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15
DEC
2022

What’s cooking today: Smoked salmon parcels

Smoked salmon is a safe and popular go-to dish for Christmas eve dinner, but these do need to be made ahead to give them enough time to set.
An appealing festive starter that’s easy to make, these little salmon and spring onion parcels have style and substance. A touch of fennel and lemon juice perks them up, and the creaminess of the dish comes from mascarpone.
Ingredients
200 g smoked salmon slices
250 g mascarpone
1 Tbsp fennel fronds, chopped very finely
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1 garlic chive, chopped
2 slim spring onions, chopped finely
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 heaped tsp powdered gelatine
2 Tbsp hot (not boiling) milk
1 tsp olive oil for greasing the ramekins
Lemon wedges for serving
Method
Choose half of the slices of smoked salmon (the best looking, neatest ones) and keep them to one side. Chop the remaining slices into tiny pieces.
Scoop the mascarpone into a bowl and stir in the chopped salmon.
Add the fennel, chives, spring onions, lemon juice and zest, stir to combine evenly, season with a little salt and be generous with black pepper, and give it a stir.
Heat the milk but do not let it boil. Sprinkle a teaspoon of gelatine over the surface of the milk and immediately whisk until it is fully dissolved. While whisking, pour it slowly into the mixture until fully incorporated.
Oil 2 ramekins and pour off any excess olive oil. Line them with slices of smoked salmon, overhanging. Spoon in the mixture to fill, and drape the overhanging salmon neatly over the top. Refrigerate for 4 or 5 hours or until you need them. Garnish with fennel and serve with a lemon wedge. DM/TGIFood
To enquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) please email him at tony@dailymaverick.co.za
SUBSCRIBE: Our Thank God It’s Food newsletter is sent to subscribers every Friday at 6pm, and published on the TGIFood platform on Daily Maverick. It’s all about great reads on the themes of food and life. Subscribe here.
15
DEC
2022

What’s cooking today: Asparagus spears with rosemary-infused Parmesan butter cream

The rich tang of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a subtle infusion of fresh rosemary work their charms on this quick and easy asparagus dish which makes a bright and cheery festive starter.
I find it hard to believe now that when I started cooking seriously all those years ago, I found the idea of blanching asparagus daunting. Yet it’s so easy, if you obey the simple yet clear rules: cook gently, for less time rather than more, while avoiding violent boiling.
Before this, there’s the easy trick of snapping off the hard, stalky ends of the spears, and remembering to peel away the little scales. The rest (after blanching and refreshing) only involves whatever sauce you might be serving them with, though you can of course just plate them up with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan and a grinding of black pepper.
That’s how I often do them but this time I decided to infuse butter and cream with a sprig of rosemary and grate Parmigiano-Reggiano into it.
Asparagus is a spring vegetable but these days it is often available out of season, just as many other vegetables and fruit are. These (from Woolworths) were from Mexico.
(Serves 2)
Ingredients
4 or 5 asparagus spears per portion
1 rosemary sprig
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 Tbsp cream
Black pepper
No salt (the cheese is salty enough)
Method
Snap off the ends of the spears (they will snap at the right point) and discard the end parts. Scrape off the little triangular scales (which are actually leaves). Bring water to the boil in a pot, turn down to a simmer, and plunge the spears in.
They need to simmer for barely minutes, nice and low, then slide them into a colander over the sink and immediately run cold water through them, over your hand. By this I mean placing your hand between the running water and the asparagus to disperse the water so that it runs over them gently. If hard running water hits the spears it risks disintegrating them, especially if you have overcooked them; another reason not to do that.
Melt the butter gently with the rosemary sprig and cream and let it stand for 5 minutes for the rosemary to infuse. Remove the sprig. Grate the Parmesan into the rosemary butter.
Arrange the spears on plates. Spoon the rosemary Parmesan cream over the spears and grate Parmigiano-Reggiano or other Parmesan style cheese over as well as freshly ground black pepper. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova ...
15
DEC
2022

Throwback Thursday: Roast duck & cherry sauce

Here’s an old restaurant menu staple that requires a duck to be cooked the way it used to be: roasted all the way to the bone. The bonus? You can roast your potatoes in the duck fat that drips down into the pan.
I used Port and cherry liqueur from Constantia Farm Stall in Clocolan in the Free State’s cherry country. You could substitute a different liqueur or fortified wine. It’s a recipe from June 2021 that I’ve revived for this Christmas week.
Ingredients
1 duck
Salt to taste
½ cup Port
⅓ cup cherry liqueur (or use another red fruit liqueur, or muscadel or full cream sherry)
Salt and black pepper to taste
100 g pitted fresh cherries or bottled morello cherries
2 carrots
1 leek
1 onion
1 celery stick
3 thyme sprigs
A few peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 heaped tsp cornflour
Water
Method
For the duck:
Snip the wings off. Preheat the oven to 200℃.
Clean the bird and pat it dry. Use a toothpick or bamboo skewer or other suitable sharp object to pierce a great number of holes all over the skin, on all sides, and especially the obvious fleshy pockets of fat. Don’t hold back. I probably stabbed it about 200 times. No damage will be done to the flesh (unless you hack at it with a knife. don’t). The more tiny (and invisible) holes there are, the more the fat will exude.
Salt the bird generously all over. It needs no other flavourings as duck meat has a presence all of its own and the complementary flavour will come from the cherry sauce. And you don’t need to brush it with oil or butter or anything else. It has to be roasted dry; all of that fat will do its own work during the cook.
Place peeled potatoes in a deepish roasting pan and salt them lightly. Place a rack above and the duck on top of that. Put it in the hot oven to roast for a good two hours. It makes sense to give the pan a shake after, say, half an hour, to ensure that the potatoes are covered underneath with the hot duck fat that will have dripped down.
For the cherry sauce:
Remove any stems from the cherries and cut out the pips.
Make a quick duck stock with the duck wings: boil the wings down with 2 carrots, 1 leek, 1 onion, 1 celery stick, 3 thyme sprigs, a few peppercorns and a bay leaf, in plenty of water, and reduce till ...
15
DEC
2022

What’s cooking today: Roast crown of Tipsy Turkey

Roasting a whole turkey presents difficulties, as anyone who has roasted one knows. But roast just the crown, with a delicious stuffing inside it, and you have a true festive winner.
The crown of a turkey or chicken is the entire breast section, intact, either deboned or bone-in. The rest of the bird, comprising the thighs, legs and wings, can be kept for another meal or cooked separately.
Ingredients
1 crown of turkey
100 ml chicken or turkey stock
50 ml red wine
Salt and black pepper to taste
For the stuffing:
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 celery sticks, sliced thinly
2 or 3 slices of day-old bread, crumbled
200 g streaky bacon, diced
100 g raw almonds, whole
50 ml port
50 ml liqueur (I used Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey for its spicy joy)
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
Method
First, debone the turkey breast in one piece. It is essential that the double breast remains intact. Here’s a video to show you how to do it; it’s not all that difficult if you concentrate and work very carefully.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/ 170°C fan.
Simmer onion, celery and garlic until soft. Add bacon and cook through, stirring. Add breadcrumbs, almonds, port and liqueur, season with salt and pepper and cook for a minute while stirring to combine. Cool to room temperature. Once cooled, beat the egg and stir it in well.
Season the inside of the crown with salt and pepper. Pack the cavity with stuffing but don’t overfill it. (If there’s a lot of stuffing left over, pack it into a greased loaf tin and bake it.)
Fold the breasts over towards one another and tie in several places with kitchen string. Trim the strands.
Season the outside of the bird with salt and pepper.
Weigh the stuffed crown and write down the weight.
Place it in an oiled roasting pan and roast according to its weight and the following options, or visit this site which has a brilliant temperature calculator which will give you the cooking time for your size of bird. The cooking times below are from British Turkey.
If it is under 4 kg, cook for 20 minutes per kg plus another 70 minutes.
If it is over 4 kg, cook it for the same time as above plus another 20 minutes.
For smaller crowns: for a 1.5 kg crown, roast for 1 h0ur and 40 minutes. For 2 kg: roast for 1 hour and 50 minutes. For 2.5 kg: roast for 2 hours.
Turn the ...
12
DEC
2022

Throwback Thursday: Rich dark chocolate cake

You know that glorious looking chocolate cake you see in a display cabinet in a restaurant and think, wow, that looks amazing; then you order a slice and it’s bland and hardly chocolaty at all? This recipe endeavours to taste like you wanted that to taste. This week we’re revisiting the Top 5 recipes I turned out in 2022. In 2nd place, and the Throwback Thursday recipe of the year, is my rich dark chocolate cake, first published in April.
Chocolate began life as a luxury and became ubiquitous after a man called Coenraad van Houten in the Netherlands developed a mechanical way of extracting fat from cacao liquor, to create a solid mass that could be sold as rock cacao or ground into powder, a process, says Wikipedia, which “transformed chocolate from an exclusive luxury to an inexpensive daily snack”. And look at us now, unable to reach the supermarket till without negotiating row upon row of chocolate temptations, like sweet little devils on every shoulder.
There’s nothing like chocolate. It occupies a category all its own. Nothing is more likely to blow a well-intended diet to smithereens than chocolate; and it’s the first thing most of us gravitate towards when we think of having something sweet.
But it’s Rodolphe Lindt we have to thank for taking chocolate and making it better, by inventing a process called conching, in 1879, that made it smoother, silkier and better to bake with. There was, until the 1880s, hardly any such thing as a chocolate cake or gâteau, the online encyclopaedia asserts, with people having to get their fix from chocolate drinks, or in a glaze for a cake made of other things. By the 1850s, says Larousse Gastronomique, chocolate production had spread throughout the world, and by 1886 Americans had started to add it to cake batters.
Names like Cadbury, Suchard, Rowntree’s, Nestlé, Kohler and of course Lindt became synonymous with chocolate and immediately brought its taste and texture to mind, and still do.
The first chocolate cake recipe is said to have been published in 1847, but it would have been nothing like the ones we know now, made rich, moist and luscious by techniques such as tempering and skilful use of fillings and toppings such as ganache and the fudges that Americans love. That was the same year that James Fry invented mouldable chocolate paste, launching the chocolate bar into modern culture.
Today’s chocolate cakes ...
12
DEC
2022

What’s cooking today: Ginger chicken potjie roast

I wrote on its publication in January that this was an early contender for my recipe of the year, and so it has come to pass, taking the 4th place in my personal recipe ranking. It’s the most successful to date of my potjie-roasted chicken recipes. It’s stuffed, golden brown, and it turned out to be madly, joyously succulent. Best get that potjie out this weekend.
This week we’re revisiting the Top 5 recipes I turned out in 2022. In 4th place, and Tuesday’s recipe of the day, is this ginger chicken potjie roast. The recipes published daily this week reflect my personal and subjective choice of the best recipes I have produced in 2022. On Friday, we will publish a People’s Choice Top 10 based on the number of users of the most-read and clicked recipes in the Daily Maverick TGIFood section this year. That list, as you will see, is quite different, though there is some overlapping. Let’s say these are the ones I’m proudest of.
The first time I roasted a chicken in a potjie was an experiment that worked. I had not expected it to; thought it would be a soggy failure. Far from it: it came out succulent, crisp and golden and I realised then and there that there was more one could do with a potjie than fill it with meat and vegetables, pour a bottle of wine in, put the lid on and forget about it until the mush was ready to slop on a plate.
A potjie, when red hot, is a mini oven. So you can roast a chicken in it with great success. What’s more, it comes out not only crisp and golden brown, but fall-apart tender and wildly succulent. It’s a dream.
I’ve done it with rosemary, with cumin and lime, and with sage butter. This time, it was ginger all the way: fresh, pickled pink ginger, and ground. It also has a ginger stuffing, the first time I’ve stuffed a chicken before roasting it in a potjie. Finally, I made ginger butter, plenty of it, to become the fat in which the fowl is cooked.
Ingredients
1 large whole chicken, wing tips removed
Stuffing:
1 red onion, chopped
Olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 x 4 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into tiny slivers
2 Tbsp pink pickled ginger, chopped
2 slices day-old bread or equivalent breadcrumbs
1 cup of chicken stock
1 egg, beaten
Salt and black pepper
Baste:
½ cup ...
12
DEC
2022

What’s cooking today: Ginger chicken potjie roast

I wrote on its publication in January that this was an early contender for my recipe of the year, and so it has come to pass, taking the 4th place in my personal recipe ranking. It’s the most successful to date of my potjie-roasted chicken recipes. It’s stuffed, golden brown, and it turned out to be madly, joyously succulent. Best get that potjie out this weekend.
This week we’re revisiting the Top 5 recipes I turned out in 2022. In 4th place, and Tuesday’s recipe of the day, is this ginger chicken potjie roast. The recipes published daily this week reflect my personal and subjective choice of the best recipes I have produced in 2022. On Friday, we will publish a People’s Choice Top 10 based on the number of users of the most-read and clicked recipes in the Daily Maverick TGIFood section this year. That list, as you will see, is quite different, though there is some overlapping. Let’s say these are the ones I’m proudest of.
The first time I roasted a chicken in a potjie was an experiment that worked. I had not expected it to; thought it would be a soggy failure. Far from it: it came out succulent, crisp and golden and I realised then and there that there was more one could do with a potjie than fill it with meat and vegetables, pour a bottle of wine in, put the lid on and forget about it until the mush was ready to slop on a plate.
A potjie, when red hot, is a mini oven. So you can roast a chicken in it with great success. What’s more, it comes out not only crisp and golden brown, but fall-apart tender and wildly succulent. It’s a dream.
I’ve done it with rosemary, with cumin and lime, and with sage butter. This time, it was ginger all the way: fresh, pickled pink ginger, and ground. It also has a ginger stuffing, the first time I’ve stuffed a chicken before roasting it in a potjie. Finally, I made ginger butter, plenty of it, to become the fat in which the fowl is cooked.
Ingredients
1 large whole chicken, wing tips removed
Stuffing:
1 red onion, chopped
Olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 x 4 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into tiny slivers
2 Tbsp pink pickled ginger, chopped
2 slices day-old bread or equivalent breadcrumbs
1 cup of chicken stock
1 egg, beaten
Salt and black pepper
Baste:
½ cup ...
09
DEC
2022

Embers & Ash: The Art of the Potjie

It was The Honourable Lord Stephen Wrottesley who introduced me to the art of making a potjie, when it was a new fad in the mid-Eighties. And, a decade earlier, a farmer in north-western Namibia who’d shot a springbok that day. Now that I own one again, I find myself experimenting. With good results.
I got another potjie last Christmas. A bigger one (it’s not my first potjie). I’ve had four or five. They sometimes end up as plant pots. One had a cactus in it. Another was forgotten in the cupboard under the sink after I’d neglected to oil it after what turned out to be its final use, and there’d been a leak, and there followed erosion, and unfathomable chemical reactions took place, and my nose finally led me to discover its putrid death months later. It would have been unkind to any plant to have to live in that.
It was The Honourable Lord Stephen Wrottesley, aka congenial colleague to many a Cape Town journo, aka Wrots, aka Wrotters, the eccentric and sadly missed (he died too young, at 47) former crime reporter, news editor and one-of-a-kind jolly good fellow, who introduced me to the art of making a potjie. Who knew Wrotters could even cook? We were all, as one – and it’s not as if there were no drinkers among the rest of us – in awe of his prowess in a pub, which matched his flair for his reporting job.
Wrotters and I were both young parents of baby girls at the time, circa 1986, and he invited us to his and Roz’s then Kenilworth, Cape Town house for a Sunday potjie lunch. He wanted to tell me all about this new potjie thing, which wasn’t new at all unless you were a soutie. For our boere brethren it had been around since at least the Great Trek and of course it is key to other world food cultures. But suddenly, mid-Eighties, it became the new thing that everyone wanted to do.
The trick, Wrots explained, was to layer the thing. Onions and meat at the bottom, then layers of potato, carrots, beans, whatever vegetables you chose. Then season and pour in a bottle of red wine. Put the lid on. And leave it for three hours. We learnt to keep a fire going nearby, to have a garden trowel on hand to use for shovelling a few ...
28
NOV
2022

The KZN restaurant that beat the Cape

Everyone in the SA foodie world is talking about The LivingRoom at Summerhill Guest Estate in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, which beat every restaurant in the country to take top honours at the 2022 Eat Out awards last week. Wanda Hennig met chef Johannes Richter for our July 2021 story about the venue and their way with food.
15
NOV
2022

What’s cooking today: Gingered croissant and butter pudding

The traditional British bread and butter pudding is switched up by using croissants and candied ginger in this air fryer recipe.
Foil containers turn out to be a very handy item for an air fryer. Expect a rush on them, and foil loaf tins and the like becoming ubiquitous while also potentially selling out once everyone who owns an air fryer gets wind of this.
A regular foil loaf tin, 13 cm x 25 cm, was perfect for the quantities of this pudding.
You can of course also make it in a conventional oven, in which it would cook for longer.
Ingredients
100 g dried ginger slices (they come in 100g packets)
⅓ cup hanepoot or other fortified wine
250 ml full cream milk
250 ml cream
1 tsp vanilla essence or extract
3 large eggs
½ cup golden brown sugar
4 mini croissants
4 Tbsp golden brown sugar
Butter for spreading on the croissants and dotting
Method
Chop the candied ginger (available at dried fruit outlets such as Wellington or Montagu) and put it in a small saucepan with the hanepoot or other fortified wine. Bring it to a slow simmer and reduce until you have a sticky but slightly runny sauce.
Heat the milk and cream together until just less than boiling point, then turn off the heat.
Beat the eggs and sugar together.
Add the dairy mixture to this a little at a time while stirring. Return the mixture to the saucepan and stir on a low heat until the custard thickens.
Stir in the vanilla essence or extract.
Grease a foil loaf tin or metal one with butter.
Cut the croissants in half, butter them generously and place them alongside one another in the greased tin.
Spoon half of the candied ginger and their wine essence over, then put them back together and place them alongside one another in the foil tin.
Pour the remainder of the ginger sauce over.
Pour the custard over evenly.
Dot the top with butter here and there.
Sprinkle golden brown sugar over the top.
Preheat the air fryer to 160℃ for 5 minutes.
Put the tin in the basket and set it to cook at 160℃ for 15 minutes. Check, and if not quite cooked, put it in again for another 5 minutes. It’s self-saucing so doesn’t really need anything else, but you could serve it with vanilla ice cream if you like. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is regional Vodacom Journalist of the Year (Lifestyle) Eastern Cape for 2022 and Galliova Food Champion 2021.
Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling ...
03
NOV
2022

Food Porn for Dummies: Experts share their secrets

We ‘eat with our eyes’ doesn’t only mean a dish must look good, it means it must be photographed beautifully as well.
The term “food porn” has been around for ages, used to describe unrealistic and unattainable food images that are nonetheless gorgeous and we cannot get enough of them; at least no one gets hurt. Then there is the modern compulsion to take and post a pic of every meal you eat – at home or at a restaurant – and post it on social media.with varying levels of success.
This story is going to have one of two outcomes. Either you’re going to be filled with insecurity and self-doubt when it comes to your food pics and immediately cancel your Instagram account. Or, you will learn from it and set about creating better images. Me, I’m still on the fence.
On Instagram, depending on who you choose to follow, the standard is high. You can curate a newsfeed filled with gorgeousness – which is what I do – with the added bonus of recipes you can save compulsively. I’ve progressed from the old days of having only shelves filled with cookbooks to additionally an email folder full of newsletter recipes, bookmarked recipes in my browsers (laptop and phone), printouts, magazines and social media. What do I make? Yes, that’s right, the same dish I’ve known out my head for 20 years. Either that, or something spontaneously decided in the supermarket based on one ingredient I know I have at home. Like parsley.
On Facebook, it’s a different story. There we have our personal friends and sadly not all of them know how to take even halfway decent pics of their brunch. Also, it’s 2022 – surely you’ve learnt to rotate by now? Heck, there are some restaurants who need friendly advice.
I asked three amazing foodie photographers and they all said the same thing: light, preferably natural light. So the first thing you should do is disable the flash on your phone camera. Do it now. It sucks everything out of a picture and where it doesn’t, there will be harsh shadows. The other demon shadow to look out for is the one cast by your phone when there is overhead lighting. Like there is In. So. Many. Restaurants.
There’s much more to it though, especially when it’s being done professionally, and my own takeaway from this is to put way more thought into ...
27
OCT
2022

Moon over Helsinki: The wild and earthy food of ‘Suomi’

Radio Suomi Pop playing softly in the black Mercedes taxi on the way to Helsinki-Vantaa airport has me reminiscing about a world of food captured in just four days in a city that stole a Karoo boy’s heart.
If Helsinki reminds you a little of Prague in the magnificence of its architecture, it soars above the Czech capital’s duck-and-dumplings cuisine. The proximity of wild berries with the meat of its reindeer, elk and moose, root vegetables with more earthy flavour than I have eaten anywhere, abundant mushrooms as the forested land’s gift to its people, and even the sprouts of the trees themselves, makes this a cuisine that the Finns have developed quietly and without fuss, just as in everything they do. There’s no hint of the pretentiousness too often attached to fine fare; they just use their ingredients well, with finesse but without taming them either, and they’re generous in their portions. This is, once you have understood the Finns, utterly expected. It is just how they are.
The first hint of this Nordic world of trees, water, deer and berries is the juice on board the Finnair flight from Heathrow to Helsinki-Vantaa as we fly over Denmark and Sweden. Blueberry juice. There is no more blissful berry juice in the world, surely. Once we have descended over a million spruces, birches and pines, I will encounter berries everywhere, from the lingonberry juice on tap at the hotel (you choose it from a touch screen and it pours into your glass at the adjacent tap) to the little jars of jam and every meat sauce in every restaurant.
Finns call their country Suomi in the way we call South Africa Mzansi. Their use of it reflects their sense of pride and purpose in being Finnish and living in their beloved Suomi, a world all their own and nothing quite like anywhere else.
The Finns are not quite Swedish or Norwegian but not Russian either; their accent when they speak English sounds, to me, somewhere between Swedish and Russian, with a hint of something almost like Dutch. Their English is flawless; they learn it as a compulsory language, as they do Swedish as well. Many Finns speak fluent German too.
They feel, especially now, their past association with Russia, now a volatile neighbour right at their shoulder; they’re proud of the welfare state they have forged with sweat and muscle over much of a century; ...

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