Posted in Good Food, Recipe

Trout with Fennel Purèe

Taste Blog Trout and Fennel

One of the satisfying aspects of my jobs is being a private chef – I love the freedom clients afford you and also the total appreciation of private clients for what you do and how you do it. During the process of being a private chef for a client, you bring them into a whole new world of how things work, what can and cannot be done and they as a result get a new understanding behind the intricate process of deciding what will work and what will be a disaster on the plate. I had a private lunch lined up for 28 July and it is a 4-course lunch with wine pairing for 10 guests and the client wanted two courses with a white wine and two with a red wine. The last two weeks it was the one meeting between the client and myself and on three of the courses we agreed 100%, but the fish course remained a headache for me. I knew I wanted to use trout as we live about 150km from the most amazing trout farms in Dullstroom and Belfast, client wanted something from the sea (which is more than 700km away) and we just couldn’t reach consensus. Until Conor Bofin of One Man’s Meat blog’s published his Fennel and Garlic Purèe recipe earlier this week and well the creative juices started to flow…

My vegetable garden is bursting with new life at the moment, there are peas with no pods yet, but the most amazing sweet shoots, young tender leaf baby spinach and the young leaves of Chinese Kale, fresh garlic from the ground and crunchy watercress, all waiting to be the salad that will go with this fennel purèe and trout. So during the week I called my client and explained the dish to her, eventually cooking it for her to convince her and yes we had a total winner this afternoon during the lunch. In due time I’ll publish some of the other recipes mentioned in this menu, but for this post I am concentrating on the fish course and here is the full menu for the lunch:

First Course: Starter

Grilled Duck liver basted in a hoisin sauce with grilled Quails Breast with Aubergine Caviar and Orange Vinaigrette accompanied by 2010 Slanghoek Crème de Chenin.

Second Course: Fish

Recipe given here and illustrated. Dullstroom Trout with Fennel Purèe, Garden Salad with Watercress Oil accompanied by 2009 Plaisir de Merle Sauvignon Blanc.

Third Course: Meat

Five Spice Rubbed Pork Belly with Pear & Vanilla Purèe, Grilled Apples & Tender Stem Broccoli & Cider Sauce accompanied by 2007 Indalo Cabernet Sauvignon.

Fourth Course: Dessert

Soft Prune Tart Tatin with liquorice Ice Cream & Dark Berry Compote accompanied by 2009 Beyerskloof Lagare.

Summer on a Plate:

However the recipe I want to share with you and the dish that really got everybody talking was the Fish Course. I made some changes to Conor’s Fennel Purèe, but the essence remains. The recipe is enough to serve 10-12 people:

Fennel Purèe Ingredients:

  • 4 Large Fennel Bulbs, chopped
  • 2 Medium Potatoes, chopped into medium dice (you need it to give stability)
  • 1-2 Carlic Cloves
  • 100ml Cream
  • 1.5 L Light Vegetable Stock
  • 50g Butter (or more)
  • Salt
  • White Pepper

For the Watercress Oil:

  • 100g Watercress
  • 100ml Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • White Pepper
  • 10ml Smooth Dijon
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • Salt to taste
  • White Pepper to taste

For the Salad:

  • I have picked the following leaves from my garden:
  • Baby Spinach
  • Baby Chinese Kale
  • Young Pea Shoots
  • Young Fennel Shoots
  • 6 Baby Spring Onions
  • 6 Ripe Avocados
  • 6 Limes

For the Trout:

  • 10-12 Trout Fillets, cut into neat squares
  • Little Olive Oil
  • Course Salt


Fennel Purèe: Bring the vegetable stock with half the cream to a boil. Once boiling add the potatoes and boil until they become soft, then add the fennel and garlic and boil until they are soft. Remove from the liquid, but keep it as you’ll poached your fish in it. Place the boiled fennel, garlic and potatoes into a blender with seasoning, other half of the cream and butter and blend until smooth. Press through a sieve to get a smooth purèe and add more butter at this stages to add to the silky look of the purèe. Set aside and keep warm.

Watercress Oil: Add all the ingredients in a blender and blend until well mixed and the watercress is broken and the oil starts to colour green. Drain through a fine sieve and place the oil in a dripping bottle.

Greens for the Salad: Wash them well and keep refresh in cold water. Minutes before serving dress lightly with a little olive oil only.

Trout: Trim your trout, remove any bones and poach for three to four minutes, depending on thickness, in the cooking fluid of the fennel. Remove and carefully peel the skin off. Once skin is removed return the trout to the warm poaching liquid and set aside to rest in the liquid. Warm the olive oil in a pan, salt the skins well and crisp them up in the hot pan.

To Plate: 

  1. Spoon and draw a spoonful of the fennel purèe from one corner of the plate to the other.
  2. Place the scooped out avo opposite the purèe.
  3. Add the salad leaves on one side of the purèe and the two lime slices on the other side.
  4. Place your trout between the purèe and the avo.
  5. Drizzle with the watercress oil.
  6. Wedge the crispy skin into the trout and serve.

Taste Blog Trout and Fennel2

Posted in Recipe

Beef Short Rib braised in Stout

taste blog beef rib

I don’t know what it is about a Stout or Guinness, but that dark gloomy bottom with that beautiful pearl-like head is just so irresistible and it makes a great braising liquid for beef I have discovered a year or so ago. Since then I have experimented many times with this recipe and this is finally the end result with which I am sure many of you will be happy. We are nearing the end of winter in SA, but there is still enough chill to the air to cook it before spring arrive. And for my many European readers, safe this one for winter it is so comforting and it feeds not only the body, but the soul as well.

As per usual, please ensure that you use good ingredients, try to get the best beef you can, fresh beans and fresh garlic. I was very fortunate to have an excellent yield of garlic this season. I have added the garlic cloves whole with skins and all, the skins were so soft after lifting them from the ground that I felt I want to add the whole piece of garlic into the pot and it was worthwhile. Fresh garlic is not as pungent as older garlic, the aromas are still soft and well-rounded so you can add a little more, if you use older store-bought garlic you can use less. I served it with a side of baked butternut and a fresh loaf of home-baked bread, it was a feast!

You’ll need:

  • 1.5-2kg of Beef Short Rib
  • 40ml Olive Oil (or more)
  • 340ml Castle Stout (in SA it is one bottle)
  • One large Onion
  • 10 Garlic Cloves (half if you use bought ones)
  • 400g Fresh Beans
  • 1 Can Butter Beans
  • 130g Tomato Purèe
  • Sprig Rosemary
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Fine Cumin
  • 1 tsp Fine Ginger
  • 1 tsp Mixed Spice
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Coarse Black Pepper
  • ¼ tsp Nutmeg
  • 1½ tsp Soft Brown Sugar
  • 2 Star Anis
  • 1 Stick Cinnamon

To make:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 150°C.
  2. In a large Dutch Oven, brown the meat over high heat in the olive oil, remove and set aside. Fry the onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft over a low heat. Once soft add all your spices and fry for 30 seconds, be careful not to burn the spices. Add the can of Stout, the meat, sugar, tomato purèe, rosemary and the beans. Remove from the hob and put the lid on and bake in oven for 2-3 hours until meat is soft and the liquids have reduced.
  3. I like to serve it with a hefty Pinotage.







Posted in Good Food, Recipe

Slow Roasted Chicken in Apple Cider

taste blog chick in cider

Chicken is one of the more versatile meats and perhaps this explains its unrelenting popularity. Traditionally, the bird is roasted and served with a variety of vegetables and roast potatoes. I love chicken since it adopts other flavours so well and also for its ability to retain its own flavour, especially if you have a good quality free range bird that was given enough natural time to grow and develop.

There is nothing more off putting and repulsive than those scrawny looking birds that adorn the shelves of many supermarkets in SA. I can recommend a few chicken farmers on the Pretoria Boeremark and if you are at the market on a Saturday, please come and ask, I’ll direct you to some very tasty birds.

In this recipe I used sundried olives from the Prince Albert region in South Africa, these olives are plump and full of a natural fruity flavour. Prince Albert is in the Karoo, a very dry and hot part of SA and I felt that the olives would resonate well with a dry cider and some white beans to help balance all the flavours in the pot.

Please note: Your chicken should reach 75°C in the thickest part of the leg. You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead. And I know 90°C for the oven heat sounds too low, but it is worthwhile cooking it this low.


  • 1.5–2kg Chicken Legs (it about 6-8 legs)
  • 6% brine (300g salt dissolved in 5 litres of water)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for rubbing into the skin
  • 125ml Dry Cider (I used Savanna Dry)
  • 100g Sundried Olves
  • 1 Tin White Butter Beans

For the gravy (optional)
30ml Dry Cider
250ml chicken stock
1 tsp Dijon mustard


Brining time: overnight
Resting time: 45 minutes

  1. Prepare and trim the legs and then place them in a clean container. Pour over the brine ensuring that the chicken is submerged then cover the container with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
  2. Remove the chicken from the liquid the next morning and dry well with kitchen paper.
  3. Preheat the oven to 90ºC and use a free standing oven thermometer to ensure that your oven remain constant.
  4. Tear off the thyme leaves and mix it with the butter and the juice of the lemon and rub each leg in the butter mixture ensuring that you push some under the skin.
  5. Place the chicken in a roasting tray, add the cider, olives and butter beans and place in the oven. Roast the chicken uncovered until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the leg is 75°C. This will take about 2-3 hours.
  6. Remove the chicken, olives and butter beans  from the oven and allow to rest for 45 minutes. Turn the oven temperature as high as it will go.
  7. Once the resting time has elapsed, put only the chicken back in the roasting tray and return it to the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown, taking care that it doesn’t burn.
  8. Once coloured, remove the chicken from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Rest for another 10 minutes before serving.
  9. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper

If making the gravy…

  1. When the chicken has been browned and removed from the roasting tray, place the tray containing the juices on the hob over a medium-high heat. Add the Cider and scrape and stir to deglaze the pan. Add the chicken stock and cook until reduced to a sauce. Strain into a small saucepan.
  2. Before serving, stir in the mustard and warm through.
  3. I served this chicken with polenta, baked potatoes and carrots.