Meet a talented caterer and consultant has lent her input to the menus of several Cape restaurants over the years.
Those in the know can identify Judy Badenhorst’s distinctive culinary style: her fare is best described as real food – simple, seasonal and always delectable.
Older readers will recall that Judy bounded on to the gastronomic scene when she launched the Old Cape Farmstall in Constantia, one of the first in SA to offer gourmet ingredients, deli items and bakes along with fresh produce.
She continued to wow diners while running the Constantia Uitsig River Café and later shook up the Boland when she opened the Lucky Store in Stellenbosch, converting a rundown kaif into a humble Cape eaterie complete with plastic furniture, scarred wooden counters and time-worn posters for cooldrinks and sweets.
Today, Judy keeps an eye on the menu at Spier’s Eight restaurant and is largely responsible for the irresistible items awaiting diners at the popular Casa Labia Café.
If you haven’t yet discovered this inviting venue in the imposing old Muizenberg house, you are in for a treat. Once the home of the Labia family, then an embassy, the house is now a cultural centre that combines regular art exhibitions with events like book launches, workshops, concerts and poetry readings.
The decor reflects that of a grand Italian palace, while the simpler café spills on to a courtyard and offers visitors great coffee and cake, delicious lunches and afternoon teas.
While the Italian slant to the most of the recipes below is in keeping with Casa Labia’s heritage, Judy’s scrumptious recipe for hanepoot jelly is especially for Cape Argus readers as she knows that few Capetonians can resist these uniquely traditional grapes of Constantia. If you have any culinary queries, you can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
ROASTED TOMATO AND RICOTTA TART
To peel tomatoes, immerse them in water that has just boiled for at least one minute – drain and peel. Use the best bought puff pastry to do justice to the filling and a good SA olive oil for sprinkling over the tarts, as they offer better quality and value than imports.
140g ripe tomatoes, peeled
Sea salt, preferably Khoisan
400g puff pastry
2 cups (500g) ricotta
2 eggs, lightly beaten
60ml (¼ cup) cream
125g (½ cup) finely grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely shredded rocket leaves
1 additional egg yolk, lightly beaten, for brushing pastry
30ml (2 tbs) finely chopped parsley
Extra-virgin olive oil
Cut the skinned tomatoes into quarters, put into a colander, sprinkle with sea salt and leave to drain. Cut out rounds from the defrosted puff pastry 10 to 12cm in diameter.
Mix together ricotta, eggs, cream, Parmesan, nutmeg, and season with salt and black pepper. Add chopped rocket and stir. Place a spoonful of ricotta mixture in the centre of each tart.
Arrange tomatoes over the filling, dividing evenly, leaving a 2cm edge all the way round. Brush the edges with egg wash. Bake at 200ºC for 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle a little extra-virgin olive oil over each tart before serving.
Serves eight as a starter or light lunch.
MARINATED GRILLED QUAIL WITH ROASTED SWEET POTATO
Quails can be found in specialist butchers and delis and can be ordered from producers in the Boland. If you don’t like hot chillis, use a milder large variety. You need to start marinating 24 hours ahead of serving time.
6 large quails
1 tbs finely chopped fresh ginger
2 small fresh birds-eye chillis, chopped
1 tsp finely chopped fresh garlic
Quarter cup sweet soy sauce
Quarter cup fresh coriander leaves
Quarter cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 5cm rounds
Quarter cup white wine vinegar
Quarter cup fresh coriander leaves
Quarter cup roasted unsalted cashew nuts
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Sea salt, preferably Khoisan and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Additional oil, salt and pepper
1 large bunch rocket leaves
Additional coriander sprigs and cashew nuts, coarsely chopped
Wash and trim quails, if necessary. Blend all the marinade ingredients, then pour over quail, making sure they are all covered. Leave for 24 hours.
Next day, arrange the sliced sweet potato in a roasting pan. Combine the dressing ingredients, then slowly whisk in the oil. Pour a little of the dressing over the sweet potatoes, but reserve most for later. Pour over a little more oil and season potatoes, then roast them at 180ºC for about 30 minutes until tender but not mushy.
When ready to serve, grill the marinated quail about five minutes on each side. If they are not cooked through, transfer to the oven (180ºC) for a few minutes, but don’t overcook as they will be dry and tough.
To serve, spoon a little dressing into the middle of each plate, then arrange some sweet potato slices on top. Add a layer of rocket leaves, then perch a quail on the leaves. Drizzle over remaining dressing, garnish with chopped nuts and coriander sprigs.
FLOURLESS DARK CHOCOLATE CAKE
225g whole blanched almonds
225g bitter dark chocolate, 70% cocoa butter
225g unsalted butter, softened
225g white sugar
6 large eggs, separated
Line a 20cm diameter cake tin with baking paper on the base and spray sides with cooking oil. Preheat oven to 150ºC.
Place almonds in processor and grind coarsely. Grate the chocolate coarsely. In a bowl, whisk butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, whisking between. Add the ground almonds and chocolate. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold into the chocolate mixture, starting with a couple of tablespoonsful to loosen the chocolate mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until just set. Test with a skewer, which should come out clean.
Leave the cake to cool in the pan, then transfer to the fridge to firm up. Remove from baking pan by turning upside down, remove baking paper. Serve wedges with ice cream or crème fraiche and seasonal berries. The cake can also be frozen.
Serves eight to 10.
FRESH BERRY ICE CREAM
Judy uses strawberries, mulberries or raspberries in this dessert.
4 egg yolks
125g castor sugar
250ml (1 cup) milk
250ml (1 cup) cream
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped and reserved for another occasion
10ml (2 tsp) cornflour
400g (about 2 cups) strawberries or berries of choice
60g white sugar
30ml (2 tbs) water
Fresh lemon juice.
Whisk egg yolks and castor sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gently heat the milk and cream in a saucepan with the vanilla pod until it is nearly boiling. Remove from heat. Pour a little hot milk onto the egg yolk mixture, stirring continuously. When well mixed, pour all the yolk mixture into the hot milk, whisking, return to low heat, whisk non-stop until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir. Remove the vanilla pod. Leave custard to cool. Blend berries with the sugar and water to a smooth purée. Fold into the cool custard. Add lemon juice to taste.
If you have an ice cream machine, churn until frozen. If not, freeze in container until half-frozen, whisk, then freeze until firm. Serve with biscotti, if wanted.
These crisp, nearly fat-free biscuits are delicious with ice creams, jellies and mousses. Or serve them Italian-style with one of our delicious dessert wines, well-chilled. To toast almonds, spread out on a baking tin and bake at 180ºC about 10 minutes until golden brown, watching that they do not burn. Cool.
5ml (1 tsp) vanilla essence
1ml (2 drops) almond essence
240g cake flour (about 2 level cups)
5ml (1 tsp) baking powder
40g whole almonds, toasted
40g ground almonds
90g chocolate chips
In a small bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla and almond essence and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the egg mixture and mix until blended, about one minute. Cut the almonds into thirds and mix in. Mix in the ground almonds and chocolate chips.
Divide the dough in half. Grease and flour a baking sheet or line sheet with baking paper. Pat out dough into two logs, about 1cm thick, 4cm wide and 30cm long. Place on baking sheet, leaving at least 5cm between them. Bake at 150ºC about 50 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on rack for five minutes.
Place on cutting board and, using serrated knife, slice diagonally through to make biscotti about 1cm thick. Transfer slices to baking sheet, laying them flat, and return to oven, reducing heat to 140ºC until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes on each side.
Cool, and store in an air-tight container.
Makes about 40.
JUDY’S HANEPOOT GRAPE WINE JELLY
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, wine jellies were served in the afternoon in affluent Cape households. During the 20th century, jelly fell out of favour, being relegated to children’s parties and convalescents, but the new millennium saw the dessert elevated to trendsetter status, with sophisticated versions appearing on dessert menus. Judy, inspired by one of Delia Smith’s summer fruit terrines, created this delicious finale, starring our luscious Hanepoot grapes, which should appear in farmstalls and greengrocers soon. The dessert requires two jelly moulds each with a 500ml capacity. If you don’t have jelly moulds, use loaf tins that are 119 x 12 x 9cm in size. You can buy verjuice at delis and good supermarkets.
350ml Chenin Blanc or dry white wine or sparkling wine
150ml white verjuice or use more of the wine.
25g powdered gelatine or 15 leaves of sheet gelatine
1 dessertspoon fresh lemon juice, plus more for drizzling
1kg hanepoot grapes peeled, seeded and drizzled with additional lemon juice
Stir the powdered gelatine into the verjuice or wine and leave five minutes to dissolve. If using leaves, soak them in cold water for five minutes. Heat the wine, with the sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan, until it reaches boiling point. Remove from heat and stir in the gelatine in verjuice or the leaves, squeezed dry, plus the additional verjuice or wine. Whisk by hand until gelatine has dissolved.
Place the peeled grapes on base of the jelly moulds, pour the wine mixture over to fill the moulds, cover and chill for at least four hours or until required. Unmould and accompany with home-made custard and berries, if wanted.
Serves 8. - Cape Argus