The Food Fox is on the move…

20 Aug

The Food Fox in action (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

Dear friends, family and fellow bloggers

The Food Fox is moving! Yes, the time has come for me to move forward and become the owner of my own site – VERY exciting! This way I will have more controll over the look and feel of content, and there will also be room to showcase some of the generous partners that I have been working with over the past few months.

We have already created the new website, and it is temporarily running as www.thefoodfox.co.za. The thing is, I cannot automatically move all of my loyal subscribers along with me. So I’m asking you to please go over to the new site and subscribe again! (You’ll see the email subscription widget in the right sidebar, just enter your email address and click on “subscribe”. You’ll be getting a verification email in your inbox from Feedburner shortly after.)

Please note: The new site will only be a .co.za for a week while we finalise the move, and then be transferred back to my original www.thefoodfox.com domain, after which the WordPress-hosted subscriber base will be closed. I really hope that you will make the move with me!

I look forward to sharing more food memories and fabulous recipes with you on my new website. Remember, www.thefoodfox.com will stay www.thefoodfox.com – just dressed in a brand new apron!:)

Your foxy friend in cooking

Ilse (AKA The Food Fox)

Wholewheat seed loaf

14 Aug

Wholewheat seed loaf (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

On a recent trip to the Eastern Cape, we visited my Mother in law in Port Elizabeth. We have not spent much time at her home before, as she usually prefers to visit us in Stellenbosch – that way she can also see most of her other family that live in the Cape.

While making sandwiches in her kitchen, I noticed the most beautiful old bread knife. When I asked where it came from, she told me that it was her Mother’s bread knife that she had bought during the war with coupons that she found in cigarette boxes. The knife had been their household bread knife since before my Mom in law’s birth, which makes it in the region of 70 years old. It was such a beautiful knife – so beautifully preserved although it had been used every day for decades.

At the end of our visit, my Mom in law gave me the knife as a presen! She knew how much I loved cooking and baking, and how well I would look after this special knife in our young family. I wanted to feature it in a beautiful picture as soon as I had the chance, so I chose this recipe from Phillippa Cheifitz’s book: “Lazy Days”. As Phillippa puts it, it’s a “real meal of a loaf”, roughly textured and full of seeds and other whole wheat goodness. It reminded me of the wholesome history of the knife, and the unpretentious role it had played in slicing bread for my husband’s family all these years.

I look forward to passing it on to my daughter one day.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (750 ml) whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (250 ml) oats
  • 1/2 (125 ml) cup bran
  • 1 cup (125 ml) mixed seeds (like sesame, poppy, sunflower, pumpkin and/or linseeds)
  • 1 T (15 ml) dried yeast
  • 1 T (15 ml) honey
  • 2 cups (500 ml) warm water
  • 2 t (10 ml) salt
  • 1 T 15 ml) sunflower oil
  • a mix of seeds from sprinkling over the top

Method:

  1. Mix the flour, oats, bran and seeds in a bowl.
  2. Stir the yeast and honey into half a cup of the warm water and leave for about 10 minutes to froth. Add the salt, oil and the frothy yeast to the flour mixture.
  3. Stir in the rest of the warm water, then pour into a 25-30 cm loaf pan, well oiled or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle liberally with mixed seeds and gently press in with your fingertips.
  4. Leave in a warm place until risen to the top, or almost to the top of the tin (it takes about 30 min). Bake at 200 C for an hour, then cool on a wire rack, covered with a tea towel to soften the crust.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

Roasted beetroot and goats cheese salad

6 Aug

Beetroot and goats cheese salad (photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

Beetroot can be the most boring thing on your plate, or the most magnificent. As a child, I used to hate beetroot. We always had the store-bought grated version, and I couldn’t stand it. As I got older, I discovered that beets could taste so different if you just cook it properly and serve it simply.

One of my favourite combinations for beetroot, is to serve it with goats cheese. The roasted beetroot is so sweet and fragrant, and the goats cheese is ultra creamy and tangy. Coupled with peppery rocket leaves and crunchy nuts it is such a fantastic starter or side salad, and it really looks breathtaking.

Don’t be afraid to get your hands all purple – it comes off after a few washes. Otherwise use rubber gloves.

Ingredients:

  • roughly 10 medium-sized beets (or 15 small beets)
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 80-100 ml olive oil
  • 45 ml balsamic vinegar
  • juice and rind of a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 100 g soft goats cheese (I used a log of Fairview Chevin)
  • a bunch of rocket/baby spinach/watercress leaves
  • a handful of pine nuts, toasted (or cashew nuts)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220 C.
  2. Peel the beetroot, and cut off the ends. Cut in halves.
  3. Arrange peeled beetroot in a roasting tray, then sprinkle with thyme leaves, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice & rind. Season well with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the beetroot well.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes, then add about 1/2 a cup of water and cover with foil. Return to the oven at 180 C and bake for a further 20 – 30 minutes until the beets are tender (test with a small, sharp knife). Remove from oven and cool in the pan. Do not discard juices.
  5. In a large salad bowl, arrange green leaves (I like to dress the leaves in a little olive oil and lemon juice with a pinch of salt & pepper). Slice the beetroot in smaller wedges if necessary, then coat in their juices before arranging them on the leaves. Top with crumbled chevin and toasted nuts. Serve with extra olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

Classic chocolate brownies

30 Jul

Donna Hay’s classic chocolate brownies (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

I dream about chocolate brownies at night. They are some of my favourite indulgent treats, my go-to decadence, my secret “sinful” food affair.

I would sometimes eat brownies when I’m alone in my car, where I wouldn’t have to share them with anyone else. I like them fudgey, dark and very chocolatey. This is Donna Hay’s recipe for classic chocolate brownies from her Magazine, October/November 2011. She did an 11-page spread on these brown beauties, featuring not only the classic version, but also caramel crunch brownies, cookies and cream blondies, coffee meringue brownies, dark chocolate and raspberries brownie tarts, brownie cookies with peanut butter frosting, choc-peppermint brownies and toffee pecan and caramel brownies. Now if that doesn’t have you drooling, I don’t think you’re human!

Donna’s classic brownie features 400 g dark chocolate, which sounds like a lot, but it makes a fabulous crunchy top and a deliciously chewy centre. Half of the chocolate gets melted in the batter, and the other half gets chopped and mixed with the batter. That means you get fabulous chunks of chocolate inside the brownie, which adds great texture.

I used a slightly cheaper dark chocolate with some almonds in it, as opposed to the more expensive, best quality 70 % dark chocolate. It really still tastes fantastic! If you would like to go the same route, substitute the flour with a mix of flour and cocoa powder to make sure the brownie is really dark.

Serve them at room temperature, or just slightly warmer if you like the chocolate to be gooey. Heavenly squares of dark, dense, fudgey, chewy chocolate.

Ingredients:

  • 400 g dark chocolate, chopped (preferable 70 % cocoa solids)
  • 250 g butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar (I use 1 cup light brown sugar and 1 cup treacle sugar)
  • 6 eggs (I use XL)
  • 1 cup flour (or 200 g flour and 50 g cocoa powder, if you are using cheaper dark chocolate)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
  2. Place half of the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Place the sugar, eggs and flour in a bowl with the chocolate mixture and mix with a hand whisk to combine.
  4. Stir through the remaining chocolate pieces and pour batter into a lined/greased baking tin, about 20 x 30 cm.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked. Cool in the tin, then cut into squares.

These brownies will keep in an air-tight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

Souskluitjies

24 Jul

Traditional South African souskluitjies (photo by Tasha Seccombe)

The first time that I had “souskluitjies” for dessert, was at my Grandma Naomi Uys’s house in Johannesburg when I was about 15 years old. My Ouma was a very grand lady – perfectly groomed, well-traveled, informed and very stylish. Their townhouse in Northcliff was impeccable, filled with beautiful Persian carpets and mohair curtains.

She was a fantastic cook and her love for exotic dishes like stuffed leg of Springbok made a huge impression on me as a child. She also loved a good gin and tonic before dinner, and knew everything about cricket.

When I first tasted Ouma Naomi’s souskluitjies, I was completely hooked: feather-light dumplings in a buttery sweet cinnamon sauce. I could have finished the whole batch! Unfortunately, I don’t have her original recipe, but this is the closest I could get. These souskluitjies are best when they are freshly made and still piping hot, but they can be reheated the next day and should still hold their nostalgic magic!

Ingredients:

  • 250 ml self raising flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 ml milk
  • 100 ml melted butter
  • 60-75 ml cinnamon sugar (to taste)
  • water for boiling, with 2 t flour, 2 t vegetable oil and a pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Half-fill a large, wide saucepan/pot with water, then add 2t flour, 2 t veg oil and pinch of salt, and bring to a slow simmer.
  2. While heating the water, mix eggs, milk and 50 ml butter. Now add self-raising flour and pinch of salt and mix to a thick batter. Don’t overmix.
  3. Drop spoonsful of the batter into the simmering water (you can do all of them in one batch if your pot is large enough). Simmer on very low heat for 10 minutes, covered, taking care that the mixture don’t boil over. Just regulate the temperature so that it is simmering very slowly, without peeping too often!
  4. Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon and arrange in a serving dish. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar (you will need more than you think, because the batter is not sweetened) and drizzle with the remaining 50 ml butter. Let it stand for 5 minutes to give the sugar some time to melt, then serve at once.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

Eggs benedict royale

23 Jul

The ultimate Eggs Benedict! (Photograph by Tasha Seccombe)

I’m not a huge breakfast person during the week – I usually prefer some rooibos tea with home-baked rusks when I’m on the go. But give me a lazy late-morning brunch over a weekend and I’m in heaven!

Brunch is not something that you can rush. It should be approached with no regard for time. Take your time to lay the table beautifully, or if you are going to eat in bed, make sure you are going to be extra comfortable with a tray on your lap or a side table. I usually love having baskets full of muffins, scones and croissants for my guests to choose from, with various jams and cheeses and farm butter. For the warm course of the feast, I like to serve really soft scrambled eggs with parmesan shavings and a very small drizzle of truffle oil. I also like extra crispy fried streaky bacon, and sometimes some pan-fried tomatoes.

But for the really special occasions, I love to serve eggs benedict – my favourite breakfast of all time. This is my “royale” twist on the classic eggs benedict: I serve the softly poached eggs on a sliced croissant instead of an English muffin, with loads of smoked Hickory ham, topped with smoked mozzarella. I then grill the lot before I add the poached eggs and warm hollandaise sauce. This is quite a rich breakfast or brunch meal, but the flavour combinations are superb! Serve individually plated servings to a small group of 1-4 guests, not a huge crowd – you need to time your eggs and grilled cheese to be ready at the same time. Your guests will feel really special to be served such a treat!

PS: For the Hollandaise sauce, I take a shortcut and whizz it up in a blender, using warm melted butter. No need to whisk anything on the stove over a double boiler. It makes you want to eat eggs benedict everyday.:)

Ingredients for 2 portions:

  • 2 croissants, sliced open lengthways
  • 4 slices of smoked Hickory ham (or a smoked ham of your choice)
  • 100-150 g smoked mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 4 free range eggs, as fresh as possible
  • 30-45 ml white vinegar, for poaching
  • some chopped fresh parsley for serving (optional)

Ingredients for Hollandaise sauce:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 15 ml water
  • 15 ml lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 125 ml butter, freshly melted and very warm

Method:

  1. For the sauce: in a small blender, blend/process/whizz the egg yolks, water, lemon juice and pinch of salt for a minute. With the motor running, add the warm melted butter in a very thin, steady stream. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Sauce will thicken on standing – add a teaspoon of warm water and whizz again just before serving, if necessary (I always make this just before serving, it is really best served when freshly made!)
  2. Pre-heat grill of oven and set baking tray 2/3 to the top. Arrange sliced croissants on another baking tray, then top each with 2 slices of ham and enough smoked mozzarella. Grill
  3. While grill is heating up, heat some water (about 5 cm deep) in a small sauce pan on the stove top. Add vinegar and bring to a very slow simmer. With a spoon, stir the simmering water for a few seconds to create a slow whirlpool. Gently break the eggs in the middle of the whirl, only 2 at a time. Simmer very slowly for 3-4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and briefly blot the spoon with the egg on a piece of kitchen paper to remove excess water before arranging on top of the grilled croissant. Top generously with hollandaise sauce.

Credits:

This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Photography: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius & Tasha Seccombe.

Mediterranean-style focaccia

20 Jul

Mediterranean-style focaccia topped with red pesto, olives, feta and pine nuts.

Focaccia bread is very similar in style to a regular Italian pizza, but is usually a bit thicker and stuffed or topped with herbs and/or other ingredients. In this recipe, I have taken my favourite pizza dough and rolled it out thickly, then topped it with a red Moroccan style pesto, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, sliced Calamata olives, feta and pine nuts. I serve it hot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, some salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, plus some Deluxe Hummus for dipping.

This is the perfect starter to a Mediterranean feast, or just as a snack on it’s own. Warning: this focaccia is very addictive! Enjoy!

Ingredients for dough: (serves 4-6 as a starter)

  • 2 cups (500 ml) flour
  • 2 t (10 ml) instant yeast
  • 1 t (5 ml) sugar
  • 1/2 t (2,5 ml) salt
  • 3/4 cup (185 ml) lukewarm water
  • 1 T (15 ml) olive oil

Ingredients for toppings: (these are just guidelines, adjust the quantities as you like!)

  • 2 T Medi Deli Casablanca Pesto
  • 2 T Medi Deli Grated Parmesan Style Cheese
  • 10 olives, halfed and stoned
  • some feta chunks
  • 1 T Medi Deli Pine Nuts
  • to serve: extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, Medi Deli  Humus Deluxe

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, mix flour, yeast, sugar and salt together. Add water and olive oil and mix untill a sticky dough forms. Knead untill the dough becomes soft and pliable. Cover and let it rise in a warm area for about 15-30 minutes until doubled in size.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees Celsius for at least 20 minutes.
  3. On a well floured surface, roll out into an oval shape. Transfer to a large baking tray lined with baking paper.
  4. Spread with pesto, then use the blunt back end of a knife to poke holes in the surface (or use your fingers).
  5. Sprinkle with parmesan, top with olives, feta and pine nuts.
  6. Bake at 220 C for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked.
  7. Serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil, some salt flakes and freshly ground pepper, and a bit of humus on the side as a dip.
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