Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

A weekend at Clos Malverne

16 May

A vineyard view right next to the restaurant at Clos Malverne.


A few weeks ago I was invited to visit Clos Malverne for a weekend getaway to experience their popular Lifestyle Package. This package is valid until the 30th of September 2022 and includes two nights’ accommodation in one of their luxury units for two people (breakfasts at the restaurant included), a food and wine paired lunch at the restaurant for two people (a set menu with some choices), a 1-hour Swedish full body massage for you and your partner at the Spa and a gift pack with 3 bottles of Clos Malverne’s award-winning wines. At R4380 for two people, this immersive Winelands weekend offering is just phenomenal value.

If you have not been to Clos Malverne before, they are situated on Devon Valley Road and are known for their breathtaking views, generous hospitality and scrumptious food. At the moment, Stellenbosch is alight with warm Autumn colours and the surrounds at Clos Malverne shine in spectacular hues of yellow, auburn and green. Take a look at our visit below in pictures – I took my daughter along for the weekend and we made such great mother-daughter memories. It was her first visit to a spa for a massage – most definitely the first of many! We didn’t take pictures in the spa, but it was a total highlight and I can highly recommend it.

Surrounded by shades of Autumn at the luxury units, Clos Malverne, on arrival.


One of the luxury units at Clos Malverne (photograph supplied).


Two of the three wines as part of the Lifestyle Package gift pack – the sparkling wine was kept chilled in the mini fridge.


The sparkling clean swimming pool in front of the luxury suites is surrounded by vineyard views.


A postcard Autumn sunset next to the pool, with the Clos Malverne Sauvignon Blanc Sparkling Brut.



We ordered a takeaway cheese platter for two from the restaurant for our first evening (not included in the Lifestyle Package) – filled with fresh fruit, preserves, charcuterie and freshly baked rolls.


Waking up on Saturday morning to rays of sunshine coming through the mist.


Breakfast is served in the restaurant, and the life size view doesn’t get better than this.


With a choice of a hot breakfast or this plate of fresh fruit with yoghurt and croissant, this was the perfect start to our day.


After some down time in our room, we made our way by foot back to the restaurant for the wine paired lunch. Wrap-around Wineland views to feed your soul.


The restaurant at Clos Malverne from the outside.


We settled in at a table on the stoep, soaking in the uninterrupted natural surrounds.


A glass of sparkling wine on arrival and freshly baked fluffy rolls with flavoured butters, to start with.


My favourite wine pairing of the day: the Clos Malverne 2021 Chardonnay, to go with my starter soup.


My starter: Spiced sweetcorn soup, chipotle corn salsa, goats cheese croquette, sour cream. Punchy flavours with great contrasting textures. A delight with the chardonnay.


Wine paired with my main course: Clos Malverne 2020 Sauvignon Blanc.


My main course: Linefish, smashed baby potatoes, mange tout, tomato & herb salsa. Clean and fresh flavours, generously portioned, perfectly paired with the Sauvignon Blanc.


And lastly, the non-vintage Clos Malverne Honeydew – a surprising yet delightful Riesling.


Sweet endings: Honey sponge, lavender jelly, cardamom and pistachio crumble, lemon curd ice cream. The perfect light dessert course for this paired series.


Make use of this wonderful weekend offer this Winter and book your Lifestyle Package at Clos Malverne, available online. For more information, contact Michelle Nolte:

Thank you to the team from Clos Malverne’s accommodation, spa and restaurant for treating us like royalty. We look forward to visiting again.

Share this:

Homemade hot cross buns with dark chocolate & cardamom

14 Apr

Friends, the Easter weekend is here and I would love to share this homemade hot cross bun recipe with you. I didn’t think that it was possible to get so close to the texture and taste of the kind of store-bought hot cross buns that I love (fluffy, fragrant, freshly baked, delicately brioche-y) with a home recipe, but I think these are pretty authentic!

Thank you to the team of Roodeberg Wine for the opportunity to work on this campaign – I loved every second.

Note: This recipe uses a stand mixer to make beautifully classic, fluffy hot cross buns. The cardamom & dark chocolate provide lovely depth of flavour and complex bitterness that really pairs well with the Roodeberg Red Blend – omit the cardamom & dark chocolate chips if you prefer a more traditional bun.

Ingredients: (for 12 large or 20 medium buns)

630 g (4,5 cups) white bread flour, plus extra for kneading
150 g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
10 g (15 ml) instant yeast
7,5 ml (1,5 teaspoons) salt
10 ml (2 teaspoons) ground “mixed spice”
10 ml (2 teaspoons) ground cinnamon
4 cardamom pods, seeds ground with a pestle & mortar (husks removed)
60 g (1/4 cup) butter, melted
375 ml (1,5 cups) milk
1 XL egg
1 cup (130 g) sultanas / golden sultanas
zest of an orange, finely grated
80-160 g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

For the stripes: (Note: you can leave out the stripes if you want to!)

1/2 cup (70 g) flour
75 ml (5 tablespoons) water

For the glaze:

30 ml smooth apricot jam
15-30 ml water


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with K-beater, add the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and spices and mix well. Add the butter, milk, egg, sultanas and orange zest and mix for a minute. Change to the dough hook, scrape the sides, and continue to mix for 5 minutes. Add the chocolate chips and mix for 1 minute. Turn the sticky dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth ball – adding a little more flour if necessary. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic and leave to proof for 1,5 hours. In the meantime, line a large deep roasting tray with greaseproof baking paper.

Turn out the dough and punch it down, then divide it into 12 equal parts (for large buns) or 20 equal parts (for medium), shaping them into smooth balls by pinching any edges together at the bottoms. Flatten each ball slightly, then arrange in the prepared pan with some space in-between for rising. Cover with plastic and leave to rise for 30-45 minutes until almost doubled in size. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180 C. When the buns are ready, mix the flour and water for the stripes, place in a piping bag with thin nozzle/hole, then pipe those classic “hot cross bun stripes/crosses”, easing the batter lines into the dips between the buns. Bake at 180 C for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and fully cooked, then leave to cool in the tins (don’t be tempted to eat them straight away, they need some time to settle otherwise they will seem undercooked). Serve warm or at room temperature, or toasted, with lashings of butter (and optionally jam).

Recipe developed exclusively for Roodeberg Wine.

Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Share this:

Chocolate espresso cake

24 Mar

Is there anything in the world more tempting than a decadent, freshly baked piece of chocolate cake served with a cup of freshly brewed quality coffee?

I recently teamed up with Kenwood South Africa by welcoming their new Espresso Machine with integrated grinder into my home – a beautifully made stainless steel machine that has been bringing us a lot of joy in the mornings by making superb coffees and espressos. I love a manual espresso machine and prefer the involved craft to an automated machine. But the coolest bonus feature is the integrated grinder, meaning you can pour freshly roasted beans into the top funnel and press a button to get just the right amount of ground coffee directly into your pod filter. You can even adjust the grinding level with a bezel on the side.

I have now also mastered the steam nozzle and have been making “real deal” microfoam to go with my flat whites. It’s such a pleasure to finally figure this out! I’m not pouring patterns yet, but coffee making is certainly becoming a true passion.

There are many recipes where you can use freshly brewed coffees and espressos as an ingredient, so I’ve decided to bring you this easy, decadent, super moist, dark chocolate cake that features a strong cup of coffee in the batter (I’ve actually used 3 shots of espresso in my cup) and about half an espresso in the chocolate cream cheese frosting. The result is a deeply flavourful chocolate cake with a hint of bitter coffee – not overpowering at all.

The chocolate cream cheese frosting is very soft at room temperature in warm weather (almost like a soft mousse), so it’s best to store the cake in the fridge and serve it either cold or at room temperature. It will keep well for at least a week, if refrigerated, so it’s a great do-ahead dessert or tea time treat.

This machine retails for around R8 999 on various online platforms and in stores. Thank you Kenwood for bringing such joy into my home! I cannot wait to try out more coffee recipes.

(Shop this Kenwood Espresso Machine on Yuppiechef.)

Note: This recipe is based on an unidentified magazine cut-out for a fabulous “chocolate coffee cake” that my aunt Ena Coetzee from Wellington sent to me many years ago. She’s been baking this cake for decades, icing it with a simple, thick cocoa glaze. I’ve baked and adapted it many times for different occasions, but the original cake recipe is one of the best I’ve ever come across. I do prefer the cream cheese frosting to a glaze, but you can top it with your favourite chocolate or coffee based recipe for frosting (buttercream or glaze etc.) , if you don’t like cream cheese frostings.

Take a look at my how-to video:

Ingredients: (makes a 20cm 2-layer cake)

For the chocolate coffee cake:

  • 280 g (2 cups) cake flour
  • 70 g (3/4 cup) cocoa powder
  • 7 ml (1,5 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) baking soda
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) salt
  • 400 g (2 cups) light brown sugar
  • 2 XL eggs
  • 250 ml (1 cup) milk
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) canola oil or olive oil
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 250 ml strong coffee (I brewed a triple espresso coffee)

For the chocolate cream cheese espresso frosting:

  • 2 x 230 g plain cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 125 g soft butter
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 375 g (3 cups) powdered icing sugar, sifted
  • 50 g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder, sifted
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) brewed espresso, cooled to room temperature


For the cakes: Preheat the oven to 180 C and line 2 x 20cm loose bottom cake pans with non-stick baking paper (and spray with non-stick spray). Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Ass the sugar and stir to mix. In a second bowl, add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix well using an electric whisk, then add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until well mixed. Add the coffee and mix well, then pour into the prepared tins and bake at 180 C for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tins. In the meantime, brew a single espresso and leave to cool.

For the frosting: In a medium-large mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, butter and vanilla and whisk until very creamy. Add the sifted icing sugar and cocoa powder, and carefully whisk until fully incorporated. Add the espresso and whisk until very creamy. At this point the frosting will be very soft, so you can refrigerate it for 1 hour to firm up if the weather is warm. To assemble, place one layer of cake on a cake plate, top with frosting, them top with the second layer of cake and frost all over. Neaten the edges by wiping off any excess frosting, them refrigerate the cake to firm up and set. Serve at room temperature or straight from the fridge, with a cup of freshly brewed espresso of coffee of your choice.

Note: This recipe was created in collaboration with Kenwood South Africa. All recipe content, photography and videography by Ilse van der Merwe. Video music by

Share this:

Fudgy fig blondies

2 Mar

It is fig season in the Boland and I couldn’t feel more inspired! These must be some of the most beautiful fruit known to mankind – “dark with drama” on the outside, jammy soft and lusciously ruby on the inside. I grew up with the soft, light green variety of figs in our home garden. They were OK, but we never really loved them. Fast forward a few decades and I now know and adore quite a few varietals of figs, and I honestly love every single one.

My go-to way of enjoying figs will always be fresh, as part of a simple cheese board with preserves and fresh bread, or with extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic in a caprese salad. But when it comes to baking, the possibilities are endless. I’ve posted my favourite fig frangipane tart some time ago – I make this tart every year during fig season a couple of times, it’s such an elegant dessert. But the other day I wanted to try something new, so I thought of my friend Anele Horn’s delicious raspberry blondies that she made at a dinner party a few months ago. She said the original recipe called for rhubarb and strawberries, so surely it should work with figs?

She sent me the link of the original recipe from Taste Australia, and I adapted it for the size of my small new cream enamelware tin (how beautiful?), reduced the sugar content (because my ripe figs were definitely sweeter than rhubarb) and simplified some of the steps. The results are absolutely dreamy: golden edges that are perfectly chewy and caramelized, the figs omitting a royal perfume and jammy texture, the centre gooey and fudgy with pockets of white chocolate chips. I’m going to be making these a few more times this season, that’s for sure!

PS: Thank you XTN Family Farm for the beautiful figs that I’ve had the privilege of experimenting with over the last week. If you are interested in buying +-750-800g boxes of fresh figs weekly from these Wellington-based orchards (seasonal; limited; Stellenbosch-based distribution), give me a shout and I’ll send you a price list:


  • 100 g butter, chopped
  • 240 g white chocolate, chopped into small chunks
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) caster sugar
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract, or 10 ml (2 teaspoons) vanilla essence
  • 2 XL eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ,25 cups flour (310 ml/175 g) white bread flour or cake flour
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) baking powder
  • 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) salt
  • about 4 medium-large ripe figs, sliced into quarters or wedges


*Note: I used a 17 x 23 cm enamel baking tin, which is not a regular size. You will get the same results with a 20 x 20 cm square tin, or a 16 x 26 cm oven dish – anything slightly bigger will also do, but don’t go smaller.

Preheat the oven to 180 C with oven rack in center of oven. Line a suitable baking tin (at least 3,5 cm deep, see *note above) with non-stick paper. Place the butter and 2/3 (160 g) of the chopped chocolate in a microwavable medium size mixing bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, then continue to microwave for another 30 seconds and stir. Leave to heat through and melt completely for about 5 minutes, stirring now and then. Now add the sugar, vanilla and eggs to the melted chocolate mixture and stir until well mixed with a spatula or wooden spoon (do not whisk). Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, then stir it into the butter mixture until just combined. Finally, add the remaining 80 g chopped white chocolate and fold in until evenly distributed, then scrape the mixture into your prepared tin. Use a spatula to create a flat even layer that reaches all the corners, then top all over with fig quarters/wedges, pressing them into the mixture. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown and the centre has a golden colour all over. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the tin. To slice, tug on the baking paper edges and remove the blondie slab from the tin onto a chopping board. Slice into squares, then remove the paper. Refrigerate in an air tight container, and enjoy straight from the fridge or at room temperature. (Should last in the fridge for at least 3-4 days.) Can also be served as dessert, at room temperature, with a dollop of whipped cream.

Share this:

My favourite milk tart

27 Feb


A mandala stencil will allow you to sift the most beautiful patterns on top of your milk tart. (Photography & co-styling by Tasha Seccombe.)


Today is National Milk Tart Day! I didn’t even know a national day like this existed, until the team of KWV Roodeberg asked me to assist with creating a recipe to pair with their beautiful Roodeberg Rosé.

In the process, I proceeded to test all kinds of milk tarts: baked, unbaked, stove top filling, condensed milk filling, cookie crust, blind baked crust, store bought puff pastry crust – you name it! And the following recipe has won my vote: a blind baked buttery crust with a stove top cooked filling consisting of milk and cream, thickened with flour and corn starch, enriched with whole eggs, infused with lemon rind, almond essence and vanilla. While many people might think the list of ingredients look long, I can promise you that I’ve simplified the method and it is seriously easy (and forgiving) to make. I specifically wanted to side step the part where you needed to fold in whisked egg whites into an already cooked stove top custard mixture, before getting baked, meaning that it is actually cooked twice. Just too many steps and too many dirty bowls and pots!

This milk tart is softly set, which means that it slices best when served straight from the fridge. I love eating it cold or at room temperature. And the best part is that the crust doesn’t get soggy over time, it stays flaky and crunchy!

Using a stencil for sifting ground cinnamon just lifts this simple tart to the next level. I bought a bulk pack of 12 mandalas and now I can sift so many beautiful patterns on my tarts and cakes – it’s a game changer. The trick is to wait until the custard is set before placing the stencil on top, and to keep the stencil really close to the surface (ask a friend to hold it in place) while you sift the cinnamon. This way you get really crisp lines that will stay that way.

The floral notes of the Roodeberg Rosé (rose petal, Turkish delight, raspberry) playfully picks up the aromatics of almond, vanilla and citrus in the milk tart filling. It’s an unusual and fun combination!

Quick note: to simplify this recipe even further, you can substitute the cream for more milk of the same quantity, and leave out the lemon rind and cinnamon stick infusion while heating the milk. Also, if you don’t like the taste of almond essence, just leave that out too. I personally adore all of these flavour elements, but they’re not essential!

These beautiful off-white bougain villa leaves reminded me of creamy milk tart. And just look at how translucent the KWV Roodeberg Rosé is! Pure magic! (Photography & co-styling by Tasha Seccombe.)


Ingredients: (makes 1 medium size milk tart)

For the crust:

1,5 cups (220 g) cake flour
1/3 cup (45 g) powdered icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) salt
125 g cold butter, cubed
1 XL egg yolk
1 tablespoon (15 ml) iced water

Spray a 22-23cm round tart tin/dish with non-stick spray and set aside. Place the flour, icing sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and process until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the yolk and cold water and continue to process on low speed until it just starts to come together in clumps. Turn out into the tin and press evenly into a thin layer all over the bottom and up the sides (you might not need all of the pastry). Trim the edges, prick all over with a fork and place in the freezer. Now turn on your oven to 190 C with rack in the center to preheat while the dough firms up. After 20 minutes, transfer the cold tin to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven to cool while you make the filling.

For the filling:

2 cups (500 ml) full cream milk
2 tablespoons (30 g) butter
2 strips lemon rind, thinly peeled (optional)
1 stick cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup (125 ml) cream (or substitute with more milk)
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
2 XL eggs
3 tablespoons (45 ml) corn flour / Maizena
2 tablespoons (30 ml) cake flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) almond essence
1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, for dusting

Place the milk, butter, lemon rind and cinnamon stick in a pot on the stove top over medium heat. When the milk mixture just starts to boil, remove the pot from the heat and leave to steep while you get the egg mixture ready. Place the cream, sugar, eggs, corn flour, cake flour, vanilla and almond essence in a mixing bowl and mix well with electric beaters.  Remove the rind and cinnamon stick from the warm milk, then pour the cream and egg mixture into the warm infused milk, stirring continuously. Place the pot back over medium heat and stir continuously until the mixture starts to thicken (2-3 minutes). Turn down the heat to very low and continue to stir until the mixture is very smooth, thick and glossy (1-2 minutes) – taking care not to let the bottom burn. Remove from the heat and pour into the baked pastry case. Smooth the top and leave to cool to room temperature. To use the stencil: place it gently on top of the cooled tart, then sift cinnamon all over to reveal the pattern. Lift the stencil and serve at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.

Tip: If your custard mixture seems to have thickened with some clots, use electric beaters to make it silky smooth before you pour it into the prepared base. It’s quite forgiving!

(This recipe was proudly and exclusively created for KWV Roodeberg Rosé for Milk Tart Day 2022.)

Share this:

Easy corn chowder with bacon & leeks

1 Dec

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 g 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.)

Share this:

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.


Share this:

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. )

Share this:

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.

Share this:

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 or 021 203 6255.

Share this: