Thursday, December 20, 2012

How to make a gingerbread house

I've always been a bit of an overachiever but this past week, I seriously outdid myself. I made two gingerbread houses in one week. Even saying that sentence exhausts me but oh what fun I had! This is not one of those posts where I promise (and cross my heart) that this is a simple recipe that you can throw together in 20 minutes flat blah blah blah. Be warned; baking a gingerbread house is not for the faint-hearted. These cute little edible cottages exist (and are made) for the sole purpose of satisfying your inner child. Who hasn't dreamed of being Hansel or Gretel and discovering a huge edible house made of sweets? No one, that's who. It's one of the fairytales we can actually come close to creating in our kitchens. And it's even more fun if you prepare the pieces and then get your kids involved (if you don't have your own, borrow some) and let your imaginations run wild. If I made one of these again, I'm definitely going to make a seaside gingerbread cottage - more South African you cannot get! Oh and did I mention that it makes a show-stopper of a table centrepiece for Christmas dinner? Put a candle or fairy lights inside for some twinkle and you're good to go. So, I do urge you to make one (just one!) if not for any other reason but so you can say you did. 

 Cedric the Snowman showing off his posh palace

Styling and photography by Katelyn Williams

Gingerbread house
Serves 10-12

150g butter
½ cup demarera sugar
2/3 cup golden syrup
1 egg
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1 tbsp corn flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground ginger

4 cups icing sugar
3 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
variety of sweets to decorate

Preheat oven to 180C. Place the butter, sugar and golden syrup in an electric mixer and beat for 5 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Add the flour, cornflour, baking power, bicarbonate of soda and ginger and mix until a smooth dough forms. Add a little more flour if necessary. Roll the dough out to ½ cm thick and using the templates, cut the parts of the gingerbread house out with a knife. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until dark golden.
To make the icing, place the sugar, whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a mixer and beat for 4-5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Place the icing in a piping ready to assemble the house. To assemble the house, cut each gingerbread sheet in half. Set aside four halves (two for the walls and two for the roof). From the remaining two halves, cut two even triangles from the top to create the side walls. Secure one of the rectangles and one of the side walls to a cake board with the icing and allow to dry. Support the walls against a tall jar or vase. Secure the other walls using the icing and allow to dry completely before the next step. Using icing, secure each of the roof pieces to the sides of the house and allow to dry completely.
Use the icing to decorate the rest of the house using sweets. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Turkey with bobotie stuffing

In our family, Christmas is always quite a big affair – probably due to the little American and British blood we have mixed into our South African family tree which makes Christmas dinner a little OTT (over the top). There is always a turkey and a gammon and a leg of lamb and although we have tried in the past to do a braai or something more ‘local ‘n lekker’, we’ve all agreed that it just isn’t Christmas without the trinity of roast meats. But having a turkey doesn’t mean you can’t add a South African touch to the traditional so I’ve created a bobotie stuffing which works really well with the strong flavour of the bird. Traditional Christmas with a bit of a local twist. Give it a try!

Turkey with bobotie stuffing
Serves 12-14 

Bobotie stuffing
1 onion, finely chopped
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped
1T olive oil
25g butter
180g white breadcrumbs or yellow rice
250g pork sausage meat (casings removed)
1T bobotie spice
1t turmeric
fruit chutney or apricot jam, to taste
salt and pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1T fresh parsley, chopped

1 large turkey, excess fat removed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 carrots, chopped
4 sticks celery, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
750ml chicken stock

To make the stuffing; sauté the onion and bacon in the oil until lightly browned.  Melt the butter, add the breadcrumbs, sausage meat, spices, chutney and season well.  Stir in the beaten egg and use as a stuffing.   
To make the turkey; preheat the oven to 180˚C.  Stuff the neck of the turkey and the cavity with the stuffing.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Place the vegetables and stock in the bottom of the oven tray.  Place the turkey on a rack over the vegetables, cover with tinfoil and roast 30 minutes for each kg plus an additional 30 minutes.  Remove the tinfoil and roast until golden brown.   Remove from the oven and allow to rest before carving. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Festive milk tart & Hertzoggie mince pies

Working on a daily breakfast show on any given day, my colleague Zola and I churn out close to 5 recipes a day which amounts to about 25 recipes per week, 100 a month. That is a lot. And with that many recipes being developed, we sometimes have to get a little more creative (and sometimes - okay most times- we have some down right crazy ideas). This morning's show was all about 'Christmas with a South African twist' because although we love traditional dishes like mince pies and christmas cake, let's be honest, they're not our traditions but rather very European. Enter our local 'n lekker milk tart and hertzoggies. Zola had the genius idea of crumbling up Christmas cake and blending it into the pastry of milk tart; imagine all that fruity flavour stuffed into the crust with the creamy cinnamony smoothness of the milk filling. Yummo! I could eat a whole tart. But then I'd have no space for the pies. I loooove mince pies but sometimes the flavour of the filling can be overpowering and it just needs that something extra - enter the coconut meringue topping which I borrowed/stole (thank you Afrikaans tannies) from the humble hertzoggie. Our camera crew devoured them all with gusto and they're always our harshest critics. So, why not serve something traditional (because, let's face it, for some of us Christmas isn't Christmas without the fruit cake or mince pies) but with a local twist and let's start our own South African festive food traditions!

Photography by Günther Schubert of

Zola's Festive milk tart
Makes 2 tarts

125g butter, softened
½ cup castor sugar
1 egg
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup Christmas pudding, crumbled
Pinch of salt

Cream butter and sugar together and add the egg, beating well to combine.
Add all the other ingredients – to form a stiff dough.
Divide the dough into two, then press into 2 round sandwich cake tins.
Dock the pastry base then blind bake at 180C for 30 min or until the pastry is golden and crispy.

4 ½ cups milk
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 ½ Tbs flour
2 ½ Tbs corn flour
1 tsp vanilla paste
Large Tbs butter
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Place milk, cinnamon stick and cloves into a pot and bring to the boil.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour, corn flour and vanilla.
Pour the boiling milk into the egg mixture, while continuously whisking.
Pour the mixture through sieve to remove the spices and return to the pot and cook on medium heat until the mixture thickens.
Add the spoonful of butter and stir through.
Pour into the baked pastry shell and sprinkle with the ground cinnamon.
Allow to cool completely cool at room temperature before storing in the fridge.

Photography by 
Günther Schubert of

Katelyn's Hertzoggie mince pies
Makes 30

210g cake flour
90g corn flour
100g icing sugar
pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
250g soft butter, in blocks
1 cup fruit mince
3 egg whites
1 cup castor sugar
2 cups coconut

Combine dry ingredients in a mixer and gradually add the butter until the shortbread comes together.

Press tablespoon fulls of dough into mini muffin tins. Using your finger, make a hole in the centre of each shortbread and fill with fruit mince.
Whisk the egg whites until soft peak stage then beat in the castor sugar until thick and glossy. Fold in the coconut and spoon small amounts on top of the fruit mince (just enough to cover).
Bake at 150˚C for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool in the tin before removing and dusting with icing sugar.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Easy chicken and baby marrow saute

This recipe is for those days when work has got the better of you, the kids are hungry, you’re exhausted and just thinking of the dreaded three words, ‘whats for dinner’ is enough to bring you to your knees. It’s quick, it’s tasty and it’s healthy and that’s all you really need to know isn’t it? Swop the courgettes for aubergines, butternut, peppers or ready-to-roast veggies (no chopping is an added bonus) and dinner is a mere 30 minutes away. And if there are any leftovers? Toss through cooked pasta with a spoonful of pesto or softened cream cheese and you have lunch (or dinner) version 2.0.

(serves 4)

700g courgettes or baby marrows, chopped into chunks
1 chilli, deseeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
juice from 1 lemon
olive oil

Yoghurt sauce
250g unflavoured yoghurt
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1T chopped mint

400g chicken mince
salt & pepper, to taste
1 egg
handful basil, chopped
handful Italian parsley, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
½ - 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Combine all the ingredients for the courgette and bake at 180˚C for 20-30 minutes. Mix the ingredients for the yoghurt sauce and leave to infuse. Mix all the ingredients for the chicken balls together and form into golfball size rounds. Fry in hot oil until brown and cooked. Serve the courgette topped with the chicken balls with a drizzling of yogurt sauce.