Archive | June 2011


This is not bouillabaisse, it's a snug dog who doesn't want to go out for her piddle.

It seems my friends ‘upside’ the world are very quiet. I imagine summertime has much to do with it. We down here on the bottom of the globe sit huddled over our computers, rather than venture out. Today is Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the longest day of the year. It is the shortest day in the Southern Hemisphere and I must make the most of the hours available. It is 4.26am as I type this and, on my stove, a 10-litre pot of seafood soup is bubbling in readiness for today’s lunchtime catering. Bouillabaisse, the French call it; a compound that consists of the two verbs bolhir (to boil) and abaissar (to reduce heat, i.e., simmer). Trivia from Wikipedia: Something similar to Bouillabaisse also appears in Roman mythology: it is the soup that Venus fed to Vulcan.
Anyway, my little catering business is growing steadily and it seems I shall soon have to either an assistant or, at least, outsource some of the work. Yesterday saw breakfast, lunch and afternoon cake & snacks going out in different directions, at different times, to feed 32 people.
Ah, there’s my oven-timer, the croissants are ready for breakfast …

This is not bouillabaisse, it's a dish from one of yesterday's afternoon teas.



My friend Lionel has a rapier wit, so when he said he was going to send me a cake recipe containing butter beans, I waited for the punchline. I tried the recipe yesterday and it delicious beyond a joke; more pudding than cake, I could believe how quickly it was eaten. (This is my contribution to Tandy’s current challenge to cook something sweet using spices.)

Lionel’s Super rich Butter bean and chocolate cake

5 eggs separated
1 x 90g slab dark chocolate
1 cup castor sugar + 1/3 cup caramel sugar
1/3 cup ground almonds
100g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon whisky/brandy
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa
1 small tin butterbeans
Preheat oven to 180 C

Melt butter and chocolate in bowl over boiling water with tsp coffee
Beat egg yolks and all the sugar till white and creamy
Blend butterbeans straight from tin with the brine they’re in
Pour into egg mixture
And add cocoa, spices, vanilla essence, whisky and melted butter and chocolate
Add almonds
Whip egg whites till they peak and fold into mix
Pour into cake tin lined with greaseproof paper
Bake for 45 mins or till skewer comes out clean
It’s quite wobbly as it’s super moist, so remove with care once it’s cooled down a little.
Dust with icing sugar
Serve with whipped cream.

Photograph: Milan

LIONEL BASTOS is a multiple SAMA and international award-nominated and SAMA award winning artist/singer/songwriter and producer who has written songs and produced albums for some of the top artists in South Africa and Europe including Vicky Sampson, Wendy Oldfield, Coleske, Ed Jordan, Little Sister, Andre Schwartz, Yvonne Chaka-Chaka , David Abatte, Clout, Bernie Williams, Garth Taylor, Jimmy Wagner ( Luxemburg ) , Leigh Matty of Romeo’s Daughter ( UK), Trio Rio and The Reespect ( Germany ), James Stewart , Karin Nortje ( South African IDOLS winner ) , Emmanuel Castis, ,the official 1998 SAFA FIFA World Cup CD and DSTV’s year long ad “More” to name a few.
He is recognised as one of South Africa’s most versatile and covered songwriters.
He has released four acoustic/alternative /rock CD’s as the front person of Be like water ”um…”
“Rising above the madness”
He has just released his 5th album, “hmmm…”
….but is currently very busy merely going mad.

To take a listen to Lionel, click here:



It’s too cold to type, I am shivering and my fingers are playing havoc with my keyboard. Today’s date brings up quite a lot of nice food history on the calendar:

Eat Your Vegetables Day (Isn’t beetroot ice cream and a beetroot and vodka shooter the ultimate folly?)
National Apple Streudel Day

1239 King Edward I of England was born (ruled 1272-1307). His coronation feast included 278 bacon hogs, 450 pigs, 440 oxen, 430 sheep and 22,600 hens and capons.

1862 W.H. Fancher and C.M. French patented an unusual plow/gun combination.

1870 George Cormack, the creator of Wheaties cereal, was born.

1872 George M. Hoover arrived in Dodge City. He was the second settler there, and opened the first business, a saloon of course. Whisky was 25 cents.

1903 Ruth Graves Wakefield was born. Inventor of the Toll House Cookie, the first chocolate chip cookie, at the Toll House Inn neart Whitman, Massachusetts in the 1930s.

1978 ‘Cheeseburger In Paradise’ by Jimmy Buffett peaks at #32 on the charts.

From the sublime to the ridiculous; I’m off to make 20 litres of potato salad now, catering a big lunch tomorrow.

Happy weekend, friends.


I recently started reading the lovely Sally’s blog, My Custard Pie. Yesterday, Sally gave us a peep into her kitchen and invited us to do the same. (She had come upon the idea via Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.)
I love seeing other bloggers’ kitchens and what they’re doing with ingredients. Apparently Celia does a monthly ‘In my kitchen picture post’, listing new and interesting things in her kitchen.
This is my kitchen, messier than usual as I am beginning to prep for a catering gig.

A new arrival this week; a lovely pack of Nicoletta cake decorating products to try out:
4 tubes of Glitter Writing Icing,
1 jar of Heavenly Hearts,
1 pack of Love Notes
1jar of Lilac Cake Crystals

This was my first attempt to see what the Glitter Writing Icing can do; I have much practising ahead…

Some newbies (and some oldies) on my shelf; I love NoMU products more and more. The purple tin in the foreground is my newest acquisition and I used it for our lunch. The large silver object in the background is a 1KG bag of their drinking chocolate, which I received on Tuesday. Thanks Paul and Tracy! My lucky clients are going to be so spoilt.

Back to that purple tin. We were gifted with a glorious, sunny day. Warm enough to have lunch outside, picnic style. Chicken thighs roasted with NoMU Pistachio and Sumac Dipper, crispy fried red onion and chunks of bread. Such a treat in the middle of the week.

And, do you know what? I didn’t feel at all guilty about taking a few hours away from my work …

Repeating an old observation of mine:
When you travel, you experience the glossy façade of a culture; the images on a brochure.
But …
When you blog, you get a glimpse of the flesh and blood of other cultures; you see their grocery cupboards, their hopes and dreams, you feel their very heartbeats.

P THINGS, RATHER THAN WEAPONS OF BASS DESTRUCTION tells us that on this day in 1999 Nicholas Vitalich was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend with a large tuna, outside a San Diego supermarket. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
I’ve done a Google search, but I can’t find out what Mister Vitalich’s girlfriend’s name is, or whether they got back together. Also, nobody seems to know anything about the tuna. I’m quite intrigued to know if it was alive, but I assume a frozen tuna is a more deadly weapon than a live, wriggly one?
Anyway, I don’t want to dwell too closely on tuna…
Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism, are all very good words for the lips. Charles Dickens

As is pork, Mister Dickens, particularly pork neck steaks in pinotage and pear preserve and peppercorns. Which is what we had for dinner last night. With sweet potatoes cooked in rooibos tea, mashed with salt, pepper and butter.
Rooibos tea is grown in South Africa (Western Cape) is not really a tea; it is actually a species of legume! This infusion has significant health benefits, but its benefit to the sweet potato is extraordinary; the tea colours the vegetable beautifully and heightens the inherent ginger notes.
Ah, how I wish there were leftovers!


My office in the wintertime is not a happy place. It’s on the side of the house that loses the sunlight first and in the early afternoons the temperatures drop so that it becomes colder than the proverbial witch’s wotchit.

I far prefer the kitchen and like to get the windows fuggy with steam, have the radio on and cook shamelessly indulgent food. The smell of roasting garlic and bubbling tomatoes goes someway to making the weather bearable. With a windfall of a bag of bringals (eggplant, aubergine), I made malenzane over the weekend, using Jamie Oliver’s recipe. What a feast of flavours …

Life got in the way of blogging over the past two days and, with great anxiety, I see that I have 87 blog posts to read. This caused me no amount of worry when I opened my email inbox this morning, but I have taken a step back and thought about it; blogging should cause only pleasure. Things happen and – from time to time – it’s inevitable that we will miss out on a few posts of our friends, isn’t it?
Anyhow, what I am trying to say is that it is unlikely that I can catch up, but I will try.
The year seems to be speeding by at a scary rate of knots, it seems like yesterday that we welcomed our friends who’d come to stay for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. I look at my archives and – sure enough – there is my June 14th post; a snapshot memory of a very happy time.


It’s just gone 6am in Johannesburg and it’s black as ink outside.
I’ve just tested my new ‘daylight simulator’ light. Is it obviously artificial?

“Is there anything better than butter? Think it over, any time you taste something that’s delicious beyond imagining and you say ‘what’s in this?’ the answer is always going to be butter. The day there is a meteorite rushing toward Earth and we have thirty days to live, I am going to spend it eating butter. Here is my final word on the subject, you can never have too much butter.” – Julie Powell, Julie & Julia

I’ve a feeling I may just get a bit fat this winter …