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Keryn’s Melktert – A fitting addition to any picnic, party or afternoon tea


This is the South African version of custard tart which uses more milk, fewer eggs and the “custard” is made before pouring into the pastry shell resulting in a lighter texture.  In my opinion, it tastes much better – Try it and see.  Melktert originates via the Dutch Settlars in the Cape in the 1600’s and is thought to have come from Dutch Medieval Cooking. Today it remains omnipresent at every cake sale, picnic, or party. There are many versions – this recipe was given to me by my best friend, Keryn.

Pastry:100g butter
½ cup sugar
1¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten

  1. Mix dry ingredients in food processor
  2. Add butter and pulse until it mixture is crumbly
  3. Add beaten egg and process till pastry just forms

Filling:2½ cups milk
1 egg
1 Tablespoon maizena or cornflour
1½ Tablespoons flour
1½ Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon butter
cinnamon stick
ground cinnamon for sprinkling

  1. Mix maizena, flour and sugar to a paste in ½ cup milk in a pot.
  2. Separately, bring remaining 2 cups milk with cinnamon stick to the boil.
  3. Add boiling milk to paste, stirring all the time.
  4. Place on the stove and heat till just boiling, stirring continuously.
  5. Cool. While cooling roll out pastry and line a 23cm diameter pie dish.
  6. Add beaten egg and butter to cooled milk mixture. Remove cinnamon stick.
  7. Pour filling into pastry shell.
  8. Sprinkle thickly with ground cinnamon.
  9. Bake at 190°C for 20 minutes.
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Sousboontjies for Hungry Teens, Lunchboxes or a Barbecue

 Sugar Beans are widely grown throughout Africa and this recipe goes back to the days of the Great Trek in South Africa where meat was scarce and food had to keep for days.  Sugar beans have a high soluble fibre content to balance blood sugar levels (great choice for diabetes sufferers) while providing steady slow burning energy and can increase energy levels by helping to restore more iron. All kids love beans too so this is a great dish to have in the fridge for hungry teenagers, an alternative in kids lunch boxes, or just an original salad at a barbeque. If you cannot find sugar beans use borlotti beans which have similar properties. Don’t use canned beans – rehydrate your own dried ones. This recipe makes a huge quantity and it should keep for 2 to 4 weeks.sugar beans

2kg dried borlotti or sugar beans soaked overnight
500g onions, sliced
3T(45ml) hot curry powder or vindaloo paste
½ cup brown vinegar
1T(15ml) tumeric
3T(45ml) maizena or cornflour

  1. Wash beans well and overnight in water, drain, rinse again. Washing and soaking will reduce oligosaccharides which cause gas.
  2. Boil beans and onions with fresh water  to cover in a large saucepan till soft – about 2 hours. Check that they are soft.
  3. Mix curry powder, tumeric and maizena into vinegar and add to boiling mixture.
  4. Boil slowly for 4 minutes.
  5. Refrigerate.
  6. Serve cold.

Here it is – Bobotie, the mild curry mince dish of Cape Malay Origin

BobotieThis South African dish hales from around the 17th century Cape Malay origins near Cape Town. Mind you it is unique to South Africa and not something you will find in Malaysia -a mild curry dish using beef mince as a base and the soft topping, dried fruit and almonds add wonderful textural elements. Serve on its own with steamed rice or as one of the dishes in a curry spread.  In our household there is always a fight for the last helping.  If you are fortunate enough to have leftovers,bobotie tastes wonderful spread on toast the next day. Every person that has tasted this dish has asked me for the recipe so here it is. This recipe is adapted from Table Talk by John Tovey.

Serves 6-8 (Due to popularity in our family it was only enough for 4 !!!!!)

50g (2 oz) butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2T(30ml) curry powder
1T(15ml) tomato puree
750g mince
100-125 g dried, apricots, soaked overnight in 4T brandy
300mL cream or plain yoghurt thickened with 2 egg yolks and a pinch of nutmeg
50g slivered toasted almonds

  1. Heat the butter and fry off the finely chopped onions with the crushed garlic.
  2. Add the tomato puree, the curry powder and the mince, and cook with a lid on, stirring from time to time, over a medium heat for about 40 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F), Gas 5.
  4. Chop the brandy-soaked apricots and fold them, together with the toasted slivered almonds into the meat.
  5. Transfer to a 19cm diameter soufflé casserole dish.
  6. Lash out on a rich egg custard made of 300mL double cream with 2 egg yolks, seasoning generously with freshly ground nutmeg and the merest touch of additional curry powder.
  7. Top the meat mixture with the custard and re-heat in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 40 minutes till golden brown.
  8. Serve with steamed rice, Mrs Balls Chutney, and sliced banana that has been coated in a little coconut and yoghurt.

Mum’s Mushroom and Spinach Risotto

My daughter, Bianca, loved carbs when young to fuel the energy for her swimming and sport – it also kept her from appearing as a wraith like refugee. This dish is one of her favourites. I always sauté the mushrooms separately and dish up Sven’s(my son does not eat mushrooms) before mixing the mushrooms into the risotto to keep everyone happy. Don’t use button mushrooms as they do not have enough flavour to lift the rice or counteract the chilli. This risotto is a great dish for teenagers – the chilli flavour is very mild and they won’t even notice the spinach. 

Serves 4

4 cups quality vegetable or chicken stock, I use Campbells
1 onion, chopped
415g arborio rice
250ml dry white wine
25ml olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
1t(5ml) Sambal oelek or 1 red chilli, finely chopped
125g sliced field, portobello or swiss brown mushrooms
2-3 large handfuls baby spinach leaves

  1. Heat stock to simmering in a saucepan.
  2. Heat a little butter in a large pot(30cm diameter) and sauté the mushrooms over a high heat for 1 or 2 minutes stirring all the time until just cooked. If you wish you can do this in a frying pan but then you will have an additional pan to wash.
  3. Drain mushrooms and set aside.
  4. In the same pot heat 30g butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sauté onion over a medium heat.
  5. After two minutes add garlic and chilli or sambal oelek and sauté till onions are transparent.
  6. Turn heat to low. Add rice and stir to coat grains with butter, toasting for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add wine and stir until absorbed over low heat.
  8. Keep the heat low. Add hot(must be simmering) stock from saucepan, 125ml at a time, stirring frequently and allowing stock to be absorbed before adding the next. This step will take 15 to 20 minutes. It’s very relaxing – enjoy a glass of wine and talk to your children about their day.
  9. Just before serving add spinach and sautéed mushrooms. Do not cook. The hot rice will reheat the mushrooms and wilt the spinach.
  10. Serve immediately. It just does not taste the same if you reheat although, if there are any leftovers, your children will love it for afternoon tea the next day.

Curried Green Beans

Green BeansA typical South African dish with a mix of sweet and sour. Don’t be put off by the sugar as the curry powder and vinegar will balance it. Make when there is a surplus of beans available and serve cold, as a salad. Use as an accompaniment when you need an extra vegetable, at a barbeque , or a party.  Keeps in the fridge for around two weeks. It is not the most attractive dish but tastes good and any way you can get the kids to eat their greens works for me.

2kg green beans
1kg onions, sliced
2T(30ml) strong curry powder or vindaloo paste
3 cups brown vinegar
1 cup sugar
4T(60ml) maizena or cornflour

  1. Boil beans and onions till just cooked and remove from saucepan
  2. Dissolve the sugar in 2 cups of vinegar over a medium heat
  3. Mix curry powder and maizena into remainder of the vinegar and add to boiling mixture
  4. Boil slowly for 5 minutes, stirring all the time till thickened
  5. Pour over beans and bottle or refrigerate
  6. Serve cold

Granny Rina’s Crunchies for your Lunchbox

CrunchiesThis is the South African version of anzac biscuits, only they are chewy and a bit more like a slice – ideal for school lunch boxes. Here is Granny Rina’s version which was never written down anywhere. I just watched her make it by feel and translated into something I could do.

  • 2 cups dessicated coconut
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup sugarCaptured shopping in PE ... I LOVE this pic
  • 1 cup flour
  • 250g butter
  • 2T honey
  • 1t bicarbonate of soda
  • 1T milk
  1. Heat oven to 170°C
  2. Mix coconut, oats, sugar and flour in a large bowl
  3. Melt butter and honey in a small pot. Simmer for 3 minutes
  4. Mix bicarb with milk in a cup and add to melted butter
  5. Add butter mixture to dry mixture and mix well
  6. Press mixture into a shallow 20cmx30cm slice baking tin. Flatten with an egg lifter
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes – needs at least 25minutes to ensure it is not too soft
  8. Remove from oven and cut into slices
  9. Cool before removing from tin

Enjoy Liz’s Buttermilk Rusks with that Morning Coffee

Rusks are just the thing to dunk into an early morning cup of tea of coffee especially in the outdoors or on cold winter mornings. Kids love dunking them into hot chocolate. Rusks in South Africa originated during the Great Trek when the Boers needed a substitute for bread on their long travels. Today they have become a traditional Afrikaner breakfast or snack. This recipe is easy to throw together,  makes a large quantity, is always successful and keeps for weeks.

Makes approx 45 Rusks

  • Rusks300g butter
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup wholewheat flour
  • 3 cups Raisin Bran
  • 2 x 500g packets of self raising flour
  1. Heat oven to 180°C
  2. The batter can be mixed in a large saucepan to save on cleaning dishes. Melt the butter, oil and sugar in the saucepan.
  3. Beat well with an electric hand beater or a wooden spoon away from the heat.
  4. Add the eggs one by one, beating after each addition.
  5. Beat in the buttermilk.
  6. Add all the dry ingredients to the mixture in the saucepan and mix until blended.
  7. Pour mixture into 2 well-greased bread loaf tins, lined with oiled greaseproof baking paper.
  8. Bake at 180°C for 45-60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
  9. Turn out, leave to cool and cut into rusks – Using a bread knife cut each loaf into 4cm slices horizontally, then cut each slice into three.
  10. Place rusks in a single layer on baking sheets or biscuit tins.
  11. Dry out overnight in the warming tray of your oven, or switch the oven to 100°C and leave 4-6 hours to dry out, turning occasionally. Store in an airtight cake tin.