Tag Archives: dessert

(review) Lunch and dinner at Stellenbosch Kitchen

16 May

The entrance to Stellenbosch Kitchen on Andringa Street, early evening.

This year, I’ll be celebrating my 40th year in Stellenbosch. A year ago we made a move from the outskirts of town to the beautiful bustling historical centre. While we gave up a chunk of living space (in size) in the process, we gained the incredible European-like lifestyle of locking up our apartment and walking a short distance to the best coffee shops and restaurants the Winelands has to offer.

Dorp Street and Church Street is where it’s at: the centre of my beautiful town when it comes to tourism, social hotspots, food and wine. Right in the middle of it all is Stellenbosch Hotel and its recently renovated restaurant Stellenbosch Kitchen – pretty much back to back with its sister-hotel Coopmanhuijs Hotel & Spa featuring Helena’s Restaurant. I recently had the opportunity to visit Stellenbosch Kitchen for dinner and lunch respectively, and would love to share my experiences with you.

The landmark veranda of Stellenbosch Kitchen on Andringa Street, early evening, just before the arrival of dinner guests.

Stellenbosch Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in town, built on Simon van der Stel’s property (a grant) between 1692 and 1701. It has since been restored in 1987 and declared a national monument. After the refurbishment in 2016, the name Jan Cats Restaurant was replaced by Stellenbosch Kitchen, featuring an eclectic yet contemporary spin on the existing historical eatery.

The space that is now called Stellenbosch Kitchen has forever been a local hotspot to both students, the mid-town working crowd and the wealthy. Their bistro-style fare has been a favourite for decades, being enjoyed on the tree-rich veranda that envelopes their landmark corner on Dorp and Andringa streets.

Here are my lunch and dinner experiences in pictures.

One of the massive old oak trees that surround Stellenbosch Hotel.

Our 18h00 arrival at Stellenbosch Kitchen meets a neatly prepped restaurant space.

Chef at work – the service hatch at Stellenbosch Kitchen.

Bread board with red wine butter and hummus. All bread baked in-house.

The dinner menu at Stellenbosch Kitchen. This menu changes seasonally.

An exceptional wine list is one of the attractions at Stellenbosch Kitchen. Here we’re enjoying Adi Badenhorst’s Secateurs Shiraz.

Potato gnocchi, butternut, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, goat’s milk feta, basil pesto. Beautifully cooked gnocchi with a mixture of very punchy ingredients.

Pan-seared line fish, fennel velouté, prawn barley risotto, grilled prawn, red pepper fondue. Perfectly cooked line fish, and I really enjoyed the texture of the barley risotto.

Ale-battered hake, hand-cut potato chips, sauce tartare, charred lemon, mushy peas. A stunning dish, yet so simple. Perfect tartare, fluffy hake, super crunchy chips – what more do you want?

Fondant of black cherry and Valrhona chocolate, Bulgarian yoghurt ice cream. Excellent texture and an interesting spin on the classic fondant – maybe a little too bitter and sour for my personal preference. Beautiful plating and delicious ice cream.

Our second visit was an early lunch at 11h30 – also much better lighting by day for my camera!

A buttery yellow glass of Jordan Chardonnay for me.

Roasted rack of Karoo Lamb, carrot purée, spiced pear chutney, polenta, fine beans. This dish is from the dinner menu, but was made for us on special request over lunch. It is one of the most popular dishes on the menu and well worth ordering (for dinner).

Osso bucco with risotto milanese. This dish certainly won’t win any prizes for plating, but it is hearty and moorish and hits all the right spots for comforting winter fare.

Apple and almond tart, vanilla bean ice cream, ginger crumble, crème anglaise – definitely my favourite dessert on the menu. They should serve this delicious pastry for breakfast too!

Coconut panna cotta, compressed pineapple, mango caviar, passion fruit mushrooms.

Stellenbosch Kitchen is well worth a regular visit, whether for a mid-week lunch, a lazy weekend dinner, or a special occasion with friends from abroad.

Thank you to the staff and management of Stellenbosch Kitchen for hosting us. We’ll certainly be back for more.

Make your booking:

Tel: +27 (0)21 883-2893
Address: Corner of Dorp & Andringa Streets, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa

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

3 May

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

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

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

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

Buon appetito!

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

Ultimate caprese salad (serves 8)

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

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

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

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

Triple cheese beef lasagne (serves 8)

For the beef Bolognese sauce:

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

For the white sauce (béchamel):

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

For assembling:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Individual tiramisu cups: (serves 8)

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

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

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

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

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Caramel, pear & pecan lattice pie

18 Mar

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

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

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

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

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

Choose firm pears for baking (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

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

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

Ingredients: (makes one medium size pie)

For the pastry:

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

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

For the caramel sauce:

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

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

Assembling the tart:

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

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

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

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

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Blueberry and almond crostata

22 Dec

Crumbly, gooey blueberry & almond crostata (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A few years ago I posted this recipe for a peach galette. By the way, the French call it a galette, the Italians call it a crostata. Now that I’ve given all the credit to the French previously, I suppose it’s time to give the Italians a turn.

Since the first time that I made this rustic free-form tart, it has become my secret weapon. I’ve made it numerous times with cling peaches, sometimes with nectarines and once with plums. Every single time the result has been magnificent: buttery, flaky pastry enveloping an oozing almond paste centre along with slightly tart and soft fruit on top. It’s a revelation to many who taste it the first time. The simplicity and intensity of it all is just superb. And can you imagine adding a dollop of creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream? The stuff dreams are made of, literally.

Almond paste: (enough for at least 2 crostatas)

  • 100 g (250 ml) ground almonds
  • 250 ml icing sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon almond essence
  • 1 egg white, lightly whisked

Pastry: (makes 2 medium size crostatas)

(Recipe for pastry by Ina Garten)

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 250 g cold butter, diced
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) ice cold water

Filling: (enough for 2 crostatas)

  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • about 1,5 cups fresh blueberries – or use any other seasonal fruit except strawberries and bananas

Method:

For the almond paste: Place all the ingredients except the egg white in a food processor. Add half the egg white and process until it comes together into a ball (add more egg white until you get to the desired consistency, add more icing sugar if your mixture is too sticky). Remove from the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 3 hours. It won’t ever freeze solid because of the sugar content, but it is much easier to handle when it is hard enough to grate.

For the pastry: Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add the icy water all at once while the motor is running. As soon as the dough starts to come together, remove it from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Press into a disk shape, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

To assemble: Pre-heat oven to 220 C. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of about 5 mm. Transfer carefully onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush the top of the pastry with egg, leaving a 3cm border around the edges. Coarsely grate the frozen almond paste all over the brushed egg pastry surface, then cover with blueberries. Fold the edges over carefully, keeping the look of the edges rustic. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack before serving with vanilla ice cream (serve hot or at room temperature).

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Raspberry Swirl Frozen Cheesecake

4 Nov

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

You might have noticed some brand changes going on with Simonsberg cheese: they’re becoming Président. You’d be happy to know that it’s still the same fantastic products with the same taste inside the packaging.

I recently had the privilege of dreaming up a new recipe with one of the cheeses in the President range. I chose their iconic plain cream cheese (preservative free), because I just love the texture and taste – wonderful in desserts, especially. Dishing up beautiful, creamy, swirly frozen desserts for the upcoming festive season is always a crowd pleaser. Without the trouble of making real ice cream or working with expensive churners, this velvety frozen cheesecake with raspberry jam swirls is easy to whip up, delicious to eat and delivers big on the wow factor.

Top with fresh raspberries and chopped nuts for a show-stopping dessert.

Top with fresh raspberries and chopped nuts for a show-stopping dessert (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Make it in a regular loaf tin brushed with vegetable oil and lined with plastic wrap. A layer of wafer biscuits complete the “ice cream cake” feel and keeps the cake from melting too quickly when you turn it out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (strained)
  • 2 x 230 g tubs Président cream cheese, plain
  • 250 ml Parmalat fresh cream
  • 1/2 cup good quality raspberry jam
  • about 8 wafer biscuits
  • fresh raspberries and chopped nuts, to serve

Method:

  1. Prepare a medium size loaf tin: brush the insides with vegetable oil and line with plastic wrap.
  2. Pour the condensed milk and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Mix with electric beaters until thick and smooth.
  3. Add the cream cheese and mix until smooth.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the cream until just stiff (don’t overmix). Fold the cream into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. Stir the jam well to make it a little runny. Swirl a few teaspoons full of jam on the bottom of the prepared tin, then top with one third of the cheesecake mixture. Repeat with more jam, more mixture, more jam and the last of the mixture.
  6. Arrange the wafer biscuits on top in a neat layer. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
  7. To turn out, remove the top plastic wrap layer, then open up the plastic on the sides. Turn over on a serving plate/board, then tug gently on the plastic to release the cake from the tin. Remove the tin and the plastic and serve in slices with fresh berries and chopped nuts of your choice.

Note: I prefer serving this frozen cheesecake after leaving it on the counter for about 15 minutes to soften slightly.

Président cheese products

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

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Muscovado chocolate truffles

11 Aug

Muscovado chocolate truffles, meltingly soft, slightly bitter and super decadent (photography by Tasha Seccombe).

Muscovado chocolate truffles, meltingly soft, slightly bitter and super decadent (photography by Tasha Seccombe).

This deceptively simple recipe is not for the faint hearted. You think you might know and love a traditional chocolate truffle? Well, this one takes it to another level of decadence.

My previous assistant at the demo KITCHEN, Elsebé Cronjé, shared my passion for beautiful recipes, pictures and food. She often brought new ideas to the table for upcoming menus and shoots, and this recipe is from one of her books: Adventures with Chocolate by Paul A. Young. It’s a dark chocolate truffle that is made with muscovado sugar. The recipe calls for the muscovado to be melted with fresh cream in a saucepan, forming a rich caramel sauce which is then added to chopped dark chocolate.  It is then stirred to create a smooth dark caramel chocolate ganache. Once cooled, you can roll your truffles and coat them in cocoa powder.

Caramel and melted chocolate, rolled into bite-size balls. Need I say more? I think not.

 Ingredients: (recipe by Paul A. Young from Adventures with Chocolate)

  • 100 g muscovado sugar
  • a pinch of salt flakes
  • 250 ml double cream
  • 250 g finest dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Method:

  1. Add the sugar, salt & cream to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer, stirring. When the sugar has melted, remove from the heat.
  2. Add the broken chocolate pieces to a small mixing bowl, then pour the warm cream mixture over it and stir until smooth and glossy and melted. Leave to cool, then refrigerate to set.
  3. Using a teaspoon, scoop some of the mixture and roll quickly into balls. Then cover in cocoa powder and set aside.
  4. Store in the refrigerator, but enjoy at room temperature.

Credits:

This post was written by Ilse van der Merwe for The Pretty Blog.

Text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

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Roasted plum tart

2 Apr

Roasted plums on a creamy zesty filling inside a baked pastry shell (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Roasted plums on a creamy zesty filling inside a baked pastry shell (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

There is nothing more beautiful than a perfectly ripe plum, its silky matt skin dark and red and tender. Inside, the flesh reveals a golden, juicy, tart, fibrous treasure. I could stare at plums for hours – such astonishingly pretty fruit.

This simple tart is easy to make and – with its rustic charm – a dream to look at. The roasted fruit needs some time to cool, so don’t be rushed.

Note: This tart also looks beautiful when assembled in smaller jars. Just substitute the baked pastry for buttery cookie crumbs (200g digestive or tennis biscuits mixed with 80 g melted butter). Just spoon the crumbs into individual 250 ml capacity jars without compressing it. Top with the creamy filling & roasted plums, then refrigerate. Mobile desserts fit for a royal picnic.

For the pastry:

  • 1 ½ cups (250g) cake flour
  • 125g cold butter, chopped in cubes
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon iced water

For the roasted plums:

  • 1 kg ripe, firm plums (halved, pits removed)
  • ¼ cup soft brown sugar
  • juice of 1 orange

For the filling:

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 250 g plain cream cheese

To make the pastry: Place the flour, butter & sugar in a food processor. Pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the yolk and pulse again. Now add the iced water and process until it starts to come together in a ball. As soon as it does, remove from the processor, then knead briefly to form a smooth ball. Shape into a disc, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface (about 0,5 cm thick). Transfer to a greased tart tin (about 20-23 cm diameter), then press gently into the corners and trim the top. Line with baking paper, then fill with dry beans or rice. Pre-heat oven to 200 C, then bake for 15 minutes. Remove paper and beans, then bake for another 5-10 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and leave to cool.

To make the roasted plums: Place halved plums on a baking tray (alternate cut-side up and down), then sprinkle with sugar & drizzle with orange juice. Bake at 200 C for 15-20 minutes, then remove and leave to cool. Note: you want the plums to be tender, but not too soft – they must still be in tact.

To make the filling: Using electric beaters, beat the condensed milk with the lemon juice until smooth. Add the cream cheese, then beat until well mixed. Pour into the prepared cooled pastry case, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. When ready to serve, top with cooled roasted plums, then slice and serve.

Note: This assembled tart can be refrigerated and enjoyed within 2 days. The pastry will however be best served on the first day.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog.

Text & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

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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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Chocolate churros

16 Feb

Mexican-style churros with a spiced chocolate sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Mexican-style churros with a spiced chocolate sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

If you love Spanish or Mexican food, then you probably already know churros. These deep-fried crunchy treats dipped in spiced chocolate sauce are the naughtiest but best way to end a Spanish feast.

I’ve experimented quite a bit with the consistency of the churro dough. With less water, you’ll get a result that holds shape better and can be piped in longer beautiful star-shaped fingers (with a star nozzle). They are crunchy with a small chewy center. With a little more water, the result is less beautiful to look at (slightly shapeless balls), but the texture resembles French canelés – very moist and chewy.

For the photoshoot, we made the churros with a little more water to show you the result. All of us preferred the “ugly” churros to the beautiful ones, but the choice is yours. Same fantastic taste, slightly different texture.

Ingredients for churro dough:

  • 2 cups (250 g) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 200-350 ml boiling water
  • 50 g melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla essence / extract
  • cinnamon sugar for dusting (mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  • about 750 ml canola oil for frying

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 250 g dark chocolate
  • 250 ml fresh cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Method:

  1. For the sauce: Heat the cream over the stovetop in a small saucepan. Cut the chocolate into smaller chunks, then add it with the spices to the cream as soon as it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat immediately and stir for a while until the chocolate has melted completely and you have a smooth sauce. Set aside.
  2. For the churros: Combine dry ingredients for churro dough in a medium sized bowl. Mix all wet ingredients and add it to the dry, mixing well until all is combined. Add more water if necessary to create the desired consistency – the mixture should be able to just hold shape.
  3. Put the dough in a piping bag fitted with star nozzle, then let it rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy based pot to about 180 C, then pipe the churro dough into the oil (about 10 cm long). Fry until golden on both sides, turning them with two forks. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then serve with warm chocolate sauce.

Credits:

Recipe, text & food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe of The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

Black buffet casserole: Courtesy of Le Creuset South Africa.

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Preserved quinces in vanilla syrup

5 Oct

Preserved quinces in syrup (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

While many South African cooks and food writers often reminisce about their childhoods filled with quince memories, I only discovered these strange fruit in my adult years. At a friend’s mom’s house, she treated us to her very own preserved quinces with a swirl of canned evaporated milk. It was simply delicious.

Eighteen months ago, I read up on membrillo – a preserved fruit “cheese” made from cooked quince paste. I stored the paste in wax paper and have been maturing it since in a cool dark place in my garage, sampling the batch as it got older. Membrillo is a unique product – a thick, almost spreadable paste that can be cut with a sharp knife and enjoyed as a preserve with cheeses.

A few weeks ago, I found another tray of perfectly yellow and unblemished seasonal quinces at my local farm stall. Although quinces are a prize ingredient, they are very tough to work with. After skinning and coring them, my hands were ruined by their harsh, dry flesh (I would recommend wearing kitchen gloves if you have sensitive hands). Still, it’s such a satisfying process to see how these hard, almost inedible raw fruit can be transformed into something so delicate in flavour, colour and texture.

They are fantastic enjoyed as a dessert straight from the jar with a scoop of ice cream or cream, but they are also great to cook with (especially in venison roasts).

Ingredients:

  •  about 16 large quinces (not too ripe)
  • water for soaking
  • a squirt of lemon juice
  • 6 cups water
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 2 vanilla pods, sliced open lengthways, seeds removed and set aside
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Method:

  1. Peel and core the quinces, then place them immediately as you go into a large mixing bowl filled with water and a squirt of lemon juice. This will prevent them for discolouring while you work.
  2. In a large stock pot, place the water, sugar, vanilla pods, vanilla seeds and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Drain the water off the quinces, then add the fruit pieces to the hot syrup (do this in batched in order to prevent crowding). Poach each batch for 15 minutes or until tender (depending on the size of your fruit pieces), then remove with a slotted spoon.
  4. Pack the warm cooked fruit tightly into sterilized glass jars, then fill up with hot syrup to cover the fruit. Cover with sterilized heat proof lids.
  5. Rinse the stock pot used for the syrup, then fill it half-way with warm water and bring to the boil (we are creating a water bath). Using tongs, place a cotton dish cloth at the bottom of the pot, then place the filled closed fruit jars on top of the cloth (to prevent the glass from touching the bottom of the pot). The water should just cover the glass jars. Bring to a slow simmer, then cook for 25 minutes.
  6. Carefully remove the jars from the boiling water, then set them aside to cool to room temperature. If sealed correctly, the jars will last in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.
Quinces change colour from white to a delicate pastel coral after being cooked. (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Quinces change colour from white to a delicate pastel coral after being cooked. (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Credits:

Recipe, text & food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

As seen on The Pretty Blog.

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