Tag Archives: Winter

Italian-style white bean soup with lamb knuckle

14 May

One of my favourite recipes this winter: a brothy white bean soup made with lamb knuckle and topped with salsa verde. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Although many of us know and love traditional South African bean soup made with red speckled beans, there’s another variety that you absolutely have to try. It is made with small white haricot beans (almost like Italian canellini beans, which are not very common in SA in its dried form). These beans are very smooth in texture and they tend to not fall apart as easily as their speckled cousins, resulting in a non-stodgy end result. This is a slightly thickened brothy soup with chunks of deliciously tender meat and beautiful, small, silky beans. Made with chicken stock instead of mutton or beef stock, the soup is also lighter in colour than most bean soups. A dollop of punchy green salsa verde adds just the right lift to this meal.

A single lamb knuckle, sliced by your butcher, is enough to add the meatiness that this soup needs. It’s an economical way to serve a stylish soup in a fresh way this Winter. Serve with crusty bread, if you like.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • about 600 g lamb knuckle, sliced horizontally by your butcher
  • 1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1-2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) carrots, peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 250 ml dry white wine
  • 2 liters chicken stock
  • 500 g small white beans (haricot)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • for the salsa verde:
    • a handful each parsley, basil & mint
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 2 teaspoons capers
    • 15-30 ml lemon juice
    • 45-60 ml olive oil
    • a pinch of salt
    • 10 ml Dijon mustard

Method:

  1. Heat the oil on high heat in a large wide pot (at least 6 liters capacity), then fry lamb knuckle in batches until browned on both sides (cut larger chunks of meat in half). Remove the meat from the pot and set aside, then turn down heat to  medium.
  2. Fry the onion, celery & carrot until soft, stirring often (add a little more oil if needed). Add the garlic & rosemary (add the sprigs whole, you’ll remove the woody stems later) and fry for another minute.
  3. The bottom of the pot should be coated with sticky brown bits by now. Add the white wine and stir to deglaze. Add the fried meat with all the juices back into the pot, then top with stock. Add the beans and stir. Note: Don’t add any salt until tright at he end, otherwise the beans won’t become tender.
  4. Bring to a simmer, stirring now and then, then turn heat down to low, cover with a lid and cook for about 2,5-3 hours until the meat is falling from the bone and the beans are really tender.
  5. Season generously with salt & pepper and remove from the heat to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
  6. To make the salsa verde, chop all the ingredients together by hand or in a food processor. Taste and adjust with more salt or lemon juice if needed.
  7. Serve the soup in bowls with a dollop of salsa verde (and some crusty bread for dipping, optionally).

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

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Spicy lamb & chickpea stew

14 May

Naturally gluten-free, this fragrant and spicy lamb stew is easy to make, hearty, and perfect for Autumn & Winter. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

This easy North African-style lamb & chickpea stew is heartier than a soup, yet it doesn’t need to be served with any added starch. It is high in protein, relatively low in fat and naturally gluten-free.

I love the fact that it can be made with a few pantry staples like canned tomatoes and chickpeas, stretching a relatively small amount of meat to serve a crowd. Top it generously with fresh herbs like coriander, mint or parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. Perfect Autumn fare!

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • about 800 g boneless lamb/mutton, cubed 2x2cm (leg works well, but any boneless meat will work)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) smoked paprika
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) harissa dried spice blend (or cayenne pepper)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) sugar
  • 500 ml lamb/mutton stock
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained
  • finely grated zest (and 15 ml juice, reserved) of a fresh lemon
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • a generous handful fresh coriander/mint/parsley, to serve

Method:

  1. In a large heavy based pot with lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until translucent and soft. Turn up the heat and add the meat cubes, browning on all sides but not cooking through.
  2. Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, harissa, cinnamon stick and stir for 1 minute.
  3. Add the sugar, stock, tomatoes, chickpeas and lemon zest and bring to a simmer. Turn down heat to very low, then simmer for about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender, stirring now and then to check that the bottom is not burning.
  4. Season generously with salt & pepper, add the lemon juice and stir in half of the fresh herbs. Remove from the heat. Serve in bowls with more fresh herbs.

Note: This stew can be made a day or two ahead and reheated – it also freezes well. Leg meat should take less time to get tender, but any cut will eventually get really soft.

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

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Easy lamb chop bouguignon (French-style stew in red wine)

20 Apr

This hearty lamb chop stew in red wine is based on the classic French beef bourguignon, perfect for colder evenings. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Beef bourguignon is probably one of the best-known classic French dishes, also famously featured in the movie Julie & Julia. This fuss-free version is made with delicious lamb chops – a hearty, upgraded “plan B” for when the weather is not ideal for a braai. Yes, there’s more than one way to enjoy a chop. Bring on winter, please!

This recipe is also perfect for making in a cast iron potjie over the fire, if you prefer.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

45 ml olive oil
1,2 kg lamb chops
salt & pepper
250 g streaky bacon, chopped
2 large onions, peeled & quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
5 sprigs thyme, woody stalks removed
30 ml tomato paste
10 ml cake flour
750 ml dry red wine (a Bordeaux-style blend works well)
250 g small mushrooms (or halved if bigger)
500 g tagliatelle, cooked & buttered, for serving
a handful fresh parsley, chopped, for serving

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 C.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy based large pot (that has a lid) over high heat. Fry the chops in batched, browning them on both sides and seasoning with salt & pepper. Remove from the pot and turn down the heat to low.
  3. Add the bacon, onions, garlic & thyme and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring.
  4. Add the tomato paste & flour, stirring.
  5. Add the red wine and stir to loosen any sticky bits on the bottom of the pot. Now add the browned meat and juices back to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and braise for about 2,5-3 hours or until the meat is just starting to fall from the bone. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  6. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 10-15 minutes (covered), then remove from the oven.
    Serve hot with freshly cooked tagliatelle (or rice or potatoes) and scattered parsley.

Note: This tagine can be made a day ahead and reheated before serving as the flavours improve on standing (store in the refigerator overnight). Freezes very well.

This is the third recipe in a series of four Mediterranean-inspired Autumn/Winter dishes for Lamb & Mutton SA. Also check out my recipes for Greek-style 8-hour leg of lamb with origanum & preserved lemon and Italian-style lamb & tomato ragu with gnocchi.

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Lamb & tomato ragu with gnocchi

5 Apr

Lamb & tomato ragu with gnocchi, basil and parmesan (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

 

This is hands-down one of the most comforting dishes I’ve ever eaten. It is made with boneless lamb that’s been cubed into 1 x 1 cm blocks – don’t stress about the labour, it goes quickly and it’s actually quite therapeutic (read: pour yourself a glass of wine while you do it). You can use chops, leg or even stewing meat, just remove the bones and chop-chop-chop. The result is a chunkier ragu than those made with ground meat, very tender with an incredible mouth-feel and packed with simple, robust flavours. Just the way the Italians intended.

I love serving this ragu with gnocchi, but it also works well with pasta – homemade is best. Fresh basil and grated parmigiano is compulsory. Bellissima!

Ingredients: (serves 6)

45 ml olive oil
1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped
1-2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled & finely chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, woody stems removed & finely chopped
1 kg boneless lamb/mutton, cubed into 1 x 1 cm pieces
1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine
2 cans whole Italian tomatoes, roughly chopped, with juice
salt & pepper
5 ml sugar
about 750g-1 kg fresh gnocchi, cooked, to serve (or 500 g dried pasta, cooked)
a handful fresh basil leaves, to serve
grated parmesan cheese, to serve

Method:

  1. In a heavy based large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and fry the onion, celery, carrot and rosemary until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add the cubed meat and turn up the heat. Fry until it starts to catch (get brown and sticky) on the bottom stirring often – this is important, so be patient. It takes about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and stir to deglaze. Add the chopped tomatoes with juice, season with salt & pepper, add the sugar and stir. Bring so a simmer, then turn the heat down low, cover and cook for 2-3 hours until very soft. Stir every now and then.
  4. Serve with cooked gnocchi or pasta, with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese.

Note: Store-bought gnocchi don’t pan-fry well and should rather be boiled briefly in salted water until they pop to the surface. Freshly made gnocchi can be directly pan-fried in butter until golden, it only take a few minutes over medium heat and it is most definitely my preference.

This is the second recipe in a series of four Mediterranean-inspired Autumn/Winter dishes for Lamb & Mutton SA. Also check out my recipe for Greek-style 8-hour leg of lamb with origanum & preserved lemon.

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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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