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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Pistachio cake with chocolate mousse & ganache glaze

3 May

This is my ode to Mothers Day 2021 – a celebratory double layered cake made with bright green locally farmed pistachios, lightly infused with almond extract, vanilla and rose water, sandwiched with Joostenberg Deli‘s ready-made decadent chocolate mousse and topped with an easy dark chocolate ganache glaze. The texture of the cake is so tender and moist, and it bakes beautifully even on top (so you don’t have to slice off any humps). It is slightly sweet and a little salty, golden with a tinge of green, and invitingly fragrant.

Pistachios have always been one of my absolute favourite nuts – breathtakingly beautiful and the most delicious delicate flavour. They’re more expensive than other nuts, so I usually use them sparingly. But this year, I feel like we all need a little extra pampering. On a recent trip to Joostenberg Deli, I discovered the unrivalled quality of Senqu River Pistachios from the Prieska area. They sell it in 150 g packets at R112 – the most beautifully vibrant, fresh, large, bright pistachios I’ve ever seen. I decided to celebrate pistachios as an ingredient, baking it into a delicately green cake, pairing it with fluffy, rich chocolate mousse and glossy ganache for a show-stopping centrepiece. Although the recipe might seem exuberant, the ingredients will cost you around R300 in total (maybe less) and considering that the cake will feed at least 12 people, it’s truly worth making for a special occasion.

Senqu River pistachios, Nature golden caster sugar, Usana eggs and Valrhona 70% chocolate disks. All available from Joostenberg Deli.

Joostenberg Deli will also stock Valrhona’s dark chocolate disks available in smaller tubs soon, which means that you’ll have access to chef’s quality chocolate in convenient small shapes for melting without having to buy bulk. Other ingredients that make this cake fabulous are Natura’s golden caster sugar and Usana’s free range eggs – all available from Joostenberg’s Deli.

This cake is best served at room temperature, but do store it in the fridge if you’re not serving it right away, as the mousse is made with fresh cream. Other frostings that will work very well are 1) classic cream cheese frosting, 2) vanilla, rose or chocolate buttercream or 3) creme patissierre. You can also make a fragrant rosewater syrup, pouring it over the cake when warm from the oven, and serving the cake with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream – Joostenberg makes a fabulous pistachio ice cream which will be the perfect partner.

Pipe a layer of Joostenberg’s chocolate mousse on the first cake layer.
Pour the ganache glaze over the second layer.
Top with chopped pistachios and some rose petals, optionally.

For the cake: (makes a double layered 20 cm cake, serves 12)

(Notes: Recipe adapted from the fabulous Broma Bakery. This recipe uses 3 large eggs – if you only have XL on hand, use 2 whole eggs plus 1 egg white).

  • 150 g (1 + 1/3 cup) raw pistachios – reserve a tablespoon for topping
  • 280 g (2 cups) cake flour
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) salt
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) baking powder
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 125 g butter, softened
  • 60 ml vegetable oil
  • 300 g (1 + 2/3 cups) golden caster sugar (or regular caster sugar)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) almond extract
  • 5-10 ml (1-2 teaspoons) rose water (optional)
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) double cream yoghurt (or sour cream)
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) milk

For the ganache glaze:

  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) butter
  • 70 ml (4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) milk
  • 100 g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa (I used disks, but you can also just chop a chocolate bar)

Other:

  • 500 ml ready-made chocolate mousse (find it in the fridge at Joostenberg Deli)
  • a few rose petals for decoration, optional

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 180 C (regular convection) and arrange the rack in the middle of the oven. Grease 2 x 20cm loose bottom cake tins with non-stick spray and line the bases with non-stick baking paper, spraying the paper’s surface too.

2) In a food processor, process the pistachios to fine crumbs (don’t use a power blender, because you might end up with a paste). Add it to a mixing bowl along with the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda, then stir with a whisk to mix.

3) In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the butter and oil and beat until well mixed and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until light and creamy. Add the eggs, vanilla, almond extract and rose water and mix until very light and creamy.

4) Add the yoghurt and milk and beat slowly until the mixture start to look curdled (don’t overmix), then add the dry ingredients and continue to fold it in by hand, continuing until the mixture is very smooth and creamy with speckles from the nuts.

5) Divide the mixture between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops, then bake at 180 C for 35 minutes or until golden and fully cooked (an inserted toothpick should come out clean). Remove from the oven, leave to cool in the tins fo 15 minutes, then carefully remove from the tins and leave to cool completely.

6) To make the glaze, heat the butter and milk in a heat proof jug in the microwave until the butter has melted (don’t let the milk boil). Add the chocolate discs/pieces and leave to melt for a few minutes, then stir until smooth. Now assemble the cake: Place one layer on a cake stand, then use a piping bag filled with chocolate mousse to pipe mousse all over the surface (or just spread it with a knife). Top with the second layer of cake, then pour the ganache glaze all over, edging some of the glaze over the sides. Decorate with the reserved pistachios (roughly chopped) and a few rose petals. Serve at once, or store in the fridge and return to room temperature before serving.

This recipe is part of a proud collaboration series with Joostenberg Bistro & Deli.

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Spending a family day at Boschendal, in pictures (including the Friday Night Market)

23 Apr

At the end of 2020, we spent a relaxing family day at Boschendal. We started with a scrumptious lunch at the deli, checking in at one of the Orchard cottages afterwards, visiting the Friday Night Market, and having breakfast at The Werf the next morning. We also enjoyed a fabulous horse ride – I posted all about it in my stories on Instagram (look out for the Boschendal highlight). Here are some pictures from our experience where you can read more in the subtext underneath each photo.

Boschendal remains one of the best allround destinations in the Cape Winelands, and there are only two opportunities left to visit their Friday Night Market (tonight and next week). Spend a relaxing day on the farm doing wine tastings, having lunch at the deli or the Werf Restaurant, shopping fresh produce and homeware at the Farm Shop (also now available online), hiking a farm trail, enjoying a horse ride, visting the Tree House (kids) or enjoying the festive atmosphere of the Friday Night Market with fresh oysters and MCC (among many other choices). The cottages are beautifully decorated, functionally equipped and set among the most majestic backdrop of Simonsberg mountain. Spending a day like we did at Boschendal reminds me of just how much there is to explore on our own door step, and how ready the hospitality industry is to welcome locals back after a long and harrowing time where they couldn’t receive guests. Do yourself a favour and visit Boschendal soon.

The handwritten menu at Boschendal’s deli.
My lunch choice: Farm bowl with garden beets, curried aubergine, hummus and fallafel. Delicious!
Schalk’s lunch of Asian BBQ Espetada, soy honey and ginger slaw, miso cream, baby potatoes.
Valki’s lunch of fried hake with chips and mayonnaise – so scrumptious.
The front entrance to our cottage, no 12, against the majestic Simonsberg mountain.
The self catering kitchen area of our cottage, featuring Le Creuset cookware and a complimentary bottle of Boschendal wine.
Plush couches inside the cottage.
Modern, crisp linen on the beds.
My favourite nook outside the bedroom door, with seating for a quiet read.
Arriving at the Friday Night Market.
The wine stand at the Friday Night Market.
You can sit on a bean bag, or on the grass, or bring your own picnic blanket.
Boschendal limits the number of people at the Friday Night Markets due to Covid restrictions, so you can expect ample space and no long queues.
The fires are lit and the freshly grilled food smells amazing.
People at the curry stall at the Friday Night Market.
Live music e Friday Night Market.
Fresh coffee at The Werf, early Saturday morning.
A warm croissant with jam and cheese – my favourite way to start the day.
Fresh seasonal fruit bowl.
Benedict on sour dough with spinach – Schalk’s choice. It was absolutely delicious.

Thank you Boschendal for your generous hospitality! We cannot wait to return.

Visit Boschendal’s contact page for all the relevant information about opening hours and how to get in touch.

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Chicken, feta & lime traybake tortillas

19 Apr

If a midweek meal is easy to make, doesn’t take long to cook and really packs a punch in flavour, its going to be a winner. This is one of them: free range chicken breasts baked with thinly sliced limes, slabs of feta, chunks of courgettes, some fresh thyme and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil – totally a meal on its own, but then sliced and transformed into Greek-style wraps with the addition of tzatziki and hummus. It is juicy, salty, tangy, creamy and crunchy, all at the same time. Another great thing is that it is family friendly (most kids love chicken and cucumber and hummus and tortillas) and it is also great for next day lunch boxes, either as an assembled wrap or as individual snacks and dippers.

All of the ingredients (plus the beautiful white enamel baking tray and plates, the wooden spoon, the paring knife and the printed protea paper napkins ) were shopped from Joostenberg’s deli – they even stock ready-made hummus, which is really convenient for your next snack platter or quick lunch. I used Dalewood’s new feta – not all feta turn out great when baked, but this one bakes spectacularly well. It turns golden on the edges and slightly oozy without losing its shape too much, and the flavour becomes more procounced. The thin lime slivers caramelize in the oven and can be enjoyed skin-and-all with the chicken – they’re packed with flavour. Do let me know if you try this at home!

Joostenberg is known for their pork butchery, but they also stock a range of beautiful, fresh, free range chicken.
Limes are now seasonal and in stock at Joostenberg.
Dalewood’s feta is simply superb. You can find many of Dalewood Fromage’s cheeses at Joostenberg.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 6 medium size free range boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • about 200-300 g feta, sliced into thick disks
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced (use a mandolin if you can), plus 2 more for juicing
  • a few courgettes, sliced into chunks
  • a few sprigs thyme, leaves only
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 C. In a deep roasting tray lined with non-stick baking paper, arrange the chicken, feta and courgettes. Top the chicken with slices of lime, then scatter with thyme and season generously with salt & pepper. Drizzle all over with olive oil and the juice of two limes. Bake for about 25 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked and the feta turns golden on the edges, then remove and leave to rest for a few minutes before serving. Serve with a side salad, or turn into tortillas with the addition of fresh tortilla wraps (toasted), hummus and tzatziki.

To make your own tzatziki:

  • 500 ml double cream yoghurt
  • 1/2 English cucumber, seeds removed and roughly grated
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely grated (optional)
  • a small bunch mint leaves, finely chopped
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Add the yoghurt to a medium mixing bowl. Squeeze the grated cucumber in a clean cloth to get rid of the excess juice, then add the shreds to the yoghurt along with garlic and mint. Season with salt & pepper, add the olive oil and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Find Joostenberg on the R304 (GPS: 33 82’ 66 21 S / 18 79” 55 15 W) in the Muldersvlei area outside Stellenbosch. This post was created in proud association with Joostenberg.

Tel: 021 884 4303
Email: deli@joostenberg.co.za

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Smoked pork minestrone

9 Apr

While completing the last batch of photographs for my new cookbook with Tasha Seccombe during February this year (due for launch in September), I collaborated with Le Creuset SA in providing me access to the most beautiful array of cast iron casseroles and ceramic servingware for styling purposes. One of the items that I particulary fell in love with, was this beautiful 31 cm (6,3 liter) oval casserole in Agave – a mesmerizing blend of dark teal and inky navy that seems to change in different lighting. It is probably the most beautiful Le Creuset casserole I’ve ever seen, to be honest. Mysterious, intense, regal.

For my cookbook, I used it to showcase a ridiculously tasty pulled pork dish (more to be revealed later), but in the meantime, I’ve reserved a few dishes to try in this new oval addition to my Le Creuset kitchen family. I baked an enormous oval mosbolletjie pull-apart potbread for Easter, which was so good I didn’t even take photos, we just gobbled it down with lashings of farm butter and a crowd of friends. This is the kind of casserole that you pull closer for special occasions and larger feasts, not only because of the size but also because of its royal look and feel.

On a recent visit to my favourite pork butchery & deli, I laid my eyes on some smoked kassler steaks, a beautiful bunch of seasonal kale and freshly picked butternut. I wanted to make a seasonal meaty smoky Italian-style vegetable soup – the kind of feel-good food that makes me excited about simple ingredients, about local produce and about cooking from scratch. Glugs of extra virgin olive oil to serve, generous gratings of aged parmigiano, fresh ciabatta for dipping. Life cannot get more delicious in these moments.

Here’s my easy recipe for a simple, seasonal, hearty, smoky and meaty minestrone using small haricot beans and rosmarino pasta. The yield is large, so if you don’t have a bunch of friends over you’ll be able to freeze numerous batches for when you’re too lazy too cook – trust me, you’ll thank me later. If you also own a very large cast iron casserole, this is the recipe to make it shine.

Ingredients: (makes about 4,5 liters; serves a crowd)

Note: All veg are peeled before dicing/chopping. You’re looking for a small dice of maximum 1 x 1 cm for best results, but to speed things up you can certainly also pulse in a food processor.

  • 45 ml extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for serving)
  • about 450 g boneless smoked pork, diced (I used kassler steaks, but you can also use neck steaks or even thick cut bacon)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • a small bunch kale, stalks chopped separately, leaves shredded separately
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 small/medium butternut, diced
  • 2 x cans whole tomatoes, pureed in a blender
  • 2 stock cubes, dissolved in 1 liter boiling water (chicken or vegetable flavour)
  • 2 x cans cannelini beans, drained
  • 250 g dried rosmarino or orzo pasta
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • up to 1 liter boiling water extra, according to desired thickness
  • grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Using a big cast iron casserole (I used a 31 cm oval Le Creuset casserole with a capacity of 6,3 liters) over medium high heat, heat the oil and add the cubed pork. Fry until lightly brown, then add the onions, kale stalks and carrots. Fry for another 2 minutes, then add the garlic and smoked paprika, stirring for a minute. Add the butternut, pureed tomatoes, dissolved stock cubes in water and beans, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the pasta and shredded kale leaves, seasoning generously with salt & pepper and stirring well. Return to a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often as the pasta tends to stick to the bottom easily, then remove from the heat and leave to stand for 10 more minutes. Taste and add more salt & pepper if necessary. Add more boiling water if you soup is very chunky (I added a full extra liter of water, as the pasta continues to absorb water on standing). Serve hot in bowls with a generous grating of parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, with or without bread for dipping. Note: The soup freezes and reheats very well – freeze in smaller portions for easy midweek access.

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