Myrna Robins

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Recipes

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The elegance is apparent long before you open the bottle. A simple cream label, minimal wording that tells you what you need to know: “Lady May, 2012, Glenelly, Stellenbosch”. The only illustration - a small gold outline of a lady in a long flowing gown, standing among what looks like tall reeds.

 

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Apparently the picture reflects May de Lencquesing’s return to her roots at Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtess de Lalande In Bordeaux.

There can be few winelovers who do not know the story of the magnificent Glenelly estate, its remarkable owner, its exceptional wines and its Gallic bistro – all situated just outside Stellenbosch. And, of course, its fine glass exhibits.

This Grande Dame – May de Lencquesing –– bought the former fruit farm in 2003 when a youthful 78 and set about transforming it into a top destination and beautiful setting for producing her vision – “to craft the finest Cabernet Sauvignon blend outside of France...”

Today, after 15 years, she regards this patrician blend of 89% cabernet sauvignon, 10% petit verdot, finished with a splash of cab franc as her legacy. The grapes were carefully chosen, hand-sorted , naturally fermented in tanks for a few weeks before being transferred to oak barrels where malolactic fermentation took place. The wine was then left to age for 24 months in fine French oak, producing an intense, dark and complex blend. On the nose, wafts of a range of berries, on the palate the dark berry flavour melds with meaty notes and classic cedar balanced by fine tannins. Alcohol levels of 14,5% are not obvious., but it’s easy to know that this is a blend with great ageing potential, worth putting away for a few years to increase enjoyment. Whereas one’s first gourmet choice for a great pairing would be beef, chef Christophe DeHosse of The Vine Bistro also suggests his fillet of lamb with roasted root veggies and Parisienne gnocchi and thyme jus. The recommended retail price is R490.

 

In the mean time, celebrate summer with cellarmaster Luke O’Cuinneagain’s delightful 2016 Glenelly’s Reserve Chardonnay – or try the 2017 which has recently been released.

 

 

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These are stylish, restrained rich, complex wines, the 2016 with citrus both on the nose and in the long finish. It has attracted high scores and gold medals from three current competitions – Decanter World Wine Awards, Old Mutual Trophy wine show and the Six Nations Challenge . Pair now with gourmet fish or poultry creations, see below.

The 2017 offers aromas of vanilla and butterscotch, moves on to citrus on the palate. Moderate 13% alcohol levels, lightly oaked, it was aged for 10 months in 500 litre French oak barrels. Like its predecessor, it’s beautifully crafted, finely balanced, fresh and delicious now but will keep and mature further for a decade – if you are strong-minded enough to do so. Pair it with rich seafood or poultry creations or try the classic salmon trout recipe from Chef Dehosse which combines a rich beurre blanc with locally farmed salmon trout.To book forthe Bistro or for more information, tel: 021 809 6444 or email bistro@glenelly.co.za

 

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FRESH SALMON TROUT S WITH GLENELLY ESTATE RESERVE CHARDONNAY

4x 150g pieces of salmon trout fillet

20g butter

salt and pepper

Sauce:

1 small onion peeled and finely chopped

50ml red wine vinegar

50ml dry white wine

3-4 black peppercorns

150ml cream

150g butter

Vegetable julienne:

1 large carrot, pared

1 leel well washed

1 stick celery washed

butter

A few hours before, season the fish with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan, add the butter. When the butter starts foaming, sear the fish skin side-up for about 3 minutes. Remove when browned and set aside.

To make the vegetable julienne, slice the carrot, leek and celery into very fine, long strips. Gently cook the vegetables in a little butter starting with the leeks and celery, then add the carrots. When soft, remove from the heat and set aside.

To make the sauce, combine the chopped onion, wine, vinegar and peppercorns in a saucepan. Bring to boil and allow to reduce until almost no liquid is left .Add the cream and bring to boil again and pass through a fine strainer .Pour back into the saucepan. When almost ready to serve, return sauce to the heat, bring to the boil and whisk in the butter bit by bit.

Meanwhile, finish cooking the fish in an oven preheated to 180°C for 8-10 minutes.

Reheat the vegetable julienne in a pan and transfer it to a hot serving dish or individual plates, top with the fish and pour over the sauce. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

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ANATOLI: Authentic Turkish Cuisine by Tayfun Aras published by Human & Rousseau, 2018

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Just the name induces memories of exotic meals enjoyed back in the late 80’s when we had to remember to book a table, as Anatoli was usually fully booked.. Dining there inspired me to investigate this wonderful cuisine further, and when I learned  that it's regarded as one of the top five cuisines in the world, I wasn't  surprised.

 

As country-dwellers we have become more reliant on our own cooking skills, and I am often pleased that I have a little store of Turkish  recipes in my handwritten recipe books. But what a treat to get this delectable collection from the present owner of Anatoli restaurant, recipes much embellished by his life story. He enjoyed an enviable childhood in a suburb of Ankara, brought up in a house where the garden fruit trees provided dessert and his mother encouraged him, the eldest of three sons, to take an active interest in family cooking.

 

Although he has a degree in archaeology he spent time selling carpets and souvenirs in Marmaris for several years where he absorbed the seafood and wild greens diet of the locals and, after marrying and starting a family, he and Louise moved to Cape Town in the late 90’s. Here he shared his expertise of Turkish braai-ing with locals . In 2003 he bought Anatoli when it came on the market for the second time and gradually adapted the original menu by introducing a new repertoire of mezzes.

 

The author ascribes the complexity of Turkish fare to influence from the vast territories of the Ottoman Empire, which spanned areas in Europe, the Caucasus, western Asia, north Africa and the horn of that continent. He brought in Turkish apricots, spicy beef sausages, sumac, Turkish coffee, raki and other ingredients at first, but now that Cape Town is more international it is easier to find most of these in the city.

 

Tayfun’s recipes open with a description of basic and essential ingredients that home cooks should have. Mezzes follow, ranging from a simple dish of varied olives to baby marrow fritters, from Circassian chicken paté to hummus, stuffed vine leaves to fava, (broad bean puree), red pepper pesto to borani (spinach with yoghurt and sultanas), tarama to tzatziki. You will also find kofte, (meatballs with tarator sauce), shakshuka (an eggless version) and aubergine dishes.

 

Anatoli’s popular bread recipe precedes main course dishes which are sourced from all regions in Turkey, some adapted to suit local palates. Most are served with fragrant rice but bulgar pilaf makes a good alternative.                                

There are classics like Imam Bayildi,   etli dolma 9mixed vegetables filled with spiced lamb mince), lamb shanks, lamb ribs, sultans delight ( cubed lamb served on smoked aubergine puree). Chicken baked with feta combines enticing flavours, and then we move to a selection of kebabs.                                            

 

Dessert is important in Turkish cuisine, and fruit compotes, milk puddings and of course baklava and kadayfi are classic examples. I like the look of apricots stuffed with almonds and cream and cream-filled stewed quince halves.

 

The final chapter, From my Home Kitchen, presents dishes too time-consuming for restaurant inclusion. Readers will find  some appetising salads, delicious brunch choices - including halloumi cheese baked in moskonfyt! -   a mussel stew, shrimp casserole and instructions for making Turkish tea (coffee is dealt with earlier in the book). Adventurous vegetarians will find plenty to chew on in this treasury to expand their repertoires as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A treasury of wise sayings accompanies the recipes in this book which is illustrated with plenty of appetising photographs, with the fare competing with some dishes, beautifully decorated china or metal dishes. Mouthwatering in every sense of the word.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

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EAT YOUR WORDS: THE BOOK CLUB COOKBOOK by Louise Gelderblom. Published by Quivertree, 2017.

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 Clever title, great concept, and it’s sure to be another Quivertree winner. One look at the appetising cover with its cake-stand holding a featherlight pastry base filled with smoked salmon and a tangle of spring salad ingredients, and readers, cooks, and (of course) book club members will be instantly hooked.

Louise Gelderblom is a keen cook who took over from an equally accomplished mother and whose two daughters have followed in their mother’s culinary  footsteps. So this cook and voracious reader has been catering for her book club (Eat your Words) for decades and where the idea of this recipe collection was mooted.

In her introduction Gelderblom states that she has focussed on do-ahead fare that involves litte fuss, use readily obtainable ingredients and has included a good number of vegetarian options. I warmed to her immediately!

She offers further advice on planning, the advantages of quality ingredients and that only free-range eggs and humanely reared fish and poultry should be options. (What about lamb, beef and pork, I wondered, then noticed that this collection is meat-free. I think I should join that club...)

Many book clubs stay with drinks and snacks before, during or after the agenda, so the first chapter on finger snacks is welcome – with parmesan paprika biscuits taking the savoury cake! For those serving a meal, a few antipasti items make a fine start, such as hummus, marinated feta, harissa, tzatziki and frittata wedges. Informal meals of soup and bread in winter and salads in summer make another option, and the selection in  the chapter is tempting, and could inspire further ideas.

The substantial section of main course ideas varies from quiche (such a useful and variable item), several chicken dishes, fish boboties, along with other fishy bakes, and vegetarian choices like spinach and feta pie and a veggie cashew korma. All are suitable for feeding a crowd with pre-prepared ease. Side dishes precede desserts that include popular classics like crème caramel, lemon tart, melktert and baked chocolate pud. Also pavlova and frangipane tart for more ambitious bakers

Between the recipes you will find comments from book club hosts from across South Africa, describing how they operate and entertain. Some clubs follow a theme every month, others raise funds for charity, others gather for a monthly dose of bubbly and snacks and book exchanges.

There is an easy-to-consult index and the food photographs are simply styled , offering a colourful and tempting aspect so essential to books of recipes.

In retrospect it seems amazing that no one has thought of producing a local title around  book club eats before. Well, now it’s been done, very  well and in delicious style.

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The South African Milk Tart Collection by Callie Maritz & Mari-Louis Guy. Published by Human & Rousseau. 2017.

 

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 Long live the milk tart, long live! So ends the introduction to this delectable title, the sixth by sibling duo Callie and Mari-Louis. The couple is renowned for successful cookbooks, attractive styling and  cookery columns while Mari-Louis is also a judge on the popular Koekedoor television series on KykNET.

 

The very word melktert induces nostalgia for the best of Afrikaner cooking:,so much so  that few English speakers use the words ‘milk tart’. There is little else that can compete with this dessert in terms of comfort food, and right now it makes a welcome contrast to the non-stop flow of low-carb, high fat, no- sugar cookbooks that have flooded the market over the last few years. Here sugar, butter, milk, eggs and wheat flour are the basics required to  produce irresistible fare when treats are in order.

The authors open with a brief history of custard tarts, and offer a 16th century Dutch recipe which could claim to have inspired the tarts baked by the first European settlers at the Cape of Good Hope. The incomparable C. Louis Leipoldt features next with an updated version of his French-style milk tart, a deep  feuilletage crust filled with a custard flavoured with vanilla essence and a dash of brandy. Melksnysels, or milk soup, another traditional recipe – here sans sugar or egg –presents the dough on top – and the chapter includes recipes for both Voortrekker and Cape Colony pioneer melktert.

 

Classics star next, starting with “proper’ milk tart, characterised by a double frilled collar of pastry, followed by  a cardamom flavoured tart developed by the Cape Malays and the writers’ own best bake, a childhood memory where flaky leaf pastry encloses a soufflé filling. Reuben Riffel’s version combines cinnamon and nutmeg, a roux replaces the pastry in a Transvaal tarts and  peach leaves flavour one from Bloemfontein.

A chapter of tarts using a crumb base includes a coconut version with others moving away from the classic, favouring toppings such as  condensed milk meringue. Afrikaner adaptations using cans of condensed milk were developed by holiday makers in remote parts of the country. Individual milk tarts are perennial  favourite for teatime, tv time, coffee mornings and more.

The authors investigate egg custard tarts entrenched in the culinary repertoires of the UK,. USA, Europe and even  Far East, then turn to a chapter of desserts and cakes with milk tart flavour,s including vanilla cheesecake.There’s also one for Banting followers, using a coconut oil and Xylitol crust and coconut flour in the filling.

This is a very attractive hardback, with beautifully styled food photographs, as one expects these day,  finished with a comprehensive  index. A cookbook to cherish.

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It’s not only brinjals that have three names, I discovered recently, witlof can boast of four – as this intriguing head of tight creamy leaves is also known as chicory, witloof and Belgian endive.

Appropriately, we were gathered at Den Anker, that classic Belgian restaurant at b2ap3_thumbnail_Fanie-van-der-Merwe-standing_20170207-153515_1.jpgthe Waterfront, for the launch of this healthy addition to our summer diets. The media turnout was impressive, and Brian Berkman looked pleased. Farmer and producer Fanie van der Merwe of Bronaar, one of the oldest farms in the Koue Bokkeveld, was more than happy to tell us the secrets of this versatile vegetable that has been popular with northern European consumers for some 170 years.

As one of the few South African producesr, and as one who guarantees a continuous supply 12 months of the year, Farmer Fanie imports the little seeds from Holland at great expense, plants them  outside in the spring, and harvests in the autumn when the plant has developed a large tap root, similar to a parsnip. This is cleaned and refrigerated. The next stage is carried out in the dark, to avoid the development of chlorophyll. The roots are planted in soil-free hydroponics and the head of creamy leaves develops over three weeks, after which the chicons ( leaves) are harvested.

The endives are packaged 2 – 3 to a see-through bag and are available at several supermarkets.

We enjoyed a starter of tiny shrimps paired with crisp apple, shredded witlof, tomato, moistened with mayonnaise. The mix was served in a witlof or endive leaf, which makes an ideal container for any number of  summery salad ingredients – corn kernels and diced red pepper dressed with lightly chillied olive oil comes to mind. Add diced bacon if you wish.

Chef Doekie Vlietman followed with a seasonal salad geared to vegetarian palates, but enjoyed by all: He combined little balls of chevin, crumbed and deep-fried until crisp, with small wedges of fresh pear, briefly sautéed in butter. Finely chopped endive, baby lettuce and micro greens added crunch to the mixture, and crushed walnuts made a good topping. The composition was drizzled with a little honey and paired with a fruity Belgian beer.  It’s a light luncheon dish to recommend, although I will substitute fresh local pecan nuts for walnuts, (which are imported and often tired and old by the time we use them). A Belgian classic, endives wrapped in Parma ham and baked in a rich cheese sauce made the main course.

Apart from agreeable crunch, endives are delicately flavoured, with just a trace of bitterness to add interest. (The current endives seem to be less bitter than those I remember eating years ago – perhaps catering to modern tastes?) Their attributes are many and music to health- nuts’ ears: Apart from being  low in carbs, the witlof is high in fibre, and contains folate or B9, some vitamin C, and is also a source of thiamin, potassium, calcium , magnesium, vitamins B6 and C. There’s more – its both an appetite stimulant and a digestive aid.

Little wonder the Belgians call it their “white gold.”

Also easy to understand why Fanie would like all South Africans, whether health-conscious, slimmers, vegans or vegetarians, - and all those who aim to make 2017 the year they change their diets for the better – to look out for these packs of crisp goodness to relish raw, sautéed and baked. Autumn means picnic season in South Africa – and it would be difficult to find a better edible container for your finger fare.

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