Posted in Good Food, Pestos, Recipe

Tomato, Feta & Aubergine Veggie Stack

Since my previous post on the Chickpea Cakes with the Hummus Mayo, I have been inundated with requests for more veggie recipes and more catering where I could apply my own knowledge and experience of being a vegetarian for nearly 10 years of my life. It is amazing how life prepare us for things to come in our lives. Years ago I would never have thought that being a vegetarian then would serve me so well one day in my future. Although I have started to include animal protein in my diet , I am still a great fan of the vegetarian lifestyle, however my focus have shifted from being an angry youth about the death of an animal to how the animal was treated before it became food for me. I am all for ethical treatment of animals and as a chef I feel that I should do that animal justice by preparing the life it has offered as well as I possibly could.

Having been a vegetarian I know how bare and boring the food scene can be, one of my great inspirations is chef Simon Rimmer with his take on vegetarian fine dining. Over the weekend I had to cater a small wedding where nearly half of the guests were vegetarian and I would like to share with you my veggie stack which served as their starter. The recipe is per starter.

Taste Blog Tomato Feta Stack

Prep Time: 30 mins | Cook Time: 15 min | Recipe: Very Easy | Serve: 1

You’ll need:

  • One wheel of firm feta
  • Tomato of the same size
  • Brinjal wheel of same size as feta wheel
  • Olive Oil + extra
  • Juice of ½ a Lemon
  • Sprig of Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • Salt + extra
  • Black Pepper
  • Basil Pesto (there is a recipe in the Chickpea Cakes post to follow)
  • Cashew nuts
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Toasted Ciabatta

To make:

Start with the brinjals, wash and peel them. Then slice them into 1cm thick wheels. Salt both sides and allow to stand for 5 minutes, wash the salt off. Make a basting sauce with the lemon juice, some olive oil, thyme, dijon mustard and black pepper, brush both sides of the brinjal and sear off in a pan until soft but still firm. Set aside till needed.

Now the tomatoes: Wash and slice them in about 7mm thick slices. In a very hot pan quickly sear the tomatoes in a little olive oil, again they must be seared but still firm. Set aside till needed.

The Feta: Take the wheel and slice in half, again sear off in a hot pan until both sides are light brown.

The Cashews: Roast them in a dry pan for a few minutes until golden and crunchy.

Ciabatta: Peel the garlic, cut in half and rub on both sides of the bread, drizzle with a little olive oil and toast under grill until golden and crispy.

To Assemble:

  1. Use a 5cm food ring to guide you in building the stack.
  2. Start with a brinjal layer at the bottom.
  3. The a Tomato with a little basil pesto next, wheel of feta, tomato with basil pest and end off with your second wheel of feta.
  4. Remove the ring, spring with cashews and drizzle some pesto in the plate, add the ciabatta and serve.
  5. You can serve this cold or hot as a starter or as a main course.
  6. Enjoy with a crisp and  wooded Chardonnay.




Posted in Good Food, Recipe

Cider Drunken Duck and cooking for myself…

It is very rare that I get the opportunity these days to cook for myself, being a private chef means that over weekends I usually cook for others. This past weekend I had no jobs, decided to take a long weekend for a change, and decided to cook my favourite dish for myself and my partner and friends – Slow Roasted Duck in Apple Cider with Fondant Potato, Confit Garlic and Creamed Spinach.  Every element on the plate was what I like to cook for myself and the potatoes as well as the spinach and the herbs comes from my own garden, all harvested early Sunday morning before I started to prep the individual elements.

I am not going to give all the recipes here, only the recipe for the duck. However, the fondant potatoes was first browned in duck fat and then slow baked in the oven in chicken stock for an hour, resulting in a rich and deep flavour with a waxy texture. The garlic was confited in a separate dutch oven in the oven also in duck fat to give it a rich flavour – what I like about confit garlic is that it lose most of that pungent garlic flavour, all that remains via this process is an aroma of soft garlic. We were 6 people so I baked two ducks, one duck is enough to only feed 4 people, the recipe is per duck.


Prep Time: 30 mins | Cook Time: 3 hours | Recipe: Intermediate | Serve: 4

For the Duck:

1 Whole Duck, cleaned and trimmed of excess fat

For the Marinade:

  • 1 tsp Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • 3 tsp Quince Jelly
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground dried Bird’s Eye Chilies
  • 1 tsp Dried Mint
  • 1 tsp Dried Lime Zest
  • 1 tsp Ginger Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Dried Lemon grass
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 60ml Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 40ml Lime Juice
  • 30ml Dark Sesame Oil
  • 250ml Strong Chicken Stock
  • 340ml Apple Cider (I used Savanna)
  • 2 Large Onions

To make:

  1. The day before, mix all the ingredients together, except the chicken stock, apple cider and onion. Pour over and massage into the duck and allow to marinate overnight in the fridge.
  2. The next day, preheat oven to 160°C.
  3. Peel the onions. quarter them and place at the bottom of your dish. Rest the duck on top of the onions, pour over the marinade, add the chicken stock and the apple cider, cover and bake in the oven for ±3 hours. After the first 1 hour, open and turn the duck, cover and bake for another 90 minutes. During the last half hour, remove duck from the dish and put in a separate dish with none of the liquid, set the oven on grill at 200°C and slow grill the duck until it has an overall golden colour and the skin is crispy.
  4. While the duck is in the oven grilling away, remove the onions from the sauce, drain the excess fat of, return the sauce to the pan and reduce by about 30-40%. Enjoy with friends and an ice-cold cider!
Posted in Good Food, Pestos, Recipe, Wine

Chickpea Cakes with Hummus Mayo & Three Bean Salad

Having been a vegetarian myself for over 10 years of my life, I know the frustration when you go out and all they can serve you at restaurants are crumbed mushrooms and a few slices of cheese and a lettuce leaf. I made it my mission to include as many vegetarian ideas in my menus as possible. Over 90% of all my products I take to the Pretoria Farmer’s Market on Saturdays are vegetarian. For World Vegetarian Day which was on 1 October 2013, I served a delightful lunch for 17 of my good vegetarian clients and we had such a great time, that I feel I want to share especially the easy main course dish with my readers.


You really need very little skill to make this dish and it is tasty and high in protein. Make the bean salad at least the day before as it needs to stand and marinate for all the flavours to incorporate. For the hummus you can make your own or use a quality store-bought jar or follow my recipe below. Most of the recipe you can prepare in advance and just assemble once the Chickpea cakes have been fried. Surprise your vegetarian friends next time you have them over with this tasty and very simple dish. 

Prep Time: 20 mins | Cook Time: n/a | Recipe: Very Easy | Serve: 6-10

For the Bean Salad:

  • 1 tin Chickpeas, drained & washed
  • 1 tin Red Kidney Beans, drained & washed
  • 1 tin Butter Beans, drained & washed
  • 1 small Red Onion
  • 3 Peppers (red, yellow & green), short sliced
  • 3 Jalapenos, short sliced
  • Bunch of parsley, chopped
  • Bunch of Basil, chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • Juice of one lemon + zest
  • 80-100ml Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 20 mins | Recipe: Very Easy | Serve: 6-10

For the Chickpea Cakes:

  • 3 tins Chickpeas, drained & washed
  • 10ml Cumin Powder
  • 10ml coriander Powder
  • 15ml Smoked Paprika
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 80ml Olive Oil
  • 3 Jumbo Eggs
  • 5 tbsp Flour, use a stone ground organic, like Eureka Mills in South Africa
  • Little Water to help the mixture
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Bunch of Parsley, chopped
  • Extra oil for frying

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: n/a | Recipe: Very Easy | Serve: 6

For the Mayonnaise: Follow my basic recipe here, do not add the tarragon.

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: n/a | Recipe: Very Easy | Serve: 4

For the Hummus:

  • 1 tin Chickpeas, keep the water
  • 125ml Olive Oil
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • Juice of one Lemon
  • 5ml Cumin
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: n/a | Recipe: Very Easy | Serve: 6-10

For the Basil & Spinach Pesto:

  • 100g Basil Leaves
  • 60g Spinach Leaves
  • Juice of one Lemon
  • 1 Coves Garlic
  • 100ml Olive Oil + Extra
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

To make:

Bean Salad: Chop and mince everything, add the washed beans, mix well and store in fridge until needed.

Hummus: Put everything in a food processor and process until you have a smooth paste, use the water of the chickpeas to thin it out a little.

Mayonnaise: Follow our easy recipe as given, once made, weigh out equal measures of mayonnaise and hummus to make the hummus mayo. Mix well and store in fridge until needed.

Basil & Spinach Pesto: Place all the ingredients in the coffee mill attachment of your food processor and process until well mixed and you have a runny pesto, add more oil if needed. Set aside until needed

Chickpea Cakes: Mix the drained chickpeas with all the spices and oil and fry over high heat in a pan until crispy and slightly charred on the outside. Allow to cool completely before you proceed to the next step. Once cooled, roughly mash the chickpeas with a fork, add the flour, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic and parsley and mix well. If it is too dry add a little water to the mixture, but be careful not to add too much as you will then struggle to form the cakes. Once mixed, form small cakes or patties with your hands and fry them in a hot skillet until golden on both sides, drain on paper towels and keep aside until needed.

To Plate:

Bring it all together by plating the bean salad in a separate bowl, add 2-3 chickpea cakes to the plate and nice dollop of the hummus mayo and drizzle the pesto around in the plate. Finish off with a few sprigs of chives and serve. Best enjoyed with a crisp Chenin Blanc or a nutty/heavy wooded Sauvignon Blanc.