Tag Archives: Winter

Roasted tomato soup with pumpkin bread and garam masala marrow bones

25 Jul

A Winter evening’s delight: roasted tomato soup, roasted marrow bones with garam masala, and pumpkin bread toast. Photography by Tasha Seccombe. Tableware, linen and cutlery by HAUS.

 

There are few things that beat the smell of freshly baked bread. But have you smelled oven roasted tomatoes? Man, that is something very special. It permeates your house with a sweet and savoury umami fragrance that is second to none.

I’ve put together a menu for the ultimate wintery soup night in. Oven roasted tomato soup has been one of the favourites for many years, so I’ve decided to serve it this time with a deliciously chewy pumpkin loaf and roasted garam masala marrow bones instead of butter.

Because all three recipes need oven time, start with the soup. While it’s in the oven, make the bread dough. Then when the bread is baking, prep the garam masala. Roast the marrow bones right before serving everything.

Oh, and I’m also going to tell you how to make your own super fragrant garam masala. It will change your spice game in a huge way.

Bon appetit!

Roasted tomato soup: (serves 6)

  • about 16 large ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cans whole tomatoes
  • 200 g (about 4 large) leeks
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • a handful thyme sprigs
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml sugar
  • 15 ml salt
  • 15 ml red wine vinegar
  • 250 ml crean

Preheat oven to 180C. Chop the tomatoes in batches in your food processor. They don’t have to be very fine, just chopped. Add it to a large deep rectangular roasting pan or a wide deep dutch oven. Process the canned tomatoes to a pulp and add it to the pan. Pulse the leeks, carrot and cloves into pieces, then add it on top of the tomatoes. Place the thyme sprigs on top, then drizzle all over with olive oil and sprinkle with the sugar, salt and red wine vinegar. Without stirring too much (just flatten the surface) place into the oven and roast for 2 hours, stirring well every 30 minutes. The mixture should get toasty on the edges and reduce by about 25 %. When it is read, remove from the oven, then remove the stalks of the thyme. Use a ladle to transfer the mixture to a pot, then use a stick blender to blitz to a smooth pulp. Because your using the tomatoes skins and all, your soup with still be chunky – that’s the way I prefer it. Add the cream and mix well. Check the seasoning and add more sugar, salt and vinegar if needed. Cover and set aside until ready to serve. To serve, drizzle with more cream or olive oil and your choice of herbs or croutons.

For this shoot, we got our hands on the fabulous new collection of Haus tableware by Hertex. Go to your nearest showroom to see the full collection, it is absolutely gorgeous!

A round loaf of pumpkin bread – chewey and nutty. Photography by Tasha Seccombe. Linen by HAUS.

Pumpkin bread: (makes one large loaf)

  • 1 small butternut or pumpkin
  • 4 cups stone ground white bread flour
  • 10 ml salt
  • 7,5 ml instant yeast
  • 10 ml mixed spice
  • 125 ml pumpkin seeds
  • about 1/2 cup water

Peel the butternut and cut into chunks. Boil in water until tender, then process to a pulp. You’ll need about 2 cups processed pumpkin pulp for the bread. Set aside to cool slightly, but use it while still slightly warm.

Place the flour, salt, yeast, spice and seeds in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the cooked pumpkin and water and stir until it starts to come together. Use your hands to shape it into a soft pliable dough, kneading it until it is smooth (about 5-10 minutes). Add a little more water or flour if necessary. Shape into a smooth ball, then place on a lined baking tray. Cut a cross shape on the top, then cover with a plastic bag to rise until doubled in size. When ready, bake at 220 C for about 45 minutes until golden brown and cooked. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve the slices toasted or untoasted with butter or with roasted marrow bones.

Make your own garam masala:

  • 30 ml cumin seeds
  • 30 ml coriander seeds
  • 30 ml fennel seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • 10 green cardamom pods
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 2 star anise
  • 15 ml black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick or cassia bark
  • 2 bay leaves

Place all the ingredients in a wide pan, then dry roast them over medium-high heat until the mixture becomes fragrant. Transfer batches to a spice grinder, then store in an airtight container.

Roasted garam masala marrow bones on toast. Platter, linen & cutlery by HAUS.

Roasted marrow bones:

  • 3 marrow bones, sliced in half horizontally (ask your butcher)
  • 15 ml garam masala (see above)
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • salt flakes

Pre-heat oven to 220 C. Place the marrow bones cut side up in a roasting tray lined with foil or baking paper. Mix the garam masala with the oil to form a paste. Rub the paste all over the bones. Roast for about 25 minutes or until fully cooked. Serve at once, with toasted bread.

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Beef & stout pie with sour cream & thyme pastry

17 Jul

There are few things as comforting than a homemade pie on a cold winters day. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

I wish I was in a winter cabin in the woods somewhere, slowly simmering this pie filling while attending to the beautiful sour cream pastry. You don’t need to actually be in a cabin to enjoy these, but wouldn’t it be fantastic if we all could linger for a few days in a woodlands hideaway, sipping on steamy drinks next to a fireplace, slowly preparing comforting dishes throughout the day to enjoy when the sun goes down. Time stands still, the quietness fills the air with tranquility and the earthy smell of the thick pine needle carpet outside seeps into your clothes.

This hearty beef & stout pie with sour cream & thyme pastry is simply perfect for a cosy winters holiday. Don’t rush it – enjoy every moment of the preparation process like healing therapy for your soul. It’s totally worth it.

Beef & stout pie with sour cream & thyme pastry: (serves 4-6)

Tip: Start making this pie in the morning if you want to serve it for dinner. It takes a few hours to prepare, but I promise it is worth every minute.

For the filling:

Time: 30 minutes prep plus 3 hours simmering plus cooling.

Tip: Make the pastry while the filling is simmering.

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 kg beef cubes
  • salt & pepper
  • 30 ml flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 15 ml tomato paste
  • 440 ml stout
  • 500 ml beef stock
  • 15 ml Worcestershire sauce
  1. In a large dutch oven / cast iron pot, heat the oil and fry the meat over high heat in batches, giving it some colour and seasoning it with salt & pepper as you fry. Add a little flour to each batch as it is frying, using all the flour by the last batch. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside (it will still be raw on the inside).
  2. If the pot is smoking hot at this point, remove it from the heat and give it a few minutes to cool. Turn the heat down to medium, then add a little more oil and fry the onion, garlic and celery until soft.
  3. Add the bay leaf, cloves, tomato paste, stout, stock and Worcester sauce, stir well and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom to loosen and dissolve any sticky bits (covering the pot with a lid will help).
  4. Return the meat to the pot, then simmer over low heat for 3 hours, covered, until the meat is very soft and the gravy is dark brown and rich (stir once or twice during the process).  Pour some excess liquid off and keep aside for serving as gravy later. Use a fork to pull some of the meat apart, keeping some cubes whole.
  5. Cool the filling completely before baking in the pastry.

For the sour cream & thyme pastry:

Time: 30 min prep plus 2h30 resting.

Tip: For a more classic version, leave out the thyme leaves.

  • 3 cups (750 ml) white bread flour
  • 5 ml salt
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 250 ml cold butter, cubed
  • 250 g sour cream
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked, for brushing
  1. Mix the flour, salt & thyme together. Rub the butter into the flour mixture using your fingers. When it starts to resemble coarse bread crumbs, add the sour cream and cut it in with a knife. Continue to mix until the mixture comes together in a non-smooth ball of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangular shape. Turn the dough so that it lies horizontally in front of you (divide it into thirds in your mind), then fold the right side over to the middle, and the left side over the folded part, to form three layers. Turn the dough over, turn it 90 degrees, and roll out again, folding it in the same way. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Remove from the fridge and repeat the rolling and folding process. Return to the fridge for another hour.

To assemble the pie:

Time: 20 min assembling plus 1 hour baking.

  1. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface (the dough should be very smooth by now) to a long rectangle with a thickness of about 5 mm.
  2. Spray a medium size deep pie tin with non-stick spray, then line the bottom of the tin with pastry, easing it gently into the corners and taking care to not stretch the dough too much (leave the edges overhanging for now).
  3. Fill with the beef & stout mixture, then use a pastry brush to lightly brush the edges where the top layer needs to stick. Lay the rest of the pastry on top, cutting a hole in the middle or making slits here and there for steam to escape.
  4. Use a sharp knife to neatly trim the sides, then use a fork to press grooves into the edges. Use any leftover pastry to cut out shapes, or to make a plait for decoration. Brush with egg all over, then bake at 180 C for about 1 hour or until golden brown and cooked.
  5. Serve hot, with steamed veggies, the reserved gravy and mashed potato.

Beef and stout pie, perfect to make on a cosy winter holiday. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

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Soup Season with Poetry Stores

12 Jun

Winter doesn’t need to be dreary with this colourful soup spread, featuring recipes from “Clean Soups” available from Poetry Stores. All homeware and linen also available from Poetry Stores. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Finally, Winter is here! It is the season of soups, cozy blankets and marathon movie nights.

If you’re in need of soup recipe inspiration, look no further than Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson’s book “Clean Soups” available from Poetry Stores. It is a brilliant book stuffed to the brim with delightful soups varying from clear broths to thick purees. They also provide fresh ideas on how to serve their soups, including toppings like kale crumble, herb drizzle, nut cream and a few different salsas.

The nourishing smell of properly made soup permeates right through to your soul. Start with this incredible “magic mineral broth” – a vegetable stock/broth that forms the basis of many of their other soups, yet also to be enjoyed as is. I used this broth to also make their recipe for Moroccan carrot soup as well as minted pea soup. The chermoula works perfectly as a topping for the carrot soup and as a bread dip.

Chase the winter chills away with a fabulous floral watercolour table cloth and tableware from Poetry Stores – all homeware items pictured available in store and online.

Magic mineral broth. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Magic mineral broth: (makes about 6 liters)

(Recipe from Clean Soups by Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelson)

  • 6 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
  • 2 unpeeled brown onions
  • 1 leek, white and green parts, cut into thirds
  • 1 bunch celery, including the heart, cut into thirds
  • 4 unpeeled red-skinned potatoes, quartered
  • 2 unpeeled white-fleshed sweet potatoes, quartered
  • 1 unpeeled orange sweet potato, quartered
  • 5 unpeeled cloves garlic, halved
  • 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 (20 cm) strip kombu*
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 4 whole allspice or juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 liters cold, filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed

Rinse all the vegetables well, including the kombu. In a 12 liter or larger stockpot, combine the carrots, onions, leek , celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, parsley, kombu, peppercorns, allspice berries and bay leaves. Add the water, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for at least 2 hours, or until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted. As the broth simmers, some of the water will evaporate; add more if the vegetables begin to peek out.

Strain the broth through a large coarse-mesh sieve (use a heat-resistant container underneath) and discard the solids. Stir in the salt, adding more if desired. Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

*Kombu is edible dried kelp/seaweed.

Roaste Moroccan carrot soup with chermoula. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Moroccan carrot soup: (makes 6 servings)

(Recipe from Clean Soups by Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelson)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • sea salt
  • 1,5 kg carrots, cut into 2,5cm pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1,5 litres magic mineral broth (see above)
  • 2,5 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (or half lemon half tangerine/orange juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dark maple syrup plus more if needed
  • chermoula, for garnish (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat, then add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the carrots, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, chilli flakes, saffron and 1/4 teaspoon salt and saute until well conbined. Pour in 125 ml of the broth and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the remaining broth and another 1.4 teaspoon salt and cook until the carrots and tender, about 20 minutes.

Put the lemon zest in a blender and puree the soup in batches until smooth, each time adding the cooking liquid first and then the carrot mixture. If need be, add additional broth to reach the desired thickness. Return the soup to the pot over low heat, stir in the lemon juice, maple syrup and a pinch of salt, and gently reheat. Taste; you may want to add another squeeze of lemon, a pinch or two of salt, or a drizzle of maple syrup. Serve with chermoula or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Sweet pea and mint soup: (makes 6 servings)

(Recipe from Clean Soups by Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelson)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large leek, white part only, rinsed and chopped
  • sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 300 g frozen sweet peas, defrosted, or 465 g freshly shelled peas
  • 1 small head butter lettuce, torn into pieces
  • 1 cup pea sprouts (if available)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint, plus more for garnish
  • 1,5 litres magic mineral broth (see above)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more if needed
  • 6 tablespoons full-fat plain yoghurt, for garnish (optional)
  • pea shoots, for garnish (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat, then add the leek, pinch of salt and pepper and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas and the lettuce and another pinch of salt. Pour in 125 ml of the stock to deglaze the pot, stirring to loosen any bits stuck to the bottom and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove from the heat.

Pour one-third of the remaining stock into a blender, add one-third of the vegetable mixture, one-third of the pea sprouts and the mint. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a soup pot over low heat. Divide the remaining stock in half and repeat the process two more times. Stir in the lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Taste, you may want to add an additional squeeze of lemon and a couple of pinches of salt. Serve garnished with the yoghurt, pea shoots and a bit of mint, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Credits:

Food preparation, styling and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography and styling: Tasha Seccombe.

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Creamy roasted butternut soup with spicy roasted seeds

27 Feb

Thick, roasted butternut soup with spicy roasted seeds and a drizzle of fresh cream (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

When I was a student, there used to be a place in Church Street called Spice Café that served various soups daily with a slice of bread of your choice. They used to make the most delicious butternut soup – extra thick, super smooth and very creamy. I used to order two bowls in one sitting, my gluttonous nature taking charge.

Although butternut soup has become something of a retro classic (even hated by some), it remains one of the most comforting meals to eat. There’s a school of soup makers that relishes the simplicity of the-two-ingredient-butternut-soup (butternut and cream), but sometimes that can resemble baby food. I prefer a soup made with roasted sliced young butternut, scattered with brown sugar, cinnamon & cumin. I add an onion and a small stick of celery, some good quality stock and fresh cream. If you’re in the mood for a special touch, reserve the seeds of the butternut and roast them with more spices to create a delicious crunchy topping.

Spicy roasted pumpkin seeds to sprinkle on top of your roasted butternut soup (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Here’s to the ultimate thick butternut soup – such a meatless Monday favourite. Enjoy!

Ingredients for soup: (serves 4)

  • 1-1,2 kg young butternut, peeled & sliced into 1 cm thick slices (reserve seeds and keep aside)
  • 1 onion, peeled & quartered
  • 1 stick celery, sliced
  • 30-45 ml olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 5 ml ground cinnamon
  • 2,5 ml ground cumin
  • 15-30 ml soft brown sugar
  • 375 ml warm chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 125 ml cream

Pre-heat oven to 220 C. Arrange the slices of butternut , onion and celery on a large baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper, preferably in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil then season with salt & pepper, cinnamon, cumin and brown sugar. Roast for 30-45 minutes until the edges start to caramelize and the butternut is tender.

Place the roasted veg plus all the roasting juices in a deep medium size pot, then add the stock and cream. Use a stick blender and process to a very smooth pulp. Adjust seasoning and add more stock or cream, if necessary. Reheat just before serving.

Tip: If you prefer an ultra smooth texture, push the soup through a fine sieve after blending.

For the roasted seeds:

  • reserved seeds from your butternut (see above)
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • salt flakes
  • ground black pepper
  • 2,5 ml paprika
  • 2,5 ml dried thyme
  • 2,5 ml smoked chilli flakes

Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Remove most of the stringy bits from the seeds, then rinse them under cold running water. Drain well and pat dry. Arrange the seeds on a baking tray, then drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt & pepper, then scatter with paprika, thyme & chilli flakes. Roast in the oven for 10-15  minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Let it cool on the tray, then store in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.

To serve:

Serve the soup in bowls with a swirl of cream, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some toasted seeds.

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Top 10 Winter Winelands Taste Adventures

3 Aug

The spectacular view at Jordan, as taken a few weeks ago at a brunch. Beautiful winter's morning.

The spectacular view at Jordan, as taken a few weeks ago at a brunch. Beautiful winter’s morning.

It is mid-Winter in the Winelands and it’s one of the coldest ones in a long time. But the locals aren’t moaning, they’re smiling. Why? Because we’ve been looking forward to this: the magical comfort of a dreary, rainy, icy Winelands winter. “Kaggel-en-rooiwyn” weather, we call it.

I’ve put together my list of the top 10 places in the Winelands to visit this winter, specifically because they make us love winter even more. Places where you’ll find roaring fire places, more than enough of the very best red wine and the most delicious winter fare in the district. So get your car insurance quotes online, make sure your vehicle is covered and get out there!

  1. Boschendal – Pniel Road, Groot Drakenstein
    • The Werf Restaurant is super cozy with a fire place that roars like a dragon. From wine tastings to visiting the deli or even staying over in one of the cottages (also with fire places and heaters), this is a winter haven.

      The fireplace at the Werf Restaurant, Boschendal (image from www.boschendal.co.za)

      The fireplace at the Werf Restaurant, Boschendal (image from www.boschendal.co.za)

  2. The Bakery @ Jordan – Stellenbosch Kloof Road
    • There’s just no substitute for a late morning breakfast in a place that smells like freshly baked bread all the time. And just in time for a wine tasting afterwards, because hey, wine in the morning is fair game in the Winelands. And did I mention they now also have luxury accommodation facilities?
  3. Cuveé Restaurant @ Simonsig – Kromme Rhee Road, Koelenhof
    • Ever had oysters and Kaapse Vonkel in the middle of winter next to a crackling fire? These guys will show you how.
  4. Glen Carlou – Simondium
    • The red wines at Glen Carlou keep me coming back for regular tastings during the cold months in the Winelands. Their huge glass doors leading to the stoep keeps the cold at bay (with breathtaking views right through the year) and a fireplace oozes warmth right through the tasting area and restaurant.
  5. Terroir @ Kleine Zalze – Strand Road, Stellenbosch
    • Heaters are placed around every corner of this understated gem of a restaurant. Winter specials include 2 or 3 courses with a glass of wine and is excellent value for money. A must-visit.
  6. Tokara – Helshoogte
    • With a massive fireplace in their tasting area and views to die for, this is also one of my favourite wine tasting venues during winter. Stay on for lunch at Tokara Restaurant or move a little further along to Tokara Deli for more roaring fires and kid-friendly zones.
  7. Terra del Capo @ Anthonij Rupert – R45, Franschhoek
    • Ask for the private tasting area on the first floor that has a fire place – just magnificent. Don’t miss out on the tapas downstairs, as well as a beautiful drive to the motor museum and a second tasting at the Anthonij Rupert tasting area. A full day of wonderful wine-induced activities.
  8. Makaron @ Majeka House – Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch
    • With a fire places in the lounge and heaters in the restaurant, you won’t even feel the chills of winter. Remember to try their Sunday roasts for lunch, or opt for one of the best breakfast experiences in the Winelands over the weekend. They always have Winter stay-over specials at their hotel, so check out their website for more info.

      M Lounge at Majeka House (picture from www.majekahouse.co.za)

      M Lounge at Majeka House (picture from www.majekahouse.co.za)

  9. Waterkloof – Somerset West
    • With a crackling log fire all winter long, you’ll feel right at home at Waterkloof. They offer delicious platters at their wine tasting lounge, or opt for a cheese and wine tasting. The restaurant is spectacular and a must-visit destination.

      The tasting lounge at Waterkloof (image from www.waterkloofwines.co.za)

      The tasting lounge at Waterkloof (image from www.waterkloofwines.co.za)

  10. Clos Malverne – Devon Valley
    • One of the best value for money three course meals with wine pairings in the Winelands, but don’t forget the magnificent views through the glass panes as well as the fireplaces and the authentic Devon Valley hospitality. Bring the whole family – you’ll feel truly welcome.

This post was written in collaboration with Dialdirect.

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Spinach & ricotta gnudi with chicken and herb broth

29 Jun

Spinach & ricotta dumplings in a light and fragrant broth, topped with parmesan cheese. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Spinach & ricotta dumplings in a light and fragrant broth, topped with parmesan cheese. (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Although most people associate soups with substance and texture, there is something strangely mesmerizing about an understated, translucent broth. This fragrant liquid can pack surprisingly bold flavours and is a fantastic vessel for carrying beautiful treasures like bright vegetables, botanical herbs, curly noodles or delicate dumplings.

My recipe for spinach & ricotta dumplings in a chicken & herb broth is actually 2 dishes in one. The dumplings are cousins of Italian gnocchi – a comforting dish that I usually serve with a bright red pommodoro sauce and grated parmesan cheese. The broth is a light version of traditional American chicken soup that is often associated with “getting better soon”, but also fabulous as a flavoursome home-made stock for making risotto.

This is one of the most comforting meals that I can possible imagine, especially in the cold weather that we’re experiencing in the Cape Winelands. Serve it as a light lunch/dinner with grated parmesan cheese and some buttered toast to soak up the broth.

TIP: Make the broth first, then keep it warm while you cook the gnudi. The broth also freezes well.

For the chicken broth: (serves 6)

  • 1,5 litres (6 cups) water
  • 400 g frozen chicken necks, thawed
  • 1 large knob of ginger, sliced
  • 2 cups sliced leeks
  • 3 celery sticks, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled & sliced
  • a handful of parsley stalks
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1-2 chicken stock cubes, crumbled
  • salt & pepper

Method:

Place all the ingredients for the broth in a medium stock pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and cover with a lid, then simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to infuse for another 30 minutes, uncovered, then strain through a sieve. (Keep the solids for processing with your next soup or use in your next stew.)

For the gnudi/dumplings:

  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 200g baby spinach leaves
  • 450-500g ricotta cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) finely grated Parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano Reggiano, or Grana Padano) plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour plus more
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley (optional)

Method: In a large pan, heat the olive oil and sauteé the spinach over medium heat for about 5 minutes until just wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, add the ricotta, egg and yolk, salt, pepper, parmesan and flour. Roughly chop the cooked spinach, then add it with the parsley to the rest of the ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon until it starts to form a coarse-looking ball. Lightly dust a rimmed baking tray with flour. Using 2 large dessert spoons, shape heaped tablespoonfuls of dough into football shapes, then place on the floured tray and dust with a little more flour (you should have about 30). Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Carefully add the gnudi, then cook for 4 minutes until cooked through and tender (gnudi will quickly float to the surface; continue cooking or they will be gummy in the center). Using a slotted spoon, remove gnudi from water and divide among bowls.

To assemble:

  • 1 batch chicken broth
  • a cup of finely chopped mixed vegetables (leeks, celery, mushrooms)
  • 1-2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely grated
  • a handful of parsley leaves
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • cooked gnudi (about 4 per person)
  • finely grated parmesan cheese

Method: Bring the broth to a slow simmer. Add the finely chopped vegetables, ginger, garlic, parsley & chickpeas, then remove from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls with the freshly cooked gnudi, then top with grated parmesan. Serve immediately.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog.

Text & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & styling : Tasha Seccombe

Venue for shoot: the demo KITCHEN

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Roasted vegetable lasagne

24 Jun

A slice of layered vegetable lasagne (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

A slice of layered vegetable lasagne (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

The colder months in Stellenbosch are magical. Trees turn gold to orange to deeply auburn, then shed their colourful leaves in the streets before standing bare against the moody grey skies of the Cape.

Staying indoors brings a whole array of cozy comforts in the shape of baked pastas, slow cooked roasts, and hearty stews. One of my go-to winter favourites have always been a classic beef lasagne al forno, but this time I’ve decided to make use of the beautiful array of seasonal vegetables for a meat-free, cheesy, creamy delight: roasted vegetable lasagne.

You can adjust the choice of vegetables to whatever you prefer – I’ve chosen butternut, broccoli, courgettes and spinach for a layered effect of yellow and green. Other great choices are tomatoes, aubergines and leeks.

I choose to make the pasta sheets from scratch, but you can also use store-bought lasagne sheets that’s been pre-cooked for a few minutes. This is a great dish to make ahead of time, just pop it into the oven 45 minutes before dinner time. It also freezes very well.

Freshly baked vegetable lasagne straight from the oven (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Freshly baked vegetable lasagne straight from the oven (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Ingredients for roasted vegetables:

  • about 5 cups of diced vegetables of your choice
  • about 60 ml olive oil
  • 45 ml chopped fresh herbs (like thyme, rosemary, chives & basil) – or 5 ml dried herbs
  • salt & pepper for seasoning

Ingredients for white/bechamel sauce:

  • 125 g butter
  • 125 ml flour (1/2 cup)
  • 1 litre of milk (4 cups)
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • salt & pepper for seasoning

For assembly:

  • about 250 g uncooked lasagne pasta sheets (or roughly 400 g fresh pasta sheets)
  • 250 g grated mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 300 g ricotta cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 80 g parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • salt & pepper for seasoning
  • some extra grated cheese for the top, a mixture of mozzarella & parmesan works best
  • a sprinkling of mixed herbs, for the top

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 220 C. In a large roasting tray, arrange diced vegetables, then drizzle with oil and season well with herbs, salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes until tender and golden brown on the edges. Remove and set aside.
  2. In a saucepan on stove top, melt butter on medium heat, then add flour and mix to form a paste. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring, then slowly add milk while stirring. Keep stirring vigorously over medium heat to form a smooth sauce. Season with nutmeg, salt & pepper, then set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta sheets in a large pot of salted boiling water until just undercooked – about 6 minutes. Drain and get ready for assembling the lasagne immediately (otherwise they might start sticking together). Please note: if you are using fresh pasta sheets, you don’t have to pre-cook them, you can go straight to assembling.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, carefully mix together the mozzarella cheese, ricotta & parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. In a large deep rectangular oven dish, start layering the lasagne: start with a thin layer of white sauce, then pasta sheets, then veg mixture, then cheese mixture. Keep layering – you should repeat this about 3 times. End with a thick layer of bechamel sauce, then sprinkle with some leftover cheese mixture and some chopped/dried herbs. Bake at 180 C for at least 45 minutes, or until golden brown, bubbly and gooey. If the top starts to get too dark before the lasagne is cooked, cover with foil and return to the oven.

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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Roasted sweet potatoes with brown sugar & orange

22 May

Roasted sweet potatoes with ann orange & brown sugar sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Roasted sweet potatoes with an orange & brown sugar sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

When I was a child, my Mother used to roast whole sweet potatoes in the oven for dinner, skin and all. She didn’t do much to them, so they didn’t look very inspiring to us. Still, they oozed this sweet natural syrup from the inside when they were cooked – a little sneak-peak into what to expect from the soft and juicy roasted flesh inside.

I thought I’d give my roasted sweet potatoes a little make-over, something to match their dreamy texture and delicately sweet taste. To make things easier, I pre-cook the sliced wedges in water for just a few minutes, then transfer to a roasting tray and cover with a deliciously decadent brown sugar and orange sauce. Then they go back into the oven to become sticky and golden. The result? A beautiful, simple dish that taste as good as it looks!

Serve these as a sweet side dish with your favourite roast meats this Winter.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg medium size sweet potatoes, washed, cut lengthways into quarters
  • rind of 1 orange, finely grated
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice (juice from about 2 oranges)
  • 1 cup (250ml) demerara sugar
  • 60g butter
  • salt & pepper
  • 10ml corn flour / Maizena, dissolved in 30ml cold water

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 C.
  2. On the stove-top, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, then drain and transfer them to a large deep roasting tray.
  3. In a saucepan, add orange rind, orange juice, demerara sugar and butter. Bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring often. Season well with salt & pepper, then add dissolved corn flour and stir for a few seconds until it thickens. Remove from heat.
  4. Pour the sauce over the sweet potatoes in the roasting tray, making sure that they are covered all over. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or until the sauce starts to turn golden brown at the edges and the sweet potatoes are completely tender. Serve hot.

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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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 olive oil
  • 8 chicken pieces (about 1 kg)
  • 16-20 pickling onions, skinned and whole
  • 125 g streaky bacon, cut into small cubes
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 250 g button mushrooms (or portabellini)
  • 15 ml tomato paste
  • 30 ml flour
  • 1/2 bottle 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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Buttermilk pancakes with caramelised bananas, cream and salted pistachios

5 Jul

Fresh pancakes with caramelised bananas, cream and pistachios (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

We’ve officially hit the middle of the year, and that means an icy winter ahead of us. The cold weather certainly makes us all long for the smell of warm, comforting winter foods. But there are few things more comforting than the smell of freshly made pancakes.

This is my favourite recipe for deluxe buttermilk pancakes, from Phillippa Cheifitz’s book Lazy Days. If you don’t have buttermilk in your fridge, just use full cream milk mixed with 15 ml lemon juice. But I have to say that the buttermilk just adds a luxuriously soft finish to the pancakes.

There’s nothing wrong with cinnamon sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a traditional pancake fix (Phillippa likes to spread her pancakes with homemade apricot jam!), but in this case I topped them with caramelized bananas, covered in a brown sugar and butter sauce. To make these even more deadly, I prefer to drizzle them with double thick cream and a sprinkling of roughly chopped salted pistachio nuts. Sweet, salty and crunchy, yet delicately soft and gooey.

I can have this for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. So bring on the icy weather – I’ll bring the pancakes!

Ingredients for buttermilk pancakes: (country pancakes, recipe by Phillippa Cheifitz)

Makes about 12 pancakes. Batter will keep in the fridge, covered, for a few days.

  •  6 XL eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 30 ml sugar
  • 375 ml (1  1/2 cups) cake flour, sifted
  • 500 ml buttermilk (or use full cream milk mixed with 15 ml lemon juice)
  • 30 ml melted butter (or canola oil)
  • canola oil for frying

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then whisk/beat together until smooth. Allow to stand for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Place a medium size pan over medium heat, then use a heat proof basting brush to lightly coat with oil.
  3. When the pan is hot enough, add a ladle full of batter to the pan, swirling it around to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 1-2 minutes until golden brown, then flip over using a spatula to brown the other side. Note: If your batter looks too thick, add some cold water and mix well before adding another ladle to the pan.
  4. Stack the pancakes on top of each other, then make the topping.

Ingredients for caramelised banana topping: (enough for about 4 people)

  • 60 g (about 1/4 cup) butter
  • 2 x ripe, firm bananas, sliced into chunks diagonally
  • 1/4 cup soft brown sugar
  • 30 ml cream
  • double thick cream for serving (or whipped cream, or clotted cream, or mascarpone)
  • about 50 g salted pistachios, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Over medium-high heat, melt the butter in a medium sized pan, then add the banana slices. Fry for about 1 minute, turning once.
  2. Remove the bananas from the pan,  then add the brown sugar and cream to the remaining butter in the pan. Stir until the sugar has melted and the sauce is thick (not too dark) – add a touch more cream or butter if necessary. Remove from the heat as soon as it looks ready, and return the bananas to the pan. Swirl gently.

To assemble:

  1. Fold each pancake into quarters and arrange on a plate (about 2 per person).
  2. Top with the caramelized bananas and sauce, then drizzle with thick cream and sprinkle with some chopped pistachios. Serve at once.

Credits:

This post was written especially for The Pretty Blog.

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

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius and Tasha Seccombe.

 

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