best immune boosters around.

Fresh, crunchy, beautiful to look at and oh-so-delicious Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

4. Vietnamese spring rolls with peanut sauce: These spring rolls are colourful, crunchy and filled with everything fresh and healthy that you can find. The peanut sauce is rich and savoury and contains fresh lime juice – all around so good for your immune system and well being.

So fresh, colourful and easy (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

5. Rainbow poke bowl: This colourful bowl is filled with everything that will boost your health: ginger, fresh fish, fresh vegetables, mango, seaweed and even avocado – sunshine in a bowl! It is easy to assemble and so very good for you.

While you are taking care of your health with these recipes, Hippo.co.za will help you compare Medical Aid quotes from a range of South African brands.

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A Raw Cake spread for Mothers Day with Poetry Stores

11 May

A “raw” cake spread for Mothers Day, featuring recipes from the book Raw Cake. Photography by Tasha Seccombe. All homeware, linen, teas and honey available from Poetry Stores. (Vintage round wooden plate is photographer’s own.)

You’re never too old to learn something new. I am turning 40 years young this year, and it is one of my goals to try as many new ingredients and food types as I possibly can. Earlier in 2017 I became a fan of tofu after being a skeptic for way too many years. It’s never a good idea to judge a book by its cover…

For this Mothers Day feature, I had the opportunity to cook three recipes for a special tea table spread from Daisy Kristiansen and Leah Garwood-Gowers’ new book Raw Cake, available from Poetry Stores. They are the duo behind The Hardihood in London – raw, handcrafted, superfood confectioners. Products by The Hardihood are plant-based and free from gluten, refined sugar, dairy and soy. Conveniently vegan and often raw, they use organic, sustainable ingredients to craft “clean candy”.

Being a self-confessed French pastry addict, it was hard for me to imagine a world of cakes without butter or sugar (or flour or eggs, for that matter). So I chose two recipes that really reminded me of the “good stuff” like rocky road and berry swirl cheesecake, as well as a recipe that tickled my fancy for the strange combination of ingredients like avo, mango & lime tart.

It was an absolute revelation to make these recipes. For one, there were many ingredients that I’ve never heard of, like maca powder and rice malt syrup. The dairy-free “cheesecake” was made by blending desiccated coconut with soaked raw cashews, rice malt syrup, lemon juice, fresh berries and coconut oil (you need a pretty powerful blender to achieve the right consistency). The rocky road consisted mainly of superfoods like goji berries, dried apricots, pitted dates, organic cacao powder, coconut oil and lots of raw nuts. And the avo mousse tart with mango & lime had the most incredible texture that you can imagine.

Unfortunately, most of these ingredients are not mainstream yet, but you’ll find them in good quality health stores with a relatively high price tag. The more familiar ingredients are easy to find, yet also expensive. If you don’t have serious budget constraints and want to reap the benefits of super healthy, raw food in the tastiest ways imaginable, this book is for you!

Here’s to all the mothers out there aiming to feed their families the best. Happy Mothers Day!

Tip: Shop your nuts at a weigh-and-pay shop – this way you only buy what you need, especially when a recipe calls for only 40 g of walnuts, etc.

“Raw” rocky road – a treat that you can eat and not feel guilty at all! Photography by Tasha Seccombe. (Vintage spatula is photographer’s own.)

Rocky Road (makes 9-12 pieces)

155 g ( 1 cup) dried apricots (sulphur free)
40 g (1/2 cup) walnuts
60 g (1/2 cup) hazelnuts
80 g mixed currants or raisins
55 g (1/2 cup) goji berries

For the chocolate mix:
150 g (3/4 cup) coconut oil, melted
60 g (3/4 cup) cacao powder
30 g (1/4 cup) coconut sugar
170 g (1/2 cup) rice malt syrup
60 g (1/2 cup) pitted dates, soaked for 30 min
Line a 15 cm square baking tin with baking paper. Place all the dry mix ingredients in a high-powered food processor and pulse on high until just broken up and mixed together but still chunky. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and clean out the bowl of the food processor.
Next, make the chocolate mix. Add the coconut oil, cacao, coconut sugar and syrup to the clean food processor and blend on high, then add the dates and blend until smooth and combined. Make sure you don’t over-mix the chocolate or it can separate. If this happens and there is a lot of extra oil, add in some more cacao powder and malt syrup until it becomes smooth.
Pour the chocolate mix over the dry mix and stir together with a large spoon until well combined. Scoop into the baking tin, pressing the mixture down to ensure it is compact. Place in the fridge for 3-4 hours or the freezer for 1 hour until it has completely set, then cut into 9-12 pieces. They will keep well in the fridge for up to 7 days.

My notes: My food processor wasn’t powerful enough to pulse the dried apricots, so I opted to cut them by hand instead. Also, I used a 20 x 13 cm baking dish and got 18 medium size squares – remember to really put pressure on the mixture when you compact it, otherwise it will be very crumbly.

Blueberry Lemon Swirl Cheesecake – not containing and cheese or dairy or gluten! Make your cake look extra pretty with a selection of edible flowers. Catch the interesting ingredient list below. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Blueberry Lemon Swirl Cheesecake (serves 8-12)

For the base:
130 g (1 cup) cashews
50 g (1/2 cup) pecans
60 g (1/2 cup) pitted soft dates
2 tablespoons rice malt syrup or alternative liquid natural sweetener
1 tablespoon maca powder (optional)
pinch of Himalayan salt

For the filling and topping:
60 g (3/4 cup) desiccated coconut
390 g (3 cups) cashews, soaked in warm water for 2 hours then drained
340 g (1 cup) coconut oil, melted
125 ml (1/2 cup) lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon, plus extra to decorate
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
200 g ( 2 cups) fresh or frozen blueberries (I used a mixture of blackberries and blueberries)
edible flowers and coconut flakes, to decorate
Line a 20 cm round springform cake tin with baking paper. For the base, place the nuts in a high-powered food processor and blend on high until coarsely ground, then combine with the remaining ingredients until well mixed. Press into the cake tin.
For the filling, place the coconut in a high-powered blender and blend on high until fine, then add the cashews, syrup and coconut oil and blend again until the mixture is as smooth as possible, scraping down the sides to incorporate all the mixture. Transfer half the mixture to a bowl and set aside. Add the lemon juice, zest and turmeric to the mixture left in the blender and blend until smooth. Taste, and add more lemon juice if it needs more flavour, and more sweetener if it’s too tart. Pour into a second bowl, setting aside a few tablespoons of this lemon cream in a piping bag to chill for later. Add the other half of the mixture to the blender with the blueberries. Blend until combined and add more sweetener if needed. Pour it back into the bowl so that you now have two bowls with two colours mixture.

Spoon equal sized dollops of the purple mixture and the yellow mixture at random onto the cake base, alternating between colours, until you have used it all up. Wiggle the tin from side to side to settle the mixture, and swirl through the mix using a knife or a chopstick, to create a pattern. Transfer to the fridge overnight or the freezer for 3-4 hours until firm. Remove from the tin and decorate with the lemon cream, edible flowers, coconut flakes and lemon zest. Chill until ready to serve.

My notes: Use a very powerful food processor / blender to achieve a smooth texture for the cheesecake mixture. Use the turmeric powder with caution, as it can tint the mixture very bright yellow.

Mango, lime and avocado mousse tart. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Mango, Lime & Avocado Mousse Tart (serves 8-12)

For the crust:
130 g (1 cup) macadamias
100 g (1 cup) pecans
95 g (3/4 cup) pitted dates, soaked for 30 minutes or until soft
1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder
pinch of salt

For the filling:
3 small avocados, stoned
zest and juice of 1 lime
100 g (1/2 cup) coconut oil
1 large mango, peeled and destoned
170 g (1/2 cup) rice malt syrup or coconut syrup
pinch of Himalayan salt

Line a 20 cm round pie tin with baking paper.
First make the crust. Place the nuts in a high powered food processor and blend on high until broken up. Add the remaining ingredients and blend again until well combined and the mixture sticks together. Press into the pie tin, and clean out the bowl of the food processor.
For the filling, blend the avocados in the clean food processor until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until everything has been broken down and the mixture is silky smooth. Pour over the base and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours to set.

My notes: I used a fluted pie tin which is very difficult to line with baking paper. I used a non-stick baking spray instead.

This post was written in collaboration with Poetry Stores. All homeware, linen and the cookbook available online and in store at Poetry Stores.

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Pan-fried potato gnocchi with blue cheese sauce

26 Apr

Pan fried gnocchi with crispy sage and brown butter on blue cheese sauce. Bliss in a bowl. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Some classic dishes are not to be tampered with. They are beautiful in their simplicity, their uncomplicated perfection, their timeless deliciousness.

I feel that way about potato gnocchi with blue cheese sauce. It was the very first recipe that I’d published on my blog www.thefoodfox.com on 21 January 2011. Over the past few years since that post, I’ve published hundreds of recipes, cooked MANY batches of gnocchi (not only for myself but also for groups of guests while catering) and learned that you always return to simple, old favourites.

I’ve also learned that making gnocchi is not as difficult as everyone says. You just need to “understand” your potatoes and know that they are going to react slightly differently each time (the texture and water content will be different for every single batch). Once you get the hang of the consistency in the dough, the rest is truly child’s play.

I often make potato gnocchi with blue cheese sauce at home for my family. I sometimes add a swirl of truffle oil or a drizzle of sage butter, but you don’t even need to. I mostly boil the gnocchi, but some days I prefer golden pan-fried nuggets of plush pillowy potato. Serve them straight from the pan as they can slightly lose their crispy exterior texture on standing.

Note: For the blue cheese sauce, I prefer using a strong-flavoured gorgonzola-style cheese. The blue veins of the cheese don’t completely melt into the cream, it remains delicately textural. The sauce always looks a little too runny at first, but be patient – when you serve it in bowls with the gnocchi, it is just right. Leave the salt & pepper up to your guests as the cheese can sometimes be very salty already.

Making potato gnocchi is not difficult once you get the hang of it. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Ingredients for gnocchi: (serves 6)

  • 1 kg floury potatoes, skin on
  • 1 XL egg
  • 1 generous teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 250 g cake flour (about 2 cups)

Method:

  1. Boil or bake the potatoes until they are completely tender. Cool slightly and remove the skins (in Italy they believe that cooking the potatoes in their skins add a lot of flavour to the gnocchi).
  2. Press the cooked potatoes through a sieve (this is a laborious process, but the end result is well worth it) or use a potato ricer to create finely minced potato.
  3. Place the fine potatoes in a mixing bowl, then add the egg, salt, pepper and half of the flour. Use a fork or spoon to mix it, adding more flour as you need it (you might not need it all). Turn it out on a floured surface and delicately knead the mixture until it forms a ball that resembles smooth bread dough. Do not over work the dough – you’re looking to create a smoothly textured potato dough that is not lumpy but just kneaded to the right consistency.
  4. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, then roll out each piece on a large floured working surface, one at a time, into a long sausage shape of about 2cm thick. Use a knife to cut each strand into gnocchi, flicking the pillows as you’re cutting (so that they don’t stick to the knife or to each other). Quickly toss in a light coating of flour, then pan-fry in butter on both sides until golden (about 1-2 minutes a side). Serve with blue cheese sauce.

For the blue cheese sauce:

  • 500 ml fresh cream
  • 200-250 g gorgonzola-style blue cheese

Method:

Place the cream in a small sauce pan over high heat. When it just comes to a light simmer, crumble the blue cheese into the cream and turn down the heat to very low, stirring for a few minutes until the cheese is completely melted. Pour a pool of sauce into bowls, then top with pan-fried gnocchi (and optionally some crispy fried sage leaves and a few drops of truffle oil or extra virgin olive oil).

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Mar(ch)tini time!

9 Mar

Classic martini (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Summer’s officially over and we’re marveling in the milder weather and muted tones of March. However, I’m not quite ready yet for steamy hot chocolates and mulled wine, so let’s celebrate this beautiful new season with a range of colourful martinis (sporting Poetry‘s range of beautiful glassware, of course) – from the bold and classic to something a little more playful.

With all the beautiful olive and berry colours in Poetry‘s stores at the moment, these martinis fit right in. Adjust the strength of the alcohol according to your preference. Some prefer their martinis with minimal dilution, others can only enjoy it over lots of ice and with a little added juice or soda.

Classic martini

This one is stirred, not shaken, to preserve the translucency of the gin and dry vermouth. I serve it with one green olive, no twist (lemon), no brine (not dirty).

  • ice
  • 2 parts gin (or vodka)
  • 1 part dry vermouth
  • 1 green olive

Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice blocks. Add the gin and vermouth, then use a long spoon to stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled glass and add a olive. Serve immediately.

Dirty martini on the rocks with extra olives (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Dirty martini on the rocks with extra olives

This martini will put you straight into party mode! Shaking it results in a beautiful almost light green icy coloured drink, and the brine adds just the right amount of salty flavour that works so well with the bitterness of the gin. The extra ice makes it less intimidating to drink, and the extra olives provide you with a snack while you’re sipping.

  • ice
  • 2 parts gin
  • 1 part vermouth
  • 1/2 part olive brine
  • ice, to serve
  • thin strip of lemon rind, to serve
  • pitted green olives on a skewer, to serve

Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice blocks. Add the gin and vermouth, then close the shaker and shake vigorously for at least 10 seconds. Strain into a glass filled with extra ice. Add the lemon twist and olive skewers. Serve immediately.

Black and blue martini with lemonade and thyme (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Black and blue martini with lemonade and thyme

If you’re not into the boldness of straight-up martinis, this one with black- and blueberries might tickle your fancy. It’s a little milder, a little sweeter and even a little tinge of pink! The thyme adds a lovely fragrance to the drink.

  • ice
  • 2 parts gin/vodka
  • 1 part vermouth
  • 1 blackberry, bruised
  • a few blueberries, bruised
  • 1 sprig of thyme (plus more for serving)
  • ice cold lemonade, to top up with

Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice blocks. Add the gin, vermouth, blackberry, blueberries and thyme. Shake vigorously for at least 10 seconds. Strain into a glass, then top up with lemonade to taste. Garnish with more berries and a sprig of thyme. Serve immediately.

Red martini with bitters (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Red martini with bitters

This fruity cocktail is stunning to look at, fruity with the extra juice added, yet it still has that martini twang in the background. A dash of bitters adds depth of flavour.

  • 2 parts gin/vodka
  • 1 part vermouth
  • ice cold berry juice (I used cranberry), to top up with
  • ice, to serve
  • raspberries, to serve
  • a dash of bitters

Fill a glass half full with ice blocks. Add the gin & vermouth. Top up with juice. Garnish with berries and a dash of bitters. Serve immediately.

Note: This post was written for Poetry Stores. Find featured glassware, homeware, linen and clothing online at www.poetrystores.co.za.

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No-churn fruity frozen yoghurt

28 Feb

Melon and strawberry frozen yoghurt in sugar cones (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

If there’s one dessert that everyone loves in the hotter months, it’s ice cream. Dreamy cones of delicious, ice cold creaminess. Unfortunately most ice creams are quite rich in calories (because good ice cream really needs lots of cream) and sugar. If you’ve ever tried making your own, you probably know that a proper home-made custard in a proper churner works best. But very few of us has ice cream churners at home, and very few of us will take the time to make a custard from scratch to start with – it can be quite intimidating. Although I have to mention: the end result totally justifies the effort.

So what’s the alternative? If you really want to enjoy a homemade cold treat with half the effort and more than half the kilojoules, try this: an easy frozen yoghurt made from freshly frozen chunks of banana and other fruit, double cream yoghurt and honey. Whizzed in a food processor (or blender). That’s it.

I’ve seen various versions of this mixture all over the internet, but the basics stay the same. Cut fresh banana and fruit into smallish chunks, freeze in a single layer, pop into your processor with the yoghurt and honey, and give it a whiz. The banana is essential as it provides the smooth, thick texture that we all associate with proper ice cream. It’s all natural, it’s beautiful, and it tastes delicious.

It’s not too difficult to make frozen yoghurt at home. You just need a food processor. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients: (makes about 1 liter)

  • 2 medium-small bananas (peeled and cut into bite-size chunks)
  • roughly 400 g ripe strawberries, stalks removed and cut into chunks (or ripe paw-paw or other soft fruit of your choice, peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 500 g double cream yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup honey (adjust to taste)

Method:

  1. Place the banana and fruit on a small tray in a single layer. Freeze for 2-3 hours.
  2. Place half the frozen fruit with the yoghurt and honey in a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth and thick, then add the rest of the fruit and blend. It should resemble soft serve consistency. Taste and add more honey if needed.
  3. Place in a plastic container with lid, then refreeze for at least 3 hours until ready to serve.

Note: If your food processor is struggling to process the frozen chunks, start by adding a few chunks at a time with the yoghurt, continuing until all the fruit is mixed. A stronger machine works easier.

PS: Frozen fruit that have spent more than 3 hours in the freezer might become very hard to process with regular smaller machines. Leave them out of the freezer for 15 minutes before processing.

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My Top 5 Budget-Beating Dinner Recipes

20 Feb

While most of us are still recovering from a spendalicious festive season, this not-so-new year is already heading for March at the speed of light. And with Valentines Day and all its treats past us, you might be one of many South Africans scanning the internet for recipes that won’t break the bank.

I’ve rounded up my top 5 budget-beating dinner recipes to make life a little easier for all of us. Because sometimes we just need a little inspiration to get ahead of the game. More money in your pocket to spend on the necessities, less stress worrying about what to cook for the people at home.

Portuguese sardines and roasted tomatoes on toasted ciabatta (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

  1. Sardines and roasted tomatoes on toast – a humble can of sardines can be so comforting. Pair it with some roasted tomatoes and a slice or two of your favourite ciabatta and you have a gourmet open sarmie packed with flavour.

    Crispy crumbed chicken strips with lemon juice & honey mustard mayo (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

  2. Crumbed wholegrain paprika chicken strips – breadcrumbs, egg and chicken breasts can go a long way with this super tasty recipe. It’s a crowd favourite for adults and kids alike, and one of my go-to economic mid-week meals.

    The ultimate deep fried onion rings with a spicy tomato ketchup (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

  3. Ultimate deep-fried onion rings – this is the best way to turn a humble onion into a rock star. And you’d be surprised at how many mouths an onion can feed – even meat-hungry mouths! Serve with shop-bought tomato sauce or mayo if you’re not keen on making the home-made ketchup in the recipe.

    Garlic pitas with double-cream tzatziki (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

  4. Garlic pitas with double cream tzatziki – the Greeks know best when it comes to garlic, trust me. These delicious garlic pitas are absolutely scrumptious, especially dipped into a creamy (not watery), minted home-made tzatziki. Meatless Mondays, here we come!

    Fresh linguine with basil & cashew pesto, mixed tomatoes and fior di latte.

  5. Spaghetti or linguini with basil pesto – these days you can find a packet of pasta for less than R10.00 at most supermarkets. Add a dollop of (shop-bought or home-made) pesto and a drizzle of olive oil and you’re smiling! If you want to be fancy and if you have extra budget, add slivers of fior di latte and sliced baby tomatoes or some shredded chicken.

This post was written in association with Hippo household insurance. Check out their choices for budget-beating dinners.

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Fresh Feasting with Pork 360: Pork & Pineapple Burgers with Herb Mayo

9 Jan

Pork & pineapple burger with coriander mayo (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

If you love great burgers, you’re in for a treat. Making patties out of great quality pork mince results in a much softer patty than ground beef, delivering a really awesome texture that’s almost marrow-like. They’re seasoned with smoked paprika and ginger, paired with a slice of grilled fresh pineapple and topped with a dollop of creamy coriander mayo. Add some crispy iceberg lettuce and a buttery, golden, toasted sesame bun. This might be one of the best tasting burgers I’ve ever made.

This recipe is the last in a series of six that I’ve developed in association with Pork 360. It’s a quality assurance and traceability certification – a guarantee to both the consumer and retailing sector that the producer has a consistent production process that complies with minimum standards and ensures high-quality pork. The Pork 360 projects takes place under the guidance of the South African Pork Producers Association (SAPPO). Watch their video for more info.

In a nutshell: it’s pork you can trust!

You will find all of the listed ingredients at your local Food Lover’s Market. Look out for the Pork 360 mark/logo on the pork products.

Pork burger with grilled pineapple, crispy lettuce and creamy herb mayo (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients: (makes 4)

  • 600-700 g pork mince
  • salt & pepper
  • 5 ml smoked paprika
  • 15 ml fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 small onion, coarsely grated
  • for the herb mayo:
    • 1 cup creamy mayonnaise
    • a handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
    • a squirt lemon juice
  • 4 sesame burger buns, halved and buttered
  • 4 large iceberg lettuce leaves, washed & drained
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 4 slices fresh pineapple

Method:

  1. For the patties: In a mixing bowl, add the pork and season generously with salt & freshly ground black pepper. Add the smoked paprika, ginger and onion and mix well using clean hands (or a fork, if you prefer). Divide the mixture into four and shape into flat disks. I like placing them on pieces of grease-proof baking paper for an easy transfer to the pan later. Always remember that meat will shrink and pulls to its center in the pan, so make each pattie a little wider and flatter than you think you should. Set aside.
  2. For the herb mayo: mix the mayonnaise, coriander and lemon juice together with a fork (for a smooth result, process in a food processor). Set aside.
  3. Toast the buttered insides of the buns in a hot pan until golden and crunchy. Transfer to plates, then top the bottom halves with lettuce.
  4. Add olive oil to the hot pan and fry the patties on both sides until golden brown and cooked. Remove from the pan to rest while you fry the pineapple.
  5. In the same pan, quickly fry the pineapple slices in a very hot pan until charred on either side.
  6. Place the rested patties on top of the lettuce, then top with a slice of fried pineapple and a dollop of herb mayo. Place the sesame bun halves on top. Serve immediately with or without fries.

Note: the patties firm up quite a bit when cooked, so don’t worry about adding an egg to the mixture – it’s not needed.

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Pink iced tea

15 Dec

tpbtff_icedtea_01My sister has two boys aged 8 and 10. They live on a farm and she is very consistent in providing them with nutritious, balanced, delicious meals every day (unlike most of us, although we have the best intentions). After realising that they were going through about 3 litres of apple juice per day (these boys get super thirsty from playing outside in their big yard all afternoon), she decided to try her hand at making iced tea for them instead.

In the beginning they missed their daily dose of juice (always mixed with water), but after a few days they took to the iced tea like ducks to water. She sweetened the tea lightly with honey and sometimes added a few aromatics and infusions like cinnamon stick or fresh prunes. Upon visiting them, we also enjoyed the iced tea and it now is a staple in my home and when I cater for functions.

Although my sister makes many different versions of iced tea, I want to introduce you to the prettiest pinkest one – in line with one of the Pantone colours of 2016: rose quartz. It is made with Woolworths’s Pick-Me-Up Cranberry Cinnamon & Apple Tea – I use about 4 teabags on 5 litres of water.

You can brew it on the stove top in a large pot, then add a few fresh slices of cucumber, grapefruit or mint when it has cooled down. Remember to only add honey when the tea is lukewarm and not while it is boiling hot. But if you’re adding sugar as a sweetener you can add it at any stage – easier to dissolve while the tea is hot.

Use any tea that you like – rooibos (for a deep orange tea that is caffeine free), honeybush, early grey, green tea – the possibilities are endless. The tea will last in your fridge for at least 3 days.

Ingredients: (makes 5 liters)

  • 5 litres fresh water
  • at least 4 tea bags  – I’ve used Woolworths’s Pick-Me-Up Cranberry Cinnamon & Apple Tea (use any tea that you love if you don’t specifically want pink tea)
  • honey or sugar, to taste
  • sliced grapefruit, as garnish
  • ice, to serve

Method:

  1. Pour the water in a large pot, add the tea bags and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat, then let it stand to infuse until it reaches room temperature. If you are using sugar to sweeten, add it now and stir to dissolve. If you are using honey to sweeten, add it when the tea is luke warm and stir well.
  3. Pour into containers (large glass jars or bottles work well), screw lids on and refrigerate.
  4. Serve cold, with grapefruit/lemon/cucumber/mint and lots of ice.
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A Timeless Festive Dinner with Poetry Stores

9 Dec

The new Noir homeware range from Poetry Stores with recipes from the book "The Story of a House" (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

The new Noir homeware range from Poetry Stores with recipes from the book “The Story of a House” (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

If you like adding a touch of drama to your festive table this December, don’t miss out on the new black homeware range available from Poetry Stores, Noir, imported from Portugal. It is simply breathtaking and the perfect choice to pair with a few gold accessories.

I’ve had the pleasure of creating a timeless festive dinner spread in collaboration with Poetry Stores using these beautiful pieces of homeware and three recipes from the stunning book The Story of a House – Fables and Feasts from La Creuzette by Louis Jansen van Vuuren & Hardy Olivier. Most of the recipes are French-inspired and perfect for entertaining a crowd for a grand occasion.

Here are three of Louis and Hardy’s recipes from their book, fit for royalty:

Salmon tartare from the book “The Story of a House” (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Salmon Tartare (serves 4)

  • 480 g smoked salmon, cut into 1 cm cubes
  • 80 g cucumber, diced
  • 80 g radish, diced
  • a large pinch of toasted sesame seeds
  • a large pinch of chopped pink peppercorns
  • 120 g Granny Smith apple, diced
  • fresh mint, chopped (optional)

For the vinaigrette:

  • 100 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 150 ml sesame oil
  • juice of 2 large lemons
  • freshly ground salt & pepper

Mix all the ingredients for the tartare. Make the vinaigrette by mixing all the ingredients together and serving with the tartare. The tartare is also delicious with finely chopped mint sprinkled on top.

Leg of lamb with gremolata from the book "The Story of a House" (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Leg of lamb with gremolata from the book “The Story of a House” (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Double Leg of Lamb (serves 12)

  • 1 double leg of lamb or 2 individual legs of lamb

For the seasoning:

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped rosemary leaves, plus sprigs for garnishing
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (500 ml) lamb stock or water

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup (250 ml) dry red wine
  • 1 litre stock from the oven dish
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cornflour

For the gremolata:

  • grated or finely chopped peel of 4 lemons
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Remove most of the fat from the leg of lamb, but not all of it, as it lends delicious flavour to the sauce.

With a sharp knife, make small incisions about 1 cm long and 2 cm deep all over the legs,. Make the seasoning by mixing the salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and mustard. Rub it into the meat, particularly into the incisions, and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 200 C.

Place the legs in a large, deep oven dish. Combine the olive oil and lamb stock and pour over the meat. Roast uncovered for 20-30 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 160 C. Cover with a lid or seal it tightly with foil. Roast for approximately another 90 minutes. Test the meat by inserting a meat thermometer close to the bone – it is done when the temperature is 60 C, as the flesh will still be beautifully pink.

Pour some of the pan juices over the meat, place it on a rack (so that the meat doesn’t lie in the liquid) and roast in a hot oven (200 C) for 5-7 minutes to form a lovely crispy crust. Turn off the oven and pour all the liquid out of the oven dish, but let the meat rest in the oven while you make the sauce.

Heat the wine and 3 cups (750 ml) of the stock over a low heat and boil it to let the alcohol evaporate. Stir the cornflour into the remaining cup (250 ml) of stock, stir it into the rest and cook the sauce until thickened.

Combine all the gremolata ingredients. Serve the meat with the gremolata sprinkled on top and the thickened pan juices in a separate jug.

Variation: Soak 2 handfuls of half-dried prunes in brandy overnight and add to the liquid in the oven dish about 40 minutes before you plan to remove the meat from the oven and serve it.

Fig clafoutis from the book "The Story of a House" (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Fig clafoutis from the book “The Story of a House” (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Fig Clafoutis (serves 6)

  • 700 g purple figs
  • 30 g soft butter, plus a little extra to grease the dish
  • 120 g cake flour, plus 10 g for the dish
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup (250 ml) milk
  • 120 g castor sugar

Heat the oven to 180 C. Cut off the fig stalks. Cut a cross into the top of each fig and press so that it gapes slightly. Grease an oven dish or ceramic dish (not too deep) with a little butter, sprinkle in 10 g of flour and arrange the figs in the dish. Beat the eggs, milk, sugar and butter together and sift in the flour. Fold the flour into the mixture.

Pour the mixture over the figs and bake for 30-40 minutes. Serve hot with a scoop of crème fraîche.

Get The Story of a House – Fables and Feasts from La Creuzette by Louis Jansen van Vuuren & Hardy Olivier available online from Poetry stores at R599.

All homeware, cutlery, glassware and accessories available from Poetry Stores, except small dessert plate. (Linen not included.)

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Summer feasting with Pork 360: Chinese-style sticky ribs

29 Nov

Chinese ribs

Sticky Chinese-style spare ribs that fall from the bone (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

This is the second recipe in a series of six that I’ve created in collaboration with Pork 360 and Food Lover’s Market. As you might have seen, there’s a new stamp on some pork products in your favourite butcheries: Pork 360. It’s a quality assurance and traceability certification – a guarantee to both the consumer and retailing sector that the producer has a consistent production process that complies with minimum standards and ensures high-quality pork. The Pork 360 projects takes place under the guidance of the South African Pork Producers Association (SAPPO). Watch their video for more info.

In a nutshell: it’s pork you can trust!

This simple recipe for sticky Chinese-style pork spare ribs delivers big on the wow factor – glossy, sticky, dark and toasty pork ribs that will leave you licking your fingers. It works great on the braai but can easily also be cooked in an oven. Serve with a crunchy green salad and lots of paper towels (it’s a deliciously messy affair!).

Tip: Buy authentic Asian pantry ingredients in your local Food Lovers’ Market in the exotic section. This glaze is also great on chicken wings.

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  • 125 ml Hoisin sauce
  • 125 ml good quality soy sauce
  • 60 ml rice vinegar (or sherry vinegar)
  • 60 ml honey
  • 60 ml brown sugar
  • 30 ml grated/crushed garlic
  • 5 ml red food colouring (optional, but delivers an authentically Chinese result)
  • 10 ml Chinese 5-spice
  • 2 kg pork spare ribs
  • sesame seeds, for serving (optional)
  • spring onion, finely sliced, for serving (optional)

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients (except the ribs) together to form a thick, glossy, glaze.
  2. Place the ribs in a large pot and add enough water to cover the meat (cut the ribs in smaller sections if it doesn’t fit the pot). Pour over half the glaze and bring the water to a boil, covered with a lid.
  3. Cook the ribs for about 1 hour until it almost falls from the bone. Remove from the water and place in a large roasting tray (if you are going to cook them in the oven, line the tray with foil). Using a basting brush, brush the ribs generously with glaze on both sides.
  4. For the braai: Braai on both sides until dark and sticky, basting throughout. For the oven: roast at 220 C for 10 minutes at a time, basting throughout and turning them over when necessary. They should be ready in about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
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