My favorite ingredient at the moment

Lamb racks to be aged

I love cooking and eating lamb. Whether it’s a whole lamb on a spit or a specific cut, as long as it’s kept simple you really can’t go wrong.

However I do think that sometimes our passions makes us a little nutty.
‘Somewhere a mother lamb is crying.’ The things that get said in a kitchen indeed.

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Every time I think of my dad in a food situation the same things always comes to mind. How he would find any excuse to light up the braai (BBQ), savouring a bar of Lindt Chilli for days on end, the ridiculous amount of coffee he drank and how he very graciously accepted the rabbit cassoulet that I made specially for him even though it was sitting untouched in the back of his fridge more than a week later.

My dad was proud and highly supportive of what I did as a chef – even if he sometimes rather hid what I dropped off before trying something a tad too foreign for his palate.

So, after not posting anything for a while I’ve decided to get off my lazy ass, whip out the camera and post this.

Memories of my childhood always replays the same things – my grandmother baking, the early morning sounds of tractors ambling past our house on their way to the fields, holidays and weekends spent at the beach all day while my father fished with his friends.

It’s been twenty years or more since I experienced the last and the one thing that stands out like the swooping glare of a lighthouse at night is the memory of a freshly caught galjoen on an open fire.

At first sight a galjoen or black bream is not a particularly attractive fish, yet it holds a mighty flavor reinforced for me by many sense memories.

But let me tell you, that scaling and gutting a fish is a thankless job, albeit worth it at the end.
Yet the smell that lingers on my hands from the fishy intestines is far from unpleasant. It reminds me of my father and endless days spent at the beach watching him fishing and preparing his catch for dinner.

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“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay

Goji berry and almond rusks

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Rusks is a favorite for me. My mother bakes them religiously to this day and even though I prefer hers, it’s really easy and fun to make a batch and you know it going to taste pretty awesome as well.

It’s a relatively quick process, excluding the drying time once baked and cut.

This is a basic recipe that can be made without almonds, goji berries etc but if not why not!

750g butter, softened
1kg caster sugar
6 large free range eggs, beaten
3kg self-raising flour
60ml baking powder
1L buttermilk
400g almonds, broken
160g goji berries

Cream butter and sugar until thoroughly whipped and pale in colour. Add in eggs a little at a time until incorporated. Whisk in buttermilk
Sift flour and baking powder and fold into wet mixture. It’s going to be really sticky to start but just keep kneading the mixture.
When it’s all coming together but still a little crumbly spread out mixture and pour your flavourings out into the middle. Simply fold the dough over and into the almonds and goji berries until you have a nice soft velvety dough.
At this point you can divide the dough into balls the size of a plum and place them nice and tight together into a loaf pan prepared with non stick spray. I suppose you can say this is the traditional way of doing it, but if you just push the dough into the pans it won’t make a difference.

Bake for about 40 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius or until cooked. A knife will come out clean.
Allow the loaves to cool. They are fairly fragile so be careful when turning them out of the pans.
Once cooled cut into dunking sized pieces, and dry over night in the oven warming door or in a cool oven with the door kept slightly open. A wooden spoon will work well for this.

In the morning, brew a nice cup of tea and get ready to dunk.

Gingerbread House

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I’ve never made one of these before, but am really happy how my first attempt turned out. Snow-chicken an all!

How to write a new menu without losing your mind

I find that coming up with new menu ideas or totally new dishes for that matter shares a striking similarity to blogging. It either just happens or it doesn’t. When I try to force things I inevitably end up browsing Facebook or googling something totally inane. And don’t even get me started on doing it the ‘right way’ and sitting down at a table. It’s just not going to happen. I had a very practical office set up in our spare bedroom, and that has since become a highly unorganized storage space.

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All I need and want is the cushy comfort of my bed, a few dogs spread in-between local and international trade magazines, my favorite cookbooks, my latest cookbooks and laptop.

Now to just deal with all the lovelies at my disposal. Happiness faster than you can say quail and charcuterie.

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But why is the coffee always finished?

Koeksisters for grandma

Spring might (technically) be here, but I am still in full winter mode. Whether it’s the fact that at noon on a Sunday I am still in bed with the new additions to my cook book collection, the latest Taste magazine and a cup of coffee, I will still refer to it as being Winter. And as such I’m looking for recipes for my winter favorites.

I’m on a bit of a tangent since the only things I want to make at the moment are rusks, koeksisters and biscuits.
Anyone with a granny worth their weight in Maldon probably has ‘the best recipe ever’ for one of the above mentioned. My grandma definitely knew how to make koeksisters and she always seemed to do just that when I was growing up. That was the fun part of my gran (besides being the most awesome grandma in the whole wide world). Her house was about twenty meters away from our’s on the farm. A quick hop and skip beneath two magnificent Oak trees and in through the kitchen door I’d attempt to help her plait the dough ready for the hot oil. This wasn’t the easiest thing for me back then, having the attention span of a ‘miggie’ once they came out of the syrup.
These days it’s a lot more discipline even though I still can’t wait for the cookies to cool before eating one.

Luckily, going through all these recipes prove to be almost as satisfying as a fresh buttery biscuit.

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“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”