Tomorrow is Heritage Day in South Africa. In recent years it has come to be known as Braai Day . Which ordinarily I would be the first to endorse. I love a good braai! I totally endorse the sentiment expressed by the movement in their mission statement –
“Across race, language, region and religion, we all share one common heritage. It is called many things: Chisa Nyama, Braai and Ukosa to name few. Although the ingredients may differ, the one thing that never changes is that when we have something to celebrate we light fires, and prepare great feasts.
We encourage all South Africans to unite around fires, share our heritage and wave our flag on 24 September every year.
We liken this initiative to annual celebrations cherished by other leading nations of the world; Thanksgiving for Americans, St Patricks Day for the Irish, Bastille Day for the French and Australia Day for Australians.
This is a noble cause, which will contribute to strengthening South Africa as a nation through this act of nation building and social cohesion. “
Yet I still feel our Heritage is so much richer and deeper than this, and extends to far more than just meat, a fire or a pot. It extends to flowers, to design, decor and even a simple bowl of breakfast porridge.
However you choose to celebrate Heritage Day tomorrow, I hope its FUN!
I say, “thank you!” to the lovely people at ZZ Tomato.
I LOVE receiving letters and cards in the post. I try send my Christmas cards with “snail mail” every year, but unfortunately that’s all I seem to manage. I often long for a quieter life with more time to wrap and send parcels, compose personal notes to friends, buy, lick and stamp hand addressed envelopes. Modern life is not like that, and seems to be moving away from such “quaintness” at an alarming rate. When I do receive a parcel or gift in the post ( or in this case via courier ) I am absolutely delighted! Even more so when it’s a surprise and totally unexpected!
zz2 Tomatoes kindly sent me a selection of their awesome Roma & Cocktail tomatoes, watch this space for what I’ve been doing with them…
Whenever I mention I’m a food stylist, I’m guaranteed to be asked a few of the same questions, ” is it true you spray vanish on the food ?” Or ” do you really paint the food with glycerin?” And my all time favourite ” do you use mash potato for ice cream ”
And always, always ” do you get to eat the food afterwards”
I usually just say it’s urban legend, and try change the subject.
On a good day I will go to great lengths to explain how stuff like this might have been done in the past ( like way back in the 80’s) but for the most part it’s not true.
Today’s a good day, so here goes.
Photoshop and digital enhancement and/or manipulation have forever changed the landscape of photography. That being said,and most importantly, whether for editorial or advertising purposes the food being photographed still needs to maintain a degree of authenticity and accuracy.
The question about enhancing the food to look as good as possible, often leads to the next question ” why doesn’t my burger look like the one on the billboard/ menu board? ” isn’t this false advertising ?
In my opinion no, it’s not !
When you go for a job interview, you get dressed up, you put on your best suit or dress, you do your hair and make up, you practice your winning smile in the mirror and inflict your voice with a friendly,cheery tone.
Once you have the job, you might not go to the same lengths to impress your boss with your appearance .
Did you misrepresent yourself or were you just ” putting your best foot / or face forward ” you can still do your job without any of the “add-ons”
I don’t always go to the trouble to put on make up, or style my hair. But my clothes are clean ( for the most part – if the 4 year old didn’t grab me with mucky hands) my teeth are brushed and I’m wearing deo. None of these things affect my ability to do my job.
Same for the burger.
Not always ” made up ” to look it’s best, but all the same ingredients are there, in the correct order, and doing his ” job” which is too fulfill your hunger.
So no, we ( food stylists, photographers, or the photoshop retoucher guy ) are not lying, misleading or tricking you when we present and portray the product in a particular way.
So how about this beautiful autumn weather then ? *changes subject* wink
Inspired by the current trend for all things beer and bacon I wanted to do a shoot on cooking with craft beers. I had no idea my idea would turn into a finger lickin, lip smacking, chilled afternoon. We hung out on a random week day, the cool hipster friends showed off their tattoos and drank the beer, I cooked with it and Vanessa took the photos.
***The recipes are a rough guide.
Beer & Bacon Jam
Red onion finely chopped, about 2 , approx 500g bacon, chopped ( use nice bacon rindless back, or streaky ) Craft Beer of your choice – preferably a dark ale, brown sugar, about 1 cup, and ½ cup malt vinegar.
Fry the onion and bacon together, drain the fat, add the rest of the ingredients, simmer until reduced and sticky, about an hour, I wasn’t checking the time. It should be thick and a dark rich colour. Dollop on burgers or spoon in a jar, will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
Beer Battered Onion Rings
Whisk beer , light ale or lager into sifted flour, to make stiff batter. Seasoned with salt, toss in onion rings, and deep fry until golden brown. Drain and serve hot.
Cheddar & Pale Ale Soup
This soup was heaven in a bowl!
Sauté 2 sliced leeks in a generous blob of butter, add a bit more butter and flour( approx 1/4 -1/3 cup) and 1-2 tablespoons of English mustard powder, to make a roux, stir in the Pale Ale (1 1/2 cup) , same amount of milk and good quality chicken stock, throw in a bay leaf and some mace if you have. Allow to simmer gently,for 20 minutes or so, do not boil. I said do not boil.
Add 1 cup grated very mature cheddar ( please, not that greasy bland yellow stuff, I’m asking nicely)
Add a spash of Worcestershire sauce, adjust seasoning, scoop out mace and bay leaf. Serve in warm bowls with crispy crumbled pancetta.
Sticky Beer Glazed Ribs ( top picture)
This was the most random of all the recipes and went something like this…
1 bottle of Craft Beer – preferably a lager. 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 BBQ sauce, 1/2 cup honey, 1/4 brown sugar, 2 tablespoon paprika , 1 tsp chilli powder. 1 Tspn mustard powder. Whisk everything together . Enough for about 3 kg of ribs.
Pour over and bake and baste in a medium oven until sticky and yummy. No idea how long, as I said we were chatting, and sipping and eating, but at an educated guess I would say 11/2. – 2 hours. Don’t be tempted to crank up the oven, slow and low is better.
Pass the serviettes.
Ps. If you have time make ahead and marinade for 24 hours.
Cheats Chocolate Brownies with Milk Stout
Substitute milk stout for the milk in your favourite brownie recipe, or grab a box of Ina Paarman Chocolate a Brownies, add eggs and oil, and substitute milk stout for the quantity of milk. Mix and bake as per instructions on the packet.
Make a chocolate beer glaze by melting a slab of dark chocolate with 1/4 cup of the beer, allow to cool slightly and pour over the cooled brownies. Serve with ice cream.
***this is not a recipe blog. I had an epiphany about this the other ( details in another post ) so from now on all recipes I post will be as a guide only .
I intend to blog how I cook. I don’t often measure or time recipes – except for baking, For the rest it’s pretty much gut feel.
If you’re looking for precision recipes you’re in the wrong place.
If you’re looking for inspiration you’re in the right place, grab a beer or a coffee, I hope you’ll hang around.
The silly season is upon us.
The mad crazy countdown to the end of the year has begun and I am pushed to find time for a decent breakfast let alone cook a good meal, it’s down to the basics around these parts at the moment and I’m surviving on toast and tea until the holidays arrive.
I manage to spread a little marmite ( or bovril) on some rye bread between answering emails and running after a very active 15 month old !
I asked friends on Facebook for their favourite toast “topper” the answers ranged from delicious, to very funny ( and some strange combos that I think I will skip mentioning )
I wonder if Sally Fields ever regrets gushing these words at her Oscar acceptance speech In 1984 for Best Actress in Places in the Heart ? I can’t recall the movie, but I do recall the speech. Well I thought I did, until I Googled it on YouTube and saw that she actually said, “I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”
Despite the different context, ( I am most certainly not an Academy Award winning actress, although my dear hubby would agree I have certainly put on a few private performances worthy of a nomination of best leading lady ) I can relate to Sally Field’s almost cringingly real exclamations.
A movie or story of my life would most definitely include the byline, “she doubted too much” The dreadful word doubt, seems to feature so much in what I do. My tortured thinking goes something like this…
I doubt anyone actually reads my blog, ( for this reason I don’t have Google analytics installed, just in case my fears are confirmed) I doubt my posts are useful, I doubt my words are inspiring, I doubt anyone is interested in things I find interesting, and mostly I doubt , as Sally Field put it, anyone respects my work.
Then last week I did my first Friday Favourites post, and the response I got made me feel like I had actually won an Oscar! Wonderful words of praise and acknowledgment.
I was SO taken aback; especially when a dear, sweet unassuming lady paid me the compliment of saying, “I love what you do, you have a unique voice, I enjoy following your work.” I had no planned reply or acceptance speech, so simply said, “thank you.” And again, “thank you, that means a lot to me” and I meant it, and at the risk of gushing like Sally, let me say again,
Thank you! To all of you who read these posts, I know they are few and far between, but thank you , it means a lot to me, it really, really does !
Autumn is here, and the cool wind we felt in Johannesburg today carried with it a big hint of colder weather to follow.
As I sit typing the delicious smells of a slow cooked stew are reaching me from my kitchen. I am a big fan of slow cookers and adapted the Lamb Bredie recipe below for some stewing beef I had in my freezer. I’m ahead of the “cold snap” we are forecast for this weekend, and stew is one my husbands favourite meals, so its sure to be a Friday hit in our household.
These pictures and recipes were done last year for the Autumn Issue ( April 2012 ) of Food & Home Magazine. I can’t recall why I didn’t do a blog post about them as it was one of my favourite shoots from last year . I love the simple styling and minimial props, just the dark background with the autumn colours in the food and few select props. No fussiness and not over styled, clean, sharp in focus photography and really really good recipes! Just a few of my favourite food styling things.
I hope you will give the recipes a try.
Happy Friday everyone!
Beef Short Rib with Harvest Veggies Serves 4-6
1 Tblspn oil
1,5kg Beef short rib
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1/butternut , peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
2 TBS cake flour
2 bottles 375mls Milk stout beer ( I used Castle)
3 cups beef stock
1 TBS tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 stick cinnamon
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Grated zest & juice of 1 orange
Heat the oil & Seal the meat in a deep, oven proof dish, set aside.
In the same pot add the carrot,parsnip, butternut and onion and cook over a medium heat until soft. Add tomato paste, garlic, spices, orange zest, salt and pepper and flour.
Add the stout, orange juice, sugar and the stock, and stir well until a sauce forms, add the meat, cover and cook over a low heat for 4- 6 hours until oxtail is tender, beef short rib should take 2 – 3 hours
To serve – Skim the fat, and thicken the sauce with a little extra flour if necessary, serve with samp or pearl barley
Light Lamb Bredie with Two Tone Carrots This light bredie contains no tomato, it is not as rich as traditional Bredies but still full of flavour!
Serves 4 – 6
1,5 kg lamb neck, trimmed of excess fat
2 tblspns seasoned flour ( flour to which salt , pepper and 1 tablespoon paprika have been added)
2 tblspns olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tblspns coriander seeds, crushed
1 cup / 250 ml white wine ( optional)
2 cup / 500 ml lamb or beef stock
6 potatoes, peeled and halved
300g carrots, chopped
Toss the lamb neck in well seasoned flour ( I do this in a ziploc bag)
Heat the oil in thick bottom pot, brown meat, remove and set aside, sauté onion and garlic and add the coriander seeds.
Drain excess oil, return meat to the pot with the wine, stock and potatoes, and simmer for 2 hours covered until the meat is tender.
blanch the carrots and add to the meat, cook for a further 15 – 20 minutes
Serve with sweet potato mash or rice.
Pulled Pork on Apple Roasted Pumpkin Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, once everything is assembled this is the most simple and carefree recipe to make, and well worth the wait on the cooking time.
2 kg pork shoulder, rolled
½ cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup bbq sauce
1 cup orange juice
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup dark brown sugar
15 ml wholegrain mustard
15ml Worchester sauce
15ml smoked hot paprika powder
15ml cumin seed, crushed
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 orange, rind and juice
2 bay leaves
30 ml dried thyme
For the veggies
1 /4 piece pumpkin, sliced
1 tin baby apples, or 2 red apples, cored and quartered
4 sprigs thyme
Sea salt & black pepper
Except for the pork place all the ingredients in a oven proof dish and whish to combine.
Place the pork in the centre of the dish and cover with a tight fitting lid
Roast at 150oc for 5 -6 hours until the meat shreds when pulled apart with a fork.
Place the veggies on a roasting tray , drizzle with oil, season, and roast at 180OC for 30-40minutes.
To serve, shred the pork with two forks, pulling the meat apart, toss with remaining sauce and serve over roasted veg with extra bread to mop up the sauce.
Chicken, Leek & Porchini Pies
30ml olive oil
4 medium sized leeks, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic crushed
50g wild mushrooms, soaked and chopped, reserve 150ml of the liquid stock
1 large roasted chicken (Season bird with salt & pepper, place in roasting dish with a stem of celery, roughly chopped up carrot and onion, cook for an hour at 190 degrees)
Season with salt and pepper
1 rolls prepared Puff pastry
1 egg yolk, beaten to glaze
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in frying pan over medium heat. Cook the leeks and garlic for 5 minutes, or until the leek is soft and translucent, add the mushrooms and fry for 2 minutes.
Remove the meat from the chicken and cut into small chunks/strips.
Make a white sauce with the butter, flour & milk. Add the mushrooms, leeks and chicken, season to taste. If too thick, add the reserved liquid from the mushrooms
Divide the filling among 6 pots. Cut the pastry into squares. Brush the rim of the pots/big ramekins with a little egg yolk, place the pastry on top, pinch together along the sides to seal. Brush the top with the remaining egg yolk. Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
2 months before I was due to have my baby, in the middle of last year, I was contacted by cook extraordinaire Caron Melamed to join the team she was putting together to style, design and photograph her recipe book.
I was flattered. She had seen my work in Savour, a friend recommended me and she got in touch. It sounded like a wonderful project to be involved in, the dates fitted in perfectly with my “maternity leave” (is there such a thing when you’re self employed?) as I anticipated starting work again in October, which at the time felt m-o-n-t-h-s away, and so without hesitation I committed to the project. In the blink of an eye my baba was here, I was a mommy, I loved being at home, and the start date of the book project was looming. Before I knew it the day arrived when I had to entrust my precious bundle to a friend, and “go back to work.” As I packed my car with my once familiar props and styling tools I reflected on how alien they looked to me next to all the baby paraphernalia that now occupied my boot (and heart) space.
Needless to say one afternoon with Caron, in her home, with her fabulous family, lovely producer Charmaine Marcus, photographer Jonathan Andrews, and designer Sivan Portal I felt right at home myself! I breathed a sigh of relief and set my mind to work mode, it was all going to be okay despite my trepidation and feelings of “being out of it.” I even managed to take baby along on some of the shoot days as Caron’s home is so relaxed and family-focused.
It wasn’t long before Food & Home Magazine got to hear about the project and asked if they could do a feature on the soon to be released book. I styled the decor, flowers, table-setting and lunch Caron hosted with family in celebration as we finished the 4 month long project.
I feel so privileged to have worked on my third recipe book project. I have loved each one and they have been as unique and individual as the particular authors. But, I think this one will have a very special sentimental place in my heart, Caron has written this book for her family I feel blessed to have spent time with them in their home. With my own little family expanding I hope that I too can one day give my children a legacy of love, food and family. I will miss my bi-weekly trips to Orchards.
April issue of Food & Home magazine is available at the moment. ( on a super market shelf near you ) Pictures are courtesy of Food & Home Magazine and Vanessa Lewis. LARGER pictures, recipes and article appear on page 103. Sneak a peak ….