Tag Archives: summer

Quinoa salad

27 Jan

A summery quinoa salad, inspired by a traditional Middle Eastern “tabbouleh” (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

Although quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) has been around for ages in South America, most people in South Africa are still getting used to this seedy superfood. Being very high in protein and free of gluten, most of us can eat it with a clear conscience. Yes, it looks kind of like a mini bean sprout, but have a mouthful and you’ll agree that it tastes like a member of the grain family – filling and really appetising.

I love serving cooked quinoa in a cold salad. It is a fabulous side dish for dinner, and makes the perfect leftover lunch for the next day. Crisp summer flavours of a traditional Middle Eastern tabbouleh (bulgur wheat salad with tomatoes, cucumber, mint, parsley & lemon) are the perfect cornerstones for a great summery salad, so I substituted the bulgur wheat for quinoa and it worked like a charm.

I used tricoloured quinoa, but you can use whatever you can find.

Ingredients: (serves 6 as a side dish)

  • 2 cups (500 ml) water
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2,5 ml) salt
  • 1 cup (250 ml) uncooked quinoa
  • 4 med-large ripe (still firm) tomatoes, seeded & diced
  • 1 small English cucumber (of 1/2 large cucumber), seeded & diced
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) finely sliced spring onions
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) finely chopped mint
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • juice of a small lemon
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper


  1. Place water and salt in a medium size pot on the stove top and bring to the boil. Add quinoa, then turn heat down to a slow simmer, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and leave to cool completely.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the chopped tomato, cucumber, spring onions, parsley, mint and garlic.  Add the lemon juice & olive oil, then season with salt and black pepper & mix well.
  3. Now add the cooled quinoa, and mix until well combined. Serve immediately, or chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


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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Review: ZOKU Slush & Shake Maker

11 Jan

A blood orange mojito slushie (picture supplied by Golden Sturgeon)

I received this nifty little gadget via courier last year: the ZOKU Slush & Shake Maker. It’s a simple way to make ice cold drinks, icy slushies and perfectly frozen milkshakes in 7 minutes tops, on your countertop.

So how does it work? The Zoku Slush & Shake Maker consists of 3 parts: 1) a cup, 2) a stand and 3) a scraper spoon. You place the cup in your freezer for a few hours (just store it there for whenever you might need a slushie), then remove it from the freezer and place inside the stand. Now add your ingredients – anything from milk to juice, coffee or yoghurt, fruit pulp, crushed cookies or alcoholic drinks. Then watch as it turns to ice, scraping down the sides often to create a slushed effect. Safe and entertaining for kids, yet cool enough for adults to create mischievous party drinks.

ZOKU also published a beautiful book with loads of recipes and ideas for your slush gadget: The Art of Slush, also available from Yuppiechef for R195.00. Here is a recipe from this book for a blood orange mojito:

Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • 25 mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) blood orange juice (or use regular oranges for an orange-coloured drink)
  • 30 ml fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup (250 ml) sparkling water
  • 50 ml rum (2 tots)


  1. Make a simple mint syrup: heat up 15 mint leaves with the sugar & water in a saucepan. Simmer for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool completely. Then remove the mint leaves.
  2. Now add the simple syrup to the rest of the mint leaves, orange juice, lime juice & sparkling water. Pour half of the mixture into the Slush Maker, then stir and scrape to create a thick slush. Add 1 tot rum, then stir and scrape again to create a thick slush. Repeat with remaining half of mixture to create 2 mojitos.

You can find the Slush & Shake Maker at Boardmans, @Home, Wellness Warehouse, ToyZone and online at Yuppiechef.co.za for around R250. Available in 5 bright colours. A great summer gift for the whole family.

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Fennel, celery & apple salad

10 Jan

Fennel, celery and apple salad, a summery bowl of crunchy goodness (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

This recipe must be one of my favourite “finds” of last year – a crispy, texture-rich salad that bursts with fresh green flavours. It contains only 3 ingredients (except for the dressing), and it is so very simple to make. It goes splendidly with grilled trout, salmon or other fish, and is a must on any summer lunch table.

This was my last recipe for The Pretty Blog in 2013, and what an amazing year it was for our food team! Thank you so much Nicola and Tasha for amazing days of inspiration, dedication, patience, food chatter and of course lots of eating. I absolutely love every second of putting together recipes and dishes with you girls! Here’s to many more in 2014, and hopefully even doing something in print in the near future…

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  • 2 large fennel bulbs
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 large green apple (Granny Smith)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper


  1. Slice the fennel bulbs horizontally into very fine shavings, preferably using a mandolin cutter or a food processor slicer. Finely cut some of the fennel fronds as well (about 1 cup), and place it all in a large salad bowl.
  2. Now also slice the celery finely, and cut the apple into fine julienne strips.
  3. Toss it all together, then drizzle with lemon juice & olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat well. Serve immediately.

Note: This salad can be made about 1-2 hours in advance, if covered and chilled. It is the dressing that prevents the apple from discolouring, so don’t forget to toss the salad in the dressing before storing it.


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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Review: Summer set menu at The Red Table, Nederburg

7 Jan

The Red Table Restaurant at Nederburg, Paarl

I’ve reviewed The Red Table Restaurant at Nederburg in Paarl once before in April 2013, just after they opened their doors. My experience was delightful – a pristine setting with great quality bistro food and very friendly service. So I welcomed a second invitation to experience their summer set menu on the 5th of December 2013.

Our table on the huge lawn under the large shady trees.

The Red Table’s a la carte menu is already very well priced, and I consider it one of the best value for money dining experiences in the Winelands. The new summer set menu is a bargain at only R240 for a 5 course lunch including wine pairings from their Heritage Hero series, or R195 for 4 courses including wine pairings. The set menu was designed around the wines, each with a strong individual personality, so it seems only fit that the menu descriptions are centred around the wines and their key notes:


A clear, light green wooded Sauvignon Blanc with a bouquet of green figs, asparagus and minerality. It is fresh, crisp and zesty and is the ideal partner to summer salads, and merges beautifully with our

Slow roasted tomato tartlet with chevin and baby leaves.


Made from Chenin Blanc, the Anchorman is a brilliant wine with a golden hue, reminiscent of apricots and oranges and is a delight when paired with pastas such as our

Homemade ravioli filled with butternut accompanied by burnt sage butter and crispy parma ham.


This Rhône-style blend of Grenache, Carignan and Shiraz is a full bodied dark and intense red wine, and is outstanding when enjoyed with full flavoured dishes such as our

Cape Malay lentil bobotie samosa served with tomato salsa.


A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc this is a dark, intense red wine with concentrated aromas of dark fruit. Ideal with red meat, it is the perfect accompaniment to our

Gourmet lamb burger with homemade pomme frites and a Brew Master jus.


Light, straw yellow, it is a beautiful wine made entirely from Gewurztraminer, and infused with nuances of rose petals and Turkish delight, and is excellent as an aperitif or partner to fruit flans such as our

Rosewater infused jelly with naartjie served with Gewurztraminer custard.

First course: Slow roasted tomato tartlet with chevin and baby leaves

Fourth course: Gourmet lamb burger with homemade pomme frites and a Brew Master jus

Be sure to take your time when visiting The Red Table Restaurant for this lunch experience, as this is a truly laid-back place that will make you want to linger longer. The food is scrumptious bistro fare, so don’t expect fine dining. I especially enjoyed the Cape Malay lentil bobotie samoosa (3rd course) and the Gewurztraminer custard (5th course).

I can highly recommend The Red Table on a beautiful day for families with kids, but also for anyone who is looking for a high quality, exceptional value-for-money wine estate lunch experience. Thank you very much to the restaurant manageress Wilmien and our waitress Gail for exceptional service and authentic Winelands hospitality.

The Red Table Restaurant at Nederburg is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays for lunch from 11h00, and on Sundays from 12h00. Closed on Mondays. For reservations, contact 021-877 5155 or theredtable@nederburg.co.za.

Our waitress Gail with a bottle of The Young Airhawk, a sauvignon blanc from Nederburg.


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A casual summer holiday lunch with Poetry Stores: Part 1

6 Dec

A casual Summer lunch or brunch (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

If there is one word that sums up 2013 for me, it would be “inspiration”. This year has been a great year of being surrounded by truly inspirational peers, clients and friends, and it is the theme of this 3 part festive series that I have put together in association with Poetry Stores.

We’ve reached the end of 2013, and we are all starting to get ready for a well-deserved break! I’ve teamed up with Poetry Stores to bring you fantastic ideas and inspiration for festive meals, recipes, gifts, decor and homeware. With each part of this series I have chosen a recipe book from Poetry’s collection, featuring 4 or 5 of the most scrumptious recipes from each book, along with a selection of beautifully festive homeware that you can use to decorate your table or wrap as Christmas gifts to your nearest and dearest. Remember that recipe books also make amazing Christmas gifts, and they keep on giving us fresh ideas right through the year!

For the first feature, I have chosen the theme of “A Casual Summer Holiday Lunch” with recipes from Café Food at Home by Evan Faul from Quivertree Publications (available from Poetry Stores). Evan is a master at baking, so I simply had to try his recipe for ciabatta. He also features a beautiful recipe for a sandwich in his book, made from the same ciabatta, and filled with garlic & thyme roasted chicken, red pepper pesto & mayonnaise, fresh basil leaves and finely sliced red onion, and I couldn’t resist. For dessert, I chose Evan’s recipe for a white chocolate cheesecake with a chocolate biscuit crust, topped with fresh seasonal berries – a show stopping dessert!

Evan’s book is filled with easy, scrumptious recipes of the food that I really love to eat: it is unpretentious, beautifully photographed, and lipsmackingly delicious. Café food, bistro food, inspiration for laid back holiday food. Serve with you favourite beer or some ice cold white wine.

Poetry’s range of beautiful wooden boards, Wonkiware platters and inhouse tableware will make any feast look picture perfect.  Here’s what we’ve used in the pictures:

Large round bread board:  R499

Baguette board:  Small baguette board R199

Large Wonkiware regtangular trough: R599

Wonkiware bowl: R140

Wonkiware cake plate: R350

Tumbler glass: R40

Ciabatta loaf (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Ciabatta: Ingredients

For the “rustic poolish” (starter dough):

  • 400 ml cold water
  • 270 g bread flour
  • 130 g unsifted wholewheat flour
  • 3 g instant yeast (about 5 ml)

For the ciabatta loaf:

  • 375 g bread flour
  • 2 g instant yeast
  • 375 g rustic poolish (see above)
  • 10 g salt
  • 240 ml iced water


  1. For the rustig poolish, place all the ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer, then mix well for a couple of minutes with your flat beater. Transfer the mixture to a plastic container, and cover with a damp cloth. Place in the fridge overnight for use the next day.
  2. The next day, place the rest of the ingredients except the salt and water in the mixer. Mix for 3 minutes on slow speed while adding the iced water.  Mix for 4 minutes on medium speed.
  3. Keep on mixing while you add the salt. Mix for a further 6 minutes on medium speed. Transfer to a clean, lightly oiled container, cover with a damp cloth, then leave in a warm area in the kitchen to ferment for 2 hours. Fold the dough after 4o minutes, and again after 80 minutes.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a flour-dusted work surface. Dust the surface of the dough with flour, using a sieve to avoid any lumps. Gently stretch the dough into a rectangle using your hands.
  5. Carefully divide the dough into 2 portions. Roll the pieces very gently in the dusting flour so that they are evenly coated. Place the dough portions on a well floured cloth and prove for 60 minutes.
  6. Place a terracotta baking stone (if you have one) in the oven, and preheat the oven to 250 C for at least an hour before baking.
  7. Transfer the breads onto a teflon sheet. Mist the oven with water using a spray bottle, before loading the loaves on the hot stone in the oven (I don’t have a baking stone, but I preheated a normal baking tray). Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temp to 220 C for a further 10 minutes. The bread should be golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool.

Chicken lemon & thyme roast (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Chicken, lemon & thyme roast:

  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 10 free-range chicken thighs and breasts on the bone (I used a mixed pack of chicken pieces)
  • 75 ml good quality olive oil
  • small bunch fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 onions, peeled


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C.
  2. Cut the head of garlic in half horizontally. Use it to rub the skin of the chicken pieces. Break up the head of garlic but do not peel the cloves.
  3. Place the chicken pieces and garlic in a bowl. Add the olive oil, thyme and seasoning. Cut the lemons in half, and cut the onions in 1/8 segments. Add the lemons and onions to the bowl, then use your hands to gently toss all the ingredients together. Tip it out onto a flat roasting tray lined with foil, then spread them out in a single layer, chicken pieces skin side up.
  4. Roast for 25 minutes until the chicken is crisp, brown and juicy. (I turned down the oven to 180 C and roasted for another 20 minutes).
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven, then use tongs to squeeze the caramelized lemon over the meat before serving.

Roasted red pepper pesto (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Roast tomato & red pepper pesto:

  • 2 large red peppers, cored seeded and cut into quarters
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 15 ml olive oil for roasting
  • 1 clove  garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 60 g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 35 g pine nuts
  • 25 g cashew nuts
  • 5 ml balsamic vinegar
  • 20 g basil leaves (optional)
  • 100 ml good quality olive oil for blending
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lemon


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C.
  2. Arrange the peppers and tomatoes skin sides down on a roasting tray. Drizzle with oil and roast for 15 minutes.
  3. Place the garlic, cheese, pine nuts, cashew nuts, and vinegar in a food processor and blend together gently. Add the roasted peppers, tomatoes and basil (if using) and blend at low speeds.
  4. With the processor running, slowly add 100 ml oil in a steady stream (depending on the thickness you require, adjust the amount of olive oil). Season to taste and finish off with a squeeze of lemon juice.
  5. Place in an airtight container or in a sterilized glass jar in the fridge – it should keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge.

Roast chicken sandwich (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Roast chicken sandwich:

  • 400 g lemon chicken & thyme roast (see above)
  • 100 g roast tomato & red pepper pesto (see above)
  • 100 g mayonnaise
  • 10 g smoked paprika
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 loaf ciabatta (see above)
  • 100 ml good quality olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • a few basil leaves
  • a few gherkins


  1. Flake the chicken from the bone, then add the pesto, mayo, paprika and seasoning. Mix well.
  2. Slice the ciabatta in half lengthways. Drizzle the cut sides with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Toast under a hot grill under golden brown.
  3. Remove bread from the oven, then rub with garlic and then with the cut side of the tomato half.
  4. Spread the bread with the chicken mayo mixture. Layer red onion and basil leaves on top and cover with the other half of the toasted bread. Slice into portions and serve with gherkins on the side.

Baked white chocolate cheesecake (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Baked white chocolate cheesecake:

  • 200 g chocolate biscuits
  • 90 g butter, melted
  • 400 g best quality white chocolate
  • 750 g full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 230 g sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250 ml single cream, chilled and whipped
  • mixed seasoning berries, to serve


  1. Crush biscuits in a food processor, then mix in the melted butter. Press mixture firmly into the bottom and sides of a well-greased 23 x 8 cm springform cake tin.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 150 C.
  3. Break chocolate into chunks and place in a glass or metal bowl. Melt gently over a pot of simmering water.
  4. Beat cream cheese lightly with a hand blender. Add vanilla extract, sugar and melted chocolate and mix well.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then fold in the whipped cream. Pour onto the prepared biscuit crust, then bake for 1 hour.
  6. Switch off the oven and allow the cake to cool completely in the oven before removing from the tin.
  7. Serve with seasonal berries.


All recipes by Evan Faul, from his book Café Food at Home.

Food preparation & text: Ilse van der Merwe of The Food Fox

Photography: Tasha Seccombe

Styling: Ilse van der Merwe & Tasha Seccombe

Homeware: Poetry Stores

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Grilled whole trout stuffed with lemon, fennel & herbs

3 Dec

Whole baked trout, stuffed with fennel, lemon & herbs (photography by Tasha Seccombe, styling by Nicola Pretorius)

As we are gearing up for another summery festive season, many of us are starting to put together ideas for our Christmas lunches and dinners. To me, it is probably the most festive meal of the year, where family and friends are treated to the best of our bounties and abilities.

Christmas food doesn’t have to be formal, though. I’ve noticed that more people are moving away from heavier red meat roasts and vegetables, opting for  lighter, summery, al fresco choices. With Christmas falling in the middle of summer time in South Africa, I’ve always loved food that you could eat cold, like my cold Christmas platter, or food that you can braai as part of a relaxing afternoon with family and friends. While most of us are on holiday at the coast during this time, it just makes sense to consider fish as a main course.

Rainbow trout is a sustainably farmed local freshwater fish, and a perfect choice for a Christmas lunch or dinner. It’s delicate pink flakes are so beautiful to look at, and wonderfully tasty to eat. If you can get hold of a whole trout from your local fishmonger, make sure that is fresh, gilled and gutted. This way you can just rinse it at home, stuff it, and put it on the braai or in the oven. So very easy.

I love to serve this trout with a crisp green fennel & celery & apple salad, as well as cracked roasted baby potatoes and a fantastic versatile yoghurt mustard sauce. The recipes for the salad and potatoes will follow shortly, but I’ll include the recipe for the yoghurt sauce here. Remember that you can use the sauce on the fish, but also on the salad and the potatoes. The fish and potatoes are best served warm, but can certainly also successfully be served at room temperature.

Ingredients for whole stuffed trout:

(Serves: 6)

(Difficulty: easy)

  • 1 x whole trout, gilled and gutted (about 1.6 – 2 kg)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 x medium lemons, sliced
  • 1 x large fennel bulb, sliced
  • a handful of fennel fronds (reserved from the bulb)
  • a handful of chopped Italian parsley
  • juice of a lemon


  1. If you are going to use an oven to cook your fish, pre-heat it to 200 C. If you are going to braai it, get your fire ready to braai the fish over medium hot coals.
  2. Rinse the trout well under cold water, then pat dry with a tea towel.
  3. Using a very sharp knife, make angled incisions in the sides of the fish, about 3 on a side. Season the inside of the incisions well with salt and pepper. Season the inside of the gutted cavity as well.
  4. Use lemon sliced, fennel slices & parsley to stuff into the incisions and cavity, then drizzle the stuffed parts with lemon juice. Season the outside of the fish with salt and pepper, then place it on a piece of oiled foil on a roasting tray and roast in the oven at 200 C for 25-30 minutes. If you are going to braai it, place the fish inside a large hinged grid (without any foil), then braai over medium hot coals on both sides for about 30 minutes in total. Oil the inside of your grid to ensure that the fish doesn’t stick to the grid.
  5. Transfer the fish to a large serving platter, and serve with a fresh fennel salad, roast potatoes and a yoghurt mustard sauce.

For the yoghurt mustard sauce:

  • 250 ml double cream Greek yoghurt
  • 2 heaped tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
  • juice of a medium size lemon
  • 2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
  • 30-45 ml chopped fresh dill (or fennel fronds)
  • some cracked black pepper
  • a pinch of salt

Mix it all together and serve cold, with the fish.


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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Red muscadel & soda cocktails

24 Oct

Summery red muscadel cocktails with soda water, strawberries, and fresh mint (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

The kind people from Sodastream SA recently sent me a Sodastream Sourceto review, and I was just delighted to see my bright red new machine arriving via courier. Although there are many amazing different cordials to choose from in the Sodastream range, I just love the idea of plain soda water on tap, especially for summer. Most of the summer cocktails that I love are made with plain soda water, and I can already feel a cocktail party coming on. The new Sodastream Source is beautiful to look at, very easy to use, and just an amazingly usefull cordless machine to have in your home (or at your holiday camping site!).

Sodastream Source

Just a few days after I received my Source, my brother’s boyfriend Frans gave me a bottle of red muscadel from Orange River Cellars as a dinner party gift. The sight of the muscadel immediately took me back many years ago, when I attended a music festival in Robertson. Although I cannot remember the line-up or even the name of the festival, I do remember that Rietvallei Wine Estate had a stand there where they sold red muscadel cocktails.

It was a piping hot summers day in Robertsons, and these red muscadel cocktails were so refreshing that we went back for more and more! It was such a simple mix of ingredients: red muscadel, soda water, fresh mint leaves and sliced strawberries. Although muscadel is traditionally a very sweet wine, the soda brings it back to just the right amount of sweetness for a refreshing summer drink with a fizzy lightness. I like to mix the muscadel to soda in a 50/50 ratio, which also makes it wonderfully light in alcohol – the perfect drink to serve guests at a dinner party before offering them heavier wines, or as a welcome drink at a fancy summer event.

Sweet wines, noble late harvests and fortified wines are making a big comeback this summer. I’ll be sipping on red muscadel & soda cocktails until the sun sets. Cheers everyone!

The Sodastream Source retails for approximately R1595 – get yours from Yuppiechef.

Ingredients: (quantities to be adjusted according to the size of your glass or your jug)

  • 1/3 quantity red muscadel
  • 1/3 quantity cold soda/sparkling water (I use my new Sodastream Source to create soda water on tap)
  • 1/3 quantity ice or crushed ice
  • strawberries, halved or sliced (about 1 or 2 per glass)
  • fresh mint leaves, torn in half

Mix all of the ingredients together and serve immediately.


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

Recipe, food/drink preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.



For my international readers, a little more on muscadel:

Muscadel is a proudly South African fortified sweet wine. Also known as Muscat or Muscat Blanc locally or Moscato overseas (although Moscato is usually not fortified), it is often paired with dessert. The Red Muscadel – made from Black Muscat grapes – is elegantly rich and dark. Muscadel is also a favorite during mealtimes because of its low alcohol content.

The signature sweetness of Muscadel makes it an iconic dessert wine. Although it is camouflaged as another variety of Port, some may find its sweetness a bit overwhelming. Still, Muscadel is very popular as a winter drink, and these days even chefs are looking for ways to reinvent it. We all know classic red wine cocktails such as the Kalimotxo from Mexico that is made from Coke and a simple red wine from M&S Wine and even the classic Sangria made from fresh fruit, red wine and a dash of brandy. So is the Red Muscadel soda cocktail part of the bandwagon yet?

Taken as an accompaniment to dainty desserts and slowly evolving as a refreshing summer drink, red Muscadel is now making a comeback among wine lovers everywhere. Among the famous South African Red Muscadels are the Slanghoek, KWV and especially the Rietvallei, which has a classic Muscat aroma that exudes “a raisiny sweetness and a rose petal fragrance”. Of course, these varieties are some of the best in the world but how do you pair them with dessert? Chef and food historian Hetta van Deventer-Terblanche recently talked to Taste Magazine and vouches on the wine’s versatility: “The aromas and flavours run the gamut from nougat and Turkish Delight to tropical fruit and fudge, rose petals, citrus blossoms and jasmine, mulberry, marzipan, marmalade, apricots and almonds.” Think of it as not only a prelude to any dessert but also a perfect wine for any season.

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Passion fruit and yoghurt pannacotta

8 Oct

Passion fruit & Greek yoghurt pannacotta, topped with fresh passion fruit pulp (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

With the promise of Summer in the air, most of us are abandoning heavier baked puddings for a lighter version of delight. Pannacottas are great for entertaining, because they can be made in advance, and they are usually served as individual portions (I love getting my very own bowl or glass of dessert).

These easy pannacottas are made with Greek yoghurt instead of cream or milk, and I love the extra tang that it provides. Knowing that you’re eating yoghurt and fresh fruit for dessert is such a comfort for the upcoming warmer (lesser clothed) months, because you don’t have to feel guilty for a second!

These little smooth pots look, smell and taste like summer in a jar – pure bliss.

Adjust the sugar content to your taste, and according to the sweetness/tartness of the passion fruit pulp that you are using.


(recipe adapted from Katie Caldesi’s The Italian Cookery Course, available from Poetry Stores)

  • 1 sachet (15 ml / 10 g) powdered gelatine
  • ½ cup cold water
  • ½ cup passion fruit pulp (from about 6 or 7 passion fruits, or use canned passion fruit pulp)
  • 100 g caster sugar (or less if the passion fruit is already very sweet)
  • 750 ml (3 cups) Greek yoghurt


  1. Mix the gelatine powder and cold water, and leave to sponge (about 5-10 minutes).
  2. On the stovetop using a small saucepan, heat the passion fruit & sugar over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Now add the sponged gelatine and stir until the gelatine has dissolved completely. Don’t let it boil – turn the heat down to very low.
  3. Strain the warm passion fruit mixture through a sieve to remove any seeds. Then add it to the yoghurt and stir well.
  4. Pour the mixture into moulds or glasses – pannacotta don’t need to be turned out, so I like to serve it in beautiful glass jars or glasses. Refrigerate for a few hours or until set, then top with more passion fruit pulp before serving.


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

Recipe adaptation, food preparation and text: Ilse van der Merwe.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

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Beetroot soup with Greek yoghurt & chives

4 Feb

Organic beetroot soup with Greek yoghurt & chives (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

My friends at Genesis Farm surprised me the other day with another basket full of beautiful organic vegetables: an assortment of chillies, some quirky-looking carrots, perfectly round squash, a few large beetroots, and the most beautiful red noodle beans that looked like purple little snakes!  It’s always such a treasure to cook with organic produce that’s just been picked from the farm.

The first thing I made was a summery beetroot soup – something that’s meant to be eaten cold, but can also be enjoyed warm. The organic beetroots were just so sweet and full of flavour, and really didn’t need a lot of work to be turned into something special. And the colour is quite spectacular!

This is my version of a cold, summery beetroot soup – perfect for a light rustic lunch, yet striking enough to serve as a starter at a fancy dinner table. Add a dash of good quality vodka to turn it into a classic Russian “borscht”.


  • 6 large organic beetroots, trimmed and washed (not skinned)
  • 400 ml chicken stock
  • 30 ml lemon juice
  • 30 ml chopped chives
  • 50 ml double cream Greek yoghurt (or crème fraiche)
  • 50-100 ml cream (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot, add beetroot and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 60 minutes until tender (smaller beetroot will cook quicker). Remove from the heat, then drain water and let it cool until easy to handle.
  2. Remove skins (they should come off quite easily if just nudged with your fingers). Don’t worry if your hands stain, just wash them well with soapy water afterwards. The red colour on your hands should disappear after a few washes during the day.
  3. Cut the beetroot into smaller chunks, then add them to a food processor with the stock, lemon juice, chives, yoghurt, cream, salt and pepper. Process to a very smooth consistency, then test seasoning and add more salt/pepper if necessary. Remember, cold soup will need more seasoning than hot soup.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to eat. Serve cold or at room temperature with a swirl of extra yoghurt or cream and some chopped chives.

Tip: If your soup is too thick, add a bit more chicken stock. If you are using small beetroots, start by adding less stock. The soup should be thick and really smooth, but not thick like baby food.


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

Food & recipe: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe.


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Watermelon salad

7 Jan

A summery salad of watermelon, feta, walnuts, watercress and spring onions.

Today is the 7th of January 2013, and most of us have decided on a set of New Year’s resolutions. I can bet you that somewhere on that list is the resolution to lose weight in 2013 – don’t worry, you are not alone!

As most of you might know, I am not really a low-fat recipe writer. Not at all, actually. Most of my recipes contain butter, sugar, cream or oil (or all of the above). These are the things that make food taste great! But sometimes there is a place for lighter dishes, and I love them just as much as I love my full-fat food.

We are still enjoying the height of summer, and watermelons are abundant. These beautiful huge green bellies with their crisp, sweet, juicy centres epitomise summer in South Africa. They are also very versatile, and can even be eaten in savoury salads. This is my version of the very popular “watermelon & feta salad” with watercress, spring onions and walnuts.

I dress this salad very lightly with a sprinkle of olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. You can also add some freshly ground black pepper, but salt isn’t really needed because of the salt content in the feta. Use low-fat feta if you prefer.

Ingredients: (adjust quantities according to the size of your party and your preference – no rules apply!)

  • watercress leaves
  • fresh watermelon, green & white parts removed, sliced and roughly cubed (remove seeds if you want to make the effort)
  • feta, roughly crumbled
  • spring onions, finely sliced
  • walnuts, very roughly chopped
  • black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar


On a large serving platter, arrange watercress leaves, then watermelon, then feta, then  spring onions and walnuts. Top with some freshly ground black pepper, then dress very lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.


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

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.


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