Groot Constantia turns 333!

Groot Constantia's 333rd birthday celebration

 

Groot Constantia has long been one of my favourite spots in Cape Town, and on Friday 13 July the farm celebrated 333 years of uninterrupted wine production – quite phenomenal when you think about it! The day was marked with a special event attended by Groot Constantia trustees, staff and members of the media.

 

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The Entertainer 2018 launch

Entertainer 2018

 

You know when you are invited to a night out with the Entertainer crew you are in for a good time, and their 2018 launch earlier this month did not disappoint. Bloggers and influencers were invited to a night of food and laughter at the Cape Town Comedy Club at the V&A Waterfront to celebrate the launch of The Entertainer’s 2018 offerings and what a great evening it was!

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A Train Party

Train cake with buttercream icing and fondant.
October was a rather hectic but very exciting month here at Cupcakes and Couscous HQ. Chaos continued to reign on the home front as renovations went on (we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, hooray!), my sister visited us from the U.K (double hooray!) and we had a couple of special family birthdays – my Dad, and my youngest James who turned two. He is completely obsessed with all things train related and so it was a no brainer as to what his party theme would be. I thought that this week I would share a few snaps from the day, perhaps they will give you a few ideas if you have a train party coming up.

Platform 2 birthday crossing sign.


The decor was heavily inspired by a couple of pics I saw on good old Pinterest. There were tons of train party related pins as you can imagine, such fantastic ideas that I probably would not have thought of myself. I went for a blue and green colour scheme and chose the following ideas:
  • the snacks were served in a train. I painted disposable foil oven trays with blue and green craft paint, stuck black paper circles on the sides for wheels and strung them together with twine. I then used old cardboard boxes to make a train to go at the front (decorated in blue and green of course), lined the carriages with blue and green tissue paper and filled them up with delicious eats. 
  • a cardboard “birthday crossing” sign with paper lights underneath, and another sign that said “Platform 2”. 
  • “Thanks for chugging by” party packs displayed in an open suitcase marked “Baggage Claim”. 
  • the children played pass-the-parcel with train songs as the music. 
  • A train craft where the children could glue their own train pictures using shapes that I had pre-cut and cotton wool. (Apologies for the terrible photo!)

Food and decor ideas for a train party.


For the food I served a selection of nibbles – fruit and bran muffins, pretzels, crudités, train shaped sugar cookies, fresh fruit, cheese and train crossing biscuits made out of wafer biscuits. It looked rather sweet served up in the train carriages.


Cookie ideas for a train party.
Cookie ideas for a train party.


The main event of course, was the cake. I decided to make a simple round cake decorated with fondant cut outs and topped with a fondant train cake topper. It worked out great as I was able to make all of the fondant goodies a few days ahead of the party (less stress on the day!). I baked the cakes the day before the party, then on the morning of the big day I simply whipped up a batch of icing, iced the cake and popped all the decorations on.


How to make a fondant train cake topper.

Easy fondant train cake topper.


Here are a few more details on how I put the cake together:
  • I baked two 22cm vanilla cakes. I levelled off the bottom cake to make it easier to stack the other on on top, but I left the top one rounded to give it a “hilly” appearance. 
  • The cake was iced with a thin layer of pale blue buttercream icing. 
  • When it came to making the fondant train I referred to this easy tutorial, adding my own touches here and there. 
  • I also used fondant to make the train tracks (I used a sharp knife to score lines into them to give them a more woody look), clouds, “tunnels” with rocks around them, apple trees and hills. 
  • I finished the cake off by piping a little bit of green buttercream icing around the base to look like grass. 

Train cake.


If you have a train party planned for your little one then hopefully this has given you a bit of inspiration. If you have hosted a train party lately I would love to hear about it! 

Snacks for a train party.

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Salted caramel chocolate truffles and a food demo in Bloemfontein

Two weeks ago, after months of planning and anticipation, it was finally time to hop on a plane and fly to Bloemfontein where I had been invited to demonstrate some of my recipes to the lovely ladies of Bloemfontein Fynproewers. Exciting times! When I landed I was met at the airport by Alma, one of the committee members who took me straight to the demo venue where the other committee members were all busy in the kitchen preparing my dishes for the audience to taste the following day. I had a chance to get my bearings, check the recipes and also familiarise myself with the demonstration area. At this point the excitement and the nerves were really starting to kick in!

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Cookie Swap 4 and chocolate orange sugar hearts

Cookie Swap 4 took place on the 2nd of August, and once again it was a national event that saw cookie lovers from around the country gathering together to exchange treats, socialise and most importantly raise money for Learn to Earn and specifically their Bake For Profit students who are in dire need of more kitchen equipment to assist with their training. Do have a look at the website to see how this fantastic organisation gives people “a hand up, not a hand out”!

The Knorr Flavourful Goodness Experience

Last Thursday I was invited to attend the Knorr Flavourful Goodness Experience at the SA Chef’s Training Academy in Observatory. Food bloggers, nutritionists and members of the media were invited to “rediscover the joy of simple family cooking” along with familiar face Chef Wendy and the Unilever team.

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Radio Tygerberg Potjie Competition

When I started blogging, one of my goals – apart from sharing my favourite recipes – was to challenge myself to try new ingredients and dishes. I certainly have done that a number of times, but last Saturday I truly stepped out of my comfort zone when this English cook from the Southern Suburbs agreed to take part in a potjiekos competition in the heart of the Boland as part of the Ommiberg “Round the Rock” Festival.

It all started with a phone call from Radio Tygerberg. They had participated in the same competition in 2013, and this year two of their female DJ’s were challenging each other and taking part. The brief: to team up with morning drive DJ and singer, Rouchelle Liedemann, plan a delicious potjie recipe, prepare the potjie at the event, and most importantly – to secure bragging rights by beating the other Tygerberg team made up of afternoon drive DJ, Karien Basson and blogger Hila Jonker from Add To Taste.

The build up started the day before the competition, when I was interviewed by the morning drive team at Radio Tygerberg. This was another first for me and despite the nerves and lack of sleep the night before I really enjoyed it!  

The venue for the cook-off was Perdeberg Winery in Paarl, and I arrived on the morning of the competition to find our little spot under the tent, and a braai drum and wood ready to go! I met up with the friendly Tygerberg team and the lovely Rouchelle and immediately felt more relaxed and ready to take on the challenge! I was also surprised to find out that there were only 3 teams competing this year (far less than in previous years), but nonetheless, we still had another team to beat! The judges gave us our presentation time, and then it was time to get cooking! 

Although there do not seem to be any hard and fast rules when it comes to the flavours in a potjie pot, I wanted ours to stand out a little (in a good way of course!). I am a huge fan of Moroccan flavours so decided to try a Moroccan inspired lamb potjie with flavours of cumin, coriander and apricots. On the side we made an exotic orange salad which I thought would pair nicely with the warm spice flavours, and be a zesty, light side dish for a summer potjie. I was not disappointed – the lamb was tender and beautifully flavoured, all coated in a rich sauce. And the judges liked it too, we were awarded 2nd place in the competition, just one point behind winners Mr. and Mrs. Berry, aka “The Potberries” (love the name!). Our prize: a case of wine, Simply Asia meal vouchers (hello date night) and a bright, shiny medal. (Oh… and those bragging rights.) Most importantly though, it was a fun and relaxed day filled with delicious food and new friends. Definitely not a bad way to spend a Saturday – thanks for having me Radio Tygerberg! 
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MOROCCAN INSPIRED LAMB POTJIE 

with ORANGE SALAD

Makes 6-8 servings


1/2 cup cake flour
Small handful of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Large pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp cumin
8 lamb neck pieces
large freezer bag to toss the meat
250g dried apricots
water for soaking
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
2 green chillies finely chopped  
1 large white onion, chopped 
4 large sweet potatoes
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
500ml red wine
500g butternut chunks
8 patty pans, quartered
2 litres good quality lamb stock
1 x 250g pack mushrooms, quartered
Fresh coriander to serve
Orange salad:
2 small gem lettuces
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp castor sugar
2 oranges, segmented
2 carrots, finely grated
50g flaked almonds 
small handful of fresh mint leaves to serve
Step 1.) Combine the flour, rosemary, salt, black pepper, turmeric, paprika and cumin and mix well. Place the lamb pieces in a large freezer bag and add the flour mix. Toss the bag to ensure that each piece of lamb is well coated with flour.

Step 2.) Place the dried apricots in a small bowl and add enough water to cover. Set aside to soak.
Step 3.) Add the vegetable oil to your hot potjie pot. Add the garlic paste, ginger paste and chillies and sauté for a minute. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until glossy and starting to soften. Add the lamb pieces as well as any excess flour mix and brown for 10 minutes. 
Step 4.) While the meat is browning, peel the sweet potatoes and cut into large, bite-size chunks. Pack the meat into a layer, then place the potato in a layer on top. Pour the tinned tomatoes over the top followed by the red wine. Close the lid and allow to simmer for 45 minutes.
Step 5.) Add the butternut and patty pans to the pot in a layer. Add the hot lamb stock, then replace the lid and continue simmering for 1 1/2 hours. You can check periodically to make sure that the liquid is not reducing too much, but I found that this amount was plenty!
Step 6.) Drain the apricots and squeeze out any excess water. Add these to the pot along with the mushrooms. Check the level of liquid again and adjust the seasoning if required. Simmer for a further 20 minutes while you prepare the salad (see below). 
 
Step 7.) Dish the lamb potjie onto plates and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve with fresh orange salad. (Note that the sauce will thicken on standing.)
To make the salad: separate the gem lettuce leaves, rinse and pile onto a platter. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil and castor sugar in a bowl. Add the orange segments and toss. Pop the orange segments on top of the lettuce leaves with the grated carrot. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top and top with fresh mint leaves.