Recipe books: 32 iInspirational chefs, Heavenly & healthy foods, Scrumptious and My 100 favourite herbs
070812. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu
Recipe books: 32 iInspirational chefs, Heavenly & healthy foods, Scrumptious and My 100 favourite herbs 070812. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

32 INSPIRATIONAL CHEFS. Taste of Relais & Châteaux

Published by: Peter Marshall

Price: R400

Reviewed by: Jenny Kay

This collection of recipes from the chefs at all the Relais & Châteaux hotels around Southern Africa is a must for any aspiring chef.

The book will appeal mainly to chefs as the recipes by some of the top chefs on the continent will inspire anyone working in the industry. I am not sure if any home cooks would feel competent to attempt the recipes in the first section.

It does make a really nice coffee table book with its beautiful food pictures and African landscapes.

One can only but drool over dishes made by the likes of Margot Janse and Peter Tempelhoff, whose masterpieces are gastronomic creations using ingredients and methods best suited to a chef’s kitchen.

Some of the recipes are quite achievable and a home cook could serve them in a style different from the way a restaurant would.

But singling out only two of the chefs would not be fair to the others featured in the book.

The last section consists of recipes that these chefs would cook at home, which are a bit more accessible to people like me.

I cooked the lamb shank with creamy polenta and found it to be easy to make with a delicious result.


Serves 4

4 lamb shanks

45ml cake flour

salt and pepper

1 knob of butter

30ml olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery sticks, chopped

4 cloves of garlic

30ml ground cumin

30ml brown sugar

250ml red wine

1 litre of beef stock

rosemary sprigs

Creamy polenta

500ml water

500ml cream

salt to taste

150g polenta

30g butter

200g cream cheese

LAMB SHANKS: Heat the oven to 150°C. Dust the lamb shanks with flour and season.

Heat a casserole dish with butter and olive oil. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic and cook until soft. Remove from the casserole and set aside.

Add the lamb shanks and brown all over. Put the onion mixture back with all the remaining ingredients and cook in the oven for 21/2 hours or until the meat is soft enough to come off the bone. Remove the meat from the casserole and boil down the juices to thicken.

POLENTA: Heat the water, cream and salt. Whisk in the polenta until fully incorporated. Add the butter and simmer until cooked about 15 minutes.

Lastly stir in the cream cheese, heat and serve.


Author: Margaret Roberts

Published by: Random House Struik

Price: R220

Reviewed by: Jenny Kay

I grew up trusting Margaret Roberts and anything she said about herbs and their health benefits I believed. She really is the doyenne of herbs and their culinary and medicinal uses in our country and she has stood the test of time.

Her latest book builds on many of her previous publications where she had added and updated information about growing, harvesting and the culinary and medicinal use of 100 different herbs.

This isn’t a recipe book, as such, but a book filled with very useful information as well as many tips on herbs. If you ever wanted to start a herb garden or were looking for ideas of what to add to your herb garden, this book will give you all the information you will need. All laid out in a user-friendly way.

For each herb she gives a description, some history (not too long and boring) the cultivation, propagation, harvesting and processing, companion planting, culinary uses and medicinal uses.

There are also recipes, where applicable, and other information on using herbs for repelling insects, healing and feeding your pets and even for cleaning brass and silverware.

For anyone wanting to go green and use more natural remedies this book will be invaluable.


SAGE: This remedy for smelly feet and shoes.

Mix ½ cup of dried sage leaves which have been finely crushed with 1 cup of cornflour and use this as talcum powder to dust feet and sprinkle in shoes.

ROSEMARY: A rosemary hair rinse gives sheen, lustre and body to damaged hair and stimulates growth. Simmer 2 cups of rosemary sprigs in 2 litres of water for 20 minutes. Cool to lukewarm and strain.

Use as a final hair rinse after shampooing. Massage into the scalp well.

Keep any excess in the fridge.

HEAVENLY & HEALTHY FOODS. Brookdale’s 21 days to a healthy lifestyle.

Published by: Brookdale Health Hydro

Price: R240

Reviewed by: Amy Kay

Brookdale Health Hydro is located in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, and this recipe book has been produced to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

The beautiful pictures of the hydro make you want to book immediately for a de-stressing weekend where the tranquil surroundings will help revitalise mind, body and spirit.

As well as including some delicious easy recipes, this book gives advice on exercise and stress management. I enjoyed the user-friendly way the book is laid out and the style it is written in, it doesn’t feel intimidating. At the back of the book there is a 21-day menu to follow.

The recipes all look so healthy and brimming with goodness.

It’s hard to imagine spending time at the hydro and being fed such delicious-looking meals. One always imagines a diet of lettuce and water to be the order of the day.

If you enjoy reading about healthy living and are looking to increase your healthy recipe repertoire then this is the book for you.

It is available from the hydro.

To order it, see


Makes 24


250g butter

250ml brown sugar

250ml wholewheat flour

250ml cake flour

250ml oats

125ml wheat germ

20ml orange zest

Cream together butter and sugar. Fold in flour, oats, wheat germ and zest to form a soft dough. Press dough into a 20cm x 24cm baking tray.


4 eggs

125ml brown sugar

500ml flaked almonds

250ml cranberries

20ml raisins

125ml coconut

Whisk together eggs and sugar. Fold in the other ingredients. Pour over the base and flatten to edge.

Bake for 15 minutes at 180°C. Reduce heat to 150°C and bake for 20-30 minutes until egg mixture is set.

Allow to cool before cutting into bars. Store in airtight containers.

SCRUMPTIOUS food for family and friends

Author: Jane-Anne Hobbs

Publisher: Struik

Price: R260

Reviewed by: Sasha Zambetti

Jane-Anne Hobbs, freelance editor and writer, first got into the food media world through her blog Scrumptious and has written two cookbooks. This is her third.

It is a very pretty hardcover cookbook with inspiring recipes. Not every recipe has a picture, but that doesn’t deter my salivating tastebuds!

I couldn’t choose just one recipe to make, they all sounded too delicious… Moroccan-spiced lentils with roast cherry tomatoes, butterflied chicken stuffed with ricotta and artichokes, roasted ratatouille soup with basil mayonnaise, double-craggy garlic and herb bread with peppered cheese (I ate half of the loaf on my own). Great for a new take on garlic bread at your next braai.


Serves 8

2 x 2kg chickens

salt and milled black pepper

5 whole heads of garlic

375ml dry white wine

A small bunch of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc)

2 thin slices of lemon, peel on

Sealing paste:

250ml cake flour

about 125ml cold water

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Season the chickens generously with salt and pepper, inside and out, and place them in a deep cast iron lidded pot big enough to hold both.

Break the garlic heads into cloves and scatter them in the pot along with the wine and herbs.

Tuck a few cloves, squashed with a heavy knife, and the lemon slices into the cavity of each chicken.

SEALING PASTE: Mix the flour and water to a thick, spreadable paste. Now glue the lid to the pot by spreading a thick layer of paste all the way around the edges, smoothing it with your fingertip to form a tight seal.

Bake the dish for 1¾ hours without lifting the lid. Take the pot straight to the table and chip away the paste with a blunt knife. Provide your guests with plates and plenty of fresh, crusty bread, and invite them to dig straight into the pot, pulling the chickens to pieces, squeezing out the garlic pulp and mopping up the juices with bread.

This is good with lemony green beans and crisp squashed potatoes.