Miso glazed chicken espetada with fennel & cauliflower

17 Sep

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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

Method:

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.

 

Ingredients:

(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

Method:

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

Method:

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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Italian-style hake with lemon butter, capers and parsley

18 Aug

This punchy, easy, big flavour recipe is the third in a four-part series that I’ve created in collaboration with LemonGold. It’s based on the superb Italian classic, fish “piccata” – a one-pan fish dish that is lip-smackingly delicious and so very easy to make for an anyday dinner or weekend lunch.

If you don’t have access to fresh hake, a packet of quality medallions or fillets will work perfectly – it’s what I’ve used as well. Thaw before cooking, then pat dry, dust in flour and cook as instructed below. If you need some serving suggestion inspiration, take a look at my lemony labneh and roasted aubergine salad – both would make wonderful companions for this recipe.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • about 450 g hake medallions/fillets, boneless (fully thawed if frozen)
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) butter
  • salt & pepper, to taste

For the sauce:

  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) baby capers
  • 60 ml/g (1/4 cup) butter
  • juice and finely grated rind of 2 LemonGolds
  • a handful Italian parsley, finely chopped

Method:

Use kitchen paper to pat the fish portions dry. In a large non-stick pan over medium heat, heat the oil and butter, then dust each fish portion in flour and place in the pan. Fry on both sides until just cooked and golden (about 2-3 minutes a side), seasoning with salt & pepper as you go. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan while still warm, add the capers, frying for a few seconds, then add the butter, lemon juice and rind, stirring to mix. When the butter has melted and the sauce is bubbling, remove from the heat, then add the chopped parsley and stir through. Plate the cooked fish, then spoon the warm sauce over each portion and serve immediately.

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Citrus, soy & sesame chicken with rice

16 Aug

After recently making my annual batch of citrus jam (sometimes it’s orange marmalade, sometimes naartjie, sometimes a combination, but this year it was a special batch of freshly picked naartjie & lemon jam from a friend’s farm – less marmalade-ey, more jammy, almost no bitterness, very “sunny” flavoured), I’m thinking of all the wonderful ways to use my generous batch of beautiful orange-coloured preserves. Apart from eating jam on toast every day (which is totally not a bad idea), there are so many more ways to use marmalade. A glaze for meat is a one way to put your citrus jams to use, and this recipe uses jam ánd fresh fruit juice to make the most of citrus season.

I’m always searching for easy mid-week recipes that pack a punch and take little time to prepare, and this recipe ticks all the boxes. I love locally produced free-range deboned chicken thighs – although they’ve a tendancy to be quite expensive, I really believe that if you’re a clever shopper, you’ll be able to find them on special every now and then. There are also deboned chicken drumsticks on shelves these days – such a great cut that will work equally well. The texture of brown chicken meat is simply the best.

I’m a sauce lover, so this recipe needed to be saucy enough to spoon over rice. I used my naartjie/lemon marmalade plus some fresh lemon juice, soy sauce, fresh ginger and garlic, resulting in a very punchy, sweet and sour and salty end result. If you prefer something a little milder, substitute the lemon juice with naartjie or orange juice instead. I’ve thickened the sauce slightly with some corn flour (old-school style, I promise it’s fantastic) but if you prefer a runny sauce just leave out that step. Serve warm over rice with grilled or steamed greams (broccoli is my go-to) and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Comforting, punchy, real food – easy to make, great to eat any day of the week.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • about 500 g boneless free-range chicken thighs/drumsticks, sliced into chunks
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) soy sauce
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) citrus marmalade (orange/naartjie/clementine)
  • 60-80 ml (1/4-1/3 cup) fresh lemon juice (or orange/naartjie/clementine)
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) dark sesame oil
  • about 15-30 ml fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 10 ml corn flour (Maizena), mixed with about 30 ml water
  • cooked rice, to serve
  • steamed/grilled broccoli/greens, to serve
  • sesame seeds, to serve (optional)

Method:

Before you start the chicken, cook your rice and greens and set aside, keeping it warm, ready to plate (the chicken cooks very quickly).

In a medium, deep pan (I used a 25 cm iron skillet), heat the oil and when the pan is hot, add the chicken. Fry for a few minutes, stirring often until you have some golden colour on some of the strips – they don’t have to be fully cooked or brown yet. While the chicken is frying, add the following to a medium jug: soy sauce, marmalade, lemon juice, sesame oil, ginger, garlic – mix well. Add the mixed marinade to the pan and stir through, then bring to a simmer. After about 3 minutes, add the cornflour mixture and stir through. Cook for 5-7 more minutes or until just cooked, then remove from the heat. Plate the chicken and sauce over warm rice in bowls with broccoli/greens, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Note: The chicken & sauce reheats superbly and make great leftovers.

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Roasted aubergine & sweet potato salad with lemon & mint

12 Aug

Soft, sweet and earthy roasted vegetables, zippy lemon dressing, creamy hummus, crunchy fresh rocket & toasted pine nuts. This is everything I love in a salad.

This hearty vegetarian salad is the second recipe in a series of four that I’ve created with LemonGold, #WhenLifeGivesYouLemons. It is a wonderful combination of umami-rich roasted aubergine and earthy sweet potato with a zesty lemon, mint and garlic dressing, served with fresh rocket leaves on a bed of hummus and/or labneh, topped with slivers of red onion and toasted pine nuts. I can eat this every day of the week for lunch or dinner, but it is also such a stunning salad to serve as part of a bigger festive spread with fish or chicken or a scrumptious lamb roast.

Cooking can bring so much joy into our lives, especially if it is simple and stress-free with big flavour results. This is one of those recipes – so very easy to make, but really packing a punch in terms of flavour and the comfort that it brings. LemonGolds are very juicy seedless lemons, which make them a joy to cook with. You’ll only need one LemonGold to make this zippy, minty dressing. Along with the extra virgin olive oil it gets absorbed into the cooked vegetables, contrasting with the creamy hummus, crunchy pine nuts and peppery rocket leaves – an ode to my adoration for Yotam Ottolenghi’s style of serving roasted salads on a bed of hummus or yoghurt.

This salad is a complete meal suitable for a vegetarian main course, or serve it as part of a bigger spread.

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

  • about 8-10 small sweet potatoes (or 2 large), washed and sliced into wedges
  • a few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 large aubergine, sliced into fingers
  • for the dressing:
    • 3 tablespoons LemonGold juice
    • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
    • a handful mint leaves, finely chopped (plus a few extra for serving)
    • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup store-bought hummus (or labneh, or yoghurt, or a combination)
  • a small bunch fresh rocket leaves
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220 C. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the sliced sweet potatoes in a bowl, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then toss/stir to coat all over and tip the wedges into the baking tray, evening them out in a single layer. Repeat with the aubergine fingers – olive oil, salt, toss/stir, into the tray. Roast for 30-35 minutes until golden and fully cooked, then remove from the oven and tip back into the mixing bowl.

While the vegetables are roasting, make the dressing: in a medium jar, add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and mint, then season generously with salt & pepper and give it a good shake. Pour all over the roasted vegetables (in the bowl) and leave to cool until ready to plate.

To assemble: On a large plate or salad platter, swirl a thin layer of hummus/labneh/yoghurt (or combo) and top with some rocket leaves. Now arrange the dressed roasted vegetables on top, adding more rocket leaves, fresh mint leaves, slivers of red onion and toasted pine nuts. Spoon the remaining dressing over the salad and serve immediately.

Note: This salad is best served slightly warm or at room temperature, assembled right before serving. The vegetables can be roasted and marinated in the dressing ahead of time.

(This post was created in proud collaboration with LemonGold SA.)

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Lemony labneh

4 Aug

When life gives you lemons, make this lemony labneh!

Labneh is a luxuriously soft, creamy, yoghurt cheese that originated in the Middle East. If you haven’t tasted it yet, it is absolutely delicious (similar to a soft, tangy, plain cream cheese or a mild soft goats cheese) and very easy to make at home. You can either serve it as a spread in a bowl, or shape small balls that are dropped in extra virgin olive oil – alongside freshly toasted bread it is a simple yet royal feast.

This recipe is the first in a series of four (#WhenLifeGivesYouLemons) that I created for LemonGold, a stunning seedless lemon varietal that is extra juicy and wonderful to cook with. The recipes form a lemon-themed menu that is Mediterranean-inspired, simple to make and absolutely packed with flavour. Do follow the cooking videos along on Instagram and Youtube – I’ve had so much fun in the kitchen creating these recipes and I hope you will have too!

Serve your labneh with warm toasted bread (as a spread or in balls), topped with grated lemon zest, za’atar spice, extra virgin olive oil and a few thyme leaves.

Notes: Adding the lemon juice to the yoghurt after straining, results in a softer spreadable cheese with maximum lemon flavour. If you’re looking for a firmer result, add the lemon juice to the yoghurt before straining, and strain the yoghurt for up to 2 days before serving.

Ingredients: (makes about 2 cups, depending on the consistency of the yoghurt that you choose)

  • 1 liter (4 cups) natural/plain full cream yoghurt
  • 2,5-5 ml (1/2-1 teaspoon) salt
  • juice of half a LemonGold
  • extra virgin olive oil, for serving
  • za’atar spice, for serving (optional)
  • rind of half a LemonGold, finely grated
  • fresh thyme leaves, for serving
  • freshly toasted bread (pita/baguette/ciabatta/sourdough), for serving

In a mixing bowl, add the yoghurt and salt and stir well. Line a sieve with a thin cotton cloth (at least 40 x 40 cm big) or cheese cloth and place it over another bowl, then pour the yoghurt mixture into the lined sieve and close it with a rubber band or a piece of string. Refrigerate overnight, or for up to 24-48 hours (depending on how thick you want your labneh – a thicker result will mean a smaller yield). Scrape the labneh into a serving plate, swirl it into a circle using the back of a spoon, then top with a sprinkle of za’atar, a grating of lemon rind, a few thyme leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Store covered in the refrigerater for about a week.

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Braised Beef Shortrib with red wine, mushrooms & gremolata

19 Jul

Hearty, comforting winter fare, accompanied by Cape of Good Hope Parel Vallei Farmstead Merlot. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

I had the pleasure of creating this recipe in 2020 for Anthonij Rupert’s Cape of Good Hope Wines winter recipe series. With the winter in full swing, this kind of stew is all I want for dinner!

This classic combination of beef, red wine and mushrooms reminds of a French-style bourguignon, but without the fuss. Hearty and robust winter fare at its best. I do hope you’ll try it, paired specifically with their Merlot once it is available after the wine restrictions.

  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 1,5 kg beef shortrib
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 sprigs rosemary, woody stalks removed
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped/grated
  • 15 ml cake flour
  • 30 ml tomato paste
  • 375 ml dry red wine (Merlot will work beautifully)
  • 250 ml beef stock
  • 2-3 large carrots, sliced
  • 4 large potatoes, quartered
  • 400 g portabellini or brown mushrooms
  • a handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • zest of a small lemon, finely grated
  • salt & pepper

Method:

In a large cast iron potjie over a fire (or in a large heavy based pot on stove top), heat the oil (high heat) and brown the beef chunks on both sides, seasoning with salt & pepper. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside. Now add the onions and rosemary, stirring until it starts to soften. Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Add the flour and tomato paste and fry for a minute, stirring. Add the red wine and stock and stir to loosen any sticky bits on the bottom. Place the browned meat back into the pot and bring to a simmer. Adjust the heat to low, place a lid on and braise for an hour. Add the carrots and potatoes, replace the lid and cook for another hour. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the meat is very tender. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for a while before serving. Serve hot with cooked rice or pap or polenta, sprinkled with gremolata. To make the gremolata: mix the chopped parsley and grated lemon rind together and season with salt & pepper. 

Exclusively created for Anthonij Rupert Wyne.

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Apple caramel pecan pie

13 May

I adore apples in every shape and form – tart and crunchy, sweet and juicy, fresh, baked, caramelized, stewed – the works. They’re the easiest lunchbox treats, the most convenient quick snack, the humblest dessert ingredient that never disappoints.

Today is international Apple Pie Day! I teamed up with Dutoit Agri to create my favourite “apple pie” inspired dish – they said it could be a pie, a smoothie, a sweet treat, anything derived from the humble yet classic apple pie. Seeing that I haven’t created an apple pie in some time, I was extremely keen to create an actual pie, especially after recently visiting one of the Dutoit Agri apple farms in the Koue Bokkeveld in April this year. It was eye opening to see the vast orchards, treated with the utmost care and respect by generations of farmers, the fruit ripe and plump and wholesome. I understood in that instant that the humble apple played an indispensable role in our South African community, and that the family business that is Dutoit Agri is key to many household’s basic nutritional intake.

Here is my take on the classic apple pie that can take on so many jackets: an apple caramel pecan pie – a fruit-focused pie made with a combination of Dutoit Agri’s Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples, steeped in a brown sugar liquid, swirled with caramel treat and pecan nuts, baked in a flaky buttery pastry casing, topped with beautiful lattice pastry strips. The result is something between a pie and a pudding, because it crumbles irresistably as you plate it, perfect for a bowl full of pudding and whipped cream.

To skip some of the labour, you can opt for a convenient store-bought short crust pastry which is very stable to handle and bake, but with less of the flakiness and none of the sweetness. But it you’re keen for a tender flaky crust that’s fragrant with butter and vanilla, make your own – recipe listed below.

This recipe is something between a traditional American-style chunky apple pie, a French-style finely sliced apple pie and a caramel pecan pie. It might not behave neatly when sliced (and rightly so), therefor you can certainly scoop it with a spoon into bowls instead of trying to slice, serving as a pudding instead of tea-time treats. Best served slightly warm with a generous dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.

Notes & tips:

  • I’ve used a combination of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples, but you can use only one varietal if you want to.
  • I’ve used a 23 cm round pie dish, about 4 cm deep. You can also use a 20 cm dish, the pie will just be piled a bit higher – remember that the cooked apples will soften and sink back.
  • If you’ve never worked with pastry before, or if you are not keen on doing lattice work, remember that you can always just place the strips in one direction with a little space inbetween – it will be much easier and equally beautiful. Another option would be to cover the pie completely with a rolled out layer of pastry, just trim the sides and make a few slits in the top for the steam to escape. (As mentioned earlier, you can also use store-bought short crust pastry for a quick and convenient alternative – it isn’t sweet like my recipe, but it is still crisp and flaky and very easy to handle.)
  • Always place a regular baking tray underneath the pie dish when baking, as the caramel tends to bubble up and escape over the sides. This way you prevent any caramel from dripping on the base of your oven.
  • The pie gets covered with a layer of foil half way through baking to prevent it from browning too much. To make a very convenient foil dome lid, turn a dinner plate upside down and shape a sheet of foil to fit it, then use to cover.
  • For a cheeky twist, replace the pecan nuts with chopped Peppermint Crisp chocolate bars (perhaps 1 medium bar is enough) for an Apple Caramel Peppermint Crisp Pie.

Ingredients: (serves 8) – also check out my how-to video on Instagram!

For the filling:

  • 10 medium size apples (about 1,1-1,2 kg), suitable for cooking (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious etc.)
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) demerara sugar
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) white sugar
  • 1 ml (1/4) teaspoon salt
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) allspice
  • 20 ml (4 teaspoons) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) corn flour

For the sweet sort pastry crust: (optional – you can also use a store-bought short crust pastry or puff pastry)

  • 280 g (2 cups) cake flour
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) salt
  • 200 g cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 XL egg yolks
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) lemon juice
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 20 ml (4 teaspoons) ice cold water

For assembling & serving:

  • 1/2 can “caramel treat” / caramel dessert topping
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) pecan nuts, chopped
  • 1 egg, whisked (for brushing)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) fresh cream, whipped (for serving)

Method:

For the filling: Peel the apples, cut them from the core and slice finely. Place the slices in a large mixing bowl, then add the demerara sugar, white sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice and lemon juice. Stir well to coat on all sides, then leave to macerate for 30 minutes. (At this point, you can continue making the pastry – see below.) The fruit will release liquid and a pool of dark brown sugary syrup will form on the base of the bowl. Sprinkle the corn flour all over and stir again to mix very well. Set aside.

For the sweet shortcrust pastry: Place the flour, caster sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse to mix until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs, then add the yolks, lemon juice and vanilla and process briefly to mix. While the motor is running, add the iced water through the feeding tube and process until it just starts to come together in a ball, then remove from the bowl and divide into two equal parts, patting them into flat disks with floured hands. Cover each and refrigerate until ready to roll out (can be made ahead and refrigerated for a day or two).

For assembling: Preheat the oven to 180 C and place a rack in the middle. Grease a 23 cm round deep pastry dish with non-stick spray. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first disk of pastry to a rough circle of about 30 cm in diameter (or cut a ready rolled sheet of store-bought shortcrust/puff pastry into a 30 cm round), adding more flour to prevent the pastry from sticking. Carefully transfer it to the pastry dish, easing in the sides and leaving a slight overhang. Spoon the apple filling and all the liquid into the lined pan and smooth the top. Warm the caramel in a medium size jug in the microwave, then stir until smooth, and pour all over the top of the filling. Scatter all over with the pecan nuts, then place the whole pie as is in the fridge while you roll out the second pastry disc. Again, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a rough rectangle and cut into 12 long strips (or use another sheet of store bought pastry for this). Arrange the strips on top of the pie to form a lattice (or any other pattern of your choice), then trim the sides – I cut any leftover pastry into thinner strips and place all around the sides, then press with a fork and brush all over with the whisked egg. Place the prepared pie on another baking tray, then bake for 45 minutes uncovered. Lightly cover with foil (see notes above), then continue to bake for another 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the foil and leave to cool completely for the liquids to set – the pie is best cut when completely cooled, as it will hold its shape, but best served slightly warm (a microwave will do the trick!). Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.

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