Tag Archives: orange

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

Method:

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.

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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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Crispy roasted pork belly with orange, ginger & soy

1 Apr

This is an updated version of a hit recipe that I posted quite a few years ago (a slow braised pork belly in a fragrant broth of soy sauce, ginger, orange, star anise, cinnamon, cardamom etc.). I’ve made that recipe countless times and the flavours are truly fantastic. It works especially well if you choose a belly that’s not too fatty. BUT, if you do love a slightly more fatty belly, this updated version with a crispy top layer of crackling ticks all of the texture boxes, yet still has all of those lovely intense Asian flavours in the juicy braised lower half. Simply put: it’s the best of both worlds.

I serve this belly sliced on a bed of silky cauliflower puree (or buttery mashed potatoes) with some flash fried greens (like baby spinach) and a generous drizzle of the dark, salty and sweet pan sauces. It’s crunchy, juicy, silky and soft – a fantastic dish for entertaining.

The striking linen with local fynbos/protea vector drawings (table runner: garden bloom, ocean on lime & napkins: small line protea, parchment on charcoal) are from Design Team Fabrics.

 

Top 3 tips for a really crunchy layer of crackling:

  1. Pat the skin side of the belly dry with kitchen paper, then leave the belly uncovered in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight) to dry out.*
  2. Score the belly with an NT cutter (it’s quite a heavy job, so ask your butcher to score it for you if you’re not sure about it) and salt it generously with salt flakes before roasting. Oil is not necessary, but you can brush it with a thin layer if you want to.
  3. Always start on high heat (230 C) for about 30 minutes on a rack in the top half of the oven to crisp/puff up the crackling layer, then turn down the heat to cook the belly until it is tender. See more directions below for cooking.

Ingredients: (serves 4 generously)

  • 2kg boneless pork belly
  • oil, for brushing the roasting tray
  • 15 ml salt flakes
  • for the sauce:
    • 125 ml soy sauce
    • juice & 3 strips peeled rind of 1 large orange
    • 45 ml soft brown sugar (like demerara/muscavado)
    • 1 cup mutton/chicken stock
    • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) finely grated ginger
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 2 whole star anise
    • 6 cardamom pods

Method: (*see tips for preparing crispy crackling above)

  1. Preheat the oven to 230 C.
  2. Brush a medium size roasting tin (just bigger than the belly roast) with oil and place the belly inside, skin side up. Salt the skin side generously. Roast the belly uncovered in the top half of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the skin side has puffed up and is golden brown (not too dark, as it still needs to spend a few hours in the oven.)
  3. While the skin side is roasting, prepare the sauce: mix all the ingredients for the sauce together in a jug and set aside.
  4. When the skin side of the belly is puffed up and golden, remove it from the oven and turn the temperature down to 160 C. The belly would have shrunken a bit from the sides, but would have thickened in height, because of the heat. Pour the sauce all around the belly, taking care not to cover the crispy skin (if the sauce is too much, leave some for topping up the roasting dish later – it will evaporate quite a bit). Return the dish to the oven and continue to roast at 160 C for another 3 hours until the belly is very tender.
  5. Remove the belly from the oven and leave to stand for about 10 minutes. Transfer the belly carefully to a cutting board and slice into portions with a sharp long-bladed serrated knife. Pour the pan juices into a small sauce jug.
  6. Serve the belly with mashed potatoes or cauliflower puree, crisp pan-fried / steamed greens and a drizzle of pan sauce.

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Asian-style braised lamb shanks with orange, ginger, star anise and soy

17 Dec

Braised lamb shanks in an Asian-style braising broth of soy, ginger, orange and star anise. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

I’m one of those people that love my meat “saucy”. Slow braising is thus a great choice – really tender meat that’s been cooked in some liquid for a few hours, resulting in a really meaty sauce all around the meat. When the meat is fall-apart tender, you can just push it gently into the brothy liquid, absorbing all of the flavour-intense goodness.

The flavour combination of the aromatics and braising liquid is a firm favourite that I’ve been using for pork. I’ve tried it for the first time with lamb shanks, and what a successs! The familiar flavour of South African lamb with all the goodness of an Asian-style meat broth.

These shanks are perfect for entertaining during the festive season. Low effort, huge flavour, really rewarding. Take a look at my easy how-to video:

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

45 ml olive oil
4 large or 6 medium lamb shanks (roughly 2 kg)
salt & pepper
15 ml cake flour
500 ml lamb/mutton (or chicken) stock
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 strips peeled rind and juice of a large orange
about 3 cm ginger root, finely grated
1/4 cup soft brown sugar (muscovado or demerara)
2 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods

Method:

In a large wide heavy based pot that can also go into the oven (with lid), heat the oil over high heat and brown the shanks on all sides. Season them with salt & pepper while they are browning.
Pre-heat the oven to 170 C.
Remove the shanks, then sprinkle the base of the pot with the flour and mix well. Add the soy sauce, stock, orange juice & rind, ginger, brown sugar and stir well to loosen any sticky bits. Add the star anise, cinnamon stick and cardamom, then replace the shanks and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and transfer to the oven to cook for about 2,5-3 hours (turning them over half way through), or until the shanks are tender enough to gently fall from the bone when prodded with a fork.
Serve hot with cauliflower puree or mashed potato or asian noodles, and steamed greens like broccolini.

This recipe is another festive collaboration with Lamb & Mutton South Africa.

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Orange, olive oil and semolina cake with Chinese 5-spice

25 Jun

A wintery orange & semolina cake with Chinese 5 spice and caramel orange syrup. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

It’s finally citrus season and I’ve already made a huge batch of marmalade with the abundance of oranges all around me. I adore citrus flavours in cakes, so this recipe was a delightful experiment after doing lots of research on olive oil cakes (did you know that baking with olive oil instead of butter can extend the shelf life of a cake with up to 2 weeks?).

Where many olive oil cakes call for a very mild olive oil, this one needs the very best extra virgin olive oil that you can find. The flavour should be medium-intense to intense, to create a cake that is very moist in texture but also smells richly fragrant of the essence of olives and orange. It is a cake that can be eaten on its own, very much like a cake bread, but can also be dolled up with a syrup and some whipped cream or even a cream cheese frosting for a decadent dessert or tea-time treat.

Note: Although my recipe has been featured before on The Pretty Blog, they have since shut down their website and I’ve had a few requests for republishing it. Here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium size oranges
  • 125 g white sugar
  • 125 g soft brown sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup fine semolina
  • 10 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • 15 ml ground Chinese 5-spice
  • 2,5 ml salt
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 XL eggs
  • 5 ml vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Place the oranges in a small saucepan filled with water and bring to a boil. Cook until soft – about 30 minutes. Remove from the water, slice in quarters, remove the seeds, then puree (with skins) and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Grease a bundt tin thoroughly with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Place the white and brown sugar in a food processor and process for about 1 minute.
  4. Add the flour, semolina, baking powder, baking soda, 5-spice and salt. Process to mix.
  5. Add the orange pulp, olive oil, eggs and vanilla and process until just mixed. Scrape the sides and pulse one last time.
  6. Transfer the batter into the bundt tin and use a spatula to smooth the surface evenly.
  7. Bake for 50-55 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean, then remove from the oven and cool in the tin.
  8. When cool, carefully tap the tin from side to side to make sure that the cake does not stick to the tin. Turn the cake out on a plate or rack.

For the caramel orange syrup: (optional)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • juice of a small lemon

Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, tipping the pan from side to side (do not stir). Boil until the syrup starts to turn golden in colour, then add the orange juice and lemon juice – be careful as it will splatter. Remove from the heat and stir to combine. You can carefully pour the syrup over the cake immediately if you prefer for it to be fully absorbed by the cake (and will make it deliciously moist), or you can let it cool first for a thicker glossy syrup that will “sit” on the cake.

Serve with whipped cream (optionally).

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Cointreau & pomegranate fizz

19 Aug

Classy and classic: a Cointreau fizz (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Classy and classic: a Cointreau fizz (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

It’s Friday! Celebratory weekend drinks at sundown are pretty standard in my house and I couldn’t be happier about it. Although a glass of wine or a nice gin & tonic are my usual go-to drinks, I sometimes crave the fabulous glitz of a cocktail.

One of my absolute favourite cocktail ingredients is Cointreau orange liqueur – an iconic triple sec imported from France. While attending a launch event at the Somerset Mall some time ago, the brand team from Cointreau South Africa taught us how to make a classic Cointreau fizz using their product, lemon juice, ice and soda water. It is one of the most refreshing drinks on this planet.

I’ve just added a squeeze of fresh pomegranate juice to this classic cocktail, to turn it a delicate hue of pink. If you don’t like pink drinks (I know a few people), rather substitute it with a shaved ribbon of cucumber or a thinly sliced round of fresh orange.

Cheers everyone!

Ingredients: (for one cocktail)

  • about 4-8 blocks of ice
  • 2 shots of Cointreau (50 ml)
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • a squeeze of pomegranate juice (optional)
  • some soda water to top if up with

Pour in a festive glass and top off with a straw. Voila!

Credits:

Recipe, food preparation, food styling & text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography & styling: Tasha Seccombe

This recipe has been featured on The Pretty Blog.

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A festive table from “Share: The Cookbook” with Poetry stores

15 Dec

A festive table loaded with delicious dishes out of "Share: The Cookbook" (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

A festive table loaded with delicious dishes out of “Share: The Cookbook” (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

It was such a treat to discover this new book on the shelf at Poetry stores – Share: The Cookbook. ShareIt is a celebration of women who have survived war and conflicts, but also a celebration of the foods that nourish and bring us together. Recipes such as Nigerian Beef and Okra Soup, Rwandan Chicken Casserole as well as magical images  of real people are laid out in surrounding pages. Between the beautifully simple recipes, women tell their stories of survival, determination and how they came to take part in programs offered by Women for Women International. A host of celebrities such as Jamie Oliver to Annie Lennox have contributed recipes bringing a diverse array of flavours and personalities to this unique book. 100% of the publisher’s profits go to Women for Woman International. Share is much more than just a cookbook, it’s written for people that are interested in issues of women’s rights whilst celebrating our common humanity.

I’ve chosen a range of recipes as part of a festive spread in association with Poetry stores, using some of their beautiful homeware but also one of their fabulous new table cloths. The recipes are bright and tasty, yet simple and inexpensive. The flavour inspiration come deep from the hearts of Africa and India, intertwined by a common love of sharing food, recipes and love around our tables.

This book makes a great Christmas gift, and will remain a favourite in your kitchen but also on your coffee table.

Tomato & spinach dahl (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tomato & spinach dahl (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Spinach & tomato dahl, by Peter Kindersley

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled & grated
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 250 g red lentils
  • 400g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 900 ml vegetable stock or water
  • 400 g baby spinach
  • to serve: steamed basmati rice, naan bread, natural yoghurt, fresh coriander leaves and fresh lemon/lime wedges

Method:

Heat the oil in a large heavy lidded pan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and salt. Cook and stir for 2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the lentils, tomatoes and stock/water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 min when the lentils are thick. Stir often to prevent sticking on the bottom. Fold in the spinach and cook for about 2 minutes or until just wilted. Adjust seasoning and serve with steamed rice, naan bread, natural yoghurt, coriander leaves and fresh lemon/lime wedges.

Kachumbari salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Kachumbari salad (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Kachumbari salad, by Craig Kielburger

  • 450 g ripe, firm tomatoes, sliced or diced
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 25 g fresh coriander
  • 1 chilli, sliced
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Place the tomatoes in a salad bowl. Top with the sliced onion, coriander & chilli.
  2. Drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil and season with salt & pepper.

Tandoori yoghurt chicken (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tandoori yoghurt chicken (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tandoori yoghurt chicken, by Bill McKibben

  • 1 whole chicken (about 1,5kg) cut into 8 pieces, skin removed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • juice of a lemon
  • 500 ml Greek yoghurt
  • 1 onion, coursely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3cm piece of ginger, peeled & grated
  • 1-2 red chillies, deseeded & chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • a drop of red food colouring (optional)
  • to serve: coriander leaves & lemon/lime wedges

Method:

  1. Using a sharp small knife, cut deep slashes into the thickest part of the chicken, but do not cut as far as the bone. Place in a large mixing bowl, then sprinkle with salt & lemon juice. Set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the marinade: place yoghurt, onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric & garam masala in a food processor and process to a smooth sauce. Add the red colouring, if using.
  3. Pour over the chicken, and rub into the slits. Cover and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
  4. Pre-heat the grill or fire, then cook the chicken for 20-25 minutes turning regularly. The chicken is cooked when there is no pink flesh and the juices run clear. Serve with fresh coriander and some lemon/lime wedges.

Orange, almond & olive oil cake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Orange, almond & olive oil cake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Orange scented olive oil almond cake, by Nell Newman

  • 100 g almonds (or ground almonds)
  • 100 g white rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 175 g white sugar
  • 120 ml olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 60 ml orange juice
  • 60 ml sherry
  • to decorate: orange segments/slices

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Grease/line a 20cm springform round cake tin.
  2. Toast the almonds in a dry pan over medium heat until lightly brown, then grind in a food processor. (alternatively use ground almonds)
  3. In a mixing bowl, sieve the rice flour and almonds with the baking powder & salt.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy. Now add the olive oil in a thin stream while whisking, following with the vanilla, almond extract, zest, orange juice and sherry. Fold into the dry sieved ingredients.
  5. Using clean electric beaters, whisk the egg whites in another clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Now fold this into the yolk/flour mixture. Pour into the prepared tin, then bake for 30-40 minutes until light brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven, then allow to cool for 15 minutes before turning out on a clean folded tea towel. Invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Garnish with flaked almonds and/or orange segments/slices, and serve with whipped cream or creme fraiche.

All recipes from “Share: The Cookbook”, available from Poetry stores at R395.

All homeware, Wonkiware & wooden boards (except vintage brass cake plate, ladle and silver knife) available from Poetry stores.

Table cloth available from Poetry stores at R499 – available in blue or green.

Photography & styling: Tasha Seccombe

Text, propping, food preparation & styling: Ilse van der Merwe

Assistant & food preparation: Elsebé Cronjé

This post was written and executed in association with Poetry stores.

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Roasted sweet potatoes with brown sugar & orange

22 May

Roasted sweet potatoes with ann orange & brown sugar sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Roasted sweet potatoes with an orange & brown sugar sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

When I was a child, my Mother used to roast whole sweet potatoes in the oven for dinner, skin and all. She didn’t do much to them, so they didn’t look very inspiring to us. Still, they oozed this sweet natural syrup from the inside when they were cooked – a little sneak-peak into what to expect from the soft and juicy roasted flesh inside.

I thought I’d give my roasted sweet potatoes a little make-over, something to match their dreamy texture and delicately sweet taste. To make things easier, I pre-cook the sliced wedges in water for just a few minutes, then transfer to a roasting tray and cover with a deliciously decadent brown sugar and orange sauce. Then they go back into the oven to become sticky and golden. The result? A beautiful, simple dish that taste as good as it looks!

Serve these as a sweet side dish with your favourite roast meats this Winter.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg medium size sweet potatoes, washed, cut lengthways into quarters
  • rind of 1 orange, finely grated
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice (juice from about 2 oranges)
  • 1 cup (250ml) demerara sugar
  • 60g butter
  • salt & pepper
  • 10ml corn flour / Maizena, dissolved in 30ml cold water

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 C.
  2. On the stove-top, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, then drain and transfer them to a large deep roasting tray.
  3. In a saucepan, add orange rind, orange juice, demerara sugar and butter. Bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring often. Season well with salt & pepper, then add dissolved corn flour and stir for a few seconds until it thickens. Remove from heat.
  4. Pour the sauce over the sweet potatoes in the roasting tray, making sure that they are covered all over. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or until the sauce starts to turn golden brown at the edges and the sweet potatoes are completely tender. Serve hot.

Credits:

This post was originally written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Recipe, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius

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Braised pork belly with orange and ginger

17 May

Tender and aromatic pork belly strips (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

When I’m out for dinner and there’s pork belly on the menu, I’ll probably end up ordering it. Although it’s traditionally a very fatty cut of meat, it can be one of the most rewarding cuts to eat: tender like a cloud, filled with flavours from heaven.

My husband gave me one of Reuben Riffel’s cookbooks (Reuben Cooks) as a present for my birthday a few years ago.  His recipe for “braised pork belly with ginger-caramel sauce” is just dreamy, and I have used it as inspiration to cook many a pork belly in my kitchen over the past few years. Reuben uses a combination of stock, orange, soy, ginger, start anise, cinnamon, peanut oil and brown sugar to braise his pork belly, which he tops off with a caramel sauce infused with chillies, lime, fish sauce and ginger. My recipe is a lot simpler, but still delivers big time on intensely aromatic Asian flavours.

It is imperative to cook the pork belly long enough to ensure a really tender result (Reuben cooks his for 4 hours at 160C), but one of my recent new “tricks” is to cut the pork belly into thick slices before cooking it, thus ensuring a much shorter cooking time (about 2 and a half hours at 160C). I also choose a smoked boneless pork belly with as little fat as possible, ending up with a tender, meaty roast. Perfect as canapés, starters or a main course.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg smoked boneless pork belly
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • rind (peeled) of 1 orange
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 T (30 ml) grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 clove
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C.
  2. Using a sharp knife, score the fat side of the pork belly diagonally into diamonds of about 1 x 1 cm (just a few mm’s deep).
  3. Now cut the pork belly into strips of about 2 cm thick, keeping the slices together.
  4. Place the sliced pork belly (fat side up) into a rectangular roasting dish that fits the pork belly snugly, but make sure that the slices aren’t packed too tightly against each other.
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, orange juice, rind, start anise, ginger, cardamom, clove, cinnamon and sugar. Pour over the belly – it should just come up to the sides but not cover the fat side completely.
  6. Roast for 2 and a half hours, then remove from the oven. The fat side should be dark and golden, but not too crispy – if you like yours very crisp then turn up the heat and grill the top for a few minutes (this is optional, I rarely do it).
  7. Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies like broccoli or spinach. The braising sauce can also be served, but it is optional.

Credits:

This post was written especially for The Pretty Blog.

Recipe testing, text and food preparation: Ilse van der Merwe from thefoodfox.com

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Tasha Seccombe and Nicola Pretorius

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Pavlova with pears, hazelnuts, orange and dark chocolate

17 Sep

I’m ready to shake off the last of Winter’s icy weather with a cross-over dessert: a pavlova with pears, hazelnuts, orange rind and a decadent dark chocolate sauce. This combination hints at some of Winter’s favourite food elements, but takes it to a completely new level with a light and fluffy meringue base that is usually associated with summer berries and al fresco dining.

The wonderful thing about this dessert is that you can make it any time of year – all the ingredients are usually handy on your pantry shelf! I’ve served it at the height of Summer as a Christmas lunch dessert, and also in the middle of Winter as a decadent ending to a hearty lamb potjie dinner. It’s a real crowd pleaser and a great alternative to the usual!

Tip: Bake the pavlova base the previous night, just before you go to bed. Then let it cool overnight in the oven without opening the door. Remove the next day and keep in an airtight container until just after your main meal (or cover carefully with a plastic bag). Top with cream and other toppings, then serve  immediately with extra sauce on the side.

Ingredients:

  • 6 x extra large egg whites
  • 500 g castor sugar (extra fine sugar)
  • 3 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence (or scraped seeds of a vanilla pod)
  • 250 ml cream, softly whipped
  • 1 can of pears in syrup, sliced into quarters (or poached pears in syrup)
  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 100 g hazelnuts, toasted in a dry pan and cooled
  • rind of half an orange, finely grated or scraped in thin strands
  • Method:
    1. Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
    2. Whisk egg whites in a big, clean bowl (with an electric whisk) until stiff peaks form.
    3. Gradually add castor sugar to egg whites, small amounts at a time, untill fully incorporated and the mixture is stiff and glossy.
    4. Add vinegar, cornstarch and vanilla and whisk until thoroughly mixed.
    5. On a big oven pan lined with baking paper, shape pavlova mixture into a round shape and flatten the top, very much like a cake (draw a circle on your baking paper if necessary). The mixture will rise a bit to the sides, so leave enough space.
    6. Bake in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes, then turn down heat to 120 degrees Celsius and bake for another hour.
    7. Turn oven off, and leave to cool overnight without opening the oven door.
    8. Remove pavlova from the oven the next morning, and keep in an airtight container until ready to use.
    9. Remove baking paper from bottom of pavlova and carefully put it on a serving dish (it will have a few cracks, but it is supposed to look like that!)
    10. Strain pears from syrup, and reserve 100 ml of syrup. Heat reserved syrup to boiling point, remove from heat, then pour over chocolate (broken into chunks) in another bowl. Leave to melt, then stir until smooth and cooled.
    11. Place pavlova on a serving dish. Cover with freshly whipped cream and arrange pears and hazelnuts on top. Sprinkle with orange rind, then drizzle with some chocolate sauce. Slice and serve immediately, with the rest of the sauce on the side.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox. Recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Nicola Pretorius

 

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