Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mediterranean Beef Burgers with Caramelised Red Onion

It’s national Burger Day! Why not celebrate by making your own burgers at home 
– less fatty and much tastier.

Mediterranean Beef Burgers with Caramelised Red Onion
Serves 6 - 8


For the patties
1 kg topside mince or lean mince
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3 large eggs
15 ml dry mustard
5 ml ground coriander
10 ml braai seasoning
3 garlic cloves, chopped
30 ml parsley, chopped
15 ml Worcester Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the caramalised onion
4 red onions
4 large rosa tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Brown treacle sugar

To serve
Fresh rocket
Parmesan shavings
Portuguese bread rolls

Thick cut French fries

How to make it

For the patties
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly – use your hands.
Lightly grease hands with oil and roll the mince into tennis ball sized rounds.
Flatten to create a patti.
Make a little indentation in the middle – so that they don’t shrink too much when cooking.
Place on lightly oiled tray and cover with clingwrap.
You can cook them in a lightly oiled pan, on the flat grill or over the fire.
PS: Don’t over cook; they must be soft to the touch not stiff and hard!

For the caramalised onion
Pr-heat the oven to 180°C.
Slice tomatoes – about ½ cm thick and place on an oiled baking tray.
Slice onions and arrange on top of tomatoes.
Season with salt and black pepper, sprinkle with brown sugar (about 4 Tbls) and drizzle with balsamic and olive oil.
Roast – tossing every now and then – until slightly sticky and caramelized (about 45 minutes.

Build your yummy burger
Portuguese Roll – toasted it tastes even better!
Top with Caramelized Onion and Tomato.
Top with beef patti.
Top with fresh rocket.
Top with Parmesan shavings.

Serve with hot French fries.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Mexican Winter Salad

During the colder months we don’t really feel like eating big cold salads, but still crave something fresh. This winter salad is packed with Mexican flavours and is filling enough to serve as a main.

Mexican Winter Salad
Serves 4


For the chilli & garlic oil
1 Tbls chopped garlic
2 Tbls chopped green chillies (remove seeds if you don’t want it hot)
¼ cup olive oil

For the sour cream dressing
1 tub (250ml) sour cream (room temperature)
½ cup spring onions (green only), finely sliced
Salt & Black pepper

For the salad
1 can corn kernels
1 can red kidney beans
220g rainbow slaw (a mix of grated and julienned purple cabbage, carrots, beetroot, celery and lettuce) you can buy it ready made from Woolworths
1 cup grated mature cheddar
½ cup coriander leaves

Grilled chicken fillets or beef strips for serving.

How to make it

For the chilli & garlic oil
Combine the chillies, garlic and olive oil. Season well with salt. Set aside.

For the sour cream dressing
Beat the sour cream until it becomes very soft and a little bit runny (if it’s too stiff, add some milk.)
Fold in the sliced spring onion and season well with salt and black pepper.
Set aside.

For the salad
Drain the corn and beans.
In a big salad bowl or serving platter, gently toss all the salad ingredients together.

Just before serving, grill the chicken fillets or beef and serve all the elements separately so that people can build their own salads.


-          Serve it with some more chopped fresh chillies if you like it spicier.
-          For a skinnier version, omit the cheese and substitute the sour cream with yogurt.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Huletts Koeksister Competition

Koeksisters are the ultimate South African sweet treat! Crispy, gooey and syrupy, no tea party is complete without them.

Have you tasted an amazing koeksister recently? Nominate a baker for an opportunity to be crowned the ‘Koeksister Champion 2014’ and you can stand a chance to win a trip to the ‘Innibos Festival’ to the value of R5000.00!

All you need to do is sms the word ‘koeksister’ and where you purchased it from to 32113, or visit for more details. PS. Include as much detail as possible to make sure the team can allocate your nomination to the correct koeksister supplier or baker. (Entries close 30 May)

Read more about Koeksisters here.
For a fab recipe to try at home, click here

YUM! (via here)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Roasted Tomato Soup with Ricotta Fritters

There aren’t many things as satisfying as a steaming bowl of soup on a cold evening… until you add cheese, then it becomes the most satisfying thing ever! Put this meal together in 30 minutes – it’s much easier than it seems.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Ricotta Fritters
Serves 4 as a main, or 6 – 8 as a starter


For the tomato soup
1kg ripe Roma tomatoes
700g mixed exotic tomatoes
6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 large red chilli, quartered (remove seeds if you prefer it less spicy)
Maldon salt
Black pepper
Olive oil
1 Tbls sugar
½ cup fresh basil leaves

For the Ricotta fritters
2 cups Ricotta
1 cup bread crumbs
3 large eggs
3 Tbls fresh basil, finely chopped
Black pepper
Olive oil

Fresh basil and crusty bread for serving.

How to make it

For the tomato soup
Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.
Quarter the large Roma tomatoes, halve the medium exotic tomatoes and keep the small tomatoes whole.
Arrange all the tomatoes on a deep baking tray and add the garlic and chilli.
Season well with salt & black pepper and drizzle liberally with olive oil.
Bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and give all the ingredients a toss to make sure nothing is sticking too much.
Sprinkle with sugar and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Using a stick blender or liquidizer, process the tomatoes (along with all the pan juices) until smooth and liquid, adding a glug of olive oil while you are liquidizing.
Add the basil leaves and blitz until all the ingredients are well combined and liquid.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the Ricotta fritters
Make these while the tomatoes are roasting.
Crumble and soften the ricotta with a fork.
Add the lightly beaten eggs, bread crumbs and basil. Mix well.
Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Shape into rounds (a lightly packed ¼ cup or golf ball size) and flatten to form fritters.
Set aside until needed.

Finishing off
Start heating the tomato soup over a low heat.
Meanwhile, heat a glug of olive oil in a heavy based pan and fry the ricotta fritters in batches until golden brown. About 3 minutes a side.
Spoon the hot soup into serving bowls and float 3 – 5 ricotta fritters on top.
Garnish with fresh basil and serve with crusty bread.
Serve hot.


  • If you prefer a super smooth soup, you can cool the tomatoes after they have been roasted and remove the seeds and skins. But this is really time consuming and not necessary.
  • If you do have a bit more time, try making your own Ricotta: Bring 4 L milk to the boil. As soon as it starts bubbling remove from the heat and add 4 – 6 Tbls fresh lemon juice. Stir until the curds separate from the whey. Strain the solids from the liquid through a cheese cloth and hang the cheese (still in the cheese cloth) to drip out the last liquid for about 30 minutes. And voila, you’ve made ricotta!

Friday, May 16, 2014

White Lunch at Roots

Last weekend we spent a delightful afternoon at Roots Restaurant in the Cradle of Humankind, celebrating Wiets’ uncle’s 69th birthday. We are big fans of Roots at Forum Homini, so much so that we got married there two years ago and I’ve blogged about it here and here. All the guests were dressed in white and the warm autumn weather allowed us to spend time soaking up the sun whilst sipping champagne. Beautiful venue, AMAZING food and great company made for an unforgettable lunch. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

We got married here two years ago :) 
(I was wearing the same shoes!)

Opera singer and live painting as entertainment.

Watermelon sorbet. Creative bread basket. Mini macaroon, honeycomb & coffee beans.

Duck liver parfait & mushroom velouté.

Scallops with squid ink, pickled cabbage, roasted cucumber, apple pureé and caviar. 
Served with Jordan Riesling 2013.

Smoked Silver kob (kabeljou), butter poached lobster, fried foie gras, macadamia nuts & pears. 
Served with Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2013.

Brothers & sisters.

Duck breast, duck cannelloni, smoked cocoa bean pureé, tomato jelly, orange & leeks. 
Served with Cederberg Merlot Shiraz 2010.

Fillet, short rib, braised fennel, watercress velouté & cauliflower pureé. 
Served with Springfield Wholeberry 2012.

 Wild berry crumble, berry & nut salad, Cassis ice cream, hazelnut & rose mousse. 
Served with Simonsig Gewurztraminer 2013.

Cheese plate. Tanglewood, Junior & Kilimanjaro, herb bread, raisin chutney. 
Gruyère & goats cheese. 
Served with De Krans Cape Ruby NV.

The birthday cake

The white party

If you want to die and go to foodie heaven, do yourself a favour and pay Roots a visit. 
And if you want to make it even more special, spend the night at the Forum Homini Hotel 
– the rooms are just fabulous!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How to protect your herbs against frost

The husband and I love growing our own herbs and veggies, and use ingredients from our garden all the time. At the moment we are growing rocket, parsley, sage, rosemary, tomatoes, chillies, spinach, leeks and peas. Some from seeds we harvested from previous crops and others from seedlings we bought.

Our little herb garden.

Livingseeds sells the most fantastic heirloom and specialized seeds for veggies and herbs. They also send out very informative newsletters concerning gardening, and I found this one about frost very appropriate for the time of year we are heading into:

One of the most common pieces of frost advice is that if you water the plants down in the morning, then they will not get damaged by frost. This is only partially true and only in certain circumstances.

Frost is not the issue, it's a symptom of the problem. The problem that we as gardeners face is the freezing of our plants. This freezing causes the cells in the plant's leaves and stems to expand and rupture. THAT is what causes the damage. If you spray the plants before the frost forms then you are affording some protection. However, if the plants are already frozen, the damage has already been done and spraying them is a waste of time.
Watering the plants has the effect of raising the ambient temperature around the plants to that of the 'unfrozen' water. It may sound strange, but when water freezes it releases heat that warms the plants.

Watering to prevent frost damage is best done early in the morning, just before sunrise and it will only work IF the plants are not already frozen. Once the plant cell has been frozen, it would have ruptured already.
Pouring water over a frozen plant is not going to fix the issue any more than pouring water over a cut on your finger would heal the wound.

Living in frost country, we have to learn to accept and deal with these losses every year. One of the ways to get the most from your frost sensitive plants is to lift them the evening before a 'killing' frost and hang them roots and all upside down in a protected spot. How do you know when you are going to have a 'killing' frost?
There are a few thing to look at.

1) A very cold afternoon wind.
2) Still nights
3) Clear sky's
These are the most common 'signs' that one would look for as frost indicators.

Slowing down the damage is your next option. This can be done in a number of ways.
1) Frost guard and hessian sheeting are two of the most common ways of protecting plants. This can be put over the plants and removed on good days for the plants to benefit from the winter sun's warmth. The best time to put the cover back on is early-mid afternoon to allow the trapping of some heat before sunset.

2) Make a 'mini tunnel' with some plastic sheeting and heavy gauge wire. Use the wire to bend hoops to support the plastic and bury the ends of the plastic in some soil. This can raise the temperature by a good 2 deg.

3) Watering your plants before sunset, and preferably quite early in the day will help to reduce frost damage. Wet soil holds more heat than dry soil and it will typically raise the temperature above the soil by 1-1.5 Deg C.

4) Lastly, you can prevent frost damage by either transplanting sensitive plants into pots and keeping them indoors over winter, or you can go the whole hog and get a climate controlled hothouse to keep your plants in. We transplant a few plants that we are pampering specifically for seed, otherwise we take what winter throws at us with joy.

If you live in frost country, frost will eventually take your summer veggies, say goodbye with pleasure because the seasons are here for a reason.

Finally, it's important to take note of your first (and last) frost date. It's good to start building a record of when you get your first frost every year, as this will help you to plan your gardening.

Visit their website: for loads of info on gardening and to shop for amazing heirloom seeds. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thai Red Curry Scotch Eggs

We are obsessed with Andy Bates! He hosts the show ‘Street Feasts’ on Food Network, 
and I recently bought his cook book (as a gift for the husband) with all the recipes from the program. This recipe is a particular favourite, we’ve just increased the amounts to make a few more 
and added a dipping sauce for more oempf ;)

Thai Red Curry Scotch Eggs
Makes six

You will need
For the filling
6 large eggs
500g pork mince
50g Thai red curry paste
4 Tbls fresh coriander, finely chopped
Salt & pepper

For the coating
1 ½ cups plain flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
3 large eggs
3 Tbls milk
1 ½ - 2 cups plain bread crumbs
150g salted roasted peanuts, crushed finely (with some chunky bits) in a pestle and mortar
Vegetable oil for deep frying (you’ll need at least 1 ½ L)

For the dipping sauce
2 cloves garlic, grated
½ cup fish sauce
½ cup lime juice
¼ cup brown sugar
2 small red chillies, finely sliced
¼ cup fresh coriander, finely chopped

How to make it
For the filling
Place the eggs (still in their shells) in a pot of cold water. Bring to the boil and 
simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and run under cold water. Peel once cooled.
Combine the pork mince, red curry paste, chopped coriander 
and salt & pepper together in a bowl. Using your hands (use gloves if you don’t like the 
feeling of raw mince) mix all the ingredients together very well.
Divide into 6 equally sized oval shaped balls.
Lay out 6 cling film sheets on a flat surface.
Place a pork ball on each cling film sheet and flatten the mince into an oval shape, 
about 12cm long and 1cm thick.
Place an egg on each the of the mince flatties.
Using the cling film, gently roll the mince over the egg, covering it completely 
and tucking in the edges to form a neat oval.

For the coating
Line up 3 deep bowls.
Fill one with the seasoned flour, the second with the egg and milk mix and the last with the breadcrumb and peanut mix.
Firstly, coat the mince with the flour, then dip it in the egg and lastly cover it well with the bread crumbs.
Repeat this process again twice with the egg and bread crumb coverings.
*Take care that the egg is covered well in each station. It’s easier to do one egg at a time.
Once all the eggs are covered, set aside.

Heat the oil in a deep fryer or deep pot to 180°C.
Using a slotted spoon, gently drop an egg into the hot oil.
*Fry no more than 3 at a time to avoid sticking and cooling the oil too much.
Fry the crumbed eggs for 8 minutes until crispy and dark golden.
Rest on paper towels for 10 minutes before serving.

For the dipping sauce
Combine all the ingredients and mix well.

Serve the scotch eggs warm or at room temperature with the dipping sauce.

-          You can experiment with different flavours. We also love using beef mince with braai seasoning and chutney instead of pork, red curry and peanuts.
-          These eggs are great in lunch boxes the next day.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mother's Day Recipe Ideas

Give Mom a break this Mother’s Day by making her a breakfast in bed or treating her to a family braai with all the trimmings. These cheats recipes are easy and fuss free, perfect for the kids to make. Just add braai meat by dad ;)

Toad-in-a-hole Toastie

Using a cookie cutter in the shape of your choice, cut out a piece of bread from 
the center of a slice.
Heat some butter in a pan and fry the bread on one side.
Turn the toast around and break an egg in the cut out shape. 
Cook to mom’s liking.
Season with Maldon salt and dust the cut-out shape with paprika.

Designer 'Braai brodjies'

Use one large or a few smaller Ciabbata (Baked or wrapped in foil on the braai) 
loaves with one of the following fillings:  
-          Sun-dried tomato, basil pesto & mozzarella
-          Mature cheddar & caramelised red onion
-          Brie & figs
-          Feta, spinach & bacon
-          Or make up your own combination!

Rainbow Slaw with a Honey Mustard Dressing

Buy a ready mix rainbow slaw (red cabbage, white cabbage, carrots, lettuce, beetroot) 
add a few apple slices and sprinkle with pecan nuts.
Mix together 1 Tbls honey, 1 Tbls wholegrain mustard, 125ml plain Greek yogurt 
and season with salt.
Serve salad with the dressing on the side as the perfect accompaniment to a braai. 

  Nutella Cupcakes

Buy a box of ready-mix vanilla (or chocolate) cupcake or cake mix with all the ingredients 
as directed on the box and a big jar of Nutella chocolate spread.
Make the cupcakes according to the instructions.
Just before baking drop a big dollop of Nutella (a tablespoon or more) in the center on top 
of the cupcake mix and bake until cooked through and golden.
Serve with milk or even more indulgent – a Frangellico Don Pedro!
* Make it extra chocolaty by smearing the baked cupcakes with more Nutella.

Happy Mother's Day to all the fabulous mothers!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Milktart Cheesecake

This tasty cheesecake with a South African twist is based on a recipe from 
‘Huisgenoot Wenresepte' 1987 by Annette Human. 

Milktart Cheesecake
Makes one medium cake

You will need
For the base
200g biscuits (Tennis or Digestive)
4 Tbls butter, melted
¼ cup sugar

For the filling
250g plain cream cheese (room temperature)
150ml castor sugar
25ml cake flour
4 extra large eggs
500ml full cream milk
Juice of half a lemon
5ml vanilla extract
Cinnamon powder

How to make it
For the base
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Crush biscuits in a food processor.
Add melted butter and sugar to the biscuits and process until mixed well.
Press the mixture on the bottom and half way up the sides of a 26cm spring-form tin.
Bake for 15 minutes until set.
Remove from oven and allow to cool before filling.

For the filling
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
Whisk the cream cheese till soft and fluffy.
Gradually add the sugar and flour to the mixture while whisking.
Add the eggs one by one and whisk well after each addition.
Gradually add the milk, lemon juice and extract to the mixture while whisking.
Pour the mixture into the prepared base and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake for 50 – 60 minutes until the filling has set and a test toothpick comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool at room temperature in the cake tin.
Refrigerate the cake overnight (still in the pan).
Remove spring-form and serve cool or at room temperature with preserved ginger, figs or orange curls.