Exploring the Upper Blaauwklippen Vintners, Stellenbosch

12 Jun

The vineyard view from the tasting room at Kleinood.

 

Once a year, three boutique wineries in the Upper Blaauwklippen Valley, Stellenbosch, open their doors to a limited number of guests to exclusively taste their top varietals along with paired winter canapés. When I received an invitation to join the tasting which took place on the 2nd of June, I was extremely excited. I’ve never visited Kleinood or Keermont before, and have only visited De Trafford once, more than 10 years ago. With an allocation of only 100 tickets to this exclusive event, I knew I was in for something memorable.

Friends, if you have not been on a trip to this valley and you are serious about discovering some proper gems in the Stellenbosch region, this small valley is an absolute treasure trove. With its heady combination of valleys, mountain ranges, wine estates, crisp fresh air and fine wine, the Upper Blaauwklippen Valley offered guests a personal tasting of newly released, handcrafted vintages, rare and coveted vinoteque wines including Tamboerskloof Viognier 2013, John Spicer Syrah 2012, Tamboerskloof Syrah 2006 and Tamboerskloof Syrah 2012 from Kleinood,  first samplings of the upcoming Single Vineyard wines from Keermont and vertical tastings from the De Trafford Vinoteque, served with well-paired culinary treats. Winemakers and owners were all on site to chat to, sharing the stories behind their terroir-driven wines and unique wineries.

The five-kilometer trip up the valley leads along an elevation of 200 meters and a regular shuttle service between the farms ensured that guests could relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery along the untouched slopes of the Upper Blaauwklippen valley.

In order to ensure a personal experience, only 100 tickets were made available at R500 each. To take part in next year’s premium tasting, get your name on the list by sending an email to sales@keermont.co.za or call Juanita at Keermont on 021 880 0397.

Here are a few photographs of my incredible day experiencing Kleinood, Keermont and De Trafford on the 2nd of June 2018. It would be difficult to single out any wines, because there were plenty to taste and they were all exceptional. It was, however, a special privilege to taste the older vintages like De Trafford’s 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon, the exceptional Syrah range at Kleinood, and Keermont’s flagship 2013 Estate Reserve. Although these wineries are not open daily during the rest of the year, tasting can surely be scheduled if booked ahead. Otherwise, take note of their small-windowed tasting room opening hours:

Kleinood: Fridays 10h00-13h00

Keermont: Fridays 10h30-13h30 (closed on public holidays)

De Trafford: Saturdays 10h00-13h00

Upon entering Kleinood’s tasting room.

 

Our first sip of the day at Kleinood: the Katharien rosé made from shiraz grapes. “A rose gold coloured Rosé with strawberry preserve, papaya and hints of fruit salad notes on the nose, supported generously with flavours of tangerine, quince jelly, saffron and elegant white spice on the palate.” – winemaker, Gunter Schultz.

 

The 2013 Tamboerskloof Viognier from Kleinood. “A white gold coloured Viognier with melon, citrus blossom, mango and pollen flavours on the nose with apricot, ripe peach and citrus on the palate. The mouthfeel is rich and creamy.” – winemaker, Gunter Shultz.

 

Kleinood also makes extra virgin olive oil, called Die Boerin – a blend of selected Italian cultivars: Coratina, Favolosa, Delicata, Leccino and Frantoio.

 

The single vineyard syrah from Kleinood: John Spicer 2011. “This is a beautifully structured and balanced, dark-scarlet coloured Syrah with a magenta rim and a deep intensity. The nose develops with medium, but pronounced intensity, showing pure, red and black berry fruit, white pepper, plum preserve and chocolate éclair. On the palate, complex dry spices, loaded with complex plum and mulberry preserve with a white pepper finish.” – winemaker, Gunter Schultz.

 

A bowl of venison with butternut puree and all kinds of wintery flavours – delicious! Prepared by Stir Food at Kleinood.

 

This is what a winemaker’s hands look like! Thank you Gunter Shultz, winemaker of Kleinood, for the personal approach and friendly chat.

 

The picturesque building at Kleinood. this is the one side of the tasting room.

 

Arriving at De Trafford, you are surrounded by French oak barrels.

 

One of the most incredible wines of the day, De Trafford’s Cabernet Sauvignon 1996. “Dense, with purple tint. Intense, creamy blackberry and Christmas pudding aromas. Rich, sweetish berry fruit and spicy oak palate. Fine, firm structure and long finish.” – owner, David Trafford.

 

Gnocchi with wild mushrooms and truffle oil at De Trafford, served by Die Worsrol from their caravan while it was pouring down with rain outside. Winter at its best!

 

More of De Trafford’s iconic barrels that span a few floors on the one side of the cellar and tasting room area.

 

Another stellar cab by De Trafford. “Deep, dark, brooding red colour. Cassis, ripe mulberries and tobacco and cedar nose. Intense fruit flavours and firm persistent tannins follow through to a long dry finish.” – owner, David Trafford.

 

De Trafford’s Vin de Paille – or straw wine. I cannot racall the vintage, but this was an exceptional wine, served with their Italian-style orange cake.

 

The driveway that leads to Keermont’s tasting centre.

 

The stone walled tasting room at Keermont.

 

Keermont’s brand new Sweetwater Rosé. “Ferrari red in colour, this Rosé has a complex nose of cherry, black current, peach, and a hint of vanilla. On the palate it is full and rich with flavours of peach, baked pears, cinnamon, and white pepper. The finish is dry and textured hinting to the fact that it matures for 6 months on the lees in seasoned French oak barrels.” winemaker, Alex Starey. In 2015, they only made 4 barrels of this wine.

 

The Steepside Syrah 2015 by Keermont. “This is an intense wine with a bright strawberry red colour. Spicy, floral aromas are complimented by hints of cinnamon, ripe strawberries and black current. The palate is full and broad with ripe spicy fruit. The tight structure gives the wine a succulent dry finish with lingering flavours of vibrant and savoury red fruit.” – winemaker, Alex Starey.

 

Tasting the Keermont range of wines at Keermont’s cellar. This photograph is a great reminder of a memorable day – many open bottles, many corks, many happy faces, many incredible wines.

 

One of the big wines of the day: Keermont’s flagship Estate Reserve 2013: “Venetian red in colour, this wine exudes complex aromas of sandalwood, ripe cherry, wild berries, and dusty ‘fynbos’. On the palate, the wine has a soft entry and exudes an array of ripe berries, cherry sherbet, crushed herbs and spices. Elegant but firm tannin affords the wine a long dry succulent finish. Drink 2017-2030.” – winemaker, Alex Starey.

 

One of my personal favourites and the perfect wine to end off a spectacular day: Keermont’s Fleurfontein (NV). It exudes dried apricot and marzipan – two of my favourite flavours in the world.

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Exploring the MOJO Market & Hotel in Seapoint, Cape Town

1 Jun

The Mojo Market recently turned 1! These market guests seemed like they had something to celebrate too.

 

Sea Point’s seven-day-a-week indoor food & lifestyle Mojo Market recently turned one. I was invited to explore the market and adjacent hotel with my family a few weeks ago, and we had a brilliant time.

Based on Regent Road in the heart of Sea Point, Mojo Market is a contemporary indoor market featuring  an eclectic mix of 20 designer retail stalls, a weekend market and 35 food vendors. The 2000 square meter space unites the bustling roadside and passing pavement footfall with floor-to-ceiling views of the sea and palm-lined promenade. The Mojo Hotel is built on top of the market and features a variety of rooms – from spacious self-catering studios and apartments to compact crash pads. It’s emphasis is on keeping things accessible, affordable and real. The setting is very central (right across the street from the popular prominade) and a great base location for also exploring the rest of the Mother City and everything she has to offer.

Take a look at our stay in pictures (also featuring some of my more informal iphone snaps) and be sure to visit the MOJO Market soon. We loved the nighttime vibe of the market, featuring live music and a true bustling vibe of locals and international visitors alike. Lots of families with young kids were present, confirming that this market is an accessible place for everyone. Our comfortable deluxe sea view studio apartment had a king size bed downstairs, two single beds upstairs, a kitchenette and beautiful views of the ocean and promenade. It’s perfect for a family stay.

Mojo Market Trading Hours:

EARLY BIRD’S BREAKFAST:

Mondays to Sundays: 8am – 10pm

FOOD STALLS:

Mondays to Thursday: 11am – 10pm

Friday to Sundays: 10am – 10pm

RETAILERS:

Mondays to Sundays: 10am – 6pm

Contact the Mojo Hotel:

+27 (0)87 940 7474

30 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town

Our deluxe seaview studio with twin beds upstairs and kitchenette.

Exploring the stairs with wall art.

King size bed in the deluxe sea view studio.

The view towards the Sea Point promenade from our balcony, deluxe seaview studio, Mojo Hotel.

Looking out towards Bantry Bay at sunset from our balcony.

Live music at the Mojo Market.

Giant donuts at the Mojo Market. (iphone snap)

Ordering burritos from Tortilla Modern Mexican – it was fantastic! (iphone snap)

Ordering oysters from The Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar at the Mojo Market.

A plate of oysters from The Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar. (iphone snap)

Oysters up close, from The Mussel Monger at the Mojo Market. They were delicious!

Having a ball at the Mojo Market.

Fresh flowers for sale at the Mojo Market. (iphone snap)

Mint choc chip ice cream from Baskin Robbins. (iphone snap)

Such a great vibe at the Mojo Market.

The incredible sunrise view from the promenade, Sea Point, just across the street from the Mojo Hotel. What a sight to wake up to! We took a stroll and soaked up the Autumn sun. (iphone snap)

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A baking class with Martjie Malan

30 May

Martjie Malan with trays of gougères and craquelins, ready for the oven.

I’m such a fan of recreational baking and always keen on learning more and sharpening my skills. Yesterday I attended Martjie Malan‘s first baking class in her winter series of 2018, with a focus on choux pastry. Here are some of the pictures I took (in the short moments when my hands weren’t full of custard or chocolate!). Martjie is a talented baker who’s come a long way since being runner up in Koekedoor, kykNet’s super popular reality baking series/competition. A few years back, while she still had a bakery and restaurant in Stellenbosch called M Patisserie, I was a massive fan of her French pastries, especially her almond croissants and her petit fours. That being said, I jumped to take up the opportunity to learn from a master like Martjie.

Keen an eye on Martjie’s Facebook page for more upcoming classes, all held at The Styling Shed outside Stellenbosch on the Devon Valley Road. If you’re an avid baker, keen to learn more, book your spot for one of Martjie’s upcoming classes.

 

Tea, coffee and pastries on arrival.

A leafy corner of the venue, The Styling Shed.

Martjie welcomes us.

Crème de pâtissièr, or pastry custard, as demonstrated by Martjie.

Making perfect choux pastry.

How to pipe like a pro.

Scooping choux dough into pastry bags.

And now for the longer shaped choux pastries, or eclairs.

Freshly baked profiteroles, straight from the oven.

Assembling the craquelins.

Freshly baked gougères. They disappeared in a second – so delicious!

Everyone got a chance to fill the freshly baked pastries.

Elmarie taking a picture of the beautiful chocolate ganache.

My finished product: fresh chocolate profiteroles filled with chocolate custard and glazed with chocolate ganache.

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A stay with dinner and breakfast at Majeka House

28 May

The pathway from our room door towards the entrance and reception area of Majeka House.

 

Earlier this year, I received an invitation to visit Majeka House Hotel & Restaurant in Stellenbosch for a stayover for two including a four course dinner with wine pairing. Majeka House is a boutique gem in the heart of residential Paradyskloof, discreetly tucked away between the quiet neighbourhood houses adjacent to Vriesenhof Wine Estate. Their restaurant, Makaron, has won numerous awards and is considered a must-visit on the Stellenbosch food landscape.

A bird’s eye view of Majeka House Hotel & Spa. Picture supplied by Majeka House.

 

Here are the highlights of our stay, our dinner and our breakfast in pictures. For me, Majeka House is a premium, boldly stylish, intimately private retreat where you will feel pampered and refreshed. The rooms are lavishly decorated with wall art, bold colours, eclectic furniture and beautiful tropical glass panels. There’s no room for “boring” here, and you’ll know for sure that you’re not in just another hotel suite.

Makaron’s small plate menu is driven by Chef Lucas Carstens – a man of few words that prefer to speak the language of good food. His courses were thoughtful, delicate, sometimes provoking and an all-round pleasure, especially with the spot-on wine pairing that really opens up the experience to another level. The amouse bouche and bread board (compliments from the kitchen) were some of my favourite items of the evening. The wine pairing is highly recommended and adds a lot to the dining experience at Makaron, presenting the inhouse sommelier’s clever and sometimes surprising wine choices from hand picked estates and boutique wineries. You’ll probably also discover a wine (or two) that you’ve never heard of before and that might just become your new favourite. All staff members at Makaron were friendly, professional and highly informed.

Breakfast has always been a highlight for me at Majeka House, especially with MCC on ice, trays full of freshly baked canelés (and other baked goods), individually potted treats and jugs full of freshly juiced fruit and veggies that will make you feel like a champion. I’m not one for hot breakfasts (my husband loves a good scramble or eggs Benedict, and that is also available, of course), but you can catch me in a trap with proper French pastries. Theirs are simply fantastic.

Majeka House has a few fabulous specials running during Autumn and Winter, check it out:

Away in May: R1990 pp sharing

  • Choice of a 60 min treatment each and a 4-course small plate dinner (excl. beverages) at Makaron for 2
  • 1 night accommodation for 2 in a Premier room
  • Breakfast for 2
  • Upgrade to a Garden for R600, Mountain View for R920 and Poolside for R1510; Single supplement of R520

Winter Night Out: R1325 pp sharing

  • 1 night accommodation in a Premier room
  • 4-course small plate dinner at Makaron for 2 (excl. beverages)
  • Breakfast for 2
  • Upgrade to a Garden for R600, Mountain View for R920 and Poolside for R1510; Single supplement of R520
  • Valid from 1 May to 30 September except for Wednesdays

Winter Escape: R1845 pp sharing

  • 1 night accommodation in a Premier room
  • Choice of a 60 min treatment each and a 4-course small plate dinner (excl. beverages) at Makaron for 2
  • Breakfast for 2
  • Upgrade to a Garden for R600, Mountain View for R920 and Poolside for R1510; Single supplement of R520
  • Valid from 1 June to 30 September except for Wednesdays

Book now:  +27 21 880 1549 | reservations@majekahouse.co.za

Relaxing in our room in the Autumn sun, just after arrival.

 

Our plush king size bed with mesmerising wall paper art.

 

Our room opened up onto a semi-private pool and veranda (shared with the suite next door). This is the view from the veranda towards our back door.

 

 

The striking striped pool outside our room.

 

Blue pool chairs and shades of Autumn.

 

Time for an afternoon gin, of course.

 

Dinner starts: Compliments from the kitchen: caesar taco / crispy chicken skin & truffle / beetroot & trout cracker.

 

“Roosterkoek” & bokkom butter, mosbolletjie & korrelkonfyt.

 

Langoustine mi cuit, sea butter, fermented cucumber, green curry juice.

 

Zucchini risotto, raw mushrooms, cured egg yolk shavings. This dish has been on the menu since Chef Lucas started his journey at Makaron, and it has remained a favourite ever since. It was my favourite dish of the day – the cured egg yolk is such a stunner!

 

House smoked hake, celeriac, dill, whey soured onions.

 

Mushroom ravioli, house made malt vinegar, parmesan. PS: The “ravioli” wasn’t your regular pasta, it was a clear sheet of mushroom flavoured stock or something, that held a chunky mushroom filling that you could see from the outside. Mesmerising.

 

Pineapple, white chocolate, coconut, fennel.

 

I cannot remember this chocolate creation’s menu name, but I think the ice cream on top was malt-infused. It was the perfect end to an exquisite evening.

 

These dainty little toffee apples are the size of large cherries and they are incredibly delicious! Not your standard candy apples, for sure.

 

Early morning peak at the mountain on our way to breakfast.

 

My happy place: the breakfast table at Majeka House.

 

Many difference potted treats, including homemade yoghurts, compotes, granola, smoked fish and lots more.

 

One of my highlights: a freshly baked tray of canelés.

 

The breakfast table from the other end, also showing one of the many characteristic ornamental pigs at Majeka House.

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Pulled lamb pitas with tomato salad & tzatziki

15 May

Juicy tender pulled lamb on freshly toasted pitas with double cream tzatziki and tomato salad. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Once you’ve tasted a proper Greek-style souvlaki, few things can beat this meaty “sandwich”: slightly sticky pieces of tender, slow roasted lamb on a toasted pita with fresh tomato and red onion, slathered with double cream tzatziki. It’s a slice of heaven.

With pulled lamb, there’s only one way to do it – slowly. Covering your leg of lamb in baking paper and two layers of foil means that the meat steams while roasting, resulting in a really tender roast that literally falls apart. I roast it overnight at 120C for 8 hours, but you can also do it even slower at 100C for 12 hours.

With pitas, there are two ways of doing it: stuffing them, or using them as a foldover. I prefer the foldover, because it tends to hold better and not break apart. You’ll be surprised to see that naan bread also works wonderfully as foldovers, because of their elongated shapes. Use whatever you prefer!

Note: Use the leftover pulled lamb to make lamb ramen or tabbouleh bowls with lamb – great for lunch/dinner the next day.

Ingredients: (serves at least 6)

For the pulled leg of lamb:

  • 1,8 – 2 kg leg of lamb (bone-in)
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 10 ml dried oregano
  • 10 ml chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, whole
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 250 ml dry white wine

For the tzatziki:

  • 500 ml double cream yoghurt
  • 1/2 English cucumber, seeds removed and roughly grated
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • a small bunch mint leaves, finely chopped
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the tomato salad:

  • about 400-500 g ripe small rosa tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons capers
  • a handful fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • a handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 10 ml red wine vinegar
  • 15 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

To assemble:

  • 6-12 round pita breads (or foldovers, or naan breads), heated or toasted

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 120 C. In a medium size roasting tray, place the leg of lamb then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with oreganum, rosemary, salt & pepper. Place the onion quarters and garlic around the sides, then add the white wine. Cover with a layer of baking paper, tucking it in around the sides of the meat, then cover the pan with 2 layers of foil. Roast for 8 hours until the meat falls from the bone. Use two forks to pull the meat apart and let it lie in the cooking juices, removing the large bones. Set aside.
  2. While the meat is roasting, prepare the tzatziki: Add the yoghurt to a medium mixing bowl. Squeeze the grated cucumber to get rid of the excess water, then add the shreds to the yoghurt along with garlic and mint. Season with salt & pepper, add the olive oil and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. For the salad: make just before serving – toss all the ingredients together and set aside (don’t make ahead, or it will draw a lot of water).
  4. To assemble: plate freshly toasted pita breads with a dollop of tzatziki, some shredded warm lamb and some tomato salad on top – it’s a nice idea to let your guests each plate/assemble their own. Fold over and enjoy.

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Tabbouleh bowl with shredded lamb

15 May

A fresh, crunchy bowl of bulgur wheat with cucumber, tomatoes and fresh herbs, topped with soft shredded lamb.

 

If you haven’t cooked with bulgur wheat before, you’ll be amazed that it only needs 20-30 min soaking (no boiling). You can’t mess it up! Apart from that, it’s a great source of plant-based protein and very high in fibre. With the addition of herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, tomatoes and cucumber, this classic Eastern Mediterranean favourite is the perfect “bed” for some juicy shreds of lamb.

Again, this dish is a great way to reuse your leftover pulled lamb or lamb roast of the weekend, turning it into a fantastic midweek office lunch or fresh, light dinner. It is bowl food at its best.

*Note: Head over to my recipe for pulled lamb pitas to cook your pulled leg of lamb from scratch, otherwise use a smaller cut of lamb like a knuckle, braised in stock & vegetables for 2-3 hours until it falls from the bone. Pan-fried or flame grilled lamb steak or chops will also do: just slice into thin slivers after frying, add a little stock to the pan and reduce for a little saucy goodness to pour over the slivers.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 1,5 cups bulgur
  • 1,5 cups boiling water
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup spring onions, finely sliced
  • 3 cups baby tomatoes, quartered
  • 1,5 cups cucumber, seeded & cubed
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 cups cooked shredded lamb, with some of the cooking liquids (if using leftovers, or see *note above for more info)

Method:

  1. Place bulgar and boiling water in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it stand for 20-30 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed, then fluff with a fork.
  2. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, parsley, mint, spring onions, tomatoes, and cucumber and mix well. Season generously with salt & pepper and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. If you are using leftover pulled lamb, place 3 cups of shreds in a small saucepan along with about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid (or mutton stock with a pinch of salt). Heat to a simmer and reduce until the liquids have almost evaporated.
  4. Plate the tabbouleh into bowls (best served at room temperature), then place the hot lamb shreds on top. Serve at once with lemon wedges on the side.

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Lamb steak salad with figs, rocket, grilled courgettes and yoghurt dill dressing

15 May

Pink slivers of lamb steak with figs and grilled courgettes on a bed of rocket, drizzled with a yoghurt dill sauce. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

There’s certainly more than one way to enjoy a good steak – and it doesn’t have to include potato chips and heavy sauces. Whether it’s Winter or Summer, a scrumptious lamb steak salad is such an enticing way of serving perfectly grilled pink meat on a beautiful platter.

Substitute the ingredients with whatever’s seasonal and to your liking – tomatoes, aubergines, mushrooms – the variations are endless. The yoghurt sauce is packed with herbs and has an extra tang thanks to fresh lemon juice and some Dijon mustard – a match made in heaven with the rich lamb flavours.

Ingredients: (serves 4 as a light meal)

  • 4-6 courgettes, thinly sliced into long ribbons
  • 600-800 g lamb steaks (or boneless leg of lamb, cut into thick steaks)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • a bunch fresh rocket leaves
  • 4-6 large ripe figs, quartered
  • for the dressing:
    • 3/4 cup double cream yoghurt
    • a few sprigs fresh dill, finely chopped
    • 15-30 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 10 ml Dijon mustard
    • 15-30 ml extra virgin olive oil
    • a pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Using a griddle pan, grill the courgette ribbons over a very high heat (without any oil) until the ribbons have charred marks on each side (can also be done over a fire). Set aside.
  2. Place the steaks on a plate, drizzle with oil and season well with salt & pepper. Grill the meat in the same hot pan for about 3 minutes a side (depending on the thickness of your steaks). Set aside to rest while you assemble the rest of the salad.
  3. On a large platter or on individual plates, arrange the rocket leaves, grilled courgette ribbons and sliced figs. Slice the lamb steaks into thin slivers, then arrange on top and season lightly with salt & pepper.
  4. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together, then drizzle over the top. Serve with more of the dressing on the side, along with fresh lemon wedges and more olive oil.

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Lamb ramen with star anise, ginger and chilli

14 May

Slivers of lamb on a bed of noodles in a fragrant lamb broth. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Ramen has made a huge splash over the past few years in the Western world, although it’s been a staple for in the East for ages. The stuff that we know as “two-minute noodles” turned out to be much more posh that we could have ever imagined! Served right, it’s light yet incredibly flavourful and packed with umami because of a magnificent meat broth, layered with deep flavours and exotic spices.

The good news is that it can be made with major shortcuts, and it’s also the perfect way to enjoy leftovers from your Sunday roast. These days you’ll find excellent lamb & mutton fonds (and some pretty decent stock cubes) in most supermarkets, which means you don’t have to start from scratch with a homemade stock. Add a few key aromatics like star anise, ginger, garlic, chilli, shiitake mushrooms and soy sauce, and you’re pretty much already there. Top with fresh bean sprouts, chopped spring onions and a few slices of roast lamb (or pan fried lamb steaks) and you’re ready to rock your ramen.

I made the ramen in the photo with homemade lamb stock (using roasted lamb bones, onion, carrots, celery, black peppercorns, bay leaf, and water). Whether homemade or store bought – use whatever you prefer and have time for.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1,25 liters good quality lamb stock/broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, whole
  • 1 knob ginger, peeled
  • 1 star anise
  • 30 ml soy sauce
  • 1 chilli, halved and seeds removed (plus more for serving, optionally)
  • 3-4 large shiitake mushrooms (or other exotic mushrooms, like shimeji), sliced
  • 4 x 70g packets ramen noodles (noodles only, not spice sachets)
  • about 2 cups leftover roasted lamb, shredded, warmed (or about 300 g lamb steak, pan-fried and finely sliced)
  • one bunch spring onions, sliced, white part only
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • a handful fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped, to serve

Method:

  1. Place the stock/broth in a medium size pot with the garlic, ginger, star anise, soy sauce, halved chilli and sliced mushrooms. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, covered. Remove from the heat and let it stand while you prepare the noodles.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles until just tender. Drain and transfer to 4 bowls.
  3. Strain the broth through a sieve, then top each bowl of noodles with warmed lamb, hot broth, spring onions, sprouts, more chilli (optional), and fresh coriander. Serve at once.

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Italian-style white bean soup with lamb knuckle

14 May

One of my favourite recipes this winter: a brothy white bean soup made with lamb knuckle and topped with salsa verde. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Although many of us know and love traditional South African bean soup made with red speckled beans, there’s another variety that you absolutely have to try. It is made with small white haricot beans (almost like Italian canellini beans, which are not very common in SA in its dried form). These beans are very smooth in texture and they tend to not fall apart as easily as their speckled cousins, resulting in a non-stodgy end result. This is a slightly thickened brothy soup with chunks of deliciously tender meat and beautiful, small, silky beans. Made with chicken stock instead of mutton or beef stock, the soup is also lighter in colour than most bean soups. A dollop of punchy green salsa verde adds just the right lift to this meal.

A single lamb knuckle, sliced by your butcher, is enough to add the meatiness that this soup needs. It’s an economical way to serve a stylish soup in a fresh way this Winter. Serve with crusty bread, if you like.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • about 600 g lamb knuckle, sliced horizontally by your butcher
  • 1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1-2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) carrots, peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 250 ml dry white wine
  • 2 liters chicken stock
  • 500 g small white beans (haricot)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • for the salsa verde:
    • a handful each parsley, basil & mint
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 2 teaspoons capers
    • 15-30 ml lemon juice
    • 45-60 ml olive oil
    • a pinch of salt
    • 10 ml Dijon mustard

Method:

  1. Heat the oil on high heat in a large wide pot (at least 6 liters capacity), then fry lamb knuckle in batches until browned on both sides (cut larger chunks of meat in half). Remove the meat from the pot and set aside, then turn down heat to  medium.
  2. Fry the onion, celery & carrot until soft, stirring often (add a little more oil if needed). Add the garlic & rosemary (add the sprigs whole, you’ll remove the woody stems later) and fry for another minute.
  3. The bottom of the pot should be coated with sticky brown bits by now. Add the white wine and stir to deglaze. Add the fried meat with all the juices back into the pot, then top with stock. Add the beans and stir. Note: Don’t add any salt until tright at he end, otherwise the beans won’t become tender.
  4. Bring to a simmer, stirring now and then, then turn heat down to low, cover with a lid and cook for about 2,5-3 hours until the meat is falling from the bone and the beans are really tender.
  5. Season generously with salt & pepper and remove from the heat to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
  6. To make the salsa verde, chop all the ingredients together by hand or in a food processor. Taste and adjust with more salt or lemon juice if needed.
  7. Serve the soup in bowls with a dollop of salsa verde (and some crusty bread for dipping, optionally).

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Spicy lamb & chickpea stew

14 May

Naturally gluten-free, this fragrant and spicy lamb stew is easy to make, hearty, and perfect for Autumn & Winter. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

This easy North African-style lamb & chickpea stew is heartier than a soup, yet it doesn’t need to be served with any added starch. It is high in protein, relatively low in fat and naturally gluten-free.

I love the fact that it can be made with a few pantry staples like canned tomatoes and chickpeas, stretching a relatively small amount of meat to serve a crowd. Top it generously with fresh herbs like coriander, mint or parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. Perfect Autumn fare!

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • about 800 g boneless lamb/mutton, cubed 2x2cm (leg works well, but any boneless meat will work)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) smoked paprika
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) harissa dried spice blend (or cayenne pepper)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) sugar
  • 500 ml lamb/mutton stock
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained
  • finely grated zest (and 15 ml juice, reserved) of a fresh lemon
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • a generous handful fresh coriander/mint/parsley, to serve

Method:

  1. In a large heavy based pot with lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until translucent and soft. Turn up the heat and add the meat cubes, browning on all sides but not cooking through.
  2. Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, harissa, cinnamon stick and stir for 1 minute.
  3. Add the sugar, stock, tomatoes, chickpeas and lemon zest and bring to a simmer. Turn down heat to very low, then simmer for about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender, stirring now and then to check that the bottom is not burning.
  4. Season generously with salt & pepper, add the lemon juice and stir in half of the fresh herbs. Remove from the heat. Serve in bowls with more fresh herbs.

Note: This stew can be made a day or two ahead and reheated – it also freezes well. Leg meat should take less time to get tender, but any cut will eventually get really soft.

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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