Posted in Menu

Taste Café Pop-up Restaurant


Taste Café Pop-up Restaurant is open VERY SUNDAY from 11am – 3pm at 217 Soutpansberg Road, Rietondale at the venue of Laughing Chefs.

We serve a set menu of a starter, main and dessert on a weekly basis and it is something different every Sunday.

Please note that bookings are essential and can be made by visiting our Contact Page.

Google Background

Posted in Recipe, soup

Two Favourite Soups for Winter

We are going into winter in South Africa and it is my favourite time of the year, because it is soup time! And when it comes to soup, I like it chunky, Yes, the refined soups pushed through a sieve for fine dining is usually what I do when I do soups for a private clients, but for myself I like the soup to be rustic and plain rural in its structure and texture. In this post I am sharing with you two of my favourite soup recipes: Chicken & Mushroom Soup and Spicy Pumpkin & Chickpea Soup. The secret for both soups are a good stock, take your time and cook either a vegetable or chicken stock, it will make the soup so much better! Both soups are easy to make and actually very quick if you have everything prepared.


Chicken & Mushroom Soup

You’ll need:

  • 1 Whole Roasted Chicken
  • 250g White Button Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2L Chicken Stock (cook your own with the bones from the chicken)
  • 30ml Olive Oil
  • 30g Butter
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 6 Cloves
  • Freshly grated Nutmeg
  • 5ml Fine Coriander
  • 5ml Fine Cumin
  • 1 Large Boiled Potato
  • 125ml Cream
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Chives to Sprinkle
  • Taste Café Chili Dukka
  • Large Crouton
  • Butter to spread on the crouton

To make:

Take the chicken meat of the bones (keep the bones and use them to cook stock from), just use the meat, skin off for the soup and chopped the meat into bite size cubes. In a large soup pot, fry the onions and mushrooms in the oil and butter till the mushrooms and onions have a good tan to them from the heat, a little caramelisation will add flavour to the soup. Add the garlic and all the spices and fry for about 30 seconds. Add the stock and chicken and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. To thicken the soup, take the skin off the boiled potato and mash it, add some of the mash until the soup has thicken to your liking. Add the cream, salt and black pepper to taste and simmer for another 10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, butter the croutons and press it into the Chili Dukka (available from our market stall on the Pretoria Boeremark). Laddle some soup into a bowl, sprinkle with chives and place the crouton onto the soup and serve.

Spicy Pumpkin & Chickpea Soup

You’ll need:

  • 600g Iron Pumpkin, large dice
  • 2L Vegetable Stock (a good strong one)
  • 300g Chickpeas, cooked already
  • 30g Butter
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 3cm Piece Ginger, peeled and grated
  • 5cm Piece Lemon Grass, crushed
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5ml All Spice
  • 5ml Caraway Seeds, roughly crushed in a mortar & pestle
  • 5ml Taste Café Harissa Paste
  • 1 Tin Coconut Milk
  • Paninis
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Butter
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Coconut Shavings

To make:

Fry the onions in the butter till soft, add the ginger, garlic, lemon grass, nutmeg, all spice, caraway seeds and harissa paste and fry for about 1 minute. Add the stock and pumpkin and simmer until the pumpkin is soft, add the chickpeas and mash the pumpkin and chickpeas which will now start to thicken the soup. Add the coconut milk and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

While the soup is simmering, cut paninis in half, butter them and place some mozzarella cheese inside, toast them in griddle pan until the cheese starts to melt. Laddle soup in a bowl, add some coconut shaving and pumpkin seeds and serve with warm paninis.

Posted in Best Find

Market Food – Taste Café is in it!


The market scene in South Africa is busy exploding. The plethora of markets from which visitors can pick and choose are just amazing at the moment and the influence of markets on how people eat, drink and socialize is huge. When Jessica Cairns visited my stall at the Pretoria Boeremark about two years ago with this fabulous idea to do a book about the different markets and the food you can find on these markets, I was thrilled with idea and fell very privileged to be a contributor to Market Food South Africa. 

Taste Café and owner Willie Cloete is featured in Market Food  where I share a delicious recipe for Brinjals roasted with Garlic and Sumac and we would like to encourage all our clients, readers, supporters and friends to support this publication by ordering it, buying it or downloading it!

Click here for a link to a review of the book. Market Food is available from Exclusive Books, CNA and other independent bookstores. On-line stores such as Kalahari, Look, Take-a-lot and Red Pepper should also list the book shortly.

Posted in Best Find, Recipe

Must Have Cookbooks for your Kitchen

I love books! As a student I worked in Exclusive Books in Sunnypark and when there were no customers in the shop I would page through the many beautiful books and wish I could afford them all! My favourite books then were the cookbooks, something in me was always drawn to that shelf. I always wanted to be a chef even at school, but somehow life decided to make a different turn with me before I could get to being a chef. But, paging through those beautiful cookbooks, which I read like story books, just confirmed deep down for me what I want to be one day when I am all grown up.

However, I first had to make a detour through the world of teaching Public Relations and Writing for the Communications Industry. Followed by a 12 year career as a graphic designer and at that point I appreciated the design and layout more than the actual recipes. Just before my 40th birthday I went on holiday to India and in Madurai I visited and old Hindu palm reader. He foretold many things, even a career change a few months later and initially I didn’t belief a word he said, but it turned out most of what he predicted has manifested so far. The greatest of them all was the career change he showed me on my hand a few months after I turned 40.

I am turning soon 45 and the old gentleman foretold that I would take until my 45th birthday to learn my new trade and the industry. I followed short courses here and there, but time and money lacks for a long protracted chef’s course, so 90% of what I know is self taught. However, I have money for books and I go less for big names like Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson and more for what the book inside has to offer in terms of advice, useful tips as I had to learn a lot at a very late stage in my life. But what a journey it has been so far and I am not regretting one moment of it. I love using fresh and local ingredients, focusing on great and strong flavours and above all recipes had to be easy and inventive. The 10 books on my list encapsulate for me the essence of my culinary journey and I hope they will inspire you as well.

Taste Blog Cookbooks

Posted in Recipe

Chargrilled Aubergine & Sundried Tomato Soup with Mushroom Ragout

While the Northern Hemisphere prepares itself to greet a glorious summer, we in the Southern Hemisphere are ready to go into hibernation and fattening ourselves up with delicious and hearty soup recipes. This recipe takes some planning and some prep before you start, but it is well worth it and the effort will reward you will loads of flavour and a deeply satisfying soup that will soothe the mind, body and soul. Enjoy it with loads of freshly baked and toasted sourdough bread with lashings of butter – yes, you know you want it!

The bit of planning part: Next time you have a braai (the South African word for a barbecue) slice 3-4 large peeled aubergines lengthwise in 3-5mm slices – use a mandolin slicer if you have one. Paint the sliced aubergines with some olive oil and grill on a hot braai, sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper while you braai and allow them to get a good colour and some burn as well, it adds to the flavour. In a separate flat dish, mix a cup of olive oil with half a cup of a good quality balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon crushed garlic. As soon as the hot grilled aubergines comes off the flames lay it in the oil mixture. Repeat until all is done. You can store this for up to a month like that in the fridge, in fact the taste improves as it stands. Leftovers make amazing veggie sandwiches or serve with meat dishes as a side veg, delicious.


Now to make that soup:

For the Soup:

  • 6-8 Slices of the chargrilled Aubergine (if small more)
  • 125g Sundried Tomatoes (soak them in 1.5 liter hot vegetable stock for an hour and keep the water)
  • 30ml Balsamic Cream
  • 60g Cashew Nuts
  • 10ml Crushed Garlic
  • 10ml grated Ginger
  • 20g Sweet Basil Leaves
  • 60g Parmesan Cheese
  • 10ml Soft Brown Sugar
  • 10ml Smoked Pariprika
  • 65g Tomato Puree
  • 1 Medium Onion Finely Chopped
  • 20ml Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 100ml Cream as garnish
  • Chopped Chives as garnish

For the Mushroom Ragout:

  • 40g Butter
  • A mix of mushrooms: white button, shitake, enoki, oyster etc about 500g in total
  • 60g pitted black olives, roughly chopped
  • 5-6 Springs of Thyme, only the leaves

To make:

The Soup: Drain the sundried tomatoes, but keep the water this is your stock, and put all the ingredients from sundried tomatoes to 1 medium onion in a food processor and blitz it to a rough paste, add some of the stock if it is too dry. Once processed to a rough paste, heat your oil in a deep soup pot and add the tomato paste and quickly fry it for a minute or two, add the stock and aubergines and allow the soup to simmer for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

You have a choice now, you can liquidize the soup and strain it for a smooth silky soup or you can break the aubergines a little more and serve it as a rustic country-style soup – choice is yours. For myself, I leave it chunky, for clients I strain it. In the photo it is strained as it was served as a starter for a client.

The Mushroom Ragout: Slice the large mushrooms and break the others apart. Heat the butter in a large pan and first fry the olives, after the brine of the olives have cooked off, add the mushrooms and thyme and fry until most of the moisture of the mushrooms have cooked off, give them a little burn in the pan as well. This takes a good 20 minutes so be patient.

To serve:

  1. Ladle a good helping of soup in a soup bowl.
  2. Heap some of the Mushroom Ragout in the middle.
  3. Drizzle two table spoons of cream around the island of mushroom.
  4. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve with hot toasted sourdough bread.
Posted in Breakfast, Recipe

Caramelised Apricots & Pork Sausage Breakfast

Did you know that if you dream of apricots it is suppose to mean that good luck will soon follow?

Did you know that the word “apricot” means “precious” in Latin? Apricots ripen earlier than most summer fruits, making them a precious commodity every spring.

The apricot tree emerged in China more than 4,000 years ago and eventually made its way across Asia to the Mediterranean. Centuries later, Spanish explorers introduced the apricot to the New World and planted the trees all over the west coast. Today, farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley produce 95% of the apricots grown in the United States.

Whether you prefer them fresh, broiled, grilled, or poached, enjoy an apricot today in honor of the occasion! Happy National Apricot Day and here is my celebration of this humble fruit that is so delightful. It is a breakfast and very quick and easy to make and assemble. We have recently served this as a course at a breakfast that we catered for.


What you’ll need:

  • 6 Duck Eggs
  • 6 Pork Sausages (I buy mine from Laasterus Pork on the Pretoria Boeremark – go for good quality)
  • 2-3 large Aubergines to be panfried
  • 6 Slices Toasted Rye Bread
  • 50g Dolce Latte Gorgonzola
  • 12-15 Apricots, halved and kernels removed
  • 40g Demerara Sugar
  • 20g Butter
  • 100ml Balsamic Vinegar (aged 5-10 years and good quality)

To make:

  1. Start with your sausages, fry them until done, set aside. Do not slice yet.
  2. Wash and peel the aubergines, slice them thinly and fry in a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper until soft.
  3. While the sausages and aubergines are in the pan, toast the rye bread.
  4. To caramelise the apricots, put the butter in the pan, allow to melt, then sprinkle sugar over in a think layer, place apricots open side down allow the heat to caramelise the sugars. Apricots must still be firm, not soft and too soggy. Remove from pan, add the balsamic vinegar and reduce by a third. Set aside.
  5. Poach your eggs.

You are ready to assemble:

  1. Place a slice of rye in the middle of the plate.
  2. Add a heap of the fried aubergines and a poached egg on top of that.
  3. Slice the sausages at an angle, arrange on the plate with the apricots.
  4. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction and sprinkle some dolce latte around the plate, some black pepper and salt on the egg and serve.
Posted in Good Food, Recipe

Harissa & Saffron Mussels

We are back after a three week break from the kitchen, markets and any work for that matter, and it is good to be back in the kitchen again. We ended 2014 with an unexpected catering job for New Year, which was exciting as we had carte blanche from the client. The New Year kicked off on a high note when the same client asked me cook, cater and be the chef for her 50th birthday on 4 January. The challenge was that I was all alone in the kitchen, no help as my staff is still on holiday and only come on the 7th. However, I did it all on my own and we presented a delicious 3-course menu. I want to single out one of my favourite dishes for this menu, which was my Harissa Mussels cooked in Coconut Milk served with Jasmine Rice and fresh baked ciabatta. We served it as the Starter course. Be generous with your mussels, I detest it when I go out to restaurants and I have to send out a search and rescue team to find the mussels in the bowl of sauce! Make sure each guest gets at least 10-12 mussels if you serve it as a main course and 8-10 as a starter. Just a note about the Taste Café Harissa Paste – our Harissa Paste is potent, it has a sharp bite to it that lingers on the tongue, but it is rounded off by all the other wonderful herbs and spices we have blended into our paste. You can order from us, or buy from us when we are on a market near you again. A note on the wine, use a white wine that is not to sharp and sour, it detracts from the natural sweetness of the mussels. I used Place in the Sun, 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. IMG_20141231_124737 Prep Time: 30 mins | Cook Time: 15min| Recipe: Easy | Serve: 4-6 For the Rice:

  • 400g Jasmine or Basmati Rice – cooked as per instructions on the packaging

For the Mussels:

  • 700-900g Half Shell Mussels
  • 1 Tin Coconut Milk
  • 120ml Double Cream
  • 30g Butter
  • 125ml Dry White Wine
  • 4 Shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, finely shopped
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1tsp Saffron Strands
  • 1tsp Taste Café Harissa Paste
  • Salt & Black Pepper to taste
  • Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley and Spring Onions for sprinkling

To Make:

  1. Boil and prepare the rice as per instructions. Start with the rice first, once cooked it can wait while you cook the mussels.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy pot and add the chopped shallots and garlic and fry until soft over low heat. Add the saffron, lemon zest and harissa paste and fry for about 20 seconds.
  3. Add the white wine and allow the alcohol to cook off. Add the coconut milk and cream and allow to reduce by about a third before you add the mussels.
  4. Once reduced add the mussels and black pepper, put a lid on the pot and allow to steam/cook for about 8 minutes, giving it a good stir once or twice as to cover the mussels in the sauce.
  5. Once cooked, taste for salt, but be careful the mussels adds enough salt and I find that you don’t need any more salt, but this is a matter of taste.
  6. As the mussels will release their liquid into the sauce, check that your sauce isn’t too thin. If too thin, remove the mussels and reduce it, once reduced add the mussels and serve with the rice and sprinkling of chopped parsley and spring onions.