Archive for the 'Food & Booze' Category

Strawberry & Champagne Ice Cream

__Strawberry__ChampagneTwo days and Gavin leaves again for Abu Dhabi – the month has flown – and we have a new plan. I’ll fill you in on the details later. A lot of champagne has been drunk, a lot of shell fish has been eaten, and my jeans have shrunken slightly in the wash.

With the last glass of the last bottle I made an ice cream I’ve been wanting to try – just never seemed to have a spare glass of champagne until now. It was as delicious as I had imagined. Sweet, slightly boozey, creamy and fruity. A class act dessert, and dead easy to make.


500g ripe strawberries (riper the better); a few teaspoons of sugar; one small glass of champagne; 1litre of good vanilla ice-cream


Cut the tops off the strawberries and cut in half. Layer the berries in a meduim pot, sprinkling a teaspoon of sugar on each layer. Pour a small glass of champagne over the fruit and place a tight fitting lid on the pot. Place in a warm spot and leave for 8 hours.

After 8 hours the berries should be soft and very fragrant. Mash the fruit with a potato masher until pulpy, but not too pulpy – should be chunky with small bits of fruit still intact.

Soften the vanilla ice cream, just soft enough to stir, not runny. Add the fruit pulp to the ice cream, mix in well, and freeze for about 4 hours. Looks great served in glass bowls, it’s a very delicate pale pink colour, tastes superb.

Make Your Own Stock

fruitMy compost obsession has been joined by a complimentary addiction – making my own stock. To give credit where it’s due, Gavin started the stock making process, and it’s become the current thing.  Our eyes gleam at the sight of an oldish veggie, and we become slightly breathless as we plow our way through the Sunday roast and the chicken carcass begins to emerge. Sad, I know, but fun.

It’s incredibly easy to make, has a myriad of uses, is economical, eco-friendly and healthy. We fling everything into the stock pot – bones, old veggies, vegetable peelings, herbs, lemon rind (not too much, it can dominate the flavour), leftover rice etc. Be as creative as you like with what you add, what’s the worst that can happen?

I start off by frying a couple of chopped onions, garlic and leeks in a big pot. I then add whatever bones, bits of meat, leftover, veggies and peelings we have collected over the week – I have a large plastic container that I fill every evening and then pop in the freezer.  Add three to four litres of water. Add salt, pepper, any herbs and spices that take your fancy, the rind of a quarter of a lemon, and bring the lot to the boil.

Boil rapidly for a few minutes then turn down the heat and simmer for a few hours until everything has broken down and dissolved. Run the liquid through a strainer and divide into bottles. Freeze them and use as required.

Stock is great for stews, soups, sauces, cooking roasts – and really superb when used as the liquid in which to cook pasta or rice. The flavour is absorbed by the starches and with a few stir-fried strips of meat and vegetables makes a divine, healthy, cheap meal.

Best bit? Whatever is left over in the strainer can go straight onto the compost heap!

Homemade Marshmallows

DSC_6828Mid-winter in the Cape means drinking cocoa with melted marshmallows in front of the fire. Store bought marshmallows are springy and rubbery, they don’t melt, they bob. Making your own is dead easy and they give that perfect foamy froth.

Marshmallow also makes a delicious topping for cakes and looks really lush when swirled into peaks. For those in the house with simple tastes, make marshmallow cones and sprinkle the tops with hundreds and thousands.


325ml castor sugar; 125ml cold water; 25ml gelatine; 125ml hot water; 5ml vanilla; 60ml cornflour and 60ml icing sugar, sifted together.


Place sugar and cold water in a large bowl and, using an electric beater, beat for 4 mins. Dissolve gelatine in hot water and, while still hot, add to sugar mixture. Beat until thick and white (this took a while, about 12mins). Stir in vanilla.

Pour into a lightly greased deep baking tin, 280 x 190 x 40 mm.  Leave at room temperature until firm. Cut into squares or other shapes with a warm, dry knife. Place icing sugar mix in a plastic bag and toss the marshmallow pieces to coat thoroughly. Makes 24.


Coffee Marshmallow Cream

DSC_6396In a time before celebrity chefs and olive oil and Crème Fraiche . . . there was the 1970s dinner spread. My mom would cut recipes out of Your Family or Living and Loving and prepare to party.
Drinks would be served with snacks – toothpicks threaded with a piece of Vienna sausage, a block of cheddar, a pickled onion and something red or green (surely not a cherry??).
The starter would be Avocado Ritz – an avo cut in half and stuffed with prawns doused in a mayonnaise and tomato sauce mix with a dash of Worcester sauce.
The dessert, for some reason, always featured marshmallows – melted over a cake, suspended in jelly, dipped into a chocolate fondue.  . . marshmallows were the ingredient du jour of desserts.
I dug this recipe out of my mom’s file and made it using one of her ancient pieces of Tupperware. Anyone else remember Tupperware and those six-pack ice lolly moulds that we used to fill with Oros or Nesquik and freeze?
The pudding tasted pretty good despite Gavin describing it as looking like a large bowel movement – rather like a coffee mousse – and the friends my mom had staying insisted on copying the recipe and taking it home with them.
Ingredients (this makes a HUGE pudding, I halved it)

500g marshmallows chopped

250ml very strong coffee (I used espresso but I bet the original was instant coffee with an extra spoon or two of granules)

500ml cream


Place marshmallows in a heatproof bowl over hot water in a pot. Add coffee and heat on the stove, stirring frequently, until marshmallows are melted.

Chill mixture until it is about to set, then fold in whipped cream.

Pour into a 1.5 litre ring mould.

Chill until set. Invert onto a serving platter



South African Milk Tart

DSC_6210Milk Tart, called Melktert locally, is one of the most divine traditionally South African desserts. A sweet, creamy custard tart flavoured with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon, Melktert was introduced by the Cape Malays who used spices to add flavour to the solid Dutch fare served in the Cape during the 17th and 18th centuries.When Melktert is made in the traditional way, the milk is heated with a cinnamon stick or piece of naartjie (local orange-type citrus) peel and the custard filling is poured into an unbaked pastry shell. However, many, myself included, prefer to bake the pastry shell first as this gives the tart a much lighter crust.


Short crust pastry to line a 225mm diameter pie dish with a thin layer (about 250grams)


1 litre milk; 1 cinnamon stick or piece of naartjie peel; 100ml sugar; 100ml cake flour; 50ml butter; 4 eggs separated, pinch of salt; cinnamon.


Line a 225mm pie dish with a thin layer of short crust pastry and bake blind.

Bring milk and cinnamon stick or naartjie peel to the boil. In a heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and cake flour.

Add the hot milk very slowly to this mixture, stirring all the time. Return to the saucepan and continue stirring over a very low heat until thick and until the flour is cooked properly.

Remove from the heat, add butter, and leave to cool slightly then add the beaten egg yolks, stirring constantly.

Return the mixture to the saucepan again and stir over low heat until thick.

Remove from stove and fold in stiffly beaten egg whites and pinch salt.

Pour filling into pasty shell. Bake in a pre-heated moderate oven (180 C) for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 160 C for the last 10 minutes or until filling is set.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Serve lukewarm or cool.

Recipe from Sannie Smit’s wonderful Complete South African Book of Food and Cookery

Hot Milk Chocolate Cake

DSC_5972When I was 13 and in my first year of high school, we had the most wonderful subject called HouseCraft. It was taught once a week, over a four hour period, and was only for the girls in class – the boys had to do WoodWork. Our teacher was in her 60s, had grey hair in a bun, and wore a gingham apron. She looked like the gran in Little Red Riding Hood and lived to bake and cook.
Each week we’d make the dishes that she assured us would help ‘catch a husband’ – four cheese macaroni, cottage pie, cauliflower cheese, beef olives (not as weird as it sounds) and hot milk chocolate cake.
Two years later, apple-cheeked gran retired and we got a new, younger, stringier teacher. HouseCraft became Domestic Science and we learnt about nutrition, calorie counting and the four basic food groups. Husbands were never mentioned again but I kept the recipe for hot milk chocolate cake just in case.


4 eggs, 375ml sugar, 30ml butter, 250ml milk, 500ml cake flour, 20ml baking powder, 40ml cocoa powder, 2 ml salt.

Beat the eggs until light and fluffy, add sugar gradually and continue beating until thick and glossy.

Add butter to milk and heat until butter melts.

Sift dry ingredients and fold into the egg mixture together with the hot milk.

Pour into 2 greased and lined 200mm round tins. Bake in the centre of a pre-heated moderate oven (180 C) for 30 – 35 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

Leave to cool before icing with chocolate icing. I put apricot jam in the middle which is delicious.

Pigeon soup, Tortoise broth, pickled eggs & Rum

rock_pigeonHildagonda Duckitt lived in the Cape at the turn of the 19th century and kept a household diary. The book, with its tips for picnics and outings in the countryside is rather wonderful, but the chapter on cooking for invalids is just frightening. The curative cooking probably worked though – you either died because you didn’t want to eat the food, or got better because you didn’t want to eat the food.

Pigeon Soup for Invalids

1 pigeon

Half pound veal

2 quarts cold water

Boil this down till reduced to less than half. Strain and let it get cold, remove fat. Boil it up when required.

Tortoise Broth

Make the soup by boiling down the whole tortoise, after chopping off its head, scrubbing it well, and then boiling it till the parts separate. Top tip from Hilda about how to kill the tortoise – scratch its back and when the tortoise puts out its head, chop it off.

A Special Restorative

Put 6 fresh eggs whole into a jar with an air tight lid. Fill to the brim with fresh lemon juice; leave for six or seven days till the shells are dissolved. Take a steel fork and prick the inner white fleece covering the egg, stir all together. Add a pint of rum and half a pound of castor sugar. Strain and put into a jar. This will keep for five or six days. Give patients in the last stages of consumption a tablespoonful every two hours.

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