Mothers Day Lunch with Poetry Stores

12 May

A delectable home cooked feast from Barbara Joubert’s book KOSTALGIE, available from Poetry Stores. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

There’s nothing that says “I love you” like a thoughtful, scrumptious and beautiful home-cooked meal. The recipes in Barbara Joubert’s (Afrikaans) book Kostalgie are the perfect choices for a Mothers Day lunch at home, with flavours and influences from her travels all around the world.

I have never made caramelized figs before, and they truly are just magnificent to look at. Almost too beautiful to eat! With the creamy custard tart, they are the stuff dreams are made of.

I love slow roasted pork – it seems to always get raving reviews in my house. I opted for serving the pork with buttery beans instead of potatoes, because of my choice of pasta and tomatoes as a side dish (a stunning meal on its own too).

Have a happy Mothers Day everyone!

Barbara’s book, the homeware and beautiful black floral scarf are all available online and in store from Poetry Stores.

Tagliatelle with burst tomatoes, blue cheese and rocket. Photography by Tasha Seccombe

Homemade tagliatelle with burst tomatoes and blue cheese (serves 6)

(Recipe from Barbara Joubert’s Kostalgie)

For the tagliatelle:
300 g (535 ml) cake flour
3 eggs
20 ml olive oil
10 ml water

For the burst tomatoes:
125 ml olive oil
3 garlic cloves
550 g small red and yellow rosa tomatoes
salt and freshly ground pepper
a handful fresh basil leaves
100 g blue cheese
40 g rocket

For the tagliatelle:
Place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer with dough hook. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs. Switch the machine on at low speed. Add the olive oil and water. Increase the speed until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too stiff, you can add a little water. Knead for 10 minutes with the machine, then take the dough out and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest for 1 hour at room temperature. If you have a pasta machine, sprinkle a little flour on your working surface and on the rollers of the machine. Cut the dough into smaller pieces. Set your machine on number 7 and feed the dough through. Set it one setting lower, feeding the dough through until you get to number 1 (the thinnest setting). Hang the pasta sheets over the back of chairs for about 20 minutes to dry out a little. Attach the tagliatelle attachment to the machine, then feed the sheets through the cutter. Place the bundles of cut tagliatelle onto a baking tray sprinkled with flour. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a little olive oil, then add the pasta and cook for 3-5 minutes. Drain and top with the roasted saucy tomatoes.

For the burst tomatoes:
Heat olive oil in a large deep pan. Add the garlic whole and fry for about 2 minutes to flavour the oil. Add the tomatoes and fry until they burst. Season with salt & pepper. Tear basil leaves in pieces and mix with the sauce. Cut slices of blue cheese and arrange on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with rocket and serve.

My notes: A good quality store bought tagliatelle will also work well, if you don’t have a pasta machine.

Overnight leg of pork, so soft that you can pull it with a fork. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Overnight leg of pork (serves 6)

(Recipe from Barbara Joubert’s Kostalgie)

100 ml olive oil
2 kg leg of pork (I used boneless)
juice of a lemon
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 bay leaves
250 ml white wine
8 baby leeks
1 x 439 g can chestnuts

Preheat oven to 200 C. Place half the olive oil in a roasting tray. Place the pork in the bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Rub the garlic all over. Season with salt & pepper, then add the rest of the olive oil. Place in oven with skin side down. Remove after 30 minutes, then turn the leg over with skin side up. Cover with foil. Lower heat to 140 C, then roast for 6 hours.
Remove the netting around the meat, then add the bay leaves, wine, leeks and chestnuts. Roast uncovered for an hour at 180 C. Remember the skin won’t be crispy. The meat will be soft enough to pull apart with forks.

My notes: The original recipe calls for leeks, which were unfortunately out of stock everywhere at the time of the shoot, so I substituted these with slices of red onion. I also couldn’t find chestnuts, but I’m sure these will be stocked at a good exotic speciality store.

Custard tart with caramelized figs. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Custard tart with caramelized figs (serves 8-10)

(Recipe from Barbara Joubert’s Kostalgie)

For the dough:
200 g (360 ml) cake flour
50 g (60 ml) caster sugar
100 g (110 ml) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
45-60 ml cold water

Place the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor. Mix until the butter is well incorporated. Add the yolk and mix. With the motor running, add the water spoon by spoon, until it just comes together. Remove from mixer and cover with plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 200 C. Roll out dough on a floured surface. Line a greased 18 cm tart tin with the dough, then prick with a fork all over. Line with baking paper on top and fill with dried beans. Bake blink for 10 minutes at 200 C. Remove paper and beans and bake for another 5 minutes until the base is cooked.

For the filling:
10 egg yolks
20 g (40 ml) cornflour
125 g (150 g) caster sugar
2 ml vanilla powder
200 ml milk
500 ml cream

Whisk the yolks, cornflour, sugar and vanilla together with an electric mixer in a mixing bowl. Heat the milk and cream together in a pot, but don’t let it boil. Add the cream mixture to the egg mixture and mix well. Pour back into the pot, then continue stirring over medium heat until the custard thickens. (You don’t want to make scrambled eggs!) Pour the custard into another bowl and place a piece of wax paper on top to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool to room temperature. Pour filling in baked tart base and bake for 20 minutes at 180 C. Let it cool overnight, preferable in the fridge.

For the caramelized figs:
500 g (625 ml) sugar
100 ml water
about 25 small figs

Put the sugar and water in a large pot with a lid and place over medium heat until the sugar has melted. Now remove the lid and let it boil until it reaches a light caramel colour. The caramel will continue to darken, so remove from the heat immediately. Carefully dip the figs into the hot caramel and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper to cool. Place on top of the cooled tart when ready to serve.

My notes: The recipe doesn’t mention what size eggs to use, but I found that XL is adequate. I found that I needed to increase the baking time for the base and for the assembled tart to achieve a golden brown result. I couldn’t find small figs, so 9 large ones were enough as a substitute. Don’t caramelize the figs long before you’ll be serving the tart, as the caramel will eventually start to melt as the figs release steam and water, and you’ll be left with syrupy half-coated figs. (Remember, the caramel will harden on standing in the pot, so when you’re done dipping the figs, carefully add some boiling water to the caramel and leave to soften before cleaning.)

This post was created in collaboration with Poetry Stores.

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.

Caprese salad, triple cheese beef lasagne & tiramisu jars with Galbani Cheese

3 May

Caprese salad, triple cheese beef lasagne and individual tiramisu jars – my ultimate Italian-style feast! Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

When it comes to laid-back, festive, scrumptious food that’s packed with flavour, the Italians just know how. I’ve taken a few tips from their most popular traditional cheese-themed recipes to come up with my favourite three-course Italian-inspired feast: an over-the-top caprese salad, triple cheese beef lasagne (made with mozzarella, cheddar and mascarpone) and individual tiramisu cups with chocolate flakes and fresh raspberries. You can assemble the lasagne and tiramisu ahead so that you have more time to spend with your guests – the most important thing when hosting friends and family!

All my recipes serve 8, because they deserve a crowd. If you’re keen on a smaller gathering, just halve the ingredients to serve 4.

And don’t miss my video below – it shows how to make this killer lasagne.

Buon appetito!

My ultimate caprese salad with soft mozzarella, an array of tomatoes, fresh basil, pesto, toasted pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, salt flakes and ground black pepper. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Ultimate caprese salad (serves 8)

  • 3 very big ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • about 400 g smaller tomatoes on the vine
  • a handful baby tomatoes, halved
  • 3 x 125 g Galbani soft white mozzarella, sliced into rounds
  • a handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • 3-4 tablespoons basil pesto
  • extra virgin olive oil, for serving
  • balsamic vinegar, for serving (optional)
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Arrange the tomatoes on a large platter, interleaved with slices of mozzarella. Scatter with basil leaves and pine nuts, then drizzle with pesto (add a little olive oil to the pesto if it is very thick). Serve with olive oil and balsamic on the side, seasoned with salt & pepper. Serve immediately.

Note: The tomatoes will wilt on standing, so this salad is best served straight after assembling.

Triple cheese beef lasagne (made with mascarpone, cheddar and mozzarella). Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Triple cheese beef lasagne (serves 8)

For the beef Bolognese sauce:

  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 1 onion, skinned & finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled & finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 kg lean beef mince
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, stalks removed & finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried origanum)
  • 375 ml (half a bottle) dry red wine
  • 1 beef stock cube dissolved in 250 ml boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cans whole Italian tomatoes, blended to a pulp
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

For the white sauce (béchamel):

  • 80 g (80 ml / 1/3 cup) President Butter
  • 80 ml (1/3/ cup) plain/cake flour
  • 1 liter full cream milk
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • a generous tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 250 g Galbani Mascarpone
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

For assembling:

  • 1 batch Bolognese sauce
  • 1 batch white sauce
  • 500 g fresh/dried pasta sheets
  • 200 g President Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 300 g Galbani Creamy Mozzarella (semi-hard), grated

For the Bolognese sauce: Heat the olive oil in a wide, large pot with a heavy base. Fry the onion, carrot and celery over medium-high heat until soft and lightly brown. Add the garlic and stir. Add the mince and stir, breaking up any lumps and scraping the bottom to loosen any sticky bits. Add the rosemary and thyme. Continue to fry on high heat to brown the meat slightly, then add the red wine, stock, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar and stir well. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for 2 hours, stirring every now and then.

For the white sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat, then add the flour and cook for a minute, stirring. Add the milk and stir with a whisk until the mixture becomes smooth and thickens slightly. Add the nutmeg, mustard and mascarpone and season well with salt & pepper. Set aside.

To assemble: Preheat oven to 180 C. In a large rectangular roasting tray or oven dish, start with a thin layer of white sauce, then a layer of pasta sheets (they will swell so don’t fit them too snugly), a layer of meat sauce, more white sauce, a layer of cheddar, etc. Continue and repeat, ending with a layer of white sauce and the grated mozzarella on top. Bake for 45 minutes until golden on top, then let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Note: I sometimes chop my onion, carrot and celery together in a food processor to save time. The cooked lasagne will continue to stabilize on standing, becoming firmer and easier to serve. The assembled lasagne (cooked or uncooked) freezes well – thaw completely before returning to the oven.

Individual jars of tiramisu, made with mascarpone, brandy and some chocolate flakes. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Individual tiramisu cups: (serves 8)

  • 5 XL eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
  • 2 x 250 g Galbani Mascarpone
  • 1 Italian-style sponge finger biscuits (Boudoir/ladyfinger)
  • 375 ml strong coffee, warm
  • 75 ml brandy
  • cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 2-3 chocolate flake bars, for serving
  • fresh raspberries, for serving

Place the egg yolks and caster sugar in a large bowl. Use and electric whisk to mix until it is very thick and creamy. Add the mascarpone and whisk until smooth.
Clean and dry this whisk, then whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff. Add half the egg whites to the mascarpone mixture and fold in with a large spoon, continuing with the second half and folding until you have a smooth, creamy, mousse-like mixture. Set aside.
Working quickly, cut the finger biscuits into thirds, and divide the pieces into 8 groups of 9 pieces each (for 8 cups of 250 ml capacity each). Place the coffee and brandy in a shallow flat bowl, then dip 4 cookie pieces at a time into the coffee mixture, and place them into the bottom of each dessert glass/jar. Top with a dollop of the mascarpone mix, then a sifting of cocoa powder. Top with a second round of 5 dipped biscuit pieces, then place the remaining half of the mascarpone mix into a piping bag and pipe dollops of the mixture at the top of each glass to cover the biscuits. Dust some cocoa powder over the top, then cover with plastic or lids (not touching the mixture) and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
To serve, add some chocolate flakes and berries on top and serve straight from the fridge.

Note: The biscuits need time to soften in the fridge. If you serve them too soon, the cookies will still be tough. The tiramisu cups keep very well in the fridge for up to 3 days and the flavour improves with time.

(This post was created in collaboration with Galbani Cheese.)

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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).

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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(review) Chef’s Table at The Twelve Apostles

20 Apr

The view to the right from the Leopard Bar at The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa.

Two weeks ago I have the pleasure of attending the first degustation dinner at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa – a new and exclusive “secret menu” chef’s table experience that will be available once a month for a limited number of people all sharing a long table adjacent to the Azure restaurant kitchen.

Chef Christo Pretorius ready for action.

Chef Christo Pretorius and head sommelier Gregory Mutambe welcomed us at 18h30 in their restaurant, against an awe inspiring backdrop of ocean, mountains and sunset. The award-winning Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa is part of the family-run Red Carnation Hotel Collection and is situated on Cape Town’s most scenic Victoria Road in Camps Bay. Poised above the Atlantic Ocean, the 5-star boutique hotel is flanked by the majestic Table Mountain National Park, a World Heritage Site, and the Twelve Apostles mountain range. The hotel offers 70 guest rooms, with unique features that include a holistic spa, private cinema, and breathtaking views from the legendary Azure Restaurant and The Leopard Bar.

A quick pic with award winning sommelier Gregory Mutambe, before the start of our dinner.

The sunset view from the Leopard Bar at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa.

For the chef’s table dinner, you can enjoy a surprise six course degustation menu designed by chef Christo Pretorius – a menu that will change with every occasion. Starting on the 5th of May 2017, the hotel will be hosting these dinners on the first Friday of every month.
The recommended wine pairings with each course, featuring an exclusive selection hand-picked by acclaimed sommelier Greg Mutambe, is one of the highlights of the experience. Chef Christo and Greg will be on hand to guide you through the menu and the wines, but a screen with some footage of the action in the kitchen is a welcome addition (their kitchen space do not allow the chef’s table to actually be inside the kitchen).

Azure Restaurant reception area.

The interior of Azure Restaurant at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa (picture supplied by The Twelve Apostles)

Take a look at my experience at The Twelve Apostles’s first degustation dinner in photographs. I shared the table with a few other digital media guests and their partners, as well as the GM Michael Nel and PR host Joanne Hayes from Tumbleweed Communications. I can honestly say that this dinner was one of the most welcoming, enjoyable, relaxing, luxurious experiences of my life. The unsurpassed views, the incredibly professional and friendly staff, the thoughtful interior, the absolute attention to detail, the magnificent selection of wines expertly paired with the food, the faultless service and of course the selection of scrumptious and inventive dishes from the kitchen – it was a unique all-round experience of the highest quality, one that I would certainly remember for a lifetime.

Amuse-bouche: 60 °c Saldanha Bay Oyster – oyster mayo | miso caramel | compressed cucumber ǀ passionfruit | wild rice puffs

First course: Chicken and Ham Terrine – pickled shitake mushrooms ǀ tarragon mayo ǀ honey mustard emulsion ǀ baby micro salad ǀ compressed granny smith ǀ cured egg yolk

Second course: Roast Cauliflower – cauliflower crème ǀ pickled sultanas ǀ Malay spice dressing ǀ onion dhaltjies ǀ aged parmesan

Third course: Citrus Cured Salmon – molasses curd ǀ hazelnuts ǀ pickled beetroot ǀ stem ginger ǀ fennel fronds

Fourth course: Loin of Venison – venison osso buco ǀ parmesan gnocchi ǀ roast butternut puree ǀ squash custard ǀ confit baby leeks ǀ seed crumble ǀ maple and coffee jus

Fifth course: Boerenkaas Biscuit – pickled plum ǀ plum gel ǀ watercress ǀ toasted macadamia mousse

Sixth course: Valrhona Manjari – crémeux ǀ macerated berries ǀ gingerbread ǀ vanilla meringue ǀ dulcey crème

Mignardises, served with coffee and tea.

This degustation dinner experience is limited to 6-12 guests per event and comes with a price tag of R2150/person for six courses (includes wine, water and gratuity). With 10 days notice, they can do this Chef’s Table on any date (other than advertised) for private bookings. The experience is certainly not for the budget conscious, but fits perfectly in line with The Twelve Apostles’s high end / luxury offerings. Do browse their website for other services, including spa packages, romantic getaways and even an option where kids stay free. And did you know they were pet friendly?

Contact The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa for your reservation:

Telephone: +27 21 4379000
Email: reservations1@12apostles.co.za
Address: Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
GPS Coordinates: 33º58’59.37” S ,  18º21’31.43” E

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Lentil salad with roasted vegetables, lemon & goats cheese

20 Mar

An earthy salad of lentils, roasted seasonal veggies, chunks of creamy goats cheese, lemon rind and parsley (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

When I heard the word “lentils” when I was in my twenties, I immediately associated it with people who go over-the-top on health foods. Lentils sounded boring, brown and tasteless. My mother never cooked it for us as kids, so I had no frame of reference in terms of moorish lentil dishes at all. I saw lentils only as a poor substitute for meat – like a lentil patty on a burger bun. How horrible.

Then I discovered dhal – an Indian lentil side dish with as much flavour as the best meat curry that you’ll ever have (if it’s proper dhal). Glorious dhal, with a side of naan bread and lots of extra coriander leaves. It’s a close contender for my “last meal” choice – after my first choice of fresh ciabatta with extra virgin olive oil and a nugget of extra mature gouda.

So then I began experimenting with lentil soup, lentil bobotie en even lentil salad. As Autumn settled into Stellenbosch with its magnificently milder days and cooler nights, I longed for food that is more nourishing than a crisp, leafy salad. That is how my earthy lentil salad was born.

I absolutely love roasted vegetable (above steamed, boiled or fried). Together, the lentils and the veg and the goats cheese make for a super satisfying, wholesome and nourishing meal. Add glugs of extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste and serve with toasted pine nuts – the perfect meatless Monday dish or the perfect side dish to your larger feast. It’s going to be on my go-to list all Autumn and Winter long.

Note: Always remember that vegetables will shrink in the oven when roasted. Start with more than you think you’ll need.

For the lentils: (serves 4 as a main meal)

  • 250 g brown lentils (half a packet)
  • water, to cover
  • 45 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • juice and finely grated rind of a medium lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • a handful parsley, chopped

Method: Place lentils in a large pot and cover with cold water (about 5 cm above the lentils). Cook for about 30 minutes until tender, then drain and rinse well. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, then add the olive oil, lemon juice & rind and season generously with salt & pepper. Add the parsley and stir well.

For the roasted vegetables:

  • an assortment of your favourite vegetables, peeled and cut into bite size chunks (I’ve used beetroot, carrots, brussels sprout and leeks – enough to fill a standard roasting tray in a single layer)
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Method: Roast at 220 C for 30 minutes or until golden brown and tender.

To assemble:

  • 100g plain goats cheese (chevin)
  • a handful of pine nuts, toasted
  • more parsley to scatter over

Method: Add the roasted veg to the cooked lentils, add chunks of goats cheese, then scatter with more parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Caramel, pear & pecan lattice pie

18 Mar

Pear and pecan nut lattice pie with extra pie crust shapes on top (photography by @Tasha Seccombe)

These days there are so many beautiful lattice pies all over Pinterest. The most beautiful golden strips of pastry, cut into so many different shapes, criss-crossed and layered, covering delicious fruit fillings. They’re almost too beautiful to eat.

I absolutely love the combination of pears, pecan nuts and caramel. I made a pear and pecan tarte tatin a few years ago and it still beats most apple versions by miles. So if you love a good pecan nut pie, this is something similar but with a fruity layer of pears at the bottom that adds to the moistness of the pie. Crunchy, buttery, gooey, fruity, nutty – the best of a pecan pie and a tarte tatin rolled into one.

Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche (or thick cream) and a swirl of caramel sauce.

Caramel sauce, for assembly and for serving (photography by Tasha Secombe)

Choose firm pears for baking (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Layers of pear and caramel sauce (photography by @Tasha Seccombe).

Note: Shop-bought shortcrust pastry delivers a fantastic visual result, but nothing beats the flavour of homemade all-butter sweetened shortcrust pastry with added vanilla. The choice is yours. I’ve found that the home-made pastry does lose some of its shape during the baking process, but by baking a few decorative shapes separately (like cookies on a baking sheet, baked for a shorter time than the actual pie) and placing them on top of the pie afterwards, you still get a phenomenal result.

Ingredients: (makes one medium size pie)

For the pastry:

  • 100 soft butter
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 1 XL egg
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 250 g cake flour
  • a pinch of salt

Using an electric whisk, whisk the butter until creamy in a mixing bowl. Add the caster sugar, egg and vanille and whisk until well combined. Add the flour and salt and whisk until the mixture starts to come together. Turn out on a clean working surface and knead lightly until it comes together in a ball. Flatten slightly to make a disk shape. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For the caramel sauce:

  • 125 g butter
  • 250 ml demerara or muscovado sugar, tightly packed
  • 125 ml cream
  • a pinch of salt

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then add the sugar and stir. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has melted and the mixture starts to become foamy. Add the cream and stir until it is completely smooth. Add the salt, stir and remove from the heat.

Assembling the tart:

  • 1 batch pastry
  • about 3 firm pears, peeled and cored and finely sliced
  • 100 g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 batch caramel sauce (you’ll use the other half for serving)
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked (for brushing)
  • some granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C. Roll out half the refrigerated pastry on a well floured surface to a thickness of about 5 mm. Line a greased fluted 23 cm pastry tin with the pastry, and trim the edges neatly. Use a fork to prick the pastry all over. Arrange the sliced pears (overlapping) on the bottom, filling it about 2/3 to the top. Drizzle with some caramel sauce. Arrange the chopped pecan nuts on top of the pears. Pour the rest of the caramel sauce all over the nuts and pears. Roll out the second half of the pastry, then cut out strips for plaiting and shapes for decoration (place some of the loose shapes on a separate lined baking tray, keeping them neatly in tact for decoration). Top the pie filling with the pieces and strips of pastry, making your own decorative pattern/design and trimming the edges neatly. Carefully brush with egg, then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake the pie at 180 C for 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly then remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack. Bake the extra pieces of pastry on the baking tray for about 8-10 minutes until golden brown – they’ll brown much quicker than the assembled pie.

For serving: carefully remove the fluted ring, then top with extra pastry shapes. Serve warm or at room temperature th a dollop of cream, ice cream or creme fraiche and more (warmed) caramel sauce.

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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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Review: Lunch at FABER

1 Mar

The magnificent mountain and garden view from the front porch at FABER, Avondale.

I was recently invited to visit FABER – a new restaurant at Avondale Farm in the Paarl wine district. Avondale is a 300 year old, family-run farm that is situated on Lustigan Road, Klein Drakenstein, on the slopes of the Klein Drakenstein Mountains.

FABER marks the meeting of minds and passions between a chef and a winemaker, paying tribute to the craftsmanship in both the kitchen and the Avondale cellar. With a shared commitment to sustainability, it’s no surprise that acclaimed chef Eric Bulpitt and Avondale proprietor Johnathan Grieve decided to collaborate.

Proprietor Johnathan Grieve and chef Eric Bulpitt welcoming the crowd.

“I’ve always believed that we as chefs are craftsmen,” says Bulpitt, explaining the meaning behind FABER, the Latin word for artisan, or craftsman. “We work with our hands, using produce from the land. It’s the perfect way to capture who we are and what we do.”

“It’s always been a goal of ours to open a restaurant on Avondale. We’ve looked at it for over 10 years, but never really found the right chef,” explains Grieve. “I’m a firm believer that when the energies are correct the partnership will happen, but up until now that hasn’t happened. When we met Eric we knew we’d found the perfect partner.”

“We have very similar belief systems in our respect for nature and a natural approach,” adds Bulpitt. “We’ll be working hand in hand together in telling the story of Avondale through the food at FABER. Whatever’s in season on the day (from the fields or the vegetable garden), we’ll bring that onto the plate and tell the story of where it comes from. It’s a dish that sums up exactly what FABER stands for.”

Chef Eric Bulpitt and team getting ready to plate our pastrami course.

Our lunch menu. I love FABER’s logo.

Avondale’s organic and biodynamic food garden has already been extended to produce fresh vegetables and herbs for the restaurant, while stone fruits and citrus from the farm’s orchards arrive with the changing seasons. Eggs are harvested daily from the eco-friendly egg-mobile housing Avondale’s free range chickens, and in time the farm will provide a steady march of broiler chickens and pasture-reared organic beef to the kitchen.

The restaurant interior at FABER.

The décor inside the renovated dining space is a blend of country-style comfort and relaxed elegance. Interior designer Annie Dower helped to infuse the Old Cape-style space with a bright modern country edge. Crockery was handcrafted at the Potters Gallery in Kleinmond, while crystal stemware from Schott Zwiesel showcases the terroir-driven wines from Avondale. Artworks by local painter Scats Esterhuyse are seen on the walls along with delicate botanical prints, echoing the landscape seen from the terrace. Keeping in line with their sustainability theme, the table tops, bar counters and wooden planter boxes are all crafted from stone pines on the estate that were felled when a fire swept Avondale a decade ago.

One of the planter boxes at FABER.

FABER is a new gem on the culinary Winelands landscape. With exceptional views, wines and food, they are sure to become a hot favourite. Here are some of the dishes that I tried at my visit:

Amuse bouche.

Black Angus pastrami, mustard, mustard chantilly and fried celery leaf, to be topped off with a celeriac veloute (which was poured over directly after I took this picture.)

Avondale happy chicken, garlic maize rice, crispy cauliflower, radish and mustard flowers.

Lemon verbena infused watermelon carpaccio, watermelon and basil sorbet, consommé and jellies. The sorbet was one of the best things that I had tasted on the menu – just brilliant.

A box of truffles and coffee for the road.

  • 5-course lunch menu: R535
  • 5 course dinner menu with Avondale wine pairings: R825
  • (Note: Prices subject to change, please check website for more info.)

The restaurant is open for lunch from Wednesday to Sunday from 12h00 – 15h00 and for dinner from Wednesday to Saturday from 18H30 – 21h00. Reservations recommended. For bookings and more information phone 021-202 1219 or email faber@avondalewine.co.za. Visit FABER on Facebook and follow faber_sa on Instagram.

Thank you to Manley Communications and Avondale for the opportunity to visit FABER.

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