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A lesson in rooibos torte

ROOIBOS tea is the twang of a blik kitaar drifting over the veld. Rooibos is the strains of an accordion played by a West Coast musician who proudly cites his influence as Worsie Visser en sy Boesmanlandorkes. Rooibos is the langarm in a Porterville farm shed, hay strewn on the floor amid much swinging of limbs and downing of witblits. It’s the wedge of bread ladelled with peach jam piled on the plate alongside the mussel stew and the kreef tail.

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In the pink with pears and Grenadine

In the kitchen, pink is what you want in your lamb or beef, not pork or chicken. Pink is what you get if you include beetroot in a pan of vegetables and roast them. Everything else from the potatoes and onions to the carrots and courgettes will have turned a luscious crimson. It’s a worthwhile effect, and needs no fake food colouring.

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You can Bête Noire your life on it

But this was all leading to my dessert, which had to have a name of its own, so I called it Chocolate Bête Noire, because if any of them survived it they’d be after my blood fro trying to kill them off with chocolate.

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Rich chocolate cake + ganache = panache

In the newsroom there is a tradition, as in many workplaces, of the birthday boy or girl bringing in cake. And when my birthday comes around and I plonk down a couple of shop-bought melkterts and carrot cakes, they always ask, “Did you make those?” And I have to slink away with an “um, no, sorry” and make a vow to myself to do so next year.

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Read. Digest. Think.

Now everything is the new everything else, and there’s no end in sight, and that’s the problem with an out-of-control cliché. It’s off and running, which of course is itself a cliché, but then again “no end in sight” is one too, as is “of course”, so we’re all doomed.

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A spicy little spicy Christmas

The Cape of Good Hope is a spicy place, Christmas food is traditionally all about fruit and spices, and this menu embraces all of that in a way that does justice to the traditions of our own ancient spice route.

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Christmas dinner à la Scrooge

This is a Christmas dinner party menu for that’s quick and affordable. I made the starter, a paté, in 25 minutes. The main course is a simple roast that’s been tarted up a little with a shiny coat. And the dessert is a cheat, plain and simple: store-bought vanilla ice-cream that’s been given a cheeky Christmassy lift – and it really does taste like a traditional mince pie. That took five minutes, not including the shopping.

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Gin sorbets infused with fynbos and antiquity

Fynbos gin is a speck of southern Cape antiquity in a glass. Add it to a homemade syrup and fruit to make a sorbet, and you have in that sweet temptress of a dessert or palate-cleanser a tiny homage to hundreds of generations of humankind and the terrain they roamed, lived on and fed from as long as 100 000 years ago.

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Flaky food for flaky people

Flaky people tend to be more intelligent than the rest. There’s all this stuff going on in your head, all of that creativity jangling together like Tubular Bells. And no one does flake better than the Brits. Okay, maybe the French. Almost. But add a good dollop of eccentricity to a Brit and you have the makings of entertainment drawn in broad, dayglo strokes.

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Getting saucy with chocolate and pears

By the time I had popped the potatoes into the oven it was too late to go out again and buy more cream, as our guests were about to arrive, so I checked my ingredients and decided I’d have to make a sauce using only butter, sugar, chocolate and Kahlua, that dreamy coffee liqueur that everyone was drinking in the Eighties and which became the second choice for an Irish coffee if you ran out of whisky. And that, if you’re old (or sober) enough to remember, was just before everyone took to drinking Sambucca as if it were an alcoholic’s mother’s milk, but you really don’t want to know about the time a friend and I devoured an entire bottle of it in a series of flaming Sambucca shot dares.

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