Tag Archives: pork

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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Autumn al fresco platter

12 Mar

An Autumn al fresco platter with Klein Joostenberg Deli.

This week, I teamed up with Klein Joostenberg Deli on the R304, Muldersvlei, outside Stellenbosch. I’ve always been a huge fan of their shop, because they are a passionate 5th generation family business, offering the most wonderful variety of seasonal produce, specialty deli products, fresh and smoked pork, cured meat, free range chicken, freshly baked breads and pastries, preserves, wine, gifts and so much more. It’s an absolute playground for a food enthusiast and stylist like me, because I usually find the most beautiful produce there that aren’t stocked in more commercial supermarkets, like specialty cheeses, small batch fresh farmer’s produce, and very large cuts of pork (like their beautiful deboned pork shoulders, usually around 4 kg each).

Some fresh seasonal produce now available at Klein Joostenberg.

To celebrate the start of Autumn in my local region, I’ve decided to put together an al fresco platter to showcase the bounty of the season. I found the most terrific fresh black figs, pears, pomegranates and red plums, and decided to team it up with Joostenberg’s famous chicken liver paté (it is the very best), some other preserves like peach chutney and aubergine relish, a freshly baked walnut and raisin loaf, melba toast, silky butter from Oakdale, two fabulous cheeses from Dalewood Fromage (Huguenot and Wineland Blue Camembert) and some fresh pistachios from Sonqu River (seasonal now). A Joostenberg platter wouldn’t be complete without their pork, so I made an Asian-inspired glaze to go with their pork rashers – such a hit! I served it with Joostenberg’s Klippe Kou 2018 Syrah, an organic estate wine made from grapes growing on a single property.

What better way to taste the season than an informal, generous platter.

I hope you’ll also make the most of Autumn’s bounty by checking in at Klein Joostenberg and selecting your personal favourites. An informal platter is such an easy way to entertain, and it always brings the “wow factor”!

My Asian-inspired glazed pork rashers.
Want to make these glazed rashers? Find the easy recipe below.

For the Asian-inpsired pork rashers: (Note: Joostenberg stocks a fantastic variety of exotic pantry ingredients from all over the world, so you’ll find all of the ingredients below there. They also sell readily spiced rashers if you’re keen on a more local BBQ flavour.)

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) honey
  • 4 teaspoons (20 ml) rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) Chinese 5-spice
  • a few drops sesame oil
  • a generous pinch of salt
  • 4 large fresh pork rashers

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line a regular baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Mix the hoisin, soy, honey, vinegar, spice, sesame oil and salt together in a jug. Place the rashers on the baking paper lined tin, then brush them all over with the marinade. Roast for 15 minutes at 180 C, then turn over and baste again. Roast for 15 minutes more, then repeat twice more (total roasting time to be 1 hour). Some of the marinade will blacken on the pan during roasting, that’s alright. Remove the pan from the oven and cut into smaller chunks, then serve immediately.

Take a look at some of the items on my shopping list for this platter: fresh figs, Joostenberg’s walnut & raisin loaf, two cheeses from Dalewood Fromage, Joostenberg’s chutney and chicken liver pate, pistachios from Sonqu River, Joostenberg Butchery pork rashers, Oakdals butter, red plums, pomegranates pears and Chinese 5-spice.

Contact Klein Joostenberg:

A – Klein Joostenberg. R304 Muldersvlei, Stellenbosch, 7607

T – 021 88 44 303

E – deli@joostenberg.co.za

GPS – – 33 82’ 66 21 S / 18 79” 55 15 W


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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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Mothers Day Lunch with Poetry Stores

12 May

A delectable home cooked feast from Barbara Joubert’s book KOSTALGIE, available from Poetry Stores. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

There’s nothing that says “I love you” like a thoughtful, scrumptious and beautiful home-cooked meal. The recipes in Barbara Joubert’s (Afrikaans) book Kostalgie are the perfect choices for a Mothers Day lunch at home, with flavours and influences from her travels all around the world.

I have never made caramelized figs before, and they truly are just magnificent to look at. Almost too beautiful to eat! With the creamy custard tart, they are the stuff dreams are made of.

I love slow roasted pork – it seems to always get raving reviews in my house. I opted for serving the pork with buttery beans instead of potatoes, because of my choice of pasta and tomatoes as a side dish (a stunning meal on its own too).

Have a happy Mothers Day everyone!

Barbara’s book, the homeware and beautiful black floral scarf are all available online and in store from Poetry Stores.

Tagliatelle with burst tomatoes, blue cheese and rocket. Photography by Tasha Seccombe

Homemade tagliatelle with burst tomatoes and blue cheese (serves 6)

(Recipe from Barbara Joubert’s Kostalgie)

For the tagliatelle:
300 g (535 ml) cake flour
3 eggs
20 ml olive oil
10 ml water

For the burst tomatoes:
125 ml olive oil
3 garlic cloves
550 g small red and yellow rosa tomatoes
salt and freshly ground pepper
a handful fresh basil leaves
100 g blue cheese
40 g rocket

For the tagliatelle:
Place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer with dough hook. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs. Switch the machine on at low speed. Add the olive oil and water. Increase the speed until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too stiff, you can add a little water. Knead for 10 minutes with the machine, then take the dough out and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest for 1 hour at room temperature. If you have a pasta machine, sprinkle a little flour on your working surface and on the rollers of the machine. Cut the dough into smaller pieces. Set your machine on number 7 and feed the dough through. Set it one setting lower, feeding the dough through until you get to number 1 (the thinnest setting). Hang the pasta sheets over the back of chairs for about 20 minutes to dry out a little. Attach the tagliatelle attachment to the machine, then feed the sheets through the cutter. Place the bundles of cut tagliatelle onto a baking tray sprinkled with flour. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a little olive oil, then add the pasta and cook for 3-5 minutes. Drain and top with the roasted saucy tomatoes.

For the burst tomatoes:
Heat olive oil in a large deep pan. Add the garlic whole and fry for about 2 minutes to flavour the oil. Add the tomatoes and fry until they burst. Season with salt & pepper. Tear basil leaves in pieces and mix with the sauce. Cut slices of blue cheese and arrange on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with rocket and serve.

My notes: A good quality store bought tagliatelle will also work well, if you don’t have a pasta machine.

Overnight leg of pork, so soft that you can pull it with a fork. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Overnight leg of pork (serves 6)

(Recipe from Barbara Joubert’s Kostalgie)

100 ml olive oil
2 kg leg of pork (I used boneless)
juice of a lemon
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 bay leaves
250 ml white wine
8 baby leeks
1 x 439 g can chestnuts

Preheat oven to 200 C. Place half the olive oil in a roasting tray. Place the pork in the bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Rub the garlic all over. Season with salt & pepper, then add the rest of the olive oil. Place in oven with skin side down. Remove after 30 minutes, then turn the leg over with skin side up. Cover with foil. Lower heat to 140 C, then roast for 6 hours.
Remove the netting around the meat, then add the bay leaves, wine, leeks and chestnuts. Roast uncovered for an hour at 180 C. Remember the skin won’t be crispy. The meat will be soft enough to pull apart with forks.

My notes: The original recipe calls for leeks, which were unfortunately out of stock everywhere at the time of the shoot, so I substituted these with slices of red onion. I also couldn’t find chestnuts, but I’m sure these will be stocked at a good exotic speciality store.

Custard tart with caramelized figs. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

Custard tart with caramelized figs (serves 8-10)

(Recipe from Barbara Joubert’s Kostalgie)

For the dough:
200 g (360 ml) cake flour
50 g (60 ml) caster sugar
100 g (110 ml) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
45-60 ml cold water

Place the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor. Mix until the butter is well incorporated. Add the yolk and mix. With the motor running, add the water spoon by spoon, until it just comes together. Remove from mixer and cover with plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 200 C. Roll out dough on a floured surface. Line a greased 18 cm tart tin with the dough, then prick with a fork all over. Line with baking paper on top and fill with dried beans. Bake blink for 10 minutes at 200 C. Remove paper and beans and bake for another 5 minutes until the base is cooked.

For the filling:
10 egg yolks
20 g (40 ml) cornflour
125 g (150 g) caster sugar
2 ml vanilla powder
200 ml milk
500 ml cream

Whisk the yolks, cornflour, sugar and vanilla together with an electric mixer in a mixing bowl. Heat the milk and cream together in a pot, but don’t let it boil. Add the cream mixture to the egg mixture and mix well. Pour back into the pot, then continue stirring over medium heat until the custard thickens. (You don’t want to make scrambled eggs!) Pour the custard into another bowl and place a piece of wax paper on top to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool to room temperature. Pour filling in baked tart base and bake for 20 minutes at 180 C. Let it cool overnight, preferable in the fridge.

For the caramelized figs:
500 g (625 ml) sugar
100 ml water
about 25 small figs

Put the sugar and water in a large pot with a lid and place over medium heat until the sugar has melted. Now remove the lid and let it boil until it reaches a light caramel colour. The caramel will continue to darken, so remove from the heat immediately. Carefully dip the figs into the hot caramel and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper to cool. Place on top of the cooled tart when ready to serve.

My notes: The recipe doesn’t mention what size eggs to use, but I found that XL is adequate. I found that I needed to increase the baking time for the base and for the assembled tart to achieve a golden brown result. I couldn’t find small figs, so 9 large ones were enough as a substitute. Don’t caramelize the figs long before you’ll be serving the tart, as the caramel will eventually start to melt as the figs release steam and water, and you’ll be left with syrupy half-coated figs. (Remember, the caramel will harden on standing in the pot, so when you’re done dipping the figs, carefully add some boiling water to the caramel and leave to soften before cleaning.)

This post was created in collaboration with Poetry Stores.

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Fresh Feasting with Pork 360: Pork & Pineapple Burgers with Herb Mayo

9 Jan

Pork & pineapple burger with coriander mayo (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

If you love great burgers, you’re in for a treat. Making patties out of great quality pork mince results in a much softer patty than ground beef, delivering a really awesome texture that’s almost marrow-like. They’re seasoned with smoked paprika and ginger, paired with a slice of grilled fresh pineapple and topped with a dollop of creamy coriander mayo. Add some crispy iceberg lettuce and a buttery, golden, toasted sesame bun. This might be one of the best tasting burgers I’ve ever made.

This recipe is the last in a series of six that I’ve developed in association with Pork 360. It’s a quality assurance and traceability certification – a guarantee to both the consumer and retailing sector that the producer has a consistent production process that complies with minimum standards and ensures high-quality pork. The Pork 360 projects takes place under the guidance of the South African Pork Producers Association (SAPPO). Watch their video for more info.

In a nutshell: it’s pork you can trust!

You will find all of the listed ingredients at your local Food Lover’s Market. Look out for the Pork 360 mark/logo on the pork products.

Pork burger with grilled pineapple, crispy lettuce and creamy herb mayo (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ingredients: (makes 4)

  • 600-700 g pork mince
  • salt & pepper
  • 5 ml smoked paprika
  • 15 ml fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 small onion, coarsely grated
  • for the herb mayo:
    • 1 cup creamy mayonnaise
    • a handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
    • a squirt lemon juice
  • 4 sesame burger buns, halved and buttered
  • 4 large iceberg lettuce leaves, washed & drained
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 4 slices fresh pineapple


  1. For the patties: In a mixing bowl, add the pork and season generously with salt & freshly ground black pepper. Add the smoked paprika, ginger and onion and mix well using clean hands (or a fork, if you prefer). Divide the mixture into four and shape into flat disks. I like placing them on pieces of grease-proof baking paper for an easy transfer to the pan later. Always remember that meat will shrink and pulls to its center in the pan, so make each pattie a little wider and flatter than you think you should. Set aside.
  2. For the herb mayo: mix the mayonnaise, coriander and lemon juice together with a fork (for a smooth result, process in a food processor). Set aside.
  3. Toast the buttered insides of the buns in a hot pan until golden and crunchy. Transfer to plates, then top the bottom halves with lettuce.
  4. Add olive oil to the hot pan and fry the patties on both sides until golden brown and cooked. Remove from the pan to rest while you fry the pineapple.
  5. In the same pan, quickly fry the pineapple slices in a very hot pan until charred on either side.
  6. Place the rested patties on top of the lettuce, then top with a slice of fried pineapple and a dollop of herb mayo. Place the sesame bun halves on top. Serve immediately with or without fries.

Note: the patties firm up quite a bit when cooked, so don’t worry about adding an egg to the mixture – it’s not needed.

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Festive Feasting with Pork 360: 8-Hour Pork Shoulder

7 Dec

The ultimate 80-hour spiced pork shoulder, falling from the bone, ready to feed a festive crowd (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

The ultimate 8-hour spiced pork shoulder, falling from the bone, ready to feed a festive crowd (photography by Tasha Seccombe).

Once or twice a year, when we gather friends and family for a really big festive occasion, I choose a special, huge cut of meat to bring to the table as a whole slow-roasted centre piece. Pork shoulder wins my vote every single time, because it’s inexpensive, it’s succulent and it cooks to a tenderness that cannot be replaced by boneless smoked gammon or a whole leg.

I had the privilege of recently developing 6 new recipes in collaboration with Pork 360 (this one’s number 3). It’s a quality assurance and traceability certification – a guarantee to both the consumer and retailing sector that the producer has a consistent production process that complies with minimum standards and ensures high-quality pork. The Pork 360 projects takes place under the guidance of the South African Pork Producers Association (SAPPO). Watch their video for more info.

In a nutshell: it’s pork you can trust!

I bought the meat (and other ingredients) from my friendly butcher at Food Lover’s Market. You can find the most beautiful, fresh, whole pork shoulders, necks, bellies and legs – great choices when entertaining a large crowd. They also have great spare ribs, chops and festive gammons.

For this recipe, you can start the process in the morning if you plan on serving it for dinner, or just before you go to bed when you plan on serving it for lunch. All you need is an oven and a large roasting tray with foil. Rub all over with your spices, add some aromatics like onions, garlic and sage, and top up the tray with some sparkling apple juice or apple cider. After 8 hours at 120 C you will find magic in your tray: “doeksak”, as we say in Afrikaans. Saucy. Moist. Falling from the bone.

The leftovers will reward you with the ultimate pulled pork buns (sloppy as hell) the next day. The cooked meat freezes exceptionally well in the pan juices, so don’t be afraid of choosing a bigger cut than you actually need.

Ingredients: (serves 10-12)

  • 4,5-5 kg whole pork shoulder (bone-in)
  • 30 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 30 ml salt flakes
  • 10 ml freshly ground black pepper
  • 15 ml smoked paprika
  • 30 ml fennel seeds
  • 10 ml dried chilli flakes
  • 3 onions, peeled & quartered
  • 1 bulb garlic, peeled
  • about 12 sage leaves
  • 500 ml Appletizer or apple cider
  • 30 ml butter
  • 30 ml flour
  • finely grated lemon rind, for serving (optional)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 120 C.
  2. Carefully remove the skin from the shoulder using a sharp, small knife. Set the skin aside to make crackling later. Rub all over with olive oil, then place in a large roasting tray.
  3. Mix the salt, pepper, paprika, fennel, chilli together, then rub it all over the pork. Arrange the onions, garlic and sage all around the pork, then pour the apple juice/cider into the tray. Cover with foil, the place in the oven. Roast for 8 hours.
  4. To make gravy: Heat the butter in a small saucepan. When melted, add the flour and stir to create a roux. Carefully pour most (not all, but around 500-750 ml) of the pan juices into the sauce pan, stirring well to create a thickened smooth gravy. Season well with salt & pepper.
  5. Serve hot with sides of roasted potatoes or pan-fried spinach or caramelized sweet potato and a crisp green salad.




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Summer Feasting with Pork 360: BBQ pulled pork wraps with slaw, avo & sour cream

28 Nov

Easy BBQ pulled pork tortillas with sour cream, red cabbage slaw, avo and fresh coriander. So delicious! (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Easy BBQ pulled pork tortillas with sour cream, red cabbage slaw, avo and fresh coriander. So delicious! (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I had the privilege of recently developing 6 new recipes with my favourite type of meat: pork. As you might have seen, there’s a new stamp on some pork products in your favourite butcheries: Pork 360. It’s a quality assurance and traceability certification – a guarantee to both the consumer and retailing sector that the producer has a consistent production process that complies with minimum standards and ensures high-quality pork. The Pork 360 projects takes place under the guidance of the South African Pork Producers Association (SAPPO). Watch their video for more info.

In a nutshell: it’s pork you can trust!

Over the next couple of weeks you can expect to see six tasty, easy, mouthwatering recipes for summer feasting, festive feasting and fresh feasting. It was a huge pleasure to cook with such great quality pork. I bought the meat (and other ingredients) from my friendly butcher at Food Lover’s Market. You can find the most beautiful, fresh, whole pork shoulders, necks, bellies and legs – great choices when entertaining a large crowd. They also have great spare ribs, chops and festive gammons.

My first recipe stems from one of my favourite street food classics: BBQ pulled pork. I’ve chosen a whole pork neck, bone-in – it is a lean and tender cut of meat that cooks to perfection for flaking purposes. Serve the saucy meat on toasted flour tortillas with avocado, red slaw, sour cream and lots of coriander. The best meal for a hot summer’s evening!

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 2,5 kg pork neck, bone-in
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 250 ml BBQ sauce / spare rib sauce
  • 250 ml water
  • 6 large flour tortillas, toasted in a hot, dry pan
  • 2 ripe avocados, roughly chopped
  • 250 ml sour cream
  • 3 cups red cabbage slaw (shredded slaw mixed with mayo & a squirt of lemon juice)
  • a bunch of fresh coriander
  • fresh lemon wedges, to serve


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. Place the pork in a medium size roasting tray. Drizzle with oil, season generously with salt & pepper, then pour the BBQ sauce all over. Pour the water in the bottom of the tray, then cover with foil and roast for 3 hours.
  3. Remove the pork from the oven and use 2 forks to roughly shred the meat into strands. Remove any bones, then stir the meat to cover all over with the pan sauce.
  4. Serve hot on toasted flour tortillas with extra avo, sour cream, red cabbage slaw, fresh coriander and a squirt of lemon juice.

Tip: Add some freshly chopped chillies or jalapenos if you like it spicy!


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Sweet & sour pork

22 Oct

Deep fried pork in a batter, with sweet & sour sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Deep fried pork in a batter, with sweet & sour sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

In 2003 I started working in Belville with my friend Albert du Plessis, from his home. We started a partnership music booking agency for local rock ‘n roll artists. It was a very exciting time in my life and I enjoyed being part of this small and vibrant growing industry. During that time I also discovered a few take-away spots in the Northern Suburbs, one of which is Ho-Ho Take-Aways in Kenridge. It was run by a soft-spoken tiny Chinese woman, and she was a legend in the way that she stuffed your foamalite take-away container full of freshly cooked food. My favourite was always her sweet & sour pork – warm, crispy, golden nuggets with a small container of sweet and sour dipping sauce. I would stand in her shop, mesmerized, looking at the way she filled the containers with her scoop. More, more, always more. It was a value-for-money bonanza, and the best sweet & sour pork that I’ve ever tasted. She’s still there as far as I know, but sadly I don’t frequent that neck of the woods that often anymore.

This is the closest I could come to Ho-Ho’s legendary sweet & sour pork. Be sure to eat it straight from the fryer, as it becomes a bit softer on standing. If you’re feeling lazy, buy some sweet & sour sauce from your local speciality store instead of making your own.

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) white vinegar
  • 10-15 ml soy sauce
  • 45 ml tomato sauce (I prefer All Gold)
  • 20 ml corn flour, mixed with 125 ml cold water

Mix the sugar, vinegar, soy and tomato sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the cornflour/water mixture, then turn down to a simmer and stir until thickened – it will happen quite quickly. Remove from the heat and set aside. Serve warm or cold as a dipping sauce.

Ingredients for the pork: (serves 2)

  • 2 XL eggs
  • 60 ml cake flour
  • 60 ml corn flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • canola oil for deep-frying
  • 250 g lean pork meat (like fillet or steak), trimmed and cubed (about 2 x 2 cm)
  1. Mix the eggs, cake flour, corn flour and salt together to a sticky batter.
  2. Heat the oil over medium high heat until it reaches around 180 C.
  3. Dip the cubes of pork into the batter and carefully drop into the hot oil, frying until golden on all sides. Drain on kitchen paper. Serve immediately with sweet & sour sauce.

Deep fried pork in a batter, with sweet & sour sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Deep fried pork in a batter, with sweet & sour sauce (photography by Tasha Seccombe)


Recipe, food preparation & text: Ilse van der Merwe

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Assistant: Scott Armstrong

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Easy English pork pies with onion gravy

15 May

Individual pork pies with onion gravy (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Individual pork pies with onion gravy (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

I’ve always had a special interest in comfort food, and the Brits do it so well with their traditional pub fare. The idea of proper bangers with buttery mash and savoury gravy makes me want to grab a warm blanket and head for the couch.

Although I’ve never been to the UK, I’ve seen so many beautiful pork pies on TV and in recipe books. In Britain, they make their traditional pork pies in a round baking mould, rather than a flat pie dish. I’ve used my metal dariole moulds (also used for chocolate fondants etc.) to bake these pies, as they are the perfect size and shape to produce a nice round pork pie. You can use a large muffin tin if you don’t have these. The English also mostly use homemade shortcrust pastry, but in this case I took a shortcut and used store-bought puff pastry.

Making onion gravy takes a little patience, but it really isn’t difficult the result is totally worth it! If you prefer a smooth gravy, just give it a blitz with your stick blender.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 600g fresh pork sausage (coarsely textured)
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 x rolls puff pastry or shortcrust pastry (400g each)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten for egg wash


  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion & thyme and fry until it is soft but not too brown – about 15-20 minutes. Remove and cool slightly.
  2. In the meantime, remove the sausage meat from the casings (cut it open lengthways with kitchen sears), and place in a mixing bowl. Add the fried onions, allspice & nutmeg, then mix well (you can use your clean hands).
  3. Butter/grease 6 dariole moulds, then use the pastry to line each mould, pressing down gently. Fill each pastry case with pie filling, then place a round of pastry on top of each pie and pinch it together. Trim away any excess pastry, then brush with the egg wash on the tops.
  4. Place the prepared pies on a baking sheet, then bake at 220C for 25 minutes. Carefully turn the pies out of the moulds (I use a clean tea towel to assist), then turn them upside down place on a baking tray. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes to brown the bottoms.
  5. Remove from the oven and serve with mashed potatoes & gravy.

For the onion gravy:

  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) butter
  • 30ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 4 onions, peeled and finely sliced (not chopped)
  • 10ml (2 teaspoons) brown sugar
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) balsamic vinegar
  • 250ml (1 cup) chicken stock
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) Worcestershire sauce
  • salt & pepper
  • 10ml (2 teaspoons) cornflour/Maizena mixed with 15ml (1 tablespoon) cold water – optional


  1. In a medium size saucepan over medium-low heat, add the butter & olive oil. Now add the onions and stir well. Cook, covered, for about 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. You’re looking for very soft and slightly golden onions.
  2. Turn the heat up to high, then add the brown sugar & balsamic vinegar. Cook for 2-3 minutes until it reduces and starts to caramelize.
  3. Now add the stock & Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer (turn the heat down to medium). Simmer for 5 minutes without a lid, then season to taste with salt & pepper. If you like to thicken your gravy, you can now add the cornflour/water mixture and stir to thicken. If you like a smooth gravy, use a stick blender to create a smooth sauce. Transfer to a small gravy jug and serve hot.


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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Pork terrine with port and pistachios

15 Jul

French-style pork terrine with port and pistachios (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

As I get older, I find myself eating more and more of the things that I despised as a child: things like gherkins, beetroot, pickled onions, capers and mustard. For some reason, our palates change over time. We find the beauty in tart olives, relish the texture of great liver pateé, and long for more “grown-up” foods.

That’s exactly why I’ve been longing for a proper French-style pork terrine (terrine de campagne) over the last few months. It’s not something that you’d generally find in supermarkets or restaurants, it’s a speciality thing. But to me it is one of the most festive ways to entertain a crowd of meat lovers.

Pork terrine is not difficult to make, but it takes a little effort and some time. Make it a day ahead of your festive occasion, as the flavours really develop over time and the loaf needs time to completely set in the fridge. I used port instead of red wine or brandy to add some depth of flavour and sweetness (you can also use sherry), and added pistachios for some crunch. The pistachios look amazing when you slice the terrine – the green specs scattered like little treasures.

Be sure to serve this terrine with lots of different pickles and/or sweet jellies. I love serving it with gherkins, pickled onions, whole grain mustard and port-soaked cranberries. Add a loaf of your favourite bread and a glass of fortified wine, and this becomes a feast of epic proportions!

Ingredients: (recipe adapted from Sarie Kos and Epicurious)

(serves 10)

  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
  • 6 sage leaves, finely chopped (optional)
  • 250 g smoked streaky bacon
  • 800 g rindless pork meat with some fat (pork loin/pork shoulder/pork rashers)
  • 250 g chicken livers
  • 250 ml (1 cup) port (I used Monis Cape Vintage)
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) ground nutmeg
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) ground all spice
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) salt flakes
  • 2,5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) ground black pepper
  • 100 g pistachio nuts, shelled


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 C.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat, then add the onions, garlic, thyme and sage and fry until the onions are soft and translucent but not brown. Remove and set aside to cool.
  3. Line a 30 x 11 x 7 cm loaf pan with cling wrap (yes, you can bake cling wrap in the oven – it will be sheltered by a water bath), leaving some of the wrap hanging over the sides (it needs to be folded over the top later).
  4. Arrange the streaky bacon inside the loaf tin, packing the tightly together over the width of the pan, not overlapping. There should be a few pieces left, save them for arranging over the top at the end.
  5. Place the cooled fried onions, pork, chicken livers, port, nutmeg, all spice, salt and pepper in a food processor, then process until you get a coarse paste resembling minced meat. Transfer the paste to a mixing bowl, then stir in the pistachios.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin, and smooth the top with a spatula. Top with the last few pieces of bacon, then fold the hanging pieces of cling wrap over the top to seal the terrine. Use extra cling wrap if necessary. Now cover the top with foil.
  7. Place the loaf tin in a larger roasting tray, then fill the roasting tray with hot water (hot tap water is OK). The water level should come up the sides about 2-3 cm from the top.
  8. Bake at 180 C for 1 and a half to 2 hours – if you have a meat thermometer, the inside of the loaf should register 68-70 C (155 – 160 F). If you don’t have a meat thermometer, just bake it for 2 hours to be sure the inside is cooked.
  9. Remove the terrine from the oven, then carefully remove the loaf tin from the roasting tray. Place the tin on a cooling rack for another 30 minutes without removing the foil or wrap.
  10. To weight terrine: cut a piece of cardboard the same size as the top of the tin, then place it on top of the tin with a few heavy objects on top (I used 3 cans of food). When the terrine is cool, place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (with the weights on top).
  11. When ready to serve, dip the bottom of the terrine tin in a basin with warm water for 5 seconds, then turn it out onto a board or serving tray. Carefully remove the clingwrap.
  12. Serve with your choice of pickles and jellies or port-soaked cranberries.

For the port-soaked cranberries:

Place 100 g dried cranberries and 125 ml port in a small saucepan, then heat until boiling. Turn down the heat, then simmer over low heat for about 5-10 minutes or until most of the port is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Please note: The terrine will keep well in the fridge for up to 2 weeks in an air tight container.


This post was written especially for The Pretty Blog.

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

Photographer: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Nicola Pretorius and Tasha Seccombe.


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