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Lunch at Waverley Hills and a stayover at Orchard Stay, Wolseley

30 Jul

The roaring fireplace at Waverley Hills, ready to welcome guests in winter.

 

We were recently invited to visit Waverley Hills for a taste of their new menu, and a stayover afterwards at Orchard Stay – all in the beautiful Wolseley countryside between Tulbagh and Ceres off the R46 at the foothills of the Witzenberg mountain range.

Just 90 minutes from Cape Town, Waverley Hills is a premier organic wine producer, restaurant and function destination. The venue’s twin fireplaces and deep leather couches make it especially popular as a winter meal-stop for families out to see the snow on surrounding peaks, or for bikers and road trippers keen to explore a countryside ride with magnificent views.

Inspired by the the spectacular landscape, chef Francois du Toit has designed an enticing countryside menu that’ll have you linger lazily this winter. “Being out in the country is about hitting the pause button and I’ve made that my starting point for every new dish,” he says. “It employs seasonal ingredients as well as organic or bio-dynamically farmed produce where possible.

The food at Waverley Hills embodies the essence of hearty winter fare: deep and robust flavours, generous portions and comforting textures. All a la carte menu items come with a recommended wine pairing per glass. Have a look at our experience in pictures, below.

Waverley Hills’ restaurant, which is fully licensed, is open six days a week for breakfast and lunch, and twice for dinners on Wednesdays and Fridays. Contact: info@waverleyhills.co.za | Tel: 023-231 0002.

Note: The restaurant also offers a dedicated, five-course food and wine pairing menu, although bookings are required a week in advance.

The restaurant at Waverley Hills is spectaculary set at the foothills of the Witzenberg Mountains, just outside Wolseley.

Waverley Hills chardonnay to go with my starter.

 

My starter: Wild mushrooms, parmesan custard cream, truffle – with Waverley Hills Chardonnay 2016. Although very rich, this is my typical favourite food. Very creamy, very well seasoned, earthy and indulgent.

Schalk’s starter: Gambas pil pil, prawns fried in spiced paprika garlic parsley oil, ciabatta – with Waverley Hills Cabernet No-added Sulphites. This was the best dish of the day, and we could have eaten a bucket full of it! Punchy flavours, absolutely delicious.

My main course: Fish & chips – soy & ginger marinated kabeljou, spiced mushy corn, fries, lime mayonnaise – served with Waverley Hills Pinot Grigio. The mushy corn was a welcome sweet addition to traditional fish & chips. Perhaps the chips wasn’t even needed – the kabeljou, mielies & mayonnaise were delicious on their own.

Schalk’s main course: Pork belly, twice cooked pork neck, honeycomb, bacon jus, lemon pickled apple, pearl couscous – served with Waverley Hills Grenache. This dish is highly recommended.

The restaurant interior at Waverley Hills.

Schalk’s dessert: Tiramisu (you can choose from a black board with three or more choices). Very decadent and delicious.

My dessert: Pavlova with caramelized apples in toffee sauce and lemon curd. A few classic, comforting winter flavours. Perhaps a dollop of softly whipped cream would have made it even more delicious.

Taking a stroll in the garden at Waverley Hills.

The view of the mountain at the restaurant parking area – you are so close to nature here.

View of one of the mountain ranges as we left Waverley Hills. So many spectacular sights in this area!


After lunch, we checked in at Orchard Stay at Platvlei Farm, a self catering cottage in the middle of fruit orchards next to a tranquil pond, about 10km from Waverley Hills. I couldn’t stop taking photographs of this place from the moment we arrived – it truly is one of the most beautiful self-catering countryside cottage settings that I’ve ever seen, and one that deserves the time for immersing oneself into unplugging from city life.

Here’s the low-down: Two stylish bedrooms (both with en-suite bathrooms) with extra length beds. Main bedroom: king-size bed,  second room: twin beds which can convert to a king size bed. Rest your eyes on views of the orchards and Mostertshoek Mountain. Large fold back doors lead onto a covered wrap-around terrace. Fully equipped kitchen and covered built in braai. Lazy days can be enjoyed on the terrace, out on the lawn or curled up on the couch in the lounge. On winter days set the fireplace alight for a cosy day/night in. The eco-pool and hot tub has been purposely designed to be enjoyed all year round. The eco-pool is perfect for cooling off, relaxing with a book or drink, or just hanging out with family and friends.  The hot tub is fueled by a wood burner, great for an evening dip or night time star gazing. No tv (purposefully), but great, free wifi. Note: Orchard Stay is child friendly, but not pet friendly.

​Check here for availability and rates. Check out our stay in pictures below – it was breathtaking, spacious and exceptionally tranquil.

Contact Orchard Stay: info@orchardstay.co.za | Cell: 071-105 3121.

Arriving at Orchard Stay, Platvlei Farm.

The stunning cottage at Orchard Stay.

Table on the stoep at Orchard Stay, looking out onto the eco pool and hot tub.

Outside braai stocked with wood at Orchard Stay.

The beautiful Orchard Stay logo, as captured in tile detail next to the braai area.

The spacious, open plan kitchen at Orchard Stay.

A sunny corner on the couch alongside colourful wall art at Orchard Stay.

The inside fireplace at Orchard Stay.

The main bedroom at Orchard Stay.

Main on-suite bathroom with shower and bath, at Orchard Stay.

Second bedroom at Orchard Stay.

The wood fired hot tub, getting warm for a dip at Orchard Stay.

A sunny nook on the wrap-around stoep outside the main bedroom.

Orchard view from the front porch across the pond.

Pond view of the hot tub and surrounds.

Spectacular pond mirror views.

As the sun was setting, our fire was roaring inside and our braai was lit. Bliss.

Dusk at Orchard Stay. Pure magic.

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Lamb ramen with star anise, ginger and chilli

14 May

Slivers of lamb on a bed of noodles in a fragrant lamb broth. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Ramen has made a huge splash over the past few years in the Western world, although it’s been a staple for in the East for ages. The stuff that we know as “two-minute noodles” turned out to be much more posh that we could have ever imagined! Served right, it’s light yet incredibly flavourful and packed with umami because of a magnificent meat broth, layered with deep flavours and exotic spices.

The good news is that it can be made with major shortcuts, and it’s also the perfect way to enjoy leftovers from your Sunday roast. These days you’ll find excellent lamb & mutton fonds (and some pretty decent stock cubes) in most supermarkets, which means you don’t have to start from scratch with a homemade stock. Add a few key aromatics like star anise, ginger, garlic, chilli, shiitake mushrooms and soy sauce, and you’re pretty much already there. Top with fresh bean sprouts, chopped spring onions and a few slices of roast lamb (or pan fried lamb steaks) and you’re ready to rock your ramen.

I made the ramen in the photo with homemade lamb stock (using roasted lamb bones, onion, carrots, celery, black peppercorns, bay leaf, and water). Whether homemade or store bought – use whatever you prefer and have time for.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1,25 liters good quality lamb stock/broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, whole
  • 1 knob ginger, peeled
  • 1 star anise
  • 30 ml soy sauce
  • 1 chilli, halved and seeds removed (plus more for serving, optionally)
  • 3-4 large shiitake mushrooms (or other exotic mushrooms, like shimeji), sliced
  • 4 x 70g packets ramen noodles (noodles only, not spice sachets)
  • about 2 cups leftover roasted lamb, shredded, warmed (or about 300 g lamb steak, pan-fried and finely sliced)
  • one bunch spring onions, sliced, white part only
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • a handful fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped, to serve

Method:

  1. Place the stock/broth in a medium size pot with the garlic, ginger, star anise, soy sauce, halved chilli and sliced mushrooms. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, covered. Remove from the heat and let it stand while you prepare the noodles.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles until just tender. Drain and transfer to 4 bowls.
  3. Strain the broth through a sieve, then top each bowl of noodles with warmed lamb, hot broth, spring onions, sprouts, more chilli (optional), and fresh coriander. Serve at once.

This recipe was created in collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa. #CookingWithLamb #LambAndMuttonSA #WholesomeAndNutritious #CleanEating #TheWayNatureIntended

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Launch: Mynhardt’s Kitchen at Cathedral Cellar, KWV

16 Mar

The remarkable Cathedral Cellar at KWV is now the home of Mynhardt’s Kitchen.

Yesterday, I attended the launch of Mynhardt’s Kitchen at Cathedral Cellar, KWV Wine Emporium. Chef Mynhardt Joubert is no stranger to the Paarl community and he’s been acting as brand ambassador for iconic Paarl wine producer KWV for numerous years. He has just fitted the breathtaking Cathedral Cellar at KWV with a state of the art kitchen and the venue is now open for functions.

In celebration of KWV’s 100 year celebrations in 2018, from today onwards anyone will be able to book a memorable dining experience in Cathedral Cellar, for groups of 20 up to a 100. Guests will be seated at long tables, flanked by imposing, 12000 ℓ stuk-vats, some showing historical wine making scenes carved by father and son, Karl and Karl-Heinz Wilhelm in 1969 and 1970. On either side of the impressive hall are large coloured windows – in tones of blue and green on the one side, and red and orange tones on the others side, resembling the Paarl mountain in the east and the setting sun in the west.

To celebrate the launch of this unique facility, Mynhardt treated us to a vegetarian menu with a “roots” theme, serving a visually striking, colourful starter course of root vegetables on paper (which was rolled up after – no washing up, very water wise). For mains we enjoyed deep fried risotto balls (arancini) on a creamy mushroom sauce made with a rich root vegetable stock, and for dessert he served cheesecake mousse with fig ice cream. All plates were made of paper and thus compostible. The food was accompanied by impeccable wines by KWV and Laborie.

The drama of this space is just unrivaled, and I can only imagine what evenings in this space must look and feel like with the added lighting that they’ve installed to make the most of the cathedral’s vaulted ceiling and massive wooden vats all around.

Enquire about Mynhardt’s Kitchen at Cathedral Cellar for your next dinner or function at chef@mynhardt.co.za or 076-033 1839. Thank you Jeanri Tine van Zyl of Feed That Bird Communication for the invitation. Thank you to Chef Mynhardt, KWV, Laborie, Montagu and XTN Family Farm for the fabulous lunch and the beautiful gift box.

Chef Mynhardt places the finishing touches on his root vegetable starters.

Bubbles all around, courtesy of Laborie.

A series of iconic KWV wines were served as part of the lunch.

Our colourful starters, plated on paper.

Lots of wine glasses (and beautiful fresh flowers, roots attached) ready for various wines to pair with our multi-course lunch.

Red, yellow and green food art – almost too beautiful to eat!

Fig, rosemary and pine nut focaccia. This was dreamy!

The red section of the starter – roasted baby beets, fresh candy beets, goats cheese balls, raspberries, pomegranates, cranberries, microherbs, strawberries, beetroot mayonnaise.

A long table of colours and flavours.

Arancini, creamy mushroom sauce made with root veg stock, pan fried mushrooms, lattice pastry crust.

Cheesecake mousse, fig ice cream and fresh figs.

Back home, I unpacked this gift box, courtesy of Laborie, Montagu and XTN Family Farm. I now have a little vine in my home!

 

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Teriyaki Roasted Mushrooms on Steak (or on baked potatoes)

14 Nov

Whole roasted mushrooms on a pan-fried sirloin steak. Such a great alternative to a creamy mushroom sauce, and much easier to make. #festivemushrooms

These whole roasted mushrooms, marinated in Teriyaki sauce with garlic, ginger & thyme, will take your next grilled steak or baked potato to a new level – perfect for festive entertaining. Teriyaki sauce is a magical thing – just the right combination of sweet and salty – that will add even more umami to your already umami-rich mushrooms. No cutting or stirring involved, just shake them in a bag with the marinade, spread out on a baking tray and roast on a high temperature.

This recipe is a welcome alternative to a creamy mushroom sauce. Juicy and packed with flavour, these teriyaki roasted mushrooms are a crowd-pleasing favourite every time.

Brown and button mushrooms with thyme – such a great choice for making these teriyaki roasted mushrooms.

#FestiveMushrooms
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Ingredients: (serves 4)

1/2 cup (125 ml) Teriyaki sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh ginger, finely grated
3-4 thyme thyme sprigs, leaves only
400 g whole mushrooms (I used 250 g big brown mushrooms and 150 g small button mushrooms)
about 4 x 200 g beef steak (I used aged sirloin)
45 ml olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Line a standard baking tray with foil and pre-heat oven to 230 C.
  2. Pour the Teriyaki sauce into a large zip-sealing bag. Add the grated garlic, ginger & thyme, seal and give it a shake.
  3. Add the mushrooms, press out the excess air, seal and shake well to cover the mushrooms all over.
  4. Pour the marinated mushrooms out on the lined tray and arrange in a single layer, stem-side up for larger mushrooms. Roast for 20 minutes at 230 C until caramelized & tender.
  5. While the mushrooms and roasting, brush the steaks with oil on both sides and season generously with salt & pepper. Heat a large pan (preferably an iron skillet) over high heat until it reaches smoking point. Pan-fry the steaks to your preferred liking – I prefer medium-rare, which is about 3,5 minutes a side. Don’t fuss too much over the steaks, just let them do their thing and turn once – they will generate a lot of smoke, so open a kitchen window.
  6. When the steaks are done, transfer them to a plate/platter and cover with foil to rest for 5 minutes at room temperature.
  7. Remove the mushrooms from the oven once they are brown and tender with sticky darker bits on the edges of the pan.
  8. Serve the steaks immediately after resting, topped generously with the whole roasted mushrooms and served with a side salad.

Note: These Teriyaki roasted mushrooms are an excellent topping on fluffy baked potatoes, creamy polenta or risotto, but also work so well at room temperature in a salad with rocket, avo and feta. Not all Teriyaki sauces are the same – taste yours and adjust seasoning if necessary.

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Mushroom, spinach & cheddar frittata with sage butter

7 Aug

Spinach, mushrooms & cheddar frittata with sage butter. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Frittatas are so unfussy – just comfort food in a pan. They’re super easy to make and can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Choose a pan without a plastic handle – preferably an iron skillet – that can go straight into your oven. I’ve added some classic vegetarian ingredients to this frittata that are usually available all year round, but choose whatever you prefer. Mature cheddar add so much flavour – another option would be goats cheese or feta. Or go meaty with some serrano ham, creamy fior di latte and rosa tomatoes.

Luckily there is less technique going into a frittata than a French omelette: fry your seasonal filling ingredients first, then add the whisked eggs to the hot pan. Fry for another few minutes, gently stirring now and then, then transfer to the oven and cook until set.

Ingredients: (serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as a light meal)

  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 15 ml butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped leeks, white parts only
  • 250 g mixed mushrooms, sliced or broken into smaller pieces
  • a few sprigs of thyme, woody stems removed
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 200 g baby spinach, just wilted (cook separately in microwave or in a small pot on the stove with a little olive oil)
  • 6 eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup grated mature cheddar
  • 60 ml/g butter
  • a handful of sage leaves

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. In a ovenproof medium size pan (I used cast iron), heat the olive oil and butter. Add the leeks and fry over medium-high heat until they go soft but not brown yet.
  3. Add the mushrooms and thyme, turn up the heat to high and keep frying until the mushrooms are golden brown and tender. Season well with salt & pepper.
  4. Add the spinach, eggs and cheese and stir gently to distribute evenly. Keep on cooking for about 3 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  5. Transfer carefully to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes until the frittata is fully cooked.
  6. While the frittata is cooking, add the remaining 60 ml of butter to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Keep on cooking, swirling the pan often, until it turns light brown and nutty in flavour. Add the sage leaves and remove from the heat. Swirl the pan until the foaminess subsides and set aside.
  7. Remove the cooked frittata from the oven and leave to cool. Serve with crispy sage leaves and a drizzle of the butter that it has cooked in. Can be enjoyed hot or cold.
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Potato gnocchi with panfried mushrooms & sage butter

30 May

Potato gnocchi with panfried mushrooms and a drizzle of sage butter (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Potato gnocchi with panfried mushrooms and a drizzle of sage butter (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Potato gnocchi has a bad reputation for being difficult and temperamental. I recently got the hang of it and it is now a regular favourite in my household. It’s amazing how the humble potato can be turned into something so delicately soft and dreamy – little pillows of potato delight! I also sometimes serve them on top of a hearty roasted tomato & chorizo stew with lots of extra parmigiano – my husband’s favourite.

I recently bought myself a potato ricer for making proper potato gnocchi. It’s a weird contraption that almost looks like a giant garlic press. But it works like a charm to get rid of any lumpy cooked potato bits. If you want a smooth result but you don’t have a ricer, press the cooked potato through a sieve (you’ll need a bit of elbow grease for this, but the result is worth the effort).

For the gnocchi:

  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 300 g cake flour (you might not need all of it)
  • 10 ml salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Cook the potatoes in a large pot filled with salted water (in their skins) until tender. Drain off water and leave to cool slightly.
  2. Remove potato skins, then press through a potato ricer or a sieve to remove any lumps. Set aside (you can leave it to cool completely if you want to).
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add riced potatoes, beaten egg, 1/3 of the flour, the salt and pepper. Mix with a fork, then continue to knead to a smooth dough, adding a little extra flour as you go, if necessary. You are looking for a workable consistency that feels like a very soft dough, but not sticky at all. Don’t add too much flour at this time as you want to keep a light texture.
  4. Divide the mixture into 4 balls, then roll each ball out into long strips, using extra flour on your surface to prevent sticking. Carefully cut into little squares/pillows and sprinkle with a little extra flour to prevent them from sticking together (I like to toss them around a bit in the flour to make sure they are fully covered).
  5. Heat a large pot filled with salted water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the gnocchi and cook for 1-2 minutes or until it rises to the surface. Do not overcook – they will become sticky and soggy. Drain and serve immediately with cream sauce and/or sage butter and pan-fried mushrooms.

For the sage butter:

  • 125 g butter
  • a large handful of fresh sage leaves

Place the butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil until the butter starts to turn golden brown and starts to smell nutty. Add sage leaves and remove from heat at once, swirling the butter round to fry the leaves evenly. Set aside.

For the pan-fried mushrooms:

  • 45 ml olive oil
  •  about 500 g mixed exotic mushrooms (break/cut larger mushrooms into bite-size pieces)
  • 125 ml cream
  • salt & pepper
  • grated parmesan cheese, to serve

Heat the oil on high heat in a large pan, then add the mushrooms and fry for about 5 minutes until golden brown. Add cream and reduce a little to form a thicker sauce that will coat the mushrooms. Season with salt & pepper. Note: the mushrooms with absorb the cream on standing, so serve this immediately.

To assemble: Have the sage butter and mushrooms warm and ready before you cook your gnocchi. Serve the gnocchi in bowl topped with pan fried mushrooms and a drizzle of sage butter. Top with some grated parmesan cheese.

Credits:

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

Recipe, text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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Sesame crusted trout on rice noodles with an Asian broth

18 Oct

Pan fried sesame crusted trout on a bed of rice noodles with tenderstem broccoli & exotic mushrooms in an asian broth (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I’m constantly looking for new ways to cook with trout – new flavour combinations, new techniques, fresh approaches. Trout is such a fabulous choice of fish in South Africa as it is sustainably farmed, delicious and very rich in the good Omegas.

I adore simple, traditional Asian flavours: ginger, star anise, cinnamon, lemon grass and soy.  In this light summery recipe, I’ve combined these flavours in a broth, adding glassy rice noodles and exotic mushrooms topped with blanched bright green tenderstem broccoli and pan fried sesame-crusted trout fillet portions. The result is a delicate meal with beautiful colours and varying textures, perfect for lunch or dinner – slightly more sophisticated than my usual rustic fare.

PS: Most Asian food stores stock rice noodles (or you can use glass noodles), but you should also be able to find it at some of the bigger commercial supermarkets. In Stellenbosch, you’ll find it at the Boord SPAR.

Ingredients for Asian broth: (serves 4-6)

  • 4 cups (1 litre) good quality chicken stock
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 6-8 slices fresh ginger (you can leave the skin on)
  • 1 piece of lemon grass
  • juice of 1 small lime
  • 2-3 teaspoons (10-15 ml) good quality soy sauce (I use Kikkoman)

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan, then bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, then leave to infuse for 15 minutes. Strain the broth through a sieve (or use some muslin cloth for a less cloudy result), then set aside.

Ingredients for rest of the recipe:

  • 250 g rice noodles
  • 1.5 litres boiling water
  • a few small shiitake mushrooms or other small exotic mushrooms (optional)
  • 125 g tenderstem broccoli (or other green vegetables that you love)
  • 1-1,2 kg of fresh trout fillets, rinsed under cold water
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of sesame seeds
  • 15 ml canola oil for frying (or vegetable oil)
  • sliced spring onions (for garnish, optional)
  1. Place the glass noodles in a large mixing bowl, then cover with recently boiled water and leave to stand for about 10-15 minutes (or according to the instructions on the packet. Drain in a colander just before you’re reade to plate.
  2. Return the strained broth to a small saucpan on the stove top, then add the mushrooms and bring to a slow simmer. Cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and set aside. Taste the broth and add some more salt or soy sauce if necessary.
  3. Blanch the broccoli for 1-2 minutes in a pot with simmering water, lid on. Remove from the heat at once and plunge the broccoli into some iced water to retain the bright green colour. Remove from the iced water and set aside.
  4. Cut the trout fillets into 6 portions. Season well with salt and pepper, then cover the flesh side of the fish in sesame seeds (no need to cover the skin side).
  5. Heat a large non-stick pan with oil until it is very hot, then fry the trout portions skin-side down first for about 2 minutes, then turn them over and fry on the sesame-crusted tops for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. The middle should still be just slightly darker pink than the cooked outside.
  6. To plate: in a suitable bowl, place some noodles, then cover with about 150 ml of broth (or more if you like) and a few mushrooms. Top with the broccoli, then place a portion of cooked trout on top. Garnish with some freshly cut spring onions.

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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Classic French Coq au Vin

2 Sep

Classic French coq au vin (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Method:

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

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.

(Photography by Tasha Seccombe)

 

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Book review: Something About Mushrooms

7 Jan

I had the pleasure of attending the exclusive book launch of Nouvelle Mushrooms‘ first publication at Overture Restaurant in December 2012. This brand new recipe book is called “Something About Mushrooms: The art of cooking with Exotic Mushrooms” and is unique from start to finish.

At first glance, the cover looks earthy yet upmarket – the perfect “jacket” for representing an exotic mushroom brand. Nouvelle is South Africa’s largest producer of exotic mushrooms, and suppliers to an impressive list of SA’s top restaurants. The book is square and slim (63 pages), but absolutely jam-packed with recipes, interviews with the contributing chefs and information about exotic mushrooms.

The format of the book is distinctly different than your average commercial recipe book. It contains intricate recipes from 14 of SA’s top chefs, including Margot Janse from The Tasting Room, Bertus Basson from Overture and Gerald van der Walt from The Greenhouse. Each chef had the opportunity to contribute a recipe of their own, working closely with photographer Annelize Blom (who also did the design and layout of the book). Featuring alongside each recipe is a Q&A section with really interesting facts and tidbits about each chef. Who ever knew that Rudi Liebenberg of the Mount Nelson wanted to become a painter? Or that Richard Carstens of Tokara loves cycling? Or that Franck Dangereux of The Food Barn trains horses in his spare time? It’s an insider’s look at the very busy lives and personal profiles of the chefs that make South African fine dining a world class industry.

Paging through this book, one immediately realises that it is not aimed at the average home cook. All of the recipes include extensive ingredient lists, various components, intricate processes and skilful plating. This is no “Nigella Express”, to say the least! This is a look at the very best fine dining, behind the scenes. To take an example: Margot Janse contributed a recipe for “Shiitake mushroom rocks with wood sorrel, celeriac and wild flowers”. Her recipe contains 10 different components (each with its own list of ingredients) including shiitake crumble, coffee and cocoa soil, and a wood sorrel emulsion. The chances of any regular home cook recreating this at home is close to zero. So what is the aim of this book?

From my perspective, this book is a fabulous read, but obviously not a recipe book for daily home use (and not intended that way). It is a fantastic gift for chefs, aspiring chefs, real food fanatics or anyone that is truly interested in the South African fine dining scene. I will surely use it as inspiration for special occasions, taking tips from the professionals on how to turn exotic mushrooms into killer courses, but I won’t attempt Margot’s dish anytime soon for a midweek dinner!

“Something About Mushrooms” is available directly from Nouvelle Mushrooms at R240 excluding postage (anya@nouvelle.za.net).

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The Beauty of Mushrooms vs The Perfect Shwarma

29 Jan

One of my favourite things to do on a Saturday morning is to hang out with friends at the Stellenbosch Fresh Goods Market at Oude Libertas. Me and my husband are true fans of the lamb shwarmas at the entrance to the food hall, and we never leave without each devouring one of those succulent, garlicky, meaty pitas. My plan was to go to the market this morning, photograph the shwarmas, and write a new blog about it. To my horror, the shwarma guys weren’t there today! […]

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