Recipes: National Rooibos Day

I don't know how national food days come about, who decides them, and especially how a specific date is chosen.

All I know is that in the middle of a South African summer that is feeling awfully hot ( global warming y'all, its happening)  the only way I am be able to celebrate our national tea, is to drink it cold. In fact I'm even refusing to eat anything hot at the moment, so popsicles seem the perfect way to go!

I made two types of tea, a plain rooibos which I sweetened with condense milk, also called Vietnamese Iced Tea, and a Chai spiced Rooibos latte which I added sliced peaches to.

These went down such a treat after the shoot, even with a friend who declared, she was not  usually a fan of Rooibos.
Seems cold food on sticks can convert anyone !

Enjoy friends and keep cool.


Rooibos Iced Tea Popsicles




Christmas Morning Cheat's Cinnamon Buns

I am not a morning person. Not in the slightest.

My family on the other hand seem to think nothing of getting up at 5am. And I'm not even exaggerating.

So, I'm preparing myself for a very early start on Christmas morning, and in my sleepy- where-is-my-coffee-please-dont-even-talk-to-me-until-I-have-had-at-least-2- cups-state I like to have somethings either premade or at least the ammo of a good cheats recipe to see me through the pre-dawn chaos.

These cheats cinnamon buns are perfect! Quick to throw together in a part-comatose state they can be prepared ahead of time and popped in the oven or if you are really industrious and also a morning person you could make them on Christmas morning.

The caramel syrup and cream cheese topping are from this post on yeast baking, you could also use the recipe for the make ahead cinnamon buns in the post - they are my favourite!



Cheat's Cinnamon Buns



Gingerbread Roulade with Eggnog Ice Cream Filling

This recipe requires a little more work than the previous recipe for the Gingerbread cake, but only marginally!
Where it loses points for prep time it makes up for in convenience,  it can be made ahead of time, assembled and frozen, so all you need do on Christmas is pull it out the freezer, dust with icing sugar, slice and serve.

Job done!

Gingerbread Roulade with Eggnog Ice Cream Filling


Recipe: Gingerbread Cake with Salted Caramel & Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream

This recipe is quite a mouthful, but don't be put off by its long name. It will probably take you longer to say the name than to actually make the recipe, its that quick! 

This is an easy measure and mix one bowl cake recipe, which is a really good thing as  I literally made this cake 4 times!

First time I was just trying the recipe to see if I liked it, which I did so I tweeked it a bit and made it again for our family Christmas shoot . 

But! then at the shoot I forgot to cut a slice and gave the whole cake away, so I backed a third cake to photograph myself with a slice so you could see the layers and the filling.

But! when I did the shoot the light wasn't good, and when I downloaded the images I wasn't happy at all. I now had a sliced up cake, so that meant, yip...I had to make it for the fourth time. 

But! I was very happy with pics, and so glad I did it again. I gave each cake away, and everyone raved about them. I tried adjusting the molasses and syrup quantities and settled on the ratio 2/3 molasses to 1/3 syrup, the molasses adds a lovely colour and depth of flavour. If you are not keen on molasses ( why???) you could do 1/2 - 1/2 ratio of molasses and syrup but I wouldn't skip it all together. 

I sandwiched the layers together with salted caramel, recipe here. You could skip the salted caramel and use only the lemon cream cheese buttercream, but again, why would you? 

And finally, the cake freezes beautifully, either in layers or the whole cake with the icing, so if you want to get ahead on your Christmas baking game, this recipe has got you covered! 




Gingerbread Cake with Sated Caramel & Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream


Gingerbread Cake with Salted Caramel & Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream





Christmas Styled Shoot: Lets Celebrate !

Are you feeling festive yet?

If not I hope these images from our yearly family Christmas shoot with the lovely Nestling ladies will inspire you!

Our Christmas will be far from the snowy Christmas of the north. Oh how I wish for markets in festive squares, twinkling lit streets with wreath decked doors,and medieval churches with angelic choirs.
Maybe next year .

In the meantime,  the lovely Nestling ladies read my mind, and created the most beautiful winter wonderland ( in 30oC heat in Johannesburg, a snowy fantasy was just what we needed to cool us down)

I made a gingerbread village and gingerbread ornaments, and a gingerbread biscuit wreath.

We got dressed up "fancy" as Ms S would say, hung the biscuit ornaments and made snow angels in the “snow” 

We sipped iced mulled cider, and I made the most delicious ( even if I say so myself ) one bowl Gingerbread Cake with a lemon and cream cheese icing.

It was such a fun afternoon, and just the escape I needed from the silly -season rush and pressure.

The recipe for the gingerbread is here , it's the same recipe I use every year for the houses and the ornaments. I tried a store bought mixture for the trees and I was so disappointed. I used my recipe for everything on the gingerbread village, the wreath and all the biscuits in the images below.

I will post the recipe for the one bowl ginger cake in a separate post. Its a fabulous recipe, it is quick, and the best part, only uses one bowl. Because seriously who has time for all that washing up and faffing with whisking egg whites, and folding in ingredients, in separate bowls when there is fun to be had!

*disclaimer* there are a lot of photos, because I just couldn't choose which to post . 


Gingerbread Biscuits
Gingerbread Biscuits


Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream
Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream
Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
Gingerbread Village
Gingerbread Village
Gingerbread Tree
Gingerbread Tree


Gingerbread Village
Gingerbread Village
Snow Angel


Strawberry & Goats Cheese Ice Cream

No Churn Strawberry & Pepper Goats Cheese Ice Cream

No Churn Strawberry & Pepper Goats Cheese Ice Cream

Quick & Easy No Churn Ice Cream
Quick & Easy No Churn Ice Cream

No Churn Strawberry & Pepper Goats Cheese Ice Cream

Strawberry & Goats Cheese Ice Cream
Strawberry & Goats Cheese Ice Cream



Recipes : Watermelon Margarita with lime-basil salt & mint sugar

Watermelon Margaritas with Lime-Basil Salt

Watermelon with Mint Sugar

Watermelon Margaritas with Basil-Lime Salt & Mint Sugar 

Recipe Book Review: Ottolenghi Simple

Every New Year I make a similar resolution. I will not buy any more recipe books.
I suspect like many fellow foodies it won't come as a surprise that 
I'm a sucker for a beautiful recipe book!

When we moved 4 years ago, I gave away over 50 recipe books because I did not have space for them all. I kept a few favourites and classics, and  I now need to carefully consider my space limitations before buying.

For the most part I haven't done too badly, although  my bookshelf is full again and I'm now starting to stack on top of the shelf,  I'm comforted that although the clutter is annoying, the books are all ones I really love and use often.

My latest addition I know will definitely become a well thumbed, oil splattered, spine cracked, frequently pulled out favourite!

Yotam Ottolenghi's latest book, boldly called SIMPLE is my newest addition. ( I mean, who could resist that striking cover ?)

I thought it a really brave decision to call the book SIMPLE, as if ever there was possibility for misunderstanding, misrepresentation, and general missing the point, it's when the word simple is used, especially in regard to food.
I was intrigued to see exactly what  Yotams take on "simple" would be, and I must say I was amazed at his clever definitions, not one, but six, which are the central themes of the book. An acronym from the title, Ottolenghi’s 6 definitions are: “Short on time”, “10 Ingredients or less”, “Make ahead”, “Pantry”, “Lazy” and “Easier than you think”.

So clever ! Each recipe lists which of the definitions apply.

Some might not think the list of pantry ingredients could be defined as staples, but for me they are ingredients I love, and use often, sumac, anchovies, za'tar, harissa, and tahini.

Ever since I bought one of my very first recipe books, Alistair Little's Food Of The Sun ( which has a horrible red & blue cover!) I feel in love with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ingredients. I made my first ever preserved lemons from that book, and having been making them ever since - yikes! 20 plus years, and definitely a pantry staple for me.

Ottolenghi is probably considered the king of veggies, he really moved veg from the side to the centre of the plate ( move over meat, cauliflower, aubergine and beetroot are now the star attractions) and so in true Ottolenghi style the book has a lot of vegetable dishes, salads under the raw veg section, cooked veg, which could be sides or main meals. It does also include meat, fish, and poultry. And desserts! The recipes are straight forward and don't require any cheffy techniques, in fact I don't think there is much technical skill required at all, and this for me is the real win. Recipes, and food prep that is easy to understand, straight forward, quick, and yes, simple.

The book  also has menu suggestions at the back, which I didn't see until after I chose the recipes I would make for a family lunch over the weekend. I based my menu on what I had in my veggie garden, and what is seasonal at the moment, which is much how Yotam himself describes his approach to meals. It was in true Ottolenghi style, abundant, fresh, bountiful and delicious!


Avocado and Broad Bean Mash ( page 106 )
I used the last of the broad beans from my garden, and they were absolutely delicious. I'm not a fan of frozen broad beans, although he recommends them in the book. If broad beans are not in season I would probably rather make something else than use frozen. I added a few dollops of pesto which is not in the recipe and it worked really well. I found the dish very rich, and used more than a good squeeze of lemon.

Butterbean Mash with Muhammara ( page 107) 
This recipe is such a winner, I've made it here with tinned artichokes instead of the butter beans ( because I had in my cupboard and I was loath to drive to the shops just for beans) What an inspired substitution! it is so good, and the muhammara ( a spicy red pepper and walnut paste) which I had not heard of before is worth keeping in a jar in the fridge, it can be spread on toast for a quick and tasty snack , or dolloped on store bought hummus for an easy starter with some pita breads.

Two Bean & Two Lime Salad ( page 111)
Again, this recipe was chosen based on my veggie garden haul. The recipe also using Edamane beans which I left out because I don't like them. A simple enough reason don't you think? The dressing is delicious, I halved the chilli, and substituted lemon grass for the fresh kaffir lime leaves. 

Lamb and Pistachio Patties with Sumac Yoghurt Sauce  ( page 217)
These were so delicious, and my favourite dish of the meal!
Unfortunately I did not make extra so thee were none to photograph.I served the sumac yoghurt sauce with pomegranate rubies and a swirl of olive oil, just for garnish.

Ricotta and Oregano Meatballs ( recipe below)
I have made a variation of these before, meatballs with ricotta, but I can't remember from where. I have given Ottolenghis recipe below. I added the zest of 2 lemons and juice of 1 lemon, because I just can't cook without lemon. I also added a tablespoon of brown sugar to the tomato sauce because I think the tinned tomatoes I used were very sour.  As the recipe indicates, they can be made a day in advance, refrigerated  and reheated before serving. I doubled the recipe, and have frozen half. 

Taryne's Mixed Grain Salad ( last pic after recipe)
There is a section in the book for Rice, Grains and Pulses. I simply ( ha! that word again) tossed together what I had,  1/2 a cup each of cooked spelt, barley, quinoa and cracked wheat. Miss S loves to help me in the kitchen so she cut up a few mini cucumbers, a few sticks of celery, including the leaves, some fennel, and spring onions. I tossed in some seed mix for crunch, and some pickled red onion for bite, and some feta, because feta.  Served with big wedges of lime to squeeze over, it was very good.

Recipe: Ottolenghi's Meatballs with Ricotta & Oregano


Recipe: Chocolate & Pecan Spice Cake with Tahini Buttercream Icing & Sesame Praline

The recipe looks long, but it really isn't!

I have broken down all the stages to make it easier to prepare. Its such a quick cake to bake, and the tahini icing is simply next level! enjoy


PS. My perfectionist tendencies want to apologize for the rustic - ness of the cake, that is because I have a 5 year old helping, who insisted she do the lining of the cake tin. When you do it, I know it will be lovely and even and your cake will be smooth and look a lot less rustic :) 





Recipes: 5 ways with Tahini

Tahini And Muesli Breakfast Popsicles (vegetarian) 

I made a double batch of these and have kept them in the freezer, they are a great go to for a quick breakfast on the run in summer, or as a simple snack.


Tahini Nice Cream (vegan) 

I can't get over how absolutely delicious this "ice cream" is! With no dairy insight its completely vegan. It can be used as dessert, or in smoothies, or simply out the freezer container with a spoon. 

Serve the nice cream with tahini chocolate cookies from this post 

Smoked Hummus with Tahini (vegan) 

Smoking is fun, and adds a different dimension to food. You don't need any fancy equipment, simply a wok, some rice and tea leaves. If you don't have time, its not essential, just skip that step and process the plain chickpeas.

Serve with the flatbreads

Easy Yoghurt Flatbreads

Roast Cauliflower "Salad" with Green Goddess Dressing & Pumpkin Seed Dukka (vegan) 

Green Goddess Dressing ( vegan) 

Roast Cauliflower Salad 

The salad can be served as a accompaniment to the flatbreads and hummus, or as a salad on its own. Serve the dressing seperately.

Pumpkin Seed Dukka

The duke will keep for up to 3 month in an airtight container at room temperature. It is great sprinkled on roasted veggies, salads, soups, and of course smashed avocado on toast.