Sunday, 29 June 2014

Oyster Soup

It's almost time again for the Knysna Oyster Festival; 10 days of food, wine and all sorts of outdoor sporting adventures.  If you're an oyster fan, it's a great time to be in town.  Most of the restaurants get involved and come up with all sorts of creative oyster-focused dishes.

Here's an easy oyster soup:

  1. 1 tin smoked oysters, cut into halves
  2. 1 tin mushroom soup
  3. 40ml dry sherry
  4. 200ml cream
  5. a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  6. a bit of lemon zest and juice
  7. a few drops of tabasco
  8. 50g of biltong, chopped roughly
  9. a few spoons of full cream yoghurt
  • heat the mushroom soup in a pot
  • when the soup is hot, add the halved oysters and sherry
  • let this heat slowly, but don't boil
  • add the cream and continue heating
  • when the soup is hot,  dish up into bowls
  • put a spoonful of yoghurt in the centre of each bowl, then add a little biltong, some parsley and a sprinkle of lemon zest
  • add a few drops of tabasco onto the yoghurt and also a squeeze of lemon

Friday, 27 June 2014

Duck Breast, Irish Coffee Sauce and Cauliflower Mash

A well cooked duck breast is a magnificent thing.  Big on flavour and texturally great if you get the skin crispy and the meat tender.  Add a creamy, nutmeggy cauliflower mash and a sauce that packs a punch and you've hit the jackpot.

  1. 2 duck breasts
  2. salt and pepper
Cauliflower mash:
  1. 2 heads of cauliflower, washed and cut into chunks
  2. a knob of butter
  3. 2 Tbsp little cream
  4. 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  1. 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  2. 100ml chicken stock
  3. 2 tots whisky
  4. 100ml strong coffee (or 2 espresso's if you a machine)
  5. 50ml cream
  • pat dry the duck skin, score, sprinkle with a good amount of salt and rub in
  • boil the cauliflower until soft and then mash (or blend in a processor if you want your mash extra smooth)
  • to the cauliflower add butter, nutmeg and a little cream, season well and keep warm
  • for the sauce heat butter in a small pot, add the stock, bring to the boil and then add the whisky
  • allow this boil and reduce a little for 10 mins, then add the coffee
  • let this reduce by half (10 mins)
  • add the cream and whisk over a low heat, the sauce will thicken slightly
  • while the sauce stays warm, and thickens a little more, put the duck, skin side down, in a dry pan
  • heat the oven to 180 C
  • fry until the skin is crispy and golden
  • turn the duck over and seal for 1 minute on the other side
  • put the duck in the oven for 5 minutes, remove and then allow to rest for 10 mins, covered with foil
  • dish up a little mash, then a few pieces of sliced duck, followed by some sauce 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Die Stal

Montagu is a dorpie small town on South Africa's 'Route 62'.  It's famous for mountains, mineral springs, dried fruit and a bit of wine and it has some great places to get a bite to eat.  One of these is 'Die Stal', which you'll find on Kruis Farm, 10km outside of town, on the R318.  It serves up wholesome farm-style food with an air of elegance.  My chicken schnitzel and seriously creamy cheese, mushroom and bacon sauce was done just right.  Even Goldilocks would have been happy.   

Fish balls, garlicky prawns and a fresh salad

5* Chicken schnitzel 

They gave me their Baked Cheesecake recipe.

  1. 1 packet 200g Marie biscuits
  2. 125ml butter, melted
  3. 250ml cream
  4. 250ml sugar
  5. 2 tins condensed milk
  6. 3 tubs smooth cottage cheese
  7. 200ml lemon juice
  • for the crust, mix the biscuits and butter and press firmly into the base of your cake tin
  • for the cake mix, whisk the sugar and cream until stiff
  • add the condensed milk and cottage cheese and beat
  • mix the lemon juice in well
  • put the mix on the base and bake at 180 C for 20 min and then allow to cool
  • enjoy

Friday, 20 June 2014

Tankwa Karoo National Park

Tankwa Karoo, up on South Africa's Northern and Western Cape border, might not be the easiest place to get to, but it's well worth the drive.  No matter which direction you're coming from the last stretch of road will be dusty, muddy, bumpy and occasionally more of a suggestion than an actual structure.   

The park is a beautiful collection of desert, grassland and mountain, rich in bird life and succulent vegetation.  If you're a FOMO candidate this isn't the place for you.  No cell signal, no TV's, just big sky that shines bright at night and absolute peace and quiet. 

One of the units at Elandsberg Camp

Not a bad place for a fish kebab and ostrich steak


Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Luckily they're OEP VE KOEP

An hour an a half north of Cape Town (and it's blockbuster mountain) is the traditional West Coast fishing village of Paternoster.  With newly whitewashed cottages, an ever-present artistic talent and some fabulous dining options, it has well and truly secured it's spot on the South African international and domestic tourist trail.  A visit to the town will provide one with the opportunity of experiencing the warmth, generosity and good-humoured nature of the locals, and you'll inevitably encounter informal fresh fish and crustacean trading on most street corners. 

Oep ve Koep is a small, bistro-style restaurant attached to a little shop of the same name.  Kobus van der Merwe (Head Chef) has created something special from his tiny kitchen and put a wonderfully original spin on well known West Coast cuisine.  A great deal of effort goes into sourcing local and sustainable ingredients and he introduces guests to a few wild local herbs and vegetation, foraged from the coast, the surrounding area and a few nearby gardens.  

The restaurant is enormously refreshing with some serious flavour combinations (and a great wine list) presented in a relaxed, garden environment.  A visit gives you a sneak peak into the world of a chef that is in tune with his (and our) natural heritage and isn't scared of showing it off. 

The menu changes daily but some of his most popular hits make regular appearances.  The surprise snack of fresh bread with sweet preserved orange and lip smackingly moreish bokkom/olive tapenade had a slap of salt that required the urgent assistance of a chilled Sauvignon Blanc.  Luckily the wine flowed and the food continued to deliver.       

Bread, preserved orange and a bokkom/olive tapenade

Maasbanker (Cape horse mackerel) bokkom, pear and shoreline salad

Saldahna Bay mussels, salvia-smoked angelfish and tulbaghia (wild garlic)


Kobus has given us a great snoek recipe.  If you can't get smoked snoek, mackerel will do.

Kobus' smoked snoek croquettes

  1. 2 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
  2. 250g smoked snoek, flaked
  3. 1 small onion, finely chopped
  4. juice and zest of half a lemon
  5. small handful of fresh fennel, chopped
  6. 1 garlic clove, crushed
  7. breadcrumbs
  8. flour for dusting
  9. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  10. vegetable or seed oil for deep frying
  11. 60g butter
  12. 100ml cream
  • in a small saucepan, cook the potato in salted boiling water
  • when the potato is soft throughout, strain
  • pass the soft potato through a potato ricer, add butter, cream and season
  • combine the flaked snoek, potato mash, onion, garlic, lemon, and fennel
  • season to taste with salt and black pepper
  • add one Tbsp egg and mix well until combined
  • using your hands, roll the snoek mix into small balls
  • dust each ball with flour, dip in egg and roll in bread crumbs
  • deep-fry until golden and crispy

Enjoy as a snack or make a simple meal of it, served with whole sweet potato baked in foil over hot coals.