Tag Archives: lemon

Grilled lamb skewers with lemon, honey & mustard

8 Dec

Grilled lamb sosaties with Dijon & wholegrain mustard, honey, fresh lemon juice & rind, and garlic. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

As we are enterting festive season, most of us would just want to light a fire and spend some time outdoors with the promising smell of something amazing on the hot coals. These lamb sosaties are easy to braai and really deliver on the flavour factor – sweet and tangy honey mustard with fresh lemons and garlic.

The marinade will also work well on lamb/mutton chops, or even on chicken. Enjoy the start of your holiday (if you’re lucky enough to have some time off), put your feet up and exhale!

Ingredients: (serves 6)

1,2-1,5 kg boneless leg of lamb
juice and finely grated rind of 2 small lemons
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) honey
2 tablespoons (30 ml) wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Dijon mustard
salt & pepper

Method:

Cut the lamb into bitesize cubes of about 2,5 x 2,5 cm and set aside.
Make the marinade: In a deep glass bowl of about 1,5 liter capacity, add the juice and rind of the lemons, the garlic, olive oil, honey, mustards and season with salt & pepper. Mix well, then add the meat cubes and stir to coat.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid, and marinate for 1-3 hours in the refrigerator.
Remove the meat from the fridge and skewer the blocks on sosatie sticks to make 6 or more skewers. Braai over hot coals until charred on the outside and slightly pink on the inside. Serve hot with more lemon wedges, and a side salad or braai broodjie.

Another festive collaboration with SA Lamb & Mutton.

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Greek-style 8 hour leg of lamb with lemon & origanum

29 Mar

The most lemony leg of lamb, slow braised for 8 hours, Greek-style. (Photography & co-styling by Tasha Seccombe. Food preparation and co-styling by Ilse van der Merwe.)

 

Easter weekend is here and many of us are getting ready to feast generously with friends and family. To me, entertaining a crowd is all about fuss-free choices so that you can cut back on the stress of catering and actually enjoy the feast as much as everyone else.

One of my choices for a low effort / big result showstopping roast is this Greek-style lemony leg of lamb. In Greek cooking, simplicity reigns supreme. There are very few ingredients in this recipe, making sure the flavour of the meat remains the most important: only lemon, dried origanum, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a touch of water. The meat releases so much of its own juices, so you actually braise the meat and potatoes slowly in a lemony lamb broth. The result is just magnificent, because although the meat falls apart completely, it is still pink in colour and super juicy.

Use leftovers to make the most incredible lemony lamb sandwiches the next day. A generous dollop of tzatziki won’t hurt either.

Happy Easter everybody!

Note: Remember to start this dish very early in the morning if you’re having it for lunch, or late morning if you’re having it for dinner. You can even cook it overnight (without the potatoes) and reheat before serving.

Ingredients: (serves 6-8)

  • 2-2,5 kg leg of lamb (ask your butcher to hack the shank bone so it will be able to bend and fit in your tray)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 4-6 lemons)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 15 ml dried origanum
  • 10 ml salt
  • 5 ml ground black pepper
  • about 1,5 kg small-medium potatoes, peeled (and halved, if big)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 120 C.
  2. Place the leg of lamb in a large non-corrosive (stainless steel or ceramic) deep roasting tray, fat side up. Pour over the lemon juice, water and olive oil, then sprinkle all over with origanum. Season generously with salt & pepper. (I like to also add some of the juiced lemon halves to the tray, but it is optional.)
  3. Cover with a layer of non-stick baking paper, tucking the sides in around the leg. Cover tightly with 2 layers of foil. Place in the oven and roast for 4 hours at 120 C, then add the potatoes and return to the oven for 4 more hours.
  4. Remove the foil and baking paper. Crank the heat up to 220 C, then roast uncovered for 15 minutes.
  5. To serve, press the meat here and there to gently fall apart and suck up more of the lemony broth. Serve with the potatoes, a Greek salad, perhaps some tzatziki and optionally some toasted pita bread to soak up the runny juices.

This recipe is part of a Mediterranean-inspired series for Lamb & Mutton South Africa. To learn more about South African lamb and mutton and to find more recipes, go to www.cookingwithlamb.co.za.

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Gin soaked cupcakes with green olives, lemon & poppy seeds

18 May

This is practically an edible cocktail: gin soaked cupcake with green olives, lemon and poppy seeds. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Enjoying a cocktail in an edible format is strangely satisfying, especially if it is a contrasting treat like a cupcake. Boozy cupcakes? Yes please!

These almost-martini cupcakes are super moist and absolutely delicious – the green olives leaning a surprisingly pleasant savoury element – soaked with a gin & lemon syrup right after baking. An ultra smooth not-too-sweet cream cheese icing (with a splash of gin, of course) rounds these grown-up treats off. They’re easy to make, they’re not too frilly or fussy, and they taste fantastic with just the right amount of “kick”.

Add these to your repertoire for the next party – any gin & tonic or martini lover will certainly come looking for more!

This recipe was created in association with New Harbour Distillery‘s Spekboom Gin & Buffet OlivesQueen Green Olives.

Perfect for a grown-up party! Made with New Harbour Distillery Spekboom Gin and Buffet Olives Queen Green. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

For the batter:

12 queen green olives, pips removed (I used Buffet Olives Queen Green)
finely grated rind of a lemon
15 ml poppy seeds (plus extra for sprinkling over the icing)
125 g cake flour
125 g sugar
125 g soft butter
5 ml baking powder
2,5 ml baking soda
2 XL eggs
30 ml milk

Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with baking paper or cupcake liners. Place all of the ingredients except for the milk in a food processor and process for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides, then process again, adding the milk as it mixes. Process until very smooth, then divide the mixture between the 12 cupcake moulds. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the syrup:

125 ml (1/2 cup) gin (I used New Harbour Spekboom Gin)
125 ml (1/2 cup) lemon juice
250 ml (1 cup) sugar

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan, then bring to a simmer. Stir until the sugar has just melted, then remove from the heat. When the cupcakes are ready, poke a few holes in each one with a sosatie stick. Spoon a tablespoon of syrup (15 ml) over each cupcake, then repeat with a second round, giving the syrup some time to get absorbed. Let the cupcakes cool completely before icing.

For the icing:

250 g plain cream cheese, at room temperature
125 ml (1/2 cup) icing sugar, sifted
15 ml gin (I used New Harbour Spekboom Gin)

Use electrical beaters (or a wooden spoon and some elbow grease) to beat the cream cheese, icing sugar, and gin together in a mixing bowl until smooth and fluffy. Top each cooled cupcake with a generous dollop – I use the back of a teaspoon, but you can also use a piping bag.

To serve: Sprinkle with some poppy seeds, then garnish with cocktail sticks skewered with slices of lemon & green olives.

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Lentil salad with roasted vegetables, lemon & goats cheese

20 Mar

An earthy salad of lentils, roasted seasonal veggies, chunks of creamy goats cheese, lemon rind and parsley (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

When I heard the word “lentils” when I was in my twenties, I immediately associated it with people who go over-the-top on health foods. Lentils sounded boring, brown and tasteless. My mother never cooked it for us as kids, so I had no frame of reference in terms of moorish lentil dishes at all. I saw lentils only as a poor substitute for meat – like a lentil patty on a burger bun. How horrible.

Then I discovered dhal – an Indian lentil side dish with as much flavour as the best meat curry that you’ll ever have (if it’s proper dhal). Glorious dhal, with a side of naan bread and lots of extra coriander leaves. It’s a close contender for my “last meal” choice – after my first choice of fresh ciabatta with extra virgin olive oil and a nugget of extra mature gouda.

So then I began experimenting with lentil soup, lentil bobotie en even lentil salad. As Autumn settled into Stellenbosch with its magnificently milder days and cooler nights, I longed for food that is more nourishing than a crisp, leafy salad. That is how my earthy lentil salad was born.

I absolutely love roasted vegetables (above steamed, boiled or fried). Together, the lentils and the veg and the goats cheese make for a super satisfying, wholesome and nourishing meal. Add glugs of extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste and serve with toasted pine nuts – the perfect meatless Monday dish or the perfect side dish to your larger feast. It’s going to be on my go-to list all Autumn and Winter long.

Note: Always remember that vegetables will shrink in the oven when roasted. Start with more than you think you’ll need.

For the lentils: (serves 4 as a main meal)

  • 250 g brown lentils (half a packet)
  • water, to cover
  • 45 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • juice and finely grated rind of a medium lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • a handful parsley, chopped

Method: Place lentils in a large pot and cover with cold water (about 5 cm above the lentils). Cook for about 30 minutes until tender, then drain and rinse well. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, then add the olive oil, lemon juice & rind and season generously with salt & pepper. Add the parsley and stir well.

For the roasted vegetables:

  • an assortment of your favourite vegetables, peeled and cut into bite size chunks (I’ve used beetroot, carrots, brussels sprout and leeks – enough to fill a standard roasting tray in a single layer)
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Method: Roast at 220 C for 30 minutes or until golden brown and tender.

To assemble:

  • 100g plain goats cheese (chevin)
  • a handful of pine nuts, toasted
  • more parsley to scatter over

Method: Add the roasted veg to the cooked lentils, add chunks of goats cheese, then scatter with more parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Smoked trout terrine

11 Aug

A beautifully laid-back yet elegant starter for your special occasion (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A beautifully laid-back yet elegant starter for your special occasion (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

There’s just something about a beautiful terrine that looks like it’s time to celebrate. This festive loaf is lined with smoked trout ribbons and filled with a creamy mixture of flaked cooked trout, fresh cream and lots of herbs.

It is not cheap to make, but it will feed a crowd and I promise that they’ll ask you to make it again. I love serving this as an elegant yet laid-back starter with crips melba toasts or crackers and some lemon wedges.

Although this terrine is such a summer stunner, you can make it all year round – all the ingredients should be available in a good supermarket. If you prefer a smoky flavour, use hot smoked trout for the filling (if you’re a progressive cook, you might even have the tools to smoke the fish at home!), but for a milder flavour you can opt for poached/steamed/grilled trout.

A slice of pale coral trout terrine and melba toast (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A slice of pale coral trout terrine and melba toast (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients: (serves 10-12)

  • 15 ml oil (for brushing inside of terrine tin)
  • 200 g cold smoked trout ribbons
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 20 ml gelatine powder
  • 3 cups deboned flaked trout (cooked or hot smoked, skin and bones removed)
  • juice of 1 medium lemon
  • 250 g plain cream cheese
  • a large handful of chopped herbs (chives, dill, parsley)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 125 ml cream, whipped
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  • capers, for topping (optional)
  • pea shoots, for topping (optional)

Method:

  1. Use a pastry brush to oil the inside of a classic terrine dish or a 30 x 11 x 7 cm loaf tin. Line the inside of the tin with plastic wrap – leave the excess to hang over the sides for later.
  2. Use ribbons of cold smoked trout to carefully line the inside of the tin, slightly overlapping to create a continuous effect (leave 2 or 3 for covering the top at the end).
  3. Pour the cold chicken stock in a small sauce pan, then add the gelatine powder and stir to combine. Leave to sponge for 10 minutes, then heat gently on the stove top and stir until the gelatine has dissolved completely – do not boil. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. In a food processor, add the trout flakes, lemon juice, cream cheese and herbs. Now add the still slightly warm gelatine mixture and process to combine. Season generously with salt & pepper, then mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl, then add the whipped cream and gently fold it in until thoroughly mixed. Pour into the trout-lined tin and use a spatula to smooth the top.
  6. Cover the mixture with the remaining trout ribbons, then carefully fold the overhanging plastic wrap over the terrine. Use another sheet of plastic wrap to cover the top of the terrine, then place in the refrigerator to set for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
  7. To serve, remove the top layer of plastic wrap and fold the sides of the wrap open. Turn out onto a serving board, then carefully remove the tin and rest of the plastic wrap. Sprinkle with more chopped herbs or pea shoots and a handful of capers, and serve with a few slices of lemon wedges and your choice of toast or crackers.

Credits:

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

Photography & styling: Tasha Seccombe

This recipe has been featured on The Pretty Blog.

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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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Donna Hay’s baked lemon pudding

26 Apr

Donna Hay's baked lemon pudding (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Donna Hay’s baked lemon pudding (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Donna Hay‘s recipes and photographs. She is such an inspiration to me, with her iconic light blue styling, simple cooking methods and modern approach to food in general.

Donna uses whole lemons (yes, skins, pith and all) to create this simple pudding that almost resembles a baked lemon curd. It reminds me very much of the middle layer of a South African lemon meringue pie – tart and tangy, yet thick and indulgent. She suggests that you serve it hot or cold with vanilla ice cream – I agree, the ice cream is a must.

I found that this pudding works best when baked in smaller ramekins, preferably not too deep (I’ve tried baking it as one big pudding and I don’t recommend it). Adjust the baking times according to what you have in your kitchen: deeper and larger ramekins will bake a bit longer.

Ingredients: (recipe from Fast, Fresh, Simple by Donna Hay)

  • 1 medium/large thin skinned lemon
  • 330 g (1 1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 30 g butter, melted
  • 3 egg yolks (I used XL)
  • 180 ml (3.4 cup) single pouring cream
  • 30 ml cornstarch / corn flour (Maizena)
  • vanilla ice cream, to serve

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 169 C (325 F).
  2. Cut the lemon into 8 pieces and remove any seeds. Place in a food processor with the sugar and process until very smooth.
  3. Add the butter, egg yolks, cream and cornstarch and process until smooth.
  4. Pour into 4 greased 1-cup capacity (250 ml) ovenproof ramekins/pie dishes. Bake for 22-24 minutes or until just set.
  5. Serve warm or cold with vanilla ice cream.

Credits:

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

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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Grilled whole trout stuffed with lemon, fennel & herbs

3 Dec

Whole baked trout, stuffed with fennel, lemon & herbs (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

As we are gearing up for another summery festive season, many of us are starting to put together ideas for our Christmas lunches and dinners. To me, it is probably the most festive meal of the year, where family and friends are treated to the best of our bounties and abilities.

Christmas food doesn’t have to be formal, though. I’ve noticed that more people are moving away from heavier red meat roasts and vegetables, opting for  lighter, summery, al fresco choices. With Christmas falling in the middle of summer time in South Africa, I’ve always loved food that you could eat cold, like my cold Christmas platter, or food that you can braai as part of a relaxing afternoon with family and friends. While most of us are on holiday at the coast during this time, it just makes sense to consider fish as a main course.

Rainbow trout is a sustainably farmed local freshwater fish, and a perfect choice for a Christmas lunch or dinner. It’s delicate pink flakes are so beautiful to look at, and wonderfully tasty to eat. If you can get hold of a whole trout from your local fishmonger, make sure that is fresh, gilled and gutted. This way you can just rinse it at home, stuff it, and put it on the braai or in the oven. So very easy.

I love to serve this trout with a crisp green fennel & celery & apple salad, as well as cracked roasted baby potatoes and a fantastic versatile yoghurt mustard sauce. The recipes for the salad and potatoes will follow shortly, but I’ll include the recipe for the yoghurt sauce here. Remember that you can use the sauce on the fish, but also on the salad and the potatoes. The fish and potatoes are best served warm, but can certainly also successfully be served at room temperature.

Ingredients for whole stuffed trout:

(Serves: 6)

(Difficulty: easy)

  • 1 x whole trout, gilled and gutted (about 1.6 – 2 kg)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 x medium lemons, sliced
  • 1 x large fennel bulb, sliced
  • a handful of fennel fronds (reserved from the bulb)
  • a handful of chopped Italian parsley
  • juice of a lemon

Method:

  1. If you are going to use an oven to cook your fish, pre-heat it to 200 C. If you are going to braai it, get your fire ready to braai the fish over medium hot coals.
  2. Rinse the trout well under cold water, then pat dry with a tea towel.
  3. Using a very sharp knife, make angled incisions in the sides of the fish, about 3 on a side. Season the inside of the incisions well with salt and pepper. Season the inside of the gutted cavity as well.
  4. Use lemon sliced, fennel slices & parsley to stuff into the incisions and cavity, then drizzle the stuffed parts with lemon juice. Season the outside of the fish with salt and pepper, then place it on a piece of oiled foil on a roasting tray and roast in the oven at 200 C for 25-30 minutes. If you are going to braai it, place the fish inside a large hinged grid (without any foil), then braai over medium hot coals on both sides for about 30 minutes in total. Oil the inside of your grid to ensure that the fish doesn’t stick to the grid.
  5. Transfer the fish to a large serving platter, and serve with a fresh fennel salad, roast potatoes and a yoghurt mustard sauce.

For the yoghurt mustard sauce:

  • 250 ml double cream Greek yoghurt
  • 2 heaped tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
  • juice of a medium size lemon
  • 2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
  • 30-45 ml chopped fresh dill (or fennel fronds)
  • some cracked black pepper
  • a pinch of salt

Mix it all together and serve cold, with the fish.

Credits:

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

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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Grilled courgette and aubergine salad with bocconcini, lemon and mint

30 Sep

Grilled courgette & aubergine salad with lemon, garlic, mint and bocconcini

One of my go-to tapas when I entertain friends, is a simple dish of grilled aubergines, marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and fresh mint. I have served it so many times, mostly as a topping on brushetta, and everytime without fail people ask me how I make it. It is just a hit!

I have decided to take this popular dish to new heights by turning it into a larger salad with the addition of grilled courgettes and bocconcini (or fior di latte). This way, you can serve it as a side dish accompanying a main meal, or even just with some sour dough bread as a light lunch. This salad contains quite a bit of fresh garlic, and I love the way it makes me long for the Italian countryside! But if you don’t really like garlic, you can leave it out completely.

You’ll be amazed by how far you can stretch 1 or 2 aubergines with this recipe. You are also welcome to add some fresh rocket leaves or other salad leaves of your choice.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 1 large aubergine (or 2 medium)
  • 6 courgettes
  • 125 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • about 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely crushed
  • a handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried mint (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Use a mandolin cutter to finely cut the aubergine into very thin slices. The key to this dish is the thinness of the slices – it should be paper thin. Use a knife or a vegetable peeler to finely cut the aubergines into strips (they can be slightly thicker than the aubergines because their texture is easier to work with). Set them aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix the olive oil, lemon juice & rind, garlic and mint.
  3. Heat a griddle pan over high heat until it is very hot – takes about 5-8 minutes. Now grill the slices of aubergine/courgettes one batch at a time (without adding any oil), not overlapping the slices, turning them once, until they have brown griddle marks on each side (it takes 1-2 minutes a side). Remove with tongs, then place them on a plate next to each other, but not overlapping. Add another batch of slices to the pan and grill.
  4. While you are waiting for your next batch to grill, use a tablespoon to spoon some of the marinade over the grilled aubergines/courgettes on the plate, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Top with more grilled aubergines, then spoon over more marinade and season. Repeat until all the slices have been grilled and all the marinade have been spooned over. At this stage, you can cover it and refrigerate until later.
  5. Assemble the salad: use a fork to arrange slices of the vegetableson a large platter – because they are so thin, it looks great to fold them and stack them loosely. Top with slices of bocconcini / fior di latte (fresh mozzarella), and serve with good quality fresh bread like sour dough or ciabatta. A few extra wedges of lemon and a few mint leaves complete the picture. Enjoy!

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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Preserved lemon

23 Jul

Place some course salt inside the cross-sliced lemons (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I recently did a post on a fragrant Moroccan lamb tagine that was served with preserved lemon. The whole food team that was involved in this shoot was so overwhelmed by the amazing preserved lemon, that we decided to do a special feature on how to make your own.

The preserved lemon that we used for the shoot was made by a Japanese woman called Kazuki (she’s a good friend of my friend Francille). She lived in Italy for many years, and has learnt the art of cooking like a real Mediterranean Mama. She said that the jar of lemons we used was already a year old – the lemons were just intensely dark yellow and almost syrupy – not sweet, but very salty.

Kazuki kindly sent us her recipe for making Moroccan preserved lemons. The sealed jars need to mature in a dark, cool place for at least 1 month before ready to use, but it just gets better with age. I have to say the 1 year old vintage was just amazing – an ingredient that will give a whole new intense lemony dimension to your cooking.

The amount of lemons, salt and other ingredients will all depend on the size of your lemons and the size of your jars. I filled two jars of 1 litre each. Be sure to pack the lemons as tightly as you can, as they will soften with maturation.

Ingredients:

  • at least 10 small/medium organic lemons (make sure they are unwaxed)
  • 100-200g coarse sea salt (Kazuki uses Himalayan salt)
  • 2 fresh bay leaves per jar (or dried, if you cannot find fresh)
  • 7 black peppercorns per jar
  • 1 stick of cinnamon per jar (optional)

Method:

  1. Sterilize 2 large wide-mouthed jars and leave it to cool slightly.
  2. Start by cutting a deep cross into the top of a lemon (about 3/4 way through) with the base still joined. Use a teaspoon to pack about 2 teaspoons of salt into the slits, then place the lemon inside the jar. Cover with 1 teaspoon of salt, then repeat with more lemons until the jars is full. Pack the lemons as tightly as possible (I could only fit 3 lemons per jar).
  3. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns and cinnamon stick.
  4. Squeeze the juice of 2 extra lemons per jar, then add it to each jar. Top it up with cooled boiled water, then seal it tightly.
  5. Store in a cool, dark place, and gently shake the jar every few days for the first month to make sure the salt dissolves fully. The lemons will be ready for use within 1 month,, but will develop in intensity with age. Once opened, refrigerate immediately.

One-year-old preserved lemon, from Kazuki’s kitchen (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Credits:

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: Tasha Seccombe & Nicola Pretorius

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