Tag Archives: Elsebé Cronje

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

Turkish apricots with goats cheese, basil, almonds & honey

30 Mar

Soft dried apricots topped with basil goats cheese & almonds, drizzled with honey (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Soft dried apricots topped with basil goats cheese & almonds, drizzled with honey (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

In July last year with the launch of the demo KITCHEN, my wingwoman Elsebé Cronjé suggested that we make these beauties. She got the recipe via her chef friend Ruan, who saw it on the internet somewhere. When I started searching for the origin, it seemed like there were many similar recipes around with no specific credit as to who originally came up with the idea.

Needless to say, these soft apricots with goats cheese, basil, almonds & honey were such a hit that they are now one of our favourite canapés for guests. So very simple to make, but with an intriguing combination of sweet & savoury flavour tones and beautiful textures of soft, crunchy and creamy.

Be sure to buy soft Turkish dried apricots (they are imported by the team of Cecilia’s Farm and also available from Woolworths) and not the hard ones. This is a total must for festive entertaining, anytime of the year.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g plain goats cheese (log of chevin)
  • 250 g plain cream cheese
  • a large handful of fresh basil leaves (about 20g)
  • 250 g soft dried Turkish apricots
  • 100 g raw almonds, lightly toasted in a dry pan
  • 1/4 honey

Method:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the goats cheese and cream cheese with a wooden spoon or electric beaters until well combined.
  2. Wash and dry the basil leaves, then chop finely and add to the cheese. Mix through.
  3. With a small spatula or knife, smear each dried apricot with a good dollop of the cheese.
  4. Roughly chop the almonds and scatter over the apricot canapes.
  5. Liberally drizzle with honey and serve.

Credits:

Text: Ilse van der Merwe

Food preparation & assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

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

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.

Pan con tomate

6 Jan

Pan con tomate: toasted bread with freshly grated tomato and garlic (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Pan con tomate: toasted bread with freshly grated tomato and garlic (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Here at the demo KITCHEN we’ve done quite a few Spanish-themed dinners over the last few weeks. The three course dinners consisted of some of my favourite traditional Spanish dishes: pan con tomate (toasted bread with fresh garlic & fresh tomato), paella with chicken & black mussels, and spiced chocolate churros.

I want to share two of these recipes with you, starting with pan con tomate (next time we’ll get to the churros). This is one of those dishes that is deeply satisfying because of its simplicity, but only if you choose the ingredients well. Buy great quality bread (or bake your own), choose only the ripest reddest firm tomatoes, use a robust extra virgin olive oil, and eat it as fresh as possible.

Although the original way to eat pan con tomate says that you need to rub a tomato half straight onto the toasted bread, I find that it can be a messy affair and not everybody likes to get their hands dirty. Use a course grater to grate the tomato from the cut side, so that you are left with the skins.

This is a fantastic start to a lazy summer lunch or dinner. Add beautiful shavings of ham, stuffed olives and cheese, and you have a perfect simple tapas spread.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 4 x panini sticks, sliced horizontally in half (small baguettes, or just use normal baguettes)
  • cold pressed extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • 2 garlic cloves, skins removed
  • 1 -2 large ripe tomatoes, halved and coarsely grated from the inside out (discard the skins)
  • salt flakes & cracked black pepper

Method:

  1. Toast the bread cut-side down in a hot griddle pan or over an open fire. Remove from heat and quickly drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Now use a clove of garlic to rub onto the bread, all over the surface.
  3. Top with freshly grated tomato, then season well with salt & pepper. Enjoy immediately.

Credits:

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

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

Retro trout mousse

5 Jan

Light and creamy trout mousse with cucumber "scales" (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Light and creamy trout mousse with cucumber “scales” (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A few years ago I came across a Church bazaar in Stellenbosch that specializes in selling used goods, almost like a “white elephant” table or a car boot sale. Many of the vendors had kitchenware at their stalls. I was amazed at this treasure cove filled with stuff that I could use for food styling and photography, but also for cooking.

It was a total blast from the past. I bought many different items, including a 60 year-old meat carving set with wooden handles (from an 82 year-old lady that got it as a wedding present back then), a crate filled with vintage Consol and Ball jars dating from the 1950’s (perfect condition), a 1970’s mandolin cutter (that would later chop off the tip of my finger) and a beautiful copper fish mould that looked like it had never been used.

I’ve used the copper mould a few times and absolutely fell in love with the retro-ness of it. I had a recipe for a salmon mousse that I adapted for using with fresh trout. After turning out the mousse on a plate, Tasha broke the news to me that she thought it was way too ugly and that we needed to make it look prettier (the mousse lost the scale patterns on the surface because I had to dip the mould in warm water from the outside to turn it out successfully). I then sliced some fresh cucumber with my mandolin cutter like they did back in the heydays of moulded fish dishes, and the result was quite astonishing to all of us. Totally retro, totally fabulous.

This is a great way of stretching one trout fillet into a crowd-pleasing starter. It is light and creamy and perfect for summer entertaining. Enjoy.

Ingredients:

  •  one fresh trout fillet, about 350g
  • 1 cup water
  • 20 ml (4 teaspoons) powdered gelatine
  • 1/2 cup cooled chicken stock
  • juice of a small lemon
  • a large handful of chives/dill/parsley, chopped
  • 250 g plain cream cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 cup cream, whipped
  • thin cucumber slices and green leaves/microherbs, to serve

Method:

  1. Place the trout fillet and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Close the lid and simmer for about 8 minutes until the trout is just cooked. Remove the fish from the water and leave to cool slightly, the remove the skin and bones and flake the meat.
  2. In a cup, mix the gelatine and chicken stock, then leave to sponge for 10 minutes. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat while stirring to melt the gelatine without boiling. When melted, remove from the heat to cool slightly.
  3. In the bowl of your food processor, add the flaked fish, cooled gelatine mixture, lemon juice, herbs and cream cheese. Process to a smooth pulp, then season generously with salt & pepper.
  4. Now add this mixture to the whipped cream and fold in gently to mix thoroughly. Transfer the mixture to your fish mould (sprayed with a non-stick spray), then cover with plastic wrap and leave to set in the refrigerator for 3-6 hours.
  5. To unmould, dip the mould on the outside in hot water for about 3 seconds, then carefully turn out on a large plate. Decorate with cucumber slices and greenery, then serve with crackers.
Trout mousse on melba toast (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Trout mousse on melba toast (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Credits:

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

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Ilse van der Merwe & Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

Baked fish with harissa

12 Nov

Baked hake with harissa on caulirice (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Baked hake with harissa on caulirice (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

This whole food revolution (banting diet, paleo, whatever you want to call it) hasn’t exactly caught my attention. Maybe it’s because I’m a sugar loving pastry addict, to be honest.

To me, healthy eating involves balance and care when it comes to choosing ingredients. I don’t eat salad all day, but I also don’t cook with over-processed goods. Still, I do admire the fact that butter, cream and bacon fat has become such popular items in househoulds all over the world. Those three have been on my list of favourites for years.

I bought Tim Noakes’s book a few months ago, and to my surprise I was delighted by the content. The recipes were simple, full of flavour and very much the stuff that I love to cook at home. Of course some ingredients were slightly different (like the wheat flour substitutes), but the dishes were beautifully photographed, had great variety and looked delicious.

At The Demo Kitchen people often ask me for low-carb menus, so I was forced to start paying attention. This recipe is inspired by Dr Noaks’s book – fresh hake fillets baked in a spicy tomato sauce that include home-made harissa paste. The harissa keeps for weeks in the fridge and is great on almost anything. I especially also tried his cauli-rice, as so many of my friends love eating it.

This is a great, flavourful dish for anyone – banter or non-banter. Serve with couscous or rice if you don’t like cauliflower.

Harissa paste (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Harissa paste (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients for harissa paste:

  • 40g dried smoked red chillies, soaked in 125 ml boiling water for 10 minutes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 15 ml ground coriander
  • 15 ml ground cumin
  • 15 ml fennel seeds
  • 2,5 ml salt
  • 60 ml olive oil

Method:

In a small food processor bowl, process all the ingredients together to get a slightly chunky paste. Place in a glass jar, cover with a little extra olive oil, then cover and refrigerate until needed. Will keep for at least 2 weeks in the fridge.

Ingredients for spicy tomato sauce:

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2,5 ml) cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) smoked paprika
  • 2 cans whole tomatoes, diced, or processed to a pulp
  • 2 tablespoons (60 ml) harissa paste
  • rind of a small lemon, finely grated
  • salt & pepper

Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and butter, then fry onions over medium heat until soft.
  2. Add garlic and fry for a minute. Now add spices and fry for another minute.
  3. Add tomatoes and harissa paste, then bring to a slow simmer and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add lemon rind and season to taste with salt & pepper. Set aside.

For the baked hake:

  • 1.5 kg white fish fillets, portioned into individual pieces
  • 1 batch spicy tomato sauce (see above)
  • fresh coriander leaves, to serve
  • cauli-rice or cous-cous or rice, to serve (optional)

Method:

  1. Grease or line a large baking tray, then lay the fish portions out without them touching one another. Cover with a generous layer of sauce, then baking at 200 C for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness and size of the fish. Do not overbake.
  2. Serve hot topped with fresh coriander leaves.
Hake fillets with a spicy tomato sauce, ready to to into the oven (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Hake fillets with a spicy tomato sauce, ready to to into the oven (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Credits:

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

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronje

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

 

Baked caramel cookie sandwiches (alfajores)

27 Oct

Butter biscuits with baked caramel (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Butter biscuits with baked caramel (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

The South Americans have a dessert called “alfajores” – crumbly biscuits sandwiched together with thick and creamy caramel. A few years ago, I tasted this for the first time in a Peruvian retaurant in Cape Town. It was absolutely heavenly.

Thanks to my Donna Hay fixation, I recently came across her recipe for homemade dulche de leche. In South Africa, we know it as “caramel treat”, or boiled condensed milk. Donna bakes her condensed milk in the oven, then whisks the mixture afterwards to form a delicious and beautiful caramel that is even tastier than the boiled version. We made easy butter cookies to use as sandwiches, and the result was totally out of the world.

This is a great dessert for your summer braai this season. Make the cookies and the caramel a few hours ahead, then just quickly assemble when it’s time for the sweet stuff. Even the most hardened braai kings will weep for this one, trust me.

Ingredients for the caramel: (makes 2 cups)

  • 2 x cans condensed milk  (about 400g each)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  2. Place the condensed milk in an ovenproof baking dish and cover tightly with aluminium foil. Place the baking dish in a larger deep-sided baking tray and fill with boiling water until it reaches ²⁄³ of the way up the sides of the dish. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes or until caramel in colour.
  3. Spoon the caramel into a bowl and whisk until smooth. Spoon into sterilized glass jars and cover with lids. Keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Ingredients for butter cookies:

  • 250 g butter, cubed
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup corn flour (corn starch / Maizena)
  • 5 ml vanilla essense
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons cold water

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients except water in a food processor. Process until it forms “crumbs”.
  2. Add the water a little at a time until the mixtures just comes together in a ball. Remove from the processor.
  3. Divide into 4, then roll out each part between 2 grease proof baking sheets to prevent it from sticking. Roll out to a thickness of about 5mm, then remove top layer of baking paper and cut into rounds.
  4. Place rounds on a lined baking tray, then bake for about 12 minutes at 180 C until just lightly straw coloured, not too dark. Remove and cool on a rack.
  5. When completely cool, sandwich together with the caramel.

Credits:

Text: Ilse van der Merwe

Recipe for baked caramel: Donna Hay

Recipe for butter cookies: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant & food preparation: Elsebé Cronjé

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

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.

Croque madame

29 Aug

Croque madame (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Croque madame (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

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

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

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

Ingredients for the Gruyere sauce: (serves 2)

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

Method:

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

Ingredients for the croque madame: (serves 2)

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

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

Credits:

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

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant: Elsebé Cronje

Photography: Tasha Seccombe


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