Chocolate buckwheat crêpes and a chat with Sarah Graham

Sugar free pancake recipe.

 

I have a special treat for you today as not only am I sharing a new recipe but we are also chatting to fabulous local foodie Sarah Graham! A born and bred Zimbabwean now living in Joburg Sarah started a food blog in 2010 which launched her into the food world’s limelight, but her foodie journey started long before that (more about that in the interview!).

 

Continue reading “Chocolate buckwheat crêpes and a chat with Sarah Graham”

Top Deck tea biscuits and a visit to RSG

In my last post I wrote about the blog turning two and how grateful I am for the opportunities I have had on this journey so far – well it wasn’t a day later when another one came along. Two years ago I could not have imagined that I would be chatting biscuits with a foodie legend on her radio show! Tomorrow morning I will be joining the wonderful Nina Timm on RSG to do just that.

Continue reading “Top Deck tea biscuits and a visit to RSG”

Triple lemon iced sticky buns and a chat with Jessica Creed

I love to connect with other food bloggers and have made some wonderful new foodie friends since I began Cupcakes and Couscous. I am super excited about today’s post which not only has a deee-licious recipe for you to try but also my first international interview! Today I am chatting to baking extraordinaire and Nutella lover, Jessica Creed who is based in the U.K. and blogs over at What Jessica Baked Next

Continue reading “Triple lemon iced sticky buns and a chat with Jessica Creed”

Honey Roasted Nectarine & Lavender Ice Cream … and a chat with Hein van Tonder


Cape Town is home to a thriving community of food bloggers, and I am constantly impressed by the work published by us folk down here at the tip of Africa. One of these local talents is Hein Van Tonder, who blogs over at Heinstirred.



I first came across Heinstirred last year after the 2013 South African National Cookie Swap. Following the event, the organiser (Ishay from Food And The Fabulous) posted a round up of some of the recipes from the day, including a recipe called Cowboy Cookies. Intrigued, I clicked on the link only to discover Hein’s delightful blog… I have been drooling ever since!




I love the range of the recipes on the site, the kind of recipes that I like to cook at home. Have a look at Hein’s twist on two of my all time favourite dishes: Celebration Chicken Pie and Lemon Meringue – oh my! This week I find out a little more about Hein, the man behind the scenes, and he shares one of his luscious ice cream recipes. Temperatures have been soaring in Cape Town, and I couldn’t think of anything better to enjoy in this weather! I have also been meaning to make home made ice cream all summer so this post seemed like the perfect excuse for a well overdue go at the old gelato.


Meet Hein, gourmet hunter and ice cream maker extraordinaire

If you have an ice cream maker that is ideal, but do not despair if you don’t have one! I allowed the mixture to cool slightly before tipping into a container and popping it in the freezer. I used a stick blender (a sturdy whisk and some muscle power is just as good) to churn the mixture at regular intervals as it froze. Keep an eye on the mixture and as you see it starting to freeze around the edges give it a good whisk. A bit more work, but the ice cream was super creamy – result! 




You can follow Hein on Twitter: @heinstirred . Tell him I said “Hi!”.

1.) Congratulations on a beautiful blog! Why did you decide to start “Heinstirred” in 2012? 

Thank you so much Teresa!  I’ve been searching for a creative outlet for quite some time. I really enjoyed photography and in the last few years became quite interested in the art of food styling and had a number of food blogs I’d usually visit. So it was born out of all those things.
The initial photographs are terrible and it also took a while to get comfortable writing recipes. I lacked quite a bit of confidence and then did a workshop with Russel Wasserfall and Sam Linsell to gain more of an understanding of food photography and styling. And after that I made a commitment to myself to keep practising and do at least one post a week.

2.) Going back a little bit, when did you first discover your passion for cooking? What was it that sparked your love for food?

I am sure I was born really hungry and with a desire to make food. There are some very embarrassing home movies of me as a podgy toddler happily eating spoonful after spoonful of pumpkin (which is still one of my favourite vegetables). I loved cooking from a young age and was lucky that my mom always allowed me in the kitchen.

3.) What have been the highlights of blogging so far? 

That people actually like what I am doing! And everyone I’ve been in contact with has been so kind and generous.  It takes a lot more courage (and dishes to be washed!) than I thought to put something out there but when you get a message from a complete stranger who loves what you do it is really magic. Oh, and seeing my recipes and photos on Food24.com (thank you Caro!)

4.) Tell us a bit about your creative process, where do you get your inspiration when creating a new dish?

It usually starts with what I want to photograph and then fit that in with whatever time of year we find ourselves in.  As I look at other blogs, pinterest and recipe books etc I make a list of things that I’d like to do for the blog (and what I want to eat). I then play with the idea in my head for a while, write a basic recipe, make the dish, write a more detailed recipe as I make it, style it and photograph it. It’s usually a one day exercise from beginning to downloading the pics. I then don’t look at the pics for a week and only do some editing then.
  
5.) I love the variety of recipes on your blog – everything from healthy salads to meat to decadent sweet treats. If you had to pick a favourite though do you prefer preparing sweet or savoury dishes? 

Sweet! Without a doubt. I do try to make the sweet dishes really special and have rediscovered my love for baking through the blog.

6.) If I was to peek inside your kitchen cupboards what are some of the ingredients I would always be likely to find? What are your kitchen essentials? 

Olive oil. Vanilla extract. Ground almonds. A bottle of home made Bahārāt spice mix (which is my new favourite thing and goes on or in everything at the moment). A few bottles of chilli jam which I make once a year. There has to be an emergency bottle of bubbly in the fridge. And ice cream.

7.) Your food photographs are quite simply mouth-watering, and have been published on popular food sites like foodgawker and TasteSpotting. Do you spend a lot of time searching for props and composing the perfect shot?

Thank you – that is so nice to hear.  Those sites are a bit of a necessary evil aren’t they – I wonder sometimes how much hate mail they get!
I usually have a good idea of the composition once I have decided what I will be making and lately the ideas seem to work! I also try to vary the composition and feel as much as possible from one post to the next and to just enjoy the process. If I get stressed that it is not working the way I thought it would I just remind myself that essentially I am doing it for me. Nobody is paying so just relax.
I have slowly been building up a prop collection. Flea markets and home stores are some of my least favourite places but will usually make a flying visit to Milnerton Market and see if something catches my eye. And I will browse home stores once in a while to see what they have. I do try not to spend too much money on it. I’ve had some background boards made which is very handy and have now started playing with fabric to soften my photos a bit.

8.) Tell us about some of your favourite foodie spots in and around Cape Town.

I love Orinoco on Bree Street. Overture is my favourite fine dining spot. De Grendel is a favourite as well. I am addicted to ice cream so it is always nice to see what The Creamery gets up to. I must admit that I have not done the markets for a while but The Palms is a relaxed favourite. I will hit Neighbourgoods very early on a Saturday to get some bread from Woodstock Bakery, a scoop from The Creamery and then get out of there!

9.) Describe a typical day in the life of Hein.

Ha! Incredibly boring! I work from home so in the office at 7am and usually go to gym around 9. Then it is back in the office. And work is interspersed with quite a bit of time on Twitter (!) One day a week is set aside for a new post on the blog and I then do cook, style and photograph a whole post. 

10.) And finally, do you have any parting words for aspiring cooks out there?
Eat! Taste! Cook! If it flops you can either cover it in a white sauce and make a pie, or make trifle.  



Without further ado, let’s get onto the all important ice cream. You can the find original recipe and Hein’s inspiration by clicking here.


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HONEY ROASTED NECTARINE & LAVENDER ICE-CREAM 
By Hein van Tonder


4 nectarines / peaches

8 tsp honey
250ml whipping cream
375ml milk
1 tin (385g) condensed milk
15 lavender leaves
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp honey
pinch of salt

Step 1.) Preheat your oven to 200°C. Halve and stone the nectarines. Add a teaspoon of honey to each nectarine cavity. Roast for 30 minutes and the set aside to cool. Blitz in a food processor – not too much so that you still have small pieces of nectarine in the ice cream. 

Step 2.) Place the cream, milk, 3/4 of the condensed milk, lavender leaves and vanilla extract in a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Turn off the heat. 

Step 3.) Whisk the egg yolks and remaining condensed milk together until pale and thick. Add a ladle of the cream mixture (avoid adding the lavender leaves) to the egg and whisk well. Add another two ladles of cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking well between each addition. 

Step 4.) Whisk the egg mixture back into the remaining cream mixture in the saucepan, and stir over a low heat for approximately 15 minutes, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil. 

Step 5.) Pour the mixture through a sieve to remove the lavender leaves which you can discard. Add the processed nectarines, a tablespoon of honey and salt. Mix well and leave to cool for at least 6 hours. Churn in an ice cream machine as per manufacturers instructions. 

Double Chocolate Brownies & a chat with Sam Taylor

In a perfect world I would have hours and hours of free time to spend reading through food blogs. I love discovering a beautiful blog, getting inspired by the recipes and images, and finding out a little bit more about the author. I first came across Pomegranate Days a few months ago, around about the time I started Cupcakes & Couscous. I was immediately drawn in by the friendly tone of the writing, the stunning images and mouth-watering recipes. I knew I had found a gem.

Everybody, meet Sam! 

Samantha Taylor is the talented lady behind Pomegranate Days, which recently celebrated its first birthday (I believe this is called a blogversary, fun fact!). Her writing style is both personal and entertaining, and I do love reading blogs that make me smile. I’ve gotten to know Sam a bit better over the past few months as we were both contestants in the Freshly Blogged competition. Week after week Sam displayed her culinary skill and creative talents which, in the end, earned her the title of S.A’s Top Blogger, and deservedly so!

Today this fabulous food blogger from Paarl tells us a bit more about her cooking, inspirations and shares one of her sumptuous recipes with us. Do have a look at Sam’s lovely blog, you can also follow her on Twitter: @pomegranatedays .


Sam, I have to ask first of all – what inspired the name “Pomegranate Days”?

In Song of Songs our emotions are depicted by the beautiful pomegranate fruit. I often find it hard to detangle the food I love and want to eat at any given time with the emotions I may be feeling at that point. Food feeds the body but how much more can a lovingly prepared meal can feed the soul? Calling the blog Pomegranate Days is a small reminder to myself to be true.

Congratulations on winning the Freshly Blogged competition – a huge achievement! Tell us about the dishes you made at the final cook-off.

I love a good steak sandwich and the baguette in the mystery basket was too fresh to resist so with it I made a seared steak bruschetta with caramelised onions, pea sprouts and a red wine reduction. I needed something to set my bruschetta apart and I think the sauce was just the thing. I do have a sweet tooth so it is really no surprise that I made a dessert which was a pear and chocolate spring roll, dusted with cinnamon sugar which I served with a caramel sauce.
What was it like cooking in front of the cameras a live audience? Tell us about your experience.

It was nerve wracking. I think I aged at least ten years due to stress. Once my pots and pans were on the go, I hit my cooking stride, forgot about the cameras and all the people and just tried to get some dishes up in thirty minutes. It was over in a second.

Let’s go back to the beginning now. What was it that originally sparked your interest in food?

Chocolate cake. When I was at school I used to bake chocolate cakes to sell whenever we needed to raise funds to go on basketball tour. I loved making an enormous cake that made people half want to tuck in and half want to faint. I knew early on that I wanted a life around food, I never thought I would be an actual chef though!

Do you ever miss your days as a chef working in a fast-paced kitchen environment?

Working a fast paced kitchen is something that gets into your blood. When you join a kitchen, you join a family albeit a loud and noisy hard as nails one. I loved every minute of working, never wanted to do anything else. I do however love the normality of life after all those crazy long shifts and working Christmas and New Year and Sundays. I have very fond memories of that life, but I don’t miss it enough to go back.

Why did you decide to start Pomegranate Days in 2012?

I had been reading food blogs for about two years, harping on about my ambition to write one of my own. My husband gave me a laptop for my birthday, a less than subtle hint to get writing. I don’t know what happened that day in August; I guess I just started writing.

When it comes to developing new recipes do you prefer savoury dishes or sweet treats?

I will always choose sweet over savoury despite the havoc it wrecks on my figure.

What inspires you most when you’re in the kitchen whipping up a new dish?

I read every food related article, blog, magazine and cookbook I can possibly have time for. I often try to recreate things I have read or seen or maybe had before. Sometimes I am inspired by a whole dish or even just a single part of a dish. Inspiration, as we saw in this competition can come from the most unusual places and I try to leave myself open to discover them.

How would you describe your style of cooking?

Laid back and easy.

Tell us about the kind of food you cook at home for your family.

We eat exactly the type of food you see on the blog. Yesterday we ate slow roasted pork belly with steamed fennel with a star anise-orange kind of sauce, and for dessert we had ice cream with a peach butter topping. Tonight we are eating cheesy fish, which is fresh hake fillets baked in a cheese sauce. Lovers of food live here.

There are hundreds of thousands (millions?) of food blogs out there. What do you look for in a good food blog and how do you pick your favourites?

I love a blog that makes me laugh and makes me want to eat something. Two of my all-time favourites in this category are Top with Cinnamon and The Pioneer Woman. That being said, I like to follow South African bloggers too especially the greats like Drizzle and Drip and Simply Delicious. It is wonderful that we don’t have to look abroad for inspiration.I don’t read the same books all the time and I don’t read the same blogs all the time either.  I love discovering a new blog and can get quite obsessed with it for days on end while I read through the archives. I love BlogLovin’ and am constantly adding to my feed.

What is your favourite dish to make or eat at the moment?

I am constantly making apple pie these days – I know it is so random.

What is the one kitchen tool you can’t live without?

I use the same Wusthof knife I have had for fifteen years. It’s like a trusty friend. (That and my Kitchen Aid, but you did say one)

And finally, if you could have dinner with any celebrity chef in the world, who would it be?

I have such a food crush on Bill Granger, I would have to choose him!

Here now is Sam’s recipe for out-of-this-world double chocolate brownies! But don’t just take my word for it…. 

What does a girl have to do to get a brownie around here?! 


A few notes on the recipe – I decided to halve the recipe below and baked them in a 28cm x 19cm mini roasting pan. I got 24 nice fat brownies out of one tray. I also omitted the cranberries and added half a cup of roughly chopped pecans instead – they were delicious! You’ll also find the recipe on Sam’s blog here.

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DOUBLE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES 

by Sam Taylor
Makes 24 brownies




370g butter
370g dark chocolate, broken
6 large eggs
750ml sugar
320ml flour
250ml cocoa 
300g white chocolate, chopped
100g dried cranberries
Step 1.) Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line and grease a 26cm x 36cm roasting pan. 

Step 2.) Melt the butter and dark chocolate in a saucepan over a very low heat. Gently whisk and cool . 

Step 3.) Use an electric mixer to beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the cooled melted chocolate mixture. 

Step 4.) Sift the flour and cocoa over the mix, then fold in by hand. Fold in the white chocolate and cranberries

Step 5.) Scrape the mixture into your prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until set. The brownies should have a crisp crust and moist centre. Keep an eye on them towards the end of the baking time so as not to overbake them! 

Sam’s serving suggestion: Warm the brownies slightly and serve with home made vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce for a dinner party dessert.