Cape Town - Every year the number and quality of home-grown cookbooks seems to swell and improve. As the festive season is upon us, these appetising new titles fulfil two purposes: they make marvellous gifts for keen cooks and their contents will inspire us with new ideas for Christmas lunch, a New Year brunch and other holiday occasions.
Choosing a single recipe from just four new local compilations was no easy task, but here they are. The books add up to a diverse collection – one presenting recipes from a popular soapie, another written by a South African Francophile, an irresistible collection by Cape Town’s queen of tarts and a guide to entertaining a crowd by two of the city’s best-known caterers.
Balsamic roasted baby tomato and gorgonzola tart
The Queen of Tarts, Tina Bester, runs her fabulous and quirky café of the same name in Obs, while creating ever more decadent and original savoury and sweet tarts to tempt the most jaded of appetites.
Her new title Tarts, her fifth cookbook, published by Quivertree, is organised according to season and is packed with colourful savoury and sweet individual and large pastry-based confections.
Rosemary shortcrust pastry:
110g butter, chilled
1½ T finely chopped fresh rosemary needles
90ml cold water
500g mixed baby tomatoes, on the vine
60ml (4T) olive oil
60ml (4T) balsamic vinegar
3 sprigs rosemary
100g gorgonzola cheese
250ml (1 cup) mascarpone
125ml (half cup) cream
2 large eggs
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
For the pastry: Place the flour, salt, butter and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. With the motor running, slowly add the water until the dough comes together. Take it out of the processor and press into a flat disc. Wrap in cling flim and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.
Line the base of the tart tin with baking paper if your tin is not loose-bottomed. Roll the pastry on to a lightly floured sheet of baking paper to about 2mm thick. Flip it over the tin and line the tin with the pastry, pressing into the tin and trim it about 2mm beyond the edge to allow for shrinkage. Cover the pastry loosely with baking paper and top with dried beans. Bake the pastry blind at 200°C for 15 minutes. Remove paper and beans and return the tin to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
For the filling: place the tomatoes, oil, vinegar, sugar and rosemary in a roasting pan and roast for 10 minutes at 200°C
Crumble the blue cheese on to the base of the tart shell and top with the roasted tomatoes. Mix the ingredients for the cream and egg filling and pour over the tomatoes. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the cream mixture is set. Cool tart slightly before removing it from the pan.
Serves 4 - 5
Chicken liver pâté
The French Affair is a collection of recipes acquired by author, chef and photographer Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen on his travels from a farm in South Africa to the south of France where he now lives, about to open his new restaurant JAN.
His epicurean leanings developed early as he includes his ouma’s soetkoekie and milk tart recipes, while his sophisticated dishes reflect his stint as chef on a private yacht and his love affair with French cuisine. His chicken liver pâté is a great dish to have for parties and a first course for festive menus. The topping glaze adds a nice local touch. The French Affair is a well-illustrated hardback published by Struik Lifestyle.
1 onion, finely chopped
100g butter or duck fat, melted
500g chicken livers
1tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼tsp cayenne pepper
2 large hard-boiled eggs
quarter cup cream
1tsp red wine vinegar
1tsp Old Brown sherry or port
half cup plus 3T Old Brown sherry
1tsp unflavoured gelatin powder
2tsp castor sugar
pinch ground allspice
In a large saucepan, fry the onion in a quarter of the butter or duck fat until soft and caramelised. Rinse the chicken livers well and dry with paper towel. Add the livers to the onion, with the remaining butter, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper and fry until the livers are just cooked but still pink in the middle. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Process the eggs until smooth, then add the liver mixture, cream, vinegar and sherry. Scrape the pâté into a mould or bowl and leave in the fridge until set.
To make the glaze, place the water and 2T of the sherry in a small bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin. Leave about 5 minutes to soak. In a small saucepan, warm the remainder of the sherry with the sugar and allspice and pour over the soaked gelatin. Stir mixture until the gelatin has dissolved completely. Cool, then carefully pour it over the pâté, using the back of a dessertspoon. Chill to set for at least 2 hours. Serve with Melba toast or savoury biscuits. Serves 6.
Gin-drizzled fresh fruit
After a rich and heavy meal, a platter of chilled fresh seasonal fruit is required to perk up palates.
This trendy dessert will be as ideal for a picnic or garden setting as for a festive lunch: remember to keep some fruit and syrup separate, sans gin, for the children and teetotallers.
This suggestion comes from Cooking for Crowds by Callie Maritz & Mari-Louis Guy, published by Human & Rousseau. It’s the perfect gift for cooks who cater for large numbers, as recipe quantities are given for 12, 25 and 50 diners.
1 watermelon, sliced
1 punnet fresh cherries
1 punnet litchis, peeled
1 cup water
Half cup gin
30g fresh mint leaves, chopped
Place the fruit in a salad bowl and place the bowl over crushed ice. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has melted. Reduce heat and simmer until syrupy. Leave to cool. Stir in the gin. Drizzle the syrup over the fruit and sprinkle over the mint. Serves 12.
Ox tongue with raisin sauce
This is Hilda’s recipe from 7de Laan Celebrates, the second cookbook from the team that makes the cast of the most popular soapie on SABC 2.
This is one of several yummy recipes in the chapter titled Christmas time that also includes salmon mousse, slaphaksteentjies, malva pud with a difference and, of course, trifle.
This makes a delicious and easy main course to accompany a poultry choice, that can be cooked well ahead of time. The book is published by Human & Rousseau.
1 large ox tongue, fresh not pickled
1 carrot, pared and coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 whole leek
1 sprig thyme
3 bay leaves
6 black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, bruised
125ml (half cup) brown sugar
5ml (1tsp) mustard powder
15ml (1T) cake flour
30ml (2T) white wine vinegar
30ml (2T) lemon juice
pinch grated lemon rind
275ml (1½ cups) water
125ml (half cup) seedless raisins
To cook the tongue, combine all ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add enough cold water to cover the tongue.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 3 hours, or until the tongue is cooked and easily cut with a knife. Remove from the liquid and peel off the skin. Return to the saucepan and leave to cool in the liquid until ready to serve.
For the sauce, place the sugar, mustard and cake flour in a saucepan and mix well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix again. Bring to the boil over medium heat, reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously until sauce thickens. Serve hot.
To serve, slice the tongue thinly and either pour over the sauce or serve it separately. - Cape Argus