Tag Archives: chicken

Classic French Coq au Vin

2 Sep

Classic French coq au vin (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Over the past few days, we’ve been bombarbed by torrential rains in the Cape. It’s been the most rain we’ve had all winter, coupled with stormy winds – terrible weather for anyone who had to be outside or on the road.

We had our monthly food shoot last week with the dream team from The Pretty Blog. Although we always have the best time  creating beautiful pictures, dark and stormy weather is not necessarily our friend when it comes to food photography lighting! After scanning my house for the best spot to do the shoot (we usually shoot on the stoep, but it was way too windy and cold), we decided to set up at my bedroom window. A bit cramped to say the least, but we pulled it off!

I wanted to feature one last hearty winter stew before the Spring weather starts to settle in (we cannot wait!), so I decided on one of my favourite classic French dishes: coq au vin. This is a simple stew of chicken, small onions, bacon, and mushrooms, simmered in red wine. The red wine turns the chicken purple – a bit alarming at first, but it then settles into a dark and hearty broth, totally delicious for a cold winters day.

Traditionally, the French serve this stew with bread or with pasta, but we like to eat it with white rice or even mashed potato. Choose whatever you like!

Ingredients: (serves 4-6, but this recipe can easily be doubled to feed a large crowd)

  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 8 chicken pieces (about 1 kg)
  • 16-20 “pickling” onions, skinned and whole (small pearl onions)
  • 125 g streaky bacon, cut into small cubes
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 250 g button mushrooms (or portabellini)
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) tomato paste
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) flour
  • 1/2 bottle (375 ml) red wine (I use a good Bordeaux blend like Sutherland’s Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot)
  • salt and black pepper


  1. In a large heavy based pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, then fry the chicken pieces in batches until the skins are golden. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  2. Add the onions, bacon & thyme, then fry until the bacon becomes crispy and the onions get a nice colour on the outside. Add the mushrooms and fry for another minute.
  3. Add the tomato paste & flour, then stir well. Now add the red wine. Give it a good stir, then add the chicken pieces and meat juices back into the pot. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour 15 minutes. Check on the chicken every now and then to make sure that the pieces are submerged in the sauce and gets coloured purple on all sides.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, then stir gently without breaking up the meat. Serve warm with rice, potatoes, pasta or bread, and some steamed green vegetables like beans or broccoli.


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.

(Photography by Tasha Seccombe)


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Butter chicken curry

12 Aug

Rich butter chicken curry with roti’s and fresh coriander (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Of all the butter chicken recipes I have come across over the years, this one remains my absolute favourite. I have made it many, many times at home, and everytime I am amazed at how easy it is to create such a fragrant and satisfying feast.

Butter chicken curry is a mild, rich dish. It is made with lots of butter, ground cashew nuts, and cream – definitely not for the calorie conscious! But the result is an absolutely dreamy mixture of fragrant exotic spices (especially cardamom), rich gravy and succulent boneless chicken. It is fantastic served on basmati rice, but also great served with naan bread or wrapped up in a roti.

Tasha, our photographer, told me that they had recently used butter chicken curry as a filling for soft white rolls on a road trip. Now that sounds brilliant! Don’t forget the fresh coriander, it adds a welcome fresh touch to the richness of the sauce.

Ingredients: (recipe adapted from Huisgenoot magazine, 16 April 2009)

  • 1 kg boneless chicken thighs (or breasts)
  • 45 ml grated fresh ginger
  • 5 ml salt
  • 5 ml ground turmeric (or 2,5 ml yellow food colouring)
  • 125 g butter plus 15 ml vegetable oil
  • 30 ml butter
  • 10 ml ground fennel (barishap)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  • 5 ml minced red chilli (I use John West, but you can also just cut up a fresh small red chilli, very finely chopped)
  • 100 ml raw cashew nuts, finely processed (reserve a few whole nuts for decoration, if you want to)
  • 1 can (410 ml) tomato puree (NOT tomato paste)
  • 5 cardamom pods, skins removed and seeds crushed in a pestle & mortar
  • 250 ml fresh cream (or Ideal Milk or plain yoghurt)
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh coriander leaves, to serve
  • cooked basmati rice or naan bread, to serve


  1. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and place it in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the ginger, salt and turmeric, then mix well to coat the chicken.
  3. Add the 125 ml butter and oil to a large pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the chicken and fry until it has changed colour but not cooked through all the way – about 5-7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside until later.
  4. In the same pan, add another 30 ml of butter. Add the fennel and onion, then fry over low to medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent (very important to not do this over high heat).
  5. Now add the garlic and chilli paste, and fry for 1 minute. Add the cashew nuts and tomato puree and stir well. Turn the heat up slightly and bring the mixture to the boil.
  6. Now add the chicken pieces and cardamom seeds, and lower the heat to a simmer. Add the cream, then stir through and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Season to taste with salt (if necessary) and black pepper. Remove from the heat, top with coriander leaves and serve with rice or bread.


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

Food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

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Exotic coconut curry

1 Nov

Chicken coconut curry with exotic asian vegetables

I was invited by the kind people at Crush Online Magazine to participate in a cooking challenge! This challenge involved the new Findus frozen foods range, and specifically their Wok Range. It is imported from Sweden and currently available at most Pick ‘n Pay retail stores.

I chose to cook with the Findus Wok Gold pack, which contains a mixture of very exotic Asian ingredients, like cabbage flower, water chestnut, bamboo shoots and green garlic. It also contains more well-known vegetables like carrots, sugar snap peas, onions and baby corn.

I have to say that the quality of these frozen veggies is really amazing. Even after cooking, it retains the crunch of great quality fresh vegetables.

I decided to cook the vegetables in a quick, fragrant coconut curry sauce with sliced chicken breasts, but I have also tried this recipe with prawns and it worked really well. You can also cook it with cubed fish fillets.

This is a mild curry, but add as much chilli as you like. It is a really quick, easy, fragrant meal that takes only 15 minutes to make from scratch!


  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 20 ml red curry paste
  • 15 ml crushed ginger
  • 400 ml coconut cream
  • 400 g chicken breast, sliced into thin strips
  • 450 g Findus Wok Range, Gold
  • salt to taste
  • fresh coriander leaves and sliced small tomatoes for garnish
  • cooked Thai rice, to serve with


  1. In a wok or large pan, heat oil over medium to high heat. Add curry paste and ginger, then fry for about 30 seconds.
  2. Add coconut cream, then bring to a boil. Add chicken and frozen vegetables, then bring to a simmer and simmer for 6-8 minutes with the lid closed.
  3. Remove from heat, season with salt and serve with Thai Rice, garnished with coriander leaves and sliced tomato.

Tip: You can also make your own red curry paste by grinding fresh garlic, ginger, red chillies and coriander leaves in a pestle and mortar to a paste. But using ready-made curry paste saves a lot of time for people with a busy schedule!

Please go to Crush Online’s Facebook Page and vote for my recipe!

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Roast chicken with garlic, lemon and thyme

16 Oct

Roast chicken with loads of garlic, thyme and lemon, served with green beans.

Coming from a family of 6, we rarely had whole roasts of any kind when I was a child. Chicken was served as an economical dish, braaied or baked as individual cuts in a hearty chutney sauce, or boiled and deboned and served in a creamy white sauce topped with crushed tomato flavoured potato chips (one of my favourites). Both dishes were served on rice, with accompanying veggies. My Mom did sometimes buy whole chickens, but they were always boiled in water, after which I had to debone the cooled birds for my Mother to use in one of her family feasts. I have to confess: I always ate some of the meat while deboning the chickens. I once actually ate a whole chicken on the job – I started with 2, but ended up with only one for the rest of my family. My Mom was NOT impressed!! (PS: those were the days when my teenage metabolism was still as fast as a freight train.)

The first time I ever had whole roast chicken was when I made it myself, about 12 years ago. There are few things as simple and as festive as whole roast chicken. Always use the freshest and best quality chicken you can find. If you have ever tasted real organic farm chickens, large as turkeys, with beautiful brown meat, you would understand the difference. Now, I know that it is simply not always possible to get hold of these chickens, or to afford them. So we buy the specials in the supermarkets and we make the most of them.

With this simple recipe, a cheap small supermarket chicken will taste fantastic. If you can get hold of a free range organic farm chicken, it will change into something heavenly. Buy whatever you can afford!

Ingredients: (1 medium sized chicken will serve about 4 people)

  • 1 whole chicken (cleaned and trimmed)
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 8-10 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 whole heads of garlic


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. Mix olive oil with rind and juice of the lemon. Strip the thyme leaves off half the sprigs and add to the mixture. Season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Separate cloves off one head of garlic, then slice the other head in half horizontally.
  4. Place chicken breast side up in a medium-size roasting tin. Place separated garlic cloves and sliced head of garlic next to chicken, along with the used lemon halves. Now drizzle all over with the olive oil mixture. Make sure the chicken is covered well. Place remaining thyme sprigs in chicken cavity.
  5. Place roasting tin in over, uncovered, and bake for one and a half hours, or until chicken is golden and garlic cloves are dark brown.
  6. Remove from oven, then serve on a large serving platter with blanched green beans and roast potatoes.



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

Food: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Nicola Pretorius


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Mediterranean chicken kebabs with olive marinade

28 Jun

Grilled chicken kebabs with a Mediterranean olive marinade

While the rain is keeping us all indoors here in the Western Cape during the height of Winter, I’m mostly in my kitchen preparing hearty dishes like stews and soups. But then a beautiful sunny day comes along, like today, and all I want to do is pretend that I live in the Mediterranean and eat  tapas-style food!

We’re having friends over for a braai tonight, and we’ll be having these mini chicken kebabs with a Mediterranean olive marinade for starters. I prefer to use deboned thighs for the kebabs, as the browner meat is always more tender and juicy. No-one likes a dry sosatie!

Rather make smaller bite-size kebabs for this recipe – they are easy to eat as snacks or starters and they are easier to cook through without the risk of being underdone. I serve them with Medi Deli’s Roasted Red Pepper Dip – the perfect partner for these Mediterranean flavours!

Ingredients for marinade:

  • 10 x Mediterranean Delicacies Calamata Style Olives, pitted
  • 1 t Mediterranean Delicacies Basil Pesto
  • 4 x Spicy Sweet Pickled Peppers (or peppadews)
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • 2 T (45 ml) olive oil
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Ingredients for kebabs:

  • about 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (preferably organic)
  • 10-12 thin wooden kebab sticks, sliced in half (I only use the sharp-edged halves)
  • 1 x small tub Mediterranean Delicacies Red Pepper Dip, for serving


  1. In a food processor or blender, mix all the ingredients for the marinade to a chunky paste.
  2. Cut the chicken thighs into bite-size chunks (about 2 x 2 cm) and arrange on kebab sticks, about 4-5 pieces on a stick
  3. Brush liberally with marinade, then grill on an open fire until golden and just done, or bake in a pre-heated oven at 220 C for 10 minutes on each side.
  4. Remove from fire/oven and serve immediately with Mediterranean Delicacies Roasted Red Pepper Dip.

WIN this hamper!

This post is the first in a 4-week series that I am doing in association with Mediterranean Delicacies.

WIN a fabulous Medi Deli hamper by entering their competition on Facebook! Competition closes on the 1 of July 2012. Hamper includes a gourmet pasta maker, cheese board and a selection of delicious wines and Mediterranean Delicacies’ products.

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Thai green chicken curry

22 May

Thai green chicken curry (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I grew up in a house that only knew one type of curry: mild. “Cartwrights Medium”, to be exact. My Mom used to cook fragrant chicken curries, beef curries, lamb curries, mince curries – all using that same simple spice mixture. I loved it, because it was sweet (she always added chutney to it) and very flavoursome, but I only discovered much later in life that “curry powder” is not a spice. It is actually a Western term given to a prepared mixture of spices. Dishes called “curry” usually refer to meat, fish or vegetables cooked in a gravy that are made from these spice mixtures.

The first time I ate at a proper Indian restaurant, I was literally blown away. I couldn’t believe that there were such a vast array of flavour combinations available in Indian cuisine, and that I’ve been missing out on it for most of my life! “Curry” quickly became one of my favourite foods, and I became more and more adventurous as my taste buds adjusted to the magnificent heat that sometimes came along with it. Not only did I enjoy Indian and Cape Malay curries, but also discovered the Thai version – a lighter, fresher take on what I was used to, using a paste made from fresh green chillies, fresh ginger and lots of fresh coriander. Blended with coconut milk or cream, it became one of my absolute favourite comfort-food dishes, and I now make it very regularly for my family.

You can use any kind of meat for this recipe: chicken works very well, but also try prawns, fish, or vegetables. It is excellent served on fragrant sticky Thai rice, and keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days. To entertain a large crowd, feel free to make the curry a day in advance, as the flavours tend to become even better the day after.


  • 2-3 fresh green chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 T chopped fresh ginger
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
  • 1 t (5 ml) dried fine coriander
  • 1/2 t (2.5 ml) dried fine cumin
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 T (30-45 ml) water
  • 2 T (30 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 t (5 ml) sugar
  • a few drops fish sauce
  • 1 t (5 ml) lemon/lime juice
  • salt to taste
  • fresh coriander for garnish
  • Thai rice to serve with


  1. In a food processor (or using a mortar & pestle), add chillies, ginger, garlic, dried coriander, cumin, fresh coriander and process to a paste. Add a few tablespoons of water to created a more workable consistency.
  2. In a large saucepan or wok, heat oil over high heat. Add paste all at once, frying quickly for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add coconut milk, turn heat down to medium, and bring to a simmer. Now add sliced chicken and cook in liquid for 5 minutes, covered.
  3. Add sugar, fish sauce, lemon/lime juice, and season well with salt. Simmer for another 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  4. Serve on Thai rice, and top with fresh coriander leaves.

Tip: The sauce will remain quite runny – that is how it is supposed to be. For a thicker, creamier consistency, use coconut cream.


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

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Pictures: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

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Marinated chicken with lemon, garlic, olive oil and fresh herbs

5 Mar

Poached chicken, marinated in lemon, garlic, olive oil and fresh herbs, served with bruschetta (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

One of the very hot new trends on the food scene is tapas-style eating. And may I say: it is my favourite way to feast! Sharing platters full of snacks, dips, bruschettas and bites with friends around a big table is such a fantastic way to celebrate.

This recipe for poached chicken, marinated in fresh garlic, olive oil and fresh herbs, is seriously one of the tastiest ways to eat chicken. The poached chicken becomes so soft that it almost melts in your mouth while the juicy sauces run into the crispy toasted bruschetta. And best of all: you can make it a day ahead and dish it up at room temperature when lunchtime arrives.

The recipe is an adaptation out of Ina Paarman’s book “The Good Food Cookbook”. I bought it 12 years ago while I was still studying Consumer Science in Textiles at the University of Stellenbosch. It was a cheap little book back then, but has remained one of the timeless classics in my cupboard, along with Phillippa Cheifitz’s “Lazy Days”. These books have played a big part in inspiring me to follow my passion for food and cooking.

Recipes are meant to be shared, so here’s my version of Ina’s superb marinated chicken:


  • 1 large whole free-range chicken
  • 2 large carrots, cut into thick chunks
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 litre good quality chicken stock (if you don’t have access to fresh stock, use dissolved cubes)

Ingredients for the marinade:

  • 1/2 cup great quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 big tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 big tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • juice of 1 fresh lemon
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock, reserved from the cooked chicken
  • 1 cup organic cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)


  1. Skin the raw chicken by simply pulling the skin off the body and thighs. Don’t bother too much with the wings. Place it, breast side up, in a large heavy-based saucepan with the carrots, onions, garlic and chicken stock.
  2. Cover with greaseproof paper, pushing the paper down to the level of the liquid. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, then simmer on low heat for 1 and a half hours until the chicekn is very tender and starts to come away from the bone. Remove from the heat, then turn the chicken over (breast side down) to cool in the liquid – this takes an hour or 2.
  3. In the meantime, mix the ingredients for the marinade together and leave to stand at room temperature to allow flavours to develop.
  4. When chicken has cooled, remove from pot and reserve 1 cup of stock for the sauce (keep the rest in the freezer for your next recipe). Discard the onion and carrot.
  5. Tear the meat from the bone into long strips and add the cherry tomatoes. Beat the reserved stock into the marinade, then pour over chicken and tomatoes in a porcelain dish and cover with clingfilm, pushing the clingfilm down onto the mixture to expel as much air as possible. Refrigerate overnight to let the flavours mature. Bring to room temperature before serving.
  6. Serve with toasted bruschetta and a green salad, or as part of a tapas style menu.


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

Recipe selection & development, testing and preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photographed by Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Ilse vand der Merwe and Tasha Seccombe

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Creamy chicken casserole with bacon and thyme

1 Jun

Chicken casserole with bacon and thyme

Yes, I’m still basking in the meagre winter sun! That means I’m also still dreaming of the great food that comes with cosy weather like this. This time I am going back to a very special time in my life: the first few weeks after I moved in with my boyfriend in 2002, who has since become my husband in 2004, and father of our beautiful 6 month old daughter. The years have just swooshed by… […]

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