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.

Welcome, but the fridge is empty

My bestest is home after experiencing some rough seas in more ways than one. I’m a feeder. When you come to visit chances are you will roll out the front gate more than walk. But the question I ask myself now is what to make. I’m a self confessed chocoholic and if it was any of my girl friends I’d have no problems. What do you make when you want to have someone chill out and take it easy. He’s pretty easy to cook for as he loves pretty much anything. Maybe some ‘regte’ South African cooking will go down best with a couple of frosty beers. Watch this space.