The Final Whispers of Winter – Recipes to charm

Posted in Recipes / Vegetables / Meat Dishes / Salads

The Final Whispers of Winter – Recipes to charm

I can feel it in my bones; spring is in the air. I hadn’t forgotten the recipes for our warm get together with friends last week. I’m in a reflective mood today, reminiscing good times around the island in the kitchen. The cookery classes I attended and the meals my children and I had at home after school.  Always fun, boisterous and often a free for all.

What vividly comes back to me now is Timmy’s “Dankie Mamma, die kos was lekker.”  “Thanks Mom the food was delicious.”  He’d say that after every meal, no matter how simple it was. Even a peanut butter sandwich ticked his boxes, although my sandwiches never lived up to Tannie Bubbles’ Marmite Sarnies.  Those were his ultimate. We only stocked Fray Bentos in our house.

Rain is sifting  gently down outside, at times sheets soft and gossamer on this windless, cold day fall.  On the hob, a Bolognaise sauce is simmering. I have The Sounds of Silence by Disturbed belting out on my speakers in remembrance of an acquaintance who’s passed away.  He introduced the song to us while Marie-Joan van der Sluys entertained us at one of her inspiring cookery classes in Hermanus.

Here are some of my recipes as promised. Invite some friends around for lunch and wow them with good food and exhilirating company.  We all need social interaction once again.


Poached Pears in Mulled Red Wine With Bits and Bobs.

See my previous blog for the recipe.  The plate is made up of various components. Easy to prepare the day before and plated 20 minutes before your guests arrive.  You may also limit some elements, e.g. only the pears with garnishes or the Baked Red Onions with Walnut Salsa on a bed of rocket leaves.  There are options.

Here is the link: 

Main course:

De-boned leg of Lamb marinated in a Rosemary and Honey glaze.

1 de-boned leg of Lamb (our butcher de-bones the meat for Oom Boets)
60ml honey
30ml Dijon Mustard
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 red chillies, chopped
60ml olive oil
4 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
Rind of 1 lemon finely grated
Maldon salt
10ml freshly ground black pepper
Mix all the ingredients except the salt and pepper.
Massage the glaze into the meat.
Season the meat with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place the meat in a plastic container suitable for marinading.  Marinade overnight.

Butch grills the meat over hot coals on the middle rack away from the heat for 25 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.  During the last five minutes you can lower the grid to brown the meat on both sides. Remove from the grill, rest for 10 minutes.  Carve, plate on a suitable platter and garnish with a few rosemary sprigs.

The Salsa verde with mint does this recipe justice.

Green Vegetable Platter
Use a selection of green vegetables, e.g. green beans, peas, broccoli and asparagus. Plus a bunch of baby spinach.
Place a large pot, filled with an inch of water, on the hob and bring to a boil.
Add 30ml of salt
½ lemon squeezed.  Use the juice and the juiced bits in the pot.
Steam the vegetables, in batches, which you place in a colander or steaming pot, for 3-4 minutes.  The for the broccoli add a minute. Less cooking is better.
Remove from the steam and layer the hot vegetables with uncooked spinach. (the spinach will wilt from the heat.)
Drizzle a good glug of Olive oil all over the vegetables to give them a gloss—season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Pile your vegetables onto a large platter.
Garnish with an extra glug of olive oil, lemon juice and some nut and seed sprinkles and mint.
This vegetable dish is best served at room temperature.

 Gail’s Smashed Potatoes


Everyone loves a good tattie.

10 medium red potatoes, washed and scrubbed. 
Maldon salt
Olive oil
Sprigs of Rosemary

Cut a small X on the top of each potato, rub a layer of olive oil all over them—season with a generous (potatoes love salt) sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Arrange on a lined baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven of 180°C for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are crispy and very soft on the inside.

Remove from the oven when cooked. This step can be done a while before you need them.  Smash the potatoes with a potato masher or a fork.  Arrange on a small ovenproof plate or dish.  Sprinkle a generous glug of olive oil all over the potatoes.  Sprinkle a few sprigs of rosemary on top and return to the oven for 10-15  minutes until they crispy and golden on the outside. Do this just before they’re required. 

Garnish the dish with chopped chives and parsley.


 Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad

I needed some colour to complete my table. It had to be simple and easy to prepare.  This is another one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s brilliant recipes.  Do invest in his books. I love PLENTY MORE, the book I used for my recipes this time.  You can’t go wrong when it comes to ease of preparation, flavour and versatility.  I have a library of his books, thanks to my friend Megan’s gifting.

1 large juicy lemon cut lengthwise, pips removed and then sliced thinly
45ml Olive oil
10ml caster sugar
A few sage leaves, but I think one could use Basil too, finely sliced
1 tub of mixed Roma and other  Mediterranean tomatoes, halved
2,5ml ground Cumin
Salt and pepper
A handful of mint leaves, shredded
A handful of Italian parsley, shredded
I tub Pomegranate jewels
60ml finely chopped onion
6 chives, finely snipped
15ml Balsamic glaze
30ml Olive oil.
5ml Sumac (this is the secret weapon that will lift your salads to new heights!)
1 packet of Rocket leaves
Place the sliced lemon in a single layer on a lined baking tray.  Coat the slices with olive oil, sprinkle with caster sugar and the sage leaves.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 20 minutes. Some of the rinds will turn a darker shade; that’s perfectly fine.
Remove from the oven and cool down completely.  These rinds can be prepped the day before.

On the day: 1 hour before serving. 

Combine the rinds with the tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper, add the mint and parsley leaves, pomegranate jewels, chopped onion and chives in a large bowl.

Mix the Balsamic glaze and Olive oil.  Drizzle over the tomatoes and lemon rinds. Mix carefully, coating all the vegetables.
Make your salad on a pretty platter.  On a bed of Rocket leaves pile the prepared tomatoes.
Brighten the salad with a squish of extra olive oil and balsamic glaze.   Do not toss.  Garnish with a few sprigs of parsley and mint leaves. Grind some pepper on top and a pinch of Maldon salt.
Lastly, sprinkle the Sumac.

(Buy a sachet of SUMAC at your local Indian deli. I always have a supply and use it on my salads. I love the tartiness and the deep red colour)

Last week I noticed an announcement to warn us that tomato and potato supplies were down. Stores were having difficulties sourcing these vegetables from their suppliers.  So do be mindful of wasting your precious tomatoes and spuds.  Make full use of them.


 My Favourite Aubergine Cheesecake

I must confess this was the star of the show last weekend.   Butch braaied some delicious Chicken sausage which complimented the Aubergine Cheesecake perfectly.  This recipe is ideal for a light vegetarian meal served with salad.

The ingredients I used were leftovers from the Roulade. Therefore the eggs might seem strange. I used the egg yolks for this recipe and the whites for the meringue—a win-win combination.

65ml Olive oil
3 medium Aubergines, sliced into 2cm thick round slices
120g Feta cheese, crumbled
1 tub of medium fat cream cheese
4 Jumbo eggs (I used 5  large egg yolks plus 1 whole egg )
60ml mascarpone (the leftovers from the Pavlova) - optional
90ml pouring cream - optional
OR 250ml double cream (if you're not using mascarpone as I did)
1 punnet Rosa tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
A handful of rosemary leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

30ml Salsa Verde to brush over the top of the cheesecake after baking.

Line a medium, square ovenproof dish with tin foil.  Brush the surface of the tinfoil with olive oil.
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Layer the aubergines on the lined tray.  Brush both sides generously with olive oil—season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the rosemary leaves.
Bake in a pre-heated HOT oven 200°C for 30-40 minutes until the aubergines are baked.
Remove from the oven and cool down.
Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C

Halve the Aubergine wheels and pack them into the ovenproof dish, cut side down. Keep them upright by placing a tomato next then another slice of Aubergine and alternate again until all the Aubergine and tomatoes are packed into the dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, feta cheese, eggs, pouring cream and a good grind of black pepper.   Pour this mixture over the vegetables and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven, brush the salsa verde over the surface.  Serve at room temperature with a salad.  We had the tomato and lemon rind salad with ours. 


The desserts will follow in an upcoming blog, and they are, after all, the pièce de resistance.  The Namaqualand daisies are opening their faces, and we are planning our trip.  I can’t wait.