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Horse’s Neck Cocktail

2 Jul

A classic Horse’s Neck cocktail, made with KWV’s 10 year old brandy. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.


We live in sterling brandy country here in the Western Cape. I’ve been discovering the brilliance of great local brandies since my first brandy blending experience at Van Ryn’s cellar outside Stellenbosch a few years ago. I now know that my favourite is mostly a 10-12 year old brandy (KWV and Van Ryns both make an incredible range, but there are many other local producers to explore), sipped slowly without ice – perhaps just a dash of water. But I’ve also discovered a few new ways to enjoy it and it certainly does not include Coke.

One of these is an age-old American classic cocktail called the Horse’s Neck. Technically, it falls into the category of a cooler, served in a tall glass and adorned with an unusually long, curling strip of lemon rind. It consists of one part good quality brandy (or cognac), three parts ginger ale, a dash of bitters and lots of ice.

The flavours are refreshing, zippy and full, with a great tang from the lemon rind. Perfect for a classy welcoming drink at your special occasion, or just a winding down drink at sunset. Cheers!

Ingredients: (makes 1 cocktail)

  • a handful ice blocks (to fill your glass about half full)
  • 50 ml brandy
  • 150 ml ginger ale
  • a long, curly strip lemon rind


Add the ice to a tall glass, then pour in the brandy and follow with ginger ale. Add a dash of bitters and the lemon rind. Serve immediately, with or without a (reusable, but preferably a stylish metal variety) straw.

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How to make a cortado frappé with the GREENIS Smart+ Power Blender

8 May


A few weeks ago I received a Greenis 888OT Smart+ Power Blender from Greenis South Africa to try out and review. I’ve since discovered the world of power blending and it has been a major game changer in my kitchen.

This machine not only blends chunky liquids like soups to a silky smooth consistency in a flash, it also grinds nuts to become nut butters and pulverises grains to become flours. With its digital touch interface, LCD display, bluetooth compatibility, Japanese commercial grade stainless steel blades and 3,7 peak horsepower, you can be sure that you’re covered when it comes to premium power blending.

As compactness and practicality are core principles in the design of the Greenis FGR-8880T power blender, it carries the most portable (2 liter capacity) jar in the Greenis range, made from Tritan material that is 100% BPA free and super durable. The blade is able to crush pretty much any type of food ingredients, both wet and dry, soft and hard, small and bulky, thanks to the unique shape and quality stainless steel material. It is also equipped with a smart microchip which allows the blender to control operations more precisely and stably without overheating.

I’ve made hummus with the most velvety texture, smoothies and fruit frappés without any icy grains mentionable, and even smooth tahini using dry toasted sesame seeds and some olive oil. The machine does make a noise, but I suppose you wouldn’t expect anything else from a real power tool.

This cortado frappé is a spin on the classic cortado condensado of Spanish origin, where espresso and condensed milk is enjoyed in equal quantities to make a sweet dessert coffee. With the addition of ice, you can make a 3-ingredient iced coffee with a silky, creamy texture that will beat any coffee milkshake, any day.

The Greenis FGR 8880T is available from Takealot at R4699.00 and is available in white and black. For more visit Instagram @greenissouthafrica.

A smooth and creamy cortado frappé using espresso, condensed milk and ice cubes, made with the Greenis Smart+ Power Blender.


  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • a double espresso (or 60 ml very strong coffee), cooled for better results
  • 60 ml condensed milk


Turn the machine on and select the cold drinks setting. Add the ice cubes, espresso and condensed milk and press “on”. The machine will blend for 30 seconds with short pause intervals every 10 seconds. Pour and enjoy immediately.

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MCC cocktail with blackberry & rosemary

31 Dec

MCC with bruised blackberries and sprigs of rosemary. Cheers! Photography by Tasha Seccombe.


It’s the last day of 2017 and I’m spending it with family and friends at our favourite place in the world, Keurboomstrand. It’s been a good year, probably the best in the last 7 years since I’ve started this blog. I’ve made a few important decisions to minimize stress, to focus on my health and fitness, to spend more time with my family, to sleep more and to get rid of stuff that I didn’t really need. I’ve also narrowed down my food service portfolio to mostly content creation (recipes, photos and videos), which means a more focused approach with room for constant self-improving, less working hours, a less chaotic life in general and also finding myself in love with what I do all over again. What a joy! Although there’s a lot more changes to be made and implemented in my life and many fabulous new projects to be revealed in 2018, I think a toast is in order to celebrate 2017.

May your last day of 2017 end on an exceptionally high note, and may your 2018 reveal bright new opportunities! Let’s toast to love, health, freedom and more great choices in 2018. Cheers!

Note: This cocktail is so simple, yet it looks absolutely stunning. Bruised blackberries are added to your MCC flute along with a sprig of rosemary that aids as a fragrant stirring stick. It’s  a dramatic touch that will bring your party to life in an instant.


  • MCC (or sparkling wine or prosecco)
  • some blackberries
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary


Pour the MCC into the champagne flutes, but don’t fill it up right to the top yet (leave some space). Add a few blackberries to each glass and use a teaspoon to lightly crush them, releasing their purple juices. Add a sprig of rosemary to easy glass and serve immediately.

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Green gin & tonic

1 Sep

Green gin & tonic – a celebration of Spring! Photography & styling by Tasha Seccombe. Recipe & preparation by Ilse van der Merwe.


Spring is here and I feel it needs to be celebrated with a proper drink!

To me, gin tastes like holidays and mischief. It brings a smile to my lips, like the anticipation of flirting with an old flame (single ladies, you go get them). Instead of a glass of red wine, a gin & tonic is the perfect winding-down drink on warmer evenings.

There are few things that I love more than the addition of a thin cucumber slice to my gin & tonic. But for this recipe, I’ve gone slightly over the top with some greener than green cucumber juice (strained from grated fresh cucumber) and a few basil and mint leaves. It’s almost like drinking an alcoholic non-dairy tzatziki, but way better.

See it as an unforgettable aperitif to a longer night of festivities, and follow it with your choice of chilled bubbly or ice cold sauvignon blanc.

Cucumber juice, mint and basil – ready for your gin, ice and tonic. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.


Ingredients: (makes 2, adjust as needed)

  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • a few basil leaves
  • a few mint leaves
  • ice blocks
  • 2-4 shots good quality gin
  • 2 x 200 ml good quality sparkling tonic water


  1. Place a clean kitchen towel (open) over a wide bowl. Roughly grate the cucumber over the towel, then roll up the towel and wring out the juice into the bowl. Discard the dried out gratings and keep the juice.
  2. In 2 cocktail glasses, divide the juice. Add some basil and mint to each, then top with ice. Pour the gin (1-2 shots in each glass), then top up with tonic. Serve immediately.
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Real hot chocolate

15 Aug

Delicious hot chocolate with melted marshmallows, made with real dark chocolate and fresh cream. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.


When I watched the movie Chocolat back in 2000, there was one scene that mesmerized me completely: Juliette Binoche poured a cup of devilishly dark hot chocolate with a pinch of hot chilli pepper for Judi Dench.

That cup of hot chocolate has been in my dreams since that day. I’ve tried to recreate it numerous times, and my conclusion is that you really need to go overboard with the chocolate content in order to get it that dark and that glossy. Almost like 100% melted dark chocolate and very little milk (or no milk at all). Of course I’d be able to drink that kind of thing (with my decadent appetite), but most people won’t. And it would cost a fortune to make a liter.

There are purists who believe that hot chocolate shouldn’t contain milk or cream at all, adding some water instead for the right consistency. I can appreciate that, but I do love the silky texture of cream and milk with hot chocolate (especially because I know that my daughter and husband are such dairy lovers).

So I decided to create a hot chocolate that would come as close as possible to that of Juliette Binoche, without being totally over the top. The right amount of sweetness, bitterness, creaminess, spice and texture. It is  made with real chocolate, cocoa powder, brown sugar, milk, cream, vanilla, spices and just a teaspoon of corn flour for a luxuriously thicker texture. Pour into mugs, add marshmallows and let it melt for a few minutes before serving.

Nothing can beat this on a cold winter’s evening. Happiness in a mug!

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 150 g dark chocolate, chopped (at least 55 %)
  • 30 ml cocoa powder
  • 5 ml corn flour
  • 15-30 ml brown sugar (to taste)
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • a pinch of ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of ground chilli powder
  • marshmallows, to serve


  1. Heat milk and cream in a medium saucepan until very warm (not boiling). Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted completely.
  2. In the meantime, mix the cocoa powder and corn flour in a cup. Add some of the warm milk mixture and mix to form a smooth runny paste.
  3. Add the paste to the warm milk, along with the brown sugar, vanilla and spices. Stir with a whisk over medium heat until the mixture is smooth and comes to a boil and thickens slightly.
  4. Remove from the heat and pour into mugs. Top with marshmallows, allow to melt for a few minutes, then serve immediately.


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3 Festive Bubbly Cocktails with Poetry Stores

28 Dec

My three easy bubbly cocktails on the video set at Bartinney Champagne Bar in colaboration with Poetry Stores (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

We’re in the middle of silly season, entertaining family and friends almost daily and celebrating a few days off work before the start of a new year. I’m at the beach with my family and we’re in the habit of pouring a casual festive drink every evening at sundown.

If you’re a lover of bubbly, you’ll love these three easy cocktail recipes that I wrote for Poetry Stores. No special gear required, just pour and enjoy. It’s such a stunning way to welcome guests for a festive occasion! Thank you to Poetry Stores for this fun collaboration. Watch the video:


Mango Tango: one part thick mango juice, two parts ice cold bubbly, one basil leaf (photography by @Tasha Seccombe)

Ruby Rage: ice cold bubbly, a squeeze of fresh pomegranate juice plus some pomegranate seeds, and a squeeze of lime juice (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Watermelon Fizz: bubbly, a scoop of watermelon sorbet, fresh mint (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tasha and I had a lot of fun filming this video with the team of! Here are some behind-the-scenes pics of the shoot, as taken by Tasha Seccombe.

Caught in the act – sipping bubbly before lunchtime was part of the job (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Bernard and Rob from (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Action! Bernard from (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Loving what I do, doing what I love! (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Getting my game face on at Bartinney Wine & Champagne Bar (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Shooting at Bartinney Wine & Champagne Bar in Stellenbosch with (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

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Pink iced tea

15 Dec

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients: (makes 5 liters)

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


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