a B&B life...
The peppadews growing at Fairview self-seeds and we find ourselves in a constant supply of these deliciously piquant little peppers. The green shaped ones will all turn red at some stage - I quite like the look of a combination of green and red in one jar. I use it in omelets, pasta dishes, in salad and stuffed with cream cheese it makes a lovely snack served with an ice-cold beer. When we lived in Shoal Lake in Canada, I had a Ukranian neighbour (Baba Stech) who taught me a thing or two about pickling, but a word of special thanks have to go to David Elston who got the plants from us, but took the pickling process to the next level. I gladly share my recipe with you:
Preparation: (Done the night before)
1kg red-ripe but firm little peppers
100g coarse salt
1. Dissolve the salt in the water. If you leave it overnight in a brine mixture, it will prevent the chilies from becoming soft over time once bottled. Do not use table salt as this could make them go cloudy, but make a simple soaking solution of about 100gram pickling salt or coarse sea salt on 1-liter water.
2. Like any chili/pepper the burn lies in the pips, so you can make it less sharp by cutting off the stem and scraping out the pips with a small spoon. You have to cut off the stem anyway to allow the pickling solution to get in. When pickling the Peppadews I use surgical gloves to protect my gentle hands :) but I've also heard that it helps to rub sunflower oil, or olive oil if you want to be wasteful, all over your hands as it forms a protective layer
3. Soak the prepared peppers overnight in the brine at room temperature. Make sure they're all in the brine by putting a plate on top.
4. The next morning you drain them, give a rinse with freshwater and now you're in business:
To Pickle I use my big stainless steel pot and add:
750ml white grape vinegar
600ml white granulated sugar
8 pieces (cherry-size) fresh ginger, peeled
8 cloves garlic, fresh, peeled
8 bay leaves
Method:5. Measure out all the pickling ingredients (except the little green chilies) into a large cooking pot, stir well over low heat until ALL the sugar has dissolved then bring to a rolling, foamy boil.
6. Add peppers and chilies, bring back to the boil and boil them for only about 1 minute.
7. First, fill the STERILE bottles with peppers and then fill to about 1.5cm from the top with the boiling liquid and seal while hot.
This you bring to the boil while stirring for the sugar to dissolve. When it is bubbling you add the Peppadews for about a minute and then start bottling:
You fill the jars with Peppadews, then ladle the pickling solution into about 1cm from the top, (push the peppers down to allow the solution to fill their cavities)
Re. the bottles/jars: your mother will heat the oven to 180°C and put the washed jars and lids in there for at least 10 minutes prior to bottling. I just pour boiling water over the lids and pop the glass jars 3 at a time into the microwave oven for a minute...
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
[caption id="attachment_16201" align="aligncenter" width="756"] Delicious pancakes with bacon, blueberries and maple syrup flowing down the sides on vintage floral plate, delicious indulgent breakfast[/caption]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) Ingredients:
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
2 tbsp (30 ml) butter, melted
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla
1 tbsp (15 ml) canola oil
Method: 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.
Both Desmond and I grew up with mothers who made Ginger beer and Grenadilla cordial as a summer cool drink. The drink was only allowed to brew to make it fizzy and non-alcoholic (although I do remember becoming quite tipsy once because I scoffed down the delicious swollen raisins that I was supposed to discard!)
Desmond's mother often made Grenadilla Cordial and looking at our harvest this year the guests will be treated to Grenadilla cordial in a big way:
For every 2 cups of Grenadilla pulp, you add the juice of 3 oranges and 1 lemon. Heat 3 cups of water and dissolve 2 cups of sugar to make a thin syrup. You then add the fruit to the syrup and bottle it. It is very good diluted with soda water and ice. And a shot of Vodka and a mint leave will turn it into a summer Cocktail!
My mother made delicious Pineapple beer. She only used the rind and core, but you can use one whole small pineapple :
You will need 1 small pineapple, 2-liter water and sugar to taste.
Wash the pineapple and cut it chunks before you crush the whole lot, skin and all, in a blender or food processor (my mother used an old fashioned hand operated meat grinder) Pour the water over it and allow to stand for 12 to 16 hours at room temperature. At this stage it will smell like Pineapple beer and small bubbles will form. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Pour it through a very fine sieve (I still use 'cheese-cloth') and pour it in bottles, being careful not to fill the bottle to the top - leave about 5 cm gap to allow for the natural fermentation that will take place. Seal the bottles and leave in a cool pantry or similar spot for about 24 hours before you put it in the fridge to cool for the most refreshing summer drink you can imagine.
You will need 250-gram raisins (with pips), 750 ml water, 1 kg sugar, 40 gram crushed ginger, 7-liter cold water, and 12,5 ml tartaric acid (wynsteensuur in Afrikaans).
Keep a handful of raisins aside, then boil the rest of raisins in 750 ml water for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and squash the raisins. Pour into a glass jug, cover with a clean cloth and leave in a warm place until the raisins move to the top. Remove the raisins, set the starter fluid (called 'mos') aside and start the next phase:
Heat 1 kg sugar, the ginger and 7 liters of water to boiling point and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Allow it to cool down (it must still be warm though) Add the handful of raisins that you initially kept aside, add the 12,5 ml wine acid and the starter fluid/'mos' to the sugar water. Leave it overnight.
When it starts to form bubbles you pour it through a fine sieve or 'cheesecloth' to remove the grapes and ginger. Pour into bottles (allowing about 3 cm below the cork or bottle cap) It will keep for a few days in the fridge.
One year Desmond and I traveled to the west coast to look at veld flowers and we bought the most delicious iced tea from the local VLV ladies. To our surprise we found the "recipe" to be quite simple: they merely cooled off strong Rooibos tea which they mixed to taste with apple juice! Add a few slices of lemon juice and you'll be drinking summer!
Guests at Fairview are treated to my homemade grape juice in summer. I harvest the Catawba grapes from the vine above our front stoep, simply putting it in my blender with some Rooibos tea added after I've given it a good wash (Desmond doesn't spray the grapes, we, therefore, have little spiders and other goggos on it) This is then poured onto a muslin lined strainer and left to run through (helped along by pressing down with the back of a wooden spoon every now and then) At the beginning of the season the grapes are not all that sweet yet and I have to add sugar to taste. I also add about 5 ml of grenadine to enhance the colour. Two years ago Desmond tried his hand at making home-made wine from the grapes. Unfortunately, that ended as a good vinegar, but as Desmond philosophically commented: rather a good vinegar than a bad wine!
Pickled fish / Kerrievis
In the Western Cape, we eat kerrievis during Easter. If you are not as lucky as I am to be married to a fisherman and to have two sons and a son-in-law not too shabby with a fishing rod either, then hake from your fishmonger will have to do. Over the years I have tried many traditional recipes, but I promise you that we have now honed it down to the best.
For the sauce you will need: 6 to 8 onions, 375 ml sugar , 2 tablespoons curry powder , 2 tablespoons turmeric , 2 teaspoons salt , half teaspoon coriander seeds , 4 star anise , 4 cumin seeds(crushed), 2 pieces of cassia , 2 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger , 3 cups of brown grape vinegar , 1 cup of apple vinegar , 1 cup of water , 5 bay leaves.
Put all the ingredients in a pot and boil for 20 minutes. I like to thicken the sauce slightly by stirring in a paste made with 2 flat tablespoons of flour mixed with an extra 125 ml water.
In the meantime coat your fish fillet in flour and seasoning to taste. Then fry in oil and set aside.
Layer the fried fish with onion in sterilized bottles, cover the top with cling wrap to prevent the vinegar from reacting with lids, screw on and keep for at least 3 days
before the bottled fish will be ready. I sometimes just layer it in a flat glass dish, cover the whole lot with cling wrap and leave in the fridge for 3 days before eating.
Coffee - make mine a Nespresso please.
I love a good cup of coffee...Remember, we lived in Namibia for 13 years and there we were introduced to a European style cafe culture. Often the coffee there is served with milk enriched with evaporated milk. We could buy imported coffee brands long before our coffee taste buds were developed to the degree that they are today in South Africa.
At the breakfast table, I will often have guests express appreciation at the good coffee I serve. We buy our coffee, freshly ground, on a weekly basis from a local roaster. Which also means that I can order coarser ground coffee to go with the plungers that I put out in the rooms and finely ground for my Bialetti pots - my preferred method of serving the coffee at breakfast.
The latest coffee buzzword is of course 'Nespresso'. High on my wishlist... We stayed at a small boutique hotel in Cape Town and they had a Nespresso machine in their foyer where you could buy the Nespresso capsules - for the discerning guest who frowns upon the instant coffee sachets that they offered in the rooms - I thought that was quite clever.
But why the hype? Well, it comes down to top quality coffee, always fresh because the capsules are sealed in aluminum cases, perfectly protected from oxidation and light. A perfect cup with a perfect crema every time as the worry about milk, steam, temperature, grind fineness or quantity is taken care of– with Nespresso, everyone’s a top notch barista.
My hot tips for a hot cuppa if you do not have a Nespresso machine:
• Coffee should be served as warm as possible, but never at boiling point.
• Do not make coffee with boiling water as this produces a burnt flavor, let the kettle stand for 1 minute after boiling.
• Coffee should not be reheated as it affects the flavor (which is why percolated coffee standing on the heating pad taste so vile after as short a time as 15 minutes from percolating) Keep it in a warm vacuum flask instead of on a hot plate.
• Peculated coffee should be consumed within 30 minutes
• A rougher ground is necessary for plunger coffee. 'grind' refers to the coarseness of the grounded bean; 'medium','strong' etc. refers to the length of the roasting process
• A good medium coffee suitable is French or continental blends.
• Java and Costa Rica coffee has a fuller flavor and therefore suitable for a stronger coffee.
Kale - super food.
We feed the hard outer leaves to the chickens and find that the egg yolks are very yellow - I always feel I need to explain to guests that these are eggs from chickens fed on Kale and Spinach leaves. For nutritional value you can google kale and come up with a million sources of information.
If there is any doubt regarding the properties of kale as superfood - take a look these eggs: the ones on the left are store bought organic large eggs ; the ones on the right are from our hens!
My daughter's Dutch friend Anneke told us that Kale freezes well and actually tastes sweeter after being exposed to cold - which means that we now pick the leaves and leave them in the fridge before we use them. You can wrap the leaves in a moistened kitchen towel before you pop it into the fridge and you'll find that it stays fresh for days. The Dutch use it in a traditional winter dish called stamppot boerenkool, which is a mix of kale and mashed potatoes, sometimes with fried bits of bacon added to it.
Kale can be classified by leaf type:
Rape kale (we saw large fields of these in New Zealand, where it is used for animal feed)
Leaf and spear (a cross between curly-leaved and plain-leaved kale)
Cavolo nero (also known as black cabbage)
Try this delicious Smoothie recipe:
1 Oct is officially National Kale Day:
That actually stands for Bread and Butter Pudding.
This recipe is perfect for turning left-over croissants into a delicious dessert, but consider this: made in an individual ramekin and offered as a little breakfast starter - with plain yoghurt and a berry or prune compote? Why not? It has all the breakfast ingredients: eggs, croissants, fruit, orange juice, milk, butter... What about the chocolate I hear you ask?
Well, when I walked the Camino through Spain in 2007 I stumbled on a Chocolate Museum in Astorga. They had a collection of vintage posters advising mothers to give their children the perfect breakfast- a bowl of drinking chocolate. I'll drink to that - chocolate is good for you. The Spaniards think so, the French think so and the Germans took it one step further by spreading chocolate on their bread. (Recipe for home made Nutella below...)
Chocolate & Orange Bread & Butter Pudding
4-5 Croissants, torn into pieces
100g-450g Dark Chocolates, broken into pieces
1/3C (90g) Castor Sugar
1C (250ml) Milk
1C (250ml) Cream
½ tsp Grated Orange Rind
1/3 C (80ml) Orange Juice
2Tblsp coarsely chopped Hazelnuts
Set oven at 180°C. Grease and line a 20cm deep sided cake tin. Layer croissant pieces into the baking tin. Scatter chocolate pieces evenly amongst the pieces. Beat eggs and sugar until pale & creamy. Heat milk and cream on the stove until almost boiling. Remove from heat. It will curdle if it boils. Gradually pour egg mixture over it stirring all the time. Add orange juice and rind and stir well. Slowly pour this over the croissants, allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Sprinkle Hazelnuts over the top and bake for 45-50 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean when inserted).
Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge and invert onto a plate. Serve with cream or ice-cream.
I put hazelnuts into the croissants with the chocolate
I use Lindt Orange dark chocolate
If using more croissants make more custard
Today's children can't imagine that there was a time when Nutella was not for sale in South Africa.(In Namibia one could find it in the shops that specialized in imported produce.) My brother's children found it fascinating that their Namibian born cousins could be as decadent as to eat chocolate spread on bread! For years a jar of Nutella made a perfect Christmas gift.
At Fairview's breakfast table I always have a jar of chocolate spread and a jar of peanut butter - for the odd children staying over. But most of the time it will be the business men reaching out for it with exclamations of: 'ah, I haven't had this for years!'
Homemade Chocolate Spread (about 3 jars)
200 g Hazelnuts
1 can Condensed Milk
255 g good quality dark Chocolate
125ml hot Milk
Roast the hazelnuts for about 10-15 minutes either in the oven or in a dry pan over the heat.
When the nuts are ready (golden brown) let them cool down a little.
Chop fine in a food processor until they reach hazelnut butter consistency.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over boiling water.
When the chocolate has melted, you pour the condensed milk in and mix well.Add the mixture to the hazelnut butter and process it some more. Add some hot milk if you find it too dense.
Slow-Roasted Tomato Soup
Written by Nelleke Elston.
I am huddled in front of the fireplace on a very cold and rainy June evening and the sound of the crackling fire and the hum of my laptop are the only sounds in the house. The rain has finally stopped. This is the perfect time for a quick blog post before the busy week starts, I think. And what better way to bring a little colour and cheer into this grey day than write about tomato soup and share these beautiful pictures with you…
I never quite got tomato soup until I started roasting the tomato’s, and my life was changed really. Now I’m hooked. In my catering company the napolitana sauce is one of the basic sauces we use almost daily, so there’s nothing as easy as diluting that intense deep red sauce into the quickest and cheekiest dinner for my husband and I, served with home-made Ciabatta croutons, what could be better?
I’m quite passionate when it comes to soups and as I’ve mentioned in one of my previous posts, the fact that soup makes the cut as a main-meal in my books, was something my husband had to grow use to. Soups are one of those dishes you just need to try, throw yourself into it with abandon and gain the confidence you need to make them following simply your nose and your taste buds. Once you’re there, the options are endless! When I think of soups, I think of a dear friend of mine who would ask me the same question over and over, “how much stock or water do I add?”. The answer was always the same,”…I don’t know, about 1 liter, you need to taste it and see”. It comes down to feel and getting the seasoning and thickness just right, so there is a little skill in making a good soup, I must admit.
Roast Tomato Soup
(Makes 8-10 portions)
1 onions, roughly chopped
2 tins whole, peeled tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
4-6 whole organic tomato’s
roasted vine tomato’s for garnish (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil/parsley/sage to serve
1 liter vegetable stock
1/4 cup good quality olive oil (for croutons)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Cut all the tomatoes in quarters, place them in a roasting tray and drizzle them sparingly with olive oil.
Season with salt and black pepper.
Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.
In a large pot, slowly saute the onions and the garlic until soft and translucent.
Add the soft, roasted tomatoes and the tinned tomatoes.
Add about 750ml of vegetable stock to the pot and bring to the boil. Turn the neat down and simmer for 20 minutes.
Blend the soup with hand held blender until smooth and add the sugar.
Taste the soup and dilute with the remaining stock, if needed. Adjust the seasoning.
To make the croutons: Tear the bread into chunky, bite-sized pieces. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast until they are golden brown and crispy.
Serve this soup with croutons, fresh herbs and a drizzle of good quality olive oil.
Philda's fish pie
Our son Eckart is a spear-fisherman of note. His dad and brothers are not too shabby as sea-hunters either.
When the Benkenstein men bring home fish we eat fish for three days in a row. This is one recipe that I can honestly claim as my own and it works perfectly with frozen fish too. I've even substituted fresh fish for tinned tuna and it is still fool-proof - let's face it: every fish brought home represents 3 that 'got away'! This is just one of those recipes you are going to write and thank me for sharing...
Crust:500 ml cake flour
20 ml baking powder
2 ml salt
150 ml milk
Sieve the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then crumb the butter into the flour with your fingers. Add the milk and use a metal spoon to mix it to dough consistency. Cover with cling-wrap and leave to rest in the fridge.
About 2 cups of stir fried vegetables: I fry a sliced onion, about half a cup of celery, half a cup of carrots that are cut in thin circles. Then I add baby marrow, green-pepper,pineapple - whatever I find in my vegetable basket ...
Add about 2 cups of flaked fish. Any fish will do - I have even used tinned tuna and still managed to turn out a pretty decent fish pie.
Half a cup of coarsely grated cheese (Cheddar, but hey - whatever you find in your fridge) and half a cup (125 ml) Creme Fresh, 7ml hot English mustard.Mix together, but do not over mix. Add some seasoning to taste and because we love dill with fish , I add a good 80ml of finely chopped fresh herbs. (For a variation you can add lemon zest and parsley) Chill in the fridge.
About 2 hours before your guests arrive you roll out the dough on a flour dusted surface into a big rectangle. Put your filling down the center and fold over the sides. Roll it onto a baking tray with the sealed edge to the bottom, cover with cling and refrigerate.
Half an hour before you would like your guests to sit down for dinner you preheat the oven to 200ºC. Cut 2 cm slices through the pie, brush with milk or egg white and bake for about 25 minutes. Do not over bake!
Serve with green salad and crispy white wine.
My daughter is a food stylist and opened my eyes to the importance of food presentation. We eat with our eyes before we taste with our mouths…
A few rules:
• Garnishes should be edible. Yes, that goes for flower and / or leaves too…
• Keep it simple : if you have tomatoes and fresh herbs providing color , it is really unnecessary to add a circle of orange with a sprig of parsley too.
• Yes, definitely lose the sprig of parsley on the orange or tomato slice!
• Leave a clean rim on the plate: a rim full of sprinkled paprika or finely chopped parsley is so yesterday. A clean rim leads the focus to the food in the centre.
• Balance : distribute the food on the plate so it does not appear lopsided
• Strive for a variety re. colors and shapes. Add color with garnish or food and keep shape in mind too : e.g. when serving a fried egg (round) use tomato wedges or baby tomato halves heaped together; when serving scrambled eggs off-set it with round tomato slice.
• Add interest with a different plate: you will sometimes have businessman who will have the same bacon, sausages, mushroom and eggs 3 mornings in a row! Add interest by using a square, colored or patterned plate on alternative mornings
About the blog
This is the story of our house, lovingly restored and shared with guests and family since 1995.