Tag Archives: breakfast

The A to Z of Stellenbosch – a #WinterWinederland

4 Jul

We recently had the great pleasure of taking part in a campaign by Stellenbosch Wine Routes, the #AtoZofStellenbosch (#visitStellenbosch, #WinterWinederland) where we received a few letters of the alphabet to explore in magnificent Stellenbosch – our home town. Take a look at what we saw, tasted and explored!

N: Neethlingshof Flash Food Slow Wine Pairing and Y: Young Foodie Pairing

This landmark wine estate was recently returned to private ownership after decades in the well-known Distell stable. With a history that spans 230 years, Neethlingshof continues to evolve as a favourite destination for locals and international visitors alike on the competitive Stellenbosch wine landscape.
Their famous kilometer-long avenue of stone pines that leads to the gabled homestead is an iconic feature of the farm and the central motif of their wine labels.

The “Flash Food Slow Wine Pairing” experience at Neethlingshof allows you to truly taste the terroir of the region, focusing on some of their best award winning wines paired with a few fast food bites with a twist. At only R100 for tasting 5 premium wines with 5 bites, it is one of the best value for money experiences in the Winelands. Their contemporary tasting centre is spacious and also allows for cellar tours right next door.

Gone are the days when you left your kids with a babysitter when going on a wine tasting! At Neethlingshof, children are especially made to feel welcome with their very own professionally presented little tasting board of chocolate milk, grape juice and apple juice paired with delectable treats like cupcakes, chicken filled mini pancakes and mini burgers. At only R50 for kids tastings, parents can rest assured that they’ll be able to wine and relax a little longer while the whole family is entertained and fed.

S: Stay at Spier

The Hotel at Spier is more like a delightful countryside village than a regular hotel. With its cobble stoned walkways, sculpted gardens and winding paths, you’ll feel like you’ve just arrived home on checking in. Rooms are spacious and decorated with a distinct South African flavour. Take a stroll towards the restaurant and picnic areas, do a wine tasting at the tasting centre, book a vineyard tour to see more of the estate, or just cosy up under an ultra thick duvet in front of the tv when it’s pouring down outside.

There’s just so much to do and see when staying at Spier. With a spa on the premises, a farm shop, gift shop, play area for kids, craft market, segway tours, eagle encounters and more, you’d want to stay for longer.

H: Hoghouse lunch

This fabulous smokehouse served the living best smoked meat, beerhouse snacks and pasteis de nata in town. They’ve since closed down to make space for the same chef, PJ Vadas, to open his very own Vadas Smokehouse and Bakery. I will watch this space when they’re ready to open – very exciting times.

E: Eat breakfast at Spier

The breakfast area at Spier is an energetic, bustling affair. Expect large tables laden with the freshest sliced seasonal fruit, various freshly baked pastries, cured hams and smoked fish, cereals and toasted seeds, large trays of fragrant grilled bacon, more than one type of cooked sausages, and much more. Ask for tailor-cooked eggs or pancakes at the hot section, and order your choice of various coffees, tea and even hot chocolate. With a team of enthusiastic serving staff, you’ll be well looked after and ready for a day of exploring the Winelands!

I: Interactive Stars at the Eagle Encounters, Spier

Nothing can prepare you for the majestic beauty and magical presence of the birds at the Eagle Encounters unless you’ve been there before. With the help of a professionally trained falconer, you’ll be able to hold and stroke large live owls, falcons and other birds of prey within a safe environment (wearing protective gloves, of course). The birds are mostly rescued after injuries, nursed back to health, and some (those who have the capacity to be released back into nature) even rehabilitated back to the wild. See some of the world’s largest eagles up close, and get ready to smile on seeing some of the smaller owls “dance” to music. It’s an inspiring visit for young and old, and a MUST when visiting Spier.

Find the rest of the #AtoZofStellenbosch and more #visitStellenbosch adventures here.

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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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Pilchard & spinach shakshuka – breakfast of champions

8 Mar

Lucky Star recently launched their fourth cookbook in a series of cookbooks published by Tamsin Snyman Publishers, Seven Colours with Fish. This book captures a sense of colourful occasion without being too fine or too fussy, and presents a variety of quick and easy dishes that are nutritious for the whole family.

Lucky Star is such an iconic South African brand and their range of canned fish is good enough to eat straight from the tins – from pilchards to middlecut, tuna, mussels and sardines. Canned fish is readily available in most supermarkets throughout the year, making it an accessible source of affordable protein on a daily basis. All Lucky Star pilchards are caught and immediately frozen at sea before being brought back to the factories to be cooked with the seal on – no preservatives or artificial colourants needed. You shouldn’t remove the soft bones either, as they’re a great source of calcium.

Seven Colours with Fish is available countrywide for only R85.50 countrywide at selected bookstores or directly from www.tamsinsnyman.com.

Here is my take on Tamsin’s fabulous cover recipe for pilchard shakshuka, omitting the beans and adding a few more spices. This is such a stunning, flavoursome, bright and bold breakfast (or anytime meal), especially after a late night! And so easy to make.

Ingredients:  serves 3-4 (adapted from Seven Colour with Fish)

  • 1 x 400 g can Lucky Star Pilchards in tomato sauce (or in hot chilli sauce)
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled & chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) ground cumin
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) ground coriander
  • 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) cinnamon
  • 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) chilli powder (optional, or more if you like it hot)
  • 1 x 410 g can whole tomatoes, roughly chopped (or use a can chopped tomatoes)
  • 5 ml sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • two handfuls baby spinach leaves
  • 3-4 eggs
  • toasted bread, to serve (optional)

Method:

  1. Separate the pilchard fillets from their tomato sauce and set both aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a standard skillet (23 cm) and fry the onions until golden brown. Add the garlic and fry for another minute, stirring.
  3. Add the spices and stir for a few seconds, then add the canned tomatoes and sugar as well as the reserved tomato sauce, and season generously with salt & pepper. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the spinach and stir, then cover with a lid and let it simmer until spinach is wilted (about 2 minutes).
  5. Crack the eggs into the simmering tomato mix (make little wells for them), then cover with a lid and simmer over low heat for about 5-6 minutes until the whites are cooked and the yolks are still runny (or however you prefer your eggs).
  6. Serve hot with some fresh spinach leaves (if you want to) and toasted bread for dipping.

Note: If you are making hot shakshuka, serving it with some fresh coriander leaves work very well.

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Mushroom, spinach & cheddar frittata with sage butter

7 Aug

Spinach, mushrooms & cheddar frittata with sage butter. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Frittatas are so unfussy – just comfort food in a pan. They’re super easy to make and can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Choose a pan without a plastic handle – preferably an iron skillet – that can go straight into your oven. I’ve added some classic vegetarian ingredients to this frittata that are usually available all year round, but choose whatever you prefer. Mature cheddar add so much flavour – another option would be goats cheese or feta. Or go meaty with some serrano ham, creamy fior di latte and rosa tomatoes.

Luckily there is less technique going into a frittata than a French omelette: fry your seasonal filling ingredients first, then add the whisked eggs to the hot pan. Fry for another few minutes, gently stirring now and then, then transfer to the oven and cook until set.

Ingredients: (serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as a light meal)

  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 15 ml butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped leeks, white parts only
  • 250 g mixed mushrooms, sliced or broken into smaller pieces
  • a few sprigs of thyme, woody stems removed
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 200 g baby spinach, just wilted (cook separately in microwave or in a small pot on the stove with a little olive oil)
  • 6 eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup grated mature cheddar
  • 60 ml/g butter
  • a handful of sage leaves

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. In a ovenproof medium size pan (I used cast iron), heat the olive oil and butter. Add the leeks and fry over medium-high heat until they go soft but not brown yet.
  3. Add the mushrooms and thyme, turn up the heat to high and keep frying until the mushrooms are golden brown and tender. Season well with salt & pepper.
  4. Add the spinach, eggs and cheese and stir gently to distribute evenly. Keep on cooking for about 3 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  5. Transfer carefully to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes until the frittata is fully cooked.
  6. While the frittata is cooking, add the remaining 60 ml of butter to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Keep on cooking, swirling the pan often, until it turns light brown and nutty in flavour. Add the sage leaves and remove from the heat. Swirl the pan until the foaminess subsides and set aside.
  7. Remove the cooked frittata from the oven and leave to cool. Serve with crispy sage leaves and a drizzle of the butter that it has cooked in. Can be enjoyed hot or cold.
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All-in-one breakfast rusks

10 Jul

Delicious buttermilk rusks with various seeds, nuts, oats, coconut and olive oil. (Bowl by Le Creuset. Linen napkin by HAUS.)

 

I’ve published the recipe for these winning rusks twice before – one of my first posts ever on this blog in 2011 and again on Die Kos Vos last year. These buttermilk rusks are exceptionally delicious, packed with oats, bran, coconut, pecan nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and linseeds. I enjoy them with coffee or tea, first thing in the morning, then I’m good to go. These days I make the recipe with olive oil instead of canola oil, which brings a wonderful richness to the taste that I prefer. The oils and seeds contain precious Omega-3, -6 & -9 that keep our hearts healthy and enough fiber to keep our digestive systems in mint condition.

For smaller households I’ve found that a halved recipe is more than adequate. It fills one standard baking tray (roughly 51 rusks, depending on how thick you cut the fingers) and will last for many weeks after being dried out, stored in an airtight container. Take a smaller container to your office for a fantastic teatime snack.

Watch my video for an easy how-to guide. Happy baking!

Ingredients: (makes about 51 medium size rusks)

Note: This is the halved recipe. Feel free to double it up for a bigger batch.

  • 500 g self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup linseeds (flax seeds)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup regular oats
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup bran cereal flakes
  • 50 g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 XL egg
  • 1 cup olive oil (or canola oil)
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 180 C and line a standard shallow baking tray (about 30 x 40 x 2 cm) with grease-proof baking paper. Place the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Add the sunflower seeds, lin seeds, sesame seeds, oats, coconut and bran flakes. In a smaller bowl, mix the egg, oil and buttermilk, then pour over the dry ingredients and stir until it starts to come together. Use clean hands to work it into a ball, but don’t knead. Transfer the mixture to the lined baking tray, pat out evenly to fill all the corners, then bake at 180 C for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and cooked. Remove from the oven, then carefully turn it out on a wire rack to cool.

When cool enough to handle, transfer to a cutting board, then cut into rectangular fingers. Remove an oven rack from the oven, then preheat oven to 100 C. Arrange the fingers slightly apart on the oven rack, then dry out for 3 hours or until crisp but not dark. Let it cool completely then store in an airtight container. Serve with tea or coffee (to be dipped).

Tip: Save money by buying the exact quantities of seeds and nuts at a weigh-and-pay store.

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Weekend brunch with Poetry Stores

21 Apr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fig & coconut granola (makes approximately 750 g)

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

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

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

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

Rye waffles (makes 8-10)

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

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

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

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

Apple & almond bostock (serves 4)

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

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

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

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

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

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Granola with almonds & cranberries

4 Jan

Freshly toasted granola with cranberries (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Freshly toasted granola with cranberries (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

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

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

Credits:

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

Photography & prop styling: Tasha Seccombe

This post has also been featured on The Pretty Blog.

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Croque madame

29 Aug

Croque madame (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Croque madame (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

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

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

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

Ingredients for the Gruyere sauce: (serves 2)

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

Method:

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

Ingredients for the croque madame: (serves 2)

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

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

Credits:

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

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronje

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

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Spiced orange marmalade

18 Aug

Orange marmalade on mosbolletjie toast (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Orange marmalade on mosbolletjie toast (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

I would love to say that I grew up with marmalade and loved it from the start, but I didn’t. I grew up with sweeter-than-sweet apricot jam, and didn’t like the bitterness of marmalade at all.  When friends talked about their classic love of marmalade on toast, I simply did not share their view.

That was until recently when I decided to make my own. For this shoot, I wanted to focus on Winter produce, and something that adventurous food lovers could make at home. Citrus fruit are currently abundant in Stellenbosch, so I bought a bag of oranges and looked up a few recipes for reference. I sliced them thinly with my mandolin, cooked the slices in water until tender, then added sugar and aromatics to make a really fragrant marmalade (I added cloves, star anise, cinnamon stick and some cardamom). The texture of my marmalade resembled candied orange, and the taste was just out of this world…

We chose to shoot the marmalade on buttered mosbolletjie toast, and it was the most amazing flavour discovery – the aniseed taste of the mosbolletjies are a match made in heaven for the marmalade! Simply heavenly. Mosbolletjies are readily available in most advanced supermarkets, so give it a try if you find some.

These jars of marmalade make excellent gifts! Buy some beautiful glass jars (or re-cycle used jars), then label them with your own creative design. If properly sealed and stored, marmalade will keep for at least a year.

Ingredients:

  • 2 kg oranges
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1,5 liters (6 cups) water
  • 2 kg white granulated sugar
  • 1 clove
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods

Method:

  1. Using a mandolin cutter or very sharp knife, slice the oranges in 3mm slices, discarding the ends.
  2. Add the sliced oranges, lemon zest and juice and water to a large stock pot (or jam pot), then heat to boiling point. Reduce to a slow simmer, then cook for 40 minutes until soft.
  3. Add the sugar & spices, then cook for another 30 -60 minutes (depending on size of pot and temperature) until soft setting point. Skim off any scum forming on the top layer. For soft setting point, test a teaspoon of the boiling liquid on a cooled saucer for reaching a jel-like texture. Don’t let the mixture get too dark.
  4. When the desired texture is reached, transfer the marmalade to sterilized* glass container, then seal.

*Note: To sterilize your glass containers and lids, place them in a large pot filled with water (covering about 2m above the top level), then bring to a boil. After 5 minutes, remove from the heat, then transfer to a drying rack using tongs. Dry upside down, then fill with warm jam/marmalade  and replace lids immediately.

Credits:

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

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

 

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Chocolate brioche

20 Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients: (makes 1 large loaf)

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

Method:

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

Credits:

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

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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