Tag Archives: Tasha Seccombe

Goats cheese, green fig & walnut log

21 Dec

Make your own festive cheese roll with chunks of green fig and nuts (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

There’s no easier way to entertain than with cheese and crackers – perfect for a lazy glass of wine, a simple starter or even an elegant dessert. Although there’s nothing wrong with just unwrapping a few blocks of your favourite cheese and serving them on a platter, this recipe goes the extra mile and delivers something beautifully tasty that looks like a lot more effort than it actually is (always a good thing).

If you love blue cheese, goats cheese and green figs, this simple recipe will have you longing for more opportunities to entertain friends and family. The mixture firms up quickly in the fridge so you don’t need hours to prepare. A stunner for special occasions like Christmas, Easter and everything in-between.

Preparation time: 10 minutes plus 1 hour for chilling
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 200 g creamy blue cheese (gorgonzola, Simonzola or similar)
  • 100 g plain, soft goats cheese log (chevin)
  • 2-3 preserved green figs in syrup, drained and cut into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) brandy
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 50 g shelled walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds, for coating on the outside (I’ve used a mixture of black & white, lightly toasted)
  • melba toast, for serving (or crackers of your choice)
  • fresh fruit and/or preserves, to serve (optional)

Method:

  1. In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together the blue cheese, goats cheese, figs, brandy, nutmeg and walnuts using a wooden spoon.
  2. Spoon the chunky mixture onto a sheet of grease-proof baking paper and carefully roll into a neat sausage shape. Place in the fridge to firm up until ready to serve – at least 1 hour.
  3. Spread the sesame seeds out in a thin layer on a large plate. When ready to serve, unroll the cheese log from the wrapping paper, then roll it in the sesame seeds to cover all sides. Place on a serving board and serve immediately with melba toast or crackers, fresh fruit and preserves.

Pink iced tea

15 Dec

tpbtff_icedtea_01My sister has two boys aged 8 and 10. They live on a farm and she is very consistent in providing them with nutritious, balanced, delicious meals every day (unlike most of us, although we have the best intentions). After realising that they were going through about 3 litres of apple juice per day (these boys get super thirsty from playing outside in their big yard all afternoon), she decided to try her hand at making iced tea for them instead.

In the beginning they missed their daily dose of juice (always mixed with water), but after a few days they took to the iced tea like ducks to water. She sweetened the tea lightly with honey and sometimes added a few aromatics and infusions like cinnamon stick or fresh prunes. Upon visiting them, we also enjoyed the iced tea and it now is a staple in my home and when I cater for functions.

Although my sister makes many different versions of iced tea, I want to introduce you to the prettiest pinkest one – in line with one of the Pantone colours of 2016: rose quartz. It is made with Woolworths’s Pick-Me-Up Cranberry Cinnamon & Apple Tea – I use about 4 teabags on 5 litres of water.

You can brew it on the stove top in a large pot, then add a few fresh slices of cucumber, grapefruit or mint when it has cooled down. Remember to only add honey when the tea is lukewarm and not while it is boiling hot. But if you’re adding sugar as a sweetener you can add it at any stage – easier to dissolve while the tea is hot.

Use any tea that you like – rooibos (for a deep orange tea that is caffeine free), honeybush, early grey, green tea – the possibilities are endless. The tea will last in your fridge for at least 3 days.

Ingredients: (makes 5 liters)

  • 5 litres fresh water
  • at least 4 tea bags  – I’ve used Woolworths’s Pick-Me-Up Cranberry Cinnamon & Apple Tea (use any tea that you love if you don’t specifically want pink tea)
  • honey or sugar, to taste
  • sliced grapefruit, as garnish
  • ice, to serve

Method:

  1. Pour the water in a large pot, add the tea bags and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat, then let it stand to infuse until it reaches room temperature. If you are using sugar to sweeten, add it now and stir to dissolve. If you are using honey to sweeten, add it when the tea is luke warm and stir well.
  3. Pour into containers (large glass jars or bottles work well), screw lids on and refrigerate.
  4. Serve cold, with grapefruit/lemon/cucumber/mint and lots of ice.

Baked tomatoes with feta, garlic and thyme

10 Nov

Baked tomatoes with feta, garlic, thyme (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Baked tomatoes with feta, garlic, thyme (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

It’s already November and I’m revisiting a lot of my favourite side dish recipes to go with all the upcoming al fresco celebrations.

A few years ago, Barbara Joubert published this phenomenal recipe via Sarie Kos. It is a baking tray filled with tomatoes, whole feta slabs, onions and basil. I first had it at a friend’s house and it was one of the most popular dishes at her braai. I’ve since made it many times at my house, substituting the basil for thyme and adding lots of garlic. It smells like heaven, it looks brilliant and it tastes fantastic – one of those minimal effort, big result recipes. Serve as a side dish, or serve along with freshly baked bread as a starter.

I also add a little sugar to my tomatoes to create an extra caramelized result. If you’ve never baked feta before, get ready for a really great taste and texture sensation.

Ripe tomatoes are essential for the intense flavour of this dish (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ripe tomatoes are essential for the intense flavour of this dish (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients:

  • 3 large tomatoes, halved horizontally
  • about 300g cherry/rosa tomatoes on the vine
  • 400 g feta cheese
  • 1 whole head of garlic, halved horizontally
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • salt & pepper
  • 10-15 ml sugar
  • about 60-80 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • squeeze of a lemon

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. Arrange the large tomatoes cut-side-up on the tray, then add the cherry tomatoes, feta, garlic and thyme. Season well with salt & pepper, sprinkle the tomatoes with sugar, then drizzle all over with olive oil and a little lemon juice.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes until the feta and garlic is golden.
  4. Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature. Drizzle with more olive oil if served with bread.

Cointreau & pomegranate fizz

19 Aug

Classy and classic: a Cointreau fizz (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Classy and classic: a Cointreau fizz (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

It’s Friday! Celebratory weekend drinks at sundown are pretty standard in my house and I couldn’t be happier about it. Although a glass of wine or a nice gin & tonic are my usual go-to drinks, I sometimes crave the fabulous glitz of a cocktail.

One of my absolute favourite cocktail ingredients is Cointreau orange liqueur – an iconic triple sec imported from France. While attending a launch event at the Somerset Mall some time ago, the brand team from Cointreau South Africa taught us how to make a classic Cointreau fizz using their product, lemon juice, ice and soda water. It is one of the most refreshing drinks on this planet.

I’ve just added a squeeze of fresh pomegranate juice to this classic cocktail, to turn it a delicate hue of pink. If you don’t like pink drinks (I know a few people), rather substitute it with a shaved ribbon of cucumber or a thinly sliced round of fresh orange.

Cheers everyone!

Ingredients: (for one cocktail)

  • about 4-8 blocks of ice
  • 2 shots of Cointreau (50 ml)
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • a squeeze of pomegranate juice (optional)
  • some soda water to top if up with

Pour in a festive glass and top off with a straw. Voila!

Credits:

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

Photography & styling: Tasha Seccombe

This recipe has been featured on The Pretty Blog.

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.

Arancini with aioli

20 Jun

Golden deep tried stuffed nuggets of risotto served with garlic mayo (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Golden deep-fried stuffed nuggets of risotto served with garlic mayo (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

The Italians have a wonderful way of using up leftover risotto. They shape the cold rice mixture into balls, stuff the centres with cheese, cover the balls with breadcrumbs and deep-fry the lot to make arancini.

These little golden nuggets are just delightful. I prefer to use smoked mozzarella for the centres and serve the arancini with thick homemade garlic mayonnaise. It’s a great snack for welcoming guests at your festive dinner party this season, because you can prep them beforehand and drop them in the hot oil just before serving.

If you’d love to serve them on a flat board or slate tile, pipe some mayo on the board and place the arancini on the mayo to prevent them from rolling off.

One warning though: these are super addictive! Prepare to eat more than you think you will.

Ingredients: (serves 6 as a snack/canapé)

  • about 2 cups prepared left-over risotto, cooled (any flavour will do, but I love using saffron risotto or wild mushrooms risotto)
  • 100 g smoked mozzarella, cubed 1 x 1 cm
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • salt & pepper
  • 3 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 750 ml canola oil
  1. Take a small tablespoon of cold risotto and fill it with a cube of mozzarella. Shape the risotto to cover the cheese and roll it into a neat ball (cold risotto is easier to shape). Continue until all the risotto is used.
  2. In a shallow bowl, mix the flour with some salt & pepper. Place the bread crumbs in another shallow bowl, and the eggs in another.
  3. Dip each risotto ball into the seasoned flour, then into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs, covering it all over. Place on a clean plate and repeat.
  4. Heat the oil to about 180 C, then fry batches of arancini until golden all over – about 3 minutes.
  5. Serve with aioli.

For the aioli:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 30 ml lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • salt & pepper
  • about 180-250 ml canola oil

In a blender or food processor, add the yolks, garlic, mustard and lemon juice. Season with salt & pepper then blend well. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream until fully incorporated and thick and creamy. Transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

Tip: Use a small plastic bag to pipe blobs of aioli onto a serving board, then “stick” the arancini onto each piped blob to keep from rolling around.

Credits:

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

Photography & styling: Tasha Seccombe

This recipe has been featured on The Pretty Blog.

 

White anchovy, asparagus & parmesan salad

27 May

White anchovy salad with asparagus & parmesan (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

White anchovy salad with asparagus & parmesan (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I’ve always loved dark little anchovy fillets in oil, salty as hell with a strong fishy flavour. But last year I discovered white anchovy fillets – larger, silky in texture, tender, more delicate in flavour. These days you can buy them “ready for tapas”, marinated in a fantastic garlic & herb vinaigrette that is good enough to use as is over bruschetta or salad.

This white anchovy salad is such a simple yet fabulous starter. I came across fresh white asparagus and used it here because of its strange pale beauty, although you can easily substitute with regular green asparagus.

Tip: To create a slightly more bulky main course, top with softly poached eggs and serve with toasted bruschetta.

Ingredients: (serves 4 as a side dish or starter)

  • a medium/large bunch of rocket leaves
  • a handful of white or green asparagus, poached in water (or grilled) for 1-2 minutes
  • about a cup of white anchovy fillets in garlic & herb vinaigrette (reserve liquid for dressing)
  • chunky shaved parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh lemon wedges

Method:

  1. On a large salad platter, arrange the rocket leaves, cooked asparagus, anchovy fillets and parmesan cheese. Season well with salt & pepper, then drizzle with the anchovy vinaigrette.
  2. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and (optionally) toasted ciabatta.

Credits:

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

Photography & styling: Tasha Seccombe

Best ever rare roast beef sandwich with mustard & aioli

18 May

Beef sandwichI’ve shared my favourite bread recipe of 2015 a few months ago, and this is a post to show you one of the best ways to enjoy it.

We had this sandwich on the menu at the demo KITCHEN last year and everybody loved it. We called it “The Bull” – a meaty, feisty sandwich with a strong mustard kick.

If you’re too lazy to bake, just use a good quality store-bought ciabatta or panini instead. And if you’re even more lazy, skip the roasting of the beef and just use a few slices of good quality pastrami (because sometimes we need shortcuts in life).

For the rare roast beef: (serves 6)

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • about 1 kg lean beef roast (silverside works well)
  • salt & black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 180 C. In an iron skillet on the stove top, heat the oil over high heat. Sear the roast on all sides to get good colour, about 10 minutes in total. Season well with salt & pepper while searing. Place in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Use a very sharp knife to cut the meat into thin slivers, then set aside (cut it as thin as you can).

For the aioli:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 45 ml lemon juice
  • 15 ml Dijon mustard
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely grated
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • about 250 ml canola oil

Place the yolks, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt & pepper in a food processor and mix well. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream through the feeding tube, creating a thick emulsion. When all the oil is incorporated, check and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Set aside.

For the sandwiches:

  • 6 paninis or small ciabattas (see the recipe for Scott’s bread)
  • aioli, for spreading
  • fresh lettuce leaves
  • sliced tomato (optional)
  • slices of rare roast beef
  • whole grain mustard, for topping (or a mixture of whole grain and Dijon)
  • salt & pepper

To assemble, start by slicing your paninis open horizontally, then spread generously with aioli. Top with lettuce leaves, tomato (optionally), slices of beef and then a generous drizzle of whole grain mustard. Season with salt & pepper, then place the top half of the panini in place. Enjoy!

Note: If you’re feeling luxurious, replace the silverside roast with a whole beef fillet. Roast it in the same way as above, or according to your taste and the size of the fillet.

Credits:

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

Photography, food styling & prop styling: Tasha Seccombe

This post has also been featured on The Pretty Blog.

Quick braaied lamb shawarmas

14 Jan

Braaied lamb chops make the ultimate shawarma topping.

Braaied lamb chops make the ultimate shawarma topping (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Whenever I go to the Stellenbosch Slowmarket, I order a lamb shawarma for lunch. The guys at this stall make seriously awesome shawarmas, dripping with juicy marinated meat and tahini, their pitas stuffed with cucumber and red onion.

I don’t have a fabulous upright skewered shawarma grill at home – none of us do. So this is my take on an easier and quicker version, where you can marinate your lamb and give it a quick braai over hot coals. Use lamb steaks, or just cut the bone from your favourite lamb chops. The marinade is also great for a deboned leg of lamb.

Note: If you don’t have time to marinate your meat, just generously baste it with the marinade while braaing.

For the Middle-Eastern inspired shawarma marinade:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • a knob of ginger, peeled & finely grated
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled & finely grated
  • 10 ml smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
  • 5 ml ground cumin
  • 5 ml ground cinnamon
  • 5 ml ground fennel / barishap
  • 2,5 ml ground nutmeg
  • 5 ml ground sumac (optional)
  • 5 ml salt flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper

Mix it all together (use a glass jar and shake it up!). Leave your meat to marinade in the sauce, covered, in the fridge for about 3 hours or overnight. Then remove from the fridge and braai until cooked to your desired liking.

To serve: (adjust quantities according to your needs)

  • marinated braaied lamb steaks (1 per person)
  • pita bread (1-2 per person)
  • sliced cucumber
  • sliced tomato (optional)
  • chopped mint leaves
  • sliced red onion
  • toasted pine nuts
  • Greek yoghurt
  • tahini (sesame paste)
  • lemon wedges (optional)

Cut meat into thin strips and serve in warm pita breads, stuffed with cucumber, chopped mint leaves, finely sliced red onion, pine nuts and creamy Greek yoghurt. Drizzle with tahini and a squirt of lemon juice.

Credits:

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

Photography, food styling & prop styling: Tasha Seccombe

This post has also been featured on The Pretty Blog.

Scott’s bread

11 Jan

Freshly baked ciabatta loaves, made with Scott's bread recipe (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Freshly baked ciabatta loaves, made with Scott’s bread recipe (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Scott Armstrong joined the team at The Demo Kitchen in May 2015 as an intern – part of his practical experience (food media) for his chef’s course at the Institute of Culinary Arts. He was a quiet guy from the get-go, but I immediately realized what he’s made of after I plunged him into the deep side with a four-day cooking demo marathon at the Good Food & Wine Show.

Scott was always 30 minutes early for work. He skated here with headphones in his ears. He had loads of initiative and brought new recipes to the kitchen often. He had a very small notebook where he wrote down recipes like a journal, the pages falling apart from steamy kitchen environments.

The best recipe that Scott had introduced to me last year, is this bread recipe. He made paninis for our sandwiches everyday, and they were absolutely drop-dead delicious. I love a good bread recipe, and this one may be the best I’ve come across that doesn’t use a mother starter dough or several hours of double proofing or a wood fired oven. You do, however, need a stand mixer because the dough is super runny. You’ll also need a dough scraper for cutting and handling the proofed dough, otherwise the portions are very difficult to transfer to the baking tray. Expect to clean your mixer afterwards, because the sticky dough creeps up into the motor mechanism. But I promise you, it’s all worth it.

Transferring the proofed dough from the bowl to a floured surface. As you can see, it is very runny. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Transferring the proofed dough from the bowl to a floured surface. As you can see, it is very runny. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Thank you Scott for sharing this recipe with me. I’ll treasure it while I watch you excel at your promising career as a darn good chef.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg white bread flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 15 ml dried yeast
  • 15 ml salt
  • 1 liter lukewarm water

Method:

  1. Place the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (K-beater, not dough hook). Mix on low-speed.
  2. With the mixer running, add the water all at once. Mix for a couple of seconds on low-speed, then turn up the speed to maximum and mix for 8 minutes continuously.
  3. Scrape down the runny dough from the beater using a spatula, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to proof in a warm place until doubled in size (it reaches the top of the my KitchenAid’s bowl) – about 45 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 230 C. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper (or use a sieve and dust with flour). Also, dust a large clean working surface with flour.
  5. Remove the plastic wrap and use a spatula to turn out the bubbly dough onto the floured surface – do not punch down the dough. Sieve more flour over the top of the dough, then use a dough scraper to cut squares or rectangles out of the dough. Transfer each one as soon as it is cut, using the dough scraper, to the baking tray. The dough will feel light as air at this point, almost like marshmallows, but is very runny and should be handled with lots of dusted flour and a light touch. Leave a little space between the dough portions, as it will rise more in the oven.
  6. Bake at 230 C for 10-15 minutes until golden brown, depending on the size of your paninis. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.
  7. Serve as sandwiches filled with your choice of filling, or slice up and use as a dipping bread for antipasti platters.

Tip: Keep left-over bread wrapped in plastic bags, and give it a quick refresh in the oven before serving to return it to its full glory.

Credits:

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

Photography, food styling & prop styling: Tasha Seccombe

This post has also been featured on The Pretty Blog.

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