Thursday, April 3, 2014

A new adventure begins...

It feels so, so right to be sitting down to write again and there's something that feels so familiar, like it was just last week that I last wrote a post. The sad reality of course, is that it's been over three dry months of silence from my side. 'Not great for gaining and retaining readership', I can just hear my brother, who acts as a sort of mentor to me saying, accompanied by a stern look of disappointment, of course.

I have however, a very, very valid excuse... Since my last blog post on this site, I have launched my new sight, cooked for oh-so-many people through a busy catering season, ended another term of my degree in Nutrition, had a baby (this is in random order - as this is by far my biggest achievement yet!) and not documented copious amounts of macaron-baking, delicious meals cooked for family and culinary trips that would have been great to share!

So, on that note, I really feel that not blogging has left a gap in my life and am excited about directing you all to - my new site that is finally up and running! The site includes a food styling portfolio and I hope for this to be a lovely space to document this incredible new adventure that we find ourselves on and all the the culinary implications this will have... As you can imagine I'm already planning the healthy meals I'm going to cook my little Luella in six months time!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Mixed Cheese Tortellini with Red Pepper Pesto

Basic Pasta Recipe:

(Serves 4-6 people)

500 g strong white bread flour
5 large free-range eggs
extra white bread flour, for dusting surface
pinch of fine salt

Making the dough by hand: Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs and fine salt into the middle. Using a fork, break up the eggs, mixing from the centre outwards. Now start to take more and more flour from the outsides working the dough with your hands until it comes together and becomes smooth and elastic. This takes about 2-3 minutes of kneading on a floured surface. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and allow it to rest in the fridge for 60 minutes.

The next step is to role the pasta out with a pasta machine. Remove your dough from the fridge and work it on a floured surface until smooth and pliable again. Divide the dough into manageable portions, three to four balls. Now set the pasta machine on the  widest setting and role one of the pasta balls through once.
Set the pasta machine to the next setting to roll an even thinner sheet. Roll the pasta sheet once. Continue like this until your pasta sheet is about 1 mm thick.

Use a damp cloth to keep the pasta dough from drying out as your are cutting and rolling your pasta sheets.
I generally use a cookie cutter to cut my pasta in round shapes.

Prepare the filling: The filling is very easy to prepare. I like to use some strong cheese like finely grated Parmesan, ricotta, pecorino and even a mature cheddar. Mix the grated cheese in a bowl and add a bunch of freshly chopped basil and salt and pepper. You can be creative with the combination and cheeses, but try to not use too much of one cheese as the flavour can become quite over-powering. A binding cheese that is moist like ricotta, works well to bind the other cheeses together.

Brush the circles of pasta with some egg and place a teaspoon of filling onto the centre of every circle. 

Now fold the pasta circle into a half circle, sealing it well on the edges. Add a little more egg to the sharp points of the half circle and pinch those two points together. Set aside and continue with all your circles.

To cook: Bring a big pot of well salted water to the boil and quickly boil your Tortellini until they float to the top of the water (5-10 minutes). I always taste one just to be sure that they are cooked through.
Drain the Tortellini and while still hot, mix them with a pesto of your choice. Serve with an extra drizzle of good quality olive oil, Parmesan shavings, soft herbs and some freshly ground black pepper.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Canadian Buttermilk Pancakes

Does the world really need another pancake recipe, is a good question to ask at this stage... I thought I'd share my story of how I became known as the 'pancake-asaurus' in our family. Yes, that was one of those little family words that we took the liberty of making up based on the amount of fluffy Canadian pancakes I could pack away, leaving my bigger brothers in the dust at age three.

As I've mentioned on my blog before, my childhood was filled with vibrant adventures with my family that took us from living in a desert country on the West Coast of Africa to a small village in Canada where my father worked as a doctor. If there's one thing that the Canadians added to our quirky array of culinary favourites it is breakfast pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. To this day when we have family gatherings it usually involves my father (who's specialties include this, and cooking fish to absolute perfection) to don my mother's apron and get his hands dirty.

So, living back in Southern Africa today we take it upon ourselves to educate our friends and family about the absolute wonder that is pure, imported maple syrup combined with salty bacon and a knob of melted butter. Even my husband has had to resolve himself to the fact that this is one bit of Canada he can't get out of me and he's embraced it to become part of our repertoire. I must say, my husband and I have added fresh berries and Bulgarian yoghurt to the mix. Yes, that's Bulgarian yoghurt with bacon, I know what you are thinking... 

So on that note, if you haven't tried this combination, I'd strongly recommend it. Here's a delicious recipe for buttermilk pancakes I love to make:

Canadian Buttermilk Pancakes

(Makes 14 portions)

  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
  • 1 3/4 cups (425 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) butter, melted
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) canola oil

In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, butter and vanilla.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk until combined and smooth.
Lightly brush large nonstick pan with some of the oil. Heat the pan over medium-high heat.
Using a 1/4 cup per pancake, pour the batter into the pan and allow it to spread slightly to form pancakes. Cook until bubbles appear on top, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to a platter, cover and keep warm at 120°C in the oven.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Hollandaise Sauce

The other day my husband and I had the most delicious breakfast with my brother and his wife. We made home-made rostis with salmon and I, between the chaos of frying rostis and poaching eggs, quickly whipped up some Hollandaise sauce. My brother, my number one support when it comes to blogging, immediately said, "We should have taken photo's!". And that's what lead me to this post. I realise so many people think that Hollandaise sauce is such a difficult thing to make, when actually it just requires a little practice.

My photographer friend Jill Chen, took these gorgeous images (with me styling), so I really have no excused not to write a quick post on the infamous Hollandaise.  This is what my The Professional Chef cook book from the Culinary Institute off America has to say about it, "A classic emulsion sauce made with vinegar reduction, egg yolks, and melted butter flavoured with lemon juice. It is one of the grand sauces" ..."And will press the socks of your guests", should have been added.

Hollandaise Sauce
(Makes 5 portions)

2 egg yolks
170ml melted whole butter or clarified butter
a reduction made from 100ml white wine vinegar, minced shallots and peppercorns
a small amount of water, to refresh or cool the reduction
lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste


To make the clarified butter: Place the butter in a small pot and bring it up to melting point slowly. Don't let it boil. Allow it to stand for 5 minutes, now carefully spoon off the white residue floating on the top of the butter until you have clear, melted butter.

Boil the ingredients for the reduction over a medium heat until the ingredients are almost cooked away. (You only need 2-3 tablespoons of reduction). Cool and strain the reduction. Place it in a small stainless steel bowl.

Add the egg yolks to the reduction and place this over a double boiler. (a small saucepan with slowly simmering water). Whisk until it is pale and frothy (this might take some practice!). The stage that you need to whisk to is called 'sabayon' stage. This is when your whisk will leave a 'trail' as it drags through the yolks.

Remove the bowl from the heat. I like to place a tea towel on the surface so that my bowl doesn't slip. Now gradually drizzle the warm butter into the egg yolk mixture as you whisk. It helps if another person pours the butter into the bowl while you whisk.

If the sauce becomes too think, add a little lemon juice or water. If it looks like your sauce is 'breaking' (splitting) add a little water and continue to whisk until adding more butter. Don't add more butter at that stage as it will only get worse. Also watch the temperature carefully, if the sauce becomes to hot, the egg will start to cook on the outside of the bowl, add a little cool water to restore this.

Once your sauce is glossy and smooth with all the butter incorporated you can season your sauce with salt and pepper and possibly another splash of lemon juice. 

As I've mentioned, this might seem quite daunting, but all it needs is a little practice! Enjoy!

Monday, August 26, 2013

My Paris

I've been planning to write this post for sometime now, but between planning my new website (more information on this to come) and cooking up a storm in the last two months after returning from Paris, time has been scarce to sit down and write.

Long before my many hours working as a pastry chef and learning to make delicate French pastries, I started dreaming about going to Paris. I remember learning about the classic French cooking methods during my chef training and being so enchanted by their appreciation of cooking methods that have been in use for hundreds of years. Then specializing as a pastry chef I learnt about their passion for only the best ingredients, Belgian dark chocolate, full fat farm butter, stone ground flour, Madagascan vanilla beans, and so I started dreaming about working in an authentic French Patisserie one day.

Eiffel Tower

Paris street
My dream came true in a surprising way, when I got a job in Dublin at La Maison de Gourmet, a very well know French bakery in the heart of Dublin. I jumped at the opportunity to run the pastry production all on my own. The fact that I was working night shifts, six days a week didn't seem to deter me one bit. On Friday evenings I worked with a French pastry chef who would help me with the huge work load for Saturdays and teach me new recipes as we worked through our production lists. 

Eight years later, on our recent European holiday my husband and I finally spent a week in Paris,  something we've always dreamt of doing together. I must admit, I found Paris rather intimidating at first, but once we met up with a good friend of ours from South Africa who currently lives there, our hearts were opened and warmed to this bustling city of love. I put a whole day aside to go on a pastry shop adventure, stopping at about four of the most well known pastry shops or patisseries in Paris. Obviously Laduree was on top of my list. Inside, the walls were covered in the most beautiful Asian themed wallpaper in a cool green, covered courtyard. We ordered macaroons and the most delicate strawberry mouse cake with infused teas and sat for what felt like hours soaking up the atmosphere.

Laduree display

Strawberry mousse cake
Apart from the beautiful display windows I just loved looking at the fresh produce available in Paris. The little cardboard punnets of fresh berries on display was just like I'd seen in magazines. I tried some delicious things like white asparagus, different peach varieties and ate more cheese than I've ever eaten.

Buying berries
The other stop that I just loved was this chocolate shop, there seemed to be as many chocolate shops as patisseries in Paris. They were rather pricey (as most things are in Paris) but I had to spoil myself with a little bag of carefully chosen hand-crafted chocolates! My absolute favourite was the cherries in liquor, dipped in dark chocolate and hand-made marzipan in dark chocolate.

By the end of our week in Paris I'd worked through my little list of culinary experiences. It included things like eating a crepe at a authentic Creperie, buying cherries at the market and savouring the world-famous macaroons from Laduree. Paris is definitely one of those cities you'll have a completely unique experience in every time you visit and I'm most definitely planning another visit and working on my next list of "culinary to- do's".

Selecting chocolates

Friday, July 5, 2013

Exploring Andalucia...

I had never thought of travelling to Spain until we received a home exchange request from a Danish couple with the most beautiful home in a white-washed Moorish village called Frigiliana... We had just finished renovating our cottage and decided that we'd put it on the home exchange website and wait and see what requests we get. I was immediately enchanted by the idea of exploring southern Spain and started doing some research about the food and the area known as Andalucía. We realized that from Frigiliana, we would be surrounded by beautiful cities like Granada, Seville, Jerez and Malaga, only a few hours’ drive away.

So, six months later we landed at Malaga airport. I just knew this was going to be such a great culinary adventure and I was very excited about tasting the amazing food that Andalucía has to offer. Oranges from Seville, almonds, avocados and the freshest seafood.

On our first evening in Malaga, we got horribly lost; driving on the other side of the road didn't help and only arrived at our hotel at 10pm that evening. We were starving and so relieved to hear that the kitchen was still open (did I mention this was one of the top ten restaurants in Malaga?) and sat down at 11pm to the most incredible meal with a view of the sparkling lights of Malaga below us. First port of call was a local beer for my exhausted husband and then we had some delicious local white wine and big crispy, green olives. The manager brought us a complimentary starter of aubergine pate which was just amazing and we ordered a huge pan of paella to share. It was the most magical welcome to Spain and I still remember making a toast, “to Spain, let the adventure begin!”.

The following day was my birthday and we spent the day exploring Malaga's old city and ate the most divine deep fried seafood with fresh lemon and garlic alioli. We had crumbed anchovies (a first for me), baby squid and monkfish, with small crispy crackers and ice cold white wine while people-watching for what felt like hours.

It felt like such a cliché, but I had to try the tapas, I was so excited about this simple, fuss-free eating style and wanted to sample them wherever I went. Every little restaurant seemed to have its own specialty. The best tapas we had was in Jerez, where we found what looked like a real local hang-out. We had artichokes with marinated anchovies, cold gazpacho soup and marinated pork belly to the sound of cheering local men watching bullfighting on TV. This was authentic Spain.

The markets were just spectacular. We went to the Seville indoor market and splashed out on cherries, which we finished while shopping, beautiful bell peppers, fennel bulbs, oyster mushrooms and heirloom tomatoes. In Cadiz, we unfortunately miss the most impressive indoor market in Spain, which I was very sad about, but I guess this gives me a reason to go back. A friend of mine had written to me from Germany (she was on holiday there a few weeks before us) and told me that it’s not be be missed!

Seville indoor market

The closest seaside ‘resort village’ as they call them, from Frigiliana, was Nerja. This was a funny little town that kept us guessing for a week what the fuss was about. We couldn’t understand why the Brits seemed to flock there, until we discovered the beautiful old town square close to the Balcon de Europa (well worth a visit). It has a beautiful view and there are two stunning beaches just a quick walk from the viewing point. Here children played ice-cream in hand and the elderly sat for hours in the sun chatting.


All along the coast there are lots of rustic seaside café’s serving ‘all you can eat’ paella out of huge pans heated over coals, while the smell of smoked sardines and seafood filled the air. Spain to me was just such an unforgettable experience, one of those places you know you’ve got to come back to.
So, our two weeks came to an end too fast, but I think it will be time to start planning the next trip soon.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Amsterdam and its culinary secrets...


I just got back from a six week holiday in Europe and am suffering from mild symptoms of post-holiday-blues. What better way of overcoming them than reminiscing about all the delicious food and great memories with a 'stroop wafel' in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, I thought...

There's something about travelling that makes me come alive. I've put it down to the fact that I'm the kind of person who actually enjoys being out of my comfort zone, roughing it and possibly not finding all the familiar things I'm use to, those little comforts in life. I love to see how different people all over the world do simple everyday things, how they take their coffee, get around, spend their Saturday afternoons...

We planned our holiday around three home exchanges in Paris, Amsterdam and southern Spain. The most amazing thing about staying in someone's home was really feeling like a local and getting a taste of what it would be like to live there. Just grocery shopping became an adventure; I'd spent forever browsing the isles looking at all the interesting products we don't get in South Africa. And then there were the markets, probably one of my most fond 'food memories' was shopping at the beautiful organic markets in Seville, Paris and Amsterdam.

We actually ended our holiday in Amsterdam, but for some reason I'll start there, possibly because it's the most fresh in my memory. I'd been to Amsterdam ten years ago and remember being so enchanted by it, the funky people and great food scene, the countless bicycles... This time, we stayed in a very up-and-coming area, De Jordaan and just loved exploring the surrounds. The Noordermarkt was walking distance from our apartment, as well as some buzzing restaurants where the locals gather every evening. The Noordermarkt Bio Market (every Saturday) was quite a gem and I bought some dried nettle leaves (for nettle soup - I'd tasted in the French countryside), spekulaas spice for biscuits, chamomile tea, an over-priced nut bread which we savored every crumb of.

Another amazing discovery was a little corner cafe called "Winkel" (meaning shop) where we had the most delicious Dutch apply pie imaginable. (It's on the edge of the square where the Noordermarkt is on Saturdays.) So good, that we went back the very next day because my husband said he needs to have a piece of his own! That day, we ordered one slice, thinking I'd just have a bite of his (he wasn't very impressed by this arrangement) and the waiter gave us two slightly smaller slices for the price of one, which made my day!

The other absolute must, is to try the ‘bitterballen’ or croquettes. When I was there ten years ago my mum and I found this typically Dutch butchery that sold the most delicious fresh croquettes with strong mustard which was the perfect afternoon snack between sight-seeing. But this time, we happened to stumble across Cafe van Leeuwen that looked like a bit of an institution and sold great 'bitterballen', crumbed deep fried balls with soft beef and veal ragout inside. Great with an ice cold beer.

If you are a chocolate and pastry fan, and really, who isn't, don't miss Patisserie Kuyt! We happened to stumble across this gorgeous beautifully styled patisserie while strolling down the road, but it's definitely worth the visit. They sell tiny little cakes, so you don't have to sample just one! I bought two mango macaroons, as well as two little mouse cakes we had with our tea at home. This is a photo of their beautiful display in their window.

I really loved the food scene in Amsterdam, the people are very laid back and I think this comes across in most things they do. We found the service was great and the locals seemed to really celebrate their Dutch heritage. Amsterdam is very cosmopolitan, but I think that it's an amazing foodie destination and would highly recommend it. Hopefully I don't have to wait another ten years before going there again!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bundt Cake with frozen berries

So, this the brief add-on to my last post, to guarantee you a full-proof outdoor entertaining repertoire. The story of this cherished recipe is probably worth a mention...

A few years ago, my husband and I were in a part of the country we don't regularly explore, as we had flown there for a wedding. Without a car, but eager to explore the surrounding mountains, friends of ours told us about their old 4x4 car that was standing on an aunt's farm and offered for us to use it. When we arrived on the beautiful sugarcane farm, the aunt welcomed us in true colonial style...On the veranda we devoured big chunks of warm, orange flavoured Bundt cake, shamelessly, along with a huge pot of tea.

As she waved us goodbye and the first thing I said to my husband while driving down their driveway was, "that was the most delicious cake I've had in years'. She was totally unaware that I'm a pastry chef and in returning the car, I mustered up the courage to ask her for the recipe. She then told me how this recipe had made its rounds from friend to friend, via e-mail as the 'most reliable, most delicious tea cake' and was the only cake she baked - well  different versions of it!

And so, it's earned its way into my collection of most trustworthy recipes, also know as "Nelleke's Keepers".

Bundt Cake


175ml plain yogurt
175ml sunflower oil
350ml castor sugar
525 ml self-raising flour
3 large eggs
a pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon or orange
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

500ml icing sugar, sifted
a few tablespoons boiled water
zest of 1 lemon
Frozen berries, to decorate


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.

Measure all the wet ingredients together.
In another large mixing bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together.
Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients while mixing.
Whisk with an electric mixer on a high speed for 2-3 minutes.
Pour the batter into a greased Bundt tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool on a cooling rack.
Make the icing by adding just enough boiling water, until the icing coats the back of a spoon. Pour the icing over the cake just before serving and decorate it with frozen or fresh berries.

Add candied lemon rind/ stewed apple/ frozen berries/ nuts to the batter before baking.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Summer Entertaining

How fitting that it's one of the most gorgeous summer days today... Possibly it's more noticeable because it's that time of summer when you realize that the days are getting a little cooler and you'd better appreciate every sunny, wind-free day you've got!

This brought me to the thought of outdoor entertaining, something I personally think I've got down to a fine art. I can honestly say that I am at my happiest when I've got a glass of chilled white wine in my hand and I am sitting around a huge table with friends and family eating in a relaxed, alfresco style. Forget courses, just bring everything out at once, sharing across the table from platters.

I have a few 'old faithfuls' when it comes to easy entertaining. This post will have to be a little bit of a series of blog posts, as it includes four great recipes: a quiche, a gallete (shared on the previous post), a classic bunt-style cake and a easy seasonal salad.

Mushroom, asparagus and mince Quiche
(8-10 portions)

155g butter
280g cake flour
45ml water

45 ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
200g tomato paste
10 ml cumin powder
500g lean beef mince
250g white button mushrooms
250g brown mushrooms
1 tin whole tomatoes
a bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
salt and black pepper
3 eggs
300 ml full cream milk
fine greens beans or asparagus

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.

Place the flour and the cold butter in a food processors and buzz until it looks like bread crumbs. Add the water and continue until it all comes together.
Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface and line a buttered 30cm cake tin.
Place the tart case in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.
Prick it with a fork and bake it blind for 10 minutes. Remove the wax paper and bake for a further 10 minutes, until golden brown.

For the filling:

In a big pot, saute the onions and the garlic until translucent.
Add the tomato paste and the cumin and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the mince and brown mushrooms and cook until the mince is cooked through.
Add the parsley and the tinned tomatoes, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Fill the crust with the mince filling and arrange the asparagus and raw button mushrooms on top.
Mix the eggs and the milk, season and pour this over the top of the quiche.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and set.
Allow to cool before serving.
Garnish with fresh parsley leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

Roast butternut, pumpkin seeds and feta Salad

This is such a classic combo, you can't really go wrong with feta and butternut, ever.
This salad doesn't require so much of a recipe as just the right proportions. So for 8-10 people, roast 1 large butternut in the oven until soft and sweet.
I usually use 3 rounds of feta cheese, crumbled or cut in blocks and a handful of pumpkin seeds. A tip, and trust me on this one, toast the pumpkin seeds in a pan just until they begin to pop and allow them to cool, this will make all the difference!

For the dressing, I drizzle the salad with good quality olive oil just before serving and then the secret ingredient is balsamic reduction, this is now available at most supermarkets.
Season well with black pepper and salt and you're good to go!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Asparagus and goat's milk cheese galette

The humble galette is something I only really discovered and have learned to love (especially the cheats version) over the last year or so.  A blog introduced to me by a fellow passionate foodie, Smitten Kitchen, has become one of my favourite food blogs: It's here that I found the galette recipe that has become my own with a few tweaks, so it's only fit that I mention this awesome space of endless fool proof recipe for you to enjoy too! It's one of those blogs where you can be guaranteed of the trustworthiness and pure deliciousness of every recipes. So, I'll be forever grateful for the convenience of throwing together a last minute galette and seasonal salad when it's too hot a summers day for anything else or I simply haven't even thought of cooking dinner until 7 pm...

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius

Ingredients for the pastry:
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into blocks
1/4 cup buttermilk or full fat cream cheese
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup cold water

Method: The method is very simple. Remember that when making pastry, you want all the ingredients to be chilled, and the butter to be almost too hard to crumble. What I like to do is leave the flour in the fridge for an hour or so before making the pastry.
Start my sifting the flour and the salt together in a bowl. Now crumble the butter in with your fingertips until you've got the consistency of coarse bread crumbs. Then, mix in the buttermilk or cream cheese, lemon juice and cold water until it all comes together. Flour a surface and work the dough until it comes together and is a little smooth, but be careful not to over work the dough. Wrap it in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for an hour.

After an hour you can use a rolling pin to roll out the pastry in a rectangular shape and spread the pesto over the middle, leaving the edges without pesto. Fold the edges over into a double layer and press indents with your fingers or crimp the pastry to make a pretty pattern.

What I like to call the 'cheats version' - The other option of course, is if you can get hold of some good quality frozen puff pastry, this can work just as well, although I would recommend giving yourself the challenge of making this very easy pastry yourself, and who knows what could follow after that!

For the topping, I like to use a pesto of sorts, I tend to have these type of ingredients in my fridge left over from my catering functions, but I realise it's not everyone that happens to have caper berries, red pepper pesto and goat's milk cheese just lying around in the bottom shelf of their fridge... So my plan is to give you options and inspiration to really make this recipe your own and discover the pure joy that is a crispy galette with a soft moist filling and some crunchy veggies on top...Yes please.

The options are endless when it comes to fillings and toppings for galettes, as mentioned, I like to use either rocket pesto or red pepper pesto for a moist base. Then I generally use a cheese, like soft blue cheese or goat's milk cheese and some vegetables like caramelised brown onions, beetroots or  baby marrows.

 Suggested toppings:
  • Caramelised onions with beetroot and goat's milk cheese
  • Ricotta cheese with red onions and baby marrows
  • Blue cheese, caramelised onions and fresh rocket
Once you've spread the toppings on to the galette, all you need to do is paint the pastry with a whisked egg using a brush. Make sure your oven has reached the temperature and bake for 20-25 minutes or until brown and crispy. Serve the galette with a seasonal green salad or as a starter scattered with fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Roast potatoes, two ways

You're in for a serious treat today. I don't know if it's just in our South African culture, but we love roast potatoes...Years ago all I knew was a very standard, white fleshed potato, but now-a-days we've got the most beautiful varieties available in our local stores and they were the inspiration for this shoot.

This is where I think it all started for me... Just before I turned four, my parents took my siblings and I on the adventure of our lives. They bought 'Round The World' plane tickets and we flew to Canada where my father would work for most part of the year and we'd travel from there. I firmly believe this is where my love for  vegetable gardening started. You see, previously we'd lived in Namibia, a country that is mostly desert, so my father just loved the fertile Canadian soil and generally, the fact that things grew. We had a huge garden in comparison to our house and my father grabbed the opportunity and planted rows and rows of potato and mielie plants (corn plants). I'm still not sure if he accidental planted too much or if he was convinced he had to stock up for the snowy winter months, but I have memories of a mountain of corn and potatoes in our basement after our harvest and spending our evening cleaning corn cobs as a family.
In the little village where we lived, there was quite a large Ukrainian community and my mother was taught how to make potato Peroghi's, but that's for another day and another blog post...

Today I just want to share two creative dishes which are so, so easy, and in case you haven't picked that up, I'm all about fuss-free cooking. These are more tips, than actual recipes, so feel free to give it your own unique twist!

For this roast potato dish, you'll need a  variation of potatoes. Go to the local market and find as many varieties as you can. Organic potatoes are packed with 'of the earth' flavour. I also added some sweet potatoes cut into wedges, a good drizzle of olive oil, sage leaves from the garden, baby leeks and sea salt flakes with coarsely ground, black pepper. Roast this for about 30 minutes, then give it a good mix, making sure that everything is coated in delicious olive oil and roast for a further 10-15 minutes until crispy. Serve it with a whole roasted chicken or even a pork roast, the sweet potato is lovely with pork.

The next 'recipe' is once again very, very simple. It's more in the technique than anything. You'll need some medium sized roasting potatoes. Give them a good wash and take a very sharp knife and cut thin slits into the top of the potato about half way through the potato. Arrange then in a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and season well. Roast them at about 180 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes or until they are cooked through and the tops are crisp and pulling apart. Serve them with sour cream and lemon zest as a delicious accompaniment to a roast.


This picture was taken of my brothers and I in our vegetable garden, to send to our family back in South Africa.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Marshmallow Pavlova


I've been meaning to share this recipe on my blog for some time now. It's one of those recipes that have become an all-time-favourite in my family while growing up and even makes the cut as a birthday 'cake'! This recipe was introduced to me by a friend's mother, who was the undoubted pavlova queen, but  over the years this has somehow become uniquely ours with every flavour under the sun having been tried, from passion fruit curd and summer fruit, to whipped cream and raspberries.

The thing I love about this recipe? It's one of those make-ahead-recipes, so don't decide an hour before the picnic to whip up a pavlova! This recipes needs a little time, but will never fail you in the wow-factor of it's presentation. I just love people reactions when you present them with a crisp pavlova, filled with soft whipped cream and summer berries!

So, the trick is to get a really crispy outer crust and a spongy, marshmallow centre, the options are limitless from there! This is achieve by two very simple things, a tablespoon of cornflour and resting the pavlova in the oven, overnight. Proving to a last-minute-gal as myself, sometimes it's worth planning ahead...

Marshmallow Pavlova


4 egg whites
1 cup castor sugar
1 tbsp corn flour
1 tsp vinegar
300ml cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 punnet cherries/raspberries/fruit

Preheat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius
Beat the egg whites in a bowl until soft peaks form, adding the vinegar and gradually adding the sugar until it has all dissolved. Fold in the sifted cornflour.
Spread the meringue in a circle (about 20cm in diameter) on wax paper or a silicon sheet. Don't flatten the mixture too much, you want to get some height. 
Bake for 1 hour -1 1/2 hours until dry and crisp on the outside.
Allow to cool overnight in the oven.
The next day, whip the cream, add the sifted icing sugar and vanilla extract and serve with cherries or seasonal fruit!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Baby potato salad with watercress and radishes

Okay, it's official, Spring is here. This is a beautiful salad for a garden lunch and is prefect for this time of the year. It's still hearty, but has a lovely Summer freshness and crisp.

I love potato salad and love trying new and different ingredients in them... It all started when I visited Dublin and went to Cornucopia, this gorgeous little vegetarian cafe that serves good 'honest' food. You could immediately tell by the ques of vastly diverse people waiting to be seated every lunch time that there was something special about their food. I didn't quite get that term 'honest food' until I visited Cornucopia... One of their acclaimed dishes from their daily buffet menu is their potato salad with hazelnuts and home made garlic mayonnaise. Amazing! A serious surprise to me and it's taken me down the slippery slope of adding nuts and seeds to most it an open sandwich or a simple green salad. 
So apart from Cornucopia's salad, next on my list of amazing potato salads is this one. A simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, whole grain mustard and good quality olive oil drizzled over warm potatoes. Oh and garlic, did I forget the garlic? ...I used the pink skinned potatoes for something a little different and added some radishes for a fresh crunch.
(makes 4-5 portions)
16 baby potatoes
5 radishes
a bunch of watercress
1 punnet of sugar snap peas
a handful of frozen peas (optional)
salt and black pepper, to taste
a handful of fresh basil leaves
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp whole grain mustard
1 garlic clove, finely chopped 
salt and black pepper
Firstly, half fill a pot with water and wash the potatoes.
Add a pinch of salt to the water and put the potatoes in the pot. Bring them to the boil.
Make the vinaigrette by adding all the ingredients into an empty jam jar or bottle and give it a good shake.
When the potatoes are soft drain them and cut them in half. Drizzle the dressing over them while they are still hot. They'll absorb the delicious flavours.
Allow them to cool. Blanch the peas by pouring boiling water over them and allowing them to stand for 5 minutes or so. Drain them.
Toss all the other ingredients together and garnish the salad with freshly torn basil leaves.