Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Last week Wednesday was again family dinner evening - the first family dinner again at our home after my knee operation. 

I made a butternut soup and decided to share it with you as this is in my meaning the best butternut soup that I have tasted.  I found the recipe recently in a magazine - it is the recipe of a chef, Quinton Van Rensburg,  who is the resident chef at Samara Karoo Lodge in the Cape Province in South Africa. I made an adjustment by adding cream and then he serves it with a spinach salad on the soup which I have not yet tried.

Butternut soup 

25 g unsalted butter
1 onion - finely chopped
10 ml coriander - roasted and finely minced
700 g butternut - cut in small cubes
1,5 litre chicken stock (I used vegetable stock)
salt to taste
freshly grinded black pepper to taste
125 ml fresh cream

Melt butter in a large pot.
Add onions and fry for 5 minutes until soft 
Add coriander and butternut and fry for 2 minutes
Add chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to boiling point and cook for 15 minutes until soft 
Blend soup in a blender until smooth.  
Put into pot again and heat again.  Take off stove and add cream and stir through.
Serve with a swirl of cream.

Delicious hot or cold.

We all love lasagne and I have my own lasagne recipe that I have always used,  but after tasting Jamie Oliver's lasagne at his Italian Restaurant I decided to try his baked lasagne recipe ............ what a difference.  Defnitely worth trying as the taste is out of this world!  Recipe can be found on his website :
Please just don't make the same mistake I made - by the time I put the lasagne together in the dish, I was so exhausted and with so much pain in my knee that I clean forgot about the most important part namely the lasagne sheets.  But .......... even without the sheets it was very tasty. The small leftover was served on toast the following day and was very good.  I will defnitely use the meatportion of the recipe when making savoury mince in future.

The lasagne was served with a green salad, gemsquash and cooked corn (the corn is specifically for the grand children who loves corn).

For dessert I made fresh peaches cooked in a vanilla syrup and served with ice cream.  


8 fresh peaches - halved and peeled
750 ml water
75 ml honey
45ml sugar
1 vanilla pod
50g pistacio nuts - chopped

Bring to boil the water, honey, sugar and vanilla pod.
Simmer for 5 minutes covered with a lid.
Add the peaches and simmer until soft - about 10-15 minutes.
Put peaches in a glass dish.
Boil syrup until thick and half the volume.
Cool down.  Can be left in fridge overnight as it tastes even better after a day.
Serve with ice cream and chopped nuts.

Thanks for stoping by on my blog.  Until next time - hope you have a blessed week. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009


"Potjiekos"(poy-kee-kos) (directly translated as pot food) is a traditional stew made in South African in black three-legged cast iron pots on open-fires in the outdoors.  

(The above beautiful photo found on a South African lodge website -

Making "potjiekos" come from long ago, from the veld, from the times of the Great Trek in South Africa.  Even in those times it became a unique culinary art using whatever was available whilst in the veld and far from civilisation.  It is a meal in a pot.  

Ingredients: Anything goes.  Traditionally a variation of potjies, such as : venison, poultry, seafood, lamb, beef, green bean, pumpkin, tomato, quince etc, etc, etc.  No rules, no specific ingredients, but up to the "potjie"-chef to prepare the best, most unusual and the most tasty result.

Today it has become a traditional outdoor social event - never made on your own, but made together with friends and family and never in a hurry.  "Potjiekos" is an event of being together, laughing together - trying out new recipes, competing with each other to see who can make the best ever "potjie".  A truly South African culinary event. 

A "potjie" or a few "potjies" of all sizes and shapes are always part of any 4x4 adventure, camping adventure of holiday or when going on a bush holiday. In these pots main meals are prepared, breads baked, deserts made, traditional "mieliepap" made ( a porridge made from maize), breakfast made, actually anything you can think of.  I remember my husband complaining on one of our first trips to the bush about this heavy pot that we have to take with - at the end of the holiday it was number one on his list for future outdoor adventures.  
Even my UK son-in-law bought a "potjie" for them during their last visit to South Africa - and went home with a recipe book as well. Waiting for the UK summer to hear about their "potjiekos" meals!

Pots are available in many sizes - all depending on the amount of people you have to feed. 

In a previous blog pictures were included of the "potjies" without legs - flat bottomed, which is usually used for baking bread.

"Potjiekos" competitions is big in South Africa and annually many competitions are held at festivals, school bazaars or at camping resorts during the popular holiday periods. Every family are sure that their recipe is the best!!
I also had quite an experience some years ago at a school "potjiekos"-competition.  My lamb "potjiekos" recipe I believed was the best ever - all my friends and family believed that my "potjie" will win.  My son and elder daughter decided to enter as well, but only with a very small pot.  They asked for my recipe and believing that they will never be able to prepare a better meal than me, I gave them the recipe.. and guess what happened??  They won and I had to be satisfied with second price!

There are many recipes and quite a few recipe books, but usually the recipes are traditional family recipes passed on from one generation to the other and usually each generation changes the recipes a bit and try to improve on the recipes.  

My special recipe: - LAMB POTJIEKOS with DUMPLINGS.
(Serves : 6 - 8)

1,7 kg Lamb shanks or combination of lamb shanks and lamb neck
2 large onions - sliced
1 green pepper - chopped
2 tomatoes - peeled and finely chopped
250g peeled small baby carrots
250g fresh button mushrooms
250g fresh green beans - sliced / broccoli / baby marrows sliced
700 g baby potatoes (do not peel)
2x large potatoes - peeled and cubed

350ml white wine mixed with equal portion of water

2 teaspoons fresh origanum 
salt and pepper to taste
3 bay leaves
Crushed garlic to taste

2 cups of cooked rice

Size 3 or 4 potjie
A few bricks to lift the potjie

Hints for the best ever potjie:  
- a big warm fire
- a good bottle of South African wine for those preparing the potjie - a good potjie can take quite a few hours to prepare
- cast iron maximum temperature mitts - to handle the warm lid
- wooden spoon
- very good family or friends 

Prepare a big very warm fire.  
At first the pot will stand with it's legs  directly in the fire with lots of coals underneath to warm up the pot.  
Have a small extra fire on one side - these coals will be needed once the cooking starts.  Actually a good idea to have a small extra fire going all the time.
Warm the pot with only olive oil in the bottom of the pot until very warm.
Brown the meat in the oil. 
Add the onions,  green peppers and garlic - stir with wooden spoon.
Add the herbs and spices.
Add the tomatoes.
Now the big secret - add the 2x large potatoes which has peeled and cubed - these potatoes will provide a nice thick sauce.
Another secret - now the half of the fluids namely the wine/water mixture can be added ....... very little fluids at a time and preferably SLOWLY pouring it on the side of the pot over the wooden spoon- main secret, never allow the pot to cool down.  Add slowly and and this stage you can still stir the mixture.  Put the lid on the pot.
Lift the pot by putting the legs on bricks and take out some of the coals.
The pot must now only simmer.  Stir now and then to ensure that it does not burn at the bottom.  "Potjiekos"-experts will always listen to the pot - it must  cook slowly and softly!! Add extra coals if needed.
After about two hours of a few glasses of good wine, a lot of stories and jokes - time to test the meat.  The meat need to be soft and tender.
Next step:
Place the pot again directly in the open fire and add more coals.
Add the rest of the wine/water mixture in the same manner as above - slowly without cooling down the pot.
Put the wooden spoon away - from here on you are not allowed to put the spoon into the pot again. NB! No stirring allowed again until serving the "potjiekos".
Place the rest of the vegetables in layers on the meat mixture in the pot. Whole unpeeled baby potatoes at the bottom, then the baby carrots , green vegetables and last the mushrooms.  
Ensure that there is enough fluids in the pot to cover the vegetables. If not add fluids in the same manner as above.  Put the lid on the pot.
Lift the pot again onto bricks and ensure that it cooks slowly.
Cook for about another hour until the vegetables are done.

At this stage the "potjie" is ready to be served.  It is usually served with rice.

I prefer to first add dumplings to my dish.

Dumplings recipe:

3 cups self-raising flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
120 ml butter / margarine
+/- 250 ml cold water or mixture of equal parts of cold water and milk

Sift dry ingredients together
Rub butter/ margarine with fingers into the mixture 
Add water slowly into the mixture - "cutting" the water into the mixture with a pastry blender.

Put spoon fulls of the mixture on top of the "potjiekos". Ensure that there is enough sauce in the pot otherwise add more fluids in the same manner as before. 
Put the lid on and cook for another 1/2 hour without lifting the lid.

ENJOY this unusual and very tasty meal.

Regards from me until next time!!

 (Mr L - I can't wait for you to try out my "potjiekos" recipe next summer !!)

For more recipes and ideas herewith a few books available - there are naturally many more books on this subject and also many recipes on the internet.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


My special little granddaughter went to Grade 0 today - poor mom was in tears and very worried as little one looked so happy at home and so unsure at her little table in the classroom.

But all turned out very well and she is very happy to go back to school tomorrow. Her little brother also wanted to go to big school, but at the end was happy with a nametag around his neck and going to nursery school on his own. 
I can still remember all the first days at school of my own kids and the emotions involved that day - now all grown up and all doing very well, plus the advantage of beautiful and very special grandchildren for me!!  So to all moms - it is sad, but ............ part of life and your rewards later in life will be very special.

Found this poem for all moms who had to send their little ones to school for the first time:

by Gregory K.

I don’t know the teacher.
I sure hope she’s nice.
But what if she’s mean with a heart cold as ice???
What about bullies? 
There might be a bunch.
And what a disaster if I mess up lunch!
I don’t like that playground:
The slide hits the sky!
And now here at drop-off, I can’t say “goodbye.”
My stomach is queasy.
My stress can’t be greater...
But then a voice calms me,
“Bye, Mom! See ya later!”

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What a wonderful daughter

I am really blessed with a wonderful daughter.  To blog on behalf of her mother!! 
I am preparing a blog with more photos of my visit to the UK and then another to share a traditional SA recipe namely "potjiekos" - my son-in-law mentioned that a South African shop in their area advertised "potjiekos" in the UK. 
I am much better after my knee op and trying to cope with crutches and trying not to be too much in  a hurry as I am known to be always busy and always too much in a hurry.
Mamma Lalla

Friday, January 9, 2009

On behalf of Mamma Lalla

Hello, it's Mamma Lalla's daughter here.

Unfortunately Mamma Lalla is unable to post at the moment because she has had to go in for a knee operation yesterday. After weeks of pain, they decided to operate and see what was going on with her knee. Unfortunately the doctor has said that she will also need a knee replacement soon, but for now she is recovering in hospital from this first operation.

I thought in the meantime I could share with you some of the delicious things that we did and made over the holidays while Mamma Lalla (or "Ma" as I call her in Afrikaans) visited me here in the UK. We had such a lovely time, and even managed a visit to the Jamie Oliver Restaurant in Oxford called Jamie's Italian. It's a very laid back restaurant, but the food is absolutely delicious! My husband and I had the lasagna, and Ma had the divine Ravioli Caramelle. But the eating certainly didn't stop there. My husband made a delicious roast turkey dinner on the day Ma arrived, I showed Ma how to make Marshmallows, and Ma in turn taught me how to make a good pastry for a Turkey and Gammon pie.

Here I am stirring up the filling for the recipe.

And as you can see, the pastry turned out lovely! Ma treated me to this ceramic pie bird (it lets the steam out the pie so that the pastry doesn't go soggy.

The recipe for this leftover Gammon and Turkey Pie is based on the recipe from the Hairy Bakers show. Only we didn't do the cranberry topping (because we ate all the cranberries), decided to have it warm and we also had no celery. But this recipe will work wonderful with any leftover white meats such as chicken and pork. Or maybe even game birds such as pheasant? Well, I loved it, so why not try it yourself. Here is our adapted recipe.
Turkey, Gammon and Leek Pie
For the pastry
450g/1lb plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
60g/2½oz cold butter, chopped
60g/2½oz cold lard, chopped
140ml/5fl oz cold water
For the filling
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 tbsp flour
100ml/3½fl oz hot chicken
tbsp double cream
½ tsp English mustard powder/ Dijon mustard
handful fresh curly parsley
200g/12oz cooked gammon, roughly chopped
350-450g/1lb 2oz cooked turkey, dark and light meat, cut into large pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. For the pastry, blend the flour, baking powder, salt, butter and lard in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Gradually add the water in a thin stream and continue to blend until the mixture starts to come together as a dough.
3. Divide the dough into two, and shape into discs. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
4. To cook the pastry, preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Grease a pie dish with butter.
5. Turn the one pastry disc out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll out until it is big enough to fit into the pie dish, with some extra to go over the sides.
10. rush some water onto the edges of the pie dish, then line the pie dish with the pastry and press down until the pastry case is the same shape as the dish. Cover the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.
11. Remove the baking beans and greaseproof paper and trim the edges of the pastry. Set the pastry case aside to cool.
12. For the filling, heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and leek and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until softened.
13. Add the flour and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer the mixture for 4-5 minutes, or until the stock has thickened.
14. Add the cream and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until warmed through, then add the mustard and parsley and stir until well combined.
15. Add the gammon and turkey pieces and stir until well combined. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
16. Spoon the filling into the pastry case.
17. Roll out the second pastry disc big enough to cover the pie with a pastry lid. Brush the edges of the pastry case with some beaten eggs. Place the pie lid over the top and press the edges down over the sides (you can use a fork if you like). Trim away any excess pastry and pierce the lid to allow steam to escape.
17. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm.


And now for something sweet. Marshmallows are quite easy to make, although you do need a mixer to do the beating, because the mixture needs to be beaten for 12 minutes on high speed.
A candy thermometer is also a big help when boiling the sugar. We used the Martha Stewart recipe which you can access by clicking here.
If you can't find corn syrup (I haven't been able to find any yet in the UK), substitute the corn syrup with either honey, or sugar and a pinch of cream of tartar. It's used to stop the sugar from re-crystallising.

Nicely packaged, ready to be handed out to the neighbours.

And after all the cooking, here's Ma putting up her feet with our Greyhound Banjo.

I'm sure Mamma Lalla is keen to get back to cooking and posting about it, but I'm not sure how long her recovery will be yet. I will keep you posted.

Happy New Year from Mamma Lalla and I!