Easy corn chowder with bacon & leeks

1 Dec


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This creamy corn chowder delivers on all fronts – it is very simple to make, incredibly flavourful, packed with all kinds of wonderful crunchy (and soft) textures, and it’s a comforting and satisfying dinner any day of the week. The cool thing is, it can also double up to be a popular crowd-pleasing starter or festive canapé, served in small bowls.

There are two vegetables that I always keep handy in my freezer: shelled peas and cut sweet corn. My daughter has loved both since she was very young, and this way I could conveniently cook small side portions in the microwave whenever I needed to make her a quick lunch after school or to go with our mid-week chicken schnitzels along with a creamy cheese sauce. McCain’s frozen vegetables are frozen at their freshest after a quick blanche, which means that you can conveniently steam or cook just the amount you need for a short time, with all the nutrients in tact and zero wastage.

I’ve teamed up with McCain South Africa to bring you one of my all-time favourite, super easy recipes using their cut sweet corn: a creamy corn chowder with bacon, potatoes, leeks and lots of chopped chives and parsley. It cooks in 30 minutes max from scratch in one pot, it is popular with adults and kids alike and it is packed with flavour, texture and nutrients. It also reheats well so it can be made in advance and topped with fresh herbs upon serving.

Sign up to McCain’s #MadeWithMcCain newsletter and you can stand the chance to WIN a Philips Advance Airfryer (offer valid until 15 December 2021).

Little bowls of comforting creamy corn chowder to please your friends and family this festive season.


Ingredients: (serves 4 – 6 guests as a midweek lunch/dinner, or a larger crowd when served in cups as a warm canapé or snack)

  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 300 leeks, finely sliced (white parts only)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 250 g smoked streaky bacon, chopped (plus extra for serving, optional)
  • 500 g or 4 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
  • 750 g McCain Cut Corn, frozen
  • 500 ml (2 cups) warm chicken stock
  • 250 ml (1 cup) milk
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) corn flour
  • 250 ml (1 cup) fresh cream
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated (or strong flavoured cheese of your choice)
  • a handful chives and/or Italian parsley, finely chopped, to serve

Tip: Prepare/chop all the ingredients as set out above and have them on hand before you place the pot on the heat.

In a medium pot over medium heat, add the oil and onion and fry until soft and translucent but not brown. Add the leeks & garlic, fry until lightly golden, then remove from the pot and aside. Add the bacon to the same pot, frying until golden brown, then add the fried onion mixture back into the pot along with the cubed potatoes and frozen corn (no need to thaw). Add the stock and 180 ml (3/4 cup) of the milk – mix the remaining 60 ml (1/4 cup) of milk with the corn flour and add it to the pot as well. Add the cream and stir well to loosen any sticky bits on the bottom. Season with salt & pepper, bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, then remove from the heat, add the cheese and stir through to melt. Serve hot in bowls, topped with chopped chives/parsley, extra fried bacon bits and more grated cheese, if you want to.

(This post was created in proud collaboration with McCain South Africa.)

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Tuna tartare salad with sesame soy emulsion

25 Nov

What’s better than a super fresh tuna steak? A super fresh tuna steak that has been ethically caught, one-by-one, in the wild using traceable small-scale fishing boats around Cape Town and Hout Bay. It’s one hook, one man, catching one fish at a time. This one-by-one style of tuna fishing is the only method that is considered to be environmentally safe, socially responsible, and based on generations of tradition. Fishing one-by-one allows tuna species to flourish as these methods make it near-impossible to overfish. Furthermore, it reduces by-catch of marine life, helps to protect and restore biodiversity, and minimizes plastic pollution in and around South African waters.

The IPNLF (International Pole and Line Foundation) celebrated World Fisheries Day on the 21st of November 2021 and they’ve invited me to take part in sharing their message. I’ve just received a blue “Fishing for the Future” Woolies bag filled to the brim with fresh & pantry ingredients and a box containing two large fresh yellowfin tuna steaks from Greenfish (caught off Cape Point within 24 hours prior to delivery). They are both partners of the IPNLF in promoting “one hook, one line, one fish at a time” – even for canned tuna.

So, how can you and I make a difference? We can choose one-by-one tuna on a regular basis, not leaving it for anniversaries or restaurants only, embracing the powerful environmental, social, and economical benefits it brings to South Africa. Chef extraordinaire Reuben Riffel has also joined the cause, and the IPNLF has shared two of his recipes with me, one being a flavourful tuna tartare that I’ve reinterpreted slightly using the ingredients in my Greenfish box and blue Woolies bag: diced fresh tuna, avocado, baby cucumber, red onion, fresh chilli and ginger, baby leaves, soy sauce, sesame oil and olive oil. I’ve added some black sesame seeds and a few bean crunchy sprouts. Reuben’s punchy dressing is made in a blender, which gives it the texture of a creamy emulsion (if your blender is powerful enough), but you can also just shake it in a jar. Absolutely lip-smackingly delicious – I can honestly eat like this every day of my life.

How beautiful are these steaks and these other fresh ingredients! Such an inspiration to cook with such pristine produce.


I will leave you with a message from the IPNLF: “Increasingly, consumers are demanding to know the origin of their meat and produce, seeking fair treatment for the animals and farmers. There is an equal need in this for our oceans. If the global pandemic and lockdown has shown us anything, it’s the importance of paying more attention to what we eat, how we eat it, and where it was sourced. The ocean is an amazing part of the earth that has been exploited for hundreds of years, but we can revolutionize market dynamics and we can demand change, by changing demand. The ocean provides us with many things we take for granted in our daily lives, such as a sustainable food source. We need to keep it clean and safe for all the wildlife there now and for our siblings, our children, and their children so they will have it to swim, to dive, to play on the beaches, creating memories and enjoy tuna as we have been able to.”

Here’s Reuben’s fabulous recipe with a few small twists of my own. I’ve already also experimented with searing the tuna (coated in sesame seeds) in hot olive oil and serving it in beautiful slices, with a similar salad of avocado & cucumber – absolutely scrumptious!

For the dressing/emulsion:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped/grated fresh ginger
  • 5-10 ml dark sesame oil (or 15-30 ml light sesame oil)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small red chilli (or green chilli), chopped

For the tartare salad: (serves 1, adjust for more people accordingly)

  • 1/2 avocado, thinly sliced (or cubed)
  • 1 mini cucumber, one third thinly shaved with a peeler, other 2 thirds finely diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 200 g fresh tuna, cubed (not chopped)
  • a handful bean sprouts
  • a handful baby leaves (or chopped chives or coriander leaves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black sesame seeds (optional)

Make the dressing/emulsion first by blending all the ingredients in a tall cup using a stick blender. Set aside while you prepare the salad: arrange the avocado in a shallow bowl (fanning it out, if sliced). Top with the diced cucumber & onion, then place the cubed tuna on top. Scatter with sprouts, baby leaves and sesame seeds, then pour the dressing over the top, using as much or as little as you like. Serve at once.


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Loaded bobotie vetkoek

25 Nov

Vetkoek with curried mince is a popular South African bazaar & street food item – you’ll even find it in some supermarkets as a daily lunch option. Bobotie on the other hand, is a heritage classic – a curried beef mince dish with delicate curry spices and plump raisins, sweetened with chutney and sometimes even apricot jam, baked with a layer of egg custard and served with yellow rice and an array of sambals. I’ve mashed up the two to bring you these bright yellow turmeric vetkoek topped with bobotie mince, sliced tomato and red onion, a soft fried egg, chutney and toasted coconut. It pairs beautifully with Nederburg’s Double Barrel Reserve and celebrates the launch of Nederburg’s brand new five-part food series, I’ll Bring The Wine, on Youtube (hosted by Karen Dudley). Watch episode one here. #illbringthewine

Also, check out my video on how to make this vetkoek:

For the turmeric vetkoek: (serves 4)

I’ve used 500g of Eureka’s 1kg vetkoek premix, but use whatever premix you can find and follow the instructions on the packet, adding 1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground turmeric per 500 g dry premix, before adding the water etc. Follow the instructions, let the dough proof, and deep-fry portions in hot oil until golden and fully cooked. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.

For the bobotie mince: (serves 4)

  • 30 ml olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 ml ground cinnamon
  • 5 ml ground ginger
  • 5 ml ground coriander
  • 5 ml ground turmeric
  • 2,5 ml ground cumin
  • 500 g lean beef mince
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 30 ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 60 ml fruit chutney
  • 15 ml tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4-1/3 cup water

Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium size pot and fry the onions until they are soft but not dark. Add the cinnamon, ginger, coriander, turmeric, cumin and stir for a minute. Add the beef mince and fry, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon, until the meat has colour all over – don’t go too dark. Season with salt & pepper, then add the Worcestershire sauce, chutney, tomato paste, raisins and 1/4 cup water. Stir well, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes, stirring now and then. Add more water if the mixture looks too dry. Taste and adjust salt & pepper, if necessary, then remove from the heat.

For assembly:

  • 1-2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • a handful fresh coriander
  • 4 eggs, fried in oil/butter (I prefer sunny side up with runny yolks)
  • chutney, to taste
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes, lightly toasted in a dry pan
  • 1 banana, sliced (optional)

Slice the vetkoek open horizontally, then top with the hot bobotie mince, sliced tomato and onion, fresh coriander, fried egg, more chutney, coconut flakes and a few slices of banana. Serve at once.

(This recipe was proudly created in association with Nederburg Wines. )

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Lunch at La Petit Ferme (spring menu)

16 Nov

Three weeks ago we had the privilege of being invited to lunch at La Petit Ferme – one of the jewels in Franschhoek’s infinite destination treasure chest. This iconic manor house on the Franschhoek Pass has just appointed a talented new head chef, Odette Olivier, at their restaurant. She comes with a wealth of local and international experience and is set to re-invigorate the dining experience at one of the Cape Winelands’ most scenic locations.

Here is our lunch in pictures. La Petit Ferme never disappoints in terms of location – it truly is one of the most scenic spots for daytime dining. Seated outside or at one of the large windows, you’ll have a more-than-180-degree view of the picturesque Franschhoek Valley – larger than life. It is world class, breathtaking and awe inspiring. Paired with authentic, friendly, professional service, natural ambiance, refined food and delightful wines, it’s an experience that’s hard to beat.

The incredible, expansive view of the Franschhoek Valley at La Petit Ferme.


Our tranquil garden table.


The spring menu at La Petit Ferme will be replaced by a summer menu shortly, but rest assured that the culinary team is ready to welcome you with the very best that the new season has to offer. Focusing on fresh, bold flavours and seasonal, sustainable produce, chef Odette Olivier excites with a bold palate and an adventurous mind.

Take a look at what we enjoyed for our lunch, with some comments below the pictures.

To start, we received small aniseed brioche buns in the shape of caneles and a butter spread topped with textural, colourful elements. Delightful.


La Petit Ferme’s barrel fermented Chardonnay is highly recommended and was the perfect addition to our multi-faceted lunch.


Glass of wine with a view.


Schalk’s starter: Fish Crudo – roti, papaya, white anchovy, pineapple, sage, tzatziki, curry leaves, smoked aioli, lemon mead shooter. A intensely fresh flavoured textured dish.


My starter: West Coast Mussels (Heritage Inspired): smoked snoek croquette, verjuice beurre blanc, red pepper smoortjie, petite peas, nasturtiums. A beautifully balanced dish with the most delightful sauce.


Schalk’s main course: Slow Cooked Karoo Lamb Shoulder – lamb riblet, kapokbos, confit garlic mash, apricot, cauliflower, rainbow carrots, moskonfyt jus.


My main course: Seared Salmon Trout – spicy fermented honey glaze, confit potato, sugar snap peas, green grapes, edamame, lime hollandaise. I loved the bold flavours and the simplicity of the dish, letting the individual elements shine without too much complication. Fresh and intense.


My main course (pictured above) was suprising – I would have never paired trout with a bold, spicy sauce, but it worked so beautifully. A great showcase of chef Odette Olivier’s adventurous yet refined palate.

Schalk’s dessert: Milktart & Rooibos – milktart ice cream, rooibos sorbet, apple crumble, mebos, milk jam, salted duck fat potato chips. How adventurous is this for a dessert? 🙂


My dessert of the day: Caramel Fudge Tart – coffee burnt pineapple, rum, passionfruit yoghurt sorbet, white chocolate cremora crumble. A rich but incredibly satisfying dessert served in a thin sliver.


La Petit Ferme remains a must-visit destination on the Franschhoek kaleidoscope of premium destinations, whether for a stay-over, a lunch/dinner or just a wine tasting. Their food offering is packed with value added extras such as one of the best views in the valley, space, outside seating and authentic Franschhoek hospitality. Book now to avoid disappointment.

The restaurant at La Petite Ferme is currently open for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 to 15:00; and, dinner seven days a week from 18:00 to 21:00.

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Dinner at Ember Meat Room

7 Oct

Last week I was invited to visit the brand new Ember Meat Room in Stellenbosch, Plein Street. This restaurant is headed by award-winning chef Michael Broughton (previously from the iconic Terroir Restaurant at Kleine Zalze which closed at the beginning of lockdown) and is centred around showcasing flame grilled locally farmed boran beef from Brenaissance Wine & Stud Estate (located in the Devon Valley, Stellenbosch). Ember Meat Room is one of three restaurants in The Farmers Collection – all three establishments launched during the very challenging Covid-19 environment that crippled hospitality industries worldwide during 2020 and 2021. This achievement speaks of vision, drive and tenacity by the team behind The Farmers Collection and I salute them.

Ember Meat Room is located next to their sister restaurant, Cucina, at 43 Plein Street across the town hall – right in the centre of Stellenbosch. The entrance is slightly hidden, featuring a discreet hallway that leads to a very dramatically lit restaurant space that is dotted with perfectly starched white linen covered tables within a dark, monotone, textured room with no windows (apart from the glass panel that showcases the kitchen). It transforms the vibey bustle of mid-town Stellenbosch into a uniquely discreet, private, upmarket atmosphere that sets a focused tone for food and wine.

The dinner menu is relatively limited, featuring three starters, four main courses, three sides and four desserts. The wine list is sourced exclusively from the Stellenbosch area only. To start, we were offered a bread board with butter and boran biltong.

We wanted to drink a red wine and our service representative recommended the Brenaissance Merlot – a wine that paired really well with the meat driven menu. I ordered the beef tartare as a starter and it was delightful, especially with the green oil that provided a smooth mouthfeel and bright flavour.

Schalk had the prawn risotto – a rework of chef Michael’s most popular starter from Terroir, with more smokey charred flavour and the wonderful sweetness of grilled corn.

For main course I had the wood fired fillet with a creamy brandy and mushroom sauce – classic flavours, very tender meat, served with potato puree and some grilled vegetables. Ember’s inhouse basting sauce must contain some type of activate charcoal, because all the grilled meats are pitch black on the outside – not from being burned, adding to the drama of the dark interior and emphasizing the beautifully pink colour inside.

Schalk had the proprietor’s cut, which includes three different cuts of beef, along with a beef jus. His favourite cut was also the fillet.


We ordered two sides to go with our main courses: the creamed spinach and the parmesan & truffle chips – I can highly recommend both.

For dessert, I enjoyed the Le KitKat – a stunning chocolate dessert that was one of the highlights of the dinner.

Ember Meat Room is a one-of-a-kind addition to the very competitive Winelands dining landscape. I look forward to discovering more that The Farmers Collection has to offer.

They are open for lunch (from 12pm) and dinner (from 6pm), Tuesday to Saturday.

To make a booking for 4 people or less, book now using their online booking system.
To make a booking for 5 people or more, please get in touch directly on ember@thefarmerscollection.co.za or 021 203 6255.

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15-minute ‘Spring greens’ soup

22 Sep

Today marks the officially turn of the seasons from Winter to Spring and for many of us it also marks a celebration of everything green and fresh after a long and cold Winter filled with heavier stews and other rich comfort foods. “Fresh” doesn’t always have to be “raw” –  if you can preserve something of that green freshness in the comfort of a smooth and utterly satisfying soup, I’d say you’re covering best of both worlds.

I wrote this recipe for First Choice Dairy after they asked me to create something for Spring, preferable something light or a side dish, incorporating their cream. Although I don’t associate cream with “light cooking”, this soup is indeed light and bursting with the intense green flavours of peas, broccoli, baby spinach, mint and leeks. I pulsed the vegetables (except the peas) in a food processor to match the size of the peas, then cooked it for a mere 5 minutes in vegetable stock. Immediately transferred to a blender, it is transformed into a smooth, beautifully green soup, adding the cool cream to stop the vegetables from cooking any further or losing their colour. By lack of any other fat or oil in the recipe, the cream provides the necessary luxurious roundness and smooth mouthfeel.


To serve, I love adding as much luxurious goodness and texture as possible: a swirl of cream, a few drops of extra virgin olive oil, some smoked roasted pumpkin seeds, finely sliced sugar snaps, fresh pea shoots and mint leaves, and of course a few thick slices of fresh ciabatta that’s been freshly toasted with olive oil. The smoked pumpkin seeds add fabulous flavour and crunch, but if you’re looking for a meaty kick, you’re welcome to add a handful of crispy fried bacon nuggets.

This soup is wonderful served warm, but just as good served at room temperature. It’s a nutrient-packed, mood-lifting, flavourful celebration of a promising new season – happy Spring Day!


  1. First Choice Real Dairy Cream (long life)  is available in 250ml and 1 liter tetrapacks. It has no preservatives and can be stored safely on the shelf for months. Once opened it should be refrigerated and used within 7 days. The tetrapacks are 100% recyclable.
  2. If you don’t have a food processor, just chop the vegetables and cook them a little longer, adding the peas half way through the process and cooking until everything is just tender. You’ll still need at least a stick blender to blend the soup to a smooth puree.

Ingredients: (serves 4 as a main meal or 6 as a starter)

  • 750 ml (3 cups) vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 200 g leeks, white parts only, sliced into chunks
  • 250 g broccoli, sliced into florets
  • 250 g frozen/fresh peas
  • a generous handful baby spinach
  • a small handful fresh mint leaves, stalks discarded
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) First Choice Cream
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • for serving: (all optional, but you can add all of these and more!)
    • a swirl of First Choice Cream
    • a few drops of extra virgin olive oil
    • a few tablespoons pumpkin seeds, smoked & roasted
    • croutons, or ciabatta brushed with olive oil and toasted
    • a few fresh pea shoots
    • a few mint leaves
    • a few sugar snap peas, finely sliced


Place the stock in a medium size pot over medium heat. While it is heating up, place the leeks and broccoli in a food processor and pulse until it matches the size of peas. Add the pulsed vegetables along with the peas to the stock and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, turn down the heat and simmer for 4 minutes, then add the spinach and simmer for another minute. Remove from the heat and carefully ladle into a powerful blender. Add the mint and cream and blend to a very smooth puree. Season generously with salt & pepper, then mix well. Serve at once, with a swirl of cream and your choice of toppings and bread (can also be served at room temperature).

This post was created in proud collaboration with First Choice Dairy.

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Miso glazed chicken espetada with fennel & cauliflower

17 Sep

This 4-ingredient miso glaze comes together in only five minutes and is absolutely scrumptious on chicken, fish, vegetables – you name it. But today, I chose a combination of boneless chicken drumsticks and thighs to create generous espetadas on long metal skewers – elegant enough for your next dinner party, yet easy enough for any day of the week. I baked them in the oven, but you can certainly also grill them over an open fire for a more smoky result and basted generously.

The creamy base is a mixture of fennel and cauliflower cooked in cream, blitzed to an ultra smooth puree. It is the most wonderful bed on which to serve these punchy glazed espetadas, with a sprinkle of fresh fennel fronds or fresh dill.

This recipe was created exclusively to pair with Pilgrim Wines’ unique Chenin Blanc – made from beautiful 35 year old vines planted in decomposed sandstone and clay in the Voor-Paardeberg. As the winemaker, award-winning Henry Kotzé, says: “The wine has a volume on the mouthfeel that transcends the norm, almost ethereal in a sense as it feels weighty and full but in tasting it, it ends off with a beautiful mineral salinity, so light to the touch with a vibrancy, it leaves you wanting some more.” I wholeheartedly agree. It’s an elegant, complex wine that will excite wine afficionado’s, yet accessible enough for any occasion. It pairs really well with the recipe below.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

Note: If you are going to serve these espetadas with the puree, start with the puree. It’s easy to reheat in a flash just before the espetadas are cooked through.

For the miso glazed espetadas: (serves 6)

  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) miso paste – I used yellow, but you can also use white
  • 60 ml (4 tablespoons or 1/4 cup) good quality soy sauce
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) muscovado or demerara sugar
  • about 2 kg boneless chicken (I prefer thighs/drumsticks)

Preheat the oven to 220 C. In a small saucepan over low heat, add the miso, soy sauce, wine and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for 2-3 minutes and remove from the heat. In the meantime, skewer the chicken (if you are using boneless thighs/drumsticks, just fold each piece as you skewer it, but if you’re using breast meat, cut it into smaller chunks before skewering. Line a rimmer baking tray with non-stick baking paper, then arrange the skewers on top. Baste generously with the glaze, then bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the espetadas over and baste again, then return to the oven for another 10 minutes. The meat should be just cooked, not dry, so test a centre piece to see if it is tender and ready. Serve hot with your choice of sides/salad, or on a bed of the puree below.

For the fennel & cauliflower puree:

  • about 500 g cauliflower, cut into smaller florets (you can use the stems too)
  • 1 medium head of fennel, finely sliced, with some fronds
  • 250 ml cream
  • salt & pepper, to taste

To serve:

  • a few dill sprigs (optional)
  • a pinch of black sesame (optional)

Place the cauliflower, fennel and cream in a medium pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn down the heat to low, cover with a lid (keep it open with a small slit to prevent the cream from boiling over) and cook until tender – about 12 minutes. Transfer the hot cooked vegetables and cream to a blender and blend until very smooth, seasoning with salt & pepper (remember, the miso glaze is very salty, so don’t be too heavy on the salt here). Serve with the miso glazed espetadas and a few extra fennel fronds or fresh dill and a sprinkle of black sesame.

(A proud collaboration with Pilgrim Wines.)

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Hake, herb and spring vegetable spaghetti

13 Sep

September is Heart Health Awareness Month and I’ve partnered with I&J and MSC to bring you this scrumptious, easy, #feelgoodseafood hake pasta recipe.

In case you don’t know, the heart-healthy mark (Heart Mark) and the blue MSC label (the Marine Stewardship Council that certifies sustainable seafood) on I&J’s hake fillets & medallions boxes are a great form of assurance that I’m playing my part for the environment and for my health. I have a family history of heart disease and have been diagnosed with light arrhythmia at the age of 30 (an irregular heart beat), so I’m very aware of heart health and making responsible health choices.

I&J’s Deep Water Hake is wild caught in the pristine depths of the Atlantic Ocean, 100% natural, flash frozen for ultimate freshness and peace of mind, free of antiobiotics/preservatives/colourants and high in Omega 3. It’s also a great source of proteien, and MJC Halaal endorsed. I chose to use the hake prime medallions, because they’re conveniently boneless and skinless.


This quick and simple fish pasta recipe takes only about 15 minutes to cook (after prepping and chopping) and is a winner any day of the week. Packed with the bright green flavours of spring, it is a fresh and healthy meal for the whole family!

Have a look at my how-to video at the bottom of this post, and find the full recipe below.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 30 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 450 g frozen I&J Prime Medallions Hake, sliced into 1 cm rounds
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • rind of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) cake/bread flour
  • 250 ml (1 cup) vegetable/chicken stock
  • about 400g spaghetti (plus salted water, for cooking)
  • 125 g (a medium punnet) sugar snap peas, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dill, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated


Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil for the spaghetti. In the meantime, using a large wide non-stick pan, heat the oil and fry the sliced hake on both sides until lightly golden and just cooked, seasoning with salt & pepper. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the spaghetti to the boiling water (stir every now and then to prevent sticking, and place a timer on 7-8 minutes for al dente). While the spaghetti is cooking, add the garlic and lemon rind to the same pan that you fried the hake in, over medium heat. Stir for half a minute, then add the flour and stir briefly. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, stirring. Now add the sugar snaps, fried hake, and the freshly cooked spaghetti, topping with parsley, dill and parmesan. Use tongs to mix well, then plate and serve immediately in bowls. 

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My mother’s legendary aniseed brioche (anysbeskuit)

30 Aug

For the past 30 plus years, my mother Erna Uys has been baking the best aniseed brioche I’ve ever tasted. I say aniseed brioche and not “mosbolletjies”, because although this loaf might look like mosbolletjies, it simply isn’t. She calls it “anysbeskuit”, but I’ve also read that it is known as “soetbeskuit” – a tall and feathery sweet brioche flavoured with aniseed that you can also break into tufty fingers for drying out as rusks. My mother’s recipe doesn’t contain any fermented grape juice, which is the key ingredient to traditional South African mosbolletjies – an identical looking loaf that is usually made shortly after grapes are harvested in the Boland. What makes her recipe different is that it contains condensed milk, and more than double the amount of aniseeds that are found in other aniseed brioche recipes.

When I was a child, my mother used to bake for a local bakery called “Die Koskas” (The Food Cupboard) here in Stellenbosch. Her aniseed brioche (which most people just called mosbolletjies because it looked exactly like it) were baked in massive loaf pans, still luke warm when she delivered them, keeping the bags open to release the last bit of steam. People used to wait in line to buy these, so her loaves never really even hit the shelves before being lapped up.

Aniseed brioche is a labour of love, mostly because you need patience. It takes long to make because the rich dough needs a few hours to proof properly, a second proof of about an hour or two when inside the tin and another 50 minutes of baking time. But once you’ve tasted the warm feathery tufts slathered in butter, you’ll know why it’s special and why people go crazy for it. I’m sharing this special family recipe in collaboration with Gideon Milling, using their South African grown, stone ground cake wheat flour – a fantastic all-purpose flour that I use very often for anything from cakes to pizza.

Here are a few notes on this recipe:

  • My mother’s original recipe calls for 2,5 kg cake flour, which is just too large a batch for regular home baking (it yields 3 extra large loaves which might feed at least 30 people). I changed the recipe to use 850 g cake flour, still resulting in an extra large loaf by anyone’s standards.
  • *If you want to bake this loaf in one extra large pan, you’re going to look for something about 35 cm long and 15 cm wide. The largest pan that I own (pictured in this post) is 34 cm long and 9 cm wide, resulting in the tops rising above the pan’s sides if I use all of the mixture, so I’ve recently started filling it with only 75% of the dough, filling a very small second pan on the size with the remaining dough. However, my mother’s pans are large and wide enough to “contain” the dough and result in two rows of very neat looking smooth rounds on top. You can certainly also split the dough up and bake two large loaves of about 25 cm x 10 cm, or three medium loaves of 20 x 9 cm – this way you can gift one or two loaves to a friend.
  • My mother insists on frothing her instant yeast in water with some sugar, although technically you should be able to add it in with the dry ingredients. I follow her guidance.
  • If you want to make sure that your loaf doesn’t stick to the pan, rather just line it with baking paper. Most modern pans are relatively non-stick these days, but some older pans tend to stick, even when greased well. The brioche is VERY tender when warm from the oven, and will break if it cannot slide out easily.
  • This loaf will last quite a few days on the shelf, wrapped in plastic. It might become a lot firmer, but will regain its magic with the help of a toaster. The great thing is that it slices very neatly the older it gets, so you can make beautiful melba toasts (dry out in the oven at 70 C for about 1 hour) that will keep for weeks in an airtight container. Perfect addition to your next cheese platter.
  • This loaf makes wonderful rusks – sliced each individual segment lengthways (or break it with the use of a fork to keep the feathery look), then dry out at 70 C for about 5 hours without it getting any colour.
  • Aniseed are small little spice seeds and have a distinctive liquorice flavour. They cannot be substituted with similar sounding whole star anise or similar looking cumin seeds – it’s a completely different spice.

Here are some how-to photographs to guide you through your first “anysbeskuit” adventure:

Start with using good quality natural stone ground flour, like Gideon Milling’s cake flour. The dough is enriched with a free range egg, butter and condensed milk, and flavoured with aniseed. It need 2-4 hours to proof – it should triple in size.

I use a kitchen scale to make sure my balls are all an even size. Shape them by hand to ensure a smooth surface.

Make sure your pan is very well oiled. The balls should fit tightly and should preferably only cover the lower third (or maximum lower half) of your pan. They will proof to double in size, and rise even more while baking.



(makes 1 XL loaf or 2 large loaves or 3 medium loaves – see *pan size guides in notes above)

Prep time: 20 min for mixing & kneeding, 2-4 hours for proofing, 15 minutes for shaping, 1-2 hours for second proof, 50 minutes for baking.

  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) luke warm water
  • 10 g (3 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 200 g (250 ml) white sugar
  • 850 g (6 cups) Gideon Milling cake flour
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) salt
  • 20 g (3 tablespoons) aniseed
  • 60 ml (4 tablespoons) condensed milk
  • 100 g butter, melted
  • 1 XL egg, lightly whisked
  • 250 ml warm water (warmer than luke warm, but not boiling)
  • oil, for brushing the bowl & tin
  • for the syrup: 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water


In a medium jug/bowl (about 500 ml capacity), add the warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Stir, then leave to froth for about 10 minutes while you get the rest of the ingredients ready. To the bowl of a stand mixer (or just a large mixing bowl, if doing this by hand), add the rest of the sugar along with the flour, salt & aniseed. Stir to mix. When the yeast mixture is frothy, add the wet ingredients to the mixing bowl in the following order: condensed milk, butter, egg, warm water and then the frothy yeast mixture. Mix on low speed using the K-beater for about 30 seconds, then switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for 10 minutes (if working by hand, stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture become sticky, then knead for at least 10 minutes until the mixture is very smooth and soft, adding a little flour if the mixture is sticking to the working surface). Lightly oil the inside of a large bowl with room for proofing, then shape the dough into a smooth ball and add it to the bowl. Cover with plastic and leave to rise in a warm area until tripled in size – 2 to 4 hours depending on weather conditions.

In the meantime, oil the inside of your preferred *tin/s using a pastry brush. When the dough is ready, divide it into 12 balls of the same size (about 170 g each). Lightly oil your hands, then shape each ball by pushing it from below through the hole you make by pressing your thumb and forefinger together, pinching it at the bottom to stay round, then arrange tightly in rows in your tin/s. Again, cover with plastic for a second proof – you need the dough to almost reach the top of the tins. While it is proofing, preheat your oven to 170 C and arrange your oven rack to be in the lower third. Remove the plastic from the tin when the dough has proofed enough, then bake the loaf for 1 hour at 170 C. In the meantime, make the syrup by stirring the sugar and warm water together in a cup.

When the baking time is up, have a clean, thick folded tea towel ready, then turn the freshly baked loaf out onto the towel (the loaf is too soft for a cooling rack at this stage). Brush with the syrup, then leave to cool slightly before serving warm – tearing off the “bolletjies” one by one to reveal their natural feathery nature. The loaf can also be sliced (when cooled), if preferred. Best served with butter (and optionally also jam).

– In proud collaboration with Gideon Milling. –

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Lemon semolina syrup cake

25 Aug

This easy, scrumptious, moist, bright yellow cake is the fourth and final recipe in the series #WhenLifeGivesYouLemons with LemonGold. It is made with four whole boiled LemonGolds (they’re seedless, so no need to remove seeds) and gets drenched in a lemony, almondy syrup as soon as it comes from the oven. The bright yellow colour doesn’t only come from the yellow fruit pulp (skins and all), but also from the use of extra virgin olive oil, locally sourced free range eggs and pale yellow semolina, resulting in a truly golden colour. Fine semolina lends a tender soft crumb, light as air.

The cake can be stored on the counter, covered, for up to 3 days, or refrigerated for up to 1 week. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or at room temperature with a cup of coffee.

Ingredients: (serves at least 8)

  • 4 LemonGolds
  • water, for boiling
  • 180 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 140 g (2/3 cup) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 XL free range eggs
  • 2 cups (250 g) fine semolina
  • 20 ml (4 teaspoons) baking powder


Preheat oven to 180 C and spray a large rectangular deep baking dish with non-stick spray (mine is 24 x 30 cm).

Cover the lemons with water and bring to a boil. Turn heat to a simmer and cover with a lid, then cook until soft (about 30 min). Remove with tongs and cool slightly, then remove the hard woody end stubs and cut into quarters. Blitz until smooth in a food processor. Now add the olive oil, sugar, salt and eggs. Process until well mixed, scraping the sides. Add the semolina and baking powder and pulse to mix.

Scrape the mixture out into the prepared baking tin and smooth the surface, edging the mixture evenly into all the corners. Bake for 30 minutes (while you make the syrup) – the centre should be cooked and the surface golden. Remove from the oven and cut into diamonds, then ladle the syrup all over.

For the syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • juice of a LemonGold
  • 5 ml almond essence

Boil all the syrup ingredients for 1 minute, then set aside to cool. 

Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream, or at room temperature with a strong coffee.




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