Tag Archives: cake

Blueberry pecan picnic cake

24 Feb

Gooey, pillowey, crunchy – all in one. One of the best picnic cakes I’ve ever tasted. The large black round plate is from Hertex HAUS.

 

This recipe comes from Food52’s Genius DessertsBlueberry Snack Cake with Toasted Pecans. Since I’ve bought the book, I’ve had this page bookmarked as one of the (copious) recipes I knew I needed to try. The cake came out exactly as it looks in the picture, and it is so incredibly good that I finished four slices before even writing this post.

I decided to bake it after picking a batch of blueberries from some of the wild trees that grow adjacent to the cultivated blueberry orchards on the farm that we live on. They’re the last few berries of the season, and most of the trees only carry a few shriveled little fruits. But if you look closely, here and there, a few hidden gems remain – perfect, small, plump, matte blueberries that would otherwise just fall from the tree in a few days.

A snack cake, or picnic cake, is a cake without icing that is easy to transport for enjoying elsewhere (like a picnic, camp, the office or school). Originally written by Brooke Dojny, this recipe is “a study in textures” according to Food 52’s Kristen Miglore. “There’s just enough cornmeal to give it structure and a yellow tint, without weighing down the batter. It bakes up airy and tender, with a crackly sheen and a top dotted with pecans.” I have to tell you, I cannot agree more. It’s moist en gooey because of the fruit, yet light and airy in the cake department, with a crunchy top that is a delight in itself. Kristen says that smaller blueberries will stay suspended in the cake, while larger berries tend to sink to the bottom – “neither could possibly be bad”.

I’m going to keep this one in my repertoire for good. It’s an absolute winner – my tweaks are minimal, you’ll see if you compare it to the original. I’m confident that you’ll love it just as much as I do. Happy baking!

A 23 cm square cake tin is a very versatile vessel for baking. I only recently bought one (November 2019), and I’ve used it very often since.

 

Ingredients: (serves 8)

  • 1 cup (125 g) stone ground white bread flour (or cake flour)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) polenta / maize meal (medium or fine)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2,5 ml) salt
  • 1/2 cup (110 g) butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar, plus about 1 teaspoon extra for sprinkling
  • 2 XL eggs
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) milk
  • 1,5 teaspoons (7,5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1-2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups (300 g) blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup (100 g) pecan nuts, coarsely chopped

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 180 C with rack in the center. Grease and line a 23 cm square deep baking tin (I left some overhang on the baking paper so that the cake is easy to lift out afterwards).
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, use a whisk to stir the flour, polenta, baking powder and salt together.
  3. In a food processor (or bowl with electric whisk), cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs, milk, vanilla and lemon zest. Process (or whisk) until it is well combined – it might look a little curdled, that’s fine! Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon until just incorporated.
  4. Gently fold in the berries until just combined, then scrape the batter into the prepared tin, smoothing the top. Sprinkle evenly with the nuts, then use your finger tips to sprinkle evenly all over with about 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  5. Bake at 180 C for 45 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and just cooked (test with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean). Remove from the oven and let it cool complete on a rack.
  6. Once cool, remove from the tin (use the baking paper flaps to lift it out) and cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in a cool place – best eaten within a day. (Can be frozen for up to a month.)
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Chocolate berry cake

3 Feb

Chocolate cake drenched in mulberry coulis, topped with dark chocolate buttercream and fresh raspberries. Not perfect by a long shot, but incredibly satisfying – just like my blogging journey.

 

This is a celebratory post: The Food Fox blog is officially nine years old! Happy birthday to my digital baby!

Nine years is a long time, friends. The Food Fox was the start of a crazy ride in 2011, one that I jumped into with blind faith in the hope of carving out a way to create a sustainable income while being surrounded by food and writing. I learned that you can figure out almost anything via Google, made incredible connections online and in real life and actually found my tribe (coming from someone that’s fiercely independent, it was quite a revelation). Although the hustle is still very real – you’ll know what I mean if you’re a self-employed creative in a niche industry – I couldn’t have dreamt of a life that would reward me with this amount of freedom: creative freedom, freedom to schedule when and where and with whom I work, freedom to spend time with my family. Freedom, it might seem, turned out to be one of my most valued fundamental needs in life – something that I only realized over the past few years.

Although this blog probably won’t live forever, it has already opened so many doors of new possibilities. To celebrate this 9 year milestone, I baked a cake that resembles my journey over the past few years: far from perfect and certainly not as smooth on the surface as I’d hoped it to be, but rich, multi-layered and very rewarding. It’s a slight adaptation of a recipe from the book The Italian Baker by Melissa Forti, that I bought in December 2019 before embarking on a two-week catering marathon for an extended Italian family. I bookmarked the recipe for “Torta al cioccolate e lamponi” (chocolate and raspberry cake) because when anyone touts a chocolate cake to be the best they’ve ever eaten, you’ve got my attention.

The cake-part is one of the most deliciously moist chocolate cakes I’ve ever tasted, and I’ll definitely keep it in my repertoire. It includes buttermilk, oil and bicarb, and it’s very easy to put together. It also features a strained berry coulis made from raspberries blended with a simple sugar syrup and a dash of raspberry eau de vie (which I substituted with mulberries from our tree that I froze in December for a special occasion like this, and a little dash of aged brandy). The coulis makes the cake a little more expensive and time consuming, but it adds even more moistness and some stunning berry flavours that work incredibly well with the dark chocolate. Then, the chocolate frosting was quite a find: Melissa uses less butter than a normal buttercream (I would usually use 1 part butter to 2 parts icing sugar, or in this case 250 g butter for 500 g icing sugar), but she uses 170g butter with 560 g icing sugar, adds a whopping full cup of cocoa powder, and mixes it with 80 ml milk to soften it. This results in a very soft and creamy buttercream that can be refrigerated after you’ve frosted the cake, without turning brick hard (because with the February heat in Stellenbosch, and a cake topped with fresh berries, you’re going to want to store it in the fridge).

A slice of cake – it slices beautifully when refrigerated. Thank you Tasha for the use of your beautiful plate that stayed behind from a previous shoot!

 

I iced and photographed the cake when it was still a little luke warm, which you shouldn’t do. I was just being hasty because I’m a total glutton and couldn’t resist tasting the cake. After eating three messy but super delicious slices and then refrigerating the cake, it turned out to be much more stable for slicing (I then photographed the neat slice above). Do refrigerate it in warm weather for a beautiful result when cutting.

I’m feeling ready for renewal and growth in 2020 (definitely still involving a lot of writing, recipes, photographs and videography) and I look forward to sharing the changes and exciting new additions with you as we go along. In the meantime, I’ll be honing my photography skills with my new (well, second hand) 100 mm Canon lens – something that I’ve been yearning to own for years, and finally got to do so end of 2019. I’ve also enrolled in learning Italian on a nifty little phone app – quite fun, and a sure way of finding inspiration for saving up to FINALLY visit Italy.

I wish you all a year of finding freedom, creative inspiration and the courage to follow your true path.

 

Ingredients (recipe adapted from Melissa Forti‘s The Italian Baker)

For the cake:

  • 250 g cake flour
  • 400 g (2 cups) caster sugar
  • 80 g (3/4 cup) good quality cocoa powder
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 5 ml (2 teaspoons) baking soda / bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) salt
  • 3 XL eggs
  • 250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 250 ml (1 cup) warm water
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 5 ml vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease 2 x 20 cm loose bottom cake tins and line the bases with non-stick baking paper. In a large bowl, sift the flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb and salt together. In a second large bowl, add the eggs, buttermilk, water, oil and vanilla and whisk together using an electric whisk (or stand mixer with whisk attachment). Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined, scraping the bowl. Divide the batter into the two tins, then bake for 35 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 15 minutes before turning out to cool completely on wire racks.

For the berry coulis:

  • 100 g caster sugar (use less if your berries are very sweet)
  • 45 ml water
  • 340 g frozen berries, thawed (raspberry or mulberry or mixed red berries)
  • 5 ml raspberry liqueur, optional (or brandy)

Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the sugar has completely dissolved, then remove from the heat to cool for 15 minutes. Add the syrup and berries to a blender, process to a puree, then strain to remove the seeds, then stir in the liqueur or brandy (optional). Refrigerate the strained coulis until ready to use.

For the chocolate frosting:

  • 180 g butter, softened
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 105 g (1 cup) cocoa powder
  • 80-100 ml milk, at room temperature
  • 500 g icing sugar, sifted

In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the softened butter and vanilla until creamy. Add the cocoa powder and mix for about 15 seconds, then add a little milk and mix. Continue by adding a little icing sugar, then milk, then icing sugar, beating until it is very smooth and creamy and a soft spreadable consistency (if the mixture is too stiff, add a little more milk, if it is too runny, add a little more icing sugar).

To assemble:

  • about 125 g fresh berries, for topping (or more, if you want to cover the full top surface of the cake)

Slice the rounded tops off both cake layers if you want a neat, flat result (I always ice the off-cuts and eat them while icing the rest!). Place the first layer on a cake plate and top generously with the coulis (it will continue to penetrate the cake on standing). Top with a generous layer of frosting, then place the second cake layer on top. Use the frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake, using a spatula to neatly scrape the sides to form a smooth-ish surface. Cover and refrigerate for best slicing results; best eaten at moderate room temperature.

Note: Melissa spreads the coulis only on one cake layer, before topping it with the other half, but I cut each layer horizontally to spread it with more coulis – it’s not necessary but the choice is yours. The cake is very soft when freshly baked, so handle with care.

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Orange, olive oil and semolina cake with Chinese 5-spice

25 Jun

A wintery orange & semolina cake with Chinese 5 spice and caramel orange syrup. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

It’s finally citrus season and I’ve already made a huge batch of marmalade with the abundance of oranges all around me. I adore citrus flavours in cakes, so this recipe was a delightful experiment after doing lots of research on olive oil cakes (did you know that baking with olive oil instead of butter can extend the shelf life of a cake with up to 2 weeks?).

Where many olive oil cakes call for a very mild olive oil, this one needs the very best extra virgin olive oil that you can find. The flavour should be medium-intense to intense, to create a cake that is very moist in texture but also smells richly fragrant of the essence of olives and orange. It is a cake that can be eaten on its own, very much like a cake bread, but can also be dolled up with a syrup and some whipped cream or even a cream cheese frosting for a decadent dessert or tea-time treat.

Note: Although my recipe has been featured before on The Pretty Blog, they have since shut down their website and I’ve had a few requests for republishing it. Here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium size oranges
  • 125 g white sugar
  • 125 g soft brown sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup fine semolina
  • 10 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • 15 ml ground Chinese 5-spice
  • 2,5 ml salt
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 XL eggs
  • 5 ml vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Place the oranges in a small saucepan filled with water and bring to a boil. Cook until soft – about 30 minutes. Remove from the water, slice in quarters, remove the seeds, then puree (with skins) and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Grease a bundt tin thoroughly with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Place the white and brown sugar in a food processor and process for about 1 minute.
  4. Add the flour, semolina, baking powder, baking soda, 5-spice and salt. Process to mix.
  5. Add the orange pulp, olive oil, eggs and vanilla and process until just mixed. Scrape the sides and pulse one last time.
  6. Transfer the batter into the bundt tin and use a spatula to smooth the surface evenly.
  7. Bake for 50-55 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean, then remove from the oven and cool in the tin.
  8. When cool, carefully tap the tin from side to side to make sure that the cake does not stick to the tin. Turn the cake out on a plate or rack.

For the caramel orange syrup: (optional)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • juice of a small lemon

Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, tipping the pan from side to side (do not stir). Boil until the syrup starts to turn golden in colour, then add the orange juice and lemon juice – be careful as it will splatter. Remove from the heat and stir to combine. You can carefully pour the syrup over the cake immediately if you prefer for it to be fully absorbed by the cake (and will make it deliciously moist), or you can let it cool first for a thicker glossy syrup that will “sit” on the cake.

Serve with whipped cream (optionally).

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A Raw Cake spread for Mothers Day with Poetry Stores

11 May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rocky Road (makes 9-12 pieces)

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

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

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

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

Blueberry Lemon Swirl Cheesecake (serves 8-12)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Crustless ricotta cheesecake

26 Mar

Baked ricotta cheesecake topped with freshly whipped cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Baked ricotta cheesecake topped with freshly whipped cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Many years ago, long before I started writing my food blog, I saved a few pages from a Pick ‘n Pay Fresh Ideas booklet before it became Fresh Living Magazine (not sure the exact date, it wasn’t included in my cut-out). Strangely, I never got around to making their recipe for an Italian baked ricotta cheesecake – although the picture had astounded me each time I saw it.

I recently paged through my saved cut-outs again and decided to finally give it a go. I love a good cheesecake any day and I’m always keen to try out new variations. This one is great because it doesn’t have any crust at all (a little less effort and more than a little less kilojoules) and it is made from ricotta cheese, not cream cheese or cottage cheese. The cake is slightly firmer than most other cream-cheese-based cheesecakes, with a delicate almost-crumbly texture. The smoothness of the texture completely depends on the smoothness of the ricotta that you are using, so look for a creamy and smooth ricotta product. The flavour is surprisingly light and not too sweet – a welcome alternative to heavier cream-based versions.

This Italian-style cheesecake is really easy to make, low in carbs and delicious topped with a layer of unsweetened softly whipped cream. It is best kept refrigerated. Dust with a little icing sugar if necessary.

Crustless ricotta cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Crustless ricotta cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients: (makes 1 x 20cm cake)

  • 1 kg ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 6 XL eggs
  • 1.2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
  • juice (about 1/4 cup) and finely grated peel of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • a pinch of salt
  • for serving: 250 ml cream, whipped

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 150 C. Set oven rack in the middle of the oven. Grease and flour a 20 cm springform cake tin.
  2. Place all ingredients (except cream) in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pour batter into the prepared tin.
  3. Bake for 1 1/2 hours (90 minutes) until filling is pale gold and centre is firm. Remove from oven and cool in tin.
  4. Remove from tin when completely cool, then top with whipped cream. Slice and serve.

Credits:

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

Food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Recipe: Pick ‘n Pay Fresh Ideas booklet

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography: Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe

Styling: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

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A festive table from “Share: The Cookbook” with Poetry stores

15 Dec

A festive table loaded with delicious dishes out of "Share: The Cookbook" (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A festive table loaded with delicious dishes out of “Share: The Cookbook” (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

It was such a treat to discover this new book on the shelf at Poetry stores – Share: The Cookbook. ShareIt is a celebration of women who have survived war and conflicts, but also a celebration of the foods that nourish and bring us together. Recipes such as Nigerian Beef and Okra Soup, Rwandan Chicken Casserole as well as magical images  of real people are laid out in surrounding pages. Between the beautifully simple recipes, women tell their stories of survival, determination and how they came to take part in programs offered by Women for Women International. A host of celebrities such as Jamie Oliver to Annie Lennox have contributed recipes bringing a diverse array of flavours and personalities to this unique book. 100% of the publisher’s profits go to Women for Woman International. Share is much more than just a cookbook, it’s written for people that are interested in issues of women’s rights whilst celebrating our common humanity.

I’ve chosen a range of recipes as part of a festive spread in association with Poetry stores, using some of their beautiful homeware but also one of their fabulous new table cloths. The recipes are bright and tasty, yet simple and inexpensive. The flavour inspiration come deep from the hearts of Africa and India, intertwined by a common love of sharing food, recipes and love around our tables.

This book makes a great Christmas gift, and will remain a favourite in your kitchen but also on your coffee table.

Tomato & spinach dahl (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tomato & spinach dahl (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Spinach & tomato dahl, by Peter Kindersley

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled & grated
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 250 g red lentils
  • 400g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 900 ml vegetable stock or water
  • 400 g baby spinach
  • to serve: steamed basmati rice, naan bread, natural yoghurt, fresh coriander leaves and fresh lemon/lime wedges

Method:

Heat the oil in a large heavy lidded pan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and salt. Cook and stir for 2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the lentils, tomatoes and stock/water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 min when the lentils are thick. Stir often to prevent sticking on the bottom. Fold in the spinach and cook for about 2 minutes or until just wilted. Adjust seasoning and serve with steamed rice, naan bread, natural yoghurt, coriander leaves and fresh lemon/lime wedges.

Kachumbari salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Kachumbari salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Kachumbari salad, by Craig Kielburger

  • 450 g ripe, firm tomatoes, sliced or diced
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 25 g fresh coriander
  • 1 chilli, sliced
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Place the tomatoes in a salad bowl. Top with the sliced onion, coriander & chilli.
  2. Drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil and season with salt & pepper.
Tandoori yoghurt chicken (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tandoori yoghurt chicken (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tandoori yoghurt chicken, by Bill McKibben

  • 1 whole chicken (about 1,5kg) cut into 8 pieces, skin removed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • juice of a lemon
  • 500 ml Greek yoghurt
  • 1 onion, coursely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3cm piece of ginger, peeled & grated
  • 1-2 red chillies, deseeded & chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • a drop of red food colouring (optional)
  • to serve: coriander leaves & lemon/lime wedges

Method:

  1. Using a sharp small knife, cut deep slashes into the thickest part of the chicken, but do not cut as far as the bone. Place in a large mixing bowl, then sprinkle with salt & lemon juice. Set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the marinade: place yoghurt, onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric & garam masala in a food processor and process to a smooth sauce. Add the red colouring, if using.
  3. Pour over the chicken, and rub into the slits. Cover and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
  4. Pre-heat the grill or fire, then cook the chicken for 20-25 minutes turning regularly. The chicken is cooked when there is no pink flesh and the juices run clear. Serve with fresh coriander and some lemon/lime wedges.
Orange, almond & olive oil cake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Orange, almond & olive oil cake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Orange scented olive oil almond cake, by Nell Newman

  • 100 g almonds (or ground almonds)
  • 100 g white rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 175 g white sugar
  • 120 ml olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 60 ml orange juice
  • 60 ml sherry
  • to decorate: orange segments/slices

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Grease/line a 20cm springform round cake tin.
  2. Toast the almonds in a dry pan over medium heat until lightly brown, then grind in a food processor. (alternatively use ground almonds)
  3. In a mixing bowl, sieve the rice flour and almonds with the baking powder & salt.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy. Now add the olive oil in a thin stream while whisking, following with the vanilla, almond extract, zest, orange juice and sherry. Fold into the dry sieved ingredients.
  5. Using clean electric beaters, whisk the egg whites in another clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Now fold this into the yolk/flour mixture. Pour into the prepared tin, then bake for 30-40 minutes until light brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven, then allow to cool for 15 minutes before turning out on a clean folded tea towel. Invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Garnish with flaked almonds and/or orange segments/slices, and serve with whipped cream or creme fraiche.

All recipes from “Share: The Cookbook”, available from Poetry stores at R395.

All homeware, Wonkiware & wooden boards (except vintage brass cake plate, ladle and silver knife) available from Poetry stores.

Table cloth available from Poetry stores at R499 – available in blue or green.

Photography & styling: Tasha Seccombe

Text, propping, food preparation & styling: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant & food preparation: Elsebé Cronjé

This post was written and executed in association with Poetry stores.

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Lemon curd swiss roll

22 Oct

Lemon curd swiss roll (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Lemon curd swiss roll (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

As mentioned before, I just adore South African food icon Phillippa Cheifitz and her recipes. She’s probably the reason that I want to write my own recipe book (and will, soon – watch this space). Her recipes are so stylish, simple, classic, doable and beautiful.

Lazy DaysPhillippa’s popular book “Lazy Days – Contemporary Country-style Cooking” was recently revised. I attended Phillippa’s book launch a week ago, and finally had the privilege of meeting this iconic and stylish woman. I still have the original version of Lazy Days and it remains one of my absolute favourites on my shelf. It’s a collection of recipes that you’d want to cook over and over again, containing classic staples like whole-egg mayonnaise, anchovy butter, onion confit and buttermilk pancakes. Phillippa writes about the food that she cooks on their West Coast weekends – the type of food that totally speaks to my heart.

Phillippa’s recipe for a lemon curd Swiss roll is so effortless and delightful, so I decided to feature it as a tribute. We also loved photographing this cake, as it was the first time that we worked inside my new kitchen. The natural lighting was just fantastic and we are so happy with the results. Looking forward to many more shoots in here.

Thank you Phillippa for the endless inspiration – you rock my world.

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 4 XL eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Beat the eggs with the sugar until very light & foamy.
  2. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt, then sift over the beaten egg mixture and fold in gently but evenly.
  3. Turn into a buttered baking Swiss-roll pan lined with nonstick baking paper. Bake one shelf above the middle at 200 C for about 12 minutes or until nicely risen.
  4. Turn out and pull off the paper carefully. Place a clean sheet of baking paper on top, then roll up, lengthways, in a tea towel.

Ingredients for the lemon curd:

  • 2 XL eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup strained lemon juice
  • grated rind of 2 lemons
  • 125 g chilled butter

Method:

  1. Beat the whole eggs and yolks until frothy, then gradually beat in the sugar until thick and pale.
  2. Mix in the lemon juice and rind. Turn into a heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking in the butter bit by bit. Cook for about 5 minutes, until thickened, but take care not to allow it to boil and curdle.
  3. Once thickened, remove from the stove and place a piece of nonstick paper direcly on the surface. Leave to cool completely. Refrigerate for a few hours until it is a good spreading consistency.
  4. To assemble: carefully unroll the sponge cake, spread with the lemon-curd fulling and roll up again. Dust with icing sugar, if you want to.

Credits:

Recipe: Phillippa Cheifits (Lazy Days: Easy Summer Cooking – Quivertree Publications)

Text: Ilse van der Merwe

Food preparation: Elsebé Cronje

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: The Demo Kitchen, Stellenbosch

Thank you to Catalyst Communications for the copy of Phillippa’s revised book. I will treasure it.

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An Easter garden tea party with Poetry stores

7 Apr

An Easter garden tea party fit for a king (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

An Easter garden tea party fit for a king (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Next weekend many of us will be celebrating the Easter holidays – a time for utter indulgence in terms of festive family foods and sweet treats. The friendly team from Poetry stores asked me to once again put together a feast for this special occasion, and I decided to create a tea party spread with recipes from one of the books from their shelves: Tea Time by Jackie Brooks.

A tea party is such a great way to celebrate special occasions with family and friends. While the kids are hunting Easter eggs in the garden, you and your friends can gather around in a shady spot to enjoy the most delicious and decadent Easter treats with a cup of steaming tea. While Tasha (my good friend and also the photographer of this spread) and I worked to make the food look pretty, we asked our daughters to hold some of the dishes for a few individual recipe shots. They made such beautiful “hand models” that we had to pay them in Easter eggs!

My favourite recipe from this whole spread is the pecan cheesecake – it is utterly decadent and so very delicious. But the raspberry tarts take the prize for their wow factor – how pretty are those?

Jackie’s little recipe book is conveniently small (it will certainly fit into most handbags) and packed with so many easy recipes – sweet and savoury – for any tea time occasion. At only R150 is also makes a very affordable gift for a friend or loved one this Easter. Get it from your nearest Poetry store or online.

Butterfly cupcakes with pink cream filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Butterfly cupcakes with pink cream filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Butterfly cupcakes – makes 24: (all recipes from Tea Time by Jackie Brooks)

  • 125g butter
  • 5ml vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • filling: 250 ml cream, 2,5ml vanilla extract, 15 ml icing sugar, a drop of pink food colouring

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.
  2. Beat butter, vanilla and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Sift flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir until mixture is smooth and all ingredients are well combined.
  4. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of mixture into paper cases. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. To make the filling, beat cream, vanilla and icing sugar together until thick.
  6. When the cupcakes are cool, cut a slice from the top of each cake and pipe on a small amount of filling. Cut the removed cake slices in half and arrange on top of cream to make butterfly wings. Dust with a little icing sugar.
Chocolate hazelnut cake with vintage doily sieve pattern (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chocolate hazelnut cake with vintage doily sieve pattern (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chocolate hazelnut cake – serves 8:

  • 250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 325g hazelnuts, toasted and roughtly chopped
  • 15ml rum
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 190C.
  2. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and keep stirring until the chocolate melts. Remove from pan and cool slightly.
  3. Place egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until thick and pale. Fold the melted chocolate, hazelnuts and rum into the egg mixture.
  4. Place egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. Pour mixture into a greased and lined 23cm spring-form cake tin and bake for 50 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool cake in tin.
  5. Just prior to serving, dust cake with icing sugar (I used one of Tasha’s antique lace doilies to create a beautiful pattern).
Meltingly soft ginger kisses (photograhy by Tasha Seccombe)

Meltingly soft ginger kisses (photograhy by Tasha Seccombe)

Ginger kisses – makes 24:

  • 250g soft butter
  • 115g icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 15ml ground ginger
  • 225g plain/cake flour
  • 150g cornflour (Maizena)
  • Filling: 250g mascarpone, 50g stem ginger or preserved ginger, 15ml stem ginger syrup or maple syrup, 50g demerara sugar, 2,5ml vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment.
  2. In a large bowl beat the butter until pale and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar, beating well until the mixutre is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until well combined. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of the flour.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the ginger, flour and cornflour. Sift the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Roll teaspoon-sized amount into balls and press down with a fork (use floured hands).
  4. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until firm and lightly golden in colour (not brown). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. While the biscuits and cooling, prepare the filling. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside. When the biscuits are cool enough, spread the filling on half the biscuits then place the remaining biscuits on top.
Baked pecan cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Baked pecan cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Pecan cheesecake – serves 12:

Base:

  • 180-200g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
  • 45ml sugar (optional)
  • 50g butter

Filling:

  • 1,25kg plain cream cheese (5 x 250g tubs), at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 40g butter, melted
  • 5 eggs
  • 5ml vanilla essence
  • 1 cup pecan nuts, chopped

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C.
  2. To make base, combine biscuits, sugar and butter, mixing well. Press into bottom of a greased 25cm spring-form tin, then chill in the fridge.
  3. For the filling: beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add brown sugar and butter, mixing well. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Spoon filling into tin and bake for 1 hour.
  4. Turn oven off and allow cheesecake to cool in oven with closed door for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, then cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate for 8 hours. Remove sides of spring-form tin, then decorate with extra pecans.
Fresh raspberry tarts with cream cheese filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Fresh raspberry tarts with cream cheese filling (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Raspberry & hazelnut tarts – makes 6:

Base:

  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 30 ml icing sugar
  • 30g ground hazelnuts
  • 80g butter, chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Cream filling:

  • 375g creamcheese430ml caster sugar
  • 60ml double cream

Raspberry topping:

  • 350g fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 cup smooth raspberry jam (warmed and sieved)

Method:

  1. To make pastry base, place flour, icing sugar, and hazelnuts in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and pulse until it just comes together as a soft dough. Remove from bowl and wrap in cling wrap, then refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 200C. Knead pastry lightly, then roll out to 3mm thick. Line 6 greased 75mm flan tins with the rolled-out pastry dough. Line with baking paper and add beans or rice to weigh it down. Bake for 10 minute, then remove paper and beans and bake for another 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. To make filling, place cream cheese and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth. Beat cream in a separate bowl, then fold into cream cheese mixture.
  4. To assemble, spoon or pipe the filling into cooled pastry cases. Arrange raspberries on top, then brush warm jam over and refrigerate to set. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Credits:

This post was especially written for Poetry stores as part of their Easter 2014 celebration campaign.

All recipes from Tea Time by Jackie Brooks. Available from Poetry stores for R150.

All homeware, Wonkiware, jugs, mini wooden boards, tea cups & saucers, nougat bars, toffee bars, glass tea pot and wooden boxed exotic teas available from Poetry stores (except for white cake stand, animated vintage mug, bunny cookie cutters, and Easter eggs).

Intro text, recipe selection, food preparation & co-styling: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & co-styling: Tasha Seccombe

Green bunny prop courtesy of Lily’s Closet.

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Classic chocolate cupcakes

25 Mar

A classic, moist, dark chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

A few years ago, before I even considered changing careers from music to food, I was already a huge fan of food TV. I watched Nigella, Jamie and Bill religiously on BBC Food (now BBC Lifestyle), and made notes now and then to remember some of their recipes.

One of the recipes that survived in my scribbled recipe notebook, was a basic cupcake recipe from Nigella Lawson. While she was demonstrating the easy steps, I was trying to write it down – only getting cryptic notes of ingredients and some of the method. Not knowing back then that I could have just checked the full recipe online, I tried to make sense of my scribbles later that day. The great thing is, the recipe is so very simple and absolutely fool proof that I have made dozens of batches of these over the years. For chocolate cupcakes, I just substitute two heaped tablespoons of flour for two heaped tablespoons of cocoa powder.

More recently, I looked up the original recipe. Nigella uses royal icing for her cupcakes, but I prefer a rich and fluffy buttercream frosting. Use whatever you prefer.

These chocolate cupcakes always deliver in terms of taste and texture. (Photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Ingredients: (makes 12)

Note: Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before you start. It makes a big difference to the texture. Also, a digital scale will make your life a lot easier for this recipe.

  • 75 g cake flour
  • 50 g cocoa powder (for vanilla cupcakes, leave the cocoa powder out and just use 125 g of cake flour in total)
  • 125 g sugar
  • 125 g soft butter
  • 2 XL eggs
  • 5 ml baking powder
  • 2.5 ml baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • a small pinch of salt
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 30 ml milk

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Place all of the ingredients except the milk in a food processor, and pulse to mix thoroughly. Scrape down the sides.
  3. With the motor running, add the milk and process for a further 1 minute until the mixture becomes very smooth. Now use 2 dessert spoons to drop the batter into the cupcake tin holes, spreading the mixture to fill all 12 holes (it always looks like it’s not enough, but trust me – it is).
  4. Bake for 15-18 minutes until cooked and golden on top (an inserted skewer should come out clean). Remove from the oven and transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the chocolate buttercream frosting:

  • 125 g soft butter (very soft, but not melted)
  • 200 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 50 g cocoa powder, sifted (or less if you don’t like it to be too dark)
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 15-30 ml milk

Method:

  1. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), then use an electric whisk to beat it until pale and creamy (takes about 2-3 minutes).
  2. Add the sifted icing sugar and cocoa powder a little at a time, mixing until it is thoroughly incorporated. Add the vanilla and a little milk and whisk to get a light and fluffy texture, but don’t add too much milk or the mixture won’t hold shape.
  3. Transfer the icing to a piping bag fitted with a nozzle of your choice, then pipe the icing on top of the cupcakes. Don’t refrigerate them, as the icing will become hard and unpleasant to eat. Enjoy immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

The mixture makes exactly 12 cupcakes. I love their cracked tops. (Photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Credits:

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

Recipe adaptation, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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Cheat’s “macarons” with jam and cream

4 Sep

Cheat’s macarons, filled with cream and jam (Photography by Tasha Seccombe)

There is a universal love all over the world for cake with cream and jam; it’s an age-old trend. You’ll find it in the form of swiss rolls, cream cakes, cupcakes, whoopie pies, scones and cookies – it’s just one of those combos that work.

These soft little cookies were made from regular cupcake batter, piped onto a lined baking sheet, then filled with a swirl of jam and cream. And yes, they resemble French macarons. But they are so much easier to make than macarons, with none of the frustration or effort!

You can also fill these treats with caramel or your favourite version of butter icing. They are delicate, yet really simple – perfect for a special teatime treat.

Ingredients for batter:

  • 125 g cake flour
  • 125 g butter (soft)
  • 125 g sugar
  • 5 ml baking powder
  • 2.5 ml baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 ml vanilla essence
  • 30 ml milk

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients except the milk in a food processor, then process for about 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides, then process again. With the motor running, add the milk, then process for another 30 seconds until the mixture becomes very silky and smooth.
  3. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a relatively small nozzle, then pipe the batter in circles of about 2-3cm in diameter, leaving enough space inbetween for rising.
  4. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 5-8 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. They should be firm and lightly straw coloured, but not brown.
  5. Remove the cookies from the oven, then carefully transfer them with a spatula to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat this process to use up all the batter.

Ingredients for the jam and cream swirl filling:

  • about 1/2 cup berry jam (I used black currant jam)
  • 250 ml cream
  • icing sugar for dusting

Method:

  1. If the jam you are using is quite chunky, use a stick blender and a tall cup to process it to a smooth pulp. This will make it easier to pipe.
  2. Whisk the cream in a separate mixing bowl until just stiff (but not too stiff), then gently stir in the smooth jam – it doesn’t have to be mixed completely.
  3. Transfer the cream and jam mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle of your choice, then pipe the mixture on the inside of the cooled cookies. Use more cookies to close them up like little sandwiches. Dust with icing sugar, then serve.

PS: You can also just use thick cream or cream cheese and chunky jam to spread it onto the cookies with a knife – the 2 separate layers also look quite beautiful!

Cheat’s macarons (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Credits:

This post was especially 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 & Tasha Seccombe.

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